The Hyderabad police on Sunday registered a case against Bollywood filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through his comments on Lord Ganesha.

A practising advocate K Karunasagar filed a complaint with the city police seeking registration of a case against Varma over his series of controversial tweets, police said.

After taking legal opinion in this regard, police proceeded and booked Varma under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intention to wound the religious feelings of any person), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC, Saroornagar Police Inspector B Naveen Reddy said.

"The matter is under further investigation," the police officer told PTI.

Varma triggered a controversy on August 29 with a string of tweets about the elephant god.

The 52-year-old producer-director, apart from questioning the ability of Lord Ganesha to remove obstacles from the path of his devotees, made fun of his physical attributes.

As his Twitter posts triggered an outrage, Varma tendered an apology saying, ""All tweets I put on Ganesha were in my usual manner but unintended by me to hurt anyone's sentiments... but if they did I sincerely apologise."


Hindustan Times

 

Petrol price was today cut by Rs. 1.82 a litre, the third reduction in rates this month, but diesel rates were hiked by 50 paise per litre.

The revised rates are effective from midnight tonight, oil companies announced today.

With international oil rates on the decline, petrol price was cut by Rs. 1.51 a litre, which after including local sales tax or VAT translated into a reduction of Rs. 1.82 a litre in Delhi.

Petrol in Delhi will now cost Rs. 68.51 a litre from tomorrow as against Rs. 70.33 currently.

In line with the January 2013 decision to hike diesel prices till retail rates come on par with its cost, rates were hiked by 50 paise a litre.

After, including VAT, the increase in Delhi came to 57 paise. Diesel will cost Rs. 58.97 per litre in Delhi from tomorrow compared to Rs. 58.40 currently.

Rates will vary from city to city depending on local sales tax or VAT.

Petrol price was cut by 90 paise (Rs. 1.09 a litre after including local sales tax) on August 1 and again by Rs. 1.81 (Rs. 2.18 per litre, after including VAT).

At Rs. 68.51, petrol price is lowest since June last year when it was sold Rs. 68.58 per litre.

Indian Oil corp, the nation's largest fuel retailer, said the downward trend in international prices has also warranted a cut in price of non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) by Rs. 19 pe 14.2-kg cylinder. None-subsidised LPG is the one that household consumers buy after exhausting their quota of 12 bottles in a year.

Subidised cylinder costs Rs. 414 per litre in Delhi. A 14.2-kg non-subsided LPG cylinder will cost Rs. 901 from tomorrow as compared to Rs. 920 currently.

Also, the rates for bulk diesel, which is priced at market rates, was cut by Rs. 1.32 per litre in Delhi. As per government policy, bulk users like railways, defence and state road transport corporations buy diesel at market price, which is higher than pump rates.

NDTV

Out of the 116 people expected to arrive in India from the Ebola-affected Liberia, 79 landed on early Tuesday morning. Sixty six of them landed in Mumbai from two different flights and the rest-13- arrived at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 7.30am.

According to the official release issued by the Union health ministry, none of the passengers were isolated. However, the health secretary Lov Verma told HT that six of the persons had seemed a bit doubtful initially.

“I was told six are under observation as they were suspected to have fever, but they perhaps were released later when crosschecked,” he said.

International SOS (ISOS) Organization brought back 116 persons working with an infrastructure firm, Afcons, in Liberia, out of which 112 were Indian Nationals and four people belonged to Nepal.

Senior officers of the health ministry were pre-positioned at Mumbai and Delhi airports to monitor the screening of these passengers about whose arrival the ministry of external affairs had alerted them a few days ago.

All the persons have been screened and found healthy. No passenger has been isolated.

India is screening passengers coming from the affected countries as precautionary measure. As per the guidelines, the high risk category: those with symptoms are isolated at the airport; medium risk category: those giving history of contact with an Ebola case are prioritized for active surveillance and low risk category: those without symptoms and without any contact history are informed about helpline numbers to be contacted in case of they developing symptoms subsequently.

The state governments have been requested to do rigorous tracking and monitoring of these passengers. The concerned States have also been alerted for follow up of these passengers on a daily basis.

Though the International SOS has informed that these people have been screened at the time of exit from Liberia and none of the evacuees had any symptoms prior to travel.

HT

 

The Supreme Court today declared that all coal mining rights distributed between 1993 and 2010 were assigned illegally by the government in a process that lacked transparency in the absence of a competitive bidding system. (Read full judgement here)

How the mining rights should be re-assigned will be decided by the top court in a series of hearings starting September 1. The uncertainty over the coal contracts will add to investors' confusion about doing business in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

The allocation of coal licenses has been the subject of a CBI investigation that is being monitored by the Supreme Court since 2012 when the state auditor said that 1.83 lakh crores had been lost because coal rights were not auctioned. They were instead assigned by a government committee. The CBI is looking at possible collusion by officials to give blocks at low prices to companies, some of which never developed them.

