Thu, 21 March 2013
Iran leader hints at first direct US nuclear talks

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23:43   Iran leader hints at first direct US nuclear talks
Iran's supreme leader today signalled openness for the first time to US offers to hold direct talks on his country's disputed nuclear drive, but voiced pessimism over the chances of a breakthrough. 

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say in all decisions on Iran's nuclear programme which the West suspects is cover for a drive for a weapons capability. 

"US officials time after time have offered one-on-one talks" on the sidelines of negotiations with the so-called P5+1 group of major powers, Khamenei said in an address broadcast live on state television.
23:39   Cyprus convicts Hezbollah man over anti-Israel plot
A Cypriot court today found guilty a self-confessed Hezbollah militant who had been accused of involvement in a plot to attack Israeli interests on the Mediterranean island. 

Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a dual Lebanese and Swedish citizen arrested in the port of Limassol in July last year, was found guilty on five counts -- including participating in a criminal organisation, taking part in a criminal act and money laundering. 

"Any logical explanation that could present these actions as innocent ones is completely lacking," judges in the Limassol criminal court said in an 80-page decision on how they reached their verdict.
23:11   PCI chief pitches for pardon for Sanjay Dutt
Following the upholding of the sentencing of film star Sanjay Dutt to five years imprisonment by the Supreme Court in 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Press Council of India chief Justice Markandey Katju has appealed to Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon the actor. 

In a statement issued here, Katju sought pardon for Dutt under Article 161 of the Constitution saying that he had not been found guilty of having played a role in the 1993 blasts and had suffered a lot. 

Katju said the Supreme Court, having found that Sanjay Dutt had in his possession a prohibited weapon without a licence, awarded him the minimum imprisonment which was prescribed under law.
23:07   US pediatricians back gay marriage, adoption rights
Gay and lesbian couples should be able to get married for the health and well-being of their children and families, the nation's leading group for pediatricians said on Thursday in a policy statement that also backs adoption rights.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in calling on the legal right for same-sex couples to marry, said children's well-being is affected far more by other factors such as their parents' health and economic security than their sexual orientation.
21:57   'Dropping TADA charges against Dutt was a mistake'
Hinting at misuse of power by Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's father Sunil Dutt, former Mumbai police commissioner M N Singh, who investigated the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, told CNN-IBN the latter "pleaded" with the government to show mercy to his son and also said that dropping charges against Sanjay Dutt under TADA was a big mistake.

"I will say one thing without any bias. I am not a friend or an enemy of Sanjay Dutt. He had been booked under TADA. But later on, those charges under TADA were dropped and he was booked under the Arms Act. I will say that dropping the charges against him under TADA was a big mistake."

Read the full report here

21:44   Lack of consensus on India's amendments at UN
India on Thursday said its amendments to make the United States-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in United Nations Human Rights Council tougher could not be incorporated for lack of consensus among member-countries.

"Our amendments put explicitly what we implied in the resolution but it could have been put in the resolution provided there was a consensus," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
21:19   Sanjay Dutt's confession sufficient for conviction: SC
The self-inculpatory confession of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt that he possessed fire arms led to his conviction and award of five years jail term by the Supreme Court which termed his statement under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) as a "substantive" piece of evidence.

The son of famous Bollywood couple late Sunil Dutt and Nargis who has already been in jail for 18 months, will now have to surrender within four weeks to undergo the remaining three-and-half years prison term.

"The appellant not only implicates himself in the above said statement but also amongst others the appellant Yusuf Nulwalla. The above said confession has been duly recorded by PW-193 (a police officer) who has proved the compliance with the provisions of law while recording the confession.
21:10   Centre hasn't betrayed DMK, says Karuna
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi on Thursday justified his party's decision to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance government on Sri Lankan Tamil issue but refused to term the Centre's stand as a "betrayal".

"By looking at the present developments, I consider we have taken the right decision (withdrawal of support to UPA). I will not call it as a betrayal. (But) They were not concerned," he told reporters, hours after the resolution was adopted by 25-13 margin at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Noting that he was "not satisfied" with India's stand at the UNHRC. Karunanidhi said a myth was created about the US resolution that something big will come out and there was a lot of anticipation among the people and students. They were hoping that the US resolution would protect Tamils but it turned out to be a "diluted" resolution and had become 'useless'. Asked about his party's further course of action on the issue, Karunanidhi
21:02   RDX used in 1993 blasts maximum since WW II: SC
The 1993 serial blasts in Bombay was the first terror attack in which RDX was used on a large scale since the World War II, the Supreme Court said on Thursday while dealing with the havoc caused by 12 coordinated explosions in the country's financial capital.

