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Parasmal Lodha in ED net: How the deal-maker and influencer became a commoner

At an undisclosed lockup, Parasmal Lodha — known for his fetish for limousines, priceless watches, Cognac and mahogany beds — sleeps on the floor covered with prickly blankets, his meals comprise flatbread and lentils.

Officials of the Enforcement Directorate, who arrested Lodha on charges of illegally re-routing cash to make it look legal (read hawala), showed no mercy to the 60 year-old influencer, rejecting all pleas for special treatment, including home-cooked food. Lodha, claimed sources within the probe agency, did not like being treated as a commoner. To the wealthy across India, he was — over two decades — known as the three-word man: “Get it Done”. But now, Lodha had no choice.

“It’s interesting to see him in such a condition. In 40 years, life has turned full circle for Lodha and his crimes,” quipped an ED official, in an apparent hint about Lodha’s initial years when he had arrived in Kolkata in 1977 as a carpetbagger and sold stuffed betel leaves and flavoured paan masala in front of Poddar Court, an imposing building close to Lalbazar police headquarters.

Old-timers in Kolkata recall how Lodha and Nandu Pasari, a dealer of Raymond suitings, grew in stature and, of the two, Lodha started doing small-time brokering on behalf of Arun Poddar, owner of Poddar Court.

Parasmal Lodha being taken to court last week. PTI

Parasmal Lodha being taken to court last week. PTI

Lodha, thanks to Poddar, increased his network among Kolkata’s Marwari community, and using their financial prowess, wanted to take over the Peerless Group, then India’s largest residuary non-banking company, in 1987 by acquiring 50 percent of its shares and a seat on its board.

Chairman of Peerless PC Sen had complained to the Kolkata Police that Lodha had offered his staff loads of cash but when refused, Lodha even threatened to kill him using his contact with Dawood Ibrahim. Lodha was questioned by the cops but eventually let off. However, his attempt failed as the Left Front and Congress jointly staved off his bid —  CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee and Congress leader Priya Ranjan Das Munshi joined hands — and Lodha’s stake was down to 30 percent.

However, the Peerless misadventure proved to be the biggest springboard for Lodha, who was now seen as the best face for “deals and negotiations” in Kolkata, some in Delhi and Mumbai were also calling him for consultations.

But then came the second jolt when 43 people were charred to death in a deadly inferno that swept through the multi-storeyed Stephen Court in the heart of Kolkata in March, 2010. Lodha was rumoured to be the actual owner of the building, where he had flouted several rules and even built two extra floors bribing his way through. A team of the Kolkata Police had also arrested Sanjay Bagaria, the son-in-law of industrialist GP Goenka — a friend of Lodha’s — from a guest house of a paper mill in Saharanpur, in August 2010. Bagaria was one of the directors of Stephen Court Limited — the century-old architectural heritage building on the upmarket Park Street in Kolkata — and had gone missing after the inferno swept through the building. Interestingly, Lodha managed to extricate himself from the incident.

“Lodha had — by the mid-1090s — moved from Kolkata to Delhi and acquired expensive properties, including a huge farmhouse where he entertained guests,” said ED sources.

Among his friends were a host of retired judges with considerable influence on the judiciary, many cabinet ministers, corporate captains, and sons of the then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao. Lodha was a regular at the PMO in South Block.

Lodha expanded his wings even abroad. The ED is looking into his proximity with some influential Indian families in London and Kenya, even in Australia and whether those families benefitted from Lodha’s largesse. Having helped a top Indian conglomerate when his business deals in Australia went sour, Lodha was also seen in the forefront of a group helping a London-based family solve teething problems in its automobile business.

“He was seen as the ultimate saviour who knew the routes to instant cash. He wanted to try his hand into everything, including films,” claimed ED officials. It is reliably learnt that it was Lodha who helped the influential Renu Roy garner cash to finance Rituparna Ghosh’s award winning film, Unishey April, in 1994. He even lobbied for Roy to become the first woman president of Kolkata’s prestigious Saturday Club in 2007-2008, raising many eyebrows in the city.

ED officials claim Lodha had been under the scanner for almost a decade but “serious tracking” by the agencies started when it was claimed that he was the front to re-route financial packages offered by the Indian government to ailing jute mills in Bengal. Many jute mill owners were accused of diverting Central funds without refurbishing the jute mills. Some were also slicing off portions of jute mills into real estate zones. “Lodha was thick in it,” claimed ED officials.

Lodha also worked with influential Marwari tycoons in Kolkata who wanted to acquire heritage buildings close to the Ganges. He had an uncanny ability to get sanctions for extra floors and eventually legalise them by paying hefty bribes to the cops, state government officials and civic authorities. He was then jokingly called “Extra Floor Lodha”.

But his interests in real estate dimmed in late 1990s amd he shifted to cash re-routing, lobbying with the judiciary and started negotiating with many across India. Instead of shuttling regularly between Delhi and Kolkata, his new destinations now were Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Bollywood interested him immensely, Lodha often used small-time Bollywood actresses and models to impress his clients. Barely 10 days before his arrest, Lodha was in touch with a Bollywood starlet whose services he wanted for two of his clients.

It wasn’t just cinema and actors, however, as Lodha showed an interest in owning news channels. Always ready to strike a deal and completing it successfully, he was then known as “Deal Done Lodha”. He was always interested in the end result, often telling his conduits in simple words: “Kaam Hona Chahiye” which translates to “The work must happen”.

His name cropped up when many in Kolkata were being interrogated by the CBI in the Sharada scam. Lodha — or so claimed those who were interrogated — had urged them to sell licences to run news channels to Sudipta Sen of Sharada, promising them “high value deals” because of his clout with Sudipta.

Arrested last Thursday from the Mumbai Airport while trying to flee to Malaysia, allegedly for illegally converting demonetised notes worth Rs 25 crore into new currency for Chennai sand baron J Sekhar Reddy and lawyer Rohit Tandon, Lodha started showing his clout at the airport, virtually naming the entire UPA-I and UPA-II Cabinets and some ministers of the ruling NDA-led government as his friends. “His handset and messages folder looked like an encyclopaedia,” said a top source.

ED officials were tracking Lodha after New Delhi’s demonetisation moves, and eventually a dossier was prepared on the hawala trader and influencer, and clearances were sought from the Ministry of Home Affairs. “His huge influence was indeed a cause of worry for us,” claimed the ED officials.

No more.

Inside the ED lockup, Lodha is unable to crack a deal and nothing is happening to his satisfaction. He does not even have his expensive watch to see if time is on his side.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 12:38 IST

If Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor did wrong in naming Taimur, then what about the Ashokas?

When a man with Lord Rama in his name grows up to be Independent India’s first terrorist, do we stop naming our children Nathu, Nathmal or Ram?

When an emperor named Asoka (Ashoka) murders his 99 step-brothers, throws them into Patna’s Agam Kuan, has a torture chamber that entitles him to the sobriquet of Chand (fierce), kills at least one lakh people, decapitates thousands in the battle of Kalinga, does it stop us from naming every Tom, Dick and Harry after him?

Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his wife Kareena Kapoor with their newly born baby boy Taimur at their residence in Mumbai on Thursday. PTIBollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his wife Kareena Kapoor with their newly born baby boy Taimur at their residence in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and his wife Kareena Kapoor with their newly born baby boy Taimur at their residence in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

When Sikander (Alexander), who sacks several bastions and massacred many people in the Indian sub-continent, does it stop us from making his name a synonym for bravery and fortitude, the inspiration behind a BJP parliamentarian’s son?

So, what’s the big deal if Kareena and Saif Ali Khan decide to name their Taimur, a name linked to a ferocious west Asian conqueror who also did what Nathuram, Ashoka and Sikander did — kill, conquer, wage wars?

The hysteria among some right-wing trolls over Saifeena’s choice of the name for their newborn is typical of selective reading of history, deep-seated bigotry and typical rage over the fact that raiders from the West could scythe through this land of incapable warriors and kings whenever they wanted, made them fall to their knees at will. The chest-thumping trolls just can’t accept that most of the kings who ruled ancient and medieval India did not have the ability to protect their empires, win wars or stand up to raiders from the west. So, they take out this frustration on an infant, in a different age and time.

Great work, people. After fighting with Pakistan, Kashmiris and then anti-nationals at home, you have stooped to the level of a new-born! Now that really takes some serious kind of mental regression. In a civilised society, people would be expected to at least follow established rules of decency. Nobody drags a new-born child into their politics of hate and bigotry. What parents call their child is nobody’s business. But, not in the country we call Mahaan. Here such pettiness is paraded in the name nationalism, patriotism and Hindutva. Perhaps we don’t even get what may be Saif and Kareena’s may be an ode to Langa Tyaagi, the unforgettable character from a film both of them starred in.

A young man from an Uzbek tribe rises from being a thief to one of the biggest conquerors of his era, in spite of physical disabilities. He leads his men to victories from India in the east to the tip of Europe in the west. He establishes an empire from Tibet to south Russia, a regime that is both feared (obviously by the craven) and respected by peers in Spain and parts of Europe. He wages wars against Hindus, Christians and Muslims from Baghdad to Turkey and massacres their armies — like Ashoka did in the battle of Kalinga — with equal ferocity. His descendant Babar, another young man synonymous with exceptional leadership skills, bravery and fortitude, establishes a dynasty that rules India for more than 300 years. What is wrong if parents want their child named after such a man?

Seriously, who would you prefer as a role model? Perhaps the Rajput king Man Singh, who surrendered to the Mughals, struck matrimonial alliances to save their empires, became leader of Akbar’s armies that took on fellow-Rajputs like Rana Pratap. Our pride allows us to have a road named after him in New Delhi but the petty Indian ego gets hurt when two film stars name their son after a great warrior, leader, and a winner.

And, by the way, did Taimur not defeat a Mahmud Shah Tughlaq, a descendant of another dynasty that is believed to have put India under 1,200 years of ghulami? Oh wait, wasn’t an invader defeating a Sultan whose ancestors ended the reign of Hindu kings in India supposed to be cause celebre?

Taimur, in case we missed it, is a common name in Turkey, in spite of being known as the nemesis of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, though he ravaged and razed down cities across Central Asia, in almost every country he conquered parents have been proudly naming their children after Taimur. In Uzbekistan, he is considered a hero, the architect of Samarkand, a polyglot, patron of art and culture. So, what is so special about us Indians that make us wage a Twitter jihad if a child answers to a name thousands across the world do?

Finally, the entire argument that a name should be rejected because of its history is flawed. If the criteria were to be followed across the world, there would have been no Marie (Antoinette) in France, no Ivans (the Terrible) in the UK and Josephs (Stalins) in Europe, Stalins in DMK and Sikander’s in the saffron parivar.

As the Bard said: What’s in a name? Whom we call Nathu Ram may not turn out to be a Maryada Purshuttom. No?

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 18:52 IST

Taimur: Twitter debates Kareena and Saif’s choice of baby name

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s decision to name their son after a conqueror sparks a debate.

Bollywood challenges India’s mental health taboo

Media and medical professionals praise a new Bollywood film for shining a spotlight on the issue of mental health.

100 Women 2016: Sunny Leone on how objectification isn’t a bad word

Former porn star turned Bollywood movie actor Sunny Leone tells Yogita Limaye that she’s ok with her ‘sexy’ image and ‘objectification’ isn’t a bad word.

100 Women 2016: Indian women ‘loiter’ in public places at night

Women in India are “loitering” together at night time to change attitudes about what females can do.

Shilpa Shetty’s Animal Farm ‘review’ trolled on Twitter

A Bollywood actress recommends Stalinist metaphor to children, to teach them to “care for animals”.

Advocate alleges Coldplay dishonoured the national flag during their performance in Mumbai

New Delhi: An advocate has filed a complaint at north Delhi’s Roop Nagar Police Station on Tuesday against British rock band Coldplay for allegedly dishonouring the national flag during their performance at the Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai.

Chris Martin performs with the Indian flag at the Global Citizen Festival India. Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost

Chris Martin performs with the Indian flag at the Global Citizen Festival India. Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost

Gaurav Gulati, an advocate, has submitted a complaint against Coldplay and its frontman Chris Martin alleging, “They can be seen to dishonour our National Flag by tying it on the back of his jeans and dancing in objective positions (sic).”

“In the video/photo, it can be seen that the band had used our Indian National Flag to cover their musical instruments,” he said.

Gulati said an FIR should be filed against the band and the singer for dishonouring the national flag during their performance in Mumbai on Saturday.

