23:25 Next BJP CEC meet on March 19 to decide Gujarat LS seats:
The BJP's Central Election Committee will meet again on March 19 to decide Gujarat seats.
The party's poll panel, which met for the fourth time today, has finalised 55 candidates who will contest from Uttar Pradesh, the state which sends 80 members to Parliament.
Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha to contest from his Patna Saheb seat.
22:41 Missing plane throws spotlight on passport theft:
When a German tourist refused to surrender his passport as collateral at a car rental stand along a popular beach in the Thai resort city of Phuket, the woman behind the counter pulled out a bag full of passport books to prove he could trust her.
But the tourist, Falko Tillwich, was insistent. "I said absolutely not ... no way," he recalled, and later handed over his driver's license instead.
22:27 Iran says sabotage prevented at nuclear facility:
Iranian authorities have prevented attempted sabotage at the country's heavy water nuclear reactor, a senior official said today without giving specifics as to the nature of the attempted disruption or its suspected initiator.
Asghar Zarean, who heads security at the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said domestic intelligence agencies were instrumental in uncovering the plot, which has not been the first attempt to disrupt the contentious nuclear programme.
22:26 Ukraine says Russian forces move outside Crimea:
Russian forces backed by helicopter gunships and armoured vehicles today took control of a village near the border with Crimea on the eve of a referendum on whether the region should seek annexation by Moscow, Ukrainian officials said.
The action in Strilkove appeared to be the first move outside Crimea, where Russian forces have been in effective control since late last month.
22:05 'Narendra Modi to contest from Varanasi':
Bharatiya Janata Party's central election committee meet has ended. Candidates for 50 seats from Uttar Pradesh to be announced soon.
Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, say TV channels.
BJP president Rajnath Singh will fight from Lucknow, while MM Joshi will contest from Kanpur.
This was decided at a meeting of the BJP's Election Committee in Delhi on Saturday.
Earlier, the Gujarat unit of the BJP had stated that Modi would definitely contest from a seat from the state.
21:01 Thailand calls off search for missing plane:
Thailand today called off its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea after Malaysian Premier said hunt for the aircraft will shift to two new destinations.
Navy commander Adm Narong Pipattanasai ordered the search to stop after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that flight MH370 had changed its course to a new destination, including Kazhakistan and southern Indian ocean, Thai navy spokesman Adm Karn Dee-ubon said.
21:00 Kindergarten in China closed down for giving antiviral drugs:
A kindergarten has been closed in northeast China for administering antiviral drugs to children that led to a host of medical problems like leg pain and nose bleeding among them, officials said today.
Fanglin kindergarten in Jilin city had given some children the prescribed medicine moroxydine ABOB to prevent them from cold and other infectious diseases.
20:54 Missing jet: Not a hijacking but 'deliberate' action, PM says:
The Malaysian Prime Minister stopped short of calling the disappearance of Flight 370 a hijacking, but he said Saturday that the jet veered off course, likely due to deliberate action taken by someone aboard.
With that revelation on Day 8, the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane refocused on the crew and passengers and widened to a larger swath of geography.
19:28 14 Naxals arrested in Chhattisgarh:
Fourteen Naxals including four women were arrested in two separate operations in the insurgency-hit regions of Chhattisgarh today, police said.
"Eleven cadres were apprehended after a gun-battle between security forces and ultras in Balrampur district of Surguja division," a senior police official told PTI.
19:22 Search for Malaysian jet becomes criminal inquiry:
Malaysia turned the search for Flight 370 into a criminal investigation on Saturday, after the prime minister declared that the plane had been deliberately diverted from its planned route a week ago from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The plane then flew as much as seven hours to an unknown destination.The prime minister, Najib Razak, said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon that Malaysia would seek the help of other governments across a large region of Asia in trying to find the plane.
18:12 Karzai says Afghanistan doesn't need US troops:
In his final address to Afghanistan's parliament today, President Hamid Karzai told the US its soldiers can leave at the end of the year because his military, which already protects 93 per cent of the country, was ready to take over entirely.
He reiterated his stance that he would not sign a pact with the United States that would provide for a residual force of US troops to remain behind after the final withdrawal, unless peace could first be established.
17:52 SC stays death penalty of 2 Delhi gang-rape convicts till March 31:
Supreme Court stays death penalty of two Delhi gang-rape convicts -- Mukesh and Pawan -- till March 31.
After the Delhi High Court upheld their death sentences in the December 16 gangrape case, two of the convicts had approached the Supreme Court challenging their conviction and the death sentence.
Mukesh and Pawan are among the six men convicted in the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman inside a moving bus on December 16, 2012.
