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Live! Raj, Tripura, K'taka, Delhi bag EC award for best electoral practices

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January 24, 2014

23:47  Raj, Tripura, K'taka, Delhi bag EC award for best electoral practices:  The four states of Rajasthan, Tripura, Karnataka and Delhi have been selected by Election Commission for an award of excellence for having the best electoral practices and introducing innovative measures which saw them achieve high turnouts in assembly polls last year.

Noting their achievements in the area of poll management, EC has decided to confer upon these four states the 'Award of Excellence' as part of the National Awards, 2013.

The award will be presented by the President as part of a National Voters' Day function tomorrow.

The 2013 Assembly polls saw an increase of 14.54 per cent in the voter turnout in Delhi whereas other states which went to polls, such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan recorded an increase of 4.12, 9.54, 11.95 per cent, respectively.
23:27  Sibal to contest from Chandni Chowk even if Kejriwal in fray:  Amid speculation that AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal could contest against him from his Chandni Chowk constituency, Union Minister Kapil Sibal today made it clear that he will contest from the constituency.

"I am going to contest Lok Sabha election from Chandni Chowk, let anybody be in the fray," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event. Sibal, a staunch critic of the Delhi chief minister, however, said he was not averse to subsidies like those effected in the national capital by the Aam Aadmi Party government with regard to power and water tariff.

"See the point is we are in the election mode... and naturally we all look at the aam aadmi." he said. "As a govt, we have been doing this all along for the last 10 years for the common man. I think that though any subsidy which has a very negative long term implication for the economy is not something which is welcome but, at the same time, we must realise that there are certain sections of our country who need subsidies and therefore those issues need to be addressed," Sibal said.
23:25  Request African nationals not to leave Khirki Extn: AAP govt:  Delhi government today urged African nationals against moving out of the Khirki Extension locality following reports that some of them were leaving the area in the wake of the midnight raid which Law Minister Somnath Bharti allegedly led there last week.

"If they (Africans) are moving out of the locality, then it should not happen. I would request the residents of Khirki Extension to not leave the place," Education and Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia told reporters.

Sisodia, however, claimed that the sex and drug racket did exist in the area with residents long having complained about the menace.

Bharti has been facing severe criticism after he allegedly led a group of AAP workers last week in a raid at the houses of some African nationals.
22:53  Muzaffarnagar riots: One gang-rape accused arrested:   Police today arrested one person, who was among 22 people issued non-bailable warrant for their alleged involvement in five incidents of gang-rape during Muzaffarnagar riots.

After his arrest, Vedpal was produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar, who sent him to 14 days judicial custody.

The accused was arrested from Phugana village of the district. Meanwhile, SIT, which is probing the riot cases, has approached the court seeking to declare the remaining 21 accused, who are on the run, as "absconders".

On January 21, a local court had issued non-bailable warrant against the 22 persons.
21:21  Explosions rock cairo, at least 5 dead and scores injured:  Cairo was rocked by a series of explosions on Friday, killing at least five people and leaving scores injured.

The first blast came as a booby-trapped car detonated close to the city's police headquarters, and could be heard kilometers away. Egypt's Health Ministry said four people were killed and 51 were injured. The blast was reportedly followed by gunfire.
21:15  Not just pre-2005 ones, Ramdev wants blanket withdrawal of all bank note:  Yoga guru Ramdev today urged the government to withdraw all higher denomination currency notes issued till date and not just the ones printed before 2005, saying that such a move would help curb black money and corruption. 

The decision to withdraw by March 31 all currency notes issued prior to 2005 was taken in "haste" and would only partially help check the flow of "fake currency", Ramdev said.
21:11  China warns foreign planes entering defence zone:  China said today it has begun issuing warnings to foreign military planes entering its self-declared air defence zone over the East China Sea, an indication of its determination to follow through on a measure already blamed for raising tensions in the region.
21:10  NKorea proposes family reunions with South:  North Korea today made a sudden proposal for the resumption of reunions for families separated since the Korean War, saying the programme could help improve cross-border ties. 

South Korea immediately welcomed the offer, which followed a recent series of trust-building gestures from the nuclear-armed communist country.
20:25  Sunanda case: Advanced tests to determine cause of injuries:  
The Crime Branch probing the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar will go for advanced forensic tests to determine cause of injuries on her body as it tries to unravel whether it was a case of suicide, homicide or accident.

