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Nitish parks himself on Modi's side over PM's Lahore 'birthday diplomacy'

Nitish Kumar Getty Images

Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

While most opponents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have spoken against his 'surprise' visit to Lahore on Christmas Day 2015, to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supports the PM's 'birthday diplomacy', reports The Telegraph. Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on disaster management in Patna on Friday, Kumar said: "It is necessary to support the democratic forces in Pakistan to improve relations and solve the problems. I fully support the PM reaching out to the democratically elected government in Pakistan."

India may approach UN Security Council for ban on JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar

Maulana Masood AFP

Photo: File photo

After the terrorist attack on the Air Force base in Pathankot, which Indian security agencies believe were carried out by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-E-Mohammed (JeM), India may approach the United Nations for ban on JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar, reports The Economic Times. Security agencies have identified Azhar as one of the handlers in the attack. India had tried earlier to have the UNSC place Azhar in the UNSC's sanctions list, but was thwarted by China. China could block this second attempt as well. The JeM has been designated as a terrorist organisation in several countries, including Australia, Canada, India, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US.

Centre lifts ban on jallikattu in Tamil Nadu


Photo: AFP

Politics has trumped animal welfare and a Supreme Court order in Tamil Nadu, where the Centre has revoked a four-year ban against jallikattu, the controversial Tamil sport of bull-taming, reports The Telegraph. The sport had been banned in 2011 on grounds of cruelty to animals, and the ban had been endorsed by the Supreme Court. On Friday, the union environment and forests ministry lifted the ban, and stated that it had incorporated safeguards to prevent cruelty to the bulls. Animal rights activists have protested the lifting of the ban, but jallikattu is extremely popular among the Thevars of Tamil Nadu, an influential intermediate caste.

Supreme Court will review 2015 order on Uphaar case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to review its earlier order on Delhi's Uphaar cinema tragedy that had allowed the owners of the cinema which caught fire and killed 59 people to go free, reports The Telegraph. A bench of three judges will look into the Supreme Court's August 2015 order that Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal need not serve a further jail sentence via an open court hearing that may be held next week. The Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy and the CBI had filed separate review petitions against the 2015 order.

Brief spell of Governor's Rule in J&K likely while Mehbooba mourns

While Mehbooba Mufti, Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister in waiting, mourns the death of her father, former CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, before taking the oath, the state may have a short period of Governor's Rule, reports The Telegraph. Since the states constitution does not allow the chief minister's post to lie vacant, such a step may be necessary. Mufti Mohammed died at AIIMS in Delhi on 8 January. The state's council of ministers has been dissolved, and their names have been taken off the official website. The four-day period of mourning ends on Sunday, and Mehbooba is likely to be sworn in as CM on Monday. In the interim, the state governor may recommend Governor's Rule.

PM Modi at Pathankot Air Force base, to conduct aerial survey of border areas

Narendra Modi. Photo: Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Photo: Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reached the Pathankot Air Force base to take the first-hand assessment of the situation following the deadly terror strike. Pathankot district was attacked by six terrorists from Pakistan on 2 January.

Seven security personnel were martyred and another 20 were injured in the attack. Security forces have declared that the airbase has been fully sanitised after a massive combing operation by the Army, National Security Guard and IAF's Guard Commandos which spanned over three days. According to reports, the Prime Minister will take an aerial survey including the border areas.

Important to grade films, not cut them, says Shyam Benegal after first CBFC reforms meet


The Shyam Benegal-led committee that has been appointed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to recommend changes in the way film certification functions in India met for the first time today. The meeting was chaired by I&B Minister Arun Jaitley. His junior colleague Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also present at the meet.

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal told ANI that the committee was finding a roadmap to work out its recommendation to be made to CBFC. He also highlighted the fact that the Censor Board's role hitherto has been 'cut based' while it should ideally be grading based.

The panel, which will submit its report in two months, also includes filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Piyush Pandey, and film critic Bhawana Somaaya. National Film Development Council managing director Nina Lath Gupta and joint secretary (films) Sanjay Murthy are also be part of the committee.

Punjab police arrests BSF jawan in drug smuggling case

The Punjab police has arrested a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan for allegedly helping in cross border smuggling of weapons and narcotics.

"We have arrested a BSF jawan Anil Kumar for allegedly helping cross border smuggling," Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP Mohali, told media.

"The BSF jawan was bribed by a notorious smuggler group during a wedding, who promised him of financial assistance," he added.

The SSP also asserted that there is no link established between this incident and the Pathankot terror attack.

Reports of Odd-Even trial being extended are false, says Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai

Odd-Even Scheme

Photo: Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai has dismissed reports claiming the Odd-Even Policy of the government, meant to bring down the hazardous levels of air pollution in the National Capital, will be extended as false. Gopal Rai also said that the government is now examining the data on pollution levels during the fifteen-day trial period to find out conclusively if the scheme was successful in improving Delhi's air quality.

Is it a bird? No, it's a foreign hand!

A proposed ban on hunting the endangered Houbara bustard in Sindh, Pakistan, has led to a staggering conspiracy theory regarding India, reports The Telegraph. The bird is a much-prized prey for hunters from the Middle East, and a ban on its hunting would be tantamount to playing into the hands of India, the Sindh government told the Supreme Court in Pakistan. According to the Sindh government, banning the hunting of the bustard would stop investments coming in from the Middle East, thereby slowing down Pakistan's development, something that India wants.

Besieged Madaya residents in Syria starving to death one by one

Fresh reports claim that 23 people, including six children, died of starvation last month in the blockaded town of Madaya northwest of Damascus. Madaya residents lack many basic needs after being victims of an ongoing blockade by the Assad regime and the Hezbollah Shia militia. Eight people were killed by landmines as they tried to escape the town, which has been under siege for 190 days so far, the report added. Living conditions have further deteriorated as winter set in. Electricity is non-existent and food prices have been at an all time high since the blockade began. In all, 70 people have died of starvation, while 50 have died from various diseases in the past six months.