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LIVE! Tapas Pal controversy blown out of proportion: Mamata

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July 03, 2014

23:15  Indian-origin UK bros get 40 years in jail for sex trafficking:  
Two Indian-origin brothers who ran a London-based sex trafficking ring have been sentenced to a total of 40 years and 6 months in jail by a British court. 

Ring leader Vishal Chaudhary, an Indian national who was found guilty of trafficking more than 100 women to Britain, was jailed for 31 years at Croydon Crown Court. 

The 35-year-old was found guilty on three counts relating to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and prostitution and received three sentences amounting to a total of 31 years.

British police will work with the UK Border Force to enforce his deportation to India once his sentence is served. 

A jury was told how Vishal was assisted by his brother, Kunal, who had acquired British nationality while formerly working as a senior accountant at Deloitte in Manchester. 

The 25-year-old Kunal was handed an eight-year, 18-month sentence for trafficking and concealing criminal property.

"This operation was on a massive scale and persisted from 2007 to the end of January 2013. It was a network that over a period of six years exploited hundreds of women," Justice Gower said during sentencing.

Victims had their passports taken away and were threatened with further abuse if they tried to contact their families. 

Some were made to have sex with up to 20 men a day, the court was told during the trial.
22:08  Pakistan lodges protest with US over snooping reports :  Pakistan today lodged a protest with the US over reports that a leading political party in the country was put under surveillance by an American spy agency. According to media reports the National Security Agency had spied on Pakistan Peoples Party.

The PPP figures in the list of foreign political parties along with the BJP of India, Lebanon's Amal, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on whom the NSA was given permission to carry out surveillance, says a document made public on Monday by The Washington Post.
21:23  Indian Air Force launches 3D mobile game :  Embarking on its first sortie in virtual world, the Indian Air Force today launched nation's first 3D mobile game in a bid to attract generation-next youth to pursue a career in the air force.

Launching the 3D mobile game 'Guardians of the Skies', Air Marshal S Sukumar hailed the event as a significant milestone in encouraging youth to join IAF and also expressed concerns over tapping the best of the human resources from the upcoming generations.

"It is indeed a significant milestone in our consorted campaign to connect to the best of the boys and the girls among the nation's youth and motivate them to join the air force so as to become great patriotic men and women ready to serve the country in any situation," he said.
21:18  Media attempting to malign Trinamool: Mamata:   West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today said, "The Tapas Pal controversy was blow out of proportion by the media to malign the party."

Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament Pal had threatened to kill Communist Party of India-Marxist workers and having their women raped. His speech trggered widespread outrage, following which he tendered an apology.   
20:53  Modi, Pranab talk Budget over lunch :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met President Pranab Mukherjee and discussed issues related to the upcoming Budget session of Parliament.

The President hosted a lunch for the PM, the first since Modi was sworn-in on May 26, sources said. The luncheon meeting came ahead of the budget session beginning on July 7 and also ahead of Modi's visit to Brazil for attending the BRICS Summit later this month.

The Mukherjee-Modi meeting also assumes significance in the context of the government's nudging some governors appointed during the UPA rule to quit. Four of them have already resigned.

After the lunch, Modi took a tour of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan.
20:22  AAP MLAs meet President, demand fresh polls in Delhi:  The MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party, led by its National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, today met President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded dissolution of Delhi legislative assembly and fresh polls in the national capital.   

The party, in a memorandum to the President, has alleged that the BJP has approached 15 of its MLAs since last few days.   

"They have been luring them with ministerial berths,properties and cash ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore. When this did not work out, our MLA from Shalimar Bagh, Bandana Kumari was given a life threat. She has already filed a police complaint in this regard," Kejriwal said in the memorandum.
20:04  Modi becomes 3rd most followed world leader on Twitter:   Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become the third most followed world leader on Twitter, next only to US President Barack Obama and the Pope. 

Modi, who was at the fourth spot till last week, has overtaken Indonesian President S B Yudhoyono today on the popular microblogging site with 5.09 million followers.

Obama has 43.9 million followers, while the Pope and Yudhoyono have over 14 million and 5.08 million followers, respectively.
19:18  Tensions soar in east Jerusalem; Israel moves troops near Gaza:  Tensions soared in Arab-dominated areas of east Jerusalem today following the death of a young Arab boy in a suspected "revenge" attack by rightwing extremists as Israel moved troops to its border with Gaza Strip amid heavy rocket, mortar attacks by Hamas militants. 

East Jerusalem, where an overwhelming Arab majority resides, remained tensed a day after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian demonstrators occurred following the discovery of the body of the 16-year-old boy, bearing signs of violence.
19:13  HC transfers Jiah Khan death case from Mumbai police to CBI:  The Bombay High Court today handed over to CBI the probe into Bollywood actress Jiah Khan's death, five months after Mumbai police concluded it was a case of suicide and charged her live-in partner Suraj Pancholi with abetting it. 