Investigators said autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda's body besides a "deep teeth bite" on the edge of her left palm and they were trying to ascertain whether the injuries were "inflicted" on her. 

They said doctors who conducted autopsy on her body had preserved Sunanda's skin samples where the injuries were found and the advanced forensic tests like histopathology will be carried out to determine how old the injuries were and its causes.

Union Minister Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on Friday night, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor. 

The probe into the high-profile case was transfered to the Crime Branch yesterday considering its "sensitive nature" and "complexities" involved. 

The autopsy report had mentioned use of blunt force for the injury marks on both her hands and left cheek. 

Forensic experts are of the view that whether the injuries were self inflicted or otherwise can only be ascertained by detailed histopathology tests. 
19:49  BCCI exploring possibility of playing Pak at neutral venue:  
The BCCI is exploring the possibility of playing a cricket series against traditional rivals Pakistan at a neutral venue like Dubai or Sharjah in the near future. 

India have not played any Test series against Pakistan since 2007-08 home series because of strained relations but were engaged in a short limited overs series involving three ODIs and two T20 Internationals with matches being played at centres like Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai in 2012-13.

The issue of scheduling a series against Pakistan was briefly discussed at the Emergent Working Committee meeting in Chennai yesterday. 

"Yes, there was a discussion about possibilities of playing against Pakistan at a neutral venue like Dubai, Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. But nothing has been finalised as of now. We are definitely looking at possibilities and are open to discussion with our PCB counterparts," a senior BCCI office-bearer told PTI today.
19:44  Somnath Bharti too busy kite-flying to meet DCW:  
Chaos prevailed at Delhi Commission for Women's office here when Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti failed to appear before the panel and instead sent his lawyers to explain the charges against him. 

His lawyers were then had a public spat with panel head Barkha Singh after she refused to entertain them. 

Bharti had been summoned by the DCW following allegations that he led a group of AAP workers who misbehaved with a number of African women on the pretext of a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring in South Delhi last week. 

PTI has quoted his lawyers as saying that the Law Minister could not come due to "some urgencies". However, Bharti was later seen attending a kite festival in the capital. 

However, Barkha Singh refused to accept explanation offered by Bharti's lawyers. The commission has now decided to report the matter to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. 
19:30  IPL spot-fixing case: Court grants bail to suspected bookie:  
A suspected bookie, said to be in touch with suspended cricketer and co-accused Ajit Chandila in the IPL spot-fixing scandal case, was today granted bail by a Delhi court. 

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma granted the relief to Praveen Kumar Thakkar, who had surrendered before the court on January 18, observing that other accused in the case are already out on bail. 

Thakkar was granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with one surety of the like amount and the court also imposed several conditions on him, including that he would not leave the country without its permission.

According to the Special Cell of Delhi Police, he was involved in the conspiracy and was in touch with Chandila and two others regarding the match fixing in the IPL. 
18:47  3 Muslim ministers elevated to cabinet rank in UP:  
To assuage the sentiments of Muslims in the wake of Muzaffarnagar riots, the Uttar Pradesh government today elevated three ministers of state from the community to the cabinet rank and also inducted a new Muslim face in the ministry.

Those elevated to the cabinet rank today are Mehboob Ali, Iqbal Mehmood and Shahid Manzoor. 

Yasir Ali was sworn in as a minister of state by Governor BL Joshi. Ali is the son of Waqar Ahmed Shah, who was ailing for the past several months and was relieved of his labour portfolio. 

The expansion of the 21-month-old Akhilesh Yadav ministry came ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. 

Shivakant Ojha, who could not be present during the last reshuffle on January 18 as he was abroad, was today elevated as a cabinet minister.
18:12  IMF chief asks India to remove investment bottlenecks:   International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde today advised India to improve its business climate and remove a host of bottlenecks hampering investment.

"I think there is one word that applies to Indian economy, the real economy, it is bottleneck...there are bottlenecks in many corners...I would say addressing bottlenecks of Indian economy should be priority," IMF Managing Director Lagarde told NDTV.

She also said fighting corruption is important in all the countries where the menace exists. Suggesting steps to boost the Indian economy, the IMF chief further said the government should focus on fiscal consolidation.
17:49  RBI asks public to start exchanging pre-2005 currency notes:   The Reserve Bank has advised the public to start exchanging pre-2005 notes at banks, saying the volume of such notes that are being withdrawn from circulation is 'not significant.'

