Mon, 07 December 2015
Leaked: How IS plans to build its state

Timeline  Refresh

23:41   Suspected jihadis in Paris trial portray themselves as naive
One said he couldn't afford the bullets to load his gun in Syria, while another compared carrying a Kalashnikov to wearing a superhero costume. 

Most of the six men on trial in Paris for their alleged roles in a recruiting network for European Islamic extremist fighters portray themselves as amateur holy warriors grappling with a conflict way over their heads.

The central figure in the weeklong trial that closes on today is 35-year-old Salim Benghalem, a suspected Islamic State group commander wanted by the US and France. He is believed to be in Syria and is being judged in absentia.

Benghalem's wife, who left Syria with their children, has told investigators he would return to France only to carry out attacks not stand trial - aiming for "a series of killings." 

The trial was being held in the aftermath of the November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, stunned France and sent Europe into a state of high alert. The six French nationals present in court, sought to present themselves as far less ommitted to jihad than Benghalem.
23:39   Anoushka Shankar, Asif Kapadia earn Grammy nominations
Sitarist Anoushka Shankar and 'Amy' director Asif Kapadia are among the Indian-origin names featuring in the nominees list at the 58th Grammy awards, which were announced Los Angeles today.

Shankar, 34, has been nominated in the Best World Music Album category for her solo album 'Home', which is a pure Indian classical album showcasing the meditative and virtuosic qualities of the Indian raga. 

"Overwhelmed to have just received my fifth Grammy nomination. Grateful to have a traditional album like Home be recognised, and want to acknowledge my collaborators. Unending gratitude to my father and guru," said Shankar in a Facebook post.

'Home' features two ragas, one of which is a creation of her late father Ravi Shankar. This is her fifth nomination in the same category. 

Indo-British director Asif Kapadia features in the nominees list of Best Music Film category for 'Amy', his documentary on late singer Amy Winehouse. 
23:38   Meghalaya AG resigns ahead of HC hearing on disqualification of MLAs holding dual posts
Meghalaya's Advocate General K S Kynjing today resigned from his post, just a day ahead of the crucial hearing of a PIL in the high court seeking disqualification of MLAs holding dual posts. 

Highly placed official sources confirmed Kynjing has put in his papers, while Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Law department Rowel Lyngdoh admitted to have "heard about" the resignation but adding the "quit letter is yet to reach my department."

Lyngdoh, however, significantly said "This has been in the thinking of the government that we need to have a new advocate general." 

He further added any such resignation letter must have been directly submitted to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. 

"If it is true that he (Kynjing) has resigned, the government will have to immediately appoint a new advocate general," Lyngdoh commented. 

The high court had earlier criticized Kynjing for his "lack of knowledge in law" and seeking repeated adjournments in important cases of public interest.
22:03   Now, Chennai braces to check outbreak of diseases
Flood-ravaged Chennai and its suburbs braced to meet the mounting challenge of preventing outbreak of diseases as the deluge left heaps of garbage and muck on the streets, while the sun shone bright and normal train and air services resumed today.

Though flood water has receded from arterial roads, most of the low-lying areas continue to be flooded with sewage as drains were chocked with plastic, mattresses and sundry material.

Authorities have scrambled nearly 25,000 sanitary workers to clear the stinking garbage accumulated over the past several days to prevent outbreak of diseases.

The Centre, meanwhile, said that there is no report of outbreak of any water-borne or vector-borne disease in Tamil Nadu.

A public health team of the Union Health Ministry met the Tamil Nadu health secretary and other officers of the Health Department to discuss the flood situation in the state and public health action that is required for prevention and control of communicable diseases, an official statement said.
21:38   Leaked: How IS plans to build its state
A leaked dossier of Islamic State terror group published today in a leading newspaper show the sophisticated plans of the militant group in building a state in Iraq and Syria complete with government departments, a treasury and an economic programme for self-sufficiency.

The 24-page dossier outlines how the terror group is trying to build a state complete with guidelines for education, natural resources, industry, diplomacy, propaganda and the military.

The 10 chapter-long document, titled 'Principles in the administration of the Islamic State', dated sometime between July and October 2014, was obtained by the Guardian newspaper.

It is written by an Egyptian called Abu Abdullah al-Masri and gives an insight into the well-funded regime and outlines how fighters must receive 'training on bearing light arms'.

Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for Georgia State University told the newspaper: 'Far from being an army of irrational, bloodthirsty fanatics, IS is a deeply calculating political organisation with an extremely complex, well-planned infrastructure behind it.'

Abdullah also calls for a single identity for the terror group to unite both foreigners and locals and makes the case for establishing independent 'factories for local military and food production' in the dossier.
21:19   'Odd-even' formula not to cover two-wheelers, taxis
Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain today said that the 'odd-even' formula will not be applicable to two-wheelers in the national capital and the restriction extends only to the plying of private vehicles, including those entering from other states.

A government spokesperson, however, said that exemption for two-wheelers was just a suggestion and a final decision is yet to be taken in this regard.

