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Delhi

PM expresses shock, sadness over US gurudwara shooting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed shock and sadness at the loss of lives and injuries to people in the shooting incident at a gurudwara in Wisconsin in the United States, in which six people were killed during Sunday morning prayers.

 
Six killed in US gurudwara shooting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed shock and sadness at the loss of lives and injuries to people in the shooting incident at a gurudwara in Wisconsin in the United States, in which six people were killed during Sunday morning prayers.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the shooting incident that has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injuries to devotees attending a prayer service at a gurudwara in Wisconsin, U.S.A.," Dr Singh said.
 
"That this senseless act of violence should be targeted at a place of religious worship is particularly painful. I send my deepest condolences to the families that have been bereaved in this incident. Our thoughts are with them in this moment of their grief," he said.
 
"India stands in solidarity with all the peace-loving Americans who have condemned this violence. We welcome the U.S. President's statement on the tragic incident. We hope that the authorities will reach out to the grieving families and ensure conditions that such violent acts are not repeated in the future," he added.
 
The six people were killed and several others suffered injuries in the attack that was carried out by at least one gunman, who was also shot dead, police said.
 
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PM stresses need to revive investor sentiment, address exchange rate, capital flow issues

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday stressed the need to work towards reviving investor sentiment, both domestic and international, and address issues related to the slide in the exchange rate of the rupee and drying up of capital flows

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today stressed the need to work towards reviving investor sentiment, both domestic and international, and address issues related to the slide in the exchange rate of the rupee and drying up of capital flows

At a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Finance after taking over the portfolio, Dr Singh said the country was passing through challenging times economically.
 
"The growth rate has taken a dip; the industrial performance is not satisfactory; things are not rosy on the investment front; inflation continues to be a problem," he said.
 
"On the external front, I am concerned about the way the exchange rate is going. Investor sentiment is down and capital flows are drying up," he said.
 
"There are some external reasons and we need to work towards making our country resilient in meeting these external challenges. However, there are many domestic reasons as well. We need to address these quickly. We need to work to get the economy going again and restart the India growth story. 
 
"In the short run, we need to revive investor sentiment, both domestic and international," he said.
 
Dr Singh has decided to keep the Finance portfolio with himself after Mr Pranab Mukherjee resigned as Finance Minister yesterday to contest the July 19 election for the office of the President as a candidate of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and several other parties.
 
He said there have been many factors that have contributed to the general negative mood in the country.
 
"There are problems on the tax front which need to be addressed. On the financial sector side, we need to see how we can improve matters. There are issues about the mutual funds industry which need to be resolved. The insurance sector has seen a slowing down which is not normal in a country with large unmet insurance needs. This needs to be looked into. I would like you all to work as a team on all these matters. There are some issues we must address in the short run and some in the long run. I am sure you will be able to work on both fronts," he said.
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Dr Singh, who had served as Finance Minister during 1991-96, when he had launched the economic reforms, told the officials that, apart from a brief spell in 2008, he had been away from the details and nitty-gritty of Finance for a long time.
 
"Therefore, I depend on all of you to give me sound advice on not just matters relating to the Finance Ministry but all aspects of the government and the economy as a whole," he said.
 
He pointed out that the Finance Ministry is an all-encompassing Ministry whose reach extends to every corner of the government and the nation. 
 
"The way it functions is critical for the future of millions of our countrymen who look up to the government to throw open channels for their progress, prosperity and welfare. Therefore, the Finance Ministry has a vital role in evolving economic policies which are conducive to economic growth and the overall welfare of the nation," he said.
 
"The Finance Ministry has had a glorious tradition of doing excellent work. I expect the same from you," he added.
 
Those present at the meeting included Dr Kaushik Basu, Chief Economic Adviser, Mr Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Finance Secretary R S Gujral and Secretaries in the Finance Ministry R Gopalan, Sumit Bose, D K Mittal and Mohammed Haleem Khan and other senior officials.
 
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PM's visit to Myanmar expected to enrich bilateral ties, take them to new plane

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a three-day state visit to Myanmar from May 27-29 which is expected to enable the two countries to build on the new foundations of their multi-faceted relationship laid during Myanmarese President Thein Sein's visit to India last year.

File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a three-day state visit to Myanmar from May 27-29 which is expected to enable the two countries to build on the new foundations of their multi-faceted relationship laid during Myanmarese President Thein Sein's visit to India last year.

"We seek to leverage this to secure a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship with a neighbouring country that is integral to India’s Look East Policy," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told journalists during a briefing on the visit.
 
"Considerable progress has been made in implementing decisions and agreements emanating from the President’s visit in October, 2011," he said.
 
Dr Singh will be accompanied on the visit by his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and senior officials. A delegation of Indian CEOs will also visit Myanmar at the same time. 
 
The visit to Myanmar by Dr Singh will be the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years after the visit by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in December, 1987.
 
Mr Mathai said the visit followed the "very successful" state visit of President Thein Sein to India in October last year and comes at a time when Myanmar is undergoing rapid transformation.
 
"This visit will provide us an opportunity to review that progress and to discuss new initiatives that we would be taking in the furtherance of our relations. The new political environment in Myanmar also provides fresh opportunities to take our bilateral relationship to a new plane," he said.
 
Mr Mathai said the visit would provide an opportunity to enrich the substance of the bilateral relationship, both qualitatively and in scope and lays down a long-term vision and roadmap for mutually reinforcing bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas including security, connectivity, infrastructure development, trade and investment promotion, capacity-building and human resource development, culture and people-to-people contacts, and academic exchanges. 
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He said the two sides hoped to sign a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) to further strengthen their bilateral cooperation. 
 
He said Dr Singh's discussions with President Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw would cover bilateral, regional and other issues of mutual interest. The President will host a banquet in honour of the Prime Minister on May 28. 
 
Apart from the official engagements in Nay Pyi Taw, the Prime Minister will also visit Yangon where he is expected to meet Ms Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the Chairperson of the National League for Democracy, and other prominent personalities. 
 
During his visit, Prime Minister will also deliver a public address on the theme “India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development”, at a function organized by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute. There will also be interactions between the business delegations of the two sides. 
 
The Prime Minister will also visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mazar of the Last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar, which is in Yangon. He will also have a separate interaction with the Indian community in Myanmar.
 
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Chidambaram says investigators have got "promising clues" in Delhi blast case

Home Minister P Chdidambaram said on Friday the investigations into Wednesday's powerful blast outside the Delhi High Court, which had claimed 13 lives and left about 72 people injured, had thrown up some promising leads but nothing conclusive yet.

Union Home Minister P Chdidambaram today said the investigations into Wednesday's powerful blast outside the Delhi High Court, which had claimed 13 lives and left about 72 people injured, had thrown up some promising leads but nothing conclusive yet.

