Thu, 05 January 2017
We as a society failed that night: Anushka on B'luru molestation

Timeline  Refresh

23:14   We as a society failed that night: Anushka on B'luru molestation
Actress Anushka Sharma has condemned the Bengaluru molestation, saying not just those men but everyone who saw it and did nothing was to be blamed. 

Questioning the role a society that churns out men like them, Anushka in an emotional Twitter post wrote, "Women get molested in a crowd. Bystanders watch, no one steps to help. Senseless people comment on women's clothes and say the cause is late nights (sic)."

The actress said these senseless comments get relevance because such people hold positions of power in the society. 

"In all this I wonder - why did bystanders do nothing? Whoever stood and watched, is as much at fault as perpetrators. Because the collective conscience of the people could have stopped this from happening. 

"So it is not just those men but also us, as a society, that failed on that night," she said.

The actress ended her post by saying that people should teach their children to respect women instead of making their sons feel more entitled and important. 

"Teach your kids to respect women instead of making sons feel more entitled and important. The world will make them feel that anyway. So save your sons from turning into such beasts. And spare us the grief," she wrote.
22:21   My entry into politics can't be stopped: Jaya's niece Deepa
A month after her aunt and former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa passed away, Deepa Jayakumar on Thursday hinted at her entry into politics, saying it cannot be stopped.
"My entry into politics cannot be stopped," she told supporters who had gathered at her Thyagaraya Nagar residence in Chennai and indicated she would let know of her decision soon.
She refrained from elaborating on her political plans and waved the victory sign to supporters from the balcony of her house.
Supporters had thronged her residence, urging her to enter politics and carry forward the work of her late aunt Jayalalithaa.
Deepa is the daughter of Jayalalithaa's only brother late Jayakumar.
She caught media attention recently when she alleged that she was not allowed to meet Jayalalithaa when she was hospitalised for 75 days.

Deepa had urged her supporters on December 29 to be calm until she announced her decision.
Jayalalithaa had passed away on December 5 last year.
21:30   Rupee gains further ground, ends 9 paise higher at 67.96
The rupee today continued its winning run for the second day, appreciating by 9 paise to end at 67.96 on sustained dollar unwinding from banks and exporters.

A spectacular rally in domestic financial markets as well as sluggish greenback overseas supplemented further strength to the local currency upsurge. 

However, suspected intervention by the apex bank to prevent the rupee's surge in the interest of exporters restricted its early solid gains.

The domestic unit resumed on a firm footing at 67.87 from Wednesday's closing value of 68.05 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market on continued dollar selling. 

Adding muscles to upsurge, the home currency climbed to hit an intra-day high of 67.76 in mid-afternoon deals, but relinquished strong early gains towards the fag-end trade and settled at 67.96, showing a modest gain of 9 paise, or 0.13 per cent.
21:26   US puts Osama bin Laden's son on terror blacklist
The United States added Hamza bin Laden, son of the late global jihadist leader Osama bin Laden, to its terrorist blacklist today.

Hamza, who is in his mid-twenties, has become active as an Al-Qaeda propagandist since his father's death at the hands of US special forces in 2011.

"The Department of State has designated Hamza bin Laden as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States" a state department release stated.
21:17   Pak fully geared to respond to any Indian aggression: Army chief
In a fresh rhetoric, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa today said his forces are fully geared to respond to "any aggression" by India as he rejected claims that India carried out "surgical strikes" on Pakistan. 

"Pakistan's armed forces are fully geared to respond to any aggression by India," the Inter-Services Public Relations spokesperson Major Gen Asif Ghafoor quoted Gen Bajwa as saying. 

Maj Gen Ghafoor tweeted that Gen Bajwa rejected the "self defeating claims" of Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat about 'so called surgical strikes' and its possible recurrence.

India maintains that its forces last year conducted surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, targetting terrorists and destroying their training camps.  '

Gen Rawat, who took over as the 27th chief of Indian army on December 31, has said India will give a calibrated "hard" response to terror activities that will compel Pakistan to completely rethink its strategy on supporting insurgency and terrorism.
20:35   China justifies its stand on Azhar, denies double standards
China on Thursday dismissed as "untrue" allegations of "double standards" by India by blocking its bid to list Pakistan-based JeM leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, claiming that it had adopted a "just, objective and professional" attitude in deciding the issue.

"With regard to the listing matter of the Security Council 1267 committee the so called double standards adopted by China on this relevant issue is not true. We take action based on solid evidence that is the standard upheld by us," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media briefing in Beijing. 

