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MIDDAY NEWS

1400 HRS

22 April, 2017

THE HEADLINES,

  • Death toll in Mazar-e-Sharif terror attack in Afghanistan rises to over 130; Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls the attack by the Taliban a cowardly act.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says, US-India ties have become stronger and mature over last few decades.
  • AIADMK Amma faction leader TTV Dinakaran to appear before Inter-State Crime branch of Delhi police today in a case related to alleged attempt to bribe Election Commission officials.
  • SIT of Goa Crime Branch issues summon to former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in connection with alleged mining scam.
  • Earth day is being observed the world over today.
  • Tennis, Rohan Bopanna and his team-mate Pablo Cuevas to play the semi-finals of ATP Monte Carlo Masters tournament at Monaco this evening.
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In Afghanistan, the death toll in yesterday's Taliban attack on an army base has risen to more than 130. Most of them are government soldiers. At least 10 Taliban militants were killed in the fighting and one attacker was detained. Fighting lasted for several hours yesterday near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Balkh province. The Army said, insurgents targeted those leaving Friday prayers at the base's mosque and others in a canteen. A military spokesman said, the Taliban fighters wore army uniforms and drove through military checkpoints before launching the raid. He said, the death toll could rise further.The Taliban said in a statement that the attack was retribution for the recent killing of several Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly condemned the terror attack. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, it is a cowardly terror attack. He said, India prays and offers condolences to the families who lost loved ones.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said, the US-India ties have significantly improved over the last few decades, becoming more stronger and matured that defied changes in the governments in both the countries. Speaking at a reception hosted by India's Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna today, Mr. Jaitley said, the Indian Government  is looking forward to working with the Trump Administration to strengthen the various dimensions of the bilateral ties. Mr Jaitley yesterday met US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the first cabinet-level interaction between the two countries under the Trump Administration. He said, the US-India relationship over the last few decades has significantly improved. During the meeting, Mr Jaitley strongly raised India's concerns over the Trump administration's move to tighten the H-1B visa regime, highlighting the key role played by Indian professionals in boosting the American economy.Mr Jaitley, leading an Indian delegation, reached Washington on Thursday to attend the annual Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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TTV Dinakaran of the AIADMK Amma faction has reached the national capital for inquiry before the inter-state crime branch of Delhi Police in the alleged attempt to bribe Election Commission officials case. He was served the summon on Wednesday in Chennai by the Assistant Commissioner of Delhi Police Crime Branch Sanjay Saravat to appear for grilling in the case in Delhi. The FIR against Dinakaran says, he tried to influence the Election Commission through a tout to retrieve the frozen symbol “Double Leaves” before the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly seat bye-election that has since been countermanded. Dinakaran earlier announced that he has stepped aside from the affairs of the ruling faction of the AIADMK and the government. More from our correspondent:

"Mr Dinakaran’s name cropped up during the interrogation of a self-styled middleman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who told the Delhi police he was on a mission to help the AIADMK Amma faction to retrieve the frozen double leaves symbol. He is said to have informed the police, Mr Dinakaran was ready to spend 50-crore rupees for the task and 1.3 crore rupees was seized from him. Mr Dinakaran has since denied the charges. Both the rival factions of the AIADMK have decided to come to the negotiating table for their merger, even as the local body election schedule is being finalized by the state Election Commission. Jayasingh, AIR News, Chennai.

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The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Goa Crime Branch has summoned former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on Monday in connection with investigations into the illegal mining scam. Senior Crime Branch official told PTI that Mr Kamat will be questioned in relation with the illegal mining activity. This is the second summon issued to him in connection with the case.The Congress leader, who is named in the FIR filed by the Crime Branch was summoned on Tuesday but had failed to appear before it claiming to be out of station. He was first questioned in the case by the SIT in February 2014. According to the report of Justice MB Shah Commission, illegal mining to the tune of 35,000 crore rupees took place in Goa from 2005 to 2012, when the Supreme Court banned iron ore extraction in the state.

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In Uttar Pradesh, newly appointed Director General of Police Sulkhan Singh has said that police will act in an impartial manner and each and every criminal will be dealt strictly. He has said that FIR will be lodged on every criminal act and people will be given better treatment at police stations. Talking to media persons this morning after assuming the charge at his office Mr Singh said, nobody will be spared if he or she is found in criminal activities. He said, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed him to work fearlessly and without being biased to anyone. Replying to a question, Mr Singh said, nobody will be allowed to take law into his hands in the name of cow protector. He said, lawlessness will not be permitted at any cost.The 1980 batch IPS officer of UP cadre was appointed DGP last evening replacing S Javeed Ahamad. 

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Delhi Police have busted an illegal firearm trading racket. Police arrested a 25-year-old man and recovered 20 semi-automatic sophisticated pistols of 7.65 mm from him. The accused was arrested yesterday from near Harkesh Nagar Bus stand, Mathura Road. The weapons have USA 32 engraved on them. It is being probed whether the recovered illegal arms had any link to the MCD polls.Police said, they came to know that arms manufacturers and suppliers from Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are supplying sophisticated firearms to NCR and adjoining areas of Uttar Pradesh.