11 killed, more than 75 injured in blast outside Delhi High Court

Terror struck the capital again when at least 11 people were killed and more than 75 others injured, many of them seriously, in a powerful blast that took place at a spot outside gates 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday morning.

Terror struck the capital again when at least 11 people were killed and more than 75 others injured, many of them seriously, in a powerful blast that took place at a spot outside gates 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court this morning. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on an official visit to Dhaka, described the blast as a "cowardly act of a terrorist nature" and said the country would deal with it and never succumb to the pressure of terrorism.

Home Minister P Chidambaram at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.Investigating officials at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.Commandos with sniffer dogs searching for clues at the blast site at Delhi High court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.
Home Minister P Chidambaram at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. ; Investigating officials at the blast site at Delhi High Court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.; Commandos with sniffer dogs searching for clues at the blast site at Delhi High court in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTOS

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha in a statement that the Government was determined to track down the perpetrators of the "horrific crime".

"I appeal to the House and to the people of the country that we must remain resolute and united. We must not show any vacillation. We shall never be intimidated by terrorist groups," he said.

The blast occurred around 1015 hours near the reception outside the court premises, where people form long queues to get passes made for entering the court premises. The explosion occurred just 15 minutes before court proceedings were due to begin at 1030 hours, a time when there is a huge crowd of people waiting to get inside.

The injured were rushed by ambulances and other vehicles to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as well as the Safdarjung, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (LNJP), Ram Manohar Lohia (RML), Moolchand and Sir Gangaram hospitals.

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Mr U K Bansal, Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry said most of the injured had been admitted to the RML Hospital.

"The condition of some of the injured is reported to be critical. In all cases of injured people where surgery was required the same has been performed or is being done now," he said.

Mr Bansal said two of the injured were in the Intensive Care Unit of RML Hospital, while as many as 51 had undergone surgical or orthopaedical procedures and were out of danger.

He said the investigation of the case has been transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Union Government in exercise of its powers under the NIA Act. The NIA has requested the Delhi Government and Delhi Police to associate with and assist them in the investigation.

Mr Bansal said an alert had been sent out to all States in the light of this incident for enforcing all possible precautions in sensitive areas.

He said a team from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Delhi had collected evidence from the spot which was being examined for clues. The

The National Security Guard's (NSG) post-blast investigation team has also collected relevant traces, residue and so on from the spot and is conducting its own forensic examination. The reports of this scientific examination will be available to the NIA shortly, he said.

TV grab of veteran BJP leader L K Advani speaking in the Lok Sabha on the blast outside Delhi High Court, on September 7, 2011.One of the injured in a blast outside Delhi High Court being led away after being administered first aid, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.A car, damaged in a blast outside Delhi High Court being towed away, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011.
TV grab of veteran BJP leader L K Advani speaking in the Lok Sabha on the blast outside Delhi High Court, on September 7, 2011.; One of the injured in a blast outside Delhi High Court being led away after being administered first aid, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. ; A car, damaged in a blast outside Delhi High Court being towed away, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTOS

Mr Bansal said preliminary investigation revealed that the blast created a small crater, about 2- 3 feet wide and about one foot deep, at the place where the explosive charge is suspected to have been kept in a briefcase near the reception centre of the High Court.

"The examination of the scene of blast indicates towards the use of nitrate-based explosives with traces of PETN (explosive)," he said.

He said about two kgs of explosives appeared to have been used for the blast. He said most of the victims had been killed by the blast and not by shrapnels.

He said the Delhi Police had been put on high alert and vigorous investigations were in progress, including checking of guest houses, hotels, bus stands, railway stations and airports. All entry and exist routes are also being put under extensive surveillance and checking. Neighbouring States have also been asked to send their teams of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) experts to examine the scene of the blast and assist in the investigation, he added.

Police vans, fire tenders and ambulances rushed to the spot immediately after the blast and the area was cordoned off. Police requested people to move out of the area so that the security personnel could scan the area and ensure there were no other explosives planted there.

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Intelligence officials, bomb disposal squads, disaster management personnel and other officials had rushed to the spot. Sniffer dogs were also deployed.

Heavy rains that began about 90 minutes after the blast hampered the work of the investigative agencies, especially in the matter of gathering evidence from the spot.

As news of the blast spread, relatives of those injured rushed to the hospitals to inquire about their loved ones.

Today's blast came less than four months after a minor explosion had occurred near a car in the parking lot of the High Court on May 25. No one had been injured in that incident.

In the evening, the Delhi Police released the sketches of two suspects in the case. One of them was said to be around 26 years, 5'9" tall with his hair parted in the middle. The other was said to be around 50 years with a light beard and shallow complexion and of stout build.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital to meet the injured in the Delhi High Court blast, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital to meet the injured in the Delhi High Court blast, in New Delhi on September 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Mr Chidambaram, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were amongst those who visited the scene of the blast and the hospitals.

Mr Chidambam was also in touch with the Prime Minister in Dhaka in this regard. Dr Singh is due to return to the capital this evening.

Dr Singh told journalists in Dhaka that fighting terror was a long war in which all political parties and the people of India had to stand united so that the "scourge of terrorism is crushed".

In the Lok Sabha, Mr Chidambaram said, "On behalf of the Government, I offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I offer my sympathies to those who have been injured and I assure the House that we will extend the best medical treatment to the injured."

Mr Chidambaram said the objective of terrorist groups was to strike fear and to destabilise the country.

"We are clear in our mind that there is no cause that will justify terrorist acts. Government unequivocally condemns the terrorist attack that took place today," he said.

"Delhi is a target of terrorist groups. When Parliament is in session and during certain other times of the year Delhi is placed on high alert. Intelligence agencies constantly share intelligence inputs with Delhi Police. Intelligence pertaining to threats emanating from certain groups was shared with Delhi Police in July, 2011. At this stage it is not possible to identify the group that caused the bomb blast today.

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"In the last few years, several measures have been taken to strengthen Delhi Police. Despite the capacity that has been built and despite Delhi Police remaining on high alert, the tragic incident occurred today," he added.

United News of India adds:

Some reports said the Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI) has claimed responsibilty for today's attack, citing Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's death sentence as the reason for the act.

An email received by different media organizations said that HuJI takes responsibility for today's blast in Delhi. HUJI is a Pakistan-based terrorist group. "We take the mail very seriously," said NIA Chief S C Sinha.

The email states, "We own the responsibility of today's blast at high court delhi.....our demand is that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts & the Supreme Court of India..........".

Afzal Guru has been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court for his role in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. His mercy petition that asks for his sentence to be commuted to life is pending with President Pratibha Patil. The Home Ministry has reportedly recommended that it be rejected.

