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United Nations invites PINK for a special screening in New York

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu-starrer Pink was one of 2016’s most hard-hitting movies from Bollywood. The highly-praised courtroom drama tackles social issues revolving around India’s rape culture as well as a woman’s consent. Now, it seems the movie is going international.The senior Bachchan posted an announcement on Twitter on Friday, saying the movie was being offered an official screening at the United Nations headquarters in the US. ‘PINK’ invited sic for a special screening of the film at the UN Headquarters, in New York by Assistant Secretary General. Honoured !” the Bollywood icon wrote to his fans. Directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and produced by filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, Pink tackles the stigma of sexual assault, crimes against women and consent. In the film, actresses Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhar and Andrea Tariang play three young women who face assault charges after being molested by a group of men. The courtroom drama, in which Amitabh Bachchan plays their lawyer, garnered acclaim for the way it dealt with the idea of consent and its place in the Indian society. The film released on September 16 and enjoyed widespread word-of-mouth popularity, raking in over Rs 65 crore at the box office.Posted in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the senior Bachchan has, at the time of writing, provided no more details on the invitation, and neither have his co-stars or director. However, the invitation is likely for the ‘16 Voices’ campaign being held by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Running from November 25 to December 10, it’s an event to raise awareness of gender-based violence, particularly violence against women. The event has survivors and charities gathering to share ideas and build support for the community.

UP polls 2017: In Kairana, Rajnath Singh sets tone for election with ‘maa ka doodh’ speech

Bollywood must immediately find the identity of the BJP’s speechwriter.

It may finally discover an heir to the Salim-Javed legacy.

On Monday, while speaking at a rally in Kairana, BJP leader and India’s home minister Rajnath Singh thundered in his famed baritone: “Those using muscle power to terrorise people… hum dekhenge ki usne kitna mas ka doodh piya hai.”

Maa ka doodh, Bollywood has shown us, is the ultimate proof of courage; the elixir that separates real men from those brought up presumably on cow’s milk.

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. CNN-News18

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. CNN-News18

On the big screen, when Amitabh Bachchan bashed up baddies bred on dabbe ka doodh (Mard) and challenged goons who had partaken of maa ka doodh (Khoon Pasina) to come and face him, it evoked thunderous applause, inducing the audience to throw coins at the screen. One could almost imagine the taalis and seetis that rang out when Rajnath delivered those lines in Kairana.

When it comes to expressing a hero’s anger and machismo, it would rank just alongside Dharmendra’s biggest contribution to cinema: Ka****e, mein tera doodh khoon pi jaoonga (Sholay).
Rajnath is obviously angry. Perhaps he is fuming just the way he was when told that Hafiz Saeed was behind the JNU ruckus last year. So, unable to control his emotions, he is dealing in screen-shattering dialogue. (At the same venue he claimed to have told Pakistan “seena thok ke” about its terror links.)

But, who are these people whose childhood dietary preferences he wants to check out? And why?

Kairana, it is evident, is the new Ayodhya or Muzaffarnagar for the BJP. With elections on the horizon, it wants to hardsell Kairana as a symbol of the imminent threat to Hindus by you-know-who.

In the BJP rule book of politics, polarisation is always the basic denominator in a poll equation. Having benefitted from Ayodhya, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar, “Love Jihad”, beef ban and other emotive issues that polarise, the BJP always keeps looking with a fine-toothed comb for issues that could be turned into its new poll cry.

This election, it is trying to latch on to Kairana.

A few months ago, when BJP parliamentarian Hukum Singh released a list of Hindu families that had “migrated” from Kairana because of threat from Muslims, the BJP had pounced on the controversy like an eager child that has re-discovered its favourite toy. But, its enthusiasm was later dampened by reports that rebutted the claim. Several reports exposed the holes in Hukum’s theory.

It was established by several media organisations reporting from the ground that Kairana was battling a law and order problem. A war between gangs of local goons, unfortunately, was distorted by Hukum as an existential threat to Hindus. As Firstpost had argued then, it was yet another Malda moment — a mischievous misrepresentation of facts to raise the communal temperature of the state.

