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LIVE! Charges of sedition against Kashmiri students dropped

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March 06, 2014

22:23  AAP leader Manish Sisodia's car attacked in Gujarat :  A car carrying AAP leader Manish Sisodia was attacked by unidentified men on Himmatnagar highway in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat today, the party alleged and claimed that the attackers were BJP workers.     

"Some unidentified men threw stones at Manish Sisodia's car on Himmatnagar highway," AAP Gujarat spokesperson Harshil Nayak said while Sisodia tweeted after the incident that "our car attacked by BJP goons in Himatnagar (Sabarkantha)."     

However, Sabarkantha SP Chirag Koriadia said, "His car was not stopped by anybody, it seems that there was no attack.What Sisodia claims is somebody threw stones at the car, we are investigating it".
22:22  BJP trying to intimidate us, AAP tells EC:  The AAP today accused the BJP of trying to intimidate its workers and requested the Election Commission to initiate a probe into the violent clashes which took place between its members and supporters of the saffron outfit.

"It seems to hint at a concerted attempt by the BJP to attack and intimidate the AAP. That would vitiate the entire political atmosphere and have a serious impact on the conduct of free and fair elections in the country.       

"Since the EC is charged with the responsibility of ensuring free and fair polls, we request you to institute an independent inquiry into the matter," AAP National Secretary Pankaj Gupta said in a letter to EC today.
22:01  BJP defends meeting with Raj Thackeray :  Former BJP national president Nitin Gadkari today defended his meeting with MNS chief Raj Thackeray in Mumbai, saying it was aimed at preventing the splitting of anti-Congress-NCP votes in the state.        

"I met Raj Thackeray as an NDA member and not as a BJP leader, just to ensure that anti-Congress and anti-NCP votes in Maharashtra do not split," he said.        

The meeting had triggered off speculation that the BJP tried to win over MNS chief Raj Thackeray into the NDA for an electoral alliance before the Lok Sabha elections.
21:59  Jagdish Tytler withdraw nomination :  Former MP Jagdish Tytler, who on March 4 filed his nomination for the candidature for the Northeast Lok Sabha seat in Delhi under the primaries project, today withdrew his nomination.        

After meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Tytler decided to opt out.        

"Jagdish Tytler today withdrew his nomination from the Northeast Lok Sabha seat. After Tytler's withdrawal, Jai Prakash Agarwal, who is currently an MP from the same seat, and Rajesh Lalotia, a former MLA from Patel Nagar, will now contest elections for candidature. The voting under the primaries project will be held at Harnam Palace in Gokulpur area on March 11," said Pradeep Sharma, in-charge for the project.
21:50  Charges of sedition against Kashmiri students dropped:  Uttar Pradesh police have dropped charges of sedition against the Kashmiri students who had cheered for the Pakistan cricket team during a match against India on Sunday, according to media reports.

The students of a private university in Meerut had been expelled and booked under sedition charges for supporting the Pakistan team.
21:23  Bihar AAP leader arrested for code violation :  AAP leader Parveen Amanullah and six party workers were arrested today for allegedly violating the poll code of conduct, police said.        

Amanullah, who quit the Nitish Kumar government to join the AAP recently, is tipped to contest from the Patliputra Lok Sabha seat, presently represented by Lalu Prasad's friend-turned-foe and JD-U leader Ranjan Yadav.        

They were staging a protest outside a power department office allegedly in violation of the poll code.        

They were arrested from the dharna site and were released later.
21:22  Kabir Suman may fight LS polls as an independent:  Rebel Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman, who was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls by the party, today said he was open to contesting the election from his Jadavpur seat as an independent.        

"I am not ruling out the possibility of fighting the Lok Sabha election. I may, but not as any party's candidate," Suman said.

A former journalist-turned musician and writer, Suman said, "I am not a politician by profession. I spend time with my guitar and my music. They (TMC leadership) should have kept that in mind before giving me the ticket last time".
21:20  The final countdown to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls:  The final countdown to the Lok Sabha polls has thrown up some interesting permutations and combinations.

How many seats can the ruling Congress, the opposition BJP and the Third Front expect to win?

Click here to read more
20:17  US sanctions individuals, entities involved in Ukraine crisis :  US President Barack Obama today imposed sanctions and placed restrictions on individuals supporting the Russian incursion and activities undermining democratic processes in crisis-hit Ukraine.       

In a communication to the Congress, Obama said the move does not target Ukraine, but rather is aimed at those who undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine;threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets.       

