22:44 Strongly criticising Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev for describing members of Parliament in a derogatory manner,Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said that people like Ramdev are trying to attack the democratic systemof the country with an aim to establish dictatorship.
20:12 Nupur Talwar initiates process for filing bail plea in HC:
Nupur Talwar, prime accused in the 2008 murder of her daughter Aarushi and domestic servant Hemraj, today initiated the process for filing a bail petition in the Allahabad High Court, a day after a Ghaziabad court refused to grant her relief.
"A notice has been sent to the CBI informing the agency that we will be filing a bail application in the court's registry after nine days," Talwar's counsel Amit Srivastava told reporters. "This is a formality as per the High Court Rules that needs to be completed before a bail plea is filed. Once the bail petition is filed, it will be taken up for hearing in due course," he said.
19:48 Bin Laden frustrated with local jihadi groups: OBL letters:
Osama bin Laden seemed frustrated with the local jihadi groups that caused sufferings on the Muslims and urged them to abort such attacks and instead focus on the US, documents seized by US forces from his Abbottabad safe house in Pakistan a year ago say.
"He (bin Laden) is at pain advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and focus on the United States, 'our desired goal'. "Bin Ladin's frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 de-classified documents," Combating Terrorism Center (CTS) at West Point said today.
The CTS of the US Military Academy released 64-page 'Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?' based on the 17-declassified documents provided to it by the US government. These documents consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation.
19:45 Dissident seeks asylum, clouds China-US dialogue:
A diplomatic row over a blind Chinese dissident overshadowed the inaugural meeting of the annual China-US strategic dialogue here after he sought American asylum for himself and his family over fears that "anything could happen" to them if they remained in the country.
The controversy over Chen Guangcheng refused to die down today, a day after he left the US embassy after being holed up there for almost a week. Chen was yesterday driven to a hospital by American Ambassador Garry Locke, and reunited with his family, drawing a scathing reaction from China that demanded an apology over what it perceived was US interference in its affairs.
19:27 Family, friends rejoice Alex Paul Menon's release:
"I feel happy as a parrot that has just been let off from a cage," said Varadhas, father of Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon, who was releasedafter being held in captivity by Maoists for 13 days.
An overjoyed Varadhas, who shared sweets with family andfriends soon after hearing the news, said he had spentsleepless nights and had not eaten well from the day his sonwas abducted.
A celebratory mood pervaded Menon's houses in Chennai andTirunelveli, minutes after his release as his family membersand friends burst crackers and distributed sweets to thosewho had gathered there.
19:24 Sukma DC Alex Paul Menon says he can't go to Sukma tonight. He says he wants to go back to his family.
19:11 Pak working with US to find alternative to drone attacks:
Pakistan today said it was working with the US at different levels to resolve all outstanding issues, including finding an alternative to drone attacks, as both countries are partners in the war against terror.
"There is a need to resolve all issues with the US," Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said during a weekly news briefing. Pakistan has a clear stance on the drone strikes and considers them illegal, a violation of the country's territorial sovereignty and counter-productive, he said. Without giving details, Khan said Islamabad is interested in finding an alternative to the drones.
18:59 Menon: Will work wherever govt posts me:
CNN IBN says Menon has been released at Chintalnar. Anyway, the bottomline is that the hostage crisis has ended. Menon was accompanied by two mediators to Chintalnar.
At Menon's home in Chennai, sweets still being distributed. It's been an anxious 12 days and nail-biting three hours for them.
The NDTV report says that the collector has been released at Tarmetla, not Chintalnar, which is 7 km away. Menon is now heading to Sukma, where his family awaits him. It will take at least five hours to reach Sukma -- especially gruelling for a man who has just spent 12 days in custody in inhospitable conditions.
18:43 Menon: I would like to go back home first, thank everyone:
The DC, who arrived at the CRPF base in Chintalnar a few minutes ago says, "I would like to thank mediators from both the sides, the state government, my Chief Minister, my Chief Secretary, my seniors, family and friends."
He also said he was willing to continue staying in Sukma if asked by the government to do so.
The visuals on NDTV seem to indicate that Menon has not been harmed.
Menon says he wants to meet his family first.
An emotional father-in-law says he feels great joy at seeing images of the collector. He says it was a great relief, but says there was no information from the government or the mediators.
18:36 Freed DC heads to Sukma: Will speak tomorrow :
The collector says he is in good health and is headed to Sukma. But it will take at least a good five hours to get there and with no night landing facilities, the chopper is not an option.
Alternatively, the DC may also opt to stay at the CRPF camp in Chintalnar.