17:27 Delhi gangrape: Two convicts approach the Supreme Court:
Two of the four men convicted in the Delhi gangrape case -- Mukesh and Pawan -- have approached the Supreme Court.
Mukesh and Pawan, along with Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma, were found guilty of brutally gang-raping a 23-year-old paramedic in Delhi in December 2012.
The girl subsequently died from her injuries.
The four men were sentenced to death by a trial court and the sentence was upheld by the Delhi high court later.
The apex court will now hear their plea against the conviction and the death sentence.
17:20 Akhilesh questions opinion polls:
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today questioned the method and veracity of poll surveys that have predicted a dismal showing for the Samajwadi Party, and said his party would perform better than the last elections, when it got 23 out of the 80 seats in the state.
"We all know how these poll surveys are conducted and how samples are taken... No one has taken samples in Kannauj, Mainpuri and Etawah, then where have these samples come from,"Yadav asked, while addressing a press conference on the occasion of his government completing two years in office.
17:19 Climate doesn't favour Congress, admits Chacko :
Admitting that the Congress was going through an adverse phase ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due to various scams, senior party leader P C Chacko today criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his failure to interact with the media on various issues.
"It is a very unpredictable situation for the Congress. We are going through an adverse phase now," he said.
He said Dr Singh was an expert in macro management. But there was some "communication gap".
"He failed to interact with the media frequently," said Chacko, who is the Congress candidate from Chalakudy constituency.
17:16 Missing jet: China asks Malaysia to share 'exact information':
China today asked Malaysia to share "exact information" about the missing plane and said it had sent "technical specialists" to join the probe after the Malaysian prime minister pointed to "deliberate action" by someone on the jetliner to divert it.
"We asked Malaysia to provide thorough and exact information about the missing flight MH370", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
His comments came soon after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's press conference in Kuala Lumpur. Razak said the movement of the missing flight was "consistent with deliberate action by someone on plane".
China is extremely concerned as 154 of the 239 people aboard the Beijing-bound jet are Chinese nationals. The government is under pressure to give relatives some news about the aircraft's fate.
16:50 BJP leader Poonam Mahajan meets Uddhav Thackeray:
Poonam Mahajan, late Pramod Mahajan's daughter and the BJP candidate from Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha constituency, today met Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and sought his blessings and support.
"Poonam is like someone from our family. We are happy that she is in the fray and wish her all the best," Uddhav told reporters after meeting her at the Thackeray residence in suburban Bandra.
"The Mahajan and Thackeray families share old ties. I will be voting for her as she is contesting from my Lok Sabha constituency," the Sena leader said.
16:13 NO poll alliance: TRS ditches Congress in Telangana:
In a major setback to the Congress, the TRS on Saturday decided against finalising an electoral deal with the party in Telangana for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
News channels quoted TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao as saying that his party would not team up with the Congress in Telangana.
15:40 Bangladesh joins search operation for missing Malaysian plane :
Bangladesh today joined an international search operation to trace the missing Malaysian plane by deploying frigates and aircraft in its exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal.
In line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directive, two patrol aircraft and two navy frigates -- BNS Omar Faruque and BNS Bangabandhu -- have joined the search, primarily to look for the aircraft in Bangladesh's exclusive economic zone, said a defence ministry spokesman.
Bangladesh decided to join the search for the missing flight MH370 with 14 other countries in view of emerging possibilities that the plane could be tracked down in the Bay of Bengal, he said.
15:14 Nepal's PM Sushi Koirala has no property!:
Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, known for his austere lifestyle, does not possess any property but owns two mobile phones, his key aide said today.
Officials, who are filling up the prime minister's property details form, are facing a problem as he has nothing to mention in it.
Koirala "doesn't own a house or land nor has he invested money in the share of any company. He doesn't own a car or a motorbike and he doesn't have even a bank account," said his chief secretary Basanta Gautam.
14:38 No merit in case against Devyani: India:
India on Saturday expressed disappointment over the second indictment against senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US and termed it "unnecessary".
Any major consequent to this decision will "unfortunately" impact efforts to strengthen Indo-US ties, said the ministry of external affairs.
"India is concerned. We reiterate there is no merit in the case and the government will no longer engage in this case in the US legal system," said the MEA.
14:00 Solicitor general snubs CBI boss: 'Let courts decide Lalu's case':
Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran has disagreed with Central Bureau of Investigation Director's Ranjit Sinha's advice about dropping the pending corruption cases lodged against RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Sinha had recommended that the charges against Lalu be dropped and the matter had been referred to solicitor general on the "specific" request of the CBI chief.