"The odd-even (number plate) formula will be applicable only to private cars plying in Delhi. For now, the movement of two-wheelers, taxis, autos will be not be restricted on alternate days," the minister told a TV channel.
21:01   Bomb hoax sends Delhi Police into a tizzy
A phone call about three unattended bags lying on the busy Barakhamba Road in New Delhi today sent the Delhi police into a tizzy.

The incident was reported around 2 PM and the caller informed police about the abandoned baggage spotted right outside Arunachal Building on Barakhamba Road, said a senior police officer.

A police team, along with bomb disposal squad, was rushed to the spot and the area was sanitised. However, no explosive or any other element which could cause threat was found in the bags, the officer said.
19:53   Security beefed up ahead of PM Modi's Varanasi visit on Dec 12
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his constituency Varanasi on December 12 with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
"As per the tentative programme of Prime Minister, he will be reaching Varanasi by air at about 3 pm and will leave for New Delhi the same day after attending Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat," IG, Law and order, A Satish Ganesh said. 

"We are yet to receive minute to minute programme of the PM. But as per his tentative programme besides aarti, he will be meeting prominent personalities/dignitaries over dinner. The list which is not yet finalised," Ganesh said. 

He said that a team of Navy has been sought for water safety.
19:46   Iran made 53 arrests linked to IS since 2014: police
Iran has arrested 53 suspects and shut down 132 websites linked to the Islamic State group since April 2014, the country's cyber police chief said today according to state media.
"The cyber police has been identifying and removing web pages exclusively owned by Daesh or people who in some way supported them and advocated their ideologies," Brigadier General Kamal Hadian, using the Arabic acronym for IS, was quoted by official news agency IRNA as saying. 

The general did not specify if the pages were online profiles or entire websites and how many detentions had been detected recently.
"We have arrested 53 inside the country," Hadian said of the suspects, adding that "some of the deceived ones were released after signing a pledge" to cease such activities. 

Iran, sharing borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, faces the threat of attacks and recently beefed up security in Tehran and other cities, with armed police outside some metro stations and public squares.
19:31   J Dey murder case: spl court to start daily trial from Dec 17
A special court will start the trial of the journalist J Dey murder case on a daily basis from December 17.

Underworld don Chhota Rajan was shown as an absconding accused in the case.

"The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court will start recording the statements of witnesses from December 17 on a day-to-day basis," said public prosecutor Dileep Shah.
Shah said he had sought time of two weeks to prepare himself as Raja Thackare had resigned as public prosecutor of the case earlier last month.
He told PTI that special judge A L Pansare had observed that though the state government has handed over all the cases against the underworld don to CBI, the government notification was silent on conducting the trials.
19:26   Delhi Metro vulnerable to terror attacks
A Parliamentary panel has felt there is an urgent need to strengthen the security of the Delhi Metro to neutralise the possibility of any terrorist
strike as the capital's mass rapid transport system is vulnerable to attacks.
It also suggested that the visibility of Delhi Police in the Delhi Metro stations must be substantially increased.

"The committee observes that about 25 lakh commuters travel through metro rail daily in Delhi and in view of the prevailing security scenario in the country, metro rail in Delhi appears to be vulnerable to man-made disasters or terrorist attack," the department-related Parliamentary
standing committee on Home Affairs said in its 189 report.
The panel recommended that Delhi Police should continue to take pre-emptive steps to guard Delhi Metro against any causality or strike.
19:13   UP govt announces Rs 25 crore for Chennai relief
Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav has announced a sum of Rs 25 crore as part of the relief fund for the victims of the Chennai floods.

Torrential rains have left at least 269, according to the Tamil Nadu government. 

The situation took a turn for the worse after large areas of the city flooded. 

The deluge destroyed crucial road and rail links, shutdown the airport, snapped power and telecom lines and left lakh of people stranded.
18:46   Hardik sent to one-day police remand by Surat court
A local court today remanded Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel in one-day police custody in a case in which he had allegedly instructed his fellow activists to block a national highway passing from Surat two
months back.
Judicial Magistrate of Kathor rural court J D Solanki sent the 22-year-old firebrand leader to a day's remand of Kamrej police.
Hardik was arrested from Lajpore jail here yesterday by Kamrej police for allegedly instructing his fellow activists to block national highway passing from Surat after he was detained in Rajkot on October 18.
His arrest was made through transfer warrant from Lajpore jail where he had been lodged for the last two months in a sedition case.
On October 18, when Hardik was detained ahead of the India-South Africa cricket match in Rajkot, some of his aides, including Surat convener of agitating body Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti Alpesh Kathiria, had blocked the highway passing from Kamrej area on the outskirts of city to protest against Hardik's detention.
18:39   Flight from Berlin to Egypt lands in Budapest after bomb threat
A passenger jet headed from Berlin to Hurghada in Egypt landed in Budapest on Monday due to a bomb threat, police said. Police spokeswoman Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs told Reuters the threat had been aimed at the airline operator but declined to name the company. She said police were searching passengers and luggage on the jet. Details awaited.

