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Pakistan arrests 66 Indian fishermen for ‘illegal fishing’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sixty-six Indian fishermen have been arrested for alleged illegal fishing in Pakistani waters and a court here remanded them into custody on Saturday.The Indian fishermen along with five boats were arrested last evening for “illegally” fishing in Pakistan’s territorial waters and have been sent to jail by a judicial magistrate.The Maritime Security Agency had arrested the fishermen and seized five boats yesterday, a spokesman for the agency said.”The fishermen were arrested after they remained in Pakistani waters in the Arabian Sea despite warnings to move out of our territorial waters,” the spokesman said.Earlier on November 20, the Pakistani Maritime Security Agency had arrested 43 Indian fishermen for entering its territorial waters.Amin Marri, the station house officer of Docks police station, said the fishermen were booked under the Foreigner’s Act and the Fisheries Act and had now been sent to jail on court orders after being provided with clothing and food by a welfare organisation.Pakistan and India frequently arrest fishermen as there is no clear demarcation of the maritime border in the Arabian Sea and these fishermen do not have boats equipped with the technology to know their precise location.

ISIS suspect Musa planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals: NIA chargesheet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>ISIS suspect Mohammad Masiuddin alias Musa had planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals according to the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday at NIA special court. The chargesheet filed by NIA mentions that ISIS suspect had planned to attack Mother House as a lot of US nationals would frequent this place to pay homage to Sister Teresa of Calcutta. A month ago, a seven-member team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogated Musa in Kolkata.
ALSO READ FBI warns of possible Islamic State-inspired attacks in USThe 25-year-old Musa was arrested from the Burdwan railway station by CID on July 4 on charges of radicalising youths to join ISIS.Later, the probe was taken over by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the agency is currently probing his links to Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and also the Dhaka attacks.
ALSO READ ISIS offers $1 million for murder of Kurdish woman who fought themSources in the NIA reveal, Musa had agreed to take on the assignment from a JMB leader Abu Suleiman to target foreigners and US nationals in India and behead them.In March 2015, Musa had met Abu Suleiman in India’s eastern state of West Bengal during his sister’s wedding.
ALSO READ Bengaluru man with alleged ISIS links held in KulluMusa had been in touch with Suleiman over Facebook, but Suleiman had expressed his wish to meet Musa in person. Later, Musa invited him to attend his sister’s wedding, held in Bengal.Meanwhile, Suleiman is on the run and both – Indian and Bangladeshi governments are looking for him.Musa came under the scanner of CID and NIA after his e-mails and calls were traced to Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Syria. Officials in the investigating agency highlight that he had been touch with several ISIS operatives in Syria through the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Initial investigation revealed that he had also been in touch with several JMB operatives in Bangladesh.

US finds remains of WW II soldiers in NE

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After years of concerted efforts, US government officials have found remains of soldiers who fought during the World War II in Arunachal Pradesh. A team of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) visited several locations in Arunachal Pradesh.In a statement, American Ambassador to India Richard Verma lauded the findings. “The United States is committed to making sure all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served our country come home. DPAA’s mission in India is a vital part of that commitment,” he said.Mission Commander Lt Col Pritz of the American Embassy, too, issued a statement thanking the Indian government.Efforts to locate the remains around Arunachal were going on since 2003. It was only in 2008 that India and the US entered into an understanding to let the American search crew inside the area.Between 2006 and 2010, the crash sites of several US aircraft have been discovered in the area. Some of these are the crash sites of C-87 transport (41-23696), B-24J bomber (42-73308) nicknamed as “Hot as Hell”, C-46A transport (41-24724), B-24D bomber (42-40069) nicknamed as “Pregnant Swan”, C-47DL transport (41-18518), C-87 transport (42-107259), C-46A transport #41-24739, C-87 transport (41-23791), 308th Bomb Group B-24J 42-100184, and, 08th Bomb Group B-24J 42-73242, nicknamed “Haley’s Comet”.In these crashes, the number of suspected casualties is over 50. In April this year, the crew found the remains of soldiers travelling in a C-109 that crashed on July 17, 1945, travelling from Jorhat in Assam to China’s Hsinching province.

ED cracks down on bogus companies involved in illegal transfer of cash

According to ED sources, raids were conducted on the basis of information received by the agency that black money was being laundered, and that a huge sum had been sent to four bullion traders in Zaveri Bazaar. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Friday night carried out raids at the offices of four bogus companies in Zaveri Bazaar that were allegedly involved in transferring money into the accounts of bullion traders for the purpose of buying gold. It is suspected that these money transfers were an attempt to convert black money into white illegally.ED sources say an undisclosed amount of Rs 69 crore had been transferred to the accounts of bullion traders from these companies. According to ED sources, raids were conducted on the basis of information received by the agency that black money was being laundered, and that a huge sum had been sent to four bullion traders in Zaveri Bazaar.”A cash deposit of Rs 69 crore was made via RTGS through few bogus companies in the accounts of four companies belonging to bullion traders. The accounts of the four companies were searched. All of them are companies of Zaveri Bazaar-based bullion traders. We have frozen one account which had Rs 1.2 crore in it. A probe has revealed that the remaining money has already been moved for the purpose of buying gold and silver illegally. We are tracking details pertaining to the shell companies and bullion traders,” said an ED official on the condition of anonymity. He added that the amount of money transferred could be much more than what has surfaced till now.

Post demonetization crackdown by CBI: 10 cases, 16 arrests and Rs 19 crore in questionable currency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As part of its ongoing countrywide operation, CBI lodged a case against a Bank of Baroda official in Kolkata for converting old currency in violation of rules, taking the number of such cases to 10 with 16 arrests and Rs 19 crore as currency in question. Cashier of Bank of Baroda, Behala branch, Ranjit Kumar Bhattacharya has been booked by CBI for allegedly converting currency worth Rs 50 lakh using fraudulent means in violation of laid down rules post demonetizationof Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8.Under its countrywide operation continuing for a few weeks, the agency has so far registered four such cases in Karnataka, four in Hyderabad, one in Rajasthan and one in Kolkata.CBI sources said so far it was probing currency conversion of Rs 19 crore, which might increase as the probe progresses and more FIRs are registered by it.The agency sources said it has made 16 arrests across the country which include public servants, middlemen and private persons.In Karnataka, CBI has arrested a JDS leader who is also a casino operator and an RBI official in separate cases of alleged illegal conversion of old currency.Reserve Bank official K Michael, posted in Bengaluru, was arrested by CBI while he was allegedly trying to convert Rs 1.51 crore of old currency notes.CBI sources said Michael, a senior special assistant at RBI, was arrested last week.The agency has also arrested Veerendra in a separate case relating to seizure of Rs 5.70 crore of new currency from the bathroom of the casino owner by the Income Tax department.”We have arrested K C Veerendra. He was arrested in Hubballi on December 10 and brought to Bengaluru the following day and produced before the CBI court. He is in our custody for six days,” a top CBI official told PTI today.Besides Veerendra, middlemen Thipeswamy and Venkatesh, residents of Chitradurga districts of Karnataka, and unknown officials of four banks — State Bank of India, State Bank of Mysore, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra — have also been named in the FIR in this case.A case has been registered against an ATM servicing company and officials of Karnakata Bank and Dhanluxmi Bank. Another case has been registered against Central Bank of India officials and private persons for allegedly facilitating exchange of demonetised notes by issuing 149 Demand Drafts of Rs 70 lakh in the name of a private loan company.In Hyderabad, CBI had registered four cases related to conversion of currency by postal department officials with prime suspect named in the FIR being K Sudheer Reddy, an Indian Postal Service Officer.The agency has also registered an FIR against officials of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Dausa branch on similar charges.

Oil demand to grow more swiftly, too early to assess global output cut | Reuters

By Amanda Cooper

LONDON Global oil demand will rise more strongly than expected next year, although it is too soon to assess fully the impact of a joint cut in supply by the world’s largest producers, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.In its monthly oil market report, the IEA said revisions to its estimate of Chinese and Russian consumption had prompted it to raise its forecast for global oil demand growth this year by 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.4 million bpd, and to lift its forecast for 2017 by 110,000 bpd to 1.3 million bpd.The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Nov. 30 to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to 32.5 million bpd for the first six months of 2017, together with another 558,000 bpd in cuts from the likes of Russia, Oman and Mexico.The IEA said the market could show a shortfall of 600,000 bpd early next year if all parties complied with the agreement”If OPEC and its non-OPEC partners stick to their pledges, global inventories could start to draw in the first half of 2017,” the IEA said, adding that this was not its own forecast, but was based on the agreement. “The deal is for six months and we should allow time for it to be implemented before re-assessing our market outlook. Success means the reinforcement of prices and revenue stability for producers after two difficult years; failure risks starting a fourth year of stock builds and a possible return to lower prices,” the Paris-based organisation said.

The IEA raised its estimate of Chinese consumption by 135,000 bpd to 11.9 million bpd for 2016, thanks to sharp rises in imports of mixed aromatics in the first half of this year and better coverage of the independent, or “teapot” refineries.The IEA said it had more than halved its forecast for non-OPEC supply growth for next year to 220,000 bpd, marking a cut of 255,000 bpd, following the agreement of Russia and 10 other non-OPEC producers to join OPEC’s effort to reduce output and speed up the rebalancing of the market.The agency said global oil supply rose to a record 98.2 million bpd in November, as OPEC production offset declines elsewhere.Non-OPEC oil production fell by 160,000 bpd in November to 57.1 million bpd, while OPEC crude output rose by 300,000 bpd to a new record high of 34.2 million bpd, the IEA said.

In its last monthly report in November, the IEA warned that without any sort of cut, 2017 could witness another year of “relentless supply growth” from non-OPEC producers.Crude inventories across the world’s richest nations fell for a third month in a row in October, marking their longest stretch of declines since 2011, and falling by 74.5 million barrels from July’s record 3.102 billion barrels, the IEA said.”Total OECD stocks of crude and refined products fell (28 million barrels) on downwardly revised (by 13 million barrels) Sept. 16 levels,” energy consultant Tudor Pickering Holt said in a research note, referring to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups developed countries.

“Over the past three months (July through October), total stocks fell (72 million barrels) versus (the) normal (2 million barrels). According to this arithmetic, the oil market has already rebalanced . . . before OPEC cuts effective Jan. 1.”IEA chief Fatih Birol told a conference in Prague that higher oil prices would weaken global demand.”If the price goes up to around $60, we will see investments from the U.S. and elsewhere and we will see a lot of oil coming from the U.S. and other regions,” he said. “Global oil demand growth, with high prices, will be weaker.” (Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Louise Heavens)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 21:12 IST

Demonetisation: CBI arrests bank official, 2 businessmen for fraudulent exchange of old notes

New Delhi: CBI on Wednesday arrested a senior manager of Central Bank of India and two owners of a firm in Bengaluru for allegedly violating RBI guidelines on scraping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency had registered an FIR against senior manager and branch head of Central Bank of India’s Basavanagudi branch S Lakshimnarayana and Directors of Omkar Parimal Mandir — S Gopal and Ashwin G Sunkur — on Tuesday and carried out searches at various places.

The three were called for questioning at the CBI office in Bengaluru this morning and placed under arrest after they allegedly failed to answer many of the questions, the CBI said in Delhi.

The agency has booked them under sections of IPC dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as abuse of official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act. During the searches carried out yesterday at Bengaluru which included the residence of bank officials and private persons, the agency claimed to have recovered incriminating documents, including bank vouchers, counterfoils, DDs, property documents, hard disks and Rs 5,91,500 cash in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

In its FIR filed in the designated CBI court in Bengaluru, the CBI alleged that from 15 November to 18 November, the bank manager had issued 149 demand drafts for amounts less than Rs 50,000 in favour of a Pune-based finance company in violation of RBI guidelines.

The total value of the demand drafts was Rs 71 lakh which the branch manager accepted in demonetised notes from the owners of the company, the agency said.

The amount was staggered and 149 DDs were issued for less than Rs 50,000 which was allegedly done by the accused fraudulently to convert the demonetised notes.

The firm’s owners subsequently cancelled the drafts and encashed the amount thereby clandestinely converting old notes into valid bills, the CBI alleged.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 16:09 IST

CBI arrests bank official, 2 bizmen for fraudulent exchange of old notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI on Wednesday arrested a senior manager of Central Bank of India and two owners of a firm in Bengaluru for allegedly violating RBI guidelines on scraping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.The agency had registered an FIR against senior manager and branch head of Central Bank of India’s Basavanagudi branch S Lakshimnarayana and Directors of Omkar Parimal Mandir — S Gopal and Ashwin G Sunkur — on Tuesday and carried out searches at various places.The three were called for questioning at the CBI office in Bengaluru this morning and placed under arrest after they allegedly failed to answer many of the questions, the CBI said here.The agency has booked them under sections of IPC dealing with criminal conspiracy and cheating as well as abuse of official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.During the searches carried out yesterday at Bengaluru which included the residence of bank officials and private persons, the agency claimed to have recovered incriminating documents, including bank vouchers, counterfoils, DDs, property documents, hard disks and Rs 5,91,500 cash in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.In its FIR filed in the designated CBI court in Bengaluru, the CBI alleged that from November 15 to November 18, the bank manager had issued 149 demand drafts for amounts less than Rs 50,000 in favour of a Pune-based finance company in violation of RBI guidelines.The total value of the demand drafts was Rs 71 lakh which the branch manager accepted in demonetized notes from the owners of the company, the agency said.The amount was staggered and 149 DDs were issued for less than Rs 50,000 which was allegedly done by the accused fraudulently to convert the demonetized notes.The firm’s owners subsequently cancelled the drafts and encashed the amount thereby clandestinely converting old notes into valid bills, the CBI alleged.

