Daily Bulletin: Assam CM to brief Modi, Amit Shah on Citizenship Act protests; SC to hear 2012 Delhi gangrape convict's review plea on 17 Dec; day's top stories

Assam CM to brief Modi, Amit Shah on Citizenship Act; UGC NET exams in Assam, Meghalaya postponed

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will lead a team to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah very soon to discuss the ongoing protests in the state against the amended Citizenship Act.

UGC NET examinations, to be held in Assam and Meghalaya on Sunday morning, were postponed even as protests spiraled in Assam, resulting in the death of an oil tanker driver in Sonitpur district. Additionally, protesters torched about five trains, three railway stations and tracks, and at least 25 buses on Saturday in West Bengal.

Suspension of internet services across Assam was extended for 48 hours till 16 December, though curfew was relaxed in Dibrugarh and Guwahati and also parts of Meghalaya, while a six-hour shutdown was observed in Nagaland.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU), which is spearheading the agitation in the northeastern state, kept up its protest meetings along with Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 30 other indigenous organisations in the Brahmaputra Valley.

Police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said 85 people have so far been arrested for violence during protests. The situation is under control and police will take stern action against people indulging in violence, he said.

JNU Vice Chancellor says students tried to attack him on campus

JNU Vice-Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar on Saturday claimed that a group of 15-20 students surrounded him "in a violent manner" on the campus and abused and tried to attack him but the university security staff and police personnel rescued him. However, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union said the VC ran way when the students confronted him with questions on hike in hostel fees and accused him of spreading falsehood.

The VC said he was surrounded by students when he had gone to oversee how the exams were going. He said around 4.30 pm, he and other officials came out of the administration block and visited the School of Biotechnology, which is within 100 metres of the administration block. Thereafter, they went to the School of Arts and Aesthetics. "When we were coming back, 15-20 students in a violent manner surrounded me with an intention to physically assault me. They were planning to attack me and were very abusive," he told PTI.

He said he was rescued by security guards and policemen in civil clothes who tried to take him away in a security vehicle but the crowd did not allow it. "I  got off the vehicle and moved ahead of the crowd by 20-30 metres. And then I got into my car. They damaged the car and didn't allow the car to move. My driver's presence of mind helped and he reversed the car and rescued me," he said.

After he left, Kumar said, the students entered the administration block and ransacked it in violation of the Delhi High Court order which prohibits protests within 100 metres of the building.

SC bench to hear 2012 Delhi gangrape case convict's review petition on 17 Dec

A new Supreme Court bench will be hearing the review petition filed by 2012 Delhi gangrape convict Akshay Thakur. The three-judge bench will be headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the petition will be taken up on 17 December.

Meanwhile, the condition of DCW chief Swati Maliwal, who has been on hunger strike since 3 December demanding capital punishment for rapists within six months of their conviction, deteriorated and she was admitted to the LNJP Hospital in Delhi , ANI reported. Maliwal had said she will not end her fast till the Disha Bill is implemented in the entire country and also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.

Nirbhaya's mother said she was upset that the government had not bothered to check on Maliwal during her hunger strike.

The four convicts facing death in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case are under depression and Tihar Jail officials are keeping a close watch to ensure they do not harm themselves, prison sources told PTI. Four-five security personnel have been assigned to each of the four convicts.

Modi to address public rally in Jharkhand's Dumka

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public rally in Jharkhand's Dumka, a day ahead of the fourth phase of the Assembly polls being conducted in the state.

Campaigning for the 15 Assembly constituencies of Jharkhand that are going to polls in the fourth of the five phases on 16 December ended on Saturday, EC officials said. A total of 221 candidates, including 23 women nominees, are in the fray in the elections, Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP working president JP Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union ministers Smriti Irani and Nitin Gadkari and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned in the run-up of the fourth phase of polling. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and party leader Raj Babbar also sought votes for the Congress-JMM-RJD alliance.

Polling in the first three phases of polling to 13, 20 and 17 seats ended on 30 November 30 and 7 and 12 December respectively. The fifth and final phase of polling for 16 seats will be held on 20 December. The votes will be counted on 23 December.

Nitish Kumar, Prashant Kishor meet over Citizenship Amendment Act imbroglio

After a closed-door meeting with JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, party vice-president Prashant Kishor, who had publicly criticised the party's support to the new citizenship law, said he stood by the "views I have expressed". He, however, said the amended Citizenship Act was, per se, not a "major cause for worry" but it could be problematic in combination with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

On Wednesday, Kishor had tweeted the legislation "could turn into a lethal combo" (with NRC) to systematically discriminate and even prosecute people based on religion. On Saturday, he and Kumar discussed the contentious legislation in an hour-long meeting.

