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Wednesday, 7 January 2015


Minister Gopinath Munde killed in road accident

Rural Development Minister and the face of the Other Backward Classes in the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra Gopinath Munde died of shock and cardiac arrest suffered during a road accident on Tuesday early morning.

Munde, 64, who made his entry into the Union Cabinet for the first time after the Lok Sabha polls, was on his way to the airport when his car was hit by another vehicle at Prithviraj road-Tughlak road roundabout in the heart of the capital, said Union Minster Nitin Gadkari.

“Munde was brought to the emergency department of Jai Prakash Narain Apex Trauma Centre, AIIMS at 6:30 am by his personal assistant and driver. Munde was sitting in the backseat of his car, which was hit by another car or any other vehicle around 6:20 am from the side he was sitting,” said Dr Amit Gupta of the Trauma Centre.

“On his arrival at the Trauma Centre, there was no spontaneous breathing, no blood pressure, no pulse and no cardiac activity. So immediately Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation was started and continued for the next 15 minutes. Despite resuscitative measures, Munde could not be revived and was declared dead at 7:20 am,” he said.

33 Indian fishermen released by Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka on Thursday freed 33 Indian fishermen arrested for allegedly poaching in the country's waters, days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered their release as a goodwill gesture.

The fishermen were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard Ship "Rajkamal" at the seas off Mannar, Sri Lankan Navy said in a statement.

"Under the direction of the president steps have been taken to repatriate 33 Indian fishermen in the Sri Lanka custody with the immediate effect on June 5," the statement said.

In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed kbaruddin tweeted, "Yes 33 fishermen have been released by ri Lanka and handed over to Indian Coast Guard on Thursday afternoon."

The fishermen were part of a group who set out in 727 boats from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on May 31 and were arrested while fishing near Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974.

The 29 fishermen, with four others, strayed into Sri Lankan waters on June 1 after their boat developed a technical snag.

President Rajapaksa's order to release fishermen is to signify a goodwill gesture by him to the new Indian government, his spokesman had said.

Rajapaksa had attended the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 in Delhi.He had ordered the release of all Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody last month.Talks between India and Sri Lanka on the fishermen issue had ended in deadlock early last month and negotiators are scheduled to meet again this month.Sri Lanka had shot down a request from Tamil Nadu fishermen to allow fishing in Lankan waters for 70 days a year and to allow bottom trawling.

24 Hyderabad students washed away in Himachal Pradesh, five bodies recovered

At least 24 engineering students, including six girls, are feared to have been washed away this evening in River Beas near Thalot on Manali-Kiratpur Highway, 40 km from Mandi, police said on Sunday.The sight seeing trip to Himachal Pradesh turned tragic for the Hyderabad students who were taking photographs on the bank of the river.

Gushing waters of the Beas swept them away after water was suddenly released from the reservoir of 126 MW Larji hydropower project.The incident took place around 7 pm near Thalot, 61 km from Mandi, when the students from the Hyderabad-based engineering college VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering & Technology, Bachupally, Nizampet, were trying to click photos on the bank of the river.The students drowned when water from Larji dam was suddenly released without any warning.

Rescue operation

As the tunnel joins river Beas, the students were thrown into the middle of the river. While some managed to reach the bank, others were swept away. Some students were drowned while trying to save others, police said.

"Exact number of students who were swept away is not known as the rescue operation is still on. They were trying to click the photos near the Larji dam tunnel when the dam staff suddenly released the water from the dam located on other side of the tunnel. The students were unaware of the water threat. The flow of the water was so strong that they did not get a chance to reach the bank. While some were washed away and were thrown into river Beas, some even tried to save themselves by climbing on rocks. They were drowned as the water force increased. Some were saved by locals by throwing ropes," Kuldeep Rana, Additional SP, Mandi, said.

Another police official said that when the water was being released, the locals also raised the alarm but the dam staff ignored the same.No warning was issued before releasing the water.According to the police, there were 61 people, including students and staff, who were on their way to Manali in two college buses. There were 13 girl students.Local administration swung into action after the police was informed by the locals.The darkness hampered the rescue operation which continued till late night.

People living along the two sides of the river bank downstream of the dam have been alerted to inform the police about any person sighted by them.Massive search operations have been launched to trace the missing students but there was no success due to darkness.The incident has sent shock waves and parents and friends of the missing students are making frantic calls to know about their whereabouts.This is the second major accident in the state in less than three months.

Nearly two months ago, 15 people were killed and nearly two dozen injured when their overloaded mini- bus rolled down a 400- feet deep gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district. The bus was on its way from Milla village to Paonta Sahib.In another accident in 2013, all 21 people travelling by a private mini-bus were killed when the vehicle skidded off the road and rolled down more than a 500-foot deep gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district.

 PM Modi's rail shocker: Passenger fare, freight rates hiked:

In a pre-budget move, cash-strapped railways on Tuesday effected a steep across-the-board hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares in all classes and a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates to garner Rs.8000 crore a year.The decision, which will come into effect from June 25, marks implementation of an announcement of May 16, the day Lok Sabha election results came, when the hike was announced but put on hold immediately.

In a flip-flop, the Ministry first announced that today's hike will be implemented with immediate effect but later changed it to June 25, saying the officials needed time to execute it.Announcing the decision, less than a month after the NDA government took over, Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda said, "I was forced to implement the order that was done by my predecessor. I am only withdrawing the withholding order."He said the interim budget presented by the previous government had assumed certain revenues on the basis of the proposed hike that was announced on May 16.

"Meeting the annual expenditure would not be possible unless the revised rates as finalised by previous government is implemented, hence order of withdrawing implementation of revised fare and freight has been withdrawn," said the Railway Ministry, which is incurring a loss of about Rs.900 crore per month in passenger segment."Accordingly, the revised passenger fare and freight rates and freight structure rationalization will come into effect from June 25, 2014," it said in a statement.

The hike was announced nearly a week after Modi said the country should be ready for "tough decisions" required to improve the financial health.The Railway Budget will be presented in Parliament in the first week of next month.

Two days back, Gowda had said he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi before announcing the hike.While a flat 10 per cent has been announced in all classes, an additional 4.2 per cent increase under fuel adjustment component (FAC)-linked revision scheme will be effected on passenger fares, taking the upper revision of fares to 14.2 per cent, an official said.The Railways had earlier issued a notification on May 16 effecting hike in passenger fare by 14.2 per cent across the board and freight charges by 6.5 per cent from May 20. This was followed up with an official press release.The May 16 fare hike decision, which had raised eyebrows as it came in the midst of Lok Sabha election results, led to a scurry of activities in Rail Bhawan on that day and the Railway Board went into a huddle to discuss its fallout.Soon after, the red-faced Railway Ministry had put the decision on hold, saying the matter related to the revision will be left to the next government.The then Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge came out with a statement directing the Board to leave the decision on the hike to the new government.

"It is now informed that under the directions of the Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge, the decision on the proposed hike in the freight charges and passenger fares have been kept pended till further advice for placing this proposal before the new government," the statement said.A fresh notification was issued later, stating that the "revision of fares with effect from May 20 should be pended till further advice."The Railway Minister had on Wednesday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and said that he would discuss the fare issue with the Prime Minister.Seeking a significant increase in gross budgetary support, Gowda, along with Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and senior railway officials, had met Jaitley as part of the pre-budget discussion.About the discussion with Jaitley, the Railway Minister had said "it was a fruitful meeting with the Finance Minister who suggested some measures which will be reflected in the rail budget."Gowda said "we have sought more budgetary support. There is a need for more funds for national projects."

How Dawood legally carries out illegal activities:

It’s a known fact that India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim, mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai blasts and dreaded underworld don, funds terror outfits in exchange for protection in Pakistan.

Despite so much talk about him and with the United States designating him as a terrorist a few years back, it is ironic how he manages to continue with his criminal activities. especially on Indian soil.

To put it in one sentence, Dawood Ibrahim uses a legal option to carry out an illegal activity.

In 2011,a group of men working for the D Company, as Dawood’s underworld network is referred to, had floated a fake company in London and bribed officials in India to undertake the ship-breaking business.

This meant that this company had the rights to bring in a ship in bad condition into Indian waters and undertake the breaking operation in India. Ships in bad condition normally enter the Indian waters through Chennai and are brought largely from Sri Lanka. This is then transported to Alang in Gujarat where the ship-breaking industry is based.

The problem is that these ships, when brought into India, are loaded with arms and drugs and very often get away as normally they go unchecked as they have a valid permit under the guise of a ship-breaking licence.
Also in many cases officials do not check these ships as they have been bribed on several occasions.

The first time that the Intelligence Bureau brought this to the notice of the central government was in 2012. The IB, during its briefing, had detailed the entry of these ships into India and also spoke at length about the security risks involved. Not just arms and drugs but at times even cadres of terrorist outfits are brought in and offloaded at select ports including Chennai, the IB had reported.The agency also stated that while the original destination had to be Alang, many of these ships do not stop there and manage to get away. In the past two years, at least 15 ships which were brought in to be dismantled never reached Alang and have disappeared off the Indian coast, the IB had further stated.

Recently the Centre decided to revisit this subject and sought a detailed report. This falls under the ambit of maritime security and there is hardly anything that the state authorities can do about this barring passing on information. Maritime security is directly under the control of the central government.There are several indications to show that Dawood Ibrahim is not taking the new regime led by Narendra Modi lightly. There are reports that he shifted base from Karachi to Waziristan in Pakistan once the new government took over as he is aware one of the major agendas of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance dispensation is to hunt him down.

Saradha Scam: Businessman Shantanu Ghosh Arrested By ED:

Santanu Ghosh, the chairperson of computer manufacturing company, Xenitis Group, who was apprehended by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), was remanded by a city court to five days of custody of the central agency here on Wednesday. The ED is probing the Saradha scam.

Mr Ghosh was arrested from a south Kolkata building late on Tuesday night for allegedly selling his companies to scam-tainted chairman of Saradha Group Sudipta Sen. Incidentally, Mr Ghosh was one of the favourite industrialists of some of the top leaders of the Left Front government. He made many public appearances with the top Left Front ministers and MPs, who promoted his projects openly. With his arrest, Mr Ghosh became the first person outside the tainted Saradha Group to be arrested in the multi-crore scam.Businessman Shantanu Ghosh has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the multi-billion rupees Saradha scam.

According to the reports, Ghosh, who runs Global Automobiles took a huge loan from the Saradha Group, but never returned the money. He will be produced in court on Wednesday.

Shantanu Ghosh was in news in 2007 for launching a bike and laptops under the range of Rs. 20,000. He is the tenth person to be arrested by the security agencies in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.

Army foils infiltration bid in Poonch, 3 terrorists killed:

The army early on Thursday foiled an infiltration bid by terrorists on the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu region.

CNN IBN reports that three terrorists have been killed in the ensuing gunfight. However, official confirmation is awaited.

This is the second infiltration bid in the Krishna Ghati sector of the LoC in the past two days. 

A defence spokesman said, “An attempted infiltration bid by a group of terrorists in Krishna Ghati sector was foiled by our alert troops in the early hours of July 3. Heavy exchange of fire between terrorists and our troops is on and there are no casualties reported on our side till the report last came in.”

The security forces across Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day long visit to the state on Friday.

The prime minister will inaugurate 25 kms Udhampur Katra rail link and the 240 MW Uri II power station in the frontier town.

Budget high on rhetoric, low on content: Congress:

“This could have been a UPA Budget”, was how former prime minister and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh, the architect and initiator of the economic reform movement in the country, described the maiden budget of the Narendra Modi government.

Presented in less than two months after taking over the reigns of the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance’s first Budget is seen to be a continuation of the United Progressive Alliance government’s economic policies with minor tinkerings here and there.There was a great deal of expectation from the first NDA Budget with corporates expecting big bang reforms, but there has been disappointment all around with the government failing to take any bold decisions in terms of taking forward the reform process as was expected.The government limited itself only to announcing 49 per cent foreign direct investment in insurance and 49 per cent FDI in defence with the Congress expected to support these measures, which the party had earlier announced but failed to implement for lack of support.

Similarly, the former chief minister of Gujarat along with many other BJP state governments including Madhya Pradesh had vehemently opposed the Goods and Services Tax but now Narendra Modi has become a big votary of supporting GST.
Reacting to this turnaround Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said unlike the BJP which says one thing when in the opposition and another when in power, the Congress does not change its stand and sticks to what it has said.

Coal India starts first major coal mine in five years:

Coal India Ltd started production on Friday at a 12-million-tonnes-per-year mine, its first major new project in at least five years, which should help boost supplies to fuel-starved power plants.

The world's biggest coal miner has struggled to raise output fast enough to meet rising demand from power companies, making India the world's third-largest coal importer despite sitting on the fifth-biggest reserves.Coal India unit Central Coalfields took almost a decade to start digging out coal from the Amrapali open cast pit in Jharkhand, mainly due to delays in land acquisition and lack of a railway network to connect the mine.Central Coalfields Chairman Gopal Singh said the opening of the mine, its first in decades, was fast-tracked on the orders of new Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who took charge about 45 days ago.

"The minister has given us strict orders to raise output," Singh said at an event where Goyal inaugurated the mine from a New Delhi hotel using video conferencing.Goyal said many more such projects were needed to help India provide power to all, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in May won India's strongest election mandate in 30 years on promises of growth.

India's coal production was 566 million tonnes in the fiscal year ended March 31, but demand was in the range of 715-720 million. Nearly half of India's coal-fired power plants had only enough stocks to last a week or less, Goyal said on July 7.The Amrapali mine is expected to produce 3 million tonnes this fiscal year, during which Central Coalfields will raise production by 10 percent to 55 million tonnes.

The mine is likely to start producing at full capacity in two years when it is connected to a rail network, Singh said.Goyal said he is seeking help from state governments to finish projects faster, including railway lines.Among the other steps Goyal is taking to raise output from Coal India, he is exploring hiring a new chairman from the private sector following the resignation of S. Narsing Rao, a member of the Indian Administrative Service.

