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5 Cong MPs from Telangana quit party

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January 30, 2013

23:58  5 Cong MPs from Telangana quit party:  Five of the six Congress MPs from Telangana tonight resigned from the party to press for the creation of a separate state out of Andhra Pradesh.

The five lawmakers sent a joint resignation letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi through a courier, S Rajaih and Ponnam Prabhakar, two of the MPs, told PTI late this evening.

Those who sent in their resignations are: Manda Jagannatam, Ponnam Prabhakar, S Rajaiah, Vivek Reddy and Surinder Reddy. Rajaiah said there was no question of a compromise on Telangana statehood issue and 'a compromise can happen only if a positive roadmap is given for the creation of a separate state'.
23:42  TRS leader files complaint against Sonia Gandhi:   Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader has filed a police complaint against Congress President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, at the One Town police station here today.

TRS leader Sardar Ravinder Singh filed the complaint alleging that the UPA chairperson had assured formation of Telangana during the General elections of 2004 and 2009, but did not keep her word, One Town circle inspector V Surender told PTI.

The complainant alleged that in her public meeting at Karimnagar, Gandhi had promised to announce Telangana and due to the state not being formed, more than 800 committed suicide.
23:16  Brazil nightclub owner blames inspectors for fire:  AP reports: A lawyer representing the owner of the nightclub in southern Brazil where 235 people died in a fire last weekend says his client 'regrets it very much' but insisted he was only partly to blame. Attorney Jader Marques says club co-owner Elissandro Spohr called the tragedy 'a succession of errors made by the whole country'.

Speaking to the Associated Press by phone today, Marques said 'my client's responsibility is having trusted too much in the inspectors and in those responsible for the construction'.

The police say the early Sunday blaze at the Kiss nightclub appears to have started when a band lit flares, which ignited inflammable foam on the ceiling. The police also say the fire extinguisher was faulty and the club had no sprinklers nor a working emergency exit.
22:13  HC rejects Talwars' plea against additional documents :  A plea of dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, challenging the CBI's decision to file additional documents in connection with the murder trial of Aarushi-Hemraj, has been rejected by the Allahabad high court.        

The petitioners had claimed that filing of the documents at a stage where "as many as 15 prosecution witnesses stand examined and cross-examined" would "prejudice the accused".
22:12  Anna's Patna rally was a flop show: Lalu :  RJD President Lalu Prasad on Wednesday refused to attach any importance to the rally by anti-graft activist Anna Hazare in Patna and dubbed it a 'flop show'.        

"It is nothing but a flop show," he told reporters on his arrival at Patna airport.       

When told that a large number of people had gathered at the rally, the RJD chief said, "This much people roam around at the Gandhi maidan (where the rally was held) everyday."
21:30  Maha Kumbh: HC asks UP to release more water:  Expressing dissatisfaction over the quality and quantity of water in the Ganga river, the Allahabad high court today directed the UP government to release 3,500 cusecs of water prior to the main bathing days in the ongoing Maha Kumbh.        

A division bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Arun Tandon, expressed dissatisfaction over the 'quality and quantity' of water in the Ganga at its confluence with the Yamuna in Allahabad, asked the state to ensure the release of 3,500 cusecs of water prior to the main bathing days, as against 2,500 cusecs on normal days.
21:28  Rajnath meets Sushma over feud in Rajasthan unit:  BJP president Rajnath Singh is actively engaged in resolving the long-simmering discontent in the party's Rajasthan unit. He held a meeting with senior party colleague Sushma Swaraj on the issue.     

Party sources said that  soon after taking over the BJP's top post last week, Singh decided to bring the factions -- led by former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and MLA Gulab Chand Kataria -- to an amicable understanding as the internecine tussle may harm the party in the assembly elections due later this year.
21:26  Telangana row: Cong MPs drop plans of resigning:  Congress MPs from Telangana tonight decided not to resign after indications from the AICC that the party is not against the formation of a separate state.

Nizamabad MP Madhu Goud Yaskhi, one of the MPs in the forefront of the agitation, said he did not see any need for resignation after the announcement.       

"I don't think there is any need for resignation now. The statement by Chacko is clear," he told reporters.
21:25  Maha: Owaisi denied permission to speak at rally:  Maharashtra police today handed over a notice to MIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi,denying him permission to address a public meeting at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, police sources said.    

Owaisi was scheduled to hold a party rally at Aurangabad on February 1.    

The Maharashtra police cited law and order situation and prohibitory orders imposed in parts of Aurangabad to deny Owaisi the permission to address the meeting.
19:54  Ceasefire violations along LoC down: BSF:  

Asserting that the border situation has improved and there is a decrease in ceasefire violations after the tension mounted due to beheading of two army jawans, BSF today said there was "no troop build up" on the other side but movement of "suspected elements" is still going on.        


"Definitely-- there were no incidents along LoC-- to this extent we can say situation has improved-- there has been decrease in ceasefire violation along the borderline," IG, BSF, Rajeev Krishna told reporters in Jammu.

19:52  YSR Cong's Sharmila to restart padayatra on Feb 6:  

YSR Congress Party leader Sharmila, who had to suspend her state-wide `padayatra' (march) due to a knee injury, would resume the march from February 6.     


