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Thu, 29 January 2015
Malaysia declares Flight 370 disappearance an 'accident'

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23:20   Malaysia declares Flight 370 disappearance an 'accident'
More than 10 months '"precisely 328 days'" after it went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board, Malaysian investigators Thursday declared the disappearance of Flight 370 an accident, clearing the way for families to pursue compensation claims.

Investigators with Malaysia's Civil Aviation authority concluded the aircraft exhausted its fuel supply over the southern Indian Ocean and is on the seafloor. Everyone on the flight is presumed dead. An underwater search continues west of Perth, Australia.
23:10   Stones pelted at building inside police academy in Hyderabad
Unidentified persons allegedly pelted stones at the short firing range complex on the premises of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, police said today.
22:55   Israel buries soldiers, says Hezbollah doesn't want conflict
Amid a heightened security alert, Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah has passed on a message to Israel that it is not interested in any escalation, a day after claiming responsibility for an attack that killed two Israeli soldiers at the border and injured seven others.
22:19   Geelani stokes controversy, pays tributes to slain militants
Hardline Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has stoked a controversy by paying tributes to two militants who were killed in an encounter in Tral area of Kashmir, in which an army commander and a policeman died.

He said, "Due to the rigid and stubborn approach of the Indian government, the youths are opting for gun instead of pen and this policy is costing further precious human lives in the region," according to a Hurriyat statement.

 Colonel M N Rai and a policeman were killed in the gunbattle with two local militants in Tral area of Pulwama district on Tuesday. Paying tributes to the militants, Geelani said, "Sooner or later India has to accept the ground realities regarding Kashmir."
21:41   Committed to secularism; wouldn't remove the word: Naidu
Observing that secularism was in the blood of Indian people, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said the government was "committed to secularism" and there was 'no thinking to remove it' from the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.

"We are committed to secularism. There is no problem about it. And there is no thinking to remove it also," the union housing and poverty alleviation minister said, when his views were sought on the matter.

Talking to reporters, he said, "Secularism is there in the blood of Indian people that's part of our culture. It was not there in original preamble and it was inserted during emergency but government advertisement was about the original preamble and we are committed to secularism and we don't have any idea to drop it."
21:39   GNLF founder Subhash Ghisingh dies
Gorkha National Liberation Front founder Subhash Ghisingh, who spearheaded the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s, died here today at the age of 78.

He was suffering from liver ailments and cancer and breathed his last at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

"He was admitted to the hospital five days ago and was diagnosed for cirrhosis of the liver and cancer. He died around 10:30 am," a hospital source said.

Ghisingh had founded GNLF in 1980 and was the chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in West Bengal from 1988 to 2008.
21:39   GNLF founder Subhash Ghisingh dies
Gorkha National Liberation Front founder Subhash Ghisingh, who spearheaded the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s, died here today at the age of 78.

He was suffering from liver ailments and cancer and breathed his last at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

"He was admitted to the hospital five days ago and was diagnosed for cirrhosis of the liver and cancer. He died around 10:30 am," a hospital source said.

Ghisingh had founded GNLF in 1980 and was the chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in West Bengal from 1988 to 2008.
20:51   Pak security forces gun down seven more militants
Pakistani security forces today gunned down seven more terrorists in an ongoing operation in the restive northwestern part of the country, bringing the toll to 14 since the start of the operation on Tuesday.

The security forces conducted search and strike operation in Dera Ismail Khan district bordering South Waziristan Agency.

At least 13 suspects were arrested in the operation carried out at various parts of the Kulachi tehsil of the district.
20:43   'PK' will be a big hit in Communist China too: Rajkumar Hirani
As Aamir Khan's blockbuster film 'PK' gears up for its release in the multi-billion dollar Chinese market, director Rajkumar Hirani says the movie will be a great success in Communist China as its controversial religious theme can resonate well with the audience.

Hirani, who was in Beijing to ensure that all legal formalities are completed, told Indian media that the officials and members of Chinese film industry approached the producers of 'PK' to get it released here. 