On Sunday, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik had alleged that lead singer of the rock band has “disrespected” the Indian flag during the band’s performance here.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 07:52 IST

IT dept raids Janardhan Reddy’s office after his daughter’s extravagant wedding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax department raided the office of mining baron and former Karnataka minister Janardhan Reddy on Monday after news about his daughter’s extravagant wedding went viral, reported News 18. Meanwhile, PTI reported that I-T dept had conducted surveys in Bangalore and Hyderabad on service providers engaged for his daughter’s wedding. Reddy, a former BJP minister, is out on bail after spending 40 months in bail for his involvement in a multi-crore mining scam that rocked the state in 2010-11. While Reddy was maintaining a low profile, the wedding catapulted him back into the spotlight. Over 50,000 people attended the wedding of his daughter Brahmani at Bangalore Palace.At a time when news about demonetization has dominated headlines, Reddy’s daughter’s wedding stuck out like a sore thumb. Reddy had told reporters on November 10 at his hometown that he would share the expenditure with the tax department in a month. Mining tycoon and former minister B Janardhan Reddy’s extravagant wedding arrangements for his daughter had evoked national outrage. With the replica of a golden palace, invitation cards with LCD screens and trousseaux costing tens of millions of rupees, the extravagant nuptial is said to have cost Reddy an estimated five billion rupees.Over 50,000 guests attended the wedding, which was held on the Bangalore Palace grounds on November 16. The larger-than-life wedding kick-started with money being lavishly spent on gold-plated invitations fitted with LCD screens, on which the businessman reportedly spent about five crore rupees (USD 735,000). Leading Bollywood art directors were roped in to set up the venue as a replica of the landmark Vitthala Temple of Hampi, an ancient village and a UNESCO world heritage site. Local media reported the bride’s wedding saree cost a whopping 170 million rupees and she wore kilos of sparkling diamond jewellery costing around 900 million rupees as she walked out to greet the guests. The wedding came a week after the government decided to abolish two of its largest bank notes in a shock move to fight tax evasion, corruption and forgery. But the ostentatious display of wealth during a time of severe cash crisis hasn’t gone down well with locals, most of whom are lining up at banks and ATMs every day to exchange their old notes amid strict caps on withdrawal. “I heard he is spending 500 crore on his daughter’s wedding. We are standing here in queues to get our hands on rupees 4, 000. How has he got so much money’” said a labourer Rafique.Chaotic scenes have unravelled across the country in the last week. About 25 people have also reportedly died in the aftermath, including children who were denied treatment by hospitals, and several aged people who collapsed while standing in serpentine queues.Around 3, 000 security men were deployed for the security of the guests as the bride- Brahmani, 21, tied the knot with 23-year old Rajeev Reddy, the son of a Hyderabad-based industrialist. The star invites were ferried on cushioned bullock carts, adding more pomp to the ceremony.While the grandeur of the wedding has been largely criticised, some however, said the money spent will help the poor. “It is because of those who spend their money that helps the poor earn their livelihood. What is the use of those rich people who hoard their money, which does not benefit anyone’ The money being spent here is helping to feed a lot of households,” said a guest at the wedding, Nathan Jain. With inputs from agencies

Arnab Goswami signs into last evening at Times Now, will exit without a big bang

India’s arguably most viewed anchor bid farewell to his colleagues but not before a four-hour-long mega show he had planned to make his departure a spectacle turned into a damp squib.

Arnab Goswami. Courtesy: TwitterArnab Goswami. Courtesy: Twitter

Arnab Goswami. Courtesy: Twitter

According to people in the know of the developments, the mega show planned by Arnab Goswami even had India’s biggest Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and a host of top politicians confirming their presence but top brass of Times Now thought otherwise.

“The show is cancelled,” announced Goswami, who spent some quality time with his staffers after hosting The Newshour. His last show was on 14 November, titled Arnab on Newshour. Thereafter, the shows went on without any names.

It was not immediately known why the last, signature show was cancelled by the Times Now management though insiders in the Times Now newsroom said members of the top brass of the channel had a brief conversation with Goswami, probably impressing upon him why a big bang sign out would be “a little unnecessary and not have the top management’s permission”.

Once he realised the special show would not be allowed, Goswami, as told by witnesses, sat down with his newsroom colleagues and emotionally narrated — some of his colleagues even started weeping — how he worked tirelessly to make the channel South Asia’s number one. He exhorted his colleagues to remember how “you should not be afraid to question the rich and the mighty”.

Aware Goswami would take loads of sheen and viewers along with him, the Times Now management is now into a virtual firefighting mode, the changeover, and fresh induction process being supervised by none other than Vineet Jain and Times group top editor Joydeep “Jojo” Bose, sources unwilling to be identified said. The two want to bolster their operations in the National Capital, especially in key areas like Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and the headquarters of Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.

The channel is keen to have a bevy of anchors. Names floating in the market include Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV and Rahul Kanwal of India Today — who would be able to retain similar “aggression” like Goswami and constantly work towards getting the big scoops for the channel. Some sure shot names include former managing director at India Today, Network18, TV Today Network Ltd Vinay Tiwari and Hector of NewsX, the latter once colleague with Goswami.

While Goswami has kept his cards close to his chest, he has already asked a number of his colleagues to put in their papers. If sources are to be believed, he is personally in touch with people who he thinks will bring in value to the newsroom — cricket, corruption, cinema — are high on his agenda. “News must break with us first,” he told those whom he had approached, and those who have been calling him ever since he has announced his departure from Times Now.

Interestingly, he is trying to pick up “hardcore reporters” in the hinterland. Goswami has already said he wants to be the first one in India to shift the focus of news out of Lutyens Delhi.

Those in touch with Goswami say the seasoned anchor has stressed on the big impact story, not necessarily from the New Delhi. Goswami has already made it clear that he is seeking to create a blast on the digital platform, indicating how a reporter should not call it a day just by telecasting his story. His real work would be to upload it on the web and then push it to be among the top trending ones. The journalists — some already armed with offers from Goswami — have started looking for the big stories.

Probably Goswami remembers how he could not go out with a big bang, and that it would be great to create one when he resurfaces in his new avatar.

The author is India Editor, Central European News (CEN), Vienna. Views are personal.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 19:50 IST

A marathon celebration for children’s cause

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was an eventful Monday morning for 15-year-old Poornima who was among the 5,000 children that participated in ‘Run for less & under privileged children’ to mark Children’s Day. “It’s our day today,” the girl says as she tries to catch her breath.Organised by the NGO ‘Prayas’, the run was an initiative to create awareness about children rights. Besides school children there were at least 1,000 under-privileged children and homeless people.10-year-old Kumkum, an orphan, has been living with Prayas since last six years. “She came to us when she was just a kid and now she is running for the rights of children like her. I am glad that she has matured well and now think of others needs as well,” says her mentor at the NGO.Several other children like Kumkum on Monday gathered at the Central Secretariat ground in south Delhi’s Panchari Puri area to celebrate Children’s Day. The marathon was followed by some colourful performance by the underprivileged children.”We danced on different Bollywood numbers. I’m so excited as this is my first public performance,” says eight-year-old Iram, another orphan living with the NGO.Reshma, 12, was another enthusiast who participated and enjoyed every moment of it. “I love dancing, so, I decided why not just give my best dance performance today. I love freestyle dance, which I have learnt it watching on television,” she said with sparkling eyes. Reshma is another marginalised child living with Prayas.”As we celebrate Children’s Day on 14th November we thought marathon is a wonderful way to celebrate such a beautiful day. We wanted everyone from all walks of life to participate in this cause of ours, and create awareness about basic rights of children,” said Amod K Kanth, General Secretary of the NGO and former Chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.At Prayas, as many as 50,000 marginalised children, youth and women addressing multiple issues are living and learning multiple skills to change their lives, he added.Besides, volunteers from corporate sector also ran with the marginalised children and performed in an effort to make them feel special”I voluntarily came here to run with these children and had a wonderful day with them here,” says Nitish Gulati, a corporate employee.Several prominent personalities including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Bollywood actors Randeep Hooda and Adil Hussain and Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma were present at the event to encourage the children.”There is a need to start national awareness campaign for child rights and events like this helps to motivate people to work for the cause,” Sisodia said during the event.

Demonetisation not a reality for Bengaluru’s Reddy family and the big fat wedding they are hosting

Gali Janardhana Reddy is playing mind-games with himself. Born as the son of a mid-level policeman, he believes he is a reincarnation of the 16th century king Krishnadevaraya. This is why the wedding of his daughter Brahmani on 16 November has been turned into an occasion where Reddy can live his dream king size.

This week, Reddy has taken over the 50-acre Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. That is where the Vijayanagara empire will be recreated, complete with the Vijaya Vithala temple architecture of Hampi. It promises to be an out-of-this-world experience, to which only the 50,000 VIP invitees will get access.

It is a bit of a surprise how Reddy, whose assets were confiscated by the investigating authorities during the investigation into the illegal mining case, can afford to splurge on this scale. Unofficial estimates put the expenditure on the wedding at around Rs 500 crore. Reddy himself is not revealing the figure saying he will furnish the details to the concerned departments. But in these times of demonetisation and currency crunch, the bigger mystery is how Reddy is managing to pay all the marriage contractors and workers.

But those who have known Reddy say he has always been larger-than-life. Before his arrest in 2011, he lived in a palatial house, complete with a chopper. He had donated a Rs 40 crore crown to the Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala. He even had a 15 kg golden throne for himself and was always surrounded by over a dozen armed security personnel.

A picture of the wedding venue. Picture courtesy: TS SudhirA picture of the wedding venue. Picture courtesy: TS Sudhir

A picture of the wedding venue. Picture courtesy: TS Sudhir

The stint behind bars in Hyderabad and Bengaluru central prisons for four years have not diminished his love to live a life of grandeur. Sample his gold-plated wedding invite which got even the Income Tax department interested. It was a LED display video invite produced on a lavish scale with Reddy and family, lip syncing to a choreographed welcome song and dance.

Bellary is where Reddy made his fortune. When he was granted bail last year, he was forbidden from entering Bellary. So he took special permission from the court to travel to Bellary from 1 to 21 November to make arrangements and invite local friends. In the last 12 days, Bellary has been reminded once again of the days when Reddy and his men ruled the district, that had then prompted former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde to label the place as the ‘Republic of Bellary’. His reference was to the influence Reddy wielded.

While Reddy and his brother Gali Somasekhara Reddy are inviting the high-profile VIPs personally, buses are also being arranged to ferry others from Bellary to Bengaluru for D-day. Already, Reddy’s home in Bellary and even the mountain behind it have been decorated with lights for the last one week.

Reddy, superstitious by nature, believes that it was after his daughter was born, that his fortunes looked up. That explains the splurge for which he wanted to get the who’s who of Bollywood and Tollywood to perform at the four-day long star night from 12 to 15 November.

But not everyone has been willing to play ball. A popular Telugu star who was offered Rs 50 lakh to make an appearance, refused to do so, because of the unsavoury tag associated with Reddy.

But those are minor hiccups. The entire set design is being done by Bollywood art directors and grapevine has it that elephants, camels, horses and chariots will add to the royal splendour that Reddy wants recreated.

The Palace grounds will have a dozen helipads for guests from outside Bengaluru to touch down directly at the marriage venue. Pretty much in the demeanour of a king, Reddy has also taken over Bengaluru. News reports indicate that over 1500 rooms in the top star hotels have been booked, along with 2000 cabs.

Though it is very tough now for Reddy to make a return to active politics, it will be of interest to see how the political who’s who of Karnataka responds to his invite. Reddy practically funded the BJP for several years, especially around the time it came to power in Karnataka in 2008. Will BS Yeddyurappa whose government he secured by getting in extra MLAs, make an appearance? Risky given that BSY has just won a legal reprieve and would want to ensure a squeaky clean image ahead of the 2018 polls.

The only person who seems set to be part of the entire ceremony is Bellary MP of the BJP, B Sriramulu. He has always been a close associate of Janardhana Reddy.

On the Congress’s side, chief minister Siddaramaiah has been extended the multimedia invite. But Karnataka Health minister KR Ramesh Kumar upped the ante by saying “no self-respecting person would attend the wedding”. Interestingly Kumar, a former Speaker, had moved a private member bill in November last year in the Assembly to prevent vulgar splurging by rich families during weddings. The Bill envisaged fixing a maximum rent of Rs 50,000 a day for hiring marriage halls. But the Bill never got support from lawmakers in the House.

The mother of all weddings will also highlight the two two sides of India in Bengaluru this week. On one hand there is this grandeur where there will be free flow of cash and on the other hand, long queues form in front of ATMs and banks, with people waiting for hours to get their hands on Rs 2000 to 4000. The only topped-up ATM in Bengaluru on that day will be Gali Janardhana Reddy.

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 17:52 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Kejriwal alleges demonetization to be a huge scam; Indo-Japan nuclear deal operationalises 2005 US deal; & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Live updates: Demonetization turning out to be a huge scam, will present evidence: KejriwalThe Centre has asked all states to ensure proper security to all banks, ATMs and vehicles transporting cash in the wake of demonitisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. Read more.2. ‘H-1B visa ‘potential area of conflict’ between Indo-US under Donald Trump’Lisa Curtis, a top American think-tank said, “H-1B is a potential area of conflict between the two countries.” Read more.3. India-Japan nuclear deal operationalises 2005 US deal​his deal will also help in the operationalisation of the India-United States Civil Nuclear Agreement, which was signed way back in 2005. Read more.4. India v/s England: I was hoping to get double hundred: Cheteshwar PujaraDespite scoring 124 in front of his home crowd, Pujara says he wanted to bat longer to get team closer to England’s total. Read more.5. Working in Bollywood was not my strength: Twinkle KhannaTwinkle Khanna on why she has no intention of reviving her film career as she talks about her second book, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. Read more.

Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher’s father passes away

Tue, 8 Nov 2016-02:57pm , Chandigarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Colonel Thakur Singh, the 103-year-old father of Chandigarh MP and Bollywood actress Kirron Kher, passed away on Tuesday. “Col Singh passed away here today,” BJP’s city unit President Sanjay Tandon said. Former BJP MP from Chandigarh Satya Pal Jain said that Singh, who is also the father-in-law of actor Anupam Kher, was 103 years old. “The cremation will take place in the afternoon tomorrow,” Jain said, expressing his condolence over his death. Kirron, 61, is a first time BJP MP.

Rajnath Singh in Kairana: Why BJP can’t get over it’s ‘maa ka doodh’ obsession

Bollywood must immediately find the identity of the BJP’s speechwriter.

It may finally discover an heir to the Salim-Javed legacy.

On Monday, while speaking at a rally in Kairana, BJP leader and India’s home minister Rajnath Singh thundered in his famed baritone: “Those using muscle power to terrorise people… hum dekhenge ki usne kitna mas ka doodh piya hai.”

Maa ka doodh, Bollywood has shown us, is the ultimate proof of courage; the elixir that separates real men from those brought up presumably on cow’s milk.

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. CNN-News18

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. CNN-News18

On the big screen, when Amitabh Bachchan bashed up baddies bred on dabbe ka doodh (Mard) and challenged goons who had partaken of maa ka doodh (Khoon Pasina) to come and face him, it evoked thunderous applause, inducing the audience to throw coins at the screen. One could almost imagine the taalis and seetis that rang out when Rajnath delivered those lines in Kairana.