"Sharmila will undertake the padayatra to carry forward the message of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and highlight the failure of the state government and its nexus with TDP," a release quoted party spokesperson Vasireddy Padma as saying in Hyderabad.     


The padayatra would resume from Ranga Reddy district where it was suspended on December 14. Doctors had allowed her to resume the march but Sharmila would have to take some precautions, the spokesperson added.     

19:50  Govt to soon act on juvenile rules: Law minister:  

Against the backdrop of one of the six Delhi gang-rape accused being declared a minor, which could allow him to walk free later this year, the government today said it is reflecting on all the available options and would take a considered view at the earliest.        


"Government is reflecting on all options and views and will take a considered, deliberate action at the earliest," Law Minister Ashwani Kumar told reporters.

19:49  Moral policing back in Mangalore:  

Vicky Nanjappa reports: Durga Vahini activists in Mangalore were back to moral policing today when they handed over three boys and four girls to the police on the ground that they were indulging in immoral activities.  


It was alleged that the Durga Vahini workers noticed some immoral activities going on at an ice cream parlour at Attavar in Mangalore.The activists barged in and after a warning handed them over to the Pandeshwar police. Although it is being alleged that some of the boys and girls were manhandled, there is no confirmation of the same by the police. Investigations are on.

19:29  Upset, not angry over Vishwaroopam ban: Haasan:  Kamal Haasan has said that he is upset, not angry, over ban on his film Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu. Visahwaroopam is just a movie, and doesn't call for public agitation, he added.
19:23  College girl molested in Kolkata:  

A college girl was allegedly molested in Kolkata by unidentified youths, police officials said today. The incident occurred near R A Kidwai Road today in the morning. The girl managed to get hold of the youth, but he sillped away.         


"The girl caught hold of the youth but he managed to run away. We are looking into the case," said a police official.

18:31  Retired cop shot dead in Rohtak:  A retired inspector of the Haryana police was gunned down by three unidentified assailants at Shastri Nagar locality near Hisar road today. The deceased has been identified as Ram Kishan Dahiya, who had retired from service last month, and the killers managed to flee from the spot. 

 The incident took place when Ram Kishan had gone to his under-construction house at Shastri Nagar locality. 

According to the complaint lodged by his son, three youths got down from a car and opened fire on Dahiya from a close range. He died on the spot, said the police. The police sent the body to PGIMS for postmortem.
18:29  Gurung threatens militant stir for Gorkhaland in Darjeeling:  Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today threatened to launch a 'militant' agitation in the Darjeeling hills to realise its original demand for a Gorkhaland state, a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee firmly ruled out any division of the state. 

Raising the Gorkhaland issue in the midst of the chief minister's visit to the Darjeeling hills, Gurung alleged after inaugurating a bridge at Bijonbari that the state government had been trying to 'suppress' demands of the hill people. 

Gurung also made a brief reference to the Telengana statehood demand and said, "Our movement is old and we will fight for its realisation."
18:28  Karunanidhi on Viswaroopam: Why is TN govt silent?:  As the controversy over Kamal Haasan's Tamil movie Viswaroopam continued, DMK chief M Karunanidhi today wondered why the Tamil Nadu government had not taken any initiative to resolve the crisis. 

"Though the Madras high court judge has suggested an amicable solution, the Tamil Nadu government has not taken any initiative," he said writing in the party organ Murasoli

Karunanidhi also cited reports suggesting that a TV channel close to the AIADMK wanted to buy the film but that the producers had refused saying they had spent over Rs 100 crore. He also referred to reports that at a function recently, Hassan wanted a 'dhoti-clad Tamilian to become the prime minister', apparently referring to P Chidambaram's potential to occupy the top job.
18:14  Just In: Suzlon Energy, Tulsi Tanti and four executives settle charges related to insider trading norms with Sebi
18:10  China has 240 mn automobiles, 260 mn drivers:  

China has over 240 million automobiles as of last year and 260 million driving license holders of all types of vehicles.         


The number of people licensed to drive cars in China has exceeded 200 million, an increase of 26.47 million year-on-year, the Ministry of Public Security's statistics here showed.         


The statistics showed that there were 240 million automobiles on the roads by the end of 2012, and a total of 260 million license holders for all types of vehicles, including motorcycles, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

17:51  Navodaya student commits suicide in school campus:  A class XIIth student of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya allegedly committed suicide on the school campus by hanging himself from a tree, with the family claiming that he took the step after he was assaulted by school authorities and a policeman over the disappearance of another student. 

18-year-old Raj Kumar Mathur was found hanging from a tree in the school campus in Dighor yesterday, the police said. Raj's family lodged an FIR alleging that he ended his life after he was beaten up by the principal, a teacher and an SHO while questioning him in connection with the disappearance of one of his friends, Shubham, from the school.
17:40  Just In: Election Commission reprimands BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu for violating Model Code by making personal remarks against the PM during the Gujarat poll campaign.
17:36  Bharti Airtel to get new MD, jt MD:  India's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel is appointing Manoj Kohli as its new managing director, MediaNama has reported quoting a BSE filing. 