Sukma DC Alex Paul Menon has finally reached Chintalnar. Menon says I'm OK, will speak tomorrow.
In other news Congress President Sonia Gandhi held discussions on the
issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament House this morning in which Mukherjee also joined.
Asked about "confusion" over names of Presidential candidates, Gandhi told reporters, "there is no confusion. Be patient, still there is time." Gandhi also met Trinamool Congress chief Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and discussed the issue.
The day also saw some drama when Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury appeared to suggest that Mukherjee was too "valued" to the party and the government to be spared for the President's post.
18:17 Even if Sukma DC arrives, chopper can't be used:
The name of the government official CNN IBN spoke to is N Baijendra Kumar, secretary to the CM. The government is banking as much on local media as on intelligence for information on the collector. But he says he has been told that the collector has been released.
And still no official word from the government about whether he has in fact been released. Anxious moments continue for his family.
A government official says they have no information on how Menon will reach Chintalnar. Remember, there is no night landing facilities for the chopper at the spot, so a question mark hangs over how he will be evacuated if he makes it the place today.
18:03 Sunset, logistics delay Sukma DC's release :
TV reports say it looks increasingly unlikely that Alex Paul Menon will be released today since logistics prevent the chopper from landing or taking off after sundown. Menon was to be taken to Sukma or Raipur after he reached Chintalnar. In fact, a CNN IBN report says that no chopper is allowed to land after 4.30 pm. There was obviously an exception made here, since the chopper landed and took off at around 5:30 pm.
17:52 Berth for Kashyap, Jwala confirmed; 5 Indians in Oly badminton:
On a happier note, Parupalli Kashyap will represent India in the London Olympics in men's singles badminton event while Jwala Gutta's participation in both women's doubles and mixed doubles was confirmed after the world rankings were issued today.
This will be the first time that any of the Indian badminton doubles pairing will get a direct entry in the history of Olympics. Star shuttler Saina Nehwal has already qualified for the Olympics though she lost in the second round in last week's Indian Open Super Series here.
Stay with us for updates on the Alex Paul Menon story.
Meanwhile, an update on Ashton Kutcher's 'racist' commercial on the Daily Mail. Read.
: A backgrounder on Alex Paul Menon.
Apparently there are standing instructions that the chopper has to take off in 10 minutes. It can't just stay there. Incidentally, in all this time -- over two hours since the mediators said Alex Paul Menon was released -- there has been NO official announcement that he has in fact been freed.
17:27 Government mediator Nirmala Buch, who is part of the high-level committee to look into the Maoists' demands, says the delay in Menon's arrival is not worrying.
The ambulance that was allowed into Tarmetla, inside the Naxal area, has returned saying they were not allowed inside the jungle and have not seen or met the district collector. The ambulance was sent with the mediators this morning.
The chopper, which had taken off a few minutes ago, has just landed. And yes, as we write this, has taken off again. Media on the spot, clueless about what is happening. No statement from the CRPF.
17:17 On Twitter:
nitin gokhale @nitingokhale >So what's the mystery behind the Maoists freeing the collector w/o apparently getting anything in return? No cadres freed! No demands met?!
Nitin Gokhale is strategic affairs editior, NDTV and occasional rediff.com columnist.
17:11 Indian-Americans in multi-crore Medicare fraud:
In other news: A number of Indian-Americans were among 107 people charged across seven different cities for their role in a Medicare fraud involving a whopping USD 452 million, in one of the biggest busts by US authorities.
Those arrested included doctors, nurses, social workers, health-care company owners in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa and Baton Rouge.
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged 107 people for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately USD 452 million in false billings, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
This is the highest amount of alleged false Medicare billings involved in a single takedown in the Strike Force's five-year history.
Visuals of firecrackers going off outside Alex Paul Menon's Chennai home. Family distributing sweets (or are those chocolates?) to everyone there.
At Chintalnar, the chopper has taken off -- without the collector. Media gathered at the spot expected the DC to arrive in conjunction with the chopper. But that doesn't seem to be happening.
17:02 Back to Chintalnar. The chopper has just touched down. Still no sign of Menon. Interviews with neighbours, family of the abducted and now freed DC continue on channels.
16:58 Mamata jokes after Sonia meet: I'm prez candidate:
Meanwhile, WB CM Mamata Banerjee's meeting with Cong president Sonia Gandhi ends where upcoming Presidential election was believed to have been discussed.
Emerging from the meeting at Gandhi's residence, the Trinamool Congress declined to divulge the details of their discussion. "It was a courtesy call. I have come to enquire about her (Gandhi's) health," she said.
