Month: December 2019
With the flood situation in Assam and Mizoram still grim, officials in other northeastern States are on red alert since water levels in major rivers may increase any time with the rains. As Assam is the source of all goods transported to other northeastern States, the movement of trucks and inter-State buses has been hampered. Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told The Hindu that the government’s long-term plan was to dredge river beds. He said, “As a result of rampant deforestation, there is heavy silting in the mountains and most of the rivers have muddy instead of running water. This will quicken the death of the Loktak lake, the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.” The flood situation in upper Assam has been officially described as “critical”.
Fresh violence erupted in Bhangar in South 24 Paraganas district of West Bengal after a local Trinamool Congress leader was allegedly shot dead in the Natunhat market area on Sunday. Locals said the deceased, Ashikur Rehman was a panchayat samiti member and a close aide of former Trinamool MLA Arabul Islam. Contradictory versions were given by locals on the incident. “Trinamool goons have been gathering in the area for the last few days to foil our mega rally [against the proposed power grid in the area]. Mr. Rehman died after being hit by a stray bullet accidentally fired by a Trinamool worker,” a member of the Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment told The Hindu. However, a section of the residents said the incident was an “outcome of the faction feud in Trinamool.” “Armed Trinamool cadres of several factions had gathered at Natunhat and violence broke out among them,” said a resident. Bhangar has been tense for the last couple of months over the setting up of a power grid.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined a plea to take suo motu cognisance of the deaths of children in a government hospital at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.A lawyer made the plea before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, who responded that he should approach the Allahabad High Court.‘HC can deal with it’The Bench reasoned that the incident happened in “one State and in one hospital”, and the High Court was best to deal with the case, in case a petition is filed before it.The court also asked why it should intervene as the authorities had already swung into action.The lawyer wanted an Special Investigation Team to be constituted under the directions of the SC to investigate the deaths of over 60 children, many allegedly due to a disruption in the oxygen supply, at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur.
Two local Hizbul Mujahideen militants, who escaped at the end of a day-long encounter in Kulgam’s Qazigund area on Tuesday, were arrested from two separate spots on Wednesday.A police official said combing operation in the Kund Nowbug area around the encounter site was resumed in the morning. A soldier and a militant were killed in the gun battle on Tuesday. A police official said a local militant, Aqib Iqbal Malik alias Talha Bhai, a resident of Ringet Noorabad, was arrested from the area. Malik, who joined militancy earlier this year, had been injured.Another militant, who is also believed to have fled from the encounter site in Kulgam, was apprehended as he was trying to board a train in the morning. He has been identified as Shams Waqar, said a police official.Meanwhile, the Army has identified the deceased soldier as sepoy Manjinder Singh. Singh, 22, joined the army in 2015 and was a resident of Punjab’s Mansa area.Mirwaiz, Malik arrestedSeparatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, addressed a small rally in Srinagar on Wednesday. They called for a shutdown on November 27 against the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raids and ongoing “crackdown of civilian population” during counter-insurgency operations in the Valley.The Mirwaiz and Mr. Malik, along with 30 supporters, were arrested when they tried to lead a protest march towards the city centre Lal Chowk.Earlier, Mr. Geelani addressed a rally on the phone. The Mirwaiz and Mr. Malik were present at Abi Guzar to jointly address the media. “This puppet government has crossed all limits of oppression. If they thinks they can break our resolve and unity, they are mistaken. We are not going to surrender under any circumstance,” said Mr. Malik. ‘Fabricated cases’He alleged that NIA raids and the security agencies’ operation against civilian population in south and north Kashmir “is aimed at forcing us to surrender.” The trio said the shutdown on November 27 was also against the “maltreatment of detainees and the fabricated cases being slapped on leaders and supporters.” For many months now, separatists in Kashmir have been barred from holding public rallies.
In a pioneering step to curb tobacco consumption, the Rajasthan government has introduced vendor licensing for the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products. A circular of the Department of Local Self-Government has laid down rules for licensing and prohibited tobacco sale outlets from selling non-tobacco products.Non-tobacco itemsThe State government has made procuring of licence mandatory for sale of tobacco products within the boundaries of urban local bodies across the State. Besides, the licensed vendors will not be allowed to sell kid-friendly non-tobacco items at the shops. These items may include toffee, candy, biscuits, wafers and cold drinks.The circular, issued on January 4, has stated that the failure to comply with the new provisions would attract strict action under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003.
