Years after denying his presence and even claiming he was dead, Pakistan has reportedly arrested Sajid Mir, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative and the main handler of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Mir, involved in the November 2008 siege -- when a team of 10 men carried out coordinated attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai, has been sought by both the US and India for over a decade. As many as 170 people of various nationalities -- including six Americans were killed in the terror attack.
The case appears to have been brought to a head by Pakistan's desire to extricate itself from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) international terror-financing watchlist, Nikkei Asia reported.
Hammad Azhar, Pakistan's former finance minister in the recently ousted government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, and the man in charge of negotiations with the multilateral watchdog for the past three years, told the media outlet that Pakistan took measures against Mir and other designated terrorists that were "satisfactory" to the FATF.
The task force has been keeping Pakistan on its Grey List, used to monitor and isolate non-compliant countries.
As the political crisis entered the fourth day, the rebel Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde claimed the support of "40-plus MLAs", besides around 12 independents and smaller parties, on Friday.
Speaking to the media from Guwahati, Shinde also dismissed the 'warning' issued by Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar that the rebel legislators would have to come to Mumbai before the Governor or the Legislature to prove their strength.
"We are not scared by such threats... Whatever we are doing is absolutely legal. We have the affidavits of all the MLAs that they have joined us voluntarily. The majority numbers are with us, more than 40 Sena MLAs plus 12 independents and others," Shinde asserted.
A day after telling his supporters that they would join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the breakaway group leader on Friday denied meeting any BJP leaders in Guwahati.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress has accused the BJP of instigating the revolt to topple the 30-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) as the three alliance partners decided to stick together till the end.
State Congress Minister Dr. Nitin Raut on Friday accused the BJP of "murdering democracy" by engineering the rebellion in the Sena ranks.
A software engineer from Telangana was shot dead by an unidentified person in Maryland state of the US.
Nakka Sai Charan (26), who hailed from Nalgonda district of Telangana, was killed when a person said to be a black man opened fire at him on Sunday evening.
His friends in the US informed his family about the incident. Sai Charan was shot dead when he was travelling in his car near Catonsville in Maryland. He was returning home after dropping a friend at the airport.
The techie was shot in the head. He was shifted to University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center where he was pronounced dead.
The software engineer was working with a company in Baltimore city of Maryland for the last two years.
His parents and other family members were shocked on receiving the information. They have appealed to the Government of India and Telangana government to help bring the body home.
Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde, who has raised a banner of revolt, has the support of 34 MLAs, claimed his supporter and Minister of State Omprakash Babarao Kadu alias Bachhu Kadu.
Kadu, of the Prahar Janshakti Party (PJP), further contended that the number of legislators supporting Shinde is increasing and could even cross 40 as the Maharashtra political drama shifted from Surat in Gujarat to the Northeast state of Assam.
"Whatever decision Shinde takes shall be acceptable to all of us," said Kadu, speaking to a private Marathi channel.
Earlier, claiming that he had not left the Shiv Sena nor revolted, Shinde said there were 40 MLAs with him who travelled to Guwahati - ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, early on Wednesday.
However, Shiv Sena and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) declined to comment on the issue and claims made by the rebels, saying that many of the MLAs will return to the party fold soon.
Sena Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut, MP, said that the party team had gone to meet Shinde on Tuesday and heard him out.
"He had certain issues and we shall discuss further. We have always fought and shall continue to struggle," said Raut.
The MVA government plunged into its gravest crisis early on Tuesday after Shinde suddenly revolted along with a group of Shiv Sena MLAs and Ministers, and reached Surat early on Tuesday morning.
While the Shiv Sena with help from allies Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, launched all-round fire-fighting operations, the BJP stirred the political cauldron first in Gujarat and then in Assam early today.
Poor states like Bihar are burning for the last four days due to the sudden announcement by the Narendra Modi government of the new military recruitment scheme - Agnipath.
Experts believe that the Centre had not fully discussed the consequences of such a scheme which is related to the future of the country's youth.
"The think tank of the saffron party believes that whatever be the consequences of any policies or schemes, the aura of PM Narendra Modi is such that people of the country have faith in him. The situation has now changed due to the anti-people policies of the Centre for the last 8 years," said a professor of Patna University who requested anonymity.
The BJP think tank believes that the Narendra Modi government implemented demonetisation and the people supported him in the name of black money being unearthed. Then he implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to reduce tax related frauds which actually broke the backbone of small traders, industrialists and retailers. Then he came with the three farm bills which led to a massive agitation and over 800 famers lost their lives and now the Agnipath scheme which the youths believe can make their future darker. All these policies have penalized the common people of the country and now they are not in the mood to take any more burden that the BJP government may try to put on them, say political analysts.
"Narendra Modi during the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election had given a solid assurance to the people to create 2 crore jobs annually and double the income of farmers till 2022. Now, in the eight years gone by he has not only failed to fulfil the promises but the result of his policies went in the opposite directions," said Shivanand Tiwari, national vice president of the RJD.
