L A T E S T      N E W S

Amit Shah visits Ayodhya, rakes up Ram temple issue

AYODHYA: With an eye on the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday raked up the Ayodhya Ram temple issue in a bid to boost the party’s morale in Uttar Pradesh where good performance in the past had helped it capture power at the Centre.

Amit Shah, a close confidant of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, made his first visit to the make-shift Ram temple here after he took over as BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh recently.

“I came to visit the Ram temple which is a centre of faith for crores of Hindus from around the world. After worshipping here I have prayed that good governance is established in the country and the nation gets rid of the Congress,” Shah told reporters.

The Ram temple issue has helped the party boost its electoral prospects in the past and Shah’s visit appears to be an attempt to raise this issue again in the coming elections.

“I have also prayed that we together build a grand Ram temple here as soon as possible and restore Lord Ram to his rightful place,” Shah said.

With Modi as BJP Election Campaign Committee chief, the party wants to recapture its old base in Uttar Pradesh which is crucial for the party to form a government at the Centre.

The state has 80 Lok Sabha constituencies and BJP is eyeing around 40 seats where it can put up a good fight in the polls, sources said.

Shah evaded questions on the CBI charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan “fake” encounter case. There are reports that Shah, who was the state Minister of Home in Gujarat when the encounter took place, may be named in a subsequent charge sheet.

Meanwhile, BJP president during a press conference in Nagpur refused to comment on the statement by BJP general secretary Amit Shah on building a “grand” Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“I have not heard his (Amit Shah’s) statement,” Rajnath told reporters.

He alleged that Congress was adopting the British policy of divide and rule and playing politics on the lines of caste and religion. — PTIBack










Antony calls for closer military ties between India and China

BEIJING: Calling for closer military ties between India and China, Defence Minister A. K. Antony on Saturday said that it would be easy to maintain peace along the borders if both the forces have trust, mutual respect and confidence.

"If the military leadership on both sides from the top to the ground formations can maintain both trust and mutual respect, and confidence, then it is easy to maintain peace and tranquility at the border areas," Antony told Political Commissar of National Defence University General Liu Yazhou.

Antony visited the academy of People's Liberation Army here today on the second day of his official visit.

During the meeting, the Defence Minister and Liu agreed to enhance military exchanges between the two countries.

Antony yesterday held wide ranging discussions with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and defence minister Gen Cheng Wanquan on a host of issues, including maintaining peace and tranquility at the borders.

In his interaction with Liu, Antony recalled his meeting with Premier Li and Gen Cheng.

"India and China are close neighbours. Our relations are expanding in many areas," he said, adding he had a detailed discussions with the Chinese leadership on bilateral ties.

"Both sides are and have clear consensus that we must maintain peace tranquility and stability at our borders. In that endeavour military-to-military cooperation is an important aspect," he said.

Accompanied by a high-powered delegation consisting of top officials from Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, Antony went round the sprawling 15,000-square metre university campus evincing keen interest in China's defence forces' training programmes for the officers of all its three forces.

Officials said Antony had expressed interest to visit the top military academy to study the Chinese pattern as India has recently launched its National Defence University in New Delhi, which is expected to be ready in the next few years.

Indian officials said efforts are on currently to evolve combined training programmes for all the forces. — PTIBack










Fresh rain in Uttarakhand disrupts relief work 

DEHRADUN: Relief operations were on Saturday badly hit by a fresh spell of rain at most places in Uttarakhand, including Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkhashi districts, with choppers carrying relief material not flying due to low-visibility conditions.

Fresh showers in Uttarkashi district have swelled the Bhagirathi River once again prompting the administration to evacuate people living in the houses located on its banks to safe places as a precautionary measure, officials here said.

Chopper operations in Kedarghati in Rudraprayag district remain badly affected due to bad weather, delaying distribution of relief material in affected villages on the 20th day of the tragedy, District Magistrate Dilip Jawalkar said.

It received fresh showers on Friday making the administration issue an alert and advise people inhabiting banks of the Alaknanda to move to safer places.

Rain in Kedarghati has also slackened the process of disposal of bodies with only 72 of them having been cremated in over a week so far, DGP Satyavrat Bansal said.

Transportation of relief by air being the only option, the emphasis is now on repairing breached roads in affected areas so that the process could be expedited, officials said.

Chief Secretary Subash Kumar, who visited the remote and cut off blocks of Chamoli District, instructed officials to make sure that the roads open by July 15.

In view of the MeT Department warning of heavy rains in the next 24 hours in parts of the state, especially Nainital, Pithoragarh and Almora districts of Kumaon region, the administration is fully alert to deal with any emergency.

State Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya, who visited Pithoragarh, directed the officials to work on a war footing for relief and rehabilitation of affected people in the district.

Amid reports of tonnes of relief material stuck in government godowns at various places due to problems being faced in their transportation, a state government estimate claimed there is no shortage of food in any affected village.

Apart from the regular supply of civil supplies department more than 393 vehicles carrying relief material have been sent to various disaster-hit areas, it said. — PTIBack









Over 1 lakh pilgrims visit Amarnath

JAMMU: Over 1 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir even as a batch of 3,250 devotees on Saturday left the Jammu base camp.

One lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the ice lingam of the Amarnath cave shrine till Friday evening, a police official said.

Meanwhile, a convoy of 93 vehicles, carrying 3,250 devotees, left from Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu at around 5 am, the police said here on Saturday.

The tenth batch of pilgrims, which include 2,452 men, 720 women and 28 children, apart from 50 priests, were on their way to twin base camps of Pahalagam and Baltal in the Kashmir Valley.

With Saturday's batch, a total of 23,384 pilgrims have left Jammu base camp for Amarnath so far. — PTIBack










1 dies, 14 hurt as building collapses in Delhi

NEW DELHI: One person was killed and 14 others were injured when a four-storeyed building collapsed in east Delhi's Jafrabad area in the wee hours today. 

"The incident took place at around 2 am when some workers were demolishing the newly-constructed building after it had developed cracks," a Delhi Fire Service officer said.

"One person named Furkan has died in the collapse while 14 others have been injured," he said. According to an MCD official, the building was declared unsafe after cracks appeared in it. MCD had decided to bring it down but the owner said that he will raze it on his own, the official said.

All those injured in the incident were taken to a nearby hospital and have been discharged after treatment, the police said. "Everybody has been evacuated and all the injured have been discharged from the hospital," said a senior police official. — PTIBack











India beat West Indies by 102 runs 

PORT OF SPAIN (Trinidad): Skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with a responsible century-knock as India bounced back in the race for the tri-series final with a dominating 102-run win over the West Indies in a crucial rain-hit match, on Friday.

Batting with a lot of grit and gumption, Kohli anchored India to a challenging 311 for seven after his side was in a spot of bother, having lost five established batsmen at a score of 210 in 40 overs.

Openers Shikhar Dhawan (69) and Rohit Sharma (46) had laid a strong foundation with their 123-run stand and Kohli (102) ensured that their hard work does not go waste as he made up for the failure of the middle-order with his gritty 14th one-day century.

Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar rattled the West Indies chase with wickets of Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo, and rain gods only made the job tougher for the hosts as their target was revised to 274 from 39 overs after a two-hour rain delay.

West Indies had a daunting task of scoring a further 218 runs from 39 overs after resuming at 56 for two in 10 overs.

India, desperately requiring a win to remain in the hunt for a berth in the final, bowled out the hosts for 171 in 34 to walk away with a bonus point.

India's victory meant that the tournament is open with all three teams having a chance to qualify for the final. West Indies next play Sri Lanka on Sunday and then India face Sri Lanka on Tuesday in the last league match.

West Indies batsmen succumbed to pressure after resumption of play and lost wickets in a heap. Stage was set for Indian pacers and Kumar (3/29) and Ishant Sharma in no time had knocked off half of the West Indies' batting line up.

Sharma had Marlon Samuels (6) caught and removed set opener Johnson Charles (45) while Kumar added wicket of dangerous Kieron Pollard, who could not even open his account.

Umesh Yadav (3/32) joined the party by scalping Denesh Ramdin (9) and rival skipper Dwayne Bravo (14) to leave West Indies reeling at 108 for six.

Earlier, Kohli got out in the last ball of the innings as he nullified the success of West Indies fast bowlers, who had put the hosts in a good position with regular strikes.

Kohli faced 83 balls in his innings and punished the Caribbean bowlers with 13 fours and two sixes.

After 40 overs, India had 210 runs on the board and only Kohli to bat with tail-enders as pace duo of Kemar Roach and Tino Best had polished off the Indian middle-order.

Kohli responded to the challenge in the best possible manner as India scored 101 runs in the last 10 overs and his contribution was 67 runs. R Ashwin supported Kohli well with his 18-ball 25 as they shared a 90-run stand for the seventh wicket in 8.2 overs.

Earlier after sent in to bat, Dhawan and Sharma provided a solid start to India with 123-run stand, which was broken when the left-hander chose to play aggressively after spending a watchful 23 overs at the crease.

