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Afzal hanging: 1 killed in Kashmir protests

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February 10, 2013


21:41  Afzal hanging: 1 killed in Kashmir protests:  

One youth died while six were injured in alleged security forces action in Kashmir during protests against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru.         

 

Residents of Ganderbal area in central Kashmir claimed Tariq Ahmad Bhat and two others jumped into the river when they were chased by security forces.         

A police spokesman denied the allegation, saying the youth drowned after a boat capsized on the river. One youth managed to swim ashore, residents said adding another was saved by some persons.         

However, Bhat could not be saved and his body was later fished out, they said. The death of youth led to fresh protests in the area. The police spokesman said six persons were injured in Watergam area of Baramulla district while "tackling" law and order situation.

21:18  8 killed in mishap at Allahabad railway station:  

At least 4 people have been killed after the railing of a foot-over bridge collapsed due to excessive crowds at Platform No 6 in Allahabad railway station at around 8:30 pm today. 11 others have also been injured in the mishap, reports stated.

 

Earlier in the day, two people were killed in a stampede in Sangam, where more than 3 crore people took holy dip during the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela.

20:32  Indo-Pak border situation not yet normal: Antony:  

Tension along the Indo-Pak border had largely reduced but the situation was not yet normal and it will depend on Pakistan's action, Defence Minister A K Antony today said.         

 

Asserting that India is "not a war mongering country", he said the normalisation process will take some time and added it depended on mutal confidence building measures and "mainly on the actions of Pakistan".         

 

"Tension along the border has largely reduced in view of the recent telephonic discussions between the defence officials. However, the situation has not yet normalised," he told reporters in Kozhikode.         

 

"I cannot set a time limit for normalisation, but it depends on the approach and actions of Pakistan," Antony said. Tension along the Line of Control had increased between the two countries after the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on January 8 in the J&K's Mendhar sector. One of them, Lance Naik Hemraj, was beheaded.

19:55  Delhi polls Aam Admi Party's litmus test: Bhushan:  

The upcoming Delhi assembly elections will be a litmus test for the Aam Aadmi Party, before the new political outfit sets its eyes on the rest of the country, AAP founder-member Prashant Bhushan said today.        

 

AAP will contest the 2013 Delhi legislative assembly elections by focusing on issues like electricity and water, among others Bhushan told reporters in Panaji.        

 

He said the party is confident of doing its best in the coming elections.         Noting that the elections will be a litmus test for the party, Bhushan said, they would focus on several local issues, including non-privatisation of electricity and water supply bodies in the national capital.        

 

The party would also raise the issues of slum colonies, welfare of rickshaw pullers and unorganised labour, which are affecting the common people, he said. Bhushan was in Goa to meet Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to raise objections on the recently amended Goa Lokayukta Bill, 2013.

19:53  Three South Korean doctors brutally killed in Nigeria:  

In a brutal pre-dawn attack, unknown assailants killed three South Korean doctors, beheading one of them, in Nigeria's volatile northern state of Yobe, police said today.   "They invaded the apartment of the doctors....and slit their throats," Sanusi Rufai, the commissioner of police of Yobe state said on the attack that occurred in the town of Potiskum.        

 

Residents say the slain doctors worked at a general hospital in Yobe. Two of them had their throats slit while the third was beheaded, they added. The victims were reportedly found inside their flat this morning, after people became worried that they were not answering the door. fficials said the victims had been working at a government-run hospital.

19:51  75 per cent voting in Gujarat municipal polls:  

Average 75 per cent turnout has been registered in elections held for 74 Nagar Palikas in Gujarat today. "As per the initial information, average 75 per cent voting has been registered for 1,852 seats in 74 Nagar Palikas that went to poll today," Incharge State Election Commissioner P S Shah said.   Counting will be held on February 12.        

 

Election Commission had last month issued the notification for election to 77 municipalities, whose term was to end this month. However, as Halvad, Kutiyana Nagar and Junagad municipalities were elected unopposed, polling for 74 Nagar Palikas was held across the state.        