In November, a plane taking 161 tourists from Poland to Egypt landed in Bulgaria and was being checked for explosives after a passenger said there was a bomb on board.

Russia has suspended all flights to Egypt after Russian authorities say a bomb brought down a passenger plane from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

A file pic of a relative of a person who died in the Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt.
18:25   Japan PM to visit India from Dec 11-13
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe to undertake an official visit to India for the Annual Summit meeting with PM Narendra Modi on 11-13 Dec 2015 on PM Modi's invitation. At the last Summit Meeting held in Tokyo, the two leaders had agreed to elevate the relationship to 'Special Strategic and Global Partnership'. 
18:04   Did SRK contribute Rs 1 crore towards Chennai flood relief?
Is it photo-shopped by Shah Rukh Khan fans?
Is it a public stunt ahead of the Dec 18 release of his film, Dilwale?
The jury is out on that, but SRK fans have given their verdict. The actor is indeed a Dilwala.

Even as #SRKDonates1crToChennai trends on Twitter, there has been no confirmatory tweet from the the superstar himself, who is reasonably active on social media.

The story is that Shah Rukh Khan has apparently donated Rs 1 crore for the flood-hit victims of Chennai.

A press-release allegedly from Red Chillies Entertainment has been tweeted, which is the reason for the trend. The press release reads, "We are all deeply affected by the devastation wreaked on the city of Chennai by the fury of nature. At the same time, the resilience of the people of Chennai and the way in which the community has come together to help each other and face this adversity is commendable and makes us all feel proud."

"On behalf of Red Chillies Entertainment and Team Dilwale, please accept out contribution of Rs 1 crore to the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund. We appreciate the massive effort undertaken by your government and everyone in Chennai, to deal with this calamity and we hope our contribution will help in a small way."

Superstar Rajinikanth donated Rs 10 lakh to the chief minister's relief fund, while his son-in-law and actor Dhanush donated Rs 5 lakh. Actors Suriya and  his brother have donated 25 lakh, Vishal has chipped in with Rs 10 lakh.

Click on the picture for a larger image of the purported press release
17:44   Parrikar was for OROP but was 'pressurised' in cabinet, says Jethmalani
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in favour of granting 'One Rank, One Pension' (OROP) to ex-servicemen but pressure was exerted on him by his cabinet colleagues on the issue, legal luminary Ram Jethmalani today claimed even as he launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jethmalani, a supporter-turned-critic of Modi and a former BJP leader, said apart from failing to deliver on his electoral promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad, Modi has not been able to deliver on the OROP issue. Ex-servicemen have been staging protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for the past 176 days demanding OROP.
17:33   The Tempest
Have Radhika and Prannoy Roy undermined NDTV? Read
17:29   Verdict in Salman Khan hit-and-run case tomorrow
The Bombay High Court will pronounce its verdict on the Salman Khan hit-and-run case tomorrow.

The court is slated to deliver its verdict on an appeal filed by the actor against the five year sentence awarded to him in the 2002 hit-and-run case.

The arguments in the case concluded yesterday and Judge AR Joshi said he would begin dictation of judgement on the appeal from tomorrow.

A sessions court had on May 6 convicted the 49-year-old actor on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC and other offences.

An aggrieved Salman filed an appeal in the High Court which granted him bail before hearing arguments in the case.

It is the case of the prosecution that Salman had consumed liquor at 'Rain Bar and Restaurant' at Vile Parle before ramming his Toyota lexus car into a shop at suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002. One person died in the mishap and four others were injured.

The prosecution has argued that there were three persons in the car, Salman, his singer friend Kamaal Khan and the actor's police bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who passed away during the trial in 2007.

Relying upon the statement of Patil, the prosecution argued that Salman was driving the car. However, it did not examine Kamaal Khan who has since then gone abroad. On the other hand, Salman's lawyer Amit Desai has argued that Salman was not driving the car and that it was his family driver Ashok Singh who was behind the wheel. He said the trial court had erred in not accepting the testimony of Ashok Singh, who deposed as defence witness saying that he was driving the car on the ill-fated day and not the actor.

While the prosecution argued that Ashok Singh was a 'got up' witness and had come before the court after 13 years, Salman denied the charge and said his driver had appeared at the fag end of the trial because he was a defence witness.

The prosecution alleged that Salman drove the vehicle throughout - from his Galaxy Apartments residence at Bandra to Rain Bar at Vile Parle and from there to J W Marriot Hotel at Juhu and then to the spot of accident at Bandra.

Prosecutors S S Shinde and Purnima Kantharia further argued that at Marriot Hotel, the parking attendant had seen Salman occupying the driver's seat. In his testimony, the parking attendant said the actor had closed the car's door after giving him tip.

According to prosecution, witnesses at the accident spot had seen Salman coming out of the driver's seat. They also said that Salman ran away from the spot after the accident. The prosecution also alleged that the actor was missing from his residence for several hours after the mishap.

