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Farooq Abdullah detained under public safety law

SRINAGAR, Sept 16: Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has been detained under Jammu and Kashmir’s stringent public safety law that gives the administration the right to detain a person without trial for two years. An order by the state government said the former chief minister’s residence will be treated as a temporary jail.

Jammu and Kashmir’s public safety law was first brought into force when Farooq Abdullah’s father Sheikh Abdullah was the chief minister. In its initial form, the law empowered authorities to jail a person for two years.

News of the detention order emerged on Monday ahead of the top court hearing of a habeas corpus (literally means, produce the body) petition that sought Farooq Abdullah’s production in the top court.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko had moved the petition to seek Farooq Abdullah’s production since he had not been able to contact the senior politician. Abdullah’s detention has been a matter of some controversy, particularly after Home Minister Amit Shah last month told the Lok Sabha that Abdullah was free.

Minutes later, the former chief minister came out in front of television cameras at his house to contradict the government and claim that he had been under house arrest and not allowed to step out.

The Centre’s second most-senior law officer Tushar Mehta, who represented the government at Monday’s proceedings in the Supreme Court, had opposed the judges issuing notice to the government. Mehta had insisted that Vaiko did not a locus standi in the case.

When the judges wanted to know if the former chief minister was in detention, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked for time since he would have to seek instructions from the state administration. The top court will take up the case on 30 September.

If needed, will go to Jammu and Kashmir high court: CJI Ranjan Gogoi

NEW DELHI, Sept 16: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday said that he will go to Jammu and Kashmir high court and speak to the chief justice after allegations that people aren’t being able to access the court.

“Access to the high court is seriously affected, we seek reply from the chief justice of the high court in the matter. If required, I will go to the high court and speak to the chief justice. If people can’t approach the HC we have to do something,” CJI Ranjan Gogoi said.

Solicitor General KK Venugopal, who was representing the government at the hearing, said all courts are functioning in Jammu and Kashmir, including lok adalats.

The top court asked the Centre to make all endeavours to restore normalcy in the Kashmir valley as soon as possible.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer were hearing petitions on the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir. “We want to know what is shut down or why? Whether there is a breakdown and who has done it and for what reason?” Justice Bobde said.

Venugopal said that the media is travelling to cover stories from Kashmir and newspapers are being published from the valley without any impediment. “Media faclitation centre has been established to provide internet, phone conmections etc. Movement passes are given to media persons. Dish TV channel and Radio Kashmir is being broadcast,” Venugopal said.

The Supreme Court bench asked Venugopal to put details of the steps taken on an affidavit.


Kamal Haasan wades into Hindi row with ‘no Shah or Sultan’ jab at Amit Shah

NEW DELHI, Sept 16: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan trained his guns on home minister Amit Shah on Monday in the row over imposition of Hindi. Shah has faced criticism from leaders across political parties in southern India for pitching Hindi as the unifying language of India.

Haasan, the chief of the Makkal Needhi Maiam, said the debate over Hindi could become bigger than the ‘Jallikattu’ protest. Jallikattu is a Tamil bull-taming sport which is held during Pongal. There were massive protests in the state in 2017 after Supreme Court ordered a ban on it.

“Unity in diversity is the promise we made when we made India a republic. Now no Shah, Sultan or Samrat should go back on their promise,” Haasan said in a video shared on Twitter.

On Saturday, Amit Shah, speaking at a Hindi Divas event, said that while “unity in diversity” is India’s defining trait, the nation needed one language that it could be identified by globally. He said Hindi was the one language that could “bind the nation”.

Haasan warned that if “inclusive India” is made into an “exclusive one” all will suffer due to such “short-sighted folly” . “Most people happily sing their national anthem with pride and will continue to do so and the reason is the poet who wrote it gave due respect to all languages and culture within the anthem and hence it became our anthem,” he added.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said Shah’s Hindi comment was a “planned attempt” to divert attention from pressing national issues and an attempt to launch a new battlefield. Former Karnataka chief minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah called Amit Shah a “home-wrecker”.

Vijayan said the perception that only Hindi can unite the nation is wrong. He said the home minister’s remarks despite protests is seen as a Sangh Parivar ploy to open a “new battlefront” in the name of language.

Santosh Gangwar says job seekers in India not qualified

NEW DELHI, Sept 15: New Delhi, Union Minister of State (Independent Change) for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Sunday sparked a controversy by saying that there were enough jobs in the country, but the employment seekers were not qualified.

Gangwar made the statement while interacting with the media here, adding that his Ministry was monitoring the job situation.

He said that foreign companies who visited the country to recruit people, told him that the people were not qualified for the positions they were offering.

The Minister added that were no dearth of jobs in India.

Priyanka Gandhi slams Mantriji for insulting north Indians

NEW DELHI, Sept 15: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi gave a stinging response to Union Minister Santosh Gangwar for his comment on lack of quality among north Indian candidates, saying that the minister cannot use such an excuse to hide the government’s failure.

She told Minister of State Santosh Gangwar in no uncertain terms that there have been no jobs in the market and the rest have been taken away by the government, courtesy the economic slowdown. She said the youth is waiting and hoping that the government will do something.

The Congress leader, who is in charge of east UP, has been speaking about issues concerning Uttar Pradesh.

“Mantriji, there has been your government for the last five years. There have been no new jobs. The ones that were there are being taken away by the economic slowdown brought about by the government. The youth is waiting for the government to do something. You cannot insult the north Indians and hope to get away with it. This will not do,” said Priyanka, tagging a news report about the minister’s comments.