"This was the first ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX (Research Department Explosive) was used on a large scale basis after the World War II," the apex court said.
20:51   Defence ministry gets access to Augusta links with middlemen
The defence ministry has received access to AgustaWestland's linkages with alleged middleman in chopper deal, sources told PTI.
20:46   Pak rejects involvement in 1993 Mumbai blasts
Pakistan today rejected involvement of the government or any of its official agencies in incidents like the 1993 Mumbai bomb attacks, saying it was committed to engaging India in a "sustained and result-oriented dialogue".

Responding to media reports regarding the Supreme Court's judgment implicating Pakistani government agencies in the 1993 Mumbai bombings, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry "categorically rejected any insinuations pointing to the involvement of the government of Pakistan or any of its agencies in any such activity".

"Pakistan remains committed in its resolve to fighting terrorism and engaging with India in a constructive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue process," he said.
20:29   1993 blasts: SC frees AIDS patient
The life imprisonment given to 17 of the 19 convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case was on Thursday upheld by the Supreme Court, but the apex court freed one of them by reducing his sentence saying being an HIV positive patient, his was a "special circumstance".

The life term awarded to three family members of one of the absconding main conspirators Tiger Memon was confirmed by the apex court which observed that they "facilitated and abetted the conduct of terrorist acts by Tiger Memon and his associates".
19:55   1993 blasts trial the longest in India's history
The 1993 serial bomb blast case, in which final verdict was delivered by the Supreme Court on Thursday, was historic in many ways.

The longest trial in the country's history spanned over 12 years, commencing on June 30, 1995, when the first witness stepped into the box, and concluding on July 31, 2007, when the judgment was delivered by the designated TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) court.
19:41   I am heartbroken: Sanjay Dutt on SC verdict
Actor Sanjay Dutt, who has to spend another three-and-a-half-years in jail in the Mumbai serial blasts case, on Thursday said he is "heart broken" and under "emotional distress" after the Supreme Court verdict.

"I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months. If they want me to suffer more I have to be strong. I am heart broken because today along with me, my three children and my wife and my family will undergo the punishment. I have always respected the judicial system and will continue to do so, even with tears in my eyes," he said in an emotional statement to the media.
19:36   Telangana stir disrupts traffic on Hyd-Bangalore highway
Traffic on the Hyderabad- Bangalore highway was disrupted today after pro-Telangana organisations enforced a 'sadak bandh' (road blockade) in support of their separate statehood demand, even as the police clamped down on protesters.

The Telangana Joint Action Committee called for the blockade on the Hyderabad-Bangalore Highway as part of its agitation programme to mount pressure on the Centre to accept the separate Telangana demand.

Leaders and activists of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi), the Bharatiya Janata Party and several other pro-Telangana outfits began the blockade by squatting at various important places on the highway from today morning.
18:51   Cabinet okays free flat for gangrape victim's family
The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the allotment of an MIG flat, free of cost, by the Delhi Development Authority to the family of the victim of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape. 

The Cabinet said that this will be done in relaxation of the existing policy / guidelines of the DDA for allotment of houses on an out-of-turn basis. 

It said the cost of the flat will be borne by the Delhi government.
18:46   Lanka to partly take back oil tanks from IOC after UN vote
Sri Lanka today announced plans that it would partially take over a strategic oil storage depot in Trincomalee from the Indian Oil Company's local arm after India voted in favour of a US-sponsored resolution against Colombo at the UNHRC. 

There had been unconfirmed reports in the local media that the government was eying the 99-tank storage facility in the north-eastern port district of Trincomalee, but Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella today announced at the weekly cabinet press briefing the plans to take back unutilised tanks from Indian Oil Company's local arm known as Lanka IOC.
18:39   First such census is out: 68m Indians live in slums
Approximately 68 million Indians are living in slums, according to a government census. 

Releasing the first such census report on slum households prepared by the Registrar General of India, Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Ajay Maken today said that a majority of them were located in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 

Presenting the highlights of the report, Census Commissioner C Chandramouli said, "In all 1.73 crore census houses have been reported in house-listing blocks, categorised as slums in India, comprising 1.37 crore slum households." 

He also noted that in 19 cities with million-plus population, 25 per cent of households live in slums.
18:16   Orphanage founder-director gets death for gang-rape of inmates
Observing that the convict "was a menace to society," a local court in Mumbai today awarded the death sentence to the founder of an orphanage, located in Kalamboli area in Navi Mumbai and run by a private  organisation, Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha, for the murder of an inmate and gang rape of five mentally-challenged girls, including three minors. 

One of the victims, suffering from tuberculosis, died after she was gang-raped. Hence, prime accused and director of orphanage Ramchandra Karanjule (54) faced additional murder charge and was convicted on this count. 

"He was a menace to society and life imprisonment will be highly inadequate in this case. The convict had no right to live in society for the heinous crime he had committed," said sessions judge P V Ganediwalla while awarding the capital punishment to Karanjule.
18:11   Anna Hazare says no to joining Kejriwal's protest
Days after he received an invitation from Arvind Kejriwal to join his indefinite fast, Anna Hazare today said he won't participate in the protest as he has nothing to do with party politics. 

