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Tamil Nadu: Will Amma make a comeback? Exit polls predict mixed results

Assembly elections: 42.1% polling recorded in Tamil Nadu, 45% in Kerala till 1PM

Voting for assembly polls in Tamil Nadu , Puducherry and Kerala began on 16 May amid tight security. Polling kicked off at 7AM and will conclude at 6PM.

42.1% and 45% voters turnout has been recorded in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively till 1PM.

233 seats are set to go to polls in Tamil Nadu, with voting in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituency deferred to 23 May over "cash-for-votes" allegations. In another development, the AIADMK and the DMK have submitted an email response to the showcause notices issued by the Election Commission about the violation of its guidelines on promises of freebies as made in the manifestos of the two parties.

Kerala will cast its vote today for the 140-seat assembly. The state government has made elaborate arrangements for smooth and peaceful conduct of polls. In all, 2.56 crore electors including 1.33 crore females are expected to cast votes.

A total of 1, 203 candidates including 109 females are in the fray. There are 21,646 polling booths across the state.

Uttarakhand withdraws consent for CBI probe in Rawat sting, to set up SIT

Six days after Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat ignored a CBI notice summoning him for questioning, the Uttarakhand cabinet on Sunday decided to withdraw the state's consent for a CBI inquiry into a sting video which showed Rawat negotiating with Congress rebels while the state was under President's Rule.

The cabinet made the decision based on the reasoning that an "outside agency" can only investigate the case in the absence of state machinery to do the same. The sting video was released on 26 March, two days before the state's trust vote, according to the Hindustan Times.

Complainant in Pachauri case seeks fast-track trial

More than a year after she filed a case of sexual harassment against former TERI director RK Pachauri, the complainant will move the Delhi high court asking for a fast-track trial.

"The complainant does not want any further delay," her lawyer Prashant Mendiratta said. "The police took more than a year to file a chargesheet in the case and the court took nearly two-and-a-half months to take cognisance."

Mendiratta said the verdict in this case "may have far reaching consequences for similar cases in future".

Pachauri was directed on Saturday by a Delhi court to appear before it as an accused in the case, says The Economic Times.

Jailed RJD leader Shahabuddin allegedly linked to Bihar scribe's murder

Three people have been detained in the murder of Hindustan newspaper's Siwan, Bihar, bureau chief Rajdev Ranjan, on 13 May, of whom one, Upendra Singh, is said to be close to jailed RJD leader and former Siwan MP Mohammed Shahabuddin.

Ranjan's wife, Asha, said on Sunday that her husband had often received threatening phone calls from Singh.

Singh was named last year as a conspirator in the killing of Srikant Bharati, press advisor of BJP Siwan MP Om Prakash Yadav, according to The Indian Express. But he is not named in the FIR filed in the Ranjan murder case.

Missing MHA undersecretary in NGO graft case found, arrested

Anand Joshi, an under-secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, was arrested by the CBI on Sunday and is being questioned about allegations of graft in the cases of NGOs accepting foreign donations.

Joshi went missing on Wednesday after leaving a note in which he claimed he was facing "mental harassment".

According to the CBI, he had sent arbitrary notices to NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and demanded bribes. The CBI was asked to investigate after files relating to alleged FCRA violations by two NGOs run by Teesta Setalvad went missing, according to the Hindustan Times.

ISRO ready to test India's first space shuttle

The Indian Space Research Organisation will soon launch a test version of its own space shuttle. The indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle - Test Demonstrator is now at ISRO's space port in Sriharikota, being given final touches before its launch.

After its maiden run, it will glide back on a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, but since this machine is not designed to float, it will disintegrate from the impact of landing in the sea, according to NDTV.

ISRO scientists say that if this reusable vehicle succeeds, costs of space launches could be considerably reduced.

Delhi police hunt for man who raped Uzbek woman, pushed her into prostitution

The Delhi police arrested a woman and are hunting for her husband for the alleged rape of an Uzbek national before pushing her into prostitution.

According to the woman's complaint, Altaf alias Raju, had been a Facebook friend since last May. "He asked her to come to India and join his 'business'. When she landed in India, Altaf took her to a hotel room in Mahipalpur and repeatedly raped her on the pretext of marriage," a senior police officer told the Hindustan Times. "She alleged that the couple took her passport and cash and pushed her into the flesh trade."

Zika virus hits placenta, foetus hard

A new study of pregnant mice has found that Zika virus damages their placentas and kills fetal mice. Investigators from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis developed two mouse models of Zika infection in pregnancy that may aid in better understanding how the virus affects pregnant women.

One system used female mice genetically engineered to lack the ability to mount a specific immune response, which made them susceptible to Zika virus infection.When these pregnant mice were exposed to Zika, the virus killed most fetuses within a week. The fetal mice that survived showed significant abnormalities, such as severely stunted growth. The researchers saw levels of viral genetic material in the mouse placentas that were 1,000 times greater than in the blood of pregnant mice, suggesting that Zika virus replicated preferentially within the placenta. In the second model system, genetically normal pregnant mice were first given an antibody that blocked their immune response to Zika virus and then were infected with Zika virus one or two days later. This model did not lead to death of fetal mice, but their growth was impaired.

Buddhist monk killed in Bangladesh's Bandarban district

An elderly Buddhist monk was killed by unidentified miscreants in Bangladesh Naikkhangchhari upazila of Bandarban district on 14 May.

B Yu Gaindya, 70, was found near Baishari area at Upaorshakh Para village in the upazila, Kazi Ahsan, officer-in-charge (OC) of Naikkhangchhari Police Station, reports the Daily Star.

According to reports, unknown assailants slit Yu Gaindya's throat. This was confirmed by village head Acrothoyai Chand.

Chand said that he saw Gaindya's body when he went to serve breakfast at his bihar where he used to stay alone. Meanwhile, the police have said that the motive behind the killing cannot be ascertained instantly.