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29 terrorists killed in air strikes in Pakistan

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February 20, 2013


23:39  29 terrorists killed in air strikes in Pakistan:  Air strikes by combat jets today killed 29 terrorists and destroyed several hideouts in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, security officials said.

The air strikes targeted terrorist positions in Orakzai and Khyber tribal regions. In Orakzai Agency, raids were carried out at Arghanju, Saparsok and Tanboh. 

Nine terrorists were killed and several others were injured, security officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels. Three terrorist hideouts were destroyed in the area.

Jets targetted terrorist positions in Dawathoi area of Khyber Agency and killed 20 rebels, including a commander. Four hideouts were destroyed in the area, officials said.
23:12  Pak gets new law to spy on phones, emails:  President Asif Ali Zardari today signed into law a controversial bill that will give Pakistan's intelligence agencies sweeping powers to conduct surveillance and collect electronic data by tapping phones and eavesdropping on emails.

The 'Investigation For Fair Trial Bill 2013' was signed by Zardari during a ceremony at the presidency, an official spokesman said.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament on December 20 and by the Senate or upper house on February 1.
23:05  UP govt orders inquiry into Noida violence:  The Uttar Pradesh government today set up a two-member inquiry committee to probe the Noida violence, which broke out during the nationwide strike by trade unions, and submit its report in three days time.

Principal Secretry (Home) R M Srivastava said that Home Secretary Rakesh and ADG Law and Order Arun Kumar will probe the violence.

The team would go into the arrangement made to maintain law and order during the bandh, the role of police at the time of incidents, identify the lax officials and employees who failed to control the situation, Srivastava said.

Instructions have been issued to take strict action against those responsible for violent in Noida, Srivastava said adding, the help of CCTV footage will be taken to identify the culprit.
21:06  War over air fares intensifies, AI jumps into fray:  
The war over air fares intensified today with all Indian airlines competing with each other to offer low ticket prices, as Air India also jumped into the fray.

A day after Jet Airways offered 20 lakh seats at Rs 2,250 for travel till the year-end and all no-frill carriers -- IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir followed suit, Air India today evening launched special fares offering a discount of up to 40 per cent on one-way regular fare charged by it on its domestic flights.

While official sources said the lowest fares had so far not breached the lowest rates given by the airlines to aviation regulator DGCA, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "We are not going to prescribe anything (fares). If we fix a lower bracket and the airlines charge lower than that, the issue will go to the competition council."

Maintaining that the government would not regulate fares, Singh said a cell to monitor the fares was being set up in the Ministry and not to regulate them. "Whatever needs to be done will be done in consultation with the airlines."
21:00  I am sorry for 'Hindu terror' remark: HM Shinde:  
Under attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday issued a statement on the eve of Budget session of Parliament, expressing regret over his "Hindu terror" remark and saying his comments had been misunderstood.

Shinde, who is also Leader of the Lok Sabha and faced the prospect of boycott by BJP, underlined that he had no intention to link terrorism with religion or political organisations.

"My statement given in Jaipur last month has created a misunderstanding. It has been understood to mean that I was linking terrorism to a particular religion and was accusing
certain political organisations of being involved in organising terror camps.

"I had no intention to link terror to any religion. There is no basis for suggesting that terror can be linked to organisations mentioned in my brief speech in Jaipur. Since controversy has been created on account of my statement, I am issuing this clarification and expressing regret to those who felt hurt by my statement," he said.
20:28  Kurien writes to RS members on rape charges:  
Ahead of the Budget session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien has written to members of the House, saying three police inquiries and two judicial processes have cleared him in the 17-year-old Suryanelli rape case.

Kurien, who is under attack since the victim demanded recently that he be made an accused in the case, has attached an elaborate note on the sequence of events along with his appeal -- "kindly read in full and apply your judicious mind".

The attempt by the senior Congress leader from Kerala to reach out to Rajya Sabha members assumes significance as it comes just ahead of the Budget session beginning tomorrow during which opposition is expected to rake up the issue with demands for his resignation.
18:51  HC cancels bail of serial killer for misusing liberty:  Vijay Palande, who is cooling his heels in jail in a series of murder cases, today received a setback as the Bombay High court cancelled bail granted to him in 2007, in a murder case of a city businessman.