The White House said the US is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity '"actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law.
20:15  Congress legislator from Goa praises Kejriwal :  Goa's Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco praised Aam Aadmi party leader Arvind Kejriwal for daring to take on the high and mighty head on.       

"I appreciate Kejriwal. He took Ambani head on. He had the guts to take Ambanis head on," Lourenco said, speaking in the state legislative assembly.

Lourenco, who is Congress legislative party spokesman, questioned the state government's silence on recovering money from mine owners, involved in illegal mining, as per the Justice M B Shah Commission, which had pointed out that Goa's illegal mining business is worth Rs 35,000 crore.
20:13  Trial against Asaram will begin from March 19:  The in-camera trial in the sexual assault case against controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu will begin at the District and Sessions Court in Jaipur on March 19, with the victim deposing on March 25.        

"We submitted the list of 58 witnesses in the court today for evidence. The trial will begin from March 19," Public Prosecutor R L Meena said.        

Laxmi, the assistant sub-inspector of the police station at New Delhi where the victim had filed her FIR, will be the first to depose before the court on March 19, Meena said.
20:11  RSS people killed Mahatma Gandhi: Rahul :  Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi today took on the RSS, blaming the right-wing outfit for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.                 

He also ridiculed senior BJP leaders for claiming credit for introducing computers in India.                 

"RSS people killed Gandhiji and today their people (BJP) talk of him...They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhiji," Rahul said while addressing a public rally in Thane district, Maharashtra.
19:22  Pak Hindu widows to get financial assistance:  For the first time in Pakistan's history, widows hailing from the minority Hindu community will get financial assistance from a provincial government.

Special Advisor to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister for Minority Affairs, Sardar Sooran Singh said the initiative would provide relief to the deserving women of the minority community.

He made these comments while addressing a cheque distribution ceremony at the Kala Bari Hindu temple, state-run APP news agency reported. Singh said that the government was fully cognisant of the problems faced by the minorities and was taking result-oriented measures to address them.

He said that the government was mulling over initiating several welfare projects for the minorities that would redress their grievances.
19:19  CPI-M, CPI call off alliance with AIADMK in Tamil Nadu:  According to reports just coming in, the CPI-M and the CPI have called off their alliance with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu for the Lok Sabha polls. Sources said that the Left parties will contest the elections on their own

More details are awaited.
18:57  Russia Today presenter quits on air over Ukraine:  An American anchor for the Moscow-funded Russia Today television network resigned live on air in protest at the deployment of Russia-backed forces in Ukraine.

Liz Wahl said during a broadcast on Wednesday that she could no longer work for the network, which she accused of 'whitewashing' moves by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"My grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces,' she said.

"Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin.

"I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning."
18:39  DMDK-BJP meet at 8 pm today, Vijaykanth may meet Modi, Advani on Saturday :   Just in: Our sources tell us that DMDK is in talks with the BJP. The two parties are set to meet at 8 pm today. DMDK chief, actor-politician Vijayakanth may come to Delhi on March 8 to meet Narendra Modi, LK Advani and Rajnath Singh.

Last month, the BJP had refused Vijaykant an appointment with Rajnath Singh.
18:20  Defence Ministry not spending funds wisely enough, suggests FM:  Against the backdrop of recent submarine mishap, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today suggested that the Defence Ministry is not spending the funds "wisely" enough and contended the maintenance of the military assets was being neglected.

He insisted that the Finance Ministry provides "a lot of money" to the Defence Ministry and "I sincerely hope that the defence forces will learn a lesson and make sure that the money allotted to them is spent more wisely and more efficiently on essential matters."
18:00  'Kashmiri students accused of sedition welcome in Pakistan':  Pakistan today termed the slapping of sedition charges on nearly 60 Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh for cheering the Pakistani cricket team as "very unfortunate" and said its "heart" and educational institutions are always open if they wanted to pursue their studies here.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said she knows that Kashmiris celebrated Pakistan's victory against India in the Asia Cup.

"We saw Indian media reports that there were all night celebrations and there were also reports that 67 Kashmiri students were expelled," she said at her weekly press briefing at the Foreign Office.

Stating that she does not have any way of corroborating that information, Aslam said, "If these Kashmiri students want to come and pursue their studies in Pakistan, our hearts and academic institutions are open to them".
17:32  Prakash Jha to contest LS polls on JD-U ticket from Bihar :  It's confirmed. Filmmaker Prakash Jha will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Bettiah, Bihar on a JD-U ticket.

Jha addressed a public meeting at Bettiah today along with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the Sankalp Yatra.