On Saturday, minister Gangwar claimed that there was no dearth of job opportunities in the country but North Indian candidates lacked qualifications.

“I want to say that there is no dearth of job opportunities in the country. Those who come for recruitment in north India often complain that they are unable to find the quality in candidates required for the post they are hiring for,” said Gangwar at a press conference in Bareilly.

RS Rathee declared AAP candidate for Gurgaon

GURUGRAM, Sept 15: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday announced the name of RS Rathee as its candidate for the Gurgaon assembly constituency. His name was announced by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Gupta and Haryana party president Navin Jaihind during a large gathering of workers at the Sukhrali village community centre near Iffco Chowk.

Haryana is scheduled to go to polls next month and elections are likely to be announced in next few days.

Addressing the large gathering, AAP president Jaihind said that the BJP government had failed to provide electricity, water, health and education facilities to the people of Haryana, especially Gurugram, in the last five years and the people wanted a change. Jaihind said that their party would focus on improving basic services in the state along the lines of Delhi. “The government has failed to deliver basic facilities to the people of Haryana,” Jaihind said, while exhorting workers to reach out to voters in every household.

Dr Sushil Gupta, Rajya Sabha MP of the party, reiterated that the BJP had not been able to deliver on any of the promises it made to the people and it was time for a change. He announced the name of Rathee as the party candidate from Gurgaon and asked people to vote for him.

Rathee, who is a sitting municipal councillor and has been associated with the AAP for the last five years, said that the main focus of his campaign would be to expose the failures of the present government. “The AAP government in Delhi has been able to deliver better government schools and hospitals in the national capital but these have remained non-functional in Gurgaon and across the state. We will try to bring changes to the city,” he added.

As a councillor, Rathee has been vocal about the alleged presence of ghost workers in the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). He had also taken up the issue of shifting the Sirhaul toll plaza, which was later removed by order of the High Court. He has been a votary of the transfer of private colonies to the MCG so that they are maintained by the corporation. He had fought the assembly polls in 2014 as an independent candidate.

The AAP’s campaign in Gurugram is focussed on saving the Aravallis, making the Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority functional, ensure that the Gurugram Metropolitan Development receive external development costs from developers, and that Metro connectivity is extended to cover the entire city in the next five years.

12 dead after boat capsizes in Godavari, several missing

DEVIPATNAM, Sept 15: A tourist boat capsized in the Godavari River in Devipatnnam in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday resulting in the death of at least 12 people. The death toll is likely to go up as many are still missing and a massive search for survivors is currently underway.

According to reports, the ill-fated boat was carrying at least 61 people onboard at the time of the incident.

"12 people have lost their lives in the incident where a tourist boat carrying 61 people capsized in Godavari river in Devipatnam, East Godavari district, today," the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA) said.

Up till now, nearly 23 people have been rescued safely while the rescue work still continues. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Reddy had directed the state authorities to co-ordinate in the rescue operation. He has also announced ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the deceased.

The Andhra government has also stopped plying of all passengers/tourist boats with immediate effect. Jagan Reddy has also ordered checking of all boat permits, licences and safety measures.

Modi inaugurates Asia’s first cross-border petroleum pipeline

Sept 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated Asia’s first cross-border petroleum pipeline, between India and Nepal. He said the Motihari-Amlekhganj pipeline is a symbol of the close ties between the two countries.

The Rs 3.5 billion oil pipeline project was first proposed in 1996 but gained momentum only after Modi’s visit to Nepal in 2014. Modi and Nepal premier KP Sharma Oli had jointly laid the foundation stone for the project at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi during Oli’s visit to India last year.

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that the first cross-border petroleum pipeline of South Asia has been completed in record time. It was ready in half the time than expected,” Modi said in an address. He said the credit goes to the leadership in Nepal, the support of the government of Nepal and joint efforts between the two countries.

Modi reiterated India’s commitment to help in the Himalayan nation’s development. “After the devastating earthquake in 2015 when Nepal took up the reconstruction, India extended its hand for cooperation as a neighbour and a close friend. I am happy that due to our joint cooperation houses have been built again in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts of Nepal,” he said.

The Motihari-Amlekhganj pipeline was expected to commence operations in mid-April this year but was delayed due to permission to cut trees inside Parsa National Park in Nepal.


Raped for over 1 year by BJP leader Chinmayanand: Student

SHAHJAHANPUR, Sept 9: A law student from Uttar Pradesh alleged on Monday that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chinmayanand raped her for over a year and that the state police are reluctant in opening a case under relevant sections against the politician despite her complaints.

The allegations come weeks after the Supreme Court stepped into the case and ordered a special probe as she went underground after suggesting Chinmayanand had sexually assaulted several women at a college in Shahjahanpur where he is the director. The woman was found by police in Rajasthan after being on the run for nearly a week fearing backlash over the accusations she made on Facebook on August 24.

“On Sunday, the SIT (special investigation team) quizzed me for about 11 hours. I have told them about the rape. Even after telling them everything, they have not arrested Chinmayanand yet,” she said while speaking to reporters in Shahjahanpur.

The woman said that she had been on the run fearing for her life and that the first time she approached Shahjahanpur police, the district magistrate compelled her family to withdraw the complaint after telling her father to “think about the consequences”.

The officer, Indra Vikram Singh, declined to comment on the accusation.