Responding to remarks made by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar on Azhar's issue during the press conference in New Delhi Geng said, "We have taken a responsible and constructive part in relevant discussion in a professional and objective way". 

"Relevant members differed on this issue. The purpose of China to put forward technical hold on that issue is to create enough time for the committee and relevant parties to consult with each other on the relevant issue," he said. 

Akbar on Wednesday had said, "We really do expect China to hear the voice of the world, not just voice of India on terrorism." 

Referring to Pakistan's support to terror, India also hoped that as a "responsible and a mature" nation, China will understand the "double standards" and "simply self-defeating and suicidal" approach of Islamabad to terrorism. 

China was the only country among the 15-member 1267 counter terrorism committee of the UN Security Council which has objected to India's application to list Azhar who is accused of masterminding the Pathankot terror attack.
20:12   UPI, Bhim App to be part of presentations during R-Day parade
Live presentation on cashless transactions through UPI and Bhim App, and participation of about 40 soldiers from the UAE will be some of the highlights of the Republic Day parade this year.

Interestingly, while the National Security Guard will be part of the parade for the first time, special forces of the army won't be there.

Sources said the Information Technology Ministry would be showcasing digital transactions instead of cash transactions in line with the demonetisation decision of the Modi government. 

Also the much-loved canine squad of the Indian army will not be there unlike last year, sources said.

The NSG will be showcasing their anti-terror, anti- hijacking and special operations capabilities.

The chief guest for the Republic Day is Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. And hence, a platoon of the UAE army will also take part in the parade like the French soldiers last year. 

Last year, the French troops had participated because President Francois Hollande was the chief guest.
Middle and inner circular roads of Delhi's Connaught Place to be made vehicle free for 3 months from Feb on pilot basis.
19:31   When Sundar Pichai thought 'Abey Saale' was friendly greeting
'Abey Saale' is how Google's tactful and tactical chief executive Sundar Pichai had yelled out to a friend across the mess at his alma mater, IIT- Kharagpur more than two-and-half-decades back thinking it's a way of greeting people. 

Chennai-born Pichai, who returned to his alma mater after 23 years, said his comment led to "temporarily" shutting down of the mess.

"I came from Chennai. I learnt Hindi in school but I never spoke it much. So, just listening to how people are speaking, I just thought you address people this way. So one day, there was someone in the mess and I had to call him. I called him 'Abey Saale'," he reminisced to an audience of over 3,000 people.

"In the first couple of weeks, I thought you call people that way. Next thing I know is the folks in the mess were quite upset and I think they temporarily closed down the mess," he added. 

The Google chief, who met his wife Anjali on campus, said the romance was tough because access to the girls' hostel wasn't easy.

"Someone would stand outside and very loudly say, 'Anjali, Sundar is here for you'. It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience," he said.

He added that while technology, especially mobile phones, has changed the world, it has left certain things unchanged. 

"My dorm at IIT looks exactly the same as 25 years ago," he joked.
18:45   Notes ban impact: GDP may slump to 5% in Dec qtr, says HSBC
India's GDP is likely to have grown at a much slower-than-expected pace of 5 per cent in the October-December period and may see a 6 per cent growth in the following quarter due to a slow down in manufacturing and services sectors post demonetisation, says an HSBC report. 

According to the global financial services major, activity data across manufacturing and services as well as consumption and investment have clearly taken a hit after November 8, 2016, when the government announced scrapping old 500/1,000 rupee notes.

"We expect GDP to grow 5.0 per cent in the October- December quarter and 6.0 per cent in the January-March quarter, about 2 percentage points lower than we had expected before the demonetisation was announced," Pranjul Bhandari, Chief Economist, HSBC India said in a research note. 