When it comes to expressing a hero’s anger and machismo, it would rank just alongside Dharmendra’s biggest contribution to cinema: Ka****e, mein tera doodh khoon pi jaoonga (Sholay).
Rajnath is obviously angry. Perhaps he is fuming just the way he was when told that Hafiz Saeed was behind the JNU ruckus last year. So, unable to control his emotions, he is dealing in screen-shattering dialogue. (At the same venue he claimed to have told Pakistan “seena thok ke” about its terror links.)

But, who are these people whose childhood dietary preferences he wants to check out? And why?

Kairana, it is evident, is the new Ayodhya or Muzaffarnagar for the BJP. With elections on the horizon, it wants to hardsell Kairana as a symbol of the imminent threat to Hindus by you-know-who.

In the BJP rule book of politics, polarisation is always the basic denominator in a poll equation. Having benefitted from Ayodhya, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar, “Love Jihad”, beef ban and other emotive issues that polarise, the BJP always keeps looking with a fine-toothed comb for issues that could be turned into its new poll cry.

This election, it is trying to latch on to Kairana.

A few months ago, when BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh released a list of Hindu families that had “migrated” from Kairana because of threat from Muslims, the BJP had pounced on the controversy like an eager child that has re-discovered its favourite toy. But, its enthusiasm was later dampened by reports that rebutted the claim. Several reports exposed the holes in Hukum’s theory.

It was established by several media organisations reporting from the ground that Kairana was battling a law and order problem. A war between gangs of local goons, unfortunately, was distorted by Hukum as an existential threat to Hindus. As Firstpost had argued then, it was yet another Malda moment — a mischievous misrepresentation of facts to raise the communal temperature of the state.

But, the BJP just can’t let Kairana go. It needs to continuously cry wolf to keep the electoral pot boiling. Why waste a good story for want of facts, no?

So, the BJP has entered the poll fray in Kairana with another Salim-Javed inspired slogan: Maa-behno ki aan mein, BJP maidan mein. Let’s hope they don’t forget to put Nihalchand Meghwal’s picture on posters to convey its concern for mabehen.

It is unfortunate that the BJP has to go back to communal dog whistles to win UP. With the current Mahabharata in the Mulayam Singh Yadav parivar, rising anti-incumbency, disarray in the Congress whose leader Rahul Gandhi is competing in dialogue-baazi with corny stuff like ‘khoon ki dalali’ and the confusion among Mayawati’s supporters, the election should have been a cakewalk for the BJP.

UP2017

Instead of going back to its regressive politics, the party could have worked on addressing the fault lines, healing the fragmented polity and society of the state and selling a development agenda for the state. But, its focus on emotive issues shows it lacks the courage to digress from its favourite formula.

Maybe, Rajnath is right. Perhaps it takes maa ka doodh to chart out a new path in a state as important as UP.

Black buck case: Court completes hearing of arguments from Salman Khan’s side

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jodhpur court on Monday completed hearing of arguments from Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s side in the black bucks poaching case.Khan’s counsel Hastimal Saraswat has been arguing with the then Forest Officer Lalit Bora, who had first registered the case against the actor on the basis of the statements of Harish Dulani, driver of the vehicle allegedly used in the poaching by Khan.”We have completed arguments with Bora and now the counsels of the co-accused would begin arguments from tomorrow,” Saraswat said.Besides Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and two others are the co-accused in this case. Dinesh Gawre has been missing and the investigation against him is pending. The case against them was registered on the complaint of Bora for alleged poaching of two black bucks in Kankani area near here on October 1-2, 1998.The court had granted Saraswat permission to recall Bora in September. But Bora could not appear due to ill-health.Along with this plea, Saraswat had also sought permission from the court to produce a video cassette with the recording of statements of Khan immediately after the registration of case against him.”There were some apparent difference between the written statements and those recorded during interrogation by Bora. In order to address that difference, we wanted to see the video recording of those statements,” said Saraswat.

Those burning schools in Kashmir want children to become terrorists: Anupam Kher

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bollywood veteran actor Anupam Kher on Sunday said that elements burning down schools in the valley are anti- children and want young aspiring students to be illiterate and try to pollute their mind.’People who are burning schools are anti-children, they just want our students to remain illiterate and adopt terrorism,’ he said.’They (perpetrators) want them (students) to remain illiterate so that they can pollute their mind and radicalize them. Instead of becoming of a good citizen of this country and make their life better, they will go and follow a certain path which is not good for them and not good for us,’ he added. The actor further asserted that these recent developments indicated an entirely new form of terrorism. The Centre had last week asked the Mehbooba Mufti-led state government to check such attempts and make efforts for the reopening of schools which have been closed since July 9. Expressing concern over the burning down of schools in the Kashmir Valley, the National Panthers Party (NPP) has called for the imposition of Governor’s rule in the state, claiming that an atmosphere of complete chaos exists and needs to be quelled. Earlier, Shafiq Mir, who was part of the 30-member delegation of an apex body representing 4,000 village panchayats of the state, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and got assurance of taking all steps to pacify the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

PM Modi set to be mascot of ‘Incredible India’ campaign; Tourism ministry plans to use radio, audio release

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to be the mascot of ‘Incredible India’ campaign with the Tourism Ministry finally deciding to do away with plans to rope in any Bollywood stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, for the role which was lying vacant after ouster of Aamir Khan earlier this year.No Bollywood actor will be engaged for the campaign aimed at attracting foreign travellers and video footages of Modi during the last two-and-a-half years where he has talked about tourism in India and abroad, will be used for the campaign, a senior ministry official said.The ministry is planning to use — for radio and audio release — two types of videos of different durations where Modi had talked about the uniqueness and diversity of the various places in the country, the official said.At present, the ministry is “working on selecting the footages”, the official said, adding that the campaign would be released in the next 40-45 days as the Indian ‘tourism season’ starts by November-end due to favourable weather as also the Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations.The official said the process of selecting the agency, which will carry out the task of running the campaign, is also under the process.Earlier, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma had endorsed Modi’s persona for the role, saying he is the “best face” to promote Incredible India campaign. He had asserted that the country has witnessed a jump in the tourists inflow from the countries the Prime Minister had visited.He had said that the ministry need not have any Bollywood face for the campaign to attract tourists from overseas.”The perception about India has changed significantly in the last two years with Prime Minister Modi visiting a host of countries during the period. So, who else could be the better face for Indian tourism than our Prime Minister,” Sharma had said.Supporting Sharma’s remarks, a senior ministry official said tourist inflow from countries like the US, Germany, Fiji, Brazil, Australia, the UK, Canada and Myanmar, among others, has witnessed a significant jump after Modi’s visit to these nations.Earlier names of megastar Amitabh Bachchan and actress Priyanka Chopra were doing rounds for the campaign aimed at promoting India as a favourite tourist destination abroad after actor Aamir Khan’s ouster as the campaign’s brand ambassador.Though it was believed that Khan was eased out of the campaign in January after being associated with it for several years for his remarks on perceived intolerance, the Tourism Ministry had maintained that he was not hired by the government and that the contract with the advertising agency which engaged him had expired.

Trouble for Rakhi Sawant, FIR filed for wearing attire with PM Modi’s pictures

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wearing an attire with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has landed Bollywood actress Rakhi Sawant in trouble.An FIR has been lodged against her at the Kankroli police station for “allegedly indulging in obscenity and defaming the PM.””On the basis of the photos circulated on social media, a local advocate Prajeet Tiwari had lodged the complaint yesterday,” SHO Kankroli police station Laxman Ram said.”The complainant has alleged that Sawant insulted the PM by wearing a dress with pictures of the PM in August,” he said.The FIR was registered under several sections of IPC and relevant sections of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act. The matter is being investigated, he added.Sawant wore a dress which had pictures of PM Modi printed all over it on her US trip in August.

Famous Indian lion Ram dies of old age in Gir forest

One of India’s oldest and most popular lions in the wild dies in the forests of Gujarat state.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma addresses New Zealand PM John Key ‘His excellency PM McCullum’

New Delhi: Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma made a faux pas at an event in New Delhi when he addressed New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key as “McCullum”.

The event was organised to promote New Zealand tourism in India and, apart from Sharma and Key, Brendon McCullum, who earlier skippered that country’s cricket team in all three forms of the game, was also present.

The gaffe happened when Sharma began his speech, addressing Key as “His excellency Prime Minister McCullum”.

A file photo of Union Minister of Culture ad Tourism, Mahesh Sharma. Reuters

A file photo of Union Minister of Culture ad Tourism, Mahesh Sharma. Reuters

Moments after the minister made the blunder, Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, who is New Zealand tourism’s ambassador in India, rose to speak but could not recall Sharma’s name. After fumbling for a few seconds, he said wittily “It’s payback time”.

The event was aimed at promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries and, ignoring the mix-up, Key said New Zealand is looking forward to having more Indian tourists visiting the nation.

He said getting Malhotra on board was their way of attracting youngsters from India to visit the country which is one of the best destinations for adventure and nature tourism.

Malhotra, who visited New Zealand last year to shoot some promotional videos, was presented an All Blacks (rugby team) jersey by the Prime Minister and, to honour the foreign dignitary on his India visit, the actor gifted him a handmade lion depicting confidence and power.

The 31-year-old actor will be travelling across New Zealand for around 10 days to shoot a new set of promotional videos.

Intolerance 2.0: What Shabana Azmi’s tirade reveals about the new strategy of ‘liberals’

The Ae Dil Hai Mushkil kerfuffle and the positioning of narratives around it remind me of a joke we frequently ran into while attending exams as badly unprepared students. It talked of an unfortunate learner who went into the exam hall expecting an essay on ‘funeral pyre’ but found one on ‘cows’ instead. Not to be outdone, the plucky student introduced in his essay a cow which had died and upon its death was taken to a burning ghat. The rest fell into place.

Shabana Azmi. Image courtesy CNN-News18Shabana Azmi. Image courtesy CNN-News18

Shabana Azmi. Image courtesy CNN-News18

MNS chief Raj Thackeray‘s bullying ways have given a section of our ‘liberals’, who still have immense difficulty in accepting Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister, one more chance to bare their fangs. The unfolding of events since Karan Johar posted a video message leave no space for doubt that we are witnessing a revival of the phony ‘intolerance’ debate. And Intolerance 2.0 is being spearheaded by the same set of ‘intellectuals’, the tiny yet powerful elite whose sway over the narrative is matched only by its savage intolerance and callous disregard for facts.

As always, the narrative is being spun through a clever conflation of facts and myths. The springboard is a regional party’s thuggish exploitation of the nationalism debate to haul itself out of obscurity. This isn’t the first time MNS has indulged in hafta politics nor will it be the last. Opportunism is the hallmark of politicians and the Indians do it perhaps with less finesse than others.

We have seen how Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar or Bengal’s ruling party the TMC have tried to stonewall Muslim women’s call for gender justice by conflating the triple talaq debate with common civil code to trigger alarmism among the Muslim community. We have seen how Congress vice-president rush to the JNU to show solidarity with subversive sloganeering. We have seen how anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal hug Lalu Prasad Yadav on stage.

Raj Thackeray‘s attempt to extort moviemakers or narrow down the definition of patriotism to the extent that it could be used as a beating stick is an abominable act that should be condemned in the strictest of terms. But to conflate MNS chief’s narrow hooliganism with the larger debate around nationalism and to assign conspiratorial motives to the government to build the familiar narrative of intolerance requires a special type of skill.

Noted economist and author Sanjeev Sanyal, in his column for Project Syndicate (Taming India’s Elite), writes: “India has a population of 1.2 billion people, but it has long been dominated by a tiny elite: a couple of hundred extended families, totaling perhaps 4,000-5,000 people. Many countries have powerful elites with outsize influence, but in India, dynastic elites control the top echelons in every sphere of public life: politics, business, the media, and even Bollywood.

“Many of these dynasties have roots that stretch back to the colonial era, implying at least seven decades of dominance. Every point of leverage – from government contracts and industrial licenses to national awards – is used to maintain this ecosystem of power.”

Bollywood actor Shabana Azmi, who had earlier called the award wapsi campaign (spearheaded by Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece, 88-year-old writer Nayantara Sahgal) a “symbolic gesture against rising intolerance”, has now accused Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of colluding with Raj Thackeray and “buying patriotism for Rs 5 crore.”

In an interview with NDTV‘s Barkha Dutt, the noted actor slammed the role of RSS, brought sensational charges of backroom dealing between MNS chief Thackeray and Maharashtra CM Fadnavis and saw signs of a terrifying new reality against which she urged the ‘silent majority’ to raise its voice or be a frog in boiling water.

Azmi is more than entitled to her views and right to dissent. But as a responsible public figure, one expects her arguments to be based on facts. Many of the theories she propounds during the interview, however, flies in the face of facts as we shall presently examine.

To a question on whether the film industry failed to rise against a bully, Azmi said: “A lot of money goes into the making of a film. When a person is taking a stand against the establishment, he is putting at risk all the various people involved with him into the making of the film… It’s about a lack of confidence that we have in our law enforcing agencies.”

Now let’s see the whether the government, both at the Centre and the state, were guilty of abdicating their responsibilities. In an unusual move, not only did the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh meet the Producers Guild and assured safe passage for Johar’s ADHM, CM Fadnavis cracked the whip and arrested 12 MNS members who were sent to judicial custody until 4 November.

Azmi, however, saw it as Sangh Parivar’s penchant for doublespeak and went on to bring charges of political collusion between Fadnavis and Thackeray “because everybody gains from this.”

“The fact is that there have been instances in the past where there have been political parties and goons who have said that we will not a film to be released and they have been firmly put in their place which is exactly what should have happened.”