The allegation is the second time in less than two years that a BJP leader has been accused of rape – the other being Unnao MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was expelled from the party earlier in August after the woman he allegedly raped met with an accident that killed two of her relatives and left her and her lawyer in a critical condition.

The woman’s father was fatally assaulted by men connected to Sengar, and the case involved similar allegations against police failing to act against a powerful politician.

Chinamayanand has denied the allegations made by the law student and said that he was the target of an extortion attempt by the student. The woman said she had evidence of the rape. “I have all the proofs. The hostel where I lived has been sealed. It should be opened in front of the media,” she said, adding that she would give the proof, including video clips, at an appropriate time.

Chandrayaan 2 lander located on moon surface, trying to establish contact: Isro chief

NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The lander of Chandrayaan 2—Vikram—has been located on the surface of the moon, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chief K Sivan said on Sunday.

“The orbiter has clicked a thermal image of lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to establish contact,” said Sivan. He insisted that it would be premature to say anything concrete right now. “It will be communicated soon.”

Scientists lost contact with the Vikram lander at 1.53am in the early hours of Saturday, less than two minutes before it was supposed to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. Isro chief Sivan had earlier hinted that the soft landing is usually a tense affair. He had said that the last 15 minutes of the mission where the lander tries to guide itself with the help of its own propulsion system were “15 minutes of terror”.

Vikram lander was trying to make history by making India the first country to “soft land” on the South Pole of the moon. Scientists believe there could be water ice on the moon’s South Pole.

The Isro chief had said on Saturday that all hope was not lost and scientists are making all attempts to establish contact with the lander of Chandrayaan 2. The Vikram lander has a life span of one lunar day or 14 earth days.

Will keep trying to contact Vikram lander for 14 days: Isro chief

NEW DELHI, Sept 7: Suggesting that all hope was not lost as far as re-establishing communication with Chandryaan 2’s lander was concerned, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief K Sivan told the national broadcaster that scientists will continue to link with Vikram which had life of one lunar day or 14 earth days.

“We will be trying to establish a link, we will try for the next 14 days,” said Sivan when asked if there was any chance of reconnecting.

ISRO’s plan to soft land Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module on the Lunar surface did not go as per script in the early hours of Saturday, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during the final stage of descent.

“Powered descent included four stages, the first three phases were executed nicely but the last one was not executed in a nice way and we lost the link with the lander,” said Sivan in his first TV interview after the mission.

In another important announcement, Sivan made it clear that the setback won’t affect India’s space programme including its first manned mission, Gaganyaan, planned for the end of 2022.

“Whatever happened today is not going to affect any of the Isro’s activity. We are extremely busy with Gaganyaan project, which is due by the end of 2020,” Sivan told Doordarshan.

Sivan explained that Chandrayaan 2 was “almost 100 per cent successful” as the orbiter tasked to carry out the scientific experiments was placed successfully, while the lander and the rover component of mission, aimed to demonstrate technology, was 90-95 per cent successful.

“Regarding the technology demonstration part, we could descend up to two kilometers… 90-95 per cent of technology aspect was also achieved,” he said adding, “Chandrayaan mission was very close to 100 per cent success”.

Isro chairman was particularly excited about the possibility of finding water or ice during the several new experiments to be carried out by the Chandrayaan orbiter, armed with special SAR L-band camera, capable of penetrating the surface of moon up to 10 metres. All previous missions including Chandrayaan 1 had only SAR S-band camera, Chandrayaan 2 has both.

“SAR imaging data will be available for the first time for the entire world to see,” said Sivan.

The orbiter, he added will be able to cover the entire globe of the moon as it had enough fuel to power it for the next seven and a half years as opposed to its designated life time of one year.

He said the mood among the scientist of India’s premier space agency was upbeat and the Prime Minister’s encouragement played a big part in lifting of the morale.

“Prime Minister is source of support and motivation for all of us,” said Sivan before quoting from Modi’s speech this morning to suggest that science was not just for results but also for experiments.

In a statement released earlier on Saturday evening, Isro had described Chandrayaan-2 as a highly-complex mission that represented a “significant technological leap”.

“This was a unique mission aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” the statement said.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged and consoled a teary eyed Sivan outside the mission operations complex after his address to the scientists and the nation. The PM too appeared emotional.

“We are proud of our space program. Today our resolve to touch the moon has grown even stronger. We came very close but we need to cover more ground in the time to come. We are full of confidence that when it comes to our space mission programme the best one is yet to come. There are several places to discover and go,” said the Prime Minister.

Accomplished 90-95% mission targets, says Isro in first statement after setback

NEW DELHI, Sept 7: In its first statement after moon mission suffered a huge setback on Saturday, the Indian Space Research Organisation described India’s Chandrayaan-2 as a highly-complex mission that represented a “significant technological leap”.

The space agency also underscored that 90-95 per cent of the mission objectives had been achieved and would contribute to lunar science despite the loss of communication with the Vikram lander.

It specifically counted the precise launch and the mission management as one success area, one that would enable the Orbiter to stay in place for the next seven years instead of the planned one year.

“This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” the statement said.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface. The statement did not spell out what exactly had happened beyond this point.

But till then, the statement said, all the systems and sensors of the Lander “functioned excellently” and proved many new technologies such as what it called “the variable thrust propulsion technology”.

“The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments,” the statement said.

The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community. Isro said it would have a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.

The success in placing the Orbiter was a point that has been highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well, first in his televised address to the Isro scientists and later at the inauguration of metro projects in Mumbai.

