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Sarabjit's family to return to India for advice

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April 30, 2013

23:03  Sarabjit's family to return to India for advice:   Indian national Sarabjit Singh's family members will return to India tomorrow to seek advice on his treatment in the wake of a deterioration in his condition, Sarabjit's lawyer Awais Sheikh has said.

Sheikh said Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur, wife Sukhpreet Kaur and two daughters would go back to India through the Wagah land border crossing at 11 am tomorrow.

"They plan to consult people in India on what to do next," he told PTI after visiting Sarabjit at Lahore's Jinnah Hospital tonight. "The doctors told us there has been no improvement in Sarabjit's condition.

They changed his medication but this had no effect," Sheikh said on phone from Lahore. Earlier, Sheikh said Dalbir Kaur was asked by the local media if she had agreed to take Sarabjit off ventilator support and she "had said no".
21:46  Third flag meeting with China offers some progress:  At a third flag meeting between army commanders from India and China, some progress was made in the search for a solution to the stand-off in Ladakh, provoked when Chinese troops set up  camp 19 kms within Indian territory on April 15.

China reportedly suggested that the two armies increase the distance between the temporary camps that they have set up in the Depsang Valley near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border.  However, Chinese officials did not discuss a withdrawal.  

Read more
21:43  Odisha's EOW begins probe against Saradha Group:  A day after the state government giving the go-ahead, the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Crime branch of Odisha Police today registered a criminal case against the Saradha Group which allegedly duped gullible investors in Balasore and Puri districts. 

A team of the EOW today rushed to Balasore and recorded statements of certain depositors at the district police headquarters in the Northen Odisha town. "We have registered a case against the Saradha Group and its senior executives based on the statements of investors," a senior EOW official said.
21:22  Barack Obama says Guantanamo Bay prison must close:  BBC reports: US President Barack Obama has pledged a new push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid a growing hunger strike among prisoners there.

At the White House, Mr Obama said the detention centre was "contrary to who we are" and harmful to US interests.

He cited recent convictions of terror suspects to argue the civilian justice system was adequate for such trials.

Read more
21:19  Obama: No rush to judgment on chemical weapons in Syria:   President Obama on Tuesday said he needs more time to decide whether the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in such a way that would violate a "red line' he has set as a trigger for escalating U.S. intervention in the violent conflict in that country.

"We now have evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria,' he said in a news conference at the White House. "But we don't know when they were used, how they were used, or who used them.'

Read more
21:10  New Italian gov't confirmed by Senate:  Italian Premier Enrico Letta's cross-party government won a final vote of confidence vote in Parliament today, giving life to a grand coalition that aims to put aside decades of animosity to return the eurozone's third-largest economy to growth. 

Letta's first order of business is a trip to Berlin, where he is expected to press German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the necessity of easing austerity politics that have put pressure on ordinary Italians in favor of growth policies. Letta will take the message to Paris, where he meets tomorrow with President Francois Hollande, and then to Brussels. 

The European tour aims also to demonstrate that this government wants to remain at the heart of the decision-making in Europe.
20:53  Boston suspect's defense team gets major boost:  A prominent anti-death penalty lawyer who has managed to get life sentences for several high-profile clients, including the Unabomber, has joined the defense team representing the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction during the April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line.
20:36  AISSF chief held for hurling shoe at judge:  A 43-year-old man was arrested today for allegedly throwing a shoe at the judge who acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case while 34 others were detained for protests outside Karkardooma courts here. 

Soon after verdict was pronounced acquitting Kumar and convicting five others, All India Sikhs Students Federation president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed allegedly threw his shoe at judge J R Aryan. Singh, a resident of Punjab's Firozpur, was immediately taken into custody by police and later placed under arrest, a senior police official said.
20:19  Antony discusses incursion with top security brass:  Defence Minister A K Antony today discussed ways of resolving the Chinese incursion issue with the top security brass of the country and emphasised that India will take every step to safeguard its interests there.   

Addressing the Unified Commanders' Conference, he said the current situation in Ladakh where Chinese army troops have camped for over two weeks is "not one of our creation" and India wanted a peaceful solution for it.   

In a separate meeting to review the security situation in the region, Antony was briefed on the options before the country to find a peaceful solution to the incursion issue,sources said here.   

Chinese troops have come 19 km deep inside the Indian territory and have claimed the area as their own.
19:48  Petrol prices slashed by Rs 3 :  Petrol price were cut today by Rs 3 per litre with effect from midnight, the third reduction in rates in the last four weeks. Earlier in April, the price was reduced by 85 paise per litre.