'The filing indicates that this appointment will be considered at Bharti Airtel's Board of Directors meeting scheduled for February 1,' it reports, and says Kohli currently heads Airtel's International operations as its CEO and serves as the Joint Managing Director of Bharti Airtel.   

'According to the filing, the Airtel Board will also be considering the appointment of Gopal Vittal as its Joint Managing Director and Additional Director while Sunil Bharti Mittal will taking over the role of Executive Chairman from his current role as Chairman & Managing Director of Bharti Airtel,' MediaNama further reports, here.
17:19  Bangalore cops launch new initiative to protect women:  The Bangalore city police today launched a new patrolling initiative 'Abhaya' to ensure speedy response for women in distress. 

'Abhaya', manned by a woman sub-inspector and two women constables, would provide round-the-clock patrolling across the city. Women who want to seek help could call the special women help line 1091, launched recently or 10928, city police commissioner Jyoti Prakash Mirji said. 

Shilpa Shettar, wife of Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, and Pramila Ashok, wife of Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok, flagged off the new patrolling system at a function.
17:17  RSS and Gandhiji's assassination, another view:  The RSS's role in Mahatma Gandhi's assassination has been debated ad nauseam. Bal Patil now weighs in with his considered opinion on GandhiTopia, a meeting point for Gandhian students, scholars, activists and institutions.

'It would be unsustainable and totally presumptuous to raise an issue that there can be two views of the cold and calculated conspiracy which led to the assassination of the Father of the Nation by diehard fundamentalists nurtured by the RSS,' he writes. 

'In a letter to the RSS chief, Golwalkar, on the ban on the RSS following Gandhiji's assassination, Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, India's first home minister, clearly acknowledged the complicity of the RSS in the Gandhi assassination,' Bal Patil points out.   

He further writes: 'The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi, which was set up in 1965, deserves greater weight than the verdict of the Sessions Court. It was headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court and was provided with evidence not produced in the court; especially the testimony of two of Savarkar's close aides -- Appa Ramachandra Kasar, his bodyguard, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, his secretary. Had they testified in Court, Savarkar would have been convicted. There was none of the ambiguity surrounding Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Kapur Commission that they visited him on or about January 23 or 24, which was when they returned from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle deposed that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar "in the middle of January and sat with him (Savarkar) in his garden'.'  

The fact is that before the actual assassination in 1948 there were several attempts on Gandhiji's life from 1934, he also points out, and says:  'All the available evidence strongly suggests that the Government failed to protect Gandhiji when it could have done so. The stock excuse provided Government for inadequately security measures is that Government did not like persons attending prayer meetings to be scared.'   

 Read the full, engaging article here.
17:04  Reliance issues 'perpetual bonds' worth $800m: FT:   Reliance Industries  'has raised $800m via a perpetual bond with no penalty clause, the first Indian company to issue a "for life' perpetual as it seeks to exploit record low interest rates and strong demand for Asian credit,' reports the Financial Times.

So what are perpetual bonds? The newspaper answers the question: 'Perpetual bonds never expire, but typically have a penalty, or a preordained increase in the yield paid by the bond, that gives the borrower an incentive to pay investors back after a certain length of time. Perpetual bonds that maintain a set yield are known as "fixed for life".'

'The bond will yield 5.875 per cent compared with 5.25 per cent for the company's 30-year bonds, and was around four times oversubscribed with almost $3bn in orders,' FT further reports.

Read the full report here.
17:03  Cong not against Telangana formation: Chacko:  Just In: The Congress is not against formation of Telangana state. We are in the process of taking a decision, senior leader P C Chacko has said.
16:55  Among the flow of outrage online over the continuing -- and unnecessary -- ban on Viswaroopam, actor Prakash Raj's comment caught our eye. He tweets: 'Its not who lost but who WON is terrifying. This happened Today to Kamala Hassan Tom it can happen to any one of us. WAKE UP everyone.'
16:46  New version of Honda Brio coming soon:  Reports Autocar India: 'In view of consumer feedback, Honda is expected to introduce a new 'VX' trim-level for the Brio. As a hatch, the Brio makes a strong case for itself as a decent overall package, but had a few glaring omissions in its features list. The new variant will address these issues and employ additional equipment that includes a rear demister and driver seat height adjustment. Although a rear wiper is desired, the Brio's design lacks the provision to accommodate it.'

16:39  Moderate earthquake in China:  A 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck northwest China's Qinghai province today. 

The quake struck Zadoi County in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture at 17:27 (Beijing Time), the China Earthquake Networks Center said. The epicentre was at a depth of 20 km, it said.
16:39  Sensex regains 20k level; RIL, ICICI ris:  The BSE benchmark Sensex today closed 14 points up as investors covered up their pending positions before monthly expiry in the derivatives segment amid better global trend. 

The Sensex gained by 14.10 points to close at 20,005. The gauge touched the day's high of 20,073.46 and a low of 19,964.64 with 12 of the BSE index components ending with gains. The index had lost 113 points in last two sessions. 

The broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty added 5.85 points to 6,066.75 led by stocks of realty, consumer durables and refinery stocks. 

