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ECI initiates investigation into reported attack on Jagan Mohan Reddy

Following the report of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's injury, the Election Commission of India (ECI) instructed Mukesh Kumar Meena, Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), to submit a report on the incident and identify those responsible.

"As per the directions of the ECI, I had spoken to the Vijayawada Commissioner of Police in the night and asked him to send a report on the incident in a day and to try to identify the miscreants as soon as possible," Meena informed The Hindu on Sunday. Unidentified individuals hurled stones at Chief Minister Jagan Reddy during his 'Memantha Siddham' bus yatra and roadshow in Vijayawada between 8 pm to 9 pm on Saturday, as part of his election campaign.

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Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards seize container ship with 17 Indians on board

As many as 17 Indians are on board an Israeli-linked container ship that has been seized by the Iranian military amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel.

Official sources said India is in touch with Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure the welfare and early release of the Indian nationals. The Iranian action came amid increasing fears that Tehran may launch an attack on Israeli soil in retaliation to a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria 12 days ago.

“We are aware that a cargo ship ‘MSC Aries’ has been taken control by Iran. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals onboard,” said a source.

Reports said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards seized MSC Aries on Saturday morning when it was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

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CBI FIR against second-biggest electoral bond buyer Megha Engineering

The CBI has registered an FIR against Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd, which was the second-biggest buyer of electoral bonds worth Rs 966 crore, in an alleged bribery case.

Eight officials of the NISP and NMDC and two officials of MECON were also named in the FIR for receiving alleged bribe of around Rs 78 lakh in clearing bills of Rs 174 crore of Megha Engineering in connection with works related to Jagdalpur integrated steel plant, officials said Saturday. Megha Engineering had emerged as the second-biggest buyer of electoral bonds and donated the highest amount of about Rs 586 crore to the BJP, according to the data released by the Election Commission on March 21.

The company also donated Rs 195 crore to BRS, Rs 85 crore to DMK, and Rs 37 crore to YSRCP. The TDP got about Rs 25 crore from the company, while the Congress got Rs 17 crore. The JD-S, Jana Sena Party and the JD-U got smaller sums ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore. According to the FIR made public on Saturday, the CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry on August 10, 2023 about the alleged bribery in Rs 315 crore project related to works of intake well and pump house and cross-country pipeline at the integrated steel plant Jagdalpur which was awarded to the company.

Based on the findings of the preliminary enquiry, a recommendation was made on March 18 to register a regular case into the alleged bribery which was filed on March 31. The CBI has named eight officials of NISP and NMDC Ltd - retired executive director Prashant Dash, director (production) DK Mohanty, DGM PK Bhuyan, DM Naresh Babu, senior manager Subro Banerjee, retired CGM (finance) L Krishna Mohan, GM (finance) K Rajshekhar, manager (finance) Somnath Ghosh, who allegedly received Rs 73.85 lakh bribe.

The agency has also named two officials of MECON Ltd - AGM (contracts) Sanjeev Sahay and DGM (contracts) K Illavarsu - who allegedly received payment of Rs 5.01 lakh against the payment of Rs 174.41 crore by NMDC Ltd to MEIL against 73 invoices from Subhash Chandra Sangras, general manager, MEIL and Megha Engineering and unknown others.

Chandra and Megha Engineering have also been named as accused in the case.

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Kejriwal not being allowed in-person meetings with family in Tihar jail: Sanjay Singh

Senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Saturday claimed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not being allowed in-person meetings with his family in Tihar jail.

Addressing a press conference, Singh said, "There is an attempt to break the morale of CM Kejriwal.”

“His family has not been allowed in-person meetings with him. They are only allowed to meet him through the jangla. This is inhuman. Even hardcore criminals are allowed in-person meetings," the AAP leader said. The 'mulakat jangla' is an iron mesh which separates the inmate from the visitor in a room inside the jail. A visitor and an inmate can talk to each other by sitting on different sides of the mesh.

"In the same Tihar jail, many meetings take place… but Arvind Kejriwal, a three-time elected chief minister, is being humiliated and made to meet his family through the jangla. This is happening at the behest of the BJP-led Central government," Singh said. "His rights as an inmate are being snatched," said the AAP leader, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court earlier this month in the Delhi excise policy case.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tihar administration.

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Terrorists don’t play by rules, so country’s response to them cannot have rules: EAM

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday stated that India is committed to responding to acts of terrorism from across the borders, and that there cannot be any rules in the country’s response to them.

