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28 November 2015

Gunman arrested after deadly Colorado shootings kill three
Colorado : Nov 28, 2015
Three people were killed and nine wounded on Friday when a gunman opened fire at a family planning centre in Colorado, officials said. The gunman is currently in custody.
“I want to convey to the loved ones of the victims, this is a terrible, terrible tragedy that occurred here in Colorado Springs today,” Mayor John Suthers told reporters. “Obviously, we lost two civilian victims, we mourn the loss of a very brave police officer.”
Mayor John Suthers paid tribute to police for getting the gunman into custody without further bloodshed at the Planned Parenthood building, where people scrambled into a safe room in a desperate bid to save themselves.
“I was watching the officers’ movement within the building on security cameras and communicating to the officers who were in the building and it was the most incredible work of officers trying to minimize the fatalities and get this guy in custody,” he said.
“I was just incredibly impressed. While it’s a terrible, terrible tragedy, the way the police handled this kept it from being an even worse tragedy.”
It was also not immediately clear if the Planned Parenthood family planning centre had been specifically targeted.
Abortion is one of the services provided for women by Planned Parenthood and the association has become a lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives.
The women’s health care giant has also been mired in a months-long scandal after anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded videos showing the organization’s officials discussing use of aborted foetal tissue for medical research.
Gunfire rings out
Earlier, there had been fears that the unidentified gunman might have explosives with him, and police were carefully combing the scene after the siege came to an end when he surrendered.
Speaking at the scene before the standoff ended, police spokeswoman Lieutenant Catherine Buckley warned that the gunman had taken “items” and bags inside the building with him.
An unknown number of people were left inside the clinic with the shooting, on what had been a regular working day at Planned Parenthood, a day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
A sheriff’s department SWAT team with at least one armoured vehicle and several ambulances had also been on standby, as the evening drew in on the snowy scene. The immediate vicinity was placed on lockdown and people were told to stay indoors.
Buckley said the shooter was armed with some kind of “long weapon” with a shoulder stock such as a rifle and some witnesses reported hearing automatic fire.
Specific target?
Quan Hoang, the owner of a nearby nail salon, told CNN that when he heard the gunfire break out, he feared a robbery was under way at a bank in the shopping area, which would have been bustling with people looking to pick up a bargain in the Black Friday sales.
“And we see cops, SWAT, the bomb squad, a whole bunch of people just trying to take cover around the Planned Parenthood area,” he said by telephone.
“An officer came back in and said, ‘Is everyone safe?’ We asked him questions and he said they’ve barricaded him inside the Planned Parenthood and he was shooting out from the windows.”
A White House official said that President Barack Obama had been notified of the incident by his Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco.
Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said that her initial information was that none of her staff or patients had been killed or injured.
Cowart said that she did not believe the centre had been specifically targeted.
“We’re very pleased that our own security systems were operating at top-notch,” she told CNN.
That included rushing into a safe room.
“They were able to hunker down and some got out early throughout the afternoon, but those that didn’t were in a safe spot,” Cowart said.

Delhi: ATM cash van driver who fled with Rs 22.5 crore held
New Delhi | Updated: Nov 27, 2015
The driver of a cash van who disappeared transporting Rs 22.5 crore in hard cash for refilling AXIS Bank ATMs across south-east Delhi was arrested early on Friday.
Delhi Police recovered the cash from his possession. An amount of Rs 11,000 was said to be missing, sources said.
A hunt was launched after SIS, the private security agency hired by Axis Bank to transport cash, rang up police control room around 5.30pm on Thursday to inform that one of its drivers fled with a Mahindra pick-up van stashed with money on the way from Vikaspuri to Okhla.
The driver, Pradeep Shukla, is from Uttar Pradesh and had joined the agency recently.
Read: Delhi: Driver of ATM cash van flees with Rs 22.5 crore

According to police, Shukla left the van near a petrol pump in Okhla and then hid in a warehouse.
Shukla took the metal box with cash along in the godown and slept off while police teams suspected he had fled to his hometown in UP.
Shukla reportedly switched off his phone so that his location could not be traced through technical surveillance.
Police traced the van fitted with a GPS tracker system near the Okhla industrial area.
Shukla had left the bank’s Vikaspuri office along with armed guard Vinay Patel around 3.30pm. When they reached Captain Gaur Marg near Govindpuri around 5pm, Patel asked the driver to stop as he wanted to go to the washroom.
As he got down, Shukla told him that he would keep driving and return because parking the vehicle there might cause a traffic jam. “Patel said the van never came back and he called the bank after waiting 10-15 minutes,” an officer said.
Axis Bank assured that the cash was “fully insured” and “neither the bank nor the customer would get affected”. It said the van didn’t belong to the bank and the driver was not its employee.

No ‘socialist and secular’ in Delhi govt’s ad on Constitution day
New Delhi : Nov 26,Delhi government apologised on Thursday after its advertisements published in major newspapers to commemorate Constitution Day quoted an earlier version of the Preamble that omitted the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’, triggering a controversy.
“The chief minister has taken a stern view of the matter and has directed the Director of Information and Publicity to conduct an inquiry and submit a report within four days,” a government statement said.Officials said the DIP director has been asked to ascertain how such important components of the Preamble went missing from the text. The inquiry will focus on whether some mischief was involved in this matter, the statement said.
The Centre and the states have gone all out to celebrate the first Constitution Day to mark the occasion when the Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. It came into force on January 26, 1950, India’s Republic Day.The two words were not a part of the original Preamble of the Constitution but were introduced through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act in 1976.The episode is an embarrassment for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party that had criticised the NDA government at the Centre when a similar mistake was spotted in official advertisements on Republic Day earlier this year.The Opposition had piled on the BJP, saying the omission indicated a clear agenda by the NDA against India’s secular fabric, the charges coming in the backdrop of a controversial conversion programme of Ghar Wapsi by Hindu groups.




Under fire, Aamir asks wife Kiran to leave Mumbai for a few days
New Delhi : Nov 25 Bollywood star Aamir Khan, whose comments over growing intolerance in India has drawn the ire of right-wing Hindus, has asked his wife Kiran and their child to leave Mumbai for a few days for the sake of their safety, a source close to the family told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
Khan, 50, is under attack from the BJP and other Hindu groups for revealing his wife had suggested moving abroad following a spate of communal incidents in the country. Noisy protests have been reported from outside his residence in Mumbai as well as Patna, where angry Hindu activists painted his posters with black ink before setting them on fire.“Aamir has asked Kiran to leave Mumbai for 2-3 days since he has been worried about her safety. They have decided to not talk further on this issue,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
“The actor feels that he has already expressed his opinion on the matter and has nothing to clarify.”Read: For revealing intolerance fears, radicals brand Aamir a traitorNeither the actor nor his wife took calls from HT through Tuesday.A complaint has also been registered at a police station in New Delhi against Khan who made his comments over intolerance at a media awards event in the city on Monday.“Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me,” Khan had said.“She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet.”
Khan’s anxiety about his family’s safety may not be misplaced as a barrage of controversial Hindu leaders such as BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi fired a barrage of shots at him.
“Out of Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel, they (Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan) should disclose the name of the country where they want to go. We will arrange tickets for them,” said Prachi.
For his part, Adityanath said: “Those who want to leave (India) must not be stopped.”A complaint was also registered at a police station in Delhi against him.Senior ministers also spoke out against Khan but the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have backed the popular artist.
Khan has been sucked into a swirling debate over growing intolerance in the country with opposition parties accusing tacit approval by the ruling BJP was behind the spike in sectarian violence, such as Mohammad Ikhlaq’s mob lynching and the killing of Dalit children in Faridabad.




Drop in public, private investments top concerns for growth: Rajan
Hong Kong: Nov 20,RBI chief Raghuram Rajan said Asia’s third-largest economy is being hampered by a drop in public and private investments, but held out hope that strong foreign capital flows will help rectify this weakness. Weak capital investment has been a hurdle in India’s quest to realise its growth potential and with factories running 30% below capacity, private companies are in no rush to invest in new projects. “On the growth front, the central concern is with investments,” said Rajan, who was speaking at a business event in Hong Kong on Friday. “Private investment has fallen back quite a bit and so has public investment.” The RBI has cut its growth forecast for the current fiscal year to 7.4% from 7.6% previously, well below the government’s target of 8 to 8.5%, but still faster than China. Despite the slowdown in growth and investments, Rajan said strong foreign direct investment and some traction in infrastructure development may encourage private investments.
During the period from January to June, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into India rose to $19.4 billion, up 30% from a year earlier, a sign of what the government called investors’ growing confidence in the country.
Earlier this month, India eased foreign direct investment norms in 15 major sectors, including mining, defence, civil aviation and broadcasting.
“We are seeing a lot of traction in FDI, in both announcements and actual investments on the ground,” Rajan said. “Once we start seeing a little stronger demand, we will start seeing more projects being pulled out of the drawer.” The central bank cut the benchmark policy rate by a half percentage point to 6.75% in September, after months of pleading by government leaders and industrial groups for more stimulus to stoke growth.
He declined to comment on the appropriate level of the rupee, but said policy makers should guard against a debt build-up in the global economy in another swipe at quantitative easing policies pursued by global central banks. Rajan has been an ardent critic of the ultra-easing policies of the Fed and other central banks, warning that cheap money was creating dangerous leverage in the global financial system and posed problems for emerging markets. However, he said the global economy isn’t likely to remain in a long period of sub-par growth. “I would doubt this (low-growth) is a twenty-year phenomenon and I think we should be coming out of it,” Rajan said. “That is why we should be careful of creating an environment that leads to a significant creation of debt.”



To end fake profiles, cheating: ID proof, norms for matrimonial sites
New Delhi, Nov 19, 2015

A proof of identity may soon be a must for joining a matrimonial website with the government working on guidelines to regulate online matchmaking market as complaints of fake profiles, cyber stalking and cheating rise.
The government on Tuesday set up a five member inter-ministerial panel to draft the guidelines that would have to be submitted within a fortnight to the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), sources said.
A passport or a voter identity card, or any such proof held valid by the government, may have to be submitted, sources said.
According to industry insiders, the online matchmaking market, which is unregulated, is valued at least ` 400 crore with at least 18-20 big players.
Bharatmatrimony is the biggest of them all with 1.4 million profiles followed by that claims to have 1.2 million users.
These sites, said source, would have to also strengthen their grievance redressal mechanism and address complaints in a timebound manner.
“Once approved, the guidelines would be notified by the IT ministry under the IT act,” said a senior women and child development (WCD) ministry official. DeitY works under the IT ministry.
India has around 375 million internet users, the third largest in the world. By December, India would overtake the US to have the world’s second largest user base of 402 million, Internet and Mobile Association of India said in a statement.
Bulk of the internet users are young, many of whom go online in search of a partner. Parents, too, are increasingly relying on the web to find a suitable match for their children.
The guidelines, officials said, would be similar to the ones framed in 2011 to regulate cyber cafes that are prohibited from giving access to users without a proof of identity. Enforcement of these guidelines, however, remains erratic.
While appreciating the need for a more robust architecture to check fraud, websites are apprehensive that stringent norms could hit business. “Regulation is welcome but it should be inclusive. Any regulation framed should not be discriminatory that drives away people from registering at such sites,” said Nilanjan Roy of who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Swamped by complaints of cheating from women, WCD minister Maneka Gandhi had last year called for tighter checks.

Intolerance debate created by those being paid money: VK Singh
The debate over intolerance in India is an “unnecessary” creation of very imaginative minds being “paid with a lot of money”, Union minister VK Singh has alleged, asserting that it was a politically motivated move before the Bihar polls.“This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid with a lot of money,” minister of state for external affairs Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at Los Angeles.Attending the two-day event in place of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who had to return mid-way from Dubai in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Singh alleged that debate over intolerance in India was politically motivated and purposefully generated before the Bihar Assembly elections.“I do not want to comment on how Indian media works. And I will take you back about all the funny things that are being talked about intolerance, what you are meaning. When the Delhi (Assembly) elections took place, suddenly we found a spate of articles and a lot of hysteria that was created that churches are being attacked, the Christian community is being isolated etc,” Singh, who is a former army chief, said in response to a question on intolerance in India.
“A small incidence of theft in a church was depicted as an attack on church. Why? Because there was somebody who was trying to garner the votes, and the media was playing the ball. Whether it was being paid or not paid, I do not know. That’s a decision or opinion that you have to make,” he said.“I am just giving you the facts. The day that election was over all the hoopla was gone,” he alleged.“Same is (the case with) this intolerance debate. The moment Bihar elections are over everything is gone. So lets not unnecessarily do things, which are wrong. All these people who were talking of intolerance and I would like you to put it down in your papers what happened when a Gandhian (Anna Hazare) in his 70s protesting against corruption was picked up in the middle of a night and put into Tihar (Jail). Which was the government in place at that time?” he asked.“Have these people got any moral authority to even speak anything. So lets not unnecessarily confuse ourselves with this that is happening and lesson is for the Indian media,” Singh said.





Security guards allegedly gangrape woman who was in Bengaluru to enrol for tennis training

BENGALURU,12 November 2015: A woman who was in the city to enrol for tennis training was allegedly gangraped near the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) in Central Bengaluru's Cubbon Park on Wednesday night.
The survivor, who is in her early 30s, had come to Bengaluru from the neighbouring district of Tumku to sign up for training at KSLTA, but was stranded in the Karnataka capital.
"She came from Tumkur yesterday (Wednesday) with the intention of joining the tennis club inside the park, however the club was closed by then and she was asked to come back the next day," said Sandeep Patil, deputy commissioner of police. Around 9pm, the two security guards, who according to reports work with the horticulture department, saw her near the club and started talking to her. "They told her that they would help her with the way. As they were walking near Siddalingaiah circle the park, they raped her," Patil added. The guards left the woman by the side of the road.
Police said that two constables on night patrol found her by the road and that's when they heard about the rape. Based on the survivor's statement, the security guards of the tennis association were arrested on rape charges.
This is the third such incident in the last two months. On October 5, a BPO employee was allegedly raped by the driver and cleaner of a minivan and dropped off just metres from the Madiwala Police Station in the IT City. A week ago, another young woman was allegedly gangraped on a moving mini-bus in Hoskote, 40 km from Bengaluru.

Irked by govt, military veterans to return medals today
Delhi : Nov 10, IST Retired military personnel are set to return their medals on Tuesday to protest against the government notification on implementation of the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme, which they have rejected.The move is also a response to defence minister Manohar Parrikar ’s remarks that not all the demands of the veterans can be met.In Delhi, medals will be returned outside the busy terminal 1 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). Group captain (retired) VK Gandhi, general secretary of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said veterans would return medals at crowded places to educate the common man about the issue.“We reject the OROP notification by the government. We will continue with (our) agitation and intensify it further,” he said.
“Will request all ex-servicemen to return their medals and explain to citizens that OROP has not been given to us...The OROP notification issued by the government doesn’t meet the definition of one rank, one pension. In fact, it murders the definition of OROP,” Gandhi told ANI.
Read | Govt issues notification for OROP implementation, veterans unhappyThe government on Saturday formally notified the OROP scheme that will benefit more than 2.4 million veterans and 600,000 war widows. However, the scheme was rejected by former military personnel, who launched a movement earlier this year to pressure the government to accept their demands.The OROP scheme is aimed at ensuring that all retired personnel, who have the same rank and length of service, receive the same amount of pension, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Under the existing policy, military personnel who retired before 2006 receive less pension than those who retired later.Earlier, Gandhi told the media that the government had “inserted provisions” into the notification that had complicated the issue. “We want OROP as per the definition. No junior should get more pension than his senior,” he said.Veterans will start returning their medals during November 10-11 and district magistrates across the country have been informed about the protest, he said.
Read | Key features of OROP and why ex-servicemen are still complaining Defence minister Parrikar has said that everyone has the right to make a demand in a democracy but not all demands can be fulfilled. He said “maximum” demands of the veterans had been fulfilled and a judicial commission to be set up by the government will look into their problems.
The veterans have also met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and briefed him about the OROP issue. “He has said in the coming days, he will take up the issue, address a press conference and visit the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar,” Gandhi said after meeting Kejriwal.
Parrikar has said pensions will be calculated by taking the mean of the minimum and maximum pensions drawn by similarly placed veterans in 2013, with those drawing higher sums than the average being protected. The veterans want the government to ensure that the formula for reworking pensions offers maximum parity.




Bihar poll results Grand Alliance races ahead as NDA loses lead
Patna : Nov 08, The Grand Alliance took lead over the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA in the Bihar assembly elections as the counting of votes progressed on Sunday to determine whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi or a rival grouping of chief minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad will control the state’s 243-member assembly for the next five years.Rajya Sabha TV reported that the Grand Alliance was leading in at least 135 seats as against 100 for the BJP-led alliance around 10:30am, although initial trends had suggested that the NDA had an upper hand over the rival coalition.“We are winning. I have said that. Now whatever we have to say we will say in the evening. Till then, good morning and goodbye,” a confident Lalu Prasad said before counting began.Celebrations broke out among RJD supporters outside Lalu Prasad’s residence as the Grand Alliance surged ahead, with people dancing to drumbeats and shouting slogans.Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP candidate from Patna Sahib, said: “When we started receiving the initial indications, the NDA was doing well. The trends are now going against us. We are hopeful as the results are varying from one channel to another.”“I am confident of winning,” Yadav, who was trailing by 100 votes after the fourth round, said. He won the last five elections from the constituency.Exit polls from the month-long election have been split, with most giving an edge to the Grand Alliance. However, two high-profile exit polls have given a clear majority to the NDA.The nail-biting wait to find out who will lead Bihar for the next five years is likely to end soon, a vote that will determine the political fate of a clutch of powerful regional leaders and likely shape the economic policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Read: Leaders put up brave face before Bihar poll results The election is seen as a barometer of many issues shaping Indian politics.First, a victory for Modi will help deflate the Opposition which is seeking to corner him over what it says is jobless growth and for failing to rein in hardline Hindu groups campaigning on issues that are seen weakening secularism in multi-faith, modern India.
Second, the outcome of the Bihar election will possibly set the political momentum for at least four crucial state elections -– Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam -– next year and then in the key state of Uttar Pradesh in 2017.Modi needs to win most of these elections to gain control of the Rajya Sabha, where the government is struggling to build support for a business-friendly land bill and a new Goods and Services Tax. Bihar sends 16 members to the Upper House.Much is at stake for Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad as well. A poor performance could see both facing political rebellion, possibly ending their unquestioned control over their parties.“The Bihar election is going to be a turning point... It has become a battle of prestige for all sides,” said Razi Ahmed, public intellectual and director of the Gandhi Museum in Patna.
“Never in history has a prime minister addressed 30 rallies in a state election.”
The bitter, high-octane campaign started with a message of development but, as the race tightened, the discourse worsened, taking the focus away from jobs and development in an impoverished state where two-thirds of the population has no access to electricity.The BJP began its campaign speaking the language of development under Modi but in the closing weeks of electioneering, the party turned to a strident brand of right wing Hindu politics. This included repeated reference to cow slaughter that has become a political tool and rallying cry for both Hindu hardliners and their opponents.The importance of the Bihar election could be judged from the fact that Modi held 30 rallies -– four before the polls were announced and 26 after it –- during 13 visits to the state over the last three months.This, despite the BJP’s enviable performance in last year’s general elections in which it, along with its allies, won 31 of the state’s 40 seats.



PM Modi announces Rs 80,000cr package for J-K, says it’s the beginning
Srinagar : Nov 07,Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a special package of Rs 80,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir and said that the government’s treasury is for the people.“I want to tell the youth that this Rs 80,000 crore package should be used to change your destiny, should empower you and build a new Kashmir, a modern Kashmir. With this dream I have come to you and let me tell you this is not the end, it is just a beginning,” said the PM after announcing the special package.
He said that in the past, when people had some money, they wanted to visit Kashmir. He added that he wanted to bring those days back.
Highlights of PM’s speech in Srinagar:
# No matter how much the world advances, without humanity we are nowhere.
# Besides highways we are also dreaming of I-ways. Optical fibre, mobile internet all of this should be the best in class here.
# If we can develop this, the youth will find employment right here.
# Kashmir has suffered a lot, two generations of youth have seen their dreams being crushed.
# People of Kashmir are eager for development.
# I have seen in my life no matter how big the challenges, they can be overcome.
# I need to bring back those days when every family used to save up to visit Kashmir on their vacations.
# I need to bring back those days when India used to look forward to come and visit Kashmir.
# If any one corner of India is neglected, my dream cannot come true.
# It’s this sanskar (culture) that inspires me and gives me strength to care for you.
# My mother used to give me Rs 5 or Rs 11 on my birthday. Last year she gave me Rs 5000 for flood-affected people of Kashmir.
# But I said when my friends in Kashmir are struck by floods, I can’t celebrate.
# When Diwali came, it would have been easy for me to celebrate with my friends in Delhi, but I decided to come here, be with people.
# It is this love that brought over here during the floods here last year.
# I have got the privilege to visit Jammu and Kashmir so often. This land draws me here.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had earlier said Modi’s rally was a “turning point in history of the state” while recalling former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s address to the people at the same venue in 2003.
Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) workers, migrant labourers and casual employees of state government appeared to form the bulk of the audience for the rally.
A significant number of labourers, hailing from Bihar, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, were seen in Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium at Sonawar among the audience for the PM’s rally.
“I have been brought here forcibly from my rented room in Rambagh (area of the city),” Manoj Kumar, a labourer from Bihar, said.
He said it has caused him a loss of Rs 400 which he would have earned at work.Rakesh Kumar, a carpenter from Gorakhpur area, said he was brought to the venue of the rally while he was heading to work in Sanat Nagar locality of the city.As the presence of migrant labourers drew attention of media, PDP workers shoved them to the back rows in the stadium.The PDP workers indulged in intense sloganeering hailing Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti.Vehicle coming from Verinag area of south Kashmir towards the rally venue, turned turtle at Bijbehara causing injuries to five persons, police said.They also said some vehicles carrying people to the rally came under stone-pelting at Narbal on Srinagar-Baramulla highway.The PDP MLAs who have brought the workers to the rally included Syed Altaf Bukhari, Abdul Haq Khan, Mohammad Abbas Wani and Imran Reza Ansari.Among the audience in the rally were Special Police Officers (SPOs) of state police, daily-wage workers and Anganwadi workers.This is the Prime Minister’s second Diwali-time visit since he came to power and first since the PDP-BJP government was formed in the state. Modi spent last diwali in Kashmir as a gesture of empathy for the victims of a flood that devastated the state in 2014.Mobile internet was disrupted through the morning, although broadband services were working fine.Curfew-like conditions have been imposed since Friday in many parts of the city, citing security concerns, particularly in downtown areas known to be strongholds of separatists leaders who have called for protests against Modi. Several front-line separatists have been put under the house arrest or taken into preventive custody.Controversial MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid was also detained on Saturday morning for waving black flags ahead of Modi’s rally.People’s Democratic Party-BJP alliance had mobilised crowds for Modi’s rally, his first in Kashmir. Each MLA of both parties had been tasked to bring at least 200 supporters for the gathering.During his day-long trip, Modi will also inaugurate the 450 MW Baglihar hydroelectric project on the Chenab, in Ramban district.



Modi launches gold monetisation scheme and India’s first-ever gold coin
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched three programmes aimed at reducing physical gold demand and luring tonnes of gold from households into the banking system.The three schemes that Modi launched are Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS), Gold Sovereign Bond Scheme and the Gold Coin and Bullion Scheme. Modi also unveiled the first ever national gold coin minted in India with the national emblem of Ashok Chakra engraved on it.The Gold Monetisation Scheme will replace the existing Gold Deposit Scheme, 1999. However, deposits outstanding under the Gold Deposit Scheme will be allowed to run till maturity unless the depositors prematurely withdraw them.The Gold Monetisation Scheme is aimed at tapping part of an estimated 20,000 tonnes of idle gold worth Rs. 5,40,000 crore in family lockers and temples into the banking system.The Gold Sovereign Bond will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on behalf of the government with an interest rate of 2.75%. The bonds will be sold through banks and designated post offices.
“Women in India usually don’t own house or a car in their name, but gold is a matter of their strength. India has 20,000 tonnes of idle gold. It is an important aspect of women empowerment,” Modi said while speaking at the launch.



Titli review: This is the best Hindi film of the year so far
New Delhi: Oct 30,If you are familiar with the noxious, dark underbelly of Delhi, director Kanu Behl’s Titli hits you in the guts right from the first frame. Because it is about a world that co-exists right in our midst, a world so lowly that we ignore but never forget while driving back home in the still of the night. Even if you haven’t been to any such place in the capital, or encountered the people who inhabit these crowded bylanes, the fact is that Titli could be about any city, and its people. All you need to do is change the actors as per your ethnic and regional requirements for this tailor-made story of stark class difference in urban districts.Titli (Shashank Arora) is the youngest in a family of poor car-jackers who live in the outskirts of Delhi. These bylanes are occupied by people who’re oscillating between the idea of a better life and their ruined present. Titli’s elder brothers, Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Bawla (Amit Sial) are emotionally traumatised, drifting from one day to the other, without any concrete plan for their future. It’s this oppressed section of the society which is untouchable for the growing ‘corporate’ India. The brothers, and their father (Lalit Behl), make ends meet with whatever they earn from petty road robberies (they call it ‘gasht’).
One day, the brothers decide to marry off Titli just so that they have a female member in their gang who could help them trap their victims more easily. The bride, Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi), refuses to be a part of any crime. Instead, she has her own dreams, and expects Titli to help her fulfil them. But, will this be possible in a densely populated street whose sunlight has been blocked by nearby skyscrapers?Titli grips you in a weird way. You recognise these characters: They could have studied with you in college, sold you second-hand motorcycle parts... even threatened you with a baseball bat when you bumped into their scooter at a traffic signal. The close ups of this dysfunctional family disturb as these give you an insight into a world far from shining showrooms and international food joints. The magical effect of Super 16 film format introduces you to the inner world of these otherwise lonely, hopeless, misguided and tyrant men. Siddharth Diwan’s photography brings to the fore the backward velocity of the people living under the false pretension of a metropolitan life.
Writers Sharat Katariya and Kanu Behl don’t keep you at an objective distance. They challenge you to stop ignoring the so-called social blots, and once you’re sucked in, they make you believe that the injustice behind the rough exterior is systematic. It could be anything from the patriarchal mindset to the hurried urbanisation, or maybe it’s a mixture of both and many more twisted theories. The language, lifestyle and aspirations of these people living beside a gutter prompt a lot of Dilliwaallaahs to deny their existence despite knowing that it’s actually the ‘civilised’ world which is contributing to pushing them over the edge.
One scene from Titli will haunt you for long: Bawla staring at women employees inside a parlour attending to their male customers. The scene is striking because this man could be anyone around us -- from the migrant to the garage worker -- who feels stifled in a big city, seething with anger at the injustice life’s meted out to him. It could be a snake-pit, or a volcano on the verge of eruption. The truth is that none of these people on the margins of life are dreaming of owning a palace ever. All that they want is some respite from being tossed around by the world around them. Guess what does Titli dream of? He wants to own a car parking business!A world beyond right and wrong, it’s a quest for a dignified life. Vikram keeps eating even if his father coughs his lungs out. Bawla cries while Titli listens to it with indifferent expressions. Vikram’s estranged wife threatens him with a lawsuit and he silently sobs. In absence of any form of solitude, they have learnt to deal with their individual pains by inflicting the same on others, sometimes through words, and mostly through slaps.
Titli review: This engrossing thriller gives a reality check If Neelu is a victim, so are the others. Their tenderness turns into a mindless tough exterior in no time. However, you get engulfed with so much melancholy just five scenes into the film, you want some hope to seep in, and it only gets even more realistic. Titli’s screenplay is so amazingly crafted that it grips you by the collar, and makes you live all that is happening on the screen.Shashank Arora as Titli is every bit the wretched youngster whose dreams are crushed under a pile of violent developments in Titli. (YOUTUBE GRAB)No, Titli doesn’t frighten you. It doesn’t make you privy to some private conversations either. Instead, it pushes you out of slumber and makes you see the after-effects of a waywardly classic liberal economy.Ranvir Shorey as Vikram has given the best performance of his life, but the real show-stealer is Shashank Arora as the glum, disinterested Titli. His morose face is the entry point of depression. He is every bit a wretched youngster whose dreams are crushed under a pile of violent developments. Amit Sial is perfect for a character that is as miserable as a butterfly circling a lamp. Shivani Raghuvanshi has an ideal face for Neelu’s character, and she has done justice to it.Kanu Behl’s Titli is the most impressive film of this year so far. Its tryst with reality will keep you hooked till the end, to say the least. Titli is the latest gem from evolving Indian cinema. Don’t even think of missing it.


Punjab violence: ‘Foreign hand’ behind sacrilege, say cops
Chandigarh Oct 21, Punjab Police are focussing on the possible involvement of foreign elements in fomenting unrest in the state following the arrest of two Sikh brothers with alleged links to “foreign-based radicals” for the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Faridkot district.
Police announced the arrest of Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh, residents of Panjgrain village in Faridkot, on Tuesday evening though the duo was taken into custody five days ago after their phone calls with their “handlers” in the US, Australia and Dubai were intercepted by authorities, government sources told Hindustan Times.“The accused Rupinder Singh and his brother had been talking with their masters abroad and discussing about the delivery of cash in lieu of their acts of committing sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib,” a source said.Additional director general of police (crime) IPS Sahota, who is heading the special investigation team (SIT) set up to probe the incidents of sacrilege, said police had traced the accused in five of the seven cases of sacrilege.According to police, the “foreign links” of the accused and their funding by “foreign-based handlers” has been established. The two brothers became “soft targets of anti-national forces” because of their greed.The incidents in Kohrian (Sangrur), Nijjarpura (Amritsar), Ghawaddi (Ludhiana) and Bathh (Tarn Taran) were of a “localised nature”, police said.Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal told a hurriedly convened news conference on Tuesday the Punjab government will unearth all conspiracies behind the October 12 desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village in Faridkot district, which led to widespread “emotional outbursts” across the state.
Flanked by a battery of senior Akali Dal leaders, Badal said the state government is committed to arrest all the culprits behind the incidents of sacrilege.The incident at Bargari – where a clash between Sikh protesters and police left two people dead – was the first case of sacrilege that sparked unrest across the state bordering Pakistan.Six people have been arrested so far in connection with the seven incidents that took place in Faridkot, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Bhatinda and Ferozepur.Ten companies of paramilitary forces, comprising 1,000 personnel, were deployed in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Tarn Taran districts in view of the sensitive situation. They conducted flag marches in several parts of the state along with the police on Tuesday.The state cabinet adopted a resolution during a meeting on Tuesday evening that strongly condemned the acts of sacrilege and described them as a “deep rooted” conspiracy to disturb peace and communal harmony in Punjab.Sikh groups organised dharnas and protest marches in several cities, including Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur, and educational institutions remained closed in Kapurthala, Moga, Bathinda and Ferozepur on Tuesday.The opposition Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have demanded the imposition of President’s Rule, contending that the SAD-BJP government has failed to tackle the deteriorating law and order situation.



SC declares National Judicial Appointments Commission unconstitutional
October 16, 2015
NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission, set up by the NDA government, unconstitutional. The collegium system, where judges appoint judges,will continue, the court said.

The top court struck down the the 99th Constitutional amendment brought by the NDA government that would scrap the collegium system. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar by 4:1 majority termed both the 99th constitution amendment and NJAC Act unconstitutional as it interfered with the independence of judiciary.

The bench revived the collegium system of appointment of judges, popularly referred to as judges-selecting-judges.

The much hyped NJAC was touted by Narendra Modi government to bring transparency in appointment of judges to the high courts and Supreme Court.

One of the contentious provisions of the new law was the inclusion of two eminent persons to the Commission which included the Chief Justice of India, two "senior most" judges of the apex court and the Union law minister. The two persons were to be nominated by a committee of the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha.

The apex court has scheduled November 3 for further hearings on the issue of improving the collegium system of appointment of judges.

The petitions challenging the new legislation were filed by the group, the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association, and others, who contended that the new law would hurt the independence of the judiciary.

The Centre had defended the introduction of the new law saying that the two-decade-old collegium system was not free from defects. It added that the Supreme Court Bar Association supported the new Commission. The creation of the Commission was also supported by 20 state governments which ratified the NJAC Act and the constitutional amendment.

The collegium system was created by two judgments of the SC in 1990s in which the body of senior SC judges headed by the Chief Justice of India selected persons and recommended their names for appointment as judges.

Maharashtra: Supreme Court allows dance bars to reopen with a rider
New Delhi : Oct 15,The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a 2014 amendment of the Maharashtra police act banning dance performances in various places including bars in the state.The apex court, however, gave power to licensing authorities to regulate indecent dance performances.The bench of justice Dipak Misra and justice Prafulla C Pant said it is “appropriate to stay the provision” that prohibits the dance performances and noted the said provision was brought back in the Maharashtra police act in 2014 after being held ultra vires in 2013 by the top court.The Maharashtra government had reintroduced the law in 2014 to bypass an SC judgment which had struck down a similar law a year ago. The SC had in April 2013 upheld the right of women bar dancers to follow their profession and dismissed the state government’s appeal to ban them.The court had questioned why Maharashtra did not find it to be indecent or derogatory to the dignity of women if they worked as a receptionist, waitress or bartender at such bars and backed the Bombay high court verdict quashing the 2005 ban.Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has said that his government would abide by the Supreme Court’s decision, according to ANI.




BJP MLAs thrash legislator inside who hosted ‘beef party’
Srinagar : Oct 08,Independent legislator Engineer Rashid, who had hosted a “beef party” to oppose restrictions on cow slaughter, was beaten by BJP MLAs inside the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Thursday.Rashid had just walked into the House when the BJP members started to manhandle him before the proceedings began. Footage of the incident beamed on television news channels showed BJP members catching hold of Rashid and thrashing him.Chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah condemned the attack on Rashid. The BJP is part of the state’s ruling coalition led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).“If people had objections with what he (Rashid) did, they should have discussed that in the House but you can’t thrash a person for what he eats. These people are trying to do the same thing that they did in Dadri,” Abdullah said, referring to the lynching of a man over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow.Sources said Rashid, the chief of the Awami Ittehad Party, could have been severely injured if opposition members had not pulled him away from the BJP legislators.
The entire opposition, including the National Conference and Congress, walked out of the House to condemn the incident. The members came back after they were assured by the government that the BJP would apologise.Nirmal Singh, senior BJP leader in the assembly, apologised after he was asked to do so by the chief minister but said the beef party hosted by Rashid was not a right thing.On Thursday, the last day of the assembly’s autumn session, the House was expected to take up a bill moved by Rashid and legislators of the National Conference and CPI-M seeking the repeal of a 1862 law that bans cow slaughter and the sale and possession of beef in the state.Read: Independent MLA Engineer Rashid disrupts J&K assembly sessionRashid hosted the beef party in the MLAs hostel in Srinagar on Wednesday, saying the move was aimed at giving legislators a “clear message that it hardly makes any difference whether you accept or reject the bill...religious matters cannot be kept subservient to courts and assembly”.He added, “Nobody on earth, no assembly, no court and no institution can stop us from having what we want to have.”The Supreme Court on Monday suspended for two months the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir high court’s direction to police to enforce a ban on beef sales and ordered the formation of a new bench to decide the issue.The apex court was hearing the Jammu and Kashmir government’s plea against “conflicting orders” issued by the Jammu and Srinagar benches of the high court on the beef ban.The PDP-BJP government was forced to seek the apex court’s intervention so that “communal harmony is not disrupted” by inconsistent judicial pronouncements.Rashid disrupted the first day of the state assembly’s autumn session last week, when he accused the PDP-BJP government of carrying forward the agenda of the RSS. “To hurt the sentiments of Muslims of the state, you are carrying forward the agenda of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). It will not work,” he said.National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have for long respected the feelings of other religions and expect the same consideration. “In our religion, drinking liquor and eating pork is strictly forbidden. Does that mean we will thrash everybody who drinks or eats pork?” he added.




Diversity, tolerance our core values: Prez amid Dadri lynching uproar
New Delhi : Oct 07,President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday the country should keep in mind core values of diversity and tolerance, days after the killing of a 55-year-old Muslim man over rumours that he and his family members ate beef.“We cannot allow core values of India’s civilisation to be given a slip,” Mukherjee said. “Core values of diversity, tolerance and plurality must be kept in mind,” he added.The killing of Mohammad Ikhlaq on September 28 has sparked an outrage across the country. The police have arrested 10 people in the case that took place in Greater Noida’s Bisada village near the national capital.Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday “strict action” will be taken in the case.“Be it the central or state governments, whoever tries to spread communal tension or create any such problem or involve in crime, strict action will be taken. This is nothing new,” he said.Ikhlaq was beaten to death by an angry mob and his son Danish was injured seriously after announcements were made from a nearby temple that the family was consuming beef.On Wednesday, the Uttar Pradesh Police sought to book Union minister Mahesh Sharma, BJP legislator Sangeet Som and BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui for their speeches and actions in the aftermath of the Dadri lynching.In his report, superintendent of police (rural) Sanjay Kumar Yadav said the three leaders were given permission only to meet the bereaved family.The leaders, however, breached the understanding and addressed public gatherings in the village, and at some point in time made inflammatory comments that could further escalate communal tension in the area, the report said.


As tension simmers after lynching, Hindu group visits Bisada
Greater Noida : Oct 05,Activists of right-wing Hindu outfit Hindu Raksha Dal (HRD) visited Uttar Pradesh’s Bisada village on Sunday despite prohibitory orders and met the families of the men accused of killing a villager over rumours that he slaughtered a cow, prompting authorities to crack the whip.Officials ordered an FIR against Hindu Rakshak Dal for violating Section 144, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, that has been imposed in Dadri.
“I met the family of the accused who were framed by police in the case. Hindus will not tolerate attack on our mother cow. The cases of cow slaughter will be dealt with in the same way like the Hindus did in Bisada. Police crackdown on innocent villagers will further worsen the situation in the village,” said Bhoopendra Chaudhary, president of HRD.
On September 28, a mob attacked 58-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq’s house accusing the family of butchering a calf. It lynched Ikhlaq and left his younger son Danish critically injured. Danish, who has undergone two surgeries, is still not out of danger.
HRD activists, who reached Bisada at 1pm, held a public meeting with Hindu villagers and raised slogans against Muslims in the presence of heavy police deployment and officials of the district administration. They also distributed pamphlets in the village over banning of cow slaughter in the country.Chaudhary said his outfit will continue to campaign against cow slaughter. “We will campaign in nearby villages against cow slaughter. I have seen pictures of the calf that was slaughtered in the village. I warn Muslims not to indulge in acts that hurt the sentiments of the Hindus,” he said.In January 2014, HRD activists had attacked the Aam Aadmi Party office in Kaushambi in Ghaziabad with bricks and stones to protest its leader Prashant Bhushan’s remarks on Kashmir.When asked how HRD activists were allowed to hold meetings despite the prohibitory orders, district magistrate NP Singh said, “The Hindu Raksha Dal people were chased out of the village. I saw the entire videography of the village taken today (Sunday) by the district administration.”
Singh also issued orders restricting visitors to Ikhlaq’s family acting on a letter written by Sartaj, Ikhlaq’s elder son. Singh, however, said there is no blanket ban on the visit to Ikhlaq’s family.“We have not completely banned visitors as then we might be accused of hiding something. Anybody visiting the bereaved family will have to seek Sartaj’s permission as urged by him. Even if a political leader wants to visit the family, not more than five people will be allowed in that case,” he said.“The decision to restrict the entry of visitors has been taken for two reasons. One, Sartaj does not want unwanted visitors. Two, we are concerned about the safety of the family and cannot allow anybody to go to the victim’s house,” he added.BJP MLA from Sardhana Sangeet Som, accused of making inflammatory speeches ahead of the deadly Muzaffarnagar riots two years ago, also met the families of those accused of the attack on Ikhlaq’s family.BJP MLA and one of Muzaffarnagar riots accused Sangeet Som visits the accused's family, addresses a public meeting despite prohibitory orders, in Bisdada village. (HT Photo)Singh said even Som was stopped 200 metre away from the spot. “When he said he had come to condole the death of one Kishan Master, he was allowed to visit that family,” said the district magistrate.“Som also did not say anything inflammatory or illegal. There were some 15-20 villagers who met him. He told them that legal recourse would be taken in case any person was falsely implicated,” he added.Singh said police pickets have been set up at both ends of the lane leading to Ikhlaq’s house and it has also been barricaded adding action will be taken against those who violate the administration’s order under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.Sartaj had appealed to the media and other visitors to leave his family alone on Friday.On Sunday, police identified two brothers who lived next door to the victim as prime suspects in the case, saying the young men forced the priest of the local temple to announce on the night of the crime that Ikhlaq had slaughtered a calf.
“During the last six days, police have arrested eight accused named in the FIR and questioned more than 30 people about the murder case,” said superintendent of police (rural), Sanjay Singh.


‘Even Hindus eat beef’: Lalu Prasad sparks row after UP lynching
Patna : Oct 03,Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad sparked a controversy on Saturday by saying Hindus and Indians living abroad eat beef, with his remarks drawing a strong protest from BJP leader Giriraj Singh. Against the backdrop of the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh following rumours that he had slaughtered a calf, the former Bihar chief minister told ANI that the BJP is using the issue of a ban on beef to “communalise the nation”.
“This issue is being used solely for communalising the nation. Hindus eat beef, so do Indians living abroad. For someone who consumes meat on a regular basis, it does not matter if it is beef or mutton,” Lalu Prasad said. “Hindus too eat beef when they go abroad,” he said before leaving for Hajipur, where his son Tejashwi Yadav filed his nomination papers for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. However, Lalu Prasad added that meat was not part of the diet of ‘cultured people’. He also said people “must not eat meat as it is a source for many diseases”. “Cultured people do not eat meat at all,” he said, while reacting to the lynching of 50-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq by a mob at Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. Read: Kejriwal stopped from visiting family of man lynched in Bisada
The RJD chief’s comments angered BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh, who sought an immediate apology from Lalu Prasad. “We will launch an agitation from Lalu’s house if he does not withdraw his comments,” Singh told reporters. Lalu Prasad was embroiled in a controversy last Sunday, when he described the polls in Bihar as a fight between “forward and backward classes”. The Election Commission served a notice to him and a case was filed against him. The lynching of Ikhlaq sparked sectarian tensions and drew nationwide outrage. He was beaten to death while his 22-year-old son was critically injured by a group of local residents that broke into his home late on Monday night, accusing him of butchering a calf and eating beef. Cow slaughter and beef trade have come into sharp focus since the BJP took power at the Centre last year as right wing groups have been pushing for a nationwide ban, a move that many minority groups have described as an attack on individual rights.


Mumbai 7/11 train blasts: 5 get death, 7 sent to life in prison
Mumbai Sep 30: Five convicts were sentenced to death and seven others given life imprisonment on Wednesday by a Mumbai special court in the 2006 local train bombings which killed 188 people and injured over 800.Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court judge Yatin Shinde sentenced to death Faisal Sheikh, Asif Khan, Kamal Ansari, Ehtesham Sidduqui and Naveed Khan who planted the bombs in various trains.
The other seven convicts who provided materials and logistical support for making the bombs-- Mohammed Sajid Ansari, Mohammed Ali, Dr Tanveer Ansari, Majid Shafi, Muzzammil Shaikh, Sohail Shaikh and Zamir Shaikh -- were sentenced to life.On July 11, 2006, seven blasts tore through the first-class compartments of crowded local trains in a span of 11 minutes during the evening rush hour as millions of office-goers were heading home. The blast occurred between Khar Road-Santacruz, Bandra-Khar Road, Jogeshwari-Mahim Junction, Mira Road- Bhayander, Matunga- Mahim Junction and Borivali.According to investigators, around 20kg of RDX were packed into pressure cookers, placed in bags and hidden under newspapers and umbrellas. The explosions were so powerful that they ripped through the double layered steel roof and sides of the train compartments.
The serial blasts brought the lifeline of the country’s financial capital to a grinding halt for the first time.Police said the suspects targeted local trains as they were crowded and the security was not as tight as the other surveyed sites. They divided themselves into seven teams, each consisting of a Pakistani national and an Indian national, and the bombs were taken to Churchgate station on July 11 by taxis.There was a controversy over the investigations with the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) first claiming in its chargesheet in November, 2006 that the operation was carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba with help from the Students’Islamic Movement of India.But more than two years later, the Mumbai crime branch arrested 31-year old Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh who claimed that his organisation -- Indian Mujahideen -- was behind the blasts. The video tapes of his confession were made available to Hindustan Times.The court allowed to examine Sadiq as a defence witness, but he later claimed that he gave his confession under duress.The prosecution had earlier asked for capital punishment to eight of the 12 convicts and life terms for the remaning four.Terming the convicts “merchants of death”, special public prosecutor Raja Thakare told the court that money of taxpayers should not be spent on upkeep of convicts.
After the quantum of sentences was read out, the defence team said they will move the high court in appeal




‘Mars mystery solved’: Nasa to announce major science find today
New Delhi : Sep 28, Nasa says it has lined up the announcement of a “major science find” for us on Monday. A press release by the US space agency titled ‘Mars Mystery Solved’ would be conducted by the Nasa’s director of planetary science and the lead scientist for the Mars exploration programme.“Nasa will detail a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 11.30am EDT (2am IST on Tuesday) on Monday. The event will be broadcast live on Nasa Television and the agency’s website,” the release said.While several people on social media platforms speculated about alien-life, US news agency CNN said it may have found a hint related to the announcement. “For those who just can’t wait, a little Googling may solve the puzzle -- and it’s not Matt Damon, little green people, or any other clear indication of life. It appears to be a confirmation of periodically flowing water on the planet’s surface,” the CNN website reported.Read: Nasa’s Mars isolation experiment begins “Three of the scientists slated for the news conference are listed as authors of a new paper to be delivered at this week’s European Planetary Science Congress. In it, the researchers say analysis of imaging from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter proves that seasonal dark streaks on the Martian surface are the result of briny water periodically flowing across the planet’s surface,” it added.
In April, Nasa’s Curiosity Rover, which has been on the planet for three years, noted the soil was damp with liquid brine, which lowers the freezing point. In addition, there are satellite images of round pebbles on the Red Planet indicating flowing water was once there.
Science writer Kevin Kopas has said the recent evidence supports speculations by many scientists that Mars was once an Earth-like planet. The confirmation of presence of water on Mars has also been repeatedly linked to the possibility of existence of alien life-form.


High court bans sale of beef in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu: Sep 10,Jammu and Kashmir high court has banned the sale of the beef in the state after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against cow slaughter.The division bench justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and justice Janak Raj Kotwal issued the order on Wednesday over the PIL filed by advocate Parimoksh Seth.The PIL said that slaughtering and sale of bovine animals is rampant in some parts of the state which severely affected religious sentiments of a section of the society. It further stated that the practice continues despite the fact that provisions of Ranbir Penal Code make killing of bovine animals an offence punishable under Section 298-A and possession of such slaughtered animal an act punishable under Section 298-B.The court also observed the divisional commissioner of Kashmir had not filed an appropriate response about smuggling, slaughtering of bovine animals and their subsequent sale in the Kashmir valley.It directed the director general police to ensure that appropriate directions are issued to all police official, especially district heads and station head officers (SHOs), to strictly enforce the ban."Strict action shall be taken in accordance with law against those who indulge in this activity," the HC observed.The HC's order comes as the Rajasthan government ordered a three-day ban on sale of meat during Jain festivals this month, two days after a similar measure in Mumbai raised a huge controversy.In Maharashtra, the BJP-led government passed the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act in March, banning the slaughter, sale and import of beef, a move which has been challenged in court. According to the law, slaughter and sale of beef as well as the possession and consumption of beef is a criminal offence.




India ready to neutralise its enemies: Rathore on Dawood, Hafiz Saeed
New Delhi : Sep 07 Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has said that India is always prepared to “neutralise” its enemies such as mob boss Dawood Ibrahim and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, irrespective of where they are.Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, is based in Lahore while Indian security officials believe Ibrahim, wanted for the 1993 Mumbai bombings, is sheltering in Karachi. Rathore’s remarks came against the backdrop of a sharp downturn in bilateral ties after the collapse of planned talks between the national security advisers.“Hindustan ka dushman chahe kahin bhi baitha ho, ye galatfahmi me na rahe ki Hindustan unke khilaaf kuch soch nahi raha hai. Hum har waqt apne dushman ko neutralise karne ke liye taiyyar rahte hain (India’s enemies, wherever they are, must never be under the wrong impression that India is not thinking about them. We are always ready to neutralise our enemies),” he told Aaj Tak channel on Sunday.
Rathore was responding to a question on what the government is doing about Ibrahim and Saeed, who are both wanted in India. It was pointed out to him that since the NDA government came to power last year, nothing had been done about fugitives sheltering in Pakistan, except for preparing a dossier.He responded that India was ready to use other options as well. “Saam, daam, dand, bhed, sab cheezon ka istemaal hoga. Dossier bhi denge aur baaki sab kuch bhi hoga (Every available option will be used. We will give the dossier, and other means too will be used),” he said.Asked whether there could be a covert operation against such fugitives, Rathore, a former colonel, said: “It is possible that an operation is carried out. But it will not be discussed before it is launched. We might talk about it after it’s over. It depends on whether the government says it should be a covert operation or a special operation.“It is possible that a covert operation never gets discussed. Several countries do this. Special operation can be discussed but not before it is launched. It is the government’s decision when to launch an operation. Maybe it is happening right now. Maybe not. But a discussion can take place happen after the operation.”Hindustan Times had reported last month that Indian security agencies have documents to prove Dawood, his wife Mehjabeen Shaikh, son Moeen Nawaz and daughters Mahrukh, Mehreen and Mazia are based in Pakistan with the fugitive currently operating out of the upscale Clifton neighbourhood of Karachi. Security agencies are in possession of an April 2015 telephone bill in the name of his wife Mehjabeen with D-13, Block-4, Karachi Development Authority, Sch-5, Clifton, as the installation address.Interpol has issued a red corner notice, or an international arrest warrant, for Dawood and several of his associates for their involvement in the 1993 serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured hundreds more.
Rathore blamed Pakistan for derailing all talks held since 1998 either through attacks or terrorist strikes. “Terror and talks can’t go together,” he said.He also blamed Pakistan for the collapse of the talks between the NSAs, saying Islamabad had “moved back” from the agreement between the Prime Ministers when they met in the Russian city of Ufa.
Asked if talks would be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month, he said, “There are ups and downs in relationships. Pakistan will remain a neighbour, let’s see what happens in the next three weeks.”He added, “The Indian govt still believes all things can be resolved by talks, but we will talk only on terror. We should create an atmosphere whereby terror ends and then we will talk on all issues.”



Soldiers who retired 'prematurely' will get OROP benefits: Modi
New Delhi Sep 06,Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that armed forces personnel who retired prematurely will be entitled to benefits under 'one rank one pension (OROP)', reaching out to ex-servicemen a day after his government announced the scheme but differences cropped up over entitlements to those who opted for the voluntary retirement scheme(VRS)."VRS key naam pe bhram failaya jaa raha hai (Some people are trying to spread confusion in the name of VRS)," Modi said at a rally in Faridabad.Modi stressed his government had delivered on the OROP promise, even though the scheme was stuck for more than four decades and the previous regimes failed to make a breakthrough.The government announced on Saturday the scheme will be implemented with effect from July 1, 2014, with arrears amounting to anywhere between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore.Read | Key features of OROP and why ex-servicemen are still complainingWhile war widows will get arrears in total, others will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. While announcing the scheme, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said pensions would be re-calculated every five years but military personnel who took “voluntary retirement” will not be entitled to OROP.The veterans, who have been holding protests across the country for more than two months, want the pension to be reviewed every two years and the benefits of the scheme extended to those who retired voluntarily or prematurely from the armed forces.Another bone of contention is the government's decision to set up a single-member judicial committee to look into different aspects of OROP, including inter-services matters. The government said the panel will submit its report in six months but veterans want a deadline of 30 days. They also demanded that the panel have five members, including three veterans.


Govt likely to announce One Rank One Pension today
New Delhi:Sep 05,The Narendra Modi government on Saturday will announce its decision to implement the one rank, one pension scheme (OROP) for former servicemen but the veterans have said they cannot trust its stance and will not accept a unilateral ecision.Sources told Hindustan Times that Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah will brief party spokespersons about OROP at 3pm and defence minister Manohar Parikkar will announce the scheme during a press conference.The Centre is desperate to end the deadlock that has seen ex-servicemen stay away from government functions and some sitting on a hunger strike as the dates for the all-important Bihar assembly elections is likely to be announced soon.The OROP, expected to benefit three million pensioners, will guarantee equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement.The government is expected to announce its decision to remove disparities in pensions of veterans by effecting a revision every five years. But the veterans, who have been holding protests across the country for 82 days now, want the pension to be reworked every two years.After protracted negotiations with ex-servicemen failed to iron out differences, government sources on Friday said necessary orders would be issued soon for the implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme from July 1, 2014. The veterans want April 1, 2014, as the kick-off date.New pensions would be fixed with 2013 as the base year and "discrepancy between the present and previous pensioners" settled every five years, sources said.The plan, however, has angered the veterans who accused the government of turning the "accepted definition of OROP" on its head."We still can't trust the government. If our concerns are not met then our dharna will continue," former servicemen Uday Singh told ANI.Col Rajeev (retd) added, "If any decision is taken without taking us into confidence, then it will not be accepted."On Friday, Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), who heads the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, had said the government would be implementing one rank, five pensions and threatened to intensify the stir."We reject this unilateral attempt to implement OROP. The move smacks of arrogance. We will not settle for anything less than pension revision every two years," said Maj Singh.Sources said the government would constitute a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP including inter-services matters. It will submit its report in six months.
The government's calculations show that the annual payout towards implementing OROP would be in the range of Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore, with the figures spiralling upwards in the coming years. Also, sources said, arrears would amount to anywhere between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore.



Peter to be key witness against Indrani in Sheena case: Cops
Mumbai Sep 04,Breaking her 10-day silence, Indrani Mukerjea has admitted to plotting the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, police sources said, adding that her husband Peter Mukerjea will be made a key witness against her.Indrani, a former media tycoon, had maintained a stoic silence since her arrest on August 25, refusing to cooperate with the police. On Thursday, she finally broke after investigators confronted her with contradictions in her statements that did not match Peter's answers to the same questions, the sources said.
She admitted to plotting the murder with ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna, sending him flight tickets and booking a hotel room for him in Worli, conducting a reconnaissance of Raigad a day before the murder on April 23, 2012, but denied having strangled Sheena, they said.
While her statement to the police has no legal value - a statement is admissible in court as evidence only if it has been recorded before a magistrate - it will help the Mumbai Police gather valuable evidence against the accused, the sources said.Indrani has been pronounced main conspirator in the case while Khanna and her driver Shyamwar Rai are co-accused. They are suspected of strangling Sheena in a rented car in a Mumbai bylane on the night of April 24, 2012 and disposing of her body by burning and then burying it in a secluded forest area in Raigad district the next day.Peter, former Star India CEO, and Indrani were both questioned separately at Khar police station on Thursday. Indrani was once again given a glimpse of her husband at the station.The police said they had decided to make Peter a prosecution witness as he had given them necessary information on his family members as well as documentary details of all his financial transactions - which, the sources said, would help establish the motive behind the murder.The police are now corroborating Indrani's version with those of the other accused and the statements recorded by witnesses.