“We have to remember that orbiter is still there... This is also a historic achievement,” he said in Mumbai.

Hours earlier, Prime Minister Modi had comforted crestfallen scientists and a stunned nation from mission control in Bengaluru.

In the early hours of Saturday, the Vikram lander - named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space programme - had gone silent just 2.1 kilometres above the lunar surface.

Modi told scientists to not lose heart and thanked them for the milestones achieved during this historic attempt. “It is not a small achievement and the country is proud of you. If the communication starts again, then the mission will be able to give us a lot of information. Let’s hope for the best,” he said.

Kashmir restrictions will go if Pakistan behaves: Ajit Doval

NEW DELHI, Sept 7: National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on Saturday rejected suggestions of widespread opposition to abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and said the majority in the militancy hit region saw the removal of the special status as an opportunity for fast-paced development and jobs, according to agency reports. Doval also said the contentious provision of the Constitution (Article 370) had only helped Pakistan foment trouble across the LoC along with J&K politicians, who made a fortune from it.

“I am fully convinced that a majority of Kashmiris totally support the abrogation of Article 370,” Doval told reporters according to news agency ANI, and added that Article 370 “was not a special status but special discrimination. With its abrogation we have brought Kashmiris on par with Indians.” said Doval.

The NSA argued that people in Jammu and Kashmir will now benefit from about 106 laws, including the one guaranteeing, the Right to Education.

“There were many laws for modern and upcoming societies which were denied to people of J&K, right to education,right to property were denied, 106 such laws were taking protection of article 370 before August 5,” he said.

NSA said that restrictions had been eased gradually and were limited to only ten police station areas in the valley and hundred per cent of landline phones had been restored.

The NSA downplayed the protests against the Article’s repeal as the voice of a “vocal minority”. “There is a vocal minority that opposes it. It appears to people that it is the voice of the people. That is not necessarily true,” said Doval.

Doval is also said to have rubbished the alleged atrocities by the armed forces and said that the Army was fighting terrorists in the region and was not responsible for law and order duties which were being handled by the J&K police and central paramilitary forces.

He also said that the detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir was done as per the law to help maintain law and order as terrorists could have exploited the situation if political gatherings were allowed.

He added that no political leader had been “charged with criminal offence or sedition” and that their preventive custody will end as soon “environment is created for democracy to function”, which, he said may happen soon.

Suggesting that situation in J&K had been handled well, Doval said only one incident had been reported on August 6, in which one young boy succumbed, not due to any bullet injury but to “some hard object” that hit him, “In so many days, just one incident reported,” he said.

Doval is reported by agencies to have further elaborated on Pakistan’s role in instigating trouble in the valley through “false and black propaganda” that was being lapped up by “some uninformed people” as public opinion.

He said the restrictions would go quickly if Pakistan behaved and stopped using terrorists to intimidate & infiltrate.

Chandrayaan 2 lost communication with Vikram Lander: Isro chief

BENGALURU, Sept 7: India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission lost communication with ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru after coming tantalizingly close to making a successful landing on early hours of Saturday. The signal from lander Vikram was lost during the Fine Breaking phase of its descent when it was only a few kilometres away from the lunar surface.

ISRO chairman K Sivan said that Vikram lander was as planned and normal descent was observed till 2.1 km. “Subsequently, the communication was lost. The data is being analysed,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told scientists to not lose heart and thanked them for the milestones achieved during this historic attempt.

“It is not a small achievement and the country is proud of you. If the communication starts again, then the mission will be able to give us a lot of information. Let’s hope for the best,” said the Prime Minister.

He further added, “There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation in proud of you. Hope for the best. I congratulate you. You all have done a big service to nation, science and mankind. I am with you all the way, move forward bravely.”

The Chandrayaan 2 is the second moon mission and the first moon landing mission being carried out by the ISRO.

Chandrayaan 2 is a three-module spacecraft comprising an orbiter, lander and rover.

After the moon touch-down by Vikram, rover Pragyan will roll down from the former to carry out the research for which it was designed.

Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter would continue to go around the Moon in an orbit of 96 km x 125 km.

On July 22, the Rs. 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into the space by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

Here are the Technological Challenges That ISRO is Likely to Face During Chandrayaan-2 Landing

Sept 7: A journey of 3,84,000 km, traversed on a pre-defined path will see Chandrayaan-2 face its moment of truth after a month-and-half-of being launched from Sriharikota. The lander module, Vikram, has already detached itself from the main spacecraft and will soon begin the final descent to the moon's surface from the nearest point in its current orbit, which is 35 kms in vertical distance, sometime after 1.30am on Saturday.

If successful, this would be India’s first soft landing on the moon’s surface. Only the US, the former USSR and China have been successful in making landings on the moon.

Notably, of a total of 109 missions to the moon so far, 41 have been unsuccessful. According to ISRO, the various technological challenges they will face include:

Trajectory Accuracy: Ensuring trajectory accuracy while navigating such a massive distance poses several challenges as trajectory is influenced by various factors such as gravitational pull from astronomical bodies, solar radiation pressure, and non-uniform gravity of the earth and moon.

Deep Space Communication: Owing to the large distance between Earth and the Moon, radio-signals used for communication are weak with heavy background noise which needs to be picked up by large antennas.

Lunar Capture: As the moon approaches the apogee of Chandrayaan 2, on-board thrusters fire precisely to reduce its velocity for lunar capture. The margin of error in these calculations is very narrow.