Addressing the media to announce a nationwide tour from March 31 from Jallianwala Bagh, he said Kejriwal had visited him earlier this week to seek his blessings before his fast and invite him. 

"We have already said that we are not with any party and we are not going to fight elections. I am not going on March 23 (fast of Kejriwal)," he said. 

Last Monday, after visiting Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi, Kejriwal had said the veteran activist had agreed to come to his protest in Sundar Nagri starting this weekend.
18:06   Bail rejected for Odisha ex-minister's son in dowry case
The bail application of the son of Odisha's former law minister was rejected by a court in Balasore today. 

Raja Shree Mohanty, son of former Odisha law minister Raghunath Mohanty, is accused of torturing his wife for dowry. The Balasore district sessions judge, V Jayashree, who heard the bail petition this morning, reserved her verdict till the afternoon and subsequently rejected the bail plea moved under CrPC 439 as the other accused are yet to be arrested and the case is under investigation. 

Raja Shree Mohanty was arrested by the human rights protection cell of the Odisha police on March 17 near Cuttack for allegedly torturing his wife Barsa Swony Choudhury for dowry.
17:52   Government committed to freedom of Net users: Sibal
Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday assured that the government was committed to the freedom of internet users.  

Speaking at Google's Big Tent Activate Summit in New Delhi, Sibal said: "There should be no doubt that we are wedded to the freedom of expression." 

Sibal underlined the three important points for making the internet a truly empowering, transformational and inclusive force. He said that from the point of view of the State, we must have an enabling framework-rules and regulations must not come in the way of the growth of the net. 

Secondly, he said, networks in terms of fibre-optics and also wireless must be developed to facilitate access to the net.  

Thirdly, he said, that affordable access devices are needed for a true inclusive transformational internet revolution.  

Sibal also said that it will be truly transformative, if through the internet one can reach people in their traditional languages.
Nitin Gokhale tweets: Big loser at UNHRC is NDelhi. Colombo will continue to do what it has done since 2009. no real gains for India but big loss in the region.
16:59   1993 blasts first time max RDX used after WW-II: SC
The 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai was the first terror attack in which RDX was used on a large scale since the World War II, the Supreme Court said today while dealing with the havoc caused by 12 coordinated explosions in the country's financial capital. 

"This was the first ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX (Research Department Explosive) was used on a large scale basis after the World War II," the apex court said.
16:51   DMK slams government over 'diluted' UNHRC vote
Just In: The DMK slams the government over the UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka; alleges India diluted the resolution.
16:42   Salim gets freedom from 'Kutta' tag
A convict in the 1993 serial bomb blasts, Mohammed Salim Mira Shaikh, also known as 'Salim Kutta', had urged the designated TADA court to drop the epithet as he found it derogatory. 

Mohammed Salim Mira Shaikh, whose life sentence was today confirmed by the Supreme Court for his complicity in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case, had urged the designated TADA court during the trial to drop the offensive epithet 'Kutta', which means dog in Hindi, from the court records. 

The convict was known as 'Salim Kutta' in underworld circles because of his ruthless approach towards rivals as he used to pounce upon them like a 'ferocious dog'. "Do I look like a dog?" he politely asked the court once. 

However, hearing his plea, designated TADA Judge P D Kode had passed an order dropping the word 'Kutta' from the records after observing that every person had the right to live with dignity under the Constitution.
16:32   Sanjay Dutt reacts: 'I still believe in judiciary'
Actor Sanjay Dutt, who has to undergo three-and-a-half years in jail in the Mumbai serial blasts case, today said he believed in judiciary and would explore legal options after going through the Supreme Court verdict. 

"I still believe in judiciary. My family is with me and I am still strong," he said in his first reaction to the judgment upholding his conviction in the 1993 case. 

The 53-year-old Dutt, who remained inside his 10th floor flat at 'Imperial Heights' at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra, said in an SMS to the media that he would explore legal options available after going through the verdict.
16:17   Anti-Lanka vote: 25 for (including India), 13 against
Just In: The United States resolution pulling up Sri Lanka for human rights violations, at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, has been passed with 25 votes in favour of it, including by India. Thirteen nations voted against the resolution, including Pakistan, and there were eight abstentions.

Details soon.
Just In: Parliament passes the anti-rape bill. 
15:58   UNHRC meeting in Geneva votes on Lanka revolution
Voting is underway on the US resolution pulling up Sri Lanka for human rights violations, at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. 

While Pakistan has voted against the resolution, India will vote for it and move an amendment seeking an independent and credible probe commission to go into the charges of human rights violations committed against the Tamil minority in the island nation.

