Pakistan seizes control of Hafiz Saeed's assets

Pakistan has seized control of charities and financial assets linked to one of the main suspects of the 2008 Mumbai bombings in India, Hafiz Saeed.

    Pakistan has seized control of charities and financial assets linked to one of the main suspects of the 2008 Mumbai bombings in India, Hafiz Saeed.

    Saeed has been accused of planning the bombings that led to the death of more than 160 people, but a court in Pakistan found there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

    This comes after US President Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan is a “haven for terrorists”.

    AL Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim reports.

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    Australia vs India 1st ODI: Live streaming, TV channel, start time for one-day international cricket match

    Virat Kohli's men have stunned the Aussies Down Under and will look to pile on the misery with victory in the first one-day international at the SCG.

    What time does Australia vs India start?

    THE first ODI of the three-match series is set for Saturday, January 12.

    Things get underway at 2.20am UK time.

    The SCG hosted the fourth and final Test as India completed an historic victory.

    Which TV channel is it on and can I live stream it?

    YOU can watch all the action unfold live on BT Sport 1.

    Coverage gets going at 2am, whilst subscribers can stream by downloading the BT Sport app on their mobile, tablet or computer.

    What is the ODI series schedule?

    • Saturday, January 12 – First ODI, SCG
    • Tuesday, January 15 – Second ODI, Adelaide Oval
    • Friday, January 18 – Third ODI, MCG

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    India slaps cases against critics of plan to grant citizenship to non-Muslims

    GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Indian police on Friday said they are investigating an academic, a journalist and a peasant leader for possible sedition for publicly opposing a proposal to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority countries.

    Critics have called the proposal blatantly anti-Muslim and an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to boost its Hindu voter base ahead of a general election due by May.

    The cases have been filed amid a wave of protests in the BJP-governed northeastern state of Assam. A small regional party in India quit the ruling coalition on Monday in protest against the plan.

    The Modi government is facing growing criticism for stifling criticism, including in the media. A television journalist in the region was jailed last month for criticizing the government on social media.

    “We have registered a case against a few people based on certain statements that they made at a public rally in Guwahati,” Deepak Kumar, a police official from Guwahati in Assam, told Reuters.

    The three have not been charged.

    Many people fear such a move could change the demographic profile of Assam, where residents have for years complained that immigrants from Bangladesh have put a big strain on resources.

    Hiren Gohain, an 80-year-old academic, peasant leader Akhil Gogoi and journalist Manjit Mahanta have been accused of criminal conspiracy and attempting to wage a war against the government, Kumar said.

    The bill, which seeks to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, has been passed by the lower house of the parliament.

    The bill will be tabled for approval in the upper house in the next session, where it is expected to face resistance from the opposition Congress party. The BJP does not have a majority in the upper house of the parliament.

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    Trump, Indian PM Modi discuss trade, Afghanistan: White House

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed reducing the U.S. trade deficit with India and increasing their cooperation in Afghanistan in a telephone call on Monday, the White House said.

    “The leaders agreed to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership in 2019 and exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan,” the White House said in a statement.

    The United States has slapped tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from India, part of Trump’s drive to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and boost American manufacturing jobs.

    India has threatened to retaliate but said it would not take action until the end of this month.

    In Afghanistan, Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops there, a U.S. official said last month.

    With a reduced military presence in Afghanistan, the United States would almost certainly have to curtail its missions, which include training and advising Afghan forces and waging an air campaign against the Taliban and other militant groups.

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    India’s ‘last Maharaja’ is a model, polo star and multimillionaire

    At 20 years old, Padmanabh Singh lives like a real-life “Crazy Rich Asian” while being considered royalty in India.

    Singh, whose full title is Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, is called the “king” of Jaipur, a city in the country’s northwestern region. In the early 1970s, India lawmakers stopped officially recognizing the country’s royal titles, but according to The Guardian, locals still regard Singh’s title with respect.

    The young monarch took over the throne in 2011 when his grandfather, Sawai Man Singhji Bahadur, died. He was considered “the last Maharaja” because he was the last person to be awarded the title before the country stopped recognizing royal privileges. The royal family is estimated to be worth $697 million to $2.8 billion, according to Business Insider.

    But Singh, who’s nicknamed”Pacho” by his friends and family, is more than just a figurehead. The royal lives a lavish lifestyle and loves to travel, model, study liberal arts and play polo.