Asked if Trinamool Congress would support Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari if Congress nominates them, Banerjee joked, "I am the candidate."
16:47 The entire media crew is stationed at the CRPF camp at Chintalnar. Only satellite phones can't be used in this area. An anti-landmine vehicle is stationed at the spot.
Still no sign of the DC at Chintalnar. The chopper that was used to ferry the mediators to the Naxals this morning, is expected to return from Jagdalpur where it flew back after the mediatours returned. The chopper is supposed to take the DC back to Sukma or Raipur, as he wishes.
However, CNN IBN says no chopper is allowed to take off from Chintalnar after 4.30 pm, but it's already well past that hour.
16:35 Mulayam wants 'eminent Muslim' for India's top post:
This is what Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said on the Presidential candidate today. "We cannot discuss Presidential election at this moment, when candidates are announced, then you can take my view," he said.
On whether the President should be a person with political background, he said, "The President should always be a political person."
Pratibha Patil, the country's first woman President, will demit office on July 25 after completing her five-year term. Samajwadi Party, which is an outside supporters of UPA, had on Tuesday said that it would favour an eminent Muslim candidate for the top post.
Alex Paul Menon's neice giggles, "I think my aunt is very happy." The DC is yet to reach Chintalnar.
16:19 Earlier the Collector's father-in-law told NDTV that that the family feels like it's Diwali today. "He (Alex Paul Menon) wanted to work for the poor and was happy tot stay in Sukma. My daughter too wanted to stay in Sukma."
16:15 Alex Paul Menon's family awaits him at Sukma. Times Now says that the distance between Chintalnar and the spot where Menon was released is relatively small. And it should not take more than 25 minutes. Yet, it's been 45 minutes since he has been released. Anxious moments for the family.
16:12 Government interlocutor Nirmala Buch tells Times Now says that the high-level committee will be set up within one hour to fulfil the tasks agreed upon with the Naxals prior to Menon's release. The committee, which Buch chairs, will evaluate all cases against tribals arrested on allegations of supporting Maoists.
16:09 Alex Menon's father says the family is relieved that the trauma is finally over. The collector is expected in Chintalnar any time now.
Venugopal speaking to CNN IBN says Menon wanted to do welfare work for the tribals, so that they wouldn't turn against the government. "But he never listened to my warnings (that his life may be in danger)."
Menon's wife Asha was insistent that the couple continue staying in Sukma, but the family wants them to move to an area where there is no Maoist problem.
16:01 Naxals free Sukma DC, family wants him relocated :
P R Venugopal tells CNN IBN that the family has begun celebrations, albeit low key, at the official residence in Sukma. "This has been a great relief, but I request the chief minister to move him to a safer area," says an emotional Venugopal.
Alex Paul Menon's father, speaking to Times Now says the country is happy with Menon's release.
15:58 PK Venugopal, the collector's father-in-law says his daughter will be very happy. She had low blood pressure yesterday and since news of Menon's release, she has been feeling better, he says.
15:56 A Times Now report says that Additional Director General of Police (Naxals) Ram Niwas confirms that Menon has been handed over to the mediators.
15:55 The collector will first be taken to the nearest CRPF base at Chintalnar. Menon can then visit his house in Sukma, which is closeby, before he is taken to Raipur.
15:50 TV images show show the Sukma district collector's vehicle on its way to Sukma, but Menon can't really be seen.
15:46 SC refuses probe in Naxalite leader, journalist's death :
Updates on the Alex Paul's Menon's release in a bit.
But first, the Supreme Court today refused to order any judicial inquiry or a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged fake encounter killings of top Naxalite leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and a Delhi journalist Hemchandra Pandey.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad said there was no reason to believe the allegation that the investigation conducted by the CBI into the encounter was not "honest". The bench directed the CBI to file its investigation
reports before the jurisdictional magistrate concerned in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, where the encounter took place on July 1, 2010.
Read: Unsaid Words -- A woman remembers her best friend, a man dubbed a Maoist and killed by the Republic of India. He happened to be her journalist husband.
15:35 What Naxals want in exchage for DC's release:
The collector was freed after a Chhattisgarh government chopper carrying mediators G Hargopal and BD Sharma met the Naxals at Tarmetla this morning. Menon has been in the custody of the Naxals since April 21.
As per the agreement with the government, no jailed Naxal cadres will be released, but the government has to constitute a high-powered committee to review cases of some prisoners in jail including the cases demanded by the Naxals.
The Committee, which will have Chief Secretary and state DGP as members, has to become operational 'within an hour' of the release of Menon, says the agreement.