Later, when Salman was arrested and produced before a doctor at J J Hospital, he smelt of alcohol. At the hospital his blood samples were collected by doctors and sent to a forensic lab in Mumbai which later confirmed that he had taken alcohol beyond permissible limits, the prosecution submitted.

The prosecution also argued that there were no need to examine Kamaal Khan who was travelling with the actor. It also said it was not necessary to make actor's brother Sohail also a witness, as demanded by Salman's lawyer.

As per the prosecution, Salman's car had rammed A-I Bakery-American Laundry because of uncontrollable speed as the actor was under the influence of liquor. It further said that the victim had died because of the impact of the car.

Salman's lawyer had argued that the victim had died because the crane, which was called to tow the vehicle, dropped the car from its hook and the car came crashing down on the victim who was killed because of the impact.

He argued that there were four persons in the car and not three, as submitted by the prosecution. The fourth one was Salman's family driver Ashok Singh who was at the wheel. Desai further argued that Salman had gone to Rain Bar, but did not consume alcohol as he was off drinks and had a shoot the next day.

The defence lawyer argued that Kamaal Khan should have been examined as a witness as he could have thrown light on the incident, including who was driving the car and whether the actor had taken drinks. He also argued that the version given by driver Ashok Singh is correct.

The actor's lawyer also argued that Salman did not run away from the spot, but was asked by his friend and eyewitness Francis Fernandes to leave the place. After the incident, driver Ashok Singh went to Bandra police station to tell the truth, but his statement was not recorded and after a few hours Salman himself went to the police station and surrendered.

Desai argued that the correct procedure of collecting blood samples of Salman was not followed as the doctor had taken two blood samples, while the chemical analyser had received only one sample. Moreover, the process of examination of blood samples at central forensic lab in Kalina here was not proper.

Salman's lawyer submitted that Ashok Singh was driving the car and there was a tyre burst because of which the vehicle deviated from the road and hit the pavement. The victim died as he was crushed when the car fell off while being lifted by a crane. The car could have been tampered with while it was in custody of Bandra police, he alleged.

Salman is on bail and did not attend the hearing on his appeal, though his sister Alvira Khan regularly came to the court every day.
17:17   Nobody can hide from law, says jubilant BJP on Sonia, Rahul summons
The BJP today welcomed the Delhi High Court order asking Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul to appear before a lower court in the National Herald case, saying they cannot "hide" from law which was "taking its own course".

"This is what happens when you buy such a huge property for a pittance. Law is taking its own course. They (Gandhis) had also gone to the court. Law is equal to the common man and Sonia Gandhi. They cannot hide from it," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

In a blow to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president and son Rahul Gandhi, the court earlier today dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court tomorrow.
Union minister VK Singh gets relief from a Delhi court over 'dog' remark, plea for police complaint against him dismissed..
17:02   SC directs states to provide free treatment to acid attack survivors
Much delayed, but finally a semblance of justice for acid attack survivors.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed all the states and Union Territories to compensate, rehabilitate and provide free treatment to the survivors of acid attacks in pursuance of guidelines issued by it earlier.

An apex court bench of Justices MY Eqbal and C Nagappan gave the direction while dealing with a case of an acid attack victim from Bihar.

The court asked the Bihar Government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim, besides providing her free treatment including reconstruction surgery.

The apex court bench also asked the states and UTs to provide all kind of help to such victims as provided in an earlier judgment.

The Supreme Court had in its ruling on April 10 made it mandatory for hospitals across the country to provide full and free medical treatment to the victims.

The present matter was brought before the apex court by Bihar-based NGO 'Parivartan Kendra', which has sought its direction on rehabilitation of acid attack victims alleging that private hospitals were not providing free treatment to the victims.
Update on the Kandivali fire:

At least one person has died in the massive fire that broke out in a slum in Kandivali in suburban Mumbai today, triggering a series of gas cylinder explosions. The blaze was first reported around 12:25 pm, while the fire brigade received a call at about 12.33 pm.

At least 16 fire engines and 12 water tankers were rushed to the site in the Damu Nagar area of Kandivali (East). Reports said that the gas cylinders were kept in a godown and exploded when they caught fire. a senior fire official said.'s Rajesh Alva, an eyewitness to the incident says plumes of black smoke rose from the densely populated slum which has at least 300 shanties. The slum is reportedly located in a congested area, making it difficult for fire tenders to reach the site. Alva reported that he heard at least 20 loud blasts over an hour.

Deputy Chief Fire Official P S Rahangdale said that five fire brigade officials along with jawans have been rushed to the spot to douse the flames.

The deceased person was charred beyond recognition and has not been identified yet but the injured have been admitted to nearby Shatabdi hospital, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said.

Although the exact cause of fire is not known, local residents claim that the blaze occurred due to a series of cylinder explosions in the hutments.

Meanwhile, police has cordoned off the area and were trying to verify the claims of the locals.