Post the March quarter, the economic growth is expected to normalise gradually towards the 7 per cent level, it added.
18:28   Army chief visits J-K, reviews security situation
On his maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir after taking charge, new Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Thursday visited Udhampur-based Northern Command and reviewed the security situation and operational preparedness of the force.
Gen Rawat was received by top army officials and briefed by Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu. He flew to 16 Corps headquarters based in Nagrota and is likely to visit some forwards areas in Akhnoor and Rajouri sectors and interact with troops.
"The army chief chief reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also operational preparedness of Northern Command at a high-level meeting," officials said.
Northern command looks after the operational command of Jammu and Kashmir and Line of Control, Acutual Ground Position Level with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh.
Gen Rawat took charge on December 31, succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.
Gen Rawat was commissioned in the 5th Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.
He commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an infantry division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the eastern theatre and the Southern Command.
Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary's Branch at Army headquarters
18:13   Take extra care to lessen suffering of poor post note ban: Prez
Extra care must be taken to alleviate sufferings of the poor triggered by economic slow down which has become unavoidable post demonetisation, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.
Demonetisation, while immobilising black money and fighting corruption, may lead to "temporary slowdown" of the economy, the President said addressing the Governors and Lt Governors through video-conferencing from Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"We all will have to be extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor which might become unavoidable for the expected progress in the long term," Mukherjee said.
He said that while he appreciates the thrust on transition from entitlement approach to an entrepreneurial one for poverty alleviation, he is not too sure that the "poor can wait that long".
"They need to get succour here and now so that they can also participate actively in the national march toward a future devoid of hunger, unemployment and exploitation," the President said.
18:05   Kerala CM P Vijayan launches Rediff journalist Shobha Warrier's book
Dreamchasers, written by's senior journalist Shobha Warrier chronicling the stories of entrepreneurs from the South of Vindhyas, was launched today afternoon at Thiruvananthapuram's Press Club at the hands of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. 

Photograph alongside shows Shobha handing over a copy of her book to the chief minister; watching on is Ajit Balakrishnan, the founder and CEO of   

Shobha, an acclaimed short story writer in Malayalam had won the 'Young woman writer in Malayalam' award in 1996. She recently published The Little Flower and Others -- Diary of a Journalist. Her short stories have been translated into English, Kannada and Telugu.
Aircel-Maxis deal: Madras high court dismisses Karti Chidambaram's plea seeking to quash summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate, reports ANI.
17:31   Bengaluru molestation: 4 accused arrested, 2 absconding
Five days after New Year eve revelry turned into a nightmare for several women who were allegedly molested at a large gathering in Bengaluru's downtown area, four accuse have been arrested in the case. Other two accused are on the run.   

"Four out of total six persons arrested in the heinous act. Aiyappa, a delivery boy and ITI graduate is the main culprit," Praveen Sood, Bengaluru Police commissioner said.   

"They had been stalking the girl for a few days. After their celebration in name of New Year, they molester her," Sood added.   

Several women were molested molested and groped and lewd remarks were also passed by miscreants late night on December 31 in the posh area even as it was claimed that 1,500 police personnel had been deployed to control the crowds.
Just in: Fire breaks out in Manish Market near CST station in Mumbai. Two fire brigades rushed to the spot. More details awaited.
BJP national executive to be held at NDMC Convention centre in Delhi on January 6th and 7th.
16:21   South Korea hastens plans for special unit tasked with eliminating Kim
South Korea is bringing forward a plan to create a specialist unit tasked with eliminating key members of the North Korean leadership in the event of war breaking out on the peninsula. The new brigade will target key members of the regime in an effort to disrupt the command-and-control structure of the North Korean military, but also to paralyse Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Read more
16:16   Jolie claims Pitt is 'terrified the public will learn the truth' about divorce
Brad Pitt is "terrified the public will learn the truth" about the breakdown of their marriage, his estranged wife Angelina Jolie has claimed in court documents.In the latest round of their divorce proceedings the Hollywood couple agreed that details should be sealed. Read more
15:44   TMC cries, Modi hatao, desh bachao, at PMO
Venting out its ire against the Centre's demonetisation move and the arrest of party MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay in the Rose Valley chit-fund scam, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday took their protest to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and raised slogans of 'Modi hatao desh bachao'.

The protesting TMC leaders were detained by the police.

"We have gathered here to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi'sa demonetisation and the political vendetta against the Trinamool Congress. We are not concerned of what the BJP says. Our protest will go on," TMC leader Saugata Roy told the media here.

Accusing the Centre of indulging in political vendetta, Roy earlier in the day said that his party cannot be cowed down by the threats and actions of the BJP-led NDA regime and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

"Our protest is to show that we cannot be cowed down by the threats and the actions of the Central Government and the CBI. As far as West Bengal is concerned, there have been some spontaneous protests against the arrest of our Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay. But our main movement is against demonetisation, which has harmed the common people and put them to terrible difficulty," he added.

The TMC workers yesterday blocked the National Highway-2 near Asansol in protest against the arrest of the TMC MP besides agitating in front of the BJP office in central Kolkata.
15:29   Kiran Bedi cancels Puducherry govt circular on social media use
In an escalation of the already tense ties between the Raj Niwas and the Congress-led government in Puducherry, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi has cancelled an order issued the other day at the behest of Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, prohibiting the use of social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter for official communications, reports The Hindu.