Demonetisation: ED conducts searches on 40 locations across country

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday conducted searches at 40 locations across the country in order to check black money held with currency exchanges, hawala dealers and others in the wake of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Officials said the searches are being conducted by multiple teams of the agency in various cities and as many as 100 sleuths along with police personnel are undertaking the search operation.

In the eastern region, the agency is searching at least 16 locations including six in Kolkata, two each in Bhubaneswar and Paradip (both in Odisha), Guwahati among others.

The sleuths from the Kolkata zone of the ED have also seized Rs 10 lakh cash in new currency from the premises of a doctor in the West Bengal capital during the said operation, even as an assortment of foreign currency worth Rs 4 lakh has been seized from the same area.

They said the agency is looking at instances of illegal exchange of old currency and stashing of new currency notes to perpetrate hawala and money laundering like activities.

ED is the central agency to enforce two laws — the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:04 IST

Centre may empower NIA to investigate overseas incidents involving Indian casualties

New Delhi: A proposal has been mooted by the government for arming National Investigation Agency (NIA) with a provision to register a case and investigate if an Indian is killed or injured in a terror act overseas.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This information was shared by Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir, while replying to written questions in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. “A proposal to enable the NIA to take up investigation of scheduled offences committed beyond India is being put out for public consultations,” he said in a brief reply to a question asked by BJP member Anurag Thakur whether government is considering to grant powers to NIA to conduct probe on attacks on Indians and properties abroad.

Such a proposal is available with probe agencies like FBI and Scotland Yard and federal agencies of Germany and Israel, who can carry out parallel probes abroad if their nationals are killed in a terror attack.

FBI had registered separate cases in the 1995 kidnapping of foreign tourists in Kashmir, the IC-814 hijacking case and Mumbai terror attack, as its citizens were injured or killed in these terror acts.

According to officials, such a proposal will depend on relations to the particular country where the crime has taken place.

A senior official said once such a provision is included in the NIA Act, it would help the agency in quickly moving a request to the foreign country for allowing its team to carry out a probe.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 18:12 IST

NIA removes online content of Dr Zakir Naik’s IRF including his hate speeches

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The National Investigation Agency began the process of removing the online contents of banned Islamic Research Foundation, including alleged hate speeches by its founder Zakir Naik, even as it continued searches at the IRF’s premises, an official said. “As part of investigation, all actions that need to be taken against a proscribed organisation, including banning of its online activities, are being undertaken,” an NIA spokesperson told PTI.After the Centre recently banned IRF for five years, its website was blocked by authorities.”We have started our process to remove online content which is available on internet, social media sites related to IRF which includes hate speeches of its founder and Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik,” the official said.Search operation is still going on at the IRF offices and premises as well as that of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, from where the programmes were being aired on Naik’s Peace TV, the official said.However, he declined to divulge further details.The NIA had on Saturday (November 19) carried out searches on 10 premises of the IRF in Mumbai after registering a case against Zakir Naik and others under an anti-terror law. The agency had seized Rs 12 lakh cash and incriminating documents, files as well as electronic storage devices, during searches on various premises, including IRF’s head office. The NIA had earlier registered an offence against IRF founder-president and controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and his associates for “promoting” enmity and hatred between religious groups through his public speeches and lectures on various platforms.As per a statement released earlier, Naik and his associates were responsible for inciting Muslim youths and terrorists in India and abroad to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts.

NIA’s FIR against Zakir Naik is illegal, says his counsel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mobin Solkar, the counsel for controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, on Saturday said the case filed by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) against his client under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is illegal, as the Supreme Court, earlier granted a stay in a similar case, and hence, any fresh complaint on the same grounds would stand void.”Earlier in the year 2012 an FIR was registered by the office bearers of some organisation against Zakir Naik under section 153 A and in response we filed a petition in the Supreme Court and the court granted stay to all those proceedings in the FIR. So fresh FIR for the same offence is not maintainable in law so they cannot be two FIR for one offence,” Solkar told ANI.Solankar further maintained that from 2012 till date, Dr. Naik has not given any lecture which can be a cause of action for filing a fresh FIR against him. He, however, conceded that the investigative agency is entitled to search and visit the premises of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), owned by Naik, and the organisation would comply with all the investigative processes carried out by the NIA.”The NIA, irrespective of the legality of the FIR, is empowered to investigate the matter and they are carrying out their investigation and we are ready to cooperate as far the investigation is concerned. IRF has been a law abiding trust and we are ready to fully cooperate with the investigative agency,” Solankar said.Teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), along with the Mumbai Police, early this morning, launched raids on 10 premises of Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) run by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. NIA spokesperson told ANI that the premises were raided at 6 a.m. with the help of local police. “We are searching a few residential premises and a few office premises of Zakir Naik,” said the spokesperson.The NIA had on Friday registered a case against Naik and others under sections 10 (Penalty for being member of an unlawful association) and 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities) and other various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said a spokesperson.The Union Government had on Tuesday declared the IRF as an “outlawed organisation” under the anti-terror law for its alleged terror activities, following which the Maharashtra Government said it would keep a close eye on locals and organisations funding the IRF and would be treated as “anti-social elements”.

Pak syndicates may flood India with fake Rs 100 notes: NIA official

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government’s move to remove the high currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note has delivered a big blow to Pakistan-based syndicates who were producing fake notes and pumping them into India, via Punjab, Nepal, and Bangladesh. However, investigative officers have revealed that another major security threat is on the horizon. Sources say these syndicates still have the capacity to produce high quality fake Rs 100 notes and are likely to flood the Indian market in the coming few days.“The equipment, printing machines, and paper to imitate the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note has now been left redundant due to demonetization. But Pakistan still has the system to imitate Rs 100 notes. Though these are of lower value, they will be used to their optimum capacity to destabilise our economy,’’ said a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official.The NIA, tasked to investigate terrorism cases including those related to FICN, has in its investigations ascertained Pakistan to be the principal source of printing high quality counterfeited notes of three denominations: Rs 1,000, Rs 500 and Rs 100 and smuggling it in India. Since the old notes of Rs 100 denomination are still in circulation will not have any new design or additional security features the NIA, security, and other intelligence agencies, fear bulk pumping in this denomination from Pakistan-based syndicates. The threat is even more dangerous as since the announcement of demonetization, there has been a currency crunch of Rs 100 in the market. Security officials fear that in such an atmosphere if a big cache of counterfeited Rs 100 denomination is pumped into the India economy, it is likely to be lapped up as people are in need of it. Even before the demonetization measures, the Rs 100 note has been targeted by syndicates. The RBI’s currency management report released in August this year shows that denomination-wise the Rs 100 note constitutes 17.5 per cent of the total banknotes in circulation. The report also points out that the detection of counterfeit notes of Rs 100 has increased in the last two years. In 2014-15, the RBI detected 1,81,799 number of Rs 100 counterfeited notes from the total of 15,026,000,000 in circulation of the same denomination. This number increased to 2,21,447 fake Rs 100 notes in 2015-16 out of a total of 15,778,000,000. “The agencies in Pakistan dealing in FICN will not stop replicating Rs 100 notes,’’ the senior NIA officer said. He added,“This note is not the menace that higher denomination notes would have been, but it’s a threat that exists.”

Bombay HC issues notice to those discharged in 2006 Malegaon blasts case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notices to eight persons who were discharged earlier this year from the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case, seeking response to a petition filed by the Maharashtra government against their discharge.The state has moved the high court in appeal against the order of sessions court discharging the eight accused, all Muslims.In April, the sessions court here discharged these men of all terror charges after the National Investigation Agency submitted that the blasts were the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.The state government, however, urged the high court to set aside the order.The division bench of justices R V More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi issued notices to the eight persons and sought their replies in four weeks.In its appeal, the government said the sessions court’s order was illegal and unjust, and was contrary to the evidence on record.The state claimed the trial court’s conclusion that Muslims would not plant bombs inside a mosque was wrong and had no legal basis.The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon, near Nashik, on September 8, 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.

High court issues notice to those discharged in 2006 Malegaon blasts case

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notices to eight persons who were discharged earlier this year from the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case, seeking a response to a petition filed by the Maharashtra government against their discharge.

The state has moved the high court in appeal against the order of sessions court discharging the eight accused, all Muslims.

In April, the sessions court here discharged these men of all terror charges after the National Investigation Agency submitted that the blasts were the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.

The state government, however, urged the high court to set aside the order.

The division bench of justices RV More and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi issued notices to the eight persons and sought their replies in four weeks.

In its appeal, the government said the sessions court’s order was illegal and unjust and was contrary to the evidence on record.

The state claimed the trial court’s conclusion that Muslims would not plant bombs inside a mosque was wrong and had no legal basis.

The serial bomb blasts outside a cemetery near Hamidia mosque at Malegaon, near Nashik, on 8 September 2006, claimed 37 lives and injured over 100 people.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 21:57 IST

Himachal govt blocking probe in DA case against Virbhadra Singh: CBI to Delhi HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh government was “blocking” CBI probe in the disproportionate assets case against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others by “acting as a proxy” for him, the agency told Delhi High Court on Wednesday. “State (Himachal Pradesh) is blocking the investigation by contesting the matter by acting as a proxy for the Chief Minister. It should actually support us,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Patwalia, appearing for CBI, told Justice Vipin Sanghi. The ASG said the state”s argument that its police and courts would have probed the matter “pulls wool over no one’s eyes”.”The Chief Minister is the executive head of the state. Police is under the state’s Home Department and the Home portfolio is with the CM,” he said during arguments on petitions filed by Singh and others challenging the CBI’s jurisdiction to probe the case. The day’s arguments commenced with the Advocate General of the state contending that “a subject of the state has been put to discriminatory treatment”. In the present case the ”subject” was the Chief Minister and his family members, he said and questioned how such “indulgence” can be shown by an agency which was “not authorised under the law”.He said police was a state subject under the Constitution and a central agency was claiming that it was also authorised to investigate the matter. The Advocate General also said the state police and the entire hierarchy of courts were there to deal with the matter and added that the state had not consented to transferring it from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi. He said the CBI was set up under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and when this Bill was proposed, it was said that the agency can conduct probe in all provinces “with the consent of the provinces”. He claimed that under the Act, CBI’s jurisdiction was confined to union territories and added that there has to be consent from a state for extending the agency”s jurisdiction there. Yesterday, Virbhadra Singh’s counsel had claimed that CBI cannot on its own decide to probe offences outside Delhi without the consent of the concerned state. The counsel had contended that in the instant matter, the alleged offence was committed in Himachal Pradesh as the disproportionate assets were located there and hence, the police of that state should have been probing it.Singh had earlier claimed before the court that CBI’s FIR against him was “premature” as it was based on the proceedings of Income Tax department, which was still pending. He had said that CBI had lodged a preliminary enquiry (PE) in October 2012 which was later closed, but the agency registered a second PE on June 17 last year based on the same facts which were already investigated by it.CBI had told the high court that its probe in the DA case against Singh and others was “complete” and it wanted to file the charge sheet in the matter. The Himachal Pradesh High Court in an interim order on October 1, 2015, had restrained the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet against Singh in the case without its permission.The matter, in which Himachal Pradesh HC had passed the interim order, was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6 this year had directed CBI not to arrest Singh and asked him to join the probe. The direction had come when the court was disposing of CBI”s application seeking vacation of the Himachal Pradesh High Court order, which the agency claimed had “seriously held up” its investigation in the case.On November 5 last year, the apex court had transferred Singh’s plea from Himachal Pradesh HC to Delhi HC, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but simply transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”. CBI had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case here and setting aside the interim order granting protection from arrest and other relief granted to Virbhadra. A DA case was lodged against the Chief Minister and others by CBI under sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 109 (punishment for abetment) of the IPC.

Bengaluru: BJP demands NIA probe into killing of RSS worker

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up its attack on the Congress government in the wake of a brutal murder of an RSS worker, BJP on Friday petitioned Governor Vajubhai Vala demanding an inquiry by National Investigation Agency​ (NIA) into killings of party and RSS activists.The party has blamed “unholy nexus” of “Jihadists” and Marxists for the killing. The delegation led by state party chief BS Yeddyurappa and Leader of opposition Jagadish Shettar met Vala under and alleged that the Congress government “is bent upon allowing the killers to have a field day” and is not keen to trace the assailants involved in any of these cases.Also alleging Congress’ of indulging in “vote-bank politics”, they appealed to the Governor to prevail upon the state government to hand over the cases to National Investigating Agency to “unearth the motive and expose” the perpetrators of the crime.Rudresh, a 35-year old RSS worker, was hacked to death by two motorcycle-borne men who struck him with machete on Kamaraja Road last Sunday when he was returning home on a bike after attending a Sangh event.Stating that Rudresh’s was the latest in the series of killings of activists belonging to “Nationalist School of Thought” in the last two years, the memorandum cited a list of incidents about Hindutva activists “who have fallen victim to PFI goons”.”The attacks are executed systematically. In all the mentioned attacks, the weapons used are more or less the same (long swords and tamancha) and the modus operandi adopted by the attackers is almost the same,” it said.BJP said the attacks have been taking place in quick intervals in various parts of Karnataka, especially in coastal Dakshina Kannada district, and the attackers are perpetrating the crime with “impunity and escaping with felicity.” Noting that not one case has reached its logical end, it said the disturbing trend is that the Congress government has been “predetermining the course of investigation” by “deliberately” making “loaded” remarks almost immediately after the crime with a “sinister design” to “prejudice” the investigating officers.”Our charge is that the government has directed the police to take this line in all such cases involving BJP and Sangh Pariwar activists,” it added. Alleging that BJP has every reason to suspect that there is a “pattern, a design and a diabolical motive” behind these killings of RSS/BJP workers, the party said it also suspects the “unholy nexus of the Jihadists and Marxists”, a deadly combination, behind these killings.”Going by the pattern, design and modus operandi, it is almost sure that the workers of the Popular Front of India are involved. These elements are being provided with intellectual and moral support by Marxists,” it said.”In so far as the diabolical motive is concerned, the PFI, in league with the Marxists, wants a communal flare up so that the BJP and Sangh Pariwar outfits can be blamed. It suits the vote-bank politics of the Congress,” it added.