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PM says Third Front could "unwittingly" help BJP

Manmohan Singh says the Third Front as well as the new grouping launched by three current constituents of the ruling United Progressive Alliance could unwittingly help the Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming elections.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the Third Front forged by the Left parties, erstwhile allies of his Congress party, with some regional outfits as well as the new grouping launched by three current constituents of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) could end up unwittingly helping the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming elections

The Left parties, which had supported the Congress-led UPA for the first four years of its five-year term before withdrawing support in protest against the India-United States Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, have formed partnerships with several regional parties to form the so-called Third Front on on anti-Congress, anti-BJP platform.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), led by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), headed by Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP), meanwhile, have launched a separate front, which is contesting against the Congress in 134 constituencies in the politically crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Dr Singh said he sincerely felt the Third Front would not be able to form the government at the Centre after the elections, which are due to be held in five phases from April 16 to May 13, and would only end up dividing the so-called secular vote.

"They are wittingly or unwittingly strengthening the BJP....I would like the SP and LJP to work together (with the Congress)," he said during an interaction with members of the Indian Women's Press Corps.

In reply to a question, Dr Singh hinted at the possibility of seeking the support of the Left parties after the elections. "We will cross that bridge when we come to it," he said, adding that he had a lot of respect for the Left leaders.

Referring to the support extended earlier by the Left parties to the UPA government, he said, "We successfully led a coalition in the past four and a half years. The Left was also happy with us until they quarrelled over the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement."

But he more or less ruled out the possibility of any alliance with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). "I don't think such an eventuality will arise," he quipped.

He described as "opportunism" the decision of the RJD, SP and LJP to go their separate way in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. "They could affect the electoral outcome to some extent...Today, there is a tendency to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion," he said. "We must be alert to these tendencies."

The Prime Minister pointed out that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had also not been able to retain its allies. "Where are Chandrababu Naidu, Naveen Patnaik and others," he asked.

The economist-turned politician said the global economic meltdown had posed enormous problems for India and asserted that only the Congress party could steer the country out of the present crisis.

Dr Singh used the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, who was the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the previous NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mr Advani has repeatedly described Dr Singh as India's weakest ever Prime Minister, one who takes orders from 10, Janpath, the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The Prime Minister said the people of the country should ask themselves whether they wanted a government which fanned communal passions and which had again raised old issues like special constitutional provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, a common civil code and the Ram Temple at a time when India had to put up a united front against terrorism and needed a decisive government.

Dr Singh said Mr Advani was present at the spot during the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and, if he were such a strong leader as he claims to be, he could easily have stopped it. He also referred to the NDA government's decision to send the foreign minister to Kandahar in Afghanistan to escort three terrorists who had been released in exchange for the safe release of passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that had been hijacked. One of the terrorists released later founded the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), he pointed out. He listed the several cases of terrorist attacks that took place around the country when Mr Advani was the Home Minister.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 in which, officially, 1180 lives were lost during BJP leader Narendra Modi's chief ministership. He wondered how the BJP could go around claiming that Mr Modi was the most successful chief minister in the country.

Dr Singh said he could not match Mr Advani in public speaking. "We need a Prime Minister who is strong. Who can take decisions. Speaking loudly doesn't make you a strong Prime Minister...I am not used to abusive language. That is against the Indian culture," he remarked.

He also did not attach much importance to Mr Advani's frequent taunts about the need to have a Prime Minister who is an elected member of the Lok Sabha and not from the Rajya Sabha. He pointed out that several other Prime Ministers before him had been members of the Upper House.

"Judge us on our record and not what Mr Advani says. I want the people of India to decide who is strong and who is weak," he said.

Dr Singh said the government was taking all possible steps, including the strengthening of the intelligence agencies and police forces, to fight the increasing threat of terrorism.

Prime Minister said the Congress party's decision to drop Mr Jagdish Tytler and Mr Sajjan Kumar as candidates for the Parliamentary elections from Delhi after protests by Sikhs against their alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots reflected its sensitivity to the sentiments of the people.

''By reversing the decision, the Congress party has shown it is sensitive to sentiments to the protestors. Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never),'' he said.

The issue had acquired a new momentum after a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference here earlier this week in protest against the clean chit given by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Mr Tytler in cases relating to the anti-Sikh violence that had erupted in Delhi and other places following the October 31, 1984 assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her own Sikh bodyguards.

Dr Singh asserted that neither he nor his office, which oversees the functioning of the CBI, had anything to do with the so-called "clean chit" to Mr Tytler. He said neither he nor Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Prithviraj Chavan, had been consulted or informed by the CBI of its stand in the case.

In reply to a question, the Prime Minister dismissed allegations by Pakistani authorities about Indian involvement in the recent terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

''These are tactics by Pakistan to divert people's attention. The allegation should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves,'' he said.

Dr Singh said India could not resume its dialogue with Pakistan until there was enough evidence of its willingness and sincerity to prosecute those responsible for the Novemer 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Prime Minister promised that if the Congress were returned to power it would take all possible steps to end gender bias. He was referring in particular to the "collective failure" of all political parties to get the bill for reserving 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament for women passed.

Dr Singh said the high point of his tenure was the signing of the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

''It also was the toughest time. But the fact that it came about despite the Left deserting us, was most satisfying,'' he said.

He admitted that he had staked his reputation on the accord and had resolved to resign if it did not materialise.

''It was a question of India's honour. We had negotiated with the US for three years. If the Government had not been able to do it, it would have created a bad impression on the type of system India had. I had made it known to everyone that if the deal did not go through, I would not continue in office,'' he said.

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Petrol crosses Rs 91 a litre, diesel at Rs 80 in Maharashtra

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
Petrol retail rates finally breached the Rs 90 mark in Mumbai by touching Rs 90.08 per litre here on Monday, but stood much higher elsewhere in the state, industry officials said.
 
Federation of Maharashtra Petroleum Dealers Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh said that the new rate became effective after a hike of 11 paise effected on Monday.
 
Parbhani District Petrol Dealers Association (PDPDA) President Sanjay Deshmukh said the petrol rates soared to Rs 91.91 in the districts.
 
The highest petrol prices logged in various cities included: Nanded Rs 91.61, Amravati Rs 91.31, Ratnagiri Rs 91.14 and Jalgaon Rs 91.01, said Lodh.
 
Similarly, diesel prices also shot up by five paise per litre in Parbhani where it sold at Rs 79.15, said Deshmukh.
 
However, Aurangabad notched the highest prices when diesel crossed the Rs 80 mark and retailed on Monday at Rs 80.53 per litre, followed by Amravati at Rs 79.90 and Solapur at Rs 79.25.
 
An official said that there was no fall in demand with the festival season currently on, and the upward trend was likely to continue for some time.
 
IANS
 

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Cloudy Monday morning in Delhi

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Following overnight rains the skies remained overcast in the national capital on Monday morning, with the Met predicting moderate rains during the day.
 
The minimum temperature was recorded at 24 degrees Celsius, at par with the season's average. The city received 16.3 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told IANS. 
 
