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Friday, 10 January 2014

Political and other News of 2013 : Part 2

Political and other News of 2013 :  Part 2

West Bengal panchayat elections 2013: Trinamool all set to win big:

The Trinamool Congress on Monday appeared set to sweep the crucial panchayat poll in West Bengal with a huge margin in most of the districts.

As per latest figures, out of total 3215 seats, 3196 seats have been declared. TMC has bagged 1763 gram panchayats, whereas the Left and Congress have won757 and 246 panchayats respectively. Others won 430 gram panchayats. The ruling party registered a huge victory in the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapur, former Maoist strongholds, by winning majority of its seats.  In the adjoining East Midnapore district too, the TMC registered a major win except at Nandigram, the cradle of Banerjee's anti land acquisition campaign, where the party had to struggle with former Trinamool supporters, who fought as Independents.

In Nandigram block I and block II, out of 17 Gram Panchayat seats, official Trinamool candidates won 13 seats, while the Independents bagged three seats and Left managed one. The TMC also swept erstwhile red bastions of Burdwan, Birbhum, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly. In Singur, the Trinamool bagged 12 out of 16 Gram Pancahayt seats, with Left bagging just one and putting up a close fight in three others. In the five districts of North Bengal, which went to polls, resulted showed that Trinamool had widened its reach in Congress dominated regions. The party registered spectacular victories in Gram Panchayat in Coochbehar and south Dinajpur, while making inroads in the Congress domain in North Dinajpur, the home groud of Congress minister and Mamata's bete noire Deepa Dasmunsi.

On the directive of the Supreme Court, the five-phase rural poll in the state was held on July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25.

According to State Election Commissioner Mira Pandey, the entire counting process began at 8 am under tight security cover around all counting centres.

The district administration clamped section 144 CRPC prohibitory order within 200 metres around all counting centres to avoid crowd or any untoward incident during the counting process. No mobile phones were allowed inside the counting centres and generators were kept as standby arrangement against power failure during counting of votes, reports said. Of the total 58,865 seats going to polls, 6,274 have been won uncontested, a majority by the Trinamool Congress.

In all 1.7 lakh candidates were in fray in over 17 districts. The apex court order had come after the high-voltage tussle between the Mamata Banerjee government and SEC had hit a blind alley as both sides refused to budge on security, with the government insisting on the state armed police and the SEC demanding Central forces for the polls.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hailed the results of the panchayat poll as a "victory of the people and democracy", as her party Trinamool Congress is set to sweep the elections.

 Telangana will be 29th state, Hyderabad to be common capital for 10 years:

Telangana will be the 29th state of India comprising 10 districts with plenty of water and some other natural resources in a backward region lacking development that was at the heart of the separate state demand.As and when the state is formed, the jewel in the crown will always be the city of Hyderabad, which may for some time, at least 10 years to start with, be the joint capital for the rest of Andhra.With a population of over 3.5 crore, the new state comprising mostly the areas of the princely Nizam state will have 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 assembly seats.

When it joins the Indian Union, people of the region would hope that the new identity would help them overcome the challenges of poverty and backwardness which were at the roots of the separate state movement.The demand for a separate identity for Telangana is virtually as old as the state of Andhra Pradesh, which came into existence in November 1956 through the States Reorganisation Act.The Andhra Pradesh government website says: "Telangana agitation was started by the people of the region when they felt that Andhra leaders had flouted the Gentlemen's Agreement which facilitated the formation of Andhra Pradesh."In the beginning, the movement demanded the implementation of the safeguards agreed upon earlier, but later it wanted the separation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh."That the seat of government in Hyderabad has persistently ignored the needs of Telangana at the expense of the other regions of the state has been a constant grouse of the advocates of separate statehood.

The new Telangana state would comprise the 10 districts of Hyderabad, Medak, Adilabad, Khammam, Karimnagar, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal.Now, according to the Backward Regions Grant Fund 2009-10, 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh have been identified as being backward, of which nine are in Telangana.Classified as a semi-arid region with a predominantly hot and dry climate, Telangana is not amongst the most fertile regions of the country.But it does have its share of natural resources and notably contains 20% of the country's coal deposits.Among other natural resources are mica and bauxite along with some limestone reserves.But given the lack of development, Telangana has served as a fertile ground for the Maoist insurgency to take root.A clutch of leaders of the Naxalite movement hail from the region. Slain Maoist Kishanji, who was No.3 in the rebels' hierarchy, hailed from Karimnagar district.

As proponents of a separate Telangana claim, the carving out of a new state would give a fresh impetus for the people of the region to aspire for growth and development.Especially with the inclusion of Hyderabad, Telangana would find itself in control of one of the primary centres of India's tech story.Offices of major national and international corporates houses are present in Hyderabad, drawing people from across the country to the city.Needless to say it is the loss of Hyderabad which would rankle most with 'Unified Andhra' supporters.

But the people of Telangana argue that the seat of the Nizams was always an integral part of their region.The Telangana agitation, as they point out, was started by the people of the region who complained that "Andhra" leaders had flouted the "Gentlemen's Agreement" which had facilitated the formation of the state, in November 1956.The feeling of betrayal was also implicit in the discontent, which spread among Telangana officials and the unemployed youth of the region, who felt they were being exploited by the people from the rest of the state who had flocked to the new capital.

BCCI to move to Supreme Court against Bombay HC order, Dalmiya to continue as interim president:

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty said the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council has decided to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the order of the Bombay High Court, which had declared the probe panel report as invalid.
Shetty said that the IPL Governing Council met this morning and lawyer and BJP leader Arun Jaitley explained the important points in the Bombay High Court order to the members. After a brief discussion, the committee decided to file an SLP against the order of the Bombay High Court."The Governing Council believes that the probe commission was properly constituted in accordance with the IPL Operational Rules," said Sanjay Patel, the Honorary Secretary of the BCCI in a statement.
Patel also said Jagmohan Dalmiya would continue as the interim President, in light of the pending appeal made to the Supreme Court.Shetty assured that the decision to move to the Supreme Court was taken in absence of President-in-exile N. Srinivasan.

"Mr. Srinivasan recused himself from the IPL Governing Council meeting today. It is only after that that the meeting started and the decisions were taken," assured Shetty here today.Earlier this week, BCCI's internal investigation had handed a clean chit to the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals following allegations of betting and spot-fixing against them in the sixth edition of the tournament. The two-member probe panel declared that there was no evidence of fixing by N. Srinivasan's son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan. Mr Srinivasan's firm, India Cements, owns the Chennai Super Kings.

Acting on a petition filed by the Bihar Cricket Association, the Bombay High Court ruled that the BCCI's internal investigation was invalid alleging that there was a conflict of interest with regard to Srinivasan being the father-in-law of one of the prime accused.Shetty also announced that Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke, who had resigned from the committee after corruption in IPL 6 came to light, will be replaced on the Ethics Committee by Sanjay Patel (Honorary Secretary, BCCI) and Ravi Sawant (Honorary Treasurer, BCCI).Meanwhile, Shetty refused to comment on the reason for which the BCCI Working Committee meeting was called off today. According to reports, the Working Committee was scheduled to meet shortly after the IPL Governing Council met, but was cancelled at the last moment.
The BCCI has been inflicted with several controversies after multiple allegations were made against players and owners, as part of the IPL spot-fixing scandal at the tournament's sixth edition.N. Srinivasan, who owns India Cements, had stepped aside as the BCCI chief after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, part of the Chennai Super Kings management, was arrested on charges of betting in IPL matches. He was later released on bail.Earlier, Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra was questioned by Delhi Police and was reported to have been betting on IPL matches.The scandal broke up with the arrest of three cricketers - S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila - amidst IPL 6.