The 25-year-old British-American actress was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her Juhu home on June 3 last year.
18:49  660 Nirbhaya Centres for women violence victims:  At least 660 rape crisis centres will be established across the country and named as Nirbhaya centres, as a tribute to the victim of December 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape case. The centres will be set up in all the 640 districts and 20 additional locations in the country and the project will cost 477 crores approximately, Women and Child Development Ministry officials said.

The Women and Child Development Ministry has already prepared the concept note which has been approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) and has been sent to various stakeholders like Ministry of Law, Finance, Tribal Affairs, Health, Social Justice and Empowerment and Minority Affairs seeking their suggestions.

These Nirbhaya Centres will act as one stop centre for women victims of molestation, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and provide them medical assistance, police assistance, psycho-social support and counselling, legal aid and temporary shelter.
18:33  Steps taken to ensure coaches won't get flooded: Mumbai Metro:   A day after an air-conditioning duct on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro railway train malfunctioned leading to rain water pouring into a coach, its operator Mumbai Metro One claimed that it has taken "all necessary measures" to ensure such incidents do not recur.

"Inconvenience to commuters yesterday has been taken seriously by us. We checked all 128 air-conditioning units last night and found them in order. We are committed to provide our commuters the best of services," an MMO Pvt Limited spokesperson said in a statement issued here today.

Out of 16 metro railway trains in service, one train's air-conditioning unit malfunctioned during a heavy downpour yesterday which led to its floor getting flooded due to water pouring in from the air conditioning vent.

Within minutes photographs of the flooded coach and rain water pouring in from the ceiling went viral on the Internet, after which the company replaced the train with another one which was kept on stand-by.

The company spokesperson also said that the train was put back into service this morning.
18:32  LIVE! Jessical Lal killer Manu Sharma's parole extended for Human Rights exam:  Siddharth Vashisht alias Manu Sharma, undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999, was today granted parole for 30 more days by the Delhi High Court so that he can prepare a diploma thesis for his post-graduation course.

A bench of Justice S Muralidhar extended the parole, granted to 36-year-old Sharma on June 17, by another 30 days and directed him to surrender in Tihar jail on August 2.

The court also directed that Sharma will not leave the National Capital Territory of Delhi during the parole period.

 "The other terms and conditions of the parole includes keeping away from the area around the residence of the deceased and her family members," the court said.

Earlier, Sharma was granted 15 days parole to sit for his exams which was scheduled to commence from June 19 and was to end on June 24.

Ironically, Sharma is pursuing the course from Indian Institute of Human
Rights which is recognised by the United Nations.
18:20  Sudipta Sen remanded to judicial custody for a week in Odisha:  The Enforcement Directorate's petition for taking in its custody Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen was today posted by a local court to July 10, while he was sent to seven days judicial custody.

July 10 is the date for hearing on the ED's petition seeking to take Sen in its remand and sent him to judicial custody in Jharpada jail. Sen was produced in court by ED and Kolkata Police.
18:12  The geopolitics of the Islamic state:  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi welcomed this Ramadan by declaring the formation of the Caliphate, with him as the Caliph -- namely the successor of the Prophet Mohammed. It is the first return of a Caliphate since Kemal Atatrk's Turkish National Assembly abolished it in 1924. Read
17:41  This is probably the first time that a home minister is holding a presser on price rise.
17:39  Raids will check hoarding, says Rajnath:  Rajnath Singh's presser begins: To ensure there is no hoarding there should be raids where needed. Lot of raids have already been carried out in Delhi, he says. 
17:36  No Merkel meet for Modi:  A senior government source denied the story that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accepted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's invitation for a bilateral visit during his transit stopover in Germany on the way to Brazil to attend the BRICS summit. Modi wont attend the World Cup final nor meet Merkel due to his busy schedule amid the budget session.   
17:30  For our tomorrows... :   A wreath was laid to commemorate the death anniversary of Brigadier Mohammad Usman, MVC, at Jamia Millia Islamia University today. Several retired and serving officers including Lt general NS Ghei, AVSM, Commandant National Defence College and Colonel of the Parachute Regiment attended the function. Vice Chancellor and Registrar of Jamia Millia Islamia University also paid tributes.

Brigadier Usman, also known as the savior of Naushera, was responsible for the recapture of Jhangar & Naushera (Jammu & Kashmir) during 1947-48 war with Pakistan. The gallant officer attained martyrdom on July 3, 1948 when an enemy artillery shell landed close to him in Naushera.
17:27  Home minister Rajnath Singh's special presser on price rise today:  Home minister Rajnath Singh will address a special press conference in North Block on escalating prices. Politicians on Tuesday slammed the BJP-led government for price rise, which is adding to inflationary pressures that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government inherited when it came to power in May.

After petrol and diesel, price of non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) was today hiked by Rs 16.50 per cylinder and that of jet fuel by over half-a-per cent after international oil prices surged due to the ongoing Iraq crisis.
17:18  'Can't contact my daughter any more':'s Vicky Nanjappa reports on the situation in Iraq. A parent of one of the nurses who requested not to be identified said that they cannot contact their daughter now.