Trade union strike hits transport, banking services in many cities
New Delhi:september 02,Millions of workers across India went on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest against changes in labour laws and privatisation of PSUs, affecting life in many cities.More than 15 crore workers from 10 central trade unions, including those in the banking, manufacturing, construction and coal mining sectors, are taking part in the strike. BJP-backed BMS and NFITU are not part of the agitation.The strike hit transport and banking operations, mostly in West Bengal and Kerala. Long lines of commuters and schoolchildren could be seen at bus-stops early in the morning, while passengers were stranded at airports as taxis and rickshaws stayed off the streets.In Kolkata, partial impact was seen on suburban trains while shops, markets and business establishments in most areas remained closed. The state administration was plying a large fleet of public buses while partial impact was seen on operations of private buses and taxis.In Kerala, public and private bus services, taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads. Only a few private cars and two wheelers were seen on the roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.The unions decided to go ahead with strike as their talks with a ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley last month did not make any headway on their 12-point charter of demands.Trade unions' 12-point charter of demands includes urgent measures to contain price rise, contain unemployment, strict enforcement of basic labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers and minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.They are also demanding enhanced pension for workers, stoppage of disinvestment in PSUs, stoppage of contractorisation, removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund, compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days and stopping of FDI in railways and defence.



Indrani made sure Sheena, Mikhail were not in touch before murder
Mumbai: Aug 31,Indrani Mukerjea ensured her daughter Sheena Bora and her son Mikhail did not communicate with each other on the day of the alleged murder.According to the police, Indrani had called Mikhail to Mumbai from Guwahati, where he lives, on April 24, 2012, the day Sheena was murdered.Police sources said Indrani had meticulously planned to kill Sheena and Mikhail, but her son escaped.Sheena was not aware of Mikhail’s presence in the city, sources said, adding he was allegedly asked to come to Mumbai by Indrani on the pretext of discussing a property matter.The police said Mikhail did not inform anyone of his presence in the city. Police sources said Sheena and Mikhail were in touch with each other even after Sheena moved to the city and it was surprising that he did not contact her.Read| Sheena murder: Cops to seek extension of custody of accused todayAfter news of Sheena’s murder broke, Mikhail claimed Indrani had been paying him to keep quiet about his exact relationship with Indrani.Mikhail has shared the email exchanges he had with Sheena, in which she has told her about the issues she had with Indrani, said police sources.Sources said from the investigations said they got a sense that Indrani was aware she would not be able to execute the murder alone for which she roped in her driver Shyamvar Rai and former husband Sanjeev Khanna.She manipulated everyone and also ensured that her husband Peter and daughter Vidhie were away in the UK when she executed her plans to murder Sheena.Mikhail had earlier told police officers he did not feel well after consuming a drink given to him by Indrani and claimed it was spiked. He had said he somehow managed to get out of the Worli flat. But it is still not clear where Mikhail went from there.The police arrested Indrani last Tuesday for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora on April 24, 2012. The police first arrested Rai after getting a tip-off about the murder.During interrogation, Rai admitted to his role in the murder and led the police to Indrani and eventually Khanna.



Will allow land bill to lapse: PM Modi on Mann Ki Baat
New Delhi Aug 30,The NDA government will not re-promulgate the proposed land ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on his monthly radio talk Mann Ki Baat on Sunday.“I have decided that the land ordinance be allowed to lapse,” Modi said, adding that the government was ready to amend land acquisition act to benefit farmers who were subjected to misinformation and fear mongering by the opposition political parties and critics leading to a sense of apprehension.
The amendments proposed by the Modi government included the implementation of 13 legislations that are currently excluded from the existing land law in the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions.The proposal to remove the ‘consent’ clause and ‘social impact assessment’ from the existing Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 drew a lot of flak from the opposition.Modi also expressed his concern for the recent violence in Gujarat during the Patel quota agitation led by the 22-year-old Hardik Patel, and said the situation was brought under control in no time by the authorities.He also said he was happy with the manner in which all financial institutes, including banks, devoted themselves to make the Jan Dhan Yojana a success.The Jan Dhan Yajana is a key financial inclusion scheme by the NDA government, and Modi, in his Independence Day speech, said nearly 170 million people previously excluded from financial processes had bank accounts as a result of the scheme.


Sheena Bora murder case: A complex web of lies and deceit
Mumbai/New Delhi: Aug 27,A former husband of arrested 9X media founder Indrani Mukerjea allegedly had a hand in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, police have revealed, giving yet another twist to the sensational crime that has gripped the nation.
Police on Wednesday arrested businessman Sanjeev Khanna (50), Indrani’s former husband, in Kolkata for his alleged complicity in the murder of Sheena, who was 24 when she disappeared in 2012.Sheena’s skeletal remains were recovered by police from Maharashtra’s Raigad district, 110 km from Mumbai.Police arrested 43-year-old Indrani, wife of former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, on Tuesday for allegedly killing Sheena, whom she had passed off as her sister for more than a decade.Sheena’s relationship with Rahul, Peter Mukerjea’s son from his earlier marriage, could be a motive for the crime, police said. On Wednesday night, police quizzed Rahul in Mumbai in connection with the murder.The complex web of lies and deceit started to unravel after Mumbai Police arrested Indrani’s driver Shyam Manav Manohar Rai, who confessed to killing Sheena along with Indrani and disposing of the body.
Indrani, the daughter of a well-known businessman of Guwahati, was married twice earlier before she tied the knot with Peter Mukerjea in 2002. Her earlier husbands include Khanna and Siddharth Das from Tripura. Das is believed to be Sheena’s biological father.
Indrani also has a son, Mikhail, who lives in Guwahati with his ailing maternal grandparents. She had passed off Mikhail as a brother.Mumbai Police commissioner Rakesh Maria told reporters that Khanna was present in the car when Indrani allegedly strangled Sheena on April 24, 2012. The body was allegedly burnt and disposed of in a forested area of Raigad.
Rai, who was Indrani’s driver for 10 years, was allegedly fired after the murder.
Rahul, who dropped off Sheena when she went to meet Indrani on the fateful day, filed a complaint with police two days after she went missing but her remains were discovered only on May 23.Both Rahul and Mikhail have said Indrani persistently claimed Sheena was in the US for her studies and did not want to be disturbed.Three days after the murder, Rahul is said to have received text messages from Sheena’s mobile number that stated she was breaking off the relationship.Officials, requesting anonymity, said Rahul and Sheena were seeing each other for more than a year, an affair which Indrani did not approve of.Police said they will re-create the crime allegedly executed by Indrani and her driver on April 23, 2012.
The reason for this, officials said, is that investigators will get a wider angle about the events that transpired when the heinous crime was committed.Sheena’s brother Mikhail told media in Guwahati he and his sibling were born out of wedlock but declined to reveal the identity of their father. He further said he had no doubt “Indrani killed my sister Sheena”.A team of Mumbai police is likely to reach Guwahati on Thursday to question Mikhail and hunt for other clues related to the crime.



Caste protest, violence hit PM Modi's home state; curfew in parts of Gujarat amid bandh call today
Ahmedabad/New Delhi: The Centre rushed 5,000 paramilitary personnel to Gujarat after overnight violence rocked the state over an agitation demanding job reservation for the Patel community, forcing authorities to clamp curfew in several places and close educational institutions, officials said on Wednesday.The violence erupted after the leader of the agitation, 22-year-old Hardik Patel, was briefly detained by Gujarat Police following a rally attended by nearly half-a-million people. Hardik has called a state-wide shutdown on Wednesday to press his demand.Police said violent protesters attacked security personnel overnight with stones and sticks and burned government and private vehicles. No casualties were reported, police said.Curfew was imposed in several places, including Mehsana city, parts of Surat city and Unjha and Visnagar towns, and educational institutions closed in the industrial district. Troopers of the State Reserve Police Force, BSF and Rapid Action Force were deployed in cities such as Ahmedabad and Mehsana.Cellphone communications were blocked in state capital Ahmedabad to stop rumours from spreading and gangs from coordinating their movements against law enforcement agencies.The Patels, also known as Patidars, make up around 12% of Gujarat’s population. Tuesday’s rally in Ahmedabad was called to press the community’s demand for inclusion in the other backward class (OBC) category.The stir turned violent after Hardik's detention and clashes were reported in several parts of Ahmedabad, where police used batons and teargas to disperse protestors and control the situation. Hardik was soon released on bail.“Violence has occurred at a number of places in Ahmedabad after Hardik Patel's arrest. Efforts are on to control the situation," additional commissioner of police Rajiv Ranjan Bhagat said.As tension mounted, chief minister Anandiben Patel tweeted: "My sincere appeal to the people of Gujarat to maintain peace and not to indulge in activities disrupting law & order across the state."She added: "I urge people to refrain from spreading & believing any rumours & support state administration in maintaining peace & harmony across Gujarat."In a mega show of strength to push its demand for inclusion in the OBC category for reservation, the Patel community – led by Hardik – warned the BJP government in Gujarat that it will face consequences in the 2017 assembly polls if the plea is not accepted."If you do not give our right (reservation), we will snatch it. Whoever will talk of interest of Patels will rule over Patels," Hardik told the gathering."In 1985, we had uprooted Congress from Gujarat, today there is BJP. 2017 (the state election year) is coming...lotus will not bloom in the mud, it will never bloom. If you will talk about our interest, then only we will nurture your lotus," he said, warning the state government. The lotus is the BJP’s party symbol.Policemen on a street to nab people damaging vehicles after the arrest of Hardik Patel, convener of 'Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)Hardik's aide and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti spokesperson Chirag Patel alleged police beat up protesters during Tuesday's campaign, and even some children and women were at the receiving end."Police first switched off all the lights at GMDC ground and then took Hardik somewhere. Before that police lathi-charged and even beat up women and small children," Chirag alleged.State health minister Nitin Patel, who heads a seven-member committee formed by the Gujarat government to listen to the demands of communities seeking job reservation quotas, said the Gujarat government did not have to say anything about the ultimatum.


Mangalore: Muslim man stripped in market for accompanying Hindu woman
Bengaluru Aug 25,A Muslim man was stripped, tied to a pole and flogged for more than an hour at a crowded marketplace for allegedly speaking to a Hindu woman in the communally polarised coastal town of Mangalore.Policemen reached the spot after local cable television channels began beaming visuals of the man and arrested 14 of around 30 suspected Bajrang Dal activists who were taking turns to flog him.The man is the manager of an accessories store in Mangalore and the woman works in the same store as a salesgirl.According to the man's complaint to police, the woman had asked him for a loan of Rs. 2,000. They were on their way to an ATM so that he could withdraw cash when a gang of men armed with knives and staves accosted them, the man said.The woman escaped without much harm but she too was slapped for trying to come to her colleague's defence.Several brazen attacks involving groups such as the Bajrang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Jagarana Vedike and the Islamist group, Popular Front of India, have been reported in the coastal towns of Mangalore, Udupi, Honnavar, Bhatkal and Karwar over the past decade.Civil society activists blamed the BJP government that was in power in Karnataka from 2008 to 2013 for encouraging Hindutva groups to commit such crimes. However, statistics show the attacks did not reduce even after the Congress came to power.


Karnataka MLA among 5 dead in Andhra Pradesh train accident
Hyderabad Aug 24,Five people including a Karnataka legislator were killed early on Monday morning when a granite-laden truck rammed into an express train at a level crossing in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur, the second fatal accident this month involving the railways. Around 25 people are said to have been injured in the accident, which occurred at around 2.25am at Madakasira, more than 450 km from capital Hyderabad.Official sources said Karnataka MLA Venkatesh Nayak and the driver of the truck are among the five people killed when four coaches of the Bangalore-Nanded Express derailed under the impact of the collision with the truck.The driver of the truck, who was allegedly in an inebriated condition, was driving at a very high speed and failed to notice the closed gates at a level crossing.


Ready for talks but must discuss Kashmir, says Pak NSA Aziz
Islamabad Aug 22,Pakistan said on Saturday it is prepared to go ahead with crucial talks with India but Kashmir will have to be part of the agenda because it is the “most important outstanding issue” between the two countries. Sartaj Aziz, advisor to the Prime Minister on national security and foreign affairs, said Pakistan believes Kashmir has to be part of the agenda for any talks even though it is not implicitly mentioned in the joint statement issued after the meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Russia last month. “The K word is very much in the statement because we agreed to discuss all outstanding issues and everyone knows what is the most important outstanding issue...Kashmir is indirectly there in the statement,” he told a news briefing at the Foreign Office.Aziz said he was prepared to go to India for planned talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Monday provided the parleys are held “without any preconditions”.A war of words that erupted on Thursday after Pakistan insisted on going ahead with a meet between Aziz and separatist Hurriyat leaders before the formal diplomatic engagement had raised a question mark about the meeting of the National Security Advisors (NSAs).
India has also rejected Pakistan’s move to include Kashmir and other issues in the agenda for the talks between the NSAs, saying the Prime Ministers had agreed in the Russian city of Ufa on July 10 that the meeting would be confined to “all issues connected to terrorism”
Aziz said Pakistan was not apprehensive about reports that India’s plans to hand over information regarding the involvement of Pakistani elements in recent terror attacks. He said he intended to hand over three dossiers “on RAW’s involvement in terrorism in Pakistan” to Doval if the meeting is held on Monday.




India 'advises' Pakistani NSA not to meet Hurriyat leaders
New Delhi: Aug 21,Two days before Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz arrives in New Delhi for talks with his Indian counterpart, India on Friday made it clear that his insistence on meeting with separatist Hurriyat leaders would be inappropriate. The announcement by the external affairs ministry raised questions about whether the talks between the National Security Advisors (NSAs) scheduled for August 24 would go ahead.External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a series of tweets that India has also sought confirmation of the proposed agenda for the meeting, which India has insisted should be confined to “terrorism-related issues”.Pakistan has said it plans to raise all important issues, including Kashmir, when Aziz meets his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. Aziz is expected to meet Hurriyat leaders shortly after he arrives in Delhi on August 23.“India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr Sartaz Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India,” Swarup posted on his official Twitter account.“Such a meeting would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ufa understanding to jointly work to combat terrorism,” he tweeted, referring to a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Russian city in July.“We have also sought (confirmation) of our proposed agenda for the NSA level talks that was conveyed to the Pakistani side on 18 Aug 2015,” Swarup said.Earlier, a government official said: “All options are open as we see this (inviting Hurriyat) as a provocative step. One option could be preventing Hurriyat leaders from meeting Aziz, which would put the onus on Pakistan to call off the talks, if they feel so.”When Modi and Sharif met in Ufa, they agreed that the NSAs would meet to discuss only terrorism-related issues. But during a media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah indicated Pakistan wanted to expand the scope of the talks.Pakistan “will raise all issues of importance, including Kashmir”, when the NSAs meet, Khalilullah said.He also said Pakistan “expects India to allow Kashmiri leaders to meet” Aziz. “Kashmiris are important stakeholders in the context of Jammu and Kashmir dispute and efforts to seek its peaceful settlement in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions,” he added.India has maintained that the separatist Hurriyat is a “third party” in the Kashmir issue that has no role in the formal dialogue.
Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will travel to Delhi to meet Aziz while JKLF leader Yasin Malik is likely to give a reception hosted for the Pakistani NSA a miss but will instead send a two-member delegation.Last year, India called off talks between the foreign secretaries of the two sides after Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit ignored a warning from the external affairs ministry and went ahead with meetings with Hurriyat leaders.The house arrest and release of Hurriyat leaders – all within 135 minutes — in Srinagar on Thursday added a fresh twist to the diplomatic tussle, with Delhi describing the proposed meeting between the Pakistani NSA and the Kashmiri separatists on the eve of talks as a grave provocation. Unfazed, Pakistan said the meeting would go ahead.






Missing Indonesian plane with 54 found crashed in Papua

JakartaAn aircraft with 54 people on board crashed in Indonesia's remote and mountainous region of Papua on Sunday , a government official said, the latest in a string of aviation disasters in the Southeast Asian nation.  "The latest information is that the Trigana aircraft that lost contact has been found at Camp 3, Ok Bape district in the Bintang Mountains regency," air transportation director general Suprasetyo told reporters. "Residents provided information that the aircraft crashed into Tangok mountain."  There was no immediate word on whether anyone survived. 
Earlier, the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) said a twin-turboprop plane had lost contact with air traffic control as it flew over the forested area of eastern Indonesia but efforts to trace it were difficult because of failing light. 
Trigana Air Operations Director Beni Sumaryanto said that within 30 minutes of hearing that the aircraft was missing, the airline sent another plane to scour the same flight path but it had found nothing because of bad weather, local media reported. 
According to the official BASARNAS Twitter account, the aircraft, a short-haul ATR 42-300 airliner belonging to Trigana Air Service and built in France and Italy, was carrying 44 adult passengers, five crew and five children and infants. 
The plane was flying between Jayapura's Sentani Airport and Oksibil, due south of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. 
Air transport is commonly used in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province, where land travel is often impossible.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, an online database, the ATR 42-300 that went missing made its first flight 27 years ago. ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica. 
The airline has been on the EU's list of banned carriers since 2007. Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to either concerns about safety standards or the regulatory environment in their country of registration. 
The airline has a fleet of 14 aircraft, according to the database. These include 10 ATR aircraft and four Boeing 737 Classics. These have an average age of 26.6 years, according to the database.
Trigana has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, according to the Aviation Safety Network. Excluding this latest incident, it has written off 10 aircraft. 
Airline officials were not immediately available to respond to enquiries from Reuters. 
Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record and has seen two major plane crashes in the past year, including an AirAsia flight that went down in the Java Sea, killing all on board. 
The AirAsia crash prompted the Indonesian government to introduce regulations aimed at improving safety.

Cong stand to take part in Lalit Modi debate surprises many
New Delhi: Aug 13:The Congress' move to participate in a debate on the Lalit Modi issue on Wednesday, the penultimate day of this monsoon session of Parliament, came as a surprise to many. The debate began after the government accepted the Opposition's demand to discuss an adjournment motion on external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's alleged role in Lalit Modi controversy, in signs of the first breakthrough in the session marked by disruptions. Though the Congress and other opposition leaders have consistently given notices of adjournment motions on Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues, the main opposition party’s sudden decision to participate in the debate was widely seen as a climbdown from its tough stand of “resignations first and discussion later”.Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia dismissed any climbdown in the party’s stand on controversies involving top BJP leaders.
“Participating in an adjournment motion does not mean that we are moving away from our demand for resignations. Government accepted our motion and so we took part,” he said.
The principal opposition party has disrupted House business, demanding the resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi get UK travel documents. The Congress also wants the ouster of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the multi-crore Vyapam scandal.Congress strategists, sources said, had come to a conclusion that the party had made its point by forcing adjournments all these days and could use the discussion on the penultimate day to highlight charges of impropriety against Swaraj.
“The decision also made sense as other regional parties had distanced from our strategy of disruption,” a senior leader said.The first indication of a rethink in the Congress had come on Monday when Congress president Sonia Gandhi is said to have told Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay that her party could consider participating in an adjournment motion that entails voting.MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi expressed surprise at the move. “As a student of politics, I fail to understand the logic behind Congress party’s decision to agree on a discussion after stalling Parliament for all these days… I am surprised,” he said.The motion, moved by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, was defeated by a voice-vote in the absence of the main opposition party, which staged a walkout when finance minister Arun Jaitley began to reply.


Captured terrorist Naveed's neighbours in Pak confirm his address
New Delhi Aug 08:Mohammad Naveed, the Pakistani terrorist captured after a deadly attack in Jammu and Kashmir, lives in the Rafique Colony area of Faisalabad city, his neighbours have confirmed. Naveed’s father Mohammad Yakub lives with two of his sons in a house at the end of Street Number 3 in Rafique Colony, the neighbours were quoted as saying by NDTV.Naveed was caught on Wednesday after he and an accomplice attacked a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy at Udhampur and killed two troopers. His accomplice, from Bahawalpur in Pakistani Punjab, was gunned down by security forces.
His home – the terrorist told his interrogators – is deep inside Ghulam Mohammadabad, the largest residential area in the old quarters of Faislabad.Naveed’s family is nowhere to be seen and the street where his father lives is very silent and the people watchful, NDTV reported.“Why are you here? What are you doing with that?” a resident asked on seeing the camera carried by the channel’s reporter.Naveed, 22, has told investigators that he trained at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistan before he entered India some 45 days ago.
He said he has two brothers and a sister. One of the brothers, he said, is a lecturer while the other runs a hosiery business. Neighbours in Faislabad confirmed this.After attacking the BSF convoy, Naveed escaped into a village and took three men hostage but they later overpowered him and handed him over to police.Reacting to India’s accusations about Naveed’s Pakistani nationality, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said: "We have said many a times that making immediate accusations on Pakistan is not correct. These things should be based on facts. We expect that whenever Pakistan is being accused of something, it will be accompanied with correct evidence."


Central agencies to start questioning captured Pak militant Naved: reports
New Delhi Aug 06:Captured Pakistani militant Mohammad Naved will be questioned by top police officers on Thursday in the presence of National Investigation Agency sleuths, reports said. India Today TV reported quoting sources that a team from the central agency will head to Udhampur to join the interrogation. The NIA will also take a call on bringing him to Delhi. Naved was questioned all night on who his handlers in Pakistan were and on the route he took to cross over to India. The militant from was captured on Wednesday, shortly after he and accomplice Noman alias Momin killed two BSF men and wounded nearly a dozen soldiers by ambushing a convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Udhampur.Naved has told interrogators he is from Faislabad in Pakistan. A resident of Ghulam Mustafabad in Faisalabad, the militant believed to be in his early 20s has two brothers and one sister.Initially, Naved said he was in his early 20s but later changed his age to 16. “He has been changing statements. First he identified himself as Qasim and later as Usman Khan,” an officer said.This has been a tactic of the banned Lashkar group, sending youngsters to Jammu and Kashmir with the direction that in case they were caught, they should claim to be below 18 years so that they are tried as juveniles.Only if it is concluded that the accused is above 18, he can be tried by normal courts, otherwise he will have to be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. No court can try a juvenile as an adult even if the person has committed a murder or rape.In a "confession" caught on camera soon after he was captured, Naved said he started for India 12 days ago.“I am from Pakistan and my partner was killed in the firing but I escaped. Had I been killed, it would have been Allah’s doing. There is fun in doing this … I came to kill Hindus,” said the suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative wearing a dark blue shirt and brown trousers.As he was brought down from the mountainous village bound by ropes, Naved looked hassled but smiled when he answered questions from journalists.




31 dead in MP train derailments, railway official says sudden flash flood may have caused accident
Bhopal/Harda Aug 05, At least 31 people died and 25 were injured when two trains derailed within minutes of each other while crossing a small bridge in Madhya Pradesh shortly before midnight on Tuesday. The Kamayani Express, headed for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh from Mumbai, derailed near Harda town, 160 km south of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, shortly before midnight. Officials engaged in the rescue operations said they feared the death toll could rise. Survivors said some persons could have been washed away by the swollen waters of the Machak river.The accident occurred at Kudwa, about 18 km from the district headquarters Harda, located between Bhirangi and Khirakia railway stations.
Harda district public relations officer Vitthal Maheshwari said 31 people were killed, including 10 women and five children.The chairman of the Railway Board, AK Mittal, said on Wednesday that the derailment of the two trains near Harda in Madhya Pradesh may have been caused by a sudden flash flood.Mittal said that ten minutes before the unfortunate tragedy, spot train movement was absolutely normal, and there was no inkling about the accident taking place.An inquiry was ordered into the incident and the commissioner of railway safety (central zone) will conduct the probe.The railways announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those who sustained serious injuries.As rescuers initially grappled with darkness and inclement weather, survivors recounted the midnight horror.Manoj Mongi, a resident of Muzaffarnagar who was on board Kamayani Express, said: "I was sleeping and suddenly I felt a jolt...I came out. I saw three women floating, but could not save them."Tax consultant Shashi Bhushan Pandit, another passenger, said: "The water level on the track was almost waist-high. The current was swift...I cannot say how many people are trapped."Though the exact reason for the derailments is not yet known, railway officials said heavy rains in the past few days might have damaged railway tracks. "There was water on the tracks and the bridge was submerged. So, the last bogies of Kamayani Express got derailed. Simultaneously, on the other track, the engines and coaches of the Janata Express also got derailed," railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said.TV news channels reported some bogies of Kamayani Express fell into the Kalimachak river but Madhya Pradesh chief secretary Anthony de Sa did not confirm these reports."However, we are not taking chances and have alerted army units in Bhopal and Mhow. We have requested the defence ministry for help from army too. Teams of National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force have left for the spot," he told Hindustan Times.As the news of the accident broke, railways minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted: "Rushing emergency medical & other relief personnel to spot. darkness, water creating hurdles but ordered all possible help. Trying our best (sic).
"Local villagers, Admn r also in rescue operation. Everything that's necessary and possible being done. Constant in touch with CM MP & Rail off (sic)."Traffic on both up and down lines came to a halt after the accident.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted about the accident, offering condolences to families of the victims and providing regular updates on the rescue operations.



MH370 search: New 'metallic debris' found on La Reunion island
Paris.Aug 02, Several pieces of "metallic debris" have been discovered on La Reunion island, the same island where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing Malaysia Airways flight MH370 washed up last week, a source close to the ongoing investigation said on Sunday.Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, although nothing indicated that it came from an airplane, the source said.An AFP photographer saw police collect one piece of debris, measuring about 100 square centimetres (15 square inches), on the north of the island on Sunday morning.Police placed the debris -- which has a sort of handle partially covered by leather and is inscribed with two ideograms -- in an iron case.Also on Sunday morning a man handed police a piece of debris measuring 70 centimetres (27 inches), guessing it was part of a plane door.The discovery of a piece of wreckage confirmed to come from a Boeing 777 last Wednesday sparked fevered speculation that it may be the first tangible evidence that the missing plane crashed into the Indian Ocean.Flight MH370 is the only Boeing 777 to ever be lost at sea.While that piece of wreckage has been sent to France for further analysis, locals on La Reunion are scouring the beach for more debris in what the source close to the investigation likened to a "treasure hunt".


Thousands pay last respects to APJ Abdul Kalam at Rameswaram
Rameswaram : Jul 30
,The last rites of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam were held on Thursday in his hometown Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and a host of other dignitaries, including and chief ministers of some states, took part in the last rites that was held around 11am after 'Namaz-e-Janaza'.The body of 83-year-old Kalam, who passed away in Shillong on Monday, was taken from the house around 9:30am to the mosque by the personnel of three services with the casket covered with traditional green shawl. At the mosque, the Aalin or the chief priest read out special prayer and speak about the former president, who grew up from this island. Later, it was taken to the place of burial. The body of the "Missile Man" was brought to his house on the narrow Pallivasal Street around 10pm on Thursday night after lying in state and left in the privacy of his family till Thursday morning. The government declared a public holiday on Thursday, under the Negotiable Instruments Act. As a result, banks, insurance companies, schools and colleges are closed throughout the state.The government has also ordered closure of liquor shops and bars.Around 30,000 jewellery shops would also remain closed, while petrol bunks would stop selling for an hour between 10-11 a.m. as a mark of respect for Kalam.Movie theatre owners too have decided to shut down while fishermen have decided not to venture into the sea.Political parties like the DMK and the AIADMK have cancelled their functions.Kalam, 83, passed away on Monday in Shillong after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture to students at the Indian Institute of Management.His death witnessed a huge outpouring of grief across the nation. In Delhi, thousands waited for hours to pay their last respects to him. Long queues were also witnessed in Rameswaram, where his body was brought on Wednesday.
His ancestral home, House of Kalam, was besieged by milling crowds on Wednesday, prompting great-grandson APJ Shiekh Salim to plead with television crews to respect the family’s privacy. “My shocked great-grandfather is not in good health,” he said.The government has declared national mourning for seven days.Security has been tightened in and around Rameswaram in view of the large number of dignitaries who are expected to come.
Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr Kalam played a pivotal role in the Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan and India's highest civilian honour - the Bharat Ratna -- for his achievements.Penning his tribute to Dr Kalam in his blog, PM modi wrote, "Bharat has lost a Ratna". "Our scientist-President - and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses - never measured success by material possessions," he said.


Yakub Memon files fresh mercy plea with Prez to stay execution
New Delhi: Jul 29,The Supreme Court on Wednesday was hearing the plea of Yakub Memon, the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case convict, seeking the stay of his execution scheduled for July 30 even as he filed a fresh mercy petition with the President. The Chief Justice formed a three-judge bench on Tuesday after a two-member bench delivered a split verdict on Memon's petition for staying his hanging. Following a disagreement between justices A R Dave and Kurian Joseph on the issue on Tuesday, the matter was referred to Chief Justice HL Dattu, who constituted a larger bench of justices Dipak Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy to decide the destiny of Memon, the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Memon, a chartered accountant who will turn 54 on Thursday, and 11 others were sentenced to death by a special TADA court in July 2007 for the dozen explosions that ripped through India's financial hub, killing 257 people at various landmarks and leaving more than 1,000 injured. The only well-educated member of the Memon family was found guilty of criminal conspiracy, arranging money for buying vehicles used by the bombers and organising air tickets to Dubai for some of them. The new bench formed by the Chief Justice will go into the merits of Memon's petition, which said the death warrant was issued before he had exhausted all legal remedies available to him. Justice Dave dismissed his petition but justice Joseph disagreed, saying Memon’s curative petition needs to be heard afresh as it was dismissed without following correct procedure and rules laid down by the top court. “A defect in deciding curative petition needs to be cured, otherwise there will be clear violation of right to life of the convict under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Joseph said. On Tuesday, Memon filed a fresh petition challenging the validity of the Supreme Court’s July 21 order rejecting his curative petition. Memon can be hanged only after the Supreme Court rejects his petition, which is unlikely to happen by July 30, when he is scheduled to be executed at Nagpur Central Jail. If the apex court upholds his petition for quashing the death warrant, his hanging will be stayed. But he can be executed later but this too is likely to be delayed as an apex court verdict mandates a 14-day gap between the dismissal of a death row convict’s mercy plea and his execution. On July 21, the apex court rejected Memon’s curative petition, saying it was void of merit. On the same day, he filed a mercy petition with the Maharashtra governor, seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment. The apex court, through its March 21, 2013 verdict, upheld his death sentence while commuting the death sentence of 10 others to life imprisonment. The court on April 9 again dismissed Memon’s plea for the review of his death sentence, as it had earlier dismissed a similar plea seeking a recall of its March verdict.


Farewell Kalam! Pranab, Modi lead nation in paying homage
Guwahati/New Delhi: Jul 28 President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among a host of dignitaries who paid tribute to former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s body after it was carried in a special flight from Guwahati to Delhi on Tuesday. Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October and was the head of state during 2002-07, died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest at the IIM-Shillong on Monday evening.
After being airlifted from Shillong to Guwahati in an air force helicopter, the body was flown to Delhi in a special military flight. The C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying Kalam’s body touched down at Palam airbase in Delhi at 12.15pm. Wreaths were placed on the body on behalf of the three services, Delhi Police, Delhi chief minister, Prime Minister and President.
Both Mukherjee and Modi stood in silence before the body, wrapped in the tricolour, as a mark of respect and a tri-services contingent presented a guard of honour.
Vice president Hamid Ansari, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the three service chiefs too paid tribute to Kalam at the airport.The news of death of APJ Abdul Kalam (83) on front pages of newspapers in Mumbai on Tuesday. (AFP Photo/ Indranil Mukherjee)The body will be kept at Kalam’s official residence at 10 Rajaji Marg so that people can pay homage to the “Missile Man” from 4pm. Officials said VIPs would pay their tributes between 1pm and 3pm.
The casket containing the body was taken from Palam to Kalam’s residence in a gun carriage.Kalam’s funeral will be held at his hometown of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.The Union cabinet will hold a special meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday to condole Kalam’s death. The government has announced seven days of state morning in honour of the man who became affectionately known as the “people's President”.



5 killed as terrorists storm police station in Gurdaspur, border security stepped up
Dinanagar/New Delhi: Jul 27, India tightened security on its border with Pakistan on Monday after terrorists dressed in army uniform stormed a police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district, killing at least five people and injuring several others. The dead included three civilians and two homeguards. Union home minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the head of the Border Security Force and "instructed him to step up the vigil on India-Pakistan border". The terrorists struck a moving bus in Dinanagar at 5.30am, spraying bullets at passengers, injuring four. The assailants then targeted a health centre followed by a building where the families of police personnel reside and hurled grenades before entering the police station. The army was mobilised as the 'fidayeen' militants were holed up in Dinanagar police station complex. Special forces, too, were deployed and a gunbattle was on several hours after the attack began. According to police, the attackers first targeted a roadside eatery and took off in a Maruti 800 with Punjab registration number. They shot dead a roadside vendor near the Dinanagar bypass. They then opened fire on the bus before targeting a community health centre adjacent to the Dinanagar police station. The gunmen then entered the Dinanagar police station and opened fire in which five policemen were seriously injured.The militants also targeted another part of the complex where the families of police personnel reside.Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said reports the attackers were holding people hostage inside the police station appeared to be false.
The incident took place 11km away from Gurdaspur city - close to the India-Pakistan border - and 80km away from Amritsar.Television footage showed the white Maruti car with its windshield peppered with bullet holes, and broken glass and bullet casings on the passenger seat.
Car reportedly used by gunmen who attacked a police station in Dina Nagar in Gurdaspur, Punjab. (Photo credit: @ani_news)Five bombs were also found on a railway track in the state, suggesting a coordinated series of attacks around the time India is marking the anniversary of a near-war with Pakistan in northern Kashmir in 1999.The improvised explosive devices didn't go off despite a passenger train from Pathankot to Amritsar passing over them at 5.15am as the wires were not properly connected, said deputy superintendent of police Pathankot (rural) Prabhjot Singh Virk. The IEDs were not immediately defused as the army's bomb disposal unit from Jalandhar was awaited.The home minister spoke to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on the Gurdaspur siege. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Union ministers Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the situation."The MHA is monitoring the situation in Gurdaspur and Punjab," he posted on Twitter. He said he was hopeful that the situation will be soon brought under control.Officials said schools, colleges and other institutions were shut in the town in view of the incident.The attack in Punjab was eerily similar to attacks in the border belt of Jammu, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted. "Will be very interested to see what emerges about the identity of the terrorists involved in the Gurdaspur attack this morning," Abdullah tweeted.
Army commandos and a Quick Response Team (QRT) were called in to tackle the situation.
India observed the Kargil Diwas on Sunday to salute its soldiers who fought against Pakistani troops and guerrillas who sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir in 1999.The incident comes weeks after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif spoke for about an hour during a summit in Russia, raising hopes of an improvement in perennially difficult relations.



If Bihar polls were held now: Survey says Nitish-Lalu ahead of BJP
Patna| Updated: Jul 26:The Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad alliance has an edge over the BJP and its allies in poll-bound Bihar and would romp to victory if polls were to be held today, according to a survey by AC-Neilson. The grand alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal-United, which has been wooing OBC and Muslim voters, would bag 129 seats with a vote share of 43%.The BJP, allied with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan, Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awami Morcha -Secular (HAM-Secular) and Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) of Upenndra Prasad Kushwaha, would get 112 seats with a 32% vote share.If elections were to be held today, the BJP would win 87 seats, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s group 16, the JD-U 99, and the RJD 24. Seven seats would go to others.Read: Something wrong in Nitish's political DNA: Modi at Muzaffarpur rally The Bihar assembly has 243 seats and the erstwhile BJP-JD-U alliance had swept the 2010 polls by bagging 206 seats. The JD-U had won 115 seats while the BJP won 91. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a scathing attack on leaders of the RJD-JD-U combine on Saturday as he rolled out the NDA’s campaign for the assembly polls in Bihar, singling out Kumar for criticism. Modi began his day-long visit to Bihar by sharing a stage with Kumar and the two leaders were seen warmly greeting each other. But Modi was unsparing when he addressed a “Parivartan Rally” in Muzaffarpur to kick off the National Democratic Alliance’s campaign. He said there is something wrong with Kumar's “political DNA” that led the Janata Dal-United leader to ditch friends who worked with him. However, according to the survey, Kumar, with 52% support, is the most popular candidate for the chief minister’s post, followed by BJP’s Sushil Modi at 42%. Kumar also had a higher appeal among Muslim voters, according to the survey. Overall, around 54% respondents felt Kumar should be given another chance to be chief minister, with 42% rooting for former deputy chief minister Modi. Kumar is also slightly more popular than Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar. But Modi’s appeal is higher in urban areas of Bihar among Hindus and upper castes.Sixty-two percent of the respondents felt the BJP-JD-U alliance’s government was better than the government run exclusively by the JD-U. Kumar was far ahead of Manjhi when it came to his performance as the chief minister.According to the opinion poll, the NDA is expected to lead in Bhojpur and Magadh regions because of Manjhi’s appeal, while the RJD-JD-U alliance along with Congress is likely to dominate Seemanchal, east Bihar and Mithilanchal.In Tirhut, the RJD-JD-U alliance and the Congress may get 38 seats while the NDA could bag 32.Asked about political parties banking on the caste card to win the election, 43% of respondents said the RJD-JD-U had played up the factor compared to 35% who felt the BJP was depending on this issue.A total of 56% of respondents felt Manjhi’s rebellion against the JD-U would benefit the BJP while 38% said Kumar had benefited from the development.The 38% that gave Kumar the advantage believed that the alliance of the JD-U, RJD, Congress and NCP would gain from the mess even though 66% believed that the current mess in Bihar was solely due to chief minister Kumar. Another 23% felt Manjhi was responsible while 9% blamed it on the BJP.



I'll fulfil my promise and do more: Modi on Bihar special package
Patna: 25 jully: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday he will fulfil his promise on a special package for development in poll-bound Bihar, stressing politics should not put brakes on welfare schemes. "Before the Lok Sabha polls, I promised Rs 50,000 crore for Bihar (if elected)...I will fulfil my promise and announce the package at the right time. And I will go beyond what was promised," the PM said at an event in Patna where he inaugurated a slew of schemes and shared the stage with chief minister Nitish Kumar.Modi, who was in the state to kick-start the NDA's campaign for the assembly elections later this year, set the ball rolling at the event by flagging off a railway line, a Patna-Mumbai AC Express, an IIT in the state capital and an incubation centre, among other schemes.Read: PM Narendra Modi to kick-start assembly poll campaign in Bihar todayThe PM and his political rival Kumar showed warmth on stage in front of a big crowd, greeting each other with smiles.Notwithstanding the bonhomie, Kumar tweeted in the morning: "We’re grateful after 14 months Modiji finds time to visit Bihar. As we get ready to hear more promises what about his old ones?"The Bihar CM posted seven "critical issues". The list included Modi's Lok Sabha poll promise on Bihar's special status and bringing back black money stashed abroad.At the Patna event, Modi responded, with Kumar sitting beside him. "The development of states is necessary for the development of the country," the PM said, "The time is over when (welfare) schemes were developed in Delhi. Now those decisions need to be molded by the states' requirements."Responding to Kumar's request to expedite schemes that are pending with the central government, Modi said: "I agree with Nitishji. Projects that started ages ago have been delayed...because the government changed after Atalji's (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government."The NDA in Bihar is pitted against a combination of Nitish Kumar's JD(U), Lalu Prasad's RJD and the Congress. Other parties of the Janata Parivar and the Aam Aadmi Party are backing them.Kumar's JD(U) and the BJP were alliance partners for 15 years till they split ahead of the Lok Sabha elections over the projection of Modi as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate.



Consider yourself a Daniel Radcliffe fan? Prove it with this quiz
New Delhi Jul 23: Daniel Radcliffe turns 26 on July 23 and it is every reason to celebrate. We first saw this bespectacled wonder in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and later in seven other movies of the franchise. He became a phenomenon in no time and is still a crowd puller with his regular funny antics. Here we have for you a simple and special quiz to judge once and for all if you are a wizard or a muggle! Match the screengrab with the right movie and make sure you don't bring dishonour to your house. True Harry Potter fans should get a perfect score.


BJP MP Shanta Kumar drops letter bomb, wants to fix party
New Delhi Jul 21:Veteran BJP lawmaker Shanta Kumar has sought an “ethics committee” to act like a Lokpal or ombudsman to root out corruption within the party in the wake of a series of scandals, prompting the embarrassed party to reprimand him.The 80-year-old former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh said in a letter written to BJP chief Amit Shah that the party had been hit hard by the scandals.The letter, dated July 10, said the Vyapam scam over recruitment and admission tests in Madhya Pradesh "has made us all bow our heads in shame".Kumar's letter, dated July 10, marks the first time that a BJP leader has gone against the party’s line of defending its ministers and leaders linked to several scandals. The BJP has said it will not ask these leaders to resign.The former Union minister was phoned by BJP representatives and told to avoid public controversy and to "observe restraint" after his letter became public, NDTV reported.The Congress has been gunning for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, who have been accused of aiding tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi’s efforts to obtain British travel documents after his Indian passport was impounded.On Tuesday, Kumar defended his actions, saying he wanted the BJP to act on the scams. “I did not want the letter (to Amit Shah) to be leaked to the media, but I stand by what I said in it,” he said."I stand by each word in my letter... I have been a part of the BJP struggle and have stated my case to the party president," he added.Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy distanced the BJP from Kumar’s stance, saying: "Shanta Kumar's comments are influenced by the Congress' misinformation campaign. The BJP distances itself from his comments.”



Congress aggressive, BJP adamant: Will monsoon session be a washout?
New DelhiJul 20 The monsoon session of Parliament beginning Tuesday is set to be stormy as the opposition will target the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a string corruption allegations against some of its most high-profile ministers and leaders. The Congress is in no mood to cooperate and has mounted pressure on the government to remove external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje – both linked to a controversy over former IPL chief Lalit Modi’s efforts to obtain British travel documents – and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose government in Madhya Pradesh is on the back foot because of the raging Vyapam scam.The Congress' message to the government has been “remove them, and we ensure a smooth session”. The Congress has also targeted Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde over alleged scams. The opposition has indicated it will also target human resource minister Smriti Irani, who is facing charges related to her educational qualifications.But the BJP too is adamant about brazening it out. "We will aggressively and effectively counter the disinformation campaign of Congress," said party media cell in-charge Shrikant Sharma.And it seems the BJP-led government and the Congress as well as other opposition parties are headed for a 'muqabla' (contest) as pointed out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. So, what's expected in the upcoming session? Will it be a complete washout? Or will the government be able to weather the storm? Here's all you need to know about who stands where ahead of the key session.The government has indicated that it is taking the opposition’s challenge seriously, holding or planning a series of meetings. Modi held a nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting with BJP leaders and ministers at his official residence on Sunday evening.Earlier in the day, BJP chief Amit Shah held strategy meetings with party colleagues, including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal and party spokespersons. He also met Raje and Chouhan.
Modi has called a meeting of all NDA constituents on Monday. This is the first time he has called a meet of the ruling alliance since he stormed to power in May 2014.Before meeting the allies at his residence, Modi may attend two separate all-party meetings called by parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to discuss ways to ensure a smooth session."As far as the Lalit Modi controversy is concerned, Congress is totally confused. On one hand, they are seeking resignation of our leaders on the basis of Lalit Modi's comments, but have no answer to his charges against Priyanka Gandhi, her husband Robert Vadra and an alleged deal by Sonia Gandhi's sister. We will seek their answers on these," said BJP leader Shrikant Sharma.The BJP believes there was no wrongdoing on the part of Raje or her son Dushyant Singh in dealings with Lalit Modi.A BJP leader said the party has also decided to highlight how the judiciary has refused to take cognisance of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh's attempts to link chief minister Chouhan to the Vyapam scam, which is now being investigated by the CBI.The BJP, on its part, is likely to train its guns on Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, a senior Congress leader who has been accused of having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.As part of its strategy, the government has lined up a short but impressive list of 11 bills for Parliament’s approval. Topping the list is the long-awaited 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill that aims to pave the way for the Goods and Services Tax or GST.Barring the Congress, the principal opposition party, the GST bill has got overwhelming support from other political quarters. Arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP, Shiv Sena and NCP, Left and Trinamool — all have said the same thing: Bring on the GST!While the BJP-led NDA commands an absolute majority in Lok Sabha, it lacks numbers in the Upper House where the Congress is the largest party and holds key to the passage of crucial legislation, including the GST and land acquisition bill.The initial days of the session could be lost in the din of protests as there is little chance of Modi giving in to the demands of the Congress.The fate of the bills, therefore, will depend on the last week of the session when the Congress will be under intense pressure to stop disruptions in Parliament.
The BJP’s decision not to proceed with the land acquisition bill is a clear indication that it doesn’t want to take on the entire opposition. It is going slow on contentious labour reforms. With some other opposition parties not ready to join hands with the Congress, the NDA’s best chance to pass the bills can come in the last week.If the GST bill is the government’s top priority, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill to treat teenagers in the 16-18 years bracket as adults if they commit a heinous crime is also high on the agenda.
In a nutshell: No chance of all bills getting passed. The government should be happy if it can pass the GST bill, though. There are also reports that the government could sacrifice the land bill for the smooth passage of GST.


J-K: Ceasefire violations by Pak ahead of PM Modi's visit, India protests
Jammu Jul 16: Pakistan Rangers resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling on five border outposts and some villages in Jammu district injuring four people early on Thursday, officials said. The fresh firing comes a day after a woman was killed in the ceasefire violations prompting India to lodge a protest with Pakistan and ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to Jammu on Friday to attend the centenary celebrations of former state finance minister Girdhari Lal Dogra. "Pakistani Rangers resorted to small arms firing and mortar shelling along IB in RS Pura sector of Jammu district since 0115 hours today," a BSF officer said.They targeted five border outposts (BoPs) and some civilian areas in RS Pura and Tawi forward belts, he said adding that Pakistani Rangers fired 81 mm mortar shells around 3:50am.The Abdullian, Tubewell number five, Kathmariana, Korotana and Sangral BSF posts in RS Pura area were also targeted by the Pakistan rangers."BSF troops guarding the border line retaliated effectively and the firing exchange continued till 0530 hours today," he said adding four persons were injured in Brewa village.Border Security Force officials said Pakistan Rangers have increased the arch of firing and shelling from Kanachak-Akhnoor sector to RS Pura sector now. There have been nine ceasefire violations during July.A woman, Poli Devi, was killed and six others, including two BSF jawans, were injured on Wednesday in firing and mortar shelling in Jammu district by Pakistan Rangers.PTI quoted government sources as saying that India lodged protest both in Islamabad as well as in Delhi over the incident."Our high commissioner in Islamabad raised the issue with the Pakistan Foreign Office and Pakistan high commissioner in Delhi was also conveyed India's concerns regarding ceasefire violation in which one woman was killed and some people injured," sources told PTI on Thursday.On July 9, Pakistani troops fired at a forward border post in North Kashmir killing a BSF jawan, an incident that came on the eve of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Russia.



SUV flies, crashes into auto after daylight gang shooting in Gurgaon
Gurgaon| Updated: Jul 15: Three men travelling in another car shot the SUV carrying Rakesh Kumar of Hayatpur village in an apparent case of gang rivalry. The driver of the Huyndai SUV jumped a divider to escape the gunshots and crashed into the auto rickshaw on the other side of the road near the Central Mall. "This seems to be a case of gang war. We are still inspecting the matter," a policeman who inspected to the crime scene said.While the driver was said to be in a stable condition after being admitted to a hospital with bullet injuries, the driver of the auto-rickshaw was severely injured. Kumar managed to escape the attack and hid in a nearby building before being rescued."There was firing and suddenly we saw a Hyundai Santa Fe flying over the divider and crashing into an auto. The driver was immediately taken to a hospital by people on the road," an eyewitness said.
There was a massive traffic jam on the MG Road after the shooting and the subsequent car crash around 9am.Kumar was travelling to the Gurgaon district court for a hearing when he was attacked by the three men travelling in a hatchback. His SUV landed on the auto-rickshaw after hitting two other public transport vehicles and causing another four-wheeler to overturn.



Intelligence Bureau decides against writing its own history
New Delhi: Jul13: One may never get to officially know how national security adviser Ajit Doval forced Mizo insurgent leader Laldenga to negotiate a peace accord during his IB days or back stories to similar intelligence coups as the agency has shelved plans of immediately publishing its 128-year-old history. Intelligence Bureau personnel feel any official account of its activities may put the domestic agency at the centre of a political slugfest and might force them to defend decades-old decisions. “There is a difference of opinion within the IB as its official history may generate controversy and force it to defend old decisions — like why it tracked the movements of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s family after independence — which may have been taken keeping in mind then national interest,” a senior government functionary told HT. But the absence of an official history of the IB or its external counterpart — the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) —has meant information in the public domain about the agencies comes from memoirs of ex-officers, many of which are self-serving.Former IB joint director MK Dhar’s book Open Secrets or former IB special director AS Dulat’s recent and more balanced memoir Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years are prime examples of such accounts.After the British Security Service, popularly known as the MI-5, published its authorsied history ‘The Defence of the Realm’ in 2010, the IB also decided to explore the idea.“During Nehchal Sandhu’s stewardship of the IB, a committee was formed to look into the project. It was also decided to take help from retired IB officials to compile a history of the organisation but nothing much happened,” said a former IB chief.The IB is also mindful of the fact that any unfavourable account of former leaders in its official history may be difficult to stomach for their political heirs, who are often blood relatives.


Amit Shah said party stands by me: Shivraj Chouhan on Vyapam storm
New Delhi/Bhopal Jul 09, 2015 Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said the BJP was behind him as he faced a political storm following a spate of mysterious deaths of people connected to a multi-crore scam that has sullied his image. The 56-year-old leader was in Delhi a day after giving in to mounting public pressure and asking for a CBI probe into the Vyapam exam fraud.“BJP president Amit Shah told me the party stands by me. I have no reason to worry,” he told HT, effectively burying rumours of internal party fissures ignited by Union minister Uma Bharti’s purported remarks about the state scuttling the probe.“Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the person who started the probe, has been put in the dock. The image of the state has been ruined, the image is that people here are being murdered,” he told HT in Bhopal.The Supreme Court will hear a batch of petitions on Thursday calling for a court-monitored CBI probe into the exam-rigging scandal. The Madhya Pradesh high court deferred a similar state government plea on Wednesday to July 20.“We will pray in Supreme Court that there be a CBI investigation. If and when we have to go to the SC, this will be the government stand,” the CM said. The apex court is also hearing a petition asking for the removal of MP governor Ram Naresh Yadav, an accused in the case.
Asked why Shah was silent on the Vyapam scam when the BJP had defended Vasundhara Raje in the controversy involving ex-IPL boss Lalit Modi, Chouhan said the party had supported the Rajasthan CM publicly as personal allegations had been made against her. “The Vyapam controversy is known to the party leadership and there was no need for Shah or anybody to come out and speak every time it resurfaced,” he said.“Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi never discussed it with me. I meet him at least twice every month but he never took up the matter with me,” Chouhan said.The probe into one of India’s biggest corruption scandals has gotten murkier with at least 40 witnesses and accused dying in the past three years as whistleblowers allege a deliberate ploy to eliminate evidence and shield top ministers and bureaucrats.But Chouhan denied all accusations, saying the trial by media only hurt the economic prospects of a state outpacing the national growth rate.
Opposition parties have been gunning for Chouhan, who said he accepted a CBI probe because of a perception created outside the state that his government was attempting a cover-up.“Everywhere else where you have had cases of rigged medical exams, students have been caught and after some time let off on bail. But we are going to the root of this case and everywhere we found evidence, the STF acted,” he told HT.“You go around the state, you think someone will get you killed? It’s only a matter of time, the truth can never be hidden.”The CM said he always had the blessings of BJP veterans AB Vajpayee and LK Advani and continued to enjoy the confidence of Modi and Shah. “I have pride in my party, the party is behind me. There is no question of no support,” he said.The CM was scheduled to return to Bhopal after a meeting at the external affairs ministry, but stayed back and will take an early morning flight.



Hema Malini blames father of child killed in road accident
New Delhi Jul 08:BJP MP and Bollywood actress Hema Malini on Wednesday blamed the father of child who was killed in car accident for not following traffic rules."My heart goes out to the child who unnecessarily lost her life and the family members who have been injured in the accident. How I wish the girl's father had followed the traffic rules - thn this accident could have been averted & the lil one's life safe! (sic)," she tweeted. Two-year-old girl Sonam died after BJP MP's Mercedes hit an Alto at the Lalsot bypass on the highway last week. There were five people — one man, two women and two children — in the Alto car when the accident occurred. While the two-year-old girl died, the others received serious injuries. Sonam's father had earlier said her daughter could have been saved if she was rushed to the hospital along with the BJP parliamentarian immediately after the fatal crash in Rajasthan's Dausa district. Malini, who was sitting in the back seat, suffered a nasal fracture, with other injuries on her forehead, cheeks and legs. She was rushed to the Fortis Hospital in Jaipur where doctors conducted a CT scan and then administered stitches on her wounds.


Trainee sub-inspector recruited through MPPEB found dead
Bhopal| Jul 06: A trainee sub-inspector, who was recruited through the tainted Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), was found dead in suspicious circumstances in a police academy in Sagar district early on Monday. The body of Anamika Kushwaha, aged about 25, was found at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Police Training Academy at a time when suspicions have deepened about the systematic elimination of people linked to the Vyapam scam.Sagar district’s superintendent of police Sachin Atulkar said, prima facie, it appeared to be a case of suicide. "We haven't recovered any suicide note so far. But the statements of her colleagues suggest she committed suicide. A case has been registered and investigation is on," he said. Atulkar contended Kushwaha had nothing to do with the Vyapam scam, so named because of the Hindi acronym for the MPPEB. According to police sources, Kushwaha went missing from her hostel room late on Sunday night and her body was found floating in a pond located within the academy. Her body was spotted by a security personnel of the academy, who subsequently informed police.Savita Sohane, an ASP at the academy, told ANI that Kushwaha had been “mentally stressed” for the past few days.“She gave her exam last year and joined the batch this February,” Sohane said.Kushwaha was a resident of Ambah town of Morena district and was recruited as a sub-inspector in February 2015 through a test conducted by the MPPEB.Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, under a cloud because of the scandal, described Kushwaha’s death as “unfortunate” but said every death should not be linked to the Vyapam scam.“Her death is an unfortunate incident but it is not related to the Vyapam scam investigation. Every death should not be linked,” he said.But senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh referred to Kushwaha’s death as yet “another casualty in the Vyapam scam”.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested in connection with the scam since it came to light in 2013.Many politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen are said to be involved in the scam which, according to police, involved scamsters employing imposters to write tests conducted by the MPPEB for admission to professional courses and recruitment in government jobs.