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Today is Earth Day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, on the occasion, that Earth Day is a day of gratitude to Mother Earth and a day to reiterate firm resolve to keep the planet clean and green. In a series of tweets, he said, it is the duty of the people to live in harmony with the plants, animals and birds we share the Earth with. He said, people owe this to the future generations. Here is a report:

"The day is celebrated worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. The campaign theme this year is 'Environmental and Climate Literacy'. Mr Narendra Modi has said that he hopes that this year's theme would help create awareness on protecting nature and natural resources. The Earth day was proposed at the UNESCO conference in 1969 and the first Earth day celebrations took place in 1970. Now, Earth day events are coordinated in more than 193 countries by the Earth Day Network. Last year, on this day, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty. LALIMA ANEJA DANG, NEWS DESK."

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Chief Justice of India JS Khehar has said, India is becoming a hub of international arbitration and the government's initiative to work towards zero interference in the process will promote confidence among foreign traders. Speaking at a two-day seminar 'Engaging Asia Arbitration Summit' in New Delhi today, Justice Khehar said, potential for international arbitration is increasing due to foreign investment. The Chief Justice said, government's 'Make in India' scheme will make the country a favoured market among the emerging ones. Justice Khehar noted that India has a talent pool of lawyers and arbitrators and the future of international commercial arbitration in Asia must commence from India.

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Former Delhi Mahila Congress President Barkha Shukla Singh today joined the BJP in Delhi. She was expelled from the Congress party recently for anti party activities. Ms Barkha had accused Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi of not meeting party leaders and said he was reluctant to address issues within the organisation.

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There has been a respite from scorching heat as rain and hailstorm in some parts of Northern India have brought down the temperatures. In Himachal Pradesh, light to moderate rain continue to lash several parts including capital Shimla while higher reaches are experiencing fresh spell of snowfall. The MeT office has issued warning of thunderstorm and hails in parts of mid hills during next 24 hours. a report:

"A thunderstorm hit in the wee hours, damaging roof tops of houses, sign boards and uprooting trees in Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour and Hamirpur districts. Power supply has been disrupted in various parts of the state. High velocity winds have also damaged different kinds of fruits in Shimla, Sirmour and Kullu districts. Higher reaches of tribal areas including Kullu, Chamba and Kangra districts are experiencing light snowfall. Shishu Sharma Shantal, AIR News, Shimla."

In Jammu and Kashmir, light to moderate rain has lashed the summer capital Srinagar and other areas in Kashmir Valley since late morning today. The Meteorological Department said, most parts received rain with thundershowers last night. It said, strong winds and hailstorm continued for about an hour that was followed by heavy rain damaging several houses, fruit and vegetable crops. Power supply was also disrupted in many areas of Kashmir valley including Srinagar city. Reports of light rainfall in Qazigund and Ramban sector along Srinagar Jammu national highway were also received. However, the one way traffic movement is smoothly underway from Srinagar towards Jammu on strategic 300-km Srinagar-Jammu national highway. More from our correspondent:

"Unprecedented rain in April this year surpassed all records during last two decades. In the first week of April in a span of 24 hours, Srinagar recorded 83-mm rain, which is highest-ever during this month in the past two decades. The last time heavy rains recorded in April was on April 15, 1997 when 62.2 mm rainfall was recorded. Flood Control Department declared that the water level in River Jhelum at Ram Munshi Bagh gauge in Srinagar was recorded as 16.45 feet at 12 noon, but flowing below the danger mark. The water level in Dal Lake is above 12 feet that normally remains between 8.5 to 9.5 feet. TARIQ RATHER, AIR NEWS, SRINAGAR."

In Gujarat also, people get some respite after last week’s severe heat wave conditions following drop in temperature. However, day temperatures in many areas remained above the normal. In Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, light to moderate rain has lowered the temperature at many places. In Pathankot district of Punjab, heavy winds uprooted trees at some places disrupting the electricity supply and a child was killed in Abrol nagar area, when the roof of a house collapsed.The MeT office said, Narayangarh in Haryana witnessed maximum 20 mm rainfall. Our correspondent reports farmers are worried due to change in weather as the procurement season is still on in both the states.

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"To start with Tennis, Rohan Bopanna and his team-mate Pablo Cuevas will play in the semi-finals of ATP Monte Carlo Masters at Monaco this evening. The Indo-Uruguayan pair will take on the duo of Hugo Nys and Romain Arneodo for a place in the Final. The other semi-final will be played between the French team of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, and the Spanish pair of Feliciano and Marc Lopez. In the Singles semi-finals, Rafael Nadal will clash with David Goffin, while Albert Vinolas will meet Lucas Pouille.Onto IPL, Rising Pune Supergiant will take on defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad at Pune at 4 PM today, while Mumbai Indians will play Delhi Daredevils at Mumbai at 8 in the evening. Mumbai is currently at the top of the 8-team points table, with Kolkata Knight Riders second and Hyderabad third. Delhi is fourth, while Pune is at the bottom. And in Football, the Indian Under-16 team is gearing up to face the top junior club teams from Egypt in a couple of friendly matches this weekend. They will play Al-Ahly club in Cairo today and Smouha club in Alexandria tomorrow. SAVVY HASAN

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