PDP demands judicial probe into Shopian firing JeM leader killedMeanwhile, the Army claimed to have killed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) mastermind of the Sunjwan camp attack at Awantipora in Pulwama.“JeM’s operational commander Mufti Waqas has been eliminated in a surgical attack,” Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.Waqas, a Pakistani, was killed in a joint operation “based on specific intelligence.”“This has resulted in a major dent to the designs of the JeM,” the Army said.Waqas, a category ‘A plus plus’ militant, was behind the Sunjwan and the Lethpora attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. Ten people, including six jawans and one civilian, were killed in the Sunjwan attack last month.According to the family members, the four deceased youths in the two vehicles — identified as Gowhar Ahmed Lone, Suhail Khaleel, Mohammad Shahid Khan and Shahnawaz Ahmad Wagay, all residents of Shopian — were “civilians.”“My son is not an overground worker. He is a Class 12 student. It’s a cold-blooded murder,” said Khan’s father Bashir Ahmad. Wagay’s brother said he had spoken to him “half-an-hour before the incident,” and contested the Army’s claims.Contrary to the Army’s views, Ms. Mufti expressed “distress over the deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire”. Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vice president Sartaj Madni called the Shopian incident “outrageous” and condemned it.PDP’s MLA from Shopian, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, demanded a “judicial probe”. “No circumstances can justify these civilian killings,” he said.“We will investigate if the killed youth had any affiliation with militant outfits,” said Director General of Police S.P. Vaid, while making an appeal to people “to maintain calm”.Protests spread in ValleyThe killings in Shopian, where five civilian had died in security forces’ operations in the past two months, sparked fresh violent protests in Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, Budgam and Kulgam.It evoked a complete shutdown in entire Valley on the call of the separatists.Restrictions were imposed in parts of Srinagar, Pulwama and Shopian “as a precautionary measure”. Several Hurriyat leaders and separatists, including JKLF chief Yasin Malik, were arrested. Train services and Internet was stopped in south Kashmir.Schools, which were to reopen after three-month-long of winter break on Monday, were closed again till March 7. Examinations by the J&K board, Kashmir University and Islamic University of Science and technology, were cancelled. Prestigious Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) examination was also put on a hold.Mainstream, separatist condemnDemanding a probe, former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said, “The Shopian incident is yet another stark reminder of the grave and rapidly deteriorating situation in the Valley and the varying accounts from the CM and the security forces are unfortunate. It further perpetuate the sense of disenchantment, distrust and alienation.”CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam, M. Y. Tarigami said “unless deterrent action is taken against those, involved in such incidents, these are going to be repeated”.“Whatever the excuses, killing of unarmed and uninvolved civilians has no justification,” said Mr. Tarigami. He appealed to “the democratic forces in the rest of the country to pressurize the government so that the security forces are made accountable”.Separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), which comprises Syed Ali Geelani’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Yasin Malik’s JKLF, has called for a protest march towards Shopian on March 7.“The trigger-happy forces are deployed to kill Kashmiris and the pro-India politicians are here to provide a legal cover to the killers,” said a JRL spokesman.“Lies and propaganda are being spread by the Army,” said the Mirwaiz.Militant conglomerate, United Jihad Council, chief Syed Salahuddin said “India will get nothing but only disappointment by targeting innocent civilians.”Mahmood Shah, chief of the LeT, Lashkar-e-Taiba, also condemned the civilian killings. “The Narendra Modi government was upset with the never-ending accomplishments of fighters,” said the LeT spokesman. Two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants and four civilians were killed in “a firing incident” in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday evening.Amid conflicting versions from the Army, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the victim families on Monday, there were widespread protests, a clampdown by security forces and a shutdown.Vehicles flagged downAccording to Brigadier Harbir Singh and Colonel N.S. Negi, two speeding vehicles were asked to stop near Shopian’s Pohanu village around 8 p.m. on Sunday by the Army’s mobile vehicle checkpost.“However, both vehicles continued to move. When a search light was flashed, heavy firing came from the vehicles. In the gunfight, one terrorist was hit and fell off. The vehicles sped off,” said the Army officials.The Army said the bodies of two local LeT militants, Amir Ahmad Malik and Ashiq Hussain Bhat, were found at two spots.While Malik died at the encounter site, Bhat’s body was found in an apple orchard in Saidpura village on Monday morning, the Army said.“During the search, three bodies were found in one vehicle. The second vehicle was spotted at Pinzura village, with a person dead inside. These individuals were accompanying the terrorists and were overground workers,” the Army said. Two weapons were recovered from the slain militants.Also Read