 

"Polling has been concluded in a very peaceful manner and no untoward incident has been reported", Shah said, adding around 75 per cent of total 19.29 lakh voters exercised their franchise in today's elections. He said that exact percentage and other details would be known only tomorrow after the receipt of full data from every district.

19:50  'Britain's horsemeat scandal to worsen':  

Britain's raging meat scandal is set to worsen as the environment ministry today warned that more British ready meals containing horsemeat are expected to be found over the next few weeks.        

 

Environment secretary Owen Paterson issued the warning after emergency meeting with supermarket bosses and Food Standards Agency to tackle the scandal of horse in beef products.        

 

Food businesses have been told to send initial test results on all their products to the FSA by Friday. "The retailers have committed to conduct more tests and in the interests of public confidence I've asked them to publish them on a quarterly basis," Paterson said, adding that there was no evidence yet that the scandal had become a public safety issue.        

 

Paterson said the scandal was either due to "gross incompetence" or an international criminal "conspiracy". Sources close to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the FSA said it appeared that the contamination of beefburgers, lasagne and other products was the result of fraud that had an "international dimension".

18:47  No sympathies please: Gambhir to fans on exclusion:  

Gautam Gambhir has urged his fans and well-wishers not to "sympathize" with him for being dropped from the Test team as he is ready to "fight" in order to earn his place back national squad.    

 

"No sympathies plz," the diminutive opener tweeted after the news of his exclusion. The left-hander will be leading India A against the Australians in a three-day first-class tie and the 31-year-old Delhi lad is looking forward to that game.    

 

"Lookin forward to training n then d india a game. Chin up guys, its time to show some steel. Come on," he further wrote on his twitter handle @5gautamgambhir.  

 

Gambhir is no stranger to exclusions as he had been in and out of the India team during his formative years in international cricket. On his own admission this is not the first time that his back is against the wall and he is willing to fight it out with his "chin up." "Had my bak to d wall in d past 2, dis is no difrent. Will fight," he commented.

18:17  Afghan Isaf commander sees 'road to winning':  

The outgoing commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan has said the alliance is on the road to winning the war. Gen John Allen, who handed over to Gen Joseph Dunford on Sunday, said troops had gone "a long way" towards winning a counter-insurgency.

 

Gen Allen is set to be nominated as the alliance's supreme commander in Europe. Last month, he was cleared of misconduct by the Pentagon in a scandal that led former CIA director David Petraeus to resign.

 

Read more on BBC

17:13  Rape case mother's plea hands Hollande India dilemma:  

AFP: The Indian wife of a French consular official charged with raping their daughter has demanded a meeting with Francois Hollande this week, presenting the French president with a thorny diplomatic dilemma on his first state visit to India.          

 

Lawyers for the official, Pascal Mazurier, were received at Hollande's Elysee Palace last week in a move greeted with furious incomprehension by the mother, Suja Jones Mazurier, and the women's and rights groups supporting her.        

 

They accuse France of supporting the husband at the expense of the interests of the rape victim and her two siblings, who are all French nationals.          

 

In a letter to Hollande's minister for women, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Algerian academic Marieme Helie Lucas argues the Elysee meeting was part of an orchestrated campaign in support of the father which amounts to an attempt to interfere with a criminal case going through the Indian courts.          

 

"We were very surprised to learn, through the press, that only the advocates of the accused, the father of the young victim, have been received at the Elysee," Helie Lucas, a prominent rights campaigner, writes in the letter.          

 

"We ask that you give your support to Ms Suja Jones's demand for a meeting with the president of the Republic during his upcoming visit to India." Aides to Hollande now have to decide whether to grant Jones Mazurier some kind of audience. If they do, they will draw further attention to a case they would like to go away. If they don't, they run the risk of adding to anger over how it has been handled.           

 

With emotions over the whole issue of rape running high in India because of a series of unrelated cases that have shocked the country, the timing could hardly be worse for France, which is hoping to tie the New Delhi government down on a $12-18 billion deal for Rafale fighter jets.

17:10  Maoist hideout busted, explosives seized in Odisha:  

A Maoist hideout was busted and a huge cache of explosives recovered by BSF personnel today from Kamipadar forest in Odisha's Koraput district during an anti-aMaoist operation.        