The sky will remain generally cloudy throughout the day with a few spells of thundershowers and rains, he said.
 
The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 30 degrees Celsius.
 
Sunday's maximum temperature settled at 31.2 degrees Celsius, three degrees below the average while the minimum temperature was recorded at 24 degrees Celsius.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Government’s financial support will continue for Asian and Commonwealth Games: Rathore

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Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Sunday promised the government's continued financial support to promising sportspersons for the 2020 Olympics, 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games.
 
“Yes, now the focus has shifted to 2020 Tokyo Olympics but my ministry is also keeping watch on the medal prospects for 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games," he said.
 
“I am aware that there are many talented sportspersons who are potential medal prospects for the next Asian Games and Commonwealth Games,” the minister said.
 
Speaking at a felicitation ceremony organized by the Indian Olympic association (IOA) for the medal winners at the recent Asian Games, Rathore said, “Earlier, the funding for these players used to be stopped.”
 
"However, this will not happen now. It is a big challenge for me that the funding for the medal prospects for the next Asian Games, Commonwealth Games continues. I am trying my best, talking to the corporate sector who are passionate about sports to raise funds,” he said.
 
Rathore, himself an Olympic medal winner, asserted that there will be no bureaucratic hindrances from his Ministry. “Things will change, I’m not saying it will be fast but I can assure you the speed of change will be the best as we can do.
 
“You have already noticed the differences. You will see many more differences ahead. Stay focussed on your sport.”
 
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Meanwhile there were bloopers galore in the function which marred the sanctity of the function. The IOA had several names wrong on the cheques and even missed out on one.
 
Compound archers Jyothi Surekha Vennam and Abhishek Verma were among 15 athletes given just bouquets as their names were misprinted on cheques, while bronze medal winning wrestler Divya Kakran's name was not mentioned at all
 
The IOA gave away Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh, respectively, to the gold, silver and bronze medal winners in the team events. The individual winners received Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2 lakh, respectively.
 
However IOA president Narinder Batra made no excuses and salvaged the situation saying, “I would like to apologise in advance for our mistake. The names of around 14-15 players have been printed incorrectly so we will give them a bouquet. But don’t worry, you will get your cash prizes. I didn’t want to give cheques with misspelt names.”
 
"There is always a first time. The players performed so well that we decided to award them with cash incentives. We will continue to give these cash awards in future, be it the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games,” IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said, adding “The funds for these incentives will be provided by our sponsors.”
 
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Kerala: Tour operators from different states to visit ‘less known destinations’ of Thrissur

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Sending out a signal that tourism in Kerala has not taken a back seat after the devastating floods, around 120 prime tour operators from different parts of the country arrived here on Sunday in connection with the ‘less known destination promotion programme’ initiated by Spiceland Holidays with the support of Department of Tourism.
 
The tour operators will travel to Athirappilly, Thrissur and Cheruthuruthi, as this year’s focus is on  the cultural capital of the state, a press release from Kerala Tourism said.
 
Their visit takes place ahead of India’s biggest tourism sector meet  Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), scheduled here from September 27-30.
 
K. P. Nandakumar, Joint Director, Department of Tourism, said that they have been supporting the programme for the last few years  but it is of utmost significance now as every such effort will contribute to rebuilding the state battered by torrential rains and floods.
 
“This year’s tourism season will begin in October. The truth is that floods could not derail the tourism industry and this has to be conveyed to the world outside,” he noted.
 
Nilakurinji blooming season is on and most roads to Munnar have been made motorable, Nandakumar pointed out.
 
“Based on the efforts we have made so far, the numbers of domestic and international tourists are increasing sharply. Bearing testimony to our resilience in fighting the backlash of the floods, this season’s first chartered flight from Australia arrived at Nedumbassery (Cochin)  airport a few days ago, sending a clear message to the world that Kerala’s tourism industry has not been affected a wee bit even after the devastating floods,” he said.
 
He added that all facilities will be extended to the tour operators to experience the beauty of Thrissur.
 
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“We have been organizing this tour programme where the less known destinations of the state are being promoted, for the last few years. But to our dismay, this year, the tourists are a little hesitant to come to Kerala in the aftermath of the floods,” said Madhu K. G., Executive Director, Spiceland Holidays.
 
“Hence, we decided to organize a programme where the best tour operators in the country who have the ability to lure large number of tourists to Kerala are handpicked with the sole purpose of educating them on the current scenario of the tourism industry. Not only that, we are bearing their expenses and have arranged the best facilities. This could not have been possible without the support of the Department of Tourism,” he said.
 
On their arrival on Sunday, with the support of hotels around the airport at Kochi, there will be a video presentation for the tour operators on two destinations in Kochi -- Kalady and Kodanadu. They will start their tour to Athirappilly, known for its waterfall, on Monday. Cheruthuruthi, where the world renowned classical arts academy Kerala Kalamandalam is located, will be their next destination on Tuesday and then they will travel around Thrissur.
 
Some delegates will be departing on September 27 from Kochi and the rest will attend the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM).
 
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Asia Cup: Malik, Sarfraz guide Pakistan to 237/7 against India

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Shoaib Malik's disciplined innings along with useful contribution from Sarfraz Ahmed helped Pakistan post 237/7 against India in the Super Four tie of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Sunday.
 
Malik scored 78 runs in 90 balls and Sarfraz made 44 runs in 66 balls to forge a crucial 107-run fourth wicket partnership to guide their team to a respectable total.
 
Electing to bat first, Pakistan started off on a decent note, forging a 24-run partnership for the first wicket before opener Imam-ul-Haq (10) was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal in the eighth over via Decision Review System (DRS).
 
Fakhar Zaman (31), who seemed good in the middle was the next to go. He was adjudged leg before wicket off Kuldeep Yadav in the 15th over. Soon Babar Azam was run out while trying to steal the single off Ravindra Jadeja.
 
With three wickets down at just 58 runs, experienced duo Malik and Sarfraz joined hands and took Pakistan out of troubled waters.
 
The duo stitched a brilliant partnership, hitting some glorious boundaries and sixes.
 
Just when things were going smooth for Pakistan, Kuldeep broke the partnership, taking Sarfraz's wicket in the 40th over.
 
Unperturbed, Malik kept on playing his shots and maintained a good run rate. But while trying to increase the run rate, Malik gifted a simple catch to Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Jasprit Bumrah. He slammed four boundaries and two sixes.
 
Towards the end, Asif Ali (30) also contributed handsomely along with Shadab Khan (10) Mohammad Nawaz (15) to complete the innings at 237/7 in their allotted 50 overs.
 
For India, Bumrah, Chahal and Kuldeep took two wickets each.
 
Brief scores: Pakistan 237/7 (Shoiab Malik 78; Jasprit Bumrah 2/29) against India.
 
