Live: Gen VK Singh calls for immediate dissolution of Parliament

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 29, 2012 15:25 hrs

8. 50 pm

New railway minister Pawan Bansal hints at possible fare hike

New railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Monday gave ample hint of a possible passenger fare hike to improve services in the railways.

"Fare will not be increased for the sake of increasing fare. If fare will be increased, then it will be for providing better services to the passengers," Bansal said when asked whether passenger fares will be hiked in the near future.

"The improvement in services will have to be commensurate with the increase in fare," he said after assuming charge at Rail Bhawan here.

7. 50 pm

India seeks access to Headley's wife, girlfriends, Rana

India is likely to get access to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist David Headley's US-based wife Shazia, his two girlfriends and accomplice in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Tahawuur Hussain Rana soon.

The impression was given by US officials to a team of Indian investigators who has visited the US early this month.

"There is progress in the discussion with the US officials. Hopefully we will get access to them soon," a Home Ministry official said.

7. 10 pm

Gen VK Singh calls for immediate dissolution of Parliament

In a stinging attack on the government, former Army chief General VK Singh, who has joined Anna Hazare in his crusade against corruption, on Monday termed it "anti-people" and demanded immediate dissolution of parliament.

Gen (retd) Singh said the government is "bending to the corporates".

In a direct attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, VK Singh asked him why the government was "looting" people. Singh retired a few months ago.

Gen Singh was speaking to media persons alongside Hazare, who is expected soon to launch an anti-graft team after severing ties with Arvind Kejriwal and India Against Corruption (IAC) over their decision to form a political party.

6.00 pm:

Despite dip in turnout, Indian GP a smashing success

The Formula One Indian Grand Prix might have seen a steep fall in spectator turnout, but it had all the makings of a Bollywood masala flick, and that thrilled the 65,000 fans who did not mind commuting almost three to four hours to watch the show.

There was drama, high octane action, romance and plenty of star power.

The circuit might have been far from any inhabitable area, but the organisers did everything in their power to make it comfortable for the fans driving in.

Like last year there was a shuttle service which was provided from the car park to all ticket holders, making it a bit easier for them to reach the circuit.

Vodafone, who are one of the sponsors of the McLaren team, paid off the day's toll tax so that the traffic could flow smoothly on the DND flyway.

Last year the Circuit courted controversy. This time around it was devoid of any such incidents and was managed very well. That sends out a clear message that the Indian GP is here to stay.

5.20 pm:

Chavan orders probe into women's abuse at hostel

Taking a serious view of allegations of rape and sexual abuse in a state-run women's hostel here, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Monday ordered a probe into the matter, an official said.

"The chief minister has ordered the crime branch to make a detailed investigation into this matter and submit its report on priority," an official told IANS.

The official said the government was concerned over some reports claiming that many of the abused women had fled the Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh (NMV) in Mankhurd in north Mumbai after armed goons created terror there.

"The chief minister has taken a very serious note of the developments, the allegations of sexual abuse of some of the inmates and how they were made to survive in inhuman conditions at the hostel," the official added.

The NMV is meant to be a rehabilitation centre for women rescued from prostitution.

Media reports claimed that the inmates had been regularly sexually abused and raped by armed goons who entered the hostel virtually unhindered.

According to the reports, officials connected with the hostel expressed inability to do anything in the matter as they had no powers.

4.40 pm:

Toddler found dead, parents unconscious

A one-year-old baby was found dead, while her parents lay unconscious in their house in Kolkata on Monday. Police, however, ruled out any foul play.

"The primary reason for the death seems to be suffocation. However, what caused the suffocation is not known and we have sought help from forensic experts," Karaya police station chief S.R. Bhattacharya said.

"So far, we have not found anything to suggest that there was any foul play or they (the parents) attempted suicide. The investigation is on," he added.

The neighbours called the police early Monday after they grew suspicious when nobody in the house responded to their repeated knocks.

"When we broke open the door we found all the three lying motionless on the bed. While the baby was declared dead, her parents were admitted to hospital," Bhattacharya said.

4.00 pm:

Modi calls PM 'Maun Mohan Singh'

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday mocked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, describing him as 'Maun (Silent) Mohan Singh'.

Addressing a rally in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, Modi said: " "Yesterday, during his Himachal Pradesh visit, Dr. 'Maunmohan' Singh came, and the news today is that he broke his silence in Himachal!

Appealing to the people of the state to vote the BJP back to power, Modi said: "I pray to the people of Himachal Pradesh to choose the BJP, and I promise as much development here as in Gujarat."