Hearing Maharashtra government's petition seeking cancellation of Palande's bail in the case of murder of city-based businessman Swaraj Ranjandas, Justices P V Hardas and Abhay Thipsay held that Palande had indulged in serious offences including three murders, after he got liberty. Palande was arrested in August 1998 for kidnapping and murdering Ranjandas.
18:41  India should vote against Sri Lanka in UNHRC: CPI:   Terming the alleged cold-blooded killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran's teenaged son as "clinching evidence" of human rights violations by Sri Lanka, CPI today wanted India to vote against Colombo in the forthcoming UNHRC session as well as convince other countries to do so.
18:12  2G: CBI questions DB Realty boss Shahid Balwa:  The CBI today questioned 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa in connection with audio recordings of purported conversation between its prosecutor A K Singh and another accused Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra on the case. Balwa arrived at the CBI headquarters and was immediately taken before the special team constituted by CBI Director Ranjit Sinha to probe the matter.

He was questioned about his relations with Singh, the prosecutor who has since been taken off from the case. The sources said Swan and DB Realty promoter Balwa was asked to join investigations in the case as his name cropped up in the purported conversation.
18:09  Dark 2G clouds look for Raja, Kanimozhi:  The Enforcement Directorate is set to tighten its noose in the 2G spectrum allocations case as the agency will soon file its charge sheet against two of the main accused - former Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi.

Both Raja and Kanimozhi have been questioned by the ED quite a number of times and the agency is probing alleged money laundering and forex violations on the part of individuals, in the government and private, in the second generation spectrum awards case.

The agency is probing Kanimozhi and others on the basis of FIR filed by the CBI in connection with the alleged channelling of Rs 200 crore to DMK family-run Kalaignar TV through a circuitous route.
18:02  Building collapse in Delhi injures 6 workers:  An under-construction building collapses in east Delhi; at least six workers have been injured. 
17:52  Chopper deal shows Antony's marginal influence in MoD:  For a man revered for his probity, Defence Minister A K Antony was caught napping when bribes were paid over the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. With the UPA government staring at another scam, nothing it seems will change, writes Sheela Bhatt for Rediff.com. Read
17:48  Pistorius' attorney says that when the investigating officer Botha was in Pistorius's house he was walking around without protective shoes on. Botha says that's right, but it was not deliberate. -- Guardian.
17:40  Pistorius hearing: Gunshots, screams, more gunshots :   The Oscar Pistorius trial:

A witness heard gunshots, screaming, and then more shots fired at the home of athlete Oscar Pistorius on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed, a police officer has said.

Day two of his bail hearing in Pretoria also heard police suggest Mr Pistorius could be a flight risk. He denies the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp, his girlfriend, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

A full trial of the Paralympic star, 26, is not expected for months. However, allegations of what happened on Valentine's Day last week have continued to emerge in the packed courtroom. The second day of the bail hearing saw Mr Pistorius hit by claims the police and prosecution say undermine his defence. But his defence team then hit back with a tough questioning of the morning's main witness - chief investigative officer Hilton Botha - leaving him "on the ropes, floundering".
More on the BBC 
17:07  The full text of the PM's remarks to the media after the all-party meeting was convened by the Speaker. Read
17:05  I have no right to be Leader of Opposition: Sushma:   Taking an aggressive stance at the all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Sushma Swaraj said that if BJP was training terrorists, as alleged by home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, then she should cease to be the Leader of the Opposition and BJP members should not be allowed in Parliament.

"As custodian of the House, we seek your protection as the Home Minister, who is also Leader of the House, has alleged that BJP is running terror camps," she told the Speaker during the meeting.

"If we are doing so, then I have no right to be Leader of Opposition and BJP members should not be allowed to sit in the House. We should be probed. But first resolve this matter," Swaraj said.
16:58  Pistorius faces new possession of unlicensed ammunition charge:  Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius is set to face a fresh charge of possessing unlicensed ammunition after firearm was recovered from his home by the police during the investigation into the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, the Pretoria Magistrate's Court heard.

The charge has been added following the discovery of a .38 special firearm in a safe in Pictorius' room, Sport24 reports. According to the investigating officer Hilton Botha, Pistorius had the license for a 9mm pistol, which was incidentally the firearm mentioned in Pistorius' affidavit on Tuesday when he said that he had shot Steenkamp.
16:35  Pope Benedict 'nearly blind in one eye' :  Pope Benedict XVI is nearly blind in one eye and was advised by his doctor to limit air travel because of his high blood pressure, the website Vatican Insider reported today. The report also said the 85-year-old pontiff often has problems sleeping and has fallen out of bed several times in recent years on foreign trips, making him tired in public appearances.