Dulat storm: 'Payouts' to J-K militants, parties; Kandahar 'goof-up'
New Delhi| Updated: Jul 04:Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat's revelations on a raft of issues ahead of the launch of his book have kicked up a political storm in the country. Dulat has spoken about the Kandahar hijack incident and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's response to it, the 2002 Gujarat riots and Jammu and Kashmir among other things. Here are a few revelations made by the former spy agency chief: Indian intelligence agencies regularly pay terrorists, Hurriyat leaders and mainstream Jammu and Kashmir political parties including the National Conference (NC) and PDP, Dulat revealed in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times on Friday."Nobody is immune to bribes, not the militants, not politicians and not the separatists. Over the years, they have all been paid by intelligence agencies. We paid money to demonstrate that what the ISI can do, we can do better, except kill people," said Dulat, who was posted in J&K as an Intelligence Bureau officer in 1988. He went on to head the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency, and then became adviser to prime minister Vajpayee, serving in government till 2004."As militancy grew in the 1990s, so did the payments. They grew from the hundreds to lakhs of rupees," revealed Dulat. He said "there were some honourable exceptions in the Hurriyat who did not accept the money", but refused to name names. Dulat clarified that he could only confirm payments till 2004.
Speaking to Hindustan Times ahead of the launch of his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, Dulat said the UPA government that came into power in 2004 made him "the villain of the NDA's Kashmir policy'', saying "I had bribed my way through Kashmir, but the fact is that when I was posted to Srinagar in 1988, the first thing I got to know was who was paying whom and how much. It is not a big deal. Intelligence agencies all over the world pay slush money".Both the NC and PDP denied the charges. "Our political party has been struggling and striving with the people of Kashmir and we have always functioned in a very transparent way. These allegations are unsubstantiated and we totally deny them," said the NC's Junaid Azim Mattoo.PDP spokesman Wahid-Ur Rehman Parra said: "People say all kinds of things post-retirement. One needs to look into the timing of these allegations, why now and why not before. We don't know who Mr Dulat is trying to benefit and who he is trying to harm by these baseless allegations but he is definitely not helping national interest."When HT asked Dulat what he thought of the Narendra Modi government calling off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan last year over its high commissioner meeting with leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, he said, "There is no getting away from talks with the Hurriyat. You can't only be talking to Mufti Saeed. The Vajpayee government started a dialogue with the separatists and the Modi government should do the same. The Kashmiris initially welcomed Modi because they thought he would carry the Vajpayee policy forward. Calling off talks was disappointing."The former RAW chief's book also reveals Vajpayee wanted to make NC leader Farooq Abdullah vice-president in 2002 while making his son, Omar Abdullah, the state chief minister. In a controversial disclosure to HT, Dulat said the Abdullahs did not walk out of the Vajpayee government after the 2002 Gujarat riots "only because he (Farooq) was hopeful of becoming vice-president". Later, in a bid to control the political damage in the Valley from this move, Omar had emphasized that not leaving the NDA government then was one of his biggest regrets.The operation to handle the Kandahar hijack was "goofed up" as no one wanted to take a decision fearing the loss of lives, according to Dulat.Dulat, who was a member of the Crisis Management Group handling the 1999 hijack of the Indian Airlines IC 814 plane, said they could not decide that the plane should not leave Amritsar."Let me say, we goofed up... what was upper most in everybody's mind was security of the people," Dulat said in an interview to a television news channel on Thursday.The BJP and the Congress engaged in a political slugfest over Dulat's Kandahar operation claims.While the Congress sought Modi's apology over the "goof-up" by the then NDA government in the case, the Bharatiya Janata Party retorted that all decisions at that time were taken at the highest level. He also said two of the three terrorists were in Jammu and Kashmir and then chief minister Farooq Abdullah was angry about letting them go. The Congress has demanded an apology from Modi for the communal violence in 2002, which happened when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, after Dulat made some comments about the issue.Dulat spoke about his last meeting with Vajpayee in which the BJP stalwart had said "humse se galti hui hai (we have made a mistake)" about the 2002 Gujarat riots.Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar launched a scathing attack on Modi, saying "Dulat says that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee believed that he lost the 2004 elections in view of the Gujarat riots... Bharat Ratna Vajpayee has clearly condemned ... the shameful incidents of 2002." Vajpayee in 2002 promised to make National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah the vice-president, but later reneged on his promise, a key member of his PMO has said. Dulat revealed the offer was made at his residence on Vajpayee's behalf by principal secretary Brajesh Mishra.Later, Farooq Abdullah told Dulat that both Vajpayee and deputy PM LK Advani confirmed the offer. The Kashmir leader, however, did not trust Delhi to carry out this promise.Vajpayee then dropped the idea as his government felt Abdullah was "unreliable" and also because the package deal to make Krishan Kant the president did not happen.



'Nothing has changed': Problems, and rubbish, pile up for Kejriwal
New Delhi Jul 01, Autorickshaw driver Vinod Kumar enthusiastically backed Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi assembly elections this year, won over by promises of lower utility bills and an end to corruption, but four months on he is already fed up. "Nothing has changed," complained the 47-year-old on a recent sweltering June day in the city. "He promised us free water but we still have acute water shortages in the summer. "We just want him to focus his attention on Delhi... and not waste so much energy on politics." Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 67 of the 70 seats in assembly elections held in Februray, handing the former anti-corruption campaigner the coveted role as Delhi chief minister. It beat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), dealing the Prime Minister his first defeat since last year's general election. Kejriwal had cultivated a reputation as a down-to-earth man of the people -- even agreeing to appear on a satirical television show in his trademark muffler. But within weeks of winning the election, his party was embroiled in a very public bout of political in-fighting that belied its claim to be different from the others.Since then Kejriwal, who is on his second stint in the job, has lost his law minister after allegations that the politician faked his degree. The new chief minister's problems spilled over into the streets last month when putrid rubbish was left to pile up at the hottest time of the year after the city's sanitation workers went on strike over non-payment of salaries. Sunil Kumar, one of thousands who downed tools, said he had voted for Kejriwal believing he would put people before politics. "Kejriwal's government has only been in the news for controversies, not for anything he's done on our behalf." The strike dragged on for days with Kejriwal unable to resolve the problem because the body in charge of Delhi's civic workers is controlled by the BJP. Delhi's special status as a partial state means that many of its key services -- including the police force -- are controlled by the central government. To make the situation even more complicated, separately elected civic bodies control other public amenities -- making them easy political pawns. Modi promised Kejriwal his government's "complete support" after the election, but the taxman-turned-political campaigner has accused the BJP of stirring up trouble in Delhi. "Since the BJP lost Delhi, they want revenge and this isn't correct," Kejriwal told the NDTV news channel. This is Kejriwal's second stint as Delhi chief minister -- his first began in December 2013 and ended with his resignation just 49 days later to focus on his national political ambitions. The move backfired and he suffered a humiliating defeat in general elections last year when he stood in the same constituency as Modi, forcing a return to Delhi politics. Political analyst Samir Saran believes Kejriwal has allowed his bitter rivalry with the Prime Minister to dominate -- to the detriment of the city he runs."The last few months under Kejriwal have been about contest and confrontation," said Saran, senior research fellow at Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. "The city has become a hotbed for politics (rather) than actual development and progress, and Kejriwal is distracted with one upmanship." Kejriwal's government last month tried to win back core supporters by presenting its first budget, hiking spending on social services, and subsidised water and power for the poor. "This is a budget of aam aadmi (common man) and we have tried to take into account the expectations and aspirations of the people of Delhi," deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said. But Delhi's former chief minister Sheila Dikshit said Kejriwal "doesn't want to understand or doesn't understand" governance. "Even we had differences with other authorities, but they weren't solved with agitations and noisy public disputes," said Dikshit, who served three five-year terms as chief minister. Delhi electrician and Kejriwal supporter Raju Singh said Kejriwal still had not demonstrated the commitment the city needed -- but was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.



Rahane's elevation as captain in Zimbabwe selectors' snub to Dhoni?
New DelhiJun 30 June :Barely a week ago ODI skipper MS Dhoni made a harsh assessment of Ajinkya Rahane and axed him from the playing eleven during the recent disastrous Bangladesh series. On Monday, the 27-year-old was back - as the captain of the Indian team that will tour Zimbabwe.In naming Rahane the skipper of a depleted 15-member squad that will play three one-dayers and two Twenty20 games during the nine-day tour that begins July 10, national selectors gave an eloquent thumbs-down to Dhoni for his much-criticised move. Dhoni had effectively dubbed him a laggard in Mirpur, a game that India went on to lose. "We've seen that he plays a lot better when there is pace on a wicket. Whenever he has played at No 4 or 5, if the wicket is slow, he struggles to rotate the strike freely, especially when he is just starting his innings, he has a bit of trouble. It is not easy." Dhoni took Rahane's number 4 slot, but a 75-ball 47 in the second ODI and a 77-ball 69 in the third put things in perspective. India were humiliated in the series 1-2. Rahane, who has played 55 ODIs and scored 1,593 runs at an average of 30.63, may not always score at an express pace, but the omission, and Dhoni's justification, can only hurt his confidence. Same with Cheteshwar Pujara, left out of the only Test against Bangladesh by Kohli. He was named India 'A' skipper on Monday. Patil was clear about what the selectors thought of Rahane. "We're very happy the way his career is shaping up. He is one of the most consistent batsmen we have. We want to see the other angle (captaincy) also," he told a news conference.Dhoni's favourite, Ravindra Jadeja, was axed after a poor run, Patil making it clear he was dropped.


Another mystery death in unending tale of Madhya Pradesh Vyapam scam
New Delhi| Jun 29, 2015:Two more accused in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam have died in Gwalior and Indore, adding another murky twist to the case in which several politicians and bureaucrats are allegedly involved. The death of 40-year-old Dr Rajendra Arya in Gwalior's Birla Hospital was said to be due to a disease while that of Narendra Singh Tomar, 29, in Indore Jail reportedly occurred in mysterious circumstances.On Sunday, Tomar - a veterinarian - complained of chest pain and was rushed to hospital where he was declared dead on arrival, sources said.According to an official account, 24 accused and witnesses in the case have mysteriously died so far. But a report in a national daily put the least number of deaths in mysterious circumstances at 41.
The chairman of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the case recently admitted more than 30 deaths had been reported."It (MPPEB scam) is a non-ending saga of the state's connivance on a scale hitherto unthinkable...The Vyapam scam, in short, is a multi-billion home-grown illicit business engineered with full state patronage. It is the largest scam engulfing the 'highest' and the 'mightiest' from the state," Vivek K Tankha, a former additional solicitor general of India and former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, wrote in Hindustan Times.The scam involves multiple rackets that helped candidates rig examinations for admission to colleges and recruitment in government jobs with cheats employing imposters to write test papers, manipulating sitting arrangements and even supplying forged answer sheets.The most high-profile death in the case was that of Shailesh Yadav, the son of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. Shailesh, 50, was found dead at his father's residence in Mall Avenue area of the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on March 25.
Ram Naresh Yadav, a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was named as an accused in the scam before getting relief from court.Several politicians, including former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, a host of officials and scores of aspirants have been arrested in the case. The Congress has accused chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of complicity.
In March, the SIT told the Supreme Court it had arrested approximately 1,800 accused and was on the lookout for another 800 people."If 40 deaths cannot evoke the conscience of the rulers of the state and Centre for an independent investigation by an agency like the CBI, it only signifies the collapse of our criminal justice delivery edifice. Posterity will put the blame on all institutions," he added.



UN report says Indian peacekeepers face sexual abuse charges
New Delhi| Updated: Jun 24
Indian peacekeeping forces were accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in three cases between 2010 and 2013, a recent United Nations report has revealed, embarrassing the army that contributes the third-largest contingent to UN missions.The allegations bring back memories of a cash-for-sex scandal in the Democratic Republic of Congo involving Indian personnel in 2008, when an investigation found at least 10 soldiers had sex with prostitutes in violation of the UN code of conduct. There were also allegations of some soldiers fathering children. "Strictest action is taken against soldiers bringing a bad name to the army on foreign soil. The army is also putting in place tougher rules for monitoring conduct and discipline to curb such cases," said a senior army officer. The United Nations has 125,000 troops, police and civilians deployed in 16 operations across the world to ensure peace and reduce violence in strife-torn regions. Of these, India accounts for about 7,200 soldiers in nine missions, including those in the Congo, South Sudan and Lebanon.In recent years, global peacekeeping forces have faced mounting accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of authority, especially in impoverished areas. Figures compiled by the powerful UN Office of Internal Oversight Services record 265 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against international peacekeepers in the last five years. A draft version of the report accessed by agencies said UN peacekeepers commonly paid for sex with cash, dresses, jewellery, mobile phones and other items with hundreds of women in Haiti and Liberia saying hunger and poverty prompted them to offer sex. The Indian Army has taken several measures to check such cases. For instance, there are flying squads to snoop on men garrisoned in and around the Congo's Goma region. Raids are regularly conducted at no-go places such as nightclubs, bars and red light areas and troops about to finish their tenure are placed under surveillance because sexual abuse usually occurs in the last two months of duty. India's South Asian neighbour Bangladesh tops the list of nations contributing to the UN peacekeeping force, followed by Pakistan, which has also faced several allegations of sexual exploitation by its soldiers.


We can gouge out your eyes, chop off hands': Mamata's nephew Abhishek threatens opposition
New Delhi| Jun 23 |West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek has warned that anybody harbouring “evil intentions” towards West Bengal will have their eyes gouged out and their hands chopped off. Abhishek, who was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time last year, made the remarks while addressing a meeting of Trinamool Congress workers and leaders at Basirhat in North 24 Paragana district on Monday. “TMC MPs (have) showed we won’t spare anyone who tries to exploit the people of West Bengal. Until Mamata Banerjee is here, if anyone looks at West Bengal with evil intentions...we can gouge out their eyes and throw them on the streets. If hands are raised against us, we can chop off the hands as well,” Abhishek said.
“But we have to remember that the common man has the last word. If you have the power, come to the elections and try us out," he added.
Several top leaders of the part were present at the gathering. The 27-year-old Abhishek is chief of the party's youth wing.Abhishek also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi with whom his aunt has shown bonhomie in recent public appearances, emphasising that the Centre and state should work together for development.He said most political parties had “fallen at the feet of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi but the Trinamool Congress didn’t”."He goes around wearing suits worth Rs 15 lakh. They have no shame. (He) used to sell tea earlier, now (he) is selling the country," Abhishek said in an apparent reference to Modi.
Political circles believe the chief minister is trying to use her nephew to portray that she is not fully aligned with Modi – something that is politically uncomfortable for her because of her dependence on the Muslim minority as a vote bank. Muslims make up about 30% of the state’s population.Abhishek’s remarks were reminiscent of public utterances by fellow party lawmaker Tapas Pal last year that triggered a major controversy. Addressing a meeting, the actor-turned-politician had threatened to kill CPI-M workers and have their women raped.“If any CPI-M man is present here, listen to me. If you ever touch any Trinamool Congress worker or their families…you have to pay for this…If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, then I won't spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal had said.
The Trinamool Congress faced considerable embarrassment after a video of Pal’s comments was aired on TV news channels.The BJP criticised Abhishek’s remarks, with party spokesperson GVLN Rao saying: “If they think they will scare people by using such language, there will be a revolution in Bengal.Thats the only way TMC can win elections, by unleashing terror,” he added."What Abhisekh Banerjee has said is in the DNA of Trinamool Congress. This is not democracy but anarchy. Abhisekh Banerjee is just a symbol of that political culture," said BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh.
CPI-M leader Sujan Chakravarty too criticised Abhishek, saying: "It has been confirmed that Abhisekh Banerjee is the heir apparent to the Trinamool throne. His aunt must be very happy. What more can one expect from Trinamool leaders? “Ever since they came to power, they have unleashed a terror brigade in the state. What's more unfortunate, the chief minister condones such words and actions. And now it's her own family members issuing threats.”Veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan remarked: "It's the political culture of the ruling party in Bengal. They are proving it every day."Over the past few years, several Trinamool leaders have issued threats at public events. In July 2013, Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal urged his supporters to set fire to homes of dissident party members and to hurl bombs at police if they dared to intervene.
In July 2013, Trinamool MLA Manirul Islam threatened to behead an opposition leader while speaking at a public meeting and went on to boast that he had trampled three persons to death.Just a few months after coming to power, the chief minister walked into Bhawanipore police station near her home and walked out with a few youths detained by police for creating trouble at a Durga Puja immersion procession.Trinamool student wing leaders too have threatening to bomb police stations in Ranigunj last week and to rape teachers at a college in Malda earlier this month.


Navy rescues 19 crew members of sinking vessel near Mumbai in dramatic late-night operation
Mumbai| Jun 22, Nineteen members of the crew of a merchant vessel in distress in waters off the Mumbai coast were airlifted to safety during a daring rescue mission by an Indian Navy helicopter. The merchant vessel Jindal Kamakshi had 20 people on board. All but one of them were picked up by the Sea King helicopter deployed by the navy after it received a distress message from the ship late on Sunday night. Another helicopter was sent out to sea on Monday morning to bring in the vessel’s master, who had remained on board. In a distress message sent late on Sunday night, the vessel’s crew had informed authorities about "extremely bad weather" and said the ship was listing to one side. “Information was received around midnight by the Indian Navy that a vessel in distress, Jindal Kamakshi, which was 40 nautical miles from Mumbai harbour and 25 nautical miles off the Vasai coast, had listed heavily," a defence ministry spokesperson said. “The distress message said the vessel listed heavily with 20 persons on board and requested assistance," the spokesperson said. The navy then deployed a Sea King helicopter and a ship for the rescue mission. The spokesperson said the merchant vessel had “counter ballasted” or flooded a tank to improve its stability.


Kashmir to Kanyakumari, literally: How India bent it right with PM Modi and his ministers on Yoga Day
New Delhi| Jun 21-Millions across India woke up early on Sunday to join the first International Yoga Day celebrations as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the beginning of a new era of peace and goodwill as he led thousands in a mega event at Delhi's Rajpath.Enthusiasm was visible in states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, where people performed asanas as part of the government’s push to popularise the ancient discipline.Showers in some parts of the country could not cast a pall on the celebrations as India sought to break the world record for the biggest yoga gathering with the event at Rajpath.Here are the highlights of the Yoga Day celebrations from across the country. Read on to find out how India bent it on a lazy Sunday.
PM Modi performs yoga at Rajpath (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo) Modi kicked off the proceedings at the mega event at Rajpath, where he said: "Yoga is more than only physical fitness...We are not only celebrating a day but we are training the human mind to begin a new era of peace.” Many big names of politics, top bureaucrats, diplomats, students and security personnel sat on mats to perform asanas at the event that was closely followed by officials of the Guinness World Records. In the crowd were Delhi's lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who studiously avoided each other.
NCC Cadets perform yoga in Mumbai. (Vijayanand Gupta/ HT Photo)
Despite rain in some parts of the financial hub, Mumbaiites responded enthusiastically to the celebrations. Several yoga institutes and housing societies organised their own events.

Elderly people, children, adults and celebrities participated in different programmes.

The Mumbai Dabbawala Education Centre organised Yoga Day celebrations for more than 100 dabbawalas and their families at Tagore Nagar in Vikhroli (East). "A documentary was shown to them, followed by yoga for about half an hour," trust founder Pawan Aggarwal said.

Jiten Shah, a resident of Ekta Cooperative Housing Society in Malad (East), said, "Today it felt like Republic Day as we tuned in to watch the mega event (in Delhi on TV). Inspired, even we got out mats and performed some asanas at home with family."


All controversies surrounding the Yoga Day were put to rest as Hindus chanted “Om” while Muslims alongside them said “Allah” at the KD Singh Babu Stadium, where Union home minister Rajnath Singh led a 35-minute yoga drill.

Nearly 12,000 people, including personnel from central police forces and border security forces, performed asanas at the event. The line of conflict blurred quickly as people from both religions looked relaxed and got their moves right.

For Jumma Khan, who was fasting for the holy month of Ramzan, it was a different Sunday morning. Usually after Sehri, he goes to sleep. "I decided not to sleep today. Instead of offering morning namaz, I came straight to KD Singh Babu Stadium."

Rajnath Singh, in his address, summed up the atmosphere as he said: "Yoga connects people with people, religion with religion and culture with culture. Yoga purifies one’s heart and it has no boundaries."

In Meerut, defence minister Manohar Parrikar performed yoga with army personnel and their family members at RVC Polo ground. In his brief address, Parrikar talked about how yoga can be beneficial for health.

Read: 'Yoga is for tension-free world': PM Modi's message to 37,000 participants at mega Rajpath event


Thousands of youth, including hijab-wearing girls, participated in army-organised events in the Kashmir Valley.

Over 4,700 NCC members performed yoga asanas at eight venues of Srinagar, Baramulla, Uri, Bandipura Tangdhar, Anantnag, Kargil and Leh of Kashmir region.

“These NCC cadets had undergone structured training by trained yoga instructors,” said a Srinagar-based army spokesperson.

Brig SS Ratnaparkhi, NCC group commander in Srinagar, said, “The event was a phenomenal success and the credit goes to the cadets for their willing participation."

However, students in Kashmir University (KU) opposed any move to organise yoga on the campus. Most government schools and colleges gave a miss to yoga in the Muslim-majority Valley.

“Yoga is not a simple exercise but a religious exercise-cum-prayer of a particular community,” alleged Jamaat spokesperson and advocate Zahid Ali.


A clear Sunday morning set the tone for the Yoga Day in the Madhya Pradesh capital. While for many it was a usual weekend, others, including central and state government employees, came out of their homes to practise yoga.

Students from schools and colleges, NCC cadets and activists from different organisations gathered at Lal Parade ground, the main venue, much before a 35-minute yoga session began at 7am.

Large LED screens were installed at the ground to beam instructions and there was a live telecast of the Rajpath event.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan delivered a speech on the importance of yoga and later performed asanas alongside others.

Talking to HT, public relationa commissioner Anupam Rajan said, "A yoga practice was held all across state. People took part in it enthusiastically. Weather was perfect. There was no untoward incident reported from any part of the state."


In Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram, health minister VS Sivakumar inaugurated a session that attracted 3,000 students and government employees. Similar functions were held in other parts of the state.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu was among the hundreds of enthusiastic people who participated in a yoga session in Kochi. Congress legislator Hibi Eden attended the 40-minute yoga session at an indoor stadium.

In north Kerala's Malabar, the CPI-M observed the day after making certain modifications to the exercise module to make the event more “secular”.

The Muslim League, the second biggest partner in the ruling UDF, and the Catholic Church had earlier expressed reservations over Yoga Day. However, believers of the Malankara Marthoma church participated in the celebrations after a Holy Communion.
National Cadet Corps organised a special programme on International Day of Yoga at The Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. (HT Photo)


Thousands participated in Yoga Day celebrations in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal. Union ministers Harsh Vardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad flagged off the proceedings marking the day in this non-BJP ruled state.

Prasad, the communications and IT minister, launched celebrations at the Sports Authority of India complex in Kolkata's suburban Salt Lake in sync with the Rajpath event. Vardhan, the science and technology minister, launched an event in Kharagpur.

Union minister of state for urban development Babul Supriyo performed asanas in Asansol with residents and BJP members.

Yoga mats were rolled out across educational establishments with the young and the old, suitably attired in tracksuits, joining in.

Members of faculty and students at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur performed yoga at the institute's gymkhana.

In north Bengal's Siliguri, Coochbehar and Hooghly areas, men and women eagerly joined in the mass celebration of yoga.
Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty performs yoga in Bengaluru. (AFP Photo)


Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty participated in a state-level event in the capital and more than 10,000 people performed asanas.

"Yoga is for peace, yoga is for health and yoga is for harmony," Siddaramaiah told the enthusiasts at Kanteerava stadium.

Children from many schools, nurses from hospitals and policemen from the Karnataka State Reserve Police Force attended the event.


The major function of the day was inaugurated by Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu at YMCA grounds, which saw the participation of Jaggi Vasudev, a spiritualist, yoga exponent and preacher popularly known as 'Sadhguru'.

Inaugurating the event, Naidu said Yoga had nothing to do with religion and expressed happiness that 47 Muslim countries had endorsed the UN proposal for International Yoga Day.

“This is not a government programme, but one that is motivated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wants yoga to be a national movement...,” Naidu said, adding “yoga, brings in people a discipline of mind and body.”

Jaggi Vasudev said yoga predated all religions and it was more of a science and technology that dealt with the human mind, body and soul.

“By teaching people yoga, we are only empowering them to achieve their own well-being,” he said.

In Tamil Nadu, a state where the practice of yoga is widely prevalent, it was no surprise that all the venues celebrating the International Yoga Day were overflowing with enthusiastic participants.

Some 5000 participants, from different schools and colleges, congregated at a local college to participate in the celebrations held by The Art of Living Foundation, which it called Yogathan.

In Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district, represented by Union minister of state for transport, highways and shipping, Pon Radhakrishnan, several yoga events were organised to mark the occasion.

Hyderabad and Vijayawada

The day was celebrated with enthusiasm across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, with Union health minister JP Nadda leading the celebrations in Hyderabad.
Thousands of people participated in the programmes in the two Telugu-speaking states.

Nadda, along with Union Minister for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya, and BJP leaders performed yoga at Sanjeevaiah Park.

Dattatreya also participated in a programme organised by Art of Living at Gachibowli Stadium. A large number of software professionals from various IT companies took part.

ESL Narasimhan, governor for both Telangana and Andhra, performed yoga at Raj Bhavan. His wife Vimla Narasimhan, officials and employees of Raj Bhavan also participated.

In Telangana, ruled by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the main official event was inaugurated by state health minister C Lakshma Reddy at Kota Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.

In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu led the celebrations by performing yoga at an event in Vijayawada.

Naidu's cabinet colleagues, officials and students also participated in the programme held under the guidance of experts.

The chief minister announced a special fund of Rs 25 crore and a separate wing in the state health department to promote yoga.

Ministers and officials took part in the programmes held in Tirupati, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and other places of Andhra Pradesh.



Emergency can happen again in India, LK Advani says
NEW DELHI:18 june| Senior BJP leader LK Advani has said that Emergency can happen again in India. "I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. But I don't have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again," Advani said in an interview in the Indian Express. The senior BJP leader said that there are no signs in Indian polity which assure him that the Emergency can't be imposed in India again. "I do not see any sign in our polity that assures me, any outstanding aspect of leadership. A commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to democracy is lacking," Advani said. Advani also reminded that the 1975 Emergency happened despite the constitutional safeguards that were in place at that time.
"There aren't enough safeguards in India in 2015," Advani said.
Advani's interview saying "Emergency can happen again in India" may cause further embarrassment to the Modi government. The Modi government is currently facing demands for external affairs minister's resignation over her help to former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.


Jobless after Maggi ban, Nestle worker commits suicide in Uttarakhand
Nainital Jun 16, A contract worker working at Nestle India in Uttarakhand's Rudrapur committed suicide 13 days after the state high court banned sale and production of the company's popular instant noodles brand Maggi for 90 days, officials said on Tuesday. Police said 32-year-old Lalta Prasad, who belonged to Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly, had been working at the plant located at State Industrial Development Corporation Uttarakhand Ltd in Rudrapur, 70 km from Nainital, since the last two years. "The wife of the worker came to know about Prasad's suicide after he did not open the door of his room on Monday. His body was hanging from a fan," NA Bharne, senior superintendent of police US Nagar district, told HT on Tuesday. Prasad, like 1,100 other contract workers at the Nestle plant was laid off recently following the ban. He was reportedly under stress after he was asked him to 'sit at home'. Police said they are yet to find out the exact reason behind Prasad's suicide since he had some issues with his family as well.
Hindustan Times was first to report that contract workers at the Nestle plant lost their jobs after production of noodles stopped. Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand high court has asked the government to submit a report after a few samples of Maggi failed food safety tests. The hearing is scheduled on June 20. Health department sources say 16 samples of the noodles have failed tests conducted at a laboratory in Rudrapur. The HC in its June 3 order had banned the sale, production, stocking and distribution of the noodles in the state.


Caught in the lie: Police say Mumbai 'drink-driving' lawyer drank at a 2nd pub
Mumbai| : Jun 13

High profile lawyer Janhavi Gadkar, arrested for allegedly causing the death of two people in a drink driving accident in Mumbai, drank at a hotel and a pub before the crash, police officials have said. In her statement to police, Gadkar had said that she only drank at the Marine PLAZA HOTEL on Monday night. Gadkar further said that after leaving THE HOTEL, she parked her Audi Q3 on Marine Drive and spent two hours by the roadside apparently to sober up before heading home. But following a tip-off from a media professional, who claimed he had seen Gadkar at a pub in Kala Ghoda later the same night, police obtained CCTV footage from the pub and confirmed that Gadkar had gone there. Police officials said the footage shows Gadkar meeting a top official of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) at the pub. Gadkar was a senior member of the legal team of RIL. A police team took Gadkar to the pub on Friday morning and questioned her there to get a better idea of what happened before she began her journey home. “We have CCTV footage from the pub, in which she is seen greeting a Reliance official,” said a police officer who did not want to be named. The statement of the Reliance official who was with Gadkar is likely to be recorded on Monday. “The bill strengthens the theory that she drank more alcohol after leaving Marine Plaza (Hotel), as does her blood report, which shows she had 200 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood,” said the police officer. Police had been suspicious about Gadkar’s claim that she drank just two whiskeys at Marine Plaza Hotel, as the bill from there showed she had consumed six 30-ml shots of whiskey. Also her blood alcohol content did not match the amount of alcohol she claimed to have drunk. “The BAC (blood alcohol content) report uses a complex method in which the level of blood alcohol is measured on the basis of the person’s gender, his or her weight, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the time in which the alcohol was consumed,” said a senior police officer. Early on Tuesday, Gadkar, drunk and driving on the wrong side of the Eastern Freeway, rammed her Audi into the taxi carrying the family of businessmen Salim Sabuwala. The taxi’s driver and Sabuwala were killed and four others injured. What did Gadkar tell cops in the first place? Here's a graphic representation of her account:
Once Janhavi left the pub, she drove her vehicle on P D’Mello road and then took the freeway and went all the way to Panjarpol. At the circle near Panjarpol, she misjudged and took a turn which brought her back to the road toward South Mumbai. “Here she brushed a vehicle and went south bound. When she realized she was in the wrong direction, she took a U-turn and was travelling in the wrong lane (right side). Here two vehicles managed to save themselves and when she finally rammed into the taxi, she was travelling at around 120 kmph,” a source said.



BCCI's offer may make Ravi Shastri world's highest paid cricket coach
Mumbai| Updated: Jun 11
Team director Ravi Shastri will be the new India coach, BCCI sources have told HT. The Rs 7 crore-a-year-deal that will make the former skipper the highest paid cricket coach in the world is likely to be announced at the end of the Bangladesh tour. The former all-rounder, who takes over from Zimbabwean Duncan Fletcher, will be the first Indian to hold the job after 2000 when John Wright of New Zealand ushered in the era of foreign coaches. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, said sources, stopped looking for a new coach after Test captain Virat Kohli told them he wanted Shastri in the dressing room. Credited with turning around the team’s fortunes ahead of the World Cup earlier this year after a winless three months in Australia, Shastri enjoys confidence of the squad. The overwhelming support pushed all other contenders out of the race, sources said. There have been indications in recent days from Shastri as well and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur that the 53-year-old could continue with the national team beyond the Bangladesh tour, for which he was retained as the director. Bangladesh” line taken by Shastri and the board was in fact linked to his compensation package, having given up media commitments to take up the assignment, sources said. Shastri, who had a Rs 4-crore a year contract with the BCCI as a TV commentator, will be the first cricket coach to be paid more than a $1 million (about rs 6.4 crore). He drew about Rs 6 crore annually as team director until the World Cup.Fletcher, who joined Team India in 2011, was paid Rs 4.2 crore a year. His stint that ended with the World Cup in March was uninspiring. On his watch, India were whitewashed on tours of England and Australia. The performance was particularly bad in Test matches played abroad. The BCCI was not willing to talk about the appointment, but Shastri made his intent clear before the Fatullah Test, saying there was no need for a separate coach as he could double up as one with three specialist coaches assisting him. The board, source said, was planning to merge the role of team director and coach, appointing Shastri the head coach. Shastri will have a free run of team. On team’s performance, his word would be final. A plan to appoint a performance manager has been shelved, sources said.Whether Shastri will have an annual contract or a fixed term would only be known before India leave for Zimbabwe in July, sources said.





Jitender Singh Tomar did not graduate from our varsity: RML Awadh University

FAIZABAD, UP: In mounting trouble for former Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar, RML Awadh University, from where he claimed to have graduated, on Wednesday denied having any such record.
Stating its willingness to cooperate with the ongoing probe into the case, the university stood by its earlier stand saying Tomar's BSc degree was a forged one.
"One Pradeep Kumar had filed an RTI asking for verification of a set of documents related to Tomar's marksheets and degree. The university had replied on January 22 saying it had nothing of that sort in its records. We stand by our previous stand," its media in-charge S N Shukla said. He was replying to a question on Tomar's B.Sc degree.
Tomar, AAP's Tri Nagar MLA, was on Wednesday brought here by police for gathering more evidence in the case. Police may also take him to Munger in Bihar and repeat the exercise there. Tomar had claimed to have completed his LLB degree from VNSL Studies, a law college affiliated to Tilak Manjhi Bhagalpur University of Bihar.

Suspected NSCN (K) rebels fire at Assam Rifles camp in Arunachal, just 3 days after Manipur assault
Jun 07, 2015: Suspected NSCN (K) militants fired on Sunday at an Assam Rifles (AR) camp in remote Lazu area in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, three days after the group ambushed an army convoy killing 18 soldiers.A group of 35 NSCN (Khaplang) rebels attacked the camp in the Indo-Myanmar border region around 2.30am, Tirap SP Ajit Kumar Singla said.Just three days ago, militants armed with advanced weapons ambushed a military convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district bordering Myanmar, killing at least 18 soldiers and injuring 11 others as officials called it one of the worst such attacks on the army."The AR personnel, who were on alert as per prior intelligence report, retaliated which compelled the militants to flee under cover of darkness," Singla said adding, cross firing from both the sides lasted for about ten minutes.Around 70 empty cartidges of AK-47 rifle, along with unexploded bombs, were recovered from the site, he said.
Encounters with armed forces and ambushes have returned to haunt the Northeast after the NSCN(K) junked a 14-year-old ceasefire in March.Since then, security personnel have struggled to contain unrest despite the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act giving them extraordinary powers and legal immunity – a factor that activist Irom Sharmila said was responsible for the attack.



Jayalalithaa takes oath as CM for fifth time; Rajnikanth, N Srinivasan present at event
Chennai May 23, 2015 AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa made a triumphant return as Tamil Nadu’s chief minister for the fifth time on Saturday as she was sworn in at a simple ceremony in the Madras University Centenary Auditorium. The 67-year-old made a comeback nearly eight months after she resigned following her conviction in a corruption case. Governor K Rosaiah administered the oath of office and secrecy to Jayalalithaa at the same venue where she was sworn in after winning a landslide victory in 2011 state assembly polls. Clad in a green sari, she took the oath in Tamil. Twenty-eight ministers, including her close aide O Panneerselvam who had served as chief minister in her absence, were also sworn in. Jayalalithaa returned to power less than a fortnight after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old case related to assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. AIADMK legislators elected Jayalalithaa as leader of the legislature party during a meeting at the party’s headquarters on Friday. Panneerselvam also resigned as chief minister. Following this, the Governor invited Jayalalithaa to form the government. The ceremony went off smoothly with clockwork precision. Spotted in the front rows of the jam-packed auditorium were Jayalalithaa’s famous neighbour, film superstar Rajnikanth, film star Sharat Kumar, ICC chief N Srinivasan, industrialist and former cricket administrator AC Muthaiah, Union minister of state Pon Radhakrishnan, BJP national secretary H Raja, Lok Sabha deputy speaker Thambi Durai, and other several film personalities. As soon as Jayalalithaa rose to take oath, vociferous slogans rent the air. The moment she began taking oath, another round of applause followed. With a flourish, she signed the oath of office and secrecy and became the chief minister for the fifth time.She has won elections thrice, but on a previous occasion too Jayalalithaa had to leave office for few months after she was convicted in another graft case. She came back after she was exonerated by the Madras High Court.On the way from her residence to Madras University, a distance of seven kilometres, Jayalalithaa sat in the front seat of her white SUV, flashing victory signs and politely folding hands to thank her thousands of supporters who lined the route.
When Jayalalithaa entered the auditorium, she was greeted by Panneerselvam with a bouquet. Jayalalithaa also greeted Governor Rosaiah with a bouquet.In less than half an hour, the ceremony was over with the national anthem. Crowds outside on the streets continued their “Jaya, Jaya, Jaya Jaya he” slogans in Amma’s praise.Jayalalithaa retained most of the old hands who were part of her council of ministers when she was chief minister during 2011-14. This includes Panneerselvam as finance minister, Natham R Viswanathan, R Vaithilingam, Edappadi K Palaniswami and P Mohan.The AIADMK chief will hold the portfolios of home, police, public, all India services and general administration.Jayalalithaa had decimated the main opposition party DMK in the last polls, reducing it to a mere 23 seats in a house of 234, and her legal victory in the corruption case has put the DMK and its patriarch M Karunanidhi in a tight spot.Already in disarray, and with its leaders Kanimozhi and A Raja facing serious corruption cases in the 2G scam, the DMK can only wait with more nervousness as Jayalalithaa’s return puts her in a commanding position in a state where she tops the popularity charts

Cops file case after Mumbai firm tells job-seeker 'we hire only non-Muslims'
MUMBAI: 21 May 2015-
A Mumbai-based diamond jewellery export firm faces action for religious discrimination after it declined to entertain the job application of a youth on the grounds that he was a Muslim.

The job-seeker, Zeshan Ali Khan, a business management graduate from Mumbai, had applied for a position in Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd, a leading exporter of diamond jewellery, as marketing executive but was shocked when he received the response from the firm stating that it hires only "non-Muslim candidates."

Mumbai Police have lodged a case against the firm on the youth's complaint.

"As per the law, there is punishment of 3 years. After investigation it will be revealed who is actually related to offence," police inspector Suryakant Jagdale said.

After the rejection letter sparked a controversy, the firm said it was an error on the part of one of its staff and it never practised religious discrimination.

"I just completed my final semester exams of MBA last week and like other classmates have been looking for a job. I came across an update regarding a recruitment drive undertaken by leading diamond and jewellery exporter and thought it would be a great start for my career," Khan said.

"I along with my two classmates applied for the job. I forwarded them my resume on 19th May, 2015 at 5.45pm and exactly 15 minutes later I got a reply from the HR in charge of the firm that my application has been rejected because the company only hires non-Muslims," Khan added.

"At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting foreign countries and inviting them for investment and pushing ahead the 'Make in India' campaign, the leading export houses are rejecting candidates for their religion," he said.

In its reply to Khan, the company said, "We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates."

Khan later narrated his experience on a social networking site, following which he received a 'regret' mail from the company after his post generated sharp reactions.

"As a company, we would like to reiterate that there is an error done by one of the newly joined HR trainees. Company functions without being biased with any caste, religion and gender," a company representative said in a posting on Facebook.

"It was a blunder and personal mess created by one of our trainees who has no decision making power. We have 61 employees in our office here including one Muslim in the HR team," Hari Krishna Exports Private Ltd said in the mail.

Taking note of the incident, activist Shehzad Poonawalla wrote to the National Commission for Minorities urging it to look into the issue.

In response, Naseem Ahmed, Chairman of the NMC said, "We have received the petition. If there is any truth in this, it is unfortunate. An inquiry shall be conducted," he said.

Gujarat hotel-owners caught in US biker war own $500m business
WASHINGTON: 21 May 2015

Having famously originated the term Potel Motel because of their franchising success in the hospitality industry, overseas Gujaratis entrepreneurs are typically cagey, cautious, and conservative on the physical front. They have to be.

They are in the front line of businesses — convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food chain restaurants, motels — that are inherently dangerous in a country awash with guns. Each year, more than a dozen Indian (mostly Gujarati) owners and managers are killed in the line of work behind cash registers and front desks.

But the group of Gujarati entrepreneurs at the center of an epic shootout involving biker gangs in Waco, Texas that killed nine people last week, was different. They were fast, furious, and fearless. They courted danger, according to the police, ignoring warnings not to host the biker meeting that turned into a bloody turf war. Front Burner Restaurants, owners of the Twin Peaks outlet that the Indian-American group ran, says they ''did not uphold the high security standards we have to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants.''

In fact, biker meets were the specialty of their Twin Peaks outlet in Waco, one of dozens of franchises they managed across the country in a expanding business said to be worth $ 500 million. Dubbed ''Brestaurant'' because of its scantily-clad, well-endowed waitresses, they ginned up the popularity of the so-called ''man cave'' with aggressive marketing -- including selling a potent drink called ''Naked'' with five different liquors in it. Flyers advertising the drink caused an outrage in the largely conservative town, according to the local media.

National attention is now zeroing in on the group of entrepreneurs who called their company Chalak Mitra Group (CMG)-- for ''clever friends.'' Among the owners of Waco Twin Peaks outlet is Al Bhakta, 36, the CEO of the group who reportedly likes to 'party hard' and is known to walk around his office with a gun that shoots marshmallows. Other partners include Chet Bhakta, 39; Nik Bhakta, 38; -- who are cousins of Al -- and Ron Parikh, 36, and Jay Patel, 39.

According to a widely-cited 2011 profile of the group in Restaurant News magazine, the men met when they were business students at the University of Dallas and founded the company in 1998 after selling a pool hall and game room that they ran together. Among their brands is the Genghis Grill, a Mongolian-themed restaurant chain, which they acquired and launched in 2002 and now has more than 100 units across the South.

The group has now expanded to include hotels in the US and South Africa, real estate, and more than 250 restaurants, including 33 restaurants bought from Yum! Brands Inc. for an undisclosed sum in 2010, with KFC, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's units in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The group racked up so many successes that a business magazine in Dallas, where CMG has its headquarters, picked Al Bhakta as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. ''There's always more to achieve,'' Bhakta told the magazine after it raved about his turning around of the Genghis Grill and taking it to a $ 100 million business. ''I'm never content ... understanding, ultimately, that you're only as good as the last bowl that you serve.''

Last year, the Group hit its cricketing sweet spot by buying Jamaica Tallawahs, the reigning Caribbean Premier League (CPL) champions who are led by Chris Gayle. ''As a group, we are passionate about cricket, and after seeing the success of the CPL last year, we knew this was something we wanted to be a part of. The unique and vibrant culture of Jamaica drew us towards the Tallawahs, and given that Indo-Jamaican culture has flourished for many years, we knew it was the right choice," Manish Patel, who is listed as chairman and President of CMG told the Jamaica Gleaner.

Teen works as domestic help, still scores 85%
BENGALURU:20 May 2015

She has scored 84. 8 per cent in the science stream in the second PU exam and dreams of bigger academic goals. But that doesn't complete the picture. This high-scorer cleaned bathrooms and scrubbed utensils, cooking and nursing, while juggling studies. That's 17-year-old Shalini A, whose life story is more like an obstacle race.

Shalini had studied in Tamil medium from class one to seven, when she was shifted to Kannada medium till tenth standard. She then shifted to English medium for her PU studies at SGPTA-Deeksha College. If coping with frequent changes in the medium was not daunting enough, there were bigger challenges on the home front too.

Speaking to Mirror, Shalini, a resident of Mariyappanapalya near Rajajinagar, said her father had been bedridden for over a decade after falling off a building. He has started moving around only recently, though he is still confined to the house. After the accident, her mother took up work as a housemaid in several houses so that she could provide for Shalini and her brother.

With her mum away, the young girl had to run the show in her own house, doing everything from cooking to cleaning.

Just before the II PU exams, another tragedy struck the family. Her younger brother was diagnosed with third stage blood cancer. Shalini would often be in hospital with a book in her hand. "If I had not put in so much time in the hospital, I might have scored better. But my brother is more important to me than marks," says the gritty teen who has been thrown into another tough situation now. With her mother spending most of the day tending to her brother, Shalini had to take up her mother's jobs. Though she's preparing for CET now, she also maintains a gruelling work schedule.

Explaining her schedule, Shalini said, "I wake up around 4.30 am. After finishing my household chores, I rush to five houses close by where my job is to sprinkle water and draw Rangoli."

She's done by 6 am after which she rushes to an office where she mops the floors and cleans the bathrooms. "The work ends by 7.30 am and then I head to another house to wash clothes. I am relatively free by 9 am and go home to prepare for CET. My study, coupled with my household chores, ends by 12.30 pm when it's time to step out again for two more jobs. I come back by 4.30 pm and have time till 6 pm to study." After quickly squeezing in some studies, she is out for more work, returning only at night and once again poring into her books till midnight.

The teenager credits her college officials with encouraging her to study. "She is a hardworking girl, friendly with everyone and attentive in nature. Despite her family's condition, she always has a smile on her face," Prathap Naidu, SGPTA PU College principal, Thyagarajnagar, said.

Shalini has no qualms about the hard work, saying she is happy to support her family.

Speaking to Mirror, Komala, a homemaker in Rajaji Nagar said, "Shalini has replaced her mum. We are also supporting and encouraging her in her endeavour."

Told Russian women can't teach you how to wear dhoti, but can tell you how to remove it: Babulal Gaur
NEW DELHI: 19 May 2015

The Congress party on Tuesday criticized Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur for his controversial "dhoti" remark made at a state-level BJP convention.

"It is shameful what Gaur has said. He has been making such comments about women time and time again. This exposes his and his party's mindset as far as women are concerned. Gaur should immediately apologize for his comment," Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza told ANI.

On Sunday, 85-year-old Gaur had reportedly disclosed to party workers that he had once told the wife of a Russian leader that though he couldn't show her how to wear a dhoti, he could teach her how to remove it.

"I told her I can't teach you how to wear it, but I can certainly teach you how to remove it, but that too later not now," the minister said, according to reports.

Babulal Gaur has made some controversial statements on rape and women in the past too.

PM Modi visits China's Terracotta Warriors Museum, Indian media not allowed to enter
Hindustan Times,May 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday began his official engagements in China with a visit to the famous Terracotta Warriors Museum, while the Indian media contingent accompanying him was stranded outside. Modi spent an hour going around the museum in Xi'an which has a large collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. In the visitors' book, Modi wrote that he was "deeply impressed" by the extraordinary care with which the museum has been preserved. Dozens of reporters and camerapersons who followed him from New Delhi were not allowed inside the museum by Chinese officials. The journalists complained that they were rudely told by officials that they did not have the requisite permission to follow the Prime Minister inside the museum. The interpreter accompanying them said there was "total lack of communication" between the ministry of external affairs(MEA), the Indian embassy and the Chinese officials. Indian officials , however, put the blame entirely on the Chinese side and said they would take it up with Beijing. Modi visited Qin's museum after arriving in Xi'an to a grand welcome on a three-day trip during which he will also visit Beijing and Shanghai. The museum complex, a UN world heritage site, also houses Qin's mausoleum and was built in the 2nd century BC to mark the unification of Chinese territory. The terracotta sculptures are a form of funerary art buried with the emperor, the purpose of which was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. Scientists estimate the museum about 8,000 warriors besides terracotta chariots and horses some of which still remain buried.


Shah Rukh Khan summoned by ED over forex violations
New Delhi May 13:Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over alleged foreign exchange violations related to his ownership of the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, media reports said on Wednesday. The ED issued a notice to the 49-year-old actor over alleged irregularities in the valuation of shares of Knight Riders Sports Limited that were transferred to Mauritius-based Sea Island Investment Limited, the reports said. Khan has been asked to appear for questioning by the month-end, the reports said. The actor was questioned once before on money from foreign tax havens allegedly being invested in the multi-crore Indian Premier League (IPL). The DNA newspaper had reported in March that the ED had stumbled on audit findings indicating forex violations of around Rs 100 crore related to the Kolkata Knight Riders. An audit done by Choksi & Choksi for the ED concluded that the transfer of shares between Knight Riders Sports Pvt Ltd and Jay Mehta-owned Sea Island Investment was undervalued by the entities involved, the daily quoted its sources as saying


Bollywood star Salman Khan guilty in 2002 hit-and-run case, public prosecutor demands 10-yr jail for him
Mumbai, May 06:
Bollywood star Salman Khan was on Wednesday found guilty by a court in Mumbai of killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run crash after a night out drinking.While convicting Khan, sessions court judge DW Deshpande said all the charges against the star, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder, had been proved. The judge said 49-year-old Khan was driving the car at the time of the accident and the defence’s contention that the actor’s driver Ashok Singh was at the wheel was not probable. Khan broke down on hearing the verdict and witnesses said there were tears in his eyes. After the judge announced the verdict, he began hearing arguments on deciding the quantum of sentence. Khan could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Khan’s lawyer sought a lesser sentence in view of his humanitarian work and said the actor had paid Rs 19 lakh as compensation to the victims and would do more if ordered. “We are not running away from responsibility,” the counsel said. Khan was charged with running over five persons sleeping on a pavement outside a bakery in Bandra in his Toyota Land Cruiser early on September 28, 2002, killing one and injuring four. Prosecutors said he was under the influence of alcohol. Whether Khan will be sent to jail on Wednesday or he gets bail will be decided by the court. Khan has the option to appeal in the Bombay High court against the sessions court’s verdict. The prosecution examined 27 witnesses in the case, including eyewitnesses, persons who were injured in the accident, employees of a bar where Khan was drinking, the doctor who took a blood sample of the actor, doctors who treated the injured, forensic experts and police officers. The judgement was announced amid tight security around the court and only lawyers, media and court staff were allowed in the courtroom. Hours before the verdict, #WeLoveYouSalmanKhan and #SalmanVerdict were trending on Twitter. Relatives and friends from the industry, including Shah Rukh Khan, were seen visiting Khan on Wednesday night. The actor is known for cranking out some of Bollywood's biggest blockbusters and has an estimated Rs 300 crore riding on his films.
Khan had earlier said he was not at the wheel at the time of the accident and insisted his driver Ashok Singh was behind the wheel.The defence argued that police had not obtained fingerprints from the steering wheel to find out who was driving the vehicle.Khan's lawyers contested the prosecution’s allegations and said he had been drinking water all evening. They also said the man was killed during an operation to move the car, rather than in the crash, when the bumper fell off and landed on him.A police officer inspects actor Salman Khan's Toyota Land Cruiser after it crashed into a bakery in Bandra on September 28, 2002. (HT file photo/ Girish Srivastava)The surprise element in the trial came when Khan's driver Ashok Singh came to the court after 12 years and deposed he was at the wheel when the accident occurred. Singh said the car's front left tyre burst, making steering and braking difficult.Khan has starred in more than 100 films and television shows since his first hit, Maine Pyar Kiya, in the 1980s. The muscular actor is no stranger to controversy off screen and in 1998, he spent more than a week in prison for allegedly killing endangered blackbucks.He is facing two other cases in Rajasthan for allegedly poaching endangered animals and possessing arms without a valid licence.



Nepal earthquake: Public anger is growing in Kathmandu and there's a risk it will boil over
Thomas Bell,May 03, 2015
When my wife was building our house a few years ago she used a lot of steel and concrete in the foundations, and the neighbours told her parents, 'Your daughter is pouring money into the ground'. Yet, when it was finished, they said, 'When the earthquake comes, leave your door open'. The Nepal earthquake must be one of the most anticipated natural disasters of all time. For years, in the city at least, many people have thought about it and spoken about it every day. Some people, not nearly old enough to remember the last one in 1934, had earthquake dreams before it even happened. But besides building a good house, like most people, we had made almost no preparations. In our neighbourhood of congested alleys it hardly seemed worth it. If we made it, we made it. There was no kit of survival supplies, and no sign of the recommended plan for how we would find each other in the chaos. On the day it happened, there wasn't even any water in our tank because it needed cleaning. Earthquake preparedness has been an industry in Kathmandu in recent years, although most people participated in it even less than we did. This was at the instigation of the international donors, who were gradually retrofitting the Kathmandu Valley's schools and hospitals with structural reinforcements. There were 'awareness raising' campaigns, although everyone was already aware of course. And there were strategies and supplies put in place in advance, and government capacity building, and administrative structures created to effectively respond to the disaster. Kathmandu. But as I recall - and one day I'll have time to go back and study these things - the risk level in the countryside was seen as rather lower because there were far fewer buildings there, and they were smaller. True enough, after it happened last Saturday, this was the script that played out for a while. I read on the internet that Kathmandu had been "flattened". It was "the city that turned to dust". This remained the case even for a day or so after the first international TV news crews arrived.


Rahul Gandhi begins his 'kisan padyatra', to meet Maharashtra farmers
Apr 30, 2015 09:47
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi began a 15-km day-long padyatra in Amravati district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra on Thursday, during which he will meet the families of farmers who committed suicide.

Rahul, who reached Nagpur Wednesday night, left this morning for village Gunji to begin the foot march dubbed as 'sanvad padyatra'.

On the way to Gunji, people were seen lined up on roads at Kondhali and Talegaon villages to greet the Congress leader. Rahul stopped at Talegaon for some time, before proceeding to Gunji.

Rahul spoke to the people who greeted him and sought to know their problems and the issues affecting them.

Maharashtra is one of the states that has experienced severe agrarian crisis, and Amravati division in Vidarbha has witnessed many farmer suicides this year.

On Wednesday, Gandhi ratcheted up pressure on the NDA government over the farm crisis, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Punjab and acquaint himself with the misery of farmers.

Back from a 57-day sabbatical, the Congress vice-president took a train to Punjab on Tuesday and spent time at grain markets where anger has been mounting as farmers were finding it difficult to sell their produce from the spring harvest after unseasonal rain and hailstorms battered ripe winter crops.

Gandhi also took a swipe at Modi’s Make in India initiative, saying the campaign would only benefit “two-three friendly” industrialists. “Who contributes more than the farmers from Punjab in Make in India? Farming is also Make in India but there is no government for farmers,” he said.

"When you are talking about 'Make in India', is the farmer not making in India? Is the labourer not making in India? Is the small businessman not making in India?" he said outside Parliament, while responding to questions from reporters.

Haryana minister Dhankar says farmers committing suicide cowards, asks why govt should help them
Chandigarh| Apr 29,
Haryana agriculture minister and BJP leader OP Dhankar triggered a controversy by describing farmers who commit suicide as cowards and criminals not worthy of help from the government. "Why should we help them?" Dhankar said on Tuesday, adding the Haryana government could not support such farmers.Dhankar said farmers were running away from their responsibilities and leaving their families and children with liabilities by committing suicide.Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week urged all political parties to work together to help troubled farmers after one of them hanged himself at an Aam Aadmi Party rally in Delhi over proposed changes in the land acquisition law.Dhankar had recently denied that any farmer had committed suicide due to crop damage in the state. Dhankar said the farmers of Haryana were tough and courageous and would not end their lives because of crop damage. "Haryana ka kisan dhadha hai, woh suicide nahi karega (Haryana farmer is tough and he would not commit suicide)," he said.He, who earlier headed the Bharatiya Janata Party's Kisan Cell, has in the past condemned the previous UPA government for not doing enough for farmers, saying this had resulted in an increasing in suicides.Last week, Gajendra Singh, a father of three from Rajasthan, died after hanging himself from a tree during the AAP protest in the heart of the capital.A sombre-looking Modi then asked his colleagues and rivals to join hands to help farmers battle the "age-old problem" of suicide, triggered in the recent past by crops devastated by unseasonable rains.While Modi's opponents said Singh's suicide was a reaction to the proposed bill that will make it easier for businesses to acquire farmland, supporters of the ruling BJP said AAP workers should have done more to stop Singh from hanging himself.After scores of debt-ridden farmers saw their winter crops damaged by unseasonal hailstorms and rains in states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, there were reports of a string of suicides.Anger has also been mounting in rural areas over Modi's land reform bill, which the government says is needed to speed up economic growth but political opponents say favours big business at the expense of struggling farmers.