A retired police sub-inspector was beaten to death in broad daylight in Allahabad on Monday. The incident was captured on CCTV cameras.The victim, Abdul Samad Khan, had stepped out to purchase grocery when he was attacked from behind. CCTV visuals showed three men mercilessly beating him with sticks after knocking him off his bicycle in a narrow lane in Shivkuti area. Succumbs to injuriesNone of the bystanders or commuters came to his rescue as the three rained blows on him for more than a minute and later, as he lay helpless and bleeding. He succumbed to his injuries in a private hospital in the evening.The police have registered a case of murder against the main accused, Mohammad Yusuf, and 10 others on a complaint filed by the victim’s daughter Shamida Khan. The FIR also mentions criminal conspiracy and offences under the Arms Act.“Four persons have been arrested and sent to jail,” said a police spokesperson on Tuesday. They have been identified as Yusuf, Ibne, Rajik and Shebu. The arrests came soon after the Allahabad High Court, taking cognisance of the incident, sought a report from the police explaining why the culprits had not been arrested despite the damning CCTV footage.Criminal historyAdditional Superintendent of Police, City, Brijesh Kumar Srivastava said the main accused and the victim were distant relatives and were involved in a long-standing land dispute. “The accused has a criminal history. His sons are also involved,” said Mr. Srivastava.Uttar Pradesh Congress president Raj Babbar condemned the incident and said it showed how weak the rule of law had become under the Yogi Adityanath government.
In the thick of controversy over sending inappropriate text messages to a woman IAS officer, Punjab Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday alleged that the Opposition was giving political colour to the episode as he had been pressing for strict action against Akali Dal leaders in the Bargari sacrilege incident.Mr. Channi said that the messages were “unintentionally and mistakenly” forwarded to the lady officer. “I had apologised to the officer and she had accepted it. I am being targeted by the Opposition as I have been raising the sacrilege incident and issues concerning Dalits in the State,” he said.Mr. Channi added that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is aware of the incident and has even issued a statement in this regard. “I will meet him once he is back from abroad [Turkey],” he said.Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal accused Mr. Channi of playing the “Dalit card” to absolve himself of the incident. Akali Dal leaders Gulzar Singh Ranike, Sohan Singh Thandal and Pawan Kumar Tinu in a joint statement dubbed the incident of sending text messages as a “disgrace” for the government and demanded immediate dismissal of Mr. Channi and a case against him.Mr. Channi was recently accused by a woman IAS officer of sending her inappropriate text messages. The Chief Minister released a statement specifying that the matter had been taken up seriously and, to the best of his knowledge, resolved to the officer’s satisfaction.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati warned the Congress on Monday that if it did not immediately revoke cases filed against “innocent persons” during the April 2 Bharat Bandh called by Dalit groups, her party might have to “reconsider” support to the grand-old party’s governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.‘Withdraw cases’“If the newly elected governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan do not act swiftly and withdraw the cases against the innocent persons framed in Bharat Bandh, the BSP may have to reconsider extending outside support to the Congress governments,” she said in a hard-hitting statement issued here. The BSP has two members in Madhya Pradesh’s 230-member Assembly, while in Rajasthan her party has six seats in the House of 200 MLAs. Ms. Mayawati said the issue was a major one “connected to the interests of Dalits and tribals”. She said cases were lodged against innocent people due to the “casteist and political malice” of the previous BJP governments in many States, including those won by the Congress now.The Congress had supported the protests in April 2018 against the changes to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act which had witnessed instances of violence in parts of north India.The Congress governments should avoid the BJP’s track record of betraying promises made to farmers and the unemployed, the BSP chief further said in the statement. “It is important to give the Congress this warning before the upcoming Lok Sabha election, because now mere announcements won’t suffice,” she said. Ms. Mayawati said that when it came to announcements, people believed that the BJP and Congress were tarred with the same brush and it was up to the Congress to change that impression. (With PTI inputs)
At least 19 Maoists were killed, 39 arrested and 27 others surrendered during the year 2018, Odisha Director General of Police R. P. Sharma said on Monday.Mr. Sharma said the overall Left Wing Extremism situation remained under control even as there was need to flush out Maoists from parts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal and Nuapada districts.LWE-hit districtsHe said the number of LWE-affected districts has come down to 15 from 19 this year. The security personnel had seized 40 weapons, including two AK-47 rifles, eight SLRs, five INSAS rifles and five .303 guns from the Maoists during combing operations, the DGP said. While 16 battalions of central para military forces are deployed in the Maoist-hit areas, the State’s elite Special Operations Group teams have also been fighting the Maoists in different districts, he added.Funds allocated The DGP also said that a sum of ₹68.91 crore has been provided in the State budget, for modernisation of the police force, during the 2018-19 fiscal. The Economic Offences Wing of Odisha Crime Branch registered 28 cases in the year 2018 and arrested 103 persons, the DGP said.