The finding of the Comptroller and Auditor General forms the basis of the scandal dubbed "Coal-Gate" which singed the previous government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, who held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for some of the years under investigation. Dr Singh ignored calls for his resignation over the alleged scam, which added to a retinue of financial scandals weighing down his government ahead of the national election in May.

The CBI has post-mortemed the assignment of 194 coal blocks allocations since 1992. Of these, 39 were assigned to companies before Dr Singh's coalition government first took office in 2004 (it won a second term in 2009).

India is the world's third-largest coal producer after China and the United States, but output has struggled to keep up with consumer demand for electricity. The government handed out the coalfields for a nominal cost to operators who promised to use the coal for their own power, steel and cement projects. Many of the allotted fields have yet to be handed to the companies because of bureaucratic wrangles and environmental regulations.

NDTV

 

A teenage girl was shot dead by the NDFB in the presence of her parents in Assam's Chirang district as militants suspected her of being a police informer and a probe has been announced after chilling video of the killing was aired by local television channels.

The video, sent by the NDFB militants and was being aired by television channels since last night, showed a 16-year-old girl lying slumped on the ground in a pool of blood in the presence of her parents and residents of Dwimugri village under Runikhata police station in the district.

Government spokesman and Industries minister Pradyut said a probe would be ordered into the killing by militants of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit).

He said that the veracity of reports that the girl's body was lying in a field in the village for the past two days as her parents were afraid to retrieve it, would be verified.

The government would also take action against any policeman found guilty of dereliction of duty, he said.

The girl was suspected to have been killed a day after five NDFB(S) militants were killed in an encounter with security forces on August 20.

An NDFB(S) militant claimed in the video that the girl was killed for being 'an informer' and it was a warning to others.

He also claimed and that the militants of his group were killed not by the army, but by the rival NDFB (Daimary).
 
Villagers alleged that the police reached the spot only after the video was telecast.

A police spokesman said that the body of the girl was retrieved and sent for post mortem examination.

Quoting the villagers, the spokesman said a group of heavily armed militants dragged the girl out from her house alleging she was a police informer and and shot her dead from close range in the presence of her parents and them.

The incident triggered widespread condemnation.

All Assam Students' Union Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya described it as "a barbaric incident which does not happen in civilised society... This particular killing indicates the level of lawlessness prevailing in the state".

The All Bodo Students' Union said it demonstrates the deteriorating law and order in four districts under the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).

Advisor of the All Bodo Women's Welfare Federation Romila Islari said the people in the four districts live in constant fear. 

NDTV

 

Every second woman in rural India walked an average 173 kilometres – the distance between Delhi and Vrindavan – to fetch potable water in 2012, making her trek 25 kilometres longer than what it was in 2008-09.

Data released this week by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), a ministry of statistics and programme implementation wing, gives two broad hints when compared with previous studies: economic growth may not have touched the lives of these women, and a water crisis is imminent in villages because of overharvesting of groundwater sources.

With per capita availability of water in India falling, the report shows that dependence on depleting groundwater for drinking purposes in rural India is on the rise as more accessible sources are drying up.

As a result, in 2012, about 54% of rural women had to travel between 200 metres and five kilometres daily to get drinking water. They walked 20 minutes a day, on an average, and spent another 15 minutes at the source.

Every second rural woman spending 210 hours in a year for fetching water also meant loss of 27 days' wages for these households. Collectively, these women covered 64,000 times the distance between the earth and the moon.

The NSSO data also shows that 70% of the rural women from states such as Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Odisha and Jharkhand had to travel some distance to draw water. The daily time spent on this exercise was the highest in Jharkhand (40 minutes) followed by Bihar (33 minutes) and Rajasthan (30 minutes). It was the lowest for Assam (10 minutes) in rural areas and Delhi (six minutes) among urban parts of the country.

The women had to toil more as the traditional water sources were drying up. The NSSO statistics show that more households were dependent on tube wells or bore wells as principal sources of drinking water in 2012 compared to previous years.

About 80% of the country's drinking water needs are met by groundwater which, apart from rapidly becoming a rare commodity, is often highly contaminated, says international non-profit organisation WaterAid. The NSSO statistics, on the other hand, reveal that less than 10% of rural Indian households have the facility to treat water before consuming it, while the findings say that 90% of the families get safe drinking water. This data, though, was derived on the basis of households' claims and not any scientific study. Also, only 1.7% of rural Uttar Pradesh homes, 2.2% in Bihar and 6.6% in Haryana boil, filter or use chemicals and electrifiers to purify water.