Though the Government circular had cited security concerns in exchanging official communication over these platforms given that the servers of these applications were located outside the country the move was quickly interpreted as a counter to Bedi suspending a Pondicherry Civil Service cadre officer for posting a lewd video on a WhatsApp group initiated by the her for passing on instructions to officials.

However, the suspension was stayed on Wednesday by the Election Commission of India as the official concerned had been appointed as Electoral Registration Officer for the ongoing electoral roll revision. The ECI had categorically stated that the official, in his capacity as electoral officer, is subject to "control, superintendence and discipline of the Commission under section 13 cc of the Representation of People Act, 1950", and the LG should have taken the Commission into confidence and consulted the matter before placing the official under suspension.

On Thursday though, the Lt. Governor cancelled the government circular on the use of social media for official work, and further in what is seen as an act of defiance, reproduced the order on her personal Twitter handle.

The terse order declared as null and void with immediate effect the Government circular dated January 2, 2017 with subject 'Public Services-Use of Social Media-Instruction Issued' .

"If Puducherry has to be a progressive UT it cannot be retrograde in communications. Hence @CM_Puducherry's order stands cancelled," Ms. Bedi tweeted.

Her order said the circular of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms of the Puducherry government was cancelled as it "has been issued in contravention of guidelines, rules, and policies etc. in force".

Image: Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi with the CM V Narayanasamy
15:28   Day after reports said 97% banned notes back, RBI says estimates not correct
Reacting to media reports about the quantum of demonetised currency that has been returned to the banks, the Reserve Bank of India today said such estimates may not be correct.

The RBI said the aggregating of accounting entries made at the various currency chests still requires to be reconciled with the actual cash balances in order to eliminate accounting errors and double counting.

"We are trying to expeditiously complete the counting process and will release figures of notes tendered after that," the central bank said.

The RBI said it is reconciling junked notes tendered during the 50-day period with physical cash balances to eliminate any accounting errors.

On Wednesday, a PTI report said the RBI is believed to have received deposits close to Rs 15 lakh crore of the estimated Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes that were in circulation from the 50-day demonetisation exercise that ended on December 30.

When asked if Rs 15 lakh crore has come back to the system till December 30, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said, "I don't know the number."
Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi cancel CM V Narayanasamy's order which banned use of social media for official work.
14:44   Is this teen the next Tendulkar?
Mumbai's 17-year-old cricket prodigy Prithvi Shaw arrived in some style and with some fortune.

Leading Mumbai's chase of 256 in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Tamil Nadu, Shaw was on 99 on debut when he was caught at gully off TN medium pacer V Shankar.

As he walked away, the umpires decided to check for a no ball. And it turned out to be one. The youngster was back and two balls later he had got his century.

He is the second youngest after Sachin Tendulkar to hit a century on debut in first class cricket.

Is this the arrival of the next big star?

File pic of Prithvi Shaw taken when he was just 14.
14:39   Fake cop arrested in Patna ahead of PM's visit
A man in a police officer's uniform has been arrested from Patna airport today even as PM Narendra Modi is in the city to attend the Prakash Utsav celebrations to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

According to police officials, the man wearing and IPS officer's uniform came under suspicion when he was observed giving instructions for nearly 15 minutes to some policemen on duty.

Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj told that the man has been arrested."Police have been interrogating him," he said and added that the security measures were in place ahead of the PM's visit.  

The PM paid his respects at Patna Sahib at the makeshift Gurudwara in the tent city in Gandhi Maidan where the main function is underway.

The PM also released a postage stamp of Guru Gobind Singh and will take part in the langar before returning to Delhi.

MI Khan in Patna/

Image: PM Modi pays his respects at Patna Sahib.

Also read: Patna Sahib's magnificent Prakash Utsav
13:41   In Patna, PM shares stage with Opposition CM who supported note ban
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar  Thursday were seen sharing stage in Patna on the occasion of Prakash Parva.
Nitish Kumar is the only Opposition CM who supported demonetisation.

The Prime Minister is in the city to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh at Takht Harmandar Sahib, where the main function is being held. He and the Bihar CM were attending a function at Gandhi Maidan, where a makeshift gurudwara has been set up.

Extending greetings to the nation earlier in the day, PM Modi, in a series of tweets, said, "Guru Gobind Singh-ji's entire life was devoted to serving the people and fighting for values of truth, justice and compassion. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was blessed with indomitable courage and tremendous knowledge and his bravery is etched in the heart and mind of every Indian."

