Here are the day’s top stories

Gandhi family’s SPG security cover withdrawn by Centre, granted Z-plus category protection

The Centre on Friday withdrew the Special Protection Group security cover of interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, The Indian Express reported. They will now be granted Z-plus category protection across India. This entitles them to protection by the Central Reserve Police Force.

Kartarpur: Pakistan goes back on decision to waive fee for Indian pilgrims on inauguration day

Pakistan on Friday informed India it would levy a $20 fee (Rs 1,425) on Indian pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on Saturday, when the Kartarpur Corridor will be inaugurated, India Today reported. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier said the fee would be waived on the day of inauguration.

Maharashtra: Devendra Fadnavis resigns as chief minister

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Maharashtra chief minister on Friday. He handed over the letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Friday. The term of the current Assembly ends on Saturday. If no one stakes claim before the deadline, President’s Rule may be declared in the state.

Tamil Nadu: Rajinikanth says attempts are being made to saffronise him but he ‘will not be trapped’

Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Friday alleged that there were attempts to “saffronise him” and vowed to not fall for them. He added that he will not join the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. Rajinikanth’s statement came days after he met BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan.

Maharashtra: Congress claims MLAs were offered money to switch sides, BJP refutes allegation

The Congress on Friday claimed that “Rs 25 crore to Rs 50 crore” had been offered to its MLAs in Maharashtra to switch sides, PTI reported. This came amid a political deadlock in the state, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena failing to agree on a deal to form the government.

‘Nobody claps with one hand’: SC pulls up lawyers, blames both them and police for clashes

The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up both police and advocates and said that both sides were to blame for the November 2 clash outside Tis Hazari court in New Delhi, NDTV reported. The clash, which began over a parking dispute, led to injuries to around 30 people.

WhatsApp hack: 19 of the Indians targeted ask Centre what it knows about privacy breach

A group of 19 journalists, human rights activists and writers targeted by a spyware developed by Israeli company NSO Group have written a letter to the government, asking it to reveal whatever information it has about the cyber attack, other methods of mass surveillance, and the identity of the suspects.

Air India will protect workers’ interests, airline chief tells employees in open letter

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani on Thursday assured employees that the airline was taking necessary steps to protect their interests, reported ANI. Lohani wrote an open letter to the employees, saying that the company’s disinvestment will enable sustainability and help attain the full inherent potential of the national carrier.

Maharashtra: Shiv Sena calls for Fadnavis’ resignation, asks BJP not to misuse caretaker role

The Shiv Sena on Friday asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to resign, and advised the Bharatiya Janata Party – its senior alliance partner – not to misuse the provision of a “caretaker government” and remain in power amid a political stalemate, PTI reported. The two allies have been unable to come to an agreement over the Shiv Sena’s demand to share the post of chief minister equally.

Delhi: CCTV clip shows DCP Monika Bhardwaj being attacked by suspected lawyers at Tis Hazari court

A group of people, purportedly lawyers, chased senior police officer Monika Bhardwaj during last week’s violence at Delhi’s Tis Hazari court, news reports said, citing CCTV footage that emerged on Thursday.

Bhardwaj, who is the deputy commissioner of police for North Delhi, is seen in the video being shielded by her support staff and some lawyers even as they push back against those chasing her. A fire can be seen raging in the background. No separate first information report has been filed in this specific case of attack, Hindustan Times reported.

On demonetisation anniversary, Opposition leaders blame note ban for economic slowdown

Opposition leaders on Friday blamed the government’s demonetisation exercise for the current economic slowdown. On the third anniversary of the announcement, several Twitter users chastised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cheating the nation.

On November 8, 2016, Modi had announced that the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were then in circulation would no longer be valid.

Cyclone Bulbul becomes ‘very severe’, Odisha and West Bengal prepare for rain

The India Meteorological Department on Friday said that the cyclonic storm Bulbul had intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” over the Bay of Bengal. Bulbul is likely to bring “light to moderate” rain in several areas in north coastal Odisha, with isolated “heavy to very heavy falls”, on Friday and Saturday.

The IMD said “extremely heavy” rainfall could occur along the coast of West Bengal on Saturday.