Naxals have released Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon after 12 days in captivity. Menon was released a few minutes ago and has been sent for a medical check-up as he has asthma. The official announcement of Menon's release will be made only after he reaches Sukma, says N Baijendra Kumar, secretary to the Orissa CM.
15:23 Mamata on Pranab: I cannot say anything:
In real news, Mamata Banerjee today said the Congress has announced that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is not their Presidential candidate, comments that came shortly after a Congress spokesperson suggested he is too "valued" to be spared.
"I think their party has already announced today that he is not (the candidate)," the West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief told reporters when asked whether Mukherjee is acceptable as Presidential candidate.
"I cannot say anything. Congress party has already announced their opinion... He belongs to the Congress party. Congress party will decide. How can I say whether it is or not. I respect all political parties. I know my limitations. I don't cross limits," she said. Banerjee, who would be meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi tomorrow on the Presidential election.
So, is the Ashton Kutcher ad racist? Tell us on the rediff.com poll
Other tweets on Ashton Kutcher...
Madhu 'MadMan' Menon @madmanweb Indians getting outraged over an Ashton Kutcher ad with a bad accent, but won't marry their kids to lower caste people. Yeah, we're awesome.
Geeta Pandey ' @geetapandey Why do we pay so much attention to #Ashton Kutcher? He's not even funny! Ashton Kutcher 'racist' advert dropped
Rajesh Suseelan @rsn If they wanted a brown man to make a fool of himself they should have cast Anil Kapoor instead of Ashton Kutcher! #facepalm
@dhanyarajendran Only in india- Actors r playing cricket, Cricketers r playing politics, Politicians r watching porn n Porn stars are becoming actors!
15:13 Ashton Kutcher ad showing him as Indian is called 'racist':
KABIR BEDI @iKabirBedi Nothing offensive about Ashton Kutcher's "Indian" ad. Come on, let's not lose our sense of humour. We're not sacred cows.
The images and video for Popchips feature the 34-year-old Two and a Half Men star in brown makeup portraying a Bollywood producer named Raj who is "looking for love." They were removed from YouTube and Facebook after being criticized online.
And that, dear reader, is why Kutcher is trending on Twitter.
15:08 Jordan's Queen Noor rages over mangoes :
As one of the world's wealthiest women, it may be rare for Queen Noor of Jordan to hear the word 'No'. But some things are impossible, even for a queen, and growing mangoes in the cold climes of Britain surely falls into that category.
Read more on the Daily Mail.
15:04 What do you give a man who has everything?:
With millions in the bank and access to all the gadgets and stylish clothes, and has an already impressive car collection. But David Beckham's family appeared to have no trouble finding him a multitude of gifts to celebrate his birthday today.
Read more on the Daily Mail.
14:58 HC warns boy not to threaten suicide on sex change operation:
The Bombay High Court today warned Bhidan Barua, a 21-year-old student from Guwahati who wants to undergo sex change operation, that he cannot use pressure tactics and threaten to commit suicide unless his petition was heard and orders passed immediately. The court summoned Bhidan's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi after the student wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and other authorities threatening to commit suicide if his petition was not heard immediately.
14:55 West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee says her meeting with Sonia Gandhi will not focus on the presidential elections.
14:49 Gimme Shelter:
So, how do you take refuge in an embassy, anyway? Great read
on Foreign Policy
, as always.
14:40 UP land case: Court rejects review petition against Bachchan:
A local court has rejected the revision petition filed against film star Amitabh Bachchan accusing him of fraudulently acquiring land. Additional District Judge S S Masood yesterday rejected the review petition filed by Babulal of Sahavpur village alleging that Bachchan had fraudulently got a piece of land in Daulatpur village in his name.
According to assistant government counsel, Mohd Zafar Kazmi, the revision petition was filed after the chief judicial magistrate court had rejected a petition in this connection on January 9 this year finding it baseless. A case in this connection is also going on in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court where the court has already stayed any action against Bachchan after he gave up his claim on the land.
More business stories:
Audi to increase India plant capacity by 50 pct. Read the report on Reuters.
The Indian consumer is alive and kicking. On the WSJ
14:30 Business stories at this hour:
Business stories coming up: India's dream of becoming the world's second-largest steel maker is dying a slow death. Currently, India is the world's fourth-largest producer after China, Japan and the US. Read the report on the Wall Street Journal.
India's top two importers of crude oil from Iran plan to reduce shipments by at least 15% this financial year, people with knowledge of the move said, in an important victory for the U.S.-led sanctions effort against Tehran. Read it on the WSJ
14:21 Dawood's aide Tiger Hanif to be extradited to India:
A relatively unknown name, but a big win for India.