19:37  Ladakh incursion: India, China hold third flag meet:  India and China told held a third flag meeting on the incursion issue, said sources.

Yesterday, Chinese troops erected an additional tent in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector raising to five the number of such structures in the area.
19:14  CBI chief: CBI is NOT an independent entity:   Meanwhile, Ranjit Sinha, director CBI, says the CBI is NOT an independent entity. He said he did nothing wrong and had not shared any information with any outsider except the law minister, Ashwani Kumar. He says the CBI will provide all the information asked by the government and there is no cause for embarrassment.

Referring to subsequent affidavit by the CBI Director that the draft report was shared with the Law Minister and joint Secretaries of PMO and Coal Ministry, the bench asked the Director as to why he did not give details "about the
changes made in the draft report and if changes were made, to what extent the changes were made and at whose instance whether besides three persons named in para four of the affidavit whether the draft report was shared by any other person."

It also asked the CBI Director to disclose the names of two officials one each of PMO and Ministry of Coal with whom the draft report was shared as desired by them. The CBI Director in his fresh affidavit will have to give details of the "manual and guidelines" on the issue of sharing of status report in cases in which reports are called for by the courts.
19:07  Surprise! Why is AG Vahanvati still in denial mode?:   Also read: Does Solicitor General GE Vahanvati's clear stand in court on Tuesday that he has not seen the draft copy of the CBI status report on the coal scam investigation means that there is some design behind his stand? The next stage of the drama will unfold when the CBI will file its version before the apex court on May 6. Read Sheela Bhatt's report 
18:51  Exclusive! Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal quits:   Rediff Exclusive! Rakesh Bhatnagar reports that Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval has put in his papers over the coal allocation report. Raval, who made a sensational allegation in his letter to attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati accusing him of trying to interfere in CBI's probe into coal block allocation scam, put in his papers, as expected.
18:49  Harin Raval, the former additional solicitor general, says he is happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to have served the government. He had represented the CBI in other hearings in the Supreme Court, earlier.
18:46  CBI director: I am a government servant :  Just in: CBI director Ranjit Sinha, responding to criticism from the Supreme Court today that the CBI must be "insulated" from all kinds of interferences for restoring its "impartiality" and should not be heed to its political masters, says he is a government servant.  .

At the very outset, the bench expressed its displeasure over the sharing of the draft report. "We believed you(CBI). We trusted you. Still you did not disclose anything. Even you did not state anything by way of status report that the draft was discussed and the draft was changed.

Despite the affidavit being filed on April 26, this court was kept in the dark," the bench said. The bench said that despite the emphatic assertion by the CBI on March 12 that it did not share the report with government, it had its own doubts which led to passing of an order asking the CBI Director to file an affidavit on this issue.
18:16  Bangladesh factory collapse: Primark to compensate workers:  Britain's discount clothing retail giant - Primark - has offered compensation and emergency food aid to victims of the Bangladesh factory collapse who worked for its supplier in the country.

"We have partnered with a local NGO to address the immediate needs of victims, including the provision of emergency food aid to families. This initiative began in Bangladesh immediately the extent of the disaster became clear," the firm, owned by Associated British Foods Plc, said in a statement.

"Primark will also pay compensation to the victims of this disaster who worked for its supplier. This will include the provision of long-term aid for children who have lost parents, financial aid for those injured and payments to the families of the deceased," the statement added.

At least 386 people were killed in the disaster in Savar, near Dhaka, last week when the eight-storey Rana Plaza housing garment factories supplying retailers in the Western world collapsed.
18:04  BJP fears Saradha scamster may be killed in custody:  The BJP today expressed fear that Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen, arrested for duping thousands of investors, might be killed in police custody to "save" the ruling Trinamool Congress from embarrassment.

"We are apprehensive about the safety of Sudipta Sen. We feel that he might be killed in police custody to save Trinamool Congress from public embarrassment as a section of its leaders are closely associated with Sudipto," state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.

"We fear the same thing will happen as in the early eighties when the Sanchayita boss died under mysterious circumstances," Sinha said, referring to the ponzi company in the 80s when a similar scam took place.