Kashmir dispute: Sayeed Salahudeen urges Pak for ‘military support’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> United Jihad Council (UJC) chairman Sayeed Salahudeen has said that talks will not provide solution to the Kashmir dispute and urged the Pakistani military to support the Mujahideen in its cause.”The festering (Kashmir) issue is not going to resolve through talks or resolutions’ Pakistan should militarily support Kashmiris by providing resources to the Mujahideen”, the Dawn quoted Salahudeen as saying at a press conference.”If the Mujahideen get military support, not only Kashmir will clinch freedom but the map of the subcontinent will also undergo a change,” he said. He, however, declined to elaborate the kind of military support required by the cadres. “India invaded and occupied Kashmir at the strength of its military might and military occupation can hardly be brought to end through politics or diplomacy,” he said. “When the world is paying no heed to us, the only option left with us is the armed struggle,” Salahudeen said alleging that the Indian Government had also resorted to economic terrorism in Kashmir in a bid to pressure Kashmiris into surrendering their legitimate struggle. He also alleged that the Indian intelligence agencies and their ‘touts’ were trying to create disunity among the Hurriyat leadership as well as the Kashmiri public. He was of the view that the base camp of the freedom movement – a reference to Pakistani side of Kashmir – should not only send a strong message of solidarity across the divide but also adopt a forceful, rather aggressive, role in this regard. Salahudeen asked the police on the Indian side of Kashmir to stand by the unarmed public instead of being in the vanguard of the Indian Army or face the wrath of Kashmiri people. “The governments in Islamabad and Muzaffarabad should also raise the problems of Jammu-based Muslims at national and international forums,” he said. In India, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is a designated terrorist outfit and Salahudeen is National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) most wanted terrorist.

Terror suspects at Beur clash with cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suspected terrorists lodged at Bihar’s Beur Central jail, on Thursday, clashed with two police personnel on duty. After this, the jail administration has lodged an FIR in Beur police station against them on Friday.Sources said the incident took place when about 10 prisoners, charged with sedition for their alleged role in the bomb blasts at Patna and Bodhgaya in 2013, clashed with two security personnel over checking of food served to them. Senior police officers rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control.The terror suspects, supposedly belonging to Indian Mujahideen terror outfit, had been nabbed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and have been accused of misbehaving and preventing security personnel from doing their duty, as mentioned in the FIR.Rupak Kumar, Superintendent of the Beur Central Jail, told dna, “They are lodged in a special cell but their food is prepared in the same jail kitchen and it’s a daily routine to check the food served to them when it reaches their cell. On Thursday too, the cops on duty were doing their job when the terror suspects engaged in a verbal duel with them. We have informed the NIA court and senior authorities about this as well.”Reports pouring in from Beur Central Jail stated that the terror suspects also raised anti-national slogans during the fight, however, Kumar denied any such thing. “Post Thursday’s incident, we have restricted the movement of the 10 terror suspects involved in the fight within their cell. The security around their cell has also been tightened,” Kumar said.Officials said a probe has also been ordered into the incident and the report is to be submitted within three-days. Sources said that such fights happened often as the suspected terrorists protested checking of food by the guards and the jail administration was mulling stricter action against them if they didn’t change their ways.

Army thanks Kashmiri youth who rescued soldiers in Srinagar accident

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kashmiri youth who on Sunday rescued a soldier who was trapped inside a mangled vehicle were praised by the Indian Army for their excellent gesture. A vehicle had met an accident on Srinagar Bypass road near Lasjan area of Srinagar, police said on Sunday. An army vehicle veered off the road after the driver lost control at Lasjan and hit a tree, a police official said. He said one soldier was trapped inside the badly damaged vehicle and efforts of other army men to evacuate him did not fructify.”Local Kashmiri youth rushed to the spot and managed to bring the injured army jawan out by placing a truck next to the damaged army vehicle,” the official said.Some passersby shot the entire incident on their mobile phones. The video of the incident has been widely shared on social networking sites. The incident comes amidst the ongoing unrest which has claimed 84 lives and thousands others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces. In July, local residents of Bijbehara in south Kashmir Anantnag district defied curfew to rescue over 20 Amarnath pilgrims whose vehicle had met an accident during the beginning of the current unrest.(With Agency Inputs)

Man who fought for IS in Iraq held: Here is Subahani Haja Moideen’s tryst with ISIS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has put under arrest a resident of Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district a year after he returned from northern Iraq’s –Mosul city. The Iraqi city has been occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for more than two years. The 31-year-old Subahani Haja Moideen is suspected to have fought for the dreaded terror group as a foreign fighter and his arrest is likely to serve a fresh insight into the lives of foreign fighters joining the ranks of ISIS.Moideen claimed that he returned from Mosul where he was being held as a prisoner in a jail managed by the ISIS after he had detracted from the group along with some other foreign fighters. While Moideen has claimed that he and other foreign fighters detracted from ISIS withstanding the “violence and war misery in Mosul”, the NIA has said that a year after laying low and working at a gold shop, the 31-year-old was planning to collect explosives at the behest of his handlers.Moideen, according to the NIA, was summoned to the branch office in Kochi for examination after a search at his native home in Kerala’s Idukki district. His name had cropped up in the investigation of a recently busted ISIS module. The agency officials however were taken aback when Moideen told them that he had gone to Iraq in April last year to join ISIS and fight for the organisation.As per the preliminary examination, he was radicalised and recruited to ISIS by recruiters active over online social media platforms. He left India for Istanbul from on a visit visa. After reaching Istanbul, he crossed over along with others including people from Pakistan and Afghanistan to ISIS held territory in Iraq,” said NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal.According to agency investigators, Moideen told them that he was then taken to Mosul in Iraq, where he underwent detailed course in Shariya followed by combat training. “Moideen was sent to to the war zone in Mosul for security duties in ISIS held territory, which he performed for almost two-weeks,” the spokesperson said adding that the job assignment was given to him after his completion of combat training including training in the automated weapons.”He was being paid USD 100 per month as subsistence allowance by the ISIS along with common available accommodation and food without any additional charges,” said NIA.Imprisoned by ISISOn conveying his decision to quit the organisation, he was imprisoned by ISIS at Mosul and was subjected to extreme torture. He along with other similar deserting foreign fighters, was produced before a judge of the ISIS, following which he was again incarcerated at Raqqa in Syria. Later, for reasons yet to be ascertained, he was allowed to leave ISIS controlled territory and return to Turkey along with five other foreign nationals where he stayed illegally in Istanbul for about two weeks, before approaching the Indian Consulate, for returning to India. Sources said that Moideen had told the consulate that he had lost his passport.The agency believes that Moideen’s family sent him money for flight tickets to India after he contacted them and conveyed his decision to return home . The NIA said that Turkish Police issued a clearance certificate to Moideen followed an Emergency Certificate issued by Indian Consulate. He returned to India through Mumbai on 22nd September, 2015 and went to his ancestral place in Kadaynallur, Tirunelveli, where he was staying with his wife.”He got a job as a salesman in a gold jewelry shop at Kadayanallur. However, once back and settled, he again got in touch with ISIS handlers over internet and was planning to collect explosives and precursor chemicals from Sivakasi at their instance. He had travelled to Chennai, Coimbatore and other places to meet other local contacts in the conspiracy, collect money and procure explosives / precursor chemicals, for terrorist acts, as guided and motivated by the ISIS handlers,”the NIA said.

India recovers 46 items from Uri attackers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency has recovered 46 items including arms, food items and medicines from the four militants who attacked the Army brigade headquarters in Uri last month. The recoveries are a part of the evidence indicating the militants came from Pakistan.Following the attack, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir SIngh had said that during the terrorist attacks and infiltration attempts in Poonch and Uri sectors on 11 and 18 September, “We have recovered items including Global Positioning Systems and stores with Pakistani markings.”While the weaponry: 4 AK47, 14 magazines, 323 ammunition rounds, 4 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers, 14 UBGL Grenades and 5 hand grenades, bear no Pakistani markings, items like toffee, biscuit packs and medicine bear the distinct ‘Made in Pakistan’ tag, officials said.Other items include ICOM wireless sets (Japan made) and Garmin GPS navigation (Taiwan made), a mobile phone with three SIMS, special wire-cutter, maps, matrix sheets with codes which help the militants traverse through the dense forest, rivers and rocky terrain. The NIA had made similar recoveries on Lashkar e Taiba militants captured in Kashmir in August. dna earlier reported the interrogation details of the militants who revealed that the ICOM wireless device, equipped with antenna was modified and further configured with an android operating mobile. This modification allows the user to transmit and receive text messages without using SIM card in their phone. Thus militants go undetected in the Indian territory as the frequency of the messages are not picked up by the Army’s Intelligence Radio Signal.

Tamil Nadu: 31-year-old man with suspected links to Islamic State arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 31-year-old man was arrested on Monday by the National Investigation Agency for his suspected links to Islamic State (IS) module in Kerala, police said.Suhani, settled in Thodapuzha in Kerala for over 20 years, had developed contacts with some persons with links with IS there.He fled Thodapuzha after the NIA arrested some of his IS associates there and came to Tirunelveli, police said.Six persons, who were arrested earlier for their links with the international terror outfit in Thodupuzha had confessed to police that Suhani was their associate and he had fled to Tamil Nadu after the NIA nabbed them.Suhani, who was working in a shop here, was arrested at his house at Khadermoideen Pallivasal Street early this morning and was taken to Kerala for further investigation, police said.

Kerala: NIA takes five people with suspected Islamic State link into custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Five persons with suspected links to Islamic State (IS) were taken into custody in the district on Sunday by National Investigation Agency (NIA). Police said the NIA picked up the five persons at Kanakamala near Panur in the district.However, they did not disclose any further details. Recently 21 persons from Kerala were suspected to have joined the IS after being reported missing by their families and police have registered a case and are investigating. More info awaited.

After Uri, India should expeditiously set up the central counter-terrorism body

‘Hot pursuit’ in Pakistani territory.

Special Forces operations to target Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar.

Cancel Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan.

‘Name and shame’ Pakistan at the United Nations.

Threaten Pakistani actors working in Bollywood to leave India or face the consequences.

Since the 18 September Uri terrorist attack, the Indian government and citizens have debated a lot of options including the one listed above, so Pakistan is taught a lesson and it or the elements based there do not commit another cross-border terrorist attack. Amidst all this, what most have forgotten is that responding to Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism machination and preventing another attack also means strengthening our internal defences and plugging our vulnerabilities which make these attacks possible.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This is not to belittle the efforts of our security forces to neutralise the terrorist designs and admittedly, it is a difficult task to put a lid on all terrorist activities. But let’s face it. Despite facing the scourge of terrorism for more than two decades, our security agencies’ efforts to counter terrorism lack the required punch. In the absence of a sound national counter-terrorism strategy and political willingness to create an empowered central counter-terrorism agency, our counter terrorism apparatus has simply not been able to get its act together, despite its best intentions.

If one looks at the major terror attacks in the last two years — Hiranagar of September 2013, Samba of March 2014, Kathua of March 2015, Gurdaspur of July 2015, Pathankot in January this year and now Uri — it is not difficult to summarise that it is our collective failure to prevent these attacks despite the surprising similarity in the terrorists’ modus operandi and availability of prior intelligence on likely terrorist attack, if not precise information about the impending attack, which is rare to begin with.

Mind it. If we don’t act on plugging our weaknesses — border management, perimeter security of our vital military installations and inter-agency co-ordination — then we are making ourselves vulnerable to repeated attacks of such nature. Like a man-eating tiger, terrorists and their handlers based in Pakistan have seen our vulnerabilities, which they will keep exploiting till we act on plugging those.

Since the Mumbai attacks of 2008, surely India has initiated reforms and restructuring of its security and intelligence apparatus — establishing regional NSG commando hubs, evolving inter-agency coordination, beefing up coastal security, creating the National Investigation Agency and installing mass-surveillance systems (on the lines of United States National Security Agency’s PRISM programme) to name a few. But it is equally true that in the absence of a central counter-terrorism agency, which has a legal basis, can launch counter-terrorism operations in states, and can collate and analyse the terrorism-related data (connecting the dots), all these efforts will prove to be partially effective.