"This is to bring about a greater degree of international management practices in government companies also," Goyal said.

The missile system that shot down Malaysian plane:

The BUK surface-to-air missile system is believed to have been used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 298 people aboard.

The missile system is an old Soviet-built weapon designed to engage aircraft, cruise missiles and drones that is still widely used in eastern European states, including Ukraine.

The Buk, also called SA-11, is a large ground-to-air missile that can reach a maximum altitude between 11,000 and 25,000 metres depending on the version.

Guided by a radar station on the ground, it would be powerful enough to bring down a large aircraft with a single hit, but not accurate enough to discern between a civilian airliner and a military transport aircraft, experts say.

Doug Richardson, missiles and rockets editor of IHS Janes' International Defence Review, told The Telegraph that a mobile BUK missile battery was usually composed of three separate track-mounted units, made up of a radar, a launcher and a command post.

How BRICS bank can affect world economics and politics:

Borrowing from BRICS bank will help India avoid other kinds of politics emanating from the West. Overall, the BRICS institutions will necessarily adopt alternative ways of doing things based on their own cultural and socio economic needs, says M K Venu.

The BRICS bank with an authorised capital of $100 billion (about Rs 600,000 crore) as well as a separate contingency reserve arrangement of $100 billion, created jointly by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, could mark a profound shift in the way global finance and politics might operate in the years ahead. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, formed after World War II, served to create a philosophical framework within which the global political economy was shaped for many decades.

These agencies did not quite recognise or understand the cultural factors which were deeply embedded in the social and economic behaviour of the Third World. This is admitted by many scholars now.The BRICS financial institutions will necessarily have to create a different kind of economic and political consensus among the developing societies, transcending past ideological categories. This will be the biggest challenge for the BRICS financial institutions.The BRICS bank, like the World Bank, is expected to fund much needed physical and social infrastructure in the BRICS countries. The contingency reserve arrangement will act like the IMF, which provides temporary bail-out funds to economies facing capital flight and currency crisis.

Of course, the IMF also follows a political agenda, such as showing excess generosity to Russia in the early 1990s when it broke away from Communist Soviet Union. BRICS contingency reserve is not expected to display such overt biases!

 Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag takes over as new Army chief:

Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army chief had kicked up a row, on Thursday took over as the next head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding Gen Bikram Singh who is retiring.Lt Gen Suhag was designated as army chief in May by the outgoing UPA government ignoring protests from his predecessor Gen VK Singh and the BJP.

8 interesting facts about India's new Army Chief

59-year-old Lt Gen Suhag, a Gurkha officer who had participated in the 1987 Indian Peace Keeping Force operation in Sri Lanka, was made the Vice Chief of Army Staff in December last year.He will have a tenure of 30 months as the 26th Chief of Army Staff. Earlier, he had taken over as the Eastern Army Commander on June 16, 2012.He was at the centre of a controversy triggered by discipline and vigilance ban imposed on him by the then army chief Gen VK Singh in connection with an intelligence operation in Assam earlier.

The ban on Lt Gen Suhag, the then 2 Corps Commander, was lifted soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over in May, 2012.BJP had questioned the 'hurry' in making the appointment and insisted that the matter be left to the next government.However, soon after the NDA government took over, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the new dispensation will continue with the appointment made during UPA rule.Lt Gen Suhag was a Company Commander in Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka in 1987 and commanded 53 Infantry Brigade engaged in counter insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley from July, 2003 to March, 2005.

An alumnus of Sainik School, Chittorgarh, he joined National Defence Academy in 1970 and was commissioned into 4/5 GR (FF) in June 1974.The General Officer has attended various career courses in India and abroad which include LDMC at CDM, Secunderabad in 1997-98, NDC Course at New Delhi in 2006, Executive Course in USA in 2005 and Senior Mission Leaders Course (UN) in Kenya in 2007.He holds the distinction of commanding 8 Mountain Division in Kargil from October 2007 to December 2008.Traditionally, the appointment is made two months ahead of the retirement of the incumbent army chief but the UPA government deviated from this practice when Bikram Singh was appointed in 2012.

Flood situation grim in Odisha as toll mounts to 34:

Flood waters engulfed vast areas of the delta region of Mahanadi river system in Odisha even as the death toll due to heavy rains and floods in the state climbed to 34.As many as 9.95 lakh people in 1,553 villages of 89 blocks in 23 districts have so far been affected due to the floods, the special relief commissioner said. “Though river Mahanadi is flowing above danger mark at several places, there is no threat of substantial damage as the water flow into Hirakud reservoir has come down,” Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.The death toll due to floods and heavy rain in different parts of the state went up to 34 with seven fresh deaths reported since Wednesday, the SRC said, adding, most of the casualties were due to drowning and wall collapse.

“It is a matter of relief that fear of a major high flood has been averted. Volume of water flowing down Mahanadi at Munduli stood at around 11 lakh cusec as against over 12 lakh cusec anticipated earlier,” he said.The level in Hirakud reservoir stood at 628.08 feet as against its full capacity of 630 feet and 50 of the 64 sluice gates were opened for discharge of excess water, said Biswajit Mohanty, Chief Engineer of Hirakud dam.However, as flow of water into the river went down, it has been decided to first close three gates and subsequently more gates after assessing the situation, he said, adding flow into the reservoir from upper catchment areas was now around 7.8 lakh cusec.     

Uttar Pradesh tops the list for most riots in India:

With 247 incidents of communal violence, Uttar Pradesh has earned the dubious distinction of topping the list of states that witnessed riots in 2013 and the situation is no different in 2014 too.

Communal violence claimed 133 lives across the country last year which include 77 deaths in UP.

According to latest Union home ministry statistics, a total of

823 such incidents were reported from across the country in 2013 in which 2,269 people were injured.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, the other states where maximum number of communal violence took place included Maharashtra (88), Madhya Pradesh (84), Karnataka (73) and Gujarat (68) While the data for this year is still being compiled by the MHA, a rough estimate put the number of communal clashes reported this year to around 65 in which at least 15 people lost their lives.

Riots in UP's Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining areas had claimed over 60 lives during August-September last year. More than 90 people were also injured and over 50,000 people were displaced due to the communal violence then.

A maximum of 360 people were injured in these incidents in Uttar Pradesh in 2013.

The state also registered a maximum of 118 communal incidents in 2012 in which 39 people were killed and 500 were injured.

While 12 people were killed in Maharashtra in these incidents, 11 people were killed in MP during in 2013.

During April-June this year, the most number of communal violence incidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh (32) followed by Maharashtra (26), Rajasthan (18) and Madhya Pradesh (17).A total of 149 communal incidents were reported across the country in April-June this year.

3 new slogans Modi raised at Red Fort:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi coined some new slogans on Friday in his 65-minute maiden speech from the ramparts of Red Fort to drive home his point.

Slogan # 1: Make in India

To strengthen the manufacturing sector of the country, the Prime Minister raised the slogan of "Make in India" as he asked domestic and foreign stakeholders to manufacture more and more products in India and sell them across the globe.

"We will have to give stress on manufacturing sector. I want to urge all the countries, come, make in India," he said, adding that the message of "Made in India" should reach all corners of world.

Slogan # 2: Zero Defect, Zero Effect

Modi coined the "zero defect, zero effect" slogan as he spoke of participation of youth in boosting the sector critical to India's economic success.

"When you (youth) decide that you will make at least one thing so that the country does not have to import it. Your policy should be 'zero defect, zero effect'. It means there would be no defect in the products you manufacture and it causes zero or no ill effect to the environment," he said.

Slogan # 3: Mera Kya, Mujhe Kya

Criticising the tendency of people to keep out of a task if it does not give them any personal benefit, Modi said when somebody is approached for a work he asks mera kya (What is in it for me?)". When they find out, there is nothing for them in it, then say mujhe kya (Why should I be involved)."

Modi said if we have to strengthen our national character, then we will have to get rid of this attitude of mera kya, mujhe kya and do things for the benefit of the country.

Pakistani forces violate ceasefire thrice in 21 hours:

In major escalation in border skirmishes, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire for the third time in 21 hours along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, forcing Army to retaliate.“Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked small arms and automatic weapons firing on Indian posts along LoC in Hamirpur sector of Poonch district around 1730 to 1810 hours today,” Defence PRO Lt Col Manish Mehta said on Thursday.

Army troops retaliated with equal calibre weapons, he said, adding there was no loss of life or injuries to anyone in the firing.Pakistani troops also fired mortar shells in the forward posts and civilians areas, as per the reports. This was the eighth ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in the past six days and ninth in the month of August.

A defence spokesman said sweets were exchanged at the Chakan-da-Bagh and Hot-spring Mendhar crossing points on Thursday by the troops of both sides on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day.“The exchange of sweets is an appreciated gesture from both the countries and is expected to go a long way in promoting harmony and bonhomie along the Line of Control,” the defence spokesman added.Earlier on Thursday morning, Pakistani troops also resorted to firing in Balakote forward belt in Mendhar sector of Poonch. There was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the firing, the PRO said.On Thursday, Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked small arms and automatic weapons firing on Indian posts along LoC in Hamirpur sector of Poonch.

On August 13, Pakistani troops fired with small arms and automatic weapons on forward posts along LoC in Bhimbher Gali sector of Poonch, injuring one jawan.On August 12, Pakistani rangers resorted to heavy firing with mortar shells, small arms and automatic weapons on five BoPs and civilian areas along the IB in Arnia-R S Pura areas of Jammu. On August 11, two BSF jawans were among four persons injured when Pakistani troops fired with small arms, automatic weapons and mortar shells on 10 border out posts and civilian areas along the IB in Arnia and RS Pura belts of Jammu.On August 10, Pakistani troops targeted Indian forward posts with small arms and automatic weapons along the LoC in Mendhar sector of Poonch, prompting our forces to retaliate.On August 8, Pakistani troops resorted to firing on Indian posts along LoC in Bhimbher Gali sector of Poonch.BSF and Pakistan Rangers had on Friday made a commitment to uphold peace and tranquility on the border and extend all cooperation to each other in dealing with emergent incidents in a proactive and positive manner.However, the ceasefire violations have continued. Security officials feel the firing and shelling in LoC and IB areas in Poonch and Jammu sectors is done to infiltrate armed militants into the state to target Independence Day programmes.

Flood fury affects lakhs in Assam, UP and Bihar:

Union minister for Development of North Eastern Region Vijay Kumar Singh on Friday said floods in Assam is "nothing new". "Flood condition is nothing new to Assam. I have been dealing with floods in Assam since 1970 onwards," Singh said at a press conference in Guwahati.

On his ministry's role in finding a way to handle this perennial problem, Singh said "DoNER has got no role in flood control. It is a job of Ministry of Water Resources. DoNER funds are not enough even to contribute to type of things that the state requires.I can be initiator. I can be catalyst. I can assist. I can suggest. I can push. But if you are thinking that the DoNER is going to do flood control, I am sorry that is not done. We have to go to the charters," the Union minister said.

He said DoNER's role is to carry forward development work in the field of infrastructure, education, health sector, employment and skills among others. When pointed out that the flood creates huge challenge and destroys a lot of developmental works, Singh said "It is not being stopped but flood causes damage to life and property. So let’s separate it out. Let’s not get just stuck on floods... Flood is not just development. Flood is only a part of the issue."He said silting of Brahmaputra is a big problem and nobody gave a serious thought on this over the years. Singh also said he will recommend the water resources ministry to conduct an in-depth study on Brahmaputra considering various aspect.

On August 15, Manisha Shukla, a resident of the flood-hit Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh, gave birth to a baby boy while being rescued by

US journalist's brutal execution shocks the world:

The cold-blooded murder of American journalist James Foley has sent shockwaves around the world.

Even as social media websites clamoured to block the execution video, leaders from around the world have heaped scorn on the Islamic State militants.While British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the killing as "deeply shocking", UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it "an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror".

Shortly after it was confirmed that Foley had been murdered, Obama said: "ISIL speaks for no religion. ISIL has no ideology of any value to any human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.""People like this ultimately fail ... because the future is always won by those who build, not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley.Obama also pledged a relentless response to "cowardly acts of violence".Shortly after Obama spoke, US central command confirmed 14 new air strikes against Isis near the Mosul Dam, which the Pentagon and Iraqi forces said on Tuesday was no longer under ISIS control.But probably that's not what Michael Foley, the slain journalist’s brother, wanted."I hope they do more for Steven Sotloff (The other captive American journalist who was seen dressed in an orange jumpsuit like Foley in the video). There’s more that could be done. The footprint’s been laid by some of the other nations."

Michael was hinting at how vastly different responses to kidnappings by US and European governments are saving European hostages but dooming Americans.According to reports later in the day, elite US military forces secretly invaded Syria recently in a risky and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to free Foley.The Guardian reported that the night-time raid involved dozens of special operations forces from all US military services, including the 160th special operations aviation regiment.US forces flew into Syria in defiance of air defence batteries that senior military officials have described as highly threatening to pilots. Modified Black Hawk helicopters were involved, and "armed fixed-wing aircraft and drones" provided cover to forces on the ground, the report said quoting an US administration official.Yet the operation, which took place in an area of Syria that Obama administration officials declined to disclose, failed when "the hostages were not present at the targeted location," said rear admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.Foley first went missing in November 2012. He was last seen alive in Aleppo, Syria, where he was covering the Syrian civil war. It wasn't clear where he had gone or who had taken him. At that point in the conflict, ISIS had not yet formed.

For a long time, Foley's location was unknown. In May 2013, his family and friends believed they had tracked him to a Syrian government jail.Foley was kidnapped once before while he was reporting in Benghazi, Libya, and was held for 44 days before the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.Disclosure of the unsuccessful operation may have consequences for Sotloff, whom ISIS has threatened to kill unless the US ends its bombing campaign against it.The chilling video of the execution, released by ISIS, begins with Obama explaining his decision to order airstrikes in Iraq before switching to a man dressed in an orange jumpsuit kneeling with a person dressed in black by his side."For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality," ABC News reported Foley as saying in the video.