 Lucknow court concerned over illegal mining, won't stay Durga order:

Voicing concern over illegal mining, the Allahabad high court today sought a reply from the Centre and the state government on the issue while declining to interfere in the suspension matter of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who had clamped down on the mining mafia in Uttar Pradesh.Hearing a PIL on the suspension of the woman IAS officer, the Lucknow bench of the court comprising justices Devi Prasad Singh and Ashok Pal Singh fixed August 19 as the next date of hearing.

Observing that illegal mining disturbed the ecological balance, the court sought reply as to how many FIRs were lodged, how many dumpers were seized and how many people were arrested after the suspension of Nagpal.It also directed the counsel to seek instruction from the Centre on what it has done on the issue.

The court, however, refused to interfere in Nagpal’s suspension, saying that it was "a matter between the master and the servant".Appearing on behalf of the state government, additional advocate general Bulbul Godiyal raised objection on the maintainability of the PIL on the ground that the petitioner has not disclosed her credentials for filing the litigation as per the Supreme Court ruling.She also submitted that the PIL was not maintainable in service matters.

The PIL was filed in the registry of the court on July 30 against the suspension of Nagpal. Social activist Nutan Thakur filed the PIL seeking a direction to the department of personnel and training to summon the file related to the suspension of Nagpal and cancelling the suspension if it was found to be illegal and improper.According to petitioner's counsel Ashok Pandey, another prayer was made in the petition that the central government direct the state governments against harassing officers working to check illegal construction of religious plea.

 Drug trade/smuggling finances Pakistan's anti-India regiment:

A regiment of 30,000 fighters for the Pakistan army in India depends largely on the money, a staggering amount, that is generated through illegal animal skin trade and drug smuggling, a report of the military intelligence bureau has said. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

During each of these operations which involve five terrorists or less, two officers of the Pakistan army always accompany them. The officers who train these are the ones who read the logistics and even give the command for an attack.During the duration of the attack, the army officers are constantly in touch with the army base in Pakistan that offers instructions. This report of the military intelligence confirms beyond doubt that officers of the Pakistan army are physically present during every attack in the valley.These terrorists, who are part of the Mujahideen regiment of the Pakistan army have always relied on the grants that the military gets from the United States or the Gulf. A large part of the funds that come in from America are grants for Pakistan, are often diverted to fund the Mujahideen regiment.

This regiment, which is commanded by an officer of brigadier rank also depends on the funds that are generated through donations from Gulf which has set up financial institutions in the form of Madrasas and charities in Qatar.This regiment, which is commanded by an officer of brigadier rank, also depends on the funds that are generated through donations from the Gulf.However, with the help of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistan army found that procuring funds through the above mentioned means was coming under scanner. So it was decided that the funds from the US and Qatar and the drug trade would be used for the bigger operations and the smaller ones had to be financed through a smaller mechanism.It was at this time that the ISI and Pakistan decided that they would use the border trade agreements through which dry fruits are exported. At least 50 operatives have been masquerading as dry fruits vendors were handpicked by the Pakistan army to smuggle animal skin.The interrogation of Ahmed Gulam Hasan Naiku, an activist of the Hizbul Mujahideen (which has a very high percentage of operatives in the Mujahideen regiment) revealed that the Pakistan army had insisted that they capitalise on the border trade agreement. Naiku was taken by his handler to meet the head of the Mujahideen regiment.

“The handler was a brigadier and the head of the regiment. He personally instructed me to impersonate a vendor and operate between Khandahar and India via Pakistan,” Naiku reportedly told his interrogators.This trade is allegedly done with the approval of the Pakistan government who has instructed its officers to look the other way when such a consignment enters India through Kandahar.According to investigators, the money earned through this trade amounts to nearly Rs 10 crore a month and the Pakistan army has been encouraging it since the past three years now.The consignment of animal skin is collected from Khandahar and then brought into the Punjab province in Pakistan. According to the report, stalls have been set up in this part of Pakistan to collect the consignment and this happens in the open despite the government’s knowledge that the trade is illegal. While some part of the consignment remains in Pakistan, the rest is smuggled to other parts of the world including India. Animal skin is in great demand at places where the leather industry flourishes and this in fact generates a lot of money.According to the Intelligence Bureau, a large part of this money goes to the Pakistan military which uses is specifically to fund activities in the Valley. The Pakistan military and the ISI have recruited at least 50 persons for this trade and have even set up their moles in India to further this trade.The moles help collect the material and distribute it in the market, the officer also pointed out. Naik, for instance was one such mole operating in Maharashtra, the investigation on him has shown.

Train kills dozens of Hindu pilgrims in Bihar:

A high-speed train plowed into a crowd of Hindu pilgrims who were crossing the tracks at a remote station in east India on Monday, killing at least 37 people and leaving behind a scene of carnage.

An enraged crowd dragged the driver out and began beating him, and set parts of the train on fire, sending up a pillar of thick black smoke that could be seen from miles away. The crowd remained so furious that hours passed before firefighters and rescue workers were able to approach the site of the accident, officials said. A train dispatched to assist the wounded was forced to halt on the tracks a mile away. The disaster stood out even in a season of terrible accidents.

The station was a remote one - inaccessible by road - and the high-speed Rayja Rani Express typically barrels through without stopping at a speed of around 50 miles an hour. Railway officials said the driver had been given clearance to pass through. But Monday was the last day of a holy month in India, and hundreds of people were disembarking from two stopped passenger trains, on their way to a temple a half-mile away to offer holy water to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. A top official at the railway ministry, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the driver had pulled the emergency brake when he saw people on the tracks but was unable to stop the train. "It was all quite frightening," said Rohit Kumar, a passenger, who jumped off the train and ran for a quarter-mile to the nearest station when the crowd began to attack. "I'm standing here and watching smoke billowing out from the train. It was nightmarish. So scary." SK Singh, the deputy magistrate of the Saharsa District, said 37 people were confirmed dead, including several children. India's railway minister, Mallikarjun Kharge, said 28 had died, and noted that the pilgrims were crossing the tracks illegally. Parliamentary discussion Monday afternoon deteriorated into a shouting match over whether the government bore responsibility. The chief minister of Bihar, the state where the disaster occurred, called it "the rarest of rare tragedies." He pledged 200,000 rupees (around $3,180) to the victims' families, and urged the Railways Ministry to do the same. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a statement calling for "calm in the area so that the relief and rescue operations can be carried out without any hindrance." The station, Dhamara Ghat, was also inaccessible by car during the current flood season, so rescue workers were compelled to walk more than two miles from the nearest road to reach the injured, a regional police spokesman said.

A series of disasters have befallen pilgrims in India this year. In June, thousands drowned when flash floods struck the northern state of Uttarakhand, and the Indian authorities evacuated more than 100,000. In February, dozens were killed in a train-station stampede at the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious festival on the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers

It is a WAR out there in Egypt:

More than a month after the unceremonious ouster of President Mohamed Mursi, Egypt continues to burn with rage and throb with grief.We bring you some of the most poignant images from Egypt's season of discontent.Smoke rises near Al-Fath Mosque during clashes at Ramses Square in Cairo. Thousands of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi took to the streets, urging a 'Day of Rage' to denounce the assault by security forces on Muslim Brotherhood protesters that killed hundreds.

The army deployed dozens of armoured vehicles on major roads in Cairo, and the interior ministry has said police will use live ammunition against anyone threatening state installations.A torn poster of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is seen as riot police clear the area of his supporters, at Rabaa Adawiya square, where they had been camping, in Cairo.At least 95 Egyptians were killed after security forces moved in on protesters demanding Mursi's reinstatement, and the government imposed a state of emergency as unrest swept the most populous Arab nation. Egyptian army soldiers guard with armoured personnel carriers near Tahrir Square in Cairo.Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 24 Egyptian policemen in the Sinai peninsula, where attacks on security forces have multiplied since the army overthrew President Mohamed Mursi on July 3.Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry during a protest in front of Al Istkama mosque at Giza Square, south of Cairo. Egypt's army-backed rulers met on Sunday to discuss their bloody confrontation with deposed President Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood amid contrasting proposals for compromise and a fight to the death.