Coming into the make-or-break match, both the Indian openers batted with a lot of responsibility. They chose caution over aggression, relying on rotation of the strike and hitting an odd boundary in between.

Dhawan, who by nature is a stroke-maker, kept his natural urge to go for strokes under control till India had safely negotiated almost half-the-overs.

The left-hander opened up after India had crossed 100-run mark. He chose local lad and highly-rated spinner Sunil Narine for some punishment, hitting him for two sixes and a four.

However, Dhawan could not continue in the same vain, as he holed out to Darren Bravo at deep square leg when he attempted to hit one off Kemar Roach over the ropes. His knock came off 77 balls and contained eight fours and two sixes.

Sharma too joined him in the pavilion when he edged one behind off Tino Best. In space of seven overs India lost Suresh Raina (10), Dinesh Karthik (6) and Murali Vijay (27).

Ravindra Jadeja's run out made things worse for India but Kohli pulled India out of trouble. — PTIBack










Clashes erupt as Islamists retaliate in Egypt

CAIRO: Enraged Islamists rallied on Friday against the toppling of President Mohammed Morsy, as tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets vowing to win his reinstatement. The clashes with anti-Morsy crowds resulted in violence and the death of 30 persons.

In a battle on a bridge over the Nile River in Cairo, gunfire rang out and flames leaped from a burning car as the rival camps threw volleys of stones and fireworks at each other. Military armoured vehicles raced across the bridge in a counterattack on Morsy’s supporters.

The clashes accelerated after the supreme leader of Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood defiantly proclaimed that his followers would not give up street action until the return of the country’s first freely elected President, swept out of power days earlier by the military. Morsy’s opponents called out the public to defend against the Brotherhood, deepening the battle lines.

In scenes of mayhem, troops opened fire on peaceful pro-Morsy protesters. Islamists threw one opponent off a rooftop.

“God make Morsy victorious and bring him back to the palace,” Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie proclaimed before cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. “We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives.”

Badie said it was a matter of honour for the military to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the President, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull it away from its leadership.

“Your leader is Morsy. ... Return to the people of Egypt,” he said. “Your bullets are not to be fired on your sons and your own people.”

After the speech, a large crowd of Islamists surged across 6th October Bridge over the Nile toward Tahrir Square, where a giant crowd of Morsy’s opponents had been massed all day. Battles broke out there and near the neighbouring state TV building. Pro-Morsy youth shielded themselves from flying stones and fireworks with sheets of barricaded metal. A car burned at the top of an exit ramp amid the sounds of automatic weapons and shotguns.

“They are firing at us, sons of dogs! Where is the army?” one Morsy opponent shouted as another was brought to medics with his jeans soaked in blood from leg wounds. At least three people were killed at the bridge.

The fighting ended when at least seven armoured personnel carriers sped across the bridge, chasing away the Morsy supporters. Young civilians jumped onto the roofs of the APCs, shouting insults at the Islamists and chanting, “The people and army are one hand.”

Across the country, clashes erupted as Morsy supporters tried to storm local government buildings or military facilities, battling police or Morsy opponents. At least 30 people were killed throughout the day in Egypt, with 210 wounded, Heath Ministry official Khaled el-Khatib told The Associated Press.

Islamists descended on anti-Morsy rally, opening fire with guns in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, where at least 12 people were killed, mostly Morsy opponents, emergency services official Amr Salama said. One man was stabbed and thrown from the roof of a building by Morsy supporters after he raised an Egyptian flag and shouted insults against the ousted President, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Five policemen killed by militants in shootings around the Sinai city of el-Arish, according to security officials speaking on condition of anonymity because not authorized to talk to the press.

The US State Department condemned the violence and called on all Egyptian leaders to denounce the use of force and prevent further bloodshed among their supporters.

“The voices of all who are protesting peacefully must be heard including those who welcomed the events of earlier this week and those who supported President Morsy,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The Egyptian people must come together to resolve their differences peacefully.”

Col Ahmed Ali, a spokesman for the armed forces, said the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to “pick a fight” with the army and “drag it to a clash in order to send a message to the West that what happened in the country is a coup and that the military is cracking down on the peaceful protesters.”

That mirrored a statement from an umbrella group of Morsy opponents including the National Salvation Front and youth groups. The group urged the public to take to the streets immediately “to defend popular legitimacy” against what they called a “malicious plot” by the Brotherhood.

Protesters threw stones at the troops, who responded with volleys of tear gas. Many of those injured had wounds typical of birdshot. The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, was hit by birdshot in the head as he covered the clashes but said his injuries were superficial. — APBack




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