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    0 0

    Fielding Janata Dal(S) rebels and weeding out controversial legislators and a section of the old guard seemed to be stumbling blocks for the Congress as its tried to finalise candidates for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections.

    Despite marathon meetings on Saturday, party leaders failed to reach a consensus.

    The leaders had finalised candidates for almost 190 Assembly seats and discussions for the remaining nomineess continued late into Saturday night at an undisclosed location in the national capital.

    The list of candidates was supposed to have been released on Saturday but differences among senior leaders further delayed the process. The filing of nominations for the polls begins on Tuesday.

    The Congress high command asked Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and senior leaders to defer their campaign programmes and finalise the list of candidates at the earliest by staying back in Delhi.

    "We will have two more rounds of meetings and by Sunday afternoon, names of all the candidates will be announced," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara told reporters after a three-hour meeting chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday evening.

    After the party top brass failed to finalise candidates for many constituencies on Friday, the screening committee headed by Madhusudhan Mistry met on Saturday for nearly three hours with party leaders, including Siddaramaiah, Parmeshwara and K C Venugopal.

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    While arresting two persons involved in 22 chain-snatching cases in and around the city, the east division police on Saturday recovered 1.8 kilograms of gold, worth Rs 31.92 lakh.

    A senior police officer said Farman Ali (25) and Bakhar Ali (30) are part of the infamous chain-snatching gang from Maharashtra. For the past one year, they had been foraying into the city to snatch away valuables from women and elderly people. The gang had been largely operational in Hennur, Indiranagar, Ramamurthy Nagar, Vidyaranyapura, Bagalagunte, Kothanur, Banaswadi and DJ Halli areas.

    Farman and Bakhar were caught using clues obtained from a woman, who was a victim to their chain snatching on December 19.

    They also confessed to being involved in house-breaking in and around the city. Arriving by bus or train, they would haul off two-wheelers parked on the roadside and use the vehicle to snatch chains. They would then abandon the vehicle near the bus or train stations before slipping away.

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    A group of passengers assaulted and pushed a travelling ticket examiner (TTE) out of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Superfast Express near Katpadi Junction during the early hours of Thursday after they failed to pay a fine for not carrying a valid identity proof for travel.

    The TTE, identified as Santhosh Kumar from Bengaluru, was injured in the incident and is doing fine now after treatment, railway police officials said.

    It all started when the TTE, who was checking tickets of passengers in the S12 coach, found that two people did not possess valid identity proof. "When the TTE insisted that they either show the proof or pay a fine, they got enraged and began attacking him. They were joined by four others who also assaulted the TTE and pushed him out of the train," a railway police official said.

    After the incident, Kumar filed a complaint with the Railway Police, who immediately alerted their counterparts in the Chittoor station about the incident.

    "At Chittoor, Manik (19), was arrested and he has been brought to Katpadi for investigation. A manhunt has been launched for the remaining five," the official said.

    Manik has been remanded in judicial custody and lodged in the Vellore prison.

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    Bengaluru still does not have a directly elected mayor with a five-year term, said former Union minister Jairam Ramesh at an interaction organised by B PAC (Bangalore Political Action Committee) on Saturday.

    At the interaction entitled Economic and Political policies in India - A conversation with Jairam Ramesh which was moderated by T V Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education, Ramesh touched upon various issues of politics, secularism, sanitation and environment.

    He highlighted the need for every major metropolis to have a directly elected mayor with a five-year term. He also spoke about climate change and increasing air pollution.

    Citing a personal experience, he said, "Thirty years ago, I could sleep in Chikkamagaluru without a fan, but today it is difficult to imagine such a scenario."

    He referred to a study that says 15% to 20% of children in Bengaluru are susceptible to cardiovascular problems due to increasing air pollution.

    He also highlighted the aspect of rural to urban migration in India. While India gets $70 billion external remittances, it receives over $10 billion of internal remittance sent by migrants to their families.

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    Two back-to-back incidents at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here have become an inflection point in the students struggle for better facilities at the premier centre of learning.

    On April 8, a student dining at Nesara, one of the restaurants on campus, found a lizard in the dal that he had ordered. He brought the matter to the notice of the authorities. The restaurant was shut for 10 days, beginning April 10.

    In a curious turn of events, somebody spray-painted graffiti on the restaurants wall: Lizard Lives Matter.

    The IISc Students Council has condemned the graffiti and vowed to punish those responsible for it. It has promised leniency if the culprit confesses in private.

    "Whoever did this, please tell the Chairman or General Secretary by tomorrows evening (6 PM). The name will be kept confidential. Otherwise, if administration finds that person out, very strict action will be taken (even expulsion from institute)," it said in a Facebook post. Students have long complained about the quality of food served at the IISc restaurants. In the Facebook post, the council said the authorities had failed to take action on its earlier report on the poor quality of food.

    "The vandalism of the public property was not the right way to show anyones dissatisfaction with the system. Although we agree that the security is very pathetic in the campus and we are raising our voice continuously about the deployment of more security guards at places including gymkhana area and we have been advocating the visitors management system on the gates (sic)," the council said in the post.

    The council has listed several demands, including price regulation, proper identification for staff and periodic testing of food.

    When contacted, an IISc official said they would respond only on Monday. "An incident of spotting a dead lizard in the food served by Nesara was reported by a student. Following this, services of the Nesara have been suspended for 10 days from April 10, 2018, due to unhygienic conditions. Their services will be restored only on getting a certificate of clearance from an appointed committee. Some graffiti has been made on the walls of Nesara. Enquiries are being made into this incident," the IISc said in an e-mail response to DH.

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    Scientists, academicians and professors were among the participants in the March for Science to promote scientific temper.

    The second edition of the march was organised in more than 200 cities across the globe attended by lakhs of scientists, research scholars, teachers and students.

    The city-leg of the march-attended by over 250 people-was organised by March For Science Organising Committee (MFS OC) and NGO, Breakthrough Science Society (BSS).

    The participants demanded that the government take steps to check the propagation of unscientific, obscurantist and out-dated ideas and to help develop scientific temper, human values and spirit of enquiry as per the Constitution of India.

    They also demanded an allocation of at least 3% of GDP to scientific and technological research and 10% towards education. Making sure that the education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence and to enact policies based on scientific evidence was also a part of their demands.

    The participants paid homage to Prof Stephen Hawking and Prof J R Lakshman Rao as a part of the event.

    Prof S Mahadevan form IISc, Prof Ramesh Londonker from Gulbarga University, Dr Sudha, a senior plastic surgeon, Prof Sharbari Bhattacharya from Bangalore University and Nagesh Hegde, science writer were present at the event.

    Messages from Prof M S Swaminathan, an agricultural scientist from Chennai, Prof M Anandakrishnan, for the VC of Anna University and former chairman of IIT Kanpur and Prof Deepankar Chatterjee, honorary professor at IISc were read on the occasion.

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    The Devarajeevanahalli police arrested three suspects for killing a 23-year-old Ola cab driver on March 18 and robbing his vehicle and other valuables.

    The arrested are Arup Shankar Das (36), his brother Deeman Shankar Das (26) from Assam and Bharath Pradhan (22) from Odisha. They killed Rinson Tharayil, an Ola cab driver on March 18, and threw his body in a gutter in Bandrapalli near Hosur in Tamil Nadu.

    City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar said the suspects contacted Tharayil on March 18 night and hired his cab to Hosur. On the way, they killed him and fled with the car.

    A senior police officer said Tharayil was a native of Kerala and was staying in Kaval Byrasandra with his parents. Tharayils father T L Soman registered a missing complaint with the DJ Halli police after his son did not return even after two days.

    Tharayils body was traced on March 27. The police formed a special team and caught the suspects. They recovered a Renault Lodgy car, iPhone, mobiles and other documents from the suspects.

    Strangled to death

    The suspects were contractors and supplied construction labourers from Odisha and Assam. They were living in a rented house near Kacharakanahalli near Banaswadi. The suspects decided to rob the four-wheeler to make a fast buck. To avoid arrest, they stopped using their mobile phones.

    On March 18 around 2 am, the suspects tried to hire a cab near the Veeranna Palya level crossing. Most of the cabbies refused, saying since they were app-based taxis they had to book the cab through their mobile.

    Tharayil then arrived with his cab. One of the suspects approached him and offered him Rs 1,500 for a drop to Hosur. Tharayil agreed.

    After traveling some distance, the three suspects asked Tharayil to stop at an isolated place to attend to natures call. But since it was a deserted place, he did not stop. Then the suspects told him to go to Bedarahalli. As soon as Tharayil stopped the car near the village, the suspects punched him in his face and stomach.

    Deeman held him while the two others stabbed him with a screwdriver. They later strangled Tharayil to death using a towel, said Kumar.

    The suspects took his mobile and cash and threw his body into a gutter and fled with the car. The suspects tried to sell the car the following day, but got no buyers.

    Involved in abduction too

    0 0

    Its a common sight to see people covering their faces while passing by a garbage truck. Motorists speed up to escape the stench.

    In order to reduce the stench emanating from garbage trucks across the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will spray lemongrass oil on them. "We will be spraying lemongrass oil on every truck. This will completely reduce the stench," said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Health and Solid Waste Management, BBMP. "This is the only pleasant-smelling oil. We will spray about 15 ml on every garbage truck."

    Ten bottles of the oil will be enough to spray on all garbage trucks. The oil costs about Rs 1,000 per litre.