‘Expected reprisal for Modi article, but not a severing’: Writer Aatish Taseer on losing OCI status

Writer and journalist Aatish Taseer on Friday said it was hard not to feel that India’s withdrawal of his Overseas Citizen status was a punishment for an article he wrote in May that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In an article in Time magazine on Friday, Taseer admitted that he had “expected a reprisal” for the article, “but not a severing”.

Moody’s cuts down India outlook to ‘negative’, but government says fundamentals remain robust

Credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has revised its outlook on India’s ratings to “negative” from “stable”, citing increased risks that are likely to keep economic growth slower than in the past. The announcement came amid a consistent slowdown of the Indian economic growth, which recorded a six-year low of 5% during the first quarter of 2019-’20 financial year.

The Finance Ministry responded to Moody’s announcement, reiterating that the country was among the fastest-growing major economies in the world. “...India’s relative standing remains unaffected,” the statement said. “As India’s potential growth rate remains unchanged, assessment by IMF and other multilateral organizations continue to underline a positive outlook on India.”

Delhi government’s claim that air pollution levels reduced by 25% is false, says Greenpeace India

Environmental group Greenpeace India on Thursday said the Delhi government’s claim that air pollution levels have reduced by 25% over the past few years was false, reported PTI. The Aam Aadmi Party government has claimed recently that PM2.5 levels in the city averaged 115 micrograms per cubic metre between 2016 and 2018, down from 154 micrograms per cubic metre between 2012 and 2014.

PEN America, CPJ criticise India for withdrawing writer Aatish Taseer’s OCI status

Free speech organisation PEN America and the Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday criticised India for its decision to cancel writer and journalist Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India status.

PEN America said the decision was a punishment for an article Taseer had written criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The organisation called India’s decision a “worrying move”, and asked the government to stop the “judicial harassment of Taseer immediately”.

‘New map accurately shows Indian territory,’ says MEA after Nepal raises border dispute

India on Thursday said it had not made any change to its border with Nepal in a newly-released map and that it depicts its sovereign territory accurately, PTI reported. Nepal had on Wednesday objected to the Kalapani area being shown as part of Indian territory.

“Our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism. We reiterate our commitment to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations.”

Delhi government demands supply of onions from Centre as prices rise sharply

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday that the state government has demanded that the Centre supply it with more onions as the vegetable’s prices continue to surge, PTI reported. The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government’s demand came after onion prices rose from Rs 55 per kilogram on October 1 to Rs 80 per kg by Thursday.

Tripura: Bru refugees withdraw road blockade as state government promises to resume ration supplies

Bru refugees in Tripura on Thursday withdrew their indefinite road blockade after Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma announced restoration of ration supplies to the makeshift camps, PTI reported.

The refugees had started their road blockade on October 31 between Dasda town and Anandanagar in North Tripura. They were protesting against the Centre’s decision to stop food and cash benefits given to them. The supplies were stopped on October 1 by the administration to comply with the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Navjot Sidhu gets political clearance to attend Kartarpur inauguration in Pakistan: Reports

Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday got political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan on November 9, unidentified officials told PTI. Earlier in the day, Sidhu had said he would visit Pakistan for the ceremony if the Centre did not reply to his multiple letters asking permission for the same.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said it has issued a visa for Sidhu to attend the inauguration of Kartarpur corridor on November 9.

Ayodhya verdict: Home Ministry asks all states to enhance security, sends extra personnel to UP

The Union Home Ministry on Thursday asked all states, in particular Uttar Pradesh, to enhance security ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case, the Hindustan Times reported. The verdict is expected any day before November 17, when Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires.

Kartarpur Corridor: Remove welcome video showing Khalistani separatists, India tells Pakistan

The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday asked Pakistan to remove an objectionable welcome video created for pilgrims visiting a Sikh shrine in Kartarpur in which Khalistani separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, are seen.

The video released by the Pakistani government shows a poster with the images of three Khalistani separatist leaders of the early 1980s in the background – Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa. The poster has the message “Khalistan 2020”, a reference to a referendum planned by separatists on the question of a separate Sikh homeland.