It stretches credulity that Azmi is unaware of how MNS had targeted Bollywood in the past and how those instances were eventually settled.

She may recall that in 2008-09, when the Congress was in power in Maharashtra, MNS “banned” all forthcoming films of Amitabh Bachchan and his family members to ostensibly protest against Jaya Bachchan’s “anti-Marathi’ utterances at a film function. The party threatened to create mayhem unless Jaya tendered “unconditional apology”.

As Reuters reported on 11 September 2008, posters of Amitabh’s film The Last Lear were ripped off and a theatre screening the film vandalised, forcing its producers to call off the premiere. Thackeray called off his boycott only after Amitabh tendered multiple apologies through his blog and at a news conference. Does this sound as if Congress government “put Raj firmly in place”?

Then in 2009, once again under Congress ruling, MNS workers protested outside theatres in Maharashtra, demanding that ‘Bombay’ be renamed ‘Mumbai’ in Karan Johar’s Wake Up Sid. Johar eventually apologised for the “mistake” and agreed to bring back the film reels and re-dub Bombay to Mumbai.

So will Azmi bring charges of collusion against MNS and Congress? Where there any backroom deals under way then?

It is nobody’s case that a ruffian can hold a state machinery to ransom. But Azmi would know that just she has every right to dissent against the government, political parties, too, have the right to stage protests. It isn’t as if the state was watching in rapt admiration when Thackeray unleashed his goons. So the basis on which she fields a theory of “collusion” isn’t clear.

Azmi then launched an elaborate tirade against banning of Pakistani artists.

“By banning film actors from Pakistan is the Kashmir problem going to be solved? Is any problem going to be solved at all?”

Once again, it isn’t clear what she meant because the Centre, through foreign secretary S Jaishankar, has made it clear that people-to-people connect will continue and the home ministry has said India has no problems in issuing visas to Pakistani artists.

So whom was Azmi venting her frustration at?

On why Karan Johar did meet the MNS when the CM had promised security, Azmi floated another theory but in doing so, based it on a giant leap of faith.

“I do not think it is simple as it looks. Karan would have been very reassured after the HM assured safe passage. Something else has transpired which we have not been able to see. And it is on the basis of that that Karan had to approach the CM. Isn’t that apparent?”

During a meeting with a few journalists following the controversy, Fadnavis clarified that Guild “did not want to meet Thackeray at his residence and asked if I would hold the meeting here. Since I was keen on a resolution of the issue, I agreed.”

He further said: “The Guild approached me to discuss the problem with MNS. At the meeting, I made it very clear that the government will not compromise on law and order. I cited the fact that my police force had cracked the whip against 12 MNS activists and would do the same if they took the law in their hands.”

To this, Azmi said: “Ha ha ha ha. How innocent! I don’t buy that for a second.”

On the interviewer’s prompt that Fadnavis said it was Johar who volunteered for the donation, not Raj Thackeray, Azmi said: “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it at all. I think to even ask of such a thing is very insulting to the army. And I am very proud of the army.”

It is absolutely fantastic the way she shows absolute certainty in her arguments that stretch all boundaries of imagination. She appears dismissive of facts and spins elaborate conspiracy theories with the deftness of a Ludhianvi Shayari.

Manohar Parrikar on MNS-Karan Johar ‘deal’: Contributions to Army welfare fund are voluntary

New Delhi: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar today made it clear that donation to the Army was “voluntary” and he does not appreciate “holding of someone’s neck”, amid a row over the MNS diktat asking film producers employing Pakistani actors to pay Rs 5 core to the Army Welfare Fund.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photoDefence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photo

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI/File photo

The Army is upset over being dragged into politics.

“The concept is voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone [sic]. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference in the capital.

The defence minister said the concept behind the newly created Battle Casualty Fund was to ensure that all those people who wanted to donate voluntarily for welfare of the family of martyrs could do so.

“There will be a scheme managed by MoD with assistance from Adjutant General Branch concerned. It is a voluntary donation and therefore we are not concerned with anyone demanding something to be donated to that,” he said.

He said the ministry is formulating a scheme through which all families of martyrs will be helped equally.

The controversy erupted after Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ran into a storm of protests led by MNS because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan has a cameo in it.

The film has been allowed to be released after its producers met with three conditions put forward by MNS chief Raj Thackeray, including payment of Rs 5 crore to Army Welfare Fund.

“All contributions (to the welfare fund) are voluntary. Extortion is not allowed. We would want people to contribute on their own rather than under any coercion,” a senior army official had said.

Army sources said that they have a system in place to check all contributions and can even reject a contribution made under duress or by any person whom the force does not want to be associated with.

Shiv Sena takes a dig at Maha CM Fadnavis over ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushki’ controversy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The developments pertaining to the release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, were “horrible, ruthless and have rubbed salt into the wounds of martyred soldiers”, Shiv Sena on Monday said taking a dig at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. On October 22, under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” as MNS withdrew its threat to stall the screening. Johar accompanied by Producers’ Guild President Mukesh Bhatt had met Fadnavis at his home ‘Varsha’ in South Mumbai here where Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, whose party has been opposing the release, was also present. “A lot has happened behind the curtains and all opposition to the film was diluted in the cup of tea at ‘Varsha’. We do not want to get into who lost and who won but the whole episode has insulted our martyred soldiers,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. “(BJP) Central leaders are threatening Pakistan and boasting about surgical strikes. But none of them have the courage to say that films having Pakistani artistes will not be allowed to be released. Pakistan has violated ceasefire around 25 times after the surgical strikes and nobody is bothered about it. Here, everyone is rallying behind film producers seeing them in trouble,” it said. As per the editorial, Fadnavis had the opportunity to show that there is a “56-inch chest” government in place now, that has much more spine than the previous-Congress led government, which was “pro-Pakistan.” “Masks of many came off after the tea session at ‘Varsha’. Karan Johar was asked to pay Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund in lieu of release of his film. Is the sacrifice of our soldiers worth this much? The developments of the entire episode is horrible, ruthless and have rubbed salt into the wounds of martyred soldiers,” the Sena said.”Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in lead roles, will release on October 28.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil row: Karan Johar, MNS or Devendra Fadnavis, the real winner will emerge after film release

Who won?

Karan Johar, who now got the approval to screen his Diwali release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on 28 October? No, he had to pay a price, along with other Bollywood producers, for agreeing to not cast any Pakistani artiste in their productions henceforth. It was rather a step down for Bollywood which saw art without boundaries.

Is it Raj Thackeray’s victory? Does not seem so at all. His party’s cine cell chief’s threat of “we’ll beat up” such filmmakers has lost its purpose. His party has settled to a claim that the producer has agreed to credit Rs 5 crore to the Army Relief Fund.

The move appears to be some sort of penitence to secure some reprieve. But Raj Thackeray only gained one thing: That his party believed in muscle, and has earned a stamp of being an ‘extortionist’ party. But it does not matter to the MNS. It ploughs its furrow its way.

Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.

Poster of Karan Johar film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.

Devendra Fadanavis? He will be seen as a person who negotiates with those who threaten than deal with the threat-issuers. A threat, so blatant, so brazen, cannot be taken as one of those statements that political parties issue now and then and that the media print and government watches.

The real test of the outcome is ahead, on and after 28 October. Now that the film has been ‘allowed’ to be screened, would the MNS cadre, and others who dislike Pakistani actors, musicians and cricketers in India, go watch it in multiplexes? After all, their conscience has been cleared – some atonement has come from the guilty.

This time, the producers and actors did not promote the film by generating a controversy or taking the crew to hop TV studios. This time, the controversy has been imposed upon the movie. Those who believe that it is wrong to curb artistic sensibilities by banning Pakistani artistes crowd the multiplexes, but there is still a question mark on its success.

At least, the success measured by box office returns. Kitna crore kiya hai is the measure of a movie’s success. However, with the single-screen theatres remaining firm on not screening them really cuts the number of seats that could be sold to the audience.

This segment fears vandalism, but speaks of “sentiments” of the people. They speak of the “prevailing public sentiment” against Pakistan and in guarded whispers, they talk about the fears of damage to their properties. It can be a matter of abundant caution or an apprehension that the hotheads of the confrontational party cadre can still pose risks. Moreover, the MNS is not the only party that wears its ‘patriotism’ or ‘nationalism’ on its sleeves. Lot of imponderables are there.

The attendance at the multiplexes will also be a test of the depth of public opinion on the issue of casting Pakistani artistes in Indian movies. But public mood can play havoc with businesses and movies in India. Art is a claim in most cases.

Meanwhile, after the Uri terror attack and the surgical strikes along the Line of Control, China’s refusal to help get terrorists in Pakistan on the UN list have led to a call for boycott of Chinese goods with regard to Diwali related items on social media. There has been a precipitous drop in their sales. Jaipur has reported 40 percent decline, even though the alternative was relatively expensive. Delhi, likewise.

We will know where we stand on or after 28 October.

BJP will ruin country: Kejriwal on Fadnavis’ role in ADHM row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday lashed out at the BJP over his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis’ role in mediating talks between the MNS and fimmakers in ensuring release of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. “BJP will ruin the country,” Kejriwal tweeted, agreeing to another post that described the solutions arrived at as “extortionist”. MNS chief Raj Thackeray has faced flak from various quarters, including the Army, over his conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with including a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund. Fadnavis has also been facing criticism from the Opposition parties for “bowing” to the highhanded tactics of the MNS and “failing” to ensure rule of law in Maharashtra. Under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers had yesterday announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”.MNS had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Johar has agreed to put a special mention in the beginning of the film paying homage to martyrs, a move to assuage sentiments in the country triggered by the terror attack on an army base in Uri that claimed the lives of 19 security personnel. Thackeray said MNS laid down three conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with. These include a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to release on schedule, MNS caves in, calls off protest

Film and Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt and filmmaker Karan Johar met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday to discuss the release of the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

Fadnavis met Johar and Bhatt at his residence ‘Varsha’ in Mumbai along with Raj Thackeray, whose party had been opposing the release of the upcoming movie as Pakistani actor Fawad Khan features in the film.

Producers Sidharth Roy Kapur, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios were also present in the meeting.

After the meeting, Bhatt announced that it was decided that Johar will put a special mention paying homage to the Indian soldiers who were killed in the Uri terror attack at the beginning of the film and also announced that the producers guild will not be working with Pakistani artistes in the future.

Addressing the media, he said, “We had a very constructive meeting on how to resolve the unfortunate events that have happened before the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.Poster of Karan Johar film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'.

Poster of Karan Johar film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.

“On behalf of my fraternity, I have shared the emotions of the filmmakers that we are Indians first and our Indian sentiments are more important to us than our business. We have come to an understanding to prove what we mean. I assured the chief minister and Raj Thackeray that the guild has taken a decision with the larger interest of the country that we will not work with any more Pakistani artistes,” he said.

He added that keeping in spirit with the national sentiments, Johar has offered to put a slate honouring the soldiers killed in the Uri attack.

“Bollywood producers as well as Johar will also contribute to the army welfare fund to the Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. We believe that we owe this to the army,” Bhatt said.

After the meeting ended, a spokesperson for the MNS said, “We will not oppose Ae Dil Hai Mushkil‘s release.”

On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured Bhatt that the film will get a safe and secure release in theatres on 28 October — two days before Diwali.

A delegation led by Bhatt had met Singh, who assured them a “great Diwali” with the release of the film.

Following the 18 September Uri attack and Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control, heightened tension between India and Pakistan had a spillover effect on Bollywood. It sparked off a debate whether Pakistani artistes should be allowed to work in India or not.

While MNS issued an ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to leave India, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association passed a resolution asking producers to avoid working with talents from Pakistan. And Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which stars popular Pakistani artiste Fawad Khan, became the first target

Earlier this week, seeking to calm tempers over opposition to the release of his directorial venture, Johar had made a fervent appeal against stalling the release, saying he will not engage with talent from Pakistan in future.

However, MNS chose to dismiss it and said that reality had dawned late on Johar and continued with their agitation leading to the arrest of 12 party activists, who have been sent in judicial custody till 4 November.

Before Saturday’s meeting Johar had called on Fadnavis on Thursday after which the CM had said, “the state government would like to reaffirm that the government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine but unlawful activity will not be tolerated.”

With inputs from agencies

Pakistan bans all Indian TV and radio as tensions mount

All Indian TV and radio programmes are now off air in Pakistan, following a spike in tension between the two countries over disputed Kashmir.

Rajasthan govt requests SC for urgent hearing against Salman Khan’s acquittal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajasthan Government on Thursday requested the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing against Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s acquittal after moving the apex court on Wednesday challenging the Rajasthan High Court’s verdict in the twin Chinkara poaching cases.The Rajasthan High Court on July 25 had acquitted Salman of all charges in the two cases related to poaching of Chinkaras in Jodhpur in 1998 while holding that the pellets recovered from the Chinkaras were not fired from Khan’s licensed gun.The High Court’s decision were countering two trial court’s verdict convicting the Bollywood actor and handing him one and five years of imprisonment, following which the superstar had to spend 13 days in jail.Salman was convicted by a lower court in 2006 in the two chinkara cases, but this was overturned by the High Court in its judgment Monday.One of the animals was killed at Bhawad on the outskirts of Jodhpur on September 26, 1998, and the other at Ghoda Farms on September 28, 1998.At that time, they were shooting for film ‘Hum Sath Sath Hain’.Chinkara is an endangered animal accorded the highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act.

