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Twin blasts have killed 12 people in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, in what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh labeled as a “dastardly attack”.

The blasts that hit the city in Andhra Pradesh were 10 minutes apart, police said. Television images showed casualties being rushed to hospital.

India’s home minister said bombs had been planted on bicycles 150m (500ft) apart near a crowded fruit market.

Major cities have been put on alert as police probe the cause for the blasts.

“The number of dead has increased to 12 and the injured are 57,” home secretary RK Singh said after a high-level security meeting following the attacks.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the number of casualties may rise.

The explosions hit just after 19:00 within a radius of 150m, home minister Sushil Shinde said. There was a possible third blast reported shortly afterwards, said Hyderabad police.

No group has so far said it carried out the attack.

Authorities had received intelligence about possible attacks in the country but no specific information as to where or when they might occur, Sushil Shinde said.

The information had been passed on to the states, he added.

Twin blasts have killed 12 people in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad

Twin blasts have killed 12 people in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad

PM Manmohan Singh has urged the public to remain calm.

“The guilty will not go unpunished,” he tweeted.

He has directed federal agencies to extend all possible help to the state authorities in the relief effort, and offered 200,000 rupees to the next of kin of each person killed.

Meanwhile, Australia’s cricket team says it has held talks about its players’ safety with Indian authorities in the wake of the deadly twin bombings. The second Test of the India-Australia series is due to start in Hyderabad on March 2.

“The safety of the squad is of paramount importance and Australian team management and Cricket Australia staff are liaising with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, local authorities and the Australian High Commission to ensure we have all the appropriate information,” the team said in a statement on Thursday.

Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra state have been put on high alert following the blasts, with measures such as increased police presence on the streets and random vehicle searches.

It is the first major bomb attack in India since a September 2011 blast outside Delhi’s High Court killed 13 people.

The Muslim extremist group Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji) said it carried out the Delhi attack.

Hyderabad is one of southern India’s main commercial hubs.

The explosions hit the busy Dilsukh Nagar neighborhood, which is crowded with cinemas, shops, restaurants and one of India’s largest fruit and vegetable markets.

There have been at least nine attacks on the city since 1992, including twin explosions in 2007 that killed more than 40 people.

The city has a sizeable Muslim minority, is a stronghold of the Muslim political party, MIM, and has a long history of religious tension.

Religious tensions grew from the 1980s and 1990s with Hindus and Muslims moving out of mixed areas into community ghettos.

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The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in the capital, New Delhi.

The ceremony came hours after a plane chartered by the Indian government brought her body back to the city.

The 23-year-old medical student died in a Singapore hospital where she was being treated for severe injuries.

The attack sparked two weeks of protests about gender attitudes in India, and calls for changes to laws on rape and violence against women.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the head of India’s governing Congress party Sonia Gandhi were at the airport when the plane landed at about 04:15.

A convoy carrying a gold-colored coffin and the victim’s parents then drove towards the Janakpuri district of Delhi where she had been living.

The private funeral was held amid tight security.

The government has been heavily criticized for its response to the attack and remains anxious about a backlash, with police still cordoning off the heart of the capital to prevent demonstrations.

Sonia Gandhi has promised to fight what she called India’s shameful social mindsets that lie behind such crimes.

Six men arrested for the December 16 rape have been charged with murder. If convicted, they face the death penalty.

On Saturday evening, candlelit vigils were held across India to mourn the woman and express anger and sorrow at her death.

Large areas of Delhi were sealed off and hundreds of armed police and riot troops deployed as news of the victim’s death spread.

Protests continued in Delhi on Sunday, with a peaceful demonstration where people painted slogans and tributes on a large white canvas.

“This incident should open our eyes to the fact that we need to raise our children right, we need to raise the people right,” said protester and social worker Murphy John.

He said he did not agree with calls for the death penalty for convicted rapists, fearing it would encourage murder so victims could not report crimes.

The Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore said the woman “passed away peacefully” early on Saturday.

The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in New Delhi

The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in New Delhi

Hospital chief executive Kelvin Loh said she had suffered severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh said he was “very saddened” by the woman’s death, and that the angry public reaction was “perfectly understandable”.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside “narrow sectional interest” and work together to make India “a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in”.

The woman – a medical student whose identity has not been released – and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Friends told the AFP news agency the couple were in a relationship and had been planning to marry in the next few weeks.

“They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi,” said her neighbor, Meera Rai.

According to the reports, the couple were attacked after the man objected to another group of men taunting her.

Police said the woman was raped for nearly an hour. Both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.

According to official figures, a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours, while women across the country say they are frequently subjected to sexual intimidation and violence.

Officials have since announced a series of measures intended to make the city safer for women.

These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

But many of the protesters say that women are viewed as secondary citizens, and that a fundamental change in culture and attitudes, backed up by law, is needed to protect them.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon offered his condolences to the woman’s family, saying in a statement that he “utterly condemns this brutal crime”.

“Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated,” the statement said.

“Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected.”

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Yash Chopra, one of India’s most influential film-makers, has died from dengue fever in Mumbai, aged 80.

Over five decades, Yash Chopra, dubbed the King of Romance, gave Bollywood some of its biggest blockbusters.

His film studios Yash Raj Films helped establish some of Indian cinema’s biggest names, including Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

In his tribute, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Yash Chopra as an “icon of Indian cinema”.

Yash Chopra will be remembered as the man behind some of Bollywood’s most watched films, known not just in India but around the world.

