L A T E S T      N E W S

MP uses pepper spray in LS, Speaker suspends 18 Andhra MPs

NEW DELHI: In a new low in India's parliamentary history, pepper spray was used in the Lok Sabha resulting in hospitalisation of three MPs following a ruckus over the introduction of the Telangana Bill after which 18 seemandhra MPs were suspended.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar expressed anguish over the incidents, saying it has "shamed the country and Parliament and called it a "blot".

Unprecedented pandemonium broke out in the House when expelled Congress member L. Rajagopal, an industrialist and opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh, brought a canister from which he sprayed pepper.

Three MPs — Vinay Kumar Pande, Ponnam Prabhakar and Balram Nai — suffered from suffocation, irritation in their eyes and heavy coughing following which they were taken to nearby Government Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for treatment. They were later discharged.

Many other MPs were seen coming out of the House with watery eyes and were feeling suffocated. Ambulances were pressed into service.

Another anti-Telangana member Venugopal Reddy (TDP) broke the mike of the House Secretary General and a computer screen was broken in the "Well" as members from either side of the divide came to blows when Shinde stood up to introduce the Bill for reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh.

Rajya Sabha also witnessed Uproarious scenes with members staging protests in the Well over Telangana statehood issue and a TDP member trying to snatch the mike of the Chair.

In the ruckus over the issue, TDP MP CM Ramesh tried to uproot the mike from the podium, the Chair adjourned the House till afternoon and finally for the day till Monday.

The seemandhra MPs, protesting against creation of Telangana, sought to stall introduction of the Bill for which Home Minister Sushil Kumar later claimed has been tabled but was disputed by BJP and other opposition parties.

The unprecedented action of the protesting MPs triggered all-round denunciation, with the Speaker saying that "It has shamed us, shamed us. India's parliamentary democracy is respected throughout the world. Today what has happened is a blot." NDA chairman and BJP veteran said what happened in the House was disgraceful not only for the government but Parliament and blamed the ruling dispensation for it.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath condemned the behaviour of the MPs and said the Speaker would take action.

There was also a blame game with Nath accusing BJP of changing its stand and opposing the Bill while also declaring its support. "BJP has been totally exposed," he said.

But Advani and Leaders of Opposition in both the Houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley accused the government of not doing proper home work and indulging in this "drama".

The Well of the Lok Sabha turned into a battle ground as fisticuffs broke out between members from Seemandhra and others, including Raj Babbar, Azharuddin, Lal Singh (all Cong) and Saugata Roy (TMC), who wanted to prevent disruptions in the House.

After damaging the mike, Reddy (TDP) snatched papers from the Speaker's podium, while Rajagopal broke the glass on the table and used the pepper spray.

In the afternoon, Meira Kumar cracked the whip and suspended 18 MPs, who are against division of Andhra Pradesh, for rest of the session following the scenes of pandemonium.

Kumar announced the decision soon after the House met at 2 pm after being adjourned in the wake of the ruckus created at noon by pepper spraying and fisticuffs among members opposing and supporting Telangana.

She named the members and said they had been suspended under Rule 374-A, which says that a member can "be suspended from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session" for disregarding "the authority of the Chair or abusing the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing business".

"They may forthwith withdraw from the precincts of the House," Kumar said.

Those suspended include L. Rajagopal, expelled Congress member who had earlier sprayed pepper gas from a canister in the House, causing chaos. TDP member M. Venugopala Reddy, who broke the mike, was also among the MPs suspended.

Others suspended are Sabbam Hari, Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, SPY Reddy, M. Sreenivasulu Reddy, V. Aruna Kumar, A. Sai Prathap, Suresh Kumar Shetkar, KRG Reddy, Bapi Raju Kanumuri and G Sukhender Reddy (all Cong), Niramalli Sivaprasad, Nimmala Kristappa, K Narayana Rao (all TDP), and Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and M. Rajamohan Reddy (both YSR Cong).

Meanwhile, under fire for his pepper spray attack in the Lok Sabha during introduction of the Telangana bill, Seemandhra MP L. Rajagopal today defended his actions, saying he did it in self-defence.

Rajagopal, who was suspended from the Lok Sabha by the Speaker, also demanded similar action against Congress MPs alleging they had "pounced" on him and TDP member Venugopal Reddy.