"They saw the film and they themselves invited us because of '3 Idiots' success. They are giving us a 3,000 screen release which is as big as in India," he said.
20:30   New Ebola cases drop to lowest level in 7 months, says WHO
The number of new Ebola cases reported in the three worst-hit countries fell to its lowest level since late June, the World Health Organisation has said.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had a combined total of 99 new cases for the week ending January 25, the WHO said.

Read this story HERE
20:22   Two crore toilets to be built in villages, linked to MNREGA
Over two crore toilets will be built in select villages across the country under a programme of making India open defecation-free by 2019 which the government decided to link to MNREGA.

The government will also deploy specially-trained women workers to give basic lessons about the use of toilets in the villages.

The over 2 crore toilets will be constructed in select villages under MNREGA, a rural job scheme, said an official of the Rural Development ministry which is the nodal body for it.

The official said efforts will also be made to bring behavioural changes among the masses through women volunteers as part of the government's mission to achieve open defecation free status in the country in five years.
20:20   Two crore toilets to be built in villages, linked to MNREGA
Over two crore toilets will be built in select villages across the country under a programme of making India open defecation-free by 2019 which the government decided to link to MNREGA.

The government will also deploy specially-trained women workers to give basic lessons about the use of toilets in the villages.

The over 2 crore toilets will be constructed in select villages under MNREGA, a rural job scheme, said an official of the Rural Development ministry which is the nodal body for it.

The official said efforts will also be made to bring behavioural changes among the masses through women volunteers as part of the government's mission to achieve open defecation free status in the country in five years.
20:17   Gujarat IAS officer Pradeep Sharma gets bail in graft case
A court in Bhuj today granted bail to suspended IAS officer and former Kutch collector Pradeep Sharma in a case filed against him by the anti-corruption bureau of the Gujarat police.

Additional district judge J B Dhandhal granted bail to Sharma on a surety bond of Rs 50,000, with a condition that he would not enter the Kutch district for six months. He shall also not leave Gujarat during this period and submit his passport to the police, said the court.

Sharma had sought bail last week on the ground that investigation in the case was over.

His lawyer Bharat Dholakiya argued that ACB had acted with malafide intention against his client while prosecutor Kalpesh Goswami had opposed the plea, stating that Sharma might tamper with the evidence if granted bail.
20:06   ISIS demands prisoner swap by sunset
A new message, purportedly from ISIS, is pushing Jordan to meet one of the terror group's demands before the sun sets Thursday over Mosul, Iraq.

It sounds like an ultimatum: Authorities are to bring convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi to the Turkish border by sundown or ISIS will immediately execute Jordanian hostage Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

Read full story HERE.
19:28   Over 400 Pak Hindu families are seeking Indian citizenship
More than 400 Hindu families from Pakistan who are living in Gujarat today attended a camp held by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the district collector's office here.

The two-day camp has been organised on demand from those seeking the citizenship.

"Around 400 to 450 families participated. The criterion for accepting the citizenship form is that the person must have been living in India for more than seven years. 28 persons who belong to the minority community in Pakistan today filed applications," said resident deputy commissioner M S Gohil.

Two Muslim families from Pakistan also attended the camp seeking citizenship of India.

18:57   Telangana: Swine flu claims 21 lives in January
As many as 21 people lost their lives due to swine flu in Telangana this month, the state government said here today. 

The samples of 1,398 people have been tested for the H1N1 virus till yesterday and 509 turned out to be positive, a bulletin on swine flu issued by the government said. 101 samples were tested yesterday, of which 42 were found to be H1N1 positive, it added. 

Between January 1 and 28, as many as 1,398 samples were tested, out of which 509 were found to be positive and the number of deaths because of swine flu and other complications reached 21, it said.

The total number of deaths during this season (from December) had been 26 till yesterday.
18:51   Excerpts from Sujatha Singh's letter of resignation
Just in: 

Excerpts of ex-Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's letter written yesterday to her colleagues in the Indian Foreign Services.

I've today sought early retirement from Govt service. 

While individuals can and do play a critical role in building institutions, I believe that no individual is larger than the institution.

It can never be about individuals. It has to be about institutions and how institutions interface and coordinate with each other.