The PM also tweeted about his visit to Patna saying he is delighted to be part of the celebrations in Patna, adding that the tenth Sikh Gurus bravery is etched in the heart & mind of every Indian.

Modi will also release special commemorative stamps on Prakash Parv. Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, Union Minsters Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan and other dignitaries will also participate in the celebrations.
13:25   Makes my blood boil, says Akshay Kumar of B'luru incident
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar has slammed the molestation incident that took place on New Year's eve in Bangalore, calling it "truly shameful". The actor posted a video on Twitter, which he captioned as, "The Bangalore incident makes me feel we are evolving backwards, from humans to animals, rather beasts because even animals are better! Truly shameful." Akshay said he found it disgusting that some people would justify it by blaming women for their choice of clothes.

"I am ashamed to be a human being today. I was returning from my New Year's vacation with my four-year-old daughter in my arms when I learnt about the molestation incident in Banglore. I don't know how did you all feel about it, but my blood started boiling.

"I am a daughter's father but even if I was not one, I feel if a society cannot respect its women, it doesn't deserve to be called a humane society. What's most disgusting is that people have the guts to justify such shameful acts by criticising women for their choice of clothes," Akshay said. The actor is the latest Bollywood celebrity to express his concern over the incident, that has snowballed into a huge controversy.
13:15   SC says won't entertain privacy concerns on Aadhar card use
The Supreme Court on Thursday declined the urgent hearing of a Public interest litigation (PIL) on privacy concerns regarding use of the Aadhar card by each individual.

The court had earlier referred the matter to a Constitution bench.

In October last year, the court had asked the government to address the most basic questions in a democracy governed by law such as: what are the privacy rights of citizens; are they protected equally with the same justice applied for the rich and the poor alike etc.

The Supreme Court also refused simultaneous applications by multiple agencies demanding relief from the court interim order limiting the use of Aadhaar pending the Court's final decision.
J&K: Fire breaks out in CRPF camp in Karan Nagar in Srinagar. More details awaited.
13:05   B'lore CCTV molestation: Main attacker, three others arrested
The Bengaluru police Thursday arrested four of the seven persons detained a day earlier in connection with the sexual assault of a woman on New Years day in Kammanahalli of the citys eastern region. Sources said police have also identified the main attacker in the case as 'Leno', a youth of the same locality who had been stalking the woman for a while, reports the Indian Express.

A woman was groped and assaulted by two men on a scooter near her home in the Kammanahalli area of Bengaluru. The entire incident was captured on CCTV cameras, even as bystanders a stone's throw away did not intervene.

The attacker, a BCom student in the city, has been placed under arrest with his accomplice Ayyappa, who waited on a scooter while his friend molested and assaulted the young girl around 2.45 am, Sunday on a lonely street where the victim lived. Two others, Raju and Chinnu, who were part of a group of youths stalking the victim and her friend, have also been arrested.

Police began their hunt by scanning mobile phones active in that area when the incident took place. "We prepared a list of mobile numbers active between 2am and 3am on January 1. After filtering out women and senior citizens, we will start calling the remaining numbers, seeking details of the receiver," a senior police officer said.

While no complaint has been filed, the police have filed a complaint suo moto.

Image: A video grab of the incident.
13:02   IT Settlement Commission dismisses Sahara diary, grants immunity to group
The IT Settlement Commission order agreed with Sahara's argument that one of its employees got together with a friend to malign another employee, who headed the office of Sahara Group chairman.

In yet another twist to the ongoing controversy over Sahara-Birla papers that allegedly detail payments to several politicians, the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC) has swiftly issued an order, granting Sahara India immunity from prosecution while dismissing evidentiary value of the sensational diary.

According to sources, Sahara India has been granted immunity from prosecution and penalty by the ITSC in an order passed on November 10. This was first reported by The Indian Express.
12:31   Did you know there was a drought in Manipal and Udupi?
We didn't, and we were surprised to discover a letter from a college in the area in Karnataka that informed students and their parents about 'an unprecedented natural situation that has developed in the region and its subsequent impact on the academic scheduling....'

'As we all are aware,' the letter stated, 'Udupi and its environs is facing a drought-like situation this year, due to the severe deficiency in the rainfall through the season. This has resulted in an critical situation with respect to availability of fresh water in the region currently itself, which is bound to aggravate in the coming summer season.'

'The summer is also expected to be much hotter this year. This will affect all the residents in general and the hospitals & health services in particular.'