He criticised the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation over its response to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, stating that after much deliberation at the government level, nothing fruitful came out at that time as it was felt that the cost of attacking Pakistan was more than not attacking it. He also mentioned that the country's foreign policy has undergone a change since 2014, and it is the way terrorism is dealt with.

He added that had India been clear from the start that Pakistan was indulging in terrorism, which India should not tolerate under any circumstances, the country would have had a vastly different policy. "We have to be very clear in our minds about terrorism; under no circumstances is terrorism acceptable from any neighbour or from anyone who uses terrorism to force you to sit at the negotiating table. This should never be accepted," he said.

He emphasized that if something like Mumbai happens and you do not react to it, how can you prevent the next one from happening? "They (terrorists) should not feel that since they are across the border, no one can touch them. Terrorists do not play by any rules. The response to terrorists cannot have any rules," he said.

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Sanjay Singh claims CM Kejriwal not being allowed to meet family in Tihar jail

Senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Saturday claimed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not being allowed to meet his family in Tihar jail.

Singh said, "There is an attempt to break the morale of CM Kejriwal.”

“His family has not been allowed in-person meetings with him. They are only allowed to meet him through the jangla. This is inhuman. Even hardcore criminals are allowed in-person meetings," the AAP leader said. The 'mulakat jangla' is an iron mesh that separates inmates from visitors in a jail room. Kejriwal's meeting with Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann has been scheduled for April 15, but he can meet the AAP convener as a normal visitor in the jangla.

The Chief Minister met his wife Sunita Kejriwal and personal secretary Bibhav Kumar inside Tihar Jail on Tuesday.

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China has not occupied any of our land, situation sensitive, says Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addressed the issue of border tension with China, asserting that there has been no occupation of Indian territory by China.

Speaking to reporters in Pune on Friday, Jaishankar described the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as "competitive, sensitive, and challenging."

He clarified that historically, both India and China have not stationed troops directly on the LAC, with deployments made on their respective sides. Jaishankar highlighted the events of 2020, where China's troop movements prompted a response from India, leading to a standoff. Despite ongoing military activities, he emphasised that there has been no territorial encroachment.

“China has not occupied any of our land. China has tried to bring its troops to the upper part of the mountainous areas along the LAC but the Indian Army also responded to it in the same manner,” Jaishankar said. 

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PM Modi interacts with country's top gamers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday interacted with top Indian gamers on a host of issues relating to the gaming industry.

In a free-wheeling interaction regarding the future as well as the challenges before the e-gaming industry, the Prime Minister posed curious questions to the gamers while also trying his hands at some of the games. "People have offered different solutions. I have an alternative solution called Mission LIFE, which advocates for changing our daily lifestyle to benefit the environment. Now, envision a game aimed at addressing global climate issues, where the gamer must explore various methods and solutions to identify the most sustainable approach," Modi told the gamers during the interaction.

"What are these steps? How do we navigate through it and choose the best approach for success? Take swachhata as an example, the game theme could revolve around cleanliness and every child should play this game. Youngsters should embrace Indian values and understand their true significance," he said. The gamers discussed new developments in the gaming industry with the Prime Minister, who stressed how the government has recognised the creativity of the gamers, promoting the gaming industry in India.

They also engaged on issues concerning gambling versus gaming while discussing the participation of women in the gaming industry.

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Devotees in Punjab, Haryana offer prayers in Gurdwaras on Baisakhi

Devotees across Punjab and Haryana offered prayers at gurdwaras on the occasion of the Baisakhi festival on Saturday.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann greeted people on the occasion of 'Sajna Divas' of the 'Khalsa Panth' and 'Baisakhi'. Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Saini also greeted people on the occasion of Baisakhi. Devotees thronged the gurdwaras, including Amritsar’s Sri Harmandir Sahib also known as the Golden Temple, Sri Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Damdama Sahib in Bathinda and Nada Sahib in Haryana's Panchkula and paid obeisance. Baisakhi festival marks the foundation day of the ''Khalsa Panth'' (Sikh order) by the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.

On this auspicious day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh created the 'Order of Khalsa' at the holy city of Sri Anandpur Sahib by baptising 'Panj Pyare’ (beloved ones) belonging to different castes. Baisakhi also marks the onset of harvest season.

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Rs 34 crore 'blood money' crowdfunded to resolve death penalty of Kerala man in Saudi Arabia

Keralites around the globe have rallied together, amassing a sum of Rs 34 crore by Friday through crowdfunding efforts to secure the release of Abdul Rahim, a native of Kozhikode facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Rahim has spent the past 18 years behind bars following an incident in 2006 when in his care, a 15-year-old boy, reliant on life support, passed away during a car journey. Subsequently, in 2018, a Saudi court sentenced Rahim to death—a ruling upheld by the nation's highest judicial authority.