    Khan hoped there will be no pungent smell until the garbage trucks reach the waste-processing plants and landfill sites. Six out of the seven waste-processing plants are functional.

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    Mens rights NGO, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), will field Satish Babu, an engineer, as an independent candidate from the BTM Layout Assembly constituency.

    The SIFF has more plans for the upcoming election. Anil Kumar, the founder of the foundation, said at a press conference: "We plan to field candidates in other constituencies and spread awareness about the NOTA option in the constituencies where we will not field any candidate."

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    The Bangalore Development Authority has an important place in the citys development over the decades, but recent controversies have dealt a severe blow to the agencys credibility.

    Inordinate delays in ensuring basic infrastructure for some layouts and denotification of assets to indirectly help real-estate dealers sparked off controversies that could resonate during the forthcoming Assembly polls.

    The agency must largely be thanked for the creation of several new layouts that helped in easing the citys housing problem, while the BDA was also instrumental in major infrastructure projects like laying the ring road, maintaining the lakes and constructing shopping complexes to help small businesses.

    Not too long ago, people queued up to buy BDA sites, but their confidence in the agency has been severely dented after the Arkavathy Layout denotification scam.

    Hundreds lost their sites in the aftermath, but their protests for several weeks was not enough to needle the BDA into a proper response. The agency eventually came forward to give plots to the affected people in Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout.

    Layouts ignored

    The BDA has also come under fire for failing to build infrastructure for the Vishweshwaraiah and Banashankari Layouts, despite having created them several decades ago. Ironically, these layouts contribute a lot to its income.

    The agency invited applications to distribute 5,000 plots at the Kempegowda Layout, but used up the fee collected for the application for other works. It eventually took a loan to repay the unsuccessful applicants, while also borrowing to build homes and pay its employees.

    Now, it owes Rs 100 crore to HUDCO, Rs 2,345 crore to Canara Bank, Rs 32 crore to KUIDFC and Rs 220 crore to Syndicate Bank.

    Shockingly enough, the BDA does not have proper documents of its own assets. All documents must be digitised.

    "There should be a system wherein the commissioner himself should be able to provide details of the plots immediately without having to rely on the engineers," said a senior BDA official, who did not wish to be named.

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    The committee formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), along with the officers from the Karnataka Lake Development and Conservation Authority (KLCDA) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), inspected the Bellandur Lake on Saturday.

    The committee was formed to keep an eye on the condition of the lake after the recent incidents of fire.

    The chairperson of the committee, a senior advocate, Raj Panjwani, BDA Commissioner, Rakesh Singh, CEO of KLCDA, Seema Garg, and BBMP Joint Commissioner for Health and Solid Waste Management (SWM), Sarfaraz Khan, were present at the inspection.

    They also inspected the S T Bed Layout in Koramangala.

    However, the senior officers refused to share the details of todays inspection. "The final report will be available tomorrow," said a senior official who did not wish to be named.

    The inspection, however, left the citizens living near Bellandur Lake disappointed as they could not interact with the officials. "We were waiting for them from 11 am and we could not even talk to them as they had to rush to another meeting. They are meeting everyone except the residents who have been closely working towards the betterment of the lake," said a resident who lives near the lake.

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    The number of registered voters in the state will cross five crore for the May 12 Assembly elections, said Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar.

    Speaking at a media interaction organised by Press Club of Bengaluru and Bengaluru Reporters Guild on Saturday, Kumar said: "There are currently 4.96 crore voters in the state, the new voters are registering themselves in large numbers. The third gender community, tribals and homeless people have also registered their names in the list, this will take the number of voters beyond five crores."

    The Election Commission has set up 58,000 polling booths across the state, where 3.65 lakh personnel will be deployed for election work. "At least five dedicated all-women polling booths called pink polling booths will be set up in city areas and one booth in villages," he added.

    To facilitate the physically challenged and senior citizens to cast their votes, the Election Commission will be setting up booths in the basements of the building and, officials have undertaken a survey to create such dedicated booths, Kumar said.

    Rs 43 crore seized

    The Election Commission has set up 2,500 checkpoints in the state to track poll irregularities.

    "We have seized Rs 43 worth valuables and cash since the model code of conduct came into force. The flying squads vehicles equipped with GPS have been enforcing the model code of conduct, " he explained.

    "During the last elections, as many as 1,157 FIRs were registered under the IPC and the Representation of People Act for violation of model code of conduct. Of these, 1,008 charge sheets have been filed and 299 convictions have been made in Karnataka, which is close to 26% in comparison to the national rate of 12-16 %" Kumar stated.

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  • 04/14/18--06:58: II PU results on April 30
  • The results of the second-year pre-university examination will be announced on April 30, according to C Shikha, director, Department of PU Education.

    Students can access results online on the departments official site: on April 30. Results would be published in individual colleges on May 1.

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    In a controversial statement, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president and MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao on Saturday said people should beat Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with chappals.

    Speaking at an event organised by the Congress at Maurya Circle in Bengaluru to protest against Unnao and Kathua rape incidents, Rao said Adityanath is unfit to be a chief minister. People should teach him a lesson if he visits Karnataka again, the Congress leader added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately remove Adityanath from the post of chief minister. It is an insult to the people of Karnataka Adityanath visits the state, Rao said while addressing the Uttar Pradesh chief minister in the singular.

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    Congress president Rahul Gandhis second round of campaigning in Karnataka is expected to have a pronounced urban focus as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah makes a determined bid to retain the state, a feat that will set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections next year.

    After the successful Janaashirvada Yatre, Rahul is set to hit the campaign trail in Karnataka next week and the Congress has drawn elaborate plans that include a mix of public rallies and roadshows in each of the four regions of the state.

    "We would like to have focus on urban centres," a senior leader involved in planning the campaign said.

    The Congress chief is expected to hold roadshows in district headquarters and rallies elsewhere.

    Of the 224 assembly seats in Karnataka, 154 fall in the rural parts of the state while the remaining 70 cover the urban centres.

    In the 2013 Assembly elections, the Congress had won almost 60% of the rural seats in a four-cornered contest involving the BJP, Congress, JD(S) and the KJP then helmed by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

    Of the 70 urban seats, 28 fall in the Bengaluru region, where the Congress had an edge in 2013 having won 13 seats, with the BJP snapping at its heels by pocketing 12 seats. Three seats had gone to the JD(S).

    Though Siddaramaiah enjoys a pan-Karnataka appeal, there is a perception that he is more popular in the rural areas than in the urban.

    The BJP is aiming to consolidate its hold over the urban areas and had carried out targeted campaigns to reach out to the city voters.

    0 0

    Fielding Janata Dal(S) rebels and weeding out controversial legislators and a section of the old guard seemed to be stumbling blocks for the Congress as it tried to finalise candidates for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections.

    Despite marathon meetings on Saturday, party leaders failed to reach a consensus.

    The leaders had finalised candidates for almost 190 Assembly seats and discussions for the remaining nominees continued late into Saturday night at an undisclosed location in the national capital.

    The list of candidates was supposed to have been released on Saturday but differences among senior leaders further delayed the process. The filing of nominations for the polls begins on Tuesday.

    The Congress high command asked Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and senior leaders to defer their campaign programmes and finalise the list of candidates at the earliest by staying back in Delhi.

    "We will have two more rounds of meetings and by Sunday afternoon, names of all the candidates will be announced," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara told reporters after a three-hour meeting chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday evening.

    0 0

    Saina Nehwals aggression and intensity quite literally wilted P V Sindhu as she picked up the womens singles Commonwealth Games gold medal with exhilarating triumph in the final here today. However, newly-crowned World No.1 Kidambi Srikanth let slip the early advantage to settle for a silver medal going down to Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei in the mens singles summit clash.

    Saina, who led the head-to-head count 3-1 before todays match, won 21-18 23-21 in the high-pressure match that lasted an hour.

    The triumph marked a remarkable end to Sainas CWG campaign this edition. She was the pillar of Indias gold-winning campaign in the team championship earlier, playing every one of the singles matches due to Sindhus injury.

    Srikanth had beaten Lee in the mixed team championships final earlier in the Games but the former world number one rallied for a 19-21 21-14 21-14 triumph today for his third individual CWG gold. He has two more mixed team gold medals to his credit.

    Saina Vs Sindhu

    In a match that started on equal footing, Saina managed to dominate, bringing a rarely seen aggression to the court.

    The brute force of Sindhus smashes was something that Saina found hard to deal with. On the other hand, Sindhu found it tough to adjust to the delicate placement of strokes of Saina, who took the pace off the shuttle by attacking the net.

    The strategy worked quite well for the London Olympics bronze-medallist and she raced to a 9-4 lead. As the gap widened, Sainas command on the baseline also improved. The two contrasting styles of the two shuttlers made for an exhilarating contest.

    What also stood out was Sainas sharper instincts to leave the returns that landed out. Sindhu struggled to control the power she put on her shots, losing at least four points for pushing the shuttle outside and trailed 6-11 at the lemon break.

    Sindhu came back strongly after the break and narrowed the gap a bit but the drift-factor affected her strokeplay way more than Saina, who also seemed the more pumped up of the two, grunting quite a bit after every point won.

    Sainas court coverage was also the more impressive of the two. A telling image of the opening game was when Sindhu was brought to her knees trying to return a smash that didnt really have any power in it but was just placed perfectly on the left corner.