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Commander Tomy safe, will be rescued soon: Navy

Commander Abhilash Tomy
Commander Abhilash Tomy
Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy, who is stranded in the south Indian Ocean following his boat wreck during the Golden Globe Race 2018, is safe and would be rescued soon, the Navy said on Sunday.
 
"Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy, representing India in the Golden Globe Race 2018 is in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles south-west from Perth, Australia and about 2,700 nautical miles from Cape Comorin... All efforts are being made to rescue him," the Navy said.
 
"Indian Navy P-8I aircraft operating ex-Mauritius has visually sighted 'Thuriya' (the boat in which he was sailing) on Sunday. Continuous watch over the boat is being maintained by Indian Navy and RAAF aircraft" and this will continue till the rescue operation is completed, it said.
 
Officer Tomy was taking part in the race on an indigenously built 'Thuriya' and suffered a back injury on Friday after a massive wave wrecked the boat. 
 
The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra is coordinating the rescue mission in conjunction with several agencies including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy. 
 
The Navy said that Indian Naval stealth frigate -- INS Satpura with a Chetak Helicopter and tanker, INS Jyoti operating in the Indian Ocean -- have been dispatched for the rescue mission. 
 
"The officer in his last text message has indicated that he is safe on the boat. However, he is immobile due to back injury," it said.
 
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Rahul asks Modi, Jaitley to 'stop lying', reiterates Rafale JPC demand

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Dismissing Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's latest defence of the government over the choosing of an offset partner in the Rafale deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday asked him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "stop lying" and instead order for a JPC probe.
 
"Jetlie's (sic) specialty is his ability to spin '2 truths', or lies, with fake self-righteousness and indignation to defend the indefensible. 
 
"It's high time he, the RM (Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) and our Prime Minister stop lying and call a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) to establish the full, uncorrupted truth about the Rafale scam," Gandhi said on Twitter.
 
Gandhi's remarks came in reply to Jaitley's social media posts, wherein he questioned the veracity of former French President Francois Hollande's claims regarding a private firm becoming an offset partner in the jet deal at the instance of the Modi government.
 
Iterating that there was "no partnership as suggested by the former French President", Jaitley even found a link between Gandhi's earlier tweet and Hollande's assertions. 
 
"It is no coincidence that on April 30 Rahul Gandhi had tweeted that 'globalised corruption. This Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It's also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks'.
 
"The former French President's first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi's prediction," Jaitley said in his blogspot referring to Hollande who was quoted in an article by a French website as claiming that the Indian government had asked the French government to nominate Reliance Defence as its India partner in the deal.
 
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India wins Track Asia Cup; Esow Alben, Mayuri Lute shine

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Promising cyclists Esow  Alben  and Mayuri Lute  rode to glory and titles as India with 13 medals, including six gold, won the Track Asia Cup championship at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome in New Delhi on Sunday.  
 
India won the top spot by bagging 6 gold medals, 5 silver and 2 bronze. Indonesia secured the second place with 4 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze while Hong Kong came third by winning 4 gold and 2 bronze. 
 
In the Men Junior 200 Mts. Sprint, Esow Alben grabbed the gold in a tough fight with Kazakhstan’s Dimitry Rezanov.
 
Esow who hails from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, secured first place with a timing of 10.500 s, Kazakhstan's Dimitry Rezanov (10.863 s) and  Jemsh Singh (11.132 s) won silver and bronze medals, respectively. 
 
After his gold medal winning performance Esow said, ”It was a tough fight with Kazakhstan’s rider but I was confident that I can defeat him and I put my all energy in last 50m to grab the gold.”
 
The hosts earned their second gold of the day in the Women Junior 200 Mts. Sprint in which Mayuri Lute (Maharashtra) clocked 12.263s to finish first.
 
Thailand's Kanyaral Hnokacw won silver by clocking 12.871s. Alyona Abramchok from the Kazakhstan team got bronze. This was Mayuri’s second gold medal. The Indian team won gold in both Junior Men and Women sprint.
 
In the Women Elite Keirin final, Sonali Chanu missed the bronze medal by a whisker. Hoi Yan Jessica from Hong Kong, Crismonita Dwiputri from Indonesia and Fatchah Mnstapa from Malaysia won the first three places, respectively. Deborah finished 6th in this event.
 
In Men Elite Keirin final, India missed all the medals, coming 4th and 5th in the event. But SAINCA's Amarjeet Singh Negi could manage to bag the bronze in this event. Cyclists from Kazakhstan and Indonesia secured the first and second places.
 
The Men Elite 25 kms Points Race final was another enthralling event in which Hong Kong's Ka Yu Leung grabbed the gold medal. Thailand's Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn missed the gold for just one point. Ryan James from Australia  won the bronze and third medal of the event for him.
 
Track coach  R K Sharma  expressed his satisfaction with the team’s showing, saying  “I am  happy with the overall quality of the performance by my  team in the Cup."
 
He, however, admitted that Indian cyclists still have a long way to go before they could establish themselves in the International arena. "It is a tough journey forward as China and Korea are stronger teams in the Asian region and the quality of European cycling is unmatchable."
 
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Football: India senior team to visit China for first time to play friendly

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For the first time, the Indian senior national football team will visit China to play an international friendly against the hosts on October 13.
 
The visit is a part of their preparation for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. 
 
The two nations have till now faced each other 17 times, all on Indian soil -- the last being 21 years ago for the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.
 
The match, which will be held in the scheduled FIFA October window, will be played at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium at Suzhou City, Jiangsu province. 
 
Interestingly, India are yet to win a match against China. Of the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while the remaining five were drawn.
 
However, the Indian team has been on an upsurge over the last couple of years, maintaining an unbeaten run of 12 official matches for a span which extended from June 2016 to November 2017.
 
According to All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das the Federation is looking forward to a “long bilateral footballing relationship with China.”
 
“Globally, India and China are now being looked up to as two of the fastest emerging football markets. The match will usher in a new era in Asian football as this is the first time ever that the Indian team will be travelling to play in China," he said.
 
“Playing against China in China is a perfect way to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. China are a supremely talented side and it will provide us an opportunity to further gauge ourselves where we stand prior to the Continental Championships.”
 
India are currently ranked 97 in the September FIFA Rankings while China are at 76.
 
The friendly assumes huge importance as it will set the pace for India’s preparatory process for the AFC Asian Cup.
 
National Coach Stephen Constantine stated “these are the kind of games we need.”
 
"China are a strong team and the match will be a tough test for us. But we need to play these sort of games right now. Getting to play under pressure is important and an away fixture in China is exactly the kind of game we need,” he said. "Hopefully everyone stays free from injury as it's going to be an important game for the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January.”
 
The India U-16 National Team had visited to China earlier this year for an invitational four-nation tournament as part of their preparation for the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia.
 
