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Algerian assault ends crisis, 19 hostages dead

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January 19, 2013

22:49  BJP says Rahul's elevation in Cong poses no challenge to it :   BJP today said the elevation of Rahul Gandhi to the number two position in Congress poses no challenges to it. "This announcement of Rahul Gandhi becoming number two of Congress has not come as a surprise. He was already number two after Sonia Gandhi. 

He was not number three who has been elevated to number two. Only a member of Nehru-Gandhi family can be number two," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told PTI. Congress announced today that the Congress Working Committee has unanimously supported a resolution moved by A K Antony to make Rahul Gandhi Vice President of the party.
22:48  Mamata says she had wanted to remain in the UPA:   Months after her party quit the Congress-led UPA government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today claimed she had wanted to remain in the government, but was forced to pull out as the Centre did not accede to her demands. 

"We did not want to leave the UPA. We were forced to do so since the Centre did not accept our demands for withdrawal of hike in diesel price, LPG cap and FDI entry in retail," Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, told a party rally here. "We can never allow FDI in multi-brand retail. TMC has guts. What its says it does. We do not have lust for ministerial positions," she said.
22:47  Cong celebrates Rahul's elevation:  Celebrations broke out tonight outside the venue of Congress 'Chintan Shivir' here after Rahul Gandhi was made the party Vice President with numerous young workers setting off crackers, beating drums and shouting slogans welcoming the decision. 

 As soon as the announcement to this effect was made at the venue by Congress chief spokesman Janardan Dwivedi, thousands of NSUI, Youth Congress workers as well as partymen, who assembled at different places near the Birla auditorium, broke into celebrations. The sky was dazzled with a series of colourful fireworks and the young workers congratulated each other.
22:47  Algerian assault ends crisis, 19 hostages dead:  Algerian special forces today stormed a natural gas complex in the middle of the Sahara desert in a "final assault" that ended a four-day-old hostage crisis, according to the state news agency and two foreign governments. 

At least 19 hostages and 29 Islamist militants have been killed. The report, quoting a security source, didn't say whether any hostages or militants remained alive, and it didn't give the nationalities of the dead. It said the army was forced to intervene after a fire broke out in the plant and said the militants killed the hostages. It wasn't immediately possible to verify who killed the captives.
21:01  It's official: Rahul to lead Congress in 2014 elections :  After months of anticipation and clamour within the Congress, Rahul Gandhi has been appointed as the Vice President, as the party gets battle-ready for Lok Sabha elections 2014. 

The appointment was endorsed at the Congress' highest decision-making body, its working committee or the CWC, which met this evening at the end of a two-day brainstorming session to devise the party's strategy for the next elections. It formally places Mr Gandhi as the party's number 2 after his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. 

He has already been given charge of the party's election campaign strategy. Defence Minister AK Antony moved the proposal at the CWC which received unanimous endorsement.
20:58  Cong 'Shivir' a mere party event to launch Rahul Gandhi: Raje:  Terming the 'Chintan Shivir' of Congress party as a mere event to launch Rahul Gandhi as the leader in the 2014 polls, former chief minister and Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Vasundhara Raje today claimed that no serious issues were discussed during the conclave. 

"This is a formal platform to launch or rather impose Rahul Gandhi on the country," Raje, who was in the city to address a party meeting, told reporters here. "There are various issues of people's concern but none of them are being discussed in this camp and instead they are introspecting on their position," she said.
20:42  Rahul Gandhi to lead Congress in 2014 elections:   The decision to make Rahul Gandhi vice president was announced by Congress head spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi. 

The decision to elevate Rahul Gandhi was made after a meet of the Congress Working Committee. The resolution on Rahul's appointment at the CWC was moved by senior leader A K Antony.

Dwivedi made it clear that Rahul Gandhi will lead the party in the 2014 general elections. He said that Rahul's appointment was endorsed by all members of the CWC .
20:24  Rahul Gandhi made Congress vice president:  Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi has been elevated and made vice president of the party. He will now assume the number 2 postion in the Congress.
19:22  A rude awakening for Cong on social media power?:  Rahul Gandhi was literally left awestruck today when a Congress MP showed him hundreds of negative comments on social media on Sonia Gandhi's speech within hours of her address at the Chintan Shivir. 