I believe that civil servants are among millions of people who work towards enabling India to deliver, who work towards enabling India to realise its enormous potential.
18:33   Sushma knew Jaishankar would replace Singh
Former foreign secretary Sujatha Singh in a statement accessed by CNN IBN says it was a privilege to have worked in the Foreign Services.

External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was in the loop on the appointment as it was she who informed Singh on the change, sources tell CNN IBN. She was asked to choose another posting, but refused a transfer, media reports say.

S Jaishankar replaced Singh as foreign secretary. 
17:50   Actor, singer, lyricist Shekhar to head Sangeet Natak Akademi
Singer, actor, theatre director, composer and lyricist Shekhar Sen has been appointed as the Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Sen has been appointed as for a term of 5 years with immediate effect.  He is famous for his mono-act musical plays "Tulsi',' Kabeer', "Vivekananda', "Sanmanti', 'Saahab' and "Soordas'.
17:44   Sonia writes to Col Rai's widow: I know what it is to lose a husband to terrorism
Sonia Gandhi's letter to Colonel MN Rai's widow condoling his death at the hands of terrorists in Tral, south Kashmir.

"I share your grief with all my heart -- I know what it is to lose a beloved husband to a terrorist attack and for children to be  robbed of the love and guidance of their father at a young age."

Read the full letter here.

Colonel M N Rai, killed in a gun battle with militants in south Kashmir's Pulwama district, was on Thursday cremated with full military honours.

Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh placed a wreath as hundreds gathered to pay their last respects to the officer at the Delhi Cantonment.

See the slideshow here.
17:22   Imam in Haider sends legal notice to filmmaker
An Imam, who appeared in a small role in Vishal Bhardwaj's Kashmir-set film 'Haider', has been sacked by the management committee of the mosque over a marriage scene.

Ghulam Hassan Shah claimed he was tricked into performing the 'nikah' scene in the Bollywood film and has now sent a legal notice to Bhardwaj, also the producer of the movie, demanding an apology and Rs 50 lakh in compensation.

Shah, a resident of Qazigund in Anantnag district, had been leading the prayers at a mosque in Nowhatta area of the city for the past eight years."The management committee of the mosque sacked me' I was tricked as I was told that the footage will be used for educational purposes. I did not know that it was being used in the movie,' Shah said.

The 65-year-old man has engaged a lawyer and sent a legal notice to Bhardwaj.
17:08   India's 66th Republic Day celebrations officially ends
If you aren't anywhere near a TV, watch the majestic Beating Retreat ceremony live right here.

The Republic Day celebration ends officially with the Beating Retreat ceremony on the 29 January every year at Vijay Chowk. The Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Army become a part of this three-day ceremony and give National Salute to the President of India.

During the ceremony, the live performances are given by the three wings of the military and a hymn is played by the bands collectively called 'Abide with me'. On the day of the Beating Retreat Ceremony in Delhi, at 6 o'clock in the evening the bugles call the retreat sound, the National flag is lowered, and the National anthem is sung in musical harmony.
16:55   All polling stations in Delhi declared no-smoking zones
In a move towards effective implementation of the tobacco control laws, the Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer has declared all polling stations in Delhi as no-smoking zones in the upcoming assembly polls to be held on February 7.

The CEO Chandra Bhushan Kumar has issued instructions to all district electoral officers-cum-district magistrates to ensure prohibition of smoking at booths.

The district electoral officers have also been asked to display signs outside the polling booths informing voters about the booths being no-smoking zones.
16:41   Indian team plans to use Google money to win race to the moon
After winning a million-dollar prize from Google GOOGL -1.68% this week, a team of Indian engineers -- some young, some retired from the Indian space program -- are now a step closer to their goal of becoming the world's first private-sector group to land on the moon. Read more
16:37   Malaysia officially calls off search for missing MH 370, all 239 presumed dead
Search for Flight MH 370 that went missing in March 2014 has been officially called off. All 239 people on board presumed dead.

A statement by authorities in Kuala Lumpur said the underwater search for the wreckage of the plane would continue.