Tiger Hanif, an alleged terrorist wanted by Gujarat police for a bomb attack on a train in 1993, and absconding in Britain, was on Wednesday ordered by the Westminster magistrates' court in London to be extradited to India. This is a significant victory for Indian authorities, who have in the past failed to get people suspected to have committed crimes in India to face justice on Indian soil.
14:13 Naxals to release Sukma DC at 4 pm today:
TV reports say that Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon will be released between 3.30 pm and 4 pm today. The mediators G Hargopal and BD Sharma, went to meet the Naxals holding Menon captive in the jungles of Tarmetla, around 500 km from Raipur, are back.
14:11 Hillary looks forward to meeting 'dynamic' Mamata:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking forward to meeting "dynamic" and "influential" Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee next week during which she will discuss the progress made by West Bengal under her leadership and her take on India-Bangladesh ties.
"I think she (Clinton) look forwards to seeing Chief Minister Banerjee -- one of India's dynamic women chief ministers," a senior Obama administration official said ahead of the Kolkata visit by the Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, this would be Clinton's first trip to Kolkata. She will be visiting Bangladesh and India from May 5 to 8.
"In Kolkata obviously we want to hear from one of the quite influential Chief Ministers," he said. The official involved in the planning of the trip saidClinton would like to hear from Banerjee the "progress" of West Bengal, since she was elected the Chief Minister and what she sees in terms of the business environment there.
14:07 Did Obama betray a Chinese hero?:
If you haven't been following the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng story, here's an opinion piece
on cnn.com that will take you through what's been happening. Also see our 11:29 pm post for more info.
13:57 Do we need Sachin and Rekha in Parliament?:
Shouldn't the government's nominees for the Rajya Sabha have shown some interest in public affairs, some evidence that they have an understanding of national issues, asks Sherna Gandhy. Read
the piece on rediff.com.
13:52 VK Singh: Army should get adequate arms, ammunition:
You may recollect that this is Gen V K Singh's last month as Army Chief. He retires on May 31.
Gen Singh spoke who is in Jaipur today witnessed the Armed Forces war games Shoorveer and said the issues relating to the defence sector that have come up recently were "complicated" and solutions to them have to be found within the parameters of transparency.
"As far as the Army is concerned, if any battle happens, the Army will fight with full enthusiasm, zeal and with whatever resources it has. We want...and Standing Committee of the Parliament is also of the view that the Army should get adequate quantity of arms and ammunition the force requires," he said.
13:40 Hrithik Roshan named ultimate style icon:
Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan has been rated as ultimate style icon of the country leaving behind M S Dhoni and Shahrukh Khan in an online survey. The Agneepath star got 18 per cent votes while Dhoni bagged 16 and SRK 15 per cent votes in a survey by Yahoo. Amitabh Bachachan was named the most well dressed celebrity followed by Industrialist Ratan Tata and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
13:37 Pak nuke scientist AQ Khan wants to contest polls:
Disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan has expressed his willingness to contest elections while suggesting the formation of a government of technocratsbecause politicians have failed to deliver good governance. 76-year-old Khan made the remarks while addressing students at the Punjab University yesterday. Khan has been accused of running proliferation network and providing nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and others.
13:23 Mulayam joins Prez row: Wants political person only:
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, in a statement that is diametrically opposite to NCP chief Sharad Pawar's view, says the President should be a political person.
So far, the Left parties, which have been advocating "maximum consensus' to elect a new President, may not be averse to supporting a candidate like Vice-President Hamid Ansari if the Congress comes up with his name.
The BJP's Sushma Swaraj has earlier said that Ansari lacked the stature for the Presidential post.
13:14 Christian Jagan Reddy in Tirupati row:
Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, a devout Roman Catholic, was caught in a tempest for ignoring the 'protocol' at the famous Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati on Wednesday. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the trust that manages the world's richest Hindu temple, has a strict guideline for people of other faiths wishing to enter the hill shrine.
Read more on the Daily Mail.
13:05 India at high risk of 'BOP' shock:
In other news, a reuters report says that India faces a 'high' risk of a shock in its balance of payments, unless the government cuts spending, including on subsidies, or oil prices decline sharply, Morgan Stanley warns. India is the only country in the region with a current account deficit, and a wide one at that, given expectations it hit a record high for the year ended in March.
12:59 'No proposal to raise Tribal Battalion now':
While on the Sukma DC's release, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State of Home Affairs in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today said that there was no proposal to raise a Tribal Battalion for Naxal Affected Areas for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected States.