During the debate in Geneva, India said, "We encourage Sri Lanka to expedite the process of broad-based, inclusive and meaningful reconciliation, we note Sri Lanka's invitation to the UN Human Rights Commissioner and we urge her to undertake it as early as possible."
15:54   Punjab National Bank's ATM looted in Tiruchy
An ATM of the Punjab National Bank near Coleroon Toll gate in Tiruchy was found smashed open and cash up to Rs 5 lakh stolen from it, a senior bank official said today. 

"It was on onsite ATM and the bank normally does not load more than Rs 5 lakh in the morning and around the same amount in the evening. At the maximum the bank would have lost Rs 4 to 5 lakh," said an official on the condition of anonymity.
Yoko Ono tweets: The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 33 years our son Sean and I still miss him.

Plus, she has tweeted Lennon's blood-stained glasses along with the post. The Beatle was shot dead on December 9, 1980 by Mark Chapman who, only hours earlier, had sought his autograph.
15:24   Karnataka poll officer seeks 50,000 security men
More than 500 companies of paramilitary forces -- 50,000 personnel in all -- will be required for the May 5 assembly polls in Karnataka, in addition to those drawn from the state police. 

"We require more paramilitary forces as it is a single-phase poll," Karnataka's Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told a press conference today, adding, "We require more than 500 companies". 

The Election Commission has convened a meeting with senior officials of the home and railway ministries in New Delhi tomorrow to discuss the issue, he said.
15:19   Kidnapped Delhi boy rescued in Gwalior
A two-year-old boy from Delhi, who was kidnapped by four persons from outside a Gurudwara in Gwalior on Sunday, was rescued by the police after an encounter with his captors. 

'Amrit Singh was rescued from University area last evening after the police swooped down on his abductors, who had demanded a ransom of Rs 5 lakh, following a tip-off," the police said today. 

The child was kidnapped on March 17 from outside a gurudwara by the gang led by Vicky Bansal alias Vijay Jatav, they said, adding that Amrit was visiting the place along with his parents Gurbachan Singh and Renuka Kaur, residents of Ashok Nagar in New Delhi.
So reams and reams has been written by political pundits on why the DMK withdrew support to the UPA, but here's a slightly offbeat take on the matter, courtesy Unreal Times. Enjoy!
15:02   Only a "narrow" window open for Dutt, says Majeed Memon
Eminent criminal lawyer Majid Memon, who defended many of the accused in the 1993 blasts, today said there was only a "narrow" window open for actor Sanjay Dutt to seek relief after the Supreme Court sentenced him to five years in jail. 

"He has only a narrow window of approaching a larger bench or file a review petition but in that case also, I am afraid that unless the stay is granted on today's order, he will have to walk into the prison," Memon told reporters after the verdict. 
14:59   RBI denies Cobrapost sting, says no sting happened
Just In: No money-laundering was involved in the Cobrapost expose, says the Reserve Bank of India's Deputy Governor KC Chakrabarty. "There is no systemic issue involved in the Cobrapost allegations, and no scam has happened as no transaction has taken place," says Chakrabarty.

Details soon.

In the meantime, what did the Cobrapost sting say? Read about it here.
14:51   Tendulkar most-talked-about cricketer online
Indian spinners might be ruling the roost against listless Australia in the ongoing Test series but it is Sachin Tendulkar who is the most talked about cricketer on social networking sites these days. 

The analysis on the social sentiment of cricket fans and alike conducted during the first three Test matches shows that Tendulkar consistently leads the overall conversation in this period, an IBM study stated. 

Fifty per cent of the public sentiment revolved around his batting performance followed by his past records, his stature and retirement plans, among others. 

Tendulkar was followed by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and opening batsman Murali Vijay, who has scored two consecutive centuries in the last two Tests, while allrounder Ravindra Jadeja performance with the ball in the series makes him the most popular bowler in the Indian team, IBM's Social Sentiment Index stated.
14:50   Pro-Tamil activists attack Aurobindo ashram in Pondicherry
A group of pro-Tamil activists today barged into the Aurobindo ashram in Pondicherry, damaged furniture and smashed glass panes after reportedly attacking and injuring the watchman. 

The police said activists of the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam also smashed flower pots and damaged the notice board, a clock, besides the ashram emblem atop the main gate, they said. They also raised pro-Tamil slogans, the police said, adding that the exact reason for the attack was not known. 

Ashram sources said the attackers hit the watchman on the head before forcing their way inside. No devotee was present inside as the visiting time had ended, they said. 

The police said 20 PDK activists were arrested in connection with the incidents. Cases were registered against them under various sections of the IPC relating to unlawful assembly, causing hurt and damage to property, they said.
14:46   Daniel Craig signs up for two more Bond films
And this is for all you Daniel Craig (not necessarily James Bond) fans:

The macho star, whose latest Bond film Skyfall made a killing at the box office with $ 1.1 billion box office earning, has signed up to do two more films with the successful franchise.