"I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom of seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn't American."Seconds later, ABC News reported, the person dressed in black takes out a knife and identifies himself as being with ISIS."Today your military air force has attacked us daily," the person said. "Your strikes have caused causalities amongst Muslims. Any attempt to deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people."The video then shows Foley being beheaded.

Was that a UFO flying over Texas?:

Several people reported seeing a ring of blinking lights in the sky in Texas during a recent lightning storm and have claimed that it was a UFO.Photographs and videos of the event have been circulating on social media.

The best footage was recorded by Houston musician Andrew Pena, who he was videoing the spectacular lightning show while driving, the New York Post reported.The video, which shows a circle of brightly coloured lights moving around in the sky, has been declared both “amazing” and “nothing” by UFO-logists and sceptics alike.

“I think the trick with UFOs is figuring out what else they could be,” Dr Carolyn Summers, vice president for astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, told KPRC-TV. “It’s easy to say that it could be aliens. The more people who see it in different directions, the more likely we are to figure out where it is, what it is, and see if we can explain it.”

However, Tutual UFO Network chief investigator Fletcher Gray denied that it was a UFO and dismissed the object as "no more than light trapped in the side window" of Pena's car.

The UFO was reportedly hovering less than 20km from the Johnson Space Centre, leading others to speculate it could have been NASA testing its latest toy, a “supersonic flying saucer” which was launched from Hawaii on June 28.The NASA device, officially named Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, imitates the rapid inflation technique of the Hawaiian puffer fish as a way to protect spacecraft during landings.The aim is to reduce the speed of descending spacecraft, making it easier to land on planets like Mars.Other theories include a weather balloon, the reflection of a street light, stadium lights and an unmanned drone. So far, there has been no official explanation from NASA.

Railway minister's son accused of rape, cheating by actress:

The Karnataka government on Thursday said the law would take its own course on the complaint of rape and cheating lodged by an actress against the son of Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda, who maintained he had been falsely implicated.

As the issue snowballed, the woman, a small-time model-turned actress, appeared on TV channels, insisting she was married to the minister's son' Karthik Gowda and their family should accept her as the daughter-in-law.

The issue also reached Karnataka Women's Commission, whose chairperson Manjula Manasa said the woman's sister had approached it. "I will talk to the woman and her family. An FIR has been registered. We will write to police department."The woman alleged she and Karthik knew each other from May and got married in June in the presence of Karthik's driver. "I want his (Karthik) family to take me as their daughter-in-law and I will be good daughter-in-law to them."On allegations that her photo with Karthik may be morphed, she said, "These are not morphed photos, because they were not taken by me. These were actually taken by his friends....which he sent me.""Law will take its own course," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said in his reaction.

The railway minister, who faced severe embarrassment over the unfolding drama, said in Kochi,"'s a falsely implicated complaint very well understand as a minister I'm here (in Kochi) today in spite of that complaint.""I don't want to say anything, law will take its own course, even if it is my son or somebody law will take its own course. I will not interfere in the matter, I will do my duty," he said.A case was booked on Wednesday night against Karthik under sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of the complaint filed by the woman on a day when his engagement ceremony with another woman took place at Kushalnagar in Kodagu district.Karnataka Home Minister K J George said, "She has given a complaint. Investigation officer will probe into the complaint and will take action in accordance with law."

The government would in no way interfere in the case, he said, adding, "The investigation officer will be given a free hand."Responding to questions on some allegations that the Congress is behind the incident, he said, "No one is behind it. A complaint has been registered and based on it an investigation officer will probe; we will not interfere in any way. I don't know who is behind it."

 Rajnath refuses to play blame game on 'rumours' about son:

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday refused to point fingers as to who could be behind "rumours" of his son being ticked off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an alleged "misconduct", which have been denied by the Prime Minister’s Office."You are an investigative journalist and you should find out who is the rumour mongerer," was his curt reply to queries by reporters on whether he suspected any person or leader to be behind the "rumours".

Singh had on Wednesday asserted that he would quit politics if even "prima facie" it is proved that any of his family member had been involved in any misconduct following reports which claimed that his son Pankaj had been ticked off by the prime minister for an alleged "misconduct".The PMO too had reacted sharply saying, "The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the government.""Those indulging in such rumour-mongering are damaging the interest of the nation. These reports are strongly denied," the PMO had said.The denials came in the wake of a media report that Singh was unhappy over rumours being spread by "a ministerial colleague" and "party rival" about his son being pulled up by the PM over some alleged misconduct.

Australian PM to sign uranium deal with India on Friday:

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday said he will sign an agreement with India to sell uranium for non-weapon use. “Prime Minister Modi and I will today sign a nuclear cooperation agreement that will finally allow Australian uranium to India,” he said while addressing a meeting, organised by industry chambers including CII and Ficci.

Abbott, who arrived on Friday morning, was given a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Besides meeting Modi, Abbott is scheduled to call on President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. He arrived in Mumbai on Thursday amid expectations that the two countries will ink the nuclear deal and initiate steps to deepen strategic ties and strengthen two-way trade and commerce.

The efforts to sign civil nuclear deal have been underway since 2012 after Labour party in Australia reversed its decision to ban the sale of uranium to India because of New Delhi not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “I am hoping to sign a nuclear co-operation agreement that will enable uranium sales by Australia to India,” Abbott had told his Parliament on the eve of his visit to India.He had said that if Australia was prepared to sell uranium to Russia then “surely we ought to be prepared to provide uranium to India under suitable safeguards”, noting it was a “fully functioning democracy with the rule of law”.

India is not a signatory to the NPT, but Abbott has stressed that Australia would ensure adequate bilateral safeguards before any deal was signed.After the failure to conclude a civil nuclear deal with Japan during Modi’s visit to that country, the pact with Australia -- which has about a third of the world’s recoverable uranium resources and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of it a year -- would boost India’s energy sector.

Massive cache of explosives recovered at Guwahati bus stand:

Security forces on Thursday recovered a massive quantity of explosives including gelatin sticks, detonators and fuse wire from two places in the state.The Assam police recovered as many as 90 gelatin sticks, 100 packets of detonators inside an abandoned bag at Machkhowa bus terminus of Assam State Transport Corporation in Guwahati. The police picked up five persons for interrogation following the recovery of explosives.

In another such haul of explosives, the Government Railway Police personnel recovered three bags full of explosive from Lower Haflong Railway station in Haflong town in troubled Dima Hasao hill district of Assam. The bags containing explosive materials were found lying unattended on the platform after the Up Silchar-Lumding Cachar Express left the station past midnight.

The GRP personnel recovered 150 gelatin sticks, 600 detonators and over 30 feet of fuse wires from these abandoned bags. The in-charge of GRP personnel at Lower Haflong station said that investigation was on to find of the source and destination of these recovered substances.It is suspected that the explosives were dumped on the platform by the carriers to avoid detection while GRP personnel were carrying out routine checks inside coaches of the Cachar Express after it had reached Lower Haflong station.Security measures in Guwahati have been tightened up after apprehensions that anti-national elements might target the city.He said that corporate rivalry was well known in this country and unfortunately this time they were trying to engulf the CBI by carrying out malicious campaign against him.Another NGO -- Centre for Public Interest Litigation -- had stated in the Supreme Court that a visitor register of his residence showed that officials of the accused telecom companies used to regularly frequent his residence.However, the Director contended that all the 2G scam cases were probed before he took over as Director on December 2, 2012. His tenure ends in December this year

 7 days' judicial remand for Saradha accused MP Kunal Ghosh:

A city court on Friday remanded suspended Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh to seven days' judicial custody after he dramatically recused his lawyer from speaking for him and then pleaded for either bail or CBI custody to 'assist' the agency in its Saradha chit fund scam probe.Metropolitan magistrate Arvind Mishra rejected his prayers and remanded Ghosh to judicial custody till September 18, as sought by CBI.On being produced before the judge, Ghosh said he wanted to say something before the court. But the court did not allow it and said as he had given his lawyer the authority to speak for him, he could not make any submission unless he withdrew the power given to his counsel.Ghosh immediately wrote on a piece of paper that he was withdrawing the power given to his lawyer.

The judge also directed Ghosh not to speak anything outside the case.Ghosh had created a flutter on Saturday when he stated in the court that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee be interviewed by CBI along with Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen and himself.Ghosh told the court that other chit fund companies be also probed along with Saradha by CBI and that those involved in these should also be arrested.Taking out a piece of paper, Ghosh said some chit fund companies were still collecting money from the public. He claimed that chit fund companies were also sponsoring an event of which former Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee was the chairman. Chatterjee is now Higher Education Minister.

When Ghosh wanted to submit the piece of paper he claimed to have got in the court lockup from a person but did not name him, the judge refused to accept the paper.The judge also asked him not to make any statement regarding anything other than his own case.Ghosh was asked by the court to make a statement before the Investigating Officer of CBI if he wanted to give any additional information other than what he has already provided to the investigating agency.Claiming that he has been in custody for nearly 10 months since November 23 last when he was arrested by the state police, Ghosh submitted he be granted bail.He claimed he was not involved in any conspiracy or illegal monetary transaction involving Bengal Media, an arm of Saradha Group, of which he was the CEO.Ghosh prayed he be granted bail or sent to CBI custody again, claiming that by being in the agency's custody he could 'assist' it in the investigation if needed but he should not be sent to judicial custody.

The CBI counsel submitted that a huge amount of money had been transferred by Saradha chit fund companies to Bengal Media Ltd after misappropriating public money.Stating that documents related to this has been collected after interrogation of Ghosh, the CBI counsel prayed for his judicial custody.After hearing both the parties, the judge granted seven days' judicial custody of Ghosh

Agni-1 successfully test-fired:

India successfully test-fired its indigenously built nuclear capable Agni-I missile, which has a strike range of 700 kilometre on Thursday, 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 about 11.11 hrs from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here, Defence Research and Development Organisation spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta said.Describing the trial as fully successful, Gupta said the ballistic missile was launched by the Strategic Forces Command of the army as part of a training exercise. “The entire exercise was conducted in a perfect manner and the trial was totally successful,” he said.“The DRDO developed medium range ballistic missile from the production lot was launched as part of regular training exercise by the armed forces,” said another official.Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.  The missile, which has already been inducted in to Armed Forces has proved its excellent performance in terms of range, accuracy and lethality.

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 Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.The last trial of the Agni-I missile was successfully carried out on April 12, 2014 from the same base. It was first trial that was launched after sunset.

 Bypolls: Voting begins for 3 Lok Sabha, 33 Assembly seats:

Voting today began on a brisk note for by-elections to three Lok Sabha and 33 Assembly constituencies spread across ten states, seen as a test for Narendra Modi Government’s popularity, especially as BJP braces for polls in two states next month.

Uttar Pradesh
Amid elaborate security arrangements, polling was being held in 11 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, where the stakes are high for BJP. Around nine per cent votes were cast in the first two hours, according to poll officials.

The election comes after the saffron party’s near-total sweep of the 80 seats in Lok Sabha polls just four months ago.
Eleven Assembly seats felt vacant after 10 BJP MLAs and one of its allies Apna Dal were elected to the Lok Sabha.
BJP chief Amit Shah also faces the challenge in UP bypolls as he was credited with the party’s stupendous success.

LS bypolls
The three Lok Sabha bypolls are in Vadodara (Gujarat), Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) and Medak (Telangana). Among the Assembly seats, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, two in West Bengal, five in northeastern states and one each in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh are going to polls today.Counting of votes is scheduled for September 16.

Retaining Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, vacated by SP supremo Mualayam Singh Yadav who had won from two LS seats including Azamgarh, is a matter of prestige for his party. BSP and Congress have not fielded their candidates, leaving a straight contest between Tej Pratap Singh and BJP’s Shiv Singh Shakya.

The 11 Assembly seats in UP, whose outcome may be a pointer to which way the political wind is blowing in the run-up to 2017 Assembly polls, are Saharanpur Nagar, Noida, Thakurdwara, Bijnor, Nighasan, Balha, Sirathu, Rohaniya, Hamirpur, Charkhari and Lucknow East. All of these were vacated by BJP MLAs who won the Lok Sabha elections.

Vadodara LS seat
In Gujarat, Narendra Modi’s successor as Chief Minister Anandiben Patel faces her first big test in by-elections being held today for Vadodara LS seat, vacated by Modi, and in nine Assembly constituencies.This is the first election in Gujarat in more than 12 years that BJP would be fighting without its star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Bypolls in AP
Polling began on a swift note for the by-election to Medak Lok Sabha seat in Telangana and Nandigama (SC) Assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh.By-election is being held in Medak as the Lok Sabha seat was vacated by Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao upon becoming Chief Minister of the newly-formed Telangana state.

Medak LS seat, once part of undivided Andhra Pradesh and now in Telangana, witnesses a triangular contest between ruling TRS, BJP, and Congress. The bypolls were necessitated as TRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao vacated the seat.On the other hand, TDP is trying hard to prove it won’t be easy to conquer its bastion Nandigama assembly in Krishna district where it is in a direct fight against Congress. The by-election was held due to the death of TDP MLA Tangirala Prabhakara Rao within days of his victory.Voting was also underway in the lone insurgency-hit Antagarh assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh where only two candidates are in the fray.

West Bengal
In West Bengal, Chowringhee and Dakshin Bashirhat Assembly seats had been won by CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress for which the bypolls are a crucial test for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s popularity.

Buyoed by its modest gains in Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal and relying on Modi’s charisma, BJP hopes to wrest the Bashirhat Dakshin seat from Trinamool and make its debut in the State Assembly.Assembly elections will be held in Maharashtra and Haryana in a single phase on October 15.

Xi invites Modi to visit his hometown Xi'an in China:

Buoyed by his visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a reciprocal gesture invited him to his hometown Xi’an, where the famous Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang spent his last years after his return from India some 2,000 years ago.