 

"There has been no injury or casualty. The Maosits had dumped the explosives to retrieve it at some future date for use," SDPO Laxmipur Y Jagannath Rao said.        

 

The recovered items include four landmines weighing 25 kg each, at least two county-made guns, one spare barrel, 25 metres of flexible wire, one plastic container, chemicals used for making landmines and one radio flash.        

 

"The landmines were very powerful and it was not safe to bring the explosives to the headquarters. All four landmines were blasted at the site," the SDPO said.

17:09  Modi invited to attend European Parliament:  

After European Union ended over a decade-long boycott of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, lawmakers from the region have invited him to attend the European Parliament in Brussels in November, according to a post on his blog         

 

"The lawmakers invited Modi to attend the European Parliament in Brussels in November this year. The Parliament will be attended by representatives of over 27 nations. There is also an invitation to attend the European Business Meet in Brussels later this year," Modi's blog said.         

 

The chief minister yesterday had an online interaction with the European lawmakers who were attending the 10th corporate culture and spirituality India conference in Bangalore, according to the blog post.         

 

The lawmakers appreciated Gujarat's development and congratulated Modi for making the state vibrant. According to the post, during the interaction, Modi highlighted various initiatives taken by the Gujarat government for environment protection. He told them that Gujarat is the first state in India and among the four states in the world to have a separate department on climate change.  

16:18  Rethink Britain's aid halt to India: Report:  

The decision by the UK government to stop aid to India from 2015 is an "arbitrary termination" that needs a rethink as the country still faces key development challenges, says a new report.        

 

The Institute for Public Policy Research, a major centre-left think-tank in London, claims the announcement last year to end British aid to the country was "a tactic for winning votes at home rather than tackling poverty abroad".        

 

"The UK should not give aid to India for ever, but withdrawing now is premature given India's development challenges. DfID (Department for International Development) should instead focus on areas that are not benefiting from India's growth, and key issues like health, HIV and good governance in the poorest states," said Will Straw, the associate director of the IPPR and co-author of In aid of India? Defining a positive role for the UK released today.        

 

International development secretary Justine Greening had announced in November 2012 that the UK was to halt new commitments to India -- historically the biggest recipient of British aid.         Existing programmes will be wound down over the next three years, and after 2015 British support will be limited to "technical assistance".

16:15  Can't wait to bowl against Aussies: Harbhajan:  

Relieved to be picked in the Indian Test squad for the series against Australia, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today said he cannot wait to bowl against his "favourite team".     

 

The 32-year-old, who has 408 wickets in 99 Tests, was today included in the 15-member squad for the first two Tests starting February 22 in Chennai. It was double delight for the off-spinner, who also led Rest of India to the Irani Cup title against Ranji champions Mumbai.     

 

"I am very happy and feeling very relieved after getting selected. This game was very important for me. I bowled very well and have got the opportunity to play against my favourite team. I am looking forward to it," Harbhajan said at the post-match presentation ceremony.     

 

Struggling for a while, Harbhajan was impressive in the Irani Cup, picking up five wickets in the match. He has been a proven performer against Australia and has a reputation of getting to the nerves of the players from Down Under. The spinner had taken 32 wickets against the Aussies in the memorable 2001 series.  

15:45  BCCI suspends Praveen from Hazare Trophy:  

Pacer Praveen Kumar has been suspended from participating in the upcoming inter-state Vijay Hazare Trophy matches after being issued a show cause notice by the BCCI following his unruly behaviour in a Corporate Trophy game recently.  

 

"Praveen Kumar has been issued a show cause notice by the board. He has been suspended from participating in the forthcoming inter-state Vijay Hazare Trophy matches," the BCCI said in a release.     

 

Praveen, who was named in Uttar Pradesh's 15-member squad for the Vijay Hazare trophy, has now been left out of the squad. The bowler was issued a letter by the BCCI yesterday, asking him to explain his stand on the incident at the board's Corporate Trophy held in Raipur last week, where he was playing for ONGC.

14:49  Odisha to hand over 1554 acres of land to Posco:  

The Odisha government is all set to hand over 1554 acres of land to Posco-India for setting up its proposed mega steel project in Jagatsinghpur district, official sources said today.        