Yet other parents, whos daughters are in Tikrit, said, the basement of the hospital was stormed and the nurses were asked to leave. They may have been moved to Mosul.

The families of the nurses are now preparing to meet the Chief Minister of Kerala to ask him to expedite the process of bringing the nurses back to India. 
17:11  Kerala CM: Safety of nurses is paramount :  Kerala CM Oomen Chandy holds a presser in the wake of the MEA's presser. He says the MEA has assured help in getting the nurses out of Iraq. The MEA says options are limited but the safety of our nurses is paramount. The UN doesn't have a presence on the ground. The ability of the Red Cross in Tikrit is limited.  
17:08  Landslides kill 2 BRO personnel, halt yatra to Badrinath:   In other news: Two BRO personnel were killed as boulders from a hillside fell on their truck after heavy rains at Joshimath in Chamoli district, even as a landslip near Lambagad on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway temporarily halted pilgrimage to the famous Himalayan shrine.

A sudden downpour yesterday sent huge boulders tumbling down from the hillside. Huge boulders fell on the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) truck near Surai Tota on Malari road, killing its driver and helper on the spot.
16:51  Destination of Tikrit nurses unknown: MEA:  Syed Akbaruddin, MEA: "India is not alone in working on this, we have partners in this across Iraq, we have partners even outside Iraq. It's a war zone, the situation is in flux. Last night I got 25 calls that they had moved, but they hadn't. Can only share corroborated information." 
16:39  Blast outside bus carrying nurses from Tikrit: MEA :  MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin says 1500 Indians have indicated they want to leave. He said it is not known where the nurses are being moved.

Akbaruddin said there was a blast outside the bus that was taking them, not inside the bus. And as we said before, some nurses were injured.
16:35  MEA: We are in touch with nurses:  MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin says 900 Indians have been provided tickets to fly out of Iraq mostly through Iraqi Airlines. "It has been a difficult time for our embassies in for Delhi and Iraq. No mobile phones work in Karbala, Najaf and Basra," he said.

He confirmed that all 46 Indian nurses have been moved to a different location by the ISIS. The Indian nationals in captitivity in Mosul remain in captitivty, but are unharmed.

He said the nurses have been moved to another location. "Our understanding is that it is for reasons of their own safety that they have agreed to move out of Tikrit. Our embassy in touch with the nurses, we will try our best to ensure their well being. Officials were in touch with them as recently as 10 minutes ago. In zones of conflict there is no free will, but the nurses are safe are in transit right now."

He said that reports of a bomb blast were not true, but some of the nurses have been injured.
16:21  Leave hospital or it will be bombed: ISIS:   IANS reports that one of the nurses contacted the Indian embassy officials in Baghdad and were "advised to try and hold on till tomorrow morning". The men who asked them to leave have given the nurses "two hours" to decide and warned that the hospital is going to be bombed.

Kerala CM Oomen Chandy says all 46 nurses have been moved to Mosul.
16:14  ISIS moves 14 Indian, 5 B'deshi nurses from Tikrit to Mosul:   Just in: 14 Indians, 5 Bangladesh nurses in Tikrit have been moved to Mosul by the ISIS. The nurses tell their families that they have been moved in buses. The MEA is yet to confirm the news. There are 46 Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit, Iraq.

It was reported this morning that all the 46 Indian nurses had been told by ISIS militants to board a bus for Mosul. The Indian embassy in Baghdad has advised the nurses to "try and hold on till (Thursday) morning". 

Neither of the reports are being confirmed by the MEA as yet.
15:46  AAP leader Prashant Bhushan on Amit Shah getting Z+ security: The most secure place for him would be jail.
15:41  LIVE! President's 'dented painted' son says, 'Forgive Tapas Pal, mistakes happen':  President Pranab Mukjherjee's son Congress MP from Jangipur steps into a land mine. He says Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal should be forgiven.   Mukherjee says it's a controversial issue and discussions on it should be avoided. "Mistakes are bound to happen and the issue should not be dragged further," says Mukherjee.

Mukherjee, if you recollect, had stoked a major controversy by describing women participating in Delhi protests against the gang rape of Nirbhaya, as 'highly dented and painted', triggering angry backlash.

Abhijit had said, "Walking in candlelight processions, going to discotheques, we have also led student life, we have been students. I well know what the character of a student should be."

"Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), are highly dented and painted," Abhijit Mukherjee, an MP from Jangipur seat which the President had vacated before his election, told a vernacular news channel.
15:26  Death toll in Chennai building collapse climbs to 60. 
15:26  Tendulkar fans spam Sharapova's Facebook with filth and abuse:  Maria Sharapova's facebook page has been inundated with abuse after she admitted to not knowing who Sachin Tendulkar was.

The five-time Grand Slam champion would never have imagined that her incidental remark on the cricket legend could trigger such an avalanche of diatribe.