Movie studio MGM said on Tuesday that it expects to release the next Bond flick within the next three years, and is hoping to announce a new director after Sam Mendes decided not to helm the new project, the New York Daily News reported.

In a conference call with investors, MGM Chairman and chief executive officer Gary Barber said that the studio was developing the screenplay for the 24th Bond movie. But he gave no additional details about the cast of the film.
Just In: From India Against Corruption's Facebook page: Anna Hazare and General (Retd) VK Singh will address a press conference today at 3 pm at Constitution Club, New Delhi.

Is Arvind Kejriwal listening?

14:36   Govt scraps more weightage for English in UPSC exam
The English essay paper of 100 marks in the 2013 Civil Services Main Examination, which raised a nation-wide controversy, has been dropped and the earlier practice of two qualifying papers in any Indian language and English restored, the government said today. 

"The English component (of 100 marks) from the essay paper will be dropped and the status quo ante of two qualifying papers of 300 marks each in any modern Indian language and in English shall be restored," Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said in the Lok Sabha. 

In a statement on the issue, he said the essay paper would now be of 250 marks to be written in the medium or language of the candidate's choice. 

Bowing to all-round pressure in Parliament, government on March 15 had kept in abeyance the recent controversial notification of the UPSC, giving more weightage to English in these exams. 
Rhea Kapoor, daughter of the evergreen Anil Kapoor and sister of Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, who is casting for her next film, tweets: NOW CASTING for my third movie! Young actors encouraged to send pictures/videos/resume (girls/boys between 18-23) to

So what are you waiting for?!
14:17   A first: RS passes Budget 2013 without debate
Faced with paucity of time, the Rajya Sabha today approved Union Budget 2013-14 without debate, a development witnessed perhaps for the first time, which triggered protests from Opposition members. 

With only one day left for the House to go into month-long recess, the chair directed members to lay their written speeches so that the crucial money bill could be returned in time. 

The Lok Sabha has already passed this bill. 

 EMS Natchiappan, who was in the Chair, said a decision has been taken by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari that members could lay their speeches in the limit of 400 words either on the table of the House or electronically later and it would become part of the proceedings.

For those of you who had missed it, we had reported last night that this is how things will pan out in the RS today. 
So what did actor Sanjay Dutt do or did not do? Here's a report from Tehelka on the case against the actor in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
14:02   Actress Jaya Prada says Sanjay Dutt is innocent
Actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada on Thursday said she is heart-broken at the news of Sanjay Dutt's jail term pronounced by the Supreme Court and called him an innocent person who had been caught wrongly.  

The apex court upheld the conviction of Sanjay Dutt and sentenced him to five years in jail in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. 

"He is an innocent person. It is very unfortunate. Knowingly or unknowingly, it has been written in his fate that he has to struggle like this. Particularly for Sanjay Dutt, if you see the background of his family and all. His father Sunil Dutt served a lot for the country, and even in politics he had very good name. And knowing his nature and character as a great father, and his son, he also innocently may be has done something," she said.   

"I bow to the court's decision, but Sanjay Dutt is very close to my heart. We worked together in so many films. Today, is a very sad day for me," she added.
13:57   Indian American gets key role for 2014 US polls
Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera has been given a key responsibility in the Democratic Party to reach out to the immigrant community in the run-up to the 2014 US Congressional elections. 

The 48-year-old Bera, a physician by profession, has been made one of the two chairs of the New America Council along with Congressman Keith Ellison. 

New Americas Council Chairs will lead outreach efforts to immigrant communities and other new Americans, critical parts of the rising American electorate that is crucial to Democrats' success in 2014, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.
13:43   12 killed in blast in refugee camp in northwest Pakistan
Twelve people, including women and children, were killed and more than 30 injured when a powerful car bomb went off at a refugee camp at Nowshera in Pakistan's restive northwest today, officials said. 

The blast occurred shortly before noon near the administration block of the sprawling Jalozai camp, which houses both Afghan refugees and people displaced by recent fighting in the northwest. 

Noor Akbar, the official in-charge of the camp, told reporters that 12 people were killed. Two women and as many children were among the dead, officials said.
13:16   We are all upset at raid on Stalin's house, says PM
Just In: Timing of the CBI raid at MK Stalin's residence unfortunate, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He further added: "We are all upset. The government did not do it."
Just In: Ravi Khemani of sends this alert about Delhi traffic: Due to the BJP's rally at Malviya Nagar, a traffic jam has been reported on Press Enclave Marg and Basant Kaur Marg going towards Sri Aurobindo Marg. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes such as Panchsheel Marg.
Just In: Actor Sanjay Dutt's lawyer Satish Maneshinde has told television that his client will most likely file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict upholding his jail sentence, albeit reduced, in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. He also said Dutt was a strong man and will fight for himself.
12:48   Life term convicts in 1993 blasts to be in jail till death
Here's more from the Supreme Court ruling in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case: 

The circumstances and nature of the offence by actor Sanjay Dutt were so serious that he cannot be released on probation, the court has said. The evidence and materials perused by TADA court in arriving at the decision against Dutt was correct, the court has ruled.

