Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat in Sri Lanka's presidential election

Colombo, Jan 09 (ANI): President Mahinda Rajapaksa has reportedly conceded defeat to joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in what has been touted as Sri Lanka's tightest-ever seventh presidential election race. According to reports, Rajapaksa has left the official "Temple Trees" residence, after cumulative results indicated that Sirisena was leading by a huge margin. "President Rajapaksa left Temple Trees bowing to the people's mandate in the presidential election," a statement from Rajapaksa's office said. President had talks with the main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and conveyed his wish to let the new President take over without any hindrance, the statement further said. With final result yet to be out, Sirisena is expected to be declared winner by around 4,00,000 votes. Rajapaksa had served two terms as president and was seeking a record third consecutive term. Jan 9, 2015

Social sector looks for higher budget allocation in skill building

New Delhi, Jan 09 (ANI): Representatives from India’s social sector sought higher budget allocation in skill building and public procurement, in pre-budget talks with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Jaitley also held pre-budget meetings with representatives from Indian industry, earlier this week. Social sector representatives hoped that the government would focus on skill building so that employment would see a rise and people could sustain their jobs. She said they also spoke on focussing on skill development for the employment of youth, especially from socially excluded communities. The representatives also gave recommendations on public procurement for which there is no legislation or policy. The budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016 will be out by the end of February. Jan 9, 2015

Police recover huge cache of explosives in Jharkhand

Dumka, Jan 09 (ANI): Police recovered huge cache of explosives in Maoist affected Dumka district of Jharkhand. Acting on a tip-off, police reached a spot in middle of thick forest area and recovered 55 bags of ammonium nitrate and two cartons of gelatin, which was lying unattended. The recovery of explosives in large amount has worried the authorities. Prior to 2014 assembly elections, during an encounter with Maoists, police had destroyed camps and recovered explosives in large amount. The Maoists, also known as Naxals in India, say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers. Jan 9, 2015

VHP's 'Himalaya Dhwani' draws ire for morphing Kareena Kapoor's photo for love jihad campaign

Kullu/ New Delhi/ Mumbai, Jan 09 (ANI): Political leaders lashed out at hardline Hindu organisation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) after it published morphed photo of Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, half of her face covered with burqa, on its magazine for 'love jihad' campaign. The magazine, 'Himalaya Dhwani', brought out by the women wing of VHP published Kapoor's picture, half covered with a burqa with title reading 'Love Jihad-dharamantran se rashtratran' (religious conversion to conversion of nationality) on its cover page. CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat said such elements were gaining strength due to RSS. Bollywood actor Raza Murad said that Kapoor was free to take her life decisions. However, sub-editor of the magazine, Rajini Thukral said that Muslims were trying to convert India into an Islamic country. Jan 9, 2015

Kashmir police prepared to deal with any situation: JandK DGP

Jammu, Jan 09 (ANI): Police of Jammu and Kashmir are prepared to deal with any eventuality, said top official amid heavy shelling and infiltration bids in the border region from Pakistan. In the disputed region of Kashmir, thousands of Indians have fled their homes as fighting between India and Pakistan spread along a 200-km (124-mile) border stretch. At least 10 people have been killed since December 31. Meanwhile, Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Rajendra Kumar said his force was ready to meet any challenge. The Border Security Force (BSF) foiled three infiltration bids from Pakistan last week, said BSF Director General DK Pathak after cross-border firing intensified between the two neighbouring countries. Tensions have been high since Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off peace talks in August, and border clashes have erupted intermittently since. Jan 9, 2015

French envoy to India says media will not be intimidated by Paris attacks

New Delhi/ Gandhinagar/ Varanasi, Jan 09 (ANI): France Ambassador to India, Francois Richier said media would not be intimidated by such attacks on a Paris-based weekly satirical magazine while holding a condolence meeting in New Delhi embassy to express solidarity with victims. Earlier, a policewoman was killed in a shootout in southern Paris, but police sources could not immediately confirm a link with Wednesday's killings at the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper that marked the worst attack on French soil for decades. Richier said people would stand against the attempts to constrain freedom. France national leaders and allied states described the assault on Charlie Hebdo, known for its lampooning of Islam and other religions as well as politicians, as an assault on democracy. Many European newspapers either re-published Charlie Hebdo cartoons or mocked the killers with images of their own. Jan 9, 2015

Police arrest three suspected IM militants from Karnataka

Bengaluru, Jan 09 (ANI): Police arrested three suspected militants from Karnataka with a large cache of explosives and bomb making equipments, said a senior officer. Police commissioner of Bengaluru, MN Reddy said the security agencies conducted raids in Bengaluru as well as Bhatkal town to nab the alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives on the basis of intelligence input. Reddy ruled out any connection yet between these arrests and the December 28 church street blast in the city, which killed one woman and wounded one man. Police seized bomb making equipments and electronic devices from the suspects. The Indian Mujahideen has carried out dozens of bombings in recent years and poses the most serious threat so far from a home grown group in Hindu majority India. Jan 9, 2015

Snowfall in Kufri boosts tourism

Kufri, Jan 09 (ANI): An early spell of snowfall in Kufri this year has brought cheers to the small business community. Nestled in hills, Kufri in Himachal Pradesh has been attracting a steady stream of visitors after temperatures plummeted to zero levels. One of the preferred tourist destinations for people from plains, Kufri has reported a significant jump in tourist numbers. Locals are happy as all sectors linked to tourism industry are doing well. Tourists, both domestic and foreign, have been thronging Kufri since a thick blanket of snow enveloped the hills. Travel agent, Kuldeep Sharma, said the rush of tourists has boosted the revenues of hotels and small traders. A large number of tourists could be seen enjoying snow in forests of Kufri covering almost 23 kilometers of the area. Jan 9, 2015