Reiterating his demand for a CBI inquiry, Sinha said those named by Sudipta Sen in his letter to CBI should be thoroughly interrogated by the police. "Why is the government not taking action against other senior officials of the group?" Sinha asked.
18:01  Musharraf banned from contesting polls for life :  In a severe jolt to former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf's plans to stage a political comeback, a court today banned him from contesting elections for the rest of his life for abrogating constitution twice and detaining judges during the emergency in 2007.

A four-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court headed by Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan imposed the ban while dismissing Musharraf's appeal challenging the rejection of his nomination papers for May 11 general election. The lifetime ban was imposed because Musharraf had abrogated the Constitution twice and detained judges during the 2007 emergency, the bench said.
17:44  Kiran Bedi 'thanks' SC for reminding CBI about role:  Social activist and former senior IPS officer Kiran Bedi on Tuesday said the entire nation is ''thanking'' the Supreme Court after it asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to function independently without consulting its ''political bosses''.

"The Supreme Court (SC) today stood up to save our democracy, which is a huge thing. We knew the SC would do this someday. This verdict will save the country from going to the dogs and in turn, will end the bankruptcy. These words that were uttered in the SC was the need of the hour," Bedi said.

Reminding the CBI of its duties Bedi said, "Even after this, if the CBI shows it is vulnerable then it would be a crime. It will be kicked if it does this again. If they start functioning properly then crimes and corruption can be curbed. They have forgotten their duties and had become selfish. It (the court) has reminded the CBI of its duties."
17:34  Sharma may meet FM tomorrow on FDI in defence:  Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma is expected to discuss hiking of FDI cap in the defence sector as well as other issues related to foreign direct investment with Finance Minister P Chidambaram tomorrow.

"A meeting has been scheduled between both the ministers for tomorrow. The Commerce and Industry Minister may discuss the issue of increasing FDI ceiling in defence and on redefining FDI and FII," according to an official source.

Sharma is pitching for hiking FDI cap in defence to 49 per cent from the current 26 per cent. India is one of the largest defence importers in the world with a minuscule component of exports.

India at present imports over USD 8 billion worth of such equipment and its defence budget is growing at an average of 13.4 per cent annually since 2006-07.
17:26  The End of the Gandhis:  Can Rahul Gandhi run India? Can anybody? Find out here
17:09  Hang him publicly, says bereaved mom of MP rape victim :  The body of the  four-year-old who died in a Nagpur hospital nine days after she was brought there in an air ambulance is being taken back to her village in Madhya Pradesh.

The child had been kidnapped and raped near her house on April 17; her parents found her the next morning,  bleeding and unconscious.   

She remained in a coma for over a week and died of a heart attack, said doctors.  "The man who did this to her should be hanged publicly," said her mother today, who broke down as she spoke to reporters.

The 35-year-old man who allegedly raped  the child was arrested in Bihar last week.  It took the police nearly a week to find him.  The details of the horrific assault in Madhya Pradesh  emerged as the news of a five-year-old being kidnapped and raped triggered large protests in Delhi. That child is still in hospital where doctors say her condition has stabilized.  -- NDTV
17:03  Live centipede removed from woman's throat:  A five-cm long venomous centipede was removed alive from the throat of a woman who had complaints of tickling sensation and discomfort for the last seven days and presumed it was caused by a bone of chicken.

The 55-year-old woman, hailing from Kattapana in Idukki District, had approached the ENT surgeon of the Devamatha Hospital at Koothattukulam on April 25 complaining of tickling sensation and discomfort in her lower throat. She suspected that a bone of chicken, consumed by her a week ago, had got stuck in her throat.

An endoscopic examination revealed the anthropod-Centipede lodged in the hypo pharynx above the upper part of oesophagus, the passage between the pharynx and the stomach. It was caught using forceps and taken out. The doctors were surprised to find it alive despite being in the human body for a week, hospital sources said.
17:01  Netherlands gets first male monarch in 100 years :  King Willem-Alexander became the first Dutch male monarch in more than a century as his mother Beatrix abdicated to end a 33-year reign.

The generational change in the House of Orange-Nassau gave the Netherlands a moment of celebration and pageantry as this trading nation of nearly 17 million struggles through a lengthy recession brought on by the European economic crisis.

Visibly emotional, the much-loved Beatrix ended her reign in a nationally televised signing ceremony as thousands of orange-clad people cheered outside. Millions more were expected to watch on television.