The report was based on indiscretions from papal aides that Vatican affairs specialist Marco Tosatti said he had promised to keep secret until the end of the pontificate on February 28.

"The picture is of a progressive deterioration of his health and his energy - a context that fully justifies the difficult decision that the pope has taken," Tosatti wrote after the pope said he would step down due to old age.
16:32  Man who never falls ill as he's always inhaling turmeric dust:  It's the first and, perhaps only, time I hope for a power-cut; because, when M.A.Akbar's marundhu (medicine) mill runs, I doubt I can hear anything he says. So, I fix to meet him during the load-shedding (12-2 p.m.). Outside his shop at Bazaar Road, Mylapore, sacks of rose-petals, vilvam and orange peel dry in the sun. Inside, sitting on a bench covered with newspaper, I listen in'.
A nice profile on the Hindu. Read
16:27  Man goes on shooting rampage in California, 3 killed:  The early morning commute was just getting under way on suburban Orange County's network of freeways when Melvin Lee Edwards pulled up to a stop sign near a busy off-ramp. It was just after 5 am and Edwards, 69, was on his way to work when, police say, a fleeing murder suspect forced him out of his BMW at gunpoint, marched him across the street and shot him three times from behind as horrified commuters watched.

The shooting was the second of three murders in a trail of carnage early yesterday that spanned 40 kilometers but lasted just an hour. The shooter, 20-year-old Ali Syed, killed a woman in the home he shared with his parents, killed two drivers during carjackings, injured two others and shot up cars on a busy freeway interchange before committing suicide as police closed in, authorities said.
16:13  Ginger ale, ham, orange juice in Britney's shopping list :  Britney Spears' grocery list has become the latest trending topic on the internet after a photographer clicked the pop diva last weekend while she was on her way to the store -- with a list in her hands. The 31-year-old singer's list included ginger ale, tomatoes, Lunchables, ham, orange juice, 2 percent milk, bread and chicken, ABC News reported.
16:10  How the Delhi gang-rape has changed Indian women forever:  After the brutal rape and murder of a young female medical student in Delhi last year, Anita Anand travels to India, and discovers a generation of women suddenly demanding that their voices be heard. Read
16:02  Air Asia awaits nod for budget airlines with Tatas:  Malaysia-based budget airlines seeks nod from the government to launch a budget airlines with Tatas. AirAsia proposes to operate from Chennai to domestic destinations and will focus on tier-2 and tier-3 cities. 
15:36  Maldives court cancels today's Nasheed hearing :  Just in: Maldivian Court cancels today's hearing after police informed it about its inability to produce former President Mohamed Nasheed at 4 pm. Nasheed has been in the Indian Mission since February 13 to evade arrest after he failed to appear in court on charges of detaining Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed while he was president, which his party considers politically motivated and designed to disqualify him from politics. A Maldivian court issued a fresh arrest warrant against Nasheed and directed the police to produce him before it at 4 pm today.
15:29  'Pistorius had legs on when he shot Reeva':  At the Pistorius trial, the prosecution debating that the accused was in fact wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot Reeva through the bathroom door.

"The angle of the bullets was downwards "from a normal stance" - indicating that Pistorius was standing at a normal height. He says the bullets went through the top part of the toilet door. He says he found the gun next to the shower door. The cricket bat was found in front of the first washbasin, he says. There was a lady's vanity case next to the tub.There was no other way out of the toilet room, other than its door, he says." -- The Guardian.
15:14  MEA team lands in Male; Nasheed unlikely to appear in court:  A high-level team of officials from Ministry of External Affairs arrived in Male today to "assist" Indian High Commission to resolve the situation arising out of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed taking refuge in the Indian Mission for the eight day in a row.

The team, which is headed by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary in the MEA and includes officials of legal background, arrived here to meet various "stakeholders" including Maldives Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdulla later today, official sources said.