A JD-U leader close to Nitish Kumar said that Jha's name had been finalised from the Bettiah seat and a formal announcement would be made.

Jha had taken part in a protest against the denial of special category status to Bihar on March 2 in Patna along with Nitish Kumar. He has also a film on the subject.

According to JD-U leaders, Jha has been visiting Bettiah regularly for over a month. He has made films set in Bihar like Gangaajal, Apaharan, Rajniti and Arakhshan. In last Lok Sabha polls, Jha had contested on a Lok Janshakti Party ticket, but was defeated.
17:19  Madhuri Dixit-Nene tweets: Show us the power of the people: come dressed in pink!
17:14  Jairam Ramesh to go on another six day tour of Seemandhra :  Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has six days of intense touring of Seemandhra ahead of him. That's on the back of a six day tour.

Ramesh feels it's necessary to visit Seemandhra again because the bifurcation issue is still very hot and many activists and cadres have been leaving the Congress. Ramesh feels another visit will allow him to understand the real issues at hand. 
16:55  LIVE! Kiran Kumar Reddy's new party is called Jai Samakyandhra Praja Samiti, symbol chappal :   Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh has chosen the slippers (chappals) as the election symbol of his new political party, which he has christened Jai Samakyandhra Praja Samiti (JSPS).

The Convenor of the party is Undavalli Aruna Kumar, a former Congress MP.

The party symbol signifies Lord Rama's paduka, a symbol of respect.

Reddy holds the distinction of being the last chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
16:40  LIVE! Gulaab Gang can be released tomorrow, says Delhi HC:   Just in: The Delhi HC lifts stay order, allows nationwide release of Madhuri Dixit-starrer 'Gulaab Gang' tomorrow.

A day after issuing a stay order on the release of the Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit starrer Gulab Gang, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear the appeal of the film's producers, who have challenged the order.

The film is claimed to be based on the life of activist Sampat Pal, and her organisation Gulabi Gang.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice S Mridul agreed to hear the plea during the day after it was mentioned before it by senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for the producers, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd.

The court said it will hear the plea after the producers file a compact disc of the lawsuit and other related documents before it. The court asked for the compact disc as it is a paperless electronic court (e-court).
16:26  Shazia, Ashutosh being questioned:   AAP leaders Shazia Ilmi and Ashutosh have been taken to the Mandir Marg police station for questioning.

Also read: Kejriwal's mismatched socks and the 2014 general elections
16:22  NTR's daughter wants to join BJP, another strike for Congress:  Congress leader Purandeswari, the daughter of famous actor-politician NTR, says she wants to join the BJP, and will formally approach the party tomorrow.
16:20  200-Year Drought Doomed Indus Valley Civilization:  The decline of Bronze-Age civilizations in Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia has been attributed to a long-term drought that began around 2000 BC.

Now, paleoclimatologists propose that a similar fate was followed by the enigmatic Indus Valley Civilization, at about the same time.

Based on isotope data from the sediment of an ancient lake, the researchers suggest that the monsoon cycle, which is vital to the livelihood of all of South Asia, essentially stopped there for as long as two centuries. Read
16:01  The man who nailed Sahara:  When the Supreme Court castigated Sahara Parivar chief Subarata Roy, and sent him to judicial custody on Tuesday, one man must have finally permitted himself a smile K. M. Abraham, former board member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the man who investigated the Sahara scam. Read
15:58  Oscar Pistorius on trial: Explore each side's case in this 3D rendition. Watch
15:52  AAP's s tactics harm the very people it represents. Read
15:48  Jaya returns to her natural ally:  The 'slow-motion decision' by Jayalaiithaa to dump her alliance with the Left parties has been utterly fascinating to watch.

The veteran Left leaders could see her reaching out for her abacus to do fresh calculation and were in a state of animated suspense.

Shrewd calculation has gone into Jayalalithaa's momentous decision to break the AIDMllK's electoral alliance with the Left and the ostensible reason -- irreconcilable differences over 'seat-sharing' -- is mere excuse.

Read MK Bhadrakumar's blog.
15:43  All 14 AAP volunteers get bail :  Just in: All 14 AAP workers who were arrested for protesting outside the BJP office yesterday have been given bail.

The Delhi police are now outside Shazia Ilmi's residence. The AAP candidate says she did not resort to any violence yesterday.