The declaration by the Malaysia government clears the way for families to seek compensation payments and for Malaysia Airlines to make insurance claims, but is a heavy blow to relatives who have lived in torment for 10 months without knowing the fate of their loved ones.

The plane, with 239 passengers and crew on board, was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it went missing in March 2014. There has since been no trace of the plane, despite a vast search operation.


That's why you should read this story on Rediff.com: 12 weird conspiracy theories on Flight MH370
16:22  
The sanitation ministry asks for Rs 1 lakh crore for the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. 
16:21   AAP: Khoda pahad nikli chuhiya
Yogender Yadav, senior leader, AAP, reacts to BJP's five-question strategy with this quip: "Khoda pahad aur nikli chuhiya, woh bhi mari hui. They must raise some new questions, shows they are nervous/scared."
16:20   The five questions BJP is asking Arvind Kejriwal
The battle for Delhi has just got fiercer.

The BJP in a change of strategy has decided to go on the offensive to counter the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which, according to an
opinion poll by ABP NewsNielsen showed the BJP trailing AAP by nine points (50% to 41%). There is also open dissent by many local Delhi BJP leaders over chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi.

BJP senior leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy at a just-concluded presser has said that every day, the party will ask AAP five questions.

Says Rudy, "We believe that Arvind Kejriwal has tried to create falsehood in his campaign and the people of Delhi need to know the answers.

The five questions are:

Q1.  Why did AAP compromise on principles for the sake of power?

Q2. What happened to AAP's promise of taking action against Sheela Dixit?

Q3. What happened to AAP's promise that they won't take VIP benefits?

Q4.  He went to take oath travelling in the metro, then why did he use SUVs for work?

Q5. Arvind Kejriwal had said that travelling in a private jet was against his principles, then why did he travel in a private jet?


The BJP hopes to do two things with this questionnaire for AAP, one, counter Bedi's refusal to a debate with AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal, and two, it will heat up a lacklustre campaign. All the questions are directed at Kejriwal's aam aadmi image, if you notice.

There will five more questions tomorrow, and will continue till Delhi goes to the polls.
15:40   US does not consider Afghan Taliban as a 'terrorist' outfit
The US does not consider the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist outfit, describing it as "an armed insurgency".

It called the Islamic State as a "terrorist" group, drawing a controversial distinction between the two outfits.

"The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) is a terrorist group. So we don't make concessions to terrorist groups," White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters in response to questions at the daily press briefing yesterday.

When asked for a second time whether the Taliban is a terrorist group, he replied, "I don't think that the Taliban, - the Taliban is an armed insurgency."
15:23  
Colonel MN Rai's daughter shouts the 29 Gorkha war cry as she says goodbye to her father this morning.
15:17   Kiransblueprint vs BJP manifesto
The BJP is apparently not happy that the chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi launched her own vision for Delhi yesterday.

Loosely termed 'Kiransblueprint', Bedi's principal focus remains women's security. Some of the measures she has highlighted include handing out pepper sprays to women, better street lighting and a more effective beat police, apart from self defence classes in school curriculum.

However, this has left party leaders who have been told to contribute to the draft manifesto whether the formal document will still be relevant when it is out.

Meenakshi Lekhi categorically told TV channels that not every point in the manifesto gets implemented and not every point which gets implemented has to be in the manifesto.
14:56   Revealed! Why BJP will NOT have a manifesto for the Delhi polls
It is believed that major infighting in the Delhi BJP over Kiran Bedi's candidature has cost Delhi a manifesto. Senior BJP leader Anantha Kumar has announced that the BJP will have a Vision Document instead of a manifesto for Delhi.

Union minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, the BJP's former chief ministerial candidate, was in charge of the manifesto committee, but differences over what should be flagged in the manifesto, remained unresolved. 

Just yesterday, the CM candidate Kiran Bedi, in several tweets, revealed her own agenda for Delhi. She tweeted a 25-point programme for Delhi and it is believed that some of her programmes will be part of the vision document. 
14:35   Angry Amit Shah slams party workers for lack of passion in Delhi polls
The BJP has said it will release it's Vision Document not manifesto for the Delhi polls.