Nepal earthquake death toll climbs to 1,896, massive rescue efforts on as aftershocks continue
Kathmandu| Updated: Apr 26
Kathmandu and many places across Nepal woke up to another big jolt on Sunday morning even as the country ramped up rescue efforts a day after a massive 7.9-magnitude earthquake killed nearly 1,900 people, flattened buildings and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. The Nepal government urged nations to send aid in the wake of the devastating quake that left 1,896 people dead and 4,718 injured. Capital Kathmandu suffered 723 casualties. "The reports of the devastation are still coming in and the numbers of people killed, injured and affected by this earthquake continue to rise," UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said. "It is clear that very many lives have been lost. There has also been significant damage to Nepal's irreplaceable cultural heritage."
The quake devastated 29 of Nepal's 75 districts. It caused a large-scale damage to several old buildings and heritage properties in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Over 100 were feared dead when the 203-foot Dharahara Tower collapsed in the capital in the worst temblor to hit the region in 81 years.Rescuers clear the debris at Durbar Sqaure after the earthquake in Kathmandu. (AP Photo)"Those killed include two foreigners, one Indian woman and a Chinese man. Two policemen have also lost their lives," said a duty officer at Nepal Police control room.
The Indian embassy in Kathmandu, however, put the number of Indian casualties at two. Further details are not available.There are reports of several deaths in the Everest Base Camp region where an avalanche took place and damaged tents set up by hundreds of climbers from across the world."We have information that 10 people stationed at the base camp have been confirmed dead in an avalanche. Nearly 100 are feared trapped," said home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.Residents in the Kathmandu Valley and other major towns across Nepal spent the night in the open, under tents or on the streets, as several big aftershocks continued to jolt the country."We hardly slept through the night. It was cold and it rained briefly and it was uncomfortable, but I am glad I brought my family out to the open," said Ratna Singh, a vegetable vendor who was cuddled under a blanket with his wife and son.Lok Bijaya Adhikari, chief of National Seismological Centre, said, "There have been over 60 aftershocks measuring over 4 on the Richter Scale till 5am on Sunday. There were four big aftershocks around the same time."Video: Injured people treated outdoors as Kathmandu hospital accommodates rush of quake victims
As the overnight rescue operations were hampered by the aftershocks, blocked highways and a lack of equipment, people used their hands in many places to dig for survivors.Officials say it will be difficult to reach all affected persons on time, considering the scale of the disaster, difficult topography and logistical problems.Teams from India reached Nepal on Saturday evening and were involved in rescue and relief efforts at Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, said Dhakal."Rescue efforts are underway in all affected districts and helicopters are being put into service where required. Eight relief camps have been set up in Kathmandu," he said.According to the Indian embassy, 285 personnel from National Disaster Response Force reached Kathmandu in three Indian Air Force aircrafts on Saturday with relief material. They will assist Nepali authorities in rescue and relief work."We have been trying to mobilise rescue and relief teams in all affected areas. But it is proving very difficult as such a disaster is almost unprecedented and unexpected," said an official at National Emergency Operation Centre.Nepal was rocked by a quake measuring 8.2 on the Richter Scale in 1934, which had claimed between 10,000 and 12,000 lives.Though seismologists and experts had predicted a major quake in the region for some years, there was no proper plan put in place to cope with such a calamity.The quake occurred at the boundary between the two pieces, or plates, of Earth's crust, one of which supports India to the south and the other Eurasia to the north. The Indian plate is moving at 45 millimeters (1.7 inches) a year under the Eurasian plate, and this results in earthquakes once every 500 year on an average, said Marin Clark, a geophysicist at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.




Concerned' US seeks clarification over India's crackdown on Ford Foundation, Greenpeace
Washington| Updated: Apr 25
The United States expressed concern on Friday over India's crackdown on Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, and said it is seeking "clarification" on the action.

"We are aware that the (Indian) ministry of home affairs suspended the registration of Greenpeace India and has placed the Ford Foundation on a prior permission watch list," the state deputy acting spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters at her daily news conference.

"We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organisations by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act has been applied," she said in response to a question.

"We are concerned that this recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society and we are seeking a clarification on this issue with the appropriate Indian authorities," Harf said.

In a crackdown on foreign fundings to NGOs, the Union home ministry has put the Ford Foundation of the US on its "watch list" and ordered that all funds coming from the international organisation have to be routed only with its nod due to "national security concerns".

Early this month, the home ministry had frozen seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India and barred it from receiving foreign funds for allegedly violating FCRA and "prejudicially" affecting the country's public and economic interests.

The home ministry said it had decided to keep a watch on all activities funded by Ford Foundation, and by exercising the powers conferred under Section 46 of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, directed the Reserve Bank of India to ensure that funds coming from it be brought to the notice of the home ministry.

The ministry said it wanted to ensure that funds coming from Ford Foundation was utilised for "bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security".

The move came after the Gujarat government asked the home ministry to take action against Ford Foundation as it alleged that the US-based organisation was "interfering in the internal affairs" of the country and also "abetting communal disharmony" through an NGO run by social activist Teesta Setalvad.

Ford Foundation responded by saying it had been and continue to be deeply respectful of the laws of the land. “We are confident in our work and compliance with the law and look forward to the outcome of this inquiry. If the government suggests methods by which we can strengthen and improve our grant-making processes, we will take appropriate steps to incorporate them,” Ford Foundation said in a statement.

The American philanthropy, founded by Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford’s son, came to India on an invite from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 — its first step outside the US. It has donated heavily to IIT-Bombay, Jamia Milia Islamia, Wildlife SOS, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Aga Khan Foundation for their programmes over the years.

But the foundation came under scrutiny for its grants to Setalvad and Manish Sisodia’s NGO Kabir, which was in the news during Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption movement of 2011.


Clamour for net neutrality grows among India's startups
Apr 23, 2015
India is seeing a startup boom thanks to the internet proliferation. But as the deadline for Trai's consultation approaches, the nationwide clamour for net neutrality is touching a crescendo with a number of internet ventures and startups telling TOI Tech that they firmly stand in favour of an unfettered net.
Almost all entrepreneurs we spoke to unequivocally expressed that a free internet is their lifeline to future growth. Here are their reasons (in their own words) to vociferously demand that status quo be maintained. Read on...

Metis Learning
-- Bharat Gulia, founder, Metis Learning

Startups are taking India by storm and companies that did not exist 10 years ago now have billion dollar valuations. In the process, they are creating thousands of jobs, strengthening India's image in the global markets and creating tremendous value for customers. However, the scenario was very different in the India of yore.

Today's youngsters may not have witnessed the dreary 'License Raj' days. Contrived barriers, reinforced by obscure government policy, created monopolies. Uncompetitive, well-connected and cash-rich conglomerates and PSUs dominated. They thrived in an environment of scarcity where it took many years to buy an outdated scooter model, or even get a phone connection.The recent debate on net neutrality throws one back to those days. The choice India needs to make is simple - do we go back to the imprisoned economy of the license raj, or do we encourage fresh thinking and innovation.

The lifeblood of innovation is a level-playing field where an 18-year-old can come up with a great solution that can beat the option that a huge telecom company is shoving down the throat of its users. Customers need to be free to choose what gives them greater value and entrepreneurs should not be constrained by artificial barriers to provide that solution to customers.

The internet lies at the centre of the digital economy and the game-changing innovation we are seeing today. Let it be open! Let not fuddy-duddy babus and big businesses conspire to set up roadblocks that stifle entrepreneurship. Let's have an India where start-ups thrive along with big businesses and may the best man win.

Click here to register your voice

--Vara Kumar, co-founder & CTO, Whatfix, an online productivity tool that allows users and businesses to create interactive guides on their and third party websites

I and Khadim started Quicko Labs after decades of experience of building world class products, this would have been difficult if not for net neutrality. We believe that an open system encourages innovation and if operators start charging for faster access, it would stifle the entire ecosystem. More importantly, competition is inevitable for any product and we believe that innovation and great customer service is what will drive your business ahead rather than faster access.

READ ALSO: What is net neutrality and why it is important?

Infinity Assurance --Puneet Gargya, co-founder and COO at Infinity Assurance Solutions, a startup that provides service administration of warranty programmes

No discrimination should be made against any user for any kind of internet usage. It is THE lifeline for people today with more and more businesses moving to the net. It is as essential as electricity and water. Trai must do whatever is required to protect it.

?-- Siddharth Arora, CEO and co-founder, ePaisa

ISPs and governments should treat all data on the Internet as equal. This means they shouldn't discriminate or change differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached /equipment or mode of communication. There has been a lot of commentary on these principles of Open Internet since the launch of Airtel Zero and the Trai consultation paper. ISPs think they have cracked the formula of a whole new revenue stream, but at the core of this discussion is the online business and consumer relationship.

Large online players may think they have found a strategic way to find new traffic sources (today's non-internet users) and hold the customers. I believe this is a short-sighted view. Not only will these companies need to offer free access to their sites across all ISPs (increasing their costs, while they are already not making money), but their competition (also with deep pockets) will follow suit.

More importantly, businesses that have focused on ways to lock customers instead of innovating and offering better services have failed. While it's a great introduction to the web for the non internet user, let's not undermine the intellect of this user. Over time, this user will want more and will move on to a service that gives him/her real value, not free access.

ISPs are calling this the toll-free number equivalent of the internet. The truth is, toll-free may get you a customer, but it will not help you retain one."

-- Ajay Joseph, co-founder, Binge (Noroc Solutions), a billing startup that enables restaurant bill presentment and payment over the phone

Net Neutrality is a very critical factor given that the core tenet of the internet is built on being a democratic platform. With the rapid increase in the penetration of the internet, it is critical that we as a country stay true to the core tenet of the internet. All the stakeholders, across the service providers, the OTT players and the governing authorities need to work in unison to continue to improve the value to the consumer and net neutrality will be at the centre of it.

Konotor -- Srikrishnan Ganeshan, co-founder at Konotor, a mobile marketing and CRM product startup firm that helps businesses engage, retain and sell more to their app users

As an entrepreneur, I can definitely relate to why not honouring net neutrality creates an uneven playing field. In fact, when my startup was earlier building a messaging app, the fact that there were "Whatsapp only" plans was something that surprised me. Something that has the potential to stifle competition cannot be good for the customer.

Citrus Pay
--Satyen Kothari, MD and founder, Citrus Pay
Free market competition and encouraging grass roots innovation is a critical aspect of building up a powerful entrepreneurial ecosystem. Creating obstacles in a truly open, neutral internet creates serious obstacles in enabling this ecosystem.

The concept of net neutrality has been discussed deeply and upheld in many countries across the world, and India should not regress and violate this core foundational concept of the open internet.

-- Vishwas Mudagal, CEO, GoodWorkLabs

I'm all for net neutrality. Let's not let corporate greed take over the internet. Let's nip this cancer in the bud. #?BhartiAirtel? - I know it makes perfect sense for you to ensure robust revenues from breaking net neutrality by preferring companies that have deep pockets. But it will kill all the innovation and startup boom that has just started. We need a level-playing field where a minnow can take on a shark, and it's the internet medium alone that can provide it. So let's end this right now.

I also know there are various forms of net neutrality issues and violations from various companies both in India and outside, so we need to end this and we need everyone on neutral ground.

?-- Ambarish Gupta, CEO and founder, Knowlarity Communications

Net neutrality is fundamental to having a robust set of internet companies in India. In its absence, we are not going to have a level-playing field and ultimately make the innovation suffer. I can understand the revenue pressure telecom operators are feeling because of many of the internet applications.

However, the current position of telecom operators is neither very fruitful, nor sustainable in long term. If there is an end to net neutrality, it will reduce the innovation and increase the barrier to entry for young innovative start-ups to do new things.

Internet is a corridor of doors, like the space Morpheus and Neo enter along with the Key Maker in film 'The Matrix Reloaded'. Just that, once you are at one of the doors of internet, it is endless and you don't need additional keys to open subsequent doors. This, in essence, is also the principle of net neutrality.

The empowering nature of the internet is not merely because it facilitates flow of information, as the advent of radio and television did in the twentieth century. The core trait of the internet is that it has not only given access to abundant reservoir of information to consumers, but most crucially, it has given a level-playing field for the users - to not only consume, but to create, voice and dissent over the internet.

By violating net neutrality in any of the forms, the core principle of the internet will be lost. And with it the aspirations of millions, who are yet to experience the internet, will be trampled.

-- Saket Newaskar, CTO and co-founder of TripHobo

Internet is a market place and net neutrality ensures that ISPs don't interfere in this market place. Disturbing net neutrality can not only create a havoc in the online space but may affect offline business in a big way.

Not only market place activities like branding, consumer communication and consumer experience be impacted, even essential activities like consumer service and support will be affected. Big players can give better experience while the smaller ones will struggle. Startups with deep pockets will definitely have a bigger advantage. All the existing big startups have become big because of net neutrality today.

Startups of the future will be at a disadvantage. Airtel's new initiative is about helping Airtel make money. If big apps and content providers are able to subsidize data costs of their users, Airtel will make money. Users are not going to stop using essential and interesting apps even if they cost. However, this creates differential pricing for the same service i.e streaming.

Thus Airtel is interfering in the marketplace. Airtel's role is streaming and not creating content. It could be dangerous in the long run. Internet startups will definitely be affected. Innovation will be scuttled as the cost of reaching one's users will increase. Competitive landscape and even playing-field is essential for new internet startups to flourish.

?-- Dhruv Agarwala, CEO and co-founder,

Net neutrality makes the internet a level playing field. Airtel's Zero will favour app developers and websites with larger pockets who have capacity to pay. As a result, small start-ups may suffer. People and firms with small budgets will have to think long and hard before choosing between various data

packs because certain applications will be free or costly depending on the data pack. People who use free data packs will also not be able to access the websites or apps which have not paid for preferential treatment. What may happen with plans such as Airtel's Zero is that when big app developers and websites pay for it, others might find it difficult to refuse to be part of the race for very long. They might also be compelled to pay eventually. When consumers are compelled to choose between free and paid internet, it is obvious that they would reject paid internet. This might put many internet start-ups out of business. The internet will become less diverse than it is now.
-- Zishaan Hayath, co-founder,

Toppr stands completely in support of net neutrality and the idea that access to internet/data should be same for all without any external throttling. Net neutrality is the basis on which internet was built and it has been successful in providing a level-playing field for all without any bias. Lack of net neutrality would clearly affect the freedom of choice of consumers which could end up creating monopolies across industries.

-- Paras Chopra, founder, Wingify
It is extremely important to ensure that freedom of speech is upheld. That's a basic human right. Net neutrality implicitly defeats that freedom of speech.
-- Annkur Agarwal, founder,

We are all in support of net neutrality and want the regulator / government to do the right thing. Internet is an opportunity for innovation to occur without barriers of wealth, access and background. Thus. it should be truly a level playing field for everyone.

-- Archit Verma, founder, ClearTax

Net neutrality is required for infrastructure services. I moved back from the US and Silicon Valley to India to start ClearTax. In the US, it took a lot of effort to keep the internet neutral, but now the US president and the FCC have strongly committed themselves to net neutrality.We in India are a fledgling Internet economy and growing quickly. Any mistakes here will stifle innovation. The internet is built for disruption and it gives the big and the small an equal platform to innovate and compete. Net neutrality is a first principle. It is core to the infrastructure.

-- Umashankar Das, founder, Thenwat

If India believes that it can create a Google, then it should support #NetNeutrality. Otherwise, this will push us to stone ages in another 10 years.

Rockmetric -- Nimesh, founder Rockmetric

Internet gives a level playing field for 'anyone' with motivation and skills to compete with the biggest players and win over customers with limited capital. Openness of the internet allows this miracle to happen! If the internet starts favouring larger players by increase entry barriers, it will only kill innovation.

Liberated Keypad -- Jayanthkumar, founder, Liberated Keypad

Internet neutrality is part of a larger issue of Trai playing servant to COAI. COAI has successfully made it such that people who by mistake violate their 3G packs face huge bills on postpaid. Airtel, for example, has reduced its monthly validity pack to 28 days so that you might forget to recharge your pack, and not carry forward your balance. That, or they simply just reduced your pack value, urging you to consume more.We need to get more and more people aware that the COAI is a very powerful lobby, and has had its way for a very long time. I will not stand by a service provider so greedy with profits. I want them to serve the consumers, instead of serving themselves.We need to get rid of products like Free Facebook, Free WhatsApp, Free Flipkart, which reduce the ability of small players like myself to compete with bigger media houses, companies, startups.

-- Love Chopra, founder,

The basic foundation of internet is neutrality. Airtel Zero is a very basic attempt to kill its neutrality, you can't imagine how bad this could go if it is allowed; this will surely kill product innovation. No blocking, No throttling, No paid prioritization, No special treatment to deep pocket player. I support #NetNeutrality.
-- Karan Aggarwal, co-founder,

We are bootstrapped technology startup from Delhi. We have put all our lives' savings into our company because we were confident that in a free country like ours, excellence and hard work will thrive. But today, our confidence is fading. We see a threat to our freedom, a threat to our dreams. We thrive on the internet. Without net neutrality, there will be no level-playing field, no startup dreams. We sincerely request you to let this be the way it is. Don't take this away from us. We demand net neutrality for total online freedom.

-- Hari PK, founder, Chorusplay

India, as a country that's embracing technology, is growing at a massive pace. And it will take us decades to match the pace of developed countries. The only, and the most effective level-playing field for all of us - individuals and businesses, is the window to grab the new technologies, especially for startups.

The compromise on net neutrality (or the idea behind it) will kill the upcoming startups and new businesses. And it will also have a (very) strong retrospective impact on the existing startups (who cannot afford to BUY their way through this problem). With the prime minister spearheading the ""Make In India"" campaign, we all dream of a nation that will be the next tech hub and a budding ground for startups.

The absence of net neutrality will be a potential death row for all those dreams. Let's unite for a better country, a better dream and a much-needed revolution. And we have to do it today, right now.

Yogurt Labs
--Shardul Mohite, founder, Yogurt Labs

Telcos controlled VAS and we all know how that whole industry ended up. They were acting like thugs demanding 70-80% of revenue as a fee from VAS companies. If they get to control how the data is being used on their network, we would see similar kind of attitude repeated again. Startups that think Airtel Zero or are good ideas for customers are not thinking long term. When telcos start controlling who gets in front of the customer, they would demand huge amount of fees too. Net neutrality is the only way to ensure that no one gets to control (in short-term or long-term) how anybody uses internet to reach potential customers.

Rahul Gandhi returns after 2-month-long mystery leave
Apr 16, 2015
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi returned to Delhi on Thursday after a two-month sabbatical during which his whereabouts were unknown and his party appeared embarrassed in explaining his absence.

Earlier, amid consistent speculation on the date of Gandhi's return from his "leave of absence", the Congress party said he will address a 'kisan-mazdoor' (farmer-worker) rally on Sunday and that his right to privacy should also be respected.

Congress sources said Gandhi is likely to meet farmers' leaders on Friday at his residence at 12, Tughlaq Road in New Delhi.

Missing from action for almost two months, the Congress vice-president has been on a leave of absence since the parliament's budget session began on February 23. His absence came amid intensely fluid political season that saw his mother and party president Sonia leading the opposition's protest against the controversial land acquisition bill that sought to scrap the existing requirement of securing 80% consent from farmers before acquiring land.

The party, however, has been defending Rahul Gandhi's absence all these days, saying he needed to chart out party's future course in "isolation" after a series of electoral drubbing.

More than 800 Valmikis ‘convert’ to Islam in UP’s Rampur to save homes from demolition
Apr 15, 2015
More than 800 Valmikis, fighting civic authorities to save their houses from demolition in Rampur, "converted" to Islam on Tuesday. Coming good on a threat they had issued a week ago when they said they have no option but to change their faith, they chose Ambedkar's 124th birth anniversary to embrace Islam.

Panic had gripped the Valmiki families here after civic authorities allegedly painted red marks on their houses a few days ago. According to them, demolition of their houses would pave the way for building a shopping mall which is said to have the backing of UP minister and Rampur strongman Azam Khan.

Rampur district magistrate Chandra Prakash Tripathi refused to comment on the "conversion". Azam Khan's media in charge Fasahat Ali Khan told TOI, "Those converting to Islam should clearly understand that this is not going to help them in any manner. Encroachment of public land in any form by any community is totally unacceptable. In Rampur, the majority of those evicted from government lands are Muslims."

There was high drama for most of the day as the Valmiki families went ahead with their self-announced conversion amid heavy police deployment in the area. Though a cleric from Amroha, who was set to assist in their conversion, didn't turn up, the Valmikis sported skull caps and declared that they were henceforth to be considered Muslim.

No special ritual, ceremony, or even presence of a religious leader is required for conversion to Islam. All one needs to have to convert is 'niyat' (true belief in Islam), recite the 'qalma' and have faith that Mohammed was the last prophet of God. Even circumcision, after a certain age, is not necessary.

Bhim Anarya, a resident of Valmiki Basti, who also embraced Islam along with the others, said, "A municipal employee had come to our locality a few days ago and asked us to vacate our houses. When we expressed our inability to do so, he advised us to convert to Islam in order to save our houses from being brought down. For us, it made sense because a few settlements belonging to the minority community in our vicinity have been spared the demolition."

Another resident, Avinash Tapan, said, "Though the additional district magistrate (city) visited our locality earlier and assured that nothing would happen to our houses, we can't believe them. We need a written assurance. We have decided to become Muslims, come what may."

After voting rights row, Shiv Sena wants population control for Muslims
Mumbai : Apr 15, 2015
The Shiv Sena on Wednesday claimed the growing population of Muslims and Christians would have ramifications for India and urged Muslim leaders to promote family planning within the minority community.

The Sena’s stance, outlined in an editorial in its mouthpiece “Saamna”, came just three days after party leader Sanjay Raut sparked a controversy by saying the voting rights of Muslims should be revoked for some years to ensure the community is not used for vote bank politics.

“India is facing the problem of population explosion. The population of Muslims in India is going to be more than Pakistan or Indonesia. This will hurt the culture and social fabric of a Hindu nation,” the editorial contended.

The Sena also came out in support of Hindu Mahasabha leader Sadhvi Deva Thakur, who recently said Muslims and Christians should be forcibly sterilised because their growing numbers posed a danger to Hindus.

“The furore raised following her statement was unnecessary. She used the word sterlisation instead of family planning. But the truth is that the growing population is a problem and family planning is needed," the editorial said.

The editorial contended that family planning and population control were one and the same thing.

"When we raise the demand for performing 'nasbandi' -- sorry, family planning -- it is in the best interests of the country and the Muslim community... With family planning, they will be able to feed and educate the children and live better lives..." the Sena said.

The Sena further called on Muslim leaders such as All India Majlis-e-Ittihadul-Muslimeen chief Assauddin Owaisi to promote family planning and initiate a ban on the burqa.

The editorial claimed that if the Muslim population continued to grow, it might lead to the formation of a “new Pakistan” that will not be able to provide a healthy, disease-free lifestyle for Muslims.

After the Sena was widely criticised for Raut’s remarks in an article in Saamna calling for the revocation of voting rights of Muslims, the party sought to downplay the issue by saying it was only opposed to "appeasement politics".

SpaceX bid to recycle rocket fails again
Apr 15, 2015

MIAMI: SpaceX's latest attempt at recycling its Falcon 9 rocket by landing it upright on an ocean platform failed Tuesday, the company said, after a successful launch of its cargo mission to space.
READ ALSO: Falcon 9 recycle attempt failed — SpaceX
"Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival," SpaceX chief Elon Musk said on Twitter, after the Dragon cargo craft was on its way to the International Space Station.
The California-based company headed by Internet entrepreneur and billionaire Musk is aiming to revolutionize the rocket industry by making the equipment as reusable as commercial plane, in order to save million of dollars in lost equipment.
Currently, rocket pieces fall into the ocean after launch and cannot be salvaged for another flight.
But SpaceX has a long way to go before it can hone the technology so that the first stage of the rocket can be flown back in a controlled manner and set down carefully on an ocean platform.
The last attempt in January also failed, when the rocket broke to pieces after colliding with the autonomous droneship, the floating platform which is marked with an X.
Musk said Monday that the chances of success this time were about 50-50, but that the company believes it has an 80 percent chance of success by the end of the year since many launches lie ahead.

Red tape unacceptable, rules are same for Mukesh Ambani and common man: PM Narendra Modi
New Delhi April 09:Prime Minister Narendra Modi has scoffed at the opposition Congress’ allegation of being a government of industrialists, saying it contradicted the industry’s complaints of doing nothing for them. Modi’s comments came during an exclusive interview to HT, his first to the Indian media after becoming Prime Minister. “I would request the media to counterpose two things together -- the allegations our Congress friends level against us and the complaints that businessmen have; the Congress says we are a government of industrialists and industrialists say we do nothing for them!” he said on Wednesday. He was reacting to a query on the business community’s impatience over the government’s alleged failure to fulfill promises to end red tapism. In a riposte to the business community, he said the “industry has to come forward to take the benefits of the process we have set in motion” and added that his government was working for the common man. “Our job is to run a policy-driven government. Red tape nahin hona chahiye. Ab red tape nahin hona chahiye matlab Mukesh Ambani ke liye red tape na ho aur ek common man ke liye red tape ho, waisa nahin chal sakta (red tape should not be there does not mean it shouldn't be there for Mukesh Ambani, but be there for a common man; that won't do).” Referring to complaints about a spate of tax notices issued to companies, Modi said the private sector was still stuck with legacy issues of governance - these included tax terrorism, duty inversion and selective exemptions. “That is why we tried to address many such issues during the budget of 2015-16 and to correct them across the board. We know that such steps are important for creating jobs and opportunities for millions of Indians. I repeat my assurance to all: if you take one step, we will walk two steps for you,” he said in the wide-ranging interview. Asked about some of his party colleagues and fringe elements in the Sangh Parivar who have sparked controversies with inflammatory comments, the Prime Minister indicated his disapproval of these but also added that he could not be expected to publicly clarify or make statements every time something like that happened. In his interview on the eve of his visit to France, Germany and Canada, Prime Minister Modi said he was hopeful of positive outcomes from the trip. “These three countries have great relevance to our development process and growth; Canada is rich in hydrocarbons and other natural resources; Germany has a manufacturing and skill base; and France is our dependable strategic partner,” he said, adding that France was one of the first countries to come out in support of India after the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998. He said he likes to combine his official tours by visiting multiple countries to get more done. “I’m from Ahmedabad where we have a saying, ‘single-fare, double journey’,” he quipped.


VK Singh lands in fresh controversy, calls media 'presstitutes'
New Delhi:Apr 08: Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh on Tuesday landed into a fresh controversy with political parties and editors slamming him for calling the media 'presstitutes'.
The Congress said his comments were "deplorable" and insensitive, the Left said they reflected the minister's mindset."It is very unfortunate that a minister is using abusive language against the media. He is holding a very important position. It is for the Prime Minister to take a call on this," party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said. The incident started with the minister making a snide remark against a TV channel when asked about the evacuation of Indians from Yemen
"Actually speaking, the operation (evacuation) in Yemen is less exciting than going to the Pakistani embassy," Singh said in Djibouti.A section of the media criticised him for the remark promting Singh to say on Twitter, "Friends what do you you expect from presstitutes," adding that last time the news anchor thought there was 'O' in place of 'E'.Later officials clarified that the minister was being sarcastic and his comments were in reference to media. This is the second time in recent years the minister has created a controversy with his remarks.A major row had erupted when Singh had attended Pakistan's National Day on March 23 at the high commission in Delhi when several separatist leaders from Kashmir too were present.However, after attending the reception, the former army chief mysteriously tweeted "disgust" and "duty" which was widely interpreted as his displeasure over being asked to represent the government at the Pakistan reception.The next day, he called a press conference that he was fully committed to BJP, government and the prime minister and that his tweets were directed only towards those section of the media that have questioned the intent of my government and also the stance on countering Pakistan sponsored terror.



My wife has never been eve-teased because she wears sarees: Goa minister
IANS, Panaji| : Apr 07, 2015
After there were reports of his wife's comments about Western culture causing rape, Goa minister for factories and boilers Deepak Dhavalikar defended her statement, claiming his spouse has never been eve-teased because she wears sarees. In a public endorsement of his wife comments, Dhavalikar, who dodged queries from journalists all through Monday, said rapes were fewer in the past because of non-infiltration of the Western culture. "She has lived her entire life wearing kumkum and sarees. She was never a victim of eve-teasing. That is what she must have explained to people," Dhavalikar has been quoted as saying in media reports on Tuesday.
"In the past, rape cases were less because they (women) adhered by Hindu dharma and now such cases are on the rise because of the western style of living," he has been quoted as saying.
In a meeting organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti on Sunday, Lata Dhavalikar said: "Incidents of rape are on the rise, largely owing to the fact that women have adopted western culture." Deepak Dhavalikar, who along with his brother Sudin, is a senior leader of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, a regional political outfit which is a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party ruling alliance in Goa.In April last year, Deepak Dhavalikar demanded the formation of a Hindu nation under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


Rajeev Shukla may become IPL chairman again

NEW DELHI: The formal verdict is yet to be out, but Rajeev Shukla has emerged as the front-runner for the post of IPL chairman. According to sources, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) bosses decided on Shukla after a three-horse race failed to produce a clear winner. The BCCI is likely to make an announcement soon and Shukla will replace Ranjib Biswal.
"Shukla is the next IPL chairman," a BCCI office-bearer told TOI on Sunday. TOI reported on Saturday on how the BCCI was debating over three choices on who would be the next IPL chairman. If former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly had the backing of BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, former BCCI chief N Srinivasan was behind Biswal while the Sharad Pawar faction was solidly behind Ajay Shirke.
But with no solution in sight, BCCI picked Shukla as a consensus candidate. Earlier, Shukla was in line for a top BCCI post, but he had lost the BCCI elections for the treasurer's post to Anirudh Chaudhary. Shukla was the IPL chairman before Biswal took over in 2013. He had resigned from the post after the 2013 spot-fixing scandal broke out. It was also learnt that Jyotiraditya Scindia, who had also lost the BCCI vice-president elections last month, is likely to head the BCCI finance committee. Technically, BCCI should have appointed the IPL chairman and the members of the governing council (GC) on the day its AGM was held last month. But they couldn't reach a decision then. The signal sent out from the impasse was that the same set of committee would continue to work till the next AGM is held in September 2015. Still, there was no official confirmation from the board whether the committee would continue or not.
Then, what seemed to further throw a spanner in the works was a rule in the BCCI constitution on how an appointment of IPL chief and members of the GC can be legally untenable.
The board also pondered upon an idea to form a special committee to run the day-today working of the IPL under the aegis of the working committee. But the top office-bearers of the BCCI weren't just ready to give up.

Giriraj's remark: Sonia says won't respond to people with narrow mindset; Bihar court orders FIR
New Delhi Apr 02, 2015:Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday brushed aside Union minister Giriraj Singh's racist comment saying she need not reply to a person with “neech mansikta” (narrow mindset) even as the BJP insisted the matter has ended after the MP’s clarification. Gandhi was replying to queries from journalists during a visit to villages in Madhya Pradesh Neemuch district where recent rain and hailstorm damaged standing crop. “What did he say? I think I should not reply to persons with such narrow mindset,” she said in her cryptic reply. Meanwhile, a Bihar court has ordered FIR to be lodged against Giriraj Singh for his remarks against the congress president. A defamation case was lodged against Singh by Muzaffarpur district Congress president, Vidyanand Singh through Sanjay Kumar, spokesperson of the party in the CJM's court in Muzaffarpur on Thursday. The court took cognizance of the case, while transferring it to subdivisional judicial magistrate East, Anju Singh for adjudication. SJM Anju Singh took cognizance and ordered Mithanpura thana personnel to lodge an FIR against the union minister immediately and report to the court within the week. The BJP MP, known for controversial remarks in the past, had kicked off storm on Tuesday when he told reporters in Patna that he wondered if former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had married a woman who was not white-skinned, would the Congress have accepted her as its president. “If Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian and if she wasn’t white-skinned, would the Congress accept her as a leader,” he had said. Singh on Wednesday expressed regret and said his remarks were made during an off-the-record conversation. “During off-the-record conversation, there is talk of different kinds. If Soniaji or Rahulji have been hurt by my remarks, I express regret,” he said. However, the Congress has refused to accept the apology and demanded his ouster from the Narendra Modi government. BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said in Delhi on Thursday that “Giriraj Singh has clarified about his comment, matter ends.” The Congress kept up its pressure on the minister with a group of party workers staging a protest oustside a residential complex where he lives. Shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP and Singh, Congress workers gathered outside Vitthal Bhai Patel House complex. Singh had apparently left for Bengaluru on Wednesday evening to attend the BJP’s national executive meeting.


Cong leaders told me not to act against BSY

NEW DELHI: With Congress reeling under an extended cycle of election defeats, former law minister H R Bhardwaj has put a question mark on the rare triumph it notched in Karnataka, saying the win came in spite of the party. He also said Congress leaders were "chummy" with the BJP brass. Bhardwaj, who was governor of Karnataka in UPA-2, said while UPA had become infamous for corruption, some Congress leaders bluntly asked him to avoid acting against the Reddy brothers of Bellary and against the then BJP chief minister.  "These leaders, this leader, told me that I should desist from taking action against Reddy brothers and chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. These Congress leaders were very chummy with the BJP brass," he told TOI. However, the former governor said his "sense of duty" made him initiate action as he could not ignore the flagrant violations brought to his notice by anti-corruption crusaders.

Michael Clarke's ODI swansong: Australia's fifth World Cup crown and a tribute to Phil Hughes
MELBOURNE: Michael Clarke hit 74 in his last one-day international to lead Australia to their fifth World Cup title with a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in a disappointing final on Sunday. A record crowd of 93,013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground saw power-packed Australia bowl out the Black Caps for 183 and then gallop to victory in the 34th over. Clarke, who announced his retirement from the one-day format on the eve of the final, added 112 runs for the third wicket with his likely successor Steve Smith, who returned unbeaten on 56. "I'm sure everybody standing on this stage will say we played this World Cup with 16 players," said Clarke in reference to close friend and former teammate Phillip Hughes who died in November last year after being hit on the head by a bouncer in a first-class match in Sydney. "This victory is dedicated to our little brother Phillip Hughes. Hughesy used to party as good as any of them so I guarantee we'll celebrate hard tonight."
Clarke also praised New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and his team who came up short in the final after winning all their eight games in the tournament heading into the final. "The New Zealand team deserve a lot of credit -- they're always a tough team to beat. Congratulations to Brendon and the team on a great tournament," said Clarke."Thanks to all the supporters out there, and most importantly, thanks to our amazing team -- the way they've stood up and played tonight, they deserve to be here."We played really well tonight. The guys were ready. It's been an honour and a privilege to represent my country in both Test and ODI cricket."But the time is right for me to step down from ODI cricket," added Clarke, who was out with just nine runs needed for victory.As he walked off, he was given a standing ovation by the record 93,013 crowd inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground.Australia's emphatic win was set up by the left-arm fast bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson who shared eight wickets after the Kiwis elected to bat on a good pitch.New Zealand messed up their maiden appearance in the title clash of cricket's showpiece event, falling like nine pins against the hostile Australian bowling.Inspirational captain McCullum fell off the fifth ball of the innings for a duck and two other frontline batsmen, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi, also failed to score.South Africa-born Grant Elliott top-scored with 83, sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 111 with Ross Taylor (40) after New Zealand had been reduced to 39 for three in the 13th over.The massive crowd, which broke the MCG record of 91,112 on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test against England in 2013, saw New Zealand lose their last seven wickets for 33 runs."We played some outstanding cricket in the tournament, but we ran into an outstanding Australia team tonight who continue to set the way in world cricket. Michael Clarke deserves to bow out as world champion," said McCullum.New Zealand crumbled, though they had raised hopes of repeating their amazing win in the league when they removed Aaron Finch for a duck in the second over; Trent Boult took an easy return catch as the ball lobbed off the batsman's bat and pad.Australia's previous titles came in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007 with coach Darren Lehmann, a two-time World Cup winner as a player, celebrating another success off the field. Left-hander David Warner slammed seven boundaries in his 45 off 46 balls, adding 61 for the second wicket with Smith. But the pugnacious opener was unable to build on his fine start as he pulled seamer Matt Henry down Elliott's throat at deep square-leg. Smith, who scored a century in the semi-final against India in Sydney last Thursday, continued his good form to help Clarke take charge of the match. Clarke was bowled by Henry when just nine runs remained for victory and was given a standing ovation by team-mates and fans as he returned with his bat raised. Smith sealed victory by pulling Henry for a boundary, sparking jubilant scenes in the stands as Clarke and the rest of the team ran on to the field to embrace Smith. Starc's two wickets in the innings took his tally to 22, enabling him to emerge with Boult as the joint highest wicket-takers in the tournament. Martin Guptill surpassed Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara's 541 runs to become the tournament's leading run-getter when he reached 10, but he managed to add just five runs more. The tall opener, who hit a World Cup record score of 237 not out against the West Indies in the quarter-finals, was bowled trying to cut Glenn Maxwell's second delivery. Taylor and Elliott settled in to build a strong partnership and had taken the total to 150-3 when the batting powerplay began after the 35th over. Both sides fielded unchanged teams from their semi-final wins where Australia beat India and New Zealand downed South Africa in a penultimate-ball thriller.


AAP crisis: Yadav, Bhushan expelled from national council, violence mars meeting
New Delhi Mar 28:The National Council of the Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday passed a resolution expelling founding members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party's decision making body. "It's a murder of democracy. They held a sham meeting and used muscle power to get their way," Bhushan told reporters at the venue. The voting took place immediately after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal left the meeting. Both Bhushan and Yadav said they will stay within the party and carry forward their fight for internal democracy Violence marred the meeting with supporters from both camps shouting slogans and pushing and shoving each other outside the venue. Earlier, before the meeting began, Yadav staged a dharna alleging that many members were not allowed to attend. "I am told that at least 15-20 legitimate members, who have been sent invitations, are not being allowed inside," Yadav told reporters outside the venue at Kapashera on the outskirts of Delhi


Happy with jihad, I won't come back to India, Kalyan youth with ISIS says
KALYAN Mar 22 : Fahad Shaikh, one of the four Kalyan youths who ran away and joined the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS), has got in touch with his family, but rebuffed calls to return, saying "I am happy with my jihadi work, I won't come back to India". Shaikh, who had been incommunicado since leaving home last year, got in touch about a month ago and has since been calling his family and some friends frequently on phone or Skype and other VoIP platforms, said sources familiar with the case of the four youths, all in their twenties. He has confirmed that Saheem Tanki, one of the three youths who went with him, is dead. He reportedly sent a photograph of Tanki at the location where he died to his family. NIA sleuths managed to contact Shaikh on a phone number he had called from, and he told them he won't return as his community was not treated well here. He again claimed he was happy with jihad but refused to elaborate what he was doing in Raqqa, Syria. Areeb Majeed, another youth in the group from educated, established backgrounds, was brought back to India last November by the NIA and is in custody.


Kohli and Dhawan back in the hut, two wickets down
New Delhi Mar 19 :India's Shikhar Dhawan walks from the field after he was out stumped during their Cricket World Cup quarterfinal match against Bangladesh in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo) OUT! Rubel gets Kohli! On a length outside off, Kohli looks to drive but gets a thick outside edge to it. Rahim takes a fine catch behind the wickets to get rid of one of the mainstays of India. A rare failure for Virat Kohli! OUT! STUMPED! Flatter around off, Dhawan looks to drive but misses. Rahim collects the ball and takes off the bails in a flash. The replays show that Dhawan's left foot it outside the crease. That's out, Dhawan has to walk back! Shakib strikes in the first over. FOUR! Driven through covers! Fuller around off, Dhawan drives this one brilliantly through covers for a boundary. Both the openers are off the mark in style! FOUR! First boundary of the innings! Full and wide outside off, Sharma leans forward, reaches for the delivery and carves it through cover-point for a boundary. Good start by Sharma! Openers | The players are out in the middle. Both the openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are are at the crease. Mashrafe Mortaza will bowl the first over of the match. The quarter-final is on it's way. Here we go! Squads | India XI: Dhoni, Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Kohli, Rahane, Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin, Shami, Mohit Sharma, Yadav Bangladesh XI: Mashrafe, Iqbal, Kayes, Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur+, Shakib, Rahman, Nasir, Rubel, Taskin Captains talk | MASHRAFE MORTAZA says, we are proud and hopefully we will give our best today. Adds, we would have batted first as well. Also adds, he comes in place of Taijul. Rubel and Taskin are bowling over 142kph and hopefully they'll do that today as well, he adds. MS DHONI says, it's a big match and we would like to put the runs on the board. Everyone is fit in the team. What this unit has done is bowl in the right areas. Adds, there is scope of improvement for the team. Also says that every team that has reached the quarterfinal is a good side. - Eight of the last completed 10 one-day internationals between these sides has been won by the chasing team. However, the most recent clash, at Dhaka in June 2014, saw India successfully defend a total of 105, bowling Bangladesh out for 58. - Kohli has reached 50 in five of his six innings against Bangladesh (three of which have been converted into centuries), averaging 126.5 with a strike rate of exactly 100.
- That average of 126.5 is the highest any player holds against an opponent, minimum 500 runs scored.
- All six of the ODIs between these teams at neutral venues have been won by the team that batted second.
- India have won five of these contests, Bangladesh's victory coming at the 2007 World Cup -- their only World Cup meeting.
- Since falling for a first ball duck in his first World Cup innings when batting second in 2007, MS Dhoni has hit 281 runs (two dismissals) in six knocks when chasing -- India have won all six games. - No Bangladesh batsman hit a century in any of the team's first 28 matches at World Cups -- there have been two in the last two, both recorded by Mahmudullah. - Since the start of the 2007 World Cup Dhoni has been dismissed once by bowlers in the Bangladesh squad, scoring 142 runs from 155 balls faced.


World Cup 2015: South Africa crush Sri Lanka to reach semifinals
SYDNEY March 18: JP Duminy took a hat-trick as South Africa's bowlers set up a crushing nine-wicket World Cup quarterfinal win over Sri Lanka in Sydney on Wednesday. Sri Lanka, who won the toss, were bowled out for just 133 on a good Sydney Cricket Ground pitch. After South Africa's pacemen reduced Sri Lanka to four for two, leg-spinner Imran Tahir (four for 26 in 8.2 overs) and off-spinner Duminy (three for 29 in seven) made sure the Islanders' innings never got out of first gear. South Africa, so often labelled World Cup 'chokers', completed an emphatic win by finishing on 134 for one with 32 overs to spare.
Quinton de Kock, who had managed just 53 runs in six previous innings this World Cup, was 78 not out after hitting the winning boundary -- his 12th four -- off paceman Lasith Malinga. Faf du Plessis was unbeaten on 21. Victory meant the Proteas had, after several heartbreaking reverses that started at the SCG with a rain-affected semifinal loss to England in 1992, finally won a knockout match at the World Cup. They will face the winners of Saturday's match between New Zealand and the West Indies in an Auckland semifinal on March 24. South Africa's win meant there was no fairytale farewell for Sri Lanka batting greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, for whom this was their last one-day international before retirement. The pair, key members of the Sri Lanka side that lost the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals, had been desperate to finish with a flourish. South Africa's Jean-Paul Duminy celebrates after taking a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the World Cup quarterfinal at the Sydney Cricket Ground. (Reuters Photo) But otherwise there was little batting resistance on a good pitch, with Sri Lanka -- the 1996 World Cup winners -- losing four wickets for two runs in nine balls as they slumped to 116 for eight.
South Africa's bowlers, often overshadowed in ODI cricket by their more celebrated batsmen, dominated Sri Lanka from the start.Kusal Perera, promoted to open the innings, fell for three when he edged Kyle Abbott and was brilliantly caught left-handed, at the second attempt, by de Kock as the wicket-keeper dived in front of first slip.Tillakaratne Dilshan was then out for a seven-ball duck, edging fast bowler Dale Steyn low to du Plessis at second slip.Thirimanne, who struck five fours, exited when he chipped an easy return catch to man-of-the-match Tahir.The Pakistan-born spinner then had Jayawardene mistiming a pull to short mid-wicket.Sri Lanka, the reigning World Twenty20 champions, were now 81 for four in the 24th over.There was no recovery, with Duminy dismissing Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews -- one of several batsmen who contributed to their own dismissal with a poor shot -- and then, at the start of his next over, recording the ninth World Cup hat-trick.uminy had Nuwan Kulasekara caught behind for one and debutant Tharindu Kaushal lbw for a golden duck on his ODI debutSangakkara was caught at deep third man off fast bowler Morne Morkel for 45 off 96 balls, including just three fours, before Tahir dismissed Malinga to wrap up the innings in a mere 37.2 overs.


Amla, De Kock off to a great start, South Africa in sight of SF spot
Sydney March 18: South Africa's JP Duminy, right, is congratulated by teammate Francois Du Plessis after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews during their Cricket World Cup quarterfinal match in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, March 18, 2015.(AP Photo) All-rounder JP Duminy took a hat-trick as South Africa put one foot in the World Cup semi-finals by dismissing Sri Lanka for 133 in their last eight clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. Bidding to win their first ever knockout match at a World Cup, the Proteas bowlers removed both openers inside the first five overs and never eased up the pressure thereafter. Duminy (3-29) dismissed Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews (19) with the final ball of the 33rd over and returned to send back Nuwan Kulasekara (1) and ODI debutant Tharindu Kaushal (0) with the first two deliveries of the 35th. The ninth World Cup hat-trick left the 1996 champions reeling at 116-8 after the loss four wickets for just two runs in three overs and when Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed soon afterwards, the writing was on the wall. Sangakkara, who had been looking for a fifth successive century, scored a measured 45 from 95 balls but was forced to throw off the shackles as the wickets tumbled around him and holed out to deep third man off paceman Morne Morkel. A heavy shower appeared out of the blue as if to mourn what looks like being the final one-day innings of one of the game's great batsmen and the players came off the pitch for a 23-minute rain break. It only delayed the inevitable, however, and Lasith Malinga (3) was the last man to depart, hammering the ball to David Miller at cover off South Africa's other main spin threat Imran Tahir. Tahir took 4-26, including the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene to leave another retiring Sri Lanka batting great with a tally of four runs in his final innings in the 50-over format. Sri Lanka, who won the toss and chose to bat, were never able to score at a pace that would have put pressure on the South Africans and test their mental resolve.While Sangakkara was at the crease, though, they would have fancied their chances of putting on some kind of tally for their bowlers to defend. Once he departed and the rain cleared, however, the semi-final appointment in Auckland against New Zealand or West Indies next week would now seem to be South Africa's to keep.


Modi 'deeply concerned', seeks report on Bengal nun's gangrape and Hisar church attack
New Delhi March 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed deep concern over the gangrape of an elderly nun in West Bengal and the attack on a church in Haryana, as he sought immediate reports on these incidents."PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the PMO tweeted. "PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana & West Bengal," it said in another tweet, amid growing concerns over the security of Christians. In Bengal, a 71-year-old nun was allegedly gangraped by dacoits in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday, in an incident that sparked protests across the state and prompted the state government to order a CID probe into the incident. In another incident, an under-construction church in Kaimri village near Hisar, Haryana, was vandalised by a group and the cross was replaced with an idol of Hanuman on Sunday, triggering tension in the area. Both incidents triggered a nationwide outrage, with the Christian community taking to the streets to stage demonstrations. Hundreds of priests, schoolgirls and civilians took out a rally on Monday in Kolkata to protest against the assault on the elderly nun. Angry protesters, demanding justice for the victim, also blocked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's convoy when she visited Ranaghat. In the church attack case, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday told the state assembly that the building was reportedly built in an illegal colony and the dispute was the result of an altercation between the priest and those who attacked the place of worship. Making a statement in the state assembly, Khattar said that an FIR had been registered against the accused on the statement of church priest Subhash Chander. In February, PM Modi had broken his silence over religious tension in India following mounting criticism over growing intolerance that fuelled concerns about the safety of religious minorities were being increasingly targeted after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.Modi's comments came after US President Barack Obama called for religious tolerance in a speech wrapping up his recent visit, saying India would not succeed if it was splintered along religious lines.


Raina, Dhoni lead India to emphatic 6-wicket victory over Zimbabwe
NEW DELHI March 14: Defending champions India continued their dream run and ended league campaign with 6 wickets victory over Zimbabwe in ICC World Cup Pool B match on Saturday. Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni stitched an unbeaten 196-run partnership to help India register sixth victory on the trot. Dhoni smashed a six to take India to victory target of 288 in 48.4 overs. This is India's highest successful chase in World Cup history. India finished the group on top with 12 points and will take on Bangladesh in quarterfinals on March 19 at Melbourne. With this victory, Dhoni also surpassed West Indies legend Clive Lloyd's nine consecutive World Cup wins as captain. Now the 'Captain Cool' is behind Ricky Ponting's 24 wins.
India got off to a bad start as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were sent back to pavilion by Tinashe Panyangara in 7th over.Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane played cautiously in the middle overs and tried to consolidate India's chase by adding fifty-run stand for the third wicket.India were again in spot of bother after losing Rahane and Kohli in quick succession but Dhoni and Raina held fort and ensure India to keep their winning run intact.Earlier, Brendan Taylor played the innings of his life in his final ODI for Zimbabwe as his 138 helped the team manage 287 all out in 48.5 overs.The total was highest by any country against India in the current edition surpassing Ireland's 259 in the previous game.Taking the Indian bowlers by the sword after being put into bat, Taylor smashed the white ball around the small Eden Park ground, cracking 15 boundaries and five sixes in his 110-ball stay.Having scored his first 50 off 64 deliveries, Taylor scored his next 88 runs in only 46 balls as the three-figure mark was reached in 99 deliveries.It was his eighth ODI century and highest by any Zimbabwean and also the first against India in this edition of the mega event.He got a standing ovation from the Indian supporters as the likes of Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan congratulated the 29-year-old, who is migrating permanently to England after this match due to financial constraints.This was also one of the matches where Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (1/75 in 10 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/71 in 10 overs) bore the brunt of the mayhem created by Taylor.The pace trio held their own once again, as young Mohit Sharma (3/48 in 10 overs), Mohammed Shami (3/48 in 9 overs) and Umesh Yadav (3/43 in 9.5 overs) did well as the final five wickets went for 47 runs after Zimbabwe were 241 for five at one stage.Taylor was well-supported by Sean Williams (50) as they added 93 for the fourth wicket while another 109 for the fifth wicket was added in company of Craig Ervine (27) after Zimbabwe were reduced to 33 for three in 11 overs.At the start Hamilton Masakadza (2), Chamu Chibhabha (7) and Solomon Mire (9) were sent back by the three seamers as Zimbabwe were reduced to 33 for three in 11 overs.Among all the batsmen who have faced the duo of Ashwin-Jadeja in the tournament, the Taylor-Williams combination will stand for the manner in which they handled the Indian spin twins.Taylor took a liking for Jadeja as he swept him on a number of occasions and the moment he dropped short gave him the charge.The right-hander was also quick to pick Ashwin's 'doosras' as he reverse swept him for two boundaries in one over.As Taylor gave the charge, even Williams grew in confidence as he hit three sixes in the region between mid-wicket and deep mid-wicket off Ashwin.The duo added 93 runs for the fourth wicket in 17.3 overs. Williams completed a well-deserved 50 off 55 balls before offering a low return catch to Ashwin. Williams had three sixes and three fours in his 57-ball knock.But once Williams departed, Taylor upped the ante further as it started raining sixes one after another.In fact all the sixes that Taylor hit were after his half-century mark as the length balls and the short of length balls ended up in the stands.


AAP rift: I am not a Napoleon who entered politics to win, says Kejriwal
Bengaluru Mar 14
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s silence these last few days has received as much attention as AAP’s bruising internal crisis. But in his naturopathy camp in faraway Bengaluru, the AAP chief isn’t wary of taking to people about the troubles ailing his party. “I fight a lot in my party when people say ‘we have won Delhi, we can win elsewhere too’. I am not Napoleon who has entered (the arena) to win. I want to change the system,” Kejriwal told fellow residents on March 8, three days after he joined the camp to treat a chronic cough and high blood sugar levels. These are the first words from Kejriwal addressing the rift in AAP, brought to a head on March 4 by the expulsion of rebel leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the party’s top decision-making body. Since then, the CM has been accused of horse-trading and communal politics. Apart from opponents, several AAP volunteers have questioned the CM’s absence in the Capital, resurrecting the “bhagora” (deserter) tag thrust on him when he quit last year after 49 days at the helm. Kejriwal is undergoing treatment for respiratory problems at the Jindal Naturecure Institute here. Sources, who shared a video of his short speech, said several residents of the camp had requested an interaction with him. In the video, Kejriwal is also seen singing the song Yehi Paigham Hamara from the 1959 film Paigham with others joining in.


Coal scam case: Sonia leads march to Manmohan Singh's residence, says Cong backs ex-PM
New Delhi March 12, 2015
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other senior party leaders on Thursday marched to Manmohan Singh's residence expressing solidarity with the former prime minister a day after he was summoned as an accused by a court in a coal scam case. Gandhi had convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and party MPs at the Akbar Road All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters. Senior party leaders Anand Sharma, Digvijaya Singh, Ambika Soni and Mallikarjun Kharge, among others, were present during the meeting."Dr Manmohan Singh is known not only in this country but through out the world as a person of integrity and probity. We are here to offer our unstinted support and solidarity. The Congress is fully behind him. We will fight this legally and with all means at our command," Gandhi said. Senior party leader P Chidambaram backed Singh saying "The government must speak up and say we stand by the CBI's report. Why is it reluctant to say that? The CBI has twice said that there is no ground or charge to take criminal action." Party MP Shashi Tharoor said they want to show the former PM "our support and respect. We are there to show him that we stand with him".
Singh was on Wednesday summoned to appear next month as an accused in a coal scam case by a Special Court, potentially becoming the second former head of government to face trial.Special Judge Bharat Parashar summoned the 83-year-old former PM, former coal secretary PC Parakh and four others saying "some acts of their omission and commission, though not all, show their complicity in the conspiracy".Parashar, who was considering the Central Bureau of Investigation's final report in the case, directed Singh and the others to appear before his court on April 8 to answer charges of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption.The case against Singh pertains to the 2005 allocation of the Talabira-II and III coal blocks in Odisha to aluminium giant Hindalco.It appeared, said the court, that the former PM and former coal secretary had played "different roles" with the "common purpose" of "accommodating" the company.The judge said that Singh could not take the plea that he, as the PM, could not be expected to "look into the minute details of each and every case placed before him."He said that the former PM – who also held the coal portfolio between 2004 and 2009 – could not claim ignorance due to his office.Reacting to the court order, Singh said he was upset, but expressed confidence that the truth would come through.
"I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny...I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts," said the former PM while adding "I hope, in a fair trial, I will prove my innocence."


I'm upset, but truth will come out: Manmohan speaks up after summoned as accused in coal scam case
March 11: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he was "upset" at being summoned as accused by a special court in a coal block allocation scam case. "I am upset, but this is a part of life. I am sure that the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with facts," Singh told reporters. The case pertains to the 2005 allocation of Talabira II coal block in Odisha. After taking cognisance of CBI's final investigation report in the matter, special judge Bharat Parashar held, that on the face of it, there was enough evidence to summon the former PM, who was also the coal minister at the time of allocation. The Congress, meanwhile, rushed to the former PM's defence, saying receiving court summons does not make one guilty. "I don't think anyone in India believes that Manmonhan Singh can do something wrong or corrupt. He was extremely cautious and he always wanted to be on the right side of the law. We shall defend Manmohan Singh with all our might," former Union minister Kapil Sibal told NDTV. Another spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: "Sorry to puncture the brouhaha, but receiving a court summons does not make one guilty. That is elementary law. Right?" Jha insisted that it was former PM Singh who pushed for auctions in coal block allocations. "He sought transparency, resisted by BJP-ruled states.The truth is coal block dubious allocations were all in non-Congress ruled states; MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, WB etc," he said. Senior BJP leader and environment minister Prakash Javadekar denied that there was any element of vindictiveness in pursuing the case. "It is a Congress' scam and because of the Congress' sin, Manmohan ji, the economist (former) prime minister has to face this," Javadekar told reporters. The court also summoned five others, including eminent industrialist KM Birla, former coal secretary PC Parakh and officials of M/s Hindalco, the company to which the coal blocks had been allocated. The accused have been summoned to answer allegations of criminal conspiracy ( section 120 B) , breach of trust (409) and corruption (under the Prevention of Corruption Act). Hindalco said it would study the order of the court in detail "and would defend its case through legal process." "Hindalco reiterates that none of its officials, including its chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, have pursued any unlawful or inappropriate means for securing the allocation of the coal block," the company said in a statement. Singh had headed the coal ministry between 2004 and 2009, for almost five years when the UPA government was in power. A number of coal block allocations made during that time are now being investigated by the CBI.


Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan Tried to Ensure We Lost Delhi Polls, Say AAP Leaders

New Delhi, 10th March 2015.

 Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were removed from a key decision making panel of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) because they attempted to ensure the defeat of the party in the Delhi elections, four prominent AAP leaders have alleged. The leaders, including party number two and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, have issued a statement to explain the removal of Mr Yadav and Mr Bhushan, founder members of the party. They said they were doing so to counter public statements being made by the two leaders. They have accused Mr Bhushan of asking party leaders not to come to Delhi to campaign for AAP, and even attempting to stop donations to the party. It alleges that Mr Bhushan told party leaders that a defeat in the Delhi elections was "necessary to get Arvind Kejriwal to his senses." Mr Yadav, the AAP leaders allege, "planted stories" and talked "off the record" to the media to discredit Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. They claim in their statement that AAP has "evidence" that Mr Yadav did this.
The point-wise charge-sheet issued today also names Mr Bhushan's father, Shanti Bhushan, as having attempted to discredit the party. AAP took umbrage at Shanti Bhushan's comment that Kiran Bedi, picked by rival BJP as its Chief Ministerial candidate to counter Mr Kejriwal in the February elections in Delhi, was a more worthy candidate. "Party workers were astounded. They asked what he was doing in the Aam Aadmi Party if he felt this way," says the statement, accusing Shanti Bhushan of also making several statements designed to tarnish the image of Arvind Kejriwal. The sacking of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC at a party meeting last week was the denouement of an intense war of words that revealed deep fissures in the Aam Aadmi Party just days after it swept the Delhi elections.
As Arvind Kejriwal left for Bangalore on a 10-day break, it was also clear that the fault lines in the party run deep, with another senior leader, Mayank Gandhi, questioning the manner on which Mr Yadav and Mr Bhushan were removed.

Mob Breaks Into Nagaland Jail, Drags Out Alleged Rapist and Lynches Him

DIMAPUR, NAGALAND, March 6 :  An alleged rapist, suspected to be an illegal migrant, was thrashed and killed by a mob which stormed the high-security central jail in Nagaland's commercial town of Dimapur, officials said. At least 10 vehicles were also set ablaze by the unruly mob forcing the authorities to clamp curfew in Dimapur district. Syed Farid Khan, a 35-year-old second hand car dealer, had allegedly raped a 20-year-old Naga woman on February 23 and 24 at different locations. Police arrested Khan on February 25 and later a lower court sent him to judicial custody.

"A mob of around 4,000 people stormed the central jail after breaking the two gates and took the accused out of jail and paraded him naked to the city tower in the heart of Dimapur town, before we could rescue him from the mob," district police chief Meren Jamir told IANS. He said Khan died after he was badly thrashed by the mob. "The body was retrieved from the mob after police fired in the air to disperse them," Jamir said.
"We have clamped curfew in Dimapur district to contain the law and order situation following the unfortunate incident," district magistrate Wezope Kenye told IANS.
He said the district authorities had made all efforts to prevent the mob from storming the central jail.
"We resorted to firing blanks and tear gas shells to disperse the mob but they managed to pull out Khan from the jail," Kenye said. "The situation is tense and we are making all efforts to restore normalcy in the district," he added.


RBI surprises with another repo rate cut, your EMIs could get lower
New Delhi Mar 04 In a surprise move, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its main lending rate--the repo rate --by 0.25 percentage points to 7.5% on Wednesday morning rekindling hopes of lower EMIs for homeloan borrowers and cheaper bank capital for companies to aid their expansion plans. This is the second rate cut by RBI in the last three months amid benign inflation rates. While wholesale inflation was (-)0.4 % in January, retail inflation was 5.11 % --much lower than the target of 6% by January 2016.
"Given low capacity utilisation and still-weak indicators of production and credit off-take, it is appropriate for the Reserve Bank to be pre-emptive in its policy action to utilise available space for monetary accommodation," RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said in a statement.Immediately after the announcement, markets welcomed the move, with the BSE Sensex jumping over 430 points to cross the 30,000 mark for the first time ever.The rupee strengthened by 27 paise to trade at 61.65 against the dollar in early trade today at the Interbank Foreign Exchange The RBI uses monetary tools to stymie demand and cool prices. In times of weak growth and low prices, it is usually expected that the central bank will cut interest rates to goad companies to invest, add capacities, hire more, and prompt people to spend on houses, cars and other goods. The rate cut comes four days after the presentation of the budget for 2015-16 and two days after the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced that they have agreed to adopt a monetary policy framework, which will make taming inflation the primary priority of the central bank’s policy decisions. Under the new system, billed as biggest monetary reform measure in a generation, the RBI will set a new retail inflation target of below 6% by January 2016 and 4% by March 2017. The framework also will empower the RBI governor to decide the most appropriate measures needed to achieve that target. This approach now become standard international practice in many mature economies, such as Britain, where the central bank sets interest rates and other monetary tools according to an inflation target set by the government.The new framework will remove speculation ambiguities in the way RBI’s decisions on interest rates.


Won't be drawn into ugly battle, says Delhi CM Kejriwal after Bhushan says he has weaknesses
New Delhi March, 03 Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan said on Tuesday he felt the AAP should be absolutely firm on its ethical principles but Delhi chief minister and party convener Arvind Kejriwal once told him they needed to make certain compromises in politics."I told Arvind you have remarkable qualities. You must recognise you have weaknesses. He said yes I do," Prashant Bhushan told NDTV in an interview."I have told him this myself. Arvind, I believe you have two serious weaknesses. One, (your wish that) your decision should be carried out. Though your political judgement is mostly right, it is much safer to have credible people who can differ with you," Bhushan said on being asked about Kejriwal's weaknesses.
"The second thing is I feel is we have to be absolutely firm on our principles. Arvind told me 'in politics, you have to make some compromises'," Bhushan added."I was quite unhappy because of the way the candidates were selected (for the Delhi assembly elections)," Bhushan said on being asked why he did not actively campaign for the polls.Kejriwal tweeted soon after the Bhushan's interview was aired on Tuesday morning: "I am deeply hurt and pained by what is going on in the party. This is betrayal of trust that Delhi posed in us… I refuse to be drawn in this ugly battle. Will concentrate only on Delhi's governance. Janata ke bharose ko kissi bhi haalat mein tootne nahin doonga."Peeved at its senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Bhushan's criticism of Kejriwal's approach, the party on Monday hinted at acting tough against the duo in a national executive meet on Wednesday.The party's official stand became clear a day after a joint letter by Yadav and Bhushan was leaked to the media which questioned the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) "one person-centric" approach and criticised it on various fronts."The attempts were being made to remove Kejriwal as the national convener of the party," AAP leader Sanjay Singh said, obliquely referring to Yadav and Bhushan at a press conference.Several AAP leaders bickered after Bhushan made his criticism of Kejriwal public on Tuesday. "Prashant ji is a respected member of party, but I feel he shouldn't have made such statements in public… He could have put forth his complaints in national executive meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), should have expressed his views in party forum," AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh said.
In the interview aired on Tuesday, Bhushan also spoke about the functioning of the AAP. "The real issue is that there has been some evidence that the party has slipped from principles of transparency… There is certainly a great danger of that happening in the party (on a high-command culture, where only one person calls the shots)," he said.He denied that he and Yadav tried to remove him from the post of the national convener. "We have some differences with Arvind and we have tried to resolve them… Where ever we had differences, I used to tell Arvind… But Yogendra Yadav or I never talked about removing him," he said.Bhushan admitted he was having trouble communicating with the Delhi CM. "There has been a breakdown of communication. For the last few days we have not spoken to each other. But I am open and willing to talk," Bhushan said.


Swine flu: 36 more succumb to virus, death toll 1,041
Mar 01, 2015
The swine flu epidemic has claimed the lives of 36 more people, taking the total death toll in the country to 1,041. The number of people affected by the virus also stands at 19,000 now.Rajasthan and Gujarat have been the worst-hit states so far with 234 and 231 deaths respectively.According to Skymet Meteorology Division in India, unusual weather conditions prevailing across the country have aggravated the situation and with the rainy days expected ahead, there is a possibility of steep rise in the numbers.
This has raised serious concerns over H1N1 influenza, as weather has played major role in intensifying the flu this season. In a bid to curtail spread of deadly virus, it is very necessary for temperatures to rise and drop in humidity levels, which is not expected to happen anytime soon.Gujarat government has also imposed a ban on most public gatherings of five or more people in Ahmedabad in a bid to halt the spread of swine flu. Officials have also asked people to wear mask as precautionary measure.
Swine flu is caused by H1N1 virus. Symptoms for swine flu include high fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and internal and external bleeding.


Rail Budget No fare hike, no new trains for now; plan to invest Rs 850,000 cr in 5 years
New Delhi Feb 26, 2015
Keeping passenger fares unchanged, minister Suresh Prabhu presented his maiden budget for Indian Railways on Thursday, promising to balance passenger needs and long-term interests of the organisation to benchmark it globally on quality, safety and reach. Nine more high-speed trains, faster speed of existing trains, Wi-Fi in 400 stations, user-friendly ladders to mount upper berths, easier norms for unreserved tickets, 17,000 bio-toilets in trains, better connectivity in north-east, and cameras for safety of women travellers are among the other highlights of the budget. "There will be no hike in passenger fares. We will focus on improving passenger amenities, including cleanliness," Railway Minister Prabhu said in a 66-minute speech in the Lok Sabha, watched keenly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had handpicked him for the job. The minister also promised all this with a vastly improved operating ratio, which spells out how much money is spent on day-to-day operations to earn revenues -- an indication of the funds left for safety and expansion.
He targeted to bring this down to 88.5 percent, or the lowest in nine years, from an unsustainable level of 93.6 percent in 2013-14 and 91.8 percent for this fiscal. This is better than what the prime minister had asked the railways a few days ago. Globally, a 75-80 percent or lower is seen as a healthy benchmark. Prabhu also seemed to have ruled out the sale of surplus land and other assets of Indian Railways. "We will monetize our resources than sell them for finances," he said, adding: "Business as usual of asking for budgetary support from finance ministry is neither sustainable nor necessary." The minister began with what ails Indian Railways. "Facilities have not improved substantially for the past few decades which is the result of under-investment that affects capacity, leading to poor morale. This fed into vicious cycle of chronic under-investment for a long time." Emphasising that safety, quality of service, standards and efficiency all suffered due to poor financial resources available with the Indian Railways in recent decades, the minister said adding all this further fed into the cycle of poor investment. "This must be put to an end," said the chartered accountant-turned-politician, while presenting the budget for one of the largest railway network in the world. "We have to make our Indian Railways a benchmark organisation in safety, security and infrastructure," he said in a speech peppered with several Hindi couplets. Playing with words, he invoked God (Prabhu) and said: "One of the first things I asked, 'hey prabhu' how will all this be possible." Then, he went on to say that he took it upon the mortal 'Prabhu' to accomplish the task ahead.


US nod to permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders, move brings cheer to Indians
Reuters:Feb 25, 2015
The US government will allow spouses of certain high-tech foreign workers to apply for work permits, an accommodation designed to make things easier for families waiting in long lines for green cards.The regulation for spouses of H-1B visas, first proposed last year and finalised as part of President Barack Obama's package of executive actions on immigration, will take effect starting on May 26."The inability of those spouses until now to apply for employment, to seek and obtain employment, has imposed in many cases significant hardships on the families of H-1B visa holders," said Leon Rodriguez, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).Swapnil Gupta, a software engineer, described the new regulation as a "great relief."She moved to the United States from India with her husband in 2011 when he was hired with an H-1B visa. Gupta has been unable to work in the United States.I miss my job, I miss my financial independence," she told reporters on a conference call organised by FWD.US, a tech industry immigration lobby group.Australia and Canada have made similar offers to spouses of temporary high-skilled workers in recent years, noted Lynden Melmed, former chief counsel at USCIS. That put pressure on the US government to make the same accommodation, Melmed said, noting the waiting period for green cards can be longer than 10 years in some cases."The inability to work for that period of time is potentially career-ending," said Melmed, now a partner at immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP.The regulation change was one of a half-dozen tweaks that Obama announced in November to address concerns by tech companies that have pushed to lift the cap on H-1B visas and speed up the process for green cards.The USCIS is trying to move as quickly as possible on the other measures, Rodriguez said, declining to offer a more specific timeline.



Mamata Banerjee's entourage member Sibaji Panja arrested in Kolkata on charges of financial irregularities
Feb 22, 2:17 PM
Sibaji Panja, a member of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's entourage coming from Dhaka arrested in Kolkata on charges of financial irregularities. Mr. Panja was detained by the Immigration Department officials at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata last night, after his return from Bangladesh with the West Bengal Chief Minister.The Commissioner of Vidhan Nagar Commissionerate, Javed Shamim told AIR that Delhi Police had issued look out notice against Mr. Panja in connection with the scam on the 19th of this month and accordingly, all airports of the country and the Immigration Department were alerted. He will be produced before the Barrackpur Court today.


Nitish Kumar to take oath as Bihar CM today, may induct 10 ministers
New Delhi/Patna Feb 22, 2015
Nitish Kumar is all set to take oath as chief minister of Bihar -- for the fourth time -- on Sunday along with 10 ministers in his cabinet. In an article published on ahead of the oath-taking, Kumar wrote, "I believe that Bihar is the state of greatest potential in the country, and the story of developed India is not possible without the story of developed Bihar. I have and will continue to work forever to make this a reality." He also sent a positive message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "I will readily work with the honourable Prime Minister and the Government of India in the interest of Bihar," he wrote in the article.Nitish Kumar's JD(U) had parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. During the political crisis in Bihar, Kumar had accused the BJP of engineering a split in the ruling JD(U). He had also alleged that PM Modi had a role in the crisis.Kumar held a meeting of JD(U) le gislators, besides those from the allied parties to discuss cabinet formation on Saturday afternoon."Initially, some ministers of the erstwhile Manjhi cabinet will be inducted into the cabinet, which will be expanded after winning the trust vote. Some old ministers are likely to be retained, while some may be dropped for new faces," a JD(U) leader said.The party leadership is also seized with the shape of the ministry, since former minister and dalit leader Ramai Ram has already staked his claim for the post of deputy chief minister. Kumar, who faces immense pressure to appease legislators from his party and allies, can induct a maximum of 35 ministers. While speculations are rife that the allies may join the government, the RJD and Congress are also considering whether it could face any anti-incumbency for remaining in the government for little over six months. BPCC chief Ashok Kumar Choudhary said the Congress would take a decision on joining the government after Nitish Kumar proved his majority on the floor of the house. "We have acquainted the party high command with the latest political situation in the state and would act as per instructions received from it after the trust vote," he said. houdhary said Congress support to Kumar was already there, irrespective of the fact whether it joins his ministry or not. State RJD president Ram Chandra Purve said the decision to join the government would be taken by party chief Lalu Prasad. "Party president Lalu Prasad is the only authorised person to take such policy decisions,” Purbe said, adding “Prasad would be present at Kumar’s swearing in ceremony tomorrow”. The lone CPI MLA Awadhesh Roy also said his party would take the decision on whether to join ministry or continue support from outside while independent member, Dulal Chand Goswami is all set to be part of the ministry. The RJD has 24 members, Congress 5 and CPI 1. The allies and an independent stood solidly behind Kumar throughout the recent political crisis and its MLAs joined JD(U) legislators to take the total to 130. The members were present both at the Raj Bhavan and outside Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi to prove their numbers. Security has been tightened outside Raj Bhawan for Kumar’s swearing-in ceremony. VVIPs cars with Z plus security cover will be allowed inside the premises. Other guests invited would have to park their cars outside the Raj Bhawan. The VIPs scheduled to participate in the oath ceremony include West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Singh Yadav, former UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and former PM HD Deve Gowda. The swearing-in ceremony would take place at Raj Bhawan’s Rajendra Mandapam auditorium.


PM Modi, Big B attend Mulayam grandnephew's Saifai 'tilak' event11
Saifai (Etawah) Feb 21, 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked hand-in-hand and exchanged pleasantries with his political arch-rivals Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav during a pre-wedding ceremony for the Samajwadi Party chief’s grandnephew in Saifai village on Saturday. Mulayam Singh personally invited Modi to the ‘tilak’ ceremony ahead of his grandnephew Tej Pratap Yadav’s marriage with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav's youngest daughter Raj Laxmi. Modi spent nearly 20 minutes on a grand stage erected at the SP chief’s native village of Saifai, 25 km from Etawah, in the company of Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad, both bitter critics of the prime minister and the NDA government in Delhi. A combination photo of PM Narendra Modi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad at Saifai. (Photo: ANI Tweets) The Prime Minister, clad in a pale saffron kurta and a saffron waistcoat, walked hand-in-hand with Mulayam Singh towards the stage. Lalu Prasad, who was already on the stage, joined them and all three waved to the large crowd. The political rivals were seen smiling as they shook hands and chatted in the company of Mulayam Singh’s son, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, and Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav. Sitting on a sofa, Modi teased a child from Lalu Prasad's family by tweaking his ears. Arjun, the son of Akhilesh Yadav, sat in Modi's lap for a while. Seconds later, Akhilesh Yadav's daughter Tina too sat in Modi's lap. She was seen giggling at something that the prime minister whispered in her ear. Arjun took photos of Modi with a mobile phone. While Modi was walking off the stage, Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh and Sharad Yadav, the top leaders of the so-called Janata Parivaar, held hands and raised them in a mark of solidarity. Modi stayed out of this gesture. Amar Singh, the former national general secretary of the SP who quit the party in 2010, also came to bless Tej. He was followed by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, who came with a huge gift.Numerous top politicians from across the country, Bollywood celebrities and captains of industry are expected to attend the ceremony. Members of Mulayam Singh’s family said one lakh invitations had been sent to relatives, local residents, politicians, journalists, judges and dignitaries from different fields.The tilak ceremony is being described as the biggest event ever organised in Saifai. It has made the earlier grand weddings of Mulayam Singh’s sons Akhilesh and Prateek look like minor affairs.Amitabh Bachchan at the 'tilak' ceremony of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's grandnephew, Tej Pratap. (Photo: ANI tweets) SP insiders said a feast has been arranged for 1.5 lakh guest, including 3, 000 VVIPs and VIPs. Three thousand police personal have been deployed for security and 500 luxury Swiss cottages have been set up for the VVIPs.Expert chefs whipped up an array of dishes, including traditional UP and Bihari cuisine and sweets. The menu included ‘sarrata’ (special sour raita), bedai, dahi-ke-aloo, baati-chokha, paneer-filled chola bhature, imarti, jalebi, rabri, sohan halwa, kulfi and moong daal halwa dripping with ghee.
Mulayam Singh, his brother, state minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, and nephew Dharmendra Yadav have been camping in Saifai to oversee preparations for the ceremony.Officials of the local administration and police, including those from Kanpur Zone, have been zipping up and down roads leading to the venue to ensure there are no glitches.Special arrangements were made for Modi and his ministerial colleagues. The dignitaries landed at an airstrip in Saifai, from where they covered a distance of about 11 km by road to reach the




In Jitan Ram Manjhi's Resignation, a Win-Win for BJP in Bihar

Patna, Feb 20.

Jitan Ram Manjhi made a dramatic exit this morning, driving up to the Bihar Governor's residence hours before he was to seek a vote of confidence and resigning as Bihar chief minister. He has recommended that the Governor dissolve the assembly and call fresh elections in Bihar, which is due to vote for a new government later this year. Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U), the man who wants to take over as chief minister, alleged, "The BJP's game plan is exposed. They tried to break the JD(U) and when that did not happen, they took this decision."

Even with the support of the BJP's 87 MLAs, Mr Manjhi faced certain defeat in today's trust vote. By resigning and recommending dissolution of the Assembly, Mr Manjhi hopes to put the ball in the BJP-led Centre's court and take away Nitish Kumar's chance at a comeback as chief minister. The BJP, which had instructed its legislators to vote for Mr Manjhi today, will not be displeased at the turn of events. The party's support was designed to woo the Mahadalits, Mr Manjhi's caste, one of the poorest in Bihar and also a significant votebank.Also, the party wanted to checkmate Nitish Kumar, but, said sources, was not keen to see Mr Manjhi continue as chief minister, given his poor record as an administrator.
Sushil Modi of the BJP said yesterday that Mr Manjhi's winning the trust vote was immaterial. "We are only looking at ensuring that Nitish Kumar's insult to a Mahadalit is not taken lying down," he said. The BJP hopes to win a big majority on its own this time in Bihar, where for years it contested elections as the JD(U)'s junior partner. The two parties aborted a lengthy alliance at the insistence of Mr Kumar ahead of last year's national election. Mr Kumar was opposed to the BJP's decision to select his arch-rival, then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as its prime ministerial candidate. The JD(U) suffered a rout at the hands of the BJP and its allies and Mr Kumar resigned owning responsibility. The battle for Bihar this year is seen as a BJP vs Nitish Kumar contest. Mr Kumar has now joined hands with his old rivals Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress to take on the BJP.

Coast Guard denies blowing up Pak boat, says officer misquoted
New Delhi Feb 18
The Coast Guard on Wednesday denied controversial newspaper reports which quoted a deputy inspector general as claiming he gave orders to blow up a Pakistani boat which infiltrated into Indian waters on new year's eve. Coast Guard deputy director general KR Nautiyal said he has received a written statement from DIG BK Loshali, that he did not subscribe to what was reported in the Indian Express. Loshali too rejected the report at a press conference in Ahmedabad saying, "I do not subscribe to the report. The operation was not being handled by me. I was not privy to it completely. I reiterate the boat set herself on fire and was not sunk by Coast Guard." The newspaper had quoted DIG Loshali as saying he ordered the boat to be blown up, a claim which flew in the face of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's statement then that Pakistani militants on the boat blew it up after being cornered by Indian forces. "Let me tell you. I hope you remember 31st December night… We blew off that Pakistan… We have blown them off… I was there at Gandhinagar and I told at night, blow the boat off. We don't want to serve them biryani…" the report quoted Loshali as saying. According to the Express, Loshali, who was head of operations in the northwest region was speaking on Monday at a gathering of officials from the coast guard during the launch of a coast guard interceptor boat in Surat. Coast guard DIG Sudhir Sahni, in-charge of refit and production and G Sethy, deputy commandant, who are based in Surat, were also present at the gathering, the English daily said. "The Coast Guard ship warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo; however, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots. Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigation. Soon thereafter, the crew hid themselves in below deck compartment and set the boat on fire, which resulted in explosion and major fire on the boat," the defence ministry had said in a release on January 2. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said on January 5 that "circumstantial evidence" indicated the Pakistani boat had suspected terror links. Parrikar had said he would classify them as "suspected or possible terrorists" as the suicidal act of setting the boat on fire after being intercepted showed that they were "committed" and indicated suspected terror


Yuvraj sparks IPL bidding war, goes to Daredevils for record Rs 16 crore
BENGALURU:Feb 16, 2015 Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh was bought by the Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 16 crore. But in a big surprise, there were no takers for South African opener Hashim Amla after the first round of bidding for marquee players in the IPL auction on Monday. The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction ahead of the eighth season got under way here Monday.
A bidding war between Royal Challengers Bagalore (RCB) and the Daredevils saw Yuvraj's price sky-rocket.
Finally, it was the Delhi franchise that went for the jugular and bid Rs 16 crore for the batsman, who was left out of the India squad for the World Cup. Incidentally, RCB had let go of Yuvraj, the most expensive buy of the last IPL auction, after buying him for Rs.14 crore last time around. Delhi Daredevils also snapped up Sri Lankan ODI captain Angelo Mathews for Rs.7.50 crore. Former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opener Murali Vijay with a base price of Rs.50 lakh was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs.3 crore. Amla, who is currently on national duty with South Africa in the World Cup, averages an incredible 55.93 in 108 One-Day Internationals (ODI) played. He has scored 19 hundreds and 27 fifties with a highest score of 153 out. He also has 23 Test centuries to his name and averages 52.78 in the longest format of the game. He has played 26 Twenty20 internationals, scoring 600 runs at an average of 25. Amla, however, will be presented again later.


India beat Pakistan, make it 6 out of 6 in World Cups
Times, New Delhi Feb 15, 2015
Defending champions India launched their Cricket World Cup campaign in style as they produced a clinical performance to spank Pakistan by 76 runs, maintaining their unbeaten record against the arch-rivals in the mega event.

Here are the highlights of the match in pics.

Indian batting

Once he gets going we all know what Rohit Sharma is capable of. Remember the 264 and the 209? But sometimes Rohit catches a bad case of what cricket fans call 'rush of blood'. At 7.3 overs he plays a pre-decided front-foot hoick to Sohail Khan. The ball gets big on him and all he ends up doing is looping it. Misbah runs in from mid-off to pouch that. Rohit was looking good. Not to be today.

A billion hearts stopped when Virat Kohli pulled a Shahid Afridi ball (10.5) towards long-on. Leggie Yasir Shah ran in from the boundary to his right, all the while not taking his eyes off the ball. He made a diving valiant effort, the ball touches his fingertips. He can’t hold on and India breathes again. Would have been an early contender for best catch of the tournament along with Joe Root's blinder against Australia.

Kohli was dropped again (31.5). Umar Akmal muffled a simple nick the batsman got to a
Haris Sohail ball that turned. The wicketkeeper and bowler are both “part-timers”. Costly miss. Kohli fell after scoring 107. Akmal had the consolation of catching him.

Kohli had started the 2011 World Cup with a century (against Bangladesh). He started this edition with one.

No one has been under more scrutiny that Shikhar Dhawan. Fans were calling for his ouster. The opener ended his poor run with 73 off 76 balls before he was unfortunately run out. His 129-run partnership with Kohli set India on course.

In the first two warm-up matches India missed big partnerships at the top and in the middle. After Dhawan, Raina joined hands with Kohli for a 110-run partnership in 15.3 overs. Raina’s 74 off 56 balls (studded with 5 boundaries and 3 sixes) propelled India’s run rate.

Wickets fell in a heap towards the end and India could not make most of the platform given by Dhawan, Kohli, Raina. Sohail Khan bowled a brilliant last over, picking up two wickets. India reached 300, but could make only 27 in the last 5 overs. What’s more, India lost 5 wickets in this phase.

Indian bowling

Mohammed Shami made Younis Khan look ugly with his sharp bouncer. The seasoned batsman looked very ungainly trying to fend it off. He tried to duck, but couldn’t and the attempt at a shot is more self-preservation. The ball hits the glove and lobs up to Dhoni. India make the breakthrough (3.2). Younis goes for 6.

Shami struck twice in the 35th over, getting rid of ‘Boom Boom’ ‘Lala’ Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz.

Afridi first. The ball was not special — a high full toss — but the catch from Kohli was. Kohli ran back, looked to have overrun, gathered himself and caught it neat before diving for control. His celebration, arms flung wide, looked like what Afridi does. You have to hand it to Cheeku (Kohli’s nickname) for being cheeky. Afridi went for 22.

The same over, Wahab Riaz fell trying to cut a short and wide one. He edged it to Dhoni and was out for 4. His only scoring shot had been a boundary.
Haris Sohail was looking comfortable out there, but Ravichandran Ashwin was slowly but surely pulling his weight in the game. He scalped Sohail in the 18th over, courtesy a sharp catch by Raina at slip. Moreover, it was a wicket-maiden. Ashwin was one of the key players when India started to put the choke on Pakistan. Sohail who had issues with a ‘ghost’ in a New Zealand hotel room, went for 36.

Umesh Yadav went for plenty in his opening spell, but redeemed himself in style in the 24th over. He bowled one short and wide (23.2) to the well settled Ahmed Shehzad, who lashed out, but fatally in the air. Jadeja nearly dropped the ball before making sure he had it safe in his left hand. Shehzad fell for 47.

In comes Sohaib Maqsood. Defends one. Out next ball. He tried to force a wide, shortish ball from Yadav and ball flies to Raina at slip. Maqsood walks back with a duck for his poor effort.'s-miserable-outing2.jpg

Umar Akmal is a very exciting player. Today was not his day. Had a torrid match, both as a wicketkeeper (part-time role) and with the bat. He gave Pakistan no joy when he dropped Kohli. He finally caught Kohli, but by then the batsman had hit a ton.

He lasted four balls with the bat. There was an edge to Jadeja in the 25th over which did not show even on snicko. Dhoni was confident straight away and was proved right. The ball’s seam seemed to have altered path while passing his bat. The benefit of the doubt? Not today. Duck it was.


Why India loves cricket World Cup
Times, New Delhi Feb 15, 2015
For both the modern Indian cricketer and fan, the allure of the World Cup is unique. It is, quite simply, the apogee of the game that defines the world's populous democracy.

During an interview with this newspaper, Sachin Tendulkar had told me that his greatest moment on a cricket field was winning the World Cup in 2011. Not the hundred at Perth in 1991 or the debut century at Old Trafford or one of many, many stellar achievements in a career without parallel.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni ranks India's exit in the group stages in 2007 as his worst moment on a cricket field. Not being eviscerated 0-4 and 0-4 by England and Australia in successive Test series. Not losing 1-2 at home in Tests to England in 2012. Being knocked out in the group stages in World Cup, he felt, was the lowest ebb of his career.

Most Indian fans, always oscillating between extravagant hope and deep despair, excitable and demanding, scale the greatest heights of frenzy and overreaction during this tournament. The World Cup provides a quadrennial occasion unlike any other for the outpouring of jingoism, hysteria and mass participation. The attraction of ODI cricket may on occasion pale beside the wham-bang of Twenty20, but the place of the World Cup in the fan's heart is secure, inviolable.

To understand why this is so, we have to go back to a sun-splashed glorious summer's afternoon in London nearly 32 years ago. 25 June, 1983. The World Cup final in which India beat the reigning champions, the West Indies. Batting first, India scored 183. The West Indies, the most formidable team in world cricket by some distance, looked set to overtake that without even breaking into a canter. Viv Richards, his eyes alight with the intent of slaughter, was being imperious as only he could.

And then Richards pulled Madan Lal, miscued it a fraction, the ball traced a parabola and Kapil Dev ran backwards, ran, ran with the sun in his eyes and our hearts in our hands, till he had the ball in his cupped palms. The beginning of the end for the champions. The beginning of the beginning of India's great love affair with the World Cup. Later there was the spray of champagne from the balcony, the droplets catching and refracting the late afternoon sunlight. A group of men smiled like they had never smiled before. Kapil's Devils. World champions.
Kapil Dev, Indian cricket captain, receives the Prudential World Cup Trophy after India's victory over the West Indies in the World Cup Final at Lord's cricket ground in London, 25th June 1983. India won by 43 runs. (Photo: Getty Images)

An unlikely triumph, and more famous for being so unlikely. It made us realise that we had hitherto paid little attention to limited-overs cricket not because we disliked it or were purists, but because we had not been any good at it. 25 June, 1983, changed Indian cricket for ever. Not merely that. It changed the Indian fan's relationship with cricket for ever.

That redefined relationship was in tumultuous evidence across the country on 2 April, 2011, as India won the World Cup again. The jubilation spilled over from homes and bars to major thoroughfares and parks across the country as a stomping, honking, roiling mass of humanity celebrated. Every four years, Indian fans go into a frenzy; they hope that, yes, this year will be ours, and it never was, not quite in the way they wanted it to be theirs, till that sultry spring night at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium.

Just as Kapil will always be captive to that image of his on the Lord's balcony, toothy grin, arms wrapped around a trophy no Indian had at the time imagined getting his hands on, Dhoni will forever be defined by the image that captures the lofted six that brought India the winning runs: the expansive backswing, the eyes fever bright, pupils dilated at the point of ferocious impact, the enormous follow through of the bat, the ball soaring, becoming a white speck in the dark night sky.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina leave the field after winning a one-day international at the Asia Cup cricket match in Dhaka in 2012. (AFP Photo)

An awful lot has changed in Indian cricket since April 2011. Only three players from that World Cup winning squad - Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina - figure in the current one. There is no Yuvraj, player of the 2011 tournament. This is the first World Cup since 1992 in which the team has not a single member of India's golden generation of cricketers. Dhoni, who reached the peak of his career with that triumph, has been stumbling and sliding his way downwards. He is no longer India's Test captain. And he is certainly playing his last World Cup.

Today's team is brimming with explosive young talent and potential. Rohit, Dhawan, Rahane and Kohli (who has been racking up ODI records in the way a globe-trotting CEO racks up air miles) are all proven match winners. Add to that Dhoni, the finest ODI finisher India has ever had, and you ought to have a formidable line-up. If only they were not so infuriatingly inconsistent: they have blown not so much hot and cold as hot and glacial. On occasion they have looked as out of place against decent opposition as a man who is used to a leisurely swim on Sunday mornings would at an Olympic event.

They won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013.They beat England in the ODI series in England in 2014, the first win for India in a bilateral series in England in 24 years. And yet they won not an ODI in South Africa and New Zealand last year. They won nothing in the recent tri-series in Australia.

The bowling, riven with injuries, is looking fragile. The fast bowlers are either not fast enough or are erring in line and length in trying to be fast enough. The spinners need to attack rather than contain. Staunching the flow of runs in the final overs will be something India will worry about. In a warm up game, India failed to bowl out even Afghanistan, who had clattered away to 153 for 2 at one stage. The batting has often launched spectacular assaults in the past 12 months; but the bowlers need to avoid making the sort of mess that cannot be cleaned up by aggressive batting.

The World Cup returns to Australia and New Zealand 23 years after the tournament that saw the birth of the modern ODI as we know it. That edition introduced coloured clothes, white balls, pinch hitters, opening the bowling with spinners. It was, as Martin Crowe wrote in a recent essay on ESPNcricinfo, the time when "one-day cricket was its freshest and most unpredictable".

The lexicon of the game has evolved a great deal since 1992 (we now have the switch hit, the scoop shot, the power play and plenty more), as has the game itself. The Twenty20 format has infused the 50-overs game with an armoury of strokes that would have been unthinkable in those days. Approaches to batting have changed. What a team would have considered a more than respectable in 1992 - 264 - was scored by Rohit Sharma in one innings last year.

In these times of batting porno with heavier bats and shortened boundaries, it now seems only a matter of time before a side breaches Fortress Five Hundred in an innings.

What this World Cup has in common with the 1992 tournament, though, is unpredictability. It will be the most close-run tournament of recent times. South Africa, despite their strength, cannot be called favourites because they carry the tag of chokers in big tournaments. Australia are a cracking side, but they are surely not invincible. New Zealand, with home advantage, will be a handful. The West Indies and Pakistan are as likely to be in disarray as deadly. England are playing their best ODI cricket in years.

And notwithstanding the fact that they will have to adjust to alien conditions, Sri Lanka are always capable of springing a surprise or two. The open nature of the tournament was revealed in the warm up games in which New Zealand walloped South Africa; Zimbabwe humbled Sri Lanka; and Pakistan comfortably beat England. Any team, really, is capable of beating any other on any given day. There is no single dominant side such as Australia at the turn of this century or the West Indies in the early years of the World Cup.

When the competition was last held in Australia and New Zealand, India failed to make it to the semi-finals. What will it be like this time around? The fan will always hope. (And proclaiming that we don't stand a chance, that it will be dire, is also a kind of hoping, an assumption that if we are pessimistic, the opposite is likely to happen.) The format is such that it is reasonably certain that India, along with the other seven top Test-playing teams, will make it to the quarter finals.

After that, two good days. A few of the batsmen do what they are capable of, the bowlers get it a bit right, perhaps the opposition has a day off, and we can see ourselves in the final. On the other hand, one bad game and the story is over. Till 2019. When millions of adoring cricket fans will again start getting caught up in the fever that is peculiar to the World Cup, hoping that, yes, this year will be ours.



AAP govt takes charge: Kejriwal, 6 ministers sworn in
NEW DELHI, 14 Feb.
Tens of thousands packed the sprawling Ramlila Maidan where AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal ook oath on Saturday as Delhi's chief minister for a second time in 14 months.
It was only the second swearing in of a Delhi CM to be held in the open. Kejriwal's first swearing-in ceremony in 2013 was also held in the open.
Families of senior AAP members, including Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, attended the ceremony.
Cheering Aam Aadmi Party supporters started flocking to the ground in the heart of the capital right from the morning, and excitement ran high whenever a prominent party leader was spotted.
READ ALSO: AAP govt likely to resume work from where it left a year ago
Blog: 17 commandments for PM Narendra Modi
While most AAP activists and supporters were from Delhi, large numbers also came from other states, particularly neighbouring Haryana.
Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel deployed at the venue, which had a fresh look, had a tough time as the crowds began to swell just after 9am.

Many in the gathering waved the Indian tricolour and others the AAP flag. Many held large photographs of Kejriwal, who led the AAP to a thumping win in the Delhi assembly election, sweeping 67 of the 70 seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party was left hanging with just three seats. The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 long years until the December 2013 election that brought the AAP to power for the first time, was wiped out.

"This is a victory of the people," said AAP leader Dilip Pandey. "We were in a bad shape after the Lok Sabha election and we knew we had to stand up again. We were determined."

Kejriwal's earlier government, backed by the Congress, collapsed in just 49 days when he resigned. The AAP could not win any of the seven Lok Sabha seats last year.

Six ministers — Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Gopal Rai, Asim Mohammad Khan, Sandeep Kumar and Jitendra Singh Tomar — were also sworn in.

Blog: What a Delhiwalla expects from PM Narendra Modi

BJP's chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, who lost the election, earlier tweeted: "Today is the day of celebration and reflection. When both the processes are done with true responsibility and commitment, India is the real winner."

Earlier, hundreds of people gathered outside Kejriwal's Girnar Tower apartment complex at Kaushambi in nearby Ghaziabad raising slogans hailing the new Delhi chief minister and the AAP.

Besides Sisodia, party leaders Sanjay Singh, Ashish Khaitan and Kumar Vishwas reached there in the morning.

Many danced on the streets to drum beats. The police had a tough time controlling the crowd.

PM Modi won't be able to attend Kejriwal's swearing-in ceremony: Sisodia
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be able to attend Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor and Delhi chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal's oath taking ceremony on Saturday, party leader Manish Sisodia said on Thursday after a meeting with the PM.The meeting which took place at the Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Road residence lasted half an hour and was described as cordial."Unfortunately PM Modi will not be able to attend Arvind ji's oath taking ceremony," Sisodia, who accompanied Kejriwal, told reporters after the meeting with Modi.Kejriwal extended an invitation to Modi for the ceremony but the PM is scheduled to travel to Maharashtra to inaugurate the new Krishi Vigyan Kendra building in Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar's stronghold of Baramati on Saturday."We had a good talk with the PM and told him there is a full majority government at the Centre and in Delhi and this is a golden opportunity. It is an opportune time to grant full statehood to Delhi," said Sisodia.He said the PM assured them that the Centre will think on the issue of giving full statehood to Delhi.
Kejriwal's meeting with the PM comes a day after he met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and urban affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and sought full statehood for Delhi.Speaking to home minister Singh, Kejriwal also underlined the need for "constructive cooperation" between the central and the Delhi governments and noted that political differences should not come in the way of taking the city forward.Kejriwal will also invite his one-time colleague and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, who was the BJP's CM candidate in the Delhi polls. Bedi too had congratulated Kejriwal asking him to make Delhi a world-class city.The AAP won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi House on Tuesday, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed a distant second place with merely three seats. The Congress, reeling from a string of defeats since it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, did not even open its account.In the run-up to the Delhi polls, the battle for the city-state saw a fierce war of words between the PM, who added thunder to the BJP's campaign, and Kejriwal, who lost to Modi in Varanasi in the April-May general elections.But, Modi congratulated Kejriwal after the AAP's poll triumph and promised him Centre's co-operation in the development of Delhi.


Kejriwal springs cabinet surprise, drops four former ministers; Sisodia likely deputy CM
Hindustan Times, New Delhi Feb 12, 2015
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sprang a surprise on Thursday by re-appointing just two of the six ministers who were part of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government last year.Kejriwal's close aide and Patparganj MLA Manish Sisodia will feature in the new cabinet -- and he is likely to get the deputy CM's post. Sisodia was the minister for education, PWD, urban development and local bodies in 2013. He is expected to deliver a better school system.Satyendra Jain (Shakur Basti), who came into the limelight for spot checks in Delhi government hospitals in AAP’s last cabinet as the health minister, will also be retained. He has been associated with Kejriwal from the days of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption agitation.The new ministers are: Asim Ahmed (Matia Mahal), Jitendra Tomar (Trinagar), Gopal Rai (Babarpur) and Sandeep Kumar (Sultanpur). The Delhi government has the provision for six ministers.Former ministers Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Girish Soni (AAP's Dalit face) and Saurabh Bhardwaj were given the sack.A controversial figure, Bharti ran into trouble in January last year after conducting a raid on an alleged 'sex and drug racket' in south Delhi. The episode snowballed into a major controversy, triggering a tug of war between the AAP and Delhi Police. Birla was also a controversial face when the party was in power last time.Ram Niwas Goel (Shahdara) will be the assembly Speaker in the 70-member House, while Bandana Kumari (Shalimar Bagh) will be the deputy Speaker.Chief minister-designate Kejriwal will take oath at Ramlila Maidan — which was witness to his swearing-in ceremony last year as well, when his AAP supported by the Congress had formed a government that lasted for 49 days.The AAP won 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi House on Tuesday, while the Bharatiya Janata Party managed a distant second place with merely three seats. The Congress, reeling from a string of defeats since it was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, did not even open its account.


Bihar crisis: Nitish camp submits letter of support to guv, but Manjhi says his 'boat never sinks'
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Patna Feb 08, 2015
Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday evening, a day after Janata Dal (United) MLAs elected Nitish Kumar as the leader of the legislature party.

The ongoing political crisis in Bihar may feature in the talks between the two leaders expected to be held around 5pm. Manjhi is in Delhi to attend a meeting of the newly formed NITI Aayog.

Amid speculations over his political career, the Bihar CM, however, put up a brave face. "Manjhi ki nao kabhi nahin dubti hain (Manjhi's boat never sinks)," he said, playing with his surname Manjhi (which means sailor). But he declined to make any further comment.

Sources close to Manjhi, who has refused to step down from his post in the face of a power tussle, said he wanted the BJP to support his case against Nitish, his one-time mentor.

Meanwhile, clearing the decks for the formation of a government under the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar, a delegation of leaders from the JD(U) and other allies submitted letters of support to the governor's office.

"We went to the Raj Bhawan and submitted letters of support of 130 MLAs, including those from RJD, Congress, CPI and independent MLA Dulalchand Goswami, in favour of the newly elected JD(U) legislator party leader Nitish Kumar," state JD(U) president Bashistha Narayan Singh said.

Grappling with the crisis within, JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said, "The fact is BJP president Amit Shah is working overtime to engineer a split in our party, like he is doing with TMC."

The Manjhi camp in Bihar said on Saturday that it could go with the BJP to retain control of the government, if needed.

"We are clear on this. If the BJP is ready to support us, we will take its support," said Narendra Singh, the senior-most minister in the camp.

In Delhi, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah discussed the developments in Bihar after Manjhi recommended the dissolution of the state assembly and the JD (U) hit back by sacking him as the legislature party leader.

Shah also met Bihar's former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and held discussions with him and other leaders from the state.

Although the BJP is keen to exploit the crisis within the JD(U) to consolidate its position in Bihar, it is also wary about propping up Manjhi, whose tenure has been criticised by its state unit for poor governance.

The lack of support for the Mahadalit leader within his own party may dissuade the BJP from coming out openly to back Manjhi as it believes that numbers in the Bihar assembly clearly favour Nitish.

The fault lines in the ruling JD(U) in Bihar widened after Manjhi sacked 15 ministers opposed to him late on Saturday evening, just before leaving for Delhi. Earlier, he had shown the door to two pro-Nitish ministers.

The bitter power tussle between Manjhi and his mentor Nitish has split the party wide open with just months to go for polls.

Manhji's recommendation for dissolution of the assembly was ostensibly aimed at cutting off the route for Nitish's return as the CM, a post he had relinquished after the party's trouncing in the Lok Sabha polls last year.

"The entire party supported Manjhi when we decided to make him the chief minister but the people of Bihar are upset with the way he has been functioning," Nitish told party workers after the legislature party meet convened by national president Sharad Yadav.

Nitish later said he would stake claim to form the government before governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and parade 130 legislators, if required. The JD(U) has 115 MLAs in the assembly, though only 97 attended the legislature party meeting.

The fast-paced developments landed Bihar back in a stalemate with the spotlight focused on the governor, who would have to decide between Manjhi's recommendations or accept the pro-Nitish lobby's claim to form the government.

"The governor has wide discretionary powers. I will examine all the aspects and situations before I prepare an opinion to forward to the governor in this regard," said YV Giri, the advisor to the governor.


Bedi 'confident', Kejriwal slams 'liquor bribe', Maken predicts 'surprise': Here's who said what
Times, New Delhi,pdated: Feb 07 As voting picked up in Delhi on Saturday morning, leaders from different political parties traded charges as the high-voltage fight for the national capital intensified.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which appears favourite after opinion poll predictions, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both exuded confidence about a victory.In his signature style, the former Delhi chief minister turned the heat on his rivals as he came out to vote."Last night liquor and money was distributed. People of Delhi know which party did this… Don't vote for them," Kejriwal said without naming any party."People want freedom from corruption, bribery and I am hopeful they will vote accordingly."Striking a positive note, Kejriwal said, ""I am confident that AAP will win the elections and form government in Delhi."Kejriwal is seeking re-election from the prestigious New Delhi constituency where he had handed down a crushing defeat"I am confident that truth will win, people will win. And the people will vote this time to get rid of corruption and inflation," he said.The BJP's chief ministerial candidate cast her vote at a polling booth in Uday Park, south Delhi, and asked people to opt for "clean, literate and safe Delhi"."Today is a historic day for Delhiites. It's the day for them to decide what type of Delhi they want," Bedi said."I am confident… looking forward to a new Delhi. I will work till the end. We have to make Delhi a world-class city."Turning the tables on the AAP, she alleged the rookie party's supporters were threatening people against voting for the BJP in Krishna Nagar, Bedi's constituency and a saffron party stronghold.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan cast his ballot along with his mother in Krishna Nagar and said he was "confident of BJP's win" in the Delhi assembly election.Vardhan, who was BJP's chief ministerial candidate in thre last assembly election, said that it would be a "historic win for the BJP".On being asked about pre-poll surveys showing the AAP has an edge, Vardhan said: "We have not seen that in reality. I am 100% confident that the BJP will win, and I don't want to comment on these poll surveys till the results come out."Nupur Sharma, BJP candidate from the New Delhi constituency who is fighting against Kejriwal, said she was also "confident of the BJP's victory ".Despite the Delhi elections being considered a straight fight between the BJP and the AAP, Congress campaign chief Ajay Maken said, "The Congress can deliver on its promises in Delhi.""I am very hopeful that Congress is going to do exceedingly well and we are going to form government on our own. People are in for a big shock and surprise on February 10 (the result day)," he told reporters as he showed his inked finger at a Rajouri Garden polling booth."We have confined ourselves in raising real issues. Unlike other parties, we have not resorted to petty politics.""Delhi being a Union Territory has multiplicity of authority and complex and administrative issues unlike other states. We need set of people and a chief minister who can wade through these issues and provide good governance," the Congress leader said.The former Delhi chief minister told reporters that leaders were talking less about programmes mentioned in their manifestos."No, it may be your perception (regarding the Congress being in the election race) but the time has changed ... and the Congress is very much in the race," she added.Vice president Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, AAP's Kejriwal, BJP's Bedi and Union minister Vardhan were among the early voters. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who cast his vote at a polling booth on Aurangzeb lane, refused to speak to reporters.More than 12,000 polling stations, of which 714 have been identified as "critical" and 191 "highly critical" have been set up across the Capital. Over 64,000 police personnel had been deployed across the city to ensure free and fair polls. As many as 673 candidates are in the fray.Political parties are desperate for a clear verdict, pleading with voters with slogans like 'Poorn Bahumat (absolute majority)', 'Sthir Sarkar (stable government)', 'Chalo chale Modi ke sath (Let's go with Modi)' and Paanch Sal Kejriwal (Five years for Kejriwal)'.It has been a hard-fought campaign, a year after the Kejirwal-led government hastened the flashpoint on Jan Lokpal Bill and abandoned the people's verdict.


Meet Subrata Roy's bailer: Stole database, allegedly forged loan papers
New York/Mumbai Feb 05, 2015
Subrata Roy, the boss of the Sahara conglomerate, is in Tihar jail on contempt-of-court charges and needs to post $1.6 billion in bail to get out. To help raise the money, Sahara is in talks to refinance its overseas hotels, including New York's Plaza.
The only problem: It's unclear if the man who's orchestrating the deal, a 34-year-old former broker named Saransh Sharma, has the money to pull it off.Sahara's head of corporate finance, Sandeep Wadhwa, said Sahara's lawyers had verified with Bank of America that Sharma has deposited just over $1 billion in an account at the bank that is "earmarked for the said transaction." That account, however, doesn't appear to exist. A manager at the bank told Reuters that he didn't write a crucial document attributed to him: an email, sent in his name to Sahara, which purported to verify the account's existence. After Reuters asked the bank to look into the account, spokesperson Jumana Bauwens issued a statement saying: "Bank of America isn't involved in the transaction."What's more, Sharma, who lives in San Jose, California, has admitted to stealing a database from a former employer. There are also two pending lawsuits against him alleging he forged a letter and produced fake documents to obtain a loan.Bank of America's assertion that it has nothing to do with the deal, as well as details about Sharma's past, could throw a wrench into Sahara's efforts to free Roy in a case that has made headlines in India for almost a year. Roy is being held at Tihar jail on contempt charges for failing to comply with a court order to repay investors in a bond scheme later ruled to be illegal. The bail amount reflects the cost of the illegal scheme, estimated by Indian regulators to be as much as $7 billion.A lawyer working for Sahara, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the company's lawyers had not separately checked with Bank of America to see whether Sharma had a billion-dollar account with the bank. Instead, the lawyer said, Sahara relied on a letter from the bank saying the funds were there. Sahara declined to comment on the lawyer's assertion.Sharma told Reuters he is backed by a group of US and UK investors for the refinancing and that the funds in the account have come from them. Both he and Sahara declined to identify the investors.Sharma, who spoke with Reuters on January 23 and sent a subsequent email on January 28, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that Mirach had faced "a number of challenges in closing this transaction" and that he wouldn't disclose "sensitive details" about the deal until it closes. Under the proposed deal, which Sharma said he reached with Sahara in December, Sharma's investor group would help pay off about $880 million of a Bank of China loan for the hotels. Besides the Plaza, which Sahara bought for about $570 million in 2012, the properties also include the Dream Hotel in downtown New York and the Grosvenor House in London.
Sharma and the investor group also agreed to lend $650 million to Sahara and make a $450 million investment in the conglomerate's properties. Sahara and Sharma have said they expect to finalize the deal by February 20. It is unclear how paying off the Bank of China loan, or obtaining the loan and investment, would help Sahara pay Roy's bail and refund money to the bond investors.Sahara's businesses range from financial services to media, retail and real estate. The company used to sponsor the Indian cricket team, which helped to make it a household name in the country. During his heyday, Roy, 66, socialized with presidents and film stars. Seen as a maverick among business elite, his self-appointed title is "Managing Worker," and he's known in the company as "Saharasri," or "Mr. Sahara."Sahara's troubles started in 2011 when it was found by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), to have illegally sold billions of dollars of bonds to investors. After a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, Sahara was ordered to refund investors the money. The Supreme Court threw Roy in jail last March after he failed to appear at a contempt hearing related to the dispute with the regulator and set his $1.6 billion bail. Sahara has said that it has repaid most investors, a claim Sebi has disputed. Since Roy's imprisonment, Sahara has been trying to raise cash. It has been reporting its progress to the court and regulators, and needs approvals from them to do these transactions.Sahara told the Supreme Court last month that it is in talks with Mirach Capital, the company Sharma set up to do the deal with Sahara. Sahara has shown the court a January 5 letter from Bank of America, saying it is holding $1.05 billion in funds in an account on behalf of Mirach Capital for Sahara, according to a court filing. Sahara and Sharma declined to show Reuters a copy of the letter.Reuters has seen an email, dated December 17, sent in the name of Nuno Marques, a Bank of America banking center manager in Wellington, Florida, to Sahara finance executive Wadhwa. In the email, the writer attests that Mirach "has sufficient liquidity with Bank of America to undertake the said transactions" with Sahara. The email does not specify the amount of funds Mirach has, but says the money would be put into escrow after anti-money laundering-related checks.Marques, contacted by Reuters for comment on February 3 at his office in Florida, denied having written the December 17 e-mail. He said he had been called by another Bank of America employee to verify whether there were Mirach Capital funds on deposit and that he told her he couldn't do so.Sahara declined to comment further, saying it was bound by "strict confidentiality provisions" as part of the talks with Mirach. Shekhar Naphade, an independent lawyer advising the Supreme Court on the case against Roy, said he had "no concrete details about the Bank of America escrow account" beyond the letter submitted by Sahara. Naphade said he didn't have the means to independently verify the claim made by Sharma about the bank account.Sources familiar with the Reserve Bank of India's investigations into Sahara said the regulator had not received a request from the Supreme Court to probe whether the money is in the Bank of America account, but was making some initial checks of its own.Sources familiar with Sebi said if the hotel deal does not go through, government officials would seize and sell Sahara assets, including its hotels and properties, to raise cash.Sharma has spent the past decade working on and off for small independent brokerages in the United States, a Reuters review of US regulatory filings shows. In 2013, Sharma sued a US hedge fund for alleged breach of contract. In a December 15, 2013, deposition in a New York federal civil court case, Sharma admitted to fabricating an email; to selling for $10,000 a database of contacts he stole from a previous employer, the investment bank AllianceBernstein; and to lying about the sources of funds he had obtained. A spokesperson for AllianceBernstein declined to comment. Sharma's case was dismissed. Sharma confirmed his statements made in the deposition, but said he had learned from his past mistakes A lawsuit filed by private equity firm Disruptive Technology Associates in August 2013 alleges Sharma forged a letter from the Bank of the West, saying that he had $400,000 in an account with the San Francisco based lender. A spokesperson for Bank of the West declined to comment. Another lawsuit filed by hedge fund Midwest Energy Resources in November 2013 alleges that he produced fake documents showing he owned pre-IPO shares in Twitter Inc that he planned to use as collateral for a loan. Sharma denies that allegation.Sharma said the lawsuits have no bearing on the Sahara talks and that the suits were filed by people who are after his family's money. He told Reuters his family lived in Oman where his father was a doctor for the royal family.
Sharma said that he first connected Sahara's Wadhwa through business networking site LinkedIn. A Sahara spokesperson confirmed on Wadhwa's behalf that Sharma had first approached the Sahara executive through LinkedIn.
Sharma told Reuters that he would bear the transaction costs for the deal and get a finder's fee, but is not investing in the deal. He said he was working with Paul Hastings lawyer Rick Kirkbride on the transaction.