'Hence, the local authorities and the university have advised all colleges to take necessary steps for ensuring that the campuses and academic schedules make all the stakeholders safe from any harmful conditions.'

'With reference to the impending water crisis, the academic calendar for the ensuing semester has been reworked....'

'As the water crisis is feared to become a critical feature in the future too, the academic calendar for the next academic year 2017-2018 is being formulated accordingly.'

File pic.
BSP releases first list of 100 candidates for upcoming UP assembly elections.
11:51   Sikh pilgrims arrested with alcohol ib Bihar
Two Sikh pilgrims attending the ongoing Prakash Utsav, a mega celebration to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, were arrested and jailed after alcohol bottles were recovered in their baggage. Bihar is a dry state.

"It was the first such arrest of two Sikh pilgrims since Prakash Utsav began last week," a district police official said. The state government and organizing committee of Prakash Utsav has appealed to Sikh pilgrims to respect Prohibition orders in Bihar. In the last nine months, nearly 29,000 people have been arrested in Bihar for violation of Prohibition orders.

The Bihar government clamped total Prohibition in the state on April 5, 2016. The main function of holding special prayers and kirtan will be held on January 5, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will be present.

MI Khan in Patna/
11:17   Bill targeting H1B visas reintroduced in US Congress
A bill backing key changes in the H1-B programme that allows skilled workers from countries like India to fill high-tech jobs in the US has been re-introduced in the US Congress by two lawmakers who claim that that it will help crack down on the work visa abuse.

The 'Protect and Grow American Jobs Act' makes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H1-B Visa exemptions was re-introduced yesterday by Republican Darrell Issa and Scott Peters -- both from California.

The bill among other things increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa to USD 100,000 per annum and eliminate the Masters Degree exemption. The legislation, they argued, will help crack down on abuse and ensure that these jobs remain available for the best and brightest talent from around the world.

The bill comes after a number of companies -- Disney, SoCal Edison and others -- have come under fire for abusing the H1B Visa programme to replace American workers with foreign workers.
Just in: The Supreme Court agrees to expedite a hearing on the issue of whether those facing trials for serious crimes can be allowed to contest polls.
11:05   SC dismisses PIL on 'mystery' surrounding Jayalalithaa's death
Just in: The Supreme Court has dismissed a PIL seeking a probe in the death of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa. The PIL was filed by a primary member of the AIADMK, PA Joseph and lists the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation at Apollo Hospitals on September 22. The PIL says the secrecy preceding her death gave rise to grave doubts in people's mind.
10:51   Female CM has given free hand to hooligans, says Babul Supriyo on Mamata
Asserting that during the Communist Party of India (Marxist) rule there was free hand to goons, Union Minister of State and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Babul Supriyo on Thursday alleged that under the regime of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), hooliganism has been taken to another level.

"This is their tradition. What is most unfortunate is that a female chief minister has given a free hand to TMC hooligans and has kept them safe. During CPM rule, the condition was same but TMC has taken it to another level," Supriyo told ANI.

Supriyo also accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of tampering evidence related to Saradha and Rose Valley chit-fund scam.

"I have been urging Mamata Banerjee since yesterday not to act childish saying 'arrest Babul Supriyo, arrest Sujan Chakraborty.' You have been in politics since long. You never cooperated with central agencies. You got the evidence destroyed by police in the Khagragarh Blast...The SIT which Didi constituted was formed to destroyed the documents related to Saradha and Rose Valley. If Didi has evidence against us, why doesn't she produce them?" he added.

In contrast to the BJP minister's claim of TMC goons attacking his home, the ruling party in Bengal termed the entire incident 'concoctive' and that the attackers belonged to the saffron party itself.

TMC MLA Sovan Deb Chatterjee told ANI, "This is completely a blatant lie. There was no such attempt from the Trinamool Congress. The information which we have gathered... agencies tell us that this is their concoctive story. They built up the story to come in the limelight. From the agencies (police) we have come to know that the boys who demonstrated the action were their own men."

Deb asserted that if the TMC would initiate a fight, it would initiate it politically and would fight out with Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead of a 'tiny man' like Supriyo.

"They appeared to be from Trinamool Congress but there was no such attempt as we don't believe in such actions...We will fight politically. We will fight Modi. He (Babul Supriyo) is a very tiny man as compared to Modi. So, we are going to fight out Modi. We are not going to fight out Babul Supriyo," he added.

Supriyo yesterday alleged that TMC 'goons' tried to break into the apartment in Kolkata where his parents stay.