As concerns over the party's lack of presence on social media was expressed in presence of Gandhi during discussions within the sub-group on organisational issues, party MP Shantaram Naik went up to him with a tablet and showed him that 3000 odd tweets were posted against Gandhi's speech within hours on a news website. Gandhi acknowledged that the party needs to address this issue.
19:21  Algeria: Day 4 of hostage standoff at Sahara plant:  Faced with international outrage over the killing of hostages at a sprawling gas plant in the middle of the Sahara desert, Algeria was under pressure to bring an end to a four-day standoff with Islamist extremists that has killed at least 12 captives and left dozens unaccounted for. 

The standoff has put the spotlight on militancy plaguing the region and al-Qaeda-linked groups roaming remote areas from Mali to Libya, threatening vital infrastructure and energy interests. With little official information emerging from the Algerian government about why it is taking so long to end the operation near the Libyan border, a freed hostage described the harrowing moments of his escape today.
18:22  Naxal attack: Injured policemen airlifted to Raipu:  Two policemen injured in naxal attack at Temelwada area of Sukma district were air-lifted to Raipur for treatment today, Director General of Police Ramniwas said. Naxals attacked the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) party yesterday during the road-opening task in the forests of Temelwada village under Chintagufa police station limits of Sukma district. 

While head constable Baisuram Mandavi was killed in the attack, platoon commander Nandkishore Bhadoriya sustained injuries. Later, an IAF helicopter Mi-17 was sent to rescue the CAF personnel from Temelwada village.
18:21  Response to Pak not influenced by any country: Khurshid:  India today said its response to the Pakistani cross border provocation and the killing of Indian soldiers was not "influenced" by any country, including the US.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also said that the Indo-Pak dialogue process has inbuilt review system, indicating that the current situation will not push for any fresh review. "We are not influenced by anybody including the US. Neither does America pressurises us nor does it have any expectations that it can do so.
18:02  Injured radio operator left behind by AF crew critical:  An injured radio operator left behind by an Indian Air Force (IAF) crew after their helicopter crash-landed under Naxal fire in Chhattisgarh yesterday is in critical condition in hospital.

The radio operator, Head Constable M R Sahu of the Chhattisgarh police, was rescued by commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from jungles in Bastar yesterday evening. He was flown out of Chintagufa on the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border this morning and admitted to a hospital in Jagdalpur.
16:42  Pak: 26/11 case adjourned again, witnesses fail to appear:  
The trial of seven suspects in Pakistan charged with involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks was adjourned for three weeks on Saturday after three prosecution witnesses were unable to appear for cross-examination.

Anti-terrorism court judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, who is conducting the hearing inside Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons, put off the case till February 9, prosecutors and defence lawyers told PTI.

The prosecution witnesses were unable to appear for the hearing as they could not travel from Karachi to Rawalpindi due to the cancellation of flights following unrest in the southern port city over the murder of a politician, sources. 

There have been no proceedings in the case for the past four weeks.

At a hearing on December 22, the judge adjourned the case for three weeks at the request of defence lawyers.

On January 12, the case was put off for a week as Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was observing his father's death anniversary. 
16:38  Lawyer of Delhi gang rape accused seeks impartial trial:  
Manohar Lal Sharma, the lawyer of one of the accused in Delhi gang rape case, on Saturday sought an impartial trial for his client.

Sharma, who is defending Mukesh Kumar alias Thakur, said that the statements issued by the Prime Minister and other leaders and officials, have given direct message to the judicial authorities about what they should do and how they should handle the case.

"I need a judge to hear the matter, who is himself not biased. The judge should not sit for trial if he or she has sympathy for the victim. I have no objection if anyone having sentimental feeling towards the victim, but there should be no bias," said Sharma.

"Despite our repeated request that they should not be handcuffed, the court is disagreeing to that. If judiciary is under pressure, people are under pressure, then I cannot get a fair trial for my client Mukesh," he added.