The life sentence of Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla has been reduced to 10 years while that of Imtiyaz Yunusmiya Ghavte to jail term has already been undergone.

The court also upheld the life sentence of 16 out of 18 convicts sentenced by the TADA court, and said that life-term convicts will remain in jail till their death. 

The court said convicts who are on bail, including Dutt, will have to surrender within four weeks. 
Just In: Lok Sabha adjourned till 2 pm after uproar over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and other matters.
Ravi Khemani of web site sends this alert on Mumbai's traffic: The JJ flyover is blocked for north-bound traffic due to a morcha from Byculla to Azad Maidan, and motorists heading towards Dadar are advised to take the P D'mello road. 
12:38   Maha MLAs who thrashed cop surrender before police
Two Maharashtra legislators, who allegedly assaulted traffic police sub-inspector Sachin Suryawanshi, in the state assembly premises, today surrendered before the police. 

"Initially, Vasai MLA Kshitij Thakur and then legislator Ram Kadam surrendered before us at the police headquarters in Mumbai and their statements are being recorded," a crime branch official said. "The formalities to arrest them are underway. After their arrest, the duo will be produced before a local court later in the day," the official said. 

On March 19, an FIR was registered at Marine Drive police station against Thakur, Kadam (MNS) and 14 others for allegedly beating the 31-year-old police sub-inspector with the Worli traffic police at Vidhan Bhawan. Later, the crime branch took over the investigations.
12:35   Interpol rejects Pak's request to arrest Musharraf
Meanwhile, the vaudeville in Pakistan continues. The Interpol has turned down Pakistan's request to issue a Red Corner Notice for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for refusing to cooperate in the probe into Benazir Bhutto's assassination, days ahead of his homecoming from self-exile. 

Musharraf has cleared the final hurdle to his plans to return to Pakistan as he no longer faces the possibility of arrest at the hands of Interpol, the Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying. 

The 69-year-old former President, who went into self-exile in early 2009, has said he intends to return to Pakistan on March 24 to lead his party All Pakistan Muslim League in upcoming polls.
Our esteemed colleague Sheela Bhatt had wondered why Yakub Memon was given the death sentence for the 1993 blasts case, and you read her here and here.
12:23   Srikant Jena succeeds Alagiri, is MoS for fertiliser
In other news, Srikant Jena is the new fertiliser minister following MK Alagiri's resignation.

A press release from Rashtrapati Bhavan said 'the President of India, as advised by the prime minister, has accepted the resignation of Alagiri,
S S  Palanimanickam, S Gandhiselvan, Dr S Jagathrakshakan, D Napoleon, from the Union council of ministers.

The release further said that Srikant Jena has been given independent charge of the  ministry of chemicals and fertilizers as minister of state, in addition to independent charge of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation as minister of state.
12:17   1993 blasts: SC upholds death for Yakub, makes it life for 10
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death verdict for main accused Yakub Memon in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. The apex court also commuted the death sentence imposed on 10 other accused in the case to life imprisonment. 

The court also upheld the conviction of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act, but reduced his sentence from six years to five. As he has already spent one and a half years in jail, he will still have to undergo three and a half years in jail. The actor, who is currently out on bail, has been given four weeks to surrender. His sister and member of Parliament Priya Dutt, who was in the court-room, broke down on hearing the ruling.

The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of the 10 other accused to life on the ground that they had already been behind bars for 20 years and their economic condition was weak.

The court also said that the management of and conspiracy behind the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai was done by Dawood Ibrahim and others in Pakistan, and it was the training in Pakistan that materialised into the blasts. 

The accused were trained in bomb-making and to handle sophisticated weapons in Pakistan, the Supreme Court said, and specifically mentioned the Inter Services Intelligence for its role and involvement in the 1993 blasts.

The apex court also blamed the police, customs and coastal authorities for the country's terrorist attack on a metro. 

The court dubbed Yakub Memon and all the absconding accused including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as "archers" in whose hands the rest of the accused were "arrows". Read all about Yakub Memon here
You can read all about the 1993 Mumbai blasts from the archives, here.
11:28   Jaya presents tax-free budget for Tamil Nadu
The Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu today presented a tax-free budget for 2013-14, proposing 'prudent fiscal management' amidst gloomy national economic scenario. 