Ashutosh has told AAP volunteers not to resort to any violence. 
15:38  Court to hear Tejpal, CBI's applications on Mar 21:  A local court in Goa today fixed the hearing on four different applications filed by Tehelka founder editor Tarun Tejpal, accused of sexually assaulting a junior woman colleague, and the Crime Branch to March 21.

The Fast Track Court ordered that it will hear the three applications by Tejpal and an application by Crime Branch filed before it on March 21. The judge today adjourned the matter giving time to the prosecution to file reply on the applications filed by the defence.

Tejpal, 50, has moved three different applications before the fast track court, including one wherein he has stated that the charge sheet filed against him by Crime Branch has disclosed the identity of the victim. The chargesheet, he said, is a public document.
15:30  AAP Lok Sabha candidate Ashutosh has been taken away for questioning. The party got a notice from the EC notice over clashes with the BJP last evening. 
15:15  Omar: UP CM has told me he will look into sedition matter :  Omar Abdullah on the UP government slapping sedition charges against Kashmiri college students: "Have just spoken to CM UP who has assured me he will personally look in to the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut."
15:08  Subrata Roy eats jail food, but sleeps on bed in Tihar :   Here's what Subrata Roy, who comes with the suffix Sahara after his surname has been doing in Tihar jail.

Sahara Chief Roy spent the day meeting his son, brother and a top company official besides reading newspapers in his cell. Roy who was brought to Tihar jail last evening and has been kept in ward number four of prison 3, the same ward where all accused of the 2G scam were kept.

Roy has been provided a bed to sleep as he is above 60 years of age, a jail official said.

Subrata Roy, who was sent in judicial custody for a week in Delhi by the Supreme Court yesterday, had reached Tihar prison at around 8 pm following which doctors examined him and he was found to be in good health.

According to Tihar Spokesperson Sunil Gupta, as per rules, Subrata Roy was given a bed to sleep as he is above 60 years of age.

"He had a sound sleep. In the morning he read newspapers in his ward. He took bread and tea in breakfast. He also ate jail food. Later, he also ordered something to eat from the jail canteen," he said.

"As per prison rules, a prisoner is served chapati of 400 gm grain, 250 gm vegetable and 90 gm dal every day. According to this rule, he is being served food," he said.
14:58  BJP-AAP clash at Gandhidham in Gujarat :  Reports of more clashes between AAP and BJP in Gandhidham.

The Delhi police submits its report to the Election Commission. The police say it was AAP protestors who began throwing stones at the BJP office.

Delhi police have reached Shazia Ilmi's residence. The police have asked her to be present for the probe.
14:43  Modi has weak credentials as PM candidate, mine better: Nitish Kumar :  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today made his Prime Ministerial ambitions known, saying he is more qualified and experienced than those "roaming around" for the top job.

"I am more qualified than those roaming around for the post of Prime Ministership," Kumar said in his 'sankalp yatra' held here to demand special category status for Bihar.

Without naming either the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, he said, "While one does not have the experience of Parliament another has no experience of running a state... I have both experiences ... Am I less qualified than them?"

Asked categorically if he was a Prime Ministerial candidate, Kumar said his party JD(U) was small and modest and did not make tall claims, but believed in working sincerely for the people.
14:32  CEO of bitcoin exchange found dead in Singapore:  The CEO of a virtual currency exchange has been found dead in her home in Singapore. A police spokesman said today there was no suspicion of "foul play" in the death of 28-year-old Autumn Radtke.

The spokesman says Radtke, an American, was found dead in her home on Feb. 26.

Her company, First Meta, said it was "shocked and saddened by the tragic loss." First Meta allowed users of virtual currencies such as bitcoin to trade and cash out the currencies.
14:00  Journalist and former Hindu editor Siddharth Varadarajan's caretaker beaten up :  Siddharth Varadarajan tweets: Four thugs recently beat up the caretaker of my flat in Delhi. The incident took place near our home, with the thugs saying, 'Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV.'

"They also issued a threat to my wife, Prof Nandini Sundar, about her Chhattisgarh case. We don't know who they are, but it's clearly aimed to intimidate.

The caretaker is recovering. While the police have been helpful and are reviewing neighborhood CCTV footage, I am making this incident public on the advice of friends who believe it may serve some deterrent value."
13:43  Lalu orders lid on swimming pool over Vastu concerns:  If it is election time, leave nothing to chance, not even the location of a swimming pool.

For the uninitiated, a pool to the south of one's house is inauspicious, say Vastu experts.

That's the reason RJD supremo Lalu Prasad is filling up the existing swimming pool at his house.

