12 January 2014

0815 HRS
  • Former Supreme Court judge Swatanter Kumar sends legal notice to certain media organisations demanding an apology for false allegations of sexual harassment.
  • Sri Lanka government to start releasing Tamil Nadu fishermen from tomorrow.
  • Sheikh Hasina to take over as Prime Minister of Bangladesh today for third term.
  • Cold wave claims eight lives in Uttar Pradesh; Heavy snowfall in higher reaches of Uttarakhand.
  • India suffers second successive defeat in Hockey World League Final at New Delhi.
Former Judge of Supreme Court Justice Swatanter Kumar has sent a legal notice to certain media organisations demanding an apology from them within 24 hours for publicising what he called incredulous and false allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a law intern. In the legal notice sent to a leading newspaper and two TV channels last night, Justice Kumar said if these media organisations do not apologise, he will be compelled to initiate civil and criminal actions for defamation and damage against them. Justice Kumar was reacting to the allegations made by a former law intern that he had sexually harassed her in May 2011 in his office. Justice Kumar is currently the Chairman of the National Green Tribunal.
Meanwhile Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Environment M Veerappa Moily, has described the allegation as serious. He said it was up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to have an inquiry into the allegations.
Sri Lankan government will start releasing Tamil Nadu fishermen lodged in the island nation's jails tomorrow. This was disclosed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalaithaa yesterday. In a statement, she said Centre has informed the state government about it. 275 Tamil fishermen are lodged in Sri Lankan jails. Representatives of fishermen from two countries are scheduled to meet in Chennai on the 20th of this month to discuss the issue. She said, as per the Centre’s directions, 179 Sri Lankan fishermen lodged in Tamil Nadu jails will also be released soon.
"The news about release of Tamil fishermen lodged in Lankan jails have brought cheers to fishermen in Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalaithaa and DMK leader Karunanidhi pursued the matter with central government to secure the immediate release of Tamil fishermen lodged in Lankan jails and their fishing boats. DMK Parliamentary party leader T R Baalu had met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid urging the release of fishermen before Pongal Tamil festival which falls on 14th of this month. K Devi Padmanabhan, AIR News, Tiruchirapalli."
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said, New Delhi will remain in conversation with Washington over the Devyani Khobragade issue. Khurshid said, there are certain issues of domestic laws and India's understanding of the Vienna Convention on consular rights will remain. Talking to reporters in New Delhi yesterday Khurshid added there is no stand off between India and the United States over the issue.
"We will remain in conversation if we do all our friends and then there are issues still need to be worked on, we will work on the issues but there is no reason now, to feel any immediate concern about any outcomes that might be adverse of particularly of any disturbing nature. So now is normal course and due course, we will take up issues one by one and solve them out."
The State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said in Washington that this has clearly been a challenging time in the US-India relationship. Earlier, India expelled a senior American diplomat within hours of Devyani being asked to leave the US.
President Pranab Mukherjee is on three day visit to Andaman and Nicobar islands. He addressed the islanders yesterday at the civic reception hosted by the Port Blair Municipal Council at the historic Nethaji Stadium at Port Blair. More from our correspondent.
"The President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar islands have the potential to be a spring board for India's engagement with South East Asia and the Pacific region. They can be developed as a significant trading, shipping and tourist hub. He also called upon the people working amongst the tribals to take up the task of development with a spirit of dedication as well as a spirit of understanding and sympathy. He categorically stated that progress must come to these islands, but it must come with deference to the local people, their traditions and ecology.A DHANASEKARAN, AIR News, PORT BLAIR."
The Rajasthan Government will provide healthy meal @ 5 rupees to farmers. This meal will be given to the farmers coming to Krishi Mandis. Farmers will also be supplied 4 lakh mini kits of fodder. The decision was taken in a review meeting of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry department at Jaipur yesterday. In the meeting Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje directed the officials to prepare a database of the Soil Health Card so that farmers could be given proper guidance to grow crop and use fertilizers according to the nature of the soil in their region.
Sheikh Hasina will take over as Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the second consecutive term today. President Abdul Hamid will administer her the oath of office at 3.30 PM Bangladesh time. Sheikh Hasina's Awami League swept Parliamentary elections held last Sunday. Our correspondent reports that Awami League won 232 out of 300 seats in the polls that were boycotted by BNP-led 18-party alliance.
"For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, Awami League is set to form a government for a second consecutive term. Sheikh Hasina will be Prime Minister for the 3rd time. Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters last night that the President has approved the list of cabinet members as recommended by the Prime Minister. Party sources say that Sheikh Hasina is likely to form a government of national consensus, incorporating representatives of all parties represented in Parliament. Melinda Dias, AIR News, Dhaka."