However, the recruitment of constables (General Duty) in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) is being done through the Staff Selection Commission, wherein 20 per cent vacancies in Border Guarding Forces and 40 per cent vacancies in forces other than Border Guarding Forces are allotted to militancy affected areas, including LWE affected areas.
12:55 Sukma DC's first stop will be a medical examination:
Update on the release of Dasna DC Alex Paul Menon. The Chhattisgarh government has already made all arrangements to bring Menon safely from the jungles following which the officer will undergo a medical examination as he is an asthmatic.
Health officials in Sukma, Dantewada, Jagdalpur as well as Raipur districts have been asked to be ready for the check up. Also, an ambulance has been stationed at Chintalnar to meet any possible emergency, Kumar said.
According to top administrative officials, Menon is expected to be set free in full public view at Tadmetla, a rebel-dominated forested area in Sukma.
The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister tweets on Sachin's hairy decision:
Omar abdullah @abdullah_omar Can we start a drive to bring back Sachin's curly hair???#JusticeForCurlyHair
As does our Twitter favourite Ramesh Srivats
@rameshsrivats Sachin: I play every bal straight.
12:42 Kolkata first, Delhi second during Hillary's India visit :
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discuss a range of bilateral issues and
Afghanistan with the Indian leadership when she arrives in New Delhi next week.
While the specifics of Clinton's trip to India with stops in Kolkata and New Delhi are still being given a final shape, a senior Obama administration official involved in the planning said the Secretary wanted to visit India ahead of the next month's crucial meeting here, as she had not visited the country after the last year's Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi.
After her visit to Kolkata, Clinton will travel to New Delhi for her meetings with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, and possibly with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
12:36 Purifying Kashmir:
On the Boston Review: How Saudi Arabia exports Salafism to the war-torn region. Read
12:32 Police van with Nupur Talwar collides with truck:
Star News says that on the way back to Dasna jail, the van carrying Nupur Talwar collided with a truck, while trying to overtake it. Nobody was injured in the incident.
The hearing in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case has been postponed to May 9, which is when the court will set the date for the trial to begin.
12:25 On Twitter:
Omar Abdullah @abdullah_omar Handful of militants left in Jammu province making desperate attempts to show their existence. My condolences to the family of the army Jawan killed while on patrol in Kishtwar.
An Army jawan was killed in a fierce gunbattle with militants in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. Acting on a tip off about the presence of militants in
Palmar area of Kishtwar district, troops of 17 Rashtriya Rifles and police launched a joint cordon and search operation in the area last night, police said today.
12:15 Keep it dignified, Ms Swaraj:
Opinion piece on The Hindu.
By all accounts, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj spoke out of turn when she voiced her views on electing the next President. While opposing Vice-President Hamid Ansari for the post, Ms Swaraj, quite shockingly, claimed he did not have the 'stature' to be Rashtrapati.
12:10 Noida-based techie's tweet wins $36,000 MBA seat in US:
In the age of Twitter, where 140 characters can earn you millions of followers, a 25-year-old Noida-based engineer won something rather more substantial. Rahul Rathi(@Rathirahul86), a technical associate withTech Mahindra, got himself an MBA seat valued at $36,400 in a US-based college after he participated in an 'International TweetCompetition' organized by the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management (TSM).
More on the TOI
11:58 Mamata-PM meet at 4.15 pm, discuss interest waiver:
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to meet the PM at 4.15 pm today. Ahead of her arrival in Delhi on Wednesday, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy submitted a memorandums to the PM, spelling out the extent of the state's financial problems.
This follows last week's meeting Trinamool MPs had with the Finance Minister and the PM. This is the first time the party has given this demand in writing to the PM.
The memorandum seeks a three-year moratorium for Bengal, which has to part with around Rs 22,000 crore every year to service a loan burden of over Rs 2 lakh crore. Mamata's 15-day deadline on loan waiver ends on May 6.
11:51 Prez polls dominate conversation in Parliament:
Our fly in the wall in Parliament says that the Congress's Jyotiraditya Scindia and the DMK's Kanimozhi were seen talking in the House. The conversation comes after AK Antony's meeting with M Karunanidhi on Monday over the presidential polls.
Scindia is one of the ministers who is reportedly unhappy with the UPA2 government, and is said to be keen to get back to the Congress's organisational set-up.
In another part of Parliament, Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav, BJP senior leader Jaswant Singh and the Shiromani Akali Dal's Naresh Gujral conversed over the emerging scenario in the presidential election.