Nasheed has been in the Indian Mission since February 13 to evade arrest after he failed to appear in court on charges of detaining Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed while he was president, which his party considers politically motivated and designed to disqualify him from politics. A Maldivian court issued a fresh arrest warrant against Nasheed and directed the police to produce him before it at 4 pm today.
15:10  Union ministers Kamal Nath and Sushil Kumar Shinde hold consultations with leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj to resolve tjhe stalemate over the Hindu terror remarks. BJP is unlikely to concede.
15:00  In pictures: 'We must never forget what happened here': Cameron's 'shame' over 1919 Amritsar massacre as he makes historic visit to shrine where 379 were shot down. See
14:56  PM appeals for 'productive Parl session' tommorow:  PM Dr Manmohan Singh's appeal as the all-party meet ends ahead of the Budget session of Parliament tomorrow. "It is obligation of all political parties to ensure Parliament functions smoothly. We hope for a productive session, Parliament is forum for dialogue," says the PM.
14:53  100 pc attendance at govt offices in WB on bandh day:  Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is against the bandh and had warned government employees from remaining absent, said attendance at the state secretariat, Writers' Buildings, was 100 per cent. Finance Minister Amit Mitra said that his department also registered 100 per cent attendance. Many government employees stayed overnight in their offices.

Bandh supporters took out processions in some areas. Commissioner of Kolkata Police Surajit Karpurakayastha was on the roads in the morning to review security. "Everything is normal. There is enough police," he said.

Trains services in the Howrah and Sealdah divisions of Eastern Railway remained more or less normal, though there was some disruption in Sealdah South due to squatting by strike supporters in the morning, railway sources. Metro Rail services in the metropolis was normal as also flights at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
14:43  Pistorius sobs in court as the prosecution details the injuries Reeva Steenkamp received and where she was hiding in the toilet when Pistorius shot her from outside the door.  
14:38  Cong top brass meets ahead of Budget Session:  Ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament, Congress top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi, today held a meeting to decide on the strategy ahead. Meeting of the Congress core group was held on the eve of the three month-long Budget Session, expected to be a stormy affair. Government is going to face problem over the helicopter deal with allegations of kickback. It has already said that it was not averse to a JPC on the helicopter deal with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath stating, "we are open for a Joint Parliamentary Committee if this satisfies everybody."

Apart from the Cong, LS Speaker Meira Kumar also held an all-party meeting.
14:25  I Just want Afzal's body back':  Muhammad Afzal Guru's widow, Tabassum, sat huddled in the dark on the floor of a large room Tuesday evening, closely surrounded by grieving female relatives in the home of her husband's family."I just want his body back. That's all,' she said, blinking back tears as a relative held a candle to her face because the electricity had gone out in the town of Sopore in Baramulla district. Read more
14:19  LS Speaker holds all-party meet ahead of Budget Session:  Ahead of the Budget Session beginning tomorrow, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today held an all-party meeting to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament where opposition is set to target government on issues like corruption in defence deals. Besides Kumar, the meeting was attended by Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, Leader of Lok Sabha and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
14:14  Back to the Oscar Pistorius trial: The Daily Mail story: Inside the bathroom where Reeva was shot. Read
14:13  The Supreme Court had set the February 20 deadline for notifying the award during its last hearing on February 5.
14:05  Cauvery Tribunal Award notified: Who gets how much:  Meanwhile, the Central government today notified the Cauvery Tribunal award after six years. This is now meant to settle once and for all the on-going tussle between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the waters of the river Cauvery. According to the award notified today, Karnataka is to release 182tmc feet water to Tamil Nadu. In addition Tamil Nadu is to get 10tmc feet for environmental purposes. Tamil Nadu will have to release 7 tmc feet to Puducherry. Karnataka government has been opposing the notification and Tamil Nadu wanting it notified. More TN CM J Jayalalithaa calls it a personal victory.


13:59  Pistorius trial: Woman heard non-stop fighting:  This is what the prosecution plans to do:

Prove that that the shots were fired deliberatel.
Will submit a witness statement that a woman heard non-stop fighting between 2am and 3am on the morning of Reeva Steenkamp's death.
13:51  The Oscar Pistorius trial: Gerrie Nel, the prosecuting lawyer, says he will now respond to an application from the defence for more information from the prosecution. Nel says, while the state is not obliged to provide more information, it will give details on of defence lawyer Barry Roux's questions
13:44  British PM launches charm offensive, Aamir surprise weapon :  As we wait for proceedings to begin... Update on the Aamir Khan-David Cameron meeting yesterday.

