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35 killed as overloaded minibus falls into gorge in Jammu and Kashmir

27-seater vehicle was carrying 52 persons; helicopters shift injured

Help at hand: A rescue operation under way after the accident in Kishtwar on Monday. ANI ANI

Thirty-five passengers died and 17 were injured when an overloaded minibus failed to negotiate a curve on the Keshwan-Thakrai road and fell into a gorge at Sorgwari in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

“The minibus was overloaded. Initial reports suggest the driver was driving fast,” said Deputy Commissioner of Kishtwar Angrez Singh Rana.

A case was registered and investigation ordered, he added.

The 27-seater bus, with 52 passengers, was heading to Kishtwar from Keshwan when the accident took place at 7.30 a.m., an official said.

Helicopters were pressed into service to rush the injured to hospital in Jammu and to retrieve the bodies. The victim include 13 women, a 45-day-old infant and three teenagers.

Governor Satya Pal Malik announced ₹5 lakh in ex gratia to the next of the kin. “Most accidents take place due to careless and untrained drivers who drive without any regard for rules and regulations and become the reason for the loss of so many precious lives,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

Coalition govt. shaken as two Cong. MLAs quit in Karnataka

Rebel members Anand Singh, Ramesh Jarkiholi resign

In a fresh trouble for the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government in Karnataka, Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi resigned from the Assembly on Monday, bringing the party’s strength down to 77.

Mr. Singh represents Vijaynagara in Ballari district, while Mr. Jarkiholi was elected from Gokak in Belagavi district. Both have earlier been identified with the “rebel” camp that has threatened to destabilise the government.

Exits contained?

Despite widespread speculation that more resignations would follow, the number stayed at two at the end of the day. The developments come even as Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is in the U.S. on a private visit.

Mr. Singh submitted his resignation letter to Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar and later met Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan before announcing that he had resigned.

He cited the Kumaraswamy government’s decision to sell 3,667.31 acres to JSW Steel in Ballari and the “injustice” meted out to the district as the prime reasons for his resignation.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had faxed his resignation letter to the Speaker, has been threatening to quit the party ever since he was dropped from the Cabinet in December 2018. He has also been leading a group of disgruntled Congress legislators.

The Congress has been fighting dissidence since the formation of the coalition government.

SC slaps contempt notice on Bengal in Mamata meme case

Court asks why BJP leader was not released on May 14 after being granted bail

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a contempt notice to West Bengal for keeping BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma behind bars overnight despite its order on May 14 to release her immediately on bail.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, issued the notice returnable in four weeks.

It has thus carried out what a Vacation Bench, led by Justice Indira Banerjee, threatened on May 15 when the latter heard that Ms. Sharma had not yet been released by the State authorities despite the specific order of the court.

Ms. Sharma was arrested and sent to 14 days of custody for allegedly posting a morphed image of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.

The court called her arrest “prima facie arbitrary” in the first place. However, on May 14, while granting Ms. Sharma bail, the Vacation Bench asked her to apologise for the “meme”.

The apology was not a condition for her release, though.

But the next day, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul for Ms. Sharma informed the Vacation Bench that the State chose to defy the judicial order of her release. He said Ms. Sharma was not released from jail on May 14. Her lawyers, who went to secure her release, were told off by the jail authorities. The latter had even asked them to either produce certified copies of the bail order or approach the local court for her release.

Counsel for West Bengal tried to placate the court, saying the jail authorities were merely following the jail manual. “A Supreme Court order for immediate release has precedence over a jail manual,” Justice Banerjee shot back at the lawyer.

Closure report

Mr. Kaul also informed the court that the police had filed a closure report in the case of criminal defamation foisted against Ms. Sharma. The report was filed on May 13, but the information was not disclosed to the Supreme Court by the government during the May 14 bail hearing.

Ms. Sharma had shared on Facebook a photo in which Ms. Banerjee’s face was photoshopped on to actor Priyanka Chopra’s picture from the MET Gala event in New York.

Iran breaches limit on uranium stockpile

Will move ahead with our plans: Zarif

Mohammad Javad Zarif says EU measures are not enough to save the deal. APAP

Iran has broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, international inspectors and said on Monday, marking its first major departure from the unravelling agreement a year after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from it.

The announcement by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and later confirmation by the UN nuclear watchdog put new pressure on European nations trying to save the deal amid President Donald Trump’s maximalist campaign targeting Tehran. Iran separately threatens to raise its uranium enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe fails to offer it a new deal.

Speaking to journalists in Tehran, Mr. Zarif acknowledged that Iran had broken through the limit set by the accord.

“We had previously announced this and we have said it transparently what we are going to do,” he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency later said its Director-General had informed officials that it verified on Monday that Iran had broken through the limit.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 300 kg of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%. Previously, Iran enriched as high as 20%, a short technical step away from weapons-grade levels.

The “actions of the Europeans have not been enough so the Islamic Republic will move ahead with its plans as it has previously announced,” Mr. Zarif said.

Hong Kong protesters storm legislature in a challenge to China

Police fire tear-gas shells and retake the building

Under siege: Protesters trying to smash a glass door at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday. AFPAFP

Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong stormed the legislature on Monday — the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to China — destroying pictures and daubing walls with graffiti, in a direct challenge to Beijing as anger over an extradition Bill spiralled out of control.

Some carried road signs, others corrugated iron sheets and pieces of scaffolding as about thousand people gathered around the Legislative Council building in the heart of the former British colony’s financial district. Some sat at legislators’ desks, while others scrawled “anti-extradition” on the chamber’s walls.

Work on Bill stopped

The government called for an immediate end to the violence, saying it had stopped all work on extradition Bill amendments and the legislation would automatically lapse in July next year.

“Some radical protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex with extreme violence,” a government spokesman said in a statement.

A small group, comprising largely of students wearing hard hats and masks, had used a metal trolley, poles and scaffolding to charge again and again at the compound’s reinforced glass doors, which eventually gave in. The Council issued a red alert, ordering the protesters to leave immediately.

The Legislative Council Secretariat released a statement cancelling business for Tuesday. The central government offices said they would close on Tuesday “owing to security consideration”.

Banners hanging over flyovers at the protest site read: “Free Hong Kong.”

The police retook the legislature from protesters early on Tuesday after firing tear-gas shells.

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