At least 11 dead as Taiwan plane cartwheels into river on take-off
Taipei, Taiwan | Feb 04, 2015

At least 11 people were killed and up to 19 were missing after a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways plane with 58 passengers and crew on board crashed into a river shortly after taking off from a downtown Taipei airport on Wednesday, officials said.
As many as 28 people however appeared to have escaped miraculously from the crash after the plane lurched sickeningly between buildings, clipped an overpass with its port-side wing and crashed upside down in the shallow river.
Dramatic pictures taken by a motorist and posted on Twitter showed the plane cartwheeling over the motorway soon after the turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in apparently clear weather on a domestic flight for the island of Kinmen.
Television footage showed survivors wearing life jackets wading and swimming clear of wreckage. Others, including a young child, were taken to shore by rescuers.
Emergency rescue officials in inflatable boats crowded around the partially submerged fuselage of flight GE235, lying on its side in the river, trying to help those on board.
Taiwan's fire department classified 10 of the passengers as showing "no sign of life" and one killed. Twenty-eight people had been rescued, it said in a text message, leaving 19 still unaccounted for.
Other Taiwanese government authorities said the plane was carrying 58 passengers and crew, including 31 tourists from mainland China.
The plane appeared to miss apartment buildings by metres. Footage showed a van skidding to a halt on the damaged overpass after barely missing the plane's wing, with small pieces of the aircraft scattered along the road.
The chief executive of TransAsia, Chen Xinde, bowed deeply at a televised news conference as he apologised to passengers and crew.
'Mayday Mayday'
The last communication from one of the aircraft's pilots was "Mayday Mayday engine flameout", according to an air traffic control recording on
A flameout occurs when the fuel supply to the engine is interrupted or when there is faulty combustion, resulting in an engine failure. Twin-engined aircraft, however, are usually able to keep flying even when one engine has failed.
Taipei's downtown Songshan airport, the smaller of the city's two airports, provides mostly domestic flights but also connections to Japan, China and South Korea.
A statement from China's Taiwan Affairs Office said 31 one of those on board were tourists from the southeastern city of Xiamen, which lies close to Taiwan's Kinmen island.
The crash is the latest in a string of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the past 12 months. An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore crashed soon after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board.
Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared and one of its sister planes was downed over Ukraine with a combined loss of 539 lives.
TransAsia is Taiwan's third-largest carrier. One of its ATR 72-500 planes crashed while trying to land at Penghu Island last July, killing 48 of the 58 passengers and crew on board.
Taiwan has had a poor aviation safety record in recent years, including the disintegration of a China Airlines 747 on a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong in 2002, killing 225. In 1998, a China Airlines A300 crashed while trying to land at Taipei's main international airport, killing 196.
In 2000, a Singapore Airlines jetliner taking off for Los Angeles during a storm hit construction equipment on the runway, killing at least 77 people.
The plane involved in Wednesday's mishap was among the first of the ATR 72-600s, the latest variant of the turboprop aircraft, that TransAsia received in 2014 as part of an order of eight aircraft two years earlier.
The 72-seat aircraft are mainly used to connect the capital, Taipei, with smaller cities and islands.
ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italy's Finmeccanica.

AAP leads last leg of Delhi polls, HT survey finds Arvind Kejriwal most-preferred as Delhi CM
Hindustan Times, New Delhi Feb 03, 2015: e Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has taken a decisive lead of nine seats over the BJP, a latest Hindustan Times-C fore survey predicts four days before Delhi votes to have an elected government after a year of President’s Rule. The Bedi induction seems to have caused only a minor spike in the BJP’s overall declining trend; if things get worse, the Kiran tactic will have backfired on the BJP. The survey, conducted between January 27 and February 1, projects 36-41 seats for the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, and 27-32 seats for the BJP, with the Congress seen sliding to between 2 and 7 seats. The AAP is also ahead of the BJP by three percentage points in terms of vote share. Pollsters interviewed a total 3,578 voters across Delhi, roughly half of them women. Delhi votes on February 7, but the results will only be known three days later. BJP’s Bedi, her associate-turned rival Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP and Congress’s Ajay Maken have been chosen by their parties to lead them in the prestigious battle for the capital. In the last leg of the campaign, the BJP has decided to get aggressive with rallies by PM Narendra Modi. Having released their manifesto, AAP leaders, including Kejriwal, are also holding back-to-back public meetings.Bedi’s campaigning seems to have backfired for the BJP as a previous round of HT-C fore survey (conducted between January 24 and 27) gave 31-36 seats to both parties. In the 70-member assembly, with 36 being the simple majority mark, BJP, AAP and Congress had won 32, 28 and 8 seats respectively in 2013 elections. This resulted in the installation of a brief, minority AAP government with Congress' support.Former chief minister Kejriwal is the preferred choice for the post of chief minister with 46% people backing him, followed by Bedi (37%) and Maken (9%). Between the two surveys, Kejriwal’s popularity has gone up by three percentage points. It’s a two percentage-point loss for Bedi. The AAP is also seen doing better than the BJP in terms of its support across class, gender and age divides. The latest survey shows AAP vote share is going up by 11 percentage points while it’s only 4 for the BJP and loss of 10 percentage points for Congress compared to the 2013 elections. In 2013, the BJP’s vote share was 33% followed by the AAP’s 29.4% and Congress’s 24.5%. The AAP is ahead of the BJP by two percentage points in terms of support from male voters, the lead is of 6 percentage points as for support from female voters.Fifty-nine per cent of those with incomes of more than Rs 3 lakh per year said they would vote for BJP, while AAP has support from only 25% voters from this group. In case of those earning less than Rs 1 lakh per year, the AAP is ahead of BJP by 43 percentage points. Even in case of those earning between Rs 1-2 lakh per year, the Kejriwal-led party is decisively ahead.Forty-two per cent of those above 50 years of age support the AAP, while only 39% from this group favour the BJP. In the age groups of 18-25 and 26-35, the AAP is leading by 7 and 5 percentage points, respectively.



Church in Delhi's Vasant Kunj area vandalized
NEW DELHI: Feb 2, 2015 A church in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area was found vandalized on Monday morning. Police have recovered the CCTV footages from the church which shows two of the three miscreants who had entered the church. According to an official from the St Alphonsa Church, the miscrients had removed the ciborium and emptied it onto a table. The men had entered the church by climbing over the boundary wall at around 3am. The men were also seen punching at a glass pane which houses an idol. Police said that efforts are being made to identify the accused.


Japan outraged as video purportedly shows hostage beheaded
Feb 1, 2015, TOKYO: Japan condemned with outrage and horror on Sunday, after an online video that purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. The video posted on militant websites late Saturday Middle East time ended days of negotiations to save Goto, a 47-year-old journalist, and heightened fears for the life of a Jordanian fighter pilot also held hostage. "I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting. "When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless," he said. "The government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regret."Abe vowed that Japan will not give in to terrorism and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to countries fighting the Islamic State extremists. The defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said that a report from the foreign affairs chief of Japan's police agency deemed the video "highly likely to be authentic." Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at his official residence in Tokyo February 1, 2015 after Islamic State militants released a video on Saturday which purported to show the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. (Reuters photo) The country was mourning a man who according to friends and family braved hardship and peril to convey through his work the plight of refugees, children and other victims of war and poverty. "Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. Facing such a tragic death, I'm just speechless," Goto's mother Junko Ishido told reporters. "I was hoping Keji might be able to come home," said Goto's brother, Junichi Goto. "I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that's impossible, and I'm bitterly disappointed." Ishido earlier told NHK TV her son's death showed he was a kind, gentle man, trying to save another hostage. That hostage, Haruna Yukawa, was shown as purportedly killed in an earlier video. The White House released a statement in which President Barack Obama also condemned "the heinous murder" and praised Goto's reporting, saying he "courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world." The White House said that while it isn't confirming the authenticity of the video itself, it has confirmed that Goto has been slain. The militants linked the fates of Goto and the Jordanian pilot, Lt Muath Kaseasbeh, but Saturday's video did not mention the airman. Jordan's government spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, declined comment. Earlier this week, Jordan offered to free an al-Qaida prisoner for the pilot, but demanded and said it never got proof he was still alive.READ ALSO: Abe angered at hostage video, says Japan won't bow to terrorism Late Saturday night, relatives and supporters of the pilot held a candlelit vigil inside a family home in Karak, al-Kaseasbeh's hometown in southern Jordan. We "decided to hold this protest to remind the Jordanian government of the issue of the imprisoned pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh," said the pilot's brother Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, holding picture of Muath with a caption: "We are all Muath."
"We want to know how the negotiations are going ... in a positive direction or not. And we want the family to be (involved) in the course of negotiations," he said. Saturday's video, highlighted by militant sympathizers on social media sites, bore the symbol of the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm. Though it could not be immediately independently verified by The Associated Press, it conformed to other beheading videos released by the extremists, who now control about a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq in a self-declared caliphate. The video, called "A Message to the Government of Japan," shows a man who looks and sounds like a militant with a British accent shown in other beheading videos by the Islamic State group. Goto, kneeling in an orange prison jumpsuit, said nothing in the roughly one-minute-long video. "Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin," the man says. In Tokyo, Goto's friend Hiromasa Nakai said he was still hoping against hope that the video was not authentic. "I only can say I'm hoping this is not true," he said.Goto was captured after he traveled to Syria in October to try to rescue Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer, from the Islamic State group. The Jordanian pilot was captured after his fighter plane went down in December over an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria. Earlier this week, Jordan offered to release an al-Qaida prisoner for the pilot. However, in a purported online message earlier this week, the militants threatened to kill the pilot if the prisoner wasn't released by Thursday. That deadline passed, and the families of the pilot and the journalist were left waiting in agony.Late Friday, Japan's deputy foreign minister reported a deadlock in efforts to free Goto. Jordan and Japan had reportedly conducted indirect negotiations with the militants through Iraqi tribal leaders. The hostage drama began last week when the militants threatened to kill Goto and Yukawa in 72 hours unless Japan paid $200 million. Later, the militants' demand shifted to seeking the release of the al-Qaida prisoner, Sajijda al-Rishawi, 44, who faces death by hanging in Jordan for her role in triple hotel bombings in Amman in 2005. Sixty people were killed in those attacks, the worst terror attack in Jordan's history. Al-Rishawi has close family ties to the Iraq branch of al-Qaida, a precursor of the Islamic State group.


AAP releases manifesto, says will turn Delhi into global city
Hindustan Times, Delhi Jan 31, 2015
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday released its manifesto for upcoming Delhi assembly elections and promised the voters to make Delhi a better city. "We kept our promises during our 49-day government and will keep all our promises," party chief Arvind Kejriwal said."We want a Delhi in which all classes of people progress and take pride in the national capital of the nation," Kejriwal added.He added that his party's manifesto has been created in consultation with experts and addresses the problems aspirations of every section and class of the Capital.The AAP resolved to legislate the Delhi jan lokpal bill after coming to power and said it will work to give full statehood to Delhi.The AAP chief attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party saying the party at the Centre has not kept any promises and also slammed its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi.The AAP's manifesto comes at a time when the BJP has decided to come up with a ‘vision document’ instead of releasing a proper manifesto.
For this election, the AAP had repackaged its trademark ‘mohalla sabhas’ into Delhi Dialogue, moving from crowd-sourcing constituency-wise manifestos to drawing up a broader vision for the whole of Delhi.Some of the promises made though the Delhi Dialogues, include 8 lakh new jobs, 30,000 beds in hospitals, 20 new colleges, education loans to all needy students, CCTVs and WiFi in public areas, slashing electricity bills by half and free lifeline water.The party claims to have interacted with professionals, housewives, students, youth, women, people from villages, industrialists, people from JJ clusters and from unauthorised colonies to identify issues and in turn come up with solutions.


CBI working to fix me, it is trying to please RSS: DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran
Hindustan Times, Chennai: Jan 22, 2015

Former Union telecom minister and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday hit out at the CBI, charging it with attempts to implicate him by trying to cook up evidence.Alleging the Central Bureau of Investigation was only trying to please a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue in Chennai by targeting him, Maran told reporters that the investigations into the telephone exchange case against him were on for eight years and there was not a shred of evidence against him.
Maran was reacting after the CBI arrested three people, including his then additional private secretary of Maran V Gauthaman, on Wednesday night in connection with alleged allotment of more than 300 high-speed telephone lines to the then telecom minister's residence in Chennai which were extended to his brother's Sun TV channel.Besides Gauthaman, CBI arrested chief technical officer S Kannan and electrician LS Ravi of Sun TV network.The CBI is now putting pressure against the Sun TV employees and Gauthaman forcing them to go against him, Maran said."The CBI is using third degree methods on the arrested persons, who have all along been cooperating with the CBI here in Chennai and in Delhi. These persons were called to Delhi 10 times and cooperated completely with the investigating agency," Maran said.Charging the central government with misusing the CBI, Maran said he would write to the National Human Rights Commission and also the CBI director to record his complaint."I should be given a fair chance to tell the truth," said Maran at a brief interaction with the media outside the residence of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at Gopalapuram.Maran had rushed to meet Karunanidhi hours after the CBI arrested the three persons to explain the situation to his party boss."I have done nothing wrong. All the call records are there and also the billing is all metered. These cannot be altered by anyone," Maran said and added that he had got the facilities of telephones just as any other telecommunication minister.The case against him was foisted during the UPA regime he said, hinting at a senior Congress leader as being responsible for that."Another intellectual from Tamil Nadu" was how he described the senior politician responsible for the case against him.The probe agency said the three people have been arrested to "collect some crucial evidence" which may come up during their questioning and added that they would be produced before a designated court in Chennai on Thursday.The CBI has named Maran and BSNL officials, including the then chief general manager K Bramhanathan and MP Veluswami in the FIR filed in October 2013 following a preliminary inquiry in which the agency claimed to have found enough material to proceed with a regular case against the former minister.The probe agency said nearly 323 residential lines were allegedly in the name of the BSNL general manager connecting the Boat House residence of Maran with the office of Sun TV through a dedicated underground cable during his tenure as telecom minister.
The probe had started in 2011, nearly four years after getting complaints that a 'virtual' telephone exchange was allegedly set-up at Maran's house for facilitating data transfer from Sun TV.The agency had recommended action to the then telecom secretary in 2007 but the department allegedly did not give its nod in the case, PTI cited unnamed sources in CBI as saying. It filed a preliminary inquiry in the case in 2011, they told PTI.The sources said these lines were not ordinary telephone lines but expensive ISDN, capable of carrying huge data thus facilitating faster transmission of TV news and programmes across the globe.The CBI had in its report to the telecom secretary alleged these lines were for use of large commercial enterprises to meet special needs such as video conferencing or transmission of huge volume of digital data for which heavy fee is charged but Sun TV got it for free.


Three burnt to death as mob torches houses in Bihar village, CM Manjhi orders probe
Hindustan Times, Muzaffarpur
At least three persons were burnt to death after a mob set on fire around a dozen houses at Bahilwada Bhuwal village in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district on Sunday following the recovery of a youth's body.The body of 19-year-old Bhartendu Kumar was found near the house of one Vikki, who is the main accused in the abduction and murder case, a police officer said. The boy had gone missing around 10 days ago.Atul Prasad, a Bihar state administrator, said a minority community was blamed for the killing of the boy who was friendly with a Muslim girl from the village, 105km north of Patna.Family members of Bhartendu had lodged an FIR with Saraiya police station, alleging that the boy had been kidnapped by relatives of the girl.As soon as the news spread, a mob gathered near Vikki's residence and torched it along with other houses, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said.The situation took an ugly turn when a group, angry with the news about Bhartendu’s death, attacked the house of the accused. “Following retaliation, the attackers went on the rampage and set 10 houses belonging to another group on fire. Around 15 vehicles were also gutted,” said a villager.The bodies were yet to be identified as all three were charred beyond recognition.District magistrate Anupam Kumar and SSP Mishra rushed to the village with heavy reinforcements to bring the situation under control.“We have to work hard to control the situation. We have talked with responsible persons from both the groups and requested them to maintain restraint,” said SSP Mishra.He said that suitable lawfulful action would be initiated against the people responsible for the incident. “No one will be spared if found guilty. We are verifying the facts and responsible persons would be identified after reviewing the video footage of the incident,” he said, adding that some anti-socials were trying to disrupt social harmony.Speaking to HT, additional director general of police (ADG, headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey said the incident was prima facie triggered by a love affair.According to reports, 14 people were arrested in connection with the clashes. Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi ordered a high-level inquiry into the clash and the subsequent arson. He also announced Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to the nearest of the kin of the deceased.


Deepika Padukone on suffering from depression: It was a struggle to wake up
Mumbai, January 15, 2015

In early 2014, while I was being appreciated for my work, one morning, I woke up feeling different. A day earlier, I had fainted due to exhaustion; it was all downhill from there. I felt a strange emptiness in my stomach. I thought it was stress, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on work, and surrounding myself with people, which helped for a while. But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. My breath was shallow, I suffered from lack of concentration and I broke down often. Over a period of time, it got worse. When my parents visited, I would put up a brave front because they were worried about me living alone and working long hours. Then, once, while talking to my mother (Ujjala Padukone), I broke down. She realised the problem, and got in touch with a psychologist friend, Anna Chandy, to get to the root of the cause. Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up, and shoot for Happy New Year’s (HNY; 2014) climax. Finally, I had a word with Anna aunty. She flew to Mumbai from Bengaluru, and I talked my heart out to her. She concluded that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. When she suggested I take medication, I was resistant. I thought talking was enough. Later, I met another psychologist, Dr Shyam Bhatt, in Bengaluru for a second opinion. There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings. Finally, I accepted my condition. The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then, I took medication, and today I am much better. Most of HNY was shot through this phase. But before starting my next with Shoojit Sircar, I took a two-month break to recover mentally and physically. I spent time with my family in Bengaluru and was soon better. But, when I returned to Mumbai, I heard about a friend committing suicide due to anxiety and depression. It was a huge blow. My personal experience as well as my friend’s death urged me to take up this issue, which isn’t usually talked about. There is shame and stigma attached to talking about depression. In fact, one in every four people suffer from anxiety and depression. The World Health Organisation has stated that this will be the most widespread epidemic in the next few years. We talk about all kinds of aliments, but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. Nothing, including life, makes sense to people suffering from it. Overcoming it has made me a stronger person and I now value my life much more. Accepting it and speaking about it has liberated me. I have stopped taking medication, and I hope my example will help people reach out for help. I feel that at times, the patient just wants to talk, and isn’t seeking advice. But, well-wishers saying things like, ‘Don’t worry, it will all be alright,’ might be detrimental. Being sad and being depressed are two different things. Also, people going through depression don’t look so, while someone sad will look sad. The most common reaction is, ‘How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies… What else do you want?’ It’s not about what you have or don’t have. People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding. I am now working on an initiative to create awareness about anxiety and depression, and help people. My team is working with me to formulate a plan, which will be unveiled soon.- See more at:


Charlie Hebdo's new edition with Prophet cover irks Muslim groups
Paris, January 14, 2015
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo returns to newsstands with a record run on Wednesday, but its first edition since Islamist gunmen massacred its staff has already drawn ire from Muslim groups.Frenchman held in Bulgaria allegedly linked to Paris attackers The front cover shows a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign that says "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"), the slogan taken up by millions of supporters around the world after 12 people were gunned down in an attack on the magazine's Paris offices. A man holds a placard reading 'Freedom of the press is priceless, fundamentalism, of any kind, will not pass' as others hold up placards reading in French, 'I am Charlie' during a gathering at the Place de la Republique (Republic square) in Paris, on January 7, 2015. AFP Photo France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, was shaken to the core last week when jihadists took to Paris's streets in an Islamist killing spree that left 17 people dead in the country's bloodiest week in decades. Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday declared a "war against terrorism" and a packed parliament sang a stirring rendition of the national "Marseillaise" anthem, a first since the end of World War I. President Francois Hollande earlier led a solemn ceremony paying tribute to the three police officers who lost their lives in the attacks, while in Israel thousands turned out to mourn the four Jews killed during a siege in a kosher supermarket. "Our great and beautiful France will never break, will never yield, never bend" in the face of the Islamist threat that is "still there, inside and outside" the country, Hollande told weeping families and uniformed colleagues of the victims.
Controversial weekly Charlie Hebdo, which lampoons everyone from the president to the pope, has become a symbol of freedom of expression in the wake of the bloodshed. The magazine is planning to print up to three million copies of its "survivors' issue" -- profit from which will go to victims' families -- far more than its usual 60,000 and a historic record for a French publication. "Our Mohammed is, above all, just a guy who is crying," said cartoonist Renald Luzier, known as Luz, who designed the new front cover. "He is much nicer than the one followed by the gunmen." French President Francois Hollande, center, flanked with security forces gestures, as he arrives outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AP Photo) French and Italian versions will be printed, while translations in English, Spanish and Arabic will be offered in electronic form, editor-in-chief Gerard Biard said. A Turkish version will also be published as an inset in the centre-left opposition daily Cumhuriyet, one of the Turkish paper's journalists said, in what Biard described as "the most important" of all the foreign editions. But the cartoon has already drawn ire from Muslim groups, who warned that it could inflame tensions among those who believe the depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious centre of learning, warned that new cartoons would only serve to "stir up hatred". The drawings "do not serve the peaceful coexistence between peoples and hinders the integration of Muslims into European and Western societies," the Cairo-based body's Islamic research centre said in a statement. Egypt's state-sponsored Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, said the cover was "an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims".French Muslim groups also urged their communities -- which have already been targeted -- to "stay calm and avoid emotive reactions" to the cartoon. A man holds a placard reading "freedom of expression" during a rally in support of the victims of terrorist attack on French satyrical newspaper Charlie Hebdo at the Place de la Republique in Paris, on January 7, 2015. (AFP Photo) France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in a speech that drew several standing ovations, called for the country to pull together after the attack, arguing that "France is at war against terrorism, jihadism, radicalism... (not) Islam and Muslims". "I don't want Jews in this country to be scared, or Muslims to be ashamed" of their faith, he added, calling for France's intelligence capabilities and anti-terrorism laws to be strengthened and "clear failings" addressed. Questions have risen over how supermarket killer Amedy Coulibaly and the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi -- who were known to French intelligence had been on a US terror watch list "for years" -- had slipped through the cracks. Underlining the ongoing threat, France's biggest satirical weekly, "Le Canard Enchaine", said it received a death threat the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. The outpouring of shock and grief that has united France and saw some four million people march across the country on Sunday, continued Tuesday as several victims were buried. At the main police headquarters in Paris, a grim-faced Hollande laid the country's highest decoration, the Legion d'Honneur, on the coffins of the three fallen police officers draped in the Tricolore. Two were killed during the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the policewoman was gunned down by Coulibaly the next day at the scene of a car accident in which he was involved. Many believe he was on his way to attack a Jewish school nearby. About 30,000 people take part in a unity rally (Marche Republicaine) on January 11, 2015 in the western French port of Brest in tribute to the victims of the three-day killing spree that ended on January 9, 2015. (AFP Photo) German President Joachim Gauck told his country's Muslim community Tuesday that "we are all Germany" at a rally by 10,000 people to condemn the Paris jihadist attacks and take a stand against rising Islamophobia. European Union counter-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove told AFP that jails had become "massive incubators" of radicalisation and there was no way to fully shield against such attacks. Coulibaly, a repeat offender, met Cherif Kouachi in prison where they both fell under the spell of a renowned jihadist. While the Kouachis have been linked to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Coulibaly claimed to have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. To ease fears in a nation still jittery after its worst attacks in half a century, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that some 10,000 troops will be deployed to protect sensitive sites


Kerry urges Pakistan to fight all terror groups threatening region, but lauds its military
Islamabad, January 13, 2015
Pakistan must fight militant groups that threaten interests of Afghanistan, India and the United States, US secretary of state John Kerry said on Tuesday, as he voiced sympathy for the victims of the December 16 attack on a military school in Peshawar. Pakistan has long been suspected by the West of playing a double game, fighting some militants while supporting those its generals have regarded as strategic assets to be used against rivals and neighbours. Kerry, on a visit to Pakistan, said all extremists groups should be targetted equally. "Terror groups like the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e Taiba, and other groups, continue to pose a threat to Pakistan, to its neighbours, and to the United States, and we all of us have a responsibility to ensure that these groups do not gain a foothold but rather are pushed back into the recesses of (Pakistan's) memory," Kerry said in Islamabad. US secretary of state John Kerry (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Pakistan's national security advisor Sartaj Aziz at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on Tuesday. (AFP Photo) Speaking after visiting India over the weekend, Kerry added that he was deeply concerned by the recent violence on the border dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, and called on India and Pakistan to find a diplomatic solution. "We continue to be deeply concerned by the recent spate of increased violence along the working boundary and the line of control," Kerry said, referring to a ceasefire line that has become the de facto border dividing Kashmir. "It is profoundly in the interests of Pakistan and India to move this relationship forward," he said. Kerry also advised India and Pakistan to re-engage in serious dialogue. "I encourage (both) parties to have a dialogue." India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after Pakistan high commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit held discussions with Kashmiri separatists in August
However, Kerry also praised the Pakistani military's operation against militants in the country's northwest, saying the results are "significant".His comments came during a meeting in Islamabad with Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani prime minister's advisor on foreign affairs.Pakistan launched a major operation in the North Waziristan region in June. The US had long advocated for such an operation because the region had become a hub for militant groups.The current operations "in the northwest have disrupted militant activities in the tribal areas and resulted in important seizures of weapons," Kerry said. "The operation is not yet complete but already the results are significant. Pakistani soldiers and their commanders deserve enormous credit."
Kerry also announced that $250 million in previously appropriated money will be given to emergency relief efforts in the tribal areas, mainly North Waziristan. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the area due to the fighting.Kerry praised the reopening Monday of the school in Peshawar where Taliban gunmen slaughtered 150 people, mostly children, in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country. Kerry called it a testament to the resolve of the Pakistani people.The secretary arrived in Pakistan on Monday and met with Aziz as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.Pakistan has boosted operations against violent extremists in recent months. But US officials traveling with Kerry said Washington wants to ensure that there is a "real and sustained effort".Pakistan has been on edge ever since the December 16 attack that was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban as retaliation for the North Waziristan army operation. In response, Pakistan boosted operations in the rugged tribal areas, reinstituted the death penalty for terrorists and moved to try civilian terror suspects in military courts.
Aziz defended steps Pakistan had taken after the school attack, saying action was being taken against all militant groups.
Pakistan has often been accused of having a "good Taliban, bad Taliban" policy, meaning they tolerate or support some militants they find useful as proxies in Afghanistan or India and battle other militants who target the Pakistani state. Pakistani officials insist they go after all militants.Kerry also maintained that it was important not to view the US-Pakistan relationship only through the prism of counterterrorism and security. He noted that the United States has provided significant assistance to Pakistan to improve its infrastructure, including roads and power generation.Between 2009 and 2014, the US provided Pakistan with more than $4.38 billion in civilian assistance, including more than a billion in humanitarian aid.
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AirAsia flight data recorder retrieved near wrecked wing, second black box located
Jakarta, January 12, 2015
Indonesian navy divers on Monday retrieved the black box flight data recorder from an AirAsia airliner that crashed two weeks ago, killing all 162 people on board, a government official said. Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather on December 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore."At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference. Portion of the tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 is seen on the deck of a rescue ship after it was recovered from the sea floor on the Java Sea. (AP Photo) The second black box with the cockpit voice recorder has been located, based on pings from its emergency transmitter, but not yet retrieved, Madjono Siswosuwarno, the main investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee, told Reuters. Officials hope the black boxes, found near the wrecked wing of the plane, will reveal the cause of the crash. The national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely a factor. The recorders are expected to be taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis and it could take up to a month to get a complete reading of the data. Officials did not provide details of the condition of the black boxes.
The download is easy, probably one day. But the reading is more difficult ... could take two weeks to one month," Siswosuwarno said. Over the weekend, three vessels detected "pings" that were believed to be from the black boxes, but strong winds, powerful currents and high waves hampered search efforts. Dozens of Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer weather in the Java Sea on Monday to retrieve the flight recorder and search for the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200.
Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and searchers believe more will be found in the plane's fuselage.
Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.
"All the ships, including the ships from our friends, will be deployed with the main task of searching for bodies that are still or suspected to still be trapped underwater," Soelistyo said, referring the multinational force helping with the search and recovery effort. Indonesia AirAsia, 49% owned by the Malaysia-based AirAsia budget group, has come under pressure from authorities in Jakarta since the crash.
Officials investigating the wreckage of AirAsia QZ8501 that crashed into the Java Sea. (AP Photo)
The transport ministry has suspended the carrier's Surabaya-Singapore licence for flying on a Sunday, for which it did not have permission. However, the ministry has said this had no bearing on the crash of Flight QZ8501.
President Joko Widodo said the crash exposed widespread problems in the management of air travel in Indonesia.
Separately on Sunday, a DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by Indonesia's Trigana Air crashed on landing at Enarotali Airport in Paniai, Papua. Strong winds caused the aircraft to roll over, domestic news website reported, with no injuries to the three crew members on board. The plane was not carrying any passengers.
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Hindu women should produce at least 5 kids: BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj
Meerut, January 07, 2015

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sakshi Maharaj has triggered yet another controversy by saying all Hindu women must produce at least five children in order to protect the future of Hinduism. He made the comment while addressing a gathering of saints at the second Sant Samagam Mahotsava in Meerut on Tuesday evening. "Now that the good days have come, we will not allow four wives and forty children in the country," the Unnao MP said at the gathering.Speaking on the issue of conversion, he said neither he nor his party is in favour of it and suggested that a special law should be enacted against conversion.He, however, defended the issue of 'ghar wapsi' or recoversion saying there is nothing wrong with it."It is a good work. Maharshi Dayanand was the first person who facilitated 'ghar wapsi'. The process of 'ghar wapsi' and "shuddhikaran" (purification), existed in past and it will go on," he asserted.He did not stop there and said those who are involved in cow slaughtering would be given capital punishment.
Sadhvi Prachi and other saints also addressed the gathering and called upon Hindus to unite for their better future.Sakshi Maharaj was earlier at the centre of a controversy after he described Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "patriot". He later apologised for his comments.


Chhattisgarh civic polls: All-conquering BJP tastes shock defeat
Hindustan Times Raipur, January 05, 2015

The BJP tasted its first electoral loss after coming to power at the Centre in Chhattisgarh, putting in a poor performance in the municipal elections whose results were declared on Sunday. The opposition Congress made strong gains, winning four of the state’s 10 municipal corporations. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too won four. Independents won two.In 2009, the BJP had won six of the corporations and the Congress had managed three. For chief minister Raman Singh, in power uninterrupted since 2003, the results were not on expected lines. “We need to review why the results did not come as per our expectations,” Singh, who was the party’s face during campaigning, said. BJP president Amit Shah too had added his heft to the civic polls, telling party workers during his visit to the state on December 12 last year that they had to deliver a good, positive result. The Congress tasted success in the state after a poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections and when it won only one of the 11 seats and a defeat in the assembly polls last year. Despite the gains, the Congress could not win in the Bilaspur region, where a sterilisation tragedy that claimed lives of 13 women in November last year put the BJP on a sticky wicket. Bilaspur, the hometown of health minister Amar Agrawal, witnessed strong protests against him following the botched sterilisation surgeries.The talk in Congress circles is internal strife scuttled its prospects. The BJP’s Kishore Rai won the mayor’s post in Bilaspur municipal corporation defeating Congress candidate Ramsharan Yadav. Former chief minister Ajit Jogi who stayed away from the Congress campaign, pinned the loss on wrong selection of candidates. “This was the reason I kept away from the campaign. Had the party accommodated my opinion while finalising the candidates, the Congress would have won in Bilaspur too.” State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel said, “The overall results came in favour of the Congress party. It is also an indication for our senior leader Jogiji to assess for himself. Had he been with us, the party would have secured victory in Bilaspur too.”



TCS staff sign mass petition to PM Modi after lay-offs in company
Bangalore, January 03, 2015

Even as a mass petition, protest demonstrations and social media campaigns against a purportedly large-scale retrenchment at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have emerged, the company maintains there is nothing out of the ordinary. While TCS says involuntary attrition will be 1-2% of its total workforce of 3,13,000, company insiders and industry sources say the actual number would be far higher. Employee sources claim thousands of staff are being laid off by being taken off work or informally being asked to go.According to them, fresh workers are being hired while seniors are being let to go. The company has officially announced it will hire about 55,000 in 2014-15 while it has undertaken a restructuring in a sign of a workforce churn.
Protests started in the last one week in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Kochi. The Federation of IT Employees (FITE), an organisation formed last week in Chennai in response to the developments within TCS, is spearheading the campaign with a mass petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to stop this "indiscriminate termination." FITE has held a meeting of those sacked by TCS in Kochi, and is planning a demonstration in the city on Tuesday and one in Bangalore thereafter. According to FITE founding member Bharatidasan, TCS has asked 700 employees in Hyderabad, 470 in Bangalore, 480 in Chennai, 70 in Pune and 20 in Kochi to leave, while several hundreds were told by their managers that they would be called by HR. "We would like to reiterate that our total global annual involuntary attrition is 1-2%," a TCS spokesperson said. Some of the aggrieved employees in Bangalore met deputy labour commissioner but did not lodge a petition fearing blacklisting. A FITE member said the organisation is mulling legal recourse. A middle-level executive in TCS said the January-March quarter will see large-scale layoffs. "The actual involuntary attrition this year will be higher than what the company has projected as many employees have been pulled out from projects, benched and asked to resign rather than being sacked outright," he said."The attrition this quarter will shoot up from 12.5% to 20%," he added. Responding to reports that the company is planning to restructure its workforce in the middle-to-senior management, Ajoyendra Mukherjee, global HR head had said last month: "Workforce optimisation is a continuous process that happens throughout the year taking into account employee performance, business needs, and people aspirations. This leads to some amount of involuntary attrition in the company".TCS last month said revenue growth in the current financial year would be lower than that of the previous year, backtracking from far more optimistic projections it had made earlier.


Two sons get mother beaten to death by occultist for good luck
Nashik, Maharashtra, December 31, 2014

A woman was allegedly beaten to death in Nashik after her two sons consented to have her 'sacrificed' to bring them good luck.Over the last two days, Ghoti police has arrested ten people, including the two brothers, for the murder of Budhabai Dore (65), resident of Mokhada in Thane district.The murder took place at Take-Harsh in tribal-dominated Trimbakeshwar tehsil of Nashik district sometime around Diwali, assistant police inspector Suresh Manore of Ghoti police in the Nashik district said on Tuesday.The brothers -- Kashinath and Govind Dore -- were not happy with their circumstances and consulted Bachchi-bai Narayan Khadke (42), a woman occultist, based in Take-Harsh, on the advice of their sister Rahibai Pingle. The occultist told the brothers that they needed to sacrifice both their mother and sister for change of luck. The two then took both the women to Khadke who allegedly beat Budhabai to death, while Rahibai managed to escape. Khadke later removed the victim's eyes, and buried her body at a nearby spot.The incident came to light a few days ago when Bhagwan Madhe, a local social worker, alerted the police.Police arrested the occultist, who also confessed to have murdered another woman in a similar ritual sacrifice in the past, on Monday. Kashinath and Govind were arrested on Tuesday.A case under the Indian Penal Code and Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practises and Black Magic Act, 2013, has been registered.District superintendent of police Sanjay Mohite visited Ghoti police station this evening to take stock of the probe.


AirAsia flight QZ8501 likely at bottom of sea, says Indonesia
Jakarta, December 29, 2014
The AirAsia plane which went missing with 162 people on board en route for Singapore is likely at the bottom of the sea, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief said Monday.
"Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea," Bambang Soelistyo told a press conference.
"That's the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search."
Soelistyo said Indonesia did not have "the tools", such as submersible vehicles, required to retrieve the plane from the seabed, but that it is reaching out to other countries for help if necessary."Due to the lack of technology that we have, I have coordinated with our foreign minister so we will borrow from other countries which have offered. They are the UK, France and US," he said. Watch: AirAsia flight QZ8501 goes missing, relatives anxiously await news at Singapore airport Meanwhile, more than 24 hours after flight 8501 disappeared, the search has expanded with planes and ships from several countries taking part.First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center commander at the Surabaya air force base, said that 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships were talking part, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia. The Australian Air Force also sent a search plane.Setiayana said visibility was good. "God willing, we can find it soon," he told The Associated Press.AirAsia Flight 8501 vanished in airspace thick with storm clouds on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Searchers had to fight against heavy rain on Sunday before work was suspended due to darkness.The plane's disappearance and suspected crash caps an astonishingly tragic year for air travel in Southeast Asia. The Malaysia-based carrier's loss comes on top of the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine. At the Surabaya airport, passengers' relatives pored over the plane's manifest, crying and embracing. Nias Adityas, a housewife from Surabaya, was overcome with grief when she found the name of her husband, Nanang Priowidodo, on the list. The 43-year-old tour agent had been taking a family of four on a trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia's Lombok island, and had been happy to get the work.
"He just told me, 'Praise God, this new year brings a lot of good fortune,'" Adityas recalled, holding her grandson tight while weeping uncontrollably. Nearly all the passengers and crew are Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays. The Airbus A320 took off Sunday morning from Indonesia's second-largest city and was about halfway to Singapore when it vanished from radar. The jet had been airborne for about 42 minutes.
There was no distress signal from the twin-engine, single-aisle plane, said Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation. The last communication between the cockpit and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (23:13 GMT Saturday), when one of the pilots asked to increase altitude from 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters), Murjatmodjo said. The jet was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m. and was gone a minute later, he told reporters.
Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia launched a search-and-rescue operation near Belitung island in the Java Sea, the area where the airliner lost contact with the ground.AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes flew to Surabaya and told a news conference that the focus for now should be on the search and the families rather than the cause of the incident.
"We have no idea at the moment what went wrong," said Fernandes, a Malaysian businessman who founded the low-cost carrier in 2001. "Let's not speculate at the moment." Malaysia-based AirAsia has a good safety record and had never lost a plane. But Malaysia itself has already endured a catastrophic year, with 239 people still missing from Flight 370 and all 298 people aboard Flight 17 killed when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in Ukraine.AirAsia said Flight 8501 was on its submitted flight plan but had requested a change due to weather. Sunardi, a forecaster at Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said dense storm clouds were detected up to 13,400 meters (44,000 feet) in the area at the time.
"There could have been turbulence, lightning and vertical as well as horizontal strong winds within such clouds," said Sunardi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.Airline pilots routinely fly around thunderstorms, said John Cox, a former accident investigator. Using on-board radar, flight crews can typically see a storm forming from more than 100 miles away.
In such cases, pilots have plenty of time to find a way around the storm cluster or look for gaps to fly through, he said.
"It's not like you have to make an instantaneous decision," Cox said. Storms can be hundreds of miles long, but "because a jet moves at 8 miles a minute, if you to go 100 miles out of your way, it's not a problem."Authorities have not said whether they lost only the secondary radar target, which is created by the plane's transponder, or whether the primary radar target, which is created by energy reflected from the plane's body, was lost as well, Cox said. The plane had an Indonesian captain, Iryanto, who uses one name, and a French co-pilot, five cabin crew members and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, the airline said in a statement. Among the passengers were three South Koreans, a Malaysian, a British national and his 2-year-old Singaporean daughter. The rest were Indonesians.


AirAsia flight QZ 8501 with 161 aboard goes missing, search operations on
Jakarta, December 28, 2014
An AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday, Indonesian media said, citing a transport ministry official. Official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17am local time. (2317 GMT). The Airbus 320-200 had 155 passengers (138 adults, 16 children and a baby) and six crew members on board, another Indonesian transport official said.The passengers on board comprise 149 Indonesians, three Koreans, one Singaporean, one Briton and one Malaysian.Mustofa said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30am Singapore time (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was "delayed".Singapore has activated its air force and navy to help in the search and rescue operation. "Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose. We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort," the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement. A waiting area, and facilities and support have been set up for relatives at Changi Airport Terminal 2, it said. AirAsia has established an emergency call centre that is available for family or friends of those who were on board. The number is: +622129850801.
The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysia's airlines. National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year.Its flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board



Assam violence: Army chief in state today as forces launch ops; border security tightened
New Delhi/Guwahati, December 27, 2014
Army chief General Dalbir Singh will review the situation in Assam Saturday, as security forces launched a major offensive against a tribal militant group that massacred over 70 people in the state this week. CRPF personnel keeps vigil at the curfew bound street in Kokrajher district. The Bodos have been gradually getting wary of the increase in land procurement by immigrant Muslims in Bodo heartland and increasing population of immigrant Muslims in Kokrajhar and other districts of BTC. (PTI photo) A day after India sought cooperation from Bhutan and Myanmar to hunt down militants of the banned National Democratic Front of Boroland (Sangbijit), Singh will first visit Guwahati and then Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts, which are reeling due to a massacre that killed nearly 80 people. On his arrival to Assam, the army chief would be briefed by officials about the situation on the ground, and the operation security forces had launched against the militants fighting for a separate state for ethnic Bodos. An estimated 7,000 villagers have fled their homes in Assam, fearing more attacks from the Bodo militants and are sheltered in relief camps guarded by the forces and police. The Indo-Bhutan border guarding force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), rushed 2,000 of its personnel to the state who would undertake joint operations with the army and Assam police units. BD Sharma, director general (DG) of the armed border force, told ANI, "We will be cooperating in the operations... I don't think I can speak more on this. We will be playing our duty of border guarding in a more stringent way."
The forces have been continuing its crackdown against the NDFB(S) and other militants, but the dynamics have changed after the massacre in Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang districts, officials said.Militants may have fled to neighbouring Bhutan while their leader was believed to be in Myanmar, officials and police said, prompting calls for cooperation by neighbour countries.
At least 85 people have been killed since Tuesday as Bodo militants attacked Adivasis in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar district, while 14 Bodos were killed in retaliatory attacks and three Adivasi protesters died in police firing at Dhekiajuli.
Assam is one of the seven states in the northeast that is home to more than 200 tribes and dozens of insurgencies.
The region has trailed the rest of the country in economic development and the gap has widened in recent years, fuelling discontent. Residents accuse the central government of plundering the natural resources while ignoring development.


Delhi acid attack case: Police detain two, suspect involvement of minor
New Delhi, December 25, 2014

Two days after a doctor was injured in an acid attack in Rajouri Garden, the Delhi Police on Thursday morning detained two accused in connection with the case. Sources claim police suspect a total of four people, including a minor, were involved in the attack. All the accused are believed to be in the age group of 17-22 years. On Tuesday, two bike-brone miscreants hurled acid at a 30-year-old woman doctor and robbed her in broad daylight. The police recovered her handbag from Khyala on Wednesday.
"While the two have been apprehended from Madipur area in Punjabi Bagh, two more will be detained for questioning," said a police officer. A senior official said on condition of anonymity, "The minor, 17, knew the doctor quite well." Police are also trying to zero in on the place from where the acid was procured, and the bike which was used in the crime. The doctor was on her way to the ESI Hospital on her Scooty when two bikers threw a chemical substance at her. Preliminary examination indicated that she had severe injuries on the right part of her face, including her eye.



Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya to be conferred with Bharat Ratna
New Delhi, December 24, 2014
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter-educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya will be conferred with the country's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, the Centre announced on Wednesday. The announcement was made on the eve of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart's birthday on December 25. The day will also be celebrated by the central government as 'good governance day'. He will turn 90 on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will send a recommendation for the Bharat Ratnas in the afternoon to President Pranab Mukherjee, reports said. According to reports, a final decision to honour Vajpayee and Malaviya was taken at a meeting held by PM Modi which was attended by top BJP leaders including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and party president Amit Shah. The BJP has been demanding the Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee for the last five years. When the UPA government announced the Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao last year, the BJP had criticised the Congress for ignoring Vajpayee's contribution to the nation. Lal Krishna Advani, Vajpayee's friend and colleague for many decades, was the first to demand a Bharat Ratna for him. Vajpayee's Bharat Ratna also ends the long gap of a politician getting the highest civilian of the country. Vajpayee is long considered as the tallest leader of the BJP. He was the first non-Congress prime minister who led a coalition government through its full term. While his first government in 1998 could last just 13 days, he was the pivotal force behind the National Democratic Alliance that ruled between 1999 to 2004. Vajpayee is also perhaps the only BJP leader who draws scores of admirers cutting across political lines and was often dubbed as "the right man in the wrong party" by political opponents. Bharat Ratna to Malaviya adds an interesting political twist: Malaviya was once the national president of the Congress party. But the renowned educationist is also considered as an icon by the Sangh Parivar. ?? PM Modi had promised to confer the Bharat Ratna to Malaviya during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. The Banaras Hindu University, founded by the educationist, is in the PM's constituency in Varanasi. Recipients receive a certificate signed by the President and a peepal-leaf shaped medallion. The award does not include any monetary grant. Instituted on January 2, 1954, Bharat Ratna has been conferred on 43 individuals. Eleven recipients were awarded posthumously.


VHP claims 're-conversion' of 200 tribal Christians in Gujarat, Cong says it's unfortunate
Valsad/New Delhi, December 21, 2014
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) "re-converted" over 200 tribal Christians to Hinduism on Saturday by holding rituals at Aranai village in Valsad district of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat, claimed a leader of the outfit. "As part of the ongoing 'ghar-wapsi' programme, VHP today (Saturday) re-converted 225 people from Christian community and took them back into Hindu religion," said Valsad district VHP chief Natu Patel. He said VHP organised a 'Maha Yagnya' (ritual of the sacred fire) for "purification" of the tribals before taking them back in Hindu-fold and also gave each of them a copy of Bhagwad Gita. Another VHP worker, Ashok Sharma, said around 3,000 people had gathered at the 'Ghar-wapsi' programme in Valsad. "VHP greeted around 225 people back in their own religion in Valsad. We have not forced them, they came on their own wish," Sharma said. Youth Congress activists in Noida protest against the BJP and its ideological mentor, RSS, following the alleged forced conversion of around 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra earlier this month. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo) "This is totally unfortunate whatever is happening. In the world India had a different image of having people practising various religious beliefs, speaking different languages, based on which the country was built. If the same thing happens that is happening (here) starts taking place in Europe and in America, then what will happen. These actions will only create bad impression about the country," Alvi told ANI. "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and others are trying to destroy the country. If these people have been converted by coercion or inducement then it is a clear violation of law. But then what kind of image of India will be in the world," he added. A controversy had erupted early this month when a right wing group had organised a 'ghar-wapasi' drive wherein it reportedly converted about 100 people from a minority community in Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
The incident had created a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha with the Opposition demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A similar incident was also reported from BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh where a party MP had claimed 39 tribal Christians were re-converted to Hinduism in Naxal-hit Bastar district in October this year.



BJP's Amit Shah pitches for law against 'forcible conversions'
PTI Kochi, December 20, 2014
As the NDA Government continued to face opposition heat over the conversion issue, BJP president Amit Shah Saturday pitched for an anti-conversion law in the country and wanted other political parties to support such a measure in Parliament.
"BJP is the only political party in the country that opposes forceful conversion and the 'so-called secular' political parties should come forward to support an anti-conversion legislation," he told reporters in Kochi.Shah was winding up his two–day visit to state to gear up for the party organisational structure to face challenges of local body and assembly elections to be held in 2015 and 2016 respectively.When asked whether BJP would hold talks with minorities' outfits on the matter, he said further steps on the legislation can be taken up only after a consensus was evolved among political parties in the country.
On the controversial 'Ghar Wapsi' (conversion ceremony)by a Hindutva group in Uttar Pradesh, Shah said the matter was now before the court."I do not want to make comment on the issue till the court decides," he added.Dismissing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's charge that NDA-led by BJP was dividing the people on communal lines, he said 'no such thing has taken place in the country'.Meanwhile, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal demanded a reply by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of forcible religious conversions, saying it is important for the public to know his stand on the issue."The Prime Minister should clarify his stand and approach on the conversion issue. One cannot act opposition as well as the ruling party. Public wants to know his stand," he told reporters in New Delhi.The former Delhi chief minister said BJP had won the Lok Sabha elections and formed government playing the development card but failed to deliver on its promises."They won on the grounds of development. They had promised that 'ache din' will come. In the past six months they have been seen talking about issues like Love Jihad and religion conversion. Where is development?" he asked."There had been no riots in Delhi since 35 years but they took place after BJP came to power. If public had known all this will be happening, they would have never voted in favour of them," he added.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader however refused to comment when asked whether his party will advocate an 'anti-conversion' law if voted to power.


Fifth phase: Brisk polling in J-K , Jharkhand
Srinagar/Ranchi, December 20, 2014

Amid tight security, polling began on a brisk note on Saturday for the fifth and final round of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand. In Jammu and Kashmir 213 candidates including deputy chief minister Tara Chand and four other ministers, are trying their luck in 20 seats.After a record turnout of voters in the previous four phases, particularly in Kashmir Valley, there is an expectation of high voter turnout in the seats spread across Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.
As many as 18,28,904 eligible voters, comprising 9,59,011 men and 8,69,891 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 2,366 polling stations set up across the three border districts.BJP has high stakes in this phase as it had got 10 seats in 2008 Assembly elections followed by Congress with 5 seats, NC 2, PDP 1 and two seats going to Independents.More than 40 thousand security personnel have been deployed for the polling apart from regular deployment of police forces.
Security arrangements along the Indo-Pak border have been strengthened in the three border districts of Jammu region
with troops put on alert for the polls."Security grid along the Indo-Pak border has been put on alert. Multi-tier security has been put in place", divisional commissioner Shant Manu said.Over 14% voting was registered in the first two hours of polling in 16 assembly seats in tribal Santhal Parganas in Jharkhand.People queued up at the polling stations braving the winter morning chill and voting, which began at 7am, picked up as the day progressed.The constituency-wise voting percentage till 9 am was 15 per cent at Rajmahal, 17% at Borio, 15% at Barhait, 14% at Littipara, 16% at Pakur, 15% at Maheshpur and 15% at Shikaripara, an Election Commission release said.At Nala it was 11%, at Jamtara 13, Dumka 11, Jama 14, Jarmundi 12, Sarath 14.25, Poreyahat 14.6, Godda 15 and Mahagama 15.2%, the release said.A report from Pakur said voters of booth number 134 in Litipara constituency did not turn up in protest against lack of basic amenities.Voting, however, resumed after polling and administrative officials convinced them that their demands would be looked into.Polling will end at 3pm in all the 16 constituencies which are spread across six districts - Dumka, Pakur, Godda, Sahibganj, Jamtara. Some parts of
Chief minister Hemant Soren and speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta are among the 208 candidates, who include 16 women, whose fates will be decided.Soren is in fray from Dumka, from where he had been elected in 2009 and Barhait and Bhokta from Sarath.In all, 36,90,069, including 17,84,486 women are eligible to cast their votes at 4,448 polling stations, including 30 auxiliary. A total 149 polling stations are in urban areas.EC said as many as 833 polling stations have been marked as hyper-sensitive and 1,496 sensitive and 291 polling stations will have web casting.


My rapist is now an advocate: Victim narrates the tale of horror
Delhi, Hindustan Times December 18, 2014
I am waiting for the day when I’ll be a judge after clearing the Provisional Civil Services (PCS) exam. I am striving hard to realise my wish with just three semesters short of clearing my graduation in law. I am sure I’ll crack the PCS. I want to punish people who have a sick mentality so no one calls an innocent girl “behen”, wins her confidence and then rapes her body, soul and, above all, trust.It’s been four years since I was raped by a student leader, but he still roams free. My rapist has now turned into an advocate and smiles shamelessly whenever he spots me at the court premises. His smile ignites anger in me and gives me a reason to steel myself. The rape was one incident, but the events that followed crushed me day after day.I was a happy-go-lucky girl from a Dalit family in Dehradun, the youngest among four sisters. My father was a carpenter and my mother a domestic help.After passing class 12 there was little opportunity to study further. But I insisted and went to a local college to sign up for a graduation course. That black day in July 2010 was the last day to submit admission forms. The forms were sold out but a student leader had three of them. Seeing me sobbing he offered me a form. My faith in humanity was restored, but it was to fade soon. He took my phone number, said that I was his sister and could call him whenever necessary.In October, he told me he was trying to find me a job. On December 25, 2010, he offered to drive me for an interview. On the way, he told me the interview would be held in Mussoorie. I was oblivious of his ill intentions and : Rape sat in his car. He parked the vehicle at an isolated spot, locked the car from the inside and then sexually assaulted me.
He also shot a video of the act on his mobile phone. I cried and tried to remind him that he had called himself my brother and he shouted, “Sa***, yahan koi kisi ka bhai-vai nahi hai (There’s no brother here).”He later dumped me outside my home. I was shattered but decided not to share my ordeal with my parents. But that turned out to be a mistake as the next day he threatened to make the clip public. I saw no other option but to give in to his demands. The sexual abuse became a daily affair until I finally decided to approach the police on January 20, 2011. After a four-hour-long wait, a female officer came over, slapped me hard and said, “Achhi ladkiyon ka rape nahi hota. Tera hi character kharab hoga (Good girls are never raped. There must be something wrong with you).”The officer called the rapist to her office. Both of them giggled and sipped tea right before my eyes. This was just the beginning of my woes. I was asked to visit the police station again and again for many days. My complaint was finally lodged on February 18. But the male investigation officer molested me several times.



'Lone-wolf attacks real threat in India too'
Even as the Sydney cafe siege ended on Monday, security officers here conceded that such lone-wolf attacks were a "real threat" in India given the radicalization that ISIS and its supporters have been spreading in the real and virtual worlds.

"It's no secret that many young Indians recruited by ISIS — which the government claims are a minuscule number — have learnt about the outfit from social media and the Web, though in some cases recruiters may also be indoctrinating them. Shocking beheading videos have added to the ISIS appeal among minorities."Such self-indoctrinated youth could indulge in lone-wolf attacks without being part of ISIS," an intelligence official said.

The agencies said it's difficult to monitor self-motivated jihadis than the known ISIS operatives."The level of motivation of these jihadis is difficult to assess ... India has a history of communal riots which has scarred a section of minorities," said the official.

"Just as four youths from Mumbai's suburbs went to Iraq without any invitation from ISIS and a techie in Bangalore became a propagandist for the outfit without being asked, there may be some who will pick up a knife, if not a gun, tomorrow," said an intelligence officer.

However, the situation is not as alarming as it looks for Australia, which has seen attempts by jihadis attempting beheadings in the name of ISIS. Australia with close to 4 lakh Muslims has seen more than 70 confirmed ISIS recruits, 20 of whom have died in battle. This, despite the fact that Australia has witnessed any significant terrorism only post 9/11. Conversely, India has witnessed significant terrorism since the Eighties, has over 18 crore Muslims and still only seven confirmed ISIS recruits.

Arguing on the basis of these statistics, Ajai Sahni of Institute of Conflict Management says, "India has certain strengths that other countries don't have.There are cultural cushions in India (in the form of family and social fabric) which have given Indian Muslims strong resistance against the lure of ISIS. It is only the fringe elements, in tiny numbers, who are engaging with this kind of terrorism. I don't see some kind of great conflagration or movement in its favour." He, however, cautions that this should be no reason to be complacent."The glass is neither half full nor half empty. It is both. No need to be complacent. But no need to create hysteria either," he says.

RSS in no mood to soften, will stick to Hindutva agenda
New Delhi, December 14, 2014
The Narendra Modi government’s image as a development-oriented regime may have taken a hit due to controversial remarks by some RSS members-turned-parliamentarians but the BJP’s ideological parent isn’t willing to put its Hindutva agenda on the backburner.Youth Congress activists burnt effigy of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against the alleged forced conversion of around 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra earlier this week, in Noida, on Thursday. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo) Senior leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh told HT that while they appreciated the government’s focus on development, they saw no reason to chastise leaders like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, infamous for an expletive-laden poll speech, or Sakshi Maharaj, who termed Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse a patriot. An RSS pracharak associated with the BJP’s organisation claimed ‘Hindutva’ was supplement to the development plank and only a mix of the two could ensure electoral victories. “You may have a problem with the way certain MPs articulated their view but the larger sentiment was that the Hindu society should not be taken for granted. The result of the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in UP, is a case in point,” he said, requesting anonymity. The BJP is also not averse in using the Hindutva proponents to woo voters, deploying Niranjan Jyoti to campaign in the riot-hit Trilokpuri locality of Delhi.
Aligarh MP Satish Gautam and Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath continue taking vows to carry on the controversial ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) programme that has been accused of forcibly converting Muslims.BJP president Amit Shah has defended these leaders, saying on Thursday that they couldn’t be asked to retire from politics because of a mistake.
BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma told HT that development was the government’s focus and decisions in last six months – Jan Dhan Yojna, petrol price cut, FDI in defence and others – were reflective of that. “There is no case to be apologetic about Hindutva. It is a way of life and not a religion,” Sharma said.These comments come in the wake of a stormy month for the NDA government. Earlier this month, minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti asked the audience at a Delhi poll rally if they wanted a government led by the children of Ram (Ramzaade) or illegitimate children (haramzaade). The comments caused prolonged disruptions in Parliament with the Opposition relenting only after an appeal by PM Modi.
This was followed by Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj’s endorsement of Godse, which led to a retraction and apology.
The latest flashpoint is the alleged forced conversion of 300 Muslims in Agra this week and plans for more such ceremonies by Hindu groups affiliated to the RSS. Cornered by the Opposition again, the government suggested all states and the Centre have anti-conversion laws.Senior RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya agreed with the Centre, saying there was no contradiction between development and having an anti-conversion law.“The entire debate (on conversion) would stop if a strong anti-conversion law is put in place. Christian missionaries have been opposing it and so are many other parties. We are opposed to conversion through force and allurement,” Vaidya told HT.A party office bearer also pointed out the BJP has to play its cards carefully with key electoral challenges lined up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where OBC stalwarts Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were trying to revive the old Janata Parivar. The saffron party had won 71 of UP’s 80 and 22 out of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats.“Those most vulnerable to conversions are backward castes and Dalits, who had also spearheaded the temple movement in its heyday. When we win them over, it automatically marginalises parties like the SP, JD(U), RJD and BSP – our main rivals in Bihar and UP,” the leader said.