India has, over the years, been shifting goalposts for providing potable water to all. In 1949, an environmental hygiene committee recommended that safe drinking water should be supplied to 90% of the country's population within 40 years. Sixty-five years since the target was set, potable water remains a distant dream in most of rural India.

Hindustan Times

 

An Indian-origin student, who scored a perfect five in his main subjects with 100 per cent marks across the board, is being hailed as the brightest student in Britain.

Asanish Kalyanasundaram achieved the highest possible grades in maths, physics, chemistry, biology and critical thinking as part of the five main subjects required at A Levels in Britain.

The 18-year-old, who simply says he is “delighted” with his score, is now off to Cambridge University in October to study medicine.

He is considering becoming a surgeon but has not decided the branch of medicine he would like to specialise in.

Asanish lives with his mother Sujatha in Burnley, Lancashire, and has also been a keen badminton player as a student of St Joseph’s Park Hill School in the area and Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, according to ‘Burnley Express’.

“Constantly in demand of a fresh challenge beyond his A-Level studies, Asanish has a unique intelligence and has made the most of the opportunities available to him both within and outside of school,” a school spokesperson was quoted as saying by the local newspaper.

Asanish received an A* grade in an Extended Project Qualification, following a 100-hour research topic and presentation after attending a summer school run by the Nuffield Foundation, where he was able to work at the cutting edge of medical research.

The bright student recently won the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and in November is off to St James’s Palace in London to receive the award from Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip.

He has also been invited by Lancashire County Council to attend a reception for Gold Award winners.

Gulf News

 

Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal was admitted to a super-specialty hospital in Kolkata today after he suffered a brain stroke.

"He (Pal) was brought to the hospital at 4 pm. After conducting the necessary tests, we found he had suffered a brain stroke. He has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit and is under 72-hour observation," said Belle Vue Hospital official P Tandon.

Earlier, he had been admitted to the same hospital after a sudden spurt in his blood pressure.

Mr Pal has been in the eye of storm since June after he was caught on camera at a rally, threatening women relatives of Left workers with rape. The two-time MP, whose party is headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had also said he would have workers of the Left Front killed or he would shoot them dead himself.

"If (the Communists) try to kill and intimidate our workers... I will not spare them. I will let loose my men to rape your women," he had said. The comments made in his constituency, Krishnanagar, were filmed on a smartphone. The hazy footage aired by local television channels created outrage, especially after Mr Pal was let off by his party without even a slap on the wrist.

Though the Calcutta high court ordered that he be booked by the police for the comment, Mr Pal got a reprieve after a different bench of the court stayed the order following a petition.

NDTV

India has been pro-active in preparing for an outbreak of Ebola, but authorities need to improve the surveillance of travellers and raise public awareness about the deadly virus, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

There are nearly 45,000 Indians living and working in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria - where more than 1,300 people have died of Ebola in the worst outbreak of the disease in history.
There is also a large population of West Africans, mainly students, in India and there are concerns that the disease could be imported into the country.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced preventive measures on August 6 which included in-flight announcements prior to landing, informing passengers to self-report at immigration.
Almost 500 passengers - mostly in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu - are currently being tracked, a health ministry statement said on Wednesday.

Asheena Khalakdina, the WHO's Team Leader for Communicable Diseases, said while the risk of Ebola coming to India was low, it was important that authorities put in place the precautionary measures outlined by the organisation.

"No country is perfect. You can go to any Western country and every country has areas where they can make improvements and certainly India is not an exception, so we are working closely with the ministry of health to see where those gaps are," Mr Khalakdina told a news conference.

The government has set up facilities at airports and ports to manage travellers showing symptoms of the disease such as fever, intense weakness or bleeding. Those displaying symptoms are being tracked for up to four weeks.

State authorities have also been instructed to designate hospitals with isolation wards for response to possible cases and to stock protective equipment.

NDTV

 

Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Sunil Joshi was killed by his own associates for having allegedly ‘misbehaved’ with Pragya Singh Thakur, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday claimed in its chargesheet in the case.

As reported by HT on August 5, the NIA did not invoke the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as the agency has found it only to be a murder case alone. Earlier it was suspected that Joshi was silenced to keep a lid on the larger Hindu terror conspiracy.

But after a three-year long probe, the agency has found that Joshi was killed because of his alleged ‘vulgar advances’ towards Pragya.

The NIA has filed fresh charges against four accused — Lokesh Sharma, Rajendar Chaudhary, Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha leader Jitender Sharma and Pragya Singh Thakur. According to chargesheet Joshi was allegedly shot dead by Lokesh and Rajendar on December 29, 2007.

According to a senior NIA official, the alleged misbehaviour was the only obvious motive. However, the agency was unable to figure out as to why Joshi and his associates collaborated for terror blasts in mosques and places frequented by Muslims even after his alleged misbehaviour with Pragya and waited for more than year to kill him.

Hindustan Times

 

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