But, the BJP just can’t let Kairana go. It needs to continuously cry wolf to keep the electoral pot boiling. Why waste a good story for want of facts, no?

So, the BJP has entered the poll fray in Kairana with another Salim-Javed inspired slogan: Maa-behno ki aan mein, BJP maidan mein. Let’s hope they don’t forget to put Nihalchand Meghwal’s picture on posters to convey its concern for mabehen.

It is unfortunate that the BJP has to go back to communal dog whistles to win UP. With the current Mahabharata in the Mulayam Singh Yadav parivar, rising anti-incumbency, disarray in the Congress whose leader Rahul Gandhi is competing in dialogue-baazi with corny stuff like ‘khoon ki dalali’ and the confusion among Mayawati’s supporters, the election should have been a cakewalk for the BJP.

UP2017

Instead of going back to its regressive politics, the party could have worked on addressing the fault lines, healing the fragmented polity and society of the state and selling a development agenda for the state. But, its focus on emotive issues shows it lacks the courage to digress from its favourite formula.

Maybe, Rajnath is right. Perhaps it takes maa ka doodh to chart out a new path in a state as important as UP.

Trashing Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl while lauding Pink for feminism is unfair

Caution: This piece contains spoilers

If you’ve made your mind up about it, then Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl is an easy book to trash.

For instance: “Why can’t women get a wife,” asks Bhagat’s protagonist Radhika Mehta, at one point in his new novel.

The context? A polite, thoughtful air-hostess has given Radhika her undivided attention in service, right up to tucking her in to sleep. Radhika is impressed with her dedicated service, and wonders why she can’t experience that all the time. Now, from a feminist perspective, there will be broadly two kinds of reactions to this sort of line.

Either: ‘Why does someone who takes care of you and serves you automatically become a ‘wife’?’

Or: ‘Aah, yes. Women are underappreciated. They deserve to be treated better.’

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The poster of One Indian Girl, courtesy: Facebook. Chetan Bhagat; Image from News 18.

There are some who’ll cringe for sure, but there are also others who will identify with and appreciate that line. The target audience for One Indian Girl is very clearly the latter – those who agree that gender equality is important, but are on some level yet to fully understand just how deep patriarchal thought is entrenched in our society.

It caters to those people who are likely disagree that the term ‘feminism’ is more important and valid than ‘humanism’. (On a side note, yes, it is. Just like how #BlackLivesMatter is more valid than #AllLivesMatter. It is the starting point of the argument, but somehow, it’s still to sink in.)

The book arrives at an interesting time, because of the larger topical debate about gender equality in general, and because it comes closely after that pop-culture phenomenon called Pink. Yes, the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Pink had a far stronger understanding of gender politics than One Indian Girl does, but the two are targeted at (and will be appreciated by) a similar set of people; a set that is very clearly in the majority.

Pink took on every kind of gender stereotype in the book – women who enjoy their alcohol and party often are ‘sluts’; girls from the North-East are ‘easy’; if a woman gets comfortable and open with a man then she’s giving ‘signals’; women are not allowed to change their mind once they’ve given even a modicum of consent; a sex-worker is not allowed to have consent at all; the works. And it packaged all of this into an entertaining thriller-cum-courtroom drama.

One Indian Girl touches upon all the right stereotypes too. It talks about how people assume that a high-flying career woman cannot be or may not even want to be a mother; it brings in how body-image issues can be so detrimental to someone’s confidence; or how we’re quick to assume that, if a girl is unmarried and making a lot of money, there must be something wrong with her.

In essence, what Pink does in a dark, thriller format, One Indian Girl does in a frothy, melodramatic manner.

The book has so many plot twists and attempts to battle so many generalisations and social taboos, that there’s most certainly a (blockbuster?) film brewing in there. (Radhika even undergoes a Naina Talwar-ish transformation from ‘nerd’ to ‘hot’. Remember Deepika Padukone in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani?)