Xi invited Modi on Wednesday to visit his hometown Xi’an, the famous tourist town which showcases the Terracotta warriors. Xi said the seventh-century Chinese monk stayed in India for 16 years to seek Buddhist scriptures.“When he came back to China, he stayed in my hometown, Xi’an, to translate and spread Buddhist thoughts to Chinese people,” official media quoted Xi as saying.According to historical records, Hiuen Tsang, also known as Xuan Zang, started his travels at the age of 28 in 629 AD and recorded his travels in Gujarat, where he describes towns and cities like Bharuch, Malwa, Idar and Valabhi.

Modi earlier said that the monk also stayed in his home town Vadodara.Xi’an is the home of Wild Goose Pagoda, built to highlight Xuan’s efforts to visit India in 645 AD through the ancient Silk Road and return home after a 17-year long sojourn with precious Buddhist scriptures.He translated the works into Chinese which helped popularising the Buddhism in China which till date remained the most cherished link between both the countries. The pagoda was built to highlight his achievement.

Vice President Hamid Ansari visited the pagoda during his visit to China in June this year. The Chinese media also highlighted the India-China agreement to strengthen culture and personnel exchanges during Xi’s current visit to India.China will help India train 1,500 Chinese-language teachers. China and India will each send 200 youths to visit the other each year. The two nations will also set up culture centres in the other's territory. Next year will be “Visit India” year in China, and 2016 will be “Visit China” in India.

 It's official: 25-year-old BJP, Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra ends:

The 25-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance split on Thursday amid continued deadlock over seat-sharing for the October 15 Maharashtra assembly polls. After several rounds of talks over the last few days, senior state BJP leaders announced this evening severing of the ties between the two parties, blaming Shiv Sena's "inflexibility" for it.

"We have conveyed our decision to snap ties to the Shiv Sena. The decision was taken with a heavy heart," Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after a meeting of the state party's core committee.The BJP, however, hinted at the possibility of a post-poll alliance with its estranged ally, saying the party would not criticise the Sena during the campaign and remain friends."Our aim is to prevent the corrupt Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government from coming to power. We will not criticise Shiv Sena during the campaign, we don't want any bitterness with our ally of 25 years," Leader of Opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse said.

Fadnavis said the BJP will go to polls with smaller 'Mahayuti' allies. He said BJP had worked out a seat-sharing deal with Mahadeo Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Raju Shetty's Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.“Our talks with Vinayak Mete of Shiv Sangram are in final stages and we will also speak to RPI's Ramdas Athawale, Fadnavis said."We reiterate that the Shiv Sena is still our friend. We will not criticise the Sena and our target will be the corrupt Congress-NCP combine," he said.

 Assam flood death toll rises to 36; 10 lakh affected:

With the recovery of four more bodies on Thursday, the death toll mounted to 36 in Assam floods that affected about 10 lakh people in 13 districts and rendered majority of them homeless.Two more deaths were reported from Krishnai and Kukurkata areas of the worst-hit Goalpara district, while one body each was recovered from Tinsukia district and Guwahati which falls in Kamrup Metro district, officials said.Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said 35 to 36 people have been reported dead so far and that the toll could be higher. Though the rains have stopped and water was slowly ebbing, huge tracks of human habitation and crop fields were under water that reached even up to roofs of thatched- and tinned-roof houses, the officials said.

The authorities have opened 162 relief camps and shelter homes where 1.5 lakh people have taken shelter. The National Highway in Goalpara was still under water and there was no movement of traffic there, while washing away of a wooden bridge on Aagia-Darek Road has forced the people to come to safety using a rope from one bank to the other.

The floods have caused four small children in Boko area of Kamrup Rural district to become orphans as their parents were washed away by a swollen river, the sources said. With the cessation of rains since last evening in Guwahati, the flood waters were gradually receding from Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar and Zoo Road areas, the sources said.

According to the flood report by Assam State Disaster Management Authority, around 3 lakh people were hit in Kamrup Rural district. Essential food items and tarpaulin sheets were being provided to the relief camp inmates, the ASDMA release said. However, people who took shelter on higher roads complained that the authorities have not provided them with food, drinking water or tarpaulin sheets.

Goalpara district was the worst-hit in the floods due to heavy rains in Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh since early this week, while torrential downpour and water running down from the adjacent Meghalaya hills caused heavy waterlogging in Guwahati, the sources said.

Coal scam whistleblower MP: Manmohan Singh is the biggest culprit:

The UPA government should have cancelled the coal allocations after the CAG report was tabled in 2012. Instead, its ministers ridiculed the CAG report and the losses enumerated in it. They thus lost a very important opportunity to stop and contain the national loss,' BJP MP Hansraj Ahir, who red-flagged the issue in 2005, The Supreme Court on September 24 quashed the allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks which were allotted to various companies since 1993.

Hansraj Ahir, the Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament, who had blown the whistle on the coal scam way back in 2005, feels vindicated. Are you happy with the Supreme Court verdict?

I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court verdict. It is an excellent verdict delivered by the apex court that will stop the loot of natural resources that the country has seen. The verdict has upheld the dignity of the highest court in India.

I have been fighting against this loot since 2006.

When did you first detect that there was a scam brewing in the allocation of coal blocks?

In 2004, I became the member of the Standing Committee on Coal and Steel. After going through documents I realised that there was something improper about these coal allocations.I continued studying various documents and registered my first complaint in 2005 to Shibu Soren (then the coal minister). But the complaint was only about the coal block allocation in Maharashtra (Ahir is the MP from Chandrapur).Later, when I delved further into the issue and laid hands on certain official documents, I found out that these blocks were doled out for free.In 2006, I wrote letters to P Chidambaram (then the finance minister) and (then Planning Commission deputy chairman) Montek Singh Ahluwalia. I asked them to levy some surcharge on the coal mined to generate some revenues; they responded very positively.

Ahluwalia prepared a Planning Commission report on the matter and sent it to the prime minister. Chidambaram also agreed with the proposal, but then they poured cold water on this proposal.

When they did not pursue the matter further I started writing to the PM.

What was the outcome of your letters to Dr Manmohan Singh?

I started writing letters to Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006 in which I objected to free disbursal of natural resources like coal.

While Chidambaram and Ahluwalia did acknowledge my letters and my standpoint, Dr Singh just acknowledged that he was in receipt of my letters.

I still have those 15 letters with me that I had written to him.

It was only when the report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India came out that the government started taking some cognisance of the matter.

When the CAG report came out, why didn't you file a public interest litigation?

In my opinion, the matter should not have reached the Supreme Court in the first place. That is the reason I never felt it necessary to file a PIL.

The then government should have cancelled the coal allocations after the CAG report was tabled in 2012.

Instead, all UPA ministers, including Salman Khurshid and then minister for coal Sriprakash Jaiswal, ridiculed the CAG report and the losses enumerated in it.

They should have taken cognisance of the 2012 CAG report and cancelled the allocations two years ago.

They lost a very important opportunity to stop and contain the national loss.

Who do you hold responsible for this coal block allocation scam?

Dr Manmohan Singh is the biggest culprit. While I reiterate and welcome the Supreme Court decision, there are 20 more crimes that still needs to be investigated.

Chief among them being:

Damaging the efficiency of Coal India with a criminal purpose
Conspiracy to finish off Coal India
Many Coal India office bearers resigned from the company and joined private companiesBecause of all these crimes the nation had to face a huge shortfall of coal availability and so import it, leading to outflow of foreign exchange.

There was a big conspiracy to undermine India's self-sufficiency and kill Coal India. I think all this has come out today after the cancellation of these 214 coal blocks.

More than the politicians of the day and industrialists, I hold the coal ministry and top officials of Coal India responsible for the entire mess.Sriprakash Jaiswal, Santosh Bagrodia, Shibu Soren and Dasari Narayan Rao are all equally responsible for this national loot of coal resources.Of course, the biggest of them all who should take the responsibility is Dr Manmohan Singh.

You blame Coal India for this scam.Right from the chairman and managing director to board directors there were 11 members of Coal India who would be part of the screening committees that made recommendations for allocations of coal blocks to various companies.

Former coal secretary P C Parakh also said the same thing that I had written in my letters about these members of Coal India.But he said nothing during his tenure as coal secretary and opened his mouth only after retirement.Where do you think the CBI inquiry into the coal scam is heading now? Do you think the investigations are being done fairly?

I would not like to comment on this. Now that the Supreme Court has given its verdict that the coal block allocations were done in an illegal and ad hoc manner, the CBI's responsibility has increased manifold.The CBI's dignity and fairness are at stake now.

Two women arrested in connection with Burdwan blast:

Two women were arrested and remanded to police custody for two weeks on Sunday in connection with the explosion at Khagragarh here that left two suspected militants dead.Superintendent of Police S M H Mirza told PTI the two women -- Rajira Bibi alias Rumi hailing from Karimpur in Nadia and Amina Bibi hailing from Lalbagh in Murshidabad were arrested from Khargragarh on Sunday morning.

Rajira Bibi is the widow of suspected militant Shakil Ahmed, who was killed in the explosion in a house at Khagragarh on October 2, while Amina Bibi is the wife of Hasan Saheb, who was critically injured in the blast and is under treatment at BurdwanMedicalCollege and Hospital.

They had been detained on the day of the blast and were arrested on Sunday morning. They were later produced before a local court which sent them to police custody, Mirza said.

The CID of West Bengal police is looking into possible involvement of terror outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami in the blast which left two suspected militants dead. Rajira Bibi had said she and her husband were staying in the house for about three months, while Amina Bibi had said she was there for about one and a half months.

It is suspected that the victims of the explosion were associated with a militant outfit as a large number of watch dials, SIM cards, and other tools required to make improvised explosive devices were found in the house, the police had said.

Besides the two suspected militants who were killed another was injured in the explosion which took place in a house at Khargragarh locality of Burdwan town on October 2.One of the two had died on the spot and was identified as Shakil Ahmed hailing from Karimpur in Nadia district. Another injured Sovan Mandal died during treatment at BurdwanMedicalCollege and Hospital

 At Rs 72.10 cr Jaitley is richest minister; Modi has assets of Rs 1.26 cr:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assets worth Rs 1.26 crore while Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stands out as the richest minister with assets totalling Rs 72.10 crore.Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu is among the union ministers who has the least assets of Rs 20.45 lakh, according to the Assets and Liabilities declared by the prime minister and other 44 members of the Council of Ministers made public on Monday.Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, daughter-in-law of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has assets to the tune of Rs 37.68 crore. Minister of State for Coal and Power Piyush Goyal has assets of Rs 31.67 crore and is closely followed by Minorities Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla with assets to the tune of Rs 29.70 crore.

Notably, 17 out of 22 Cabinet Ministers are crorepatis including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The five cabinet ministers who are not crorepatis are Naidu with assets worth Rs 20.45 lakh, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan with Rs 39.88 lakh, Labour and Employment Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has assets worth Rs 44.90 lakh.Health Minister Harshvardhan has assets of Rs 48.54 lakh, while Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar with Rs 60.62 lakh worth of assets.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has assets to the tune of Rs 2.56 crore, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has assets worth Rs 2.73 crore besides some agriculture land in Palwal of Haryana.

Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has declared assets to the tune of Rs 14.91 crore, while Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has assets of Rs 3.34 crore.Railways Minister DV Sadananda Gowda is worth about Rs 4.34 crore, while his junior Manoj Sinha has declared assets worth Rs 29.82 crore. Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has declared assets to the tune of Rs 1.62 crore.Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, who is the tribal face of the Modi cabinet, has assets to the tune of Rs 1.77 crore, while Civil Aviation Minister has assets worth Rs 3.32 crore.

Mirco, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj Mishra has assets to the tune of Rs 72.11 lakh, while Prakash Javadekar has assets of about Rs 1.05 crore. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has assets to the tune of Rs 2.47 crore, while Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot has assets worth about Rs 2.08 crore.The youth face of Modi's cabinet, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani has declared assets of around Rs 4.15 crore, while Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete has assets of Rs 1.66 crore.Minister of State for North East Gen V K Singh, who is the former army chief, has declared assets worth Rs 68.76 lakh, while Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assets to the tune of Rs 1.03 crore.

Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh has assets of Rs 2.67 crore while MoS Home Affairs Kiran Rijiju is worth around Rs 66.55 lakh. MOS Heavy Industries P Radhakrishnan has declared his assets of around Rs 7.11 crore, while MOS Tribal Affairs Mansukhbhai Vasava has declared his assets of around Rs 69.49 lakh.Sudarshan Bhagat, the MOS for Social Justice and Empowerment, is worth Rs 44.51 lakh

Jayalalithaa refused bail, Tamil Nadu continues to grieve:

Jailed former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, undergoing four-year imprisonment in a graft case, was on Tuesday refused bail by the Karnataka high court which held that there were no grounds for it as corruption amounts to “violation of human rights” and must be dealt with seriously.

The order, that came as a blow to the 66-year-old All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief and shocked her supporters outside, was delivered by Justice A V Chandrashekhara despite the Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh saying he had no objections to grant of conditional bail to her.

There “are no grounds” to give bail to Jayalalithaa. Corruption amounts to “violation of human rights” and leads to economic imbalance, the judge observed in his order delivered in a packed court room amidst tight security in the court complex.

Jayalalithaa’s lawyers are planning their next strategy on approaching the Supreme Court at the earliest to challenge the order. AIADMK MP and lawyer A Navaneethakrishnan said they are awaiting a word from Jayalalithaa who has been in the central prison since her conviction on September 27.The judge said corruption had become a “serious malady in human history” and noted that the Supreme Court has repeatedly directed that graft cases should be disposed of on top priority basis. He also held that there is no reason to extend the benefit of suspension of sentence to the four accused, including Jayalalithaa.