Rajasthan government moves Supreme Court against Salman Khan’s aquittal in Chinkara kiling cases

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajasthan government on Wednesday filed appeal in the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Bollywood actor Salman Khan by the High Court in two chinkara poaching cases.On July 25, Salman was acquitted by the High Court while setting aside the trial court’s conviction and sentence to five year jail term for killing two chinkaras in separate incidents 18 year ago.The appeal would come up for hearing after Diwali holidays.In the appeal, the state government said “the high court has erroneously exercised it’s revisional powers to set aside concurrent findings of both the lower courts which convicted Salman.””That minor discrepancies in trial shall never dilute the entire prosecution case and the high court has failed to see the entire circumstances which have proved beyond doubt against the actor,”as per the appeal.It contended that Salman khan had ample opportunity to cross examine the eye witness Harish Dulani, the driver of Zypsy and he intentionally did not examine him.The court should have accepted the statement given by the witness against Salman. Salman Khan’s conviction was based on material evidence which the high court has turned down on hyper technical issues which is unsustainable, the state said seeking reversal of high court order.In the first case, Salman had faced trial for killing the animal at Bhawad on the outskirts of Jodhpur on September 26, 1998, and the other at Ghoda Farms on September 28, 1998 during shooting for the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain.’Salman Khan moved the Jodhpur bench of the High Court to challenge his conviction by a lower court and award of one and five-year terms in the two poaching cases. His appeal was allowed and he was let of in the case.

Black buck poaching case: Rajasthan govt approaches SC against Salman Khan’s acquittal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajasthan Government on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court against Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s acquittal in two cases related to chinkara (black buck) poaching case.Rajasthan High Court on July 25 had acquitted Khan in the poaching case citing lack of evidence to incriminate him after he challenged the lower court’s verdict that had handed him one and five years’ imprisonment, respectively, in the two separate cases of poaching.”The government is studying the merits and demerits of the case and has decided to appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court,” NewsX quoted state Law Minister Rajendra Rathore as saying.A case had been registered against Khan under the Arms Act for alleged possession and use of arms with expired license during poaching of two black bucks at village Kankani near Jodhpur in October 1998.Salman was convicted in 2007 for hunting and killing two endangered chinkara deer and one black buck in Rajasthan in 1998. He has spent time in a Jodhpur jail twice. Both animals are protected and killing them is a punishable offence.In 2007, he was sentenced to five years in jail and is currently out on bail in the case. But in 2013, the Rajasthan High Court suspended the conviction to make it easier for the actor to travel to the United Kingdom to shoot for a film.

Anurag Kashyap has raised a valid question; Prime Minister Narendra Modi must answer

It takes some courage to ask questions these days — and Anurag Kashyap has displayed plenty of it, in asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi why he has not apologised to the nation for his trip to Pakistan last year.

The reaction on social media and in the real world, has been predictable. Kashyap has been subjected to the vilest of criticism from key-board patriots and jingoists of all denominations. As is usual, foul-mouthed elements have taken charge, egged on by hyper-nationalistic sections in the media. Kashyap, no stranger to controversies, can take all that in his stride. However, he has asked a question that needs to be answered with due seriousness.

Anurag Kashyap's tweet to PM Narendra Modi is about how the interests of people like him, and colleague Karan Johar, who make financial investments under certain assumptions, can be protectedAnurag Kashyap's tweet to PM Narendra Modi is about how the interests of people like him, and colleague Karan Johar, who make financial investments under certain assumptions, can be protected

Anurag Kashyap’s tweet to PM Narendra Modi expresses support for embattled colleague Karan Johar

On the face of it, it makes no sense to drag the Prime Minister into an issue he has nothing to do with directly. Films are far removed from the world he operates in; however, the issue here is not confined to films alone. As Kashyap points out elsewhere, it is about protecting people like him. It is also about the positive business environment Modi loves talking about.

Kashyap tweeted:

He batted for Karan Johar, whose latest film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, has run into trouble after threats from local political outfits over the presence of Pakistani artistes in it.

Let’s keep aside sentiments and try to understand the matter with some clarity: Films are like business projects with a long gestation period. When Johar started his project, India’s relationship with Pakistan was looking up. The Prime Minister himself had given it a boost by his surprise visit to the country. It was all bonhomie and ‘good neighbours’ talk then.

Since there was no tension in the air and the political leadership sought deeper engagement with Pakistan, Johar and others in the industry roped in artistes from that country without hesitation. They obviously took it for granted that the equations would remain unchanged and invested financially in the projects. A few months later, the chill set in. The ruling establishment, with Modi in the lead, was now singing the opposite tune. The mob took over the discourse soon, demanding boycott of films featuring artistes from Pakistan. Filmmakers’ investments were immediately at risk.

Now, how fair is this? When the government headed by the Prime Minister does policy flip-flops, why should others pay the price? Tomorrow, the government’s position might change. Under whatever circumstances, change of heart being one of them, it might encourage friendly relations with Pakistan. People who trust it may get into financial commitments again — and suffer when it changes its mind a few days later. There’s something inherently silly in this. Policies require stability; these cannot work on whims. Because on them ride several long-term commitments, financial and otherwise. This applies to all businesses, not only to films.

Read: Anurag Kashyap tweets to PM Modi, asks him to apologise for Pakistan trip

Interestingly, the BJP in its long campaign in the run-up to the general elections of 2014 had made a huge noise over policy stability. It had accused the UPA government of creating an environment of policy uncertainty that was driving away investment. Karan Johar may be a small player in the context of India’s big business universe, but his losses are still losses, aren’t they? Who’s going to protect him? India and Pakistan have a trade engagement worth more than $2.5 billion. Obviously, it involves a lot of businessmen from the Indian side, which remains on the sunny side of the balance of trade. There may be demands to stop their businesses too.

Yes, the Prime Minister must answer Kashyap’s question; at least, he can think of a solution to the problem of the unstable business environment. Because around him revolves all policies, including the Pakistan policy. People take his message on policies seriously — when it is positive, people like Johar jump in to capitalise on it; when it is negative, all kinds of rabid elements take it as licence to harass their own countrymen. A word of sympathy from him to the likes of Johar would do them a world of good, in terms of confidence. The least he can assure them is that their business interests would be protected in case of a policy shift.

Kudos to Kashyap for not hedging his words. He can ignore the hate brigade.

No work visas for Pakistani artistes, BJP leader Ashish Shelar writes to Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai BJP unit chief Ashish Shelar on Friday demanded that Pakistani artistes should neither get work permits or visas in India. He has penned a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in this regard.”If Pakistani actors are not going to get any work here then there is no point in giving them any work permits or visas,” Shelar has written in the letter.The BJP leader welcomed the Cinema Owners Associations decision not to exhibit any film having Pakistani actors saying the association has displayed its national pride. The Association has taken the decision in light of the surgical strike carried out by the army and the resultant public opinion, he said.”Even noted playback singer Asha Bhosale and several other artists have voiced their opposition to Pakistani artistes coming here for work,” Shelar added.Pakistani actor Fawad Khan starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is set to release on October 28, while another Pakistani actor Mahira Khan starrer Raees is slated to be released on January 26. Raj-Thackeray-led MNS has already issued a warning that it will not allow the release of the two films.The Centre however has no plans to revoke the visas granted to Pakistani artistes working in Bollywood notwithstanding the current tensions with that country.”There is no proposal to revoke the visas granted to Pakistani artistes working in India,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

MNS leader on Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: ‘If Karan Johar decides to release the film, I’ll beat him up’

MNS leader on Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: ‘If Karan Johar decides to release the film, I’ll beat him up’

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It seems like Karan Kohar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is jinxed.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Cine Owners Association has demanded that no films with Pakistani actors should be released in theatres.

MNS Leader Amey Khopkar allegedly said with a lot of emphasis, “If Karan Johar decides to release the film, I’ll beat him up.”

Poster of 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'Poster of 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'

Poster of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’

He also said, “All single screen theaters have decided that they won’t release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. We wont allow any Pakistani artists to release their films in theater.”

Khopkar further added the multiplex owners agreed with the ban on Pakistani films and they will issue a letter about this tomorrow on 15 October.

On being asked to comment on the monetary loses Indian producers will face because of this ban, he added, “At a time like this, we cannot worry about profits and loss”

The Times of India had previously quoted Nitin Datar, COEAI’s president, as saying about the film, “The members will be meeting and we’ll decide on the matter. But one thing is for certain — the decision will be taken keeping the wishes and the sentiment of the public. We won’t go against them.”

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil stars Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.

Amitabh Bachchan says it is time to express solidarity with our soldiers

Mumbai: Amid the demand for ban on Pakistani actors after the Uri terror attack, megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday said the nation is incensed and it is time to express solidarity with the Indian jawans.

Amitabh Bachchan. GettyImages

Amitabh Bachchan. GettyImages

To a question regarding the issue during a press conference in Mumbai on the occasion of his birthday on Tuesday, Bachchan also said he respects all artistes.

Following the Uri attack, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS had raised objection to Pakistani artistes working in India.

When asked if Bollywood is divided over supporting Pakistani artistes working in India, Bachchan said, “With folded hands, I request you that this is not the time and I don’t think it is right to put forward these questions.”

The megastar, who turned 74 on Tuesday, felt that considering the grave situation at the border one should express solidarity with Indian soldiers.

“Who said what and why, where and how, this is not the time for it. The nation is incensed, the people of this country are very angry by the incidents that are happening at our border,” he said.

“I think it is time to express solidarity with our jawans, armed forces who are sacrificing their life so that you and me can be safe now. That’s what needs to be put in question and nothing else.”

When asked if an artiste from a country should be banned or not, he said, “I have answered this question earlier. I respect all artistes.”

Bachchan refuted reports that he would be singing a song for Uri martyrs.

“This is not correct. I was in New Delhi where a Member of Parliament was acknowledging the Hanuman Chalisa, Ganpati aarti and he said I should sing for this (Uri martyrs). I said yes ok but I need some inputs. I think he went and said I should sing (for Uri martyrs), and from ‘should’ it became ‘will’, you (media) know better how it happens,” he said.

Shiv Sena leader, others booked for opposing Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s participation in Ramleela

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena district chief Mukesh Sharma and 19 others were booked on Friday on charges of promoting enmity and public mischief for opposing Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in taking part in a Ramleela at his native place in Budhana, a senior police official said.Siddiqui had pulled out of the Ramleela programme on Thursday due to opposition by the right-wing activists following which it was cancelled.”Police has registered a case against 20 Shiv Sena activists, including district chief Mukesh Sharma, for opposing the film star today,” Senior Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar said. They have been booked under IPC sections 153(a)–promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and 505(2)– statements conducing to public mischief. Sharma is absconding, he added.The actor was to play Maarich, a rakshasa (demon), because the demon wanted to be killed by the arrows of Ram. But, the organisers had to cancel the programme after the activists approached them and expressed their displeasure over Nawazuddin’s participation.The District authorities had said police would provide security to Nawazuddin but he decided to pull out of Ramleela.

Why asking for a ban on Pakistani artistes isn’t as preposterous as it sounds

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The problem with debates these days is that they get hijacked by nutcases. The latest example is the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association’s decision to ban Pakistani artists till ‘normalcy returns’ and greater debate around it. The ‘Ban Pak Artists’ debate has divided the nation and drawn new battle lines in Bollywood. While Salman Khan surprised people by saying Pakistani artistes aren’t terrorists, Karan Johar believed that sending Fawad Khan home wasn’t the solution and that if it was, then one would take it. This was all the cue needed for singer Abhijeet to come out with the most shoddily constructed tweet by a blue ticked Twitter account whose name wasn’t Donald Trump. He wrote on Twitter: “Another love jihad. Mehbooba Karan Johar in depression. Pak lover Fawad ditched bechari Mrs Karan Johar Khan. Fawad left and said Talaq Talaq Talaq to Karan Johar.”While it’s fascinating how one can be racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic and irk grammar Nazis with one statement, analysing the depths of his depravity is beyond the scope of this article.The real problem that Abhijeet and his kind present is that they destroy any scope for a civilised debate on an issue. This, in turn, convinces individuals on the other side of the debate that they are right. It’s the problem with cause of nationalism where the worst-of-the-worst jump on the bandwagon. Chest-thumping anchors who act like they’re the ones taking the bullets as they mock-shout at Pakistani expert to bolster their patriotic credentials.That these networks pay a lot to ‘Pak experts’ to turn up and be shouted at is an interesting tangent. Others who support nationalist cause include out-of-work politicians working hard to remain relevant as they try to replace nationalism with regional chauvinism as their raison d’etre. If they had their way, Pakistan and India would be at war right now.On the other side, there are the humanitarians and liberals who will have you believe that Pakistani are just our brethren. These individuals, despite the ‘liberal’ moniker they carry, tend to become rabid at the mention of the topic, treating it with as much disdain as a Bengali treats paneer biryani. These individuals constantly blow that trumpet that India and Pakistan are very similar, that the people of these two nations have no hatred for each other. That sadly is a statement with little evidence to back it up. Both sides, by virtue of their loud shouting matches, are missing the woods for the trees. As a kid, I spent a few years at a Kendriya Vidyalaya and many of my schoolmates whose fathers were in the army were unable to understand why the media were so dismissive of the sacrifices of our defence forces. Sure we paid our respects and told their family’s sob stories but the moment there was silence from across the border, we’d run to normalise relationships with the country across the border. And we did this despite constant evidence that they want anything but peace.Ever since the horrific 1993 blasts in Mumbai, Pakistan has been used as a base to time and again carry out terrorist attacks all over India. Terrorist masterminds roam around with impunity, organising protests and everyone seems to know that underworld don and 93-blast accused Dawood Ibrahim lives in Karachi. Even their Chief Justice has lamented to the Pakistan press that there were political parties in the country which were spreading terror. While the Uri attack will long be imprinted in our national consciousness, that terrorists tried to enter an Army camp in Baramulla just a week later suggests that there’s going to be no let-up from the other side. This means what we can longer afford to behave like an ostrich when it comes to our Pakistan problem. The demand for a ban on Pakistani artistes is just a small part of the larger game which will probably include economic sanctions and providing proof of Pakistan’s misdoings on global fora. We seem to be getting some traction in that regard with most nations backing India’s surgical strike or staying neutral about it. And Pakistan is a big problem for the international community as well, with an extremely prickly establishment that doesn’t shy away from the N-word when there is always the nightmare scenario of Jihadis getting their hand on the nuclear warheads.None of this makes for pleasant reading, but it’s time we started living in the world that exists as opposed to the world we want to live in. Even though one swears by the tenets of pacificism as espoused by Bertrand Russel, if the British government had listened to him, we’d be living in a Nazi world right now. It’s not Fawad Khan’s fault and he certainly isn’t a terrorist, as Salman Khan pointed out, but the circumstances of his birth mean that he’s the citizen of a regime that actively supports terrorism and for that he will sadly suffer the consequences. Just like non-racist South Africans had to when living under a government that promoted apartheid which in turn forced the international community to virtually boycott them. It is actually rather strange that so many people in Bollywood, which is usually in touch with the pulse of the masses, are so out of touch with the national sentiment at the moment. In fact, it was two Bollywood veterans who spoke the uncomfortable truths about this particular issue. First, Mahesh Bhatt, who has been appealing for peace, asked Fawad Khan to ‘take a clear position and condemn terror when it happens on our soil’ as that would ‘bridge distances in moments like this’. Javed Akhtar also said the same thing but his statement had the inconvenient truth that Bhatt’s didn’t: “The silence of Pakistani actors is a form of confession that Pakistan is responsible for it (the attack). If Pakistan says they aren’t responsible for it, I don’t see any reason any Pakistani artiste should not condemn it. If they say, ‘We are not responsible’ then very good, come out and condemn it.”However, it’s unlikely that any Pakistani artiste will condemn acts of terror emanating from their homeland because, as Akhtar pointed out, their silence is an admission of guilt. Living under an intolerant regime also means condemning it will probably bring an actual threat to one’s life, unless they’re safely an Indian citizen like Adnan Sami.