Consider the present scenario about all the three above-mentioned features of a central counter-terrorism body, which itself will present a case for the creation of such a body.

1. The agency given the task of counter-terrorism — the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has no legal character. What it means is that the IB can capture terrorists and terror suspects but can’t present them in any court since the courts don’t recognise the premier security agency. This then forces the agency to do extra-judicial interrogation and then hand over the suspects to the state police forces.

2. At present, any counter-terrorism-related operation is launched by IB in co-ordination with the state police forces, which are expected to work in unison with the central security agencies. But most of the times, the bureaucratic politics and equations between the central and the state government determines the tone of the operation.

3. India doesn’t have a dedicated intelligence analysts’ cadre. Intelligence gathering and putting two facts together is taken as synonymous to analysis. There is no proper intelligence analysis training, as a result of which much sub-standard and uncorroborated information makes its way through the system to the highest ranks of the policy makers.

It is surprising that many of the informed Indians, when they talk of giving a response to the terrorists like the United States or Israel do, forget about the fact that these two countries have put in place a strong counter-terrorism structure domestically with even stronger laws.

It’s time India does the same.

NIA to seek help of IB, RAW and Army in Uri attack probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the terror attack in Uri Sector of Jammu and Kashmir, will be seeking the help of the Army, Intelligence Bureau and RAW to get identities of the terrorists verified.The agencies will be asked to provide the NIA with intercepts of the last two to four months in the region.As per sources, Kashif Jaan, who had escorted the Pathankot terrorists till the border, could also have been the handler of the slain terrorists in Uri.The NIA sources say that the Uri attack may have been masterminded by Kashif Jaan, Rauf Asgar and Masood Azha.The NIA on Tuesday filed an FIR in the Uri terror strike case and a six-member team will soon visit the site of the attack to collect the evidence in the matter.According to sources, NIA will collect the blood samples and finger prints of the four killed terrorists in Uri.The army is set to handover all items recovered from the killed terrorists including weapons, navigation maps to the NIA for further investigation.The NIA will also send the GPS and icon satellite set to the United States for forensic investigation to find out what route the terrorists chose and when and how they entered Indian territory.In one of the worst attack in recent times, at least 18 soldiers lost their lives and over 20 others got injured post the terror strike on an army camp close to the headquarters of the 12th Brigade at Uri in Baramulla district.Director General of Military operation Lt. Ranbir Singh has said that the four terrorists, who attacked the military base in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, belonged to Pakistan’s banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Dawood’s close aide Zahid Miyan under NIA’s radar, chargesheet filed

Mon, 22 Aug 2016-09:09pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a chargesheet against underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Zahid Miyan. This is the latest development from India’s side in the attempt to round up Dawood’s aides across the globe. Earlier, the NIA had approached the Interpol to trace Dawood’s aide Javed Patel alias Javed Chikna in Pakistan, arrest him and hand him over to India.According to reports, South Africa based Zahid Miyan was part of the team that masterminded the conspiracy to kill Hindu leaders and a list of BJP and RSS members was also prepared. NIA investigation had revealed earlier that a new terror outfit was being planned by D-company and the conspiracy was hatched in Karachi and South Africa.

Hundreds of flights grounded as typhoon Mindulle nears Japan

Tokyo: A powerful typhoon was on course for a direct hit on Tokyo on Monday, with nearly 400 flights grounded due to heavy rain and strong winds.

Strong typhoon Mindulle was expected to make landfall around noon, moving upwards from the Japanese capital to the northern Tohoku region, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Packing gusts up to 180 kilometres per hour, the storm was heading north at a speed of 25 kilometres per hour from Miyake island in early morning, the agency said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or significant damage on Miyake, an island of around 2,600 residents which is known for fishing, tourism and farming.

“In Tokyo… please exercise caution for landslides, flooding in low lying areas, surging rivers, violent wind and high waves,” the weather agency said.

The storm caused airlines across the country to cancel a total of 387 flights, mostly to and from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, national broadcaster NHK said.

Japan Airlines said it cancelled 145 domestic flights through mid-afternoon, affecting 26,910 customers, while All Nippon Airways cancelled 96 domestic flights, affecting 21,300 passengers.

Major train services in Tokyo and its surrounding region operated normally during the morning commuting hours, including super fast bullet trains, according to East Japan Railway, the region’s biggest railway operator.

Separately, typhoon Kompasu, which hit Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido yesterday, had been downgraded to a temperate depression by early today and moved away into the Sea of Okhotsk, according to the weather agency.

Heavy rains since Saturday caused high waves and rivers to flood in Hokkaido, but caused only three minor injuries.

Youngest accused in Nirbhaya case in touch with radical Islamists, suspects IB

The youngest arrested in the Nirbhaya case 2012 is in news again after the Intelligence Bureau (IB) sent a fresh alert over his suspected jihadi connections.The accused, now, 21 years-old, was kept in a reform home after being charged as guilty in the Nirbhaya case. But as per an India Today report, the officials noticed that he got close to a Kashmiri inmate who was involved in the 2011 Delhi high court bombing. They both were in the same room for more than a year and the Nirbhaya accused was allegedly indoctrinated by his cellmate urging him to take up the cause of Kashmiris.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officials in Uttar Pradesh have been told to keep a close eye on his movements. On Wednesday, five youths were arrested and six others including a techie were detained by NIA which claimed to have busted a “terror module” that is suspected to be linked to the Islamic State (IS) group after conducting searches at different locations in the old city in Hyderabad. Some graduates were among those detained after the searches, the agency said.The NIA sleuths also recovered weapons, ammunition, urea, acid, some chemicals, electronic gadgets and other incriminating material besides Rs 15 lakh in cash from their possession, officials of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Hyderabad Police said, adding the youths were working at the behest of IS handlers.

NIA busts Islamic State module in Hyderabad, detains 11

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Wednesday busted an Islamic State module in Hyderabad based on inputs from Intelligence Bureau (IB), reported CNN-News 18. According to ANI, 11 people linked to the terror outfit have been detained so far.

“Raids are going on at three to four places in the old city are. NIA is doing it. The local police is assisting them. Searches are being conducted over some suspected terror activities that were planned to be carried out in the city,”  The Finincial Express quoted a senior intelligence officer as saying.

In major anti-terror swoop across the country ahead of the Republic Day this year, the NIA had taken into custody 14 suspected  Islamic State sympathisers.

According to Firstpost, in November 2015, a report prepared by the intelligence agencies revealed that the 150 people, mostly from South India, are believed to be attracted to the IS and sympathetic to the group’s activities.

Over the past couple of years, the IS — despite having no presence in the Indian subcontinent — has acted as a strong luring factor for the youth.

The NIA raids come at a time when advocates and lawyers have intensified a strike that has been on for over three weeks, reported Deccan Chronicle.

Prohibitory orders are in place in the entire area and search operations are still going on.

2008 Malegaon blasts case: Special NIA court rejects bail application of Sadhvi Pragya

A special NIA court on Tuesday rejected bail application of 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh.Pragya’s lawyer Prashant Maggu had filed the bail plea on May 30 after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) decided to drop her name from the list of accused in its chargesheet. On May 13, the NIA decided not to name Pragya in its chargesheet in connection with the case. The agency also dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NIA has not opposed bail application filed by Sadhvi after giving her a clean chit last in May.​The NIA in its chargesheet recommended discharging four accused – Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shyam Sahu, Shiv Narayan Kalsangra and Praveen Takkalki – saying there was no evidence to prosecute them.The Malegaon 2008 blast case was a first case in which Hindu extremists, including Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, were chargesheeted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2009.The September 2008 blast in the Muslim-majority Malegaon town killed six people and injured 101 others. The NIA took over the case in 2011.(With PTI inputs)

Pakistan to consider India’s request to probe Pathankot attack after Eid

The Pakistan government has said that it will decide whether or not to allow Indian investigators to visit the country in connection with their probe into a deadly terror attack on an Indian airbase after Eid-ul Fitr.On January 2, 2016, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the India’s Western Air Command, killing six Indian security personnel.New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based jihadi group Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) for orchestrating the brutal assault.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A high-level meeting to be attended by top civil and military officials will be convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he returns from London to discuss an India’s request for a visit by its investigators and issues related to bilateral dialogue between the two neighbours, reports the Express Tribune.The Express Tribune has quoted a senior official, who is part of the government’s core team dealing with India, that the meeting would decide whether to allow a team from India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to travel to Pakistan for carrying forward the probe into the Pathankot attack.A five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan had visited India between March 27 and 31 to collect evidence with regard to the attack.The team comprising officials from police and intelligence agencies had met officials from National Investigation Agency in New Delhi and had also been given access to the Pathankot airbase where the attack took place.Islamabad, however, contended that its investigators were given limited access as they were not allowed to meet eyewitnesses.New Delhi, in return requested Pakistan to allow its investigators to visit the country to question alleged masterminds of the attack including JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother.So far, Pakistan has not officially responded to the Indian request.One of the reasons behind the government’s reluctance has been reported that it thinks India may use the visit to ridicule Pakistan.”We will take the final decision after Eid,” the Express Tribune quoted an official as saying.The official on being asked about the prospects of resumption of the bilateral dialogue said India appears to be ‘hiding behind the Pathankot incident.’The Pathankot attack led to the cancellation of crucial foreign secretary-level talks, which were to take place in mid-January.India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week at a news conference in New Delhi said that foreign secretary-level talks were not cancelled but New Delhi is only awaiting probe from Pakistan side on the Pathankot attack.Though the prospects of resumption of talks at present are at grim, officials are hoping that the both nations will eventually return to the negotiating table before the next Saarc summit scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan in November this year.

Dabholkar murder: CBI quizzes Virendra Tawde’s wife

CBI on Tuesday questioned Nidhi Tawde, wife of arrested Hindu Janajagruti Samiti member Virendra Singh Tawde, in connection with rationalist Narendra Dabholkar murder case.Nidhi, who is not an accused in the case, was examined about details relating to alleged conspiracy to eliminate Dabholkar as the agency believes she might be witness to some development when it was being hatched, sources said. Searches were also carried out at her properties on the outskirts of Mumbai.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources said the agency has information about her participation in programmes against Dabholkar with her husband, besides, she had been an active member of Sanatan Sanstha, which is under scanner in the case. They said the agency will also ask her about cyber forensic evidence like email, messages recovered from the laptops of Tawde which were sent to Sarang Akolkar, another suspect against whom a Red Corner Notice is pending in 2009 Goa blasts.Dabholkar was shot dead by two unidentified men during morning walk on Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013. Tawde and Akolkar wanted to eliminate Dabholkar in 2009 itself, but they dropped the plan due to the Margao bomb blast which took place the same year, CBI sources said, citing evidence pieced together by the agency.Tawde, suspected to be the mastermind of the conspiracy, kept on planning a hit on the activist along with Akolkar. The plan was finally executed on August 20, 2013, they said.The probe into Dabholkar murder case was handed over to CBI in May 2014 by the Bombay High Court. The NIA is handling the Margao blast case. The sources also said Tawde hated Dabholkar for his relentless campaign against superstition. He also allegedly played a key role in the 2009 Sangli-Miraj riots. The Sanstha has denied any role in Dabholkar’s murder and termed Tawde’s arrest as “mysterious”.

Disproportionate assets case: Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh’s son questioned by CBI

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister’s son, Vikramaditya, is currently being questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the disproportionate assets case filed against the senior congress leader. Virbhadra Singh, has been questioned by the agency twice this month and sources had told dna that his wife Pratibha Singh would also be quizzed. The octogenarian leader was named in the DA case along with his wife and two associates. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Agency officials told dna that Vikramaditya, arrived at the CBI headquarters at around 11 am and is likely to undergo a grilling session all day long. The agency claimed that its investigators were in possession of foolproof evidence against Virbhadra Singh, his associates and partners in criminal conspiracy regarding the assets acquired in the name of his wife and children, one of whom was questioned by agency sleuths on Tuesday.
ALSO READ CBI probe is politically motivated: Virbhadra SinghThe case was registered in September last year under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the Himachal Pradesh chief minister, his wife Pratibha, his associate Chunni Lal and Life Insurance Corporation agent Anand Chauhan.Chauhan, has been accused of showing the accumulated money as proceeds of agricultural income – not taxed in India – from Singh’s apple orchard ‘Shrikhand’, located in the state.
ALSO READ Disproportionate assets case: CBI to quiz Virbhadra Singh’s wifeIt is alleged that during his 2009-12 stint as a steel minister in the UPA II government, Singh accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income.The senior Congress leader has denied the allegations, accusing the Centre of indulging in vendetta politics.