Politics may be no competition to Bollywood when it comes to fan following, but British PM David Cameron managed to generate as much applause as Aamir Khan at a meeting with students from Janki Devi Memorial College in Central Delhi on Tuesday. Read more
13:37  Day 2 of Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing begins:  Oscar Pistorius returned to court today to find out if he can be freed on bail after he was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The prosecutor is Gerrie Nel, the defense lawyer is Barry Roux, while the Judge is Desmond Nair.
13:35  Day 2 of Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing begins:  Day 2 of the the bail hearing of paralympian Oscar Pistorius begins. Sky News reports that the start of the hearing was delayed because the media could not be accommodated in court. 
13:20  Bandh supporters in Noida set vehicles on fire :  Just in: Bandh supporters turn violent and go on a rampage in Noida, UP, setting fire to a fire engine. Ironical touch, whoever thought of it. The riot police are also on standby. Othere vehicles have also been set on fire.
12:59  What my son taught me about Oscar Pistorius:  "The first time I saw Oscar Pistorius run, I was captivated. Witnessing him caused me to jump up and down. My 10-year-old son, an amputee since the first week of his life, calmly commented, "Mom, he's just a man!" Read
12:54  Two-day Bharat bandh: Trade union leader crushed to death:  A trade union leader, who was squatting along with a group of workers near the local bus depot as part of the two-day nationwide strike call, on Wednesday died when he was hit by a bus in his bid to stop it from plying, a senior Roadways official said. Read
12:49  Oscar Pistorius bail hearing prosecutors to make case:  South African prosecutors are set to detail their murder case against athlete Oscar Pistorius, on the second day of his bail hearing in Pretoria.They are expected to highlight reports that neighbours had heard loud arguments in his home before he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. On Tuesday Mr Pistorius told the court he shot her through a bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder. Read

Stay with us when day 2 of the trial begins this afternoon IST.
12:45  Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs tweets: India's Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai heads to Washington for Foreign Office Consultations with US Under Secy of State Wendy Sherman.
12:42  No pharmacist, no medicines, say Mumbai chemists:  More than 2,000 chemist shops in the city, including those licensed to operate 24 hours, are downing their shutters as early as 6 pm because of a standoff with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). The bone of contention is the recent FDA rule that says all chemist shops must have a qualified pharmacist supervising the sale of medicines at all times. More
12:31  Jaya: Execution of Prabhakaran's son a war crime:  Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa holds forth on the alleged photographic evidence of the execution of Balachandran Prabhakaran, son of Villupillai Prabhakaran, who was head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Jaya said the proof reveals the the Sri Lankan mindset and the execution of Prabhakaran's son is a war crime. "We condemn it," she said. 

12:19  In conversation with journalist, author Rahul Pandita:  Rahul Pandita, an associate editor with the Open magazine in Delhi, is a journalist and author who belongs to the Kashmiri Pandit community, Hindus who had to flee the Kashmir Valley in the early 1990s during a separatist insurgency by the Muslim majority.In his memoir, "Our Moon has Blood Clots,' which was released last month, Mr. Pandita chronicles the loss and suffering of his own family to narrate the plight of the estimated 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus who were uprooted from their homes during the conflict. Read the interview.
12:16  In rural Tamil Nadu, schools, buses, co-operative banks (state) are functioning while post offices and nationalised banks (central) are on strike.
12:14  Ram Gopal Varma: Hey Karan I nevr evr invited u to see any of my films..but 26/11is one film I would really like u to see..pls let me knw whn free

And the reply...

Karan Johar: ramu!! 26/11 is a film i am truly dying to see...let me know whenever you have a screening and i will be there!!
12:10  Ramesh Srivats: Actually I'm not too hassled with Kohinoor being in Britain. Else, by now, Kalmadi may have been wearing it as a tie-pin or something.
12:05  Peer-edge for Modis ambitions:  Narendra Modi's Delhi dreams just got a "lordly' push.Bhikhu Parekh, a Labour peer with Gujarati roots, said the BJP leader "deserves national projection' and shouldn't be singled out for "black mark' because of the Godhra riots. Read
12:02  Apple is No. 2 in India, Or Perhaps No. 6:  Apple Inc. is clearly gaining traction in India as iPhone sales ramp up here. But just how well is it doing compared to the competition? It depends how you look at it. Read
12:00  Reviving Lahores Literary Legacy:  In other stories: Pakistan is a country that in recent memory has been better known globally for bombs than for books.But organizers of the country's first Lahore Literary Festival, which kicks off this weekend, are hoping to help change that perception. Read
11:51  PSU banks on 2-day strike, 'enough money in ATMs':   Normal banking operations were hit today as employees of public sector banks went on a two-day strike in response to a call given by central trade unions to press for wage hike in the backdrop of rising inflation. Apprehending disruption in their normal banking operations, many banks had already informed their customers about the proposed strike.