The infuriated fans have united for a holy war like never before, determined to 'enlighten' Sharapova about Sachin, and thereby teach her a lesson. Read
15:06  India roots for Brazil in World Cup:  A survey conducted by Skyscanner, a global travel search site, reveals that 49% of Indians surveyed are supporting the five times champions Brazil. Argentina and Germany share the second spot at the list with 15% support from the country. While 7% of Indians surveyed, support Netherlands after their smashing win against the defending champions Spain, England and Italy lost ground soon after being dropped before the quarter finals. Though the major metros including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad have their own characteristic traits, fans across these cities see Brazil lifting the trophy this season. And while New Delhi and Mumbai vouch for Germany at the second spot, Kolkata's support for Argentina -- the team that visited the Salt Lake stadium back in 2011 continues unabated.
14:59  I said raid, not rape, says Tapas:  For those still unfamiliar with what TMC MP Tapas Pal said, here's quick refresher...

Ekta kono CPI-M jodi amaar maa, bon, chacha, chachi karo gaye haat dey ei Tapas Pal chhere katha bolbe na. Tapas Pal nijer revolver bar kore guli kore diye chole jabe. Jene rakhben, bhalo kore jene rakhben, ami Chandannagarer maal Ami Kolkatar maal noi, Chandannagarer maal. Rangbaji Tapas Paul korechhe. (If anybody from the CPI-M dares touch my mother, sister, uncle or aunt, then this Tapas Pal is not going to spare them. Tapas Pal will shoot them with his revolver. Remember, I am from Chandernagore. I am not from Kolkata. Tapas Pal too has been a tough).

Ekta jodi kono birodhi aajke Trinamooler kono meye, kono baap, kono bachchar gaye haat dey, tader gushti ke ami jaa taa kore chole jabo. Amaar chheleder dhukiye debo rape kore chole jabe, rape kore chole jabe. (If anyone from the opposition dares touch a daughter, father, child from Trinamool, I will do whatever I can to their entire clan. I will set my boys on them, they will rape them.)
And here's more on the TMC MP: The Tapas Pal controversy: All you need to know
14:46  How can a man like Tapas Pal sit in Parliament: Brinda Karat :  CPM leader Brinda Karat on TMC MP Tapas Pal's statements: "Incitement to rape is a crime, this act of saying sorry is just an act. How will a man like Tapas Pal sit in the Parliament? Mamata Banerjee is the same CM who filed an FIR against a Jadavpur professor's cartoon, she should take action against her MP."
14:38  Also read: Why Sonia picked Kharge to lead Cong in Lok Sabha.
14:33  Kharge, Scindia meet Speaker:  Kharge and Scindia met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today. It may be difficult for the Congress to get the post of Leader of Opposition.  According to the rules of the House, a party needs 10 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha to become Leader of Opposition, which amounts to 55.

The Congress is the second largest party, but it managed only 44 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had earlier said that with just 44 seats, the Congress cannot get the Leader of the Opposition post.

14:30  Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia meet the Speaker regarding the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.
14:04  Gold jewellery thrown out of window after store catches fire :   A fire has broken out at a jewellery showroom located in the heart of Bangalore causing traffic jam on the busy MG Road in the city.

Seven fire engines have been rushed to the location.

According to reports, soon after the fire broke out, the employees of the showroom, Navaratna Jewellers, were rescued.

There is no word on any casualty yet.

Attempts are now underway to secure the valuables. According to eyewitnesses, gold jewellery was being thrown down through widows in plastic bags to fire personnel. -- NDTV
13:50  SC refuses bail to Asaram :  The Supreme Court has refused to grant bail to Asaram Bapu in a rape case filed in Gujarat. The court  has asked him to approach the High Court. The Apex court, however, agrees to hear his bail plea in another rape case lodged against him in Rajasthan and issues notice to the state government.
13:48  What the one-man commission will probe in Chennai bldg collapse :  Update on the Chennai building collapse: The Justice Reghupathy Commission will probe the circumstances leading to the collapse of the under-construction 11 storeyed building. "The Commission will find out whose ignorant attitude resulted in such a mishap that left many workers dead and others injured and decide on (fixing) those responsible for it," the CM said. The commission will also suggest remedial measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future.
13:37  Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh launches the e-Office at the Ministry of External Affairs headquarters. 
13:35  Rain hits Mumbai, BMC rolls out 15% water cut:   On a day when Mumbai got its first good rain of the season, the municipal corporation announced water cuts across the city. For at least a fortnight, beginning Thursday, the duration of the water supply will be reduced by 20%, which should translate into a 10-15% drop in supply, officials said. Read more

Pic: Flooded streets at Saki Naka
13:27  Tara Books opens a new page for tribal artists in India:   Gita Wolf collaborates with India's women tribal artists to create award-winning books and help the women step across the gulf that divides them from the modern world. Read more
13:20  Memories of another day:  The jacket on the man in that picture is nearly fifty years old, only a little younger than I.

The first time I saw it was in a photograph sent back by my father from a long trip to the United States; it is the colour of lightly burned ochre and it has leather buttons on it the size of baby chestnuts.