    Sindhu found her bearings after Saina had taken a 20-14 lead and closed it 18-20 but Saina brought her own brute force to fore with a smash targeting Sindhus body which was simply unreturnable. Saina claimed the opening game 21-18 in 23 minutes.

    The second game followed a similar tangent and despite having the more tired set of legs, Saina was a delight with her trademark angled smashes. But to Sindhus credit, she too exhibited a better command on her smashes and improved considerably court-coverage to take a 9-7 lead, which she widened to 13-8 after the break.

    For the full house, mostly packed with the diaspora, it was a brilliant Sunday outing as the top two women of Indian badminton slugged it out, displaying an array of strokes.

    Sindhu led 19-16 at one stage but a 64-stroke rally to narrow it to 18-19 brought Saina right back and she equalised at 19-19. However, Sindhu edged ahead for a 20-19 lead and a game point.

    The see-saw battle continued when Sindhu hit one out to give Saina the equalising point yet again.

    This time, it was Saina who got the championship point when Sindhu struck a return out. The lady, who looked the hungrier of the two all through, was surprisingly late in picking one up as Sindhu made it 21-21.

    But Saina was back in lead with a cross-court smash that Sindhu just could not reach. Serving for the gold, Saina forced a wide stroke from Sindhu and then let out a scream to celebrate the triumph.

    Srikanth Vs lee

    A decade older than the Indian, Lee kept his best for the last, showing off the legendary reflexes that have earned him cult status in international badminton.

    But it was not all smooth sailing for him today as Srikanth started off confidently.

    It took Srikanth just eight minutes to go from being 0-4 down to be 10-7 ahead. The Indian was the better of the two in executing drop shots and even managed to match Lees ability to mix power with precision. Srikanth led 11-9 at the break.

    Srikanth remained a step ahead until 14-13 before a misdirected smash gave Lee the equalising point.

    But Lee was surprisingly off when it came to retrieving the shuttle and his usual agility on the court was only there in flashes. To Srikanths credit, he made the most of his fancied opponents lack of intensity and took the first game 21-19 in the 25 minutes.

    A slight moment of drama came in the second game when it seemed Lee had struck the shuttle twice to claim a point but was not penalised for it and the match went on despite Srikanths protest.

    Lees lackadaisical approach improved considerably thereafter and after leading 11-9 at the interval, he displayed some of the many stylish shots in his armoury to draw level and stay afloat in the high-intensity match, which was as much about elegance as sheer power.

    Leading 9-5 in the decider, Lee went for a change of racquet and it only got him better results as he grabbed an 11-5 lead to take the psychological upper hand. The smashes that were landing outside in the opening game became just the bit accurate and difficult for the Indian to retrieve.

    Lee did show the tendency to take things for granted, exhibiting poor judgement in leaving a shuttle while leading 16-8.

    But even at his erratic worst, the Malaysian, who has multiple Olympic silver medals to his credit, was simply unstoppable for the Indian and claimed the match pretty comfortably.

    0 0

    Winter is long gone, and whatever we can call spring in this city has also passed, and we see the first sign that tells us summer has begun: water tankers.

    Citizens in many parts of the city suffer from an insufficient supply of water to their areas and are desperate for these tankers.

    While the BWSSB order mandates that water should be supplied every alternate day, the reality is far from this.

    One of the areas that do not receive the necessary amount of water in the city is the Saibaba temple road in Doddanekundi. What strikes one about this locality is that the Doddanekundi lake is right next to it, yet the residents of this locality suffer greatly.

    Here the residents get Cauvery water only once a week. Usually released on Friday or Saturday, the flow of water, which is "like a thread", lasts a couple of hours before stopping.

    "Its all politics! Theres a man who comes here to turn on the tap. One day I asked him why our area gets so little water. He replied that the other areas dont get more water, that its the same everywhere. But I know that there are big apartments which get enough Cauvery water," one resident, who did not want to be named, said.

    The water needs of the area were earlier satisfied by borewells, but the excess of borewells that have sprung up here resulted in no one getting enough water.

    "Now to get water, the borewells must be dug deeper. But digging deeper means more money and not everyone in this area has that sort of money," Sandeep, who works at HAL, said.

    Rains, elections, summer

    The residents of the area have different hopes and expectations about how the summer will turn out to be. "Its going to rain now," one resident said, "things will hopefully get better". Others are not as optimistic.

    "One thing that may make a difference is elections. They wont release water when we need it, they may give it to the others, but since they will need our votes soon, they will release water to show that they are doing something," a source, who claimed to know what goes on behind the scenes, said.

    Sandeeps wife Sunitha, however, said, "There is no water. When there is no water, where will the politicians get it from?" Another resident, after repeated assurances of anonymity, said, "Cauvery water isnt scarce for. Those who pay money can get the water they want."

    While the residents of the area, most of them from humble backgrounds, are waiting for someone to listen to them about their woes and come out to speak, few are ready to be named. They fear that if they are named, the situation can only get worse.

    "If I name myself, my son will shout at me. He will ask why when no one gets into trouble with those people, why we should?" one resident said, even as she hid her face in the dark fearing she would be photographed.

    Tankers to the rescue

    Given the dire situation, tankers are all these people have to bank on, which charge them Rs 500 for every 5,000 litres. While the independent houses and smaller apartments get tankers two or three times a week, the bigger apartments may order two or three tankers in a single day.

    The prices are likely to go up as summer reaches its zenith.

    With the Doddanekundi lake providing little relief, the tankers in the areas depend on borewells from other areas. The tanker drivers who live here do not see any threat to their business by Cauvery water, as they fork out the same amount that everyone else does.

    The drivers perhaps understand the crisis the best as they supply water both to their own localities and many affluent localities.

    They notice that the upper middle class, even during the crisis, use water for much more than the necessities.

    "There is wastage of water. In one apartment complex I go to, pools have to be refilled frequently," one driver said, referring to the fact that schools are shut and kids are mostly at home.

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    BWSSB Chairman Tushar Girinath and court-commissioned forensic documents and handwriting expert Phaneendar B N have filed police complaints, saying they have been getting death threats.

    While Girinath filed a complaint at the Halasuru Gate police station, Phaneendar approached the Parappana Agrahara police station which registered a non-cognisable report.

    A court later ordered the cybercrime police to register an FIR. Police have formed a team to track down the suspects in both the cases.

    The BWSSB chief said an unidentified person had written to his office, asking for clearing his bills within three months or else Girinath will be "eliminated". Police have taken the copy of the letter and are investigating it.

    Phaneendra reported receiving threatening messages in Arabic and English on WhatsApp. He said an unidentified person had sent him a video, saying his head will be chopped off.

    Phaneendra replied to him seeking to know why he wants to kill him, but the man didnt respond. "I have examined documents and handwriting samples in many cases.

    Now, I get this threat," he told DH.

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    Manika Batras sensational run at the Commonwealth Games fetched her another medal as she teamed up with G Sathiyan to collect the mixed doubles bronze, thereby claiming a medal in every event she competed in here.

    Batra and Sathiyan defeated the senior duo of A Sharath Kamal and Mouma Das 11-6 11-2 11-4 to claim the honours in the bronze medal playoff.

    Batra had earlier won a historic womens singles gold and was also a part of the top-finishing womens team. In womens doubles, she won a silver with Mouma Das.

    0 0

    India ended their Commonwealth Games campaign in squash with two silver medals after Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa went down fighting in the womens doubles final here today.

    Pallikal and Chinappa, who had won a historic gold in Glasgow Games four years ago, fell short against the New Zealand combine of Joelle King and Amanda-Landers Murphy losing 9-11, 8-11 in the title clash.

    The Indians were visibly upset with some of the calls taken by the referees.

    Pallikal had also questioned the quality of refereeing in the mixed doubles final yesterday when she and Saurav Ghosal lost to Australias Donna Urquhart and Cameron Pilley to settle for silver.

    Going by the number of medals, it was Indias best ever performance at the Games ever since the sport was introduced way back in 1998.

    The gold won by Pallikal and Chinappa in 2014 was Indias first ever squash medal at the Games.

    India did not win a medal across four editions from 1998 to 2010.

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    At a time when political parties are fighting it out to grab the legacy of Bhim Rao Ambedkar for political gains, not many worry as to how the colour blue came to be associated with the Dalit icon.

    The leader, who carved out the Constitution of free India laying down the framework assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them, has been depicted in blue in all statues installed all over the country.

    "Blue was his favourite colour and he mostly used it in his personal life too," Lalji Nirmal of Ambedkar Mahasabha, which conferred the Dalit Mitra award on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Ambedkars birth anniversary, told PTI here. Retired IPS officer and leading Dalit activist SR Darapuri said that besides being his favourite colour, blue was also the colour of the flag of the party floated by Ambedkar Scheduled Castes Federation of India in 1942.

    "The flag was blue in colour and had an Ashok Chakra in the centre...later in 1956 when the Republican Party of India was set up after dissolving the earlier party, it was also given the same blue flag," Darapuri pointed out. "Blue, in another shade, is also the colour of the sky, which shows vastness and that was the vision of Baba Saheb," he said. The same has been adopted by the BSP as its colour and has since come to be associated with Dalit emancipation, he stressed.

    "The statues of Baba Saheb are always seen in a blue coat with the Constitution in one hand and the finger of the other pointing out as a symbol of moving ahead," Darapuri said. Recently a freshly installed 5-feet-tall statue of the Dalit icon was installed in a Badaun village in saffron jacket but was promptly re-painted in blue after questions arose over the choice of a colour associated with Hindutva.