Finance Minister O Panneerselvam presented the budget amidst a walk-out by opposition DMK and said that despite the pressures of vital expenditure and serious resource constraints, "no new tax will be imposed, nor will any existing tax rate be hiked in the budget."
11:27   Sensex down 59 pts in late morning deals
Erasing early gains, the BSE benchmark Sensex today lost 59 points in the late morning trade due to sustained selling pressure mainly in auto, realty, consumer durables and oil and gas counters, amid mixed Asian cues. 

The 30-share barometer resumed higher at 18,926.21 and firmed up further to 18,987.48 but declined afterwards to 18,798.98 before quoting at 18,824.64 at 1030 hrs, a net loss of 59.55 points, or 0.32 per cent, from yesterday's close. 

The NSE 50-share Nifty also moved down by 18.45 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 5,675.95 at 1030 hrs.
11:16   Obamas limo breaks down after petrol diesel mix-up in Israel
US President Barack Obama's limousine broke down during his historic visit to Israel after somebody filled it up with petrol instead of diesel. 

The embarrassing moment came at the start of Obama's first trip to Tel Aviv, and the most powerful man in the world faced the embarrassment of having to switch vehicles after the fuel mix-up. 

As he climbed into a standby motor, the custom-built armour-plated Cadillac was loaded on to the back of a pick-up truck and taken away for repairs, the Daily mirror reports. 

According to the report, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan later admitted that of their protective vehicles experienced mechanical problems. He said that is why they carry 'multiple vehicles and a mechanic on all trips.' 
11:14   Parliament adjourned till noon over Lankan Tamil issue
Just In: Parliament adjourned till noon following uproar over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and other matters.
Just In: Samajwadi Party has authorised me to take any decision in its interest on various issues, says Mulayam Singh Yadav. He adds that the SP will not create hurdles in the passage of the Appropriation Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
11:05   Imran Khan elected unopposed as chairman of his party
Cricketing great Imran Khan has been elected unopposed as chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf during the intra-party polls held ahead of the upcoming general election. No other candidate contested against the cricketer-turned-politician during the polls in Lahore yesterday. 

Khan told the media that no one will be eligible to hold the post of the chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf for more than two terms. Such a measure will ensure that the party is not controlled by one family, he said.
10:40   PC disapproves; CBI halts raid on Stalin's house
According to CBI sources, the raid on DMK leader M K Stalin's house has been stopped.

The FIR in connection to the case of illegally imported cars does not mention Stalin, said sources.

They added that the "search procedure by CBI teams is over".
10:36   No respite for Fort Hood mass shooting suspect
A US Army psychiatrist, charged for the deadly 2009 mass shooting on a US army installation, will not be allowed to plead guilty to any charges, a military judge has ruled.        

Major Nidal Hasan, 40, charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, faces the death penalty if convicted.       

Colonel Tara Osborn on Wednesday ruled that pre-trial publicity around the case would not unfairly prejudice a jury and set the start of jury selection for May 29.
10:35   Raids bound to be misunderstood: Chidambaram
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, speaking on the raids on DMK leader M K Stalin's residence, said, "Whatever be the reason, I am afraid it is bound to be misunderstood. I have conveyed my view to the minister-in-charge".
09:59   Israel cannot cede self-defence: PM Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country cannot cede its right to self-defence to others, with visiting US President Barack Obama re-assuring his enduring support for the security of the Jewish State.        

"Today we have both the right and the capability to defend ourselves. As you said earlier today, the essence of the State of Israel, the essence of the rebirth of the Jewish state, is the fulfillment of the age-old dream of the Jewish people: to be masters of our fate in our own state," Netanyahu said.
09:57   Strongly disapprove of CBI action on Stalin: PC
"I strongly disapprove of CBI action on DMK leader Stalin," Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said.
09:45   Srinagar: Militants fire at BSF vehicle, 3 injured
Mukhtar Ahmad reports: Three Border Security Force personnel were injured, one of them critically, when militants fired at a vehicle carrying the BSF men at Nawgam in Srinagar.

Further details are awaited.
09:09   This is political vendetta: DMK on CBI raids
The illegally imported cars, allegedly used by DMK leader M K Stalin's son, cost nearly Rs 20 crore, according to media reports.

The DMK slammed the Congress over the CBI raid, saying, "This shows the level to which the party can stoop to".

Stalin claimed that he was being targeted. He added that he would fight the case legally in court.

"It is quite clear why I am being targeted," said Stalin.
08:41   Leopard attacks a reality for Mumbai slum
For the residents of Aarey Milk Colony, who live on the fringes of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, attacks by leopards residing in the forest is an everyday nightmare.

Over 100 people have been killed in attacks by leopards in the last ten years.

08:36   US, Canada condole Bangla President's death
Mourning the death of Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman, US Secretary of State John Kerry said his death offers a moment for all Bangladeshis to come together in mourning and reflect on what unites them as a nation.       