Soft Landing on the Moon: The most challenging part of the mission, the landing site landscape features should not result in a communication shadow area and the onboard NGC and propulsion system has to work is unison, automatically and autonomously for a successful landing.

Notably, to apply brakes on its speed, Vikram will fire thrusters in the direction of its movement. The thrusters use two chemicals, mono methyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide — as fuel. The four thrusters on Vikram would be firing simultaneously throughout the time of the descent. However, if there is a deviation from the pre-defined profile and the thrusters do not fire as programmed, due to problems such as blockage, Vikram has the provision of a fifth thruster as well.

Vikram’s four legs have also been enabled with a much greater ability to absorb shocks. Vikram programmed to make a landing after decelerating to a speed lower than 2 metres per second.

When Vikram is about 100 metres above the surface, it will commence a hazard avoidance manouevre. This is because it is only then that it would be able to assess whether the chosen location is flat enough, and free of any stones or boulder, to land safely. If everything goes according to the programme, Vikram’s downward movement would almost come to a halt, with the firing of the thrusters providing enough upward lift to balance the gravitational pull and helping it land.

However, if the onboard cameras detect any problem, Vikram can move around a few metres horizontally to locate and land at a safer place.

While it is designed to withstand a slope of 15 degree inclination, but it would try and avoid any of its legs landing on a stone or a boulder.

After three hours of landing, Pragyan would come out of the lander and slope down to the moon's surface to collect data. Both the lander and rover are designed to be operational for 14 days, during the duration of a lunar day.

Delhi MLA Alka Lamba quits Aam Aadmi Party, joins Congress

NEW DELHI, Sept 6: Three days after rebel Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Alka Lamba met interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, she officially resigned from the primary membership of party and joined the Congress.

Lamba, who represents Chandni Chowk in the Delhi Assembly, announced her resignation from AAP, and her decision to join the Congress, in a series of tweets on Friday.

“The time has come to say “Good Bye” to #AAP and to resign from the primary membership of the Party. The past 6 years journey was a great learning for me. Thanks to all. (sic)” Lamba said.

On Friday, via a video message, Lamba requested AAP’s national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to accept her resignation.

“...As per your (Kejriwal’s) wishes, your party spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj had messaged me saying that you will accept my resignation from AAP’s primary membership even on Twitter. Since you are not meeting me, and I have been trying to seek an appointment with you for a long time now. Probably you do not have time. I am resigning via a video message and I request you to accept it,” Lamba said.

“I may have been far from Congress but I have stood by its ideology for the past 25 years. Today is my ‘Ghar-Wapsi’, I thank Sonia and Rahul Gandhiji, and assure them that I will work like a dedicated worker to strengthen the party in Delhi and the country,” Lamba told ANI.

Despite repeated calls and messages, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj was not available for a comment.

Lamba joined the Congress at Sonia Gandhi’s residence at 10, Janpath, on Friday evening. The speculation of her joining the party became stronger after Lamba’s meeting with Gandhi at her residence on Tuesday.

“It is good to be back. I had started my political career from the Congress and they accepted me with the same love and support,” said Lamba after joining the Congress.

Over the past two months, Lamba has been talking about her decision to quit AAP and contesting the upcoming assembly elections as an independent candidate. She expressed her inclination to join the Congress in March this year. Lamba had said she would join the Congress if the party “takes her back”.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) Delhi in-charge PC Chacko had also said the party would welcome her back, and had hinted at the talks happening between Lamba and the senior Congress leadership.

“We welcome Alka ji to the Congress party. Her experience and our common vision will help us work better for the people of Delhi,” Chacko said on Friday.

Karnataka IAS officer resigns, says continuing in job would be unethical

Sept 6: S Sasikanth Senthil, a 40-year-old IAS officer, resigned from the civil services on Friday, saying that it would be “unethical” for him to continue in the government any longer.

Senthil, a 2009 batch Indian Administrative Service officer, is the second to announce his decision to exit the bureaucracy over the last month.

An engineering graduate from Tamil Nadu, Senthil is posted as the deputy commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district.

“I have taken this decision as it is unethical for me to continue as a civil servant in the government when the fundamental building blocks of our diverse democracy are being compromised in an unprecedented manner,” Sethil wrote in a letter that was released on Friday.

“I also feel strongly that the coming days will present extremely difficult challenges to the basic fabric of our nation and that I would be better off outside the IAS to continue with my work at making life better for all,” he added in the letter.

“It simply cannot be business as usual anymore,” he wrote.

The official also thanked the people of the district and political representatives who he said, had been very kind to him and underscored that he owed “an apology to them for discontinuing the job vested on me midway”.

Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat CEO Dr Selvamani R, also an IAS officer, confirmed receiving the letter. “As per the letter, the resignation was due to personal reasons,” he said when asked if Senthil had been formally informed about his decision.

Last month, Kannan Gopinathan - an IAS officer three batches junior to Senthil in the pecking order - had resigned, reportedly over denial of freedom of expression to the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been asked to resume his duty immediately.

Chidambaram sent to Tihar jail

NEW DELHI, Sept 5: Former finance minister P Chidambaram and his legal team suffered a blow on Thursday when a Delhi court sent him to 14 days’ judicial custody in Tihar jail in the INX Media corruption case, declining to free him on bail after he completed 15 days in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Special judge Ajay Kumar sent Chidambaram to Tihar until September 19, but said that given the fact that the Congress politician is protected by Z Category security, he should be kept in a special cell. The judge also allowed Chidambaram, 73, a Rajya Sabha member, to carry his prescription medicines to jail.