    The saffron-attire statue in Kuwargaav village was a replacement for a smaller Ambedkar statue that was damaged by some anti-social elements and local BSP leaders initiated its repainting. Recalling an anecdote recounted by Ambedkars wife Dr Savitri Ambedkar, who was a close acquaintance, Lalji Nirmal said that on a visit to Lucknow as central minister Ambedkar had refused to stay in the Raj Bhawan saying that he cannot part with his books.

    "The then Governor Sarojini Naidu had invited Baba Saheb to stay in the Raj Bhawan but since he had come with his books in hordes, Baba Saheb said that he will be staying in his Railway saloon," Nirmal said, adding that even his wife used to say that books were his first love. Quoting "Ambedkar ki dincharya" - a book by Baba Sahebs secretary - Darapuri said he was also fond of good food and used to cook for his friends and guests.

    "Savitri Ambedkar on a visit to our place in Varanasi told us that he liked dressing up immaculately and his clothes were stitched by the same tailor from whom the then Lt Governor of Bombay presidency used to get them made," Darapuri said. Lalji Nirmal also commended efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having made Ambedkar relevant today.

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    More than 21,000 more males pursue PhDs in the country than females, contrary to the popular perception, according to HRD Ministry data.

    According to the data accessed by PTI for the last three years, the student enrolment in the PhD programmes has also increased.

    While 1,00,792 students enrolled for the PhD programmes in universities across the country in 2014-15, the number of students registering in 2015-16 and 2016-17 was 1,09,552 and 1,23,712 respectively.

    In the year 2014-15, over 21,000 more males had enrolled in the PhD programmes than females. Similarly, in the subsequent years, the number was higher by 21,688 and 21,882.

    The data also reveals that maximum PhDs are enrolled in the state public universities, followed by institutions of national importance.

    While 41,566 students enrolled in the state public universities for the 2016-17 academic session, 26,012 of them had enrolled in institutions of national importance.

    A total of 17,715 students had registered for PhD in central universities in the year whereas 16,595 of them enrolled in private universities.

    Similar trends were witnessed in the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.

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    Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty today claimed Indias first ever medal in mens doubles after settling for a silver at the 21st Commonwealth Games badminton competition here today.

    Satwik and Chirag lost 13-21 16-21 to Rio Olympics bronze medallist English pair of Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge in a 39-minute mens doubles final at the Carrara Sports Arena.

    With the silver clinched by Satwik and Chirag, India ended their highly successful badminton campaign with six medals, which include the mixed team event gold.

    Earlier, Saina Nehwal clinched her second CWG gold medal after defeating P V Sindhu in the womens singles final, while Kidambi Srikanth settled for a silver after losing narrowly to three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei in mens singles final.

    Yesterday, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy bagged a bronze medal in the womens doubles event.

    At 17 and 20 respectively, Satwik and Chirag form a formidable pair. It was the Tata Open India International Challenge win that brought them into the limelight in 2016.

    They also won in Mauritius and Bangladesh, but their biggest win came last year when they clinched the Vietnam Open International Challenge. They had managed to topple former Olympic and world champion Markis Kido and his partner Hendra Gunawan en route the title.

    They also qualified for the Glasgow World Championship and managed to reach the quarterfinals at the Korea Open and the French Open.

    This year, Satwik and Chirag made it to the semifinals at Indonesia Masters and All England quarterfinals.

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    Government employees can go abroad while on a child care leave, according to new guidelines of the Personnel Ministry.

    They can also avail Leave Travel Concession (LTC) -- which allow leave and reimbursement of two and fro expenses-- during the child care leave period, it said.

    This clarification from the Personnel Ministry follows after it received references with regard to the child care leave (CCL) from different government departments.

    "An employee on CCL may proceed on foreign travel provided clearances from appropriate competent authorities are taken in advance," the ministry said in a recent order issued to all the central government departments.

    An employee on CCL may be permitted to leave headquarters with the prior approval of appropriate competent authority, it said.

    "LTC may be availed while an employee is on CCL," the order said.

    As per the existing rules, women employees, having minor children, may be granted child care leave for a maximum period of two years (i.e. 730 days) during their entire service for taking care of up to two children, whether for rearing or to look after any of their needs.

    Child care leave shall not be admissible if the child is 18 years of age or older, the rules say.

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    The Supreme Court has wondered as to why investigating agencies "always believe in quantity" and make hundreds of prosecution witnesses to prove their charges before the court of law.

    The apex court, which was dealing with a case related to the 2008 Gujarat serial blasts, noticed that the prosecution has named over 1,500 witnesses in the matter.

    "Why you (prosecuting agencies) always believe in quantity? In every case, there are 100-200 prosecution witnesses. There was an accident case in which no eyewitness was there but around 200 prosecution witnesses were named. We really wonder why so many witnesses are made," a bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said.

    The general oral observations were made during the hearing on the bail plea of some of the alleged members of banned outfit Indian Mujaheedin (IM), who are facing trial in the 2008 serials blasts case.

    As many as 21 explosions had rocked the Ahmedabad city in Gujarat within a span of an hour killing 56 people and injuring over 220.

    The bench was informed that in the blasts case, which was probed by the Gujarat Police, around 930 prosecution witnesses were already examined by the trial court while several others were yet to be examined.

    The apex court also asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Gujarat Police, as to whether so many prosecution witnesses were "really required" to be examined in the case.

    "You have to tell us whether these many witnesses are really required to be examined," the bench asked the ASG.

    Mehta said the police have themselves dropped 257 witnesses in the case but 175 "core witnesses" were required to be examined.

    He said a series of blasts had rocked Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, while 15 more bombs were found and defused in Surat.

    Mehta said there were above 90 accused in the case out of which 84 were arrested and 10 were absconding.

    He said out of the 84 arrested accused, only two have got bail while the rest were in jail.

    Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for the accused said that so far, 931 prosecution witnesses have been examined and none of them has said anything against the accused who were seeking bail.

    The lawyer also said a trial court in Rajasthan has already acquitted these accused in a separate case where similar kind of allegations, including that they had reportedly gone to terrorist camps for training, were levelled.

    However, when the bench asked Mehta about the verdict of the Rajasthan court, the ASG said he would ascertain the facts and get back to the court.

    The ASG told the bench there were allegations against these accused that they were earlier members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but after this outfit was banned by the government, they joined the IM.

    He said trial in the case was at a "crucial stage" and as per their estimate, it would take another 15 months to complete.

    The bench has listed the matter for hearing on May 3 after the ASG said he would get some instructions in the matter.

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    There is a need to overturn the Supreme Court order laying down fresh guidelines on the arrest of those accused of committing atrocities against SC and ST communities, the government feels, and bringing an ordinance to restore the original provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is one of the options being considered.

    Sources aware of deliberations within the government at different levels say promulgating an ordinance to restore the original provisions would help calm tempers.

    Introducing a bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament slated for July to amend the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to overturn the SC order is the second option before the government, the sources said.

    "If an ordinance is issued, it too will have to be converted into a bill and passed by Parliament. The result of the two exercises is the same -- to restore the original provisions. But the ordinance has the benefit of giving instant results. It will help calm tempers immediately," a senior functionary said.

    Dalit groups had organised protests across the country on April 2 against the alleged dilution of the Act through the March 20 verdict of the Supreme Court. The protests had turned violent at several places which left several people dead.

    Opposition parties also accused the government of failing to protect Dalit rights.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted his government will not let the law to prevent atrocities on SCs and STs to be diluted.

    "I want to assure the nation that the law which has been made stringent by us will not allowed to be affected (by the SC order)...," he had said.

    But the sources said no decision has been taken so far and much would depend on the way the hearing on a review petition filed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the apex court progresses.

    They said since review pleas may not bear immediate results and the SC decision could not be favourable, the government will have to firm up its stand on the future course of action.

    The apex court had laid down new guidelines for police officers on how to ensure that innocent people, especially public officials, are protected from false complaints under the act.

    In a written submission filed before the top court on Friday, the Centre said the verdict on the SC/ST Act has "diluted" its stringent provisions, resulting in "great damage" to the country by causing anger and a sense of disharmony among the people.

    Observing that the court had dealt with an issue of a "very sensitive nature", the submission said the verdict has caused "commotion, anger, unease and a sense of disharmony" in the country.

    It dubbed the entire judgement as "vitiated" as it proceeded on the basis that the top court can legislate a law despite having no such power.

    The stand of the government came a week after the apex court refused to keep in abeyance its verdict, saying those agitating against its order putting in place certain safeguards on arrests under the 1989 Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, may not have read the judgement or could have been misled by "vested interests".

    The written submissions filed by Attorney General K K Venugopal said: "this judgement has diluted, for the reasons stated, the provisions of the Atrocities Act read with the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, resulting in great damage to the country".

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    The BJP is mulling over fielding Bellary Lok Sabha member B Sriramulu from the Badami seat in the district if Chief Minister Siddaramaiah contests from there.

    This is as part of the strategy devised by the BJP under the leadership of party president Amit Shah at a meeting held at the residence of party leader Govind Karjol in Bagalkot on Friday.

    It is said that local leaders of the party are in favour of fielding Sriramulu, for various strategic reasons.

    The strategy is to wean away the votes of the Valmiki community, to which Sriramulu belongs, from the Congress, besides wooing voters of the Lingayat-Veerashaiva communities, given that B S Yeddyurappa is the BJPs chief ministerial candidate.