"I went to rescue TDP MP M. Venugopala Reddy who was targeted by Congress MPs while protesting in the Well of the House. I immediately rushed from the other side to protect him. They started attacking me. So immediately as a self-defence, I used the pepper spray," Rajagopal told reporters outside Parliament House.

Flanked by Congress MP Anantha Vekatarami Reddy and his colleagues from Seemandhra region, Rajagopal said he always carries a pepper spray can as he was "under great threat from these forces" — a reference to pro-Telangana protesters — and he used it as a self-protection.

Asked whether he felt that use of such a "hazardous" thing in the House was right when there are senior members who have asthma and respiratory problems, Rajagopal said, "Pepper spray is a defencive thing which women are using when they are under attack. Here I had been under attack."

 "I don't want to use any lethal weapons. I am a person who never has any security. So I felt that like women are protecting themselves, let me also have something ... because I know how these divisive forces, how they created ruckus on many occasions, so I always carry that in my pocket and I used it the moment they started attacking," he said.

"In fact, they did not attack me. They were attacking one of the TDP members.... I had to go and rescue him. When they started attacking me, I used it as a self-defence," he said.

Asked whether he felt that the incident was unfortunate, Rajagopal, who was expelled from the Congress along with five other Seemandhra MPs for pressing for non-confidence motion against the UPA Government, said, "the Congress Party talks about democracy" but is indulging in blame game "without following any democratic practices."

On his suspension from the House, he said, "They should suspend the entire Congress lords who have pounced on us....

"It is not only Andhra Pradesh MPs, Congress MPs from various states... the Speaker should suspend all the Congress MPs who came to the Well." — PTI Back










Parties raise doubts over tabling of Telangana Bill

NEW DELHI: The introduction of the Telangana Bill itself has run into a controversy with several parties, including BJP, on Thursday telling Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar that they do not accept that the legislation has been introduced.

“The government has claimed that the Bill has been introduced, but we do not accept,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj told reporters after she led a delegation of six parties to the Speaker to lodge their protest in the matter.

“I was sitting in the House even after the (pepper) spray incident and wanted to stay inside till I was advised by marshals to leave as it could cause harm to my health,” she said, noting that she did not know when the Bill was introduced even though she was inside the Lok Sabha.

Other parties whose leaders accompanied Swaraj were SP, BJD, CPI and Trinamool Congress, saying they do not accept the introduction of the Telangana Bill.

YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy was the first to raise questions over the introduction of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.

He said it was a “mockery” to say that the Bill has been introduced as the whole thing was over in ten seconds and there were no ‘ayes’ and ‘noes’

Reddy, whose party is staunchly opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh, said his party will move court in the matter.

But TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao insisted that the Bill has been introduced and rules followed. — PTIBack










US Ambassador Powell meets Modi in Gandhinagar

Gandhinagar: Ending a nine-year boycott, US Ambassador Nancy Powell today met Narendra Modi and said her country looks forward to working closely with the government India chooses after the Lok Sabha elections, an indication that it has no reservations of doing business with him if he becomes Prime Minister.

"US-India partnership is important and strategic, and that the United States looks forward to working closely with the government that the Indian people choose in the upcoming elections," a statement quoting the envoy said after the nearly one-hour meeting.

Official sources said Powell praised the "good model" of governance in Gujarat which she felt could be taken to other parts of the world.

They said the US envoy told Modi that there was an "excellent investment climate" in Gujarat which she was visiting after 20 years.

Powell was quoted as saying that she was highly impressed with the progress the state has made over the last two decades.

The sources said Modi raised the issue of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade and was assured by her that the US was committed to speedy resolution of the matter.

"This meeting was part of the US Mission's outreach to senior leaders of India's major political parties in advance of the upcoming national elections," the US statement said.

"Her discussions focus on the importance of the US-India relationship, regional security issues, human rights, and American trade and investment in India," it said, adding, "the US and India are moving forward with a strategic partnership that is broad and deep".

Decks were cleared for an end to the boycott imposed in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots when, in a sudden U-turn, the US Ambassador sought an appointment with the Gujarat Chief Minister which was granted.

The US had revoked Modi's visa in 2005 under a domestic law over "serious violations of religious freedom".