The hearing of the December 16 gang rape and murder case will be held in a 'fast track' court in Saket from January 21 and proceedings will be heard on a daily basis.
16:10  Chautala to continue as party chief, contest polls: INLD:  
The Indian National Lok Dal has announced that Om Parkash Chautala would continue to lead the party and also contest Haryana Assembly elections due in 2014, despite his conviction by a Delhi court in a case of illegal recruitment of over 3,000 junior basic trained teachers in the state.

78-year-old Chautala and his son Ajay would contest the state polls, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) state President Ashok Arora told reporters. 

Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Chautala and 53 others including two IAS officers were today convicted on corruption and other charges by a Delhi court for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers 12 years back. 

"The verdict of the Delhi court is not final. The party will challenge the decision in a higher court and both will come out clean as ultimately the truth will prevail," he said, adding that there is no bar on sitting MLAs and MPs, who have been convicted, to contest elections.
16:08  Indians asked to avoid violence prone areas in Nigeria:  
India has issued an advisory to its citizens in Nigeria, asking them to limit their exposure to areas where radical Islamic sect Boko Haram is active. 

The Indian High Commission in an advisory placed on it's website also warned Indian crew-members of ships to be careful while plying their ships in Gulf of Guinea, dominated by pirates.

The advisory said Indians living in Nigeria have come under unprecedented level of insecurity and "were, occasionally, unfortunate victims in the past years."

The advisory mentioned some Indian victims of violence in Nigeria, which included one killed and six injured on January 20, last year during a multiple attack by Islamic fundamentalists Boko Haram in the northern city of Kano.

"An unprovoked but apparently targeted armed attack by unidentified armed group on the premises of Indian-owned M/s Adebar Trades and Industries Ltd in Borno State capital Maiduguri (July 25) resulted in brutal murder of two Indians and serious injury to third Indian." the High Commission stated, adding that it noted that this was first time in recent years that Indian nationals and their establishments were targeted for attack.
15:39  Goa rape: Probe into official's alleged 'insensitive' remark:  
The school management has initiated an inquiry into the alleged insensitive statement made by a school official to the parent of the seven-year-old victim who was raped in a school at Vasco town of Goa. 

An inquiry has been initiated after the father of the girl claimed that "one of the management official made an insensitive remark towards the victim", P Mara Pandiyan, the chairman of Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), which runs the school, said on Saturday.

The management official had reportedly said that "your (victim's father) child does not seem to be suffering that much." "We are definitely inquiring into the allegations of the father that such a statement was made," Pandiyan said.

The seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped inside the school toilet on January 14, evoking strong reactions from the parents and locals, who had hit the streets. The culprit, identified to be a middle-aged man, was yet to be nabbed.
15:26  Efforts underway to restore road, air connectivity to Kashmir:  
Residents of Kashmir heaved a sigh of relief with the improvement in weather as authorities expedited efforts to restore the surface and air links to connect the Valley with rest of the country.

The 294-km Srinagar-Jammu national highway was opened for stranded vehicle this afternoon after two days closure owing to heavy snowfall, while the air traffic is also expected to resume shortly, officials said.

Kashmir Valley including Srinagar experienced snowfall ranging between four inches to eight feet over the past three days, prompting the authorities to suspend traffic on the arterial road on January 17. The air traffic to and from Srinagar was also suspended on Friday owing to "bad weather".

"The Srinagar-Jammu national highway was cleared for stranded vehicles and if weather permits the one-way traffic will resume on the highway from tomorrow," a spokesman of the Traffic department said.

He added that the stranded vehicles started moving towards their destinations after the road was cleared of snow around Jawahar Tunnel - the gateway to Kashmir Valley. 
15:20  General Secretary Rahul to be Secretary General?:  
Will Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi assume the title of Secretary General by the end of the day at Congress's Chintan Shivir? Or will he be named vice president, acting president or executive president

Speculation is rife about Rahul assuming an entirely new set of responsibilities.