That man is Janardan Thakur, my father, and the boy on the arm of the chair is me.

Journalist Sankarshan Thakur's essay on his father. Read
13:05  Indian jailed for nine months for Little India riot:   A 28-year-old Indian was today jailed for nine months in Singapore for being a member of an unlawful assembly during the Little India riot last December, becoming the 13th Indian to be imprisoned in the country's worst street violence in 40 years.

Palanivel Dhasmohan, who worked in the construction sector in Singapore, pleaded guilty to one charge of being part of an unlawful assembly by show of criminal force aimed to intimidate public servants carrying out their duties to maintain law and order in the vicinity of Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs.
12:52  BSE re-opens two hours after technical snag:  Nearly two hours after the BSE halted trading this morning across all of its markets, including shares, currencies and indexes due to a network outage, markets have reopened once again.

The BSE said all orders placed before the network outage would be cancelled.  

The exchange operator said its network service vendor HCL Technologies Ltd was working to resolve the issue.

Multiple traders this morning had said share prices in the BSE exchange were not updating.   

"Due to a network outage being currently faced, BSE has decided to close all markets," the exchange said in a statement sent via text message. "Once the network issue is resolved, the markets will restart." 
12:47  One-man army to probe Chennai building collapse that killed 53:   Tamil Nadu government constitutes a one-man inquiry commission to probe the Porur building collapse. Former justice R Reghupathy will conduct the probe. The death toll in the collapse of an 11-storey under-construction residential building near Chennai has risen to 53.

"The death toll stands at 53 as of now. Rescue work is continuing in full swing", a senior Tamil Nadu government revenue official said on Thursday.

Twenty-seven people have been pulled out alive. A total of 80 people had been pulled out dead or alive from under the debris of the collapsed structure by rescue personnel since Saturday when the mishap occurred. It is feared another 20-25 more persons could still be under the rubble, he said.
12:39  What John Abraham tells us about the state of Indian football:  What happens when an Indian company really wants to make money off a sport it knows little about? Just add some cricket and Bollywood.Having spent around $90 million on exclusive broadcast rights for the FIFA World Cup, Multi Screen Media -- owners of Sony Entertainment Television, which runs the channels that are showing the Cup -- had to figure out how to package it in a way that would keep viewers happy. Read
12:34  In Pictures: How the Modi govt responded to Maria Sharapova's blasphemous revelation that she had no heard of Tendulkar. 
12:32  Modi to brief Prez today, 4th meet since he became PM:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will brief President Pranab Mukherjee
on crucial issues relating to the upcoming Union Budget, the Indian economy, international relations and the ensuing Parliament session. This is the fourth meeting with the President after Modi became PM.
12:28  What you should know about the Caliphate:  Six things every Muslim (and Non-Muslim) should know about the Caliphate. Since ISIS declared its reestablishment, heres what you need to know about the history and meaning of the Caliphate. Read
12:25  Hope Centre will not squeeze J&K for petty politics: Omar:   An alliance with the BJP is not happening, says Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu's Suhasini Haidar, he speaks about the controversy over Article 370 and the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the State. Read
12:09  US senator John McCain meets PM Narendra Modi:  US senator John McCain on Thursday held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

His meet with the PM came a day after the US Senator discussed with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj ways to boost the bilateral relationship, as well as the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A new row has overshadowed a visit to India by the Republican US Senator.

On Wednesday, India had summoned a top US diplomat to convey its serious concern over reports that the BJP was among the parties which the US' National Security Agency was authorised to spy upon.

McCain, who told the Senate last week that Washington should seek to help India's economic and military development, cancelled a news conference due to be held outside Foreign Ministry after India summoned the US diplomat to explain the spying report.

US and Indian officials gave differing explanations for the cancellation, but said it was not linked to the row. 
12:04  AAP: People suffering from inflation, but govt wants honeymoon period :  People are suffering due to rising inflation, but this Govt wants a honeymoon period. The BJP is constantly trying to lure our MLAs, even threatening us. We want the President to call for fresh polls," says Manish Sisodia, AAP. 
11:53  Speaking up for the judiciary:  Chief Justice R.M. Lodha deserves appreciation for breaking away from the secrecy surrounding the process of appointment of judges and disclosing that the government had unilaterally segregated the name of Gopal Subramanium from a four-member list it had recommended for appointment as Supreme Court judges. Read
11:51  The death toll in the Chennai building collapse climbs to 52. 
11:49  Maria Sharapova hasn't heard of Sachin Tendulkar :  On Wednesday, Maria Sharapova committed a cardinal sin. No, she did not wear full length trousers to Wimbledon. No, she did not play an entire match without screaming. She made the mistake of' not knowing who Sachin Tendulkar was.

Clearly she is an atheist, because she does not know the name of the one true God. All the cricket 'bhakts' on Twitter rose up in agitation. Here are the funniest things they said about her. Read
11:47  'Super-Earth' Looks Promising, But Likely Too Hot for Life'. Read
11:39   Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh holds talks with top brass of PLA:  Army Chief General Bikram Singh, who is in China on a four-day official visit, today held talks with People's Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of Staff General Fang Fenghui in Beijing.