In a televised speech to military and police officers, army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to crack down on anyone using violence, but also struck an apparently inclusive note, telling Mursi's supporters, "There is room for everyone in Egypt". A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shouts slogans after being injured during clashes in front of Azbkya police station during clashes at Ramses Square in Cairo.Islamist protests descended into a bloodbath across Egypt, with around 50 killed in Cairo alone, on a 'Day of Rage' called by followers of ousted President Mohamed Mursi to denounce a crackdown by the army-backed government.As automatic gunfire echoed across Cairo, the standoff appeared to be sliding ever faster towards armed confrontation, evoking past conflict between militant Islamists and the state in the Arab world's most populous nation.Riot police and army soldiers protect themselves with riot shields as members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi throw stones during clashes around the area of Rabaa Adawiya square, where they are camping, in Cairo.

The death toll from an Egyptian police raid on supporters of Mursi at a Cairo protest camp has climbed to 60 at one hospital, according to a nurse, who said she counted the bodies.

 Bhatkal's journey: From engineer to India's most wanted terrorist:

Branded as the face of modern day terrorism, Zarar Ahmed Siddibaba alias Yasin Bhatkal of the banned Indian Mujahideen arrested on Wednesday night gained cult status in the homegrown terror network after the 2008 Delhi serial blasts.

After he managed to give the slip to police on two occasions, 30-year-old Yasin, one of India's most wanted terrorists, is a prize catch for which Intelligence Bureau sleuths worked day and night after picking up his presence in Nepal. Scores of people have lost their lives in terror attacks in which Yasin had a hand. Yasin is stated to have planted bombs personally in some attacks

Caught on close-circuit television at least on three occasions, he managed to give the slip to the Mumbai and Kolkata police twice before the long arm of law caught up with him at the Indo-Nepal border near Gorakhpur on Wednesday night.

Yasin was one of the several cases where well-educated youths became radicalised and took to terror activities. At the age of 21, Yasin had emerged as one of the close confidante of ganglord-turned terrorist and founder of IM Amir Reza Khan and was the key figure in ensuring that bombs and anti-national material were transported from a beach house in Karnataka's coastal district of Bhatkal to other parts of the country in 2004.

His first brush with terror is believed to have started from Vitthalamakki and Hakkalamane in North Karnataka from where bombs were supplied to specialised Indian Mujahideen training camps spread across the country. Yasin was detained in Kolkata and Mumbai from where he managed to get released by concealing his identity.

He was caught on CCTV just before the German bakery blast in Pune in 2010 and later at blasts at Cyberabad's Dilkhush Nagar earlier this year. Earlier, he managed to flee less than an hour before police raided the IM safe house in the Bhadra forests outside Chikmagalur in October, 2008.

Yasin is believed to be jailed in November 2009 and walked out on bail after he had identified himself as Muhammad Ashraf. His questioning will be helpful to the security agencies in understanding the rise of the modern day terror in India.After the Delhi serial blasts in 2008, his role started surfacing in a big way during a check on his background and previous involvements.

'We told Sushmita not to return to Afghanistan':

Family members of author Sushmita Banerjee, who was shot dead by masked gunmen in Afghanistan, on Friday claimed that they had asked her not to return to the troubled country, but she did not listen insisting that the situation had changed there."When Sushmita decided to return in January, we had told her not to return. But she argued that the situation has changed in Afghanistan in the past several years. Let me go. If I find that I can't stay, I will come back", Sushmita's sister-in-law Debalina said."We always lived here in tension thinking about the situation in Afghanistan. But when she rang up about a fortnight back, saying that the situation was normal, we felt assured. Sushmita was doing a paramedical job there," she told a news channel in Kolkata.Sushmita also wanted to write more on the people of Afghanistan and their lives, she said.

Asked about the Taliban's denial of involvement in the killing, she quipped, "It has to be seen if the Taliban was speaking the truth. It seemed that she was the target as nothing happened to other members of her in-laws' family."She said they failed to contact Sushmita's husband Jaanbaz Khan in Afghanistan.The police said in Kabul on Thursday that Sushmita Banerjee, whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban was turned into a Hindi film, was shot dead in Afghanistan by militants.Banerjee, 49, was killed outside her home in Paktika province. The Taliban on Friday denied killing Sushmita Banerjee, whose murder Afghan officials blamed on the insurgent militia fighting against the government for 12 years.Banerjee's book Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife), about her escape from the Taliban in 1995, became a bestseller in India and was made into a Hindi film "Escape From Taliban" in 2003.A candle light vigil was observed in the city's Beliaghata area today to mourn the death of the writer who hailed from the city.Meanwhile, the brother of the author, Gopal Banerjee, on Friday told PTI that the family had contacted the external affairs ministry pleading that the body be brought to Kolkata. He said that they were yet to get a response from the ministry.

"We have contacted the External Affairs Ministry and we have clearly stated that we want to bring back the body of our sister back in Kolkata," he said.The family members also alleged foul play in the killing of Sushmita. He said they had sent mails and got in touch with the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat to help them bring back the body.Gopal said that it was since the end of last year that she was planning to go back to the country. "We warned her that it would be dangerous. But all our pleas and warnings fell on deaf ears. She pleaded that Afghanistan was safe."Reminiscing about the last conversation he had with her sister, Gopal said, "Eight to ten days back Sushmita had called for the last time. She didn't say anything about any threat or problem there. Maybe she didn't want us to get tensed on account of her."

190 people killed in Bihar floods; Nitish makes aerial survey:

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted aerial survey of 12 inundated districts to take stock of the situation arising out of flood which has claimed 190 lives so far in Bihar.Returning from the survey, the CM told reporters that the state government has readied all arrangements to meet the challenge of heavy rains next week in Nepal and North Bihar forecast by Meteorological department.Accompanied by Principal Secretary Disaster Management, Vyasji, the CM took round of 12 flooded districts by air. These were Patna, Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur, Katihar, Bhojpur, Saran, Vaishali and Buxar.Kumar said water level of swollen Ganga river was receding.He also said that nearly 60 lakh people were affected by the flood.Kumar said relief was distributed among the marooned on a war footing. Relief camps have been set up in the affected areas and necessary items like foodgrains were given to the victims.

The chief minister said he talked to the collectors of all the districts on the shore of the Ganga and gave them necessary instructions.the Bihar CM said that he himself would review flood relief and rehabilitation work and prepare a report on damage to be sent to the Centre.

He said flood relief work was carried out under Disaster Management law in which 75 per cent of the cost was borne by the Centre while state's share was 25 per cent.Meanwhile, a report from Disaster Management Department said that 190 people have lost their lives in the flood across the state so far.The highest toll of 30 people was reported from Purnea district while the casualty was 26 in Bhojpur and 21 in Munger, it said.The report said that nearly 4 lakh animals were affected in the floods.

Narendra Modi is BJP's PM candidate:

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday formally declared Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party's prime ministerial candidate after hectic parleys by senior leaders to convince L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi to give up their opposition to him.

The BJP Parliamentary Board, which met at the party headquarters in Delhi on Friday evening, took the decision.

BJP President Rajnath Singh said, "Shri Narendra Modi will be our PM candidate. We congratulate him and convey our best wishes."

The decision to convene the panel meeting came after Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Advani.

Modi, who flew in a chartered plane from Ahmedabad to Delhi on Friday afternoon, was present at the party HQ when the announcement was made.

