Kashmir winter festival aims to attract tourists post devastating floods

Srinagar, Dec 31 (ANI): A three-day winter festival organized by the tourism department of Jammu and Kashmir is attracting people as the arrival of tourists to the state has picked up months after floods devastated the valley. Kashmir saw a major decrease in number of tourists after September deluge in which hundreds of people were killed and thousands of villages were destroyed. However, the tourism department is trying to regain what it lost with its winter event called 'Jashne Chilai-e-Kalan'. Chilai kalan is the coldest 40 day winter period in the northern state that starts from December 21. The Kashmir valley is witnessing intense cold wave with sub-zero temperatures. The purpose behind organizing this winter festival is to let people know that Jammu and Kashmir is back to normalcy.Various cultural activities are being held during the festival where dancers and musicians perform, comedy and folk theatre acts are showcased and people dress up as snowman to entertain the kids. A visitor to the event, Majid, said that such events will help promote Kashmir's culture and traditions. Dec 31, 2014

Over 100 people reconverted to Sikhism in Amritsar

Amritsar/ New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): Around 120 people from 15 families were re-converted to Sikhism from Christianity in a 'ghar wapsi' (homecoming) event in Amritsar city of Punjab. Lately, there have been a lot of cases of religious conversions - mainly to Hinduism - in the country and politicians have slammed ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not taking any action against it. The families stated they originally belonged to Mazhabi Sikh community and were lured into Christianity. Reportedly, the conversion function was organised by Dharma Jagran Manch, a body associated with Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), after people expressed desire to return to Sikh faith. Many have accused that these conversions are done forcefully but Kumar said no one forced him to change his religion. Dec 31, 2014

Police arrest 32 Maoist sympathisers in Chhattisgarh

Bijapur, Dec 31 (ANI): In a major crackdown, police in Chhattisgarh arrested at least 32 Maoist sympathizers. The operation was carried out in Bijapur district, hotbed of Maoist rebels. Most of the accused had several cases pending against them. Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Bijapur, Indira Kalyan Elesela, said some of them faced serious charges like murder etc. The rebels have operated for decades across a wide swath of central and eastern India, and grew in strength during recent times in areas where poor, tribal villagers came into conflict with mining companies seeking resources for industrialization. Dec 31, 2014

BSE closes points 95.88 up on Dec 31

New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): Trading at the Bombay Stock Exchange today closed 95.88 points up to stand at 27,499.42. At the National Stock Exchange the Nifty closed 34.45 points up to stand at 8,282.70. ICRA and GPPL were among the top gainers of Group A with an increase of 8.62% and 7.96% along with AMTEK AUTO LTD and SUZLON with an increase of 7.84% and 7.02% respectively, while the top losers of Group A include PMCFIN and RASOYA PROTEINS LTD. with a decrease of 5.00% and 4.44% along with ABB and TUBE INVESTMENTS OF INDIA LTD. with a decrease of 2.63% and 1.99% at the close of the markets. The Auto sector is down 36.27 points at 18,646.06 while the banking sector is up 64.63 points at 21,429.72 and the reality sector is up 16.17 points at 1,555.76. The Indian currency is down 0.19% at Rs 63.19 per dollar. Dec 31, 2014

PK row: Movie running legally, no intention to stop screenings, says Fadnavis

Mumbai, Dec 31 (ANI): Amid protests by right wing groups demanding ban on the Aamir Khan- starrer movie 'PK', Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said there is no intentions of stopping the screening of a movie. Talking to mediapersons in Mumbai, he also clarified that there will be no probe against the film in the state. Dec 31, 2014

JandK's mandate decisive and divisive, no hurry in forming govt: Mehbooba Mufti

Jammu, Dec 31 (ANI): PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday met the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, NN Vohra to discuss government formation in the state. Mufti said that the mandate given by the people of JandK was both decisive and divisive and it could be a great opportunity for both Congress and NDA. She added that there was no hurry in forming government in JandK. Dec 31, 2014