Meanwhile, sources said, banks have taken steps to ensure that public do not face problems at least on the cash front during the strike period.

Banks have fed additional cash in ATMs to meet the cash needs of their customers. Bank unions are pressing for early wage revision of employees, which they said is due from November 2012.

They are also opposing banking sector reforms and any plan for merger of banks. There are 26 public sector banks with employees strength of around 10 lakh.
11:49  'Can't vouch for authencity of Prabhakaran's son's pictures':  Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said he had seen the pictures and the report on the alleged coldblooded killing of LTTE chief V. Prabakaran's minor son by the Sri Lankan Army but could not vouch for their authenticity. Read
11:45  Nikki Haley presented with leadership award:  Meanwhile, Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been presented with the leadership award for giving boost to employment in the automobile sector. The inaugural State Leadership Award of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) was presented to Haley - whose husband is currently serving in Afghanistan - at a function in Piedmont.
11:37   Bench headed by Chief Justice of India says it will wait for the judgement of the other bench which also heard a plea for commutation of death sentence. The bench also says that it will wait till judgment in the Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar case is given. Bhullar, a convict on death row, was found guilty of killing nine people in a 1993 car bombing intended to kill Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, and sentenced to death by hanging by split decision. Bitta was a vocal critic of Khalistani separatists, who was leaving the Youth Congress offices in his car. He survived the bombing.
11:31  SC stays execution of Veerappan aides for 6 weeks:  Just in: The Supreme Court has stayed the executions of the three associates of sandalwood brigand Veerappan till further notice. The case has been adjourned for six weeks. 

The four -- Gnana Prakasam, Simon, Meesakaara Madiah and Bilavendran -- have been on death row for nine years and have requested the apex court to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment since there has been an inordinate delay in deciding on their mercy petition.  

Their mercy petitions pending since 2004 were rejected earlier by President Pranab Mukherjee.  

They are accused of killing 22 policemen and forest officials in a landmine blast in Palar, Karnataka in 1993. The designated special court at Mysore had awarded life imprisonment to all four in the case.
11:27  The Jallianwala Bagh massacre (also known as the Amritsar massacre), took place in the Jallianwala Bagh public garden in Amritsar on 13 April 1919. The shooting that took place was ordered by Brigadier-General Reginald E.H. Dyer on unarmed Indians. Dyer kept the firing for about ten minutes, till the ammunition supply was almost exhausted with approximately 1,650 rounds fired. Government of India (then British India) sources estimated that the fatalities were 379, with 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead.
11:24  UK PM: Jallianwala massacre deeply shameful:   British PM David Cameron says the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is a deeply shameful incident in British history. Cameron became the first UK PM to visit in 94 years. Cameron also offered prayers at the Golden Temple. 
11:18  An unreasonable restriction:  It is disingenuous for the government to claim its IT law is modelled on British statute when the House of Lords has already read down the U.K.'s worst provisions. Read
11:16  Chopper deal: PM gets aggressive with Cameron:  Call it a domestic sidewinder from the international high table. His attention focused on meeting the political storm over kickback allegations in the AgustaWestland chopper deal in the eye, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh minted an aggressive tone on alleged corruption with his British counterpart David Cameron. Read
11:14  Defence Minister A K Antony asks armed forces to reduce dependence on imports in view of ongoing controversy over chopper deal.
11:08  Cameron is 1st UK PM to visit Jallianwala in 94 yrs:  British PM David Cameron lays a wreath at Jallianwala Bagh, the first prime ministerial visit in 94 years. 
11:05  Nitish Kumar beats Narendra Modi's growth figures:  Despite global economic slowdown and sagging domestic demand, Bihar has managed to record 11.95% annual growth rate, the highest among all the states, during the 11th Plan period. According to the Economic Survey 2012-13 tabled by deputy CM and finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi in the state legislature on Tuesday, Bihar almost remained untouched by the overall global slowdown but for some side effects in 2012-13. Read
10:57  How Sri Lanka squandered its opportunities:  Almost four years ago, the Sri Lankan government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a decisive victory in a 26-year-long civil war with rebels from the island's minority Tamil community.