86 days later, bells peal at Kedarnath temple once again:

The pealing of bells may have brought alive the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath on Wednesday, but heaps of broken doors and razed walls just a few meters away are a tell-tale sign of the massive devastation suffered in the June calamity.Several structures close to the shrine are lying in a shambles, with heaps of wooden planks, broken doors and razed walls lying just a few meters away from the temple. Structures lying close to the temple are still cluttered with tonnes of debris under which a large number of bodies might be lying, officials saidThe huge rock that saved the shrine was also worshipped on Wednesday, by a team of priests as pujas resumed at the shrine after a gap of 86 days.

"The road route to the shrine has also been opened for a limited number of pilgrims from the nearby areas at their own risk," Rudraprayag DM Dilip Javalkar said.Full-fledged yatra has not yet resumed.A review meeting will be held on September 30 to take stock of the situation and decide on the possibility of resuming the full-fledged yatra.

 Indian treasure worth Rs 2 crore found on frozen French peak!:

A French climber recently found a box full of precious stones while trekking at Mont Blanc, the highest mountain range in the European Union, with jewellery worth over Rs 2 crore.The metal box had nearly 100 pieces of emeralds, rubies and sapphires packed into sachets that were marked 'made in India'.The box is believed to have belonged to a passenger of one of the two ill-fated Air India flights that crashed at the spot, in 1950 and in 1966.Incidentally, a bag of surprisingly well-preserved Indian diplomatic mail was found by two climbers at Mont Blanc last year.The bag, marked 'ministry of external affairs', was believed to have belonged to someone on board the Boeing 707 that had crashed at the site in January 1966.As many as 11 crew members and 106 passengers had been killed in the crash.

Since one of the passengers killed in the crash was Homi Jehangir Bhaba, considered the father of India's nuclear programme, many conspiracy theories had surfaced after the mishap.The real reason behind the crash was never ascertained.An Air India propeller plane had crashed in the same region 16 years earlier -- in 1950 -- killing 48 passengers and crew members.The French climber, who remains unnamed, carried the box on his way down from the summit and handed it over to the local police."You can say the climber who made this find is someone very honest," the local police chief was quoted as saying by the Guardian.The daily also described Mont Blanc as “one of the world's most beautiful mountains, with a deadly history of dangerous storms and fatal avalanches.”The French authorities will now contact their Indian counterparts and try to return the jewel box to its rightful owner.If Indian authorities fail to find the owner of the treasure, the jewels can be given back to the climber who found them, said the Guardian.

SC ruling gives voters Right to Reject all candidates in polls:

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday held that citizens have right to cast negative vote rejecting all candidates contesting polls, a decision which would encourage people not satisfied with contestants to turn up for voting.The apex court directed the Election Commission to provide 'none of the above options' at the end of the list of candidates in electronic voting machines and ballot papers to allow voters to reject those contesting polls.A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy of elections and ensure wide participation as people who are not satisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their opinion rejecting contestants.It said that the concept of negative voting would bring a systemic change in the election process as the political parties will be forced to project clean candidates in polls.The bench noted that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries and even in India, parliamentarians are given an option to press the button for abstaining while voting takes place in the House.The court said right to reject candidates in elections is part of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression given by the Constitution to Indian citizens.

It said that democracy is all about choice and significance of right of citizens to cast negative voting is massive.With the concept of negative voting, the voters who are dissatisfied with the candidates in the fray would turn up in large number to express their opinion which would put unscrupulous elements and impersonators out of the polls, it said.The bench, while reading out the operative portion of the judgement, did not throw light on a situation in case the votes cast under no option head outnumber the votes got by the candidates.It said that secrecy of votes cast under the no option category must be maintained by the Election Commission.

Fodder scam: Lalu jailed for 5 years, fined Rs 25 lakh:

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad was on Thursday sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in a 17-year-old fodder scam case by a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation after he was convicted on corruption and other charges four days back.The sentencing by special CBI judge Pravas Kumar Singh disqualifies Prasad from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for 11 years.

65-year-old Prasad and other convicts are currently lodged in the Birsa Munda Central Jail in RanchiThe former Bihar chief minister, who was convicted on September 30 dealing a body blow to RJD ahead of next Lok Sabha polls, was also fined Rs 25 lakh.Another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the case.Six other politicians and four IAS officers, among the convicted, were also sentenced to prison terms for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury when Prasad was heading the RJD government in the early 1990s.

Of the 45 convicts, the judge had delivered the sentence against eight of them on September 30 itself.Earlier today, arguments on the quantum of sentence Prasad and 36 other convicts were completed in the special court in Ranchi with CBI seeking maximum prison term of up to seven years for them.The counsel of Yadav, Mishra, sitting JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma, former legislator R K Rana and others had pleaded for lesser sentence.Former Development Commissioner Phoolchand Singh, former Science and Technology Secretary Mahesh Prasad, former AHD Secretary Beck Juleus, former Income Tax Commissioner Adhip Chandra Choudhary, former Class I officers Gouri Shankar Prasad, Brajnandan Sharma, K M Prasad (all three were with the Animal Husbandry Department) and other officials, suppliers were among those found guilty.A sitting from Jahanabad, Sharma also faces disqualification in the wake of a Supreme Court judgement that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence.RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha has said that the verdict would be challenged in a higher court.

US shutdown: NSA staff asked to go home:

The United States National Security Agency has sent some staffers home because of the government shutdown despite crucial security services being exempted from the shuttering of offices due to lack of funds.

Though the shutdown makes an exception for "national security", some employees of the NSA were surprised to get a letter on Tuesday that told them their jobs did not fall under that category, Forbes reported on Thursday.

In a memo sent to thousands of NSA staffers, the associate director of human resources noted that despite exceptions to the shutdown that include "activities required for national security, including the safety of human life or the protection of property," recipients of the letter were being sent home indefinitely.

"We very much regret the shutdown furlough and recognise the difficult financial implications of any furlough, no matter how limited its length," reads the unclassified letter. While everyone at the NSA provides vital services, because the duties you perform do not support 'excerpted' functions, you will be placed in a furlough status effective 1 October 2013."The report said it was not clear how many staffers had been furloughed. Among those sent home were staffers from the surveillance-focussed signals intelligence group, the security-focussed information assurance division and the research division.The NSA hasn't officially stated the scope of the furlough, but the Hill has reported that as many as 70 per cent of civilian staffers have been put on indefinite leave.The move by the NSA comes in the wake of questions being raised about the agency's role by the US Congress and the media following revelations of its massive pervasive surveillance by former security contractor Edward Snowden.

Musharraf arrested over Lal Masjid operation:

Beleaguered former President Pervez Musharraf was on Thursday arrested for ordering a crackdown on the radical Lal Masjid, less than 24 hours after his lawyers claimed he could walk out of house arrest after being granted bail in the Akbar Bugti murder case."He (Musharraf) has been arrested," said Aasia Ishaque, spokesperson for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party. She confirmed that the 70-year-old former military was arrested in the Lal Masjid case."The SSP of Islamabad and the chief of Aabpara Police Station went to his house and arrested him," she told PTI.On September 2, police filed a case against Musharraf over the killing of cleric Abdul Rashid and his mother during the 2007 military operation against extremists holed up in the Lal Masjid.

The operation, ordered by Musharraf, ended with a bloody eight-day siege that killed nearly 100 people, including Pakistani troops.The case was filed on the directions of Justice Noorul Huque Qureshi of the Islamabad high court, who was annoyed over the non-compliance of an earlier order.The court issued the order in response to a petition filed by Haroon Rashid, the son of Abdul Rashid, against Musharraf for his alleged involvement in the killing of the hardline cleric and his mother.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted Musharraf bail in the case related to the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation.Musharraf's lawyers said this was the last case in which he was still under arrest and he had been granted bail in other cases, including those related to the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto and the imposition of emergency in 2007.The former military strongman is currently being held at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad, guarded by nearly 300 security personnel, including soldiers and snipers.Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and ruled as President until he resigned when he was threatened with impeachment in 2008. He then went into self-imposed exile and returned to Pakistan in March in a bid to resurrect his political career.