Resentment and pep talk inside CIA after Senate torture report
Washington, December 11, 2014

As outcry grows over its now-defunct brutal interrogation program, America's spy agency appears caught in the crossfire of debate over its methods in the ongoing US battle against Islamic militants and whether it has changed its ways.
Inside the Central Intelligence Agency, intelligence officials expressed resentment over what they said was the unfairness of a Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Tuesday that harshly criticized the spy agency's detention and questioning of militant suspects.As Senate Democrats urged more information about the program be made public and CIA officials be held accountable, CIA Director John Brennan was scheduled to speak privately to the agency's employees on Wednesday about the Senate report.Brennan, who is close to US President Barack Obama, on Tuesday acknowledged the agency made mistakes, but rejected some key Senate panel findings, including its conclusion that harsh interrogation techniques did not produce valuable intelligence about militants that could not be obtained by other means."CIA is frequently asked to do difficult, sensitive and sometimes risky things on behalf of the country," a US intelligence official said. "Congress doesn't do massive studies of CIA's successful efforts such as preventing another massive casualty attack on the United States."
"The intellectual dishonesty of the (Senate) report will eventually be revealed and in the end CIA's position about the value of the detention and interrogation program will stand as the historical fact," the intelligence official said.Countries that cooperated with the CIA's post-September 11, 2001 detention and interrogation program expressed dismay that its details became public."Who now in any form is going to want to continue cooperation in the fight with global terrorism and with opponents of our world view, democracy, in this domain when the system is so dramatically liable to leak?" Polish Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechocinski told Poland's TVN24 broadcaster.Poland has acknowledged allowing the CIA to operate a secret interrogation center on its territory.As details of the CIA program dribbled out over the years, the agency has faced Justice Department investigations - no prosecutions materialized - and worried it would lose cooperation from allied intelligence services.But even some who are sympathetic to the CIA say the agency bears the brunt of blame for the damage.
"It's just a self-inflicted wound of the worst kind," said former CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz.
Video | CIA tactics 'stained our national honor': John McCainIn the continuing tug of war over the CIA program, retiring Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, took to the US Senate floor to disclose findings of an earlier CIA review that he said backs up the Senate Intelligence Committee majority report.The conclusions of the CIA study, known as the "Panetta Review" after former CIA director Leon Panetta, "fly directly in the face of claims made by senior CIA officials past and present," Udall said, urging its declassification.He called for new legislation banning coercive interrogation techniques.CIA officials have said the Panetta Review was not an investigation that reached conclusions, but merely a factual account of the program's history.
Significant new limits on the CIA's role and powers seem unlikely. Obama has placed the agency at the forefront of battling Islamic militants worldwide, including using armed drones.Obama is known to rely heavily on the counsel of Brennan, formerly his top White House counter-terrorism advisor. And the CIA faces a more sympathetic Congress next year, when Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who was critical of the 'torture" report, replaces Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.Obama in 2009 issued an executive order barring the CIA from operating detention facilities and conducting "enhanced interrogation."The CIA on Tuesday said it had already taken steps to address issues raised in the report, including better management of sensitive programs and enhanced vetting of CIA officers who participate in them.
Philip Zelikow, who as a top State Department official in 2006 wrote a secret memo arguing some of the CIA techniques were unconstitutional, said the CIA's assurances were insufficient.The Senate report "does raise some important issues regarding the management of covert activities," he said.The report "will have for some time, and some time can mean for years, a chastening effect. But over time the agency does what it does," said Glenn Carle, a retired CIA officer who questioned prisoners after 2001."I think generations will forget," he said. "And the institution strives to serve the executive. And there will be mistakes again

Congress protests in Rajya Sabha over eulogising Nathuram Godse
New Delhi, December 11, 2014
Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed uproarious scenes with members from Congress lodging strong protest against eulogising of Nathuram Godse at a function held in Maharashtra earlier this month. Under attack from the opposition members, government disapproved of any such event hailing Mahatma Gandhi's killer but said no organisation should be defamed.The Upper House saw two brief adjournments over the issue as Congress members protested holding placards in the aisles and raising slogans, while charging right-wing organisations with lending their support to it.Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Husain Dalwai (Cong) said he has written to Maharashtra chief minister over hosting the event attended by some religious leaders and former MLAs."Mahatma Gandhi's killer is being eulogised by hosting his 'Shaurya Diwas' in Maharashtra...These people talk of development, but are trying to create a rift in society," he said, accusing the right-wing organisations of indulging in such things, including religious conversions that created tension in society.Congress members created uproar over the issue and raised slogans while displaying placards of the event, even as deputy chairman PJ Kurien tried to pacify the agitating members, asking them to take their seats and maintain peace."Don't make use of Zero Hour for this kind of display. This is gross indiscipline...To decide the culpability or otherwise, the courts are there, not me or you," Kurien said. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "This is not acceptable. Mahatma Gandhi's killer, whosoever it may be, we are against it...We do not accept any honour of Mahatma Gandhi's killers."As members continued their protest and the House witnessed acrimonious exchanges between both sides, Kurien adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes just before noon.But, similar scenes were witnessed when the House met at noon, forcing the Chair to adjourn it again for 15 minutes. When the House reassembled, Anand Sharma (Cong) said, "It is not acceptable that some one eulogises him. I hope neither the House nor the parliamentary affairs minister will approve of such an action. Let the House speak in one voice and condemn it."Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "There is no question of eulogising such a person. We should leave the matter there, but defaming an organisation is not acceptable."


Agra conversion row: Oppn uproar continues in Parliament
New Delhi, December 11, 2014
Uproar continued in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with almost all opposition parties demanding the suspension of the question hour and a discussion on the Agra "conversions".Noor Mohammad, one of the people who alleged that the two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh offshoots had lured them into a programme to collect BPL and ration cards. (HT photo)
As soon as the house met for the day, members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and CPI-M trooped near the speaker's podium, and also raised slogans like "Modi sarkaar hosh mein aao" (Wake up, Modi government) and "Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai".Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow a discussion on the issue. "You have full powers to suspend the question hour. The government has already agreed to a discussion, kindly allow us," he said. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said that the matter should be taken "seriously".Nearly 300 members of some 60 Muslim families living in a slum on Agra's outskirts reportedly embraced Hinduism on Monday. A day later the families claimed they were tricked into conversion in an event couched as 'homecoming ceremony'.Opposition members had raised the issue in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday as well, while Islamic organisations took to the streets demanding protection to vulnerable members of the community.


BCCI accepts apex court's cricket 'clean-up' panel, Srini appeals to fight polls
New Delhi, December 10, 2014
The BCCI on Wednesday accepted the Supreme Court's proposal that a committee be set up to decide on the punishment for those who breached the IPL code of conduct, including Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of International Cricket Council chairman president N Srinivasan.
The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) first told court the appointment of a "high power committee" could affect its autonomy but then accepted the court's proposal. "Game of cricket will collapse if people's confidence in the sport is not restored," the court told BCCI.
Earlier in the court, Srinivasan, BCCI's sidelined chief, told the Supreme Court that if he is re-elected, he would stay away from IPL governing council till a proposed committee decides on the question of conflict of interest involving him and his IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings.
Responding to a poser from the court Tuesday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the bench of Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla that Srinivasan would stay away from IPL governing council and its activities and also from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) meetings related to IPL.
Appearing for Srinivasan, Sibal told the apex court that if it allows BCCI elections and "if I contest and if I win, I undertake that I will stay away from IPL governing council, its activities and the BCCI meetings where the issue relating to IPL will be discussed".
Sibal said this during the hearing on a PIL by Cricket Association of Bihar which has sought to oust Srinivasan as BCCI president on the ground of his being in the conflict of interest situation being the president of the cricketing body and also the owner of CSK.
The PIL is also seeking the cancellation of IPL franchisee CSK on the ground of Meiyappan's alleged involvement in betting.
The Supreme Court had in March relieved Srinivasan of his duties as BCCI president to ensure a fair investigation into the controversy. The Justice Mukul Mudgal panel probing spot-fixing and betting allegations in the cash-rich IPL said in November that Srinivasan, who took over as ICC chairman in July, was not guilty of betting and fixing nor of having tried to prevent the investigation.
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Uber banned in Delhi; rape accused driver sent to police custody till Dec 11
New Delhi, December 08, 2014
Keeping in view the violation and the horrific crime committed by the driver, the transport department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by the with immediate effect." said the statement by the transport department."The transport department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi in future, "it further said The department also alleged Uber had flouted transport rules and "misled" the passenger with its app. "M/s Uber also misled the commuter about the nature of the taxi service offered by the "Uber App," it said.Cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, accused of raping a woman executive on Friday night, was produced before a Delhi court and sent to police custody till December 11.The court sent him to a 3-day custody for interrogation after police told the court they had not yet recovered the mobile phone used by Yadav during the incident. Yadav also refused to participate in Test Identification Proceedings, which is a line-up where he could be identified by the alleged victim.
The policemen who produced Yadav before Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh confirmed reports that Yadav had earlier spent nearly two years in jail over another rape charge.Yadav was in jail for nearly two years from 2011 in connection with another rape case. Yadav was acquitted last year when the victim allegedly turned hostile and the court found contradicitions in her statement, police officials told Hindustan Times.In that case , Yadav who worked as a cab driver, picked up a pub staffer from Gurgaon, took her to an isolated spot in Chattarpur and allegedly raped her inside the car.This would mean trouble for US online taxi-booking service Uber as they had hired the cab driver without the mandatory police verification. The police verification may have prevented the company from hiring him.Meanwhile, Uber tried to shift some of the blame on to the Delhi government for the failure to do background checks on the accused cab driver.Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a statement terming the incident horrific. "What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team's hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery."We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women," the statement said.

Uber officials have joined the investigation. “Every violation by Uber will be evaluated and we’ll go for legal recourse. The police would take legal advice before opting to press a criminal or civil case, Madhur Verma DCP ( North) said.

Yadav allegedly assaulted a 25-year-old woman MNC employee in north Delhi's Sarai Rohilla late Friday night.

The alleged rape, reported days before the second anniversary of the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in the Capital in December 2012, sparked protests by womens groups and Congress and Aam Aadmi Party activists.

The cab service initially could not produce the call records of the accused as the server was located in the US.

This made it difficult for the police initially. The breakthrough came after around 12 police teams carried out raids in different parts of UP, especially around Mathura, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of New Delhi where the crime took place.




Other side of story: Witnesses claim Rohtak sisters were not molested in bus
Rohtak, December 03, 2014
Two fresh witnesses have come forward with accounts that could scuttle the sexual harassment charges lodged by two Haryana sisters against three youths.They submitted their affidavits on Wednesday to police in support of the three youths— Kuldeep, Deepak and Mohit— accused of sexually harassing the sisters aboard Haryana Roadway bus on November 28.
Five others, some of them claiming to be the passengers on the Haryana Roadway bus in which the incident occurred, also shared their affidavits with reporters and stressed that the men have been wronged.TV grab of an eve-teaser getting beaten up by two sisters in a bus in Rohtak, Haryana. (PTI Photo)In her affidavit, Bimla, a resident of Sonepat district, said, she was waiting for bus at Rohtak bus stand. As soon as the bus reached the counter, she asked two of the boys to get seats for her and another woman who was unwell. When the boys requested the two girls — Aarti and Pooja — to vacate the seat allotted for the ailing woman, they refused and went ballistic. They later belted the boys after heated exchange of words. Another girl accompanying them captured the incident on mobile camera. To save themselves, the two boys jumped off the bus, said Bimla in her affidavit.Three women passengers from Thanakhurd village, the native place of the sisters, have also given similar statements to the police.Two witnesses have also given statements in connection with a month-old video showing the sisters beating up a boy in a Rohtak park.According to Virender Dhankar and Yogeshwer, residents of Baketa village in Rohtak, they were present at the Huda City Park in Rohtak when the incident happened. The girls abused and tore off a boy’s clothes after he asked them why they were wasting their time in the park instead of attending college. Another girl accompanying them videographed it, he told the police.However, now it seems the job of holding up the girls’ accusation rests entirely on the statements given by the conductor and the bus driver.According to Labh Singh, the conductor of the Haryana Roadway bus on which the incident occurred: “These girls and boys were arguing over some issue. I asked the girls if they wanted the driver to take the bus to the nearest police station. They refused. After the boys misbehaved with them, they beat them up. I have recorded my statement before police, but I was suspended.”Rohtak superintendent of police Shashasnk Anand said, “We are trying to finalise the chargesheet. We have recorded the statements of the driver and conductor, who have given statements in support of registration of FIR. We have come to know from media reports that some bus passengers have come forward with affidavits. We will record their statements as per the procedure,” he said



Minister links Muslims to crime, draws protest in Parliament
New Delhi, December 03, 2014
Amid a heated debate over high number of Muslims, Dalits and Tribals as under-trials, minister of state for home affairs, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, made a controversial remark saying that data showed states where Muslim population was high, the number of undetrials from the community were also high.“Jis state main zyada Muslim rahta hain, wahan zayda Muslim kaidi hota hain (In state where there are more Muslims, there are high Muslim under trials),” he said, while adding that there was no bias among the police against any religious group or caste. “Police is a state issue and we keep on issuing advisories to improve policing.” Chaudhary said this while replying to a supplementary question raised by Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) asking the reason for higher proportion of Muslim, Dalits and tribals in jail as compared to their proportion in the population. In a written reply, the minister informed that undertrials from Muslims, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe constituted about 1.48 lakh of the total 2.78 lakh. “It is a fact that the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis constitute 38.8% of the total population of our country. But the fact also is that the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis constitute 53% as undertrials". "These statistics reflect a serious and dangerous institutional bias among the law enforcement agencies, and the funny part is that their conviction rate is more or less the same. This clearly shows that all these fake cases are being registered against the Muslims, Dalits and adivasis,” Owaisi said. His statement resulted in immediate protest from the ruling party MPs who accused Owaisi of trying to give communal colour to the data provided by the home ministry and claimed that there was no bias against any community.





Union minister Jyoti 'regrets' controversial speech, offers apology
New Delhi, December 02, 2014

Minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti triggered a controversy, claiming on Monday that every Indian including Muslims and Christians are sons of Ram. Campaigning in Delhi for the upcoming assembly elections, she also used abusive language to attack those who opposed this idea. Minister of state for food processing industries Niranjan Jyoti used expletives while campaigning for the BJP in Delhi. (HT File Photo) The opposition raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday and demanded the sacking of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for the use of foul language. "It shows narrow-mindedness of BJP, such statement has never been made in history of democracy before," said Congress leader Ashwani Kumar.
Following the uproar Jyoti said, "I regret for the comments I gave outside the House. I take back my words. If the house demands , I am ready to even apologise." At an election campaign on Monday, Jyoti had asserted her point, while convincing people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, she added that those who do not believe in this ideology, do not belong to India. "You have to decide. Do you want a government of Ramzaadon (followers of Ram) or 'expletive'?" she said. She heaped praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his efficient working style. "Narendra Modi's mantra is not to indulge in corruption and not let others to be a part of it," she said. She later told ANI, "I did not take name of any particular individual, community or party. My comment was directed at those who live in India and don't consider themselves Indian." Niranjan Jyoti, minister of state for food processing industries in the Narendra Modi-led government, is a leader who helped BJP make inroads among the Dalit and backward classes in the politically-crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. She is among the six BJP MPs drafted into the party's campaign for the Delhi polls due early next year. Jyoti also took digs at Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son-in-law Robert Vadra, who has been accused of making controversial land deals. "The son of an ordinary family, who sold utensils - Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law - how did this man become a millionaire? They robbed the poor." When asked her about the abusive remarks, she was defiant. "What else do you call people who loot the nation...those who steal from the people and stash it in foreign banks? You tell me what we should call them," she told reporters.


Will swap land with Dhaka, halt illegal immigrants: Modi
November 1, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his government would go ahead with a land transfer deal with Bangladesh keeping illegal influx and Assam’s long-term security interests in mind.Bangladesh stands to gain some 10,000 acres of land through this deal the UPA government had initiated in 2011 and placed as a bill for ratification in Rajya Sabha in December last year. The BJP in Assam had opposed this deal, as did the Trinamool Congress in West Addressing party workers in Guwahati on Sunday, Modi said, “The land swap deal will be beneficial. It might seem to be an immediate loss for Assam, but it will serve security interests in the long term and help solve the problem of Bangladeshi migrants.” Infiltration from Bangladesh is a major issue in the Northeast. It is viewed as a demographic invasion designed to out-populate scores of indigenous communities in the region.
The Prime Minister said there would be no compromise with the security of the strategic Northeast. “The forces trying to destabilise Assam and the Northeast should know that Delhi has a new government and the law will not spare them now,” he said.Insisting that the BJP brand of politics was not based on casteism, communalism or regionalism, Modi said his party believes in nationalism. “Our mantra of inclusive development has compelled all political parties to rework their agendas,” he said, adding that his government has special plans for the Northeast.


Good intelligence is key for internal security: Modi at security meet in Guwahati
Nov 30, 2014, GUWAHATI: Advocating the concept of 'SMART' policing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said a country which has an efficient intelligence network does not need any arms and ammunition to run the government. Focusing on the police force and intelligence agencies, the Prime Minister said he wanted a force which takes care of the country's law and order in an efficient manner."By 'SMART' policing, I mean S for strict but sensitive, M for modern and mobile, A for alert and accountable, R for reliable and responsive and T for techno-savvy and trained", Modi said while addressing the DGP's conference here.
The police force should inculcate these values to ensure best policing which will go a long way in improving its image and work culture, he said.The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to honour 33,000 police personnel martyred in the country after Independence as "this was not a small number and their sacrifice should not go waste".The Prime Minister said the country can be run through an efficient intelligence network without much dependence on arms."The country which has high class intelligence network does not need any arms and ammunition. So, it is very important to have a very high class intelligence network," he said.Modi said through a lot of good things were happening in the nation, positive stories should be published properly so that people are aware about it.The Prime Minister said a task force of senior police officials should be set up to workout a protocol and incorporate certain measures to ensure that the "legacy of the sacrifice of martyrs are honoured and respect for them is established in society".A protocol to ensure that the force takes full responsibility of conducting their last rites with full honour as "they had died on duty for the safety and security of the common man".
Besides, each state has a police academy where new recruits are trained and it should be made mandatory to include in their syllabus an account of the life of policemen killed on duty, Modi said."There should be a new official government book where the new generation of police will study about these martyrs — their lives and sacrifice and every year a new updated edition should be brought out," he said.He said an e-book should be brought out in every state on these martyrs in the local language as well as the national language and "this may seem to be a small gesture but will be a big inspiration".A policeman's life is full of tension as their life is always at stake and unless "we ensure that there is peace and stability in their family, they cannot give their full to society"."It is the responsibility of the government to set up a systematic system to ensure certain welfare schemes to ease their lives like medical checkup, education of their children and their housing, particularly for those at the lower level," he said. The Prime Minister said home minister Rajnath Singh, who "was a successful chief minister of India's largest state, and he himself as Gujarat chief minister had kept the home portfolio and are so fully aware of the situation at the grass root and how to tackle these issues".On the decision to hold such conferences outside the national capital, the Prime Minister said everyone was wondering why a tradition of all these years was broken and this meeting was held in Guwahati."In Delhi, everyone comes with their own work. Here your total focus is on the conference. Most importantly, people get encouragement. Local police would be very encouraged and I am sure you have realised this fact. In future too, such conference would be held in other states," he said. Modi said it was important that the policing system should have life, it should not be robotic. The director of Intelligence Bureau in Guwahati, Asif Ibrahim, who addressed the meet earlier, said that terror outfits like ISIS and al-Qaida are a serious challenge for India. Addressing the 49th DGPs/IGs conference in Guwahati on Saturday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had raised the issue of ISIS and called it a major security threat.
The home minister also added that the country is united to fight any anti-national activity. "Muslims fought for India's freedom like Hindus did. Al-Qaida won't succeed in their motives," Rajnath said.


Nigeria blasts: Boko Haram's reply to top Muslim cleric's war cry against the militants?
Katsina, Nigeria, November 29, 2014
Two bombs exploded at the mosque of one of Nigeria's top Islamic leaders Friday, a week after he issued a call to arms to fight Boko Haram. At least 120 people were killed and 270 others wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire in the latest chapter of violence in the African country where bombings, kidnappings and assassinations have become a routine. The blasts happened at the Grand Mosque in Kano, the biggest city in the Muslim north of the country, just as Friday prayers had got under way at about 2:00 pm (1300 GMT). The mosque is attached to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Nigeria's second most senior Muslim cleric.Police officers stand near wreckage at a scene of multiple bombings at Kano Central Mosque. (Reuters Photo) The explosions came after civilian vigilantes in the northeastern city of Maiduguri said they foiled a bomb attack against a mosque, five days after two female suicide bombers killed over 45 people in the city. "Two bombs exploded, one after the other, in the premises of the Grand Mosque seconds after the prayers had started," worshipper Aminu Abdullahi told AFP. "A third one went off in a nearby road close to the Qadiriyya Sufi order. The blasts were followed by gunshots by the police to scare off potential attacks." His account was backed up by another witness, Hajara Tukur, who said she lives nearby. The emir, known officially as Muhammad Sanusi II, last week said at the same mosque that northerners should take up arms against Boko Haram, which has been fighting for a hardline Islamic state since 2009. He also cast doubt on Nigerian troops' ability to protect civilians and end the insurgency, in rare public comments by a cleric on political and military affairs. The Emir of Kano is a hugely influential figure in Nigeria, which is home to more than 80 million Muslims, most of whom live in the north. Officially the emir is the country's number two cleric, behind the Sultan of Sokoto, and any attack could inflame tensions in Nigeria's second city, which is an ancient seat of Islamic study.
Sanusi was named emir earlier this year and is a prominent figure in his own right, having previously served as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. During his time in charge of the CBN, he spoke out against massive government fraud and was suspended from his post in February just as his term of office was drawing to a close.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked Kano. On November 14, a suicide bomb attack at a petrol station killed six people, including three police. The Islamists have a record of attacking prominent clerics. In July 2012 a suicide bomber killed five people leaving Friday prayers at the home of the Shehu of Borno in Maiduguri.The Shehu is Nigeria's number three Islamic leader. Boko Haram threatened Sanusi's predecessor and the Sultan of Sokoto for allegedly betraying the faith by submitting to the authority of the secular government in Abuja. Andrew Noakes, co-ordinator of the Nigeria Security Network of security analysts, said the attack fit a pattern of violence targeting religious and traditional leaders seen as "allies" of the state.
He said it was possible that the group carried out the attack as a direct response to Sanusi's comments last week, although it may have been planned beforehand. "Whatever the case, the group has sent a message to northern leaders that crossing them will have consequences," Noakes said in an email exchange. Boko Haram attacks in recent months have ranged from the far northeast of Nigeria, across the wider north and northwest, using hit-and-run tactics, suicide bombings and car bombs.
The authorities in Cameroon, Chad and Niger have all expressed concern about Boko Haram's ability to conduct cross-border strikes, particularly as the dry season approaches. In Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, civilian vigilantes said they had discovered a suspected remote-controlled device planted in the Gamboru Market area of the city. It was successfully defused by the police bomb squad but as the bomb was being made safe, another device exploded nearby. There were no casualties, as the area had been cordoned off. "Our assumption is that the bombs were planted ahead of Friday prayers in the mosque just nearby," civilian vigilante Babakura Adam said. "Of course, it's Boko Haram's handiwork because in the last few days several arrests have been made of suspected female suicide bombers." Fears have grown in Maiduguri about an upsurge in Boko Haram attacks, after the militant Islamists took over more than two dozen towns in Borno and two neighbouring states in recent months. The use of concealed roadside bombs would be a departure for Boko Haram, which has previously used direct hit-and-run tactics, car bombs and suicide attacks as part of its deadly campaign.


Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, 25, dies from head injury after being hit by Sean Abbott bouncer
Sydney, November 27, 2014

Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died in hospital on Thursday, two days after the batsman was struck on the head by a bouncer during a domestic match.Governing body Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the 25-year-old had lost his fight for life.
"We are extremely sad to announce that Phillip Hughes has passed away at the age of 25," CA said on its Twitter feed.
"Our thoughts go out to Phillip's family, friends, and the entire cricket community on this incredibly sad day."
There were no further details.Hughes had spent a second night in a Sydney hospital in an induced coma after having emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.The batsman was struck on the head by a ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a devastating blow experts compared to the trauma suffered by victims of a car crash.News of Hughes death followed calls by former players for the Australian team to abandon the first test match against India next week.Questions about the response time of ambulances dispatched to the stadium were also The head of New South Wales Ambulance was to be hauled before the state health minister Jillian Skinner on Thursday after the ambulance authority issued conflicting statements about their response times.The arrival of the first ambulance took 15 minutes, NSW Ambulance clarified in a statement on Wednesday.
The state's median response time for the highest priority "life-threatening cases" was just under eight minutes in 2013-14, according the authority's statistics."Due to the conflicting information distributed today by NSW Ambulance regarding (Tuesday's) response to the Sydney Cricket Ground, I will be meeting with NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen tomorrow to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident," Skinner said.Dr Peter Larkins, a leading sports physician, told Reuters: "Time is of the essence when your brain has suffered trauma




Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy in Pak
Islamabad, November 26, 2014
The owner of Pakistan's biggest media group, Geo TV, along with actor Veena Malik and her husband was sentenced to 26 years in prison by an anti-terrorism court for allegedly airing a blasphemous programme.The TV show played a religious song while staging a mock marriage of Veena Malik (above) with husband Bashir. (AFP photo)Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of Geo and Jang group, was accused of allowing the airing of a blasphemous programme by Geo television in May, which played a religious song while staging a mock marriage of Malik with her hisband Asad Bashir Khan Khattak.Judge Shahbaz Khan also sentenced both Malik and Bashir along with TV host Shaista Wahidi for 26 years each. The ATC also imposed a 1.3 million Pakistani rupees fine on the convicts and ordered that their properties should be sold to raise the fine, if they failed to pay it.
The judge said in his judgment that all four accused committed profanity. The court in its 40-page verdict also asked the police to arrest the convicts, an official said. He said that the convict can appeal in the regional high court in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are reports that all four are out of Pakistan. Rahman resides in the UAE and the other three also went abroad after recieving threats by militant organisations. It is not known when the arrests would be carried out. Both Wahidi and the Geo group have tendered apology after the allegations were levelled but the extremists in the country refused to accept it. Other blasphemy cases were also registered against them in various cities, including Karachi and Islamabad.



Infrastructure my priority in India: Modi at Saarc summit
Agencies Kathmandu, November 26, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed better regional ties at Saarc summit Wednesday, laying emphasis on cooperation. Here are the highlights of Modi's speech. Also, read on to know what's happening at the summit. # The future I wish for India is the future I wish for our entire South Asia. # Ours is a region of thriving democracy.# There is much to learn from each other, even more - to do together. # I congratulate the government of Nepal for successfully holding the SAARC summit.
# From the people of Pakistan to people of SAARC region, I bring warm greetings and sentiments of goodwill and friendship.
# The theme selected for 18th SAARC summit is very important. # The theme is most appropriate & reflects our common desire in reaching out to get a win-win situation. # The gap between the promise of SAARC & its accomplishments need to be built for the greater good of the people. # My vision is for South Asia is that instead of fighting each other, we must jointly fight poverty, malnutrition. # We are committed to dispute free South Asia, need bonds of trust to solve our problems.
Sharif's speech, especially his stress on 'jointly fighting poverty' is being viewed as a peace message to India.Speculation over Modi-Sharif meeting The big question, on the sidelines of each Saarc summit, is of course whether Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet. Coming after a season of chill - where India called off foreign secretary level talks and the international border and LOC saw some heavy cross border shelling - this assumes salience. It has been increasingly clear that Modi and Sharif will meet, the question is what will be the nature of the meeting. Will it merely be a handshake at the summit venue? Will it a pull aside at the informal retreat in Dhulikhel for a brief chat? Or will it be a full bilateral meeting to resume the conversation they left off in May? According to Modi's schedule, he will hold talks with all Saarc leaders, barring Sharif. Regional superpower India seeking to boost trade and reinvigorate ties in its backyard, but analysts say little can be achieved while its bitter rivalry with Pakistan persists.But the mistrust between India and Pakistan -- widely seen as the main obstacle to greater South Asian integration -- is unlikely to be resolved so easily. The region's first summit in three years follows some of the worst cross-border violence in the disputed region of Kashmir in a decade, and comes as NATO-led troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan, intensifying the India-Pakistan rivalry for influence there. "Saarc's main problem is that Saarc is basically about India and Pakistan, with the Afghanistan dimension thrown in now," said Sujeev Shakya, chairman of the Nepal Economic Forum. "It would be far better if Saarc were to break down its structure and a trade grouping were to emerge between Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar," he told AFP, adding such a grouping would "accomplish more on the trade front".The 18th Saarc summit commenced in Kathmandu Wednesday morning. The leaders of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries are meeting for the first time since the election of a new Indian government that is eager to avoid losing influence to rival power China.As chair of Saarc, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul opened the summit and handed over the responsibility of the chair of the regional bloc to Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Ahead of the summit, three meetings at foreign ministers', foreign secretaries' and joint secretaries' levels decided to scrap three Saarc regional centres and merge four others into one. It also decided to improve agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security, enhance cooperation on trade, economy, finance, investment, energy, connectivity, health, education and agriculture and bring about project-based engagement of the Saarc observers. It decided to accord body status to the South Asian Women's Development Forum and upgrade the Saarc Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre laboratory to a Supranational Laboratory as the agenda for the summit. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay are attending the summit.



Ferguson shooting: US cop not charged in unarmed teen's death, protests erupt
Missouri, November 25, 2014
Missouri grand jury voted not to charge a white police officer for the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teenager, an incident that set off weeks of sometimes violent protests around the St Louis area, a county prosecutor said on Monday.
Angry crowds took to the streets around the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and there were flashes of violence after the grand jury determined there was no probable cause to charge officer Darren Wilson with any crime for the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The incident highlighted longstanding racial tensions in the predominantly black city, which has a white-dominated power structure."They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson," St Louis county prosecutor Bob McCulloch told reporters in Clayton, Missouri, the St Louis suburb where the grand jury met.
Brown's family said they were "profoundly disappointed" by the grand jury's finding. "While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change," the family said in a statement released by its attorneys.Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, wearing sunglasses, listens to the announcement of the grand jury decision. (AP Photo) Attorneys for Wilson, who has avoided the spotlight since the shooting, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. President Barack Obama called for protesters to remain peaceful and for police to show restraint."We are a nation built on the rule of law and so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," Obama in a televised news conference. "We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact remains that in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between police and communities of color." A crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the Ferguson police department ahead of the news, and many began to scream angrily as the news of the grand jury's decision was read.
"Murderers, you're nothing but murderers," one woman shouted through a megaphone at officers clad in riot gear. "Stinking murderers." A group of protesters briefly mobbed a police car, throwing rocks and knocking out its windows, prompting a group of officers clad in riot gear to advance. Sounds of gunshots briefly caused police to take cover behind their vehicles. Police later fired tear gas at the crowd. "They need to understand that when you put your son in the ground, that's a pain that you can never overcome," said Paulette Wilkes, a 40-year-old teacher's assistant. "People are trying to process it. I think once they process it they will continue to burn and loot because they're angry." Missouri governor Jay Nixon called up the National Guard ahead of the announcement of the decision to guard against the kind of rioting that flared in the weeks after the August 9 shooting. Some activists described the decision to preemptively activate the guard as unnecessarily heavy-handed, particularly following complaints that police inflamed crowds in August by responding in a heavily militarized posture, using tear gas and rubber bullets. The grand jury, with nine white and three black members, began meeting in late August and heard evidence that included witnesses called by the prosecution as well as a private pathologist hired by the Brown family to review the shooting. Protesters march during a rally near the Chicago Police headquarters after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. (AP Photo) McCulloch declined to say if the jury's decision was unanimous, noting that grand jury proceedings are completely secret and that only the jury members McCulloch described a tangled mass of conflicting testimony from 60 witnesses about what happened during the incident that led to Brown's death, but said much of it did not square with the physical evidence. "Many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they did not see the shooting," McCulloch said. "The grand jury worked tirelessly to examine and reexamine the testimony of all the witnesses and all the physical evidence." Lawyers for Brown's family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense. Witnesses disagreed on whether Brown's hands were up at the time he was shot, McCulloch said, adding that Wilson shot at Brown 12 times, with the final shot hitting Brown in the top of his head. Brown is suspected of having stolen cigars from a nearby convenience store shortly before the incident. Brown and a friend had been walking down the middle of the street when Wilson approached them. Police said in August that Wilson was not aware of the robbery at the time. In other US cities, protesters gathered in mostly peaceful demonstrations. A crowd of about three dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Clayton where the grand jury had met, and many stood in stunned silence following the news.
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All MPs have a responsibility to run the country: Modi
New Delhi, November 24, 2014
Opposition parties, led by the Congress, are set to play hardball over the Modi government’s legislative agenda on reforms even as the Centre has lined up an extensive list of business for the winter session of Parliament.On Monday, however, both the Houses are expected to be adjourned after obituary reference for sitting Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Murli Deora who died early morning.The government has lined up 37 bills for introduction and another 19 for passage during the session. The list includes GST bill, Insurance act amendment bill and Lokpal bill amendments.Tuesday may see confrontation in the Upper House as the government has listed two labour reforms bills—the Labour Laws Amendment Bill and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill – that the Congress-led Opposition may flex its muscle over.“We do not have a blanket opposition to reforms. But on these (labour) bills we need to talk to labour unions first and take them on board,” Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told HT.Most unions are opposed to amendments to the factories act and the pprenticeship act which are pending before parliament.Trinamool Congress, already holding the Modi government responsible for its MP Srinjoy Bose’s arrest by the CBI, slammed the decision to hold the all-party meet on a Sunday.Its chief spokesperson Derek O’Brien told HT, "They had all the time in the world to call this meeting. They picked a Sunday to show as if only they are working". O’Brien added they are in touch with different non-NDA parties and want to raise the issue of black money "aggressively".Helping the NDA brace against the coming Opposition storm, the Shiv Sena gave its “full support” to the Modi government. “There may be some unfinished negotiations in Maharashtra, but we are supporting the NDA from inside,” said Sena leader Sanjay Rout.




PM Modi copying my scheme of adopting villages, building toilets: Mulayam Singh Yadav
LUCKNOW: Nov 23, 2014, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "copying" his schemes of adopting villages and constructing toilets. "He (Modi) is talking about adopting villages. I have adopted villages in 1990. The Prime Minister is copying me. I have done all this. I have initiated construction of toilets in 1990," Yadav said while addressing a function here. The SP chief said "you talk about removing 'gandagi'. You first remove poverty and it will automatically vanish." I have done, what he (PM) is talking now. You all should know, he added. READ ALSO: Mulayam rides a buggy on birthday, Azam Khan says Taliban, Dawood funded celebrations He asked party leaders, including legislators and ministers, to adopt at least two villages and work there."If you all work in your area and understand your responsibilities, change would be visible," Yadav said.Samajwadi Party cheif Mulayam Singh Yadav with UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan cutting cake on the occassion of Mulayam Singh Yadav's 75th birthday. (PTI Photo) Welcoming Prime Minister's foreign visits, the SP chief said, "I personally feel that it's good that he is touring. We should have good relations with our neighbours and other countries and lessen enmity." He said he will ask the PM that with how many countries he had established friendship.




Alarm in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu as Andhra’s Naidu 2.0 goes on business hunt
Nov 23, 2014,
HYDERABAD/BENGALURU/CHENNAI: For many years, after he lost office in 2004, Chandrababu Naidu would flinch when complimented on his industry-friendly approach as chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. He seemed wary of owning up to his past, attributing his electoral loss to the pursuit of liberal economic policies that were seen to be focused around Hyderabad and ignored the rest of the state, particularly rural AP. Back in the saddle this June, Naidu 2.0 is closer to his old avatar. His pincer raids on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have raised hackles in both Bengaluru and Chennai. Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has complained to PM Narendra Modi about the unfair tax breaks Andhra gets because of its 'new state' status. And no surprise, J Jayalalithaa shot off a similar missive to the PM.That the chief minister of a state that's synonymous with IT and accounts for almost 40% of India's technology industry is worried about Naidu's charm offensive is a good indicator of how seriously Karnataka is taking the Naidu threat. Naidu wants to attract $2 billion in IT investments over the next five years to Andhra. He also wants to create 50 lakh tech jobs, take broadband connectivity (1000 mbps or gigabit) to every village, and make at least one person e-literate in every household. To boost entrepreneurship, he plans to create one-million sq ft of incubation space by 2019. In early November, Naidu was back in Bengaluru for the nth time, meeting industry captains and entrepreneurs. He made a pit stop at Cisco's campus where he addressed employees at an all-hands meeting, perhaps the first town hall hosted to welcome the head of a local state. He shared his vision on how technology would be the backbone of his new state. He also met senior executives from Flipkart, First American Corporation, ITC Infotech and ABB among others.



Rampal has Maoist links, say Haryana cops after Hisar ashram crackdown
New Delhi, November 20, 2014
Haryana Police have struck upon a Maoist link to controversial Haryana-based leader Rampal, whose ashram in Hisar saw two days of bloody and chaotic scenes before his arrest on Wednesday evening. Engineer-turned-religious leader Rampal was wanted on a series of charges including conspiracy to murder. (File Photo) In August, Haryana Police arrested Mahaveer Saklani, believed to be a sub-area commander in the banned CPI (Maoist). Saklani was staying at the Barwala ashram of Rampal before he was picked up from Gurgaon in a joint operation with the Special Task Force (STF) of Bihar Police. Central intelligence sources told HT that Saklani, who hails from East Champaran district in Bihar, had slipped into Nepal a few years ago, but returned to India and settled down at the Barwala ashram. “A source tipped us off about his return to India. This was passed on to the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which tracked him to Barwala,” a senior central intelligence official said. Saklani’s earlier involvement with the ashram has been passed on to the Union home ministry. After the siege of the ashram began on Tuesday, state police questioned Saklani to map details of the ashram’s fortifications as well as tactical capabilities of Rampal’s followers. Saklani is believed to have helped Rampal’s followers fortify the campus during his stay there. “He instructed them on to how to make petrol bombs and gave them rudimentary training in firearms,” the intelligence official added. “Saklani was active in the Maoist movement in Bihar’s northern districts before the three major factions came together as CPI (Maoist). He then continued to work in Jharkhand and Bihar before escaping to Nepal,” a senior home ministry official told HT. “Cases have been registered against him since 2001 but we are yet to establish his exact hierarchy within the Maoists.” According to other intelligence officials, Saklani stayed in the ashram where he told everyone that he was a doctor, even though he lacked any formal training in medicine.



Delhi girl murdered before friends could celebrate wedding
New Delhi, November 20, 2014
November 16 was the day Abhishek and Bhawna’s friends had planned to celebrate the couple’s union. Instead, they spent the day searching for Bhawna only to find out that she was dead.It all began on November 4, 2012, a Saturday. As was their custom, Abhishek, then 22, and his close friend Vishal went to meet a friend at a party. According to Vishal, they were waiting for that friend outside Venkateswara College when they were greeted by two women, one of whom was 19-year-old Bhawna. “But a month later, we knew they were a couple. We would all hang out together and go on outings across the city every weekend. Abhishek would ride his bike with Bhawna riding pillion. He even taught her to ride a scooty,” said Vishal.Bhawna, whose father is a property dealer, told her parents about Abhishek and how she wanted to marry him. The couple tried everything to convince them, but failed. They even went ahead and fixed her engagement to a Gurgaon resident who was from their caste. She had fought hard with them then, Vishal remembered. The engagement was scheduled for November 22.But Bhawna had other plans. She wanted to marry Abhishek before that happened. “They decided to marry, hoping that Bhawna’s parents would accept Abhishek in the days to come. We had planned a party on November 16 to celebrate the marriage. But it wasn’t meant to be. The day we were to celebrate, we were frantically searching for Bhawna. That evening we came to know that she had been murdered,” said another friend.Bhawna’s friends told HT that Bhawna had been quite excited about the wedding. An indulgent Abhishek had gone with her when she had visited several shops in Tilak Nagar market in the first week of November to try out several outfits for her big day. She had finally settled for a red and blue lehnga which she wore on her wedding at the Arya Samaj temple. Abhishek had even bought a pendant for his new wife.The two had given their outfits to a friend to keep their wedding a secret from their parents. On the morning of November 12, Abhishek left his house with his friends for the temple at Connaught Place where Bhawna was already present. The wedding took place there. The temple issued them a certificate and their friends signed up as witnesses.



Six dead at Rampal's Hisar ashram, godman still evading arrest: Haryana DGP
New Delhi, November 19, 2014
Six people, incuding a child, have died during the action at the Hisar ashram to arrest godman Rampal, but the cause of their deaths is yet to be known, Haryana police said Wednesday.Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said at a news conference that the dead included five women. The bodies which were found inside the ashram were sent to hospital for postmortem examination.
"There were no bullet or other injury marks on the dead. The police have not yet entered the ashram. The autopsy will reveal the cause of deaths," Vashisht said emphasising the ashram inmates had not died in the police action.Police also said 5,000 of Rampal's followers are still holed up inside the ashram and they have been asked to come out peacefully or face further action."We cannot launch a fullscale assault as there are many innocents are still trapped inside. More than 10,000 have come out safely so far and police have managed to save many lives," Vashisht said.Authorities had called off the operation on Tuesday evening after violent resistance from Rampal's followers foiled police attempts to enter the ashram.The godman is still elusive. While Haryana DGP SN Vashisht said they believe Rampal was inside the ashram, its spokesperson Raj Kapoor said Rampal was "unwell" and was being treated at an "undisclosed location".The police had tried to storm Satlok Ashram on the outskirts of Hisar city to arrest the 63-year-old self-styled godman who is wanted on murder charges when his supporters fired with country-made weapons from inside.Rampal's followers fought pitched battles by lobbing petrol bombs to thwart the charge by a 3,000-strong contingent of Haryana police commandos to storm the high-walled complex.Police have so far failed to produce the controversial guru in court in connection with a contempt of court case. Rampal is on bail in another case in connection with the killing of a man in firing from his ashram in Rohtak in 2006.




Winter session to see if friends-turned-foes in Maharashtra remain allies at Centre
NEW DELHI: Nov 16 The winter session of Parliament beginning next week is expected to see whether the friends-turned-foes in Maharashtra would remain allies at the Centre.Shiv Sena, which has been the oldest ideological ally of the BJP, is sitting in the opposition benches in Maharashtra while its nominee is part of the Narendra Modi Cabinet in New Delhi.Interestingly, ahead of the Parliament session, Sharad Pawar's NCP has become a strange bedfellow of BJP in Maharashtra while being the second largest constituent of Congress-led UPA in Delhi."We have not taken a decision about our future course of action. There have been some issues of discord. We have differences of opinion on some matters," Shiv Sena spokesman and leader of the party in Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut told PTI.A tussle appeared to be on in Shiv Sena on the course to be adopted with a section still seeking sharing of power with BJP while another wanting the party to play the role of the opposition.



Facebook to curb promotional posts on user timelines
November 15, 2014
acebook on Friday said it is making moves to reduce the number of promotional posts that pop up in timelines, in response to users' demands for fewer advertisements.Beginning in January, people should start seeing fewer posts in news feeds urging them to do things such as buy products, download applications or enter sweepstakes, according to the leading social media titan."People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content," the California-based social network company said in a blog post. The change was prompted by a survey that revealed Facebook users think there are too many advertisement-like posts in news feeds.The social media giant said it discovered that a lot of pitches that came across as advertising were actually posts from pages people had "liked," according to the blog post."This may seem counter-intuitive, but it actually makes sense," Facebook said. "News feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads... but those same controls haven't been as closely monitored for promotional page posts." New controls are being put in place to filter overly ad-like posts, according to the social network. But the adjustment will not change the number of ads served up to users, according to Facebook.




Chhattisgarh sterilisation deaths: Doctor held, more arrests likely
New Delhi, November 13, 2014
TV reports said the other doctors who assisted in the surgery too were likely to be arrested soon.NDTV quoted Dr Gupta as saying that he was not at fault and that he was pressurised by authorities to meet targets Incidentally, Dr Gupta was reportedly awarded by health minister Amar Agarwal for conducting a record 50,000 surgeries in his career. He was on the run since the first deaths were reported and an FIR was lodged against him on Tuesday. The 59-year old doctor had operated on 83 women last Saturday in Takhatpur health camp, which would mean that he spent just two minutes per tubectomy.Meanwhile reports in The Indian Express said that even after the botched Bilaspur surgeries, 26 more tubectomies were done in one hour at another camp. This happened at the Gaurela camp where one woman died and 20 others reported post-surgery complications.As was the case in Bilaspur, at the Gaurela camp, 26 women were operated upon in less than an hour.Meanwhile even as reports said that rusted equipment were used in thhe surgeries, a team of doctors from Delhi's premier AIIMS hospital is in Bilaspur to investigate what happened.



Shiv Sena helps BJP's Bagde become speaker, but will vote against Fadnavis in floor test
New Delhi, November 12, 2014
BJP's Haribhau Bagde was Wednesday elected the speaker of the Maharashtra assembly unopposed after the Shiv Sena and the Congress withdrew their candidates.The Shiv Sena, despite the ongoing war of words with the BJP, left a window open for reconciliation by withdrawing its candidate Vijay Auti for the speaker's post at the last moment.The Congress too withdrew its candidate Varsha Gaikwad , paving the way for Haribhau Bagde to be elected speaker of the assembly unanimously.
However the Sena said it will sit in the opposition and vote against the Fadnavis government during the trust vote later in the house.
Sena leader Ramdas Kadam told reporters that the MLAs have been told by the party leadership to vote against the BJP in the election for the assembly speaker and in the trust vote.He however said that the Sena leadership was still in talks with the BJP, further adding to the uncertainty over the future of politcal relations between the two former allies
The BJP immediately hit back with minister Sudhir Mungantiwar saying , "Shiv Sena's decision is purely to benefit their party. It's not in the interests of Maharashtra."The Sena MLAs were summoned to the party headquarters in the morning and was asked to be present in the house and follow the leadershipship's orders on voting.The BJP is confident it will sail through the trust vote with support from the NCP. "We have the numbers and we will win the trust vote in the Maharashtra assembly", party leader Eknath Khadse said.Earlier the Sena upped its offensive with its editorial in the Saamna saying that BJP's only aim was to save the government , and that it was willing to take the support of the 'corrupt' NCP."Are you (BJP) going to win the confidence vote with the aid of these rats (NCP)? You will have to answer to the people. But in reality you cannot tell anyone where you will end up taking Maharashtra with the aid of these rats, " the editorial said.In his meeting with party MLAs Tuesday evening , Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had asked them to be prepared to sit in the Opposition if there was no reconciliation with the BJP.They were told the party was not in the mood to compromise and would join the government only if a respectable proposal was put forward.Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had called up Thackeray to urge him to withdraw the nomination filed by his party for the post of speaker. Thackeray reportedly told Fadnavis a decision will be taken based on the outcome of the negotiations on a power-sharing formula between leaders of both the parties.Though the Sena is still hopeful of a headway , the proposals being put forth by the BJP did not match the Sena demand, said party sources.Some Sena leaders claimed the BJP’s top brass in Delhi, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, were in constant touch with their leaders and this may result in a positive outcome at the last moment.Jaitley was talking to Sena MP Anil Desai till late night on Tuesday. Union minister and BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s statement that they were positive of the outcome of the talks with the Sena kept the party’s hopes alive.


Chhattisgarh: 8 women dead, 25 critical after sterilisation surgery in govt camp
New Delhi, November 11, 2014
Eight women have died and more than 25 others are in critical condition after undergoing sterilisation surgeries in a camp held at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. Organised by the Chhattisgarh government in the home district of state health minister Amar Agarwal, the camp saw 83 women being operated upon on Saturday as part of the annual family planning camp. After the women started complaining of severe pain, they were referred to the Bilaspur district hospital, where eight of the women died. The women -- all residents of neighbouring villages and most from BPL families -- had undergone the laparoscopic tubectomy in just five hours at the camp in Takhatpur area of Bilaspur. "Since Monday eight women have died and 64 are in various hospitals," said Sonmani Borah, a Chhattisgarh government official said. Though health officials denied any negligence, some admit that too many surgeries were perfomed in one day to meet targets. The government has set up a three-member panel to investigate the incident, and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh each for the families of the women who died, and Rs. 50,000 for those who are undergoing treatment. These camps are held between October and February, and women who go through the surgery



World Chess Championship: 'Whiz kid' Carlsen draws first blood, beats Anand
New Delhi November 10, 2014
Defending champion Magnus Carlsen outplayed Viswanathan Anand on Sunday in 35 moves in the second game of the World Chess Championship being held at Sochi.23-year-old Carlsen started with white and tore down Anand's Berlin defence by swinging the game first to queen's side and from there on to the king's side.On the seventh move, the champion went in for an early trading of his white bishop for black's queen side knight, in the process disturbed Anand's pawn structure.Here is the game board at the end of game 1. You can press the arrow buttons and play the game from scratch.On move 11, Carlsen played a4 with an intention of creating a weak queen rook pawn for Anand. Undeterred Anand played a5 which in turn opened up the files for his two bishops.In his next move, Carlsen traded his knight for Anand's black bishop. This shifted the play to the centre of the board.He then brought his queen side rook into play moving it a3 to be ready for an attack. At this position, all his pieces were ready for action with the field clear for forward movement and ready for a long grind.Though there was no major threat for Anand's king, the piece mobilisation was a psychological attack.At the end of the 22nd move, both players had two rooks, queen and seven pawns.By this time, Carlsen had moved in to an active position, while Anand seemed to have lost the plot.Anand, more popular of the two on social media, managed to achieve a tangible position but made a blunder in the end with h5, allowing Carlsen to take his queen to b7.Along with his rook on e7, Anand decided to call it Carlsen said he had to double check whether his queen's move was actually a winning one."It is a pity I threw it away," Anand said."Vishy self destructed today. I think he created a big hole for himself and it is nearly impossible to get out of," Susan Polgar, a four-time women's World chess champion, told IANS.With his first victory as early as in the second tie of the 12-game match, Carlsen now leads the series by 1.5-0.5. Team Anand will now have to think of something out-of-the-box to contain the Carlsen juggernaut



21 new ministers join PM Narendra Modi's government, Shiv Sena boycotts oath ceremony
NEW DELHI:November 09, 2014 Former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and three others were on Sunday inducted into the Union Cabinet as Prime Minister Narendra Modi expanded his council of ministers, bringing in 21 new ministers as Shiv Sena kept away from the exercise.

Suresh Prabhu, a former Shiv Sainik and power minister in Vajpayee government, senior BJP leader JP Nadda and Jat leader from Haryana Birender Singh, who joined BJP ahead of assembly elections, were the other Cabinet ministers to take oath of office and secrecy at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Unresolved issues between Sena and BJP in Maharashtra stopped Sena MP Anil Desai from taking oath as he reportedly returned to Mumbai from the airport after arriving here on Sunday morning.

Bandaru Dattatreya and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who were ministers in the Vajpayee government, and Mahesh Sharma, newly-elected MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar bordering Delhi, were sworn-in as Ministers of State with Independent Charge.

New Cabinet ministers: (Clockwise from top left) Manohar Parrikar, Suresh Prabhu, Birender Singh, JP Nadda. (Photo: ANI/Twitter)

14 other ministers of state were sworn in. They are Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Ram Kripal Yadav, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, Sanwar Lal Jat and Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya Giriraj Singh, Hansraj Ahir, Ram Shankar Katheria, Jayant Sinha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Babul Supriyo, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Vijay Sampla (all BJP) and Y S Chowdary, a Rajya Sabha member from TDP.




Dhanbad men held for wearing ISIS shirts during Muharram procession
Dhanbad/Ranchi, November 05, 2014
Dhanbad Police detained two cousins for questioning on Wednesday after they were seen wearing T-shirts printed with the words 'ISIS Pakistan' and allegedly promoting the violent militant group during a Muharram procession.Shakir Rashid, 20, and Mohammad Javed Rashid, 22, were seen in the procession on Tuesday, but trouble began for them a day later when a local daily published Sadiq's photograph in the ISIS T-shirt.Dhanbad police superintendent Hemant Toppo said, "Prima facie, we have not found any terror links (to) the three youths. The boys have revealed that they were portraying as terrorists during the street play organised on account of Muharram."Shakir Rashid, 20, and Mohammad Javed Rashid, 22, were seen in the procession on Tuesday. (HT photo)But other police sources said the brothers had admitted to being inspired by the terror group and that they wanted to join the organisation but couldn't do so because they didn’t know who to contact.
Working on a tip-off from them, the police also picked up one Sanjay Saw, 24, the owner of a printing firm for embossing “ISIS Pakistan” on the duo's T-Shirts.
Vishnu Rajak, officer in-charge of the Jharia police station, said the interrogation was still on.
"We are verifying their antecedents and trying to find out (the) names of people who are behind these youths and supporting them into the illegal act," he said. Jharkhand, has of late, been in news for being home to several sleeper cells of banned terrorist outfits, the SIMI and Indian Mujahideen. Last year’s serial blasts at Patna Gandhi Maidan during a rally by Narendra Modi was planned and executed by Jharkhand- based militant sleeper cells. All the accused in the blasts have been arrested.
"This is something very serious," said Jharkhand Minority Commission chairman Shahid Akhtar."Police should go deeper and expose those who are trying to instigate the vulnerable youth into such acts," he said, suggesting stringent punishments against those found guilty. "We are in constant touch with Dhanbad police. Our team will step in once they are done with their preliminary probe," additional director general of Jharkhand CID, S N Pradhan said.