Meanwhile, Amit Shah has slammed the party for the lack of passion in the poll campaign, and the tardy distribution of campaign material.
14:28  
Nitin Gokhale tweets: Have any one of the Human Rights outfits condemned the murder of Col MN Rai by subterfuge? I haven't seen any statement or have I missed it?
14:25   Amit Shah upset at poor campaigning for Kiran Bedi
BJP president Amit Shah is believed to be upset at the lackluster campaigning for the Delhi polls and has asked party leaders to hit the ground running.  
13:53  
The BJP will hold 250 rallies in the next seven days. Modi to hold four rallies from January 31.
13:48   BJP's CM candidate Kiran Bedi has TWO voter IDs
BJP's chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi has two voter identity cards with separate addresses and the Election Commission has started an inquiry into the alleged violation even as AAP and Congress demanded a thorough probe into the issue.

According to Election Commission's record, Bedi was issued separate voter identity cards with addresses in Uday Park and Talkatora Lane. When asked about the issue, Bedi refused to comment.

Election Commission officials said procuring two voter identity cards was a violation and the entire issue is being inquired. They said the Commission was examining whether Bedi had applied for cancellation of the first card with Talkatora Lane as her address.

We are inquiring into the issue and a final conclusion will be arrived at soon. Having two voter cards is a violation of law, said a senior election official.
13:44  
On time, every time. Amul's take on PM Modi's name-emblazoned suit during the Obama visit. 
13:42   Jaishankar takes charge as Foreign Secretary
S Jaishankar today took charge as Foreign Secretary, replacing Sujatha Singh whose tenure was abruptly "curtailed" late last night, a move which evoked a sharp reaction from Congress.

"My priorities are the government's priorities. So, I think at this time let's leave it at that.... This is a big responsibility. I would say that I am very honoured that I have been assigned this responsibility," said Jaishankar, a 1977-batch IFS officer, when asked about his sudden appointment.

Singh was not present when Jaishankar took charge at the South Block office. Jaishankar will have a two-year tenure as per rules.

Before his appointment as Foreign Secretary, the 60-year- old diplomat was India's Ambassador to the US. He had also been posted as Ambassador to China, Singapore and Czech Republic.
13:40   Team BJP gathers for Delhi battle
Meanwhile, with barely a week for the Delhi polls, PM Narendra Modi has agreed to address three more rallies in the capital over eight key constituencies.

With the lackluster, even grudging support among the Delhi cadre for Kiran Bedi, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Modi has sent in senior leader and finance minister Arun Jaitley to firefight and calm bruised egos.

Modi's presence should inject some energy into the campaign and motivate the state cadre.

Jaitley and 18 Union Ministers will be holed in at the BJP HQ, 11 Ashok Road, from 3:30 pm and 8:30pm every day. BJP President Amit Shah will interact with these leaders about the New Delhi  assembly poll campaign.

An army can't march on empty stomachs, so dinner has been ordered from two restaurants. And this is the way it's going to be from today till February 10, when the votes will be counted.
13:17  
Delhi police chief BS Bassi on the Sunanda Pushkar case: The assessment has to be made by SIT, after the SIT conveys anything to me only then can I comment.
12:55  
Brahma Chellaney tweets: First the DRDO head -- a first-rate missile scientist -- was fired and now the foreign secretary. Why was it necessary to publicly humiliate them?
12:54   Congress HQ wears a deserted look ahead of Delhi polls
Even as the BJP HQ at Ashoka Road is buzzing with activity, 24 Akbar Road the Congress party headquarters wears a deserted look. Nobody visits the HQ nowadays. The Congress Party in private conversations accept their third position in the Delhi polls. However, they take consolation from the fact that the party may win at least 12 to 13 seats. The gain of four or five is basically from AAP.
12:27  
Col MN Rai's funeral on right now. RIP, Sir. 
12:26   No political motive behind Sujatha Singh's removal: BJP
Defending the move to replace Sujatha Singh as Foreign Secretary, BJP today ruled out any political motive and said the government had acted well within its right to decide on appointment of officers.

"I don't see any reason for the hue and cry. A government is within its rights to decide how it would like to appoint what officers and with what responsibilities. And this is not the first time..... Preceding governments have taken (such) decisions," BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.