    It will also help keep S Thippeswamy as the partys nominee in Molakalmuru, as he is sulking after Sriramulus name was announced for the Molakalmuru constituency in Chitradurga district.

    The saffron party is also counting on the votes of the Scheduled Tribes, who are in good numbers in the constituency. It is said that former MLA M K Pattanashetti and his relative Mahantesh Mamadapur are BJP ticket aspirants this time.Mamadapur had contested on the JD(S) ticket last time and stood second.

    Former minister and sitting MLA B B Chimmanakatti, who has represented the seat five times since 1978 and belongs to Kuruba community, had so far thrived on the division in Lingayat votes, which the BJP now wants to consolidate.

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    JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy, on Saturday, lambasted at the Congress party and said that the JD(S) will win 100 seats and the Congress will get only 40 in the upcoming Assembly elections. The JD(S) will be the king and not kingmaker, he said.

    Kumaraswamy was speaking to reporters, after paying tributes to the statue of B R Ambedkar in front of the Town Hall, here, to mark Ambedkar Jayanti.

    In response to the poll survey conducted by a media house, recently, Kumaraswamy said that media adviser to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Amin Mattu, has worked in the survey. "I know how he (Mattu) influenced the survey. I have every document of it. According to the survey, while the Congress is expected to win 90-101 seats, the BJP may win 78-86 seats, and JD(S) is expected to win 34-43 seats. JD(S) will play the role of kingmaker in the state," he said.

    Kumaraswamy said that people have decided to make us the king and not kingmakers. In the 2004 elections, the then survey had projected that the JD(S) will win just two seats. But, we won 52 Assembly segments. Compared to 2004, the party is much stronger," Kumaraswamy said.

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    Myanmars government said it repatriated on Saturday the first family of Rohingya out of some 700,000 refugees who fled to Bangladesh to escape a brutal military campaign, despite UN warnings that a safe return is not yet possible.

    The stateless Muslim minority has been massing in squalid Bangladesh camps since the Myanmar Army launched a ruthless crackdown on the community in northern Rakhine state last August.

    The UN says the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing, but Myanmar has denied the charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

    Bangladesh and Myanmar vowed to begin repatriation in January but the plan has been repeatedly delayed as both sides blame the other for a lack of preparation.

    According to a Myanmar government statement posted late on Saturday, one family of Rohingya refugees became the first to return earlier in the day.

    "The five members of a family... came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning (Saturday)," said a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the governments Information Committee.

    The post described the family as "Muslim", in line with a government policy not to use the word "Rohingya", which authorities do not recognise as an ethnicity.

    Authorities determined "whether they were once living here" and provided the family with National Verification Cards, a form of ID that falls short of citizenship and has been rejected by Rohingya leaders who want full rights.

    Photos posted alongside the statement showed one man, two women, a young girl and a boy receiving the ID cards and getting health checks.

    It said that the family had been sent to stay "temporarily" with relatives in Maungdaw town.

    The post did not mention any plans for further returnees in the near future.

    The move comes despite warnings from the UN and other rights groups that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature, as Myanmar has yet to address the systematic legal discrimination and persecution the minority has faced for decades.

    The Rohingya are reviled by many in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are branded as illegal "Bengali" immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their long roots in Rakhine state.

    They have been systematically stripped of their citizenship in recent decades and forced to live in apartheid-like conditions with severely restricted access to health care, education and other basic services.

    "Right now, the conditions are not conducive to a voluntary, dignified and sustainable return," said Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary general for the UNs Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

    Myanmar must address "critical issues of freedom of movement, social cohesion, livelihoods, and access to services", she added.

    Many Rohingya refugees say they fear to return to a country where they saw their relatives murdered by soldiers and where Buddhist vigilantes drove them from their homes.

    Many of their original communities were burned to the ground in the violence that Doctors Without Borders says claimed at least 6,700 Rohingya lives in the first month alone.

    Myanmar authorities have since bulldozed over many of the charred villages, raising alarm from rights groups who say they are erasing evidence of atrocities and obscuring the Rohingyas ties to the country.

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    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was on Sunday sworn in as a member of the Rajya Sabha for a new six-year term.

    Jaitley, who is undergoing treatment for a kidney ailment, was administered the oath of office in the chambers of Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu.

    The 65-year-old minister, elected to the Upper House of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh last month, was sworn in at a special ceremony because of his health condition.

    "Took oath of office as Rajya Sabha Member representing Uttar Pradesh, April 15, 2018," Jaitley said on Twitter.

    Union Ministers Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goel, Hardeep S Puri, Vijay Goel and Shiv Pratap Shukla, along with the leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, were among those present at the ceremony.

    Rajya Sabha members Bhupender Yadav, Jagdambika Pal, Conrad Sangma (now Meghalaya chief minister) and former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa were also present.

    Jaitley had earlier been reappointed Leader of the Rajya Sabha following his election but could not be sworn in along with other members of the Upper House because of ill health.

    The minister has not visited his North Block office since April 2.

    He underwent dialysis at AIIMS on April 9 and has been confined to a controlled environment at home.

    He had cancelled his scheduled foreign visits and confirmed his illness in a tweet.

    Jaitley had undergone bariatric surgery to treat weight gain and a long-standing diabetic condition.

    The surgery was first performed at Max Hospital in September 2014, but he had to be later moved to AIIMS because of complications.

    He had undergone heart surgery several years ago.

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    An Air China flight bound for Beijing made an unscheduled landing in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Sunday after a passenger threatened a flight attendant with a fountain pen, the countrys civil aviation authority said.

    In a brief statement on its website, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said a male passenger on Air China Flight 1350, who it did not identify, attempted to use the pen to hold the flight attendant "under duress".

    Passengers and crew were unharmed, the statement said, without providing any further details.

    The flight took off from Changsha, the capital of southern Hunan province, at 8.40 am and was scheduled to arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport at around 11 am, according to local media reports and flight tracking websites.

    But it made the unscheduled landing at Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport, in central Henan province, at 9.58 am, according to an earlier post on Air Chinas official Weibo microblog.

    Air China said in the post that the plane made the unscheduled stop due to "public safety reasons", and that police and civil aviation authorities were handling the situation.

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    With a grand total of 66 medals, India finished with the third highest medal tally on Sunday in the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games held at Gold Coast, Australia.

    India bagged 26 gold, 20 silver and 20 bronze medals to remain in the third position. Australia with 79 gold medals and England with 45 are in the first and second position respectively.

    Saina Nehwals first place victory in the singles badminton event was the shining event on the last day of the competition. Srikanth Kidambi, the world number one, settled for Silver in the badminton singles final while Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa also went down fighting in the womens squash doubles final for Silver.
    Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty today claimed Indias first ever medal in mens doubles badminton after settling for a silver.

    This is Indias third-best ever performance in the Commonwealth Games.

    Medal tally details source: Wikipedia.

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    Afghanistan at the weekend began registering voters across the war-torn country as it seeks to ensure that long-delayed legislative elections in October are seen as credible and fraud-free.

    Over the next two months authorities hope to register as many as 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres - an ambitious goal in a country where militants control or contest much of the territory.

    "The main challenge is insecurity, particularly in rural areas," said Abdul Badie Sayad, chairman of the Independent Election Commission.

    In addition to the Taliban and Islamic State group terrorising swathes of the population, "local powers, illegal militias and strongmen will try to interfere" in the parliamentary and district council elections, Sayad predicted.

    A shortage of female staff at polling centres, particularly in conservative rural areas, could also impede participation by women in the polls, which are seen as a test run for next years presidential election.

    "Women wont be given permission from their families to reach the registration centres, where they may be asked to remove their burqa to show their faces," Sayad said.

    In Kabul, on Saturday, police stood guard at a school being used as a registration centre but only a handful of men showed up.

    Mohammad Hussein, a 54-year-old shopkeeper, said he wanted to vote for a candidate "able to bring about change in this country".

    "I voted in 2010 but I made a mistake - the MP didnt bring any change. This time I need to vote for someone who works without taking bribes," said Hussein.

    The October 20 polls were originally set to be held in 2015 following presidential elections the previous year but were repeatedly pushed back due to security fears and logistical problems within the fragile unity government.

    If held, candidates will contest the 249 seats in the National Assembly for five-year terms.

    The country will also hold regional elections in tandem with hundreds of districts across Afghanistan - some of which are outside Kabuls control.

    Over the coming weeks, the IEC hopes to register 13-14 million people at centres where they will later be required to cast their vote, a move which officials hope will reduce the risk of ballot-box stuffing.

    A television advertising campaign has been launched to persuade ordinary people that their votes will count - a challenging task after a disputed presidential election in 2014.

    "We are trying very hard to increase the confidence of the public, to increase the legitimacy of the elections," Sayad said.

    Another hurdle to voter registration is the lack of national identification cards, or taskeras, particularly among women.

    Just over half the population has a taskera and the government hopes to issue another 10 million to enable more people to register to vote, officials have said.

    But there are concerns over how Afghans living in areas controlled or contested by insurgents will be able to register and vote safely.

    Afghan security forces have been tasked with protecting polling centres, even as they struggle to get the upper hand against militants on the battlefield.

    President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday called on the Taliban to take up his peace offer made in February to take part in the elections "as a political party".

    So far the Taliban, which is expected to launch its traditional spring offensive in the coming weeks, has not responded to Ghanis proposal.