The Indian army chief's visit to China comes after a nine year gap. The then army chief Gen N C Vij rpt N C Vij had visited China in 2005. Later in the day, Gen Singh is scheduled to meet Vice Chairman of China's Military Commission Gen. Fan Changlong, the all powerful body headed by President Xi Jinping which controls all wings of the armed forces.
11:33  The Sai vs Shankaracharya story:  An unusual confrontation is building up ever since Dwarka Shankaracharya, Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, ran down the followers of Shirdi Sai Baba, saying they ought not to worship the 19th century mystic who was no god, and remove his photographs and idols from temples where he gets the pride of place with Hindu deities.

The 90-year-old pontiff's comments hurt a legion of Sai devotees. In Varanasi, protests broke out soon after the Shankaracharya's observations, while the 'sanatani' followers of the seer hit the streets of the temple town in the seer's favour. Read
11:28  Sai baba used to eat meat, how can he be called a Hindu god: Shankaracharya:  Questioning Shirdi Sai Baba's status as a Hindu god, Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati said that Sai Baba was someone "who used to eat meat and worshipped Allah, (and) a man like that can never be a Hindu god."

He also claimed that the devotees of Sai Baba use pictures of sanatan dharm gods and make money. "If they don't use pictures of our god, who will give them anything," he questioned.

While he admitted that people have the freedom to worship, he said that Sai Baba tries to position himself as god which is not acceptable to them. "We accept only five gods. Anyone who positions himself as an addition isn't acceptable to us," he said.

Shankaracharya also rubbished claims that he has raised objection over Sai Baba at the behest of Congress. "It is wrong to say that I am doing this at the behest of Congress. I am not a political person," he said. Read

11:21  Congress MLA slaps cops, threatens to strip them:  For the second time in less than a week, conscientious policemen were at the receiving end of highhanded politicians in their line of duty.

A Congress MLA partying beyond the stipulated hour at Skyye, an upmarket lounge bar in Bangalore, allegedly abused, chased and slapped two constables who came in to enforce the law past Tuesday midnight.

He stamped their camera and threatened to 'strip' them in the assembly. Read more
11:12  An unenviable task:  The fiscal deficit during the first two months of fiscal 2014-15 exceeds 45 per cent of the amount budgeted for the whole year in the February interim budget. Read
11:07  Read:The Facebook Manipulation Study's Mysterious Connection to the Military.
11:02  Sherlock and Moriarty to return as the truth behind #221back is revealed:   Sherlock and Moriarty are to return in 2015, the BBC have announced after a series of tantalising social media posts.
How? It's elementary, dear reader. Take a look
10:55  BSE shuts all markets due to network outage:  Shares listed on India's benchmark exchange BSE as well as its indexes have stopped updating on Thursday morning due to a connectivity issue, a spokesman for the bourse operator told Reuters. 

"There are some connectivity issues. We are issuing a statement soon," the BSE spokesman told Reuters over the phone.  

Earlier multiple dealers had told Reuters share prices in the BSE were not updating. 
10:54  Death toll in Chennai building collapse rises to 53:  The death toll in the collapse of an 11-storey under-construction residential building in Chennai has risen to 53. "Rescue work is continuing in full swing", a senior Tamil Nadu government revenue official said today.

Twenty-seven people have been pulled out alive. A total of 80 people had been pulled out dead or alive from under the debris of the collapsed structure by rescue personnel since Saturday when the mishap occurred.

It is feared another 20-25 more persons could still be under the rubble, he said.
10:41  PM upset with row over Gopal Subramanium: Report:  

The Chief Justice of India's criticism of the government's handling of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium's nomination as a Supreme Court Judge has sparked a storm.

Sources have told CNN-IBN that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is upset with the controversy. Sources say the Prime Minister has made it clear that the government should not be seen as being at loggerheads with the judiciary. This comes even as government continued to insist that it has the right to reconsider names.


Government sources had cited the case of former law minister Veerappa Moily who reconsidered the then Patna High Court judge CK Prasad's name. The government added that Gopal Subramanium resigned on his own and if the Supreme Court wanted, it could have suggested his name again and the government would have abided by it.


The Congress, however, has demanded an apology from the Prime Minister over the issue. "It's unprecedented for a judge to come out and speak in this manner. The Prime Minister should come out and apologise," Moily said.


Read more on CNN IBN

10:37  Minor gas leak from ONGC well in AP; plugged:  

A minor gas leakage was reported from one of the wells of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation at Kasanapalli in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, which has been brought under control, a senior officer said here today.        


"There was a minor leakage from the well yesterday, which was controlled immediately," said Asset Manager, Oil and Natural Gas Corp Rajahmundry P Krishna Rao said in a statement.        


Following the leak, District Collector Neetu Kumari Prasad appealed to people not panic as ONGC officials had plugged the leak.        