The fact remains that for a regressive society like ours, One Indian Girl is still a step in the right direction, because it does debunk a lot of value judgements that we tend to have. And it is done in a breezy, palatable manner that will appeal to those that it targets.

From a larger perspective, yes, the book has its problems. In keeping the arguments at the base-level, the book misses out on the nuances of the debate.

For instance, while you’ll always support Radhika, the ‘hot’, uber-successful, independent girl who just wants to live her life, it may not change your mind about someone who isn’t like Radhika’s character at all — someone who is broke (and can’t afford a 1 crore wedding at age 24), not conventionally ‘attractive’ and indulges in far more ‘immoral’ activities than just experimenting occasionally with marijuana.

But that’s a larger debate that wouldn’t be possible when something is clearly aimed at a very broad audience. The point here is that lauding Pink while trashing One Indian Girl amounts to hypocrisy.

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The poster of Pink.

They may be different in form and feel, but their intent is the same, and their success can only mean a slightly more evolved, receptive audience to the larger, more complex debate on feminism.

However, if you’re up for some breezy, kitschy mansplaining, One Indian Girl could be an interesting exercise. Better yet, you could just wait for the movie.

Two years of Modi govt: BJP, Abhishek come out in defence of Amitabh Bachchan

Congress, on Wednesday, launched a direct attack on superstar Amitabh Bachchan, questioning the government if it was an appropriate time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to share the dais with the megastar at an upcoming social event as the megastar’s name allegedly appeared in the Panama Papers reports.

Amitabh Bachchan. Getty ImagesAmitabh Bachchan. Getty Images

Amitabh Bachchan. Getty Images

The actor, who is the brand ambassador for the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, will host a segment of the programme to be hosted by R Madhavan, the Times Now reported.

The event is part of the two-year celebration of the Modi government at the Centre.

“Would it be fair? ….What message it would send to investigating agencies going into siphoning of funds abroad
illegally” when they see the Prime Minister sharing dais with the accused, party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.

“We have no objection to Amitabh Bachchan hosting NDA programme, but what signal will it sent to investigation agencies?” asked the Congress spokesperson according to the ANI.

Raising several questions over the issue, he wondered whether the mega star hosting the event which is expected to
be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not dilute the fight against black money.

He recalled that Prime Minister has time and again vowed to bring back black money stashed abroad and punish those
guilty. During the poll campaign, BJP leaders had promised to deposit Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh in the bank account of every individual once the black money is uncovered.

The government is organising the event—Zara Muskura Do (Smile Please)—which will have several performances and
programmes highlighting its “achievements”.

The show will be beamed across the country by Doordarshan.

Various schemes and programmes, particularly Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India and Rural Electrification, will
be highlighted during the show.

However, the in-charge, Communications, All India Congress Committee Randeep Surjewala might have exceeded his brief as he was wrong in saying that the megastar was hosting the event.

Reacting to the Congress charges, Bachchan in response to a Times Now query, said, “I am doing only a segment of the programme as the brand ambassador of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. It is for the government to decide.”

Later in the evening, son Abhishek Bachchan, denied that the senior Bachchan is hosting any political event.

“He’s not hosting any political event. He’s part of a function where he is talking about educating the girl child. That’s not a political event,” said Abhishek.

The BJP also came out in strong defence of the megastar for his association with an event to mark the second anniversary of Modi government despite a probe against him after his name appeared in Panama Papers expose.

A host of BJP leaders, including Union ministers said the probe against Bachchan has nothing to do with the event linked with a social issue of protecting the girl child which the megastar will attend on 28 May and attacked Congress for its “mental disability” in raising a row over it.

BJP leader and Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said the probe into Bachchan’s name cropping up in Panama
Papers will have no affect if he attends the event to mark two years of Modi government on Saturday.

“See, practically, participation of Amitabh Bachchan and the investigation with regards to Panama Papers, certainly, it will not have any connectivity. Investigation will be done by an independent agency, they will take care of things.

