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Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal resigns: TV reports

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal resigned on Friday, two television channels reported, dealing a fresh blow to the scandal-weakened government as it limps toward elections. 

The resignation came just days after police arrested Bansal's nephew for accepting a bribe. Officials in the ruling Congress party had said the case made Bansal's position
untenable and that his resignation was inevitable. 

Opposition demands for Bansal and another minister to resign had paralysed parliament and forced the government this week to cut short its budget session by two days. The uproar dashed the government's hopes, for now, of passing more economic reforms and a vote-winning plan to give cheap food to 70 per cent
of the population. — ReutersBack







Siddaramaiah to be next Karnataka CM

BANGALORE: Congress MLAs picked Siddaramaiah as the next Chief Minister of Karnataka through a secret ballot. 

At a meeting convened by the party to elicit the view of the new legislators on Chief Minister's post, Siddaramaiah had moved a resolution requesting that the CLP leadership be left to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. 

The central leadership, however, had asked the legislators to express their choice through a secret ballot. 

Union Labour and Employment Minister M Mallikarjuna Kharge was said to be in a straight fight with Siddaramaiah for the coveted post. 

Earlier, the four-member team of AICC observers, comprising Defence Minister A K Antony, Congress general secretary in charge of the state Madhusudan Mistri, Luizinho 

Faleiro, who was Karnataka's candidates screening committee chairman, and Union Minister Jitendra Singh, congratulated the newly elected Congress MLAs. 

The Congress earlier this week swept to power with a comfortable majority of 121 MLAs in the 224-member House, dethroning the BJP which fared miserably winning only 40 seats, down by 70 compared to the 2008 poll. — PTIBack








1993 blasts case: SC dismisses Sanjay Dutt's review petition

NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's hope of getting relief in 1993 Mumbai blasts case was on Friday dashed with the Supreme Court dismissing his plea seeking review of its judgement on his conviction and five-year jail term.

A Bench headed by justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan, which had delivered on March 21 verdict, refused to review its verdict on Dutt's plea.

Dutt, who was granted four weeks more time to surrender to undergo remaining three-and-a-half-year jail term, will have to surrender before jail authorities on May 16.

With the dismissal of review plea, 53-year-old Dutt has got only one option of getting relief from the court by filing a curative petition.

With today's order, now Sanjay Dutt can file curative petition under Article 142 of the Constitution and finally mercy petition before the President of India.

The apex court also rejected the similar pleas filed by other six convicts — Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, Khalil Ahmed Sayed Ali Nazir, Mohamed Dawood Yusuf Khan, Shaikh Asif Yusuf, Muzammil Umar Kadri and Mohd Ahmed Shaikh.

A day before the deadline for his surrender ended, the Supreme Court had on April 17 granted Dutt, 53, four weeks time to surrender before jail authorities to undergo 42 months remaining sentence in the case.

The apex court had on March 21 upheld his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case which it said was organised by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and others with the involvement of Pakistan's ISI.

However, the apex court had reduced to five years the six-year jail-term awarded to him by a designated TADA court in 2006, ruling out his release on probation saying the "nature" of his offence was "serious".

Dutt was convicted by the TADA court for illegal possession a 9mm pistol and a AK-56 rifle which was part of the consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for coordinated serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured over 700. — PTIBack








China, India must resolve border issues much quicker: Khurshid

BEIJING: China and India should "examine" the recent border stand off in Depsang Valley in Ladakh and be able to resolve such incidents "much quicker" in the future, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Friday.

"We both have reasons to express satisfaction that we were able to resolve this issue, indeed through the mechanism we put in place over the years", Khurshid, who is here to hold talks with the Chinese leadership, told state-run CCTV in an interview.

He made the comment while replying to a question about the 20-day stand-off between the two sides after Chinese troops pitched tents in Daulat Beig Oldi (DBO) sector in Ladakh.

"But it (the resolution) did take time and the fact that it happened at all, the two important dimensions we need to examine further. Therefore, we need to do our own respective analysis as to why it happened and if such thing were to happen again, which is unlikely, we should be able to resolve them much quicker than we resolved it this time", he said.

On the importance of forthcoming visit of new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India, making it the first stop of his maiden foreign tour, Khurshid said, "Clearly, if China thinks that their premier should make the first stop in India, understandably we feel the same way that China should have the highest billing".

"Not only are we neighbours, we are two very important countries whose convergence in terms of perceptions, positions and attitudes can make a world of difference globally and most certainly in Asia", he said.

"Both in historical terms and in terms of potential that there is for collaboration between us, we cannot think of more important country at this point of time and we are pleased that this is recognised mutually", he said.

Yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his meeting with Khurshid, discussed Li's visit to India from May 19-21.

Li's visit was expected to be followed by the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this year.

The proposed back to back visits by prime ministers of both China and India signaled big opportunities for both the countries to scale up relations, Wang said.

China is willing to make concerted efforts with India, seize the opportunity and promote the strategic cooperative partnership to a new level, he said.

The two countries should take the opportunity of the exchange of high-level visits to expand cooperation in various aspects, Khurshid said.

On the decline of India's trade with China last year to about USD 66 billion from over $74 billion in 2011, Khurshid said besides the decline, India's main concern is the growing trade deficit which touched $28.87 billion last year.

In the first quarter this year itself the deficit climbed to $6.31 billion.

Decline of trade reflects the world conditions, he said, adding that, "both countries should be lucky to be an exception to that".

"The fundamentals are strong and both sides are comfortable with fundamentals. More than the over all trade figure, what continues to concern us is the imbalance of trade. Both sides are trying to address that. We still have not found effective remedy quickly", he said.

Last night Khurshid told the Indian media here that China wants to address the trade imbalance by stepping up its investments in India in a big way in the specialised industrial zones and wants India to facilitate such investments by providing proper facilities. — PTIBack








Class XII girl shot dead in Delhi

NEW DELHI: A girl studying in Class XII was shot dead this morning, allegedly by a youth in her house in south Delhi, with her father alleging that a distant relative, who was stalking her, could be behind it.

The youth entered the house in Budh Vihar in Munirka area, closed the girl’s room and pumped bullets into her chest, a senior police official said.

The victim has been identified as Pinki (18), a student of government school in RK Puram, Sector 5.

“Her aunt was present in the house when the incident took place. After shooting her, the boy, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, fled from the scene,” the official said.

The victim’s aunt tried to chase the youth but he fled from the spot.

Pinki was rushed to Safdarjung Hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

The victim’s father Pritam said that he suspects one of his relatives to be behind the murder.

“He is a relative of my sister-in-law and my nephew. The person used to call me and threaten that he will kill my daughter. He was following my daughter since she was 13. He was forcing her to marry him,” he claimed. — PTIBack







Court orders framing of charges against Kanda

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has ordered framing of charges against former Haryana minister Gopal Kanda and Aruna Chadha in the airhostess Geetika Sharma suicide case.

The court said prima facie charges of rape, unnatural sex, abetment of suicide, conspiracy, forgery under IPC and IT Act were made out against Kanda. The judge sent the matter for trial before special court, trying sexual offence cases.

In her suicide note, Geetika had alleged that Kanda and Chaddha were harassing her. — PTIBack




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