Justice Chandrashekhara said corruption should not be lightly dealt with. It had to be dealt with seriously as otherwise, “it will become a disease in our society”.The SPP had earlier filed objections to suspension of the sentence and bail in writing but on Tuesday told the court during hearing that conditional bail could be granted to Jayalalithaa and three others.As word of the SPP’s stance spread, celebrations broke out among delirious AIADMK supporters near the jail and the court as they burst crackers and danced in joy. But the celebrations were shortlived, giving way to a state of shock when the verdict was out. Women supporters wailed while some men laid themselves flat on the road. Pleas by Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran, also disowned foster son of former Tamil Nadu chief minister, and Ilavarasi, for suspension of sentence and bail were also rejected by the court.

“My client will take a call,” senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Jayalalithaa, said after the verdict when asked whether they will approach the Supreme Court.

Citing a court judgment, Justice Chandrashekara said “the suspension of sentence and grant of bail cannot be asked as a matter of routine (saying) that the accused was on bail during the trial and did not misuse the liberties granted”.

Azmath Pasha, counsel for Ilavarasi, said “tomorrow is holiday. We will get the verdict copy on October 9 and file Special Leave Petition on October 10 in the Supreme Court. All the four... we are approaching.”

Strongly pleading for immediate bail to Jayalalithaa, Jethmalani cited several Supreme Court verdicts, including the one granting relief to his client former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, in the fodder scam.

The court did not accept the submission, with the judge noting that Lalu Prasad had spent 10 months in jail before being granted bail by the apex court.Jethmalani pleaded for suspension of the sentence by the special court which had sent her to four years in jail, pending her appeal against it.He also told the court, which took up the matter on Tuesday after the vacation bench had adjourned it on October 1, that the “regular practice” was to give bail. Jethmalani also said appeals should be heard within a reasonable period of time.    Criticising the judgment of the special court in the Rs 66.65-crore disproportionate case, he said assets prior to the period between 1991 and 1996 (when Jayalalithaa was chief minister) could not be taken into account. There was nothing disclosed in the conduct of Jayalalithaa to show that she might abscond, he contended.

Special News : 5,000-year Harappan stepwell found in Kutch, bigger than Mohenjo Daro's:

A 5,000-year-old stepwell has been found in one of the largest Harappan cities, Dholavira, in Kutch, which is three times bigger than the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro. Located in the eastern reservoir of Dholavira by experts from the Archaeological Survey of India working with IIT-Gandhinagar, the site represents the largest, grandest, and the best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.

It's rectangular and 73.4m long, 29.3m wide, and 10m deep. Another site, the ornate Rani ki Vav in Patan, called the queen of stepwells, is already on Unesco list. "This is almost three times bigger than the Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro that's 12m in length, 7m in width, and 2.4m in depth," said V N Prabhakar, visiting faculty at IIT and superintending archaeologist, ASI.

"We will conduct spot analysis in December as various surveys have indicated other reservoirs and stepwells may be buried in Dholavira," Prabhakar told TOI. "We also suspect a huge lake and an ancient shoreline are buried in the archaeological site that's one of the five largest Harappan sites and the most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley civilization," he added. Experts will investigate the advanced hydraulic engineering used by Harappans for building the stepwell through 3D laser scanner, remote sensing technology and ground-penetrating radar system. "We will study how water flowed into the well and what was the idea behind water conservation," said Prabhakar. The IIT Gandhinagar team and ASI officials will also excavate various tanks, stoneware, finely furnished brick blocks, sanitation chambers and semi-precious stones hidden at the site. Precious stones like carnelian were in great demand during the Harappan era. Gujarat was the hub of bead and craft manufacturing industries. "Agate carnelian beads were also coveted," Prabhakar said.

Siddharth Rai and V Vinod of IIT-Gn are working on characterization of internal structures of various forms of pottery unearthed from the site to identify the diet followed by Harappans. "Through pottery typology, we'll find out whether different communities lived in Dholavira," Rai said. The team will also analyze precious copper and bronze artefacts.

India successfully test-fires cruise missile Nirbhay:

India on Friday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed sub-sonic long range cruise missile, 'Nirbhay' from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha."The missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher positioned at launch pad 3 of the Integrated Test Range at about 10.03 hours," said an official soon after the flight took off from the launch ground."Flight details will be available after data retrieved from radars and telemetry points, monitoring the trajectories, are analysed," the official said.It is the second test of the sub-sonic long range cruise missile 'Nirbhay' from the ITR.

The maiden flight, conducted on March 12, 2013 could not achieve all the desired parameters as "the flight had to be terminated mid-way when deviations were observed from its intended course," sources said.

India has in its arsenal the 290 km range supersonic "BrahMos" cruise missile which is jointly developed by India and Russia. But 'Nirbhay' with long range capability is a different kind of missile being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.Nirbhay has good loitering capability, good control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth features.Low-flying cruise missiles such as the Nirbhay can easily slip past enemy air-defence systems due to small radar cross section.The Nirbhay will be configured to be launched from multiple platforms such as land, air and sea.

The missile, which could be compared with the American Tomahawk missile, has a strike range of around 750 to 1,000 km and is expected to supplement the Indo-Russian joint venture supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, which can carry warheads up to 290 km.While India is yet to have its own technology to develop supersonic or hypersonic cruise missiles, the Missile Technology Control Regime prohibits the signatories from providing technology to any other country developing a cruise missile with a range greater than or equal to 300 km.

SC grants Jayalalithaa bail in assets case:

In a major relief to jailed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court on Friday granted her bail in a disproportionate assets case in which she was sentenced to four-year jail term.A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu stayed the sentence and warned Jayalalithaa against causing any delay by seeking adjournment in her appeal in Karnataka high court.

The bench directed Jayalalithaa to file paperbook of her appeal in the high court within two months. “If paperbook is not filed within two months, then we won’t give you even a single day more,” the bench said.It refused to dispose of the bail plea and posted the case for hearing on December 18 to ensure that Jayalalithaa complies with its order. The bench also said that it would ask the high court to dispose of her appeal within three months.In an hour-long hearing, initially the bench expressed reservation on granting bail to her, saying she had delayed the trial proceedings for years and if she is allowed to come out on bail then appeal would be decided in two decades.Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Jayalalithaa, assured the court that the matter would not be delayed, saying that he was willing to give the statement on affidavit that no adjournment would be taken by her in the high court.

“I undertake that no delay would be caused while appeal is heard by high court. It is not a game. It may have been a game before. You can record my statement,” Nariman told the bench.The apex court also granted bail to Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran, disowned foster-son of the former chief minister, and Ilavarasi.While pressing for bail in the apex court, Jayalalithaa even pleaded that she is ready to be confined in a house for two-three months till her appeal is decided by the high court. The bench, however, said it cannot pass such an “unusual” order for house confinement and she can either be granted or denied bail.The bench asked Nariman within how many months would hearing of her appeal be completed.

Nariman replied that he requires six weeks’ time to file the paperbook as it contains 5,000 pages which have to be translated and the hearing can be completed by the high court by the end of January or February next year.Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed a complaint against Jayalalithaa after which probe was conducted against her, strongly opposed the bail plea of the AIADMK chief.He contended that it is an exceptional case and bail be denied to her. He also raised questions on the law and order problem created in Tamil Nadu by her party workers.The bench, thereafter, asked Jayalalithaa to direct her party workers not to create such problems and said that it will take serious objection if it comes to know that the disturbances are caused by political workers on her instruction.Jayalalithaa, who was denied bail by Karnataka high court following her conviction and four year sentence in a graft case, had moved the apex court for bail on October 9.

The AIADMK chief, who has been behind bars since September 27, had challenged the HC order which had refused her bail.Jayalalithaa had pleaded that she had been sentenced to only four years jail in the case and she was also suffering from various ailments as grounds for her immediate relief.The former CM had also cited grounds of being senior citizen and woman for getting out of jail. The 66-year-old politician was denied bail by the HC on October 7 despite the special public prosecutor not objecting to grant of conditional bail to her.The special court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief and Rs 10 crore fine on each of the three other convicts.

 Burdwan blast: IEDs found in house where militants were staying:

Sleuths of the National Investigation Agency and the National Security Guard investigating the Burdwan blast on Thursday found IEDs in the attic of the two-storey house in Khagragarh where the militants were staying.

The ‘armoury’ of the militants was only 100 metres from the two-storey house at Khagragarh in Bengal’s Burdwan district where they militants were staying, sources told

Investigators had found the name of one Rizaul Shaikh on the palm of Abdul Hakim alias Hasan, who was injured in the October 2 explosion. NIA sleuths, while interrogating Hasan in their custody came to know that the latter had informed Shaikh about the blast around noon, and that Shaikh and his family had gone into hiding,

The NIA reached Shaikh’s residence at Badsahi Road near Khagragarh on Thursday with sniffer dogs, and discovered the ‘armoury’ in a loft above the toilet. The opening to the loft was too narrow and the NIA had to take the help of a local teenager to peep in. On being told that the space was full of ‘heavy-looking’ sacks, the NIA started digging.

The loft was laden with hand grenades and improvised explosive devices. NSG commandos thereafter took over and detonated the IEDs.

Uddhav keen on coalition govt with BJP':

Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale on Friday claimed that Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray was "very keen" on coalition with its estranged ally Bharatiya Janata Party for formation of a government in Maharashtra.

"Uddhav Thackeray told me that he is very keen on forming the next government in alliance with the BJP...Details of how the portfolios will be shared will be revealed once the talks take place in the next two days. But there is no doubt about the alliance of both parties now. Uddhav is completely ready to support the BJP," Athawale told PTI after meeting the Sena chief in Mumbai on Friday afternoon. The RPI is a part of BJP-led alliance in Maharashtra which fought the assembly elections. Before it parted ways, Sena too was a part of this alliance.

Asked if Thackeray will attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Diwali dinner for National Democratic Alliance allies on October 26, Athawale said, "It does not really matter whether Uddhav attends the dinner or not. (Union minister) Anant Geete and other Sena MPs will attend."Athawale also claimed that the tension between the two saffron allies during the campaigning -- when the Shiv Sena had launched a sharp attack on the BJP -- was now a thing of the past, and the relations would be normal soon.

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the just-concluded state elections, but does not have majority. While it won 122 seats of the 288-member house, Sena won 63.

Canadian parliament rocked by gunshots; 2 killed:

Canada's Parliament came under attack on Wednesday with a barrage of gunshots fired both inside and outside the building as a soldier was killed in the assault and a man with a rifle was gunned down by security forces.

Parliament Hill came under attack when a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of building's Centre Block nearby. The injured soldier later succumbed to his wounds."Condolences to family of the soldier killed and prayers for the parliamentary guard wounded. Canada will not be terrorised or intimidated," Employment Minister Jason Kenney said on Twitter.Heavily armed officers backed by armored vehicles sealed off the Parliament building.

"One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones," the Ottawa Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police said."One male suspect has also been confirmed as deceased," they said.The motive of the attack was not known but it came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. Ottawa police confirmed shots were fired in three locations: the war memorial, inside Centre Block of the Parliament and at the Rideau Centre.

Police said an investigation was continuing and did not confirm earlier reports that more gunmen were involved. In a chaotic scene, witnesses said a sustained volley of shots was fired as startled security personnel and political staff scrambled to take cover in the limestone alcoves with bullets flying past. Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, said he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun.There were unconfirmed reports that a person was injured outside the Library of the Parliament.

"We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots," said Jan Luchtenburg, a tourist visiting Ottawa from Holland."Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair... with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of Parliament Hill," he said.

Black money case: List of 627 foreign account holders given to SC:

 The Centre on Wednesday placed a list of names of 627 Indian account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva in the black money case before the Supreme Court which asked a Special Investigation Team to go through the list and take appropriate action in accordance with law.A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu did not open the sealed envelope containing the names placed by the Centre and said that it would be opened only by chairman and the vice chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. It asked the SIT to submit status report of its probe by November end.

Placing the documents before the bench, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that details of account holders are of year 2006 which were supplied by the French government to the Centre in 2011. He said that the data was stolen from HSBC bank in Geneva which later reached France from where the government got the information. He said the sealed envelope contained three documents -- government's correspondence with the French government, list of names and a status report. He also informed the court that some people have accepted that they have accounts in foreign banks and have paid tax.

The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur allowed the Centre to put forth its grievances regarding various treaties with foreign countries before SIT.The bench said that the chairman and the vice chairman of SIT are former Supreme Court judges and they are not "layman" and they can decide on various issues arising out of black money probe. "We will send the entire list to SIT and they can proceed in accordance with law. It is for them to take care of how to conduct further probe," the bench said.

Meanwhile, the apex court did not allow the plea of Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal to provide additional information on the issue to the SIT, saying that it will consider his plea on next date of hearing on December 3.The Centre in its affidavit on October 27, had disclosed eight names including that of Pradip Burman, one of Dabur India promoters, a bullion trader and Goa miners against whom it has started prosecution for allegedly stashing black money, saying that all the names of account holders cannot be disclosed unless there is a "prima facie" evidence of wrongdoing.Rejecting the Centre's stand, the Supreme Court had on Monday ordered it to disclose all the names of Indian bank account holders abroad in a sealed envelope.

Rajkot-based bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhya and Goa-based mining company Timblo Private Limited and its five directors were among the names that figured in the list which was filed in the apex court by the government."The government is committed to disclose names of persons holding illegal money abroad. However, every account held by an Indian in a foreign country may not be illegal and the fundamental right of citizens to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be ignored and has been recognised by this court," it had said.

It had urged the apex court to modify its earlier order directing it to reveal even the names of foreign bank account holders against whom no evidence was found for stashing black money saying the government may have problems entering into tax agreements with other countries."There is absolutely no intention on the part of the government to withhold information, including names of persons who have stashed black money abroad, but only to seek certain clarification that will enable the government to enter into agreements with other countries under which information relating to unaccounted money lying abroad can be obtained," it had said.

"The information received under these tax treaties and agreements will be disclosed after following the due process of law, in all cases where evasion of tax is established. The intention of the present government is clear and unambiguous.”"The government is keen to unearth black money held abroad and for that purpose it will use all diplomatic and legal means and also all investigating agencies to obtain information that can assist in such unearthing," the affidavit had said.