“Even today, we have seen so many cases against politicians. Agencies do their duty independently. There is no
harm,” he said when asked about Congress’ charge that the actor’s presence will not ‘go down well’ with probe agencies.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said the megastar is only hosting a programme and he is not yet proven guilty by any court.

“You may have questions, but has he been labelled guilty for that. His name has come. Let the court of law take action. If somebody is hosting a programme for celebrating our two years and he is not a criminal, he is a respected person of society. If his name has come, let the court of law take action,” he said.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the superstar has done a lot of good in films and people love him more than
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, but this should not be a reason for Congress to be “jealous about”.

Party MP Paresh Rawal said the Congress is “issue-less” and is thus creating an issue and dubbed it a “bogus issue”
like the row created over the return of awards by writers and litterateurs in the wake of Dadri lynching incident.

Bachchan’s name had cropped up in the reports as part of a global expose of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 100 global media organisations, based on millions of leaked documents of the Panama law firm Mossak Fonseca.

A high-level probe team has been constituted, with members drawn from the various agencies of the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) based on the orders issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indian authorities have already said not all off-shore funds need be illegitimate. In response to the allegations, Bachchan’s office sent a rejoinder, which was also posted on his Twitter account.

“On Panama disclosures, I wish to state that queries continue to be sent to me by the media. I would humbly request them to kindly direct these to the GOI (Government of India) where I, as a law abiding citizen, have already sent, and shall continue to send, my responses,” the post said.

“I stand by my earlier statement on the ‘misuse of my name’ in the matter and in any event the press reports do not disclose any illegal act committed by me.”

Two years of Modi govt: Congress hits out at Amitabh Bachchan for hosting PM’s anniversary event

The Congress on Wednesday questioned Centre’s decision of selecting super star Amitabh Bachchan to host its show marking two years of the NDA government and said the step might send wrong signals to Multi Agency Group (MAG) probing Panama paper leaks.”We have no objection to Amitabh Bachchan hosting the NDA programme, but what signal will it send to investigation agencies,” said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, while addressing a press conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a nod to Bachchan’s selection after he had a detailed meeting with Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.Bachchan’s name featured in the Panama Papers.However, Amitabh Bachchan clarified to Times Now that that it would be actor R Madhavan, and not him, who would host the event.First, records from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca showed Bachchan served as director of four offshore shipping companies – an allegation he denied. Later, more damning records emerged that suggested that the actor attended the companies’ board meetings via telephone conference.According to several media reports, Bachchan will host a five-hour-long show on May 28 to highlight the achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last two years at the iconic India Gate.However, he said that he was only hosting a small segment of the programme on the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme of the Centre, for which he is the brand ambassador.”I don’t think they (Congress) are aware that I am not hosting the event. I have been invited as the brand ambassador of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign. It is up to the government to decide whether to have me there or not,” the senior Bachchan told Times Now, pointing out that he was also a United Nations Ambassador for the Girl Child.The event is likely to comprise talk shows over the government’s achievements, interspersed with cultural programmes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the function. (With ANI inputs)

