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LIVE! Tremor felt in Gujarat

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June 21, 2014

23:16  Tremor felt in Gujarat:  

An earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale today hit several parts of Bharuch and neighbouring districts of south Gujarat today.       

"A tremor measuring 3.6 on Richter scale was felt at 9.40 pm today in Bharuch and the neighbouring districts," said an official from the Disaster Management Authority.        


The tremor was centred some 36 km from the eastern part of Bharuch district, he said, adding the earthquake was also felt in the neighbouring districts, including Valsad and Surat.        


There were no reports of casualties or damage to properties.

22:23  Media freedom curtailed during UPA regime: Javadekar:  

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday said "emergency mindset" continued during the UPA regime which curtailed media freedom in the country.        


"After I became the I&B minister, I was reviewing pending files in my ministry. I noticed that while many TV channels had got permissions to start operations, one proposal had been rejected....I checked the Home Ministry's report to find out the cause....I was shocked to see that the channel's proposal was rejected because one of the director's father was an RSS member," Javadekar said, speaking to reporters at a function.        


"The Emergency Mindset had continued (during the UPA regime)," he said, referring to the curtailment of media freedom during the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led government in 1975.  

21:22  No change of guard in Haryana: Hooda:  

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today dismissed as "just rumours" speculation of a change of guard in the state and claimed all sections of society are satisfied with the functioning of his government.        


Hooda sought to downplay the report that the Congress high command was mulling a change of guard in three states, that included Haryana, ahead of fresh assembly polls and said these were "just rumours."        


 "All sections of the society are satisfied with the functioning of the state government," the Congress leader told reporters in reply to repeated questions on the possibility of change of guard in the state.        


"With the support and co-operation of the people, Congress will get overwhelming mandate in the upcoming state assembly polls and form the government for the third consecutive term," Hooda said. Fresh assembly elections are due in Haryana in October this year.

20:10  Bihar CM meets PM, pitches for special category status:  

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which the issue of special category status to the state figured prominently.        


Pitching for the Centre's acceptance of the pet demand of his mentor and former state chief minister Nitish Kumar, Manjhi told Modi that the granting of the status was necessary for progress of the state as it would push investments in the underdeveloped state and open new employment avenues for the youth, an official statement from the state government said.        


The Prime Minister's Office termed the meeting a "courtesy call".        


Modi had himself promised during his campaign in Bihar that his government would take special care for the state's development.

18:09  Major fire at Naman Towers in Central Mumbai:  

A major fire that broke out at the Naman Towers in Parel in central Mumbai on Saturday afternoon has now been brought under control, NDTV reports.


The building was evacuated and it took six fire engines to bring the blaze under control. There have been no reports of any casualty. The fire had begun on the upper floors of the building.


Image courtesy: Sarita A Tanwar/Twitter  

16:37  Rail fare hike difficult but correct decision, says Jaitley:  
Defending the steep hike in rail fare and freight rates as a 'difficult but correct decision', Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the railways can survive only if users pay for availing of facilities. 

"The passenger services have been subsidised by the freight traffic. In recent years, even freight fares have come under pressure," he said in his first reaction to the 14.2 per cent increase in passenger fares and 6.5 per cent hike in freight rates. 

Stating that the choice before the government was to allow the railways to bleed and eventually walk into a debt trap or raise fares, Jaitley said, "India must decide whether it wants a world-class railway or a ramshackled one. 

"The railway minister has taken a difficult but a correct decision...The Indian Railways for the last few years have been running at a loss. The only way that Railways can survive is when users pay for the facilities that they avail." 
15:56  BMC gives day's time to Campa Cola Society residents to vacate:  
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials on Saturday agreed to give a day's time to the Campa Cola Housing Society residents to contemplate on the eviction order. 

Earlier, today the BMC squad reached the society to demolish their houses and cut off the power and water supply. However, when the residents appealed to them to give them another day to take a final decision, the officials agreed to it.
The civic body officials officials accompanied by Mumbai police that set out to demolish 140 illegal flats in the Campa Cola Housing Society here had to return without taking any action as the beleaguered residents opposed their entry into the complex on Friday. 