Dabholkar case: ‘We can steal and kill in order to arm our workers’ – Tawde in email to Goa blast accused

Dr Virendra Tawde, arrested for the murder of Pune-based rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, in a email to Sarang Akolkar, another accused in the case, had allegedly written that they should,”steal and kill” in order to raise a private army for the Hindutva cause. Tawde had allegedly suggested to Akolkar, a member of the Sanathan Sanstha, that their group either purchase weapons or set-up an arms factory in Uttar Pradesh. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Dr Tawde had confided in Akolkar that in order to arm their private army, the group required proper sources of funding to purchase weapons. Tawde had further written that if a situation arises wherein finding money to buy weapons becomes an issue, the right wing group should be prepared to carry out criminal incidents.A CBI source, quoting from an email allegedly sent by Tawde to Akolkar, said, “We have to raise an army of 15000 workers. The army needs weapons so either we can buy them or setup an arms manufacturing factory. We would be needing money for the same and if we don’t get it, then we can steal and kill (loot, maar ya chori chakari)”.
ALSO READ E-mail had told Virendra Tawde to focus on Dabholkar months before his murder, says CBITawde, a chief coordinator of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) and an important member of the Sanathan Sanstha (SS), is not only accused of being the chief architect of Dabholkar’s murder but also of overlooking the training of individuals in order fight “anti-Hindu forces”. The charge is denied by both HJS and SS, who have accused political opponents of defaming them.Agency officials also said that an unidentified Sanatan Sanstha activist, through an email, had allegedly told Tawde to concentrate on Dabholkar just before the rationalist’s murder, though Tawde, had not responded to this email. However the agency told dna that a string emails written by him to Akolkar are currently being examined. It is yet to be established whether Akolkar, who is also an accused in the 2009 Goa blasts, was behind the email telling Tawde to focus on Dr Dabholkar.
ALSO READ Dabholkar murder case: We hardly ever saw accused Dr Tawde, say shocked neighboursAkolkar, a member of Sanatan Sanstha, has been absconding for over seven years and is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). There is also a red-corner notice issued against him by the Interpol. Two suspected members of the Sanatan Sanstha were killed in the 2009 Goa blast after a bomb they were carrying on a scooter accidentally went off.Earlier this week, the CBI, named six men it believed had a direct role in Dr Dabholkar’s murder.The names include, Akolkar, along with Rudra Patil, Jaiprakash Hegde, Praveen Limkar and Vinay Pawar, who are believed to be members of the Sanstha. While Pawar, who was in February 2015 questioned in connection to the murder of Communist leader Govind Pansare, the others have been absconding since their names cropped up in the Goa blasts. According to agency officials, one weapon was used to murder both Pansare and Dabholkar.
ALSO READ Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Did accused get help from Pune cop?The agency has also identified two men who trained the shooters and could question them soon. It also said that in 2009, Tawade had attended an arms training session of Sanatan Sanstha held in Goa and in Sangli, which is home to Rudra Patil, an accused in the Goa blast. Agency sources also told dna that the funding sources of the accused are currently being probed.

IAAF votes to keep Russia banned, Rio participation in balance | Reuters

VIENNA/MOSCOW World athletics’ governing body on Friday upheld its ban on Russia for systematic doping, leaving the country’s hopes of competing in the Rio Games dependent on Olympic chiefs giving it special dispensation at a meeting next week.

Russia, an athletics superpower, had lobbied furiously to avert the prospect of a Summer Olympics taking place without its track and field athletes.

President Vladimir Putin denied on Friday that Russian authorities had ever colluded in doping, and urged authorities not to use sport to push an anti-Russian agenda. His spokesman vowed legal steps to defend Russian athletes against a ban.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that innocent people were being punished and that he hoped the International Olympic Committee could “somehow correct this”, the Russian R-Sport news agency quoted him as saying.

Russia was suspended from all track and field by the IAAF in November after an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed widespread state-sponsored doping.

A task force has been studying Russian measures to reform its anti-doping programme. But on Wednesday, a new WADA report revealed 52 new failed tests and stories of extraordinary attempts to avoid, obstruct or intimidate drug testers.

“Some progress has been made, but not enough,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe told reporters.

The vote by the IAAF should in theory be decisive, but the IOC, concerned about innocent athletes being punished, has not ruled out granting Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a special dispensation when it meets next Tuesday.


The IOC Olympic Summit in Lausanne, which will also discuss reports that Russia put in a place a complex system to beat anti-doping measures in Sochi, could be a defining moment in the fight against drug abuse in sport.

“My gut feeling is that some of the folks in the IOC bubble have no sense of the collective outrage if it makes the wrong decision,” Dick Pound, a long-standing IOC member and co-author of the report that led to Russia’s ban, told Reuters.

In an open letter to Coe, Mutko said Russia had met all the conditions asked of it, including overhauling its athletics association and introducing additional testing.

“Clean athletes who have dedicated years of their lives to training and who never sought to gain unfair advantage through doping should not be punished for the past actions of other individuals,” Mutko wrote.

His ministry said after the decision that the Olympics would be diminished by the absence of Russian athletes.

At a forum in St Petersburg, Putin said that “there has not been and cannot be any support at state level for violations in sport, including the use of doping”, and that there should be no collective punishment for Russian athletes.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov went further, saying that “everything possible needed to defend the rights of our athletes and the Olympic team is being done and will be done at a legal level”.


Isinbayeva, one of Russia’s most successful sportswomen, called the IAAF decision a violation of human rights.

“I will go to the human rights court,” she said. “I will prove to the IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency that they made the wrong decision … Russia will not be silent.”

International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates said on Friday that Russia’s anti-doping agency and athletics body were “rotten to the core”.

But Coates, president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, also said there would be “appeal opportunities … for someone who can establish their individual integrity”.

“My guess is they’d have to establish they were regularly tested outside of Russia by an anti-doping authority, and the samples were analysed outside of Russia on a regular basis,” he said.

Russia says it is being unfairly victimised, while other countries that have fallen foul of the WADA code are free to compete.

But British world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe told Reuters on Thursday: “No one wants to see even one innocent athlete suffer in this, but such blatant disregard for the rules of our sport and the concept of fair play should receive a strong message that it will not be tolerated …

“The message needs to get out loud and clear – We will not tolerate cheats in our sport and will take strong action to protect the rights of the clean athletes to compete on a fair and level playing field.”

(Additonal reporting by Gene Cherry and Jack Stubbs, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Hugh Lawson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

E-mail had told Virendra Tawde to focus on Dabholkar months before his murder, says CBI

Sanatan Sanstha memberer Virendra Tawde, arrested by the CBI in connection with the 2013 murder of Narendra Dabholkar, had received a direction through an e-mail asking him to “concentrate” on the anti-superstition crusader, around 2-3 months before the latter was shot dead.In its remand report submitted before a local court seeking extension of Tawde’s custody on Thursday, the agency stated that it has also identified five more persons, apart from Tawde, who are suspected to have played a direct role in the crime. The court extended Tawde’s custody until June 20.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI stated that these suspects used code words like ‘chocolate’, ‘sahitya’, ‘devil’ and various others words during their e-mail conversation. The agency’s counsel B P Raju told the court that two to three months before Dabholkar’s murder, Tawde had received an email from an unidentified person asking him to “concentrate” on the rationalist.”Tawde did not respond to the mail, but acted on the direction and executed the murder on August 20, 2013,” Raju said.The agency stated that a witness in the case has identified Sarang Akolkar as one of the assailants on the basis of the sketches re-issued by CBI. Dabholkar was shot dead when he was taking a morning walk at Omkareshwar bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013.Akolkar, also a member of right-wing Sanatan Sanstha, is wanted in connection with the murder. While seeking Tawde’s custody, the CBI told the court that they want to question Vinay Pawar of the Sanstha and one Agrawal in connection with the crime. It also told the court that the email conversation has talked about procuring arms from various parts of the country.”We want to investigate the financial source in the procurement of the arms as the accused and other suspects who were in touch with each other were talking of forming a ‘fauj’ of 15,000 armed group during their email interaction,” Raju said.CBI told the court that Tawde had visited the weapon training workshops in Sangali and Phonda in 2009. It was in 2009 when two Sanstha members had died in explosion of a bomb they were ferrying to Margao in Goa.CBI is probing the Dabholkar murder case, which was handed over to it in May 2014 by the Bombay High Court. The NIA is handling the Margao blast case.Tawde, an ENT surgeon, was arrested from Panvel, Navi Mumbai last week for the murder of the 67-year-old anti-superstition crusader. He is the first accused to be held in the nearly three-year-old case. Seeking Tawde’s further custodial interrogation, Raju told the court that he was cooperating with the agency.In his order, Judicial Magistrate First Class V B Gulve-Patil stated, “It appears from the record that the investigating machinery has done progress in into investigation, minute technical details are yet to be inquired while the valuable material information would not be gathered from the accused except his custody”.However, Tawde’s counsel Sanjeev Punalekar rubbished the claims made by the CBI, saying the agency has got enough time to interrogate Tawde but “failed” to gather concrete evidence against him. P

Narendra Dabholkar case: CBI arrests Hindu Janjagruti Samiti leader for role in rationalist’s murder

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the chief coordinator of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HGS) for his alleged role in the killing of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar on Friday. The arrest comes more than a week after the probe agency revealed that its investigators had found ‘cyber forensic evidence’ against HGS chief Dr. Virendra Singh Tawde. Agency sources said that Tawde was interrogated on Friday evening and was taken into custody at around 8.30 pm. “He (Tawde) will be produced at the designated court in Pune on Saturday,” said a CBI official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tawde, a resident of Panvel in Maharashtra, is an ear and throat specialist by profession and had come under the CBI’s scanner during the probe into Dr. Dabholkar’s murder. Sources told dna that a phone used by Tawde had been operational in the area where Dr Dhabolkar was gunned down during his morning walk on the Omkareshwar Bridge in Pune in August 2013. The Bombay High Court had transferred the probe to the CBI on May 9, 2014.The probe agency conducted raids at the residence of Tawde and claimed to have recovered several mobile phones and SIM cards. According to agency officials, Tawde’s name had cropped up along with another individual identified as Sarang Akolkar – who is believed to be a Sanatan Sanstha activist and has been absconding following his alleged role in the 2009 Goa blast.Akolkar is also wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Goa blast case and a red-corner notice was also issued against his name by the Interpol. Two suspected members of Sanatan Sanstha were killed in the 2009 blast after a bomb they were carrying on a scooter accidentally went off. Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, which was formed in October 2002, and Sanatan Sanstha share close ties and have been working together for quite some time now. CBI sleuths are also looking past activities of Tawde and it is likely that members of the two groups will be questioned by the probe agency soon, sources said.In the 2008 ‘fifth mega conference’ held for all Hindu sects, Tawde had been quoted saying, “The lack of Dharma Shikshan, Dharmabhiman and unshakable faith has lead to such a pathetic state of Hindus. The Dharma is being attacked from all sides but the Hindus are still not awake. This demands at least a counter argument, if not an actual fight for every attack on Hindu Dharma. This will lead to widespread awakening.The Anti- Hindu government is trying to ban Sanatan which is involved in Dharmashikshan for the Hindus, an action which needs to be strongly condemned. Have you ever noticed the same people asking a ban on SIMI? Such a government needs to be shown its place now.”His organisation, through its official website, has detailed articles and opinions regarding many issues including that of cow slaughter, love jihad, defamation of Hindu saints, conversion to other religions and so on.

India expresses concern over decline in UNDP contributions

India has expressed concern over the continuous decline in contributions to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) at a time when the agency has to step up its activities and assist member states in their efforts to achieve the ambitious 2030 development agenda.First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Mohd Noor Rahman Sheikh said at the annual session of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Population Fund Executive Board that nations are entering the phase of implementation of the transformative Agenda 2030 to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP as the main development UN Agency has to play a key role in assisting member states in their efforts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In this context, it is worrying to note the continuous decline in contributions to UNDP while the need of the hour is for UNDP to enhance its activities,” he said yesterday. While India has been contributing to South-South Cooperation, he pointed out that North-South Cooperation is declining and needs to be scaled up to help meet objectives of 2030 agenda.
ALSO READ India ranks 130th in Human Development Index: UNDPHe said India concurs with the observation made in the UNDP Administrator Helen Clark’s report that national ownership remains a key driver of performance for the agency’s strategic plan. Sheikh added that UNDP can focus more on projects relating to achieving greater energy efficiency, anti-corruption measures, basic services and global development financing. UNDP also needs to continue to address cross-cutting issues and promote long- term growth and development in developing countries.On Evaluation Policy, he said India has long held that the “independence” of the Independent Evaluation Office should be maintained beyond doubt.
ALSO READ United Nations Development Programme to set up its coordination office in MumbaiClark said that ensuring the success of the 2030 Agenda remains one of the organisation’ s greatest priorities. “Supporting roll out of the 2030 Agenda is a top priority for UNDP,” Clark said at the meeting.”UNDP has specific thematic expertise to offer, not least around poverty eradication; reduction of inequalities; democratic governance; the environment, energy, and climate change; disaster risk reduction; gender, health; and our work in fragile contexts,” she said. “We will promote support for programme countries to access finance for sustainable development, and to find the right mix of funding, technology, and assistance to drive national progress on the SDGs,” she added.