Singh was removed late last night from the crucial post of Foreign Secretary eight months before her tenure was to end and replaced by S Jaishankar, Ambassador to the US.

"I do not see any reason that anyone can attribute any political motives. This is the right of the government," Kohli said.
12:21   The story Rediff scooped a month ago!
A month before it happened, on December 28, Sheela Bhatt/ Rediff.com revealed that S Jaishankar was likely to replace Sujatha Singh as foreign secretary! Read the story if you missed it.


12:19   Revealed! Why Sujatha Singh had to go
Did Sujatha Singh oppose some travel plans of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially to Fiji, which caused a rift between the Prime Minister's Office and the ministry of external affairs?

Or is it connected with her father, former IB chief TV Rajeshwar bringing pressure on the Manmohan Singh government to appoint her as foreign secretary?

Whatever be the reason, the Congress party has criticised the Modi government for replacing Singh, conveniently forgetting that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had sacked A P Venkateswaran in a televised press conference.

To silence the main opposition party, however, some file notings to Dr Singh by his advisor may be 'leaked' to the media, say sources.


Pic: Foreign secretary S Jaishankar meets his immediate boss External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj this morning
12:15   Gun salute, last rites before pyre of Col Rai
The last rites ceremony of Col Rai has begun at the Delhi Cantonment. NDTV speaking to Col Rai's colleague in the Gorkha Regiment says that when he went to Col Rai's home to deliver the awful news of his death, Col Rai's daughter tells her mother, 'be brave.'

Gun salute for Col Rai as the funeral pyre is lit. The Gorkha regiment leaves.    
11:59   Col Rai's body carried to funeral pyre
Col Rai's body being taken to the funeral pyre amid the sound of conches. No shortage of pall bearers for this brave, brave man. His daughters being led away from the pyre.

Col Rai's batchmate and close friend Colonel Amit Aul remembers him as a brave and daring soldier. CNN IBN reports, "He was a great colleague, we underwent training together and he volunteered to join the Gorkha Regiment. Then we both were given the command of two battallions of Rashtriya Rifles. He was a fine commanding officer. I always envied him that he took his regiment to newer heights."
11:52   Col Rai's daughter raises Gorkha battle cry seeing her father's body
Heartbreaking scenes of 11 year old daughter raising Gorkha war cry after seeing her father's dead body. Rai's daughter let's out 29 Gorkha Rifles war cry "Ho Ki Hoina, Hone he Parcha"(We are ready for the task).
11:46   Army chief pays tribute to Col Rai, body to be taken to funeral pyre
Chief of Army staff pays tribute and promises Col Rai's family that true to tradition, the army will always stand by the family. General Dalbir Singh hugs Col Rai's children and father and speaks to the family members.

The wreath laying ceremony is over and the colonel will be cremated shortly.

The body which was laid in state will now be taken to the funeral pyre. 
11:32   Going beyond symbolism
On its 66th Republic Day, during a mighty parade in the national capital, India showcased "woman power' with all-women contingents of the three Services for the first time. A day earlier, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first woman to lead a ceremonial tri-service guard of honour, which the visiting US President inspected. Read
11:20   The man who led from the front
Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag paid tribute yesterday saying, "He (Col Rai) was a brave officer, he was awarded the YSM for it, he showed example of leadership. I must say Army men lead from the front."

The funeral is expected to take place at noon.

Pic: Col MN Rai's father at the funeral. With him in uniform is Col Rai's brother.
11:12   Remembering Constable Sanjeev Singh...
Constable Sanjeev Singh, who was also killed in the encounter in Tral, was also known for his guts and his commitment to his duty. Singh's WhatsApp status, posted 48 days ago read: "It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I could not save: soldiers, buddies, innocents, etc."
11:10   Emotional farewell at Col Rai's funeral
Col Rai's family -- his wife (pictured), elder daughter Alka (11) and his father, were inconsolable. Col Rai's brother is also in the army and was injured in a militant attack in Kashmir.