The pool was built at their 10 Circular Road house in 2005 when Rabri Devi shifted there from 1 Aney Marg. It is the one in which she offers arghya (obeisance) to the Sun god during Chhath Puja, Bihar's holiest festival.

But on Wednesday half-a-dozen labourers were busy filling up the 20ft by 50ft swimming pool on Lalu's instructions.  Here's why.
13:40  Kanchan Gupta tweets: Charging Kashmiri students with sedition is debatable. But how does it exactly alienate adults who identify themselves with Pakistan?
13:27  Omar tweets: Sedition charge against Kashmiri students will alienate them:   Omar Abdullah tweets: Sedition charge against Kashmiri students is an unacceptably harsh punishment that will ruin their futures & will further alienate them. I will talk to UP CM ASAP & intervene on behalf of these misguided students to have this charge of sedition removed. I believe the University did what it had to to control the situation but this action by the UP Govt is uncalled for & should be reversed.
13:05  UP college students booked for 'sedition' after cheering Pak cricket team:  So, the group of Kashmiri students of a private university in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, who were suspended on Tuesday, have now been booked for sedition after they cheered Pakistan during a cricket match.

Sixty-seven students of the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University were suspended for celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in the Asia Cup match on Sunday. They now face arrest.

"The case has been registered for being against own country and supporting the other (sic)," said a senior police officer, Onkar Singh, justifying the FIR that doesn't name any student.

Read: Sedition laws and the death of free speech in India
12:55  Ukraine troubles lift sunflower oil prices in India:  The troubles in Ukraine are already reverberating in India, disrupting the supplies of a crucial oil to Asia's third largest economy -- sunflower oil.

While Indian consumers so far haven't been exposed to any direct impact from the crisis in Ukraine, commodities traders said that could change soon as the conflich is expected to increase the cost of one of their favorite oils for frying foods.  Read more
12:46  Live! Police reach AAP office looking for Ashutosh, Ilmi asked to join probe:   Meanwhile, Delhi police have left for AAP's Model Town office to possibly arrest Ashutosh. AAP's spokesman and former journalist Ashutosh has been named in the FIR filed by Delhi Police in relation to the clashes that took place between the AAP and BJP outside the latter's headquarters in the capital.

At least 30 AAP workers have also been detained in relation to the case. Ashutosh's name appears in the FIR for illegally gathering at the BJP's headquarters on Wednesday.

The Delhi police have also sent a notice to Shazia Ilmi asking her to join the probe.
12:35  Sushma Swaraj against any link for NDA to Manu Sharma's father:  Sushma Swaraj, a senior leader of the BJP, has tweeted her opposition to the possibility that controversial Haryana politician Venod Sharma may have found an entry point into the coalition led by her party.

"I am against this," Swaraj tweeted this morning, about reports that Sharma, who quit the Congress on Wednesday after nearly four decades, will join the Haryana Janhit Congress, a regional party that is a member of the National Democratic Alliance, which is anchored by the BJP.

Read more
12:20  Five Afghan soldiers 'killed in Nato strike':  A Nato airstrike has killed five Afghan soldiers and wounded eight in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials say.

The airstrike took place in the early hours of Thursday in Charkh district of Logar province, a defence ministry spokesman said. Nato said it was investigating the reported incident. Read
12:05  India in election mode:  The numbers say it all. With about 81.45 crore people eligible to vote, India will witness a nine-phase election over a 36-day span covering 9,30,000 polling stations that will press into service 18,78,306 electronic ballot units the largest and lengthiest democratic exercise in the world. Read
11:59  KCR gambles to hit the EVM jackpot in Telangana. Read
11:57  Ramesh Srivats on Twitter:
Ashutosh. Used to be a "journalist".
Now, "runs to jail".
11:53  Old fantasies are distorted in Indian elections:  For decades, India's business elite dreamed of an alpha-male dictator who would also be a university graduate and generally a wonderful person, while the intellectual elite waited for the revolution that would set everything right.

The poor ensured that India remained a democracy by turning out to vote every time they were asked to. In tribute, the politicians ensured that they remained poor. Read Manu Joseph on the NYT
11:48  Gujarat Police spying on me: Manish Sisodia:   AAP leader Manish Sisodia today accused Gujarat Police of spying on him, a day after party leader Arvind Kejriwal was briefly "detained" in Gujarat while on a tour to "inspect" development in Narendra Modi's state.

Sisodia, who along with Kejriwal is on a four-day visit to Gujarat, alleged that police was troubling, questioning and threatening people he had met last evening.

