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New Delhi, Aug 24  :  BJP stalwart and former finance minister Arun Jaitley died on Saturday at AIIMS . He was 66.

In a brief statement, the hospital said Jaitley died at 12.07 pm.

It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Arun Jaitley, former Finance Minister of Government of India, at 12.07 pm on August 24, the AIIMS said.

Jaitley was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here on August 9 and was treated by a multi-disciplinary team of senior doctors.

Hospital sources had earlier said he was on life support.

Jaitley, a lawyer by profession, had been a key member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet in the BJP government's first term. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government.

Jaitley did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election, because of his ill-health.

In May this year, Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS for treatment.

He had undergone a renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal filling in for him in the finance ministry at that time.

Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April last year, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018.

In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.

New Delhi   :   The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is peaceful and no violence has been reported from anywhere in the state, the state police tweeted.

"There has been no untoward incident barring minor stone-pelting which was dealt with on the spot and was nipped in the bud," Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said.

He was asked about the situation in the state after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Delhi that the situation in the new Union Territory had has deteriorated.

Minutes after Mr Gandhi made the statement, the Srinagar police tweeted that the situation was peaceful.                                                                                                         [Agencies]

NEW DELHI  :    Sonia Gandhi will return as Congress president for now, two years after she handed the top job to her son Rahul Gandhi, the party's top decision-making body, the Working Committee, decided on Saturday after a 12-hour meeting. Pitching it as a stop-gap measure, the party said it will pick a new president when its plenary session is held later this year. Rahul Gandhi had quit the party's top post in May after its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha election and subsequently refused the party's requests to withdraw his resignation. On Saturday morning, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had excused themselves from group meetings held to decide on a new chief, saying they cannot be part of the selection process. Despite Rahul Gandhi's insistence, the party failed to come up with a non-Gandhi alternative.                                       [Agencies]

New Delhi  :   Jammu and Kashmir will not remain a Union Territory for long, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured in his address to the nation this evening on the government's move to end special powers to the state and splitting it into two union territories. PM Modi also assured that the situation in the state would return to normal soon.

"This was a step taken after a lot of thought... I don't think there will be a need to keep Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory for long, though Union Territory status will be retained for Ladakh," PM Modi said in a 38-minute speech. The reason, he indicated, was that Central rule over the last year has been beneficial to the state and led to good governance. 

"We want elections to be held. People will soon get a chance to choose their elected representatives. They will choose their MLAs, their ministers and their Chief Minister," he added.

"Some people are opposed to the government move, I respect their opposition, it is essential in a democracy. The Centre is responding to them and is working to improve things. I urge them to act in the nation's interest and help the government and the nation in creating a new environment in the region," he said.

Earlier in parliament, Union Minister Amit Shah had also said that Jammu and Kashmir will only be a Union Territory "for the time being". PM Modi said Central rule has been beneficial and led to good governance in Jammu and Kashmir.

The government's decision can only bring about positive changes in the lives of the common man, the Prime Minister said. It would mean protection of Indian laws, industrialisation, a boost in tourism and employment. Politically, not much will change, he assured.

Article 370, from which Jammu and Kashmir drew its special status, also gave the people "nepotism, terrorism and separatism and nothing else, he said, pointing out that over the last three decades, more than "42,000 innocents have been killed" in the state.

Calling the government's decision "historic", he said it is the beginning of a "new era" when all citizens have equal rights and responsibilities.

Indian laws -- which protect the rights of a billion people -- will now be available to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which had its own penal code - the Ranbir Penal Code - as part of its special status.

"1.5 crore people never benefitted from the country's laws," he said. "The right to education never reached Jammu and Kashmir's children, sanitation workers never got benefits, strong laws to prevent atrocities on Dalits weren't applicable, laws protecting the rights of minorities were skipped, labour laws never reached its people," he said.

Since Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir has been paralysed by an unprecedented lockdown to prevent any backlash over the government's big move. 

More than 50000 security personnel have been pushed into Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the existing troops. There has been a complete communications blackout - as part of which phone services and internet connections have been snapped.

Prohibitory orders are in place as part of which large gatherings and meetings are banned and the state's mainstream political leaders, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been under arrest                                                         [Agencies]