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Modi arrives to a grand welcome in Bhutan

THIMPU: Embarking on his first foreign visit since taking over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here today to cement India's "unique and special relationship" with Bhutan and his thrust to make the ties more effective.

A grand welcome was accorded to him by the Bhutanese government which rolled out a red carpet and gave a ceremonial Guard of Honour to him.

Modi, accompanied by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, NSA Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, was received at Paro airport by Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and several of his Cabinet colleagues.

The Prime Minister drove down from Paro to Thimphu, a distance of about 50 km, traversing through the picturesque mountainous ranges. Common people, including children, in colourful attire lined up most of the road between Paro and Thimphu, waving Indian and Bhutanese flags.

Big hoardings carrying Modi's photographs also could be seen en route.

Soon after his arrival, Modi called on Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk.

Before embarking on the two-day visit, Modi said Bhutan was a "natural choice" as his first foreign destination because of the "unique and special relationship".

The fact that the Prime Minister chose Bhutan as his first foreign destination assumes significance, since China has lately intensified efforts to woo it and establish full-fledged diplomatic ties with Thimphu.

In his pre-departure statement, Modi said relations with Bhutan will be a key foreign policy priority of his government.

"I am looking forward to my first-ever visit to Bhutan and to nurturing and further strengthening India's special relations with Bhutan," said Modi before undertaking the trip at the invitation of Bhutan's King and the Prime Minister.

"Our relations with Bhutan are unique and especially warm. Our historical and cultural linkages make us natural friends and partners," Foreign Secretary Singh told a press conference in Delhi.

"Bhutan is one of our most important strategic partners.... It is a very good country to show our policy of good neighbourliness in South Asia and special token of our friendship," she said explaining why Bhutan was chosen as the first foreign destination of Modi.

Modi will hold talks with Prime Minister Tobgay during his visit which will see the two sides exploring ways to boost their ties, particularly in trade and hydro-electricity.

He will also address the joint session of Parliament of Bhutan. He will also inaugurate one of India's assistance projects — the building of the Supreme Court of Bhutan. — PTIBack












32-yr-old woman gangraped in Badaun 

Badaun (UP): A 32-year-old woman was allegedly held captive and gangraped by three persons, including the son of a policeman, in Bisauli area here, the police said today.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police LR Kumar, the victim was along with her two children taken to an under-construction house by one Himanshu when she had gone out to purchase medicines on Friday night.

The victim alleged that Himanshu, the son of a policeman, locked her up with the children in the house and left only to return later with two aides to gangrape her, the SSP said.

On Saturday, after being released by the accused, the woman told local residents about her ordeal and went to the police.

On the basis of the victim's statement, a case has been lodged against Himanshu, Khalifa, alias Pramod, and an unidentified person. — PTIBack















Beas tragedy: High-tech device deployed to trace bodies

MANDI (HP): A massive search operation resumed on Sunday by using a high-tech device that can scan the riverbed full of silt and boulders to locate bodies of 16 engineering students and a tour operator from Hyderabad who were washed away in the Beas River near this town last week.

"We deployed side scan sonar to capture pictures of the riverbed to locate the bodies. In this operation, we are using this equipment for the first time," said Jaideep Singh, Commanding Officer of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

In the first four days of the operation, eight bodies were recovered. However, no body was traced in the past two days. 

Most of the bodies recovered, say officials, were either trapped under the rocks or buried in the riverbed silt within a three-km radius of the accident spot Thalaut on the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway 21.

"We can now go for the possibility to open the floodgates of Pandoh dam so that the water level in the reservoir is reduced drastically and the bodies, if trapped in boulders or stuck in the slit, surface," Telangana Home Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy, who is camping here, told media.

He said some parents of the missing students have apprehensions that the bodies might washed away further if the water is allowed to go downstream.

"But any decision in this regard will be taken with the consent of the parents," he added.

The district administration on Saturday sought the consent of about 25 parents and family members of the missing students, who are camping here since Monday, to allow the administration to open the floodgates of the dam so that the bodies, if stuck in the reservoir, could be fished out.