Om Puri should feel lucky that he is in India after taking freedom of speech to a whole new level

I watched Om Puri on a TV panel discussion with awe and admiration. Awe because never have I heard such gibberish in my life. Admiration because the man underscored the Indian madness over film stars. If he wasn’t a film actor, he would have been indicted for sedition with twenty times the evidence we flung at Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU Students’ Union leader.

Om Puri. News18

Om Puri. News18

Om Puri did not cross the LoC of common sense. He trampled it with contempt and derision for Indian soldiers and talked such utter nonsense that it was difficult to grasp at even a tendril of common sense.

There wasn’t even a hint of the threadbare ho hum stance of intellectual pretension like we see in Salman Khan and Karan Johar and their tribe…here is the Defence Minister of Pakistan saying he will fling nuclear bombs at you and a cricketer like Javed Miandad telling the world that every child in Pakistan will rise up against India and if we could just keep a dignified silence, that would be fine but no, we have to denigrate ourselves and babble on about our being nice guys and art being separate.

So is sport, Sport, and I do not see the Miandads playing by the rules.

But this is all small beer compared to the drivel spouted by Om Puri. It was so breathtakingly anti–Indian that only in democratic India could he be in a position to go home, have a drink, eat dinner and sleep peacefully without being accountable to the state.

Some years back, he acted as General Zia Ul Haq in a film called Charlie Wilson’s War. Clearly, he hasn’t stepped out of his role.

After this absurd display of hubris and conceit, I think it is time we told Bollywood and all its other ‘…woods’ to put a sock in it.

To an extent, their excesses and their pretensions to grand intellect are our fault. We put them on the pedestals, venerate them, come out into the heat of the night to pay obeisance, turn them into demi-gods, carry their photographs, want to touch them, make huge posters and cutouts and give them space to believe they are philosophers who eclipse Socrates and Plato.

No wonder then that they believe they can afford to be outrageous and still be loved.

Take this Om Puri guy. Great actor whose self-delusion borders on the ridiculous. He babbles on about the armed forces, repeats some nonsensical litany of turning the subcontinent into Palestine and Israel like he had discovered the cure to cancer and embarrasses himself beyond belief.

If Bollywood is truly the great free spirit and vat of grand thought it pretends to be, let’s have the Salman Khans and the Karan Johars come out into the open and tell us that Om Puri had egg on his face and made a laughing stock of himself while indicting the whole film industry.

Will they do it? I doubt that very much. We live in perilous times and our nation is under attack. Wake up and smell the coffee, bitter as it is.

We do not need opinion, we need solidarity.
We don’t need placid pacifism, we need alertness.
We don’t need to kneel, we need to walk tall.

And we also need the Om Puris of India to zip it.

Militants take minority community members hostage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seemingly influenced by Bollywood, militants allegedly took two members of a minority community hostage to force the policemen guarding them to disarm before decamping with their five Self Loading Riffles (SLR) at Samnoo village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Monday.The incident occurred on Monday evening when a group of five to six militants surfaced in the village and allegedly took two members of minority community hostage forcing the policemen, guarding the hamlet, to surrender their weapons“Five riffles has been taken away by militants taking minority people as hostage. It was kind of hostage situation since minority people were in the hands of militants and our men could not fire. Safety of minority people were of paramount importance than weapons,” Shridhar Patil, superintendent of police, Kulgam, told dna.Police said militants took at least two members of the minority community hostage to force the policemen not to fire at them. “At least two people were taken hostage. They (policemen) were asked to give away their weapons.They did it just to save the minority people,” said Patil.Fear gripped the minuscule minority community living in the village after the incident. Police and other security forces immediately rushed reinforcements to the area to instill confidence among the people.“Situation is under control. We reached there within 10 minutes. We took them into confidence and adequate arrangements have been made for their safety as well,” said Patil.This is not the first time that militants have disarmed the policemen deployed for the security of minorities and decamped with their weapons in the Kashmir valley. On May 8 this year militants disarmed heavily armed policemen and decamped with four weapons when they stormed into a police picket guarding the minority Hindu inhabited Adijan village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.On May 4, 2012 militants in broad day light stormed into the police picket guarding a pandit-inhabited village of Parguchi in south Kashmir and decamped with two self-loading riffles.On May 25 2012, militants decamped with three self-loading and one INSAS riffle when they disarmed the cops deployed for guarding the minority Sikh-inhabited Aarigam village in Tral area of south Kashmir.

Raj Thackeray says his friendship with Salman Khan is not above state and country

Thane: Referring to his friendship with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday said friendship was not above the state and country.

Raj Thackeray. AP

Raj Thackeray. AP

“After Salman’s recent comments about Pakistani artistes, people felt that Raj Thackeray will not comment on the issue (as the two are friends). No one is a friend when it comes to state and nation,” he said addressing a rally in Thane.

Raj also advised Salman that the actor should have spoken with responsibility.

On 30 September, a row broke out over remarks by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, director Anurag Kashyap and Shyam Benegal that boycotting Pakistani artistes in Bollywood is no solution to terrorism.

Salman said artistes come to Bollywood with proper visa and work permit.

The star’s comments came in the wake of Indian Motion Picture Producers Association’s resolution to ban Pakistani actors from the industry following the terror attack on an army camp in Uri.

Raj had slammed Salman for supporting Pakistani artistes, saying he was only concerned about his movies doing well in that country.

Meanwhile, Raj also said every issue is being raised with an eye on elections.

“But our party is different from others. We don’t take up issues with eye on polls,” he claimed.

Friendship not above state, country: MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Salman row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to his friendship with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday said friendship was not above the state and country.”After Salman’s recent comments about Pakistani artistes, people felt that Raj Thackeray will not comment on the issue (as the two are friends). No one is a friend when it comes to state and nation,” he said addressing a rally here.Raj also advised Salman that the actor should have spoken with responsibility.On September 30, a row broke out over remarks by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, director Anurag Kashyap and Shyam Benegal that boycotting Pakistani artistes in Bollywood is no solution to terrorism.Salman said artistes come to Bollywood with proper visa and work permit.The star’s comments came in the wake of Indian Motion Picture Producers Association’s resolution to ban Pakistani actors from the industry following the terror attack on an army camp in Uri.Raj had slammed Salman for supporting Pakistani artistes, saying he was only concerned about his movies doing well in that country.Meanwhile, Raj also said every issue is being raised with an eye on elections.”But our party is different from others. We don’t take up issues with eye on polls,” he claimed.

DNA test suggests Maharashtra’s iconic tiger Jai still around

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is being claimed as a major breakthrough in the search for Maharashtra’s iconic tiger Jai, forest department officials on Saturday said hair samples collected from Bhandara district in July have shown a DNA match with the missing feline. This, officials said, suggests that Jai, who went missing from the Umred Karhandla wildlife sanctuary in mid-April may be alive and in his natural habitat.A senior forest department official said hair samples collected from the Adyal range in Bhandara district had matched Jai’s DNA samples. “This shows Jai may be alive… (But) it is very difficult to locate a tiger in its natural habitat,” he added.Another senior official said that because the sample was collected from an area where Jai was reportedly sighted on July 12, there is “reason to believe that he alive”.”The DNA from the hair samples matches that of Jai. That means Jai had been there,” said Bilal Habib, a scientist with the Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), and who had radio-collared Jai. He added that considering the rainfall and likelihood of water run-off draining away any old hair, the hair sample is likely not “too old” and could have been shed just a few days before the samples were collected. He said that experts had matched the hair to Jai’s DNA to a 99% accuracy.The department had collected scat and hair samples from the spot; while the scat did not yield any DNA, the hair samples did. The last known location of the seven-feet, 250-kg Jai – named after Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic character from the film ‘Sholay’ and known for his penchant for posing for photographs – was at Paoni range near Umred Karhandla on April 18 when his radio collar is suspected to have malfunctioned.Jai’s falling off the grid led to a massive outcry, followed by a search operation by the forest department, wildlife enthusiasts, and NGOs, The department also scanned data from the state electricity distribution utility to check if any tripping had occurred due to electrocution of a large animal.”We have checked all possibilities… there is no clue to whether he is dead or alive,” a source said, adding that there was no larger cause for concern as the wildlife sanctuary had seven young male tigers.Born in the Navegaon-Nagzira tiger project, Jai first migrated to UKWLS around 150 km away in 2013 and later to Bramhapuri . As the alpha male in the sanctuary, he is credited with successfully populating it by fathering over 20 cubs.”Tigers are territorial animals,” said the source, who declined to be named, noting that Jai was about seven-eight years old, an age when tigers are typically challenged by younger males for the leadership position. UKWLS has seven sub-adult males and its 187 sq km, area may not have had the holding capacity for such a large number of males, which may have led to Jai moving out to newer areas.

Abu Azmi backs Salman Khan, says Shiv Sena indulging in ‘theatrics’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extending support to Bollywood actor Salman Khan for his remarks on Pakistan artists, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi criticised Shiv Sena on Saturday for its ‘frivolous theatrics’, and said if the party is really bothered about national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty, it should talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”I don’t think Salman Khan said anything wrong, nor are his statements harming our sentiments. I would like to say to the Shiv Sena to talk with Narendra Modi. They are the allies of the government. It is their government which has issued visas to them (the Pakistani actors). I am unable to fathom their theatrics given the fact that the bus connecting India and Pakistan is still running, both the countries ambassadors haven’t been called,” Azmi told ANI.Azmi further said that it is up to the government and the people to decide whether Pakistan artists remain in India or not and reminded the nation to treat guests with regard.”It is up to the government and the people to decide whether Pakistan artists remain in India or not, but they are our guests, and our tradition doesn’t allow us to behave in this manner. We should make the Pakistanis feel hospitable. We should welcome them with open arms. When we give them a good treatment, they will go back to their country and condemn the atrocities perpetrated by them (Pakistanis) on our soil. When Pakistanis say good things about our country, it will be that country which will be embarrassed,” he said.During a press conference Salman Khan said, “They (Pakistani actors) are artists, not terrorists. It’s the government who gives them permits and visas.”Reacting to this, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Industries Minister and Subhash Desai advised Salman to take lessons on national pride from his father Salim Khan.

Shiv Sena taunts Salman Khan for his comments on Pakistan artistes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi on Friday welcomed Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s remarks on Pakistani artistes, while there was subdued criticism from the Raj-Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). The Shiv Sena, however, taunted the actor and advised him to take lessons on national pride from his father Salim Khan.Salman on Friday said artistes from Pakistan were not terrorists and art and terrorism should not be mixed. Welcoming his stand, Azmi said, “Our fight is against Pakistan and we are proud of our soldiers for going into Pakistan-occupied territory and killing the terrorists. But, when we are talking about those who are here on valid visas for either work purpose or medical treatment, it is our duty to welcome them with open arms.””When we give these Pakistanis a good treatment, they will go back to their country and condemn the atrocities perpetrated by them on our soil. When Pakistanis say good things about our country, it will be that country which will be embarrassed on the global front,” he told reporters,Maharashtra Industries Minister and senior Sena leader Subhash Desai advised Salman to “take lessons” on national pride from his father and noted scriptwriter Salim Khan. “Pakistan is our enemy and has killed our jawans by crossing the Line of Control (LoC) at Uri. The Sena has always opposed cricketing ties with Pakistan,” he said.Desai said Sena believed that there should be no cultural ties between the two countries when people’s reaction was “strong” over the terror attacks “from Pakistan”.Meanwhile, MNS leader Shalini Thackeray said if Pakistani artistes do not condemn their country’s wrongdoings, Indian actors should also respect the sentiments of Indians. “Filmstars should understand the sentiments of the people under the current circumstances. People are very angry and actors like Salman Khan should respect them,” she said.”If Pakistani artistes do not condemn the wrongdoings of their country, why can our filmstars not respect the Indian sentiment. Bollywood is not bigger than the country,” Thackeray added.

