Here are the day’s biggest stories:

Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for terrorism abroad, says PM Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said his government will not allow the country’s territory to be used for terrorism. “This government will not allow Pakistan’s land to be used for any kind of outside terrorism,” Khan said on Friday at a public rally in Tharparkar district of Sindh province.

Tamil Nadu CM asks Narendra Modi to confer the Param Vir Chakra award on IAF pilot Abhinandan

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to confer the Param Vir Chakra on Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. Pakistani F-16 aircraft had shot down Varthaman’s MiG-21 jet inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 27, and he was captured. Pakistan released Varthaman on March 1.

Gujarat: Senior Congress leader Jawahar Chavda resigns as MLA, joins BJP

Gujarat Congress MLA Jawahar Chavda resigned from the state Assembly on Friday and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party hours later. He is the third Congress MLA to have resigned from the House in the past few months. “I am happy to join the BJP and will serve the party with loyalty,” he said.

Narendra Modi says UP government acted quickly against ‘misguided people’ who attacked Kashmiri men

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the Uttar Pradesh government has quickly acted against some “misguided” people who attacked two Kashmiris in Lucknow on Wednesday. “It is important to maintain the country’s unity,” he said at an event in Kanpur. “I urge other states to take strict action against those who try to commit such violence.”

Gujarat: Senior Congress leader Jawahar Chavda resigns as MLA, joins BJP

Gujarat Congress MLA Jawahar Chavda resigned from the state Assembly on Friday and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party hours later. He is the third Congress MLA to have resigned from the House in the past few months.

‘Warriors don’t count casualties’: Rajnath Singh criticises those seeking proof of IAF strikes

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday criticised the Opposition for demanding proof of the Indian Air Force’s strike in Pakistan on February 26. Speaking at a rally in Rajasthan’s Beawar, Singh said the Opposition was questioning the IAF instead of congratulating it, and added that warriors do not count the people who are killed in war.

CBSE files FIRs against those circulating ‘fake news’ about question paper leak on social media

The Central Board of Secondary Education on Friday said it had registered two first information reports with the Delhi Police against those allegedly circulating “fake news” about leaked question papers on social media. The board in a statement said it has asked the police to take strict action against the accused.

Baijayant Panda appointed national vice president and spokesperson of BJP

Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier this week, was on Friday appointed its national vice president and spokesperson. Party chief Amit Shah made the appointment, which will be effective immediately.

Odisha: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi promises free education for women in state if voted to power

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday promised free education for women in Odisha if his party is voted to power. He also vowed to work for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. Speaking on International Women’s Day, he also said the Congress will adopt a policy of “zero tolerance” towards atrocities against women.

Rajasthan: MiG-21 aircraft crashes near Bikaner, pilot ejects safely

A MiG-21 aircraft crashed near Bikaner in Rajasthan on Friday. The aircraft was on a routine mission from Nal near Bikaner. The pilot ejected safely, reports said. The fighter jet crashed in the Shoba Sar ki Dhani area. A court of inquiry will be constituted to investigate the incident.

Aircel-Maxis case: Court extends protection from arrest to P Chidambaram and son Karti till March 25

A Delhi court on Friday extended the interim protection granted to former Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram in connection with the Aircel-Maxis case until March 25, PTI reported. The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are investigating the cases.

‘India and Pakistan must convert crisis into opportunity’: China says its mediation efforts are on

China on Friday urged India and Pakistan to transform a crisis into an opportunity. Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during a press conference on the sidelines of a session of China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress, said Beijing hopes the rival nations will replace confrontation with dialogue.

Ayodhya verdict: BJP leader KP Maurya says he won’t question SC, but mediation did not work earlier

Political leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party appeared cautious following the Ayodhya case verdict on Friday. Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said he “won’t question” the Supreme Court order, but added that efforts made to arrive at a solution to the dispute in the past had failed. “No Lord Ram devotee or saint wants a delay in the construction of the temple,” he added.

Kummanam Rajasekharan resigns as Mizoram governor, likely to contest Lok Sabha elections

Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan resigned from his post on Friday, weeks before the Lok Sabha elections. Rajasekharan was the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kerala unit before he was appointed governor of Mizoram in May 2018. BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai said that the Kerala unit “as a whole supports him [Rajasekharan] to be the candidate of Thiruvananthapuram [constituency in the Lok Sabha election]”. Shashi Tharoor of the Congress currently represents the seat in the Lower House of Parliament.