"The jobs are reducing in the country and Modi Ji brought drones into the agricultural fields. In this scenario, children of poor and lower middle class families are preparing for the recruitment exams. In the last two years, recruitment has not taken place in the Indian army. In some places, recruitment had taken place but was not completed. In this situation, Modi Ji brought the Agnipath scheme overnight similar to the implementation of demonetisation. Such an overnight move has killed the dreams of thousands of youths who were preparing for the examination for long years," Tiwari said.
"The way the youth have turned violent on the streets and their abusive slogans indicate that the aura and popularity of Narendra Modi is waning now," Tiwary said.
BJP MLA Vinay Bihari who faced the heat of the agitation on June 17 when he was returning from Lauria said: "Around 200 agitators holding batons in their hands intercepted my Mahindra Bolero SUV and smashed the window panes. I had two armed guards but they were helpless. The agitators were abusing Modi Ji."
The agitation is now taking a dangerous turn as anti-social elements are apparently actively participating in the protests to destabilise the Narendra Modi government.
Analysts say many people believe that the BJP has a hidden agenda to separate society into majority (Hindu) and minority (Muslims). As the latter are not in a position to challenge the saffron party openly, they are either supporting or actively participating in the agitation. In other words, they are putting their guns on the shoulders of the youths to target the Modi government.
On Thursday and Friday, anti-social elements had specifically targeted the offices and properties of BJP leaders in Bihar. They have targeted the houses of Sanjay Jaiswal, the BJP state president in Bettiah, Deputy CM Renu Devi in Bettiah, BJP MLA Vinay Bihari in Lauria in West Champaran district, and damaged the property of Dr CN Singh in Chapra while the BJP MLA from Warsaliganj was attacked in Nawada. The agitators have also set fire to BJP offices in Nawada, Madhepura, Vaishali and other places.
Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Renu Devi faced the heat on Friday morning when a large number of youths attacked her house in Bettiah town and pelted stones at her property.
"The students of the country do not understand the Agnipath scheme properly. Our students cannot do wrong acts and indulge in violence. Those who are involved in violence are the goons of the opposition parties who are trying to destabilize the government. Agnipath scheme is related to military training which the Centre wants to give to the youths of the country," Renu Devi said.
BJP leaders are also trying to blame the state government for its failure to stop the violence.
"Those who attacked my house were definitely not job aspirants of the defence forces. It was a well planned conspiracy to attack my house. They are other people who posed as job aspirants and vandalized my house in Bettiah," Sanjay Jaiswal, the BJP state president, said.
"The way the protesters have attacked the houses of BJP leaders and the party's offices in different cities, only the administration of different districts is responsible for it. They have taken a lackadaisical approach to deal with the agitators," Jaiswal said.
The ruling JD-U immediately responded to the statements of Sanjay Jaiswal and Renu Devi. Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, the national president of the JD-U, countered them saying that whatever violence was happening in the country was only due to the Centre.
"There is huge discontent among the youth of the country after the announcement of the Agnipath scheme. Violence has spread to many parts of the country. The Centre should take cognizance of the matter and immediately rethink the scheme. If it is not possible then properly communicate to the youth that it would not adversely affect their careers in the future," Lalan Singh said.
The students who have been protesting for the last four days against the Agnipath scheme are claiming that it is suicidal for a youth if he joins the army under this scheme.
"A youth needs at least one year of proper military training to become an army jawan and it takes at least 5 to 6 years for an army jawan to perform duty at the border. Under the Agnipath scheme, there is a provision of 6 months training and deployment anywhere in the country including on the Pakistan and China borders. A partially skilled soldier cannot survive on the border, it would be suicidal not only for that soldier but also for the entire post," said Ram Prakash Singh, a job aspirant who is preparing for the army recruitment examination for the last 5 years.
Another job aspirant Rakesh Kumar said: "The six month military training is similar to militant groups providing military training to the fidayeen (sucide squad). They (militant groups) give 3 to 6 months training and send them into the enemy countries on suicide missions. Does the central government want to form a new suicide regiment through Agniveers. The Narendra Modi government should clarify the details of military training of how it could train youths in six months through the Agnipath scheme."
Delhi Police has detained several Congress leaders for trying to march towards the ED office where party leader Rahul Gandhi is being questioned.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel staged the protest outside AICC headquarters. While sitting at the dharna, Bhupesh Baghel lambasted the BJP government for misusing investigative agencies and suppressing the voice of the opposition.
Baghel has termed the ED's action as political bias and malicious. It is a "political vendetta" and the case has no grounds for investigation, CM said.
Congress leaders and workers took out a march to the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) office in solidarity with the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. K.C. Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Gaurav Gogoi, Deepender Singh Hooda, Ranjeet Ranjan, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Imran Pratapgarhi & other Congress leaders were taken into police custody and sent to different police stations.
Castigating the BJP government, Baghel said as long as the Centre continues to perpetrate the atrocities, the protest will continue.