This is the second such incident since the GAIL pipeline blast at Nagaram in the district last Friday that has so far claimed 21 lives and injured many.

10:30  Palestinians await funeral of teenager killed in Israel amid growing tension:  

Palestinians are preparing to hold the funeral of a teenager abducted and murdered in Israel. The killing of 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdair on Wednesday was condemned by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.


The murder sparked fierce clashes amid claims it was in revenge for the killing of three Israeli youths. Meanwhile Palestinian militants in Gaza fired several rockets at Israel. Israel responded with a series of air strikes on the territory early on Thursday. Israeli officials said 20 mortars and rockets were fired.


Read more on BBC

10:25  Spat between Shankaracharya, Sai devotees gets ugly, reaches court:  

The spat between Shirdi Sai devotees and Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati has turned uglier and reached the court. The Naga seers have now sided with Shankaracharya.


The Nagas have said that if Shankaracharya is insulted, they will take to the streets in protest. The Naga sadhus have called this issue a 'religious war'. Nagas are a sect of seers who worship Lord Shiva. Swaroopanad Saraswati had said that people should not worship Sai Baba and other Hindu deities.


The Sai temple in Lucknow has filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court asking the court to lodge an FIR against Shankaracharya Swaroopananda. The court will hear the case July 4.


"They are trying to incite Hindus. I tried to register a case but it was not done, so I approached the court," said Swami Kamal Kishore. "We are okay with whatever idol they choose to worship. But if they place the idols of our Gods at the feet of Sai Baba, it is unacceptable to us," said Shankaracharya supporter Swami Narendra Giri.


Read more on CNN IBN

10:05  BSE shuts all markets due to network outage:  

The Bombay Stock Exchange has asked to shut down all markets due to a network outage, TV channels report.  


Network service vendor HCL is working on the snag, CNN IBN reports.

08:54  Infiltration bid by terrorists foiled by troops in J&K, exchange of fire on:  

NDTV: An infiltration attempt by a group of terrorists was foiled by the Army in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir early this morning. Exchange of fire between the terrorists and the troops is reportedly still underway.


No casualties have been reported so far.More details are awaited.

08:52  Iraq crisis: Red Crescent dismisses reports of threat to Indian nurses:  

After reports that 46 Indian nurses trapped in the conflict zone in Iraq have been asked to leave within 5 hours by the militants, Iraq Red Crescent has said that they are safe. "The nurses in Tikrit are safe, there is no threat. They are inside the hospital, " Iraq Red Crescent President Yaseen Ahmed Abbas said.


One of the nurses had said that the militants who were treating them nicely till recently now are asking them to leave the building which could be bombed down any moment.


Nearly 600 Indians have left conflict-hit Iraq after being facilitated by the External Affairs Ministry and about 900 more are to follow. "By our estimation, the facilitation phase has now gathered pace. We have provided tickets to approximately 530 nationals. Their seats have been booked on commercial flights. In addition, we are processing the documentation of another 850 persons," the spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesaday.


He had also said that the nurses who have taken refuge in the basement of their hospital after bombing and firing took place in the vicinity of the building are "safe and unharmed".

Read more on CNN IBN

08:47  Anti-dowry law misused by 'disgruntled wives': Supreme Court:  

The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the misuse of a law meant to target those guilty of dowry harassment and said people accused in such cases cannot be automatically arrested.


"The fact that Section 498-A is a cognizable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives. The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In quite a number of cases, bed-ridden grand-fathers and grand-mothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested," said the court.The Supreme Court condemned the police's tendency to arrest the accused first and then proceed with the case -- terming it "despicable".


The court also directed state governments to ensure that police do not automatically arrest the accused in such cases.


Read more on NDTV

08:45  Mumbai Metro roof leak photo goes viral on Twitter:  

NDTV: As heavy rains lashed Mumbai on Wednesday, photos and a video of a The Metro had opened with great fanfare on June 8 this year.The image of a mini downpour inside one of its compartments puts a question mark on Mumbai Metro's services and its impending fare hike.  


"Of the sixteen trains in service, an AC unit of one of the trains reportedly malfunctioned during heavy showers. It was replaced with a train that was kept on standby to ensure that services were not affected. The train will start plying from tomorrow," said an official of the  Mumbai Metro One Private Limited.


Photo courtesy: Twitter

02:04  Iranian jets fly into Iraq to help fight ISIS militants: Report:  
Iran has supplied Iraq with fighter jets to help it counter the belligerent offensive by Islamist militants who have taken over large swathes of territory, a media report said today. 

Russia supplied an initial delivery of the aircraft just a few days ago but analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) here say that a further delivery on July 1, originates from Iran, BBC reported. 

This means that the US which has also sent aircraft to Iraq is operating alongside Iran in this conflict. 

The US has deployed drones and helicopters to Iraq and is actively gathering intelligence on the advance by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

The US is also supplying Iraq's existing air force with Hellfire missiles, the report said. 

Joseph Dempsey, an analyst for the IISS's Military Balance publication, has carefully studied video of the aircraft released by the Iraqi authorities. 