Official sources said the depth of the reservoir is between 30 and 50 feet deep.

"We can easily trace the bodies, if they are further washed away with the release of water from the dam, as the river stretch is narrow downwards," Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar, who is coordinating the search operation, said.

The water level in the three-km river stretch near the accident spot was lowered on Saturday for the first time but there was no major achievement.

In a massive operation, over 550 rescue workers, comprising around 50 divers of the NDRF, the Army, the Navy and the ITBP, are involved in the joint search operation, focusing on the 15-km-long downstream stretch of the river from the Larji hydropower project dam to Pandoh dam.

The tragedy occurred when a group of students from the VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology were swept away last Sunday, when water was released into the river without warning from a nearby 126 MW Larji hydropower project. The students were on an excursion to Manali.

the police have registered a case against the Larji hydropower project authorities for causing death by negligence and endangering the life of people. — IANSBack

















Violations by Pak along LoC must stop for dialogue
to progress: Jaitley

SRINAGAR: The Centre on Sunday asserted that dialogue with Pakistan cannot progress if ceasefire violations and infiltration continue, saying such hostilities "must stop" for the situation to "normalise".

"For the situation to normalise, I think it is extremely important that these kind of violations which are taking place at the LoC must stop. That in itself is a confidence-building measure before any country can proceed further," Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters on the second day of his maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir after taking charge.

He replied in the negative when asked if dialogue with Pakistan would go ahead if the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and infiltration in J&K continued.

"Obviously not," Jaitley, who is on a two-day visit for reviewing security measures, said, adding that ceasefire violations must stop for further progress.

India has maintained that it has been its endeavour to establish peaceful and friendly relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.

It has reminded Pakistan that maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border is a "pre-condition" for having a normal relationship between the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in last month and held a meeting with him on crucial bilateral issues including terror and speedy trial of Mumbai terror attack case in Pakistan. 

The meeting was seen as a positive development in the India-Pak ties, which for last one year have witnessed cold vibes due to the incidents along the Line of Control, including beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistan troops.

The third round of comprehensive India-Pak dialogue process was stalled in January last after the beheading incident.

Jaitley today said he has discussed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in separate meetings with Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and senior Army officers.

He also attended a special security review meeting with Omar, top civil, Army, police and paramilitary officials this morning. — PTIBack


















FIFA World Cup
Balotelli goal gives Italy 2-1 win over England

Manaus (Brazil): Mario Balotelli's second-half header earned Italy a 2-1 victory over an enterprising England side in an engaging World Cup Group D opener in Manaus on Saturday.

Amid muggy conditions in the Amazon rainforest city, Claudio Marchisio drilled Italy in front in the 35th minute, only for Daniel Sturridge to equalise two minutes later after a sweeping England counter-attack.

With 19-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling to the fore, England displayed plenty of endeavour, but they were ultimately undone by former Manchester City striker Balotelli's goal shortly after half-time.

His header prevented England from avenging their defeat on penalties by Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 and left Cesare Prandelli's side well placed ahead of Friday's meeting with Costa Rica — shock 3-1 victors against Uruguay earlier in the day — in Recife.

Prandelli described the lack of time-outs due to the heat as "truly absurd", and said that he was relieved that Italy had been able to withstand England's pressure.

"Physically, I think we were a bit better than England," he said. "I think England are one of the strongest teams at the World Cup."

England manager Roy Hodgson drew encouragement from his youthful side's attacking vigour, but victory against a hurting Uruguay will now be imperative when the teams collide in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

"It is a bit tough to accept we lost the game," Hodgson told the BBC.

"Even when they got back to 2-1, I thought we would get back into it. I thought that was the best I'd seen the team play.

"To take them so close gives us great confidence playing against Uruguay and Costa Rica."

