Daily Bulletin: EC team in Jammu and Kashmir today; Maha Shivaratri 2019 celebrated across India; Pak to act against JeM; day's top stories
Today's top stories: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora will visit Jammu and Kashmir to review poll preparations, Narendra Modi to visit Gujarat after Amethi trip, and more.
CEC Sunil Arora is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir today to review poll preparations for the general elections
Narendra Modi, after hi srally in Amethi on Sunday, is scheduled for a two-day visit to Gujarat starting Monday
Indian women's cricket team to take on England in first T20I in Guwahati on Monday
CEC Sunil Arora to visit Jammu and Kashmir to review poll preparation
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora will be on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir with a team from Monday to assess the preparedness and ground situation in the state to hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together.
The Election Commission team is scheduled to hold meetings with state administration officials and political parties in Srinagar on Monday and in Jammu on Tuesday. As per a Supreme Court ruling, the outer limit to hold fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months, and Jammu and Kashmir's case, this deadline ends in May 2019. The top court verdict on a presidential reference had also said that polls have to be held on the first occasion, which means even before the six-month period.
Governor Satya Pal Malik had dissolved the Assembly in November 2018 after Peoples' Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti had staked claim to form the government in the state with support from Omar Abdullah's National Conference and the Congress. They had claimed the support of 56 lawmakers in the 87-member Assembly.
India celebrates Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivratri, which translates to ‘great night of Shiva’ is a festival celebrated by the devotees of Lord Shiva across India. The festival is celebrated on the fourth night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun or Magh. The day is celebrated to venerate Lord Shiva, who is considered to be the ‘destroyer of evil’, according to Hindu mythology. This year it falls on 4 March. While the country celebrates Maha Shivaratri on Monday, the Sangam, which is the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, at Prayagraj is all set to witness the last dip of the Kumbh Mela on the occasion. More than 22 crore devotees took a holy bath during the festival this year.
"This day symbolises the last holy bath of the Kalpvasis and is directly related to Lord Shiva. As per mythology, this day is awaited in the heavens as well," said Gunjan Varshney, president of Ram Naam Bank situated at Civil Lines. She also said it was on this day that Lord Shiva got married and hence his worshippers eagerly wait for this day. The Kumbh Mela — one of the largest religious gatherings in the world — began in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj on 15 January on Makar Sakranti and will end on 4 March on Maha Shivaratri this year. The administration has made elaborate arrangements for the last bathing ritual at the Kumbh Mela, expecting around one crore devotees at the mega event at the Sangam. "Around one crore devotees and pilgrims from different walks of life are expected to take a dip in Sangam on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri. More than 22 crore people have, so far, taken the holy dip at the Kumbh," said Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand.
Narendra Modi to visit Gujarat today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to Gujarat starting Monday, during which he will launch the Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan Yojana (PM-SYM) and inaugurate the first phase of the 6-kilometre-long Ahmedabad Metro service. The prime minister is also expected to lay the foundation stone for the Umiya Dham temple complex during his visit.
Modi will start his two-day visit from Jamnagar in the Saurashtra region, where he will dedicate to the nation a 750-bed annexe of the Guru Gobind Singh Hospital and inaugurate its PG hostel. From Jamanagar, he will head to Ahmedabad and attend an event for the temple complex.
PM launches Kalashnikov rifles unit in Amethi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who announced development projects worth Rs 538 crore in Amethi on Sunday, said the constituency — a Congress bastion — will be known by the new venture to manufacture AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles. The unit will be made in a joint venture with Russia at the Korba ordnance factory.
The AK-203 will replace the INSAS rifles that army and other forces now use. The immediate target is to produce 7,00,000 AK-203 rifles in the facility.
"The AK-203 rifles will be manufactured in Amethi under a Russia-India joint venture... These rifles will be known as 'Made in Amethi' and will help our jawans in encounters with Naxals and terrorists," Modi said.
In a message read out by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Russian president Vladmir Putin said the joint venture will be able to fulfil Indian security agencies' requirement for small arms.
Without naming Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Modi said, "Some people go around giving speeches of 'Made in Ujjain', 'Made in Jaipur', 'Made in Jaisalmer'. This is Modi. Now AK-203 rifles will be 'Made in Amethi'. It will help our jawans."
He said the rifles will be made in bulk and also exported, thus presenting employment opportunities to local youths.
Pakistan might take action against Masood Azhar: Govt source
To de-escalate the tensions with India, the Pakistan government has decided to launch a crackdown on terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed's (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, according to a top government source. A local media report on Sunday said Islamabad may even withdraw its opposition to the move to list Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN Security Council.
"The government has decided in principle to launch a crackdown on the leadership of the JeM (Azhar)," the source told PTI. He said the action against JeM in the country is "expected any time soon".
"In order to de-escalate the tensions between India and Pakistan, the Imran Khan government has planned action against the JeM," the source said. "This will be another significant move of the Imran Khan government to de-escalate tensions after handing over the captured Indian pilot to his country."
To a question about the Azhar's fate, the official source said he cannot confirm whether he will be put under house arrest or taken into custody.
Jet Airways grounds two more aircraft
Jet Airways has grounded two more of its aircraft due to non-payment of lease rentals, taking the total number of planes now on the ground to 23. With the grounding of two more planes, almost 20 percent of aircraft in the airline's fleet are now out of operation.
"An additional two aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements," Jet Airways said in a filing to the stock exchanges on 2 March.
India women's team to take on England in first T20I in Guwahati
After winning the ODI series 2-1, the Indian women's cricket team will take on England in a three-match T20I series starting in Guwahati on Monday, with an aim to finalise a core group of players ahead of the T20 World Cup early next year. India lost their previous series in New Zealand 0-3 and have many holes to plug in the shortest format.
Smriti Mandhana will lead the hosts in the absence of regular skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who is out due to an ankle injury. England would like to continue the momentum gained after winning the third ODI a few days back and start the series on a winning note.
Facebook undertaking global lobbying operation
A recently leaked document has revealed that Facebook was undertaking a global lobbying operation targeting hundreds of legislators and regulators across the world. This includes the UK, US, Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and all 28 states of the EU.
This was reportedly being done to stave off GDPR legislation in Europe and also allegedly to threaten to withhold investment from countries unless they supported or passed Facebook-friendly laws. The documents are believed to reveal that Facebook used COO Sheryl Sandberg's biography Lean In to "bond" with "female European commissioners it viewed as hostile".
This was revealed in a court case against Facebook in California, which was then first reported by The Guardian.
Johhny Depp slaps $50-million defamation case against Amber Heard
Actor Johnny Depp has sued actress and former wife Amber Heard for defamation, seeking $50 million in damages. Depp's lawyers filed the defamation suit against Heard on Friday over her 18 December 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post, in which she accused him of assault and domestic violence, reports People magazine.
Depp's lawsuit calls Heard's allegations of domestic violence against him a "hoax". In the lawsuit, they said that Heard "purported to write from the perspective of 'a public figure representing domestic abuse' and claimed that she 'felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out' when she 'spoke up against sexual violence'."
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Without naming China and Pakistan, Indian Army's northern commander Lt Gen YK Joshi said the army has maintained its domination on its borders with the neighbouring countries
The scope of the agreement between the Higher Education Department Jammu and Kashmir and IIT Jammu includes academic, research, administrative and consultancy collaborations
Model Code of Conduct comes into force for Assembly polls 2021; guidelines seek to ensure level playing field
With the announcement of the polling dates, the Model of Conduct has come into force in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry