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NEW DELHI:  Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film Padmavati that ran into trouble with Rajput Karni Sena and other fringe groups may be delayed beyond December 1 when it was expected to be released. The Censor Board of Film Certification, popularly called the censor board, has told the film's producers that its application had been found to be "incomplete".

Once the deficiency in the application is removed, it would be scrutinized again, said a censor board source, according to news agency Press Trust of India.

The film was submitted for the censor board's approval last Friday.

According to board's norms, the censor board can take 61 days for a decision on a film's certification. Sources suggested it would be difficult for the producers to stick to their 1 December schedule if the board strictly abides by the norms.

For now, there is no hint that the board intends to fast-track the formalities.

 

"When it comes back to us we will put it in queue and see when the turn comes, there will be no exception," the censor board source said.
The film is based on the legendary 13th century queen Padmini of Chittor and critics, mostly Rajput groups, say Padmavati wrongly implies a romantic relationship between the queen and Emperor Alauddin Khilji, the all-powerful Delhi Sultan. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has repeatedly denied the allegation and recently released a video clarifying that his film does not distort history.

But it is a sentiment that has found resonance among the politically crucial Rajput community in Rajasthan and beyond, right from the time shooting started. That is when the sets of the film - which has Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Singh, Shahid Kapoor in the leading roles - was vandalised first in Jaipur.

After many protests in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Karnataka as well, a leader of Karni Sena, which has been at the forefront of the agitation to seek a ban on the movie yesterday, also threatened Deepika Padukone with physical harm.

"Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha," said Mahipal Singh Makrana, referring to the act of cutting the nose off. The threat prompted Mumbai police to scale up the security to Deepika Padukone.

News of the film getting caught up in formalities at the censor board came as the Karni Sena threatened to intensify its agitation against the movie as the release date approaches. Already, they forced shut the entrance to the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh district today and called for a nation-wide strike on December 1 to coincide with the film's scheduled release.

Union Minister Uma Bharti had disapproved of threats targeting Deepika Padukone but appealed to the actors in the movie to steer clear of the controversy.

"The director and his associate as the scriptwriter of #Padmavati are responsible for its story. They should have taken care of the sentiments and the historical facts," she tweeted yesterday, expressing confidence that the censor board would clear the film "taking the sentiments of people into consideration".

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: The Congress charges vis-a-vis the deal with France on the purchase of 36 Rafale jets was "politically motivated" and "shameful", she told a press conference called after the opposition party alleged irregularities in the government-to-government deal.

 

Sitharaman accused the Congress of doing a "disservice" to the armed forces by failing to ink the deal even after decade-long negotiations when it was in power at the Centre.

"The decision to buy 36 Rafale jets was taken to address the urgent need of the IAF (Indian Air Force) because the earlier United Progressive Alliance government did not pay attention to defence preparedness of the armed forces... it (UPA) was indecisive for 10 years to address this critical necessity of fighters for the IAF," the Minister said.

"The allegations are politically motivated since they are not able to find any corruption in this government," she added.

"It is disappointing that a responsible opposition without checking facts can come out to say this," she said.

Sitharaman said the National Democratic Alliance government went for "emergency" procurement of the fighter jets, adding that the deal it cut for 36 aircraft was "far better" than what the UPA "would have obtained for 126".

Asked if it meant the price under the deal is lesser, she quipped: "Absolutely". She however did not give any figures on the price.

"Comparison in the price is wrong. The price we arrived at is lesser. To bicker over price as though they served preparedness... it is shameful."

Sitharaman said that the deal was signed after approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security and following all due processes.

"It is a baseless argument -- not a single procedure has been violated. No procedure was violated," she said.

Responding to opposition party's charge, she said that a "transfer of technology" was not sought in this deal as it was not viable and it could have escalated the price.

"It is simple economics -- when you are talk of buying 126 aircraft, asking for transfer of technology makes sense. When you are going for emergency procurement of 36, it does not make sense for transfer of technology to be included... there was no benefit from this transfer, the price would have increased and not reduced," the Defence Minister said.

On the allegation that a private company benefited, the Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had no role in choosing a business delegation that went to Paris when the deal was announced.

"Who is on the delegation is not in the Prime Minister's hands," she said.

Sitharaman said that so far, no agreement on offsets has been signed under the deal.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, meanwhile, said on Friday that any agreement between private firms is independent of the government and the latter is not bound to buy what they make.

"We are trying to promote defence manufacturing through strategic partnerships. If any company ties with another private company, the government has no role to play. You can also tie up with someone under the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) policy. The government has nothing to do with it," Goyal said.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Friday criticised the previous Congress-led UPA government's "irresponsible" attitude towards strengthening Indian defence forces.

"Can a party which ruled for five decades behave so irresponsibly? The Congress-led government cared the least to strengthen our forces and (was interested) more in commissions," Rijiju said in a tweet.

The Congress has accused that the government negotiated an overpriced deal to buy 36 Rafale jets from France for Rs 58,000 crore, causing "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money.

