India working to ensure safety of Indian nationals in wake of Sydney cafe hostage: MEA

New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akbaruddin on Monday said that the authorities are working to ensure safety of Indian nationals in the wake of Sydney caf hostage. Akbaruddin said that the staff of the Indian consulate in Sydney has been evacuated and a helpline is set up. He added that the ministry's main focus was the safety of Indian nationals in Sydney and that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has been in touch with high commissioner who is in touch with Indian authorities for all updates. Armed assailant was holding an unknown number of hostages inside a central Sydney cafe on Monday, police said, with local television showing some being forced to hold up a black flag with white Arabic writing in the window. Dec 15, 2014

Schools to remain close on December 25, essay competition on 'good governance' online and voluntary:

New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Monday slamming The Times of India for its inaccurate reporting said that all the CBSE schools would remain close on December 25 and essay competition on 'good governance' is online and voluntary. She added that misreporting has been deliberated. The Times of India in its report had mentioned that the HRD ministry intends to keep all the CBSE schools open on December 25 to celebrate the birthdays of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya by observing 'good governance day'. Dec 15, 2014

Yogi Adityanath remains defiant, says nothing wrong in 'ghar wapsi' and should be allowed

New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Amidst raging controversy over his statement on conversion issue, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath remained defiant and said that there is nothing wrong in 'ghar wapsi' programme and that the same should be allowed. Adityanath claimed that the opposition parties are trying to divide the society and further said that since independence, many states had massive conversion due to allurement and pressure. He said that if these people wanted to come back to their original religion, the doors for the same should be open. Lashing out at the opposition for creating ruckus over the conversion issue, the BJP MP said that they had run out of issues and did not want discussion on anything which is why they are doing this. Dec 15, 2014

Politicos react after gunman holds hostage at Lindt cafe in Australia

New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Politicos reacted on Monday after an armed assailant kept unknown number of hostages inside the Lindt cafe in Martin Place in Sydney. BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao hoped that the people in hostage may return home safely. Congress leader Rashid Alvi said that all the nations should get together to fight against terrorism. NCP leader Majid Memon said that the matter should be investigated. JD (U) leader Ali Anwar that India should become more careful of Islamic Militants. Dec 15, 2014

Industries in Tamil Nadu disappointed by power tariff hike

Coimbatore, Dec 15 (ANI): Industries in Tamil Nadu expressed disappointment over recent hike in power tariffs by the state government. The Tamil Nadu government increased power tariffs by approximately 15 percent on Friday. President of Electricity Consumer's Welfare Association of Tamil Nadu, Balasundaram said the hike would result in their industries becoming less competitive as their costs will increase. He added that this would result in the industrialists shifting their set-up to other states where the power supply is good and cheap. The industrialists feel that the state government took the decision to increase the power tariffs suo moto without consulting them. Dec 15, 2014

Cold wave grips North India as snowfall and rain continues

Shimla/ New Delhi, Dec 15 (ANI): Cold weather conditions intensified in northern India due to fresh snowfall and light rains. Temperatures in Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi plummeted as Shimla and Manali regions received snowfall, which also led to rainfall in the capital city. Shimla received season's first snowfall on Saturday making life difficult for people. Trees, roads and houses were covered in thick blanket of snow. The cold wave has troubled daily wage labourers and homeless people as they have no alternative to fight the chill. A resident of Shimla city, Dimple Chadha said water had frozen, hitting the supply. Another resident Dayanand said it snowed early this year. Meanwhile, people in New Delhi were also grappling with sudden dip in the mercury. Light rains accompanied with cold winds dropped temperature two notches below 20.8 degrees Celsius. Dec 15, 2014