His ruling came hours after a Supreme Court bench comprising R Bhanumathi and AS Bopanna denied Chidambaram bail in a case of money laundering being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with INX Media. The apex court told Chidambaram’s legal team that granting him anticipatory bail could frustrate the investigation and maintained that his custodial interrogation was necessary in the case.

“Grant of anticipatory bail, particularly in economic offences would definitely hamper the effective investigation. Having regard to the materials said to have been collected by the respondent Enforcement Directorate and considering the stage of the investigation, we are of the view that it is not a fit case to grant anticipatory bail,” the Supreme Court bench said.

“Having regard to the nature of allegations and the stage of the investigation, in our view, the investigating agency has to be given sufficient freedom in the process of investigation,” the bench said in its 57-page judgment.

However, the top court was critical of the Delhi high court judge who had delivered the August 20 verdict denying him anticipatory bail for quoting “verbatim” a note produced before him by ED, and said it was “not a correct approach for consideration of grant/refusal of anticipatory bail”.

In a last-ditch effort on Thursday to convince the special judge to keep Chidambaram out of Tihar jail, his legal team said he was even ready to be arrested by the ED, which could take him into its custody to question him.

Appearing for the CBI, solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that Chidambaram was an influential person in public life, wielded substantial sway over witnesses and there existed potential for tampering with the evidence.

He said letters of request had been sent to overseas jurisdictions seeking information in connection with the case and alleged that Chidambaram had used his influence to ensure that the investigating agency did not get the information it had sought.

Countering the submissions, Chidambaram’s lawyer Kapil Sibal said that there was no justification for sending his client to judicial custody. He submitted that CBI had not brought anything on record to even suggest that the former minister had ever tried to influence witnesses or interfere in the investigation.

With the top court’s order in its favour, the ED can arrest him any time. But the ED decided against making its move on Thursday, leaving special judge Kuhar with two options: to release Chidambaram on bail or remand him to judicial custody.

Judge Kuhar ruled in favour of sending him to Tihar. “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, nature of offences, stage of investigation, the accused is remanded to judicial custody,” the judge ordered.

The judge had heard both sides argue on Chidambaram’s next stop for a little over 30 minutes before he reserved his order. As the two sides waited for him to return with his verdict, Chidambaram looked tired. Like always, he had been standing in the suspect’s box as he waited for the judge to return.

A court staffer brought him a chair. It wasn’t the first time that Chidambaram had been offered a chair but he had always, pointedly and firmly, declined. Today, he decided to sit down.

His team had been prepared for the verdict, and quickly moved requests.

Lawyer Kapil Sibal started with a request that Chidambaram be allowed to carry his spectacles and prescribed medicines to Tihar jail. Chidambaram, who has been the country’s home minister, also requested a separate cell with a bathroom in light of concerns over his security. The judge accepted these two sets of applications. On the third - a formal request to surrender to the ED - the judge issued notice to the agency to make its position clear.

Chidambaram is likely to be housed in Tihar’s Jail No. 7, where usually those accused in Enforcement Directorate cases are kept.

Chidambaram has already spent 15 days in the custody of the CBI in five separate spells, after his arrest from his Jor Bagh home in New Delhi on August 21.

He was arrested after the Supreme Court didn’t accept his request to urgently hear his pleas for anticipatory bail in the INX Media case

The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in the grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was finance minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. CBI registered an FIR in the case on May 15, 2017.

INX Media co-founders Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram, P Chidambaram’s son, to secure clearance from FIPB for the foreign investment received by the company and evade punitive measures for not having the requisite approvals.

Indrani Mukerjea told CBI in March last year that a deal of $1 million had been struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media.

The Chidambarams did receive a measure of relief when special judge OP Saini granted them protection from arrest by the CBI and the ED in the 2006 Aircel Maxis on Thursday.

The judge said the two would be released on a Rs 1 lakh bail bond in case either of the two agencies arrested them in the case.

The Aircel Maxis case refers to a 2006 investment in Indian telecom company Aircel Ltd by Malaysia’s Maxis Communications Bhd. which, the CBI says, was in violation of the then prevailing foreign investments laws.

The CBI alleged that P Chidambaram had cleared an investment of $800 million in Aircel by Maxis although it was the cabinet committee on economic affairs that was the competent authority to grant such approval. This was done by wrongly projecting the deal as merely involving an investment of Rs 180 crore, according to the CBI, which alleged that money had been paid to a company controlled by Karti Chidambaram in return.

The Chidambarams have denied all the allegations against them in both the INX Media and Aircel Maxis cases and in turn said the National Democratic Alliance government was waging political vendetta against them.

“As I have been saying it’s a non case. Been dragged into only due to political vendetta. I have no connection to Aircel Maxis or to FIPB. I had an Aircel sim though and in time this INX bogey will also be slayed,” Karti Chidambaram wrote on Twitter.

Only worried about economy: Chidambaram’s parting shot before going to Tihar

NEW DELHI, Sept 5: P Chidambaram, who was once a home minister during the UPA regime, was today sent to Tihar jail where he will spend 14 days in judicial custody in connection with the INX media case.

Asked about his thoughts, soon after a Delhi court passed the orders, Chidambaram said he was only “worried about the economy”.

As Chidambaram was being taken away in the police van to Tihar, the former minister and senior Congress leader was seen smiling and waving to the posse of photographers and journalists lining the way to catch a glimpse.