He died in Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital on Sunday and was also suffering kidney ailments, according to Dr. Prakash Jiyavani.

“It is sad news that Yash is no more among us,” close family friend Amit Khanna, chairman of Reliance Big Entertainment, told AFP news agency.

Singer Lata Mangeshkar said: “He made me sing in all his films. He was a jovial person… Even when he was angry, he simply kept quiet.”

Yash Chopra, one of India's most influential film-makers, has died from dengue fever in Mumbai, aged 80

Yash Chopra, one of India’s most influential film-makers, has died from dengue fever in Mumbai, aged 80

In his tribute, Prime Minister Singh said Yash Chopra had entertained many generations “with his rare creativity”.

“His flourish to essay romance and social drama was unmatched,” the prime minister said, adding that the filmmaker had established the international reputation of Indian cinema.

Yash Chopra started his film career working for his brother before establishing Yash Raj Films and going on to produce more than 40 movies – 12 of them as director.

Yash Chopra was behind major hits including Deewar (Wall), Dil To Pagal Hai (Heart Is Mad) and Chandni (Moonlight).

On his birthday last month, he said Jab Tak Hai (Till I am Alive) – being released next month – would be his last movie as a director.

 

Indian police are carrying out raids across 10 cities as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the allocation of coalfields.

Police say they are searching the premises of five companies, which allegedly misrepresented facts prior to being allocated the coalfields.

Indian government officials and company employees are also under investigation.

Government auditors recently said India lost $33 billion selling coalfields cheaply between 2006 and 2009.

The raids come as the government rejected opposition demands to cancel the sale of the coalfields.

Parliament has been deadlocked over demands by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the government should cancel the sale and order an independent probe into the matter.

Although the report by government auditors does not mention Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP leaders say he must step down as he was heading the coal ministry at the time of the sale.

Indian police are carrying out raids across 10 cities as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the allocation of coalfields

Indian police are carrying out raids across 10 cities as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the allocation of coalfields

Manmohan Singh denies any wrongdoing and has refused to quit.

On Tuesday morning, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered five cases for alleged cheating against five companies, various individuals and officials and began conducting raids at 30 locations.

Raids were being carried out in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Patna, Hyderabad and several other cities, a CBI spokesperson said.

Officials say the CBI inquiry began before the government auditors report came out last month.

At the heart of the CBI’s investigation is the allegation that some of the companies were set up only to obtain the coalfields being allocated by the government and then sell them off at profit. Media reports allege that the companies involved misrepresented their ability to mine the coal.

The auditors report said that of the 86 coal blocks, which were to produce coal by 2010-11, “only 28 blocks (including 15 allocated to the private sector) started production as of 31 March 2011”.

But correspondents say the timing of the raids suggests the beleaguered government is eager to be seen to be doing something about an increasingly controversial sale.

Over the weekend the BJP – which has dubbed the controversy “coalgate” – said it would only allow parliament to function if the government cancelled the sales of 142 coal blocks and ordered a probe.

But the government has not relented to those demands and has said that it is looking into the matter.

“The demand for cancellation of all 142 coal blocks… is not founded on sound logic… It [cancellation] cannot be done through diktat or arbitrary orders,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday.

“There is a procedure for it and that procedure is under way,” he said.

India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world.

The auditors’ report on the sale of coal is the latest in a series of financial scandals to hit the Congress-led government, and the revelations have caused public anger.

India’s coal industry:

• With about 246 billion tons of coal reserves, India is one of the largest coal producers in the world

• 55% of India’s commercial energy needs are met by coal

• The biggest reserves are in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh

• The government took over coal mining in 1973

• A new law to auction coalfields was introduced in 2010

• But auditors say the loss from misselling coalfields is $33 billion

 

 

President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years.

Asif Ali Zardari was met at Delhi’s Palam air force base by India’s parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Pakistani president is having lunch with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, before travelling to an important Muslim shrine in Rajasthan.

It is hoped the meeting could boost economic ties between the two nations.

Asif Ali Zardari is officially coming for private religious reasons, to visit the shrine of Sufi saint Moinudin Chishti in Ajmer, 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Delhi.

However, his Interior Minister Rehman Malik and son and political heir Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are reportedly among an entourage of at least 25 people who have travelled with him.

President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years

President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years

Asif Ali Zardari was driven from the air base to the Indian prime minister’s residence amid tight security.

The two men were to meet privately before sitting down for lunch.

The focus of their talks is likely to be on issues that they can reach agreement on, such as trade.

One Indian government source told Reuters news agency the “prime minister will talk only about issues related to trade, education and culture this time”.

Relations between Pakistan and India have been gradually improving since peace talks were derailed after the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Asif Ali Zardari recently backed the lifting of trade restrictions on India, and Pakistan is also talking of dropping a restrictive list of what products it will buy from India.

But tensions remain over more sensitive issues, such as the disputed region of Kashmir, and Pakistani militant activity against India.

Only this week, India again called for Pakistan to hand over Hafiz Saeed, the man it alleges planned the Mumbai attacks, after Washington announced a $10 million bounty for his arrest.

Pakistan has again refused, asking to see proof for the allegations.

The last time a Pakistani leader met Manmohan Singh was in 2005 when then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf happened to be at the same cricket match as the Indian prime minister in Delhi.

The shrine of Sufi saint Moinudin Chishti is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the region, receiving a constant flow of devotees.