The cost was horrific: A United Nations investigation subsequently found that up to 40,000 civilians may have died in the government's final offensive. But the triumph made Rajapaksa a hero among the majority Sinhalese community and gave him an opportunity to modernize his country while healing its ethnic rift. Read
10:54  SC to hear petitions of Veerappans aides:  Up ahead today, the Supreme Court will take up the plea of four associates of sandalwood bandit Veerappan who are on death row at the Belgaum Central Jail in Karnataka. 

On Monday, a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Justice Altamas Kabir had stayed their execution till Wednesday.  

The four - Gnana Prakasam, Simon, Meesakaara Madiah and Bilavendran - have been on death row for nine years and have requested the apex court to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment since there has been an inordinate delay in deciding on their mercy petition.
10:50  Lanka: Death pics of Prabhakaran's son morphed:   The Sri Lankan high commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam said the pictures of Prabhakaran's son were morphed and were being circulated ahead of the UNHRC meeting to embarrass his government.

"These allegations are not new. We deny allegations based on morphed photos from London. The Sri Lankan army saved thousands of civilians from the LTTE. This poor child may have died as a result of crossfire when his father kept fighting," he said in New Delhi.

A series of photographs show Balachandran Prabhakaran, son of Villupillai Prabhakaran, who was head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). According to the Independent, one of the photos shows the boy sitting in a bunker, alive and unharmed, apparently in the custody of Sri Lankan troops.

Another picture which was taken a few hours later shows the boy's body lying on the ground, with four bullet holes in his chest.

The images were taken in May 2009 at the end of the Sri Lankan Government's operation to crush the LTTE, which had launched a bloody, decades-long insurgency against the state that led to the deaths of perhaps 70,000 people.

According to the report, the authorities always said Prabhakaran's son was killed in cross-fire, as troops moved in to take the LTTE's last stronghold. But the images, contained in a new documentary, No Fire Zone, which will be screened at the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in March, suggest the boy was captured alive and killed at a later stage. A forensic pathologist who examined the later images for the film-makers, said the boy was shot five times in the chest.
10:38  British Prime Minister David Cameron pays obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 
10:25  Earthquake hits China; 8 injured:   Eight people were injured in an earthquake near the border area of China's southwestern Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, local authorities said today. 

The 4.9-magnitude quake, which occurred at 10:46 a.m. yesterday with an epicenter 6 km deep, toppled 72 houses and damaged 949 others in Yunnan's Qiaojia County, the county government said. 

The injured, including two people in serious condition, have been sent to local hospitals, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
10:24  Two-day Bharat Bandh begins:  Impact of the 48-hour Bharat Bandh called by trade unions in different parts of the country.  

Delhi: Transport has been the first casualty of the strike in Delhi. Passengers arriving at New Delhi railway station were stranded as taxis and auto-rickshaws either refused them or overcharged. One passenger said an autorickshaw driver demanded Rs. 2000 for a ride. Another driver was thrashed by his colleagues for agreeing to take a passenger.

Mumbai: At Linking Road and Turner Road in Bandra west, north-west Mumbai, there was visibly no bandh. Autorickshaws, taxis and BEST buses were plying as usual, shops were beginning to open for the day, and office-goers could be seen rushing about on the roads. 

Bangalore: Schools, colleges and banks will remain shut.

Andhra Pradesh: Autorickshaws, buses are off roads. The Railways are expected to function normally

Kerala: The 48-hour nationwide strike called by central trade unions hit normal life across Kerala with workers from varied sectors, including transport and banking, staying away from work to protest theUPA government's economic and labour policies.Early reports said buses and taxis were off the roads and shops and restaurants remained closed. 

West Bengal: There was little impact of thetwo-day strike called by central trade unions on the first daytoday in West Bengal with situation being normal and peacefulacross the state.Shops and markets were mostly open in the metropolis. Private buses and taxis were less, though state buses were present in large number on the roads, police sources said.
10:03  Rupee up 8 paise Vs dollar in early trade:  The rupee today appreciated by eight paise to 54.10 against the US dollar on the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market in early trade on increased foreign fund flows amid firm local equities. 

Forex dealers said euro's gains against the American currency in the overseas market also supported the rupee. The local unit had closed higher at 54.18 against the dollar on Monday.
09:46  Blast in poll-bound Nagaland; 1 dead:  A bomb blast close to Dimapur railway station in poll-bound Nagaland killed one person this morning, police said. 