11:45 Thousands pay tribute to 'hero' Osama on 1st death anniv:
Thousands of people rallied in Quetta on Wednesday to pay tribute to Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden on his first death anniversary, witnesses said. More than 1,500 activists from a pro-Taliban religious political party gathered in the city's central Mezan Square, carrying Bin Laden posters, shouting "Long Live Osama' and torched a US flag, reports the Daily Times.
"Osama was a hero of the whole Muslim world, he was the real mujahid (holy warrior),' Abdul Qadir Looni, a party leader said while addressing the rally.
"He will be remembered forever in our hearts,' he added. The demonstrators also prayed for Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
11:38 Prez farewell programme up for discussion:
Our Delhi sources tell us that the military secretary to the President is scheduled to hold informal discussions with secretaries in the ministries of defence, home
and urban development in the middle of this month. On the agenda is the finalisation of the programme for the farewell to President Prathibha Patil on July 25.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress Chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today to discuss the President poll.
Yesterday, Banerjee said that she has not spoken to anyone over the issue, but sources suggest she is not in favour of the Congress's choice Hamid Ansari.
11:29 Chinese dissident begs: Let me leave in Hillary's plane:
Update on the ongoing story on the blind Chinese activist/dissident Chen Guangcheng. Guangchen has said he fears for his life and wants to leave China, hours after leaving his refuge in the US embassy. Chen said he left the embassy after Chinese officials made threats to his family members. But US ambassador Gary Locke said Chen was "never pressured" to leave.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast's Melinda Liu, Chen says he's been abandoned by American officials at a Chinese hospital and begs to leave the country on Hillary Clinton's plane. More
11:18 Nupur Talwar's next hearing on May 9:
Meanwhile, at the Ghaziabad court, the hearing in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case has been postponed to May 9. On that day, the court will set the date for the trial to begin.
The court today said that prima facie evidence suggests Nupur Talwar (Aarushi's mother) may be involved in the double murders. The CBI will also submit more documents before May 9.
The Talwar couple arrived at the court at 10.30 am today. Nupur told the court she will spend her time in jail teaching inmates.
11:09 Mediators enter Naxal zone to meet Sukma DC :
A Chhattisgarh government chopper, which left Raipur for Tarmetla this morning, has reached the Naxal zone. The chopper is carrying mediators G. Hargopal and BD Sharma, who are scheduled to receive Menon in Tarmetla, around 500 km from Raipur. Menon is expected to be released in the afternoon. If the DC is indeed freed, it will be a victory for the Chhattisgarh government since not a single Maoist is being released.
11:01 Why Cong's Punjab MPs are upset :
Our Delhi sources say that Congress MPs in Parliament have been looking dejected over the stasis in UPA2. The findings of the AK Antony Committee which examined the Congresss defeat in the recent state elections, didn't make it any better.
Congress MPs from Punjab were probably the most dejected. Antony, they say, should have also reported that it was Rahul Gandhi who declared Capt Amrinder Singh as chief minister of the state if the Congress did well. It was this early projection which they believe caused the partys defeat to the Shiromani Akali Dal.
10:57 TV reports say that the mediators have reached the Naxal zone for the release of the Sukma district collector, Alex Paul Menon, who was abducted on April 21.
10:54 Most expensive painting: Scream goes for US$ 120mn:
Edvard Munch's iconic painting 'The Scream', considered one of the most recognizable in art world, was sold for over USD 120 million, creating a new record for the highest price ever paid for a work of art at any auction.
The painting, depicting image of a man holding his head and his mouth wide open, was sold for USD 119,922,500, which includes the premium paid to Sotheby's at the auction held here yesterday.
The auction house did not release the name or any other details of the buyer. The bidder was participating in the auction through phone. "A seminal image of the pulsating anguish of modernity, The Scream is among the most recognizable images in the history of art," Sotheby's said.
Till now Pablo Picasso's 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' was the most expensive painting ever sold. It was bought for USD 106.5 million at a Christie's auction in 2010.
10:44 Jaya has a date with the PM on May 15:
Updates on the Nupur Talwar story in a bit.
Meanwhile, our sources in Delhi tell us that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha will discuss the state's annual plan on May 15 in New Delhi with
the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Dr Montek Singh
Insiders in the PMO, while not denying that Jayalalithaa has also sought an appointment with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on May 15 before her meeting with Dr Ahluwalia, say that Jayalalitha is a stickler for protocol.
As the PM is chairman of the Planning Commission, she wants to meet him first.
Jayalalithaa also wanted to make a courtesy call on the Election Commission
but her officials are learnt to have advised her not to do so.
10:40 Nupur Talwar in court to fix trial date :
Just in: Nupur Talwar has reached the Ghaziabad court, her first appearance after the three nights she spent in Dasna jail. The Ghaziabad court is to now fix the trial date in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case.