The BMC has registered a case against the residents for unlawfully restraining the government officials for performing their duties
15:47  Security setup put in place for Amarnath yatra, no threat: DGP:  
Ruling out any specific threat with regard to the Amarnath yatra, Director General of Police (DGP), J&K K Rajindra Kumar today said elaborate security arrangements have been put in place at the ground level to deal with any challenges in connection with the yatra. 

"There are no specific threat to Amarnath Yatra, but going by the inputs that used to come to us in the past few years, we are taking all necessary precautionary precautions. But there is nothing specific on records", DGP told reporters here today.

"All the security arrangements have been put in place for Amarnath yatra. The government of India (GoI) have made the forces available, which we needed for Amarnath yatra", he said.

This year's annual Amarnath pilgrimage in South Kashmir Himalayas will begin on June 28 this year and conclude on Raksha Bandhan falling on August 10. 

"Central armed police forces have been put on our disposal, whose development on the ground has been made. All the routes have been inspected from Lakhanpur to Baltal and also from Phalagan routes, where the security setup have been put on the ground", DGP said. 
14:57  Putin orders central Russia forces on 'full combat alert':  
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops in central Russia on "full combat alert," the defence minister said today, a day after the Kremlin confirmed it was beefing up its military presence at the border with Ukraine.

"In accordance with his (Putin's) order, from 1230 IST the troops of the central military district as well as formations and military units located on its territory have been put on full combat alert," Russian news agencies quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
14:56  Militants seize Iraq border post, kill 30 troops:  
Sunni militants have seized an Iraqi crossing on the border with Syria after a daylong battle in which they killed some 30 Iraqi troops, security officials said today. 

The capture of the Qaim border crossing deals a further blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, which has struggled to push back against Islamic extremists and allied militants who have seized large swaths of the country, including the second largest city Mosul, and who have vowed to march on Baghdad. 

Police and army officials said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allied militants seized the crossing
near the border town of Qaim, about 320 kilometres west of Baghdad, after battling Iraqi troops all day yesterday. 

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to media, said people were now crossing back and forth freely. 

The fall of the border crossing came as al-Maliki faces mounting pressure to form an inclusive government or step aside, with both a top Shiite cleric and the White House strongly hinting he is in part to blame for the worst crisis since US troops withdrew from the country at the end of 2011.
13:42  Iraq crisis: Employer refuses to return their Indian workers' passport:  
As the crisis in Iraq intensifies, the stranded Indians workers have been denied of their passports by their employer. 

"They said they have not been paid salaries for the past five months and their passports have been held" said Amnesty International. 

"We have been restricting ourselves to the company premises since the conflict began because we are scared. Without our passports, we can't leave this country, and every passing day makes us feel more and more unsafe. We just want to go home," one of the workers was quoted as telling Amnesty
13:19  125 IEDs detected by CoBRA commandos in Jharkhand:  
Foiling Naxals' plan of a major ambush, security forces in Jharkhand today detected and destroyed 125 improvised bombs planted in a series along a road in Lohardaga district. 

Officials said the explosives were detected at around 10 am in Madanpur-Lawapani area of the district when a CoBRA commando team of CRPF was on patrol. 

The troops of the specialised anti-Maoist force of the paramilitary recovered the 125 Improvised Explosive Devices cleverly hidden beneath a dirt track which is usually taken for routine movement in the area. 

"Once the IEDs were activated it could have claimed numerous lives. Experts are now checking for any signs of Maoists in the area and are also looking for the trigger mechanism of the locally assembled bombs," a senior official said.
13:08  Water cannons fired at Congress workers protesting against railway fare hike:  
The police resorted to the use of water cannons to disperse Congress workers, who staged yet another protest against the NDA government on Saturday, over the hike in railway fares in the country.

People shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and burnt effigies of the leader.

"We are not expecting a miracle to happen in such a short span of time, but if they cannot combat the prevailing inflation, they should not make it worse by taking such steps," said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.