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3. 15 pm:

Mild tremors felt in parts of Andhra Pradesh

Mild tremors were felt in some parts of Andhra Pradesh Monday creating panic among people.

Residents rushed out of their homes in several parts of Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts in south coastal Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Nalgonda, Khammam and Ranga Reddy districts in Telangana region as they experienced the tremors.

People in Ongole town and surrounding areas in Prakasam district said the tremors lasted for three to four seconds. Vessels fell off the shelves in the kitchens.

As the tremors were of an intensity below 2.8 on the Richter scale, they were not recorded at the seismic observatory at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI). Scientists described the tremors as seismic vibrations.

According to scientists, such vibrations were a common occurrence and there was no need for panic.

Krishna, Guntur and Khammam districts had also recorded mild tremors in January this year.

2.40 pm:

Ganguly calls it quits from IPL

Four years after he announced his retirement from International cricket, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has called it quits from all levels of the game, deciding not to play in the IPL as well.

The former India opener had continued playing first-class cricket for Bengal so as to keep in shape for his franchise Pune Warriors but after last year's debacle, Ganguly has at last decided against it.

"I will be almost 41 by the time IPL-6 ends. Twenty20 is a very demanding format. It would have been very tough for the body," Ganguly said.

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2. 25 pm:

SC refuses to hear pleas against Sachin's nomination

A plea for transfer of two petitions pending in different high courts to the apex court against nomination of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha was dismissed today by the Supreme Court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said, "This is not a fit case to be entertained."

The bench also comprising justices S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar expressed its displeasure that the matter has been brought to the apex court.

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1.30 pm:

N-plant protestors arrested in Chennai

Some 2000 protestors, mostly political workers from various parties, were halted by the Chennai police some five kilometers away from the Tamil Nadu Legislature. The protestors were planning on going to the Legislature and protesting there.

Some of the protestors were arrested.

The protestors took the rally against the Kundankulam Nuclear Power plant. Though the plant has been under-construction for more than a decade now, various protests have risen up dramatically in the past year. Villagers are demanding that the plant be shut-down. 

12.52 pm:

The Tamil Nadu government has moved the Supreme Court against the Center on power allocation. The TN government has said that the Center is not providing the state with enough power from the central grid.

Tamil Nadu is currently reeling from a power crisis.

12.50 pm:

Is Jaipal Reddy not happy with portfolio change?

Jaipal Reddy, who has been given Science and Technology Ministry, is deeply upset by his transfer from the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry and did not come to handover charge to new minister Veerappa Moily.

RPN Singh, who has been shifted from Petroleum to Home in Cabinet reshuffle, welcomed Moily, who was among the first ones to report to their new offices this morning.

Reddy had been accused of being indecisive and almost halting oil and gas exploration.

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12. 25 pm:

Pakistan hunting for three suspects in Malala shooting case

Pakistani police are on the look out for two youths suspected of shooting 15-year-old education activist Malala Yousufzai, and the prime suspect who drove them to the scene, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.

Malala, who earned international fame for raising voice against Taliban oppression and for advocating girls' right to education in Swat valley, was shot in the neck and head by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on October 9. She was flown to Britain six days later for specialized treatment.

"The guys who actually made this assassination attempt, they were two young boys," the CNN quoted Malik, as saying. He added that it was 23-year-old Attaullah Khan, a man identified by police as their primary suspect, who brought the two boys to Malala's hometown.

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11.35 am:

14 tigers in Manas national park

Wildlife officials of Bhutan's Royal Manas National Park and Manas National Park in India have confirmed the presence of 14 Royal Bengal tigers across the trans-boundary area. Six out of them were tigresses, reported

Royal Manas manager Tenzin Wangchuk said 204 camera-traps were fixed in the core tiger habitat areas.

He said that cameras mounted on trees and poles were on 24X7 for 64 days; to avoid damage from elephants, fresh elephant dung was placed on the camouflaged cameras.

Of the 14 tigers, four were common, photographed both in Bhutan and India, Tenzin Wangchuk was quoted as saying.

"This joint study was possible only through financial, technical and field support from World Wildlife Fund and Bhutan Foundation."

The Royal Manas National Park spread over 1,057 sq km is located in the southern foothills. It borders India's Manas tiger reserve in the south forming a transboundary conservation landscape.

In both national parks, conservationists said there was a combined record of 60 species of mammals such as Bengal tiger and clouded leopard. There are also 500 species of birds and more than 1,000 plant species.

11.00 am:

Facebook 'more addictive than sex'

Facebook and email trump sex in terms of sheer irresistibility, researchers say.

The German study used smartphone-based surveys to probe the daily desires of 205 men and women, most of whom were college age.