    Despite international pressure on the Afghan government to hold elections this year, some question whether October will be too late.

    Holding the vote within months of the presidential poll risked "electoral congestion and political chaos", Afghanistan Analysts Networks Ali Yawar Adili warned in a report this month.

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    Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will arrive here on a four-day visit to the UK on Tuesday, is the only head of government to be offered bilateral meetings ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), according to senior officials.

    In what has been categorised as an "unprecedented" welcome, Modi will hold not just one but two meetings with his British counterpart Theresa May on Wednesday before they begin formal deliberations as part of the multilateral Commonwealth summit on Thursday.

    Prime Minister Modi, who arrives in the UK from Sweden on Tuesday night, is also among only three senior world leaders attending CHOGM to be invited for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday evening, they said.

    Modis royal welcome will include a special event hosted by Prince Charles, during which the heir to the British throne will drive up in a Tata Motors first-ever electric Jaguar to symbolise the India-UK technical collaboration.

    "The welcome being accorded to the Indian Prime Minister is unprecedented in many ways. It reflects the importance the UK attaches to the visit and shows the mature level of India-UK ties," said an official involved with the preparations for the visit.

    The bilateral leg of the UK tour begins with Modis talks with Theresa May at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday morning, during which both leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including separatism, cross-border terrorism, visas and immigration.

    A memorandum of understanding on the return of illegal immigrants, which had expired in 2014, will be renewed to take into account biometric and other developments in the field.

    Following his meeting with Theresa May, Modi will head to the Science Museum in London to visit the 5000 Years of Science and Innovation exhibition and interact with Indian-origin and other scientists and innovators based in the UK.

    This will be followed by the launch of a new Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence, marked by an MoU between the All India Institute of Ayurveda and College of Medicine in the UK. The centre is aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network involving Indian and British academics and medical professionals to coordinate on evidence-based research on yoga and Ayurveda.

    During a packed day of activities on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi is also expected to pay tribute at the Basaveshwara statue on the banks of the river Thames, which he had inaugurated during his last visit to the UK in 2015.

    According to official estimates, India-UK bilateral trade stands at USD 13 billion, with the UK among the largest G20 investors into India.

    Modis UK visit will have a particular focus on the India-UK technological partnership and the central feature of this will be his second meeting with Theresa May on Wednesday at the Francis Crick Institute in London, where a new India-UK Technical Alliance is expected to be among a series of announcements. He will also meet Indian-origin scientists working on cancer research, malaria and other tropical diseases before going in to the India-UK CEOs Forum.

    The Ministry of External Affairs has indicated that around 10-12 deliverables, including innovation-related MoUs between NASSCOM and Innovate UK and between NITI Aayog and its counterpart in the UK, are expected to be accompanied by a formal joint statement at the end of the bilateral leg of the visit on Wednesday.

    Modi will then head for his audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace before the Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath diaspora event to be telecast live from an as-yet undisclosed iconic central London venue on Wednesday evening.

    The event, billed as the centrepiece of the "Living Bridge" theme of the India-UK bilateral visit, will involve Modi addressing questions from across the world which have already been received via social media and some via live video link.

    An estimated 2,000 people are expected to have received confirmations to attend the "niche event", since online registrations closed earlier this month.

    Organisers said the decision to host a smaller event than the grand diaspora event at Wembley Stadium during Modis last visit to the UK in November 2015 was to enable the Indian diaspora from across the world to be able to participate.

    At the end of the live telecast, the Prime Minister will join Heads of Government from 52 other countries at a formal dinner hosted by Theresa May to mark the launch of CHOGM.

    This will be followed by official deliberations between the heads of government in London on Thursday before they head to Windsor for the CHOGM retreat, where the world leaders will interact on an informal basis without any structured agenda or the presence of officials.

    On the sidelines of the "unprecedented" welcome, Modi will also be greeted with some protests at Parliament Square on Wednesday afternoon, being spearheaded by Pakistani-origin peer, Lord Ahmed, and bringing together UK-based Kashmiri and Sikh groups.

    A counter-demonstration titled British Indians Welcome Prime Minister Modi is also planned at the same time at Parliament Square.

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    Move over Twitter, Facebook, helplines and complaint registers if you are looking to lodge your grievances with the Railways.

    The national transporter is going to launch a dedicated mobile application -- rather appropriately named MADAD (Mobile Application for Desired Assistance During travel) -- later this month to enable its passengers to lodge complaints, be it over food quality or dirty toilets. They can also request emergency services through the app.

    The complaint lodged through the app will directly reach the relevant officials of the divisions concerned and the action is taken can be relayed online, thus fast-tracking the entire process of registration and redressal of grievances.

    Passengers will also be able to track the status of their complaints and be notified about any action taken in the case.

    The proposed app would integrate all passenger grievance and redressal mechanisms in the railways.

    "As of now, we have 14 channels through which passengers can register their grievances. Each has its own response time and even standards of response. While some are active, others are not. We wanted to have one transparent, standardised grievance redressal process. This app is likely to be launched this month," a senior official said.

    Passengers can register their grievances simply by keying in their PNRs and they will receive a complaint ID through SMS at the time of registration. This will be followed by personalised SMS regarding the action taken by the department concerned.

    The app would also display total monthly complaints received and resolved by the Indian Railways and show the ranking of top five and bottom five railway stations and Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains of each zone in terms of faster complaint resolutions to encourage transparency and accountability, the official said.

    "The introduction of this system does not mean that we will not respond to complaints on the other forums. But eventually, we want to use this one integrated system. This will also represent a holistic picture of weak, deficient areas and will enable focused corrective action by officials concerned," the official said.

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    India on Sunday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over blocking of access of visiting Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats in that country and even "compelling" the Indian envoy to return while on way to a prominent gurudwara there.

    The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said a group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan from April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.

    In a statement, the MEA also said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib on Saturday.

    The MEA called it an "inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy" by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

    "India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over a block of access for visiting pilgrims to Indian diplomats and consular teams," it said in a statement.

    The fresh incidents came, over two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each others diplomats.

    The MEA said the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, who was to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at the invitation of the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), was suddenly asked to return while en route the shrine on Saturday, for unspecified "security" reasons.

    It said the High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was thus compelled to return without meeting Indian citizens.

    "India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan against this inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy, pointing out that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries," the MEA said.

    On not allowing the pilgrims to meet Indian diplomats, it said a standard practice has been that the Indian High Commissions consular/protocol team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies.

    "However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims. The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah Railway Station on April 12. Similarly, it was denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14, for a scheduled meeting with pilgrims there. The High Commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens," it said.

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    The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has proposed installation of a chip in new television set-top boxes which will provide data about channels watched and their duration.

    A senior official of the ministry said the move is aimed to get "more authentic" viewership figures for every channel.

    "This would help advertisers and the DAVP to spend their advertising expenditure wisely. Only those channels which are widely watched will get promoted," the official added.

    The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) is the nodal agency of the government for advertising by various ministries and its organisations.

    In the proposal, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has told the TRAI, "It is also proposed to ask DTH operators to install a chip in the new set-top boxes which can give data about channels watched and their duration."

    The proposal was part of the ministrys response to a number of recommendations made by the TRAI on issues related to new direct-to-home licenses.

    The official said the ministry also "feels that Doordarshan viewership is under-reported" and if the chip is installed, it would give the real viewership figures of the channel.

    The move is seen to end the monopoly of the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), which measures the television audience preferences in the country.

    The ministry official alleged that the BARC is "almost like a monopoly and there is no alternative" and it "does not reveal how they arrive at the viewership figures, methodology they apply and the area of survey".

    The official said the ministry discussed the possibility of procuring about 300 people meter and randomly installing them to verify the veracity of BARC data, but 300 meter were too small number to meaningfully compare and verify data.

    He said the BARC measures viewership by installing 30,000 people meter, which are soldered to the TVs mother board.

    The official said nobody would allow such thing to be done on their television sets and thus there were concerned about the genuineness of the assessment done through volunteers.

    The BARC, however, refuted the accusations.

    "We are a joint industry body that was set up in close consultation with all stakeholders, including government representatives and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Our data collection and reporting methodology was arrived at post these consultations and consensus. TRAI is telecom and broadcasting sector watchdog.

    "Guided by the goals of transparency, the detailed methodology has always been available on our website," BARC India spokesperson said.

    He said the BARC operates within the regulatory framework as mandated by the ministrys guidelines.

    "We also meet regularly with officials of ministry and TRAI to brief them and provide status report on our operations. The same has been done through periodic presentations," the spokesperson said.

    He said that the BARC always had government nominee on its Board and also on its technical committee.

    "We will be happy to again meet and address all their queries for which we have been seeking a meeting with them since some time," the spokesperson added.

    The TRAI, in its response to the ministrys suggestions, recently said, Regarding asking DTH operators to install a chip in new set-top boxes, it is stated that this is a new issue and cannot be part of the reference.

    "If the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) desires TRAIs recommendation on this issue, it may send a separate reference to TRAI as per the provisions of the TRAI Act 1997, it said.

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    Shekhar Kapoor, who headed the feature film jury for this years National Film Awards, has said the quality of regional cinema left him "stunned".

    The veteran filmmker appealed to the media to highlight the good films being made outside mainstream Hindi cinema.

    While announcing the National Film Awards on Friday, Kapur said he was moved by the regional cinema, particularly Malayalam, and films such as "Bhayanakam", "Take Off", and "Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum".