Photograph: Rajesh Alva/
16:16   Daredevils remove Kirsten as head coach
Delhi Daredevils have removed Gary Kirsten as their head coach. Kirsten was appointed in September 2013 on a three-year contract, but the former South Africa batsman has been dropped after serving as Daredevils' coach for just two seasons. Under Kirsten's watch, Daredevils won only seven out of 28 matches, with 20 defeats across the two seasons. In both seasons, Daredevils occupied the bottom rungs: they finished last in 2014 and second from last in 2015. Read more
16:08   Interview with Afghan President Ghani: 'I Have To Hold Our Country Together'
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is calling for greater support for Afghanistan, where the Taliban's strength is growing. The fact that tens of thousands are fleeing his country to Europe is likely to be a major topic of his meeting with Chancellor Merkel on Thursday. Read more
16:03   National Herald case: Will fight it in SC, says Gandhis' lawyer Abhishek Singhvi
The Congress says it will not only approach the apex court in the National Herald case but will also seek a stay in the proceedings. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Sinhgvi is representing both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the case. Singhvi says, "We believe there is substantive merit in the quashing petition (against summons) that we had filed. We believe this decision is legally sustainable."

BJP's Subramanian Swamy the petitioner in the case says that if the Gandhis have decided to approach the SC, he is ready for that, though the HC had specifically said the case should be tried in the trial court.
The BJP's Nalin Kohli on the #National Herald case: Anyone can approach SC, but prima facie it is a setback to them (Gandhis).
15:07   Subrata Roy pays Rs 1.23 crore for special facilities in Tihar jail
Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy has paid a whopping Rs 1.23 crore to Tihar Jail authorities for all the special privileges he enjoyed for the past one year in a special cell. This amount will take care of 200 inmates for a year, authorities said. Roy was moved to ordinary cell in November. Read more
15:03   Lakes in Kancheepuram district safe: TN Govt
Refuting rumours that five lakes had breached in Kancheepuram district, one of the worst affected in the floods, Tamil Nadu government today said the levels were being constantly monitored and there was no danger to public. "Karanai, Thaiyur, Siruthavur, Kondangi and Manamadhi lakes located on the surroundings of Old Mahablipuram Road in Kancheepuram district are at safe levels," an official release said.
14:59   CVC, CBI's anti-corruption wing be under Lokpal: Par panel
Citing overlapping of functions, a Parliamentary Committee today recommended integrating Central Vigilance Commission and anti-corruption wing of the CBI to work directly under the command and control of Lokpal to deal with corruption cases.

It also suggested inclusion of leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, in case there is no recognised Leader of Opposition, as member of selection panel to choose chairperson and members of Lokpal.
14:50   Sonia, Rahul WILL have to appear in court in National Herald case
In a major setback to the Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court today dismissed their petition against appearing in court in the National Herald case. The Gandhis have to appear in a Delhi court by 4 pm tomorrow, though the Congress is likely to challenge the High Court's order in the Supreme Court.

The petitioner in the case, BJP senior leader Subramaniun Swamy, will move the Supreme Court to file a caveat in the case so that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi don't get a stay in the case.

The Delhi High Court on Friday felt that the Congress party could have written off the loan of Rs 90.25 crore owed to it by the publishers of National Herald, instead of assigning it to a charitable company in which some of its leaders are directors.

Justice Sunil Gaur made the observation while reserving judgement on the pleas of Congress President and the Vice President and four others against a trial court order summoning them on a cheating and breach of trust complaint filed by Swamy.

In response, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Gandhis, said the loan was assigned to "clean the balance sheets of AJL" and to revive the company so that it can borrow money from the banks and run on its own.

The party had loaned Rs 90.25 crore to Associated Journals Ltd.(AJL), publisher of National Herald, and on December 28, 2010 it had assigned this debt to Young Indian Ltd (YIL), the charitable company, for Rs 50 lakh, which, according to Swamy, amounted to breach of trust and cheating.
14:49   Kandivali fire under control
Rajesh Alva/ who sent us this picture of people outside the Damur Nagar slum says, the fire began at approximately 12:20 pm. There was thick smoke followed by a series of explosions -- at least 30 of them. The Damur Nagar slums have at least 300 to 400 shanties.

Two hours hence, Rajesh says the plumes of smoke have reduced. He said a few people with burn injuries were seen, but there were no reports of casualties. Slum dwelleers were seen carrying their gas cylinders with them.
Dark plumes of smoke emanate from the fire in the godown at a Kandivali slum. Pic: Rajesh Alva/
14:10   Dozens of gas cylinders explode in massive fire at Kandivali in Mumbai
Rajesh Alva/ sends us this picture of the massive fire at Damu Nagar slums in Kandivali (East). If you've just joined us, a massive fire has broken out in a godown. Unverified reports from the area suggest that 25 to 30 gas cylinders have exploded. TV channels are reporting that 12 fire engines have been rushed to the spot and a probe is on to ascertain cause of fire. Eyewitnesses say they have heard at least 40 explosions so far. Early reports say one person has been seriously injured and several others have been trapped in the fire. No details as yet of how the fire broke out. 
13:44   Mild tremors across north India after quake hits Tajikistan
Just in: A 7.2 magnitude earthquake has hit Tajikistan with mild tremors felt across north India including Srinagar, Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh. No reports of any damage.  
@nikhildixit99 tweeted this picture. 
@Shrutzypatil tweets: There has been a terrible fire in kandivali Lokhandwala.65 cylinders have blasted. I can still hear the blasts. Nearby buildings evacuated.