"Members of public may initiate the process of exchanging notes at bank branches at their convenience," the RBI said in a statement today.

The removal of older currency notes from circulation is a standard international practice, the RBI said.
17:47  Sharad Pawar files nomination for Rajya Sabha:  Stating that it was a "conscious" decision to quit electoral politics, Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar today filed his nomination papers for the biennial Rajya Sabha polls scheduled to be held on February 7.

Apart from Pawar, NCP's second candidate advocate Majid Memon also filed his papers.

They were accompanied by Union Minister Praful Patel, senior NCP leader D P Tripathi and state NCP chief Bhaskar Jadhav on the occasion. Pawar and Memon replace retiring NCP members Y P Trivedi and Janardhan Waghmare.

On his way to the house of elders, 73-year-old Pawar said, "I accept that I have aged. It was a conscious decision."
17:45  Techie murder in Mumbai: Shinde writes to Maharashtra govt:   More than a week after his daughter's body was found decomposed and burnt in a swamp near a major highway on the outskirts of Mumbai, S Jonathan Prasad met the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to plead for help.

Shinde has written to Maharashtra's Home Minister RR Patil, asking for "swift action" and the identification of the killers of Esther Anuhya, a 23-year-old working with software major TCS.
17:43  Rupee falls 73 paise or 1.18 per cent to 62.66 against the US dollar; lowest closing level in over two months.
17:41  3 cops suspended after AAP video exposed police brutality:  Three policemen from the Civil Lines police station suspended for beating up a civilian near Red Fort. The action was taken after AAP uploaded a video which showed the cops' brutality.

Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said that any such incident will not be tolerated.
17:33  India back on No 1 spot in ODI ranking :  India is back at the top spot in the 50-over format as Australia loses to England in the fourth ODI held today at Perth.

17:26  JD-U drops all 3 sitting Rajya Sabha MPs:  The Janata Dal-United has dropped all old faces in the Rajya Sabha. Shivanand Tiwari, Shabir Ali and N K Singh have been asked to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
16:55  Sri Lanka to release 61 Indian fishermen:  Sri Lanka today announced it will release 61 Indian fishermen held in the country for alleged poaching, days after the two sides agreed to resolve the issue that has become an irritant in bilateral ties.

"As per the arrangements, India is to release 59 Sri Lankans and three trawlers. Sri Lanka would release 61 Indian fishermen and 15 boats," Fisheries Ministry spokesman Narendra Sri Rajapaksa said.

The development came following direct talks between Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Rajitha Senaratne in New Delhi last week.

Senaratne was in India for talks on the recurring problem of arrests of each other's fishermen.
16:50  End of an era as Federer bows out 6-7, 3-6, 3-6:  Rafael Nadal entered the final of the men's singles at the Australian Open after demolishing Roger Federer 7-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second semi-final at Melbourne Park on Friday.

The Spaniard, world No 1, will take on Federer's Swiss compatriot Stanislas Warwinka, who edged out Tomas Berdych in the tightest of duels to reach his first Grand Slam final at the 36th attempt on Thursday.
16:37  Indonesian president talks of witchcraft in his memoirs:  Presidents of nations writing their memoirs is not uncommon, what is is one of them subscribing to witchcraft.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, in his recently-published memoirs, Selalu Ada Pilihan (There is Always a Choice), recalls an incident at his home involving his wife.

'Suddenly, my wife screamed,' Yudhoyono writes, 'There was this thick dark cloud hovering beneath the ceiling, trying to enter my bedroom. I then asked everybody to pray to seek Allah's help. I closed the door to my room but left others wide open. The revolving clouds eventually headed out of my house.'

Although home to the world's largest Muslim population and despite being prohibited by Islam, witchcraft is commonly accepted in Indonesia. In fact, Susilo is said to be living in his private residence and not the presidential palace owing to the belief that the latter is haunted.
16:30  Rahul's latest ad 'copies' Modi's phrase:   The Congress was left red-faced today after it was pointed out that the party's new new ad campaign pitching Rahul Gandhi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls lifted a tagline used by Narendra Modi three years ago, reports NDTV.

The ad featuring the Congress vice president starred in today's newspapers with the phrase 'Main Nahin, Hum' (Not I, we), which, the BJP immediately pointed out, had been coined and used by Modi in 2011.