Describing the meeting as warm and cordial, the sources said all facets of Indo-US relations as also global issues came up for discussion during which Powell briefed Modi on G8, G20, WTO, counter-terrorism and security cooperation.

Modi raised the issue of the need for terrorists being brought to justice, the sources said. 

In her talks with Modi, Powell also referred to Indo-US cooperation in Afghanistan including training of women in that country.

She made a special mention of the Amul model of dairy development and animal husbandry in Gujarat and felt cooperation in this area could be extended to Afghanistan.

It was for the first time in 13 years that an Ambassador-level officer travelled to the city to meet Modi, who greeted the delegation at his residence with flowers and warm handshake.

The External Affairs Ministry had briefed Modi on Indo-US relations prior to his meeting with Powell, the sources said.

The US has insisted that its policy on granting visa to Modi has not changed.

A consular-level officer of the US consulate in Mumbai had met Modi after his visa was revoked, but later, as his stature grew in Indian politics, the Chief Minister had stopped giving time to junior officials.

Powell's meeting with the BJP leader is widely being seen as acknowledgement of Modi's growing political clout.

Washington has also made it clear that it was not taking any position on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Reiterating that the US does not take positions in elections of any country, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Powell's meeting Modi is not a reflection of the America taking a position.

"We don't take positions. So no, it wouldn't be a reflection of that. It is just a reflection, as I've stated a few times, of us reaching out to a range of individuals from different backgrounds, different political affiliations, which we do in countries around the world," she had said.

In the last few years, several of America's European allies have met Modi.

Though today's was the biggest US engagement with Modi in years, business delegations from the country had always been welcomed by the Gujarat administration and they participated in events like 'Vibrant Gujarat' summit.

Despite the visa ban, Modi has also reached out to the Indian diaspora in the US through video conference. — PTIBack










K. Sharma, R. Dhawan strike gold at IPL auction

BANGALORE: Little-known Railways all-rounder Karn Sharma struck gold at the IPL players' auction, becoming the costliest buy among the uncapped players by fetching a Rs 3.75 crore deal with Sunrisers Hyderabad, while Rishi Dhawan also fetched a stunning Rs 3 crore bid from Kings XI Punjab here today.

Kedar Jadhav clinched a 2-crore contract with Delhi Daredevils as the uncapped cricketers went under the hammer on the second and final day of the auction.

The 26-year-old Karn Sharma pipped better-known names such as Indian under-19 captain Unmukt Chand (Rs 65 lakh, Rajasthan Royals) to grab the biggest deal of the morning session.

The leg-spinning all-rounder from Uttar Pradesh had turned up for the same franchise last season as well, taking 11 wickets in 13 matches at a decent economy rate of 6.60.

Ranji Trophy's top wicket-taker this season, Dhawan (base price of Rs 20 lakh) was signed for a whopping Rs 3 crore by Kings XI Punjab via the 'Right to Match' provision after being initially acquired by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

On the other hand, Ranji Trophy's top scorer this season, Jadhav (base price Rs 30 lakh) went to Delhi Daredevils for Rs two crore after intense bidding. Delhi also used the 'Right to Match' provision after he was initially taken by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Dhawan is primarily a fast-bowling all-rounder who bats in the middle order. The 23-year-old played for Kings XI Punjab in the 2008 IPL and was signed by Mumbai Indians last season before being released.

The 26-year-old Jadhav has had a splendid domestic season and has also shown glimpses of his talent in the IPL.

Jadhav was with the Royal Challengers Bangalore development squad to start with before being signed by Delhi Daredevils in 2010.

He made a 29-ball 50 for Delhi against Royal Challengers in his debut IPL match to win the Man of the Match award. The next season, he was signed by the now-discarded Kochi Tuskers Kerala, for whom he turned up in six matches.

The other big winners after the initial bidding were Rajat Bhatia (Rs 1.70 crore, Rajasthan Royals), Manish Pandey (Rs 1.70 crore Kolkata Knight Riders), Aditya Tare (Rs 1.60 crore, Mumbai Indians), K L Rahul (Rs 1 crore, Sunrisers Hyderabad), Ishwar Pandey (Rs 1.50 crore, Chennai Super Kings), Gurkeerat Singh (Rs 1.30 crore, Kings XI Punjab), Dhawal Kulkarni (Rs 1.10 crore, Rajasthan Royals and Parveez Rasool (Rs 95 lakh, Sunrisers Hyderabad). 

Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Rasool had scored 594 runs from seven matches at an average of 54 including two centuries in the last Ranji season. He also took 33 wickets at an average of 18 with three five-wicket hauls.

The 25-year-old had become the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of the Indian team and the IPL when he bagged a contract with the now-discarded Pune Warriors last season.

Also getting decent deals were all-rounders Jalaj Saxena (90 lakh, Mumbai Indians) and Akshar Patel (Rs 70 lakh, Kings XI Punjab), left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (Rs 85 lakh, Sunrisers Hyderabad) and batsman Karun Nair (Rs 75 lakh, Rajasthan Royals).

Tare, with 41 dismissals in the last season of Ranji trophy, made a record for most dismissals by a wicketkeeper.

He was the second highest run-getter for Mumbai with 842 Runs, which included a double century and three half centuries. He was awarded as the Best Mumbai Ranji Cricketer for 2012-13.

Promising pacer Jasprit Bumrah was bought by his previous team Mumbai for Rs 1.20 crore. The 20-year-old has played 11 Twenty20 matches, taking 13 wickets.

All-rounder Mandeep Singh, former vice-captain of the Indian Under-19 team, was grabbed for Rs 80 lakh by Kings XI Punjab through the 'Right to Match' provision. The 22-year-old had been a part of the franchise earlier as well.

Among the foreigners, most of whom went unsold, it was South African pacer Beuran Hendricks who triggered a bidding competition among the franchises. In the pool at a base price of Rs 30 lakh, Hendricks was bought for Rs 1.80 crore by Kings XI Punjab.

The 23-year-old was the fifth highest wicket-taker in the South African first-class cricket last season when he grabbed 35 scalps for Cape Cobras at a brilliant average of 17.74.

Many of the unsold players will now return to the auction with franchises given the option to name 10 of them in each category — batsmen and wicketkeepers, bowlers and all-rounders. 

The following is the list of players sold on the second and final day of auction:

Chennai Super Kings

Ishwar Chandra Pandey (Rs 1.5 crore)

John Hastings (Rs 50 lakh)

Mithun Manhas (Rs 30 lakh)

Vijay Shankar (Rs 10 lakh)

Ronit More (Rs 10 lakh)

Baba Aparajith (Rs 10 lakh)

Pawan Negi (Rs 10 lakh)

Kings XI Punjab

Rishi Dhawan (Rs 3 crore)

Beuran Hendricks (Rs 1.8 crore)

Gurkirat Singh Mann (Rs 1.3 crore)

Murali Kartik (Rs 1 crore)

Sandeep Sharma (Rs 85 lakh)

Mandeep Hardev Singh (Rs 80 lakh)

Akshar Rajesh Patel (Rs 75 lakh)

Shardul Narendra Thakur (Rs 20 lakh)

Anureet Singh (Rs 20 lakh)

Shivam Sharma (Rs 10 lakh)

Karanveer Singh (Rs 10 lakh).

Mumbai Indians

Aditya Tare (Rs 1.6 crore)

Jasprit Bumrah (Rs 1.2 crore)

Jalaj Saxena (Rs 90 lakh)

Marchant De Lange (Rs 30 lakh)

Krismar Santokie (Rs 30 lakh)

CM Gautam (Rs 20 lakh)

Apoorv Vijay Wankhade (Rs 10 lakh)

Sushant Marathe (Rs 10 lakh)

Shreyas Gopal (Rs 10 lakh)

Ben Dunk (Rs 20 lakh)

Pawan Suyal (Rs 10 lakh)

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Karn Sharma (Rs 3.75 crore)

KL Rahul (Rs 1 crore)

Parveez Rasool (Rs 95 lakh)

Naman Ojha (Rs 50 lakh)

Prasanth Parameswaran (Rs 30 lakh)

Amit Paunikar (Rs 20 lakh)

Ashish Reddy (Rs 20 lakh)

Srikkanth Anirudha (Rs 20 lakh)

Ricky Bhui (Rs 10 lakh)

Chama Milind (Rs 10 lakh)

Manprit Juneja (Rs 10 lakh)