@MihirBijur tweeted this picture, saying, "Over 50 explosions in the last 30 mins at this horrible fire at damu nagar, Kandivali E. Spreading fast! Very scary!"

13:32   Major fire in Kandivali, Mumbai, after 30 gas cylinders explode
Major fire in Kandivali in suburban Mumbai. Early reports say up to 20 to 30 LPG gas cylinders have caught fire and exploded at the Damu Nagar slum, Kandivali east. At least 25 fire tenders are at the spot. One person sustained serious injury, several others are trapped in the fire, says reports.

Citizens passing by the area tweeted saying:

@kunwarmritunjay  Major fire and series of cylinder blasts in Kandivali area of Mumbai suburbs. Few injured.

‏@iStud  Major fire breaks out at Damu Nagar, Kandivali E. Can still hear a few explosions. Whole of Lokhandwala is shady due to the smoke cloud.

‏@Shrutzypatil  Dark clouds everywhere. Sound of blasts, ambulance, chaos in kandivali Lokhanwala.Plz call up your dear ones and check if they are safe.

@AvSats  Absolute terrible fire in the slums at Damu Nagar near Kandivali Lokhandwala.

13:07   Govt to make statement on foreign policy issues soon in LS
The government will soon make a statement on its foreign policy initiatives after the Opposition in Lok Sabha today moved an adjournment motion seeking a debate on the crucial matter.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was busy with visiting Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and hence was not present in the House.

"We have taken note of the concerns of the House and will convey to the External Affairs Minister and a response will be given to the House at the earliest," he said in Lok Sabha.
12:54   Veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan suffers stroke
Meanwhile, veteran communist leader A B Bardhan was hospitalised in New Delhi this morning after he suffered a paralytic stroke. 92-year old Bardhan, who lives in the CPI Headquarters, felt uneasy around 0800 hours and then lost consciousness. He was immediately rushed to the G B Pant Hospital in central Delhi, CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjaan said.

He described Bardhan's condition as "critical" and said the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of India was admitted in the emergency wing and being taken care of by senior doctors. Bardhan's wife, a professor in Nagpur University, died in 1986. The couple has a son and a daughter.
12:52   The pregnant woman airlifted by IAF in Chennai has delivered twins!
As Chennai limps back to normalcy With water levels receding in most parts of the rain-battered city and suburbs, an update that will bring some cheer.

The stranded pregnant woman who was airlifted in Chennai in a rescue operation by the Indian Air Force, has delivered twins.

Her rescue was the highlight of the evacuation operations on Thursday, when the IAF airlifted the seven-month pregnant woman, Sukanya, along with her three-year-old child from Guindy -- one of the worst affected areas.

The focus in the city is now on clearing the waste and muck on the roads along with rehabilitation of affected people.

Scores of workers have been deployed by the corporation of Chennai and other civic bodies to clear debris from the affected parts. The state government has brought in workers from other districts for this purpose.

The unprecedented deluge has caused unforeseen havoc and devastation to property, with flooded houses stinking after the water receded. Waste and sludge are deposited in man places such as the worst-affected Kotturpuram.
12:47   Why Jaitley's union budget 2016 will be a 1st in four years
North Block is planning to celebrate a momentous occasion on February 29, 2016, a Monday. That's when the Union Budget will be presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley -- on a leap year.

The Union Ministry of Finance is yet to officially release the calendar of events like presentation of economic survey, railway budget and presentation of budgetary grants etc, for which details will be released by the middle of January 2016. But sources from North Block have confirmed is Feb 29 2016 will be when the budget will be presented.
Just in: Stranded pregnant woman who was airlifted in Chennai in a rescue operation delivers twins.
12:30   Will GST be Sonia's 'return gift' to the nation on her birthday?
On December 9, Sonia Gandhi will turn 69. The Prime Minister is likely to tweet his wishes and greet her inside the Lok Sabha by making a special mention of the day.

Sources tell us that all this is in response to Rahul Gandhi's insistence that the Centre interact with the opposition. And of course, a way of softening up the opposition to get the GST bill passed in the Rajya Sabha.

From Wednesday onwards, there will be an effort from the government to have a structured
debate with the Congress in Parliament, which will be assisted by Officials as well.

The first signs of a detente was spotted when Arun Jaitley went to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's home to invite them to his daughter's wedding, which also coincidentally falls on Wednesday.

So, expect a very thin attendance in Parliamen as thne who's who of nationla politics heads to the Jaitley wedding. 
12:10   Uniform civil code: SC refuses to interfere, won't issue directive to Centre
The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a public interest petition (PIL) seeking direction to parliament to enact a uniform civil code to put an end to alleged discrimination being faced by Muslim women.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said that it is for parliament to take a call on the issue and it was not in the realm of the apex court to issue a direction on this.