Somewhere in the UK, a certain Prince Charles, must be watching wistfully.
16:50  Amnesty wants Commonwealth meeting moved from Sri Lanka:  Amnesty International has joined the calls for Commonwealth nations to relocate a major meeting from Sri Lanka, days after the Indian secretary general of the Commonwealth indicated that such a move would be rejected. Read
16:37  Stem cell facials, anyone? :  A little birdie tells us that some beauty spas in south Delhi are offering stem cell facials. But before you ask us for the address, here's the twist. It's not a facial made of human stem cell tissue, but of cells of soya beans and peas. The facial costs a tidy Rs 4000 a shot. Give us the homemade nimbu, amla powder, turmeric, honey or malai facials, any day. 
16:28  Attitude of govt has forced us to disrupt Parliament: Sushma:   She says Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath had called on her to seek her support for the passing of the Finance Bill today, "but if I am not allowed to speak in Parliament, what is the point of asking for my support? The attitude of the government has forced us to disrupt Parliament. There is a total breakdown of communication between the government and the opposition, but there will be no no-confidence motion now.

"It is a matter of shame that the highest court in the country has observed that there is a massive breach of trust in the coal scam report," she says.
16:17  Sushma: Sonia instigated ministers to disrupt my LS speech:  Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, holds a press conference in Delhi over the proceedings in Parliament today. Swaraj hits out at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi saying she has no respect for democratic proceedigns. "She instigated her ministers to disrupt my speech in Parliament today. The BJP will now boycott meetings called by Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath and Speaker Meira Kumar.  "The countdown for the fall of the UPA government has begun," she says.
15:47  Anguished petitioner screams: Hang me, not Sajjan Kumar! :  Witness and petitioner Jagdish Kaur refuses to leave the Karkardooma court till a favourable verdict has been delivered. 
15:25  Anti-Sikh riots' verdict: Shoe thrown at judge :   The five others who are facing trial for their alleged role in the killings along with Sajjan Kumar are - Balwan Khokkar, Kishan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal. They are accused of instigating a mob to attack and kill the Sikhs. Of these five, three have been convicted of murder -- Captain Bhagmal, Balwan Khokkar and Giridhari Lal. Kishan Khokkar and Mahender Yadav have been convicted of rioting. Two other accused Maha Singh and Santosh Rani have passed away.
15:24  Sajjan Kumar acquitted: Protestors throw shoes at judge:   An anguished Jagdish Kaur who is a witness and petitioner in the case says she should be hanged, not Sajjan Kumar. Protestors outside the Karkardooma court have thrown shoes at the judge. Three others, co-accused in the case have been convicted.

Sajjan Kumar is charged with murder and rioting, and in 2010, a lower court charged him and others for spreading enmity between two communities in the Sultanpuri case, as well.

The same year, the Supreme Court refused to quash the charges against him and said the trial would continue. It had also pulled up the CBI for failing to conclude its arguments. It may be recollected that the case against another Congress leader Jagdish Tytler also accused for his role in the anti-Sikh riots, has been reopened. 
15:14  What the Nanavati Commission report said :  This is what the Nanavati Commission report says on the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Read

And a telling excerpt from the report: "Sudarshan Singh has also stated that Shri Sajjan Kumar who was the Member of Parliament was also seen near the mob and he was supervising the entire operation. He also was giving directions to Balwan Khokkar. Police was present at that time but instead of helping the victims they were instigating the mob."
15:02  Anti-Sikh riots: Cong leader Sajjan Kumar ACQUITTED:   1984 anti-Sikh riots. A special CBI court has acquitted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar of ALL charges. He has been accused of murder and rioting during the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The case pertains to violence in the Delhi Cantonment area. He has been charged with murder, dacoity, rioting, inciting violence, and damaging public property in that case. The case was registered in 2005 on the recommendation of the Nanavati Commission.
14:55  WB assembly withdraws 2009 Bill passed during LF regime:  The West Bengal Assembly today passed a resolution to withdraw a bill on safeguarding the interest of depositors in chit funds passed during the Left Front regime which would be replaced by a new one brought by the present Trinamool Congress government.

The motion for withdrawal of the West Bengal Protection of Investors in Financial Establishments Bill 2009 was passed through a division which was sought by the Opposition. Earlier, introducing the motion in the House, Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said that in 2009, the bill was passed in the assembly which was reserved by the West Bengal governor.
14:51  Sarabjit's 2nd CT scan shows no improvement :  Doctors treating Indian death row convict Sarbajit Singh, comatose in a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan after a brutal assault, today said his condition has deteriorated though he had not been declared brain dead.

Allama Iqbal Medical College principal Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a four-member medical board this is supervising Sarabjit's treatment, confirmed that his condition had deteriorated.