Read the full report here
16:18  AAP uploads video of 'police brutality' at Red Fort:   The Aam Aadmi Party has uploaded a video of alleged police brutality near Red Fort. However, the Delhi police has said that they are not sure if the men in video are actually cops, reports NDTV.
16:11  Aus Open semis: Nadal wins first two sets against Federer:  

Rafael Nadal has taken a 2-0 lead against Roger Federer in the second men's singles semi-final at the Australian Open after winning the second set 6-3 in 47 minutes.  


The Spaniard effected the all-important break in the sixth game to go up 4-2. He then held serve and served out the set after trailing 0-30.   The first set, which lasted 59 minutes, went the distance, with the Nadal winning the tie-break 7-4.

15:50  AAP surge just a localised storm: Anand Sharma:  

Terming the Aam Aadmi Party's upsurge in Delhi a "localised storm", Union Minister Anand Sharma has said it was following a populist agenda that was pushing the society towards anarchy.        


Speaking here on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meet, Sharma said the AAP's success in Delhi does not mean it would be replicated elsewhere in India.        


Asked whether AAP was adding to uncertainties, Sharma said there may not be a need to worry as this was like a "localised storm" and Delhi is a city state.         "It is true that they did well...that does not mean that it would be replicated elsewhere in the country. Also, what they are doing is populism of absurd extremes which is pushing the society towards anarchy," he added.        


On investor sentiment, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India's economic potential and policies continue to attract businesses.

15:44  US firm offers VVIP choppers to India:  

After India scrapped a contract for procuring VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland, American firm Textron today said it is ready to offer its unique V-22 Osprey helicopter to India for ferrying its dignitaries.        


"We are ready to offer to India the V-22 Osprey in the VIP configuration through the Foreign Military Sales route. It is a unique and competitive product," Textron India President and Managing Director Inderjit Sial told PTI.        


He was asked about the possibility of offering any chopper of Bell Helicopters, an arm of Textron, for meeting the VVIP chopper requirements of the IAF.        


The government scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland, accusing it of breaching a pre-contract integrity pact and other contractual obligations in the Rs 3,600 crore contract.

15:24  Australian Open semis: Nadal wins first set against Federer:  

Spain's Rafael Nadal leads Switzerland's Roger Federer by one set to love in the second men's singles semi-final at the Australian Open.


Federer saved two break-points in the seventh game before holding serve and was 30-40 in ninth game, but held. After games went with serve, Nadal took the tie-breaker 7-4 to win the first set in 59 minutes.

15:11  Foreign tourist killed, 2 injured in Gulmarg avalanche:  One foreign tourist has dead, 2 others have been injured in an avalanche in Jammu and Kashmir's ski resort of Gulmarg, police sources say.
14:47  Pitroda panel submits report on Prasar Bharati's future:  A high-level committee headed by technocrat Sam Pitroda that was set up last January to look into the role of the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, today submitted its report to Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari.

The seven-member expert committee was set up "for the purpose of reviewing the institutional framework of Prasar Bharati including its relationship with government, its continuing role as a public broadcaster and measures needed to ensure technical upgradation of the organisation."

The committee was to review the status of implementation of recommendations made by various committees that have undertaken studies on Prasar Bharati --- the Sengupta committee, the Bakshi committee and the Narayanamurthy committee -- and suggest a road map ahead for enhancing the reach and potential of the broadcaster. 

It was also meant to suggest measures to digitise the archival material in the possession of Doordarshan and All India Radio including material from Independence movement era, and develop enabling infrastructure, in the form of data digitalisation systems, data centres and networks. 

The committee's brief was also to suggest ways of using the new media to deliver digital content -- both in broadcast mode (DTH) and in a demand-based mode (Free on social media like You-Tube, and on payment through IPTV). 

Apart from Pitroda, other members of the committee were former I&B Secretary Asha Swaroop, Dr B K Gairola, mission director (e-governance), Shekhar Kapur, member of the National Innovation Council, Prof M P Gupta of IIT Delhi and J S Mathur, additional secretary, I&B ministry. Jawhar Sircar, chief executive, Prasar Bharati, was the nember (convenor) of the committee. 

Want to read the full report submitted by the committee today? Click here.
14:37  Aarushi-Hemraj twin murder: Rajesh, Nupur Talwar challenge conviction in HC:  

Dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar on Wednesday moved the Allahabad High Court against a CBI court order awarding them life sentence for the murder of their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj.