"Before the elections they (BJP) were saying that good days are about to come, and as soon as they won, they started calling their steps as a bitter medicine," he said
13:04  Pakistan imposes temporary ban on 2 TV channels:  
Pakistan has temporarily banned two private television channels, including one of the Geo TV network, and imposed a hefty fine of Rs 10 million on them for airing blasphemous content and ridiculing the judiciary.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the official media watchdog, suspended the licences of Geo Entertainment for 30 days and ARY News for 15 days for overstepping the laws of the state regulator.

The entertainment channel of Geo, whose news channel was suspended for 15 days recently, was ordered on Friday to be taken off air for insulting the religious sentiments of viewers when it played a religious song at the mock wedding of controversial actress Veena Malik in one of its morning shows. 

The ARY News was banned for brining the higher courts to disrepute through its criticism by airing anti-judiciary programmes.

The regulator imposed a Rs 10 million fine on both the channels.
12:40  India women's football team grabs 50th spot in FIFA rankings:  
India's women football team moved one place up to grab the 50th spot among 175 nations in the latest FIFA ranking.

The team also grabbed 11th position in the AFC ranking, moving up one spot. 

It is the second time that the women's football team has come up in the top 50 since the inception of rankings in 2003. 

The team last played matches in May 2013 for 2014 Asian Games qualifier losing against higher-ranked Mayanmar and Chinese Taipei and gained one point after drawing with host Palestine.

Earlier this month, the AIFF mooted the plan of hosting women's I-league from 2015. 

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Assistance Programme which was held in the second week of June in New Delhi took major decisions like organising regular training sessions and more number of competitions for the women's team. 

AFC has also decided to host workshops for training women referees and coaches.
12:04  'IM terrorists wanted to blow up Mahabodhi Temple':  
Zee News reports: In a startling revelation, two terrorists held in connection with last year's Bodh Gaya blasts have revealed that their original plan was to blow up the Mahabodhi Temple. 

Haider Ali, second in command of the home-grown terror group Indian Mujahideen, and Mujibullah told officers of the National Investigation Agency during interrogation that their plan to blow up the sanctum of the Mahabodhi Temple, located at Bodh Gaya in Gaya district of Bihar, was thwarted due to large crowd.
NIA sources said the terrorists could not plant bombs inside the main temple premises due to large crowds present on the day of the blast. 

Haider Ali was arrested last month from Ranchi.

The NIA team probing last years Patna and Bodh Gaya blasts earlier this month disclosed that IM terrorists had bought all materials used in making the time bombs from different markets in Ranchi, Jharkhand. 
11:03  Iraq crisis: Govt turns to Saudi Arabia to secure abducted Indians' release:  
With little headway in efforts to secure the release of 40 Indians kidnapped in Iraq by ISIS militants, New Delhi has knocked on the doors of Saudi Arabia to rescue its nationals. 

As per a report in a leading English daily, talks have already started between Indian and Saudi officials on how to rescue the Indians captured in Iraq's Mosul. 

But why is India seeking the help of Saudi Arabia? Because India and Saudi Arabia share good relations and the Gulf nation is perceived to have some influence on Iraq's Sunni militants.
As per latest reports, the kidnapped Indians are being held at two different locations near Mosul. 

While reports have said that the Indians were kidnapped by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the government is still trying to confirm whether any other group could be involved. The efforts have been prolonged due to the fact that very little information is trickling out of Iraq. 
10:42  US Judge Sri Srinivasan is India Abroad Person of the Year:  
Indian-American legal luminary Sri Srinivasan, a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Washington DC Circuit (the second most powerful court in the US after the Supreme Court), has been named the 2014 India Abroad Person of the Year.

The India Abroad Person of the Year awards are one of the most coveted of the Indian-American community

Described by the US President as a "trailblazer", Srinivasan was first nominated by Obama on June 11, 2012. On January 2, 2013, his nomination was returned to the President, due to the sine die adjournment of the Senate. On January 3, 2013, Obama re-nominated him for the same office.

Srinivasan was confirmed by a rare US Senate by 97-0 votes, which he attributed to the overwhelming support he received from the Indian American community throughout the nation.