Pradeep Thapa was travelling on his bike near the station when the bomb planted on the roadside suddenly went off killing him on the spot.
09:45  Strike has little impact in West Bengal:  There was little impact of the two-day strike called by central trade unions on the first day today in West Bengal with situation being normal and peaceful across the state. Shops and markets were mostly open in the metropolis. 

Private buses and taxis were less, though state buses were present in large number on the roads, police sources said. Barring blockades at Hasnabad and Diamond sections of the Eastern Railway, train services were normal in Howrah and Sealdah divisions, the sources said. Flight schedule was also normal at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
09:37  Govt had nothing positive to offer, say striking trade unions:  The country prepared to face a two-day agony starting Wednesday after trade union leaders failed to reach a consensus in talks with the government. 

The strike, called by 11 registered trade unions across the political spectrum, started from Tuesday midnight to protest against policies of the UPA government that include price rise, poor implementation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs and increased foreign direct investment in many sectors. 

Over 2,000 independent unions have also supported the protest. The striking unions have demanded removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund.
09:23  Bharat Bandh: How the strike will affect you:  The two-day Bharat Bandh called by employee unions on 20 and 21 February seems set to go ahead with talks between the government and unions failing.

The trade unions says that the strike has been called against the anti-people and anti-workers policies of the government. The unions have also sought an increase in their salaries, pointing out that inflation has been rising at an alarming rate. Nine bank unions are also supporting the strike.

Read more here
08:49  Three sisters allegedly raped and killed in Maharashtra:  It's perhaps one of the most horrific stories of sexual abuse. Three sisters aged 11, nine and five years were brutally raped and killed and then their bodies were thrown in a well near Lakhni village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra.

On February 14, the day when the whole world celebrated the One Billion Rising movement to fight violence against women, the siblings, coming from financially weaker background, were lured to a dhaba, just a few hundred metres from their home, on the promise of food.

The mother of the children, who works as a domestic help, filed a missing persons' complaint that night after the girls didn't return home. The next morning, cops recovered their bodies on the outskirts of the village, next to the roadside dhaba.

Read more here
08:41  Bharat bandh has little effect in Mumbai:   At Linking Road and Turner Road in Bandra west, north-west Mumbai, there was visibly no bandh.

Autorickshaws, taxis and BEST buses were plying as usual, shops were beginning to open for the day, and office-goers could be seen rushing about on the roads. 
08:28  Three-day bandh in Kashmir:  Tension returned to Kashmir Valley after a three-day bandh was called to urge the government to return hanged Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's body back to his family. 

Human rights groups and Kashmiri politicians are up in arms after the government said it is unlikely to return Guru's body back to Kashmir.
08:16  Two-day Trade union strike begins; 1 killed:   A trade union leader was killed in Ambala in the wee hours as the two-day nationwide strike called by the 11 trade unions began on Wednesday.  

"Narender Singh, the treasurer of a AITUC union was stabbed to death near the Ambala bus stand by some miscreants who wanted to take out buses from the depot despite the strike," AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta told reporters in New Delhi.    

Condemning the murder, Dasgupta said the strike would continue despite such a heinous attack.Normal life is likely to be crippled in states like Kerala and Tripura where workers from various sectors including transport and banking are set to join the protest against the Centre's economic and labour policies.
08:15  Mumbai may stay normal during Bharat bandh:  Mumbaikars who were fearing that the city would be crippled during the Bharat bandh on Wednesday and Thursday can rest easy. Union leader Sharad Rao, normally known for holding Mumbai to ransom with his strikes, has called off the bandh in the city and the rest of Maharashtra. 

According to sources, it was the Shiv Sena that was instrumental in "sabotaging" Rao's plans '"it did this by winning over the support of several key members of the state-level federation of unions and leaving Rao isolated in the process.

Mumbaikars, therefore, are unlikely to face any kind of inconvenience on these two days. Public transport'"rickshaws, taxis, BEST buses, state buses and trains'"will ply normally although buses will have grills on their windows as a precautionary measure. It will also be business as usual for the BMC, hawkers and shopkeepers.
01:43  US General Allen to retire, declining top Nato job:  General John Allen, who till recently was the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has decided to retire instead of accepting NATO's top job citing health issues within the family, President Barack Obama announced today.

Obama himself made this announcement after he met Gen Allen at the White House this morning. For the past days, the US media had been reporting that Gen Allen has been asked by the White House to retire following the allegation of his links and voluminous emails with a socialite from Florida.

But there was no reference to this in the statement issued by the US President, who had earlier nominated him for the post of the NATO commander.
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