The petition filed by the couple is likely to come up before a bench for hearing on Thursday. The couple had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court at Ghaziabad on November 26, 2013.


Aarushi was found dead, with her throat slit, inside the Talwars' Noida residence in May, 2008. Hemraj, who had gone missing, was initially suspected of being involved in the crime until his body was recovered from the terrace a day later.

14:27  CBI raids hackers in Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad:  Just In: CBI carries out searches at Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad targeting hackers, based on inputs from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
14:16  Why director Ashim Ahluwalia is surprised:  The director of Miss Lovely, the unusual Bollywood film on the soft porn industry, was actually gearing up for backlash from the public and was more than pleasantly surprised at the positive response the film has garnered.

Raksha Kumar writes in India Ink, the New York Times blog, that for Ahluwalia, 'one of the biggest surprises was getting the approval from the Indian censor board for a mainstream release of Miss Lovely' -- something the director 'thought would never happen.' (The image alongside shows the lead actors, Niharika Singh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the office).

Ahluwalia also tells Raksha Kumar: 'For a pretty wild art-pulp film with a lot of controversial content, the reaction has been incredible. It's a small film with no studio or Bollywood personality supporting us -- it was released through a small independent distributor, which is very rare in India.'

Read more of what Ahluwalia has to say, here.
14:00  SC sends notice to Centre, Delhi govt on AAP dharna:   Just In! The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on a PIL filed on the recent agitation by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supporters. 

The apex court will decide whether constitutional post-holders can resort to an agitation in violation of the law. 

The apex court asks the Delhi police why an unlawful assembly of people was permitted despite prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC being in force.

The court says it wants to know whether the police acted appropriately to get the unlawful assembly dispersed. 
13:56  Just In: Posco not to cut trees for its Rs 51,000 crore project in Odisha till final forest clearance is granted by the state, says the National Green Tribunal.
13:51  Great news for Cumberbatch fans!:  Cumberbatch fans can rejoice!   

A fourth and fifth series of the humongously popular Sherlock has been planned, reports Charlotte Runcie in The Telegraph of London, quoting Digital Spy

Co-creator Steven Moffat has promised to do them "as quickly' as possible.   

Making more episodes is being affected by cast availability, according to him, with both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman working in movies. But, he promised, they will work around it and get the next series made as quickly as possible.
13:39  'What is never asked is why the very government that was presiding over a growth rate that was apparently propelling India to the status of an economic superpower should suddenly get afflicted by non-governance and indecisiveness; and whether it is at all possible to dissociate corruption from neo-liberal capitalism, under the aegis of a corporate-financial elite that is enriching itself through the expropriation of public property (via privatization and disinvestment), and of common property, tribal property and peasant property (via land acquisition),' writes Prabhat Patnaik, in an incisive commentary in The Telegraph, Kolkata, here.
13:25  DMK suspends Alagiri for 'anti-party activities':  

DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi's son M K Alagiri, a former Union minister, has been suspended from all party posts, reports suggest.   A DMK statement notes that Alagiri has been suspended due to 'anti-party activites'  


Karunanidhi had earlier issued a veiled warning to his son and rebel leader Alagiri for his interview to a Tamil channel against his younger brother MK Stalin, reports CNN IBN    

Karunanidhi had also recently suspending five supporters of Alagiri's Madurai unit for putting up posters supporting him. Thereafter, in a statement had said that anyone flouting party discipline will face an expulsion from primary membership adding that this had been the "rule in DMK yesterday, today and tomorrow".

13:13  An elephant's journey from Assam to Kerala:  This is the story of Thunuki, the elephant, who is being carted from Assam to Kerala, with a little bit of a helping from minister Shashi Tharoor, as reporter in The Telegraph, Kolkata. 

'She is tall, dark and fetching. She is expensive, she can throw a lot of weight around and she needs a big rig to go places. In the unkindest cut in the hour of tragedy, she is also being linked to the bereaved Shashi Tharoor, although the minister appears to have done no more than lend a helping hand to a temple in his constituency that claims the tag of the richest shrine in the world.' 