While the market was somewhat under pressure on investors clearing their positions before the monthly expiry in the derivatives segment, a better global trend supported the market.
16:27  Rajesh Khanna's 'friend' Anita Advani files fresh case:  Anita Advani who claimed to be a live-in partner of late Rajesh Khanna today filed a fresh case in a local court against the late superstar's wife Dimple Kapadia,daughters Twinkle and Rinkie and son-in-law Akshay Kumar for allegedly throwing her out of his bungalow. 

Advani had last year filed a similar complaint in a Bandra court under the Domestic Violence Act in which she claimed maintenance, following which the court issued summons to Kapadia and other family members. 

However, the proceedings were stayed after Khanna's family members moved the Bombay high court which posted the case for hearing on February 6. 

In the case filed today in Bandra court under similar offences under IPC, Advani claimed that she was thrown out of Khanna's plush bungalow 'Ashirwad' on Carter Road after his death. 

She also alleged that the late superstar's signature was forcibly taken on the will although he was not medically fit to sign it.
16:26  Kamal to take 'Viswaroopam' case to Supreme Court:  Just In: Following the Madras high court's rebuff for his ambitious film Viswaroopam, Kamal Haasan has announced that he will approach the Supreme Court next for justice.

More details soon.
16:22  TV18's IndiaCast, Disney UTV form distribution JV company:  IndiaCast, a joint venture between TV18 and Viacom18, has formed a strategic alliance with Disney UTV Group firm UGBL, for distribution of their television channels in India. 

 The new distribution venture is a step-down joint venture where IndiaCast will hold 74 per cent stake, while the remaining 26 per cent will be held by Disney UTV, TV18 said in a statement. 

IndiaCast -- a 50:50 JV -- presently distributes TV18, Viacom18, A+E Networks and Eenadu channels. 'TV18's effective economic interest in IndiaCast is 75 per cent and 56 per cent in the new JV,' the statement said.
16:02  India drops to rank 140 in press freedom, lowest since 2002:  India has dropped nine places to 140th rank in the list of 179 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index, which its authors said is the lowest for the "world's biggest democracy" since 2002.

"In Asia, India (140th, -9) is at its lowest since 2002 because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because Internet censorship continues to grow," Reporters Without Borders said in its World Press Freedom Index for the year 2013. 

 "China (173rd, +1) shows no sign of improving. Its prisons still hold many journalists and netizens, while increasingly unpopular Internet censorship continues to be a major obstacle to access to information." 

As of last year, the list is topped by three European countries -- Finland, Netherlands and Norway. Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea continue to be at the bottom of the list as has been in the last three years.
16:01  Just In: Government to sell 10 per cent stake in Oil India on February 1.
15:58  Shinde on 'Viswaroopam': Artists have full liberty:  The Centre today came out in support of film star Kamal Haasan, who is facing problems in releasing his mega budget film Viswaroopam, saying everyone in the country enjoys freedom of expression and artists have full liberty to continue their choice of work. 

"We are a free society. There is freedom of expression. There is liberty for artists. We have a Constitution," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters. He was reacting to a question on the actor's statement that Tamil Nadu does not want him to stay in the state and that he might leave. 

Asked about the problems being faced in the release of Viswaroopam, Shinde said there was some problem in some states and he would look into it. "We will see. We will enquire into what has happened," he said.
15:46  No release of 'Vishwaroompam' in TN till Feb 6: HC :  The Madras high court today has stayed the release of Kamal Haasan's controversial film 'Vishwaroompam'. The film will not be allowed to be screened in theaters in Tamil Nadu till February 6, said the double bench of the HC.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled for Monday.

The Tamil Nadu government had appealed against the single bench order of the HC on Tuesday which lifted a ban on the film.   
15:23  Haasan agrees to cut some scenes in 'Vishwaroopam':  

Kamaal Hasan has agreed to cut some scenes in his film 'Vishwaroopam' which has been entangled in a major controversy and its release stalled in Tamil Nadu.  


The actor also said that he has reached an amicable settlement with Tamil Nadu government, and has requested them to maintain law and order situation in the state. My Muslim brothers have reached out to me, Haasan added  


Upset over the hurdles caused by the ban on the release of mega budget Vishwaroopam, an emotional Kamal said earlier in the day that Tamil Nadu does not want him to stay in the state and he might seek a 'secular' place in the country or overseas.

15:06  Censor Board is final authority, SC had said about Aarakshan:  As Kamal Haasan battles the Tamil Nadu government's determination to sink his magnum opus Viswaroopam using the law and order argument, the talented actor and film-maker need not lose heart.   

The Supreme Court's ruling in the case involving Prakash Jha's Aarakshan sets out clearly the limits to the government's interference in such matters, and that the Censor Board's decision in these matters is final.   

Film-maker Rohan Sippy explains the SC ruling on his blog. 'The court said once the Central Board of Film Certification cleared the public screening of a film, no state government can raise objections on its content. Therefore the order restrains the State Governments from seeking deletion of certain portions of the film after the film is certified by Censor Board as such act amounts to "pre-censorship', which power is not vested in the state,' he writes.   