Rai's last status on the mobile messaging service WhatsApp, posted two months ago, read: "Play your role in life with such passion, that even after the curtains come down, the applause doesn't stop."
11:01   Army chief pays tribtue to Col MN Rai who died fighting terrorists
The last rites of Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles, being held at Delhi Cantonment. Col Rai died in hospital after being hit by bullets at a village in Tral, 36 km from Srinagar, on January 27.

A policeman accompanying a search party was killed, too, as militants hiding in a house suddenly fired at them.

Col Rai was among the gallantry medal awardees announced on the eve of Republic Day.

He was awarded Yudh Seva medal for his role in a gunbattle with militants in south Kashmir last year, an army spokesman said. Originally from the Gorkha Rifles, he was on "deputation'.

Col Rai is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

Army chief General Dalbir Singh paid tribute.
10:48   Honoured to be assigned this responsibility, say new foreign secretary
Minutes after he took charge as India's new foreign secretary, Dr S Jaishankar said that he was honoured by the responsibility. When asked if the appointment came as a surprise, the new foreign secretary said, " I don't think this is the time to get into those kind of questions."
09:59   Honoured to be assigned this responsibility, say new foreign secretary
Minutes after he took charge as India's new foreign secretary, Dr S Jaishankar said that he was honoured by the responsibility. When asked if the appointment came as a surprise, the new foreign secretary said, " I don't think this is the time to get into those kind of questions."
09:47   Apple relishes the biggest profit bite in history
Apple, the company that Steve Jobs had co-founded, has scooped up a profit of $18 billion (Rs 1.1 lakh crore) in the first quarter that ended on December 27. The profit of $18 billion is the biggest ever reported by a public company worldwide, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt. 

Read the full report HERE
09:41   As new foreign secretary takes charge, Congress questions timing
As new Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar takes charge, the Congress questioned the timing of the appointment. Manish Tewari said, "Why wait till US President Barack Obama's departure? The timing of the appointment is questionable."

Jaishankar took charge of the Foreign Secretary post this morning after Sujatha Singh's term was 'curtailed' last night. She had eight more months to serve. 

Image: Dr S Jaishankar arrives at the ministry of external affairs. 
09:28   Martyred Col MN Rai to receive Guard of Honour today
Colonel MN Rai of the Rashtriya Rifles, who died on Tuesday during a fierce encounter with militants in south Kashmir's Tral area, will be accorded the Guard of Honour today in the nation's capital. 

Col Rai was part of the troops who had surrounded a home in Handoora village after receiving information that militants were staying there. Fierce gun battle broke out between the groups during which Rai was injured. He was taken to hospital, but succumbed to his injuries. 
08:41   Editor of Mumbai daily arrested for Charlie Hebdo cartoon
Shireen Dalvi, editor of an Urdu daily newspaper, was arrested by the Mumbra police, for allegedly reprinting a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed that was originally published in Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine. The arrest came following a complaint by Nusrat Ali, who alleged that Dalvi's daily -- the Awadhnama-- had reprinted cartoons originally published in Charlie Hebdo. 
08:33   Dr Jaishankar to take charge as Foreign Secretary of India today
Dr S Jaishankar, who was made the new Foreign Secretary last night in a sudden announcement, will take charge today. Former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's services were curtailed last night 'with immediate effect. She had eight more months to serve. 
08:16   A new level of refugee suffering
Hollywood superstar and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie recently visited refugees in Iraq and Syria. On her return, she penned a beautiful opinion piece in the New York Times about their suffering. 

I have visited Iraq five times since 2007, and I have seen nothing like the suffering I'm witnessing now... In almost four years of war, nearly half of Syria's population of 23 million people has been uprooted. Within Iraq itself, more than two million people have fled conflict and the terror unleashed by extremist groups. These refugees and displaced people have witnessed unspeakable brutality. Their children are out of school, they are struggling to survive, and they are surrounded on all sides by violence.

Read Angelina Jolie's full opinion piece on the Syrian and Iraqi refugees HERE
08:08   Sydney cafe hostage killed by police bullet
A hostage who died during the siege in a downtown Sydney cafe was killed when she was struck by fragments of a bullet fired from a police officer's gun as authorities stormed in to end the 16-hour standoff. 

Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old lawyer who was among 18 people taken hostage last month by a gunman, died after being hit by six fragments of a police bullet that had ricocheted off a hard surface, Jeremy Gormly, a lawyer assisting the coroner, told the Glebe Coroner's Court. One fragment struck a major blood vessel and she quickly lost consciousness, he said.
04:25   Moscow says North Korea leader Kim Jong Un confirms Russia visit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confirmed his attendance at Russia's celebrations in May marking the Soviet victory over Germany in World War Two, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday quoting a Kremlin spokesman.

The trip, if it takes place, would be Kim's first foreign visit since taking power in the reclusive state in 2011, succeeding his father Kim Jong Il who died suddenly, and is likely to come before he visits China, the North's main ally.
04:24   Cuban leader says US trade embargo biggest obstacle to mending ties
Cuban leader Raul Castro said Wednesday the US trade embargo was the main stumbling block to normalizing ties between the two nations.

Addressing the third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, being held in Belen, Costa Rica, Castro said the "process towards normalizing ties will not be possible as long as the embargo exists," Cuban state daily Granma reported.
03:57   'EU set to add to sanctions blacklist over Ukraine'
EU foreign ministers will add names to a blacklist of individuals sanctioned over the Ukraine crisis when they meet but stop short of new measures targeting Russia's economy. 

The leaders of the 28 European Union nations issued a rare joint statement on Tuesday telling ministers "to consider any appropriate action" after a bloody upsurge in fighting around the key port city of Mariupol by pro-Russia rebels.
02:25   Israel has right to self-defense against Hezbollah: US
The United States stood by Israel today as it exchanged fire with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon in their most serious clashes in five years. 

"We support Israel's legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
02:25   Too soon to say 'mission accomplished' in Kobani
Kurdish fighters' expulsion of Islamic State forces from the Syrian town of Kobani helped stop the momentum of the Islamist group but is not a significant turning point in the overall campaign, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

The setback for Islamic State in the war-ravaged town near the Turkish border did not mean "anyone is declaring mission accomplished" in the international campaign against the group, that has taken over parts of Syria and Iraq, the official said.
01:39   Boko Haram violence sends 14,000 Nigerians fleeing to Chad: UN
More than 14,000 people fleeing Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria have streamed into Chad since the beginning of 2015, according to a United Nations report today. 

The report by the UN's Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) put the daily arrivals rate at 774 and said it expected 30,000 refugees to arrive in the country this year.
01:19   2 soldiers, UN peacekeeper killed in Israel-Hezbollah clashes
At least two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish UN peacekeeper were killed and seven others injured when a missile fired by Lebanese Hezbollah group hit an army convoy today, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to threaten a retaliation similar to the one carried out in Gaza last year. 

 Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Spokesman Brig Gen Moti Almoz said that an anti-tank missile fired from southern Lebanon struck an army vehicle traveling with other military vehicles.
01:04   Israel PM convenes security chiefs after Hezbollah attack
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting today in emergency session with Israel's security chiefs to discuss options after a Hezbollah missile attack killed two Israeli soldiers, his office said.
00:48   Arun Singh likely to replace Jaishankar as India's Ambassador to US
Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt reports that current Ambassador to Paris Arun Singh is likely to replace Jaishankar as India's Ambassador to the United States.   

Arun K Singh joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979 after completing his Masters Degree in Economics from Delhi University and teaching at the University for two years.   

He served at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Office, New York from 1993-1997 as Counsellor and handled multilateral social and economic negotiations.   

Ambassador Singh was Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of India, Washington D.C from October 2008 to April 2013. 

He assumed his new assignment as Ambassador of India to France on 28 April, 2013.
00:23   UN aid effort struggling in Syria
UN relief efforts in war-torn Syria are struggling to reach 40 per cent of civilians in need and face a major funding shortfall, a senior UN aid official said today. 

As the war heads toward a fifth year, some 4.8 million Syrians or around 40 percent of the total 12.2 million people in need of help are difficult to reach, said Assistant Secretary-General for aid Kang Kyung-wha.

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