Chief Justice Thakur, in a disapproving note, told senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam that if such petitions were filed without regard to the law, the court will come down very heavily.The court asked why none of those who are being allegedly discriminated against have come forward for redressal.Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had filed the PIL.
12:00   Voters dismiss Hugo Chavez govt in Venezuela
Venezuela's opposition has won an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections in the oil-rich nation, which is mired in economic turmoil and violent crime.

Candidates for the centre-right opposition seized a majority in the national assembly, with most of the results in, marking a major political shift in the country, which set out on a leftist path in 1999 under the late president Hugo Chavez and his project to make Venezuela a model of what he called "21st century socialism'.  Read more
In Parliament, Congress leader Anand Sharma gives notice under rule 267 in Rajya Sabha for discussion on NSA level talks.
11:50   Kejriwal's radical plan of alternate day cars to curb pollution hits a bump
Just in: A PIL has been filed in the Delhi HC seeking a stay on the Delhi government's decision to allow even and odd number cars to ply in the city on alternate days.

In a move to curb increasing pollution in the national capital, the Delhi government has come up with a radical proposal. From January 1, 2016, cars with even and odd number plates will ply on alternate days according to the plan mooted by the state government. 

Delhi in recent times have received lots of flak for degrading air quality and this move can be seen as a reaction to it.  Delhi High Court on Wednesday had compared the situation in Delhi to  "living in a gas chamber". The court asked the state and central government to come up with a comprehensive plan.

The Kejriwal government's experiment to restrict the number of private cars on Delhi roads got a boost with the new Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, supporting the move aimed at improving the quality of air in one of the world's most polluted cities.
11:44   Reporting under shadow of defamation gun in flood-ravaged Chennai
The devastating floods in the Tamil Nadu capital have brought a rare bonhomie between journalists from outside swooping into the disaster zone and local journalists, who usually dismiss reporters from national news outlets as paratroopers. Read more
11:30   Sushma to visit Pakistan for multilateral conference
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Islamabad tomorrow on a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz and attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.

"External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to lead Indian delegation for 'Heart of Asia' 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan on December 9 in Islamabad," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Swaraj's visit comes two days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan yesterday in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the "constructive" engagement.

The External Affairs Minister will call on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and meet his Adviser on Foreign Affairs Aziz on the sidelines of the 'Heart of Asia' regional conference on Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Her visit comes three years after former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna travelled to Islamabad in 2012 when the countries also inked a visa liberalisation pact.
11:23   Reply to Sachin's second question in three years today
Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who asked his first Parliament Question in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, will receive a reply today. It was his first question in over three years after he was nominated as a Rajya Sabha member in 2012.

Tendulkar asked a written question to the Ministry of Railways which was answered through a written reply by the Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha on Friday.

Tendulkar has also listed another question which is scheduled for an answer from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways today on the issue of changes in provisions for issuing of driving licenses.

Tendulkar is a member of the Parliament Committee on Information Technology from September 1, 2015.
Congress MPs protest demanding union minister VK Singh's resignation over  the dog remark.
Acid attack victims must be compensated, rehabilitated and given free treatment, Supreme Court tells states.
11:06   CRPF convoy attacked in J&K; 7 jawans injured
Just in: The number of injured in the attack on CRPF jawans in Anantnag has gone up to seven.

Seven CRPF jawans were injured when unidentified militants today opened fired on their convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.

Militants fired at a CRPF bus, which was part of a convoy on way to Jammu from Srinagar, near Green Tunnel at Samthan in Bijbehara, 50 kms from Srinagar, a police officer said.

Seven CRPF jawans were injured in the attack. The injured have been shifted to a hospital in Anantnag, the officer said, adding the area has been cordoned off and a manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers.
Assam Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi suspends all BJP members from the House for the 5-day winter session for disobeying his ruling.
10:51   CRPF convoy attacked in J&K; 3 jawans injured
Mukhtar Ahmad reports from Srinagar: Militants attacked a CRPF patrol at the Anantnag district in Jammu and Kasmir today, injuring three jawans.

While the injured have been rushed to the hospital, security forces have temporarily shut down the highway.

More details are awaited.
10:24   Chennai limps back to normalcy; flight, train services resume
e flood-ravaged Chennai is slowly limping back to normalcy with restoration of flight services, electricity, telecommunication, train connectivity and availability of essential items in many parts of Tamil Nadu.

In a major relief for the city dwellers, the MeT department has forecast dry and cloudy weather in the city on Monday. However slight rains have been forecast in southern and interior parts of the state.

10:16   Chennai airport will become fully functional from today
The Chennai Airport has become fully operational from this morning, as airliners are resuming their domestic and international flights from there.

Civil Aviation authorities said the airport that was shut down last Wednesday due to heavy inundation is now ready for operation day and night.