‘God save him’: Amar Singh targets estranged friend Amitabh Bachchan

Having secured Samajwadi Party nomination to contest Rajya Sabha poll, Amar Singh on Wednesday trained his gun on estranged friend and Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, terming him as “just and actor” embroiled in several alleged offences whose name also figured in the Panama papers.”I will pray for Amitabh Bachchan. He is also now embroiled in Panapa papers. He said that his name has been misused and he does not know what it is all about,” Singh said on Wednesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over six years after it expelled Singh, the Samajwadi Party had “unanimously” declared him as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha poll on Tuesday, which would pave the way for his return to the Upper House and active politics.”There is a CBI probe following a PIL in Supreme Court. SIT on black money is probing. The story does not end there. The SIT instituted and constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun jaitley is also probing. I will pray to the Almighty to give him enough strength to bear this unbearable shock,” he said sarcastically.Bachchan is neither a “Samajwadi or Modiwadi”, the Thakur leader from UP said, adding, “He is just an actor..an icon. God save him, his happiness.”Singh said he was expelled from Samajwadi Party for six years and that period was over.”So, ultimately I have become a member of party. Unless I join some other party,” he told India Today news channel.”I was Mulayamwadi, I am and I will remain Mulayamwadi,” he said.He said the Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy, “unfortunately or sadly” was not a Samajwadi.”He is facing a tough time… emotionally, personally, judicially and administratively,” he said.Singh said he was not expecting any problem on his return from any leader in the party as everyone had accepted the decision taken by party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.”Everyone has said that he accepts the final verdict the leader (Mulayam Singh Yadav) has given,” he said.He, however, added that he was trying his best to correct his ways to ensure if someone is not satisfied, he gets satisfied.” Let’s see whether I get success or not,” Singh said.SP strongman and the party’s Muslim face in Uttar Pradesh, Azam Khan, who has a running feud with Singh, described his nomination for contesting Rajya Sabha poll as “a sordid episode”.”As far as my personal view is concerned it is a sordid episode. But since Netaji is the party supremo, who has taken this decision, it can not be commented upon,” Khan, a Minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, said.

Saharasri Subrata Roy: Why the tycoon is loving it in Tihar jail

Why would a rich person like Subrata Roy not pay up his dues and instead languish in a Tihar cell for two years?

If, like the Supreme Court of India, you too are seized with this profound mystery, here is a clue: Read Saharasri’s musings from the jail.

Subrata Roy, the head of the Sahara group. AFPSubrata Roy, the head of the Sahara group. AFP

Subrata Roy, the head of the Sahara group. AFP

”Jail is painful, but I am stress free,” he ruminates in Life Mantras, part one of the promised trilogy on his life and times in jail.

“I lead a completely tension-free life,” the jailed owner of the Rs 70,000-crore Sahara Group writes in the first helping of his Thoughts from Tihar, released earlier this year.

You don’t need a long stint in Tihar to understand a simple thing: If jail can rid you of tension and stress, why bother stepping out in a world that gives you loads of them.

It is a shame its wardens have still not thought of Kuch Din To Guzaro Tihar Main as a punchline for those seeking peace and inner-calm.

There must be really something compelling about Tihar for Saharasri. Otherwise, simple math suggests it is better bargain to get out of it and face the world.

According to rough estimates, Saharasri’s empire is worth about Rs 1,85,000 crore. And he owes about Rs 40,000 crore to investors in his chit fund schemes. A back of the hand calculation suggests that even if he pays a fifth of his wealth to settle his dues, the remaining amount would be enough for several generations of Saharasris. To use a corny pun, they won’t need any financial Sahara.

Yet, Roy is in jail for over two years now.

“One thing which is troublesome is that the person (Roy) says there is an asset of Rs 1,85,000 crore. He tells the court that he has so much of money but when it comes to paying one-fifth of that he is unable to pay.

You have to pay only the one-fifth of your amount. The person who is blessed with so much money is sacrificing his liberty in jail and not parting away with his property. You are in jail by choice,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur observed in August while hearing his petition for bail.

On Wednesday (12 May), the apex court still did not have an answer. While hearing a petition for extension of his bail, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices AR Dave and AK Sikri noted that the fresh list of properties provided in the sealed cover speaks that “value of your properties was far more than your liability”.

When the court saw the list of Roy’s assets it expressed surprise why “such a rich person didn’t pay a fraction of wealth and stayed in jail for two years.”

“Why person with this kind of fortune shall be hesitant to make payment,” the bench asked.

So far Roy has steadfastly objected to the appointment of a receiver who can solve the problem by the simple expedient of auctioning some of his assets to raise money. He has consistently made fresh promises, given new deadlines, argued that the money is safe and he is not running away.