Foreign Ministers from the "Friends of Syria" core group have convened a meeting with the leaders of Syrian opposition coalition in Paris today. The meeting will be attended by the Foreign Ministers of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Qatar among others, as well as the head of the Syria's opposition National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba. Our West Asia correspondent reports that the Syrian opposition leaders will take a final call on whether to attend the Geneva conference at another meeting in Istanbul on the 17th of this month.
"The Friends of Syria core group of ministers meet in Paris is aimed at bringing various Syrian opposition groups together and bridge the differences among them ahead of the Geneva-II peace conference later this month. The Head of the coalition, Ahmed Jarba has agreed in principle to attend the conference with riders. But the Islamist groups and the Syrian National Council, one of the major players in the coalition have decided to boycott the talks unless President Assad gives up the power. Syrian government has said it will attend the talks but President Assad's departure is non-negotiable. Atul K Tiwary, AIR News."
In Uttar Pradesh, Aam Aadmi Party's press conference being addressed by Kumar Vishwas in Lucknow was briefly disrupted by a youth yesterday. A youth raised slogans against the poet-turned politician. Vishwas was addressing the press conference after presiding over a function in which over 2,000 traders joined AAP in Lucknow. Vishwas described the incident as an attempt by those feeling threatened by AAP's growing popularity.
In Uttar Pradesh, cold wave conditions further intensified following intermittent rain across the state during past 24 hours. Eight people died in rain and cold related incidents.
"The intermittent rain has increased the plight of those people who have no roof over their heads. The night shelters are overflowing and the resources are scarce. The resourceless people are forced to spend night in open or under the tin sheds of shops. Their meagre clothing fail to protect them from bone piercing chilly wind. Even bonfire in the open got extinguished due to rain. Salman Haider, AIR News, Gorakhpur."
In Himachal Pradesh the Met Office has predicted rain or snow in the state during the next 24 hours. A report.
"Most of the tourist places experienced moderate spell of fresh snowfall during past 24 hours which brings cheer on the faces of tourists, visiting the state. Several other parts in mid and lower hills lashed with frequent spell of rain, considered good for growing Rabi crop. The water supply and communication network has been affected badly in most of the tribal areas. Shishu Sharma Shantal, AIR News, Shimla."
Uttarakhand witnessed heavy snowfall in the higher reaches while icy winds swept the plains of the state.
Road Transport and Highways Ministry is observing the National Road Safety Week across the country to create awareness among the people. The theme of this year’s Road Safety week is "When on road, always say Pehle Aap". The Ministry has also planned a Road Safety Walk at India Gate in the national capital today to raise awareness about it.
New Zealand beat India 3-1 in the Hockey World League Final in New Delhi last night. In the Pool A match, New Zealand scored three field goals - one in the first half and two after the change of ends, to register their first win in the eight-team event. This was India's second straight defeat after the hosts lost their opener to England 0-2.
  • Most papers have a picture of Arvind Kejriwal's Janta Durbar held yesterday. 'Chaos forces Kejriwal to abandon janta durbar in 15 minutes' is the Mail Today headline. 'Thousands spoil durbar debut' says the Sunday Express, as it shows the Chief Minister telling the public from the roof of the Secretariat building that he has chosen to leave rather than order a lathi-charge.
  • "AAP seeks more security in Amethi'' writes the Hindu, for the public meeting which is scheduled for today. 'Posters show up accusing Kejriwal of being anti national' adds the paper.
  • "Congress Rahul dilemma deepens' is the Pioneer headline. The paper goes on to say that the 17th January AICC meet may not name him as the Prime Minister candidate to avoid humiliation to Manmohan Singh.
  • Embarrassment for the Congress ? The Times of India, Mail Today, Pioneer and the Sunday Express report of Home Minister Shinde saying that he'll be happy to see Pawar as PM. Though within hours, he retracted his statement.
  • "Judiciary stares at morality crisis" writes the Mail Today, of a law intern accusing Justice Swatanter Kumar of sexual harassment.
  • "CBI to quiz Tyagis" writes the Asian Age of the kickbacks received by the former Air Force chief.
  • "Its snowing beauty in the hills" is the caption of a picture showing a white Mussoorie, in Mail Today. The Asian Age has a picture of Kufri after fresh snowfall.
  • "Older wiser mums changing family portrait - women now opt for late marriage, belated babies" is the Times of India lead story, based on a survey.
  • In a Hindustan Times special, the paper writes "this Monday, polio in India will go on a lifelong holiday", as our country will officially be declared polio free, by the WHO.
  • And finally, what is truly touching is a story in Mail Today of Raghu, whose legs are affected by polio, serving the poor and old in Ahmedabad.

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