Judge Srinivasan has spent a distinguished career litigating before the US Supreme Court and the US Courts of Appeals, both on behalf of the United States and in private practice.
10:13  Samajwadi workers halt train to protest rail hike:  
Samajwadi Party workers today brought a train to halt while protesting the central government's rail fare hike. The Ganga Gomti express was brought to a halt by party workers while it was enroute to Lucknow.

A protesting SP worker, Sandeep Yadav said, "We had the train stopped for half an hour and we will not stop this protest until there is a change. We are totally against the rail fare hike.Since Modi has arrived, inflation is happening."

The Central government's decision to increase rail passenger fares by 14.2 percent and freight rates by 6.5 percent have met with a stiff resistance from opposition parties.
09:34  Mumbai: BMC may forcefully evict Campa Cola residents today:  
The face-off between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai's Campa Cola residents continues with none of the two willing to budge.

The BMC has now registered a case against the Campa Cola residents at the Worli police station for unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint and obstructing a public servant from performing his duty.

This comes after the deadline to vacate 102 illegal flats in the Campa Cola society ended on Friday.

BMC officials were barred by the residents from carrying out the eviction orders.

They are expected to return on Saturday by 10:30 am to convince residents.

17 days after the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the residents against its earlier order asking them to vacate the flats, officials of the Municipal Corporation reached the complex along with the police to cut power, water and piped gas supply to the illegal flats. However, they were prevented by slogan-shouting residents of the Campa Cola Housing Society in upscale Worli, who closed the iron gates and placed bamboo poles to prevent them from entering.

"We will once again request the residents to let us carry out the necessary action. If they don't, we will figure out our strategy today and we will be back tomorrow," Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar told reporters, indicating that the BMC could use force to carry out the eviction process. 

The BMC officials also held a round of meeting with the secretaries of the ill fated society and have warned that the residents need to comply with the court orders. 

Meanwhile, the secretaries have requested to the civic body to give a day more time so that they may convince the residents to cooperate who are protesting against the demolition work, as per reports. 
09:29  US lawmakers seek to honour PM Modi with address to Congress:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, once denied a visa to enter the United States over massacres of Muslims, is expected to receive the honour of addressing a joint session of the US Congress during a visit to Washington in September.
California Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to House Speaker John Boehner on Friday and asked that he invite Mr Modi to address a joint session of the House and Senate during his trip

Read more HERE
09:27  After power cuts, Delhi to face power tariff hike next month:  
After the incessant power cuts, there is now news of power tariffs in Delhi set to go up next month. 

The electricity regulator announced this on Friday after all distributors pushed for a hike citing increase in fuel prices.

Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal also held a meeting with the power distribution companies on Friday. 

"There will be no relief in power tariff. Further details on this will be shared in future," said Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission Secretary Jayashree Raghuraman.
09:27  Financial powers gone, Planning Commission stares at shutdown:  
A television monitor in the lobby of the Planning Commission which used to run the schedule of meetings planned for the day when Montek Singh Ahluwalia was Deputy Chairman, now displays Thoughts for the Day.

Ahluwalia has resigned, and for the first time since the Planning Commission was set up in 1950, it will not decide on the gross budgetary support for the Railways.

Instead, the Finance Ministry has scheduled a meeting later this month to decide the Plan budget for the Railway Ministry.

The moving of financial powers out of Yojana Bhawan formalises the end of the role of the Commission, and marks the biggest change in the Indian fiscal space in decades.

Read more HERE
03:56  Ukraine implements cease-fire in restive east:  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the start Friday of his anticipated cease-fire in the fight against separatists in the country's pro-Russian east.

He said military units will respond only if they're attacked, and warned militant fighters to abandon their weapons before the cease-fire expires on June 27.

"Those who will not lay down their weapons will be destroyed," Poroshenko said, according to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.
03:20  Iran sent 'small numbers' of operatives into Iraq: US:  Iran has sent "small numbers" of operatives into Iraq to bolster the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, but there is no sign of a large deployment of army units, the Pentagon said today. 

The comments by spokesman Admiral John Kirby marked the US government's first public confirmation that Iranian operatives had crossed into Iraq, where the Baghdad government is struggling to counter the swift advance of Sunni extremists.
03:18  Kerry to travel Middle East and Europe to discuss Iraq:  US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East and Europe to discuss developments in Iraq with his counterparts in the region. 