For slightly less than two decades Indian policymakers have refrained from militarily responding to what it has called Pakistan-based militant attacks on Indian soil. Related Items
The government today notified the amended India-Singapore tax treaty under which capital gains tax will be levied at source of investments with effect from April 1. Related Items
The exuberance in the online food delivery sector is starting to resemble the go-go days of 2015. The latest to join the so-called food tech bandwagon is Deliveroo, the UK startup valued at $2 billion which is preparing to launch locally, sources close to the matter said.One of the best funded European startups, Deliveroo is in the process of hiring a country head along with setting up a full-fledged team in India, two people aware of the development said. Backed by Fidelity and T Rowe Price, among others, a bunch of other investors will compete with local players like Swiggy and Zomato as well as the relatively new entrant UberEats. Uber’s local rival Ola also re-entered the crowded category by acquiring Foodpanda from Delivery Hero just recently.Read it at Times of India Related Items
CBI has claimed that Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries Holdings LtdNSE -4.76 % (UBHL) had furnished corporate guarantees far in excess of the tangible net worth and market capitalisation of the company and is probing why the banks accepted them without ascertaining their real value. Related Items
India’s largest food brand Amul is suing Hindustan Unilever for ads that promote its mayonnaise product as being “better than butter.”In a court filing, Amul, which controls the vast majority of India’s butter market, asserts: “This (advertisement) is sending a false and misleading message to the consumers who may refrain from consuming butter.”Brand consultant AG Krishnamurthy who founded Mudra Communications, said, “Amul is not a brand, it is equivalent to butter (category) in India. It is the custodian of the category and has to defend any attack on the category.” Related Items
Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy expressed disappointment on Oct. 24 after the company’s board led by Nandan Nilekani refused his demand that the investigation report into Panaya’s acquisition and the severance payout to former CFO Rajiv Bansal be made public.“I stand by every question on poor governance raised in my speech to Infosys investors dated August 29, 2017,” Murthy said in an e-mailed statement quoted by the Hindu. “The fact remains that none of these questions have been answered by the Infosys board by the transparency it deserves.”“I am disappointed,” he said. “The core question is how and why the Infosys board approved an unusual and unprecedented severance payment agreement of 1,000% (of the standard Infosys employment contracts) to the former CFO, and why the board did not disclose this information proactively and much earlier. Sadly, it appears we will no longer know the truth.”Nilekani Finds No WrongdoingAccording to a statement released by the IT major, Nilekani did a review of all external investigations and found no merit to allegations of any wrongdoing. This was a stand maintained by company’s co-chairs R Seshasayee and Ravi Venkatesan before their exits from Infosys in August this year, shortly after CEO Vishal Sikka stepped down.When asked whether this meant a clean slate for the previous board members, Nilekani said he is looking at future challenges, the Times of India reported. “I’ve come here to look at the future, and our commitment is that we have to do a lot of things because finally it is about execution, it’s about making it happen at scale, getting the entire company transformed. That’s the challenge and that is what we are focusing on,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.Infosys StatementThe company’s statement was not too different from what its previous board had said. The statement reads: “After careful reconsideration, the company has concluded that publishing additional details of the investigation would inhibit the company’s ability to conduct effective investigations into any matter in the future. Confidentiality is critical to ensuring the candour and cooperation of whistleblowers and other participants in any investigative process.“The precedent of releasing the full investigation reports could impair the cooperation of participants, should the need for an investigation arise in the future.”The company also emphasized that the investigators Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Control Risks had no relationship with Infosys prior to the investigation. The statement says: “Gibson Dunn’s investigation was led by Charles Stevens and Benjamin Wagner, both Presidentially appointed former senior prosecutors in the US department of justice, each with several decades of experience in investigating and prosecuting fraud and business crimes.”The statement adds: “The investigation involved interviews of over 50 witnesses globally , a review of company policies, board minutes, public filings and internal documents, the collection, search and review by Gibson