Lalu has already been found guilty of a case related to the fodder scam and awarded a prison term of five years. He is currently out on bail.
His party RJD recently tied up with the ruling Congress to fight the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.
The solicitor general reportedly told the CBI boss that the "courts should take the final decision about dropping charges against Lalu".
13:50 JD-U fields Bihar Speaker against Meira Kumar in Sasaram :
The Janata Dal - United today fielded Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narain Chowdhary and former bureaucrat K P Ramaiah from Sasaram and Jamui constituencies respectively for the Lok Sabha elections.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is the Congress candidate from Sasaram which she represents in the Lok Sabha.
The JD-U, which rules Bihar, also declared the candidature of Baagi Kumar Verma from Aurangabad, Mahabali Singh from Karakat, Jeetan Ram Manjhi from Gaya and Kaushal Yadav from Nawada.
13:48 Pak tribunal upholds conviction of doctor who tracked Osama :
A Pakistani tribunal today upheld the conviction of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA track down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, but reduced his 33-year sentence by 10 years.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas Tribunal had sentenced Afridi to 33 years in jail and also levied a Rs 3,20,000 fine in 2012.
The term was challenged by Afridi's lawyers and a decision to this effect was reserved on February 15 this year by the Frontier Crimes Regulation Commissioner.
In today's verdict, the FCR Commissioner upheld the old judgement but reduced his sentence by 10 years.
13:38 Arrest warrant against Devyani an act of aggression: Father:
Uttam Khobragade, the father of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, has claimed that the issuance of an arrest warrant by the United States Attorney's office against his daughter should be considered as "an act of aggression against India".
An arrest warrant was issued on Friday against Khobragade on visa fraud charges after her fresh indictment by US prosecutors, who had accused her of "illegally" underpaying and "exploiting" her domestic maid.
"This shows that the prosecutor has no respect for his own laws and the court," he was quoted as saying.
"It is an attack on the sovereignty of our country. India must take appropriate steps," said Khobragade.
13:33 Kumar Vishwas booked after clash with village head in Amethi:
FIRs have been filed against Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas and a village head following a clash between their supporters in Amethi on Friday night even as the Congress rejected Vishwas' allegation that its workers were involved in the violence.
FIRs have been lodged against Vishwas and his 65 supporters and Ishaq Ahmed, the gram pradhan of Sindura village, and his 20 aides for attacking each other at Kamrauli police station, station officer A P Tewari said.
The Congress has rejected the allegations of Vishwas that its party men attacked him and has charged him with spreading anarchy.
13:04 Search operation for missing plane called off in South China Sea:
In a press conference held on Saturday morning, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said "all possibilities" behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is being looked into.
His comments came in the wake of reports that investigators believed that the plane had been hijacked as the communication system on board had been deliberately switched off.
The movement of missing Flight MH370 was consistent with the deliberate action of someone on the plane, said Razak.
The PM added that the search operation going on at the South China Sea were being called off.
"14 nations, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are involved in the search operation," he said.
The MH370 had gone missing on Saturday morning while on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Beijing.
The aircraft communication system was disabled and the transponder was switched off when the plane was between Malaysia and Vietnam, said Razak.
Investigators suspect the missing plane could have taken the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan corridor or the Indonesia-South Indian Ocean corridor, he said.
Razak added, "Though there are media reports of the plane being hijacked, we are still investigating all angles and refocusing on crew and passengers".
13:01 UNHRC meet: TNA raises issue of Tamil activist's arrest:
The Tamil National Alliance has raised the issue of the arrest of a Tamil woman activist and her 13-year-old daughter in Sri Lanka's northern Kilinochchi district at the meeting of UN human rights body in Geneva.
Balendran Jeyakumari and her daughter Vithushaini were arrested in Tharmapuram in Kilinochchi district on Thursday.
The police had surrounded their house in search of an LTTE operative.
Ananathy Saseetharan, a woman northern provincial council member from the north, raised the issue of the arrest of mother-daughter duo at the UN Human Rights Council.
11:04 Crucial BJP meet today to finalise Modi's constituency:
The BJP's Central Election Committee is meeting in Delhi today to decide which constituency the party's PM candidate Narendra Modi will contest from.
Earlier, the Gujarat unit of the BJP had stated that Modi would definitely contest from a seat from the state.
There has been lot of confusion about which seat Modi will enter the poll fray from.
10:43 Haqqani is the most virulent strain of insurgency: US:
A top American commander has said that the US and Afghan forces are focusing more on going after the dreaded Haqqani network, which has threatened to disrupt the presidential elections in April in the war-torn country.