Delhi Daredevils

Ross Taylor (Rs 2 crore)

Kedar Jadhav (Rs 2 crore)

Mayank Agarwal (Rs 1.6 crore)

Wayne Parnell Bowler (Rs 1 crore)

Shahbaz Nadeem (Rs 85 lakh)

Siddarth Kaul (Rs 45 lakh)

Rahul Shukla (Rs 40 lakh)

HS Sharath (Rs 10 lakh)

Milind Kumar (Rs 10 lakh)

Jayant Yadav (Rs 10 lakh)

Rajasthan Royals

Rajat Bhatia (Rs 1.7 crore)

Dhawal Kulkarni (Rs 1.1 crore)

Karun Nair (Rs 75 lakh)

Unmukt Chand (Rs 65 lakh)

Iqbal Abdullah (Rs 65 lakh)

Deepak Hooda (Rs 40 lakh)

Dishant Yagnik (Rs 30 lakh)

Kevon Cooper (Rs 30 lakh)

Vikramjeet Malik (Rs 20 lakh)

Ankit Nagendra Sharma (Rs 10 lakh)

Rahul Tewatia (Rs 10 lakh)

Ankush Bains (Rs 10 lakh)

Amit Mishra (Rs 10 lakh)

Pravin Tambe (Rs 10 lakh).

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Harshal Patel (Rs 40 lakh)

Vijay Zol (Rs 30 lakh)

Abu Nechim Ahmed (Rs 30 lakh)

Sachin Rana (Rs 20 lakh)

Shadab Jakati (Rs 20 lakh)

Sandeep Warrier (Rs 10 lakh)

Tanmay Mishra (Rs 10 lakh)

Yuzvendra Singh Chahal (Rs 10 lakh)

Yogesh Takawale (Rs 20 lakh)

Kolkata Knight Riders

Debabrata Das (Rs 20 lakh)

Manish Pandey (Rs 1.7 crore)

Chris Lynn (Rs 1.3 crore)

Patrick Cummins (Rs 1 crore)

Ryan Ten Doeschate (Rs 1 crore)

Suryakumar Yadav (Rs 70 lakh)

Andre Russell (Rs 60 lakh)

Manvinder Bisla (Rs 60 lakh)

Veer Pratap Singh (Rs 40 lakh)

Kuldeep Singh Yadav (Rs 40 lakh)

Sayan Sekhar Mandal (Rs 10 lakh).       

— PTIBack











MNS protests: Maharashtra to revise toll policy

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government on Thursday assured Maharashtra Navnirma Sena chief Raj Thackeray that it would draft a new policy on the issue of road tolls before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections comes into force.

The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, PWD with Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Minister for Public roads Jaidutt Kshirsagar and attended by Raj Thackeray along with party MLAs, senior state government officials and a group of select journalists.

“Chavan at the start of the meeting informed Raj Thackeray that the government is trying to bring in a new policy before the model code of conduct comes into force for the Lok Sabha elections. The new policy would be brought by making corrections in the earlier ones if there are any follies,” a journalist who attended the meet, said.

Besides, Chavan also said the state transport buses would be exempted from toll, so that the common man does not bear the brunt of the toll.

“Ambulances will also be pressed into service on highways with the help from Centre,” he said adding that the government was contemplating a modern technology based on Radio-frequency identification (RFID) basis so that there will be a direct and transparent transaction in collection of toll, exempting vehicles from mandatory stoppage at toll plazas.

Chavan during the meeting, which went on for two and a half hours, also noted that Maharashtra has maximum number of roads.

“According to the new policy we are trying to eliminate toll on smaller roads. We are contemplating buy back of smaller roads constructed on toll basis. We will make budgetary provisions for that,” the journalist said, quoting Chavan.

The Chief Minister also said that the state government has started electronic monitoring at some places and the government will soon start this at every toll booth.

Besides, the issue of toilets on highways was also raised to which the Chief Minister said that it was a serious matter and the government would think on it. “We will build toilets as per the Centre’s norms. Wherever there is a land acquisition problem, we will even buy land,” the journalist said quoting Chavan.

Later, talking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme in Mumbai, Chavan said the government had a healthy discussion with the MNS chief on the toll issue.