"We are happy to announce that it has been decided to resume the round the clock services, all weather operations from 6 am December 7. In other words, from 7th December, 2015, normal operations of Chennai Airport i.e. both Domestic and International flight operations will start operating," said a statement released by Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri.
10:04   Trump takes jab at Obama's terrorism speech, questions his words of choice
Republicans today slammed Barack Obama for not spelling out a clear action plan to defeat Islamic State with leading presidential aspirant of the party Donald Trump panning the US President for not saying that America is at "war with radical Islamic terrorists".

"Obama refused to say (he just can't say it) that we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS," Trump said in a series of tweets soon after Obama delivered a rare address to the nation in which he assured Americans of defeating ISIS.

Expressing disappointment over Obama's address, he said, "Is that all there is? We need a new President - FAST!," he said, adding that the US should have gone after oil years ago. 

Joining Trump in being disappointed over Obama's speech, Paul Ryan, speaker of the US House of Representatives said the primary responsibility is to keep the Americans safe from the real and evolving threat of radical Islamic terrorism.
09:27   NSA talks represent the greatest betrayal of national interest: Cong
Criticising the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government's decision for holding National Security Advisors meet between India and Pakistan in Bangkok, the Congress on Sunday said the government's series of flip flops since it came to power depicts less productive outcome from such a meet between the two neighbouring countries.

"The Congress has always supported peaceful resolution of all disputes with neighbours through dialogue as also in a spirit of mutual co-operation and co-existence. Modi government has, however, neither spelled out the specifics nor the framework for engagement with Pakistan or taken Parliament or political parties into confidence," Congress leader R S Surjewala said in a statement.

"It has been constant series of flip flop since May 2014, which doesn't inspire great enthusiasm about the NSA meet in Bangkok," it added.

Surjewala further added that the meet further raised 'valid concerns' whether it was not an attempt by Modi Government to 'divert the country's attention away from the political and economic challenges as also widespread agrarian crisis across India'.

"The Indo-Pak NSA level talks represent the greatest betrayal of national interest," said Congress leader Manish Tewari.
09:24   Son supported ISIS, says San Bernardino shooter's father
The father of Syed Rizwan Farook told an Italian newspaper that his son, one of two shooters in last week's San Bernardino massacre, supported ISIS ideology and was "fixated on Israel.

"Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at Farook's co-workers at a holiday party for the environmental health department before being gunned down hours later in a shootout with authorities.

When asked by reporter for the La Stampa newspaper whether his son had ever talked about ISIS, Farook's father said that he had.

He said he shared the ideology of Al Baghdadi to create an Islamic State, and he was fixated on Israel," the elder Farook said, referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
09:18   1984 Sikh riots: Jagdish Tytler attacked at wedding in Delhi, 1 held
A Sikh youth was put under preventive detention for allegedly trying to attack senior Congress leader and 1984-riots accused Jagdish Tytler and hurling abuses at him at a marriage function in South Delhi's Chattarpur area.

According to police, Sehaj Umang Bhatia, 23, allegedly threw a piece of glass at Tytler, who escaped unhurt, and abused him during the function at a farmhouse in Mehrauli on Saturday night.

"Tytler was there to attend a wedding last night at 11:15 pm when Bhatia threw a piece of glass at him and abused him. Tytler was, however, not hit and was escorted to his vehicle safely," a senior police official said."The accused has been arrested and is being questioned," he added.
09:03   Delhi to witness 25,000 weddings today
Brace yourself for a manic Monday, with Delhi set to witness the highest number of weddings this season.Wedding planners say that around 25,000 weddings will be solemnised in the national capital region as it is considered an auspicious day.

"This period is called Ansuya Lagan. During this phase, Rahu, Ketu and Shani will not interfere with any other planet. And that is very auspicious ,' says Pandit Shyam Dutt Pokhriyal.Yogesh Khantwal, a city-based wedding planner, who himself is managing three, said the total number of weddings could be around 25,000.

"If Delhi-NCR is divided into north, east, south and west, there are around 200 farmhouses in every zone. Every farmhouse has two-three venues. Other than this, there are hotels, community centres, public grounds and lawns. All this amounts to more than 25,000 weddings,' says Khantwal.

Read this story HERE
08:41   Jimmy Carter announces he is cancer-free
Former US president Jimmy Carter has beaten brain cancer, he has revealed to hundreds of churchgoers on Sunday.

The 91-year-old told worshippers in Georgia a scan had shown the tumours had disappeared.

"He said he got a scan this week and the cancer was gone,' Jill Stuckey, a member of Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, said. "The church, everybody here, just erupted in applause.'

ReAd this story HERE
08:19   Obama urges Muslims leaders to speak up against ISIS
Asserting that the ISIS does not speak for Islam, US President Barack Obama has urged Islamic leaders across the world to speak out against the terrorist outfit and its ideology.

In a rare address to the nation from his Oval Office, Obama also urged his countrymen not to discriminate against people based on religion, as being feared inside America in the aftermath of a radicalised couple killing 14 people in San Bernardino in California. Obama described the incident as an "act of terrorism".

"So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organisation overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home," Obama said referring to the two suspect Pakistani national Tashfeen Mailk, and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, of Pakistan origin.

"But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalisation, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people," Obama asserted.