 

"The state government has already handed over 546 acre of land to Posco and rest 1,554 acres is ready to be handed over to the company," official sources said quoting recent status report on Posco-India project.        

 

The government expects that with the handing over of the land, the company would expedite its corporate social responsibility activities at the proposed plant site villages, sources said.        

 

The state government maintains that the South Korean steel major required 2,700 acre of land for its 8 mtpa capacity steel facility near Paradip on stage-1. Of the immediate requirement of 2,700 acre of land, the state owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation has already acquired 2100 acre of land, it said.        

 

"Balance 600 acre of land is expected to be acquired within the next four months. After that, IDCO will be in a position to hand over this land to Posco," it said adding that the company required a total of 4,004 acre of land for setting up its proposed 12 mtpa greenfield steel project at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore.        

 

The required land (4,004 acre) would be acquired from eight villages like Nuagaon, Dhinkia, Noliasahi, Gobindpur, Polang, Bayanalakanda, Bhuyanpal and Jatadhar, sources said.

14:42  Curiosity collects historic drill sample on Mars:  

For the first time, NASA's Curiosity rover has used its on-board drill to collect a sample of Martian bedrock that might offer evidence of a wet environment which may have once hosted life on the red planet.        

 

This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars, the US space agency said. The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch wide and 2.5 inches deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in latest images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth.        

 

The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyse rock powder collected by the drill.        

 

"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America," said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate.

14:40  UPA govt would complete its full term, says Tewari:  

Amid talks that general elections may take place this year, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said the UPA would complete its full term.        

 

"In 2004, the UPA was elected for five years. We fulfilled our mandate and our commitment to the people. We have great respect for our allies. We always walked the extra mile to take them on board.        

 

"But our commitment to the people of India is paramount. The people of India have given the UPA a mandate for five years and we would complete our term," Tewari told reporters in Hyderabad.        

He was replying to a query on the buzz over general elections taking place this year and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's reported directive to his partymen to be prepared for early polls. Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu also said yesterday that the Congress may go for early election this year.        

 

In reply to a query on the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Tewari said the opposition parties have taken a negative approach. "The kind of statements that came from BJP and other opposition parties since yesterday are very unfortunate and condemnable," he said.

14:38  Daughters accept Ravi Shankar's posthumous Lifetime Grammy:  

Sixty days after his demise, sitar legend Pandit Ravi Shankar was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Grammy award, which was jointly accepted by his musically gifted daughters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones.        

 

Anoushka, a reputed sitarist herself, and Norah, who has carved a niche as a singer-songwriter, attended the pre-Grammy ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles to accept the honour bestowed on their iconic father, who passed away on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92.        

 

"We know he was very excited to be receiving this award. We really miss him. He lived and breathed music. He was tapping out rhythms on the breakfast table and making me do five over seven... I am still trying to get it. We are very happy to accept the award for him," said nine-time Grammy winner Norah, 33.        

 

"It was 60 days ago today that he passed away. It's kind of difficult to be standing up here, like Norah said, I am thrilled that he knew about this award before he passed away at least. But I wish we weren't standing up here for him," said Anoushka, 31, who has accompanied her father at concerts all around the world.

14:36  Campaigning intensifies for Moga bypoll:  

Campaigning for the Moga bypoll has picked up pace with ruling Shiromoni Akali Dal and opposition Congress intensifying canvassing in favour of their candidates.        

 

The seat, which fell vacant after Joginderpal Jain quit Congress to join SAD, is witnessing a multi-cornered contest between SAD, Congress and Sanjha Morcha.        

 

There are ten candidates in the fray for the election on February 23, including Vijay Kumar Sathi (Cong) and Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal (Sanjha Morcha).         Moga assembly constituency has traditionally been a Congress stronghold as the party has won eight times from here, Akalis twice and Janta Dal once, officials said today.        

 

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has started the election campaign by holding meetings with the trading community, municipal commissioners and with senior party leaders including former minister Tota Singh and former DGP Paramdeep Singh Gill, whom Jain trounced in 2012 assembly elections, party sources said here.        