Read all about the pachyderm's story, here.
13:05  Do not MISS: Mitchell Johnson, unplugged!:  Mitchell Johnson, who this week won Australian cricket's highest honour, the Allan Border medal for his 37 wickets in the recent Ashes whitewash, tells Nick Hoult his favourite four balls from that series:   
1) Cook, in first innings at Adelaide: "It was pretty special. Whenever you can bowl someone of that quality means a lot especially as he dropped his head after it happened.' 
2) Cook, second innings at Adelaide: "He had dominated us playing pulls and cuts in the last series in Australia. But he played a pull shot and got caught off it and that was a turning point for me because it showed me he was not on his game.' 
3) Broad, second innings at the Waca: "Hitting him on the foot here at the Waca was nice. We'd had a lot of rivalry and it was a good moment.' 
4) Bairstow, first innings MCG: "I set him up. I went short at him. He cut a couple, played a pull that went off the top edge. So I brought one back in to bowl him. It's always good when a plan comes off like that.'   

Of course, that's not all he talks about, you can read the full interview in The Telegraph, Kolkata, here
12:37  8 killed, 4 injured as car falls into rivulet in Korba district:  

Eight people, including six women, were killed and four others injured when their SUV fell into a rivulet in Chhattisgarh's Korba district, police said today. The mishap took place near Korkoma village under Balco Nagar police station limits when the victims were returning after attending the last rites of a relative in Narayanpur area of neighbouring Jashpur district late last night, Korba Superintendent of Police Ratanlal Dangi said.        


While their car was crossing Bulsihdih nullah bridge, the driver, who was reportedly in an inebriated state, lost control over the vehicle following which the SUV plunged into the rivulet after breaking the railings, he said.        


A police team along with medical aid rushed to the spot on getting news of the accident. Those killed were identified as -- Bhagat, Sagar, Amrautin Bai, Shabina Markam, Sukwara Bai, Ramayan Bai, Laxmin and Sonkunwar -- who hailed from Pathharripara, Naktikhar and Kudri villages of Korba.        


The four others injured, including the driver, were admitted to the district hospital in Korba, the SP said.

12:02  Owaisi asks people not to watch Salman's 'Jai Ho':  

Actor Salman Khan, who recently met Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during the kite flying festival in Ahmadabad, has been criticised by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. Unhappy with Salman meeting Modi where he referred to Modi as a good man, Owaisi has now urged his supporters to not watch his film 'Jai Ho'.


Reacting to this, Salman said that he did nothing wrong by going to Gujarat. "What can I say to that, if as a Muslim I have gone there to see that my Muslims brothers are doing well, I don't think there is anything wrong. I am half Hindu and half Muslim. So, I have closeness to both the communities. My mother is Hindu, my father is Muslim and there is nothing else, I would want to have them together," Salman said.


Read more on CNN IBN

11:16  Sania in Aus Open mixed doubles final:  Sania Mirza and her Romanian partner Horia Tecau waltzed into the mixed doubles final after beating Australian duo Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden 2-6 6-3 at Melbourne Park on Friday.
11:06  SC to hear petition on lifer to Bhullar:  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a curative petition on Khalistani terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar seeking commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.
11:03  Apex court takes suo motu cognisance of incident:   Just In: The Supreme Court takes suo motu cognisance of the gang rape case in West Bengal, and issues notice to the state government over the incident. The Supreme Court also directs the district judge of Birbhum, where the gang rape took place, to visit the spot and file a report before it within a week.

Details awaited, but you can read about the incident here
10:33  LIVE! Disappointed by army's clean chit in Pathribal case: Omar :  

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has expressed disappointment over army's decision to give clean chit to six of its personnel in the 200o Pathribal fake encounter case. "Will ask law department and advocate general to examine options," Omar said.  


"Pathribal case is a serious case.  It can't be closed or washed away," the chief minister said.

10:03  Sensex falls over 82 pts from record high in early trade:  

The benchmark BSE Sensex slipped from its record closing high by losing over 82 points in early trade today as funds and retail investors booked profits after recent gains amid a weak trend in the Asian region.        


The 30-share barometer, which had gained over 310 points in the previous four sessions, lost 82.20 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 21,291.46, with banking, metal, healthcare and realty sector stocks leading the fall.        


Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty declined 27.15 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6,318.50. Brokers said besides profit-booking by funds and retail investors at record level, a weak trend on other Asian bourses tracking overnight falls on Wall Street mainly influenced the sentiment here.        


In the Asian region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell by 0.93 per cent while Japan's Nikkei by 1.54 per cent in early trade today.        


The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended lower by 1.07 per cent in yesterday's trade.  