He took to Twitter to vent out his ire. "TMC Goons trying 2 break into my Apartment in Kailash Bose Street where my MumDad are staying. How shameful is this," Supriyo tweeted.
10:37   Rs 6 crore fencing for Mumbai's disappearing mangroves
The Mangrove Cell of Maharashtra government has decided to put up fences around some of the most encroached mangroves in Colaba, Worli and Malvani areas as they need protection on priority, an official said today.

"The maximum damage to mangrove area has taken place in these areas. Our team has completed the survey of these areas, including route of the fence. The state government's sanction for Rs 3 crore is received and the Cell is expected to start the work by next month," Chief Conservator of Forest (Mangrove Cell) N Vasudevan told PTI today.

"The projected cost for construction of fence is Rs 6 crore, of which Rs 3 crore should be utilised before the beginning of the monsoon season. The cost is of first phase only. The proposals were being discussed since September last year," he said.
In Madhya Pradesh, two people including Congress leader Raju Mishra shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Jabalpur.
10:25   K'taka Cong leader accused of forcibly aborting daughter's foetus
Deputy Chairman of the Karnataka Planning Board and former Union Minister CM Ibrahim on Tuesday was accused of forcibly having his daughter's foetus aborted. His brother CM Khader filed a complaint with the Cubbon Park police in Bengaluru, alleging that his daughter-in-law (who is Ibrahim's daughter) was fed with juice laced with some medicine to facilitate a miscarriage, reports the News Minute.

22-year old Iffa got married to Khader's son Faizal in August last year and was four-and-a-half months pregnant. In a four-page complaint, Khader goes on to accuse Ibrahim and his family of having deliberately aborted the foetus, as they did not approve of Iffa's marriage to his son.  According to Khader's complaint, his daughter-in-law Iffa Afsa had called his son CM Faizal on Monday afternoon, and told him that her elder siblings Faiz and Shabina had forcibly administered a sour-smelling Mausambi juice to her against her wishes, which brought on stomach pain and bleeding.

Khader goes on to allege that on 22 December last year, when Faizal went to Ibrahim's house, Faizal was tied and beaten up with a hockey stick, tortured and warned against returning to meet Iffa. He has also named two gynaecologists for forcibly terminating Iffa's pregnancy without her husband's consent.  

A press statement released by Vikram hospital on Tuesday stated that a young female who was 15 weeks pregnant was brought to the hospital on 02 January by her family with "profuse vaginal bleeding.' She was diagnosed with "incomplete abortion of unknown cause and underwent emergency evacuation procedure'.
10:18   Sensex rebounds 171 pts on higher Asian cues
The benchmark BSE Sensex rebounded over 171 points and the NSE Nifty regained the 8,200-mark in the opening trade today, reflecting gains in Asia after US Fed minutes suggested a less hawkish stance from policymakers. The 30-share index was trading higher by 171.39 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 26,804.52 with all sectoral indices led by metal, auto, realty and banking stocks in the green.
Mumbai suburban train services hit during peak hours today due to a fault in a Thane-CST train at Vikhroli.
10:09   97% banned notes said to be deposited in banks in blow to Modis black money fight
Indians have deposited nearly all the currency bills outlawed at the end of the deadline last year, according to people with knowledge of the matter, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's drive to unearth unaccounted wealth and fight corruption.  Read more
09:57   Pichai looks at his birthplace to launch SMB product for the globe
Sundar Pichai, the India-born chief executive officer of Google, used his homeland to launch a global platform that allows small firms to build websites on their smartphones before the largest Internet firm takes it to other countries.India has around 51 million small and medium businesses, but less than a fifth of them, or around 9 million, are online.

Google is looking to bring more small firms online, launching do-it-yourself courses for users to build websites on smartphones. This will help it engage and lock these users on its platform. At the same time, Google expects local solutions built for India can be replicated in other emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

"When we solve for a place like India, we solve for everyone around the world. That has led us to grow our team here and spend more time and ensure the products are useful for everyone,' said Pichai, launching the MyBusiness tool with Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Google also launched Digital Unlocked, an education programme, in association with industry body FICCI and the Indian School of Business to teach mobile and online courses to help small businesses.

Karan Choudhury/Business Standard
09:55   Washington is behind Indias brutal experiment of abolishing most cash
In early November, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington's role has been disguised only very superficially.  Read more
09:45   Rupee makes more gains, up 16 paise against dollar
The rupee firmed up 16 paise to 67.89 against the dollar today after the United States currency saw higher selling by exporters and banks amid a higher opening in the domestic stock market.