 

Besides Sukhbir, his father and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal will soon start campaigning for Jain, they said. Apart from Akalis, Congress leaders too are canvassing hard for their candidate Sathi.        

 

Star campaigners including state party Chief Amarinder Singh, CLP leader Sunil Kumar Jakhar and AICC member Jagmeet Singh Brar have started door-to-door campaigning and holding meetings to motivate people against the alleged worsening law and order situation in the state and its economy.

14:00  CPI leader booked in AP for damaging property:  

A case has been registered against Andhra Pradesh CPI secretary Dr K Narayana for allegedly entering illegally into a thermal power plant site and damaging the equipment there, police said today.        

 

Narayana came in Rajamundhry on Friday to see the persons who were injured when some people hurled stones during a public hearing on the 100 MW coal-based thermal power plant in East Godavari district of the state.        

 

 He then led his party workers to the site where the plant is coming up and allegedly removed the survey stones and put up the party flag. A generator and a JCB machine were allegedly damaged by the activists and a drum containing 200 litres of diesel was also set ablaze, police said.        

13:34  Four wounded in shooting in New Orleans:  

AP: Four people were shot on a very crowded Bourbon Street as revelers partied amid the countdown to Mardi Gras, sending people running, police and bystanders said.         

 

Two males and two females were wounded last night just before 9:30 pm local time, New Orleans police spokesman Frank B Robertson told The Associated Press. He said one male was in critical condition and was undergoing surgery, while the other three were in stable condition. He did not release their ages.         

 

Robertson said detectives were working vigorously to identify a suspect and determine a motive. He did not have any other details.

13:33  56 IAS, 60 IPS officers shifted in Uttar Pradesh:  

In a major administrative reshuffle, the Uttar Pradesh government has transferred 56 IAS and 60 IPS officers, including several district magistrates and police chiefs, in the state.         

 

While Rajnish Dubey has been given Public Work Department from Kumar Arvind Singh Dev, who has been put on wait list, Hardoi District Magistrate Anil Kumar has been made Director of Social Welfare department, an official release said.         

 

The state government had passed the orders yesterday. CDO Hardoi Anand Kumar Dwivedi will take the place of Anil Kumar. While Meerut District Magistrate Vikas Gotwal has been made Mission Director Skill Development and special secretary professional education, Bulandshahr DM Navdeep Rinva has been sent to Meerut in the same capacity. DM Varanasi Saurabh Babu has been put on wait list.         

 

DM Azamgarh Pranjal Yadav has been made Additional Commissioner Rural Development and MNREGS, Vice-Chairman of Mathura Development Authority Vinod Kumar Pawar has been made DM Amroha while DM Lakhimpur Kheri Manish Chauhan has been put on waitlist.         

 

DM Jalaun, Minish Trigitia has been sent to Lakhimpur Kheri in the same capacity, it said. Additional Registrar Stamps Satya Narain Srivastava has been made DM Ballia while DM Bagpat Amrita Soni has been made special secretary Basic education and Director of Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, the release added. The state government also transferred 60 IPS officers, including 17 district police chiefs.

12:56  Invoking MCOCA to curb chain-snatching in Mumbai:  

In an attempt to check chain snatching menace in Mumbai, police have recently charged two of the accused under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.        

 

City's Mahim police have invoked MCOCA against history sheeters -- Bada Sajid Shaikh and Alam Mansoori -- who were arrested in December last year for chain snatching and are currently in judicial custody.        

 

"The MCOCA has been invoked against the two a few days back after seeking permission from the Additional Police Commissioner. Now, we have also applied in the court for police custody of the two again," said Deputy Police Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni.        

 

"Perhaps, this is the first case where the MCOCA has been invoked against chain snatchers in the city," he added. According to police, MCOCA can be applied if at least one member of the organised crime gang has two charge sheets registered against him.   Under the Act, the accused will not be able to get bail at least for one year. With over two crore population in the metropolis, it is becoming increasingly difficult to curb chain snatching for the city's 40,000 policemen, police said.  