Yesterday, Nupur Talwar moved the Supreme Court for bail in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case. The Sessions Court had rejected her bail plea for the third time yesterday saying she may tamper with evidence. The bail of her husband Rajesh Talwar ends on May 7 and the CBI wants him in custody as well.
While on outsourcing, read the Firstpost.com story on why foreign companies are 'scared' of investing in India. Here you go.
10:24 Obama campaign accuses Romney of outsourcing jobs to India:
The Obama Campaign in a new ad has accused presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of outsourcing jobs to India when he was the Massachusetts Governor.
"What about Mitt Romney? As a corporate CEO, he shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China. As governor, he outsourced state jobs to a call center in India. He's still pushing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas," said the advertisement which will run in the key States of Virginia, Ohio and Iowa.
"It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss Bank account," says the advertisement which is approved by President Barack Obama, who is seeking his reelection this November.
10:22 Sukma collector's brother anxiously awaits release:
Abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon would be released at around noon on Thursday, after spending nearly two weeks in Maoist captivity. Alex Menon's brother says he is anxiously waiting for his release.
10:18 Headlines at this hour :
Mamata to meet Sonia; discussion on presidential poll likely (Hindustan Times)
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi for parleys with the UPA brass, with both sides expecting an understanding on the presidential candidate as well as a moratorium for debt-ridden West. Read
Govt climbs down, brings state DGPs, police into NCTC grid (Indian Express)
Under new SOP, state ATSs will be designated authority of NCTC; DGPs in NCTC council. Read
Pranab Mukherjee or Hamid Ansari set to be President (The Times of India)
A Congress nominee, either finance minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice-President Hamid Ansari, seems set to be elected President. Read
08:49 Mamata Banerjee to meet PM today:
In the midst of parleys among political parties on Presidential election candidate, Trinamoool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on Thursday.
According to reports, Banerjee may also meet Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday.
The West Bengal chief minister, who will take part in the chief ministers' meet on the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre issue on May 5, reached the capital on Wednesday.
Read the full story here
08:27 Chinese defence minister to visit US:
Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie will visit the United States later this week to hold talks with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and visit various bases, the Pentagon has said.
"We are pleased with the progress made in continuing efforts to build a healthy, stable, and reliable military-to-military relationship, which is an essential part of President Obama's and President Hu's shared vision for a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive US-China relationship," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Liang Guanglie's visit to the US is from May 4 to 10.
08:23 Abducted collector to be released today:
Abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon would be released at around noon on Thursday, after spending nearly two weeks in Maoist captivity.
B D Sharma and Professor G Hargopal, who represented the Maoists in the talks with the Chhattisgarh government for the 32-year-old IAS officer's release, left for Tadmetla on Thursday morning to receive Menon, who was abducted on April 21 while touring a village.
Sharma, a former bureaucrat, had earlier said he had got a message that Maoists would release Menon at Tadmetla, a rebel-dominated forested area in Sukma district, on May 3.
Sharma had also said the state government would have to understand certain issues (in the wake of abduction). One of the questions was ownership of minerals and other resources of Bastar region, claimed by both the state as well as the local tribals, he said.
Under the pact, government has agreed to set up a committee headed by Nirmala Buch, one of the two government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chhattisgarh jails, including those demanded by the Maoists.
Newt Gingrich officially ended his campaign on Wednesaday, and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign released a web video of clips from the Republican primaries in which the former House speaker sharply criticised Mitt Romney, Obama's likely opponent in November.
After years in prison and under house arrest and a week holed up in the US embassy, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng had one English phrase for Hillary Clinton: "I want to kiss you."
00:03 Top headlines of the last 24 hours: Baba Ramdev is a mental case: Lalu Prasad
After Anna Hazare and his team, it is now the turn of yoga guru Ramdev to kick up a controversy by attacking MPs calling them "dacoits and murderers".
Dentist Nupur Talwar was on Wednesday denied bail in the sensational 2008 double murder of her daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj by a special CBI court, which felt she may create hindrance in trial and flee from justice if granted relief.
At least six people were as explosions and gunfire rattled a major foreign guesthouse complex in killed in Kabul on Wednesday morning.
The leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to Myanmar's parliament on Wednesday. Suu Kyi's has been a staunch advocate of democracy in Myanmar and was elected as a parliamentarian.
Carrying forward its probe on the bribery allegation made by Army Chief Gen V K Singh, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday questioned retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh for the first time for his alleged role in the Tatra case.