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Petrol rises to Rs 89.97 in Mumbai, diesel up again

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
As transport fuel prices continued their upward run across the metros, petrol was selling three paise short of the psychological Rs 90 per litre mark in Mumbai at Rs 89.97 on Sunday.
 
The price of diesel also continued to scale new highs on Sunday under India's dynamic pricing regime, after remaining unchanged for four successive days. 
 
In the financial capital of the country, petrol went up 17 paise on Sunday, up from Rs 89.80 per litre on Saturday, data on the Indian Oil Corp's website showed.
 
Similarly, in other three cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was priced at Rs 82.61, Rs 84.44 and Rs 85.87 per litre respectively, compared with Rs 82.44, Rs 84.27 and Rs 85.69 respectively.
 
Diesel prices in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai rose on Sunday to Rs 73.97, Rs 75.82, Rs 78.53 and Rs 78.20 respectively, as against Rs 73.87, Rs 75.72, Rs 78.42 and Rs 78.10 respectively on the previous day. 
 
Transport fuel prices are the lowest in Delhi owing to the lower taxes imposed by the state government. 
 
The continuous rise in transportation fuel prices has been in tandem with the increase in crude oil prices. Brent crude oil is currently priced at $78.80 per barrel.
 
Latest available data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) shows that its basket of crude oils sold at $77.13 per barrel on Thursday. 
 
Sector experts say the high excise duty in the country has also added to the high prices
 
Cost of the fuel in all the key cities are at their record levels. On Sunday, Kolkata again reached its all-time high price of diesel at Rs 75.82 as recorded on September 11.
 
Earlier this week, the West Bengal government reduced the excise on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre each.
 
The Karnataka government has also announced a reduction in cess on transport fuels by Rs 2 per litre each across the state effective from last Tuesday. 
 
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Cloudy Sunday morning in Delhi

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The national capital witnessed a cloudy Sunday morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 25 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season's average.
 
"The sky will remain generally cloudy throughout the day with a few spells of rains or thundershowers," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.
 
The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 30 degrees Celsius, he said, adding that the humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 87 per cent.
 
The city has received 2.4 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours. 
 
Saturday's maximum temperature settled at 27.6 degrees Celsius while the minimum temperature was recorded at 22.2 degrees Celsius, both three notches below the season's average.
 
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Woman, differently-abled daughter found dead in Delhi

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A 60-year-old woman and her 40-year-old differently-abled daughter were found dead under mysterious circumstances at their home here on Saturday, police said.
 
An police officer said that a call reporting the incident in west Delhi's Mianwali area was received earlier in the day.
 
"Their maid made the call. She rang the doorbell several times, but when there was no response, she went inside from another door and found the two lying in a pool of blood," the officer said.
 
He said that while Shashi Talwar's throat was slit, her daughter Nidhi was killed with "blunt force".
 
"Their hands and mouths were tied," the officer said, adding that there was no robbery or theft angle to the double-murder case as the jewellery was found intact.
 
Shashi's husband died two years ago and her sons live in Canada and Mumbai. 
 
"It was a friendly entry because there were two tea cups lying in the drawing room," the officer said, hinting that someone known to the family could be involved in the crime. 
 
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Rahul calls Modi 'thief' in political war over Rafale; BJP hits back

A political war broke out on Saturday with Congress President Rahul Gandhi terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "thief" and "corrupt" in the Rafale deal as the BJP hit back saying the Gandhi family is out on bail and is the "source of all corruption in the country".

 
Modi should clarify on Hollande's remarks on Rafale: Rahul
 
 
A political war broke out on Saturday with Congress President Rahul Gandhi terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "thief" and "corrupt" in the Rafale deal as the BJP hit back saying the Gandhi family is out on bail and is the "source of all corruption in the country".
 
As the controversy over former French President Francois Hollande's remarks that the Modi government asked them to chose a private firm as offset partner in the Rafale deal snowballed, both the Defence Ministry and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad maintained that the Indian government had no role in the choice of the offset partner. 
 
Both suggested that Reliance was chosen by Dassault as early as 2012 much before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. However, the Congress rejected their claim on Dassault-Reliance deal in 2012 and asked them to produce the relevant records. 
 
Earlier, both the French government and Dassault Aviation contradicted Hollande's claim on choosing of Indian industrial partners.
 
Rahul Gandhi led the Congress charge on Saturday following Holland's remarks and said the former French President had called him a "thief" in the Rafale deal. He also sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the agreement to purchase 36 fighter jets from France.
 
"Now what the ex-President of France is saying is that the Prime Minister of India is a thief... that is what the statement is saying. It is very important for the PM now to either accept Hollande's statement and say that he is telling the truth or that Hollande is not telling the truth and here is the truth," Gandhi said. 
 
"It is the question of dignity of office of PM, it is a question related to defence, future of our jawans, Air Force. What I am surprised by is that the PM is completely silent," he said, adding that he had a one-on-one meeting with Hollande. 
 
Referring to Modi having earlier described himself as a "chowkidar (watchman)", Gandhi said he had given a "free gift" of Rs 30,000 crore to his industrialist friend.
 
"We are absolutely convinced that PM of India is corrupt. The question is now clearly settled in the minds of the Indian people that the country's watchman is a thief. This has gone in the minds of the people."
 
He said the Rafale aircraft was negotiated for Rs 526 crore by the UPA government but purchased for Rs 1,600 crore by the Modi government.
 
Prasad attacked Gandhi and saying "irresponsible, shameless and baseless" remarks were being made against the Prime Minister by a family which is out on bail in the National Herald case and "is the source of all corruption in the country".
 
"Rahul Gandhi's statement is utterly irresponsible. He is playing into the hands of Pakistan and China by insisting on the disclosure of the price and other details which will help our enemies. I charge Rahul Gandhi is trying to help Pakistan," he said.
 
Prasad said there was evidence to show that the choice of offset partner, a Reliance company, was made in 2012 itself during the UPA rule and a proper MoU existed between Dassault and Reliance industries as early as on February 13, 2013.
 
He said the choice of the private firm in place of HAL was entirely that of Dassault. "In fact the UPA had ditched the HAL," he said.
 
"I don't know the reasons and compulsions of the former French President to say what he had said," Prasad said and made a reference to a question of conflict of interest being raised against the former French President whose partner's film was co-produced by the private firm. 
 
The Defence Ministry also referred to the alleged conflict of interest and said the reported statement by the former President perhaps needs to be seen in its "full context" 
 
The Defence Ministry also said that the decision on offset partner was a commercial decision of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), which was taken as early as 2012 when the UPA was in power. 
 
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Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed Prasad and Defence Ministry's remarks as "totally false and utter rubbish." 
 
"No such contract or MoU was ever signed between Dassault Aviation and Mukesh Ambani's company. We challenge the Law Minister and Defence Minister to make any such record public. As there is no record, the lies will be exposed," he said. 
 