While Salvatore Sirigu deputised for the injured Gianluigi Buffon in goal for Italy, Hodgson sprang something of a surprise by fielding Sterling as a number 10, which obliged Wayne Rooney to play on the left. — AFPBack















Costa Rica fight back to stun Uruguay 3-1

FORTALEZA (Brazil): Costa Rica came from behind to stun Uruguay 3-1 on Saturday at the World Cup, opening the tough Group D with a major upset.

Uruguay left star striker Luis Suarez on the bench but went ahead when Edinson Cavani scored a penalty in the 24th minute.

The Central Americans fought back after the break and lone striker Joel Campbell drive in a ball headed down by Celso Borges in the 54th to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Oscar Duarte dived past the outstretched foot of Uruguay’s Cristian Stuani to head in the winner for the underdogs, and substitute Marcos Urena added the third with six minutes left, catching out Muslera to slot the ball in from a tight angle.

It was Costa Rica’s first World Cup victory since beating China in the group stage in 2002.

Uruguay started with striker Diego Forlan alongside Cavani but the 35-year-old made little impact and was substituted on the hour for Nicolas Lodeiro.

Uruguay the highest-ranked team in a group that also includes England and Italy ended their disastrous night with 10 men after Maxi Pereira was sent off for a clumsy injury time foul on Campbell. Pereira will be suspended from the next game against England.

Suarez is still recovering from knee surgery and never came off the bench indicating that the Liverpool forward is still far from match fitness. — APBack

















Colombia celebrate return with 3-0 win

Belo Horizonte (Brazil): Colombia celebrated their first World Cup appearance since 1998 by sweeping aside Greece 3-0 on Saturday with a free-flowing display that showed their abundance of attacking talent even without top striker Radamel Falcao.

The result at the Estadio Mineirao stadium confirmed the South Americans’ pre-tournament status as Group C favourites, though Ivory Coast and Japan are likely to prove trickier rivals.

In another high-tempo match, pacy Colombia attacked from the start as if determined to prove they can cope without Falcao, whose ligament injury put a dampener on their buildup.

They were rewarded early on when marauding left back Pablo Armero scored with a deflected shot in the fifth minute, rocking the Greeks whose gameplan depends on defensive stability.

Striker Teofilo Gutierrez, whom Colombians expect to fill the hole left by Falcao, extended their lead when he stabbed home a 58th minute corner.

Midfielder James Rodriguez sealed the win, and his man-of-the-match performance, with a third goal in stoppage time.

“It’s a good start,” said Colombia’s Argentine coach Jose Pekerman, whose last participation in a World Cup was when he led Argentina to Germany in 2006.

“We showed we’re here to have a good World Cup. But nothing’s won, it was the first game.”

The match was by no means one-sided though. Forced to attack after conceding, Greece had plenty of chances, showing they will be no pushover for their other group rivals.

Vassilis Torosidis headed just past the post, Panagiotis Kone saw a shot well saved and Giorgos Samaras struck just wide.

Their best opportunity fell to veteran striker Fanis Gekas who hit the bar with a header after 63 minutes when it looked easier to score, effectively scuppering any chance of a comeback.

“We had our chances but just could not score. We should have done better in the finishing,” said goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.
“I don’t think we were worth a 3-0 defeat. But unfortunately that’s football. There are three games, we only lost one. It’s a big success to be here, but we have to win too.”

The result pumped up an already pulsating atmosphere among the majority Colombian crowd, a sea of yellow in the bright sunlight of the lunchtime kickoff.

They were thrilled at seeing their team back at football’s top table after being shut out since their great sides of the 1990s featuring flamboyant characters like goalkeeper Rene Higuita and blond-locked Carlos Valderrama.

The joy was in evidence after Colombia’s first goal, when the players danced together in front of their bench in probably the most colourful celebration so far of the Brazil World Cup.

Defeat continued Greece’s dismal record of never keeping a clean sheet at a World Cup finals.

They have never gone beyond the group stage either, but will be encouraged after creating a string of chances and will hope their finishing improves against the Ivory Coast and Japan, who meet later on Saturday.