Samajwadi Party, DMK and TRS accounted for 46% of regional parties’ income in 2017-’18, says report

The Samajwadi Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Telangana Rashtra Samithi accounted for 46% of the income of 37 regional parties in India in 2017-’18, according to a report. The report, which was published on Thursday, said the three parties earned a total of Rs 110.21 crore with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party reporting the highest income of Rs 47.19 crore. The MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam reported an income of Rs 35.748 crore and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi said it made Rs 27.27 crore in that financial year.

EC bribery case: Delhi HC stays trial against ousted AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran

The Delhi High Court Friday on Friday issued an interim stay order on the trial against former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran in the the two-leaves party symbol bribery case involving the Election Commission. In November 2018, a Delhi trial court had ordered the framing of criminal conspiracy and other charges against the ousted leader. Dhinakaran is currently out on bail.

Nirav Modi’s bungalow in Alibaug demolished using explosives

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s seaside bungalow in Alibaug town near Mumbai was demolished on Friday using explosives. Raigad District Collector Vijay Suryawanshi said it was a controlled blast. Suryawanshi had said in January that the bungalow was illegally built and violated several norms of the coastal regulation zone as well as the state.

UP: Samajwadi Party announces first list of candidates, Mulayam Singh to contest from Mainpuri

The Samajwadi Party on Friday released the first list of six candidates to contest in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections. Party founder and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav will contest from Mainpuri seat.

World Health Organisation appoints Soumya Swaminathan chief scientist of new division

The World Health Organization appointed Soumya Swaminathan the chief scientist who will head a new division created to strengthen the body’s work and ensure that quality standards are met. She will work out of Geneva in Switzerland.

Aadhaar: Business entities to be charged Rs 20 for each customer verification

The Unique Identification Authority of India has announced that business organisations using Aadhaar services will now have to pay Rs 20 for each customer verification and 50 paise for authentication of each transaction carried out by the entities.

Activist Sudha Bharadwaj to be featured in Harvard exhibition on women’s contribution in law, policy

Activist Sudha Bharadwaj is among the women included in the 6th Harvard Law International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit. Lawyer Menaka Guruswamy, who in the Supreme Court argued against parts of Section 377 that criminalised homosexual activity, will also be featured.

Supreme Court appoints a panel of mediators to find solution to Ayodhya land dispute

The Supreme Court on Friday appointed a three-member panel of mediators to find a “permanent solution” to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya. On Wednesday, the court had reserved its order on whether to send the dispute to be solved through mediation.

Jammu blast: Toll rises to two, political party and separatist leaders condemn attack

The toll in the Jammu bus station blast rose to two after a 32-year-old Kashmiri man injured in the attack died on Friday. Officials identified the deceased as Mohammad Riyaz, a resident of Anantnag district’s Mattan village.

Women are backbone of our society’: Leaders call for equality on International Women’s Day

Political leaders across the spectrum extended greetings on International Women’ Day on Friday. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted their greetings.

Sunanda Pushkar case: Shashi Tharoor accuses ex-AIIMS forensic chief of hiding autopsy report

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday accused former All India Institute of Medical Sciences forensic chief Sudhir Gupta of hiding the postmortem report of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. He has been accused of abetting her suicide.

Ayodhya: Supreme Court to announce verdict on referring case for mediation today

The Supreme Court will declare its decision on referring the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya for mediation as a “permanent solution” on Friday. On Wednesday, the court had reserved its order in the case. The counsels for the Hindu Mahasabha, the deity Ram Lalla, and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Uttar Pradesh government have opposed mediation.

Google celebrates International Women’s Day with doodle of inspirational quotes of 13 women

Google on Friday celebrated International Women’s Day with a doodle illustrating inspirational quotes from 13 women, including Olympic boxer Mary Kom and Indian Foreign Service Officer NL Beno Zephine. The slideshow has quotes written in various languages.

Kerala Police kill suspected Maoist in Wayanad, search underway for accomplices

Kerala Police said they had killed suspected Maoist CP Jaleel in an encounter in Wayanad on Thursday. Inspector General of Police Balramkumar Upadhyay said they were searching for his associates. The police said they were tipped off about the group’s presence at a resort in Vythiri where they had allegedly gone to extort money and collect food.

Lok Sabha polls: Congress releases first list of 15 candidates, Rahul Gandhi to contest from Amethi

The Congress on Thursday announced that party chief Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha elections from its traditional bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. His mother and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi will contest the polls from Rae Bareli constituency in the state. The two were part of the party’s first list of 15 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.