For one week the phones, provided by the researchers, buzzed seven times daily, alerting study subjects to take a quick survey on the type, strength and timing of their desires, as well as their ability to resist them.

The study found that while the desire for sex was stronger, the study subjects were more likely to cave into the desire to use media, including email and social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

"Media desires, such as social networking, checking emails, surfing the Web or watching television might be hard to resist in light of the constant availability, huge appeal, and apparent low costs of these activities," ABC News quoted study author Wilhelm Hofmann from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business as saying.

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10.30 am:

'Frankenstorm' derails Obama, Romney campaigns

As a ferocious Hurricane Sandy roared up the US East Coast, both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney changed their campaign plans in their final sprint before the Nov 6 election.

With just eight days to go before what by all accounts would be one of the tightest contests for the White House, Obama scrapped his plans to campaign in Ohio Monday and instead headed back to Washington to monitor the approaching "Frankenstorm."

On Saturday, Obama's campaign had cancelled another Monday event in Virginia, as well as a Tuesday morning event in Colorado.

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9.40 am:

US braces for Hurricane Sandy

New York Mayor orders evacuation of around 375,000 people as the US east coast braces itself for Hurricane Sandy. 

Nearly 6000 flights have been cancelled. NY stock exchange is shut for the first time since 9/11.

Schools and the public transport system in New York have also been shut as a precaution.

9.00 am:

Nuclear activists to lay siege to TN assembly today

Stepping up their over year long protest against the Indo-Russian project on safety concerns, PMANE activists have called for a siege of the TN assembly today.

The PMK extended its support to the assembly siege protest called by anti-nuclear activists pressing their demand against commissioning of controversial Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).

"Activists of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy have planned to siege the Assembly tomorrow insisting their demand. PMK cadres would take part in the protest tomorrow," PMK founder leader S Ramadoss said in a statement here.

The Tamil Nadu assembly is meeting today.

MDMK leader Vaiko, in a statement, alleged that police were arresting several people under the pretext of preventive detention to stop them from taking part in the protest tomorrow.

8.30 am:

Hurricane Sandy is serious and big: Barack Obama

President Barack Obama said on Sunday that the storm taking aim at the East Coast is a "serious and big storm" that will be slow-moving and might take time to clear up. The government would "respond big and respond fast" after it hits, he said.

Mr Obama met with federal emergency officials for an update on the storm's path and the danger it poses to the Middle Atlantic States and New England.

"My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously," Mr Obama said. He urged people to "listen to your local officials."

The President said emergency officials were confident that staging for the storm was in place.

Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit the East Coast late on Monday, then combine with two winter weather systems as it moves inland, creating a hybrid superstorm. At least four battleground states are likely to be hit: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

Mr Obama travelled the nearly three miles from the White House to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's headquarters in his motorcade. He made the comments after a briefing by agency officials that was led by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. The group participated in a conference call with governors in states in the storm's path, including Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. The President also spoke with mayors from Washington, Newark, N.J., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

As part of the briefing, the President also met with FEMA workers and thanked them.

"My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules," he said. "We want to make sure we are anticipating and leaning forward into making sure that we have the best possible response to what is going to be a big and messy system.

Later on Sunday the President headed to Florida where he's campaigning today.

8.00 am:

SP slams cabinet rejig

The Samajwadi Party has slammed the cabinet rejig that took place on Sunday.

The congress has come under criticism from SP for giving a bump up to what it calls tainted ministers. The SP is also miffed with the fact that not a single minister from Uttar Pradesh figured in the reshuffle.

"No senior leaders from UP have been made ministers. In fact, tainted ministers have been elevated. Salman Khurshid has become the External Affairs Ministers and one minister who is named in the coal scam has been promoted," Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.

7.30 am:

Hurricane Sandy is expected to slam into the East Coast on Monday night, bringing torrential rains, high winds, severe flooding and power outages, forecasters said. The rare "super storm," created by an Arctic jetstream wrapping itself around a tropical storm, could be the biggest to hit the U.S. mainland.

New York-based stock exchanges are sending officials into Manhattan on Sunday to stay in hotels and coworkers' homes as the NYSE and Nasdaq prepare to open for business on Monday, even as Hurricane Sandy closes off public transportation links.

President Barack Obama said on Sunday that he did not expect that Hurricane Sandy would have an impact on voting for the November 6 election but suggested it was something that would have to be examined later.

"We don't anticipate that at this point, but we're obviously going to have to take a look," Obama said during a visit to the government's storm response center when asked whether Hurricane Sandy, bearing down on the East Coast, might affect voting.

The massive storm's approach has already raised fears of a disruption of early voting in some states.

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