Forex dealers said weakness in the greenback against other currencies overseas gave the rupee some relief.

Further, a higher opening in the domestic equity market gave the uptrend some momentum, they added.

On Wednesday, the domestic unit ended higher by 28 paise at 68.05 following a fresh bout of dollar selling.

Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose 171.39 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 26,804.52, in early session today. -- PTI
JUST IN: The Election Commission has asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to reply by January 9 on each other's petitions filed before it claiming party and poll symbol, ANI quoted EC sources as saying.
09:27   Army chief Gen Rawat to visit J&K today
Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat will today visit Jammu and Kashmir in his first official trip after taking over as India's 27th Chief Of Army Staff. 

According to top army sources, he will be visiting the army formation in Jammu.

This will be his median tour to J&K after taking over last week as the chief of the 1.3 million strong Indian Army, succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.

Gen Rawat superseded two senior most Lt Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P M Hariz. 

Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from IMA, Dehradun. He was awarded the 'Sword of Honour' at the academy.

Gen Rawat has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations. He commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command.

Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary's Branch at Army HQ.
09:21   US allows turbans, hijabs, beards in military
The US Army has issued a new regulation under which servicemen who wear turbans, hijabs or beards can now be enrolled in the military, making the force more inclusive of minority religions and cultures, reports Lalit K Jha for the Press Trust of India.   

The new set of rules, issued by Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, allows religious accommodations to be approved at the brigade-level. Previously it was at the level of secretary.   

Once that approval occurs, the change will ensure that the religious accommodation is enduring and applies to most positions within the US Army.   

"This is a major progress, not just for the Sikh-American community but for our nation's military. Sikh-Americans love this country and want a fair chance to serve in our country on equal footing. Today's announcement will help do just that,"  Congressman Joe Crowley said welcoming the directive issued by the US Army Secretary.   

"We are a stronger nation, with a stronger military because of our respect for religious and personal freedom," he said.   

The move has been welcomed by Sikh-Americans and US lawmakers who have been on the forefront of a national campaign in this regard for the past several years.   

Before the January 3 changes announced by the US Army, Sikh-Americans and others had to be granted a limited accommodation or permission to serve in the army while maintaining their articles of faith.  
09:12   'Budget date too close to polls', opposition parties to meet EC today
A united Opposition will visit the office of the Election Commission on Thursday to discuss about the date of the budget session.

'Trinamool, Congress, SP (Samajwadi Party), BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), JDU (Janata Dal-United), RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) & some other Oppn parties to meet Election Commission 11am. Subject: budget date too close to polls,' Trinamool Congress MP Derek OBrien tweeted.

'Three from Trinamool to be part of Oppn party delegation to meet Election Commissioner in Delhi: Derek OBrien, Dinesh Trivedi, Saugato Roy,' he said in another tweet.

The budget session of Parliament will begin from February 1.

The session is being advanced as the government wants early allocation of funds for various schemes-- from April 1, the beginning of the financial year.

The Election Commission yesterday announced seven-phase polling for 403 assembly constituencies in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, two-phase polling in Manipur and one-phase polling each in the states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa respectively.
JUST IN: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat to visit Northern Command today to review security and operational preparedness and interact with troops in forward areas.
08:27   Rajendra Kumar claims CBI pressurised him to implicate Kejriwal in graft case
Rajendra Kumar, former principal secretary to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in an alleged case of corruption, has sought voluntary retirement while claiming that he was forced to name the Delhi CM by the interrogators.

According to an Indian Express report, Kumar wrote to the Delhi chief secretary on Wednesday, claiming that he was repeatedly 'told by his interrogators that they would set him free if he implicated the chief minister'.

'I have been made to pay the price for my belief in the political neutrality of a civil service officer in the form of false cases against me, accusing me of corruption and other charges during the last few months, I have experienced an administrative environment wherein it seems extremely difficult to secure fair treatment and justice from central government agencies,' Kumar wrote, according to the report.

Kumar was chargesheeted by the CBI last month.

Read more.
00:24   Trump cites Assange claim about Russia hacking
Gearing up for a high-profile briefing on claims that Russia hacked Democratic officials during last year's election, President-elect Donald Trump is apparently taking the word of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over that of US intelligence officials who will brief him.

"Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" Trump tweeted Wednesday.

John Podesta was the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose emails were released by WikiLeaks during the campaign, part of an effort that U.S. intelligence officials attributed to the Russians, perhaps in order to help Trump win the election.