"He continues to be serious but has not been declared brain dead," Shaukat told PTI. "In our latest investigation, there was no sign of improvement (in Sarabjit's condition). Rather, his condition further deteriorated," he said.

Sarabjit is in a special intensive care unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital. Shaukat said top neurosurgeons and physicians are providing Sarabjit the best treatment to save his life.

The doctors had changed some medications after the deterioration in his condition. A second CT scan on Sarabjit too did not reveal any signs of improvement, Shaukat said.
14:42  Coal scam: Left parties want PM to face Parliament:  Left parties today termed as "meaningless" the demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation over the coal allocation issue but asked him to face Parliament as he "owes an answer" to the country.

CPI(M) also dubbed the disruption of Parliament as "match fixing" between BJP and Congress. "Demanding resignation of the government is meaningless and it does not happen," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters outside Parliament.

"On the garb of PM's resignation demand, you are allowing the government a free hand to do what ever they want. This is one kind of match fixing between BJP and the Congress," he said.

"Parliament is not functioning, no debate is taking place and there no accountability. A match fixing is going on which is helping the government to avoid debate. We want the government to be accountable to Parliament," he said.
14:28  Sarabjit serious, NOT brain dead: Pak doctors:  An update from PTI says Sarabjit Singh's condition continues to be serious but has not been declared brain dead, says head of medical board treating him in Pakistan.  Earlier reports said he was in fact brain dead and his sister Daljit Kaur was seeking advice on whether he should be removed from ventilator support.
14:25  Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval's explosive letter to Attorney General GE Vahanvati. Read
14:10  LS passes rail budget, Finance Bill :  The Opposition, including the BJP, the Left and other parties, today walked out of Lok Sabha, charging the government with indulging in one scam after another and saying they would not be party to the passage of the Finance Bill and the Railway Budget.

The Opposition protest came after Speaker Meira Kumar announced that the money bills would be passed without discussion, as decided by leaders of parties at a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee yesterday.

Maintaining that it had earlier been decided that discussion on the Budget would be taken up on April 23, she said, "however, under the prevailing circumstances as there is very limited time for completion of the financial business, ... as was decided at the BAC yesterday, the Finance Bill, Appropriations Bills, Demand for Grants and the Rail Budget .... may be passed without discussion."

This led to objections by leaders of several parties with senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy raising a point of order saying the rules did not permit passage of money bills without any discussion.

Amid protests, Kumar then allowed Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to speak. Her speech was followed by a walkout by BJP and Shiv Sena members.
14:05  LS passes Finance Bill :   The Lok Sabha passes the Finance Bill and the railway budget. The bills had been tabled before the BJP walked out of the house. 
14:03  Coal-gate: Law Minister does a PM, has nothing to say:  Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar, who is at the centre of a government-opposition face-off over the alleged vetting of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) draft report on coal block allocations, on Tuesday said that he had nothing to say on a matter that was sub-judice, and added that he was going to Parliament to attend proceedings there.

Kumar's brief statement as he was leaving his ministry, came as media reports revealed that the Core Group of the Congress Party will be meeting in the national capital shortly to review the outcome of the Supreme Court's scathing statement that the government should restore the independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) immediately on all probes conducted by it, including the one related to the coal block allocation controversy.
13:56   Lok Sabha passes Railway Budget:  The Lok Sabha passed the Railway Budget 2013-14 on Tuesday, by negating all the cut-motions. The motion was moved by Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. Earlier, the opposition, including the BJP, JD(U), CPI(M), CPI, BJD, DMK and AIADMK staged a walk out. The House has now taken up the General Budget which is scheduled to be passed in a short while from now. The Lower House has also dispensed with the need to have a discussion on the two Financial Bills this time.
13:54  Doctors treating Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh say his condition has deteriorated.
13:49  PM on SC coal report: Studying observations, will take action :  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reacts to the SC rap to the CBI over the coal allocation report. The PM said he is studying the observations made by the Supreme Court and will take whatever action is required. 
13:37  Sister seeks advice on brain-dead Sarabjit Sing:  The Sarabjit Singh incident is a reminder that India and Pakistan must evolve mechanisms for humane treatment of each other's nationals in their custody. Readthe editorial on the Hindu
13:17  CBI director meets coal probe officers :  CBI director Ranjit Sinha meets coal probe officers over the SC observations on the coal probe. The government makes it clear that Law minister Ashwani Kumar will not quit till a final judgement is passed by the Supreme Court. However, additional solicitor general Harin Rawal may go by this evening. 
12:55  Sarabjit's sister seeks advice if ventilator support be axed:  Sarabjit Singh's sister Dalbir Kaur is headed back to India today, via the Wagah border. She sis seeking advice on whether the ventilator support provided to Sarabjit Singh should be removed as he has been declared brain dead. 