"BJP government at the Centre should tell whether any action has been taken against the leader of any pro-BJP party in the last eight years. The moment a leader joins BJP, all the cases and matters against him get hushed up. ED, CBI, I-T department are used to suppress the voice of the opposition," CM Baghel asserted.
Congress General Secretary Avinash Pande said, "this is a black day for democracy where in opposition leaders are being harassed for questioning the government."
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for the second consecutive day in a money laundering case on Tuesday.
Election for the next President of India will be held on July 18 and the counting of votes will take place on July 21. The Election Commission of India on Thursday announced the schedule for the election for the President of India.
Announcing the poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that the term of President Ram Nath Kovind is coming to end on July 24.
As per the poll schedule, notification for the presidential election will be issued on June 15 and the last day of filing nomination will be June 29.
Scrutiny of nomination papers will be held on June 30 and last day of withdrawal of nomination papers will be July 2.
Polling, if required, will be held on July 18 and counting will take place on July 21.
Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha will be the Returning Officer for this election.
The President of India is elected by members of the Electoral College consisting of elected Members of Parliament and that of all the state assemblies including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Nominated members of Parliament, state assembly and members of legislative council are not eligible to vote.
Total 776 Members of Parliament and 4,033 MLAs will vote in the Presidential elections. Total value of votes is 10,86,431. The value of votes of MLAs is 5,43,231 and MPs are 5,43,200.
The Presidential elections in 2017 were held on July 17 and the result was announced on July 20.
Domestic indices on Tuesday extended their losses from the previous session as the overall sentiments still remain cautious amongst investors as they are worried about inflation and benchmark interest rates, said analysts.
At 10.02 a.m., Sensex was 1.1 per cent down at 55,037 points, whereas nifty down 1.1 per cent at 16,388 points.
The three-day Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) monetary policy review meeting that started on Monday will have a bearing in the market movement going ahead.
Though the RBI raising policy rates in the ongoing monetary policy committee meeting is a "no brainer", as said by its Governor Shaktikanta Das in a recent interview, investors, however, await the actual degree of percentage hike before taking fresh positions and future course of action in the financial markets.
"Two crucial numbers coming this week are significant, RBI's rate hike tomorrow and the inflation rate in the US expected on Friday. RBI's rate hike is a foregone conclusion; the only unknown is the quantum of the rate hike. Even if the rate hike is by a steep 50bp, the market is unlikely to be impacted much since frontloading of the rate hike will be more effective in anchoring inflation expectations," said V.K. Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services.
The market direction is likely to be influenced more by the inflation in the US, which, in turn, will decide how far the US Fed will go in raising rates because it be the key determinant of possible 'risk on' or 'risk off' in equity markets globally, said Vijayakumar.
"Rising rate scenario will improve the margin of the banking sector since deposit rates lag lending rates. The most attractively valued segment in the market now is financials, particularly banking."
V.K.Sasikala, the estranged former interim general secretary of AIADMK, on Monday called for the reunification of the party to make it a fighting force in Tamil Nadu.
In a statement, she said that the party leaders and workers who are trying to prevent her entry into the AIADMK were indirectly supporting the DMK. She expressed confidence in solving all the issues plaguing the party.
Notably, a section of the party leaders led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami is against her entry into the party fold. While O. Panneerselvam-led faction of the AIADMK is supporting Sasikala's return, there is stringent opposition from second-rung leaders led by D.Jayakumar and CVe Shanmugham.
Another factor that necessitates unity in the AIADMK is its recent fallout with its ally BJP leading to leaders from each side firing salvos against the other.
BJP leader Nainar Nagendran MLA has gone on record to invite Sasikala to the fold of the saffron party. Sources in the Sasikala camp told IANS that she is not interested in directly joining the BJP, but wants to head the AIADMK.
With the opposition politics in Tamil Nadu turning murkier by the day with BJP and AIADMK taking on each other, Sasikala is trying to emerge as a major force in the AIADMK politics.
Even after moving its MLAs to a five-star hotel in Udaipur fearing poaching ahead of the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls, the ruling Congress in Rajasthan has approached the Anti-Corruption Bureau expressing apprehensions of horse-trading.
Rajasthan government's chief whip and cabinet minister Dr Mahesh Joshi went to the ACB office on Sunday and gave a written complaint to DG-ACB B.L Soni requesting that a watch be kept on the people involved in horse-trading and if caught, strict action taken against under corruption.
Earlier too, during the political crisis in the state in 2020, there was an entry of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and ACB in the case of an alleged conspiracy to topple the government and horse-trading of MLAs. After a year-and-a-half, the Congress government has once again reached ACB, the corruption-fighting agency.
Joshi told the media that as per sources, there may be the use of money power in the ensuing polls which can weaken democracy. He also raised concerns over the fielding of an independent candidate Subhash Chandra in the contest who is being backed by BJP.
He further opined that MLAs can be brought to vote in support of an independent candidate only through horse trading. "In such a situation, being the chief whip of the government in the Legislative Assembly, it is my responsibility to alert the ACB and that's why I have lodged a complaint with the ACB.