The Congress said the government had agreed to pay for each Rafale aircraft three times the price negotiated in 2012 by the then UPA government.

Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, on Thursday brushed aside the charges, saying the deal negotiated by the current government was "better than the one finalised by the then UPA government".

"We have negotiated a better deal in the Rafale contract than what was in the MMRCA contract (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) finalised during the UPA rule... It is a cheaper deal," he told reporters at the Adampur Air Force station near Jalandhar in Punjab.

--IANS

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  Days after raids at Jaya TV and family members of jailed AIADMK party leader VK Sasikala, income tax officials landed at former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence in Chennai on Friday evening.

The tax officials limited their search to two rooms that were used by Sasikala and a third room used by the AIADMK matriarch's personal secretary S Poongundran.

Jayalalithaa's long-time aide, Sasikala, had continued to live in this house after Jayalalithaa's death last December till she was sent to jail by the Supreme Court in a corruption case.

Income tax department sources indicated the raids were carried out after inputs that electronic storage devices were being clandestinely moved out of the premises.

 

"It was a limited exercise... We searched only the office of S Poongundran and two rooms of Sasikala. The search has concluded," a senior tax official told news channel NDTV.

The official said a laptop, a desktop computer and four pen drives had been seized and were being scrutinized.

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Majid Khan, a young footballer from south Kashmir who joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba over a week back, has contacted his family expressing a wish to return home, police said on Friday.

The news was welcomed, with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeting: "A mother's love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most."

 

Former Chief Minister and National Conference head Omar Abdullah tweeted: "If that's true then it's a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed."

According to Kashmir police chief Munir Khan, the 20-year-old footballer had contacted his family saying he wants to return.

Khan dismissed reports that Majid Khan had surrendered.

He said: "He has neither been apprehended nor has he surrendered yet. But he has contacted his family and wants to come back."

"He should certainly come back. Let's hope he returns," the police chief added.

Majid Khan, 20, belonging to Anantnag town, had left home to join the LeT triggering panic in his family.

His mother had made passionate appeals to her son to shun the path of violence and return.

Reports also said his father, Irshad Khan has suffered a heart attack earlier this week when news spread about Majid being trapped in a gunfight with security forces.

On Thursday, IGP Khan had reiterated his appeal to local militants to shun violence and resume normal life by joining their families.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today welcomed Moody's Investors Service's first upgrade in nearly 14 years of its ratings on India's sovereign bonds, calling it a "belated recognition of the positive steps taken in last few years to strengthen the economy." Mr Jaitley also hit out at critics of the government's economic policies saying, "many who had doubts about India's reform process can now seriously introspect on their position."

The Finance Minister said the upgrade was recognition and endorsement that "a number of structural reforms in the last three years have placed India on a path of high trajectory growth," and also that "India continues to  follow a path of fiscal prudence which has brought stability."

 

Moody's said on Friday that it was lifting India's rating to Baa2 from Baa3 and changed its rating outlook to stable from positive, saying continued progress on economic and institutional reform will boost the country's growth potential.

The upgrade, Moody's first since January 2004, moves India's rating to the second lowest level of the investment grade.

 

It is a big boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and the reforms it has pushed and comes just weeks after the World Bank moved India up 30 places in its annual ease of doing business rankings.

All markets including stocks, bonds and the rupee rallied on the ratings upgrade.

The upgrade also comes just ahead of crucial assembly elections in PM Modi's home state Gujarat, where Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has based his party's election campaign around an attack on the government over an economic slowdown, with growth slipping under 6 per cent in the June quarter. The Congress has blamed last year's demonetisation and its implementation of new national tax GST in July this year.

Mr Jaitley said, "steps, including demonetisation, among others is taking India into a digitised economy. Implementation of Aadhaar has also been a very significant step. Also, the GST, which the world has recognised as one of the most significant reform steps taken in the history of Independent India."

He refused to link today's development to the forthcoming elections saying, "In India, elections happen three or four times each year. That being the case, if everything is only linked to elections, then there would not be any steady economic development and growth. All of us will only be engaged with elections and speeches."

Sitting next to Mr Jaitley, Chief Economic Advisor to the government Arvind Subramanian said, "I think we should all keep in mind that ratings are not causes or motivators of government actions, they are welcomed collateral consequences of government actions. "

Moody's has noted that while a number of key reforms remain at the design phase, it believes those already implemented will advance the government's objective of improving the business climate, enhancing productivity and stimulating investment.

"Longer term, India's growth potential is significantly higher than most other Baa-rated sovereigns," the agency said.

It said GST will boost productivity by removing barriers to inter-state trade, also pointing out that challenges from the implementation of the new tax regime, continuing weakness in private sector investment, slow progress resolving banking sector asset quality issues, and lack of progress in land and labour reform remain key issues.

 

 

 

 

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 20-year-old son of a businessman in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram was killed last night when, driving his new car at a high speed, he rammed an auto and lost control.

Three women who were in the car are in hospital in a critical state.