Chidambaram, as the videos showed, was the lone member inside the van and was sitting by the grilled window seat.

Chidambaram expressed similar fears about the economy when he was asked about his custody in the CBI on September 3. He cryptically said “5 percent”, a jibe at the government over the growth rate in April to June quarter.

“Five per cent. What is 5 percent? You remember 5 percent?” he responded with a smiling face, mocking the government after the GDP slumped to an over six-year low. According to government data, the economic growth slowed to a seven-year low to 5 per cent in April to June quarter from 8 per cent a year ago.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court also rejected his plea challenging the Delhi High Court order that had refused anticipatory bail to him in the INX Media case.

Blast at fireworks unit kills 23 in Punjab town

BATALA, Sept 4: An explosion ripped through a firecracker factory in a residential neighbourhood in Punjab’s Batala town on Wednesday afternoon, killing 23 people and injuring another 27.

The blast, which occurred around 3.45pm, also damaged nearby buildings and shattered the windows of residences and commercial establishments in a 200 metre radius.

The exact cause of the blast was not immediately known. Local residents said the explosion could be heard across the town, roughly 200 km from state capital Chandigarh.

Inspector general Surinderpal Singh Parmar, who confirmed the death toll said the legal status of the factory was under probe.

“In initial investigation, it was learnt that a large quantity of explosives lying in the factory,” sub-divisional magistrate Balbir Raj Singh said, confirming the timing of the blast.

An elderly woman and her grandchild, who were passing close to the disaster spot, were among the dead.

This is not the first time an accident has taken place at the factory. On January 21, 2017, a similar blast had rocked the factory, killing one person and injuring three others. At that time, the administration had ordered the cancellation of the factory’s licence.

“It (the blast) was so powerful that I fell unconscious for a long time,” said Sahib Singh, who had gone to the factory to buy firecrackers for the 532nd marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, popularly known as “Babe Da Viah” which falls on September 5.

Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa reached the accident spot and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the dead and ₹50,000 for the injured. “Deeply anguished to learn of the loss of lives due to the blast in the firecracker factory in Batala,” chief minister Amarinder Singh tweeted.

The deaths included the owner of the factory and six of his relatives who were staying on first floor of the factory building, said police. Labourers working at the factory and local residents were also among the dead. “As I heard the blast, I rushed to spot and I was shocked to see dead bodies lying on the road and drain,” said Satpal Singh, a labourer.

Locals said the firecracker unit was manufacturing and storing crackers for ‘nagar kirtan’ - a religious procession marking Guru Nanak’s marriage anniversary celebrations - slated to reach the town late Wednesday evening.

DK Shivakumar arrested, Cong calls it vendetta politics

NEW DELHI, Sept 3: After questioning him for five days in Delhi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested senior Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar on Tuesday evening for allegedly laundering money and for suspected transactions done abroad through shell companies.

A senior official of the anti-money laundering agency, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have found strong evidence that DK Shivakumar was instrumental in money laundering through hawala and shell companies. He was evasive during the questioning after which it was decided to arrest him.”

He would be produced before a special court on Wednesday morning.

A second ED official, who also requested anonymity, said Shivakumar was dodging questions about his association with Karnataka Bhavan employees in Delhi who used to allegedly store or manage illegal money on his behalf. The Congress leader was also evasive about the purpose of a trip to Singapore in July 2017 along with his daughter, this official added.

Minutes after his arrest, Shivakumar tweeted, “I congratulate my BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT [income tax] and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta.”

He appealed to his party cadre to not be disheartened. “I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in god and in our country’s judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics,” the Congress politician added.

The Congress termed the arrest as an attempt by the government to divert attention from its “economic mismanagement” and vowed to fight it legally and in the “people’s court”.

“India’s economy is in doldrums... to put a lid on all this, the BJP government is trying to divert the attention from the economic mismanagement by taking punitive and false actions in revengeful manner against the Congress leaders. The illegal arrest of DK Shivakumar is one more such step. He is innocent and there is not an iota of evidence against him,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.

A senior leader and former minister, Shivakumar is one of the Congress’s main troubleshooters in Karnataka and was instrumental in keeping party legislators together last year when a Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government was sworn in. The government fell earlier this year after a number of MLAs rebelled.

Former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said the central government was trying to silence opposition leaders. “The ruling government is using investigation agencies to oppress those opposition leaders who they think are a threat to their interests,” he tweeted.

The ED first questioned Shivakumar on August 30 after the Karnataka high court denied him relief. He appeared before the agency again last Saturday and on Monday. After four hours of questioning on Tuesday, the ED officials arrested him.

Shivakumar came under the scanner of agencies on August 2, 2017, when large teams of the Income Tax department raided over 64 locations across Delhi and Karnataka linked to the leader, who was a minister in the state government.

At that time, 44 Gujarat MLAs were staying in a resort in Karnataka with links to Shivakumar, in order to keep the party flock together and stop the BJP from approaching them ahead of a crucial Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat where senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was facing a tough battle.

The I-T department had claimed to recover unaccounted cash worth over Rs 10 crore and some jewellery during the raids.

In September 2018, the ED initiated a money laundering probe against Shivakumar and his associates, including Sunil Kumar Sharma, who was accused of transporting huge amounts of cash on a regular basis through hawala channels.

Other people accused were Shivakumar’s business partner Sachin Narayan, Delhi Karnataka Bhavan employee Anjeya Hanumanthaiah and N Rajendra, a caretaker of Karnataka Bhavan.