 Cyclone Phailin: Odisha braces for 1999 supercyclone revisit:

Defence Minister A K Antony has asked armed forces to be ready to move in to Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in view of cyclone Phailin.The severe cyclonic storm over east central Bay of Bengal further intensified on Friday and is all set to make a landfall close to Gopalpur in Odisha at a wind speed of at least 205 kmph on Saturday.

"The very severe cyclonic storm, PHAILIN over east central Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph and lay centred about 520km south-southeast of Paradip, 530km from Gopalpur and 530km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam," the IMD said in its latest bulletin."It would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur (Odisha) by the evening of October 12," the IMD said.Satellite images showed the storm in the Bay of Bengal to be about half the size of India.

Orissa Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra said Phailin would be 'no less than 1999 supercyclone'Tropical Storm Risk, a London-based storm tracking service, has categorised Phailin as a Category 4 storm, one notch below the most powerful Category 5 storms.The Indian Meterological Department has forecast a risk to life and extensive damage to property when it makes landfall in 36 hoursIMD, which till Thursday night expected that the wind speed would remain limited within 185 kmph during landfall on Saturday, said in its latest bulletin that Phailin would hit with increased intensity with a maximum sustained speed of 205-215 kmph.

Similarly, though IMD forecast a storm surge of 1.5 meter to 2 meter in Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts in the coast on Thursday, it said on Friday that the storm surge height will be around 2 meter to 2.5 meter above astronomical tide. This would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha.
Squally winds speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph have already started along Odisha coast this morning under the influence of Phailin. "It would increase in intensity with gale wind speed reaching 205-215 kmph along and off coastal districts of south Odisha at the time of landfall," the IMD said.Meanwhile, a worried state government held several meetings and took stock of the situation in the changed circumstances. The state government has already asked the district authorities to start evacuation of people living in low lying areas close to the sea. "We have ordered that nobody should be allowed to stay in thatched and weak houses," Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra said.The personnel of Odisha State Disaster Rapid Action Force and fire men have already been deployed.

 Phailin aftermath: Epidemic threat in Odisha's Ganjam district:

The threat of epidemic is looming large in worst-hit Ganjam district as the debris is yet to be cleared even six days after Cyclone Phailin left behind its trail of destruction.

Five diarrhoea cases have already been reported from Sorala, a fishermen village in the coastal area. The disease was also reported from the nearby villages.Confirming it, Ganjam chief medical officer P K Kar, however, said the situation was not alarming.“We have received some sporadic cases. But the situation is totally normal,” he said.Kar said at least ten teams of doctors along with paramedical staff were touring the cyclone-ravaged areas.At least two teams were deputed to the district from Bhubaneswar and all the senior doctors in the area have been alerted to be prepared to meet the situation, Kar added.Managing Director of National Rural Health Mission Roopa Mishra on Thursday reviewed the preparedness of the health sector to meet the outbreak of any epidemic.Locals complained that the situation was the worst in Berhampore Municipal Corporation area as heaps of garbage, branches of trees lay piled up in the south Odisha town.Fowl smell was emanating from the clogged drains, while drinking water supply is yet to normalise in the town.

“We are trying our level best to clean up the town. The work is on in full swing and more people have been hired for it. Several persons with required machinery from Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation were also at work to clear the town, BMC commissioner Ajit Mishra said.

Rains, floods unleash fury on Andhra, Odisha; 48 killed:

Incessant rains and floods have claimed as many as 45 lives in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, with hundreds of villages submerged in nearly 30 districts and road and rail links disrupted in the region.Three persons were also killed in heavy rains in south Bengal with normal life thrown out of gear in Kolkata and adjacent districts.

Rain and flood-battered Andhra Pradesh, where 29 people have been killed in the last four days, is unlikely to get respite anytime soon as the Met department has forecast heavy downpour in the next 48 hours in the state as also in many Odisha districts and south Bengal.At least 16 people have died in flood-related incidents in Odisha, where the situation remained grim despite major rivers receding.As many as 3,230 villages in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh were badly affected due to torrential rains and 6,600 houses have been damaged, Disaster Management Commissioner T Radha said.

He said 405 minor irrigation tanks and a 935 km road stretch had been damaged while breaches occurred in canals in different districts, inundating settlements and crops.More than 72,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in nine districts, said Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, adding that crops in 6.77 lakh hectares of land had been damaged.The government has set up 178 relief camps in nine districts, including 36 in Srikakulam.A flood alert has been sounded due to rising water level in river Krishna.In Odisha, two deaths each were reported from Bhadrak, Jajpur and Nayagarh districts, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra told reporters in Bhubaneshwar after the situation was reviewed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"All the deaths were due to wall collapse and drowning," Mohapatra said.Major rivers like Rusikulya, Godahada and Vansadhara were flowing below the danger mark .Over 5.32 lakh people in 2,276 villages in 13 districts were affected by the floods in Odisha, while about 1.47 lakh people were evacuated, officials said.Of the 129 villages inundated in Ganjam district by flash flood on Friday, water had receded in 69 villages.An IMD bulletin said that heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over the next 48 hours at one or two places over Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawarangpur, Rayagada, Gajapati and Kalahandi districts.Vast stretches of the Vijayawada-Hyderabad Highway were submerged in floodwater, leading to traffic diversion.

The rail track at Bommayipalli on the Secunderabad-Guntur section was damaged and repairs were being carried out. All important trains on this route are being diverted via Warangal and Vijayawada, official sources said.The East Coast Railway has cancelled the Bhubaneswar-Bengaluru Prasanthi Express and Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam Express trains due to heavy rains. The Puri-Tirupati Express and Coromandel Express also stand cancelled.In West Bengal, Sanjoy Mondal and his son Ashish were killed after the balcony of an old house collapsed on Cotton Street in Kolkata, which received the season's highest of 140 mm rainfall.A woman, Dulai Mohanta, died in a wall collapse at Bhurigram in Burdwan district.

Widespread showers lashed Durgapur in Burdwan district, which reported 112-114 mm of rain.Purulia district reported 65 mm of rain which affected Bagmundi, Jhalda and Jaypore blocs.Altogether, 1,334 huts collapsed in the rains in Burdwan district, district disaster management sources said.Bankura District Magistrate Bijoy Bharati said the rains affected Barjora, Sonamukhi, Patrasayar, and Mejia blocks while the Kangasabati River crossed the danger level

SC verdict may wipe out AMRI's entire profit:

The Supreme Court order asking Kolkata-based Advanced Medicare and Research Institute Hospital to pay Rs 5.96 crore as compensation for medical negligence could wipe out an entire year’s profit. With interest, the compensation translates to a little more than Rs 11 crore.AMRI has two units, of which the one at Dhakuria was gutted by a fire in 2011 that claimed 91 lives and it might have to wait longer to see the light of day again.The apex court on Thursday had ordered the hospital and three of its doctors to compensate, with interest, a United States-based Indian-origin doctor for medical negligence which led to the death of his wife in 1998.

The compensation, with interest, translates to more than Rs 11 crore.The hospital, co-founded by industrialists R S Agarwal and R S Goenka, had booked a profit of around Rs 12 crore on a turnover of Rs 187 crore in FY10. Then the fire accident happened and since then, the hospital remains closed.When contacted, Emami director Aditya Agarwal refused to comment, saying he is not involved in the day-to-day operations and, hence, has no idea about the impact of the payout of the compensation.Rahul Todi, managing director of Sharachi group, too, refused to comment on the impact of the SC verdict on the company's financials. Emami and Sharachi are co-owners of AMRI.The buzz around AMRI Dhakuria has been positive in the past few months with chances of reopening of the unit gaining ground. The fire accident had soured the relationship between AMRI promoters and the state government, which arrested six directors of AMRI.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had publicly said the government was not in favour of a ‘killer’ industry.However, of late, Emami promoters have been seen sharing the dais with West Bengal ministers at public events, signalling improvement of relations. The latest Supreme Court verdict could change all that.Subrata Majumdar, a Trinamool Congress leader, said, “This s being handled by the chief minister directly. Since the verdict came from the Supreme Court, it may delay things for AMRI.”The apex court verdict could also mean that AMRI may have to wait for a longer period before they can resume operations.AMRI had major expansion plans of about Rs 2,000 crore, which were put on hold after the fire accident.The group also had plans to set up seven hospitals across the east and north-east with an investment of nearly Rs 1,750 crore. Plus, it was planning to invest Rs 300 crore to add beds in the existing hospitals.