The brand new car, a Skoda, was completely wrecked in the crash that took place around 10.45 pm. Firemen had to come in and cut open the vehicle to extricate the passengers.

The car had a temporary registration. According to the police, the young man was killed instantly.

 

 

 

 

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NEW DELHI: Rafale deal is a pact between India and Dassault Aviation SA's to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The IAF chief's statement comes days after Congress party said that a "huge scam" was brewing in the Centre over the deal.

He further said that the government has negotiated a very good deal.

The Congress has alleged that Modi government promoted the interest of Prime Minister's capitalist allies, by signing the Rafale aircraft agreement for purchase of 36 fighter aircrafts without following the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

Addressing a press conference of Tuesday, Congress party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said that the the aircraft were being bought at an "inflated price".

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: An Indian student was shot dead allegedly by two armed robbers, including one of Indian-origin, at a grocery store in the US state of California, after which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said the government is following up on the incident.

The incident happened on Monday night when Dharampreet Singh Jassar, 20, was on duty at the Tackle Box store next to a gas station in Madera city. The suspects barged into the store to loot and one of them fired several shots at Jassar, who reportedly tried to hide behind the cash counter, The Fresno Bee reported.

 

They later fled the scene with cash and a few big boxes of cigarettes, the police said. The incident was reported to the police by a customer who found Jasser's body on the floor on Tuesday, the report said.

Jassar hailed from Punjab and was a student of accounting. He had gone to the US around three years ago on a student visa.

Police arrested 21-year-old Armitraj Singh Athwal, an Indian-origin man, believed to be one of the two robbers who fired multiple shots at Jassar.

Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Thursday evening that she had received a detailed report on the "unfortunate death" of Jassar.

"It was a case of armed robbery at a gas station in which robbers shot at Dharampreet who was working there. The police have arrested a suspect of Indian origin," she said.

"We are following up further police investigation and will extend all help to his family."

US authorities said a Fresno County Sheriff's deputy saw media coverage of the incident on Tuesday and recognised similarities between the suspects from the incident and Athwal.

Madera Sheriff's detectives were contacted and determined that Athwal is the likely suspect in the shooting.

During a search of Athwal's vehicle, the police discovered an unregistered 0.38-caliber revolver and a 0.22-caliber assault pistol that had been reported stolen, drugs and a blue bandana noticeable in the surveillance footage of the robbery at the store.

Athwal's vehicle was also registered in another name.

"Dharampreet was a completely innocent victim, just doing his job, when he was senselessly killed during this robbery," Madera Sheriff Jay Varney said.

Athwal faces robbery and murder charges. He does not appear to have a lengthy criminal history, Varney said. His bail is set at $1 million.

--IANS

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: A Meerut resident from the Kshatriya community on Thursday announced a bounty of Rs 5 crore on the heads of film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone for "wrongfully portraying" queen Padmini in their coming film 'Padmavati'.

Thakur Abhishek Som of Sardhana Chaubisi, who claimed affiliation to the Samajwadi Party, said the Kshatriya community will not tolerate wrongful portrayal of the queen and meddling with its rich heritage.

 

Claiming that his political affiliations had nothing to do with his stand, Som warned that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be able to save the Bollywood film maker and the actor.

Demanding a ban on the movie, Som told the media that it would be better if Deepika Padukone left the country or else her head will be chopped off.

"I am making this declaration on behalf of the Kshatriya Samaj," he said.

He accused Bhansali of lacking knowledge about history and that he was only interested in Box Office profits even if it meant meddling with history.

Som said he was ready to face the consequence of his stand on the issue.

 

 

 

(Inputs From IANS)

 

 

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New Delhi: The Delhi government has decided to offer over 40 government services ranging from grant of water connection to marriage certificate at people's doorstep, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said here on Thursday.

Sisodia said citizens would save time and countless trips to government offices in the process and termed the decision as one amounting to bringing "government at your doorsteps" and "home delivery of governance".

 

The Minister said the decision was taken in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, adding that citizens would be able to access these services outside of the normal working hours too.

The 40 services on offer include issue of OBC, SC and ST certificates, motor vehicle registration certificate, driving licence, handicapped and old age pensions as well as sewage connection.

Sisodia said a nominal fee would be charged from people and added that a private agency would be hired to carry out the service.

Under the new project, if a person wanted a certificate from the government, he would telephone a call centre.

Then a 'Mobile Sahayak' would go to the residence or office of the applicant and collect the necessary documents, take photo and biometric details and then process the application.

Applicants can pay the prescribed application fee to the 'Mobile Sahayak', the Minister said, and termed the service the first of its kind in India.

Sisodia said all government services would be gradually added to the list of services. The project would be implemented in three to four months and added that they were yet to hire the agency to carry out the service.

The Minister said that though many of these services were currently online, many people don't have internet connectivity and the new project would benefit them.

Sisodia said that people can take appointment with 'Mobile Sahayak' to access services according their convenience and even on holidays, so that they do not have to take leave from work.

--IANS

 

 

 

 

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