Republicans take control of Senate in US midterm elections
WASHINGTON: Riding a powerful wave of voter discontent, resurgent Republicans captured control of the Senate and tightened their grip on the House Tuesday night in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama's final two years in office. Republican Mitch McConnell led the way to a new Senate majority, dispatching Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are "hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful," said the man now in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda.
Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado was next, defeated by Rep. Cory Gardner. Senator Kay Hagan also lost, in North Carolina, to Thom Tilllis, the speaker of the state House.Republicans also picked up seats in Iowa, West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana, where Democrats retired. They had needed a net gain of six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006.
With dozens of House races uncalled, Republicans had picked up nine seats in Democratic hands, and given up only one.
Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure — not to his liking. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.
A shift in control of the Senate will likely result in a strong GOP assault on budget deficits, additional pressure on Democrats to accept sweeping changes to the health care law that stands as Obama's signal domestic accomplishment and a bid to reduce federal regulations.Speaker John Boehner, in line for a third term as head of the House, said the new Republican-controlled Congress would vote soon in the new year on the "many common-sense jobs and energy bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support but were never even brought to a vote by the outgoing Senate majority."Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada is likely among them.There were 36 gubernatorial elections on the ballot, and several incumbents struggled against challengers. Tom Wolf captured the Pennsylvania statehouse for the Democrats, defeating Republican governor Tom Corbett. Democratic governor Pat Quinn lost in Illinois, Obama's home state.In a footnote to one of the year's biggest political surprises, college professor Dave Brat was elected to the House from Virginia, several months after he defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary.
House Republicans defeated 19-term Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall in West Virginia, beat Rep. John Barrow in Georgia and picked up a seat vacated by a lawmaker in North Carolina.(South Carolina governor Nikki Haley celebrates with her husband Michael Haley at campaign headquarters on the election day. Haley beat Democratic state Senator Vincent Sheheen to win a second term. AP Photo)Nearly two-thirds of voters interviewed after casting ballots said the country was seriously on the wrong track. Only about 30 percent said it was generally going in the right direction.More than four in ten voters disapproved of both Obama and Congress, according to the exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.
Still, a majority of those polled supported several positions associated with Democrats or Obama rather than Republicans - saying immigrants in the country illegally should be able to work, backing US military involvement against Islamic State fighters, and agreeing that climate change is a serious problem.No matter which party emerged with control of the Senate, a new chapter in divided government was inevitable in a nation marked by profound unease over the future and dissatisfaction with its political leaders.There, Democratic Senator Mark Warner held a narrow lead over former Republican Party chairman and Bush administration official Ed Gillespie.There was a little good news for Democrats in New Hampshire, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen was re-elected after a difficult race against former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.
But in Georgia, Michelle Nunn lost to businessman David Perdue, depriving the Democrats of their last best chance to take away a Republican seat. In Kansas, 78-year-old Senator Pat Roberts fended off a challenge from independent Greg Orman, shutting off another avenue for the Democrats - their last.Among the newly elected Republican senators was Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the first member of her party to win a seat there in more than a half century.State Senator Jodi Ernst of Iowa also won, after a campaign that took off when she aired an ad saying she had learned how to castrate hogs as a girl growing up on a ranch.


US right-to-die advocate Brittany Maynard kills self
Angeles, November 03, 2014
Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old American woman with terminal cancer has committed suicide, following promises to do so that had triggered shock and controversy over the right to die.Maynard, a brain cancer sufferer, made headlines earlier this month when a video of her making her suicide threat went viral and was seen by millions of Web users."Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me... but would have taken so much more," she wrote in a message circulated widely on social media."The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type... Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"In January, Maynard was given six months to live and told her death would be painful because of the aggressive nature of her cancer. She had been trying for a first child with her husband Dan Diaz at the time, but gave up due to her disease.Maynard and her husband, who had just married when she began having severe headaches, moved from their home in California to Oregon, one of a handful of US states with a "right-to-die" law.A doctor could therefore prescribe her the medication she needs to end her own life, surrounded by her family in the bedroom she shares with her husband.On Thursday, she had released a new video in which she said she might temporarily delay her appointment with a self-administered cocktail of potentially deadly drugs.But the delay was a short one. Her story has made headlines around the world, and she was featured on the cover of last week's People magazine in the United States.Maynard has in recent weeks and months been working to tick off items on a "bucket list" of what she wants to do before she dies -- including traveling to the Grand Canyon last week.- See more at:



Maharashtra CM Fadnavis swings into action, says will review decisions of Cong-NCP rule
Mumbai, November 01, 2014
Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the state’s 27th chief minister along with nine ministers – seven cabinet rank and two junior – in a grand ceremony at the Wankhede stadium on Friday. The 44-year-old four-time MLA from Nagpur is the second youngest chief minister of Maharashtra and the first leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to take up the state’s top job.The new chief minister swung into action almost immediately after assuming charge, saying his government would ensure transparency and bring in a law to ensure an effective service mechanism for the people. “People want their work done without any delay. We will bring in a law under which the government (officers and other staffers) would deliver service as quickly as possible,” Fadnavis said during his first media interaction after being sworn in as chief minister. The CM said he would also review decisions taken by the former government, as it involved expenditure of more than Rs52,000 crore. “If we were to execute these schemes, we will need to raise loans to finance them. We will examine how feasible these decisions are,” he said.Fadnavis said the allocation of portfolios would be done on Saturday, with the home and finance departments most likely to stay with him.Earlier, Fadnavis and his nine ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, with the 40,000-50,000-strong crowd cheering each time a leader was sworn in. The glittering ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, senior party leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, chief ministers of other BJP-ruled states, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, India Inc bigwigs and Bollywood celebrities, among others.However, the surprise package of the afternoon was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was present with wife Rashmi and party MP Vinayak Raut, after having decided on Thursday to boycott the event. Uddhav was cajoled into making an appearance by Fadnavis and Union minister Arun Jaitley, with both speaking to the former earlier in the ay.Signalling a breakthrough in talks between the two parties, Shah had a meeting with Uddhav immediately after the ceremony.Currently, the BJP has formed a minority government with 121 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. The party has claimed to have support of 16 more legislators – a few independents and others from small parties. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with its 41 MLAs has extended outside support to the government. If the Sena comes on board with its 63 MLAs, the government would not have any trouble in proving its majority on the floor of the House and won’t need the NCP’s backing. The session of the state Assembly is likely to be held between November 10 and 12, in which the Fadnavis government will table the trust vote.The NCP, meanwhile, made its presence felt on Friday at the Wankhede, with its senior leaders, barring party chief Sharad Pawar, sharing the dais with the BJP leaders.The BJP’s strategy for the future seemed clearer, with the party ensuring regional and social balance while picking the nine ministers who took charge on Friday. Fadnavis being a Brahmin, there are two Marathas in his team – Chandrakant Patil from western Maharashtra and Vinod Tawde from Mumbai. Patil, a close aide Shah, is expected to work as the party chief’s link with the state government.
While Eknath Khadse is a Leva Patil, from north Maharashtra, Sudhir Munganttiwar is from Chandrapur, Vidarbha, and Pankaja Munde, daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, will be the BJP’s other backward class (OBC) face in the government.Mumbai was given representation through Prakash Mehta, the face of BJP’s dedicated vote bank of Gujaratis; and Vidya Thakur, a north Indian from Goregaon.Vishnu Savra, a leader from the tribal community in Thane, was also sworn in, along with Dilip Kamble, a Dalit leader from Pune.The initial team of nine ministers has two women. The BJP said the team would be expanded after the trust vote is passed by the government. The bigger team would have leaders from the Shiv Sena, if the party joins the government, and other smaller allies.Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the state’s 27th chief minister along with nine ministers – seven cabinet rank and two junior – in a grand ceremony at the Wankhede stadium on Friday. The 44-year-old four-time MLA from Nagpur is the second youngest chief minister of Maharashtra and the first leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to take up the state’s top job.The new chief minister swung into action almost immediately after assuming charge, saying his government would ensure transparency and bring in a law to ensure an effective service mechanism for the people. “People want their work done without any delay. We will bring in a law under which the government (officers and other staffers) would deliver service as quickly as possible,” Fadnavis said during his first media interaction after being sworn in as chief minister. The CM said he would also review decisions taken by the former government, as it involved expenditure of more than Rs52,000 crore. “If we were to execute these schemes, we will need to raise loans to finance them. We will examine how feasible these decisions are,” he said.Fadnavis said the allocation of portfolios would be done on Saturday, with the home and finance departments most likely to stay with him.Earlier, Fadnavis and his nine ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, with the 40,000-50,000-strong crowd cheering each time a leader was sworn in. The glittering ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, senior party leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, chief ministers of other BJP-ruled states, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, India Inc bigwigs and Bollywood celebrities, among others.However, the surprise package of the afternoon was Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was present with wife Rashmi and party MP Vinayak Raut, after having decided on Thursday to boycott the event. Uddhav was cajoled into making an appearance by Fadnavis and Union minister Arun Jaitley, with both speaking to the former earlier in the day.Signalling a breakthrough in talks between the two parties, Shah had a meeting with Uddhav immediately after the ceremony.Currently, the BJP has formed a minority government with 121 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. The party has claimed to have support of 16 more legislators – a few independents and others from small parties. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with its 41 MLAs has extended outside support to the government. If the Sena comes on board with its 63 MLAs, the government would not have any trouble in proving its majority on the floor of the House and won’t need the NCP’s backing. The session of the state Assembly is likely to be held between November 10 and 12, in which the Fadnavis government will table the trust vote.
The NCP, meanwhile, made its presence felt on Friday at the Wankhede, with its senior leaders, barring party chief Sharad Pawar, sharing the dais with the BJP leaders.The BJP’s strategy for the future seemed clearer, with the party ensuring regional and social balance while picking the nine ministers who took charge on Friday. Fadnavis being a Brahmin, there are two Marathas in his team – Chandrakant Patil from western Maharashtra and Vinod Tawde from Mumbai. Patil, a close aide Shah, is expected to work as the party chief’s link with the state government.While Eknath Khadse is a Leva Patil, from north Maharashtra, Sudhir Munganttiwar is from Chandrapur, Vidarbha, and Pankaja Munde, daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, will be the BJP’s other backward class (OBC) face in the government.Mumbai was given representation through Prakash Mehta, the face of BJP’s dedicated vote bank of Gujaratis; and Vidya Thakur, a north Indian from Goregaon.
Vishnu Savra, a leader from the tribal community in Thane, was also sworn in, along with Dilip Kamble, a Dalit leader from Pune.The initial team of nine ministers has two women. The BJP said the team would be expanded after the trust vote is passed by the government. The bigger team would have leaders from the Shiv Sena, if the party joins the government, and other smaller allies.



Nasa rocket headed for space station explodes after liftoff

Irene Klotz, Reuters October 29, 2014
An unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff from a commercial launch pad in Virginia on Tuesday, marking the first accident since Nasa turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.The 14-story rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility at 6:22pm EDT/2222 GMT carrying a Cygnus cargo ship bound for the space station. It appeared to burst into flames moments later, then plunged to the ground in a huge ball of fire and smoke, but authorities said no one was hurt.The six crew members in orbit aboard the space station - two Nasa astronauts, one from the European Space Agency and three Russian cosmonauts - were informed of the accident, Nasa spokesman Dan Huot said.With a Russian cargo ship due to reach the space station on Wednesday shortly after a separate launch from Kazakhstan, the loss of the Cygnus vessel posed no immediate supply shortage for the orbiting team."There was no cargo that was absolutely critical" aboard Cygnus, Nasa Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier said. The White House said President Barack Obama also was briefed.Orbital Sciences stock fell 15.5 percent to a two-month low of $25.65 in after-hours trading.The cause of the mishap was not immediately known, Huot said. He said there were no reports of any personnel in the vicinity of the explosion.The spacecraft was carrying "some classified cryptographic equipment, so we do need to maintain the area around the debris in a secure manner," said Mike Pinkston, the company's Antares program manager.The National Security Agency had no immediate comment on the classified equipment reported to be aboard the cargo ship. NASA launch control said damage appeared to be limited to the launch facility and rocket. The Antares rocket has been launched successfully on four previous missions."This has been a lot of hard work to get to this point," Orbital Sciences Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson told the launch team just before liftoff.Footage of the launch broadcast on Nasa TV showed the Antares rising slowly into the night sky as flames suddenly engulfed the rocket, from the bottom to the top, and the vehicle sank back downward in an enormous conflagration.Ronda Miller, manager of the Ocean Deli in Wallops Island, Virginia, told Reuters she felt the force of the blast from the eatery, about 5 miles (8 km) from the launch pad."We were standing outside waiting for it to launch and we saw bright red, and then we saw a big black cloud, and it shook the whole building where we work at," Miller said. "And then I came back in to work and seen fire trucks going every which way."The launch had been delayed one day after a boat sailed into a restricted safety zone beneath the rocket's intended flight path.Virginia-based Orbital Sciences is one of two companies hired by Nasa to fly cargo to the station after the space shuttles were retired.Tuesday's planned flight was to be the third of eight under the company's $1.9 billion contract with Nasa.The second US supply line to the station is run by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, which is preparing for its fourth flight under a separate $1.6 billion Nasa contract.Outfitted with a new, more powerful upper-stage engine, the Antares rocket launched on Tuesday carried a Cygnus spacecraft packed with 5,055 pounds (2,293 kg) of supplies, science experiments and equipment, a 15 percent increase over previous missions.The Cygnus capsule was the first of two cargo ships scheduled to head to the space station this week. Russia is preparing to launch a Soyuz rocket and Progress freighter from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Cygnus was to loiter in orbit until Nov. 2, then fly itself to the station so astronauts can use a robotic crane to snare the capsule and attach it to a berthing port. The station, a $100 billion research laboratory owned and operated by 15 nations, flies about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth.In addition to food, supplies and equipment, the Cygnus spacecraft was loaded with more than 1,600 pounds (725 kg) of science experiments, including an investigation to chemically analyze meteors as they burn up in Earth's atmosphere.The Cygnus also carried a prototype satellite owned by Redmond, Washington-based startup Planetary Resources Inc., which is developing technology to mine asteroids. The satellite, designated A3, was to be released into space by a commercially owned small spacecraft launcher aboard the station.Orbital Sciences is in the midst of merging with Alliant Techsystem Inc's Aerospace and Defense division, a deal that analysts expect to close sometime early next year. The company is competing for a number of Nasa missions or projects that will help fuel revenue over coming years.The defense sector in general has been hit by cutbacks in federal spending in past years, but of the seven analysts who track Orbital Sciences, five had a "buy" or "strong buy" rating on the stock, and none recommended a "sell" before the mishap.- See more at:




Srinagar, 23 October 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived Srinagar this afternoon to be with the flood affected people of the Kashmir valley on the occasion of "Deepawali". For the first time in the history, Prime Minister of the country is celebrating Diwali in the Kashmir valley, where thousands of people were affected by devastating flood last month. Mr Modi arrived at Srinagar technical airport from Siachen glacier, where he celebrated the festival of lights with the soldiers, deployed on the highest battlefield on Earth in Ladakh region of the Jammu and Kashmir. At Technical Airport , Modi was received by J&K Governor N.N.Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and senior civil, Police and Army officers. The Prime Minister had one to one chat with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at Technical Airport during which he was briefed by the Chief Minister about the progress in the relief and rehabilitation progress. Later, the Prime Minister flew to Raj Bhavan where he is meeting several delegations of flood victims , civil society , businessmen and political representatives.

Though the separatist outfits had called for a general strike today, common people in the valley are hopeful that Mr Modi will announce Diwali gift for their rehabilitation. Prime Minister has already announced Rs 1000 crore package for the flood affected people while the state government has sought Rs 44,000 crore package. This is the fourth visit of Mr Modi to Jammu and Kashmir . However this visit assumes significance as the major populace of the state is expecting a comprehensive relief package after the recent devastating floods that rendered lakhs of people in a state of shock and jeopardy.


Another sexual assault case in Bangalore, 3-year-old abused
Bangalore, October 22, 2014
A three-year-old girl studying in a private school in Bangalore was allegedly sexually abused on Tuesday in her nursery class, police said Wednesday."We have registered a criminal case late Tuesday on a complaint by the victim's father that his young daughter was sexually abused in the Orchid The International School premises," police inspector TC Venkatesh told IANS.
The case was registered under sections 4 and 6 of the Pocso Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012) and section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the unidentified suspect(s).According to the complaint, the girl's mother found her daughter crying and behaving unusual and abnormal when she went to pick her up from the school in the evening."The victim had signs of fever and complained to her mother that she was physically abused by someone she did not know or recognize," the complaint by her father Harpreet Singh said.School officials were not available for comment on the incident due to Diwali holidays from Wednesday till the weekend.City police commissioner MN Reddi appointed Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Sarah Fatima as the investigating officer to probe the case."We are checking the footage of the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the school and questioning its staff and faculty," Venkatesh said.Reddi visited the school late Tuesday with his Deputy (north) TR Suresh and Fatima for spot inspection and questioning the school authorities.The latest incident of child abuse in a city school has occurred three months after a six-year-old girl student was allegedly raped on July 3 in a school in the eastern suburb by its gymnastic coach and his assistant.The accused were arrested three weeks after the incident July 29 and remanded to judicial custody pending investigation and filing of the charge-sheet by police.



Sena goes into huddle as BJP keeps Uddhav guessing on govt formation
Mumbai, October 20, 2014
With the BJP keeping them guessing, Shiv Sena leaders were in a huddle on Monday morning on the terms to join a BJP-led government in Maharashtra.The BJP right now has not fully revealed its cards on whether it would ask the Sena to join the government or accept the outside support offered by Sharad Pawar's NCP.With just 23 short of majority, the BJP's gameplan clearly is to wear down the Sena and make it put up as less demands as possible, including one for the post of chief minister on a rotational basis.The Sena however continued to put up a brave fact, taking a swipe at Narendra Modi in its editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna saying the "wave" seen during the campaign had lost its force.Expressing doubts over the survival of the state amid a hung house, it said the BJP, Congress and NCP benefited from multi-cornered contests."Break up of the Sena-BJP alliance and division of votes due to four and five-cornered fights in all seats benefited BJP as well as Congress-NCP. The Sena-BJP split benefited Congress-NCP.Watch: Modi deserves credit for BJP's victory in Maharashtra, says Majid Memon Given the Lok Sabha results, both these parties could not have won more than 25 seats together," the editorial said.
The Shiv Sena will not comment on how it views the results as of now, because what is important is the view of the "all powerful voters" who gave a fractured verdict, it said."With no party getting a clear majority, there are doubts how the state will survive because of the instability," the editorial said.Taking a swipe at Modi and the BJP, the editorial said the "wave" seen during the campaign had lost its force even before reaching the shores.In some places, there was more foam and less water in the wave," it quipped.



Modi govt shifts finance secy Arvind Mayaram to tourism
Ahmedabad, October 16, 2014
central government has transferred finance secretary Arvind Mayaram to the tourism department and brought in Rajasthan chief secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to replace him, according to a source privy to the development.Mayaram is the second senior official from the finance ministry to be transferred by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. In June, the government had moved out revenue secretary Rajiv Takru. Both Takru and Mayaram were appointed by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.Both Mehrishi and Mayaram are Rajasthan cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers of the 1978 batch.Another significant transfer is of water resources secretary Alok Rawat. He has been moved to administrative reforms, said the source who did not want to be named.Anuj Kumar Bishnoi, additional secretary in the ministry of defence, has been made secretary of water resources and river development and also the newly created Ganga rejuvenation department, an ambitious plan to clean river Ganga — one of Modi’s priorities. Prabhu Dayal Meena has been appointed as secretary ex-servicemen welfare in the ministry of defence while Jammu And Kashmir cadre IAS officer Ashok Kumar Angurana has been made secretary, panchayati raj, in place of Vijya Laxmi Joshi, who was holding additional charge.Vinod Agarwal, advisor to the inter-state council in the home ministry, has been shifted as secretary national commission for Scheduled Castes.



Cyclone Hudhud kills 3 in Andhra Pradesh; power out in 3 districts
Visakhapatnam/ Gopalpur , October 12, 2014
A policeman asks people to move away from Gopalpur beach on Sunday. (Arabinda Mahapatra/ HT photo)
"Three deaths have been reported due to the impact of Hudhud cyclone. Two died after trees fell on them and one in collapse of compound-wall in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts, respectively," Andhra Pradesh chief secretary I V R Krishna Rao said.
"During the cyclone, winds with 195-200 kmph speed have been reported to cause uprooting of a lot of trees. The wind has also damaged electrical poles and mobile towers due to which electricity and communication network have been effected in the area," he said.The very severe storm’s landfall, however, is not the most worrying factor for authorities. The next five to six hours are going to be crucial, especially when the reverse wind flow sets in. The response of people, who have been repeatedly advised to stay indoors, and authorities will be key in minimising damage.The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said even after landfall, Cyclone Hudhud would maintain the intensity of very severe cyclonic storm for six hours and gradually weaken into a cyclonic storm while moving northwestward across south interior Odisha and Chhattisgarh.The damage is likely to be much more to Andhra than Odisha, the IMD said. There is a fear of high tidal waves inundating low-lying areas.Andhra Pradesh and Odisha evacuated hundreds of thousands of people as Hudhud raced towards the east coast states.Reports came in of trees being uprooted and power cables snapping.Around 1.1 lakh people in Andhra and more than 26,000 in Odisha were evacuated as it started raining heavily and the seas turned choppy. All fishing operations were suspended in six districts of Andhra and four of Odisha.Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level emergency meeting attended by top PMO and government officials to review preparedness. The National Crisis Management Committee also met after discussions with the chief secretaries of the two states.Over two lakh people living in and around the vulnerable coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have been evacuated.The Andhra government has made arrangements to evacuate 5,14,725 people in all, officials said, while the army and the Navy have kept their personnel on stand-by for rescue and relief operations. In Odisha, the state government began evacuating people from vulnerable areas to minimise casualties even as two flights and 39 trains on the route were cancelled. Keeping in mind the safety of passengers, East Coast Railway has decided to cancel the services of 38 trains on October 12. Flight operations at Visakhapatnam airport may also be affected.
Hudhud is forecasted to maintain its intensity for up to six hours after landfall before gradually weakening into a cyclonic storm while moving across southern interior Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the Met said. It will bring heavy rain to west and east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts of Andhra and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Phulbani in Odisha in the next 48 hours. In addition, south Chhattisgarh and north Telangana will also receive rain.Odisha administration officials visited seaside villages urging people to move but many stayed put. The police did not force them on to buses heading towards some 300-odd storm shelters, unlike during Cyclone Phailin last year, which left close to 30 dead and displaced 400,000.Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and district administration person during a mock drill before cyclone ‘Hudhud’ in Puri. (HT Photo)Officials also evacuated 360 members of the endangered Bonda tribe from their habitat in the Bonda Hills in Malkangiri district. But many among the group that numbers 7,000 were reluctant to move as they have never ever left the area.
The Centre has stationed 39 National Disaster Response Force teams comprising more than 1,680 rescuers along with 199 inflatable rubber boats in the two states and deployed 20 army rescue and engineering teams. The air force, navy and Coast Guard are also on standby.


Kailash Satyarthi: A relentless crusader for child rights

New Delhi, October 11, 2014

Before he became the second Indian to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, not many had heard Kailash Satyarthi’s name. But within 90 minutes of the announcement, the child's rights activist had gained more than 4,500 followers on Twitter--and the list was growing at blazing speed.The 60-year-old activist has been a relentless crusader of child rights and his organisation, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), has been at the forefront of the drive against child labour in India for years.

The award will benefit the movement'
“It was a passion from my childhood to work for children, I carried it forward," said Satyarthi. “I have been very strongly advocating that poverty must not be used as an excuse to continue child labour. It perpetuates poverty. If children are deprived of education, they remain poor.”Kailash Satyarthi gestures for photographers at this home office after the announcement of him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, in New Delhi. (AFP Photo)
Satyarthi was trained as an electrical engineer, but he began his work by staging raids on Indian manufacturing, rug-making and other plants where children and their parents often work as bonded labour.

The highest honour: India’s Nobel Prize connection
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan, founded in 1980, has fought child labour by creating domestic and international consumer resistance to products made by bonded children, as well as with direct legal and advocacy work.Building on his initial activism, Satyarthi organised the Global March Against Child Labor in the 1990s -- dedicated to freeing the millions of children abused worldwide in a form of modern slavery.The activist is also founder of RugMark, a widely known international scheme that tags all carpets made in factories that are child-labour free.In 1998, he organised the Global March Against Child Labour across 103 countries, which helped pave the way for an International Labor Organization convention on the worst forms of child labour.He described the plight of children forced into the worst kinds of abusive work in a 2010 interview with the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights."If they cry for their parents, they are beaten severely, sometimes hanged upside down from trees and even branded or burned with cigarettes," he said. Satyarthi has said his social conscience was awoken when he was six and noticed a boy his age on the steps outside the school with his father, cleaning shoes.

One killed in fresh Pak firing in J&K, India asks troops to retaliate strongly
NEW DELHI/JAMMU: India has ruled out any flag meeting with Pakistan until firing at the border stops, according to Times Now.
Indian forces have also been asked to retaliate strongly to every Pak provocation at the border, Times Now has reported quoting sources.A woman was killed and 11 people were injured as Pakistani troops targeted 50 security outposts and three dozen hamlets with heavy mortar shelling and firing overnight along the entire 192-km international border in Jammu & Kashmir.READ ALSO: Pakistan targets BSF posts, villages; India hits back with heavy fire Extending the ceasefire violations to new areas, Pakistan Rangers shelled border outposts (BoPs) and villages in Samba and Kathua along with Jammu during the night and the firing is still on.Meanwhile, India has turned the heat on Pakistan with massive retaliatory fire in response to ceasefire violations along the line of control (LoC) as well as the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to civilian casualties on both sides.Intelligence agencies tracking reports in Pakistani media on Tuesday estimated that more than 15 Pakistani civilians had died in the firing by BSF soldiers, mainly in the Sialkot sector



No relief for Jayalalithaa, Karnataka HC rejects bail plea
New Delhi, October 07, 2014
In a huge disappointment for AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, the Karnataka high court Tuesday refused bail to her in the disproportionate assets case.

The bail wasn't given even after prosecution lawyer Bhawani Singh told the court that there was no objection in granting conditional bail to Jayalalithaa.

Earlier there was huge confusion as news first broke on television that Jayalalithaa had got bail and AIADMK supporters across Tamil Nadu started celebrating.

Last week the High Court vacation bench deferred hearing till October 7 the bail pleas of Jayalalithaa and her close aide Sasikala and her relatives VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, who were also convicted in the case.

Jaya was sentenced to four years in jail and Rs. 100 crore fine after being found guilty by a special court in the 18-year-old disproportionate assets case.

She was convicted of misusing her office during her first stint as chief minister from 1991 to 1996 to accumulate wealth beyond her known sources of income.


A poster seen in south Chennai warning Kannadigas over AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's conviction. (HT photo)
Anti-Kannadiga poster
Before the bail order came in, a poster threatening Kannadigas living in Tamil Nadu if the convicted party supremo Jayalalithaa was not released from jail created a controversy.

"Warning... immediately release people's chief minister Amma... otherwise we will hold Kannadigas living in Tamil Nadu as hostages," the huge poster put up in certain locations in south Chennai said.

The AIADMK, however, has distanced itself from the posters and said it will discipline the person who did it for cheap publicity.

The poster has the names of social welfare minister B Valarmathi, Tiruchy Lok Sabha MP, P Kumar, VP Kalairajan, MLA and a party functionary Thousand Lights KC Vijay.

AIADMK south Chennai (North) district party secretary VP Kalairajan claimed, "This has been done by an expelled functionary KC Vijay. This was done without our knowledge".

Kalairajan said the party has ordered the immediate removal of posters in locations wherever it was put up.

"We are guided by people's chief minister Amma's lofty ideals to serve people without any discrimination. The Tamil Nadu government is committed to the welfare of all sections of people."

Bangalore police commissioner MN Reddy spoke to his Chennai counterpart about the poster and was assured that Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu are safe.

Chennai Police have removed it and promised to take action against "miscreants".

Read: One wedding and four convictions, the unravelling of Jayalalithaa

AIADMK workers wait outside the Karnataka HC for a hearing on their leader’s bail plea. (Sudipto Mondal/HT Photo)

Read: How legal wrangles and Jayalalithaa have gone hand in hand

Prayers and protests
Over the last few days her supporters had been holding protests and prayers across the state which have been mostly peaceful barring minor incidents.

In pics: Amidst tears and prayers, Jaya fan club waits for her release

"It is an anti-democratic demand to subvert a democratically-elected government," said AIADMK office bearer, Avadi Kumar.

"AIADMK protests are not causing any inconvenience to the people," he added.

Opposition parties, the DMK and DMDK, raised their voice against the protests and are questioning how the protests have been allowed without permission.

Private schools and colleges had declared a bandh for Tuesday in support of Jayalalithaa but beat a hasty retreat when their decision was challenged in the Madras high court.

Private bus operators also stopped plying buses to Bangalore and said they would stop the services at Hosur bordering Bangalore.





Pak fires across border again in Jammu, 40 BSF posts targeted
Jammu, October 07, 2014
Despite India's hardened stance over its ceasefire violations along the International Border (IB) in Jammu region, Pakistan continued to fire at as many as 40 Border Security Force (BSF) posts late on Monday, officials said on Tuesday.
Pakistani troops fired at BSF posts in Kanachak and Pargwal as well as those in Arnia and RS Pura sector at around 9pm on Monday. Damaged cycle lying on a ground after mortar shell firing from the Pakistan side into a residential area at Masha da kothe village, in Arnia Secto.(Nitin Kanotra /HT Photo) BSF troops gave strong and befitting reply to the firing from the akistani side at all the places, a defence spokesperson said.Read: Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire, kills 5 civiliansAlthough no loss or damage to any BSF personnel has been reported so far, three civilians in Arnia received minor injuries in the firing, he added. In one of the worst ceasefire violations by Pakistan, five civilians were killed and 29 wounded in firing by Pakistani forces along the border in Jammu on Monday. Worst affected by the Pakistani firing in India was Mashain-de-kothe village, where four members of a family were killed. Read: US concerned about Pak ceasefire violation along LoC Mortars also landed at Arnia town, about three km from the IB, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.Tensions flared after four Pakistani civilians, including two children and a woman, were killed in retaliatory firing by India as home minister Rajnath Singh and defence minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan to stop such attacks if it wanted peace talks with India.“Ceasefire violation must stop. Pakistan must realise that a decisive government has come to power, which will not take such instances lying down,” Singh told HT in an interview.Read: Pak must realise Modi govt not UPA: Rajnath Singh The violence puts more strain on already-tense ties between India and Pakistan after New Delhi called off planned foreign secretary-level talks following the Pakistani ambassador's meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders last month. The Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs on the other hand issued a statement condemning what it described as India’s “unprovoked firing”.“The government of Pakistan has lodged a strong protest with the government of India through diplomatic channels and called for restraining its forces from constant violation of the ceasefire," it said in the statement.



From Mary Kom to Seema Punia, Incheon saw Indian women in a new avatar
October 05, 2014
MC Mary Kom’s success in the past one-and-a-half decades has something to do with the background she comes from. Born in a family of cultivators in Kangathei village near Imphal, she tilled the land and took care of her siblings, being the eldest in the family. She went on to become a five-time world champion, London Olympic Games bronze-medallist and has now been crowned Asian Games champion.Tintu Luka hails from Kannur district in Kerala. Her father, a mason, left for Saudi Arabia to support the family when she was young. As a child she walked long distances through the hills to reach her school. Her talent was spotted by sprint queen PT Usha, who turned her into a champion; and at Incheon the 24-year-old earned India two medals —gold in the women’s 4x400m relay and silver in 800m.Surely, Incheon saw Indian women in a new avatar. The Games were also about women overcoming fear and apprehension to make their voices heard. While not taking anything away from the India men’s hockey team, which triumphed over Pakistan to secure a Rio Olympics berth, or a certain Jitu Rai, whose performance in the shooting arena put him in a different league, it were the women who grabbed the headlines.
It started with Shweta Chaudhry, an underrated but talented shooter, who won a pistol bronze and gave India their first medal at Incheon. The Games culminated for India with a bubbly bunch of women kabaddi players making it a one-sided contest against the sturdy Iran.Discus thrower Seema Punia wanted to tell her detractors that no matter how hard they tried to run her down, she would come back triumphant. Twice denied the opportunity to compete at the Games, the towering Haryana girl’s ambition was to clinch gold at Incheon before time ran out. “Only my husband (Ankush) knows my suffering. I couldn’t compete at the 2006 Doha Asian Games because my father was ill and in 2010 I couldn’t qualify,” said Seema, whose career has been dogged by doping allegations ever since she was stripped of the World Junior Championships gold at Santiago, Chile in 2000.Maligned by the system, which has made her look like a dope cheat every time she stepped into the cage in the last decade and a half, she gave a perfect rejoinder with her singular performance. “I never reacted to what they said...just kept training for the event under American throwing coach Tony Ciarelli in California.”The story of Khushbir Kaur, winner of the 20km walk silver, is even more touching. Her father passed away when she was only seven and her mother had to do menial jobs to sustain the family of five. Her mother’s determination to make her a sportsperson, even though Khushbir loved studies, was the driving force behind what she has achieved today — a first-ever silver for the country in 20km race walking. Even though she still doesn’t like the gruelling event, Khushbir says she’ll continue doing it “for my mother”.Not just Khushbir, MR Poovamma, one of the members of the women’s 4x400m relay quartet, owes her success to her mother. “Her presence gives me inner strength. When my legs were aching and lungs gasping for breath, I thought of mother. It gave me the strength to drive ahead of the rest,” she had said after breaking the 52-second barrier in the blistering June heat at the inter-state meet in Lucknow.That India won the 4x400m relay, which helped the country set an Asian Games record, was due to the efforts of Poovamma, who anchored the race and came up with the best time. The mother wasn’t there to witness history being made, but Poovamma was not afraid this time. She was ready to face the challenge without her mother accompanying her.As in kabaddi, the women’s 4x400m relay is an event the country’s runners are expected to win every time they take to the track, such has been their dominance. But the citadel seemed to be falling following the doping scandal that broke out after the 2010 Guangzhou Games. Six top quarter-milers were suspended and the relay team was in s shambles.
But the fortitude shown by the quartet of Poovamma, Priyanka Pawar, Mandeep Kaur and Tintu Luka, hailing from diverse backgrounds and coming together to rebuild a team in tatters, will go down in Indian sporting history as one of the most
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Used stun grenade found on PM Modi's standby aircraft, security forces in a tizzy
New Delhi, October 04, 2014
Security agencies were sent into a tizzy Saturday after a used stun grenade was found on the prime minister's standby plane, an Air India Boeing 747 aircraft, in Jeddah. The B747 was kept in Delhi as a stand-by aircraft for Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the United States. It was released for commercial flying when the PM landed back from his US trip.After being released for commercial operations, the aircraft first flew to Mumbai and from there to Jeddah via Hyderabad. The stun grenade was found once the plane had landed in Jeddah. "It was found in the upper deck in the business class," an AI official said. Immediately, security officials at the airport were alerted, the plane was moved to an isolated place and the grenade was removed. "It was found to be a used stun grenade," the official said adding, "The aircraft was thoroughly searched and cleared for flying back to India," A stun grenade, also known as a flash grenade or flashbang, is a non-lethal explosive device used to temporarily disorient an enemy's senses. The concussive blast of the detonation can still injure, and the heat created can ignite inflammable materials such as fuel. The B747 is a double-decker aircraft and is used by the PM and President on official visits. A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the incident. "Whenever there is a VIP charter, the plane is handed over to the Special Protection Group three days in advance," the official said.



Asian Games: Men's hockey team regains gold, India jump to ninth place

2 October 2014

INCHEON: The Indian men's hockey team regained the gold medal after a gap of 16 years while the women's 4x400m relay team also picked up a yellow metal as India added five medals to jump to the ninth position in the overall standings in the 17th Asian Games on Thursday.

The men's hockey players hogged the spotlight with the thrilling victory over arch-rivals Pakistan to ensure a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The women 4x400m relay team, comprising Priyanka Panwar, Tintu Luka, Mandeep Kaur and M R Poovamma, then added to the euphoria by clinching the gold medal with the Asian Games record timing.

Boxers Satish Kumar (+91kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg) contributed to the medal collection as they settled for bronze medals on a relatively good day for the Indians.

Athletics also added to India's tally as Inderjeet Singh won bronze in men's shot put.

With the addition of five medals, India, overnight at 11th position, jumped to the ninth spot with a total haul of 55 -- 9 gold, 9 silver and 37 bronze. Powerhouse China maintained their supremacy with a tally of 321 medals followed by South Korea (211) and Japan (184).

Swachh Bharat mission is beyond politics, says PM Narendra Modi
New Delhi, October 02, 2014
Wielding a broom , Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his Swachh Bharat or Clean India campaign from the Valmiki colony in Delhi.The campaign is a mass movement to realise Mahatma Gandhi's dream of a Clean India by 2019, when the country will celebrate 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation. Read: India's 'toilet guru' works to flush away open defecation Following this, the prime minister will officially launch the cleanliness drive with a pledge taken by over 30 lakh central government and state government employees.




'Thank You America', says Modi as he leaves US for home
October 01, 2014
Winding up his whirlwind five-dayUS visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi "thanked" America for what he said was a highly "successful and satisfactory trip" to the country. "Thank You America," Modi said as he concluded his last official engagement at an event organised by the US Indian Business Council (USIBC) on Tuesday. US President Barack Obama of the United States with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the dinner hosted in his honour at the White House in Washington. (PTI Photo) After that he directly left for the Andrews Air Force Base, from where his Air India One took off for New Delhi.
"My visit has been very successful. From here I am going to airport directly," Modi said.Read: Modi, Obama announce better trade ties, joint fight against terror On Tuesday Modi met President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, at the end of which the two leaders issued a joint statement that promised to take the India-US relationship to a new eight.Modi was seen off at the Andrews Air Force Base by the Indian Ambassador to the US S Jaishankar and the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal. When he arrived at the Air Force Base a day earlier, he was received by the Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns ? both being unusual for a working visit like this.On Monday evening, Obama hosted Modi for a official private working dinner and yesterday the two met for nearly two hours at the Oval Office, following which the US President and the Prime Minister together went to the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial.Obama, it is understood, decided to join Modi on this visit which many analyst said reflected the close bounding the two leaders have established among themselves in such a close time.Later in the day, Modi was hosted for lunch by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, following which he drove down to the Capitol Hill for a tea hosted in his honor by Joe Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.In the first leg of his five-day US trip, Modi spent four days in New York, where he addressed the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, and stormed the Indian American community by addressing the diaspora with a packed Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple on September 28.In New York, Modi held meetings with a host of top American businessmen including breakfast with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, while top American leaders like Bill and Hillary Clinton, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.In all he met more than 50 top US lawmakers and three Governors including South Carolina's Nikki Haley.During his trip, Modi visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York and the Gandhi Statue in Washington DC.He held a series of meetings with the Indian diaspora, including the dinner that was hosted in his honor wherein he stood for nearly two hours to get photographed with more than 700 Indian-Americans.





'Kem Chho?' US Prez Obama greets PM Modi at White House in Gujarati
September 30, 2014
President Barack Obama on Monday hosted a private dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in Washington, ahead of their summit level talks.Modi was welcomed by Obama who greeted him in Gujarati, "Kem Chho?" (how are you?), the mother tongue of the Prime Minister.Set in an informal ambiance, the dinner is the first opportunity for both the leaders to interact with each other.First Lady Michelle Obama, however, gave the dinner a miss.Both the leaders were joined by 20 attendees at the dinner. The President was joined by vice-president Joe Biden, secretary of state John Kerry and national security advisor Susan Rice among others.Modi was accompanied by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, national security advisor Ajit Doval and Indian Ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar among others.


Narendra Modi invokes Indian pride at Madison Square, bag of goodies for diaspora
New York, September 28, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally got to thank his NRI (Non-Resident Indians) constituency for their support in getting him elected. And they finally got to see the man they had waited so long to see as Prime Minister.Attendees stand as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to speak at Madison Square Garden in New York, during his visit to the United States. Supporters wave an Indian flag as PM Modi prepares to give a speech during a reception by the Indian community in honor of his visit to the United States at ...Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at Madison Square Garden in New York, during his visit to the United States. (Reuters Photo) Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to supporters during a community reception at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AFP Photo) A crowd of US-based supporters await the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a community reception at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AFP Photo) Dancers perform before India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at Madison Square Garden in New York, during his visit to the US. (Reuters Photo) An artist carries Prime Minister Narendra Modi's portrait after making it in front of the crowd during a reception organised by the Indian American Community Foundation at Madison Square Garden ... Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience during a reception organised in his honour by the Indian American Community Foundation at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday. (PTI ... Supporters during a reception organised in the honour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Indian American Community Foundation at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday. (PTI Photo) The scoreboard shows a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi above the arena floor before a community reception for the Prime Minister at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AFP ... A boy wearing a mask of PM Narendra Modi waves during the "Modi in America" event organised by the Indian American Community Foundation at Madison Square Garden in New York ... Today, I say thanks to everyone,” said Modi, adding, “and I assure you I will never do anything to let you down.” His thank-you note came with a few goodies. One, holders of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards would be given visas for their lifetime. Two, people staying in India for a long period would not have to report to police stations periodically any more. Three, measures will be initiated to end problems faced by those with non-Indian American spouses. PIO and Overseas Indian Cards would be merged into one shortly.“Happy?” Modi beamed to the packed venue, after announcing the first measure, which came at the end of a speech repeatedly interrupted by chants of “Modi, Modi”.
Dressed in a yellow kurta and peach waistcoat, the PM showed none of the strain of his navratri fast of just warm water, now into its fourth day on Sunday.

Read: Crush of US politicians meeting Modi

It was vintage Modi at the podium, feeding on the energy of the iconic Manhattan venue packed with supporters from 49 of the 50 states of the United States.

Also there to listen to a man who just stunned the world with a massive electoral victory were many US lawmakers, many of whom were in the middle of their own re-election campaigns.

The PM thanked his supporters, many of whom, as he said, had either travelled to India to campaign for him or supported him and the BJP from here.

Seshadri Kumar, who publishes a community paper, came to the reception all the way from Houston, Texas. “I could have stayed home and watched it on TV,” he said.

But this was a historic event and he wanted to be there.

Acutely aware of the importance of the event, Modi quickly moved from recognising and thanking them for their support to reporting to them why they were right in choosing him.

The PM could have been speaking to an audience at home in India, explaining, as he did, his vision, his plans, his goals and ambitions for India.

“The government you have chosen will not leave any stone unturned in developing the country,” said Modi, adding, “this government will succeed in fulfilling all our aspirations.”

And here is why, he said. India cannot be stopped. India has three unique qualities which we need to recognise and present to the world: democracy, demographic dividend and demand (as consumers).

In a speech that was repeatedly interrupted by cheers and applause, the longest ovation was for the time when he said he grew up selling tea.





Modi blockbuster, now playing at Madison Square Garden

Newyork, 28 September

Emcees Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American to be win Miss America, and Hari Sreenivasan, songs and dance set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the iconic Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Sunday.
After a raucous dance performance to the song ‘Rangeelo Maro Dholna’, noted singer Kavita Subramaniam (née Krishnamurthy) and her husband, violinist Dr L Subramaniam took stage and set the tone with the song, ‘I Love My India’ from the movie Pardes. 
The centre stage, however, belonged to Modi for whom people started queuing up early in the morning, coming in groups from all over the country — 49 of the 50 states (who got left behind — Alaska, home to Sarah Palin and some of the world’s best salmon). Vijay Pallod, one of the volunteers helping out the organisers, wore a saffron kurta “just so every one knows where I stand”. All volunteers wore red tikkas on their forehead. Why? “Just religious,’ said one of them, promising to give his name later, after the event.
Bharat Mata Ki Jai, was the most popular slogan. It would start in corner — one side, actually — of the stadium and would soon echo in other parts. “Vande mataram, vande mataram”, “Hindustan zindabad, Hindustan zindabad” and just “Modi, Modi, Modi, Modi” slogans were also heard. There were also a few Hooah, the US army battle cry. Odd? But true.
The MSG can seat 20,000, and every seat was taken at least hour and a half before the PM was scheduled to speak. That’s how the organisers had planned it — they didn’t want guests strolling in right up to the main event. The event was beamed live to at least 200 watch parties all over the US for those who couldn’t make it — including on monster screens at Times Square nearby.

Madison Square Garden, however, takes it up a notch. It is home to the New York Knicks basketball team, and was where John Lennon played his last concert. Muhammad Ali fought his first bout against Joe Frazier there.
Organisers expect about 18,500 Indian-Americans to attend. They are among more than 30,000 across the US who registered for free tickets. The speech will also be broadcast on a big screen in Times Square.
Modi won a spectacular electoral victory in May and was catapulted into the international arena. This marked a major change since 2005, when the US denied him a visa for his alleged complicity in sectarian violence in his home state of Gujarat.

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa convicted in wealth case, sentencing likely at 3pm
Bangalore, September 27, 2014
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was convicted of corruption in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case by a court in Bangalore on Saturday, leaving her AIADMK party stunned and casting a massive shadow on her political future.
The sentencing, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, is expected shortly. Jayalalithaa now stands to lose the chief minister’s post, a blow to her party and a boost for rival DMK in the run-up to the 2016 Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
Tension gripped Tamil Nadu and bordering areas with Karnataka following the verdict.In February 2000, three students from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University were burnt alive after AIADMK functionaries set ablaze a bus following Jayalalithaa’s conviction in another case.At least 5,000 policemen as well as paramilitary forces have been deployed to maintain peace in the Karnataka capital.The perception in the AIADMK is that senior state minister O Paneerselvam, who is known for his loyalty to ‘Amma’, could be asked to act as chief minister again.In September 2001, when the Supreme Court had set aside Jayalalithaa's appointment as CM following her conviction in a corruption case, she had installed Paneerselvam. Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa. PTI Photo But, a section of party leaders also indicated that she would favour a non-politician this time to keep the seat warm till her return. While some reports said DMK supporters in Tamil Nadu erupted in celebrations, a pall of gloom descended on AIADMK workers, including those in Bangalore who were preparing to distribute sweets anticipating Jayalalithaa's release. Jayalalithaa and three associates - her former close friend VK Sasikala, Sasikala's nephew VN Sudhakaran and sister-in-law J Illavarasi - were found guilty of acquiring Rs. 66.65 crore worth of assets by corrupt means between 1991 and 1996 during her first tenure as CM. The case was filed by the vigilance wing of the Tamil Nadu police in 1996 during the tenure of the DMK government headed by M Karunanidhi, known as Jayalalithaa's arch-rival.The AIADMK can challenge the verdict in the Karnataka high court, as it was the appropriate body that had set up the special court to conduct trial in the assets case that was shifted to Bangalore from Chennai, fearing interference from Jayalalithaa.


Asian Games 2014: Indian men strike gold in compound archery
September 27, 2014
India earned their second gold medal in the 17th Asian Games after the men's compound archery team bagged the yellow metal by getting the better of South Korea on Saturday at Incheon.The Indian women's compound team, meanwhile, settled for a bronze after beating Iran in the third-place play-off. The Indian men's trio of Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Sandeep Kumar eked out a narrow 227-225 victory over the hosts to give the country their second gold medal in eight days.Shooter Jitu Rai had earned the top position on the first day of the competition. In a closely-fought contest today, the South Korean team of Choi Yong-hee, Min Li-hong and Yang Young-ho fell short by just two points, even as the Indians held on to their nerves to win an all-important battle.Indian men had 12 10s as compared to 13 by their opponents.Earlier, the Indian women's team consisting of Trisha Deb, Purvasha Shende and Surekha Jyothi shot 224, while Sakineh Ghasempour, Maryam Ranjbarsari and Shabnam Sarlak of Iran could earn a total of 217 points. Both Indian and Iranian girls had a total of nine 10's each at the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field in Incheon.Indian girls had earlier lost the semi-finals by a slim margin of 224-226 against Chinese Taipei on Thursday to set up a bronze-medal play-off with Iran.- See more at: ttp://


Global CEOs laud Modi at Make in India mega launch
New Delhi, September 25, 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch his 'Make in India' programme on Thursday, ahead of his maiden visit to the US, rolling out the red carpet to investors through a string of measures including easier norms and rules aimed at transforming India into a manufacturing hub. The Make in India programme, first mooted by the PM in his Independence Day speech last month, will lay emphasis on 25 sectors with focus on job creation and skill enhancement.Catch all the live updates of the high-voltage launch here and know about the scheme. It is PM Modi's signature initiative to urge companies - local and foreign - to invest in India. It contains a raft of proposals designed to get foreign companies to set up shop and make the country a manufacturing powerhouse.The 'Make in India' programme was first mooted by the PM in his Independence Day speech last month. On Thursday he will launch it during an event at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi that will be beamed live not just across the country but to gatherings of industrialists across the world.What are the initiative's focus sectors? The programme lays emphasis on 25 sectors with focus on job creation and skill enhancement. These include: automobiles, chemicals, IT, pharmaceuticals, textiles, ports, aviation, leather, tourism and hospitality, wellness, railways, auto omponents, design manufacturing, renewable energy, mining, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals and electronics among others. As part of the plan, foreign investment caps in construction will be eased to enable greater participation in the NDA government's 100 smart cities project and affordable housing. FDI caps in railways and defence production have already been eased to 100% and 49%, respectively. The government's push for manufacturing comes at a time when many big companies are seeking an alternative to China as costs and risks there rise. The objective is also to ensure solid growth and employment creation. During 2005-12 India added only 15 million jobs, a quarter of the figure added in the previous six years.


Mars meets MOM: Red-letter day for India as Mangalyaan reaches Red Planet orbit
New Delhi, September 24, 2014
India created history on Wednesday, becoming the first country to succeed on its first Mars mission when Isro's Mangalyaan slipped into Martian orbit after a few nail-biting moments. The spacecraft left earth's sphere of influence on December 4, 2013. (Source: Isro) The country joined the United States, European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in the elite club of Martian explorers with the Mars Orbiter Mission, affectionately called MOM. When India created history: blow by blow ccount of Mangalyaan entering the Mars orbit Reaching Mars: How it happened India expands boundaries of knowledge with Mars rbiter Mission Mangalyaan - A journey from blue to red planet "History has been created by our scientists", said PM Narendra Modi in his speech immediately after the scientists declared the mission a success. "We have dared to reach out to the nknown." "When our cricketers win a tournament, we celebrate in a big way. What these scientists have achieved is thousand times bigger," he added. Earlier, there were some tense moments at the Indian Space and Research Organisation (Isro), which commanded a series of tricky manoeuvres to position the spacecraft in its designated orbit around Mars. The insertion started at 4.17am when the spacecrfat switched over to the medium gain antenna for providing the communication link during the insertion. At 6.56am, the spacecraft initiated the process of forward rotation, reducing its speed. At 7.17am, the scientists had to grapple with the most critical moment — when the liquid apogee motor had to be fired. The motor was woken up for four seconds on Monday during a test-fire after 300 days of long sleep. The motor was fired for 24 minutes, reducing the velocity of the spacecraft by 4.2km per second in relation to Mars. This was soon followed by moments of tension and anxiety when the communication broke as the spacecraft slipped behind Mars as the scientists waited for the good news. At 7.45am, the occult ended and after two minutes, communication with the spacecraft resumed and data was flashed about the performance of the liquid apogee motor


G20 deal on sharing bank information to aid India track black money
CAIRNS: In a major gain for Indian authorities trying to recover black money stashed abroad, G20 members will on Sunday agree to a deal that will mandate automatic sharing of all bank information with tax authorities on an annual basis, starting 2017.
READ ALSO: Over Rs 1 lakh crore illegal income detected While 45 countries — including Mauritius and Switzerland — are expected to be part of the "early adopters" along with India, the OECD's Global Tax Forum that works on transparency and information exchange is trying to extract a commitment from 122 others to either come on board by September 2017 or the end of 2018, said sources familiar with the deliberations at the meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's 20 largest economies that account for 85% of the global economy.




Chinese troops begin withdrawing from Indian territory hours after Xi-Modi meet

19 September,LEH/NEW DELHI:

After heightened tension in Chumar area in northeast Ladakh for four days, Chinese troops on Thursday night began withdrawing from Indian territory, official sources said.Chinese troops started retreating into their territory from 9:45pm, the sources said, adding that Indian Army which was present in large number in the area also started simultaneously reducing their presence in the area, about 300 km east of Leh.
The sources said that a vigil was still being maintained as the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) had camped just across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the situation would be reviewed on Friday.

However, the stand-off in Demchok where Chinese nomads, Rebos, had pitched their tents continued for the 12th day on Thursday. The incursion in this area is nearly 500 metres deep into Indian territory, the sources said.
The Chinese nomads actively helped by the PLA have been protesting against an irrigation canal being built for the local villagers.
The stand-off in Demchok and Chumar had cast a shadow on Thursday's summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
\The sources said that the Chinese side had earlier pushed in more troops before the break of dawn on Thursday with more banners asking the Indian Army to leave the area. The number of Chinese troops had shot up to 600.

Jadavpur University molestation case: Students hold protest, 35 held
Kolkata, September 17, 2014
About 35 students who were protesting outside the Jadavpur University campus against the molestation of a woman student were arrested by the police on Wednesday, TV reports said. The students were gheraoing the vice-chancellor and registrar demanding a fresh probe into the case where a woman student was allegedly dragged into a men's hostel and sexually olested.
The students' union demanded a fresh probe panel and insisted that the gherao would not be lifted until some assurance was given in the matter. Additional commissioner of police Debasish Roy along with a strong contingent of police rushed to the campus to control the situation but the impasse continued as the students could not be convinced to withdraw their agitation. The vice-chancellor is learnt to have slammed the gherao as 'torture'. He said that the matter could be resolved through discussion. Police said the students gheraoed VC Souvik Bhattacharya and registrar Pradip Ghosh to protest against the August 28 incident inside the campus at a boys' hostel and the delay in the investigation of the same.


BJP-Sena seat-sharing talks hit stalemate as Uddhav questions Modi wave
Mumbai/Pune, September 14, 2014
A major crisis erupted in the saffron alliance in Maharashtra on Sunday, with the BJP calling off seat-sharing talks with ally Shiv Sena - apparently after its chief, Uddhav Thackeray, questioned the much-talked-about 'Modi wave' in an interview to a TV channel.State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Devendra Fadanvis, while talking to Hindustan Times, confirmed the development."There is huge discontent among our rank and file over the statements made by the Sena leadership against our leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a television programme on Saturday."This has reached our higher-ups. Now, we have decided that we will not make any effort anymore to talk to them on seat-sharing," Fadanvis said, adding it was up to the Sena to make the next move.The BJP's tough stand is the latest chapter in an episode of unease with the Shiv Sena ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections slated for October 15 and casts doubts on the future of the alliance which seemed frontrunner in the polls following its spectacular showing in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.The BJP and its allies, ncluding the Shiv Sena won 42 of the 48 seats in the state in the general elections.But, differences cropped up in the coalition over seat-sharing talks in the 25-year-old alliance. The Shiv Sena wants to stick to the 2009 formula - when it fought 169 seats and the BJP 119 of the 288 assembly seats in the state. But, this time the BJP wants more.Shiv Sena president Uddhav ackeray had said on Saturday his party would get the top job in the state, making his ambitions for the chief minister's post clear.The Shiv Sena had also issued a veiled warning against the coalition partner, saying "excessive lust" for seats will not do it any good. Talking to TV channel Aaj Tak on Saturday, Uddhav had also questioned the so-called Modi wave, which the BJP claims was instrumental behind the National Democratic Alliance's landslide victory in the general elections."Was the Modi wave felt in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Odisha and West Bengal? It depends on alliance partners as well. Modi is Prime Minister of our alliance."According to BJP sources, Fadnavis got a call from Delhi and was told to officially declare that the talks between the two parties cannot continue if the Sena uses such tactics and makes such statements against the BJP."Such statements are undesirable prior to the election and everyone should refrain from making such utterances," BJP's Maharashtra in-charge, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, said on Sunday, adding the CM post issue should be discussed after elections.
On the seat-sharing talks, Rudy said, "The proposal is whatever seats are left - after smaller parties in the alliance get their due - the BJP and Shiv Sena will divide them equally."According to Rudy, the BJP and Shiv Sena will be left with around 270 seats after smaller parties are allotted around 18 seats. "In this case we are expecting for somewhere around 135 seats." Parties such as the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, RPI, Rashtriya Samaj Party and the Shiv Sangram have joined hands with the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to contest polls.The Shiv Sena did not officially react to the BJP move to call off the talks. A party leader, on condition of anonymity, said that the problems would be sorted out only if Uddhav and BJP president Amit Shah discussed the issue.Shah will be in Mumbai on September 17 for a BJP programme, and the Sena is hoping that the two leaders will meet to finalise the seats.But now BJP leaders are skeptical. "With this development, the only way that this meeting can happen is that the Sena leadership goes more than halfway and meets him in Delhi," a senior BJP leader said.







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