"Day 2 in Gujarat-state police is spying on me. Troubling, questioning, threatening people I'm meeting since last evening in Gujarat," he tweeted. Kejriwal had yesterday accused Modi of trying to stall his visit to Gujarat meant to "inspect" development.

After he embarked on his tour to "verify" Modi's claims of providing water, power, education and healthcare to people in Gujarat, the former Delhi Chief Minister was taken to Radhanpur police station in North Gujarat and allowed to leave after half an hour.
11:34  Guj police forms two teams to hunt those who attacked Kejriwal's car:   The Gujarat police have formed two teams to nab the accused, who attacked Arvind Kejriwal's car yesterday. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader is on a four-day visit to verify development claims by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The windshield of the car carrying Kejriwal was damaged when BJP workers allegedly attacked his convoy in retaliation to the protests by AAP workers in front of the BJP headquarters in Delhi last evening.

A FIR has been registered by the Gujarat police in connection with the case.

In New Delhi, BJP activists allegedly pelted stones at Aam Aadmi Party members and the protestors retaliated as the latter's "peaceful" protest at BJP's headquarters in central Delhi turned ugly.-- Zee News
11:29  Kiran Kumar Reddy set to form new party today :  Kiran Kumar Reddy has in fact decided to float a new party. He will make an announcement at 4 pm today. With him will be 12 other leaders from the Congress including 'pepper spray' MP Lagadapaty Rajgopal.

Reddy who had earlier indicated that he would NOT float a new party has now changed his mind as he sniffs an opportunity in Seemandhra.

Armed with his own resignation from the Congress and also the fact that he stood against the formation of Telangana, he will woo the voter on these counts.
11:19  Delhi HC to hear Gulab Gang producer's plea to release film :  Producers of Madhuri Dixit-starrer Gulaab Gang move a larger bench of Delhi HC against order staying release of the movie. Delhi HC agrees to hear the plea during the day.

Yesterday, the Delhi HC stayed the release of the film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla. The film cannot be released in censored or uncensored form, the HC said. The film is set for release on March 7.

The order comes in the wake of activist Sampat Pal moving the Delhi High Court for blocking the release of of the film, which is reportedly based on her life. Pal formed Gulabi Gang, a group of pink sari clad women vigilantes from Uttar Pradesh. Pal has said the filmmakers did not take permission from her to make the film.

Read: Pal's interview with Madhuri has never met me, I will stop Gulaab Gang no matter what.
11:12  Former AP CM Kiran Kumar Reddy moves SC against bifurcation of state:  Just in: Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy moves SC against bifurcation of the state.
11:11  Rajiv killing convicts case hearing on March 26:  Just in: The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing on the Centre's plea against the release of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case till March 26.
11:04  RAW among suspects among attack in Islamabad: Nawaz Sharif:  Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that reports about the involvement of many groups, including the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India, in the Islamabad District Courts firing and bomb attack had been pouring in and the investigation was going on in this regard. Read
11:00  Arundhati Roy, the Not-So-Reluctant Renegade:  "I've always been slightly short with people who say, 'You haven't written anything again,' as if all the nonfiction I've written is not writing,"' Arundhati Roy said.  Read

That's Siddhartha Deb's interview with Roy for the NYT. Deb's riveting essay on IIPM's Arindam Chaudhuri for Caravan magazine is a must read, but it's not available for reading online after Chaudhuri slapped the magazine with a law suit. 
10:56  Over 25,000 students were wrongly failed in MU exams:  Over 25,000 students were wrongly failed in exams conducted by Mumbai University (MU) over the past year-and-a-half, according to information obtained under an RTI application. Further, the RTI reply reveals that the Mumbai University examinations department has said details of action taken against the erring professors/examiners cannot be revealed since it is confidential.  Read more
10:49  In Lucknow, workers of the Aam Aadmi Party, armed with brooms, had clashed with lathi-wielding activists of BJP and fought pitched street battles outside the BJP office on Vidhan Sabha Marg in protest against the alleged detention of Arvind Kejriwal.
10:48  Shazia Ilmi, Ashutosh to be produced in court today for rioting :  So, charges of rioting, obstructing a public servant from performing his duty and damaging public property have been slapped against 14 AAP protestors including leaders Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi.

Police had initially detained 33 people out of which 14 were arrested late last night while others were allowed to go.

"All those identifiable and present at the protest site have been named in the FIR," said a senior Delhi police official.

Those arrested will be produced before a local court in New Delhi this afternoon.

