Floods in Rajasthan, Gujarat; China intercepts US surveillance plane: Top stories to bring you upto date

A digest of important news stories in the last 24 hours.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2017 07:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Floods,Rajasthan,H-1B visa
Rescue work is carried out after a jeep was swept away by floods in Kherwada area of Udaipur district in Rajasthan on July 24.(PTI Photo)

Incessant rain in Rajasthan and Gujarat triggers floods, US allows fast processing for some H-1B visa applications, Chinese fighter jets intercept US surveillance plane, here are the top stories:

1- Flood fury hits Rajasthan, Gujarat; two killed in Udaipur as army jumps into action

Flood waters swept across several places in the country on Monday, killing two in Rajasthan and forcing Gujarat to declare a high alert. The situation in flood-ravaged Assam improved considerably as the swollen Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, along with their tributaries, started flowing below the danger mark at most places. In West Bengal, lowlands in Birbhum, Purulia, West Medinipore and Hooghly districts were inundated. Rains lashed state capital Kolkata through the night, inundating thoroughfares and choking traffic. In neighbouring Odisha, extremely heavy rains and thundershowers, along with high-speed surface winds, are expected on Tuesday.

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2- US allows fast processing for some H-1B visa applications once again

The US government said on Monday it would resume fast processing of H-1B visas requested by institutions of higher education and non-profit and governmental research organizations, while leaving in place a longer approval time for companies that use the visas. The United States currently caps H-1B visas at 65,000 a year, with an additional 20,000 allowed for those who have earned advanced college degrees in the United States. The overall suspension remains in place but the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said on Monday that premium processing would resume for some applications from educational and research-oriented organizations exempt from the cap.

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3- Ahead of vice presidential polls, Congress attacks Venkaiah Naidu with corruption allegations

The Congress on Monday accused the NDA vice-presidential candidate M Venkaiah Naidu and his family of corruption, a charge the former BJP chief dismissed as false and politically motivated. The main opposition party alleged that the former Union urban development minister and his children took favours from the Telangana and Madhya Pradesh governments to “grab land” and boost trusts and businesses associated with the family. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, making the accusations during a media briefing in the national capital.

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4- Terror funding case: NIA arrests 7 separatists, including Geelani’s son-in-law

The National Investigation Agency has arrested seven Kashmiri separatists, including hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah, in a terror funding case. The NIA is investigating if funds from Pakistan were used to fuel last year’s unrest in Kashmir Valley that left 100 people, most of them civilians, dead. The others who have been arrested are Tehreek-e-Hurriyat’s Ayaz Akbar and Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam, who is from the Mirwaiz faction of the Hurriyat, Naeem Khan of the Jammu Kashmir National Front and separatist leaders Peer Saifullah and Bitta Karatay, who was arrested from Delhi. The other six were arrested from Srinagar.

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5- Nithari killings: Koli, Pandher get death sentence for murder of Pinki Sarkar

A CBI court awarded the death sentence to Moninder Singh Pandher and his aide, Surinder Koli, on Monday in one of the 16 cases of the macabre Nithari serial killings in 2005 and 2006. The duo was arrested on December 29, 2006, after the discovery of bones and skulls from the backyard of Pandher’s Sector 31 home in Noida’s Nithari. Police found the mortal remains during investigation when children and young women disappeared mysteriously in the area.

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6- Opposition MPs concerned about decline in leather production owing to closure of slaughterhouses

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill that seeks to establish the Footwear Design and Development Institute as an institution of national importance, but not before Opposition MPs showed concern over the decline in leather procurement, owing to closure of slaughterhouses. Even as they supported the bill, introduced by commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, MPs cutting across party lines brought up the issue of how the crackdown on slaughterhouses and incidents of violence by alleged cow vigilantes are affecting the leather business. SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that in the absence of leather, the institute will only produce trained people with no jobs.

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7- 26 killed in suicide blast near Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif’s residence in Lahore

A Taliban suicide attacker targeted a police team near the residence of Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore on Monday, killing 26 people and injuring nearly 60 more. Police officials said the bomber, who was on a motorcycle, detonated his explosives near policemen deployed at Kot Lakhpat vegetable market, about 100 metres from the residence-cum-office of Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nine policemen, including two officers, were among the dead. Twenty people were killed instantly and six more died in hospital.

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8- Chinese fighter jets intercept US surveillance plane, reach within 300 feet

Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a US Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea over the weekend, with one coming within about 300 feet (91 meters) of the American aircraft, two US officials told Reuters on Monday. The officials said initial reports showed one of the Chinese J-10 aircraft came close to the US EP-3 plane on Sunday, causing the American aircraft to change direction. The persons spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly on the matter. One of the officials said the Chinese jet was armed and the incident took place 80 nautical miles (148 km) from the Chinese city of Qingdao.

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9- Kushner denies collusion with Russia, insists ‘all actions were proper’

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top White House advisor Jared Kushner forcefully denied colluding with Moscow to sway the 2016 election Monday, insisting a string of undisclosed meetings with Russian officials were “proper.” “Let me be very clear -- I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” Kushner said after giving testimony to a Congressional inquiry. The normally camera-shy aide said contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a financier and a lawyer -- who offered dirt on his father-in-law’s campaign rival Hillary Clinton -- were above board.

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10- Ravichandran Ashwin all praise for Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri

With Ravi Shastri ensconced in the chief coach’s seat, India’s leading spinner R Ashwin recalled how the former India all-rounder had the ability to lift the team from any setback. “We are well past that moment (of coach selection). The decision has been made and the decision is definitely something I can’t comment on. Ravi bhai has been a fabulous person to have in the dressing room. Even when he was here last time, we lost that Test in Galle and really picked ourselves up from that low point in our careers”, he said.

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First Published: Jul 25, 2017 07:13 IST