Johnson & Johnson’s ‘no more tears’ shampoo, talc under cancer cloud

India’s national child rights body has asked five states to test Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and shampoo for asbestos, formaldehyde and other “hazardous chemicals”, casting a shadow over the very two products that evoke images of sweet smelling cherubic babies and have been used by generations of parents.Putting the trusted baby care brand under a cloud of suspicion, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on May 17 wrote to the chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan – each state representing a different zone.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The order copy, accessed by dna, asks the states “to collect samples of Johnson & Johnson baby powder and shampoo…forward the samples to a NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited government laboratory only for testing the composition of sample.”It specified that the investigation should focus on the “presence of asbestos (in powder) and formaldehyde (in shampoo) or any other hazardous chemical”. Asbestos and formaldehyde are both carcinogenic.The test reports should be sent to NCPCR within 30 days of the letter being issued, the order stated. The reports will be put before the expert committee for examination and further course of action will be decided.”We are waiting for the lab report but I would like to ensure the public at large that we will take stringent action if we find any violation regarding safety norms of these products,” said NCPCR chairperson Stuti Kakar.The NCPCR’s nationwide probe was prompted by a jury in St Louis in the US state of Missouri in February awarding $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products for feminine hygiene.Formaldehyde has been identified as a human carcinogen by several experts and government agencies, including the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. A research on occupational exposures and formaldehyde, published in the reputed science journal Elsevier, shows the link between formaldehyde and leukaemia. The study also reports that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a body of World Health Organisation (WHO), recently classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen that causes nasopharyngeal cancer.Talcum powder is made of talc – a mineral of hydrated magnesium silicate. It is widely used in personal care products like facial powder, adult body powder and baby powder along with in other many consumer products. In natural form, some talc contains a form of amphibole asbestos known as Tremolite. IARC has classified Talc that contains asbestos as ‘carcinogenic to human’.Johnson & Johnson viewDefending itself, a Johnson & Johnson India spokesperson said they had not received any query on baby powder and shampoo from government of India’s child protection body.”Johnson & Johnson has always taken questions about the safety of our products extremely seriously. We want to assure everyone that all our products meet the highest quality, purity and compliance standards. They also meet or exceed government standards in the countries where they are sold, as well the US and EU cosmetic ingredient safety guidelines, or whichever is stricter when they differ,” the spokesperson said.The statement went on to say, “Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc. Multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined that talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and the labelling on Johnson’s Baby Powder is appropriate. For over 100 years, Johnson & Johnson has provided consumers with a safe choice for cosmetic powder products and we will continue to work hard to exceed consumer expectations and evolving product preferences. We understand that women and families affected by ovarian cancer are searching for answers, and we deeply sympathize with all who have been affected by this devastating disease with no known cause. We will appeal the recent verdict and continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”We never add formaldehyde directly to our products, and from 2015 even the formaldehyde-releasers have been removed from our products, worldwide.”What is formaldehyde?Formaldehyde, traditionally known as methanal, is a colourless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of products, including building materials, walls and cabinets and personal care products. In personal care products, formaldehyde can be added directly or in the form of chemical preservative such as quaternium-15.People are exposed to formaldehyde, along with other means like tobacco smoke and household products, by using products of personal care. In products of personal care formaldehyde may be released in the gas form and can be inhaled or can be absorbed through skin or through accidental ingestion.What is Asbestos?Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral. Research has shown that exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of asbestosis – a respiratory disease, and mesothelioma – a type of cancer. US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Environment Protection Agency and IARC have classified asbestos as known human Carcinogen.

Danish woman gangrape: Delhi court convicts five accused, quantum of sentence on June 9

A Delhi court on Monday convicted five accused for the gangrape and robbery of a 52-year-old Danish woman in central Delhi in 2014. Arguments on the quantum of sentence will take place on June 9.”All accused are held guilty for all offences,” the judge said.The judge convicted them for the offences under sections 376 (D) (gang rape), 395 (dacoity), 366 (kidnapping), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of IPC.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The convicts — Mahendra alias Ganja (27), Mohd Raja (23), Raju (24), Arjun (22), Raju Chakka (23) — were present in the court.One of the accused Shyam Lal died in February in the Tihar jail and proceedings against him in the case were abated. The three minors are also facing proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board in the case.According to the prosecution, the five, all vagabonds, had robbed and gangraped the Danish tourist at knife-point on the night of January 14, 2014, after leading her to a secluded spot close to the Divisional Railway Officers’ Club near New Delhi Railway Station.The convicts had claimed that a day prior to the incident on January 14, 2014, they had hired a prostitute and had physical relations with her while rejecting the charges levelled against them.(With Agency inputs)

U.S. moves to reduce salt in restaurant, packaged food | Reuters

WASHINGTON The United States moved on Wednesday to cut the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant food in a bid to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes linked to consuming too much sodium.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidelines for major food manufacturers and big chain restaurants that are aimed at reducing salt in foods such as soup, pizza, deli meat, dips, hamburgers, baked goods, snack foods and more.

The agency’s move is aimed at lowering the average American’s salt consumption by a third, saying people in the United States consume almost 50 percent more sodium than recommended by most experts.

Many U.S. food companies, including Campbell Soup Co, General Mills Inc and Kraft Heinz Co, have already cut salt levels to some extent in anticipation of the guidelines, which have been in the works since 2011.

The FDA proposed a daily sodium intake target of 2,300 milligrams a day, down from the current average adult intake of about 3,400 milligrams a day.

The agency will discuss the draft with the public and industry before making the guidelines final, and that daily target may be modified.

“Like others inside and outside of government, we believe additional work is needed to determine the acceptable range of sodium intake for optimal health,” said Leon Bruner, chief science officer at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the industry’s biggest lobbying organization.

“This evaluation should include research that indicates health risks for people who consume too much sodium as well as health risks from consuming too little sodium,” Bruner added.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf acknowledged on a conference call with reporters that there is controversy about the impact of sodium on health and what levels are considered safe for public health, but said the agency’s goal is to get the overall salt intake down to “reasonable levels.”

Different food categories will have different targets, and some products have more room for reductions than others. The agency singled out salad dressing as an example, saying the amount of sodium ranges from 150 mg per hundred grams to more than 2,000. Wheat bread ranges from 220 mg to 671 mg, it said.

Increased sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke, two major causes of death in the United States. (

About half the money spent by Americans on food goes toward food eaten outside the home, according to government figures.

The guidelines were issued less than two weeks after the FDA said it planned a major overhaul of the way packaged foods are labeled to reflect the amount of added sugar and specific serving sizes.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington and Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Malegaon blast: Indore court issues arrest warrant against two Maharashtra ATS officers

A local court has issued an arrest warrant against two officers of Maharashtra ATS in connection with the disappearance of a witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.Special CBI Magistrate Raghvendra Singh Chouhan in his order yesterday also dismissed CBI’s application to close the case.CBI had said in its report that it had found evidence against the then Inspector Rajendra Ghule and Sub-Inspector Ramesh More of Mumbai ATS in connection with the disappearance of the witness Dilip Patidar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The agency sought closure of the case citing absence of requisite sanction from competent authority to prosecute the duo.However, the magistrate said the alleged act was not a part of their duty as public servant and therefore no sanction is required.The court also said that prima facie there is evidence against Ghule and More for their prosecution for criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, fabrication of evidence and other offences under IPC.According to the complainant, ATS took Patidar with them from Indore for questioning on the intervening night of November 10 and 11, 2008 but after that he went missing.The Madhya Pradesh High Court had transferred the case to CBI on a petition filed by Patidar’s brother Ramswaroop.Ramswaroop’s lawyer J P Sharma said that Patidar’s family doesn’t know whether he is alive or dead and for the last 8 years they have been undergoing tremendous anguish.According to ATS, Patidar was released on November 18, 2008 and was asked to come back with certain documents but he never returned.At one point of time, he had been a tenant of the absconding accused in the case, Ramchandra Kalsangra.Earlier this month, National Investigation Agency, probing the blast case, dropped the names of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and five others as accused in its charge sheet filed before a Mumbai Special Court.Seven people were killed in twin blasts when people were coming out of prayers during Ramzan on September 29, 2008.

Toll Tales: Agency says naypayers hit revenue, staffers beg to differ

In the last one year, vehicular traffic on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway (NH-8) has increased substantially, but according to the data shared by toll agency IRB Surat-Dahisar Tollway Pvt Ltd with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), this has not translated into corresponding hike in revenue. In fact, the agency has claimed that there has been a dip in revenue collection at Bhagwada toll plaza near Vapi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Many have raised eyebrows over these figures as hardly any motorist manages to drive past the booths free of cost. In fact, as per the statistics available with dna, there has been a tremendous increase in vehicles using the highway and paying toll.For example at Boriach plaza near Navsari, the private agency counted 2,68,680 vehicles passing through between February 22 and 28, 2016. During the same week in 2015, 2,09,798 vehicles used the same stretch of road – an increase of 58,882 vehicles or 28.06% in just a year.Also read: Toll Tales | Huge rise in number of exempted vehicles in just a year: IRB reportAccording to the IRB Surat-Dahisar Tollway Pvt Ltd, however, of these 2,68,680 vehicles, 46,310 motorists did not pay up. It couldn’t be ascertained how many drivers refused to pay toll last year, as a mechanism to count such cases was absent.So, if free motorists and exempted vehicle categories are removed from the total, there has been just a 5.99% increase in toll revenue at Boriach plaza during the last week of February.The most interesting figures shared by the toll operator with NHAI were of Bhagwada toll plaza near Vapi. During the same week last year, as many as 1,97,776 vehicles passed through the plaza. A year later, 2,70,478 vehicles passed through it – a rise of 36.75%. But according to the agency, 74,814 motorists were let off after they argued against paying toll. This meant an overall reduction to 1,95,665 or a fall by 1.06% in motorists paying the toll.dna queried the IRB Infrastructure Development Pvt Ltd regarding the increase in vehicular traffic, reasons for motorists not paying up, data of vehicular traffic and revenue collections, vehicles exempted from paying toll and so on, through an email. The agency hasn’t responded as of now.Contrary to the agency’s claims, the staffers at Khaniwade, Charoti, Bhagwada and Boriach toll plazas said they did not witness any offender driving past the booths for free.

Special court sends IM’s key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa to 7-day NIA custody

A special court on Friday sent alleged Indian Mujahideen’s key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa to NIA custody for seven days after the agency said he was required to be interrogated in connection with fund transfer to the terror outfit. Thirty-two-year-old Siddibapa, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka, was produced before Special NIA Judge Rakesh Pandit, who said, “It is appropriate to say that custodial interrogation is required. I grant his custody to NIA for seven days.” In the application.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigating Agency(NIA) sought 15 days custody of Siddibapa, submitting that he was in Dubai and had assumed the name of Khan and he was an important cadre of IM organisation for regularly transferring funds from Pakistan to UAE and then to India for terror activities here. The agency also told the court that the accused was in touch with several IM members through electronic devices. Advocate M S Khan, who appeared for Siddibapa, opposed the plea for NIA custody saying that the NIA has already concluded arguments on charge in the case in which the accused has been arrested. He also argued that his client’s name never appeared anywhere in the charge sheet filed by NIA or in the list of proclaimed offenders or wanted persons. Siddibapa, cousin of Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, was held at Indira Gandhi International Airport today after his arrival from Dubai. According to NIA’s FIR lodged in September 2012, members of IM, in association with other IM sleeper cells based in the country and others, were conspiring to commit terror acts, by making preparations for targeting various important and prominent places in India especially in Delhi by causing bomb blasts with the active aid and support from their Pakistan- based operatives and associates, thus, waging war against the government of India. NIA had alleged that Siddibapa played an active role as the main conduit in the chain of fund supply from Pakistan via Dubai to other IM operatives based in India for the commission of terrorist acts. The court had on November 6, 2013 issued a non-bailable warrant against Siddibapa which was extended time to time and thereafter, a Red Corner Notice was issued against him on December 3, 2013.

Pathankot attack: Army rejects Pakistan’s charge of ‘insider role’

Army on Thursday rejected Pakistan’s allegation of “insider’s role” in the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase and said it was planned and sponsored from across the border. National Investigation Agency (NIA) that probed the terrorist attack has ruled out the role of an “insider”, the General officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-in-C) of the western command of Army, Lt Gen K J Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function today. “NIA has carried out a thorough probe an investigation and said that there was no insider hand. The statement of the Pakistani team is incorrect”, he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said the attack on the airbase was “planned and sponsored” from across the border. “It (the attack) was all sponsored, controlled, planned and logistics provided from across the border, especially by Jaish-e-Mohammed. People have been named, we have asked for Red Corner notice against them,” he said. “Our investigation agency has carried a very thorough probe. They have screened the concerned people and a conclusive judgment has been arrived at that there was no insider hand”, Lt Gen Singh said. Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had visited India in March in connection with the probe in the Pathankot terror attack perpetrated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). The terrorists had intruded into the strategic air base at Pathankot on the intervening night of January one-two and mounted the assault. In the fierce encounter that erupted, seven security personnel besides four terrorists were killed.Asked about the Pakistani rangers’ statement that they had no role in the cross border tunnel detected in the R S Pura sector, he said India need to remain vigilant, as Pakistan will not give up “their efforts”. “It is unfortunate…tunnel was detected accidentally, so it is a fact that they (Pakistani side) will not give up their efforts, but we should remain vigilant”, Lt Gen Singh said. On the allegations leveled by some people that the Army was not allowing them to construct the second storey of their houses near an ammunition depot he said it is necessary for the security of the nation.”See if you have to secure your nation, you have to make some sacrifice, no security can be done without sacrifice,” Lt Gen Singh said. He said, that people need to be made aware about the terrorist activities and it is the common civilian who can give information about militant activities to the Army. “Terrorist who infiltrate moves about 10 to 15 km inside Indian territory, he has to change his clothes, he often takes lift or hijacks a car and there are certain civilians who spot this activity and if they inform the security agencies at an early stage such activities can be tackled”, he said.

Sharapova may not play again, says Russia’s Tarpishchev | Reuters

MOSCOW Maria Sharapova may not play again after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium, the president of the Russian tennis federation was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Shamil Tarpishchev told the R-Sport news agency that Sharapova’s situation was “bad”.