"Haqqani is the most virulent strain of the insurgency. It's the greatest risk of the force and, frankly, from a high-profile attack perspective, perhaps the greatest risk to the campaign," General Joseph Dunford, Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters.
"The Haqqani network has been more active in some ways over the last few months. So, we have energised our efforts accordingly. I don't think there's anything that we are doing today that's different than what we were doing before, but it may be more focused," he said in response to a question.
10:38 Missing Malaysia Airlines flight was hijacked?:
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 was hijacked by one or more people with "flying experience', investigators have concluded.
The hijackers switched off the flight's communication device and steered it off-course, believe the investigators.
The MH 370 went missing on Saturday morning, while it was on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Beijing. Investigators have concluded that the plane was hijacked by an "expert aviator' as the communication devices were switched off deliberately and the plane was steered off-course to avoid radar detection.
A massive international search operation -- which includes teams and resources of several countries including Malaysia, India, United States and China -- has been going on to locate the missing plane.
10:22 Missing Malaysian jet flew over Andaman?:
The radars at the various military bases in India may not always be switched on.
In a tweet, Ananth Krishnan points out this 'amazing detail' in a story by The Indian Express -- on India joining the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 on a Bay of Bengal strip.
In case the plane flew over the Andaman and Nicobar, the military radars on the islands failed to detect its flight.
10:09 US deploys state-of-the-art aircraft to look for missing plane:
The US has deployed the state-of-the-art P-8A Poseidon aircraft to search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the Bay of Bengal that disappeared mysteriously last week, the Pentagon said.
"The P-8 will be searching the Bay of Bengal. The P-8 A Poseidon is a long-range maritime patrol capability. The P-8 A will provide more capability while focusing on worldwide responsiveness and interoperability. The nine-person crew will operate state-of-the-art sensors," said Pentagon spokesperson, Army Colonel Steven Warren.
The Pentagon is coordinating the rescue effort with the Indian Navy, which is engaged in the search operation at the request of the Malaysian authorities.
10:04 Israel shells Lebanon after border blast :
Israel today shelled a post of the powerful Shia movement Hezbollah inside Lebanon after its soldiers came under attack on the border.
The attack came hours after Israel and Gaza-based militant outfits reached an informal Egyptian mediated ceasefire.
An Israel Defence Forces convoy came under attack and Israel retaliated soon after.
An IDF convoy moving in the area of Har Dov, on the border with Lebanon, was the target of an explosive device activated by Hezbollah tonight, Israeli army sources said.
10:02 Senate confirms Indian-American for key post :
The US Senate has confirmed Indian-American Arun M Kumar to a key administration post that would make him responsible for foreign trade.
"I am pleased that the US Senate has confirmed Arun Kumar as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service at the International Trade Administration," said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
"In this role, he will lead the agency's efforts to assist and advocate for US companies in international markets. Promoting US trade and investment is crucial to remaining globally competitive, which is a key priority of our 'Open for Business Agenda'," the commerce secretary said.
03:12 Read: Ravish Kumar's moving tribute to his late father:
Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism winner Ravish Kumar pays beautiful tribute to his late father on his death anniversary in this moving post. In this touching write-up, he tells his father how much he misses him, and that nothing seems right without him.
He says that he would do away with his accolades if he could only embrace him once.
For those who read and understand Hindi, this will stay in your hearts for a long time.
Read it here
01:03 Vijayakanth launches LS poll campaign, targets AIADMK:
Launching a frontal attack on the ruling AIADMK on various issues, including acute electricity shortage, DMDK chief Vijayakanth today exhorted the electorate to "teach a lesson" to the ruling party in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kickstarting his election campaign here from Thiruvallur Lok Sabha constituency, he asked the people if freebies like fans were of any use to them when there was "no electricity."
Alleging that the ruling party was "indulging in corruption," the DMDK chief said people were responsible for the regrettable state of affairs as it was they who had voted and elected their representatives.
"Don't think that I am finding fault with you (people). Graft has to be ended, if you do not pave the way for them, how it can happen?" he asked.
Targetting AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa over a disproportionate assets case in a Bangalore court, he alleged that the case was being "dragged" and "flimsy" reasons such as "ailment" was cited for seeking adjournments.
00:28 Khobragade re-indicted in US visa fraud case:
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose arrest and strip search soured Indo-US relations, was today re-indicted on US visa fraud charges, a day after a US court dismissed an earlier indictment.
In fresh trouble for Khobragade, federal prosecutors re-indicted the Indian diplomat on charges of visa fraud and making false statements about the visa application of her domestic help.
A grand jury has returned a true bill today on the two-count criminal indictment of Khobragade.