A Friday night statement by the French government said it is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being or will be selected by French companies.
 
In its statement of Friday night, Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of Rafale jets, said the offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations.
 
"In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of 'Make in India', Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice," it said. 
 
Hollande was quoted in an article by a French website as claiming that the Indian government had asked the French government to nominate Reliance Defence as its India partner in the deal. 
 
The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and signed in 2016. 
 
The UPA government was earlier negotiating a deal to procure 126 Rafale jets, with 18 to come in flyaway condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL under licence.
 
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Drugs worth Rs 25 cr seized in Delhi, 3 foreigners held

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Delhi police have busted an international drug cartel and arrested three foreign nationals from capital's Saket area. Heroin worth Rs 25 crore has been seized from the accused, police said on Saturday.
 
The accused have been identified as Esmatullah (40), Khalilullah (22), from Afghanistan and Victor Osondu (37) from Nigeria. 
 
Deputy Commissioner of Police P. S. Kushwah said they are the key members of an international drug cartel.
 
The three were arrested on Tuesday at 1.15 a.m. from Saket when Esmatullah and Khalilullah came to deliver a consignment of heroin to Osondo, Kushwah said. 
 
"Apart from heroin, Osondo handed $4,200 to Esmatullah. The amount has been seized," the officer said, adding a case has been registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
 
They told the police that they had been involved in the heroin supply in Delhi and adjoining states for the last three years and have sold more than 100 kg in the capital in the last two years. 
 
"Esmatullah and Khalilullah have brought heroin from their country -- sometimes by storing the capsules in their stomach and sometimes in secret cavities of their bags in flights," Kushwah said.
 
"They brought about 15 kg heroin on August 30, out of which, 5 kg was to be delivered to Osondo, who came to India in 2014 on a six-month business visa, but stayed back even after its expiry," police said. 
 
Osondo told the police that he bought heroin from Esmatullah and Khalilullah to supply to other countries including Canada, UK, France, South Africa through courier companies. 
 
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Cycling: India heads towards the champion title of Track Asia Cup

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India bagged three medals including a gold to take its medal tally to ten (4 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze) and emerge leader on the penultimate day of the three day of the 12-nation Track Asia Cup at the IG Velodrome here on Saturday.
 
However, there were a handful number of crashes, too, but the pain was all erased in the enthusiasm of the cyclists.
 
In Men Junior 3 km Individual Pursuit final, Bilal Ahmed claimed silver with a timing of 3:28.903s. This was his second silver of Track Asia Cup. While Kazakhstan's Danil Pekhotin won his second gold of this tournament clocking 3:28.273s, Sports Authority of India National Cycling Academy (SAINCA) claimed bronze in this event. 
 
A big surprise of the day came when junior cyclist E. Chaoba Devi of SAINCA won over favourite Nayana Rajesh P in Women Elite 3 km Individual Pursuit finals. Subarna Barma from Bangladesh won the bronze in this event. 
 
Chaoba Devi expressed her happiness on winning the gold. She said that “I’m doing training for seven hours on daily basis and very glad that the hard work paid off. My sole aim is to represent and win medals for the country," she said.
 
In the Women Junior 2 km Individual Pursuit, Swasti Singh won the gold medal with a timing of 2:41.123 s and an average speed of 89.37 km per hour. Danamma Chinchakh from SAINCA secured the silver medal with an average speed of 73.9 km per hour. Before this tournament, Danamma won bronze medal in the Asian championship in Point race event.
 
In Men Elite Scratch Race of 15 kms. Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn and Patompob Phonarjthan from Thailand won gold and silver medals, respectively. Ryan James from Netherlands won the bronze. 
 
The Men Elite 4 km Individual Pursuit final saw Hong Kong's Siu Woi winning the gold. While Ryan James of Netherlands grabbed silver, his second medal of the day, Yuttana Mano of Thailand got bronze.
 
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Law Minister attacks Rahul for levelling allegations against Modi

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Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi for his "thief" jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said "irresponsible, shameless and baseless" remarks were being made by a family which is out on bail in the National Herald case and is the source of all corruption in the country.
 
Addressing the media, a livid Prasad rejected Gandhi's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the issue, saying a JPC probe is not set up to "satisfy the ego of an ill informed and ignorant leader".
 
By making such remarks against the Prime Minister, who has eliminated corruption in the country, Gandhi has sought to throw black paint on his own face, the minister said.
 
"Rahul Gandhi's statement is utterly irresponsible. He is playing into the hands of Pakistan and China by insisting on the disclosure of the price and other details which will help our enemies. I charge Rahul Gandhi is trying to help Pakistan," he said.
 
Rejecting the Congress allegations in the wake of former French President Francois Hollande's reported statement that the Indian government insisted on Reliance Defence as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation in 2015, Prasad recounted the history of the deal from 2006 and said there was contemporaneous evidence to show that the choice of offset partner, a Reliance company, was made in 2012 itself during the UPA rule, much before Modi became Prime Minister.
 
"There is evidence available that a proper MoU existed between Dassault and Reliance Industries as early as on February 13, 2013, that means one year, four months before we came to power," he said.
 
Prasad said that the offset clause was finalised by the UPA in 2012 and the choice of the private firm in place of HAL was entirely that of Dassault. "In fact the UPA had ditched the HAL," he said.
 
He said both the French government and Dassault have made authoritative statements denying the involvement of the government in the selection of the private firm.
 
"I don't know the reasons and compulsions of the former French President to say what he had said," Prasad said and made a reference to a question of conflict of interest being raised against the former French President whose partner's film was co-produced by the private firm.
 
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Petrol prices continue to rise; Rs 89.80 in Mumbai

File photo of a petrol pump
File photo of a petrol pump
Petrol prices continued the upward movement across the metro cities on Saturday with the cost inching closer to the Rs 90-per-litre mark in Mumbai.
 
In the financial capital of the country, petrol was sold at Rs 89.80, up from Rs 89.69 per litre on Friday, data on the Indian Oil Corp's website showed.
 
Similarly, in the other three cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was priced at Rs 82.44, Rs 84.27 and Rs 85.69 per litre, against Rs 82.32, Rs 84.16 and Rs 85.58 per litre.
 
The continuous rise in transportation fuel prices has been in tandem with the increase in crude oil prices. Brent crude oil is currently priced around $78.80 per barrel.
 
Further, sector experts say, the high excise duty in the country has also added to the high prices.
 
In contrast to petrol, prices of diesel were unchanged on Saturday for the fourth consecutive day.
 
Diesel prices in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were unchanged at Rs 73.87, Rs 75.72, Rs 78.42 and Rs 78.10 per litre, respectively.
 
Cost of the fuel in all the key cities except Kolkata are at their record levels. The all-time high price of diesel in the West Bengal capital was Rs 75.82, as recorded on September 11.
 