The six day visit from June 22 to 27 is a result of President Barack Obama's direction.
03:17  Bomb blast at Islamabad shrine injures 40:  More than 40 people were injured, some critically, when a bomb ripped through a Sufi shrine on the outskirts of Islamabad, officials have said. 

A police spokesman said the explosion happened yesterday when food was being distributed to 200 devotees during annual celebrations at the shrine, which is situated around 14.5 kilometre northwest of the city.
02:06  Refugees surpass 50,000,000; UN pinpoints political incapacity:  World Refugee Day brings bad news. For the first time since World War II, the total number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has surpassed 50 million.

The UNHCR reports a jump of six million, compared to 2012, to 51.2. The war in Syria contributed the most to this.The UN refugee agency's High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, said: "There is a general sense of impunity. 

Conflicts emerge, dramatic violations of human rights appear and the international community has lost much of its capacity to prevent conflicts and solve them (in a timely way).'
00:41  Three NATO troops and military dog killed in Afghan blast:  A Taliban attack killed three NATO soldiers and a military dog in southern Afghanistan today, officials said, in the latest sign of the insurgents' capability as the coalition winds down operations. 

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will end its combat mission later this year, leaving the Afghan police and army to take on full responsibility for battling the resilient Taliban insurgency.
00:41  14 dead in Bulgaria flash floods:  Flash floods in Bulgaria have killed at least 14 people, including two children, with others missing after torrential rains lashed the east of the country, authorities said today. 

The worst hit was the Asparuhovo neighbourhood of the Black Sea port city of Varna, where at least 11 people including two children perished, local authorities said.
00:29  Two killed in Egypt in Morsi-related clashes: ministry:  Two people were shot dead today in clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the interior ministry said.

Another eight people were wounded across the capital as 53 people suspected of rioting were arrested nationwide. 

Morsi supports often take to the streets in protest against his removal last July 3 by the man who replaced him, ex-army chief President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
00:28  Top Shiite cleric adds to US pressure on Iraqi leaders:  Iraq's top Shiite cleric added to U.S. pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his political allies to form a new government that can command support across sectarian lines.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who played a key role in calming sectarian tensions in previous years, today called for the creation of a new "effective' government.
00:26  Ukraine's leader orders weeklong government cease-fire:  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his forces to cease fire Friday and halt military operations for a week against pro-Russia separatists in the country's east -- the first step in a peace plan he hopes will end the conflict that has cost more than 350 lives.

Poroshenko, speaking during his first trip as president to the troubled east, said troops would still fire back if separatists attacked them or civilian residents.

Separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence from his government in Kiev, occupied public buildings and fought with heavy weapons against troops from the government in Kiev. Rebel leaders have previously dismissed Poroshenko's plan and it remains to be seen to what extent they would comply.
00:23  Irans role in Iraq is unlikely to include combat:  Thousands of Iranians have signed up online or at religious offices throughout the Islamic republic to join Iraq's fight against advancing al-Qaeda-inspired militants, but the volunteers, many of them of Iraqi origin, are unlikely to see combat anytime soon.

While Iran's leaders and many Shiites living here have offered whatever it might take to bolster Iraq's government and defend Shiite holy sites, the public show of support is taking the form of cheerleading for now, not the dispatch of organized fighting forces.
00:22  Top headlines in that last 24 hours:  Himachal tragedy: One more body found, 12 still missing
Akhilesh wades into language row, says SP always in favour of Hindi, Urdu
'Govt will not interfere with freedom of the press': Javadekar
16 Indians stranded in Iraq moved out, one of the 40 abducted escapes
Modi sarkar diktat: Don't appoint officers as personal staff who served in UPA govt
'Why are we being treated worse than terrorists?'
Search for missing MH370 to shift south: official
Iraq kidnapping: 'India can't do much politically or militarily'
How duped Indian labourers end up in Iraq
Obama to rush Special Forces to Iraq
ISIS audit: 1,000 assassinations, 4,000 bombings & counting
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