The five-times grand slam champion faces a possible ban of up to four years for failing a drugs test at the Australian Open in January.

British media reported that she had been due to attend an International Tennis Federation (ITF) anti-doping hearing in London on Wednesday.

There has been no subsequent comment by the ITF.

Sharapova stunned the world in March when she said she had returned a positive test for the Latvian-made heart medication which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) banned list from Jan. 1.

The world’s highest-paid sportswoman claimed to have been taking meldonium on doctor’s orders for 10 years and had failed to note that it had become a banned substance until hearing of her failed test at the year’s first grand slam.

She was provisionally suspended on March 12 pending the hearing, and has lost a number of her lucrative sponsorship deals.

She said at the time that she hoped she would be allowed to play again.

The World Anti-Doping Agency WADA said in April, after hundreds of athletes had tested positive for meldonium, that bans might be overturned due to a lack of clear scientific information on how long the drug takes to be excreted.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov/Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Pakistan lips zipped on Pathankot, NIA presses more evidence

They came. They saw. They left. And never responded back. That is how the saga on Pathankot probe is turning out following the high-profile visit by Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team to India. Although Pakistan has refused to ‘reciprocate’ on India’s request to allow a visit of its investigating officials on its soil, the National Investigating Agency is continuing to press additional evidences against the purported masterminds. As a part of its effort, NIA is issuing fresh red corner notices against Jaish-e-Mohammad suspects Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan for their role in providing tactical support and logistics to the four militants who crossed from Pakistan to attack the airbase in Pathankot. It has also sent a supplementary Letters Rogatory – third in the series since March – with evidence on individuals and entities linked with JeM, as well as funding of JeM’s websites Al Qalam online and Rang-o-Noor.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“Pakistan has so far not responded to any of our communication or previous LRs. But we remain optimistic as we have strong evidences,’’ a senior NIA official told reporters on Tuesday. The five-member JIT visited India from March 27 to April 1, during which they visited the air base and recorded statements of 16 witnesses. India’s repeated requests to visit Pakistan and finish the ‘joint investigation’ has hit roadblock, although officials expect Pakistan to act on the basis of reciprocity, like they did for the JIT.On May 13, the Central Bureau of Investigation – nodal agency representing Interpol – re-issued RCNs against JeM leader Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf. RCNs already exist on both, but NIA is hoping reissuing an RCN will put pressure on the international community to act urgently against them.The agency is also in the process of issuing fresh RCNs against two handlers Latif and Jan. According to NIA, Lateef is a senior associate in JeM with close knowledge on border areas of India. He was arrested and in Indian jail from 1994 until 2010 when he was released along with 20 other militants from Pakistan in a goodwill gesture to strengthen relationship with the neighbouring country. Lateef is believed to have helped JeM militants to cross over in the Punjab sector from where they made their way to the strategic airbase in Pathankot. The militants also made calls to a Pakistani number which was later traced to Kashif Jan and were in contact with him on phone for guidance.In its supplementary LR’s – a formal request issued by a court under the international legal procedure – the NIA has provided additional details on the identity and dna of the slain terrorists and financiers of Al Qalam online and Rang-o-Noor websites that are run by al Rahmat trust, a frontal organisation of JeM. In the LR, Pakistan authorities have been told to match the dna samples with the parents of the slain terrorist and send it back to India.“We have a strong case to visit Pakistan as the individuals and entities related to JeM and Pathankot attack are there. We have provided them (Pakistan) with all the evidence, establishing that the militants are Pakistani residents, after which they even registered an FIR there. Now it is upto them to proceed and take action,” the NIA officer said.

Doping programme fuelled Russian medals at Sochi Olympics-report | Reuters

Dozens of Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, including at least 15 medal winners, were part of a state-run doping programme, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The report comes months after revelations by an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission last November of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia, which led to a ban on the country competing in international athletics competitions.

Unless that ban is lifted, Russian athletics competitors will miss the Rio Olympics in Brazil, set to run Aug. 5-21.

According to the New York Times report, which is based largely on evidence from the director of the country’s anti-doping laboratory during the Sochi Olympics, those involved included some of Russia’s biggest stars of the Games, including 14 members of its cross-country ski team and two veteran bobsledders who won two golds.

Russian anti-doping experts and members of the intelligence services secretly broke into tamper-proof bottles to replace urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected months earlier, the New York Times reported.

By the end of the 2014 Olympics, Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran Russia’s drug testing lab, said as many as 100 dirty urine samples were expunged, the newspaper said.

“We were fully equipped, knowledgeable, experienced and perfectly prepared for Sochi like never before,” Rodchenkov is quoted as saying in the report, which stated he received the prestigious Order of Friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Sochi Olympics. “It was working like a Swiss watch.”

Rodchenkov resigned from his position last November after the Moscow-based laboratory he oversaw stopped operating when its accreditation was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

While the New York Times could not independently verify Rodchenkov’s account of the doping operation, his information is consistent with the findings of a WADA report published late last year.

The report is the latest alleging widespread performance-enhancing drug use by the country’s athletes. In the past week, CBS News aired an interview saying that at least four of Russia’s gold medal winners at the Sochi Olympics were using steroids.

Putin staked his reputation on the Sochi Games, which at around $50 billion was the most expensive in Olympic history. Russia led all countries with 13 gold medals and 33 overall at in Sochi.

On Wednesday, reporting that the New York Times was soon to release its article, Russian news agency TASS cited Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying there was an “information attack” on Russian sport.

“The system of organisation for the Olympic games was absolutely transparent,” Mutko told TASS. “Everything was under the control of international experts – from taking samples to their analysis.”

According to the New York Times report, Rodchenkov was given a list that named the athletes involved in the doping programme and their competition schedule and was to substitute their samples if any went on to win a medal.

Rodchenkov, who was a global expert on performance-enhancing drugs, told the New York Times it was up to him to ensure that Russian athletes won the most medals, preferably gold ones.

According to the report, Rodchenkov said some of his athletes would at times take drugs he had not approved, making them vulnerable to discovery.

“All athletes are like small children,” he said in the New York Times report. “They’ll put anything you give them into their mouths.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Bill Rigby)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Indian Express photographer dies on assignment in Jhansi

The Indian Express photographer Ravi Kanojia was electrocuted on the railway tracks that proved fatal while on an assignment in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh on Monday. News of his death sent shock waves in the photography community. Ravi is survived by his parents and three sisters.Ravi left for Jhansi early Monday morning to cover the drought situation in Bundlekhand for The Indian Express. Apparently, Ravi was shooting a 10-wagon train filled with water that has been stationed at Jhansi since the past four days as the Uttar Pradesh insists it has no need for this from the Centre. He was attempting to get a high-angle shot from an elevation when he was electrocuted by a high-tension wire.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From Ludhiana, Ravi initially worked as a stringer for the Indian Express there before he was hired and transferred to the New Delhi bureau in 2009. Ravi was an outstanding photographer whose work in and outside Delhi won him great acclaim. Ravi was honoured for creative excellence by the Press Council of India in 2014 for his coverage of those displaced in the Muzaffarnagar riots. Ravi was also felicitated by the Delhi government for “capturing the spirit of Delhi” through his photographs.Ravi had a cheerful disposition and was always seen smiling. Helpful and approachable, his love for photography and life was apparent through his photographs. “I have known Ravi since he joined the bureau in 2009,” said Tashi Tobgyal, a friend and colleague. “His loss is incomparable and we are devastated by the news,” Tobgyal added.Hindustan Times photographer Ravi Choudhary, a close friend said “I have known Ravi since the seven years now since we were colleagues at the Express. Though, I moved on to work for another organization, our friendship continued on and off the field.” Another photographer Chandan Khanna from the Agency France-Presse (AFP) said, “He was very supportive of me while I was struggling as a freelancer. Although, I’ve not known him since long, we struck a friendship and a close bond.Ravi was my friend. Memories and anecdotes of interaction with Ravi flowed as friends called and consoled each other for our loss. In a city, where most of us are migrants, our friends become our family of sorts. I remember calling Ravi on Sunday for some work. He told me he would get back to me as soon as he knew something about my query. All I think back to, are my parting words to him a mere 24 hours ago, “Khabar dete rehna Ravi (Keep me informed about news Ravi).”

Panama papers probe: SC seeks Centre’s reply on plea for CBI inquiry

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on a plea seeking CBI inquiry against Indian offshore bank account holders named in the Panama papers.

A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notices to Centre and the CBI on the petition filed by advocate ML Sharma.

A Multi Agency Group (MAG) of various investigative agencies has been formed by the government to go into the disclosures made in the list which includes about 500 Indian entities.

The Panama Papers leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spans different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.

VVIP chopper scam: CBI summons three Tyagi brothers, Gautam Khaitan tomorrow

The CBI has summoned the three Tyagi brothers and Gautam Khaitan tomorrow regarding the AgustaWestland deal scam.According to the CBI sources , Tyagi brothers have admitted property link with former IAF chief SP Tyagi. Sanjeev Tyagi has also admitted financial dealing with Agusta middlemen Haschke and Gerosa.The ED on Friday questioned former Air Force chief SP Tyagi for the second day in connection with the controversial Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was subjected to a marathon 10-hour questioning yesterday by Enforcement Directorate(ED) investigators.ED officials said Tyagi arrived at the zonal office of the agency today as he was required to be put through more questions and evidences collected in the case. Agency sources had yesterday said he was questioned about his role in the deal and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) yesterday.
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper scam: Eight Indian missions on AgustaWestland money trail; Tyagi, lawyer Khaitan grilledThe retired Air Chief Marshal was questioned in the same case by CBI for three days this week but this is for the first time he was being summoned by the ED.Agency sources had earlier indicated that Tyagi’s questioning was necessary in the light of a recent judgement of a Milan (Italy) court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP use. Tyagi’s name cropped at various points in the said judgement. The allegation against the former Air chief is that he allegedly reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.He took over as the Indian Air Force chief on December 31, 2005 and retired from service in 2007.ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including Tyagi in its money laundering FIR. It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.ED had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal. Tyagi, however, has denied any wrongdoing on his part.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal. The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case.

There have been some activities of ISIS in India but it is not ‘alarming’: Govt

There have been “some cases” of ISIS activities in India but the country does not face any alarming situation as the Muslims here are committed to the values of life and won’t allow it to spread its tentacles here, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that there will be no increase in the dreaded terror outfit’s activities in India in future too.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Replying to questions on spread of ISIS activities in India and whether any Muslim organisation was involved, he said the Muslim community is well entrenched in the Indian traditions and cultures.”There is no alarming situation in our country relating to ISIS activites as of now. I am fully confident that ISIS activities are not going to increase in India. I know the Indian muslim community very well and all countrymen know that it is fully entrenched with Indian traditions and cultures and is committed to life values of the nation. They will not allow ISIS activities to spread in this country,” he said.Earlier, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said there have been some activities in India perpetrated by ISIS but the situation is “not very alarming as some may try to project” as the Indian security and intelligence agencies and are alert both at the Centre and state level.”There are some cases which have been registered and number of arrests have also been made. These are all under investigation. There is nothing much to worry. Our country is able to contain the threat from ISIL,” he said.Asked how many cases have been registered and arrested, Rijiju said, “As of now, six cases have been registered. In six cases, many people have been arrested. Investigation is going on and it is not possible to provide all details. We cannot fix the time limit of completing investigations.” He said it is a dynamic situation and the government is seriously pursuing it.The National Investigative Agency (NIA), which registered these cases, is working very professionally and no innocent should be troubled. Rijiju said the NIA is working to reach to the right prople who have committed the wrong.To a question on whether any Muslim leader or organisation is involved, he said, “No organisation is involved. Muslims leaders and organisations have openly opposed ISIS in this country.”

Tyagi had met Finmeccanica COO while in office as IAF chief

Former Indian Air Force marshal SP Tyagi had allegedly met the chief operating officer (COO) of Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica while in office. The meeting with the official of Finmeccanica, accused in the Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper scam, had taken place in 2005, almost three months after he was selected as the IAF chief.The revelation came from the CBI officials who interrogated Tyagi for the second consecutive day. Agency officials also added that Tyagi allegedly had financial interests in at least four companies based out of India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI officials told dna that the alleged meeting had taken place on February 15, 2005 in India, but did not mention the venue. Sources in CBI, however, said that investigators have retrieved records which indicate that the meeting had taken place between Tyagi and Finmeccanica COO, Georgio Zapa.The CBI claims that it was when he was IAF chief that Tyagi allegedly tailored chopper specifications to favour AgustaWestland, one of the four global vendors in talks with the defence ministry.Sources said that an elaborate record of individuals the government officials meet during their office time is usually maintained and it was possible that CBI investigators accessed the same. The agency is also looking at the travels made by Tyagi post his retirement in 2007. Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement.It had also come to fore that the former AFM was linked to three companies which have been identified with their initials: ‘Vanshi’, ‘Anuras’ and ‘Shavan’. On Tuesday, sources told dna that Tyagi might have other shares in some other companies out of which one Noida-based company, named Meghanshu, has been identified. Tyagi and his wife are the owners of the companies. The investigating agency has written to the Financial Intelligence Unit “to gather more details about the financial transactions of these companies in India and abroad”.Tyagi, along with another accused in the massive scam, Gautam Khaitan, are to be questioned by the probe agency on Wednesday while the former AFM’s cousins, also known as Tyagi brothers – Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep, have been called later this week. The three are accused of lobbying on behalf of AgustaWestland.CBI sources said that it was in 2004, when Tyagi was vice-chief, that Finmeccanica approached him for the first time. Later, when it was announced that Tyagi was next in line for chief, Agusta middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa held some more meetings with him. The middlemen again met him at an air show in Bengaluru, where AgustaWestland had put up a stall.AFM Tyagi is accused of influencing IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specification to suit helicopters put for bidding by AgustaWestland. The service ceiling (height of flying capacity) was brought down from 6,000 metres to 4500, even after reluctance by the ministry of defence.CBI documents revealed that in 2004, the Tyagi brothers, who made acquaintances with Guido Hasheesh and Carlo Gerosa, signed a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl in Tunisia. After May 2004, 1,26,000 euros and 2 lakh euros after February 2005, camouflaged as consultancy fee, were paid to Tyagi brothers and some of the money was allegedly paid off to Tyagi himself.