'The Supreme Court's decision upholds the rights of a film-maker to express his thoughts and views through the film as his fundamental right of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Once the Censor Board has approved a film, the State Government's interference with exhibition of the Film on the ground of breach of law and order would amount to breach of such fundamental right,' he further states.

You can read his blog here.
14:56  Aam Aadmi Party files plea against Gadkari for I-T comment:  Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party has filed a complaint against former BJP president Nitin Gadkari for his remarks on I-T officials, the police said today. 

A day after Rajnath Singh replaced him as BJP chief, "free man" Nitin Gadkari on his arrival at Nagpur airport on January 24 had said he was not bound by the dignity of the post any longer and virtually threatened income-tax officials, claiming nobody would save them when BJP came to power at Centre. 

The complaint was filed last night with Sonegaon airport police station by AAP functionary Girish Nandgaonkar.
14:55  RSS man says BJP's conspiracy brought down Gadkari:  Some senior BJP leaders conspired together to deny second consecutive term as party president to Nitin Gadkari and were also instrumental in supplying "material" to the media against him, claimed RSS ideologue M G Vaidya. 

"When BJP amended its constitution to facilitate extending a second term to incumbent president Gadkari, a section of party leaders did not like it. But they did not oppose it openly and since then started working against giving a second term to Gadkari", Vaidya wrote in his blog. 

"Gadkari would have scored 70 per cent votes had he contested polls for the second term", Vaidya said.
14:50  Govt withdraws revision plea in ice-cream parlour sex case:  The Kerala government today withdrew its revision petition filed against a lower court order, directing the prosecution to give copies of documents and statements to Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan in the case relating to attempts to 'sabotage' the ice-cream parlour sex case. 

 On earlier occasions, the government had always sought adjournments. 

Justice V K Mohanan, before whom the petition came up today, permitted the government to withdraw it. The court also allowed the AG's plea to reserve their right to file the application again. 

 During the earlier hearing,the court had orally asked the government why it was shying away from giving documents to Achuthanandan while the accused in the case had not opposed the move.
14:48  Sex racket busted in Pune; 12 girls rescued:  A high profile inter-state sex racket was busted by the Pune crime branch in which 12 girls, including nine from other countries, were rescued and five alleged procurers arrested, the police said today. 

 The operation was carried out in an apartment in the plush Koregaon park area on Monday night on a tip-off by a local municipal corporator and with the help of a decoy customer, said Bhanupratap Barge, inspector, social security cell of the Pune police's crime branch. 

 The detained girls, aged between 19 and 25, included one each from Uzbekistan and Nepal and seven from Bangladesh, and three Indian girls including one from Delhi.
14:47  Rare Gandhi-Kallenbach letters go on display in Delhi:  Seventy-five rare letters that throw light on the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and architect Hermann Kallenbach during their stay in South Africa and the communication between their families went on public display today. 

The letters, two newspapers and journal, which were bought by India for a whopping USD 1.28 million from a UK auction house, is now part of the Private Paper Collections at the National Archives of India. 

The exhibition, titled 'Gandhi-Kallenbach Papers', was inaugurated by Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch and Gandhi's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi on his 65th death anniversary today. It will be on till February 15. 

Only 75 of the 1500 letters of the collection are put on display and they reflect upon the starting of first satyagrah movement in South Africa and give an insight into the relationship that was shared between the two families.
14:30  PM assures prompt action on Verma panel suggestions:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the J S Verma Committee to amend the law to deal effectively with cases of sexual assault against women. 

In a letter to Justice Verma, former Chief Justice of India, Singh thanked him and other two members of the committee -- Justice (retd) Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian -- for completing within a short period of 30 days the work of the panel, set up in the wake of the brutal gangrape and assault of a 23-year-old here on December 16 last. 

"That the committee submitted its report within a short period of 30 days is testimony to your commitment and concern for the public good... 

"On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the committee," the prime minister said in the letter.
13:44  Court says no to plea against PM, Maran in 2G scam:  A Delhi court today refused to entertain a complaint seeking registration of an FIR against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran for their alleged role in the 2G scam. 

Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said, "The present complaint pertains to 2G spectrum scam and the grievance, if any, of the complainant can only be addressed by the special court so nominated to deal and try the matters pertaining to the 2G spectrum scam. 

"I am of the considered view that this court being special court dealing with the cases of the Prevention of Corruption Act, has no jurisdiction to entertain the present application.Hence, prayer made by the complainant is declined. Ordered accordingly."

The court's order came on a complaint filed by RTI activist Vivek Garg accusing the prime minister and Maran of "unlawfully changing and diluting" the original terms of references for vacation and reallocation of spectrum leading to the 2G scam.
13:43  Eight kidnapped labourers released in Bihar:  Three days after they were kidnapped by Maoists, eight labourers were today released by the ultra-left activists in Jamui district of Bihar, the police said. 

The labourers were released unconditionally near Channaber village under the Khaira police station area of the district, superintendent of police Upendera Sharma said. 

 Security forces comprising personnel of CRPF, STF, SAP (Special Auxiliary Police) and the Bihar police had launched a massive hunt for the kidnapped labourers and their release was a result of the pressure of the security forces operation, the SP claimed. 