If the rumours are right, Rahul as Secretary General may have more powers than party President Sonia Gandhi.

In Communist parlance, the General Secretary is usually the de facto leader.

The Congress leadership is aware that 80-year-old Manmohan Singh would not be projected again in 2014 as PM for obvious reasons. 

In that case, Rahul as the young face of the party could be the best bet.

However, the biggest question remains that will the Gandhi scion be able to face the Gujarat chief minister as his rival in the 2104 polls if the BJP decides to project Narendra Modi as its mascot?

The Congress appears to have got into a bind now as it has to give some worthwhile responsibility to young turks in the party whose leadership has to be vested in the hands of Rahul. 

The speech of Congress President on January 18 clearly gave sufficient hints to the fact that Rahul has to take a call and put his foot down firmly if the party wants to come back to power again in 2014.
14:20  Bus conductor molests child, police book him for rape:  
A 4-year-old girl was allegedly molested by the conductor of her school bus in Mumbai but, in an apparent goof up, a case of rape was registered against him, a senior police officer said on Saturday.

Bus conductor Ramesh Rajput (35) allegedly molested the girl in suburban Juhu on Tuesday afternoon when children were being dropped back home, city Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.

Being the last to be dropped home, the KG student was the lone child in the school bus when she was sexually abused by the conductor in the presence of a female attendant, who confronted him for the indecent act, police said. 

The case came to light on Wednesday when the victim informed her father about the incident and he reported the matter to the school authorities immediately.

"There was no rape or attempt to rape. We are rectifying our mistake," Singh told PTI.

"Section 376 IPC (rape) was applied in this case by mistake and we are contemplating to remove it with the permission of the court," Mumbai police spokesperson Ambadas Pote said.
14:08  Palani temple nets Rs 4 cr revenue during Pongal:  
The revenue netted by the famous Sri Dhandayuthapaniswamy temple here touched a record level of Rs 4 crore during Pongal season.

According to the Executive officer of the temple Baskaran, revenue by sale of 'Panchamritham', archana and Darshan tickets touched Rs.Two crore while the hundi collections touched Rs 2 crore.

Besides gold and silver items, currencies of various countries were also found in the hundial.
13:18  India hesitant to implement US, EU sanctions on Iran: Report:  
India is hesitant to implement all aspects of US and European Union sanctions against Iran, a Congressional report has said, attributing this to New Delhi's reliance on Tehran with regards to Afghanistan and the historic, cultural and economic ties between the two nations.

"India is implementing UN sanctions against Iran but its cultural, economic, and historic tiesas well as its strategic need for access to Afghanistan have made India hesitant to adopt all aspects of US and EU sanctions on Iran," the independent and bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on Iran.

"India first signalled greater support for sanctioning Iran in late 2012 when its central bank ceased using a Tehran-based regional body, the Asian Clearing Union, to handle transactions with Iran," said the report.

Apparently perceiving international sentiment for tightening sanctions on Iran, India has been reducing its dependence on Iranian oil, CRS said.
12:46  India hesitant to implement US, EU sanctions on Iran: Report:  
India is hesitant to implement all aspects of US and European Union sanctions against Iran, a Congressional report has said, attributing this to New Delhi's reliance on Tehran with regards to Afghanistan and the historic, cultural and economic ties between the two nations.

"India is implementing UN sanctions against Iran but its cultural, economic, and historic tiesas well as its strategic need for access to Afghanistan have made India hesitant to adopt all aspects of US and EU sanctions on Iran," the independent and bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report on Iran.

"India first signalled greater support for sanctioning Iran in late 2012 when its central bank ceased using a Tehran-based regional body, the Asian Clearing Union, to handle transactions with Iran," said the report.