The Indian death row prisoner's health deteriorated further this morning, however his immediate family members were allowed to meet him in the Jinnah hospital in Lahore. With his condition worsening, India has asked Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh so that he could be brought back home for treatment.
12:48  SC to CBI: Why NO disclosure that coal report was shared? :  The Supreme Court directs the CBI chief to clarify by May 6 why in the status report of March 8, there was no disclosure made that draft report has been shared with the government. The CBI director has been told to inform on what basis an assertive statement was made by the agency through ASG that the status report has not been shared with anyone. 
12:39  Sushma Swaraj sets the tone, fires up opposition :   Sushma Swaraj says this is the most corrupt government since Independence. "The government has been breaking its own record on corruption. The government is trying to save the prime minister and its ministers. We are being called irresponsible for raising the corruption issue. We will stage a walkout. The government has no right to continue in power," says Swaraj. The BJP walks out of the House but says it will not oppose the bill. 

Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath says the opposition only wants to debate outside the house. "We have nothing to hide, we are ready for a debate," he says.
12:35  Sex workers lose savings in Ponzi schemes:  Debate continues in Parliament. JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav drones on...

Meanwhile, an update on the Saradha chit fund scam. 

Dreams of a better life turned into a nightmare for several sex workers in Kolkata's largest red light district Sonagachi, who lost their lifelong savings in Ponzi schemes which promised to double their money.

"I had invested two lakhs a year ago on the promise of doubling the money in three to four years. Initially I was getting interest in time, but since January this has stopped," says 30-year-old sex worker Aparna. Aparna, is not alone.

Thousands of sex workers in Sonagachi have lost their lifelong savings by investing in Ponzi schemes similar to the fate of thousands of investors allegedly duped by the Saradha Group and other chitfunds.

"Near about 40 to 50 per cent of sex workers in the red light district have lost their life's savings by investing in Saradha and other chitfunds," says Bharati, a member of Durbar Mahila Samanaya Committee, an NGO working for sex workers.

"As of now we are aware that about Rs three crore has been lost by sex workers," Bharati claims. Earlier, sex workers used to keep their money at the Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society, better known as Usha Bank, formed in 1995 with the help of Durbar.
12:14  Finance Bill tabled in Parliament amid HUGE uproar:   The government has to pass the Finance Bill within 75 days of the presentation of the Budget. The BJP may walk out allowing the bill to be passed. Leader of the Opposition in the LS, Sushma Swaraj, speaking now. The BJP will debate its opposition to the Bill and why the PM should quit.   
12:06  Finance Bill tabled in Parliament amid HUGE uproar:  Just in: There's been a huge security breach in Parliament as Telangana protestors enter Parliament, say TV reports. They have been arrested. Details awaited.

The Finance Bill has been tabled in the Lok Sabha amid a huge uproar from the Opposition benches. The UPA government reached an agreement with the Opposition over the issue of allowing the smooth functioning of the Parliament, Finance Bill and some other important legislation would be passed on Tuesday.

Only two weeks are left for the Parliament's Budget Session to conclude so the pressure is high on the Congress government to keep the allies as well as the opposition onboard so that important legislation could be passed.
12:01  Coalgate case: Why was court kept in the dark: SC:  In a big embarrassment to the government in the Coal-gate case, the Supreme Court today termed as "very disturbing" the CBI affidavit on sharing its report with the Law Minister and others and slammed the agency for having kept the court in the dark on the issue.

Hearing the coal blocks allocation scam case in a packed courtroom, the bench said "suppression" of the fact that CBI has shared its probe report with the government is "not ordinary".

A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha observed that there was a "very disturbing feature" in the affidavit filed on April 26 by CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and the agency must be restored to its independent position.

Sinha, in his two page affidavit filed in the apex court, had said that the agency's status report on coal allocation scam was "shared" with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and senior officials of PMO and Coal ministry "as desired by them".