Army convoy attacked in Arunachal Pradesh: NIA files chargesheet

NIA has filed a charge sheet against an NSCN-IM militant in connection with the ambush on an army convoy in Arunachal Pradesh on April 2, 2015, in which three jawans were killed.The charge sheet was filed before a National Investigation Agency Special Court for Arunachal Pradesh at Yupia on Thursday in which NSCN(IM) militant Kapai alias Singmayo Kapai, a resident of Nagaland, has been named as the key accused.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NIA told the court that it would continue further investigation in the case as certain other accused are yet to be apprehended, a release issued by the agency said on Friday.According to NIA, militants belonging to NSCN(IM) ambushed the convoy of army soldiers on April 2 on Khonsa-Longding road near Tupi village, about 15 km from Khonsa Police Station in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh. Three army personnel were killed and three others were seriously injured in the incident.During the course of investigation, NIA collected evidence from the field as well as technical and forensic evidence, which was submitted along with the charge sheet to the Special Court.

Attack on army convoy: NIA files charge sheet against NSCN-IM militant

New Delhi: NIA has filed a charge sheet against an NSCN-IM militant in connection with the ambush on an army convoy in Arunachal Pradesh on 2 April, 2015, in which three jawans were killed.

The charge sheet was filed before a National Investigation Agency Special Court for Arunachal Pradesh at Yupia on Thursday in which NSCN(IM) militant Kapai alias Singmayo Kapai, a resident of Nagaland, has been named as the key accused.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

NIA told the court that it would continue further investigation in the case as certain other accused are yet to be apprehended, a release issued by the agency here said on Friday.

According to NIA, militants belonging to NSCN(IM) ambushed the convoy of army soldiers on 2 April on Khonsa-Longding road near Tupi village, about 15 km from Khonsa Police Station in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Three army personnel were killed and three others were seriously injured in the incident.

During the course of investigation, NIA collected evidence from the field as well as technical and forensic evidence, which was submitted along with the charge sheet to the Special Court.

Chit fund scams: Rs 80,000 crore and counting, according to CBI

Chit fund companies have duped thousands of gullible depositors of at least Rs 80,000 crore, according to estimates of CBI which is probing such cases across the country.Agency sources said the amount is likely to be higher than the initial estimate as the probe is still on. These companies with operations across the country lured people by offering attractive interest rates and, in the case of Pearls Group, land.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over Rs 30,000 crore has allegedly been collected from small investors by the chit fund companies operating in four eastern and northeastern states — West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Tripura, while Pearls Group which operates in Punjab and other north Indian states duped investors to the tune of Rs 51,000 crore, they said.The deposits mobilised by the companies was allegedly used to purchase land, open media outlets, hotels and other businesses, denying depositors their dues. The sources said the figure of Rs 80,000 crore is an estimate based on investigation so far and quantification of deposits collected from investors is still going on.CBI has so far registered 76 cases, based on over 253 FIRs in these four states with 31 charge-sheets being filed by the agency in connection with the scam. The agency has filed three cases against Rose Valley Group and seven against Saradha Group in connection with the fraud, called Saradha scam.The sources said over six crore people have been duped by the companies across the country with majority of them allegedly being trapped by Pearls Group which has been operating for last 20 years before being busted by the agency.The sheer sweep of the scam makes it one of the most difficult cases to be investigated by the agency in which several big operators including a former Union Minister, a state minister, an MP, a former journalist and politicians are being probed by it, they said.The agency said a lot of paper work is needed in probing economic offences like chit fund scam as flow of money is normally hidden in form of complex, layered data in files and computers. The mining of data also requires forensic help, making it a time consuming process. They said the agency suspects that such a big scam would not have been possible without some officials of regulators having ignored the operations of these companies. The agency has questioned officials of SEBI and RBI in this regard.Recently, CBI Director Anil Sinha had said about the Pearls Group, which is the largest chit fund group being investigated for alleged malpractices, that “it needed the Supreme Court to step in and order investigations and later order return of money to the depositors under its supervision.Should not the regulator have suo motu stepped in proactively to protect the rights of 5.5 crore ordinary depositors.” The Supreme Court, while handing over the probe in the case to CBI, had said investigation conducted so far puts a question mark on the role of regulatory authorities like SEBI, Registrar of Companies and officials of RBI within whose respective jurisdictions and areas of operation the scam not only took birth but flourished unhindered.

Fake news in Kashmir: How this epidemic threatens the Valley’s social fabric

On 30 October two years ago, friends and relatives of Mohammad Shafi Wani rushed to his home after they read ‘news’ on a Facebook page about his sudden demise. As a group of anguished relatives reached his house in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, they were left somewhat bewildered. Wani was not dead. Instead, he was watering plants in his lawn.

The ‘news’, announced on a Facebook page called ‘South Kashmir News’, had spread far and wide. Wani, who works as a clerk, had reportedly refused to do some favour for the brother of a ‘Facebook journalist’. Angered by the refusal, the ‘journalist’ avenged the ‘humiliation’ by declaring Wani ‘dead’.

“Can such an irresponsible person call himself a journalist? Worse still, a lie was spread on similar pages that children were dying because of polio vaccine,” Wani, 47, told Firstpost over phone on Tuesday.

In January, all of Kashmir was on the streets after a false rumour on a “Facebook News” page claimed that children were dying after being administered polio vaccine gained currency in public imagination. It prompted panic-stricken people to pull their kids out of hospitals across the Valley, creating chaos in the streets.

In an hour, the Valley’s sole paediatric hospital in summer capital Srinagar swelled with panic-stricken parents. When informed that it was a false rumour, no one believed them. Instead, scuffles were reported between staff and agitated people at many hospitals while infrastructure was also damaged at some places.

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

The Kashmir police registered six cases in different police stations against the rumour-mongers and arrested a youth in Pampore for posting false news on his Facebook page. What happened to those FIRs though? No one knows. At that time, Kashmir’s inspector-general of police, SJM Gillani has said that the police is looking towards the ‘regulation’ of such pages.

Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was ‘killed’ nine times on similar Facebook pages before he actually passed away on 7 January at Aiims. On WhatsApp groups, he was declared dead dozens of times and no one ever apologised for circulating or posting fake news.

A few days ago, when protests erupted in Handwara town after allegations of molestation by an Army solider, two people died and a women was hit by a bullet. Before Raja Begum actually died during the night at a Srinagar hospital, she was killed many times on these ‘news’ pages.

The very next day, a youth was killed in a village in nearby Handwara and another was critically injured. However, on WhatsApp and Facebook pages, they both were declared dead. The false news posted by such groups led to confusion with two prominent newspapers falling for the trap on two occasions, only to retract later.

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

These WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages started cropping up in Kashmir after the 2009 unrest over the rape and murder of two girls in Shopian. Most of these Facebook pages are ‘liked’ by lakhs of people. With no way to sift fact from fiction, false information often gets peddled as ‘news’.

A killing here, a road accident there, an encounter in south or a firing in north, people of Kashmir want news to be delivered to them at lighting speed. So if one news organisation publishes a report, most of these pages copy and paste it without giving credit to the source, just to maintain their credibility.

Twenty pages Firstpost traced on Facebook have a subscriber count ranging from two to five lakhs. In the towns of Kashmir, people who runs these pages are loathed, but cited by district officials and even by police officers. There is no revenue generated by managing these pages and most of them have been found blackmailing and extorting money from politicians, common people and public servants, as a means of generating revenue for their ventures.

But the other side of the story is that most of these pages are promoted by government officials for the sake of ‘publicity’. “The amount of influence these journalists wield is tremendous and in most of the cases, in districts of Kashmir they have become demigods who can get away with anything,” said Iqbal Ahmad, a student of mass communication.

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One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa, who ran a Facebook page called ‘J&K Now’ says that although groups like his are not answerable to any government or administration, but they feel a sense of responsibility towards ordinary people.

“Even if publishing wrong news does not come with legal consequences, it would surely demean our good image among the people — which would be detrimental for its (the website’s) future.” Kawoosa, a postgraduate student whose page has more than two lakh ‘likes’, said in an email conversation.

But he says he had to move on from an SMS service to a Facebook page, and now to a website for revenue-generation. “But there are many people who run these pages who haven’t even completed Class X and have no idea about reporting or journalism,” he said.

That may be the reason the divisional commissioner of Kashmir, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, Monday asked his field officers to chalk out measures for curbing rumour-mongering. He also directed the operators of social media news agencies to obtain proper permission from the concerned deputy commissioners for posting news on social media news groups along with sources.

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

One of the many news portals that reaches Facebook users in Kashmir. Screen grab from Facebook

But it is unlikely anyone will follow the orders because at the end of the day, those law enforcing agencies and its officer too want ‘publicly’. However, when we spoke to Dr Samoon, he said it is being done to curb “rumour-mongering”, and not what happens if someone decides to deliberately exacerbate a situation.

Kawoosa however says it is a good decision to curb rumour-mongering but if the Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to regulate even the professional journalists who publish news online, then it is a step towards curbing the freedom of the press.

But a journalist in Srinagar said even the government — by registering such groups and pages — is trying to legally turn rumour-mongers into journalists. “These are thugs, blackmailers and have not an iota of idea what journalism means. They do it for promoting people, making transfers in government departments and shielding the corrupt,” the journalist said under condition of anonymity.

If you search Facebook for news on Kashmir, you will find that almost every other national and international media brand has a version in Kashmir these days. For example, CNN has CNN Kashmir, NDTV has NDTV Kashmir, IBN has four groups in its name and then there are entities like Sach News, Fast Kashmir, Live Wire and hundreds of others who have subscribers between 10,000 to four lakh.


Amost every other national and international media brand has a version in Kashmir these days. Screen grab from Facebook

In April 2015, the Kashmir police registered a case against more than dozen groups for posting “incorrect frivolous and fake information on social networking sites particularly Facebook.” But later no action was taken against these groups. Some of them include Kashmir News Agency, Loving Kashmir, Youths of Downtown-Kashmir, 24X7 Breaking News, Kashmir Banega Pakistan, Pahallan the city of Hurriyat G, Ganderbal News Agency, All (J&K) Breaking News Alert, True Muhajid, Election Boycott Bandipora, Voice of Kashmir Youth, Youths of Down Town and Voice of Unspoken Kashmir.

However nothing indicates that action was taken against anyone.

Majid Hyderi, a journalist wrote on his Facebook page after the government asked Facebook news pages to register with the government.

“Finally, the government has decided to close down the news-hatching farms on Facebook and WhatsApp, where news-telling was simpler than cracking jokes. But what about the fate of unregistered news websites?” he asked.

Samjhauta Express blast case: No evidence found against Lt Col Purohit, says NIA chief

NIA DG Sharad Kumar has said that no evidence has been found against Lt Colonel Purohit. “He’s not involved in case,” said Kumar. The NIA chief further added, “No change has been made in the chargesheet in the Samjhauta express blast case, the inquiry is going on smoothly.” Lt Col Prasad Purohit, one of the main accused in the Samjhauta and Malegaon blasts cases, has written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar requesting restoration of his honour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his letter dated April 4, 2016, he claims he has been falsely implicated in the case and has been behind the bars for more than seven years now. “I have been robbed of honour, dignity and rank and punished for serving the nation,” he said. Purohit claimed he had infiltrated groups like SIMI and Naxals as a military intelligence operative and added that he had shared every detail of his operation with his seniors. AT A GLANCEMalegaon blast caseA blast took place at Malegaon town in Maharashtra on September 29, 2008, in which six persons died and 100 were injured. Twelve persons, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Purohit, were arrested for the blast​This is not the first time that Purohit has written to Parrikar. In November 2015, he had written to him requesting copies of the Court of Inquiry against him by the army. He finally has got copies of the CoI after court intervention.The National Investigation Agency in the year 2015 had opposed the bail application of Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegoan blast case.AT A GLANCESamjhauta blasts caseTwo bomb blasts occurred in the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express train near Panipat on February 18, 2007 in which 68 persons were killed and 12 others were injured. Swami Aseemanand and Lt Col Purohit were among the key accused in the case.​The agency said in its reply, filed on Wednesday, that it had sufficient evidence to prove Purohit’s involvement in the blasts conspiracy and to justify invocation of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against him.Purohit, pleading innocence, has also said in his bail plea that he is behind the bars without trial for the last seven years. Following a Supreme Court order, a special court was constituted to hear the case exclusively.