 The labourers were engaged in the construction of a road bridge on Nawada-Jamui road from where they were kidnapped on Saturday night.
13:42  On Ashis Nandy's predicament and ours: From Kafila:  Shuddhabrata Sengupta writes in about his 'profound sense of disappointment and anger with which I heard Prof. Ashis Nandy, a man I consider to be a great teacher, friend and in possession of one of the finest minds of our time, commit himself in public to a flippant and vulgar position when speaking of the relationship between caste and corruption at the Jaipur Literary Festival'. 

'To say that 'most of the corrupt are Dalits or come from backward communities' is to say something as nonsensical as 'most terrorists are Muslim', or, 'most people in the top echelons of right wing Hindu groups are Chitpavan Brahmins' or ,'most of the financiers and speculators in global Capitalism are Jewish', or 'most of the people who were carriers of the HIV virus in the early days of the AIDS epidemic were homosexuals', Dasgupta writes, even as he hopes 'that sense prevails, that Ashis Nandy is not sent to prison, so that we can roundly and thoroughly criticise him on intellectual grounds. Should the powers that be decide that a spell in prison is the only way their meagre imaginations can deal with this situation, I call upon everyone, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with Nandy to denounce such a move in the strongest, harshest terms because of its inherent authoritarianism.'   

Read the full article here.
13:09  Delhi HC stays arrest warrant against Raj Thackeray:  Just In: Delhi high court stays execution of non-bailable warrant against Maharashtra Navnirmal Sena chief Raj Thackeray on two complaints lodged for his alleged hate speeches against Bihar natives.
13:08  No respite from cold conditions in Punjab, Haryana:  There was no let-up in the persisting cold conditions in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh today with the mercury dipping to nearly four degrees Celsius below normal in several parts of the region. 

The minimum temperatures hovered between one to four degrees Celsius below normal in several parts of Punjab and Haryana, the Met office said. Hisar was the coldest place in the region with a low of 3.7 degrees Celsius, which was three notches below normal. Ludhiana braved a low of 4.4 degrees Celsius, four notches below normal whereas Karnal shivered at 4.6 degrees Celsius, three notches below normal.
12:26  So how old did you think Indian curry was?:  Just how old is the curry? Here's an interesting take:

'The original curry predates Europeans' presence in India by about 4,000 years. Villagers living at the height of the Indus civilization used three key curry ingredients'"ginger, garlic, and turmeric'"in their cooking. This proto-curry, in fact, was eaten long before Arab, Chinese, Indian, and European traders plied the oceans in the past thousand years,' writes Andrew Lawler in

Behind the new findings on the antiquity of the curry is archaeologist Arunima Kashyap of the University of Washington at Vancouver, who, along with Steve Weber, made the recent proto-curry discovery, says

'Working with other Indian and American archaeologists, the two applied new methods for pinpointing the elusive remains of spices that dont show up in flotation tanks. Instead of analyzing dirt from Indus kitchens, they collected cooking pots from the ancient town of Farmana, a modest settlement that prospered in the late third millennium B.C. (Today, its a two-hour drive west of Delhi.) They also obtained human teeth from the nearby cemetery from the same era,' the report says.

You can read the full report here.
12:11  I think Tamil Nadu wants me out, says Kamal Haasan:   With the Tamil Nadu government deciding to appeal the court nod for his film Viswaroopam, actor Kamal Haasan addressed the media to push for his cause. 

Well-known for his rationalist and atheist views, the actor said, "Various reasons have been told me as to why all this is happening, none of them makes any sense to me."

"It is a political game, and I am not even sure who is playing it,' he said.

His latest film has raised the hackles of some Muslim organisations, but Kamal Hassan said he did not want to divide the country on religious lines. 

"I have hawked my house to a money-lender to make this film and it is two months since it is overdue. I have pawned all my properties to him in case he doesn't get his money back, and I stand to lose my house," the actor said. 

"I truly wonder how just one movie can knock this mighty nation's unity aside," Kamal Haasan wondered out loud. 

"I shall now wait for the judgment in the afternoon,' he said. "After that I may have to look for another state, a more secular one, and if I don't find it I may have to find a more secular nation. MF Husain had done it, I may have to do it. But I will always remain an Indian,' he said.

"I think Tamil Nadu wants me out,' the actor said in response to a question and answer.
11:50  German national drowns in sea off Kerala:  A German national drowned while swimming in the sea near Chovvara beach at nearby Vizhinjam in Kerala, the police said. The deceased was identified as Werner Rudolph (68). 

He was swimming in the sea yesterday with his wife when he was caught in the current. Lifeguards at the beach brought him ashore and he was admitted to a private hospital at Neyyattinkara. However, his life could not be saved. 

 The couple had been residing at a resort at Chovvara for treatment and had planned their trip back home tomorrow, the police said.
11:49  7 killed in China coal mine accident:  Seven workers were killed and three others remain trapped in a private coal mine after an accident in China's northeast Heilongjiang Province. 

Three other workers have been pulled to safety, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. 

The three were lifted out of the mine and were in stable condition, according to the Dongning county government. 