Beach bike racing draws crowd in Kochi

Kochi, Dec 31 (ANI): Huge crowd gathered at Fort Kochi Beach in Kerala to watch bikers race on sand. Bikers from Kerala and neighbouring states participated in the race which was part of the ongoing Cochin Carnival 2014. Professional and amateur bikers chased down each other to win the 30th edition of the race. The crowd enjoyed the race and cheered whenever a biker passed by. Each participant is required to have a valid license to take part. Special tyres with huge blocks of rubber are installed in a bike for better grip and to avoid skidding during the race. The bikers practice for months on the beach to participate in this event. Trainers are also available but in less numbers. Dec 31, 2014

Cold wave persists in northern states of India

New Delhi/Kanpur, Dec 31 (ANI): North India continued to reel under cold wave on Wednesday (December 31) with dense fog throwing normal life out of gear. Night temperatures went up marginally in several places and people sat around bonfire to stay warm in the inclement weather conditions. The poor visibility also disrupted road, rail and air traffic. As trains ran behind scheduled time due to fog, passengers slept at railway stations in New Delhi. Passengers have also been complaining on trains running late. The cold wave has added to the troubles of daily wage labourers like autorickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers and homeless people as they have no alternative but to bear the chill to earn their living. Mercury dipped further because of snowfall in the higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Dec 31, 2014

Now, Sikh 'ghar wapsi' reports from Punjab raises eyebrows

New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): Reactions poured in as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate, Dharma Jagran Manch (DJM), on Tuesday reconverted 40 people, including woman and children, from Christianity to Sikhism. Politicos demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the matter. Dec 31, 2014

Politicos react on Mamata's remarks over opposing land ordinance

New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that she won't allow the implementation of the land ordinance that the union cabinet has approved on Monday. Politicos reacted on her remarks on the recently passed land ordinance act. The BJP termed the TMC chief's stand as 'against the interest' of her state. Dec 31, 2014

Security forces destroy illegal marijuana cultivation in Tripura

Tripura, Dec 31 (ANI): In a joint operation carried out by security forces and the administration, thousands of marijuana plants grown illegally in hundreds of acres in remote areas of Tripura were destroyed. Acting on a tip-off, paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF), state police, excise department and state administration found illegal marijuana cultivation across the hillocks in Jarulbachi village. The total amount of Bangladesh bound destroyed marijuana is worth more than rupees 10 million and the operation is still continuing. According to officials, there are rackets involved in illegal cultivation of cannabis particularly in the bordering area where habitation is less and presence of administration very scanty. Usually the poor border population is involved in the illegal cultivation and the final harvest is smuggled to neighbouring Bangladesh from where it goes to Middle East market as it provides hefty returns. Dec 31, 2014

Kejriwal likens his 49-day govt to Ram Rajya, Congress condemns

New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal has likened his 49 days of government to ‘Ram Rajya’, opening doors for condemnation from the Congress party. Congress leaders Shiela Dikshit, PC Chacko, JP Aggarwal and Barkha Shukla Singh condemned Kejriwal’s statement saying that he ran away from his responsibilities leaving the capital in a poor condition. Dec 31, 2014

J and K govt formation: Mehbooba Mufti to meet Governor, NPP calls for fresh polls

New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir's National Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh said on Wednesday that various political parties are meeting the Governor over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir but as no single party has got majority so a proper alliance needs to be decided upon. He also called for fresh polls by dismissing the recent ones in order to receive clear majority to a single party. PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti is scheduled to meet the Governor over government formation today. Dec 31, 2014

Indonesia says six bodies recovered so far, search hampered by bad weather

Jakarta, Dec 31 (ANI): Indonesian search and rescue officials said on Wednesday six bodies have been recovered so far but adverse weather was hampering their operation off Borneo. Bodies as well as debris were found on Tuesday (December 30) for the first time since the AirAsia flight went missing on Sunday (December 28). Search crews have yet to retrieve the black boxes of the plane. Dec 31, 2014