All Pakistani artists have left Mumbai, will hunt down whoever is still left: MNS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that all Pakistani artists have left Mumbai following their 48-hour ultimatum, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Sunday continued to stay firm on their stand that no artist from the neighbouring nation will be allowed to work in Mumbai, adding that if anyone is still ‘hiding’ in the city, they will be hunted down.Speaking to the media, MNS leader Amey Khopkar, chief of the MNS’s cinema workers’ unit Chitrapat Karamchari Sena confirmed that all Pakistani artists have left the city.”The 48 hours are over and the Pakistani artists are not in Mumbai anymore,” he said.Thanking various TV shows and radio channels for responding to their call by discontinuing Pakistani actors and artists from their shows, Khopkar further said that he will ensure that they do not return to the city.”You can be rest assured that they have left, but if any Pakistani artist is still left in the city and is hiding, we will hunt them down and throw them out of Mumbai,” he added.This development comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two nations after four terrorists killed 18 Army personnel at an Army camp in Uri region.India has blamed Pakistan for the attack as probe agencies reportedly recovered weapons and ammunition bearing Pakistani insignia from the site.Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has also targeted the promotions of Fawad Khan’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and Mahira Khan’s ‘Raees’ , saying that filmmakers and producers ‘should not cast Pakistanis in their films’.The Bollywood industry, however, is fuming over this move by the MNS and has vented its anger and frustration, calling on the party to keep politics away from art and culture.Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh said actors have always been the first ones to be targeted, no matter whatever the agenda is.”Artists are like soft targets, which is very unfortunate. The concentration is somewhere else and this is not the solution to it. If this was the solution then fair enough, but this is not the solution,” said the 37-year-old actor.Echoing similar sentiments, actor Sushant Singh Rajput said that politics and art should not interfere in each other’s work.The MNS workers’ association on Friday said they would not allow the release of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushqil’ and ‘Raees’ as the movies feature Pakistani actors while giving a 48-hour deadline to the stars from the other side of the border to leave India.Khopkar warned Pakistani actors that they would face serious consequences in India if they do not leave the nation within 48 hours.”We give a 48-hour deadline to Pakistani actors and artists to leave India or the MNS will push them out,” said Khopkar.

MNS orders Pakistani artistes to leave India: Should art suffer because of terrorism?

Against the backdrop of the Uri attacks, which left 18 Indian military personnel dead earlier this week, sentiment against Pakistani artistes in India seems to have grown.

Social media has amplified opinions that seek the ouster of Pakistani artistes from India, on the grounds that cultural ties between the two countries cannot be maintained when one is sponsoring terrorist attacks on the other.

Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan are among the Pakistani artistes in the MNS' sights. Image from News 18Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan are among the Pakistani artistes in the MNS' sights. Image from News 18

Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan are among the Pakistani artistes in the MNS’ sights. Image from News 18

Raj Thackeray‘s Maharastra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has stepped up its strident anti-Pakistan stance, with its film wing — the Chitrapat Sena, headed by Ameya Khopkar — issuing a diktat on Friday, 23 September, to all Pakistani artistes to leave India within the next 48 hours, or face dire consequences.

MNS issues diktat to all Pakistani artistes: ‘Leave India in 48 hours, or else…’

On previous occasions as well, the MNS and its political rival/sibling the Shiv Sena have made their opposition to the presence of Pakistani artistes/sportspersons/intellectuals on Indian territory clear.

The debate over whether or not the cultural exchange between India and Pakistan should be affected by the border hostilities has long been a contentious one. There are strong opinions on both side of the divide; those who feel that no, regular people or artistes have nothing to do with the waging of war and should be held to a different standard, and others who believe that no sort of relationship can exist between two countries, least of all an artistic one, when they share the military history/past that we do.

As the chorus asking for Pakistani artistes to be boycotted in India rises, Firstpost reached out to Indian artistes/filmmakers and intellectuals for their take on the debate:

Rensil D’Silva, Rang De Basanti writer and director of Kurbaan: Throwing artists out of the country is not a solution

“I don’t think you should link art with politics. That’s a very volatile concept. I understand what the MNS is doing, I understand their anger. You can’t have a terrorist state attacking you while you just sit there and encourage people associated with that country. It’s time for action. India is seen as a pacifist country. Whatever happens, we go to the UN or we sit and have a dialogue. That’s not enough. There needs to be some action. At the same time, what will shooing the artistes achieve? Will we be happy after throwing out a few artistes? Will the attacks stop by doing so? The latest attacks were despicable. And then Pakistan went ahead and lauded the terrorists as martyrs. What we need is a solution. Throwing artistes out of the country is not a solution.”

Dhaval Desai, from the NGO Observer Research Foundation, which promotes a cultural exchange between India and Pakistan: Soft ties take a beating in such situations

“There’s nothing new about the MNS statement.This is their stand and they are entitled to have it. Under the current situation, this is reinforcing what they are known to always believe: They have always opposed the entry of Pakistani artistes in India, especially Mumbai.

For India to achieve its full potential in the 21st century, we cannot be enemies with all our neighbouring countries. We have issues with all of them. It is in our best interest that we take efforts to better these relations. If we are to reduce the money going into military efforts and divert them into social development issues like malnutrition, education, etc it would help us grow. European countries were also at war with each other for centuries, but now with peaceful relations they have reaped the benefits.

Of course the direct support to religious extremism and terrorism must stop and our governments and armed forces are taking efforts on that end. But simultaneously, the people of both the countries also need to work towards bettering our ties.

We cannot do away with Pakistan. It is here to stay. Soft ties will take a beating during such situations, but once the tensions calm down, we must resume our efforts to improve our cultural ties.”

Kailash Kher, musician and singer: Don’t target the artistes

“On what is the MNS directive based? A few people are doing good work, they are showcasing their talent and you want to throw them out because Pakistan attacked us. If terrorists attacked us, how will our attacking Pakistani artistes achieve anything? It’s a political game being played out: Mar koi aur jaata hai aur roti koi aur sekta hai. Artistes are not restricted or defined by borders, they simply want to spread art and culture across the world. Don’t target them. The MNS’ diktat is an act of spreading venom in the country against innocent Pakistani artistes; it is just a political game.”

Tinder encounters of ‘one-legged girl’ who once thought she was ‘undateable’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six years ago, at the age of 18, I met with a weird sort of accident. In Mumbai’s infamous rain, a branch from a peepal tree fell on me. My left leg broke clean into two parts, while my right foot and ankle were crushed beyond repair. Many painful hours later, I was told that my right foot would have to be amputated.The first few weeks passed in a haze. My doctors and friends assured me that I’d live a ‘completely normal’ life, and that I had nothing to worry about. They weren’t completely right. When I was still in hospital, I overheard someone talking behind a curtain in hushed tones. They were whispering, ‘Poor thing. Who will marry her now? How long will her family take care of her, after all?’ I laughed it off, thinking this was just a stray trip to Regressive Central.But as time went by, these whispers started following me around more and more. The breaking point for me came around a year and a half after my accident, when a boy I liked told me I’d ‘be better off moving to places like the UK or France’, where people could be more open minded about my ‘condition’. At that age, it was hard enough to deal with the new label of being ‘handicapped’ (no, I don’t need you to give me your hand every 30 seconds, thank you very much), but being thought of as ‘undateable’ was even scarier.In an attempt to protect myself, I closed myself off from potential romantic endeavours completely, until a year later, when I joined Tinder as a funny thing to do while out drinking with my friends. Having heard all the horror stories about meeting men online, I never imagined that I’d really talk to my matches, let alone meet them on dates. But I got my first match. We got talking, and he seemed like a nice guy. We decided to meet for filter coffee at King’s Circle. In our conversations leading up to this point, I hadn’t mentioned my leg at all (and very consciously so).The night before we were supposed to meet, I mustered up some courage and sent him a message telling him about it, adding that I’d totally understand if he felt uncomfortable and wanted to call off the date. He read my message immediately, and seemed to be typing forever before he replied, ‘I know, I’ve Googled you. Why would I be uncomfortable with it?’There have been few moments where I’ve been more relieved. He knew! He’d bothered to Google me! He didn’t care! One would almost expect a posse of background dancers and musicians to drop from the heavens behind me, and the whole thing to turn into a Bollywood extravaganza. The coffee date was nice, but more than the date itself, merely going on it gave me a big shot in the arm. Maybe I wasn’t so undateable after all. I went back home and started swiping with a vengeance, determined to make up for two years worth of lost dating time.My doctors and friends assured me that I’d live a ‘completely normal’ life, and that I had nothing to worry about. They weren’t completely right. When I was still in hospital, I overheard someone talking behind a curtain in hushed tones. They were whispering, ‘Poor thing. Who will marry her now?As I spoke to more and more people, it got easier to tell them about my leg. I tried introducing the information at different parts of the conversation with each new guy, in the hope that I’d figure out the best (i.e. least awkward) way to bring it up. I gave points for the best amputee jokes. I pretended to be a keynote speaker who is welcoming audience questions. I got bored and gave them the facts straight up. And I always left a window open for them to leave in peace if they were uncomfortable with it, as some inevitably were.A sci-fi enthusiast became intensely excited at the possibility that he could be be flirting with a cyborg. I had a handful of boys throw words like ‘brave’ and ‘inspirational’ at me. However, most of my Tinder experiences were similar to those that nondisabled women have.One of the guys I met – a banker – was a self-confessed Excel addict who made spreadsheets about the women he met on Tinder, categorising them under ‘cute’, ‘nice to talk to’, ‘want to have sex with’, and ‘potential girlfriend’. He casually slipped into conversation that I’d fall under the ‘cute’ category… whatever that was supposed to mean. Another one – with whom I’d had a nice conversation, but didn’t really want to take things forward with in the romantic sense, – asked me if I was a ‘serial friend-zoner’. A third exclaimed to me very seriously, ‘So you must be great at drawing!’ when I told him I’d taken up Arts in college.It sounds weird, but the more guys I spoke to on Tinder, the more I realised that most people didn’t really care about the fact that I was an amputee. My obvious good looks, sparkling wit, and amazing sense of modesty (cough cough) were clearly enough. I started putting myself out there more, and it got a lot easier to ignore the hateful comments that came my way, because now I actually had proof to the contrary.Many dates down the line, I must admit that not every guy I met I was on Tinder was a knight with a shining iPhone cover, but dating was still good fun. One of the guys I met on Tinder ended up becoming one of my closest friends. Another still likes all my posts on Facebook. One of them (unsuccessfully) tried to have his ‘one last fling’ pre-marriage hookup with me. A couple of others check in every now and then to see if I’m single and ready to… you know.I was on Tinder for a year and a half before I left, after having gotten into a relationship with someone I met offline. I don’t think I’ll go back, but I’d like to shout out to all you Tinder matches (yes, even that guy who said, ‘It’s just one foot right? All the rest is there na?’) for helping me realise that I’m pretty darn fabulous.This story was first published in Sexuality and Disability

More trouble for Kapil Sharma: Comedian could face five years’ jail for destroying mangroves

Comedian Kapil Sharma is looking at a possible jail sentence of five years and/or payment of Rs 1 lakh as surety if found guilty in a case registered against him, for destroying mangroves near his Versova bungalow.

The case was filed on the basis of a complaint from the Andheri tehsildar’s office, which stated that Sharma had illegally dumped debris and made unauthorised additions to the Versova property, leading to the destruction of protected mangroves.

Kapil Sharma. Image from IBN LiveKapil Sharma. Image from IBN Live

Kapil Sharma. Image from News 18

Spokesperson for the Mumbai Police DCP Ashok Dudhe told Firstpost on Tuesday, 20 September, “Prima facie, Kapil Sharma was found guilty of cutting (down) mangroves. So we registered a case against Kapil under Section 15 (1)(2) of the Environment Act. The investigation is currently going on.”

Bungalow number 71 at the Four Bungalows area in Andheri (West) was purchased by Kapil Sharma on 7 November 2015. Sharma then allegedly carried out the illegal alterations to the property.

Mumbai suburban district collector Deependra Singh Kushwah had directed officials to conduct a survey to find if Sharma had violated the Environment Act by dumping debris near the mangroves. After the survey, a complaint was filed at the Versova police station.

The probe was ordered days after Sharma’s tweet dated 9 September alleging that he had been asked for a bribe of Rs 5 lakh by officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to regularise the construction of his office space, went viral. Sharma had tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his tweet as well, asking: “Yeh hain aapke ache din?

While Sharma was initially hailed for calling out corruption, the tide quickly turned against the former Comedy Nights host when civic officials stated that he had made several illegal additions to his properties in Oshiwara and Versova.

Over the next few days, Sharma was facing cases for the illegal construction at the apartment he owns in Oshiwara’s DLH Enclave (Kapil reportedly sold the flat a few months ago, but the alterations were made before that), for flouting Coastal Regulatory Zone norms by carrying out unauthorised alterations at his Versova bungalow, and several political parties were threatening to boycott his TV show if he didn’t name the civic officials who allegedly demanded the bribe.

Last week, the Oshiwara police registered a case against Sharma under Section 53 (7) of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, for the illegal constructions at his flat in the DLH high rise based on a complaint by a BMC official. (Cases were also registered against actor Irrfan Khan and a few other flat owners in the same building.) If found guilty, Sharma could be facing jail time between one month to three years, a Times of India article said.

Reports state that Sharma has been trying to set up a meeting with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to preempt any action that may be taken against him. He even sought the help of actor Vivek Oberoi, who is known to be close to Fadnavis, in order to get an appointment with the CM.

However, Fadnavis has not responded to Sharma’s overtures thus far, perhaps as a result of being criticised for his prompt response to Sharma’s 9 September tweet, without waiting for clarification from civic officials.

Kapil Sharma did not respond to Firstpost’s requests for a comment at the time of publishing this report. Calls and messages to Sharma’s phone went unanswered.

— With inputs from PTI

Bollywood films dubbed in Spanish for new US TV channel

An Indian media company launches a Spanish-language Bollywood film channel in the US, in an effort to woo Hispanic audiences.