In a prosecution complaint (equivalent to a charge sheet) filed before the Special Court for Economic Offences at Bengaluru in June last year, the I-T department had claimed that Shivakumar had paid Rs 5 crore to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) through his political associate V Mulgund.

The I-T department had stated in its prosecution complaint that he ran a hawala network to avoid paying taxes.

The alleged payments to the AICC, according to the I-T department, were made in two tranches. The department added: “As per the facts and analysis of the evidences, it is clear that accused number 1 (Shivakumar) has set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bangalore in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash”.

It added that in the diaries with alleged record of transactions, a clever code was allegedly used to evade detection, substituting weight in kilograms for lakhs of rupees.

Chidambaram was asked about his 13 days in CBI custody. His 2-word response

NEW DELHI, Sept 3: Former finance minister P Chidambaram, who was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case last month, on Tuesday jabbed the government on the state of the economy that has dropped to a six-year low of 5 percent in the April-June quarter. Chidambaram, who has spent 13 days in the CBI’s custody, was ordered to spend two more days with the investigating agency.

As he was being led out of Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court complex, a reporter asked him about the last fortnight that he had spent in custody of the CBI.

“5 percent,” Chidambaram quipped and raised his hand to show five fingers.

That response took the reporters by surprise. “What 5 percent sir”, someone asked him.

“What is 5 percent, you don’t remember 5 percent...,” Chidambaram said as the CBI took him away. “GDP”? someone responded tentatively. He smiled.

It was a reference to India’s economic growth that slumped for the fifth straight quarter to an over six-year low of 5 per cent in the three months ended June. Having lost the tag of the world’s fastest-growing economy earlier this year, India’s GDP growth was behind China’s 6.2 per cent in April-June, its weakest pace in at least 27 years.

That 16-second video that showed Chidambaram mocking the government was soon tweeted by the Congress. It was a “quick reminder” why P Chidambaram is feared by the BJP government, the party’s official handle tweeted. The former minister’s son, Karti, called it his father’s “first statement on the economy”.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case in which he is alleged to have influenced a decision to allow foreign funding to the group in exchange for bribes to his son. Chidambaram and his family have trashed the allegations; the Congress says he had been targeted because he had been a sharp critic of the government.

Chidambaram and his son are being investigated by the CBI for corruption and the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering. The ED, the federal investigating agency for financial crimes that he once oversaw, has opposed his request for pre-arrest bail in the Supreme Court in this case. The top court is to rule on Chidambaram’s plea on Thursday.

Digvijaya Singh sparks row accusing BJP, Bajrang Dal of taking money from Pak’s ISI

BHIND, Sept 1: Rajya Sabha member and former Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has accused the BJP and the Bajrang Dal of taking money from Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, triggering another showdown with the saffron party.

In a widely shared video, he can be heard saying that non-Muslims spy for ISI more than Muslims.

The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister who often baits the BJP, made the statement in Bhind on Saturday at a function to unveil a statue of Maharana Pratap.

Later Sunday, he took to Twitter to clarify his original remarks. “Some (TV) channels are running (a story) that I have accused BJP of spying for ISI after taking money. This is completely wrong,” he tweeted in Hindi.

“MP police arrested Bajrang Dal (activist) and BJP IT cell office-bearer on charges of spying for ISI after taking money. I have levelled this charge and stick to it. Why don’t channels ask this question to the BJP?” he said in another tweet.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Bhind programme Digvijaya Singh had said, “My fight with the RSS and the BJP is of ideology. Whoever has been caught for spying for Pakistan.... Bajrang Dal and BJP are taking money from the ISI. Please pay attention to this also. Non-Muslims are spying for Pakistan’s ISI more than Muslims.”

Digvijaya Singh could not be reached for his comments but Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta backed the senior leader.

“Digvijaya Singh ji has made it stand clear. There are many people linked with right wing who were caught by the anti-terrorism agencies like NIA and also MP Police. BJP should make it stand clear on the same.”

But the BJP was severely critical of Singh and accused him of backing Pakistan.

Vice president of the BJP unit in Madhya Pradesh Vijesh Lunawat said, “Digvijaya Singh’s statement is completely absurd and highly objectionable. In fact, he has been speaking the language of Pakistan for decades. It’s he who gave respect to terrorists like Osama Bin Laden who was killed by the US and Hafiz Sayeed in his speeches. The party will look into his speech and decide what to do on his scandlous charges.”

BJP spokesperson in Madhya Pradesh Rajneesh Agrawal said, “Digvijaya Singh has lost his credibility within his own party, not to say of other political parties, given his baseless statements and love for Pakistan. That’s why people from Bhopal gave him a befitting reply in Lok Sabha election only a few months back by ensuring his defeat with a record margin.”

Singh had lost the electoral battle to BJP Pragya Singh Thakur over 3.6 lakh votes.

Bajrang Dal national convener Sohan Solanki said, “Divijaya Singh’s statement is defamatory. We will file an FIR against him. Also, by saying that non-Muslims are more involved in espionage than Muslims he has insulted 125 crore people of India.”

“Digvijaya Singh has lost his credibility as a politician. That’s why he makes such absurd statements to appear to be relevant in politics. It’s same Digvijaya Singh who called Osama Bin Laden as Laden ji and Hafiz Saeed as Saeed Saheb. It’s he who coined the slogans of Hindu and saffron terror,” he said.



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