Ground Zero report: How Bangladeshis infiltrate into India:

Taki in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district is the last Indian outpost on the border with Bangladesh. It is one of hotspots for Bangladeshi infiltration into India. While most poor Bangladeshis cross over to look for work, terror groups take advantage to ferry their men and material into India.Taki, a town under Hasnabad police station in the northern fringe of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh, is one of the most popular tourist sites for the people of Kolkata.With the river Ichhamati separating the town from the Bangladesh district of Khulna, Taki is known for its non-communal bearing and has been a peaceful home to Hindus and Muslims for years.However, despite the positives, this picturesque township has often been used by Bangladeshi infiltrators as an easy gateway into India.It is alleged that in 2011, more than 100,000 Bangladeshis had sneaked into India on Dashami (the last day of Durga Puja) amid the milieu of bisarjan (immersion) on the India, Bangladesh banks of Icchamati.

Immersion of Durga idols has always been a gala affair at Taki since Independence.On the last day of the festival, idols from the two Bengals used to be ferried in boats to the narrowest stretch of the river with border forces on both sides keeping a watch.But in 2011, security seemed to have gone haywire. Else so many people could not possibly have crossed over.Since then, cross-border immersion at Taki has been stopped and security beefed up.

It has been made even tighter recently subsequent to the Bardhaman blast on October 2.Investigations revealed that cadres of the terror outfit Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, who had illegally migrated to Bengal a few years back, were involved in the explosion.With infiltration issue hitting the headlines thereafter, we wanted to find out how protected is this important border town of Taki at present.How successful are the Border Security Force personnel in tackling the problem? Do the people living here feel safe?

 President dissolves Delhi assembly, fresh polls soon:

The Delhi assembly was on Wednesday dissolved, paving the way for fresh elections that will end the political hibernation since the Aam Aadmi Party government fell in February.A notification issued by the home ministry said that President Pranab Mukherjee has dissolved the "legislative assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi with immediate effect" on November 4.

The union cabinet had on Tuesday recommended the dissolution of the Assembly following recommendation of LG Najeeb Jung after talks on Monday with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the AAP which expressed inability to form government and sought fresh mandate.

While the fresh elections may be held early next year, the process for the November 25 by-elections to three constituencies, for which last date of nominations is on Thursday, was revoked by the Election Commission.

US midterm elections: Republicans win control of Senate; Democrats suffer massive setback:

In a debacle for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, Republicans today gained control of the United States Senate and increased its majority in the House of Representatives in a sweeping midterm election win that could complicate the President's final two years in office.As strong Democratic leaders tumbled across the country, political analysts termed it as a Republican wave.Elections were held for the entire 435 House of Representatives seat, 36 of the 100 senate seats and gubernatorial elections in 36 of the 50 American States.The Republican Party has occupied 52 of the 100 senate seats as against the 43 of the Democratic Party. In the current Congress, Democrats have 53 seats, while the Republicans have 45 seats.Republicans were headed to a substantial gain in the House of Representatives and were leading in 235 seats with a net gain of 10 seats, while the Democrats had 157 seats with a net loss of eight seats.In the current House, the Democratic Party has 199 seats and Republicans have 233 seats.

A Republican majority in the US Senate, for the first time in eight years, would make governance and key administrative reforms a tough task for Obama during the remaining two years of his second term.Some political analysts have already started calling him a lame duck, a phrase which was strongly resented by the White House.a general resentment against the current Obama Administration, people in large number voted for the Republican Party, who not only increased their majority in the House of Representatives but also gained control of the powerful Senate.candidates ousted Democratic incumbents in North Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado and sailed into the open seats of retiring Democrats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana.Republican candidate Joni Ernst won the highly competitive Iowa Senate Seat. The party also won gubernatorial elections in several strong Democratic States.

Political analysts said that the very fact that Republicans won the gubernatorial elections in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Maryland and Illinois is a clear indication of a Republican wave sweeping the country.House Majority Leader, Harry Reid, congratulated Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell."I'd like to congratulate Senator McConnell, who will be the new Senate Majority Leader. The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together," Reid said in a statement."The American people have put their trust in the Republican Party. I want to congratulate all our candidates tonight," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement."Our party's principles and message resonated with voters across the country. This was a rejection of President Obama's failed policies and Harry Reid's dysfunctional Senate," he said.

"For too long, this administration has tried to tell the American people what is good for them and then blame somebody else when their policies didn't work out," McConnell said in a victory speech.House Speaker John Boehner said he is "humbled by the responsibility the American people have placed with us.""Americans can expect the new Congress to debate and vote soon 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, as well as solutions offered by Senate Republicans that were denied consideration," he said."I've also put forth a five-point roadmap for harnessing the emerging energy boom in America, resetting our economy and restoring the American Dream for our children and grandchildren. It calls for fixing our tax code, solving our spending problem, reforming our legal system, reforming our regulatory system, and improving our education system," Boehner said."The change in power means that Obama will spend the last two years of his presidency dealing with an emboldened all-Republican Congress that intends to challenge him on major legislation and, in the words of McConnell, take the country in a 'new direction'," said political analysts.At the national level, Americans sent a clear message that they want to change the direction of the country, said Texas Governor Rick Perry."Instead of higher taxes to fuel ever-expanding government programs, they chose fiscal sanity and voted to allow people to keep more of their own hard-earned money. Now it is time to lead and craft common-sense policies that make America energy independent, bring sanity to our tax code, and secure our border once and for all," he said.

"The landscape means Republicans will have new powers to challenge Obama's agenda in the final two years of his term, able to launch investigations and hold hearings from both chambers; hold up key appointments; and pass GOP-favoured legislation, if only to force the president to employ his veto pen," said political analysts.

Burdwan blast: NIA team to visit Dhaka on Nov 17:

A team of the National Investigation Agency will be visiting Bangladesh on November 17 to brief the authorities in Dhaka and also seek cooperation of that country to unravel all plans of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh terror outfit.

After getting necessary sanction, a team of the NIA, headed by an officer of the rank of Inspector General, will be visiting Dhaka to discuss the activities of JMB cadres in Bangladesh and India, official sources said.The visit comes after the made major headway in the case by arresting JMB's Chief commander for Burdwan module, Sajid, a Bangladeshi national, Amjad Sheikh and Zia-ul-Haque who allegedly procured explosives and motivated youth for terror groups.The NIA team may also seek details about JMB's network in Bangladesh and also about the interrogation of Sajid's brother as also two other cadres of the terror group -- Asif Adnan and Fazle Elahi Tanjil who were arrested from Segunbagicha area of Dhaka city in September this year.

India will also share with Bangladesh government details of its probe for preventive steps and necessary action needed to be taken by Dhaka to counter the threat posed by the JMB.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had visited Burdwan for having a first-hand knowledge of the conspiracy being hatched by JMB to target Bangaldesh government from Indian soil.The Narendra Modi government has made it clear that it will have friendly relations with all neighbouring countries and following that policy, the NIA has been asked to complete the investigation into the October 2 blast as soon as possible so that all contours of the international terror conspiracy are exposed, the sources said.

India's my second home, Aung San Suu Kyi tells PM Modi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday had a meeting with Nobel laureate and Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in his first interaction with the pro-democracy icon. The meeting at the presidential suite at Park Royal Hotel here where the prime minister is put up, came on a day when he had a string of bilateral meetings with world leaders and participated in the 12th India-ASEAN summit.

Myanmar is in the midst of a national debate on whether to allow Suu Kyi, chairperson and general secretary of the National League for Democracy, to contest the 2015 parliamentary elections, which she is barred from at present due to a provision in the Constitution.

Suu Kyi had visited India in November 2012. She spent several years in India during her early days when her mother Daw Khin Yi was Ambassador to India. She studied at LadyShriramCollege in Delhi and also spent some time as a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla in 1987.After Modi’s meeting with Suu Kyi, spokesman of the ministry of external affairs Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that the Myanmarese leader told the prime minister that India was her “second home”.

Ahead of trust vote, Fadnavis claims support of 140 MLAs:

fadnavis wins.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is in no hurry to engineer a split or woo legislators from other parties at this juncture, though it is short of numbers in the Maharashtra assembly.This is despite several legislators from the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party approaching BJP’s top leaders on the eve of election of the assembly speaker and the vote of confidence.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, claimed his government had been able to mobilise support of 140 legislators, four short of the half-way mark in the 288-member House.The BJP has 121 legislators and its ally Rashtriya Samaj Party has one MLA. Besides, seven independents and three legislators of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi have also extended their support.This apart, Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil has assured that three legislators belonging to his party and five other members of smaller parties are ready to support the government. The government faces the challenge to prove a majority on the floor of the House during confidence motion and election of Speaker, slated for November 12, the concluding day of the three-day session.

Fadnavis said: “I have already told my party colleagues not to entertain any suggestion by the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena members to join the BJP by resigning from their respective parties. I have also asked party members not to organise any meetings (of MLAs of other parties who wish to join the party) with me.”Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had recently said about 27 legislators from the Congress and NCP have shown their desire to desert their respective parties to join the BJP.  “However, the party has asked those legislators not to show any haste in quitting their own parties,” a BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said.Another BJP minister, who did not want to be named, said it had been the party’s view not to attract any criticism from other parties that it was bent on engineering a split to achieve a majority in the House. “The BJP is quite confident that it would sail through the confidence motion, slated for Wednesday. As NCP chief Sharad Pawar observed no legislator wants fresh elections. The BJP will be able to muster support to run the government,” he said.

 Saradha scam: Trinamool MP arrested, CBI interrogates two other lawmakers:

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday after a marathon interrogation for five hours for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.The central agency also quizzed West Bengal Textiles Minister Shyamapada Mukherjee in connection with sale of shares of a cement plant to Saradha Group chief Sudipto Sen, and former Trinamool Congress MP Somen Mitra during the day.

CBI sources said that Bose would be produced before the Alipore court on Saturday.Bose, owner of a Bengali daily and who was asked to appear before the CBI officials, deposed before the sleuths in the morning and was interrogated for his business dealings with Sen.

A CBI spokesperson said that Bose was arrested "for his prima facie involvement in the Saradha realty case and for allegations of criminal conspiracy, misappropriation of funds and deriving undue financial benefits".All the three Trinamool leaders made consecutive appearances during the day.Bose is among eight prominent persons arrested by CBI in the Saradha case.

The others arrested are Sen, his aide Debjani Mukherjee, suspended Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh, ex-West Bengal Police DG Rajat Majumdar, Assamese singer Sadananda Gogoi, East Bengal club official Debabrata Sarkar and businessman Sandhir Agarwal, all of whom have been named in a charge sheet by the investigating agency.

Meanwhile, state Transport Minister Madan Mitra, who had been also served summons, was being admitted to state-run SSKM hospital after a brief stay at the private clinic in the city complaining of breathlessness.The hospital had also formed a medical board to diagnose Mitra's 'medical complications'.On arriving at the CBI office, Bose told reporters that he had come as a witness and that he was not worried because he did not commit anything wrong.

 f the central and state governments in securing the release of these fishermen. However, none of the state ministers mentioned the diplomatic efforts taken by the Centre and instead credited party chief and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.The fishermen were apprehended in November 2011 and sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking. Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned them after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him on the issue and took efforts through diplomatic channels, following protests and appeals for their release from political parties in Tamil Nadu.

J-K polls: Triangular contest in Ganderbal:

The ruling National Conference's traditional bastion Ganderbal is set for a triangular fight with People's Democratic Party, National Conference and an Independent contesting the polls after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah decided not to contest from the constituency which goes to polls on November 25.

The electoral battle in Ganderbal is now a triangular contest between PDP's Qazi Muhammad Afzal, NC's Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar and Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloori, who is contesting as an Independent.Qazi is hopeful of riding on "PDP wave" that he believes is sweeping the Valley where the party is confident of better prospects than the last state polls."I am 100 per cent convinced that people want change. I am also sure of my win as people hate NC for its failure to keep its promises of development and employment," he said.

"People have made up their minds to defeat NC and this mood was gauged by Omar and hence he decided not to contest from here," he added.Though Qazi is seen as the front-runner, Saloori's entry into the fray has made the electoral battle interesting as there are many pockets in the Assembly segment where he enjoys formidable support.

On December 23, the verdict day, it would be clear whether National Conference dented by a series of jolts, is able to retain the constituency or will its boat sink from what was once known as its home turf.Omar's grandfather and the NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah joined mainstream politics and fought elections from Ganderbal in 1975, when the then sitting Congress MLA from the constituency Mohammad Maqbool Bhat vacated the seat for him.

Abdullah won the by-elections, became the chief minister of the state and thus started the family's relation with the constituency.Two years later, at the end of his tenure in 1977, Sheikh again chose Ganderbal to contest the polls and won.After Sheikh's death, his son and Omar's father Farooq Abdullah fought the polls from Ganderbal in 1983, 1987 and 1996, and won them each time.After Omar took over the reins of the party and decided to enter state politics, he, too, chose Ganderbal to mark his debut.However, he lost the elections to PDP's Qazi Muhammad Afzal in 2002, a defeat avenged by him in 2008 by defeating Qazi from Ganderbal to become the chief minister of the state.

This time Omar is contesting from Beerwah.For the first time since 1975 when National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah won the election from Ganderbal, the electorate of Ganderbal will not have an option of voting for an Abdullah as a candidate.The party first received a major jolt when its senior leader and Farooq's trusted lieutenant, Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloori, decided to part ways from it.After Saloori, it was another long-time NC leader Mohammad Yousuf Bhat’s turn to dessert the party. Bhat, a key witness to the custodial death of NC worker Haji Mohammad Yousuf in 2011, left the party and will fight the polls on Congress ticket.