28 people, including 13 AAP activists and 10 BJP supporters, were injured in the clashes, police said. Police have termed the AAP protest as completely illegal as no prior permission was sought in this connection by the party.
10:31  Gurunath Meiyappan admits to friendly betting in IPL:  Times NOW exclusively reports: Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of BCCI President N Srinivasan and former boss of the Chennai Super Kings, has admitted to friendly betting with Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh in the Indian Premier League.

Meiyappan is expected to be interrogated by the Chennai police later today for his role in the betting scandal last year.

TIMES NOW has access to Meiyappan's interrogation report by the CB-CID on IPL betting.

More on Meiyappan's confessions here
09:46  In a first, Stanford strips Indian-origin Mathew Martoma of MBA degree:   Indian-origin hedge fund portfolio manager Mathew Martoma, convicted for his role in the most lucrative insider trading scheme in the history of the United States, has been stripped of his MBA degree by the prestigious Stanford business school.

This is the first time the Stanford Graduate School of Business has revoked a graduate's degree.

Martoma, 39, took admission in Stanford's Graduate School of Business in 2001, after being expelled from Harvard in 1999 for allegedly doctoring his law school transcript to try to gain a federal clerkship. Martoma had even changed his name from Ajai Mathew Thomas before applying to Stanford, where no one knew that he had been expelled from Harvard.
09:32  Gujarat cops were reporting my movement to someone: Kejriwal :  NDTV reports: Arvind Kejriwal today resumed his tour of Gujarat after a day of dramatic protests and clashes that followed his brief detention yesterday, which he described as harassment on the orders of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader has alleged that the police were constantly reporting his movements to "someone" on the phone.

Read the full report here
09:01  Obama calls British PM on Ukraine:  United States President Barack Obama has called British Prime Minister David Cameroon to consult on the unfolding developments in Ukraine as both the sides have agreed that Russia's action violated Ukrainian sovereignty.

During the call, Obama and Cameroon expressed their grave concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said in a statement yesterday.

"Both noted that the current circumstances are unacceptable. Russia has already started to pay a cost for its actions, such as reducing investor confidence in Russia," it said.

"The two leaders welcomed the military observer mission being undertaken by Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe at the request of the Government of Ukraine," the statement said adding that they also discussed support for the government of Ukraine as it works to stabilise its economy and makes preparations for elections in May.
08:51  AAP's Ashutosh booked for rioting, 14 workers arrested :  Fourteen Aam Aadmi Party workers have been arrested for after clashes with the Bharatiya Janata Party yesterday. AAP spokesperson Ashutosh has been booked for rioting by the Delhi police.

FIRs have been registered under sections including rioting, obstructing public and damaging property.

AAP workers clashed with BJP activists after former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was detained briefly in Gujarat.  
08:42  Uttar Pradesh doctors call off stirke:  The doctors in Uttar Pradesh, who were protesting protesting against the alleged high-handedness of police and administration, called off their strike this morning.

Their decision comes after intervention by the Allahabad high court.  The HC had yesterday taken suo motu congnizance of the strike and had ordered a probe into the incident that had led to the strike.

The striking doctors were demanding that cases be lodged against Samajwadi Party MLA Irfan Solanki for allegedly beating up junior doctors in Kanpur.

The strike had crippled UP as it spread to other parts too.

04:41  Indian among 21 killed in Baghdad bombings:  
Bombings mainly targeting Shiite areas of Baghdad and attacks on security force checkpoints in and around the capital killed at least 21 people, including an Indian today, officials said. 

Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in bloodshed that has reached levels not seen since 2008, driven by widespread discontent among its Sunni Arab minority and the bloody civil war in neighbouring Syria.

And Baghdad is hit by near-daily bombings and shootings.

Today's seven car bombs and two roadside bombs, which struck six different areas of Baghdad, killed at least 14 people and wounded more than 70 people, the officials said. 

One of the car bombs exploded near the University of Technology in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, killing three people and wounding at least 10. 

"The terrorist was planning to blow up the car on the main road near the university," but security forces do not allow cars to stop there so he instead left it on a side street, a police officer at the scene said. 
01:56  Glossy pope weekly hits the stands in Italy:  
A magazine named My Pope ("Il mio papa") -- billed as the "first weekly in the world dedicated to Pope Francis" -- was launched today by Silvio Berlusconi's publishing group Mondadori.

The 60-page gossip-style magazine boasts tantalizing details on the Holy Father's week and is stuffed full of photographs of the 77-year-old Argentine at work, capturing instants such as the moment his skullcap flew off in the wind or he was hugged by a child who climbed on his papal chair. 