The apex court said that sharing of information with the government about the probe into the scam has "shaken the entire process" and CBI need not take instructions from "political masters" on their probe.
11:53  Musharraf sent to judicial custody for 14 days in Bhutto case:   In other news: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was today sent to judicial custody for a fortnight by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

The court in Rawalpindi had said at the last hearing that Musharraf should be produced for today's hearing but he was not presented before the judge for security reasons, said chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali of the Federal Investigation Agency.

Though Musharraf was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days, the 69-year-old former military strongman will be held at his plush farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad, which has been declared a "sub-jail".
11:44  Income tax raids on Ekta Kapoor, Jitendra, Tusshar :  Meanwhile, Income tax officials have raided the residences of Ekta Kapoor, her father Jitendra and her brother Tusshar Kapoor for possible tax evasion, TV channels reported. A team of over 100 income tax officials are searching Bollywood producer Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Telefilms office also. Ekta Kapoor is liley to be quizzed by I-T officials later in the day, once the search is complete.
11:41  First reactions:

Salman Khurshid says it's too early to form conclusions, the judgment must be awaited.
BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy: What more proof do you need? The PM must step down.
CPI's D Raja: It's a very serious matter.
11:33  Coal-gate: CBI has to be liberated from political masters:  The Supreme Court says it's first exercise is to liberate the the CBI from political interference. "The CBI' independent position must be restored and it cannot be influenced by masters and does not need to take instructions from political masters," says the Supreme Court. This supression by CBI is not ordinary, says the SC.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati is not representing the government today at a crucial Supreme Court hearing on whether Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and other government officials tried to influence the CBI's investigation into the coal scam.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran is appearing for the Centre. The hearing, which has begun, is being seen as crucial for Kumar, who has refused to accede to opposition demands that he resign.

The opposition has said that the CBI's admission in court last week is incontrovertible evidence that the government tried to influence the CBI's report. It has demanded the resignation of both the Law Minister and the Prime Minister.
11:20  Coal-gate: Details in CBI affidavit very disturbing, says SC :  The Supreme Court which is hearing  the coal scam case today to decide whether the government tried to influence the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe has said there is a very disturbing feature in the affidavit. "Sharing information with the government has shaken the entire process. Why was the court kept in the dark about sharing the probe report with government, the SC asks the CBI. The SC says that CBI's independent position must be restored.

As the government gears to deal with the CBI director's affidavit in the apex court on Tuesday, the letter written hours before the crucial hearing is further going to embarrass the government.

11:06  Within minutes of the session, both Houses of Parliament have been adjourned with the opposition demanding the PM's resignation.  
11:04  Strike by even a midget nuke will invite massive response, India :   India will retaliate massively even if Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons against it. With Pakistan developing "tactical" nuclear warheads, that is, miniaturizing its weapons to be carried on short-range missiles, India will protect its security interests by retaliating to a "smaller" tactical attack in exactly the same manner as it would respond to a "big" strategic attack. Read
10:53  The little boy responsible for India's monsoon:  The first predictions about the size and strength of India's south west monsoon are in: Meteorologists say it's going to be "normal" thanks in large part to the El Nino phenomenon. El Nino, Spanish for "little boy', is the abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean which causes drought in some areas and flooding in others. Read
10:52  How to talk to children about rape :  Almost every day in recent weeks the Indian media has carried new reports of alleged child rape cases.In the latest a four-year-old girl from Madhya Pradesh, died of her injuries Monday evening after allegedly being kidnapped and raped on April 17. Read
10:49  HC disbelieves rape victim's version, acquits convict:  Disbelieving the version of a rape victim on the basis of her conduct, the Bombay High Court has acquitted a 56-year-old man by setting aside the verdict of a lower court which had sent him to jail two years ago.

In this case, the rape victim had alleged that she was confined to a cattle-shed for more than 48 hours by the accused who raped her for two consecutive days.

However, the High Court observed that from the evidence it appeared that the victim had remained there voluntarily for more than 48 hours before escaping on the third day although she could have escaped earlier in a similar way.

"The conduct of rape victim does not permit me to place reliance on her evidence. Though conviction for the offence of rape is permissible to be based on sole testimony of the prosecutrix, it is equally necessary to be borne in mind that in such a case the conduct of prosecutrix is of great importance and court has to be careful while examining evidence in such cases," Judge M L Tahilyani recently noted.
10:40  Boston bombings suspect out of danger:   Boston bombings suspect teenager Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was being treated in a city hospital with multiple injuries including gunshots, is out of danger, a US lawmaker familiar with his health situation has said.