But for some mystifying reason, he has preferred confinement over repayment; humiliation—if incarceration is indeed one for Saharasri—over an honourable exit. Unlike his bosom pal Amitabh Bachchan who repaid his debt, some allege with generous help from Saharasri, after almost becoming bankrupt, Roy has brazened it out so far.

Unless a life in jail is really good for his spiritual help, nobody knows why Uncle Scrooge just can’t part with money. Is it because in his absence there is nobody capable of liquidating assets and raising cash? Is it because the titles of his assets are not clear? Is it because the value of his assets is grossly exaggerated? Or is this a case of greed? As they say in India, chamri jaye par damri na jaye (Can lose life but not money)?

There is some anecdotal evidence though. In Jaipur, for instance, his group launched a Sahara City almost a decade ago on the outskirts of the city. With the help of a clever marketing campaign, flats in the residential scheme for sold even before the launch of the project, helping the group raise several times more than the original investment. The excess money, as per the prevailing market practice, must have been invested in some other project, initiating a cycle of debt-funded acquisitions. If, for argument’s sake, the original land in Jaipur were to be sold, the money raised may not be enough to repay a handful of investors. Is this why Roy is not keen to get a receiver appointed?

There is also speculation that most of the investments are bogus. The chit fund entries have been created only to launder black money and the names of the investors are fake. It is intriguing that though he is lodged in the jail allegedly after pocketing money invested by thousands of people across India, there is no clamour from his clients for repayment. Surely something is amiss. As argued by Firstpost earlier, this is a fit case for a special investigations team.

Or, maybe we are just needlessly banging our heads for answers. Each one of us yearns for a life free of stress and tension. Now that he has found one, Saharasri might just be loving it!

Have not been formally approached for Incredible India, says Amitabh Bachchan

Mumbai/New Delhi: Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday sought to put a lid on speculation that government is having second thoughts on engaging him for ‘Incredible India’ campaign after his name appeared in Panama paper leaks, saying he has not been “formally” approached for the task.

“There have been queries from the media regarding my being Brand Ambassador for ‘Atulya Bharat’ (Incredible India). I wish to state that I have not been formally approached for this position…The speculation of the media regarding its discontinuance is, therefore, not relevant as far as I am concerned,” Bachchan, 73, said in a statement.

His clarification came following reports that his name has been “put on hold for the brand ambassador’s role” after figuring in Panama papers, according to Tourism Ministry sources.

Amitabh Bachchan. File photo. IBNLiveAmitabh Bachchan. File photo. IBNLive

Amitabh Bachchan. File photo. IBNLive

“His name would be considered only if he comes clean on the issue,” they added.

Bachchan’s name figured among 500 Indian individuals and entities who owned firms and accounts in offshore tax havens in the leaked documents of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. He has already denied any knowledge of the offshore firms, saying his name could have been misused.

“On the Panama disclosures, I wish to state that queries continue to be sent to me by the media. I would humbly request them to kindly direct these to the Government of India (GOI) where I, as a law abiding citizen have already sent, and shall continue to send, my responses.

“I stand by my earlier statement on the ‘misuse of my name’ in the matter and in any event the press reports do not disclose any illegal act committed by me,” he stated.

Bachchan and actress Priyanka Chopra were the frontrunners for the publicity of the campaign aimed at promoting India as a favourite tourist destination abroad after popular actor Aamir Khan ceased to be its brand ambassador following his intolerance remarks.