“We have incorporated some of the points which were raised by Raj Thackeray. In September last year we started working out the (toll) policy and it is before the cabinet and the first round of meeting has been conducted,” Chavan said.

Commenting on the protest rally which would be carried out by the MNS on February 21 from Girgaum Chowpatty to the Mantralaya (state secretariat), Chavan said he has requested Thackeray not to indulge in such agitations.

“I have requested them not to indulge in such kind of agitations. There is a need to have healthy discussion. We will try to bring in more transparency in the policy,” he added. — PTIBack










Sri Lankan Navy arrests 29 TN fishermen

Rameswaram: Sri Lankan Naval personnel on Thursday arrested 29 fishermen from Mandapam and Rameswaram when they were fishing near Neduntheevu in the Palk Strait.

The Sri Lankan Navy arrested them for allegedly fishing in their territorial waters using banned fishing nets, officials said, adding, seven boats were also seized.

The fishermen have been taken to Kangesanthurai police station, they said.

On February 10, 2014, a fisherman was injured and a boat damaged when Sri Lankan Navy men allegedly attacked some local fishermen who were fishing near Katchatheevu.

Early this month, 69 fishermen were arrested in separate incidents.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had expressed dismay over the continuing arrests and told the Centre that such repeated actions undermine all confidence and goodwill which the two countries are attempting to build. — PTIBack









Jan Lokpal Bill not to be tabled in Delhi Assembly today 

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party government is unlikely to table the anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill on the first day of the Assembly session beginning today.

"The Bill will not be tabled today. It will be circulated among the members and may be tabled tomorrow," government sources said.

They said as per laid down procedure voting for introduction of the Bill is likely to take place in the Assembly tomorrow and if Congress and BJP vote against it, then Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may quit.

Going for a confrontation with the Centre, the AAP government has already declared that it was going ahead with tabling of the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly even if Union Law Ministry's opined that Centre's prior approval was required.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been maintaining that there is no need to obtain prior approval from the Centre, while BJP and Congress are of the view that clearance was necessary under Transaction of Business Rules (TBR), 2002.

Both Congress and BJP held the government's move as "unconstitutional", saying laid down procedures will have to be followed.

On Sunday, Kejriwal had threatened to resign if the Bill was not passed by the state Assembly due to lack of support from other parties.

Last night, the Union Law Ministry had held that the rules governing Delhi government's legislative business were constitutional where Centre's consent was required before its passage. Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on Monday had sought Law Ministry's view on the vexed issue.

The Law Ministry has held that the Transaction of Business Rules (TBR) make it mandatory that the Lt Governor refer to the Centre every legislative proposal which may necessitate additional financial assistance.

The four-day session of the Assembly is being convened to pass the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj Bills. The AAP government has announced plans to hold the last day of the session at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium despite objection to the move by the Lt Governor. — PTI 











Cold wave continues in Valley

Srinagar: Cold wave conditions continued in Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region as the minimum temperature in most parts dropped by several degrees with the mercury in Kargil town settling 23 degrees below the freezing point.

Kargil, in Ladakh region, continued to be the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir as the mercury settled at a low of minus 23.0 degrees Celsius as compared to minus 21.8 degrees Celsius the previous night, an official of the MeT Department here said.

The town had recorded the season’s coldest night at minus 23.4 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

The nearby Leh town registered a low of minus 15 degrees Celsius as against minus 15.9 degrees Celsius the previous night.

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, witnessed a drop of two degrees as the minimum temperature fell to minus 4.0 degrees Celsius last night.

Mercury in Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir, which serves as base camp during annual Amarnath yatra, settled at minus 11.6 degrees Celsius as compared to minus 12.4 degrees Celsius the previous night.

The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 11.0 degrees Celsius as against the previous night’s minus 10.8 degrees Celsius.

Mercury in Qazigund - the gateway town to Kashmir Valley - dipped by almost four degrees to settle at minus 5.7 degrees Celsius, as against the previous night’s minus 1.8 degrees Celsius.

Kokernag and Kupwara towns registered minimum temperatures of minus 5.0 degrees Celsius and minus 4.0 degrees Celsius respectively, the official said.

The day temperature in the Valley has started improving as the sun shone brightly for third consecutive day today. The MeT Department has said there is a possibility of rainfall for two days from tomorrow. — PTIBack




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