12:54  Sonia cancels her Tripura trip due to ill health:  

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was scheduled to address two election meetings in Tripura today, has cancelled her visit due to ill health, All India Congress Committee general secretary Luizinho Falerio said.        

 

Ahead of the February 14 polls, Sonia was to hold meetings in Agartala and Kumarghat but it has been cancelled due to her illness, said Falerio, party in-charge of Tripura.        

 

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also cancelled his trip. He was scheduled to address people yesterday at Ambassa in Dhalai district.         Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would hold four public meetings in Tripura tomorrow to campaign in favour of party candidates for the elections, Falerio said.

12:31  Rarest of rare test needs society's approval: SC:  

The 'rarest of rare case' test is not 'judge centric' but depends on the perception of society and whether it would approve the award of death sentence to those convicted in certain types of crimes, the Supreme Court has held.        

 

"Courts award death sentence, because situation demands, due to constitutional compulsion, reflected by the will of the people, and not judge-centric," a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan said.        

 

"To award death sentence, the aggravating circumstances (crime test) have to be fully satisfied and there should be no mitigating circumstance (criminal test) favouring the accused.        

 

"Even if both the tests are satisfied as against the accused, even then the court has to finally apply the rarest of rare cases test, which depends on the perception of the society and not judge-centric, that is whether the society will approve the awarding of death sentence to certain types of crime," the bench also comprising Justice Dipak Misra said.        

 

The observations were made in a judgement by the apex court which commuted the death penalty awarded to two men for hacking to death four members of a family in August, 2000 over a property dispute, in Punjab.

11:55  Fuel surcharge on train tickets in the offing:  

With the recent hike in diesel prices putting an additional burden of Rs 3,300 crore on Railways, the PSU behemoth is considering to further increase passenger fares or raise freight charges.         

 

Among various options, Railways is contemplating whether to introduce fuel adjustment component in the fare structure to increase fares in all classes or hike passenger fares by a few paise per km, sources said.         

 

The ministry, which is in the process of finalising the Rail Budget 2013-14 to be presented on February 26, is likely to raise catering charges in premier trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi, which will be part of the fare.         

 

Railways is already reeling under deficit of Rs 25,000 crore in the passenger segment. It has hiked passenger fares by 21 per cent from December 22, aiming to mop up Rs 6,600 crore in a year, but the diesel price hike of Rs 10.8 per litre has put additional burden of Rs 3,300 crore annually.

11:44  Week's rest for Alagiri after spraining leg:  A Correspondent in New Delhi: Union minister and DMK leader MK Alagiri has been advised one week rest after he fell and sprained his right leg during a public meeting in Madurai on Friday. The doctors have put bandage and prescribed medicines.
11:10  7.0 magnitude quake in Colombia, no casualties:  

AFP: A 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook southern Colombia today, causing some damage to houses but no casualties or major mishaps, authorities said.        

 

The quake was felt as far away as Quito, Ecuador and Bogota, where buildings swayed under the force of the tremor. "Fortunately, there have been no victims," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at a public event.         Authorities said the quake struck at a depth of 129 kilometers at 1416 GMT, 11 kilometers southwest of Pasto, Colombia, a city of 400,000 people that lies at the foot of the Galeras volcano.

11:02  Lakhs arrive at Kumbh on 'Mauni Amavasya':  

Lakhs of devotees reached the bathing ghats in Allahabad for a holy dip on the auspicious occasion of 'Mauni Amavasya' today in the ongoing Maha Kumbh congregation at the holy Sangam.        

 

The day also marks the second 'Shahi Snan' of sadhus belonging to various 'Akharas'. According to a rough estimate by officials, the number of people to have taken a dip by the crack of dawn appears to be "not less than 20 lakhs" and the final turnout may exceed the projected estimate of three crore.

 

Devotees started arriving at the bathing 'ghats' along the banks of the Ganga since last night itself as the special celestial configuration which makes Mauni Amavasya auspicious has been in place since yesterday afternoon.

11:00  Afzal Guru's hanging: Curfew continues in Kashmir:  

Curfew continued in Kashmir for the second day today following hanging of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru in Delhi's Tihar jail. The restrictions on the movement of people in the Valley were tightened this morning as there were many violations of the curfew yesterday, official sources said.        