The Vatican has not commented on the new publication, which has gone on sale for 50 euro cents (USD 0.68) in Italy. 
01:54  US questions China intentions, amid defence budget hike:  
The US Pacific commander voiced concern today over China's intentions as the Asian power announced its latest double-digit hike in defense spending. 

Several lawmakers questioned Adm Samuel Locklear about US ability to contend with a rising China and sustain a "pivot" to Asia amid growing pressure on the US defense budget. 

China has announced a 12.2 per cent increase in military spending to USD 132 billion, likely a considerable underestimate of actual spending, but still far less than the $600.4 billion the US spent last year.

Locklear noted China's spending increase, and added that the 12.2 per cent rise is "just what we can see."

He told the House Armed Services Committee that there has been a slow and steady growth in the US-China military relationship, and that the US wants China to provide a positive contribution to regional security. But he said China's recent activities were calling into question how it will proceed.

"What's frustrating is what's happening in their own backyard as it relates to their relations with some of our allies," Locklear said, citing China's "ambiguous" territorial claims in the South China Sea and its declaration of an air defense information zone over the East China Sea, in an encompassing airspace above Japanese-controlled islands also claimed by China. "This all complicates the security environment and makes us wonder," Locklear said. 
01:46  Qayyum Karzai quits Afghan presidential race:  
Afghan president's elder brother is dropping out of the April 5 presidential race and throwing his support behind the country's former foreign minister, a campaign official said today.

The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told The Associated Press that President Hamid Karzai's brother, Qayyum Karzai, was dropping out of the race and will back Zalmai Rassoul. 

The decision came after days of speculation and backroom meetings, including some held at the presidential palace. 

Although Hamid Karzai has not come out in support of any one candidate, he publicly declared he did not support his brother's candidacy. He said he had urged his brother not to run. 

Hamid Karzai, who has served two terms, is not eligible to run under Afghanistan's constitution. 

The elder Karzai's decision to step out of the race leaves 10 hopefuls in the upcoming presidential elections. 
00:27  Football field size asteroid to make close pass by Earth:  
An asteroid the size of a football field is about to make a close pass by Earth but is not expected to hit or cause any damage, NASA said. 

Coined 2014 DX110, the asteroid will be part of a rare class of objects that comes nearer than the moon, and will shave by at around 2100 GMT (02:30 am IST), the space agency said. 

"As happens about 20 times a year with current detection capabilities, a known asteroid will safely pass Earth Wednesday (GMT time) closer than the distance from Earth to the moon," NASA said on its website.

Its closest approach to Earth will be at about 3,50,000 kilometers, a bit closer than the average lunar distance of 3,85,000 kilometers.

The asteroid is believed to be about 100 feet across, or 30 meters.

NASA discovered it as part of its asteroid tracking efforts, called the Near-Earth Object Observations Programme. 
00:25  FIR filed in AAP, BJP clashes; 28 injured:  
Police late Wednesday night registered an FIR in connection with clashes between supporters of Aam Aadmi Party and BJP outside the saffron party headquarters in New Delhi, which left 28 persons injured.

The FIR was filed at Parliament Street police station on the charges of rioting, preventing public servants from performing their duty, damaging public properties, and causing hurt. 

Several people from both sides were arrested in this connection, a senior police officer said. 

As many as 28 persons -- 13 AAP activists, 10 BJP supporters, four policemen and a mediaperson -- were injured in the clashes, the officer added. 

AAP workers clashed with BJP activists outside the saffron party headquarters here hours after former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was detained briefly in Gujarat. 
00:25  Mamata has made more sacrifices than Kejriwal: Hazare:  
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made more "sacrifices" in life than Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and it would be a good thing if she becomes the Prime Minister, social activist Anna Hazare has said.

"As compared to Mamata, Kejriwal has made lesser sacrifices. Despite being a Chief Minister, Mamata does not use government bungalow or vehicle. She moves around in simple clothes and slippers. 

"Instead of wooing big industries, she is village-centric in her economic outlook. I am impressed by her ideology," he said addressing a press conference in Indore. 

To a query, the anti-corruption crusader said "Mamata is capable of becoming Prime Minister because of her thinking. If she becomes Prime Minister, it will be a good thing."

In an apparent reference to BJP leader Narendra Modi and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, Hazare said "only the names of two people are doing the round for the post of Prime Minister. However, both of them focus on big industries and don't talk about village-based economy. Any of them becoming Prime Minister will not make India's future bright."
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