09:36  Delhi catches chill, this Jan 3rd coldest since 1947:  

Has the new year been too cold for comfort? Yes, so say the records '" this January is turning out to be one of the coldest since 1947, according to the meteorological department.

"Going by our records, January 2014 is the third coldest ever since 1947, with 2003 being the coldest,' said RK Jenamani, chief of the met unit at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The sun virtually disappeared for days, particularly between January 16 and January 23, following two consecutive spells of dense fog and low clouds. Hide and seek continued, with city getting good amount of rain on January 18, January 21 and 22, Jenamani said.


January has been consistently getting colder since late 1990s due to prolonged dense-fog hours, smog or low-cloud cover during the day blocking out the sun. "Increased pollution and many other meteorological reasons are responsible for this. The trends have been emerging from 1990s and require further studies,' he said.


Read more on The Hindustan Times

09:25  Delhi homeless deaths seem unending, toll reaches 174 :  

With another homeless person found dead in Kashmere Gate area on Wednesday, the toll of destitutes shivering to death across the city has reached 174 since January 1.


The government is yet to come up with a policy to protect them.Earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had promised to set up porta cabins at 45 locations. But the ground reality is that plastic shelters have been put up and they are in bad shape.NGOs working for the homeless said the city government opted e-tendering for making the process transparent.


"But it's a lengthy procedure," said a social worker. "It has delayed the whole process of setting up porta cabins."Since December 1, 2013 a total of 395 unidentified bodies have been found across the city. Some 1,127 homeless people were found dead from November 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.The most number of deaths have been reported from Kashmere Gate area.


Read more on Deccan Herald

09:10  Somnath Bharti won't resign, no proof that he was racist: AAP:  

 The Aam Aadmi Party has backed its Law Minister Somnath Bharti, saying there was no evidence to suggest that he made racist comments or misbehaved with African women during a controversial midnight raid that he led at a south Delhi locality last week. The party, while ruling out his resignation, said that Mr Bharti should in fact be "lauded for his efforts to address people's grievances." The Law Minister has been asked to depose before the Delhi Women's Commission today.


Read more on NDTV

08:34  'I hope no parent has to cry in the wilderness as I did':  

A severely disillusioned S J S Prasad, father of 23-year-old Esther Anuhya, whose burnt body was found off the Eastern Express Highway on the outskirts of Mumbai, said on Thursday that he did not expect police to ever catch his daughter's killers.


"I hope no parent has to cry in the wilderness the way I did,' Prasad said, as he recounted the ordeal of running from pillar to post from the time his daughter went missing to when her body was found in Bhandup. Esther, who worked for an IT firm in Mumbai, arrived at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus from her native Hyderabad at 5 am on January 5, and was last seen leaving the station to take an autorickshaw to her hostel in Andheri.


She never reached the hostel, and her mutilated, burnt and decomposed body was found off the Mumbai-Thane highway on January 16. Police have no clues or suspects so far, only several questions and a few theories of the murder. 


When Esther's relatives in Mumbai approached them on January 6, the MIDC police in Andheri told them to go to the Kurla railway police, who told them to go to the Vijayawada railway police because there was no evidence until then to show that she had actually reached Mumbai.


Read more on Indian Express

08:33  Agra: Visitors to be allowed inside Taj Mahal on Fridays:  

NDTV: The Taj Mahal will be thrown open for public on Fridays, but the visitors will have to shell out a hefty Rs. 5,000 for a special ticket, which will cost 100 USD for a foreign tourist.


This was decided at a meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner of Agra Pradeep Bhatnagar.Visitors will be allowed in the world-famous monument of love from 7 am to 12 noon on Fridays, Bhatnagar said, adding the decision will be implemented soon.Earlier, the 17th century wonder of the world used to remain closed for public on Fridays.

00:45  BJP launches 'Narendra Modi for PM' campaign in Madhya Pradesh:  BJP launched its 'Modi for PM' campaign in Madhya Pradesh today, on the occasion of the 118th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched the campaign from Khargone.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and BJP Vice President Prabhat Jha started the campaign in the state capital. As part of the campaign, BJP leaders took an urn in their hands and appealed to the people aaking them to give "Ek Note aur Ek Vote" (a currency note and a vote) to the BJP.

The campaign will be go upto the village level until February 11. Swaraj and Jha told reporters here that the aim of the campaign is to establish contact with the people on a door-to-door basis so that they can donate, from Re 1 to Rs 1000.
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