Amar Singh lobbied with former PM Chandrashekhar to bail out Bachchan

The Income Tax investigations had been probing how Amitabh Bachchan had repaid a Rs 60-crore loan, allegedly taken by him from Indian businessman late CK Pithawalla through the Sahara group. The payments were made through offshore companies based in Mauritius. This payment, which was allegedly Bachchan’s income from the sale of his “actor rights”, was concealed from tax authorities. This had prompted the Income Tax department to launch a probe of tax evasion against Bachchan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the key people who had facilitated the repayment of loan to Pithawalla was former Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh. Singh was a “good friend” of both Bachchan and Sahara chief Subrata Roy. Amar Singh has now told dna that he helped Bachchan in many ways in the actor’s dealings with Pithawalla.In a telephonic interview to dna, Singh said, “I spoke to former prime minister Chandrashekharji to speak to Pithawalla to give some respite to Bachchan and give him more time to settle dues. Chandrashekharji and Pithawalla were very close to each other.”
ALSO READ Here’s how Amitabh Bachchan survived yet another Income Tax investigationThe Income Tax probe had questioned various people involved in the Pithawalla-Bachchan transaction. All of them deposed under oath.Amar Singh did not depose before the Income Tax, but said that he had accompanied Bachchan to the Income Tax office for ‘moral support’.
ALSO READ Here’s what Amitabh Bachchan has to say on his name in Panama Papers leakIncome Tax investigators found that Bachchan’s secretary Sheetal Jain had gone to London and was there when six million Great Britain Pound (GBP) was deposited in the bank account of Pithawalla’s company, Pattchom International Engineering AG. Investigators examined Jain’s passport and found that he was in London between March 26, 2003 and April 10, 2003 – the two days on which 4.6 million GBP and 1.4 million GBP, allegedly on Bachchan’s behalf for repayment of his loan, was deposited in the account of Pithawalla’s company.Jain deposed before investigators that he had gone to London for some recce work for films and that he did not remember the exact details of his visit. He also denied having carried any pay order or cheque to London for depositing it in the account of Pattchom International Engineering AG.Another person who was examined was Bachchan’s financial adviser Pravin Vepari. Vepari deposed before investigators that he knew that a financial settlement was being discussed by Bachchan, Pithawalla and his counsel HSR Vakil, among others. Vepari maintained that he was was not a party to those discussions.Perhaps, it is Amar Singh – the man closest to Bachchan at one point of time – who has a more startling version.Singh added, “Bachchan took money from Pithawalla to run TV Asia USA. Pithawalla did not ask for any document and kept giving money to Bachchan as and when he asked for it. If I remember correctly, Pravin Vepari insisted for a promissory note as proof. Bachchan wrote it in his own handwriting and signed it. That note was given to Pithawalla. The note was drafted at Vepari’s residence. I was present when that note was given. As a matter of fact, I advised Bachchan not to write that note. I told Bachchan that you are being given an unsecured loan for which you do not even have to give any security. Bachchan told me that Pithawalla had been very nice to loan him money. Bachchan told me that if I am unable to repay the money then the note will give him some comfort. So, therefore, the evidence of Bachchan owing money to Pithawalla is strong and Pithawalla has in the past said that he was indeed repaid the money owed to him by Bachchan. It is strange that Bachchan did not disclose this money as his income and failed to pay tax on it.”On charges of Sahara’s involvement in repaying Bachchan’s loan, Singh added, “Certain questions in this case can be answered only by Sahara. Now that the truth is coming out, I feel being used by Bachchan at that time. Sahara’s Subrata Roy was almost like family to Bachchan. The whole of Bachchan family were Sahara employees. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan were directors on the board of Sahara. Jaya Bachchan was also a director at Sahara. She was given a Mercedes car along with a driver by Sahara.”

‘I’m a law abiding citizen’: Amitabh Bachchan on Panama Papers

Mumbai: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has responded to the allegations that he has used his star power to evade tax, saying that he is a “law abiding citizen”.

On Friday, a news report shared the 73-year-old actor’s “brush with the Income Tax Department right from 2009 and how his loans were paid off using offshore entities”.

Amitabh Bachchan/ IBNLiveAmitabh Bachchan/ IBNLive

Amitabh Bachchan/ IBNLive

In reaction to this, Amitabh said in a statement that the matter referred to in the article “is a matter that has been under investigation for the past six to seven years by the Income Tax and Enforcement Departments”.

“I have diligently responded to all the queries and notices sent by them. I am a law-abiding citizen of the country,” he added.

Amitabh also reiterated that he has no links with any of the offshore shipping companies in which he is supposed to be a director according to the leaked “Panama Papers”, which emerged earlier this week.