He told the BBC that he believes that some of the aircraft - Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot" jets operating in Iraq are indeed Iranian. 

"Imagery analysis," he says, "makes this the most logical conclusion. The markings, serial numbers and camouflage all fit with what we know of the Iranian fleet." 

Iran maintains a small number of Su-25 aircraft, operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 
01:53  Beijing has banned Ramzan for many Muslims in Xinjiang:  
Ramadan, the Islamic religious festival marked by a month of fasting, officially started June 28 around the world but has been effectively cancelled for many Muslims in Western China. Government offices, hospitals and schools in China's Xinjiang region, where about half the 22 million population is Muslim, have banned the traditional sunup to sundown fast and other religious activities, according to notifications on local school and government websites.

Students, teachers, civil servants and and Communist Party cadre members -- a far-flung group that includes everyone from nurses to engineers to scholars -- are forbidden from fasting and other activities. Government-run websites are running prominent messages explaining the ban on fasting, and lauding Muslims who do not fast.

The crackdown on Ramadan comes amid a string of attacks, many linked to ethnic minorities across the Uyghur region, that have killed hundreds across China since last fall but have been concentrated in the Xinjiang region.

Read more HERE
01:49  Suicide bomber kills 11 in Afghan capital:  
A Taliban suicide bomber struck a bus carrying Afghan military personnel in Kabul today, killing at least 11 people, officials said, as the militants step up their campaign of violence aimed at undermining the Western-backed government.

The bombing came as the country struggles through its first democratic transition of power, with electoral officials announcing today that the release of initial election results has been postponed until next week due to allegations of fraud.

The blast tore through the green bus blowing out the windows and leaving the interior spattered with blood. Afghan soldiers cordoned off the scene as the bus was lifted by a crane to be carried away. 

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said eight members of the army were killed and 13 wounded in the blast. Three civilians also were killed, according to Kabul's criminal investigation chief Gul Agha Hashim.

Army Gen Kadamshah Shahim said the bomber was stopped before he could enter the bus, preventing a higher casualty toll. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
01:48  India's chances of hosting 2019 Asian Games was in jeopardy:  
India's chances of hosting the 2019 Asian Games was in jeopardy as the Olympic Council of Asia refused the Indian Olympic Association's request for extension of deadline for submission of final bid documents by 15 days.

The deadline to submit the final bid ended on Tuesday, but with the government yet to take a decision on the issue, the Indian Olympic Association had sent a letter to  Olympic Council of Asia requesting for extension of the July 1 deadline.

However, the OCA refused to extend the deadline, citing shortage of time as an evaluation team will need to assess the bidding cities before taking a decision on a venue. 

The Asian body said it can consider India's bid if the country can submit the documents in a "couple of days". 

"I regret to inform you that due to the extreme shortage of time, it is impossible for the OCA to extend the deadline any further. Within this two month period we need to establish the evaluation team that will visit the bidding cities and submit its report to the OCA Executive Board on 19th September," a letter from the OCA to IOA said.
01:46  Indian Mujahideen terrorist arrested in Kolkata:  
An Indian Mujahideen terrorist, suspected to be involved in the German Bakery blast of Pune in 2010, has been arrested from Kolkata, the police said. 

A special team of the Kolkata Police STF arrested Zahid Hussain, a Bangladeshi national, from outside Kolkata rail station under Chitpore police station on Wednesday evening. 

Hussain, a resident of Mirpur in Bangladesh, is suspected to be one of the main conduits of IM leaders in India, a senior STF official told PTI on condition of anonymity. 

"Zahid Hussain was in touch with all the important Indian Mujahideen leaders and used to supply them with fake Indian currency notes and explosives. He is also suspected to be involved in German Bakery blast in Pune," the official said. 

The explosion in German Bakery had left at least nine persons dead and scores injured in February 14, 2010. 

"We are investigating all the aspects. He will be produced before the court on Thursday," he said.
01:45  Sarkozy fights back in face of corruption charges:  
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy has accused the French justice system of trying to "destroy" him, after he was charged in a corruption probe. 

The former conservative party leader fought back today in a broadcast interview after he was questioned over a highly publicised judicial investigation linked to allegations that he took $67 million in illegal campaign funds from Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. 

The detention a very unusual move for such a high-level figure has dominated French news broadcasts, and comes as a possible political comeback by the hard-driving 59-year-old has been floated by his faltering UMP party. 

Sarkozy, who spent nearly a day in custody yesterday answering questions on his 2007 presidential campaign, told TF1 TV and Europe-1 radio he was "profoundly shocked" over his 16-hour detention. 

"Is it normal that I should be in custody for so long?" Sarkozy asked, squinting intensely at an interviewer. He said his detention was motivated out of "a desire to humiliate me." 

"A part of the justice system is being used for political purposes," he said.
01:43  Top headlines at this hour::  Chennai building collapse: Toll mounts to 47, 27 rescued so far

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Govt puts stock limits on onion, potato to check prices

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