Nuclear-capable Agni-I missile successfully test-fired:

India on Friday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile with a strike range of 700 km from a test range off Odisha coast as part of a user trial by the army.

The surface-to-surface, single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at 9.33 am from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from Balsore."The test-fire of the ballistic missile was fully successful," ITR Director M V K V Prasad said."Agni-I missile was launched by the Strategic Forces Command," he said, adding the Defence Research and Development Organisation developed medium-range ballistic missile from the production lot was launched as part of regular training exercise by the armed forces.The Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system, which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision, he said.

Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-long Agni-I, which can carry payloads up to 1000 kg, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.Agni-I was developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the DRDO in collaboration with the Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.The last trial of the sophisticated Agni-I missile was successfully carried out on December 12, 2012 from the same base.

Tejpal faces ARREST after being booked on rape charge:

Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal faces possible arrest after Goa police booked him on rape charge following an allegation by a colleague that he sexually assaulted her during an event a fortnight ago.A special investigating team of the Goa crime branch will visit Delhi to question Tejpal and police are not ruling out his arrest."An FIR has been filed on charges of rape and outraging of modesty (against Tejpal). This is one part of the process of investigation and law will take its own course," Director General of Police Kishan Kumar said in Panaji.The charges relate to Sections 376 (rape), 376 (2) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, he said.Asked whether Tejpal would be arrested, the DGP said, "As I told you, this is a matter of investigation. Let us leave it to investigating officers. It is a process under law which has logical consequences. I cannot say how the IO will do."Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear that his government will show "no tolerance for this type of crime and we should crack down on such high-profile crimes".He said Goa police has not received any response from Tehelka to the letter sent to it seeking details of the alleged incident."I am not saying someone is guilty but the girl's email (to her office) is explicit," he said and commended her for showing the courage to report the incident.

While Tejpal issued a statement offering to extend the "fullest cooperation" to the police and all other authorities, the magazine's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury said they would not go to police on the issue as it was for the victim to decide on it.

Facing allegations that Tehelka was indulging in a cover-up, Chaudhury defended her actions in the matter, saying she had confronted Tejpal about the incident "very, very angrily", after which he stepped down from his post for six months and apologised to the victim.

"The right to go to police is hers (victim's). I am not going to the police on my own," she said, adding she will cooperate in the probe."If it is hard for me to cooperate, then I will step down," Chaudhury said.She came under a fresh attack when she referred to her conversation with Tejpal, who, she said, has a "different version" of the incident, which she claimed to have overruled.

"I do feel a sense of outrage and betrayal but he has a different version," she said.Asked if Tehelka. which claims to have set high standards via its investigative reports, was following double standards in this case, Chaudhury said a three-member committee has been set up which will hear both the sides.

"You are jumping to conclusions that it is sexual assault and rape," she shot back.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party today said suggestions that the victim can opt for an in-house inquiry by Tehelka and not go for a criminal probe is an "accused-friendly" approach and insisted that the two options should complement each other, instead of being alternatives.Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley issued a statement on the issue and emphasised that everybody should encourage victims to depose "truly and faithfully" as punishing an offender acts as a deterrent in the larger interest of society.Referring to debates in various news channels on the Tejpal issue, Jaitley said "regretfully, some participants provided an escape route for the accused. They argued that the victim has a freedom of choice whether to pursue her complaint before the in-house inquiry or pursue the criminal investigation."

 24 gold bars found in aircraft toilet in Kolkata:

Cleaners working on a commercial plane in Kolkata have found 24 gold bars worth more than $1 million stuffed into a toilet compartment, officials said on Wednesday.
India, which rivals China as the world's biggest gold consumer, has witnessed a spike in smuggling after import duties were hiked three times this year to try to dampen demand for the precious metal.  The plane belonging to Jet Airways was being cleaned at Kolkata airport on Tuesday after a trip from Patna. It had previously been flying on international routes.

"The cleaning staff of the airport were going though their routine duties and found two bags in the toilets of the plane," director of the airport B P Mishra told AFP.

The one-kilogram gold bars "have not been claimed by anyone. No arrest has been made as yet".Senior customs official R S Meena estimated the value of the haul at about 70 million rupees, or $1.1 million.

 CNR Rao first Indian elected to Chinese Academy of Science:

Eminent Scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee Prof C N R Rao has become the first Indian scientist to be elected as honorary foreign member of Chinese Academy of Science.

"Prof Rao is the first Indian Scientist to be elected to this prestigious academy,prestigious academy which consists of several Nobel laureates and eminent scientists of the world," Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, of which Rao is a founder and honorary President, said.

Stating that Rao, awarded the Bharat Ratna last week, was elected by CAS at its General Assembly held on November 4, the Centre said in a release that the academy had bestowed on him the prestigious Award for International Scientific Cooperation in January 2012.

It said Rao has been elected to almost all scientific academies of the world including The Royal Society-London, ationalAcademy of Science-USA, Pontifical Academy of Science, JapanAcademy and RoyalSpanishAcademy of Sciences, among others.

He has also been conferred 60 Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorates) by various universities across the globe, it added.

Nelson Mandela dead at 95: Anti-apartheid hero and former South African president dies in Johannesburg:

Nelson Mandela led the fight to end apartheid, government-sanctioned racial segregation in South Africa, ultimately succeeding with the odds stacked against him. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

The lion of South Africa sleeps forever tonight.Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid and then pushed for reconciliation as his country’s first black president, died after a prolonged illness Thursday. He was 95.

“He passed on peacefully in the comfort of his family,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the world just before midnight Thursday in the African nation. “We’ve lost our greatest son.” As word of the death of the man South Africans called Madiba spread across the heartbroken country, hundreds of weeping mourners converged on Mandela’s home in Johannesburg, chanting, “Viva Mandela, viva!”

Fittingly, blacks and whites mourned Mandela together.“If it wasn’t for Mandela, I wouldn’t be chilling with my black friends,” said 19-year-old Dominic Sadie, who is white and was part of the giant crowd of people holding candles and paying their respects. “I love him.” Mandela died at 8:50 p.m. local time, but Zuma didn’t make his sad announcement until a little before midnight.Weeping South Africans raced out into streets in their pajamas, including one black mom who rushed over to Mandela’s house with her two daughters.“I am glad that he is in a better place, but I hope South Africans will be able to deal with his death,” she said through her tears. Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last president during the era of state-sanctioned racial segregation.

“I liked him and I immediately felt that this is truly a man of greatness,” de Klerk recalled. “I think Nelson Mandela’s legacy is don’t be bitter about the past, take the hands also of your former enemies.”In Washington, President Obama said Mandela “no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”Mandela died at 8:50 p.m. local time, but Zuma didn’t make his sad announcement until a little before midnight.Weeping South Africans raced out into streets in their pajamas, including one black mom who rushed over to Mandela’s house with her two daughters.“I am glad that he is in a better place, but I hope South Africans will be able to deal with his death,” she said through her tears.

Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last president during the era of state-sanctioned racial segregation.“I liked him and I immediately felt that this is truly a man of greatness,” de Klerk recalled. “I think Nelson Mandela’s legacy is don’t be bitter about the past, take the hands also of your former enemies.”In Washington, President Obama said Mandela “no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”

“I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Mandela’s life,” Obama said at the White House. “So long as I live, I will do what I can to learn from him.”
Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday and prepared to fly out to South Africa for a state funeral. Former President Bill Clinton, another politician who drew inspiration from the mighty South African, was in his New York City office when he got the word.

The eminent lawyer claimed a criminal offence is not just a crime against a victim but also a crime against society."This is precisely why the State pursues a criminal action. The public exchequer pays for it. There is a larger public interest in punishing a criminal. A departmental or an in-house inquiry and a criminal trial complement each other. They are not alternatives," Jaitley said

Mars orbiter's first ever image of earth:

The Indian Space Research Organisation has released the first ever image of the earth taken by the country’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft.

This image was taken on November 19 at 1350 hours using the Mars Colour Camera from a height of almost 70,000 km above earth and has a spatial resolution of 3.5 km.
In a post on social networking website Facebook, ISRO said: “In the process of testing our payloads, we turned the Mars Colour Camera towards the earth and switched it on, and here is the first ever image. We are certain we are going to get some great shots in the orbit of Mars.”

The picture has captured the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa, especially Cyclone Helen, hovering off the Andhra Pradesh coast.The Mars Orbiter Mission is aimed at establishing India's capability to reach the Red Planet. It focuses on looking for the presence of methane, an indicator of life on the planet.
The spacecraft would go around the Earth for 25 days before the ISRO plans to do trans-Mars injection on December 1, enabling it to undertake the long voyage towards Mars.In its 300-day, 780-million-kilometre journey, the spacecraft will orbit Mars and survey its geology and atmosphere. The satellite will enter the Mars orbit in September 2014.

Assembly Elections 2013 Results

Seats Declared: 39/40
Parties           Won   Total
(L + W)
Cong  0          31        31
MPC   0          0          0
MNF+ 1          7          8
Others           0          1          1
Mizoram election result 2013: Lal Thanhawla Cong's lone face saviour

Seats Declared: 70/70
Parties        Won      Total
(L + W)
Cong  0          8          8
BJP    0          31        31
AAP    0          28        28
Others           0          3          3

Delhi Elections 2013: President's Rule appears imminent in Delhi

Seats Declared: 199/200
Parties           Won   Total
(L + W)
Cong  0          21        21
BJP    0          162     162
BSP    0          1          1
Others           0          15        15

Rajasthan assembly election results: 'Maharani' brings BJP back to power

Madhya Pradesh
Seats Declared: 230/230
Parties           Won   Total
(L + W)
Cong  0          58        58
BJP    0          165     165
BSP    0          4          4
Others           0          3          3

Shivraj Chouhan's son of the soil image proves to be winner

Seats Declared: 90/90
Parties           Won   Total
(L + W)
Cong  0          39        39
BJP    0          49        49
BSP    0          1          1
Others           0          1          1

Raman Singh sworn in as CM of Chhattisgarh
Raman Singh was sworn in as chief minister of Chhattisgarh's third consecutive BJP government at a glittering public ceremony.

Devyani row: 'Why no focus on crimes committed against maid?':

The lawyer for a domestic help employed by Devyani Khobragade on Thursday said it is frustrating and disappointing that the focus in the case has shifted from the crimes that were committed against her client to the Indian diplomat."There is frustration and disappointment that the media (and the officials) has portrayed this story in the way that they have," Dana Sussman, staff attorney in the anti-trafficking programme at victim assistance agency Safe Horizon, told PTI.Sussman is the lawyer for the Indian woman Sangeeta Richard, who had been employed by Khobragade as a domestic help and babysitter.Senior director of the anti-trafficking programme at Safe Horizon Avaloy Lanning said the victim and other advocates are "frustrated" that the crime in the case is being "overshadowed" and the focus should be on the "crimes that were committed rather than on the criminal defendant."

She said irrespective of the position of the Indian officials about Richard's conduct, the charges against India's Deputy Consul General in New York "speak for themselves".Sussman stressed that the case is about Khobragade lying to the federal government about the wages she was required to pay to her client.Khobragade "did not pay those wages, she grossly underpaid my client and required that my client work far more than she had expected" and Khobragade wrongly represented this information the US government."My client worked for her for quite a while and eventually she decided that she could not tolerate the situation any longer," Sussman said.

Sussman, however, did not comment on the whereabouts of Richard and her family, on the police complaint lodged against her in India and the fact that she had been absconding since June.She also said she would not comment on the legal proceedings ongoing in India against Richard.She added that her client will not "at this point" come out and talk to the media.

She said Richard wants "justice" for herself and the story that is being lost in this case is that Richard is a witness in a federal investigation and criminal case against Khobragade.She will continue to cooperate with authorities, Sussman added.Richard is "not on trial here and we think that the message here has been lost in the fact that there are charges against Khobragade for violating US law and those charges relate to the underpayment of wages to a domestic worker. That is the story. The actual story has been lost" in the diplomatic row that has erupted between US and India.Sussman said the case is representative of the experiences of a significant number of domestic workers of diplomats and consular officials from all over the world who come on special visas to the US but face labour issues."We would like to see this story told in a broader way that discusses the issues of domestic workers of diplomats and consular officials and the issues that they face and the vulnerability they have in labour abuses and underpayment of wages," Sussman said, adding that her agency applauds the US government's action in the case.

Sussman said the action of the government demonstrates that the US is taking crimes which lead to exploitation and abuse of domestic workers seriously.

On the case being made by Indian authorities that Khobragade enjoys diplomatic immunity, Sussman said Khobragade enjoyed only a "limited form of consular immunity" given to consular officials and employees of the consulate."That does not pertain to her private actions in employing a domestic worker. The receiving country, in this case the US, determines what level of immunity a diplomat or consular official enjoys," she said.Whether Khobragade's transfer to the Indian Mission to the United Nations would weaken their case, Sussman said it is not upto Khobragade to determine what level of immunity she has."The receiving state determines the level of immunity for any individual. I am sure the US government has considered this," she said.Meanwhile, the Indian diplomats at India's Permanent Mission to the UN remained tight-lipped about the transfer of Khobragade from the Consulate to the mission, neither did they comment on the developments in the case.

Another controversy over Taslima, TV serial postponed:

Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen ran into another controversy when protest by Muslim fundamentalists forced a Bengali channel to postpone the broadcast of a TV serial based on a story written by her.'Dusahobas' (translated roughly as living difficult), was scheduled to be shown on the small screen from tonight on the "Aakash Aath" channel.

"Although Aakash Aath is willing and is ready to commence the telecast of 'Dusahobas' on Thursday at 10pm as was envisaged, but due to reasons beyond the purview and control of our channel we may be forced to defer the telecast of this serial indefinitely," a spokesperson of the channel said.

In a statement, the channel said the serial was based on women empowerment and had nothing to do with any religion or community whatsoever.

Abdul Aziz of minority group Milli Ittehad Parishad told PTI that they had written to the producers asking them to withdraw Taslima's name and reference from the serial and withdraw scenes which might create a controversy.

"We have been told that there are some scenes in the serial which might hurt our sentiments. Through this serial she is trying to come back to Kolkata. Therefore we have opposed this," Aziz said.The minority groups have already forced the channel to withdraw all hoardings about the serial which has Taslima's name.

Maulana Nurur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata, said, "We will not allow the channel to show the serial at all". Idris Ali, president of All India Minority Forum, alleged that Taslima is trying to break peace and harmony in the state.

"We will not let her break communal harmony," Ali said. Exiled from Bangladesh in 1994 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with her novel 'Lajja' (Shame), the doctor-turned-author had taken refuge in the city in 2004, after a long stay in Europe.