Apparently perceiving international sentiment for tightening sanctions on Iran, India has been reducing its dependence on Iranian oil, CRS said.
12:27  BJP can't hold Chintan Shivir; It's an RSS puppet: Aiyar:  
Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar on Saturday took potshots at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying the country's main opposition party cannot hold a 'Chitan Shivir' like the ruling party at the Centre as they are the puppets of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

"They (BJP) should announce their leader. They are fighting like cats and dogs. We are having our 'Chintan Shivir' here, they can't even hold a 'Shivir' like this because they are the puppets of RSS what will they think. They are anxious, but they very well twisted the words and said that it's not Congress's 'Chintan Shivir' but the Congress is nervous. This is their thinking. The people have rejected them," he said, when asked about the Congress Party's Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014.

Aiyar further said that he would like Narendra Modi to be the NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate because if a communal leader like the Gujarat Chief Minister occupies the centrestage then the Congress Party will automatically emerge victorious in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls
12:10  Will it be Rahul vs Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha poll?:  
As Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed her party members Friday in Jaipur at the Chintan Shivir, a unanimous demand to declare Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 General Elections was put forth by the party leaders. 

Interestingly, reports on Friday claimed that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is likely to lead BJPs campaign for the 2014 polls. 

Following the developments, a possibility of a face-off between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi appears quite apparent. 

Congress MPs Raj Babbar, Avtar Singh Badana and some other members present at the Chintan Shivir made the demand for Rahul as PM. The conclave was attended by over 150 members of the Youth Congress and NSUI delegates who were invited at the instance of Rahul Gandhi. 
11:53  Cong will be in very capable hands if Rahul takes over: Tharoor:  
There are growing voices favouring a larger role for Rahul Gandhi in the Congress party in the run up to the 2014 elections.

Even as senior Congress leaders on Friday sought to dismiss rumours about the possibility of Rahul Gandhi being made the party's Prime Ministerial candidate, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor sparked fresh debate on Saturday with a statement. 

Speaking to CNN-IBN, Tharoor said, "We will be in very capable hands if Rahul Gandhi takes over."

Reacting quickly, party spokesperson Digvijaya Singh said that Rahul should not "pressurised". 

"The Congress never announces its PM candidate. So let's not get into this. Let Rahul chalk his own course. Don't pressurise him," he said.
02:17  UN Security Council split on Syria war crimes:  AP reports: The UN Security Council is split over whether to refer reports of war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court, with some members arguing that such a move would encourage President Bashar Assad's regime to dig in and resist to the end in a conflict that has claimed at least 60,000 lives.

Five council members France, Britain, Luxembourg, Australia and South Korea -- made a joint statement today urging that the world body ask the International Criminal Court to prosecute war criminals.
01:25  Oops! Norwegian maple leaf dons new Canada USD 20 bill:  The maple leaf shown on Canada's new $20 bills is from a Norway maple, which is not native to Canada, several botanists cited by Canadian media decried today. 

Canada's iconic red maple leaf image appears on its flag, government logos and countless other branding of Canadiana. "It's our national symbol -- it's stunning that we continuously get it wrong," University of Ottawa professor Julian Starr told broadcaster CTV.
01:05  Seven killed in fresh Karachi violence:  Seven people were gunned down today here, after a day of mourning was observed for an MQM leader, who was killed by Taliban terrorists triggering protests in Pakistan's financial hub.

The police said that firing incidents had taken place in the city late today evening in which two people were killed on M A Jinnah road. Few minutes later, a man was gunned down in Urdu Bazar while two others were killed near Lasbella bridge.

The police said that armed men had killed a man and his wife after entering their house in Defence Housing Authority. "The incidents don't appear related to each other," a senior police official said.
00:25  Sniper kills Jazeera reporter in Syria's Daraa: TV:  AFP reports: A sniper shot dead Al-Jazeera reporter Mohammed Hourani in the southern Syrian province of Daraa today, the Qatar-based satellite television network said.

"Mohammed Hourani was shot dead by a regime sniper in Basr al-Harir in the province of Daraa, while he was covering the clashes there," the pan-Arab news channel said.

Before joining Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's most widely viewed news channel, Hourani was an activist in the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, the broadcaster said.
00:18  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  
Chintan Shivir diary: Is Rahul part of the high command?

Havelivala seeks bail from Bombay HC

Court allows petition to take voice sample of Owaisi

Is India ignoring the new trends in Pakistan?

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