Three workers entered the Yongsheng colliery to pump out water last night, but poisonous gas caused them to faint, the report said. Rescuers were sent to the site, but some of them were also affected by the toxic gas.
11:16  Armed robbery at gurudwara in California:  Armed men barged into a gurudwara in California city and took away the money from a donation box kept inside the complex, the police said. 

According to the local Livingston police in California, three robbers entered the gurudwara through the front door early Sunday morning. One of the men was armed with a gun, while another was with a knife. The third robber was unarmed. The three men took a few thousand dollars from a donation box and left through a side door, joining two other men who were waiting outside, local newspaper Merced Sunstar quoted the police as saying yesterday. 

The North American Punjabi Association president Satnam Singh Chahal also that the three men took money from the donation box and left through a side door.
11:08  Kolkata says no to hosting Salman Rushdie:  Salman Rushdie, who has been in India to promote Deepa Mehta's film Midnight's Children and has been having a pleasant stay in Delhi and Mumbai, however will not be allowed to visit Kolkata, reports The Telegraph.

Rushdie was to visit the city today, but it "has been called off at the last minute because of objections raised by the state government and an ultimatum issued by police", the newspaper reported quoting sources. 

"Calcutta was supposed to be their last stop. From this afternoon, phone calls from police officers and "a senior minister' were made to the organisers of the Calcutta Book Fair," the Telegraph further reports.

You can read the full report here.
11:03  Rajasthan police to question Ashis Nandy today:  The Rajasthan police will question sociologist Ashis Nandy over his anti-Dalit remarks in Delhi on Wednesday. 

Rajpal Meena, Chairperson of the SC/ST Rajasthan Manch, lodged an FIR against Nandy and Roy last Saturday, after Nandy stoked a controversy with his comments about Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Saturday. 

Asserting that he has worked for Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis for 45 years of his life, sociologist Nandy, on Tuesday said that he was ready to go to jail if tried under the Atrocities Act and convicted. "It is a non-bailable warrant I am told under this act. And, if at the age of 75, I am tried under the Atrocities Act and convicted, I will go to jail, I will not contest it. I will go to jail because I have worked for Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis for 45 years of my life, and I am not going to take this insult quietly, in the sense that I will oppose it and try to subvert it. I will go to jail," he said, when asked about his future course of action if issued summons by Rajasthan police. 

Nandy, however, said that he has not received the summons as yet. "I have only heard that an FIR has been lodged against me. When I get that FIR, when I get that summons I shall respond to that, I shall go there," he added. 

An FIR was lodged against him under Section 506 IPC (Criminal Intimidation) and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Jaipur Literature Festival producer Sanjoy Roy is also likely to be questioned by the police.
10:50  Burma ends 25-year-old ban in public gatherings:  The Burmese authorities have lifted a 25-year-old ban on public gatherings of more than five people. 

The order dates from 1988, when a military government took power after crushing pro-democracy protests. 

The State-run newspaper said the law was being axed because it was not in line with the constitution. It quoted officials as saying that basic rights, such as freedom of expression, were now constitutionally guaranteed, the BBC reports. 

The public-gatherings ban was commonly used in the years immediately after 1988 as a tool to crush dissent against successive military regimes, the report said. But it was eased following the end of military rule in November 2010, and when the elected government of President Thein Sein took office the following year, it added. 
10:49  President, VP, PM lead nation in homage to Mahatma:  India on Wednesday paid homage to Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on his 65th death anniversary.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh paid floral tribute to Gandhi at his memorial Rajghat.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and a host of other dignitaries also paid tribute to the apostle of peace at his memorial.

A series of functions are being organized throughout the country to mark the occasion.

Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat. A lawyer by profession, Gandhi led the struggle for India''s independence from British rule by following the path of non-violence.

Ironically, Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, at a prayer meeting in Delhi on January 30, 1948, less than a year after India became independent.
10:19  Uddhav Thackeray hints at uniting with cousin Raj :   Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray hinted at a possibility of reconciliation with estranged cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, reports CNN-IBN.

"The Shiv Sena and MNS may come together to avoid split in Marathi vote", Uddhav said in an interview to the party mouthpiece Saamna. "I can't rule out working with Raj. We have to sit and discuss this."

"Agar Raj Thackeray Shiv Sena ke sath aana chahte hain toh hum unka swagat hi karenge. Shiv sena ke sath dil se aanewalon ka swagat hi hoga (If Raj Thackeray wants an alliance with the Shiv Sena, we will welcome him.  We welcome everyone who is genuinely willing to join hands with us)," Uddhav said when asked about his reaction if cousin Raj came to him with a proposal for an alliance.  
10:11  China gives nod for 3 new Brahmaputra dams:  China has given a nod for the construction of three new hydropower dams on the  the Brahmaputra river. This ends a two-year halt in approving new projects on the river amid concerns from India and environmental groups, reports The Hindu.

Read the full report here
09:59  'ISI behind killing of India soldiers along LoC':  The killing of two Indian soldiers -- Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh -- along the Line of Control was a planned operation headed by a serving ISI subedar, Jabbar Khan, of a unit based in Tattapani in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, according to intelligence reports accessed by CNN-IBN.

Others in the team were 15 members of the Lashkar and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. The beheading was carried out by the Lashkar's Anwar Khan, for which he was rewarded Rs 5 lakh, the report said.