But after violent protests in the city in November 2007, the government took her away to an undisclosed location in New Delhi where she has been residing since then

Huge relief for Narendra Modi, gets clean chit in 2002 riots:

In a major relief to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a metropolitan court on Saturday rejected the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of a former Congress MP, against the clean chit given to him and others by the Special Investigation Team in the 2002 Gujarat riots.Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra while pronouncing the order in open court told Zakia's counsel Mihir Desai that her petition has been rejected and they have the liberty to approach a higher court.Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was among the 68 people killed in the Gulbarg society massacre here during the post-Godhra riots, had filed a protest petition on April 15, this year objecting to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT's closure report absolving Modi of complicity in the conspiracy behind the carnage.Seventy-four-year-old Zakia, who was present at the court, broke down after the verdict was out and said she will appeal against it in the higher court in a month.

"The only hurdle in the acceptance of SIT's recommendations was the protest petition and the protest petition was rejected, obviously the SIT report has been accepted. So, SIT's investigation, integrity, impartiality, all have been given a judicial stamp," R S Jamuar, SIT's counsel, told reporters after the verdict.After completing its investigation on Zakia's complaint, the SIT had had filed its closure report on February 8, last year. It concluded that despite difficulties in obtaining evidence in the case because of the lapse of eight years, whatever material it could gather was not sufficient enough to prosecute those against whom allegations of hatching the conspiracy had been levelled.

In her petition, Zakia had demanded rejection of the SIT report and an order by the court to file chargesheet against Modi, BJP's prime ministerial candidate, and others.
Zakia had filed a complaint against 63 persons, including Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officers and BJP functionaries accusing them of a wider conspiracy in the riots, which left more than 1,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.Jamuar said the complainant had the option to move the court of the district judge or the high court against the order.The apex court had ordered an inquiry into Zakia's complaint by SIT headed by the Central Bureau of Investigation former Director R K Raghavan.

The SIT had submitted its report to the Supreme Court after investigations into the complaint. It had interrogated several people, including Modi, who was quizzed for more than nine hours in March 2010.The Supreme Court, after going through the report, had asked amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran to independently verify the SIT investigations. Ramchandran had also submitted his report to the Supreme Court and, according to Zakia, it had sufficient grounds to put Modi and others on trial.After going through both the reports, the Supreme Court had on September 12, 2011 directed the SIT to submit the final report along with the entire material collected during the investigation to the metropolitan court.

Zakia had filed a complaint against 63 persons, including Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officers and BJP functionaries accusing them of a wider conspiracy in the riots, which left more than 1,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.Jamuar said the complainant had the option to move the court of the district judge or the high court against the order.The apex court had ordered an inquiry into Zakia's complaint by SIT headed by the Central Bureau of Investigation former Director R K Raghavan.

The SIT had submitted its report to the Supreme Court after investigations into the complaint. It had interrogated several people, including Modi, who was quizzed for more than nine hours in March 2010.The Supreme Court, after going through the report, had asked amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran to independently verify the SIT investigations. Ramchandran had also submitted his report to the Supreme Court and, according to Zakia, it had sufficient grounds to put Modi and others on trial.After going through both the reports, the Supreme Court had on September 12, 2011 directed the SIT to submit the final report along with the entire material collected during the investigation to the metropolitan court.

Kejriwal to be sworn in as Delhi CM on Saturday at Ramlila Maidan:

Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi's seventh chief minister on Saturday at historic Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, capping his party's stunning electoral debut in the December 4 assembly polls.The date for the swearing-in ceremony was finalised at a meeting Kejriwal held with Chief Secretary D M Spolia.

Top officials in the Delhi government said Kejriwal and six Aam Aadmi Party members of Legislative Assembly will be sworn-in in a public ceremony at 12 pm at the Ramlila Maidan, the venue of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement two years ago.The cabinet ministers to take oath along with Kejriwal are Manish Sisodia, Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Girish Soni and Satendra Jain.Born in Haryana and a resident of Kausambi in nearby Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh, the IIT-Kharagpur graduate in mechanical engineering, had defeated three-time chief minister Shiela Dikshit in the New Delhi constituency by a huge margin of over 25,000 votes.

Forty-five-year-old Kejriwal had met Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on Monday and handed over him a letter staking claim to form the government with outside support from the Congress.Following this, Jung had sent a proposal to President Pranab Mukherjee detailing AAP's stake to form the government. The President approved the proposal on Tuesday and left it to the Lt Governor to finalise the date for swearing-in ceremony in consultation with the Chief Minister-designate.One-year-old AAP had made an electrifying debut in elections winning 28 seats in the 70-member assembly and decimating the Congress, which bagged only eight seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party, along with its ally Shiromani Akali Dal's one seat, had 32 MLAs but the party declined to form the government, citing lack of majority.

Sources in the AAP said Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Santosh Hegde and all those associated with the anti-corruption movement will be invited to the swearing-in ceremony.

Kejriwal had announced formation of AAP on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, last year and it was formally launched on November 26 coinciding with the anniversary of India's adoption of its Constitution in 1949. The party's name reflects the phrase ‘aam aadmi’, or common man, whose interests Kejriwal pledged to represent.

The party produced a separate manifesto for each of the 70 constituencies for the Delhi polls. The candidates were screened for potential criminal backgrounds and the party claimed to have selected honest candidates.From 26-year-old Birla to 41-year-old Sisodia, the Cabinet is not just going to be the youngest ever but also probably the first in which all members, including the chief minister, are debutant MLAs.Birla had emerged as a giant killer after thumping four-time MLA and Public Works Department Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan in the SheilaDikshit government in Mangolpuri by around 10,500 votes. Before joining AAP, Birla had worked with a private news channel.Sisodia, a trusted aide of Kejriwal, came to prominence during Anna Hazare's movement for Janlokpal Bill in 2011. The 41-year-old journalist turned-activist-turned-politician defeated BJP's Nakul Bhardwaj by over 11,000 votes from Patparganj constituency in East Delhi.Another face in Kejriwal's team is Saurabh Bhardwaj, an engineering graduate who had also studied law. The 34-year-old defeated Ajay Kumar Malhotra, son of veteran BJP leader V K Malhotra, by a margin of around 13,000 votes from Greater Kailash constituency.

Kejriwal has another IITian in his cabinet in Somnath Bharti who is an MLA from Malviya Nagar. He holds a Master's degree from IIT, Delhi, and a degree in law. The 39-year-old defeated BJP's Arti Mehra and another Delhi government minister Kiran Walia.MLA from Shakur Basti (North) Jain, who will also be inducted as a minister, is an architect by profession. Girish Soni, an MLA from Madipur, had participated in Bijli-Pani agitation of the AAP and motivated people to join the movement.

Blast by suspected militants kills 5 in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district:

Five people were killed and four others injured when suspected Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) militants triggered a bomb blast in Jalpaiguri district of northern West Bengal on Thursday evening, police said.

"Five people have been killed. Some others are injured. Our reading is that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) kept in a cycle," said inspector general of police, north Bengal range, Sashikant Pujari. Jalpaiguri's deputy superintendent of police Prabhat Chakraborty told IANS that four injured people were admitted in Jalpaiguri District Hospital. The blast occurred around 7pm in Bajrapara area.

"We suspect KLO militants are behind the blast. Recently some of their activists have been arrested. The blast could be a retaliatory action on their part," said Pujari. The blast took place two days ahead of December 28, the foundation day of KLO, which came up in 1996. Following the incident, a high alert has been sounded across north Bengal.

"There is high alert also in the international borders with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh and the Bengal-Assam inter-state border," said Pujari. A bomb disposal squad has already reached the spot from Siliguri in Darjeeling district.

A forensic team would arrive on Friday. Two days back, three KLO militants were rounded up in Jalpaiguri district for their alleged involvement in extortion from tea garden owners and other businessmen from north Bengal by issuing threats.

A separatist outfit, the KLO has been demanding a Kamtapur state comprising six districts — Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpur and Malda — of West Bengal and four contiguous districts of Assam — Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.




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