    The 72-year-old director tweeted, "What an eye-opener it has been chairing the National Film Awards 2018. The quality of regional cinema has left us stunned.

    "Its world class and its time to take away the tag of regional cinema. For Hindi cinema no longer can compete with the quality we saw from other languages."

    Kapur also said the mainstream media should focus more on regional films, which remains "hidden" from the audiences.

    "Unfortunately, mainstream media and Bollywood enjoy a highly incestuous relationship. So the brilliance of the new regional cinema remains hidden from audiences. Its time for that to change," he tweeted.

    At the awards, the "Bandit Queen" director also praised "Village Rockstars", the best feature film winner, saying he did not know films from Assam also went to Cannes Film Festival.

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    The stakes seem to be high for the ruling Trinamool Congress in the upcoming West Bengal panchayat polls, as the party leadership feels that gaining a foothold in national politics after the 2019 Lok Sabha election is incumbent on winning the rural heartland.

    According to senior TMC leaders, the partys objective to play a major role at the national level can only be successful if it manages to bag the maximum share out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.

    "If we want to win the maximum number of seats in Lok Sabha polls, then we have to ensure that we put up a good show in the upcoming rural polls so that we are ahead of our rivals," said a senior TMC leader.

    With nearly 40 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state being located in villages and semi-urban areas administered by panchayats, an absolute control of the rural bodies is a must for political parties to have an upper hand on rivals in next years Lok Sabha polls, feel senior TMC leaders.

    "Steering the state from 2011, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government has established its credentials on the twin foundation of development and diversity.

    "People will endorse this in the upcoming panchayat elections. Yes, the journey to Delhi originates in the rural heartland of Bengal," said Derek OBrien, TMC parliamentary party leader in Rajya Sabha.

    Briens views were echoed by his party colleague Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who is of the view that the panchayat polls will be the most important election ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

    "Panchayat elections resonates the views of the grass-roots and the masses. In villages, people are dependent on their gram panchayats ... The activities of elected representatives at panchayats and Zilla parishads come as an added benefit for the political parties he or she represents," said Bandyopadhyay.

    The elections will be held across 48,650 seats in 3,358-gram panchayats, 9,217 seats at 341 panchayat samitis, and 825 seats at 20 Zilla parishads.

    Another senior TMC leader came up with an analogy on how results of panchayat polls directly influence the Lok Sabha election in Bengal.

    "Our victory in South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore Zilla parishads in the 2008 panchayat polls had led to the party winning 19 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. The stellar performance in 2013 panchayat polls, when it won the maximum number of Zilla parishads, also led the TMC to bag 34 Lok Sabha seats in 2014," he explained.

    However, he admitted that despite winning so many seats, the party could not have a major role after the 2014 elections, as the BJP managed full majority.

    "But this time, things will be different from 2014 and TMC will play a defining role after 2019," the TMC leader said.

    The TMC leadership has time and again emphasised that it will play a major role on the national level, after next years Lok Sabha polls.

    Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had last month said she would try to unite all the anti-BJP forces to defeat the saffron party in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

    The TMC top brass had also met several leaders of various Opposition parties, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and TRS chief K C Rao, aiming to cobble up a formidable front against the BJP.

    Opposition parties cutting across political lines feel that the TMCs urge to prove its mettle in the panchayat elections in order to find firm footing in the Lok Sabha polls next year has led to unprecedented violence over the filing of nominations for the rural polls.

    The TMC has denied all such accusations.

    Displeased with the State Election Commissions recent decision to cancel its own order to extend the nomination process by a day, the Calcutta High Court had on April 12 put a stay on the ongoing panchayat election process till further instruction.

    "Because of their ambition to play a major role and to send out a message that TMC is invincible in Bengal so that they be allowed to lead the anti-BJP front, they are looking to win the panchayat polls without any opposition," state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.

    Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy, who was once number two in the TMC and been instrumental in its performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, feels the TMCs wish to be a major national force will never be fulfilled as the BJP will "decimate" the ruling party in Bengal in the next Lok Sabha election.

    "The people of Bengal are yearning for a change and BJP will bring that change," Roy said.

    TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee said the party will win the panchayat polls and that it cannot take the onus of failure to file nominations.

    "How can we take the onus of opposition not being able to file nominations? We cant provide them with manpower to file nominations. The people of Bengal are with TMC. I wont comment any further as the matter is sub judice," Mukherjee added.

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    The government is studying a 14-year-old case to strengthen its plea to Hong Kong authorities for arresting fugitive business tycoon Nirav Modi and extraditing him to India.

    New Delhi hopes that bringing Nirav Modi from Hong Kong to India will be easier than getting another fugitive business tycoon, Vijay Mallya, extradited from the United Kingdom.

    What made the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs as well as the probe agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate hopeful is the precedence set by the 2003-04 case of extradition of businessman Ashok Tahilram Sadarangani, from Hong Kong to India, sources in New Delhi told DH.

    India on March 23 formally requested the authorities of Hong Kong to provisionally arrest Nirav Modi, who has been accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of about Rs 13000 crore.

    New Delhi sought the extradition of Nirav Modi from Hong Kong to India in accordance with the bilateral agreement it inked with the government of the special administrative region of China in June 1997 for the surrender of fugitive offenders wanted by each other. The Department of Justice of the Hong Kong government is currently studying New Delhis request.

    Nirav left India on January 1. The MEA on February 23 revoked his passport in accordance with Section 10-A of the Passports Act, 1967. The passport of his business associate Mehul Choksi was also revoked.

    Sources aware of New Delhis contacts with the authorities in Hong Kong said that the government of the Special Administrative Region of China had in 2004 acted fast on Indias request for extradition of Sadarangani, who had been accused of defrauding Bank of Maharashtra and Union Bank of India of approximately Rs 8.5 crore.

    Sadarangani had jumped bail and fled the country in 2001. With the help of Interpol, the Central Bureau of Investigation had been able to trace him to Hong Kong in November 2003. The authorities in Hong Kong had swiftly acted on the request of New Delhi and placed him under arrest on December 1, 2003. A local court had ordered his extradition in March 2004. He had finally been extradited from Hong Kong to India on June 6, 2004.

    "Compared to Nirav, Sadarangani was a small fry, of course, if we go by the amount of money the two were accused of defrauding," an official, who studied the 2003-04 case, said.

    "We are however studying the old case to assess how Hong Kong authorities generally respond to request for extradition of people accused of financial fraud. They apparently acted promptly in case of Sadarangani and we can expect that they would do the same in case of Nirav," added the official.

    Indias envoy to China, Gautam Bambawale, visited Hong Kong on March 29 and met senior officials in the local administration.

    Hong Kong had in 2013 declined the American Governments request for extradition of Edward Snowden, who had embarrassed Washington by exposing a secret global surveillance programme run by US National Security Agency. The US had publicly expressed its disappointment after Hong Kong had allowed Snowden to leave its territory and travel to Russia.

    New Delhi, however, expects that Hong Kong would act fast on its request for extradition of Nirav, as no political issue is involved in this case, unlike that of Edward Snowden.

    The officials, however, are not much hopeful about speeding up the process of getting Vijay Mallya extradited from the United Kingdom. The business tycoon is wanted in India for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines default on loans worth nearly Rs 9000 crore.

    New Delhi asked London to extradite him in accordance with India-UK extradition treaty. The UK police arrested him on April 18 last year, but he was granted bail by the Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot of Westminster Magistrates Court.

    The court is now hearing the pleas of Governments of India and UK as well as the defence of Mallya, who challenged the move for his extradition. Officials in New Delhi said that the process would take long, given UKs complex legal system and the opportunities available for a fugitive to challenge a lower courts order for his extradition in higher courts.

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    Amid growing demand for bifurcating Punjab and Sindh provinces, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has invited all political parties to a dialogue to reach a consensus on the issue of creation of new provinces, according to media reports on Sunday.

    The prime minister criticised the setting up of the South Punjab Province Front and the leaders who announced its formation recently. He said that mere holding of press conferences could not create new provinces in Pakistan.

    Abbasi said all political parties should hold a dialogue on the issue of creation of new provinces in accordance with the demands of the people of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Dawn newspaper reported.

    He was speaking at a road opening event in Khairpur Daha near Uch Sharif, about 70km from here Bahawalpur city in Punjab province.

    Pakistan has four provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. Punjab is Pakistans second largest province by area, after Balochistan.

    Abbasi said that no political party could ensure the setting up of a new province all by itself because no party could amend the Constitution alone.

    All the parties should strive to forge a consensus through dialogue, he said. The formation of new provinces might be in the best interest of the country.

    Abbasi, referred to the demand for the creation of Hazara province as well as for other federating units in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. He mentioned the adoption of two resolutions in the Punjab assembly in the last two years, about the restoration of Bahawalpur province and creation of South Punjab province.

    It was the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, he said, that had ensured the passage of the two resolutions. The constitutional amendment, however, could not be passed through the efforts of just one party, he said.

    Abbasi asked the leaders of the South Punjab Province Front to wait for the peoples verdict on the issue, as the general election was approaching fast. As they had parted ways with the PML-N, they should wait for a proper mandate from the people.

    Recently, eight lawmakers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party parted ways with it and announced the launch of a mass movement to make South Punjab a separate province.

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    Commonwealth Games gold medal winners, hailing from Haryana, will get Rs 1.5 crore from the state government, sports minister Anil Vij announced on Sunday.