Emerging from the chief minister's residence after the meeting, Kishor stuck to his stand. Asked what the chief minister now thought of the NRC, which he had criticised, Kishor said Kumar has made his stand clear in the past and being the national president of JD(U), it is for him to make any fresh statement on the issue. "As the national president, he (Kumar) has to take a call on who has been in the wrong and who has been not. I stand by the views I have expressed. And I do not sense any hostility against myself in the party either," he added.

Three women dead, four injured as fire breaks out in house in Delhi

Three women died and four people were injured after a fire broke out at a house in northwest Delhi's Shalimar Bagh area on Saturday, officials said. After receiving information about the blaze at 6.05 pm, eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot, the fire department said.

The victims were taken to a hospital where Kanta (75), Kiran Sharma (65) and Somvati (42) died. While Lajwanti (68), Inna (28), Akshit (16) and Vanshika (14) were undergoing treatment, the police said.

The blaze occurred days after at least 43 people were killed when a massive fire ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's congested Anaj Mandi area. "Around 6.10 pm on Saturday, the SHO Shalimar Bagh got information regarding the incident in BQ-Block. He rushed to the spot and broke open the terrace door of the house and rescued two women in unconscious state," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer North) Gaurav Sharma said.

Bodies of two missing after volcano eruption not found on New Zealand island

Search teams returned to New Zealand's volcanic White Island on Sunday but there was no sign of two bodies still unaccounted for after last week's eruption, as police released the names of four more victims. Of the 47 people on the island - a popular tourist attraction - when the explosion took place, the death toll stands at 17 including the missing pair.

It is now believed the two may be in the sea, although divers searching the contaminated waters around the island on Saturday failed to locate one body seen floating in the area several days ago. "The rescue teams are frustrated. We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back," deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said when the land search party of eight police officers returned to the mainland.

He said there was "every chance" both corpses were in the water but the divers were "satisfied that the area we searched near the jetty is clear of the bodies". There are 27 survivors in New Zealand and Australian hospitals, of which 20 are fighting for their lives after the eruption of the desolate island, which is the country's most active volcano.

Amul raises milk prices by Rs 2 per litre

India's leading milk supplier Amul raised milk prices by Rs 2 per litre in Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, West Bengal and Maharashtra. "Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which markets dairy products under Amul brand, has decided to revise the milk prices by Rs 2 per litre being sold in Ahmedabad and Saurashtra markets of Gujarat, Delhi NCR, West Bengal, Mumbai and Maharashtra from 15 December, 2019," the cooperative said in a statement.

In Ahmedabad, the price of Amul Gold will be Rs 28 per 500 ml, and Amul Taaza will be sold for Rs 22 per 500 ml. However, there will be no change in price of Amul Shakti which continues to be available at Rs 25 per 500 ml.

This increase in milk prices by Rs 2 per litre has been done with an aim to sustain remunerative price to milk producers and encourage them for higher milk production, the statement added.

Expecting radical improvement in Air India impractical amid disinvestment environment, says CMD

As the central government is planning to invite bids for Air India soon, its CMD said on Saturday that expecting a radical improvement in the airline bordering on a turnaround is an impractical thought "in this environment of disinvestment".

In a Facebook post, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said, "Air India needs to survive till it is sold". "I wonder why is it so difficult for this appreciation to sink in and also that in this environment of disinvestment, expecting a radical improvement bordering on a turnaround is an impractical thought. That output can be given sans inputs is a grossly impractical thought," he added.

Lohani said, "Air Indians are indeed putting in their best even at this critical juncture and that is very very appreciable."

Buoyant India hope to start ODI series against West Indies on winning note

After registering a massive series-clinching victory in the third T20I in Mumbai, India take on West Indies in the first of the three scheduled one-day internationals at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. Both teams have had their share of injury-related issues, with Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out of the Indian ODI squad after initially being named, with Mayank Agarwal and Shardul Thakur respectively being named their replacements. West Indies are likely to field an XI sans explosive opener Evin Lewis, who suffered a knee injury in the third T20I. The match starts at 1.30 pm IST, with rain unlikely to interrupt the proceedings.

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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2019 08:36:57 IST