Dunn attorneys of many thousands of internal emails and attachments, the use of forensic accounting experts to analyse technical and financial information, the review of media accounts and public records in multiple countries, the review of the previous investigation reports is sued by CAM (law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas) and supporting documentation, and other investigative measures. No limitations or restrictions were placed on the investigating team from accessing information, and the company and the relevant directors and employees cooperated fully.”Seshasayee RespondsThe latest development is seen as a setback to Murthy’s campaign against how the previous board under the leadership of R Seshasayee and management under the then CEO Vishal Sikka had handled the Bansal and Panaya issues. Murthy had called the Bansal payout “hush money”.These charges led to a massive upheaval in the Infosys top brass, ending with the exit of Seshasayee, Sikka and Ravi Venkatesan in August, and the return of Nilekani as chairman.Former chairman R Seshasayee responded to the developments on Oct. 24 by wishing the company all the best and saying, “The company now deserves a period of stability and undistracted focus on the business.”According to Infosys , the process of finding a new CEO has started. “I would also like to acknowledge the leadership role Narayana Murthy has played in building this iconic institution and in corporate governance matters. Going forward, it is our endeavor to build a trusting relationship with Murthy,” Nilekani said, the Economic Times reported. Related ItemsBansal severance payInfosysInfosys AugustInfosys Panaya dealLittle IndiaNandan NilekaniNarayana MurthyVishal Sikka
A UK court has ordered a fraudster, who helped to fake academic records and rig English language exams so foreign students could apply for visa extensions illegally, to pay back £230,000, Dailymail.com reported.Wahida Sultana, 40, was the principal of Eden College International in East London. She was associated with a group that faked academic records for foreign students who required visa extensions. Sultana was ordered by Judge Joanna Korner QC to pay £230,000 within a span of three months. “By agreement the benefit is agreed to be £352,000. The available amount is £230,000. I therefore make a confiscation order to the sum of £230,000. There will be three months to pay,” the judge said, Dailymail.com reported.In 2016, Harinder Kumar, Hemant Kumar, Talal Chowdhury, Shaheen Ahmed, and Mohammad Hasan were found guilty of plotting to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration law between Oct. 17, 2012 and Feb. 10, 2014, and stood trial in 2016, the report added.Ahmed and Chowdhury were jailed for eight years each, while Hasan was jailed for five years and Harinder Kumar got a three-year prison term.Sultana and Hemant Kumar were convicted after a second trial last year, following which Sultana was sentenced to two year in prison with the sentence suspended for two years in August.The scam was exposed in early 2014 after an investigation by BBC’s Panorama program in which journalists went undercover as students seeking to make use of the services of the gang. They recorded the fraudsters on their cameras while they were at work. The BBC was told that Studentway could get past mandatory English tests, even if applicants spoke no EnglishThe language tests were conducted at Eden College International, while Hasan was a “designated invigilator.” Students were either given the answers during the exam at the college or the gang made arrangements for other people to take the test in place of the students. The scam also included Studentway Education in Southall and Total Care London in Whitechapel, east London, the report said.The gang also rigged the English language tests needed by the Home Office and was able to make a sum of £500,000 from students who were looking to extend their visas.The police started investigating the scam soon after and found that three firms were involved in the scam. The gang provided documents like bank statements as well as academic records for migrants of countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who were seeking to extend their stay in United Kingdom fraudulently.Immigrants looking for ways to extend their visas fraudulently were picked by Ahmed and Chowdhury from their educational consulting company Total Care London. Harinder Kumar ran an immigration advice service, Student Way Education in Southall, Middlesex, where they promised a “guaranteed pass” to students for £500.“The evidence makes clear that at the college which is at the center of this case, there were during the 16-month period covered by the charge, at least 800 bogus English language examinations taken, the vast majority of which were later relied upon in support of fraudulent applications to the Home Office for the obtaining of student visas,” prosecutor David Walbank was quoted as saying earlier by the publication.Another hearing has been scheduled for May 3 this year to decide the amount Kumar will have to pay back. Related ItemsBritainUK