“I have not been a director on the board of the four companies as mentioned in an earlier report. I am happy that the government has instituted a thorough investigation on this issue, for, I myself, am keen to know how my name appears in connection with those four companies.”

After Amitabh’s name appeared in the “Panama Papers” leaks, the Congress has demanded the removal of the veteran actor as the brand ambassador of Maharashtra’s tiger preservation campaign.

To this, he said: “I have been reading demands for my removal from the brand ambassadorship of the Maharashtra tiger preservation campaign. This is the prerogative of the government of Maharashtra, which I shall humbly respect.”

“Nonetheless, I wish to state that whatever the decision, I shall continue to work towards the social causes that I am associated with — Tiger Preservation, Polio, Swachh Bharat, TB, Hepatitis B, Diabetes, Family Planning — in my individual personal capacity,” he added.

The Gandhi-Bachchan saga: Congress launches attack on Amitabh over Panama Papers

Congress party in Maharashtra launched an attack on Amitabh Bachchan demanding his removal as the ambassador of the ‘Save Tiger project,’ and from the advisory panel on the development of the Bandra Kurla Complex till his name is cleared in the Panama Papers scandal.

The 11.5 million confidential documents that provided information on offshore companies listed by corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca were leaked as Panama Papers and Bachchan’s name figured in the leaks for allegedly having links with offshore entities. He later denied knowing any of the companies and claimed that his name has been misused.

Amitabh Bachchan. IBN Live

Amitabh Bachchan. IBN Live

Targeting the actor, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said while raising the issue in Lower House, said, “Till Bachchan gets a clean chit in the Panama Papers case, he should be removed as tiger brand ambassador as well as from advisory panel on the development of part of the Bandra Kurla Complex as International Finance and Services Centre.”

Amitabh Bachchan has changed his political affiliations many times. According The Open magazine, after his friendship with the Gandhi family soured, he was seen in the company of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh. It got Jaya Bachchan a Rajya Sabha seat, said the report. As Bachchan’s friendship blossomed with Narendra Modi, Amar Singh quickly faded away, added the report. This is, however, not the first time Bachchan has been targeted by the Congress.

The Gandhis and Bachchans were friends for a long time. According to Outlook, before getting married to Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia stayed with the Bachchans for seven weeks till the wedding. In fact, it was upon Rajiv Gandhi’s insistence that Amitabh Bachchan contested the election from Allahabad on Congress ticket and even won the seat, as per India Today.

Cracks in their friendship began to appear when Bachchan quit politics over Bofors. Things only went downhill after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. As per Outlook, the Bachchan’s were disappointed in the fact that the Gandhi family did not extend any help when Amitabh Bachchan ran into financial trouble. The final nail on the coffin was when the Bachchans became friends with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. The report added that Jaya Bachchan’s outburst that the Gandhis have betrayed them was believed to be prompted by Amar Singh.

The Bachchans were served income tax notices in 2006. Amitabh Bachchan came under attack again when he became Gujarat’s brand ambassador. The DNA reported that the Congress accused him of endorsing Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister’s role in the Gujarat 2002 riots. The Gandhi-Bachchan relationship dynamics has enough plot twists to make a good Bollywood flick.

dna evening Must Reads: Samsung Gear VR handset launched, Farhan-Adhuna split, Rohit Vemula suicide updates and more

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In death Mufti Mohammad Sayeed replies to debate over Jammu and Kashmir flag

Under the special status enshrined in Indian constitution under article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is the only state which has a separate constitution, flag and penal code. “I have read in the media Mehbooba Mufti will take oath as chief minister. She will be taking the oath under state constitution,” said Khan.Special status
Under the special status enshrined in Indian constitution under article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is the only state which has a separate constitution, flag and penal code. Under the article 144 of J&K constitution the flag of the state should be rectangular in shape and red in colour with three equidistant white vertical strips of equal width next to the staff and a white plough in the middle with handle facing the strips

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