Last year, the victim's family indicated their willingness to pardon Rahim in exchange for Rs 34 crore in 'blood money', setting April 16 as the deadline for payment to avert his execution.

However, Rahim's financially constrained family, who migrated to Saudi Arabia for employment, faced an arduous challenge in raising the required sum. Responding to the urgent need, residents of Rahim's locality in Kozhikode united to form an action committee and launched 'Save Abdul Rahim' app, facilitating transparent crowdfunding. Initially, the campaign garnered Rs 5 crore.

The campaign gained significant momentum as celebrities, politicians, and NRI groups joined in. Particularly, businessman Boby Chemmanur led a yatra from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, raising an extra Rs 1 crore. With contributions flooding in from diverse sources, the action committee met the Rs 34 crore goal by the deadline, bringing hope for Rahim's imminent release.

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PM Modi, President Murmu pay homage to Jallianwala Bagh massacre victims

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday paid tributes to those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Hundreds of peaceful protestors were killed in indiscriminate firing by British forces on this day in 1919.

"On behalf of my family members across the country, I pay my deepest respects to all the brave martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre," PM Modi wrote on X. President Murmu, in her post in Hindi on X, said, "My heartfelt tribute to all the freedom fighters who sacrificed everything for the motherland in Jallianwala Bagh! The countrymen will always be indebted to all those great souls who sacrificed their lives for swaraj. I am sure that the spirit of patriotism of those martyrs will always inspire the coming generations," President Murmu said in a post in Hindi on X.

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Rameshwaram Cafe blast suspects brought to Bengaluru on remand

Two prime accused in the Rameshwaram Cafe blast case were brought to Bengaluru by the NIA from Kolkata on transit remand, police sources said on Saturday.

Both will be taken for a routine medical test, after which they will be produced before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Bengaluru. A court in Kolkata had on Friday granted a three-day transit remand to the two accused in the blast case, allowing the NIA to take them to the Karnataka capital.

The NIA had arrested Mussavir Hussain Shazib and Adbul Matheen Ahmed Taahaa from Kolkata for their alleged role in March 1 blast at Rameshwaram Cafe here, which left 10 people injured.

According to the NIA, Shazib placed the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the cafe and Taahaa was the mastermind, the officials said. Last month, the NIA announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh each for those providing information leading to the arrest of these two accused.

An IED explosion rocked the cafe located on ITPL Road, Brookefield, Bengaluru, on March 1. The NIA took over the probe on March 3.

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Two creators get YouTube notice on EVM videos, monetisation curbed

At least two YouTube creators, Meghnad and independent journalist Sohit Mishra, have been alerted by the platform that monetisation limits have been placed on their videos that pertain to EVMs and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.

This means the creators will not receive their share of advertisement revenue generated from such content. Mishra’s YouTube channel, Sohit Mishra Official, has over 3.68 lakh subscribers, and Mehgnad’s channel has over 42,000 subscribers. Indian Express reported that this comes months after YouTube started adding additional context under videos pertaining to the efficacy of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). 

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Defence ministry issues tender to HAL for procurement of 97 Tejas Mk-1A fighter jets

The defence ministry has issued a tender to state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for procurement of 97 light combat aircraft (LCA Mk-1A) Tejas for the Indian Air Force, officials said on Friday.

The fighter jets are expected to cost around Rs 67,000 crore. The Tejas aircraft is a potent platform for air combat and offensive air support missions while reconnaissance and anti-ship operations are its secondary roles.

In November, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the project to acquire 97 more Tejas jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The DAC also approved a proposal of the IAF to upgrade its Su-30 fighter fleet by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

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K Kavitha threatened SC Reddy to pay Rs 25 crore to AAP: CBI in court

BRS leader K Kavitha "threatened" Aurobindo Pharma Promoter Sharath Chandra Reddy to pay Rs 25 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party for five retail zones allotted to his firm under the Delhi government's excise policy, the CBI has alleged in its statement to a Special Court on Friday, while seeking her custody.

Kavitha had told Reddy that in case of non-payment of money his business will be harmed in Telangana and Delhi under the excise policy, the CBI has alleged. Reddy, who was an accused under the PMLA case probed by the Enforcement Directorate, had turned an approver in the case. There has been no chargesheet  against him by the CBI yet.

Seeking custodial interrogation of Kavitha, the CBI told Special Judge Kaveri Baweja that it was on the "insistence and assurance" of Kavitha, daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, that Reddy participated in the liquor business in the national capital.

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