 

At least 36 people, including 23 policemen, were injured in clashes between protesters and law enforcing agencies across the Valley after Guru's hanging yesterday.        

 

The sources said heavy deployment of police and paramilitary CRPF remained in place in all vulnerable areas of the Valley to maintain law and order.         Deployment of security forces has been strengthened in areas where protests took place yesterday, they said. The sources said that there has been no fresh violence today in the Valley.        

 

Meanwhile, mobile internet service remained down for the second day as a precautionary measure and news channels were also not being aired by cable TV operators. Newspapers also failed to hit stands this morning due to curfew.

10:01  Youth ditches live-in partner, charged with rape:  A youth, in a live-in relationship with his childhood friend for over five years on the promise of marriage, has been charged with raping her. 

In its chargesheet filed before metropolitan magistrate Jyoti Kler, the police has said that Rohan, working with a multi-national company in New Delhi, was raping his friend since 2007, while they were living together in a flat. 

Meanwhile, the court took cognisance of the chargesheet and issued summons to Rohan for February 21, asking him to appear before it. He was granted anticipatory bail soon after his arrest.
09:56  BA ordered to pay Rs 1 lakh for lost baggage:  British Airways has been directed by a consumer forum to pay Rs 1 lakh to a passenger for the loss of his baggage when he had travelled to London from New Delhi in 2008. 

The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed payment of the amount to Ramesh C Bhargava, saying the deficiency was admitted by the airline, and therefore the complainant should be compensated. 

"The complainant has been coming from Shimla for the case for last five years. The loss of bag caused him loss of belongings, besides stay in hotel for five days without the address of anyone in London with him. 

"In our view, once the deficiency is admitted in loss of baggage, the complainant should be adequately compensated. We award Rs 1 lakh and the opposite party's offer of Rs 65,000 is raised to Rs 1 lakh," the bench presided by C K Chaturvedi said.
00:09  Honour our rights, allow us to perform last rites: Afzal's wife:  
The family of Afzal Guru, who was hanged in Tihar Jail on Saturday, sought permission from the authorities to perform his last rites in accordance with religious traditions. 

Guru's body was buried inside the jail premises, said officials. 

In a letter to Jail Director General Vimla Mehra, drafted by Guru's lawyer ND Pancholi, wife Tabassum said the last rites of her husband should be performed in a dignified manner. 

"We are writing you to please permit the family members to give Afzal Guru a proper dignified last rites in accordance with the religious traditions. 

"If you could inform us when the family members can perform their 'Namaaz-e-Janaza', we would appreciate it," said the letter, a copy of which is with IANS. 

"We do not wish to make it a political issue in an atmosphere which is already volatile but the family members, as citizens of India, have a right, which must be respected," the letter said. 
00:07  Modi unlikely to attend Maha Kumbh:  
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is unlikely to attend the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on February 12, apparently due to "security reasons", sources said.

Earlier, sources had indicated that Modi will be travelling to Allahabad on February 12 to take a holy dip at the ongoing religious congregation. 

"There is a question mark on the visit of the Chief Minister to Allahabad now. It seems that the rethink is due to security reasons," they said. 
00:07  Elections will be held on time: Ashraf:  
All of Pakistan's political parties and stakeholders unanimously feel that the next general election will be held on time and according to schedule, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

Ashraf's remarks came against the backdrop of speculation that elements backed by the security establishment could be working to delay the polls scheduled to be held in May. 

The Supreme Court has admitted a petition filed by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri seeking the reconstitution of the Election Commission, a move that some say could delay the polls.

Talking to reporters before leaving on an official visit to Britain, Ashraf said his government is committed to holding a fair, free and impartial election.
00:06  Top headlines this hour:  Security stepped up at Maha Kumbh after Afzal hanging 

Suryanelli rape case: Former HC judge lands in controversy

Angry protestors slam decision to hang Guru 

Three phone calls on his cell phone nailed Afzal Guru

Suryanelli rape case: Former HC judge lands in controversy

Have patience on Telangana issue: Congress tells Andhra leaders 

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