Daily wrap: PM senses ‘Modi wave’ as first phase polling ends; Assange held

PM Modi urged voters in Maharashtra to elect a decisive government to power.

PM Modi senses ‘Modi wave’ as first phase polling ends  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said a massive Modi wave is sweeping the country. Addressing an election campaign rally in Assam’s Silchar, the PM resorted to a speech akin to self-praise and said, “Which way the winds are blowing, can be seen from your enthusiasm. Today voting is taking place in the first phase in some parts of the country. From what we know so far, a zabardast (massive) wave for ‘phir ek baar Modi Sarkar (Modi government again)’ is visible,” PM Modi said at a rally in Silchar in Assam.

Taking a dig at the Congress, he said, “Those born with silver spoons can only taste the tea. They don’t understand the pain of those who work in the tea gardens. But this ‘chaiwala’ is working hard towards making your lives better.”

Julian Assange arrested from embassy hideout: Scotland Yard

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was on Thursday (April 11) arrested from his Ecuador Embassy hideout in London after the South American country withdrew the asylum granted to him. Scotland Yard confirmed the arrest and said its officers had executed a warrant against Assange dating back to June 2012 for breach of bail conditions.

The 47-year-old Australian national has been holed up in a back room of the Ecuador embassy in central London for nearly seven years now for fear of being extradited to the US, where he faces a possible death sentence or torture for Wikileaks alleged leak of secrets.

Libya fighting kills 56 in a week: UN

Fighting in Libya’s capital has killed 56 people and wounded 266 over the last six days, the World Health Organization said on Thursday (April 11), as the UN mobilised to support the countrys over-stretched hospitals.

“Thousands of people have fled their homes, while others are trapped in conflict areas. Hospitals inside and outside (Tripoli) are receiving daily casualties,” the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

WHO added that it has dispatched emergency teams to “frontline hospitals” and is boosting its stocks of medical supplies in areas affected by the fighting. Military strongman Khalifa Haftar has launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), intensifying the crisis in the country riven by divisions since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

US warship cruises disputed sea in Philippine war games

A US warship laden with hi-tech fighter planes took centre stage at key war games in the Philippines on Thursday (April 11), brandishing military might as fresh tensions bubble in the contentious South China Sea.

The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, with at least 10 F-35B stealth jets on deck, stood guard as amphibious tanks rolled onto a Philippine beach located a short sail from islands also claimed by China.

The vessel was in the area for long-running US-Philippine military drills, which come as Manila pushes back against the recent presence of hundreds of Chinese ships near its Pag-asa (Thitu) island. “We cant disclose the official movements of the USS Wasp for security reasons, but they have been operating in the South China Sea region… as part of the exercise,” US spokeswoman Second Lieutenant Tori Sharpe told reporters.

ONGC, Vedanta seek environmental consent for exploration in Cauvery delta region

Vedanta Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) have approached the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) seeking environmental consent to drill 341 wells across the Cauvery delta region to assess the environmental impact for oil and gas exploration.

While Vedanta has sought permission for 274 wells, ONGC would be drilling 67 wells in districts of Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Tiruvarur and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal in Puducherry. Vedanta and ONGC would invest ₹13,500 crore and ₹5,150 crore, respectively and the proposed project by the Vedanta for oil and gas exploration would be done onshore and offshore.

Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in first

Israel’s first spacecraft to the moon was expected to make its historic landing there on Thursday and become the only private-sector craft to do so following a mission that has captivated the nation. If it succeeds, Israel would become the fourth country to reach the moon but by far the smallest, with the United States, Russia and China the other three. The landing was planned to occur at around 10:25 pm (1925 GMT).

French envoy rejects reports of Pak pilots training on Rafale in France

French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler on April 11 dismissed as “fake news” reports that a batch of Pakistani pilots was trained on Rafale fighter jets being procured by Qatari Air Force.

American aviation industry website ainonline.com reported that the first batch of pilots trained on the Rafale fighter jet for Qatar in November 2017 were “Pakistani exchange officers”. “I can confirm that it is fake news,” Ziegler tweeted.

French diplomatic sources said no Pakistani pilots ever trained on Rafale jets in France. There were concerns in the Indian military establishment over the report by the US-based website as India was also procuring 36 Rafale jets from France at a cost of ₹58,000 crore.

Jet on its final descent? Grounds East, NE ops; suspends int’l services for a day

Curtains seem to be finally drawing on crippled Jet Airways as the once-leading carrier on April 11 grounded its services to and from the East and Northeast regions and suspended its international operations for a day.

The drastic measure was announced after the airline informed the exchanges that it was forced to ground 10 more planes due to non-payment of rentals to the lessors.

“Jet Airways flights to London, Amsterdam and Paris from Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru scheduled for April 12 are cancelled for operational reasons” said an airline source close to the development. The airline will not operate on the Bengaluru- Amsterdam-Bengaluru route on April 13 as well. Earlier in the day, the airline announced grounding of 10 more planes due to non-payment of rentals to the lessors.