    Vij congratulated athletes from Haryana for winning 22 medals including nine gold, six silver and seven bronze.

    Every silver medallist will get Rs 75 lakh while the bronze medal winners will be given a cash award of Rs 50 lakh.

    Indias new shooting sensations Anish Banwala, aged 15, and 16-year-old Manu Bhaker hail from Haryana.

    "It is a great achievement, they have made the country and the state proud. Thirty-eight players from Haryana represented the country in the Commonwealth Games," he said.

    "Every gold medal winner will be entitled to class A, silver medal winner for class B and bronze medal winner for class C job in Haryana government," Vij added.

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    France is urging Russia to join a push for a political solution in Syria after the joint US, French and British attacks on Syrian chemical weapons sites.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that "we should join our efforts to promote a political process in Syria that would allow a way out of the crisis."

    France has continued to talk regularly with Russia even as East-West tensions have grown. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, hours before the Western missile strikes.

    Western countries blamed Syrias government for a chemical attack on a rebel-held area earlier this month that killed more than 40 people. The Syrian government and its ally Russia denied the allegations.

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    Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this week will mark Indias enhanced engagement with the multilateral organisation, including increased financial and other contributions, according to a senior Indian diplomat here.

    Indian Prime Minister will attend the summit, which is held every two years, after a hiatus of nearly a decade, having skipped CHOGMs in Perth, Colombo and Malta since 2009. The Indian government has said that Prime Minister Modis attendance at the summit, from April 18 to 20, symbolises the countrys wider efforts to step up its role across global forums.

    "Indias engagement with multilateral bodies has been increasing consistently and the Commonwealth is no different. There is a clear desire to play a greater leadership role in the international arena and the UK wants India, as the largest country in the Commonwealth, to take on a more important role within the organisation," said Dinesh Patnaik, the deputy high commissioner of India to the UK.

    This stepped-up engagement is likely to take the form of increased activity within the Commonwealth, including greater resources and manpower as well as financial contributions.

    According to senior officials, Prime Minister Modis decision to attend the summit was also influenced by a very personal letter addressed to him by Queen Elizabeth II, the Head of the Commonwealth.

    As Britain takes over the two-year Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth at the heads of government deliberations, it will mark the last such summit to be hosted by the Queen.

    With the 91-year-old monarch having ruled out long-haul travel, she is unlikely to travel to any future CHOGMs to be hosted by other member-states.

    This has also triggered widespread speculation over whether her son and heir, Prince Charles, would be anointed as the next Head of the organisation. As the position is not hereditary, a decision on succession will be taken collectively by the 53 heads of government of the Commonwealth.

    This subject is expected to be the central feature of deliberations when the leaders get together for the CHOGM leaders retreat on April 20 at the grand Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle.

    The retreat is described as the high-point of the summit, when the leaders get together in an informal setting without any pre-set agenda or being accompanied by their usual coterie of civil servants and advisers.

    "At the retreat unique to the Commonwealth heads meet privately to discuss collaboration on global and Commonwealth priorities. They will also consider reform and renewal of the Commonwealth," a Commonwealth statement said.

    There is reportedly no general consensus over the Prince of Wales as the next Head of the Commonwealth, with India yet to reveal its stand on a successor to the Queen.

    The 69-year-old royal is reportedly keen to step into his mothers shoes but the decision will be up to the presidents and prime ministers representing the 53 member-countries, which will then be announced by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

    The leaders may not be able to arrive at a decision on the matter at the end of the retreat, in which case it will roll over to the next CHOGM.

    The Commonwealth members, which represent the former colonies of the British Empire, have a combined population of 2.4 billion, with nearly half of that concentrated in India - making it the largest member-country.

    "It is a great time for India and it is exciting to see the energised way in which new opportunities are being taken up," Baroness Scotland said recently.

    According to the Commonwealth Trade Review 2018 released earlier this week, India is the top recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) from within the Commonwealth and is the second-most lucrative source of investment within the organisation. Between 2005 and 2016, India remained the top recipient of greenfield FDI from the Commonwealth, more than doubling the amount it received over 10 years.

    "There has been a complete sea change of attitude towards the Commonwealth, which is entirely to Indias credit and to the Commonwealths benefit. This has given the Commonwealth the boost it needs," says Lord Marland, chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), which is leading the CHOGM business forum ahead of the formal heads of government meeting.

    The week-long summit, starting tomorrow, is expected to attract around 5,000 participants from government, business, and civil society under the theme of "Towards a Common Future". Meetings begin with three days of forums covering youth, women, business and civil society and culminate with the official retreat for leaders at Windsor Castle on Friday.

    Modi arrives in the UK on Tuesday night and will embark upon a packed day of bilateral meetings on Wednesday before a CHOGM dinner hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May at Sky Garden in London on Wednesday night.

    The executive session of day-long CHOGM deliberations between the 53 heads of government in London on April 19 will culminate in a gala dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the evening.

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    Inspectors from the OPCW chemical watchdog will begin their investigation Sunday at the site of a chemical attack near Damascus, a senior official said.

    "The fact-funding team arrived in Damascus on Saturday and is due to go to Douma on Sunday," said Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Soussan.

    A delegation of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in The Hague, is tasked with investigating an April 7 attack on Douma, just east of Damascus.

    Western powers say chemical substances, most likely chlorine and sarin, were used in the attack and killed at least 40 civilians.

    The attack, which Damascus and its Russian ally have denied ever happened, prompted an unprecedented wave of missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain on Saturday.

    Soussan reiterated a pledge by the Syrian government that the chemical experts would be allow to investigate unimpeded.

    "We will ensure they can work professionally, objectively, impartially and free of any pressure," he said.

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    The debate in the country on rewriting history is unnecessary as some "exaggerations" need to be removed from time to time, Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Chairman Arvind Jamkhedkar has said.

    In an interview to PTI, he also said the mandate of the ICHR, a body under the HRD Ministry, was not to dictate history or decide curriculum but to encourage research to facilitate the rewriting of history.

    Rewriting is part of the writing of history, he stated.

    The ICHR chief supported his argument by stressing that rewriting was a "healthy" trend.

    "Over a period of time certain awareness comes among historians and they find certain lacunae which would have been left by previous schools (of history)," he said.

    History has always been rewritten and it is a healthy thing because there have been exaggerations. For instance, it was thought that probably earlier economic historians might have exaggerated a few things and history was then rewritten, he said.

    Asked about the debate in the country over revisions of history curricula, the chairman said, It is not ICHRs mandate to dictate history or decide what should be taught. Its job is to encourage scholars to conduct fresh and meaningful research to rewrite history."

    The ICHR is a flagship research-based institution that functions under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

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    Six coal-laden wagons of a goods train travelled for 2 km without an engine here, an incident which comes a week after an express train in Titlagarh travelled for 13 km without an engine.

    The incident occurred when six wagons of a goods train travelling from Dhamara to Jamshedpur got detached from the rest of the train and travelled about 2 km, without an engine, between Khantapada and Bahanaga stations on Saturday night, a railway official said.

    However, a mishap was averted and nobody was hurt as the incident was detected immediately and the railway officials acted quickly, he said.

    "The last six wagons got detached from the train due to snapping of coupling and some mechanical fault which was immediately resolved," the Station Manager of Balasore Railway Station, Bhagabat Das, said.

    As a precautionary measure, movement of trains on the tracks was controlled for around two hours.

    An engine was sent to Bahanaga railway station to bring the detached wagons and attach them to the train before it proceeded to its destination, said Das.

    The incident happened a week after 22 coaches of the Ahmedabad-Puri Express train with hundreds of passengers on board travelled for 13 km without an engine from Titlagarh in Balangir district to Kesinga in Kalahandi district on April 7 night.

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    Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah today demanded a special session of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly to bring in a bill to award capital punishment to those who rape minors.

    Abdullahs comment comes in the backdrop of a nationwide condemnation of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmirs Kathua.

    "Capital punishment must be brought in for such cases," Abdullah told reporters here.

    "She (Kathua rape victim) is just like my daughter. Thank God, today the nation has woken up and they have taken it very seriously. I hope justice will be done and we will bring a bill in the Assembly session wherein (if) any such incident takes place, the hanging must be brought in," he said.

    The NC president said the PDP-BJP government should call a special session of the state legislature to pass the bill which would act as a deterrent against such crimes.

    Let the government call a special session of the Assembly just for this thing. When the special session of the Assembly is called and this bill is passed, it will be a great thing for the future such crimes will not take place," Abdullah said.

    Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has also said her government would bring a new law to make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors.

    "We will never ever let another child suffer in this way. We will bring a new law that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors," Mehbooba said in a tweet on April 12.

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    The Backward Classes Morcha of BJP has condemned the statement of KPCC Working President Dinesh Gundurao, who had exhorted the Kannadigas to beat Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with slippers if he visited the State.

    District general secretary of the Morcha, G Shivreddy demanded an apology from Dinesh Gundurao and warned that if he failed to do so, slippers would be hurled at his house.

    Speaking to reporters in Ballari on Sunday, he said, Dinesh Gundurao should not underestimate the strength of the BJP workers.

    Questioning the contribution of Dinesh Gundurao to the State, Mr Shivareddy said, Dinesh Gundurao is known only because of his father, former chief minister late R Gundurrao. He went on to warn that if he repeated such statements in the future, the consequences would be severe.

    Leaders Ravindra, Srinivas Patil, and Shrikanth were present.