    He recently made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list for captaining the first Indian polo team in England in 20 years. And he’s also the youngest winner of the Indian Open Polo Cup.

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    And when he’s not in New York or Europe, he’s staying with his family at the SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, a boutique luxury hotel in his hometown. Singh’s ultra-swanky apartment features a dressing room, a veranda, heated pool and a private dining room.

    But Singh is not content to live out his 20s as a bon vivant. He told the Week magazine he plans to draw tourism to his hometown.

    “We are in a democracy now, and I cannot let my background go to my head,” he said. “At the moment, I am focusing on my life, but I want to create Jaipur as a destination, host a lot of people and popularize Rajasthan’s art and culture.”

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    Official from India's ruling BJP calls for protests as women enter Hindu temple

    KOCHI, India (Reuters) – A local official from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party called for protests after two women entered a Hindu temple in the southern state of Kerala on Wednesday, defying a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age entering the shrine.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP)’s Kerala state president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai called it “a conspiracy by the atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu temples,” and said his party will “support the struggles against the destruction of faith by the Communists.” 

    “Let all the devotees come forward and protest this,” Pillai told local television news channels. 

    Two women, reported by Reuters partner ANI to be in their 40s, entered the Sabarimala hill temple in India’s southern state of Kerala in the early hours of Wednesday, the state’s chief minister said, raising fears of a backlash from conservative Hindu groups.

    India’s Supreme Court in September had ruled that the ban be lifted but Hindu devotees at the temple had defied the court and blocked attempts by women to go to the temple since then. It is unclear how the women managed to get into the temple and avoid devotees who were guarding it.

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    India approves budget for first manned space mission in 2022

    Three Indian astronauts will be sent to space by 2022, as part of India’s ambitious Gaganyaan project.

      The Indian government has announced it is allocating 100 billion rupees ($1.43 billion) for its first manned space mission, set to be launched by 2022.

      “Today the Cabinet has given the go-ahead to the Indian Human Space Flight Initiative,” Information Technology Minister of India Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi on Friday. 

      “We will send a 3-member crew for 7 days into space. We are aiming to complete the pilot initiative within 40 months from now,” he added.

      New Delhi is aiming to expand the country’s influence in the competitive $300bn global space industry.

      An unmanned test launch of the project is likely slated for December 2020.

      The Ganganyaan project – Hindi for “Spacecraft” – is part of the government’s ambition to make India a global low-cost provider of services in space. 

      In 2014, India put a satellite into orbit around Mars, becoming the fourth nation to do so. India’s Mars Mission cost less than the budget of the Hollywood space blockbuster “Gravity”. In November this year, India fired a rocket carrying 31 satellites into space, many on behalf of foreign governments. 

      The Indian manned mission, announced in August this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will aim to send a three-member crew to space for seven days. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said it hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III to transport the three Indians into space.

      Deterrence measure

      For the manned mission, ISRO has already inked collaboration agreements with Russia’s Roscosmos and France’s CNES space agencies.

      “A manned space mission is a natural progression in a country’s space journey. Commercial market space conservation is an important factor for India to develop its space capabilities. But over the last decade or so India has attempted to make changes to its space policy,” Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation told Al Jazeera.

      “India has its own interests in space, beyond economics and development. Increasingly there are military and security related aspects driving India’s space program. For instance, China’s anti-satellite test in 2007 had given rise to new debate within India as to how India should develop it’s own deterrence measures,” she added.

      India’s neighbour China first sent humans to space in 2003.

      New Delhi’s space programme was launched in the early 1960s but it remains a small player in the global space industry.

      Both China and India have dedicated billions of dollars to their space programs, but their budgets are still far below the US budget, which is estimated at $40bn.

      With their ambitious space exploration and Mars missions, China and India have become members of a select club of space-faring nations along with US, Russia, France and Japan.

      Despite its success, many have questioned the project’s steep price tag, which they say is too high for a country that still has to deal with widespread hunger and poverty. 

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      Deadly Cyclone Phethai makes landfall in India

      At least two people confirmed dead and thousands displaced in Andhra Pradesh state.

        Cyclone Phethai made landfall near Katrenikona in India’s Andhra Pradesh state, lashing the coast with heavy rains and wind.

        The warm waters of the Bay of Bengal aided in the storm strengthening into a severe cyclone – the equivalent of a strong tropical storm in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean – over the weekend prior to making landfall.

        The outer bands of the storm began to bring rain to northern Andhra Pradesh and southern Orissa on Sunday with rainfall totals of 25-75 millimetres.