Read the full story here
09:28  US Senate approves John Kerry as secretary of state:  The United States Senate has approved Senator John Kerry's nomination as secretary of state, after he was backed unanimously by the foreign relations committee.

His confirmation after a 94-3 vote was met with applause on the Senate floor, reports BBC.

US President Barack Obama chose the Massachusetts Democrat to succeed Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down after four years, as his top diplomat.

09:18  Gandhi's assasination: How Savarkar escaped the gallows:  Investigations confirmed the suspicion that V D Savarkar was the brain behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The evidence at the trial court all but proved his complicity. But he still managed to escape the gallows, writes A G Noorani in The Hindu. Here's how...

Read the full story in The Hindu   
08:51  India killed 12 soldiers, 29 civilians: Pak to UN:  In classified protests to a United Nations watchdog that have never been disclosed till now, Pakistan has accused Indian soldiers of involvement in the torture and decapitation of at least 12 Pakistani soldiers in cross-Line of Control raids since 1998, as well as the massacre of 29 civilians, reports Praveen Swami for Th e Hindu.

The allegations, laid out in confidential Pakistani complaints to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, suggest that Indian and Pakistani troops stationed on the LoC remain locked in a pattern of murderous violence, despite the ceasefire both armies entered into in November 2003, the report said.

Earlier this month, bilateral relations took a hit after the beheading and mutilation of two Indian soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh.

Read the full report on The Hindu
08:42  TN govt challenges HC order on lifting Vishwaroopam ban:  The Tamil Nadu government has challenged the Madras high court's order of lifting the stay on Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam', reports CNN-IBN.

The case will come up before the first bench of the Madras high court at 10.30 am today.

Decks were cleared last night for the release of of the controversial Tami lmovie  with the HC lifting the ban imposed by the Tamil Nadu government after protests by Muslim outfits.   

Justice K Venkataraman granted the interim stay of the operation of the order made under Section 144 of the CrPC by district collectors across the state that had prevented the release of the movie made with a nearly Rs 100-crore budget.
08:36  Telangana: 7 Cong MPs to meet Sonia, may quit today:  With a decision on Telangana deferred by the Union government again, seven Lok Sabha members of the Congress will be in Delhi today to build pressure on their party.

The members will be carrying resignation letters addressed to the Lok Sabha Speaker, which they are likely to hand over to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, reports NDTV.

The government had last month promised a decision on Telangana by January 28, but on Sunday it asked for more time. 
03:44  Death toll in Brazil fire hits 234:  AP reports: A state forensics department has raised the death toll from a nightclub fire in Brazil to 234 people.

Local authorities earlier said 231 people died in the blaze, but the Rio Grande do Sul state raised the number today to account for three additional victims whose names didn't appear on the original list.

One of the victims had originally been confused with another person with a similar name. Another was identified early Sunday but didn't appear on a previous list.
01:54  Obama unveils proposal for immigration reform:  Washington Post reports: United states President Obama on Tuesday called for a process to allow millions of illegal immigrants in the country to apply for citizenship, and warned that he would send his own bill to Congress if lawmakers deadlock on a new Senate proposal.

"We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in this country right now," Obama said.

Read the full story here
01:25  Subway death: NY woman's arraignment postponed:  The arraignment of a 31-year-old woman, accused of pushing an Indian immigrant to his death in front of a subway train last month, has been postponed as defense attorneys seek to contest a ruling that she is mentally fit to stand trial in the case.

Erika Menendez of Queens pushed Sunando Sen, 46, in front of an oncoming subway train on December 27, telling authorities later that her hatred for 'Hindus and Muslims' prompted her to push Sen off the subway platform.

Menendez was due to be arraigned in a federal court today but her arraignment has been postponed till February 27.

At a hearing in a Queens court, her defence team said it would contest a ruling that she is mentally fit for trial. They want their own psychiatrist to examine Menendez, who has already undergone a psychiatric evaluation.
01:15  Pakistan boycotts 'Zero Dark Thirty', US dramas:  AFP reports: Pakistani movie distributors and TV stations are boycotting an Oscar-nominated film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden and popular US dramas to avoid offending sensibilities or sparking a violent backlash. Pakistan may have a starring role in Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty', which dramatises the 10-year CIA hunt for the 9/11 mastermind, but local cinemas are steering clear of a film they say could make people feel humiliated.

Similarly, a local cable distributor is blocking transmission of the smash hit dramas 'Homeland', starring Claire Danes, and 'Last Resort' on the grounds they are against the national interest.
00:52  US woman seeks last-minute death penalty reprieve:  A Texas woman, convicted of a grisly slaying and robbery of a 71-year-old neighbour, set to become the first woman executed in the United States since 2010, has sought a last-minute reprieve. Kimberly McCarthy's lawyers have asked Governor Rick Perry to issue a 30-day reprieve citing racial bias which they argued impacted the case.

McCarthy, 51, is black. Her victim, retired professor Dorothy Booth, was white.

"The unacceptable disparate impact of race on the administration of the death penalty in Texas has become increasingly well established," McCarthy's lawyers wrote.
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