Defender Armero’s early goal came after sustained pressure down the right wing, where the Colombians were tormenting Greek left back Jose Holebas, though the ball took a lucky deflection before squeezing past keeper Orestis Karnezis.

Three Colombian players looked offside but were deemed not to be interfering with play and there were no protests from Greece.

“It was an own goal, it didn’t look dangerous,” said Greece coach Fernando Santos, lamenting their poor defending.

The powerful Gutierrez then scored an easy goal from close range on the hour after a corner was flicked on.

Finally, Rodriguez, who was lively throughout the match with three decent shots at goal, struck low in stoppage time to send the Colombian fans delirious. “It’s a dream come true. I really wanted a goal. We hope to be able to go far,” he said.

Greece forward Kostas Mitroglou, lacking match fitness after a miserable time in the English Premier League with now relegated Fulham, came off the bench in the second half but was unable to provide a missing spark for his side. — ReutersBack















Ivory Coast beat Japan 2-1 in a dramatic encounter

RECIFE, Brazil: Two goals in two second-half minutes saw the Ivory Coast come from behind and beat Japan 2-1 in a dramatic World Cup Group C late Saturday encounter.

A fine Keisuke Honda strike after 16 minutes had put Japan in front at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife, but the Ivorians introduced Didier Drogba from the bench just after the hour mark before going on to turn the game on its head.

Within five minutes of the veteran striker's arrival on the rain-soaked surface, the Elephants scored twice, both times from Serge Aurier crosses.

The equaliser came when the right-back's curling delivery was headed home by Wilfried Bony, before Gervinho connected with another Aurier centre to stun the sizeable Japanese contingent inside the stadium.

The result sees the Ivory Coast join Colombia — who beat Greece 3-0 earlier in the day in Belo Horizonte — on three points at the top of Group C, and Sabri Lamouchi's side must face the South Americans next in Brasilia on Thursday, with Japan next taking on Greece in Natal.

The Elephants are desperate to finally progress beyond the group stage at a World Cup after failing in 2006 and 2010, and they were boosted in Recife by the presence in their starting line-up of Yaya Toure, who shrugged off a hamstring problem in time to captain the side.

Drogba was left on the bench at kick-off, with Swansea City's Bony preferred as the spearhead of the attack, but the Ivorians still maintained a considerable physical advantage over the Asian champions.

However, what Japan lack in muscle they more than make up for in technical ability, and Honda displayed his class to put the Blue Samurai ahead.

Following a throw-in from the left flank, the ball arrived at the feet of AC Milan playmaker Honda at the edge of the box, and he took a touch before letting fly with a powerful, rising left-foot strike that gave Boubacar Barry Copa in goal no chance.

Honda also scored Japan's first goal at the 2010 World Cup finals, in a 1-0 victory against Cameroon in South Africa, before the Asian giants eventually bowed out in the last 16.

This time, his goal gave Japan a platform which right-back Atsuto Uchida almost built on, as he broke into the box and turned inside Serey Die only to see his shot beaten away by the goalkeeper.

As the rain continued to fall, the Ivorians gradually came back into the contest with Yaya Toure and Arthur Boka both threatening from free-kicks and the latter seeing a fizzing long-range strike parried away by Eiji Kawashima in the Japanese goal.

Lamouchi opted to throw Drogba into the fray in the 62nd minute, withdrawing a defensive midfielder in Serey Die, and his presence unsettled the Japanese defence enough for them to concede two goals in quick succession.

Promising full-back Aurier, of French club Toulouse, was the source of both goals with two identical balls into the box from the right flank.

For the equaliser, Bony connected with his head to send the ball flying past Kawashima and into the net at the far post.

Two minutes later, Roma forward Gervinho was left unmarked to head into the net at the near post, and Japan never really looked like coming back into the contest after that.

Indeed, the Ivory Coast could have added to their lead, with Drogba twice almost getting his name on the scoresheet, including from a curling 30-yard free-kick that Kawashima did well to turn behind. — AFPBack




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