        “We have evacuated about 11,600 people in Gajapati district as their houses are yet to be repaired after Cyclone Titli in October this year,” a senior official at the Special Relief Commissioner’s office said.

        Coastal areas in Andhra Pradesh were battered with heavy rains Monday, leaving several trees and electric poles uprooted. At the time of landfall winds were recorded to be gusting to 120 kilometres per hour. At least two people were reported dead.

        According to the India Meteorological Department, Ninnimamidivalasa in the city of Visakhapatnam received 156.6mm of rain, followed by Pachipenta with 136mm. 

        Cyclone Phethai started weakening once it made landfall but the heavy rainfall is expected to continue into Bangladesh and East Bengal.  These areas can expect rainfall amounts of 50-100mm with locally higher amounts possible.

        There is another cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal between Sri Lanka and West Sumatra moving northwestward. It may pose another threat late week for southern India.

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        Indian opposition leader jailed for life over bloody anti-Sikh riots in 1984

        NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court on Monday jailed for life a leader of the main opposition Congress party for his role in anti-Sikh riots that erupted after the 1984 murder of the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, and killed nearly 3,000 people.

        The ruling party hailed the conviction of the former Congress member of parliament, Sajjan Kumar, as a confirmation of justice, just months before a general election when it will face off against the Congress, now led by Gandhi’s grandson.

        Anti-Sikh riots broke out in Delhi after the assassination of Prime Minster Gandhi, of the Congress party, by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

        Most of those killed in one of India’s bloodiest outbreaks of rioting since independence, were Sikhs, who make up about 2 percent of Hindu-majority India’s 1.3 billion people.

        At the time, Congress supporters were widely suspected of egging on the mobs.

        The Delhi High Court said Kumar, at the time serving the first of three terms in parliament, was convicted of criminal conspiracy and for delivering “provocative speeches instigating violence against Sikhs”.

        The court ordered him to surrender by Dec. 31.

        Kumar, who pleaded not guilty, was not available for comment. His lawyers said they would appeal the conviction in the Supreme Court.

        Gandhi’s assassination was in revenge for her decision to send the army in against Sikh separatist militants holed up in the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest shrine — in the northern city of Amritsar.

        Hundreds of people were killed in the army assault, including the leader of Sikh militants, and the temple was badly damaged.

        Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as some Congress leaders welcomed the verdict.

        “A delayed vindication of justice,” Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister and senior BJP leader, said in a tweet.

        “The Congress and the Gandhi family legacy will continue to pay for the sins of 1984 riots.”

        Gandhi’s grandson, Rahul, is president of Congress and is likely to be Modi’s main challenger in a general election due by May.

        Rahul Gandhi, heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty which ruled for decades, has denounced the horror of the riots and said some Congress members who may have been involved had been punished.

        “It’s wrong to politicize this matter or try to take political benefit from it,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.

        “Various legal process have been going on for around 20 years in this case. In many cases convictions get overturned during appeals.”

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        Hillary Clinton joins Bollywood stars as super-rich Indians wed

        MUMBAI (Reuters) – The daughter of India’s richest man got married on Wednesday in a traditional ceremony in Mumbai attended by Bollywood stars and former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

        The marriage brings together two of India’s most influential families. The bride, Isha Ambani, 27, is the daughter of Mukesh Ambani, head of the vast Reliance conglomerate whose net worth Forbes put at $43 billion.

        Her groom, Anand Piramal, 33, is heir to a real-estate and pharmaceutical business.

        The wedding bash took place at Ambani’s Mumbai residence, an extraordinary 27-storey structure known as one of the most expensive homes in the world. It was covered in red roses and decorated with lights and flowers for the occasion.

        The groom and his family arrived in vintage cars as security guards onlookers and photographers from the narrow lane in south Mumbai that leads to the residence.

        India’s Filmfare magazine said 600 guests were expected at what media have dubbed the “the big, fat Indian wedding”.

        The festivities were a culmination of lavish pre-wedding celebrations in the desert city of Udaipur over the weekend which featured a private concert by American singer Beyonce.

        As well as Clinton, who according to Indian media reports has an association with the Ambanis that goes back more than 18 years, attendees included newly-weds actress Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas, former Indian finance minister P. Chidambaram, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan.

        Many in India, where millions of people live in dire poverty, have closely followed the wedding preparations, including the couple’s engagement at a luxury hotel on Italy’s Lake Como.

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