"We were saddened to learn of the passing of the President of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman. From his early days as a history student and political activist, President Rahman dedicated his life to the people of Bangladesh," Kerry said in a statement.
08:35   Al Qaeda terrorist Spin Ghul to be tried in NY court
Spin Ghul, a major Al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been arrested, six months after the was taken into American custody.

He will be tried in a New York court, the US Justice Department has said.        

Charged on a six-count indictment, Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as 'Spin Ghul', was arrested in Italy and extradited to the United States in October 2012. 

His case was placed before a Brooklyn court after that.
08:24   CBI raids M K Stalin's residence in Chennai
The CBI on Thursday morning raided the residence of DMK chief M Karunanidhi's son and party leader M K Stalin.

The probe agency reportedly raided Stalin's residence in connection to a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence case about illegally imported foreign cars which are allegedly being used by Stalin's son.

A case has been filed in this connection but it is not clear who has been named in the FIR, according to media reports.

DMK leaders claimed that this was a case of 'political vendetta'.

The party had on Tuesday pulled out of the ruling UPA coalition at the Centre over differences on the Lankan Tamils issue.
04:01   Obama pledges to keep Iran from nuclear weapon
Eager to reassure an anxious ally, President Barack Obama today promised to work closely with Israel and do whatever is necessary to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, "the world's worst weapons." 

He also pledged to investigate whether chemical weapons were used this week in the neighbouring Syria's two-year-old civil war. Obama, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said of Iran's nuclear ambitions: 

"We prefer to resolve this diplomatically and there is still time to do so." But he added that "all options are on the table" if diplomacy falls short.
03:52   Obama skeptical of Assad claim on chemical weapons
President Barack Obama said today that the United States is investigating whether chemical weapons have been deployed in Syria, but he's "deeply skeptical" of claims by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime that rebel forces were behind such an attack. 

Both the Assad regime and Syrian rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons in an attack on Tuesday. Obama said anyone familiar with the facts of the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria would question the government's claim that it was the rebels who carried out such an attack.
03:35   Police sniper kills shooter who held child hostage
A man pulled a woman off a city bus in northern Indiana on Wednesday, fatally shot her and then took a 3-year-old boy hostage before a sniper killed him during a police standoff.

A police officer carried the child out of a house in Fort Wayne about 4:30 p.m., and police announced soon after that the suspect, 45-year-old Kenneth Knight, was dead.

Police said from the outset that they did not believe the shooting was random, but the relationship, if any, between Knight, the woman and the child was not immediately clear.
02:23   Four killed at Afghan Koran desecration protest
At least four people were shot dead today when dozens of Afghan villagers clashed with police over the alleged desecration of the Quran, officials said. The clashes broke out in Musa Qala, a town troubled by insurgent violence in the southern province of Helmand. 

"Four people have been killed and seven others, including two policemen, have been shot and injured in the clash," said provincial spokesman Ahmad Zeerak.
01:20   Saudi prince jailed in Britain for murder flies home
A Saudi prince jailed for life in Britain for murdering his servant has been flown home to serve the rest of his sentence, the British government said today. 

Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Nasir, a grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, was jailed in 2010 for killing Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz in a London hotel after subjecting him to a "sadistic" campaign of violence and sexual abuse. 

But Britain's Ministry of Justice confirmed that the 36-year-old royal flew back to Saudi Arabia on Monday after he was granted a transfer to a prison in his homeland.
00:42   Afghanistan, NATO strike compromise on pullout plan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai struck a compromise with NATO forces on Wednesday, agreeing to a far more limited and gradual pullout from a key province than he had initially demanded, according to accounts from the NATO-led force.

The deal emerged 10 days after Karzai's March 10 deadline for all U.S. special operations forces to leave Wardak province, and NATO said the deal limited the initial pullout of NATO troops to Wardak's small, relatively restive district of Nerkh.
00:24   Italian marines sought by India are questioned
A military prosecutor in Rome today questioned two Italian marines who India is insisting must return to face trial in the deaths of two Indian fishermen reportedly mistaken for pirates.

The two marines, in full dress uniform, made no comment to reporters when they arrived at the military prosecutor's office, which had summoned them for its own probe of the 2012 shooting. 

India and Italy are in a bitter standoff over the case. The marines have been charged in India with killing two fishermen.
00:23   When it comes to cyberwarfare, North Korea is no newbie
Who or what caused a takedown of computer systems at banks and broadcasters in South Korea on Wednesday is still a matter of speculation, but suspicion immediately and unsurprisingly fell on Seoul's archenemy to the north.

If true, it wouldn't be the first time that North Korea, often regarded as technologically backward, has successfully wielded the computer as weapon.Computer antivirus maker McAfee says Pyongyang was behind two major denial of service (DDos) attacks in recent years '" one in 2011 that was directed at South Korean government and banking websites, and another in 2009 that brought down U.S. government Internet sites. 

Pyongyang has denied involvement in either attack.