Steamy wicket

Former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee faces his latest test – a cross-cultural romantic comedy that has come under scrutiny from Indian censors.

‘Rape’ remark: NCW to issue summons to actor Salman Khan

The National Commission for Women on Monday said that the body has taken Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s controversial rape remark “very seriously” and will issue summons to him soon.”We had written a letter to him last week asking why he made such a remark but he has not replied so far,” NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam said.”We have taken his remarks very seriously and will issue summons to him immediately as he has failed to reply to the letter in which we had asked him to apologise within seven days,” she told reporters at the end of the day-long regional consultation on Draft National Policy for Women, 2016.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NCW has also taken the Motihari rape case along with the recent alleged incidents of four rapes in Bihar “very seriously and will pursue it very aggressively”.”The Motihari incident is a horrendous cover-up of justice by the police and we have sought an appointment with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and will take up the issue with him,” Kumaramangalam said.The matter will be also taken up with the NHRC as the recent four cases of rape in Bihar are serious violation of human rights with the role of the police being suspected.”In these particular cases, the police is mysteriously losing files, FIRs are not being filed and there has been a breakdown in justice. In these four cases, it appears that there is a lack of political will,” she said.Asked about online trolling, the NCW chairperson said online abuse was increasing alarmingly and there was a need to take action but most of those trolled registered no complaints.”If I get a complaint, I will act aggressively but none wants to complain. Even senior journalists have been trolled but there has been no complaints,” she added.The day-long consultation on Draft National Policy for Women, 2016 discussed various issues related to education and governance and decision-making, violence against women, health including food security and nutrition, environment and climate change to create an effective framework of developing a national policy. The consultation was organised by the Assam government and Assam State Commission for Women in collaboration with the NCW.

National Commission for Women to issue summons to Salman Khan over his rape remark

Guwahati: The National Commission for Women on Monday said that the body has taken Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s controversial rape remark “very seriously” and will issue summons to him soon.

“We had written a letter to him last week asking why he made such a remark but he has not replied so far,” NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam said in Guwahati.

Salman Khan. GettyImages

Salman Khan. GettyImages

“We have taken his remarks very seriously and will issue summons to him immediately as he has failed to reply to the letter in which we had asked him to apologise within seven days,” she told reporters at the end of the day-long regional consultation on Draft National Policy for Women, 2016.

The NCW has also taken the Motihari rape case along with the recent alleged incidents of four rapes in Bihar “very seriously and will pursue it very aggressively”.

“The Motihari incident is a horrendous cover-up of justice by the police and we have sought an appointment with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and will take up the issue with him,” Kumaramangalam said.

The matter will be also taken up with the NHRC as the recent four cases of rape in Bihar are serious violation of human rights with the role of the police being suspected.

“In these particular cases, the police is mysteriously losing files, FIRs are not being filed and there has been a breakdown in justice. In these four cases, it appears that there is a lack of political will,” she said.

Asked about online trolling, the NCW chairperson said online abuse was increasing alarmingly and there was a need to take action but most of those trolled registered no complaints.

“If I get a complaint, I will act aggressively but none wants to complain. Even senior journalists have been trolled but there has been no complaints,” she added.

The day-long consultation on Draft National Policy for Women, 2016 discussed various issues related to education and governnance and decision-making, violence against women, health including food security and nutrition, environment and climate change to create an effective framework of developing a national policy.

The consultation was organised by the Assam government and Assam State Commission for Women in collaboration with the NCW.

Haryana gangrape victim sends notice to Salman Khan over ‘rape’ comment

Chandigarh: A young woman who was gang-raped by 10 men in Haryana has sent a legal notice to actor Salman Khan asking him to apologise over his rape remark. She has sought Rs 10 crore in damages from Salman for belittling rape victims.

The gang-rape victim, from Hisar district, sent the notice to the Bollywood superstar at his Galaxy Apartments address in Mumbai’s upscale Bandra area on Saturday. The notice was sent through her counsel.

Salman KhanSalman Khan

A file photo of Actor Salman khan. Sachin Gokhale/ Firstpost

The victim pointed out that Salman Khan had tried to joke about the plight of rape victims by comparing a tough action sequence to the status of a gang-raped woman.

The victim was kidnapped by 10 people and gang-raped in Hisar four years ago. The court sentenced the assaulters to life imprisonment. The victim is seeking death penalty for the accused.

The father of the rape victim committed suicide following the incident.

Asked how he felt doing the strenuous shooting of “Sultan”, where he plays a wrestler, Salman responded that he “felt like a raped woman… he could barely stand straight after the shoot”.

The statement invited sharp rebuke on social media. His father and writer Salim Khan apologized on behalf of his son and admitted the statement was in bad taste.

A case was registered in Kanpur and Lucknow courts on Thursday against the actor.

NCP wants PM Modi’s intervention in BJP-Sena ‘slugfest’

Dubbing the war of words between BJP and Shiv Sena as detrimental to Maharashtra’s progress, NCP on Sunday sought intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office to end the slugfest between the ruling allies.The opposition party also urged the BJP to seek “derecognition” of the Sena, contending that it cannot be allowed to contest the forthcoming Mumbai civic polls owing to alleged “hundreds of crores having been looted by the party in various scams”. “Both the allies are forgetting that people have given them a mandate to rule, not to create a ruckus. The daily bickering and no end to the problems being faced by people have made them lose faith in the institution of government. If this continues, people will lose faith in democracy,” Pawaskar told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We urge the PMO to take cognisance of the melee going on in the state and put an end to this. Instead of using its mouthpiece to ask the Sena to fall out of the government, they should simply come out in the open and say they are ready for mid-term polls,” he said. The NCP’s comments come in the backdrop of the intensifying war of words between the ruling allies.A recent article in BJP’s fortnightly publication ‘Manogat’ dared the Sena to take “divorce” and poked fun at Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray by drawing an analogy from the popular Bollywood flick “Sholay”, in which the character of a jailor played by actor Asrani asks policemen to march in different directions, only to find later that no one was standing behind him.The Sena had retorted by demanding a clarification from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and said that by making “below the belt comments, the BJP probably wanted to finish off its own government”.”Being in power at the Centre and the state, it is the BJP’s responsibility to seek Sena’s derecognition because they had come to power on a corruption-free governance plank.”It will be a gross injustice to the people if Sena is allowed to contest BMC polls where it has indulged in scams amounting to hundreds of crores and thereby looted people,” Pawaskar alleged. “It is shocking that a CM, who otherwise gives such good speeches in public, is from the last two years digesting the criticism aimed at his party in Sena mouthpiece,” he added.

BJP’s talaaq dare: ‘Devendra Fadnavis immediately clarify party’s official stand,’ says Sanjay Raut

A day after a BJP publication dared its ally to walk out of the alliance, Shiv Sena demanded a clarification from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday on the issue and sought to know if it was the ruling party’s official stand, saying it has taken the article “very seriously”.BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari’s article in the party unit’s fortnightly publication ‘Manogat’, titled ‘When are you taking talaaq Mr Raut’, had dared the Sena to take “divorce” while enumerating the sacrifices BJP has made in past couple of decades-and-a-half to keep the tie-up intact.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The article also drew an analogy from famous Bollywood flick ‘Sholay’ and to its Jailor character, played by actor Asrani, in which he asks policemen to march in different directions, only to later find that no one was standing behind him. “Probably (Sanjay) Raut and his party president (Uddhav Thackeray) are apprehensive that if they do walk out of the government no one from the Sena would be left standing behind them,” it stated.
ALSO READ As war of words intensifies, BJP publication dares ally Shiv Sena to take ‘divorce’Responding to the article, Sena MP Raut said criticism should be made on policy decisions and not on a personal level. “Fadnavis should immediately clarify if the views expressed by a certain BJP leader (Bhandari) is the official stand of the party. We believe that such comments cannot be made on a personal level. Criticism should be done against policy decisions and not on a personal level. Making below the belt remarks only shows their level of thinking,” Raut said in a statement issued in Mumbai.”It seems they (the BJP) want to finish off their own government and thereby drown Maharashtra. We have taken the issue very seriously. Remember your government stands with our support. Otherwise, you have the option of taking support of Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare and Ajit Pawar (referring to the NCP). People will answer you then,” he added.
ALSO READ BJP government worse than Nizam, says Shiv Sena MP Sanjay RautThe article had also attacked Raut for his recent ‘Nizam’ remarks. Raut had recently said the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra were “worse” than the government of Nizam.

India uproar over Salman Khan ‘raped woman’ comment

Bollywood star Salman Khan is given a week to apologise after he tells reporters his filming schedule was so gruelling he felt like a “raped woman”.

dna Morning Must Reads: Industry not happy with Rajan’s exit; Essar Tapes; Father’s Day; and more

1. Taken aback by Raghuram Rajan’s exit, industry terms it nation’s lossAmidst concerns that Raghuram Rajan’s impending exit as RBI Governor – which has been termed as ‘Rexit’ – could lead to adverse impact on the country’s financial markets, top industry leaders said it will be “nation’s loss” as Rajan brought economic stability and enhanced India’s credibility on the world stage. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Essar tapes: Politicians, bizmen express ‘shock’, issue denialWith the purported Essar tapes controversy taking the political and business world by storm, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group on Saturday said it was “shocked” at the news reports, according to which Ambani was one among many whose phone was tapped between 2001 and 2006. Read more here3. Son claims N Srinivasan’s gay past responsible for his homophobiaEmboldened by the churn over LGBTQ rights in India since a closeted homosexual gunned down 49 people early on Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Ashwin Srinivasan and his gay partner Avi Mukherjee have renewed efforts for freedom from what they call forced house arrest and torture by his father, former chairman of the International Cricket Council and former president of the BCCI, the governing body for cricket in India. Read more here4. Celebrate with caution, experts weigh in on FIH Champions Trophy win and Rio dreams for Team IndiaIndia’s first-ever silver medal in tournament needs to be lauded, but experts warn against getting carried away before Olympics. Read more here5. B-Town dads talk about their childrenThis Father’s Day, our Bollywood stars bared their hearts to tell us about the apples of their eye, the light of their lives and the reason they work so hard for… Read more here

Former Bollywood actor Mamta Kulkarni named accused in drug racket

Former Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni has now been named an accused in drug racket case by Thane police. The police also said that some people from Bollywood are being investigated for their connections with Mamata Kulkarni and Vicky Goswami.Police had called her husband Vicky Goswami as the kingpin of international drug cartel. “According to the new evidences, Mamta Kulkarni (former actor) is now also an accused. We will send a request to Interpol for red corner notice against Mamta Kulkarni through CBI. We are verifying her bank accounts and investments. Her husband Vicky Goswami is already an accused,” said Paramveer Singh from Thane Police. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thane police had seized a total of 18.5 tonne of Ephedrine and 2.5 tonne of acetic anhydride in the last week of April.During the investigation, it was found that Vicky Goswami was the alleged kingpin of the racket. Goswami is currently out on bail in a case where he was arrested by Kenyan police officials. He will soon be extradited from Kenya.Goswami alleged that the US was pressurising India to extradite him and since he is afraid that America’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may kidnap him, he will not come back to India. Goswami also claimed that Kulkarni was just a well wisher and not his wife.The drug trailIt all began with the arrest of Sipren Chinassa, a Nigerian national, with 500g of ephedrine who led the cops to the manufacturing unit at Solpaur. Chinassa led the cops to Sagar Powale and Mayur Sukhdare, who were arrested in Thane for allegedly possessing around 2kg of ephedrine. This was followed by the arrest of Dhaneshwar Swamy with 5.50kg of ephedrine powder. After this Dnyaneshwar Dhimri, production manager from Solapur unit, was also arrested.On further grilling, the investigation led to persons related to the company — Manoj Jain, Punit Shringi and Pradeep Singh Gill. “Members and directors of the company were directly connected to the Kenyan drug mafia king Vicky Goswami. Earlier, too, they had not disclosed the amount of drug that was being manufactured at the company,” said a crime branch police officer.He added: “The accused were planning to arrange a unit at Mombasa in Kenya were they can turn ephedrine into methamphetamine which is costlier in the international market. The Gujarat and Maharashtra police are working on this drug cartel while we have found that 4-5 persons are still absconding. We will arrest them soon.”With inputs from dna.

Raghu Karnad, Nilotpal Mrinal: Here are the winners of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar

The Sahitya Akademi rewards authors annually for their literary contribution with outstanding books in all the major Indian languages.

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Raghu Karnad, his winning book Farthest Field.

Inspite of the controversy surrounding the Akademi during the intolerance row and #awardwapsi, it is still considered one of the most prestigious literary awards in India.

Last years the winners included Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar for her English novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Bhaskey, and Indira Dangi for her Hindi novel Haveli Sanatanpur, among other regional writers.

The Sahitya Akademi tweeted its list of winners for 2016 on Thursday:

This year’s winner’s include Raghu Karnad for Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War and Nilotpal Mrinal for Dark Horse — Ek Anakahi Dastan.

‘Piracy di maa di’: Bollywood is urging you to watch ‘Udta Punjab’ only in theatres

Mumbai: Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, lead actors of Udta Punjab, among other celebrities from Bollywood have urged their fans not to waste two years of their hard work by watching the pirated version of the film and instead watch it only in the theatres.

Shahid, who will be seen playing a rockstar named Tommy Singh in the film, shared:

The controversial film Udta Punjab was leaked online on Wednesday, two days ahead of its scheduled release in theatres. The Abhishek Chaubey directorial- which has been in news for the makers’ run-in with the censor board- was available on torrent websites for illegal download.

However, soon the download links were “removed due to a copyright complaint”.

Visibly upset with the online leaks, Bollywood celebrities including Karan Johar, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Sonakshi Sinha requested people to head to the theatres to watch Udta Punjab, based on drug abuse in the Indian state of Punjab.

Here’s what tinsel town celebrities had to say:

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