The National Conference gave mandate to the former Congress leader Ishfaq but there was strong resentment among the party workers especially among the middle and lower rung cadre who have started keeping a distance from it.The party was hit when a youth leader from the area Farooq Ahmad Dar, alias Farooq Ganderbali moved out of the NC and joined PDP.A day after he parted ways from the party, the NC received another shock when its MLC and ex-chief secretary of the state, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool quit the party and later joined PDP.As the battle-lines are drawn between various parties, a new fault line seems to have appeared in Ganderbal -- Lar versus rest of the constituency.

While Qazi and Ishfaq are from the Lar region, three other candidates in fray --Mohammad Yousuf Bhat (Congress), Abdul Majeed Dhobi (Peoples Conference) and Ali Mohammad Baba (Panthers Party), also belong to the same area.Ganderbal along with 14 other constituencies is going to polls in the first phase of the five-phased Assembly elections beginning November 25.

3 soldiers killed on LoC as Modi-Sharif shake hands in Nepal:

In a terror strike on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jammu Division, militants wearing combat uniform on Thursday attacked two Army bunkers close to Indo-Pak border leaving 10 people including three civilians and as many army men dead in a fierce gun battle with security forces.The dead also included four heavily armed militants who were holed up in a bunker after they were suspected to have infiltrated into Arnia sector from across the border in Jammu district to carry out a fidayeen attack.

At least one militant was still taking refuge in a bunker and the encounter was underway, police said, adding that tanks were also deployed in a possible step to blast the bunker. The bunkers are abandoned and used only during war.Modi is due to address a rally in Udhampur district, which is 100 km from Arnia. The attack also coincided with the SAARC summit in Kathmandu attended by Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif."3 civilians have lost their lives along with 3 army personnel, my condolences to the families. 4 militants have been neutralised in Arnia," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.

"The timing of the attack in Arnia can't be a coincidence," Omar said, adding "Some things will never change, SAARC summit is on, Ind & Pak PMs (sic) at the same venue and a fierce encounter breaks out in Jammu."Omar said all police nakas along the National Highway in Jammu and other sensitive locations have been put on high alert and the situation is being closely monitored."As per initial reports from the area, a group of four to five militants infiltrated into Arnia belt from across the border this morning and resorted to firing," a police officer said, adding the security grid of Army, BSF and Police swung into action and launched a cordon and search for the militants.

An Army official said the militants changed their dresses and wore combat uniforms near a bridge and resorted to firing before entering two bunkers of its 92 Infantry Brigade at a security embankment in Pindi Khattar belt close to the IB.Security personnel recovered the belongings of militants that included their dresses, blue coloured belts and shoes, an Army official said.A car has also been seized from the area which might have been used by the militants, the official said.The official said that militants had either come in this vehicle to carry out the attack or were supposed to take it after infiltrating into Indian territory and take the National Highway route as part of their terror plans.Inspector General of BSF, Jammu frontier Rakesh Sharma, however, ruled out infiltration of any militant group at the IB in Jammu sector, saying no breach of fencing was seen anywhere.

"There were no tell-tale signs that anybody has sneaked from this side. We have surveyed 20 km along the border in this area, we have seen no such signs. Here everything is alright. There is nothing wrong with the border fencing. Border fencing is totally intact, border lighting is perfectly working and surveillance grid is intact," Sharma said.
The three army personnel, who lost their lives in the encounter, have been identified as Lance Naik Kulvinder Singh, Lance Naik Jagsir Singh and para trooper Balwinder Singh.

ISIS executes 39 Indian workers: TV report:

In shocking news, 39 of the 41 Indian construction workers, who were abducted by ISIS militants, have reportedly been executed.The men, who were working for a Turkish construction company in Mosul, were abducted in mid-June when the jihadists overran the Iraqi region.

ABP News quoted two Bangladeshi construction workers as saying that they had met Harjeel Masih, the only Indian captive out of the group to escape from the clutches of the IS militants.Harjeet reportedly informed them that he witnessed the execution of all his Indian co-workers.The duo quoted by ABP News is believed to be part of the 51 Bangladeshis who were kidnapped along with the group of Indian workers.

The ABP News report said: 'The masked militants holding pistols and Qurans in their hands segregated the workers from both the companies in two groups. After scrutinizing the Bangladeshis and knowing about their faith, militants told them that they would be taken to Erbil soon. While the Indians were kept in a different who sensed they too would be released. Their mobiles and passports were all confiscated by the militants. All of them were given just one roti at 10 am during the entire day.'

'However, Harjeet told Shafi (one of the two Bangladeshis) that on June 15, they took all 40 Indians along with him to a hilly terrain where they were shot. Harjeet too suffered two bullet injuries but acted as if he was dead. To confirm that even Harjeet was dead, they kicked him, but since they didn’t observe any movement in his body they presumed that he was dead.'The external affairs ministry is yet to verifying the killing.

 Badaun sisters committed suicide, were not raped: CBI:

In a new twist to the sensational Badaun case involving two teenaged girls, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday rejected the rape and murder angle given by the Uttar Pradesh police, holding that they had committed suicide by hanging themselves from a tree.

The agency, which started its probe in June, will file its final report before the trial court next week, CBI sources said in New Delhi.They said a recommendation will be made for probe against state police officers for their botched up investigation.The final report will also mention questionable actions of fathers of the girls, an uncle and main witness Nazru, also a distant relative, leaving it to the court to take further action, they said.In Badaun, the families of the girls -- who were cousins -- rejected the CBI conclusion. They sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure an independent and fair probe."The CBI has not explained why they would commit suicide. If we don't get justice we will kill ourselves," said the father of one of the girls."How is it possible that the girls could have committed suicide together from a tall tree... I appeal to Modiji to ensure that we get justice," he said.

The girls, who were 14 and 15, were found hanging from a mango tree near their village on May 28, a day after they were reported missing.The CBI said it has based its conclusions on the basis of forensic reports received from three-member medical board, Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, FSL Gandhinagar among others."Based on around 40 scientific reports, CBI has concluded that the two minor girls in the Badaun case had not been raped and murdered as had been alleged in the FIR. Investigation has concluded that it is a case of suicide," CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said in Delhi.CBI claims that the two girls had allegedly committed suicide at about 2 am on May 28 morning even as frantic efforts were being made by their families to trace them in the village.The agency is of the view that girls took the extreme step when Nazru caught the elder one with prime accused Pappu Yadav in an objectionable position even as the younger sister was keeping vigil.

The girls probably feared social stigma and ended their lives, the sources said."The medical report from multi-agency medical board, corroborated by team of doctors which conducted first post-mortem during their examination, conclusively says that girls had committed suicide," a senior CBI official said.

CBI sources said there was no evidence of use of force on girls' bodies, sexual assault was ruled out by CDFD Hyderabad as there was no male DNA on their clothes, while the blood from younger girl's private part was due to menstrual cycle.The sources said suicide was confirmed because of ligature mark due to hanging, presence of fecal matter in perineum region and tongue was slightly protruded, which is common in suicidal hanging.During the probe the team, used live dummies (girls) of same age and height to reconstruct the crime scene and found that mango tree on which body was found was the most "climbable" among the 13 other trees.The agency also took consideration 400 phone calls between the girl and Pappu.

Saradha scam: West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra arrested:

 In a rude jolt for Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra has been arrested for his role in the Saradha scam. The minister was questioned by the CBI earlier on Friday in connection with the multi-crore scam.

The Trinamool leader has been booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy and misappropriation.

Mitra was summoned by the agency on November 15. He had then received an email from the agency asking him to appear for questioning. However, the minister citing health reasons had sought relaxation from questioning.

So far, the CBI has arrested Trinamool Congress MP, Srinjoy Bose; suspended MP Kunal Ghosh and party functionary, Rajat Majumdar along with three other people —Debabrata Sarkar, Sandhir Agarwal and Sadanand Gogoi — in connection with the Saradha scam.

The Saradha group, involved in various ponzi schemes, went bust in April 2013 duping thousands of small investors across West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Bihar and Odisha. Its chairman, Sudipta Sen arrested after the scam broke out by West Bengal police; has since then been in jail.

Coal scam: CBI chargesheets ex-Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda:

Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and six others have been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a coal block allocation scam case.

The chargesheet was filed before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who fixed it for consideration on December 22 after the investigating officer said that he will file the necessary documents in the case within a couple of days.Besides Koda and Basu, former coal secretary HC Gupta and two public servants Basant Kumar Bhatacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh have also been chargesheeted as accused.Director of accused firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd Vaibhav Tulsyan and a private person Vijay Joshi have also been named as accused in CBI's final report in which all the accused have been charge sheeted for the offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Senior Public Prosecutor V K Sharma told the court that out of the eight accused chargesheeted by the agency two -- Singh and Bhatacharya -- are still in government service, so necessary sanction for their prosecution has been obtained from the competent authority. "In the facts and circumstances of the case, it is directed that IO shall prepare a compilation of the relevant sets of documents initially for consideration of the present final report by the court," the judge said, adding, "Put up the matter for consideration on December 22".

The CBI's move to chargesheet Koda and others in the case came after the court on September 5 had "returned" its chargesheet filed earlier, saying the agency has failed to give any plausible explanation on its queries.The case pertains to allocation of coal blocks to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. in Jharkhand's Rajhara town in which its directors and unknown public servants of the ministry of coal, government of Jharkhand and others were made accused in the first information report lodged by the CBI in September 2012.

Insurance Bill: Modi checkmated in Rajya Sabha:

The winter session of Parliament is proving a rude reality check for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By all accounts given by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition understands that the much-awaited Insurance Bill is unlikely to pass in this session of Parliament.

The Cabinet approved the Bill on December 10.Insurance companies in India are not permitted to have a foreign holding of more than 26%. The Bill raises the limit to 49% and allows the entry of foreign insurance companies into India.If it is passed in Parliament, the Bill will radically change savings patterns, insurance habits and have a profound impact even in rural India.The winter session that began on November 24 and end on December 23 has revealed that the Modi government is learning to deal with the reality that it does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of India's Parliament.The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has been obstructed by roadblocks and will need to develop a strategy to overcome these hurdles.

The winter session of Parliament's 22 sittings were supposed to take up 67 pending Bills -- eight before the Lok Sabha and 59 before the Rajya Sabha -- but Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's unfortunate remarks against non-Hindus erased four days from the parliamentary calendar.The conversion of poor Muslim families in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, is the current bone of contention between the BJP and its opponents in Parliament.The handling of Niranjan Jyoti's remarks and the upheaval were handled by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in the Lok Sabha and by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha.In spite of these veterans's floor management, Modi's statement on Niranjan Jyoti's remarks in both Houses did not have the desired impact.

It was a rude shock for the prime minister when the Opposition ignored his plea for understanding. The matter was settled only after Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari read out an appeal to let the House function.The dominance of the non-BJP parties on news television channels during Parliament's winter session is there for the BJP's media managers to see.The talk in Parliament and in the lobbies outside is why the BJP's 282 seats has not helped the government to expedite its legislative business. How will the government keep apace with people's aspirations if its large majority is not enough to usher change, observers ask.The ruckus over resurgent Hindtuva issues like Niranjan Jyoti's remarks and the conversions of Muslims has armed the Opposition with legitimate reasons to stall Parliament.

When Chandan Mitra, chairman of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee tabled the report on the Insurance Bill on December 10, it carried dissenting notes from four of its 15 members belonging to the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and Janata Dal-United. None of these parties want foreign money in the sensitive insurance sector.Amongst many things the Congress wanted a composite cap on such investments. The Congress's demands have been accepted by the NDA government so that party does not have any reason to oppose the Insurance Bill.The combined might of the non-BJP parties is enough to stall the Insurance Bill in the Upper House. The Congress too is likely to go with the current mood of non-BJP MPs in the Rajya Sabha.

 Jammu and Kashmir records highest turnout, Jharkhand breaks records:

Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand broke records as they voted for the fifth and final leg of assembly polls on Saturday. Standing at 65 per cent J&K saw the highest voter turnout in over two decades, while Jharkhand saw a record 66 per cent voting. Jharkhand, which also went to the polls along with J&K, broke all previous polling records to witness over 66 per cent of turn-out in the five phases, bettering the previous mark of 54.2 per cent in the 2004 assembly poll.

Vinod Zutshi said the fifth and final phase of polling in the assembly elections on Saturday saw 76 per cent of polling.Similarly, the last phase recorded over 71 per cent of polling in Jharkhand, he said.Chief Electoral Officer P K Jajoria lauded the police personnel and election staff for successfully carrying out the elections in all the five phases.

He said free, fair and peaceful conduct of elections is a matter of pride for Jharkhand.Jajoria also commended the voters for turning out in large numbers, saying that they have become aware of the value of vote and its impact on development.Dumka Deputy Commissioner Harsh Mangla said the polling in all the constituencies under the district concluded peacefully.A total of 36,90,069 electorate, including 17,84,486 women, were eligible to choose from 208 candidates, including 16 women nominees, for the 16 seats spread over 6 districts of Dumka, Godda, Sahebganj, Jamtara, Deoghar and Pakud in Santhal Pargana region.

The polling began at 7 am and ended at 3 pm.Prominent among those in the fray for fifth phase polls are Chief Minister Hemant Soren from Dumka and Barhait, Assembly Speaker Shashank Sekhar Bhokta from Sarath and Rural Works Minister Lobin Hembrom from Borio.

Prominent Jharkhand politician and former Jharkhand Vikas Dal MP Suraj Mandal is challenging the speaker at Sarath.The incumbent Jharkhan Mukti Morcha had won nine of the 16 seats in the 2009 assembly polls.The EC said it had marked as many as 833 polling stations as hyper-sensitive and 1,496 sensitive and 291 polling stations were made available with web casting facilities.A total of 22,240 polling personnel were deployed for the polling.

The previous four phase polling were held on November 25 (63.26 per cent voter turnout), December 2 (68.01 per cent), December 9 (63.96 per cent) and December 14 (64.63 per cent) with updated polling percentage, according to the EC.A senior security official reportedly said that security deployment in Jharkhand was three to four times more than it was in the Lok Sabha elections.