"He is certainly out of danger. He certainly was able to communicate. He had an operation some kind of surgical procedure in the middle of his interrogation and he's doing fairly well," Congressman Peter King told the CNN yesterday.

In addition to 19-year-old Dzhokhar, who has been charged with conspiracy to use of weapons of mass destruction, the FBI has named his elder brother Tamerlan, 29, as the main suspect. He died in a police shoot out soon after the marathon blasts.
10:38  Chinese troops erect one more tent in Ladakh:  Chinese troops have reportedly erected one more tent in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector of Ladakh, raising to five the number of such structures in the area of incursion.

Even as the standoff between India and China enters the third week, Beijing is showing no signs of withdrawing its troops from the Indian territory.

China is reportedly insisting that any troop withdrawal can take place only if the Indian Army dismantles some bunkers at a key vantage point.

The vantage point is at a junction between two mountains in Ladakh area from where the Indian troops would remain unseen and oversee the activities of the Chinese troops in that area. Fifty Chinese soldiers are presently deployed 19 kilometers inside Indian Territory in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector.
10:37  Boston bombings suspect out of danger :   Boston bombings suspect teenager Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was being treated in a hospital with multiple injuries including gunshots, is out of danger, a US lawmaker familiar with his health situation has said.       

"He is certainly out of danger. He certainly was able to communicate. He had an operation -- some kind of surgical procedure in the middle of his interrogation and he is doing fairly well," said Congressman Peter King.
10:27   Lok Sabha to pass key Finance Bill:  The key Finance Bill is likely to be passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with a temporary truce achieved between the treasury and opposition benches on the clearance of all money-related bills. 

The Finance Bill cannot be delayed beyond Tuesday as per rules of procedure in Parliament. 

The government has to pass all money bills within 75 days of the Budget speech. After being passed in the Lok Sabha, the money bills will go to the Rajya Sabha and then to the President for his assent. 

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told the media on Monday that the government has decided to take up all financial business of the session on Tuesday, including the Railway Budget, the general demands for grants, the Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill.
10:21  Indian embassy issues fresh guidelines for OCI card holders:  The Overseas Citizens of India card holders, while travelling to India, must carry the OCI booklet and their passport having 'U' visa sticker, the Indian embassy has said. 

While the OCI card provides its holder a multiple entry, multi-purpose life-long visa for visiting India, in many cases its holders are required to apply for its re-issuance, including re-issuance of new passport for those below 20 and above 50.
10:20  'Technology, economy, energy new drivers of India-US ties' :  With the cooperation between India and the US over bilateral issues remaining on track, aspects like technology and energy have become new driving forces in the ties between two countries, Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao has said. 

Rao expressed hope that the Obama administration would soon give approval for the export of US natural gas to India. 

"Technology is very much a driver in this relationship, especially high technology. I'm talking of strategic trade, trade concerning such areas as civil aviation, biotechnology, space sciences, nanotechnology," Rao said.
10:19  US ready for any situation in Korean peninsula: Hagel:  Expressing concern over the current situation in Korean Peninsula, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the Pentagon is ready for any contingency in the region.

Hagel was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera.  

"We have said we are working with our allies to be prepared for any contingency. But I would again call upon the North Korean government to take the path of peace. There is an effective and wise course of action to enhance their people and nation, and they should take advantage of that," Hagel said.
09:44  Five-year-old MP rape victim dies:  A five-year-old girl, who was raped in Ghansaur town in Madhya Pradesh on April 17, died of a cardiac arrest in a hospital in Nagpur on Monday night.

The girl had been brought to Nagpur for treatment after her condition had worsened.

The accused rapist, 35-year-old Firoz Khan, has been arrested.
02:49  Pirates kidnap 5 foreign sailors off Nigeria coast:   Pirates stormed a cargo ship off Nigeria's southern coast and kidnapped five foreign sailors, including three Sri Lankans, taking the total number of those abducted from the region within the last four days to 14, a military spokesman said today.

Pirates operating in creeks and waterways of Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta kidnapped the sailors in a raid, military spokesman Lt Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said. Nwachukwu said the sailors were aboard oil vessel, Antigua and Barbuda-flagged MV City of Xiamen.

The sailors, included three from Sri Lanka, one from Russia and one from Myanmar, media reports said. The abduction took place in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa state in the southern part of the oil rich African country.
00:28  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  
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Oppn can't attack PM for BOTH coal-gate and 2G scam

Arrogant VIP culture has no buyers abroad, Mr Azam Khan!

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