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Rahul says Hollande has called Modi a thief, PM should reply

Stepping up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said former French President Francois Hollande has called him a "thief" in the Rafale deal and sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the agreement to purchase 36 fighter jets from France.

 
Modi should clarify on Hollande's remarks on Rafale: Rahul
 
 
Stepping up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said former French President Francois Hollande has called him a "thief" in the Rafale deal and sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the agreement to purchase 36 fighter jets from France.
 
Addressing a press conference a day after Hollande had said that the French government had no role in making a private Indian firm get the offset contract, he questioned Modi's silence and asked him to come clean on whether Hollande was telling the truth or not. 
 
"Now what the ex-President of France is saying is that the Prime Minister of India is a thief. That is what the statement is saying. It is very important for the PM now to either accept Hollande's statement and say that he is telling the truth or that Hollande is not telling the truth and here is the truth," Gandhi said. 
 
Gandhi alleged it is "for the first time probably in the Indian history an ex-President is calling our PM a thief" and said Modi should make his position very clear.
 
"It is the question of dignity of office of PM, it is a question related to defence, future of our jawans, Air Force. What I am surprised by is that the PM is completely silent. Not one word has come out from the PM's mouth after this comment. After all, this gentleman is the ex-president of France who had a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister where the Rafale contract was decided," Gandhi said. 
 
Referring to Modi having earlier described himself as a "chowkidar (watchman)" Gandhi said he had given a "free gift" of Rs 30,000 crore to his industrialist friend.
 
"We are absolutely convinced that PM of India is corrupt. This question is now clearly settled in the minds of the India people that the country's watchman is a thief. This has gone in the minds of the people."
 
Gandhi began by reading out remarks of Hollande to a French website Mediapart in which he does not mention Modi directly.
 
It interviewed Hollande on phone in which he said: "I intervened in this affair (Rafale) with the two prime ministers, to say that I was keen for this negotiation. Initially, the deal was supposed to be for 126 planes. Then when the government changed, the Indians reformulated their proposition, less attractive for us because it was for 36 aircraft only. But the manufacturing was planned to be in France. Contrary to the preceding proposition, we lost on the one hand and gained on the other." 
 
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Asked about the French Government stating that it was not involved in selecting the offset partner, Gandhi said: "It is very clear that the French government has given a statement that is stating what the procedures (are)." 
 
"Here there was one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister and the President of France. In that meeting the contract was signed. And the ex-President of France has said that in that meeting I was clearly told that the contract had to go to Mr Ambani. It is now up to the Prime Minister of India to clear his name." 
 
Gandhi said he was trying to help the Prime Minister and asking him to give a statement. "I want to save the dignity of his office and tell the people that what Hollande had said is not correct. But you are still unable to speak." 
 
Asked if the party will seek Modi's resignation, Gandhi said that ministers of the Modi government were speaking "lies" to protect the Prime Minister. 
 
Referring to his speech in parliament during the no-confidence motion, Gandhi said he had mentioned about his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and claimed that the French leader had stated that the price of the Rafale fighter jet was not part of the secrecy agreement and it could be revealed.
 
He said the Rafale aircraft was negotiated for Rs 526 crore by the UPA government but purchased for Rs 1600 crore by the Modi government.
 
Gandhi said youth had reposed faith in Modi. "He took the money out of your pocket, from the pockets of all defence personnel. You had reposed faith in the Prime Minister and he has broken that."
 
He said the offsets contract was taken away from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and one of its former officials had contradicted Defence Minister Sitharaman's claim about the ability of the organisation to build Rafale jets. 
 
IANS
 

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'Surgical strike' on forces, says Rahul as France, Dassault contradict Hollande on Rafale partner

Even as the French government and Dassault Aviation contradicted former President Francois Hollande's claim on choosing of Indian industrial partners in the multi-million dollar Rafale jet deal, the Congress party on Saturday said the French government "conceals more than it reveals".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande, in Paris on April 10, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande, in Paris on April 10, 2015.
Even as the French government and Dassault Aviation contradicted former President Francois Hollande's claim on choosing of Indian industrial partners in the multi-million dollar Rafale jet deal, the Congress party on Saturday said the French government "conceals more than it reveals".
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi called it a "surgical strike" on Indian defence forces.
 
The statement by the French government issued here by the country's embassy here late on Friday came after Hollande claimed in a media report that the Indian government had suggested a particular private firm for the Rafale offset contract. 
 
Hollande was quoted in an article by a French website Mediapart as saying that the Indian government had asked the French government to nominate Reliance Defence as its India partner in the deal. 
 
"We didn't have any say in this matter," Hollande was quoted by the website as saying. "It is the Indian government which had proposed this service group and Dassault who negotiated with (Anil) Ambani. We didn't have the choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us."
 
In response to the claim, Friday night's statement said: "The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being or will be selected by French companies."
 
Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale jets, in a statement, also on Friday night, said: "This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of 'Make in India', Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation's choice."
 
On Saturday, Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet that the "PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a One Hundred & Thirty Thousand Crore SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defence forces. Modiji you dishonoured the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India's soul."
 
The Congress party said that the the French government knows that verbal interactions between former President Hollande and Indian interlocutors were minuted and would emerge.
 
"Speculation of French Parliamentary hearing into Rafale and access to administration documents under France's Freedom of Information Law 1978 rife," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari tweeted. 
 
"What French government/corporate entity has just ended up doing is making Rafale procurement a veritable domestic issue in French politics also". 
 
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet in Hindi sought to know from the Indian Prime Minister who "pocketed the money from the Rafale scam, you the BJP or someone else."
 
Countering the attack, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister Ananth Kumar tweeted: "Nailing the lie on its head -- misinformation about Rafale deal, Dassault being called out by the French government."
 
The Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.
 
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The Paris-based Dassault Aviation further said in its statement that "in accordance with India's acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose their Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government's approval the offset projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard."
 
"Dassault Aviation is very proud that the Indian authorities have selected the Rafale fighter," it added stating that the partnership "between the two giants" led to the creation of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) joint venture in February 2017.
 
The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and signed in 2016. 
 
The UPA government was earlier negotiating a deal to procure 126 Rafale jets, with 18 to come in flyaway condition and 108 to be manufactured by HAL under licence.
 
The focus of the Mediapart story was about financing of a film being co-produced by actress Julie Gayet, who is said to be a "personal partner" of Hollande, for which the Anil Ambani group had provided funds of up to $1.6 million. 
 
It interviewed Hollande on phone in which he further said: "I intervened in this affair (Rafale) with the two prime ministers, to say that I was keen for this negotiation. Initially, the deal was supposed to be for 126 planes, then when the government changed the Indians reformulated their proposition, less attractive for us because it was for 36 aircraft only. But the manufacturing was planned to be in France, contrary to the preceding proposition, we lost on the one hand and gained on the other."
 
IANS
 

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