Made in India' guided bomb can hit targets 100 km away:

India has tested a 1,000 kg indigenously-developed glide bomb, which successfully hit a target 100 km away, in the Bay of Bengal off the Odisha coast, making the country self-reliant in guided precision bombs.

"The nation today has capability to design, develop and launch heavy bombs for delivery up to 100 km away with high precision," said DRDO Director General Avinash Chander.

Designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, the bomb was dropped by an Indian Air Force aircraft in the ocean, according to an official statement.

The bomb, guided by an on-board navigation system, glided for nearly 100 km before hitting the target with great precision.

The flight of the glide bomb was monitored by radars and electro-optic systems stationed at IntegratedTestRange at Chandipur in Odisha's Balasore district, about 230 km from Bhubaneswar.The flight of the glide bomb was monitored by radars and electro-optic systems stationed at the ITR.

ISRO does it again: India's heaviest rocket GSLV-Mark III launched successfully:

India on Thursday successfully launched its heaviest rocket yet and tested an unmanned crew module in a step towards its manned space mission in twin achievements that gave a big push to its space prowess.As India got a giant new satellite launch vehicle that opened more commercial opportunities, the crew module -- Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment -- splashed down into the Bay of Bengal after it separated from the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The successful test of the atmospheric re-entry of the 3.65 tonne unmanned capsule came around 730 seconds after the three-tonne rocket on its experimental mission lifted off at 9.30 am from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

While the rocket cost Indian Space Research Organisation Rs 140 crore, the crew module has taken another Rs 15 crore, officials said. Three levels of parachutes specially designed by Agra-based DRDO lab Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment helped the crew module descend safely into the sea, about 180 km from Indira Point, the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.“This was a very significant day in the history of Indian space programme,” ISRO Chairman K S Radhakrishnan said from mission control, as fellow scientists clapped and broke into a round of cheers.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among other leaders who congratulated the ISRO scientists for the feat that will help carry heavier communication satellites.“Successful launch of GSLV Mark-III is yet another triumph of brilliance and hardwork of our scientists. Congrats to them for the efforts. @isro,” Modi tweeted. The Lok Sabha also hailed ISRO for the new achievements. GSLV Mark III Project Director S Somanath said the country has made it again and it has a new launch vehicle. “India, you have a new launch vehicle with you. We have made it again,” he said.“We have made it again. ISRO’s capability of launching heavier payloads has come to shape and this will change our destiny and our capability has significantly enhanced.”The 2.7 metre tall cupcake-shaped crew module with a diameter of 3.1 metre features aluminium alloy internal structure with composite panels and ablative thermal protection systems and can carry two to three astronauts.

The module would be shipped to KamarajarPort in Ennore near Chennai, from where it would be taken to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala for further study.Though it would take at least 10 years for India to send humans into space, this experiment has helped the space agency to test the module for safe return of humans from space, according to ISRO.As for the objective of validation of the complex atmospheric flight regime of GSLV Mk III, Radhakrishnan said the two active S200 and L110 propulsive stages “performed as expected”.“We have got the signal from the beacon in the crew capsule. Indian Coast Guard ships have received them and they are some 100 km away from the site presently moving to recover it,” S Unnikrishnan Nair, Project Director of ISRO’s Human Spaceflight Programme, said.

Death toll rises to 81, operations launched against Bodo militants:

Operations were on Friday intensified against NDFB-S militants along the border with Arunachal Pradesh even as the death toll in the massacre rose to 81.

Normal life was, meanwhile, disrupted by a bandh called by several organisations in Assam.

Two persons, one each in Sonitpur and Chirang, injured in Tuesday's attack by NDFB-S militants succumbed to their injuries last night, while a charred body was recovered from Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district Friday morning, a police spokespersons said on Friday.A day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh made it clear that there will be no talks with terrorists and "zero-tolerance policy towards acts of terror", operations by security forces have been intensified along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur district, which bore the brunt of NDFB's attack.A defence spokesperson said troops along with the police and paramilitary forces had intensified counter-insurgency operations along the border with the neighbouring state to flush out militants and smash their hideouts.Aerial surveillance of the area was also carried out by Army Aviation Helicopter sorties, he said.

Army was also extending full support to the civil administration to instill confidence among the affected people and restore peace.Meanwhile, a 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Adivasi Students' Association, Assam Tea Tribes Students Association and Asom Yuva Parishad disrupted normal life across the state.The bandh was total in the affected districts of Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa along with tea garden dominated districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Upper Assam.

Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded as a large number of adivasis on Friday blocked roads in different areas of the district in protest against the massacre of adivasis by suspected NDFB-S militants in Assam.

The agitators under the banner of 'Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan' blocked the Malda-Balurghat road near 20 Mile and also Gajol-Bamungola road near Badnagra from 9 am.

"The blockades have been continuing despite repeated appeals by the district administration to lift them as hundreds of vehicles remain stranded," Gajol Block Development Officer Sauvik Mukherjee said.The agitators are also demanding compensation to families of the victims and safety for others, Mukherjee said.The organisation had blocked trains in Malda town for nearly 6 hours on Thursday.

 Assam violence toll rises to 78 as Adivasis seek revenge:

The toll rose to 78 on Thursday in attacks by NDFB-S and retaliatory violence in lower Assam with Adivasis setting afire houses of Bodos as the backlash to Tuesday massacre continued for the second day.

In worst-affected Sonitpur district six more bodies were recovered this morning from Maitalu Basti under Zinzia police station bordering Arunachal Pradesh taking the toll in attacks by NDFB(S) to 43 in the district and overall toll to 71, a police spokesman told PTI.

Three adivasis were killed in police firing during protests against the carnage on Wednesday.

In Kokrajhar, the other severely affected district, retaliatory violence by adivasis claimed the lives of four Bodos at Manikpur and Dimapur areas.

25 people were killed by militants in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang district.

Fresh incidents of violence have been reported this morning from Gossaigaon area in Kokrajhar where several houses of Bodos have been set ablaze by adivasis despite the indefinite curfew clamped in the entire district, he said.

Curfew has been also imposed in the affected areas of Sonitpur and Chirang districts along with parts of Dhubri and Baksa districts as precautionary measure, he added.

Union Minister of Home Rajnath Singh accompanied by his deputy Kiren Rijiju today visited Bishwanath Chariali in Sonitpur district to review the prevailing situation and also held talks with different political and social organisations.They had reached Guwahati on Wednesday night and held meeting with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

 Meet our 45 Bharat Ratnas:

Educationist Madan Mohan Malviya and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are the 44th and 45th distinguished personalities who have been conferred with the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.

1)       C Rajagopalachari  1954
2)         Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan           1954
3)         C V Raman   1954
4)         Bhagwan Das         1955
5)         Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya   1955
6)         Jawaharlal Nehru   1955
7)         Govind Ballabh Pant         1957
8)         Dhondo Keshav Karve     1958
9)         Bidhan Chandra Roy        1961
10)      Purushottam Das Tandon           1961
11)      Rajendra Prasad    1962
12)      Zakir Hussain          1963
13)      Pandurang Vaman Kane  1963
14)      Lal Bahadur Shastri          1966
15)      Indira Gandhi           1971
16)      V V Giri          1975
17)      K Kamaraj    1976
18)      Mother Teresa         1980
19)      Acharya Vinoba Bhave     1983
20)      Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan           1987
21)      M G Ramachandra 1988
22)      B R Ambedkar         1990
23)      Nelson Mandela      1990
24)      Rajiv Gandhi            1991
25)      Vallabhbhai Patel   1991
26)      Morarji Desai           1991
27)      Maulana Abul Kalam Azad           1992
28)      J R D Tata    1992
29)      Satyajit Ray 1992
30)      Gulzarilal Nanda     1997
31)      Aruna Asaf Ali         1997
32)      A P J Abdul Kalam 1997
33)      M S Subbulakshmi 1998
34)      Chidambaram Subramaniam      1998
35)      Jayaprakash Narayan       1999
36)      Amartya Sen            1999
37)      Gopinath Bordoloi 1999
38)      Pandit Ravi Shankar         1999
39)      Lata Mangeshkar   2001
40)      Ustad Bismillah Khan       2001
41)      Bhimsen Joshi        2009
42)      C N R Rao    2014
43)      Sachin Tendulkar  2014

Important Persons Died in 2014:

Legendary Bengali actress Suchitra Sen dies in Kolkata hospital :

Legendary actress of yesteryears Suchitra Sen died in a Kolkata hospital, aged 82. She breathed her last on Friday morning, though neither the hospital authorities nor the doctors would confirm the time. The immediate reason of her death was believed to be cardiac arrest. Over a span from the fifties to the seventies Sen had teamed up with matinee idol Uttam Kumar to create one of the most famous pairs of Indian films.

Noted author and journalist Khushwant Singh dies at 99:

Noted author and journalist Khushwant Singh, one of the finest Indian writers in English in contemporary times, died in Delhi on Thursday at the age of 99.The veteran writer, who was ill, passed away "very, very peacefully", his son Rahul Singh said.Son of Sir Sobha Singh, a civil contractor and a prominent builder of Lutyens' Delhi, Khushwant Singh lived in Sujan Singh Park.He led a very full life, Rahul said, adding that he had some breathing problems but was mentally alert till the end.As a journalist he had edited the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India (1979-1980) and later the Hindustan Times (1980-83).His weekly column With Malice Towards One and All was very popular and was syndicated in many dailies.

He was also the founder-editor of Yojana magazine (1951-1953).Singh, an outstanding novelist and a forthright political commentator, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the government under late Indira Gandhi. He was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986.He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 but returned the decoration in 1984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the army.

In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India.Known for his humour, Singh took lots of digs at his community. His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts, Urdu poetry and a number of novels.Born in 1915 in Hadali (now in Pakistan), Singh had done his schooling at Modern School in Delhi and later studied at St Stephen's College in Delhi before moving to the Government College in Lahore. He also studied at King's College in Cambridge University.He practiced law at the Lahore high court for several years before joining the ministry of external affairs in 1947.He had married Kawal Malik in 1939 and is survived by son Rahul and daughter Mala.

Malik had died in 2001.Singh had worked on a classic two-volume history of the Sikhs, a number of translations and non-fiction books on a variety of subjects including nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry.

At 95, Singh had authored the novel The Sunset Club.His autobiography, Truth, Love and a Little Malice, was published in 2002.His short story collection includes The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, Black Jasmine, The Portrait of a Lady and A Love Affair In London.Singh was known to enjoy a good equation with former prime minister Indira Gandhi and even supported the Emergency she had clamped between 1975 and 1977.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the passing away of the author, describing him as "a gifted author, candid commentator and a dear friend who lived a truly creative life."

Zohra Sehgal dies at 102 :

Zohra Sehgal, the face of Bhaji on the beach, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Saawariya, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam etc has now deceased due to a cardiac arrest. She was admitted in a hospital in South Delhi because of Pneumonia, she passed away the next day after having a cardiac arrest at 4:30 PM on 10th of July.

Zohra Sehgal was an actress and a great choreographer. She was known by her acting skills and was known as the ‘Ace’ of Indian Theatre.

Zohra Sehgal (27th April 1912 to 10th July 2014) started her career as a dancer with Uday Shankar and being fond of him she continuously worked with him for a span of eight years.

Born and brought up in a typical family in Saharanpur, it was hard for women to then cope-up with a field that involved dancing and acting. Being an inspiration to a lot of people lets count her achievements:

• Padma Shree in 1998
• Kalidas Samman in 2001
• Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2004
• Padma Vibhushan in 2010

Cartoonist Pran, creator of iconic Chacha Chaudhury, dies:

Eminent cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma, popularly known as Pran, who gave life to lovable comic characters Chacha Chaudhury and his friend Sabu, is no more.

Pran succumbed to cancer early on Wednesday morning at a hospital in Gurgaon, according to his publisher Diamond Comics. He was 75."Pran passed away at 9 am at the Medanta hospital. He had been suffering from cancer of the intestine for the past eight months. He is survived by a son and a daughter," Gulshan Rai, publisher, Diamond Comics, told PTI.Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his grief over the passing away of the cartoonist.

Modi described Pran "as a versatile cartoonist who brought smiles on the faces of people through his rich work."Born in Kasur, near Lahore in Pakistan in 1938, Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper Milap with the comic strip 'Daabu'. In 1969, Pran sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine Lotpot, which made him famous.

"Pran was making small cartoons for newspapers when I first contacted him in 1981. At that time there were no Indian comics, it was all reproductions of foreign titles. For the last 35 years we have been the sole publisher of his cartoons," said Rai.

With a career spanning over five decades, Pran employed a simple style of art and sense of humour to create a family of characters like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channi Chachi, which are regularly published in Indian magazines.

Honduras beauty queen shot dead by sister's jealous boyfriend:

Miss Honduras 2014 was supposed to fly to London on Wednesday to compete in the Miss World pageant. Instead, she and her sister were found dead near the spa where they disappeared six days ago.According to the Honduras police, bodies believed to be of beauty queen 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado and her 23-year-old sister, Sofia, were discovered on Wednesday buried near the spa where they disappeared a week earlier while celebrating the boyfriend’s birthday.The police added that on they suspect that on the night of November 13, a heated argument broke out and the boyfriend, identified as Plutarco Ruiz, pulled a gun, firing first at his girlfriend and then at Alvarado as she tried to flee. Alvarado was hit twice in the back.

Their bodies were discovered early Wednesday after Ruiz led investigators to the remote gravesite where he and an alleged accomplice buried them in a mountainous area of Santa Barbara, about 400 kilometres west of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The accomplice, Aris Maldonado, was also in police custody and authorities were searching for other suspects.Chief detective Leandro Osorio said Ruiz had shot and killed the elder sister in a fit of jealousy after seeing her dancing with “another person or something similar”, then shot Alvarado and buried the bodies. “This is the main hypothesis we have for this crime, based on the witnesses and investigations we’ve done,” he said.

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