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War on black money: Income Tax dept begins process of analysing deposits post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The I-T department has begun the process to examine bank deposits and transactions to check possible black money instances and said once the last opportunity to declare funds in old notes under the PMGKY scheme ends it will be very tough for hoarders.Interacting with representatives of trade bodies, Chartered Accountants and other professionals, Principal Commissioner of Income Tax A K Chauhan said that under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) scheme, cash and deposits “maintained” by a person can only be declared by an entity and not in the name of someone else. “We are in the process of examining and identifying deposits in bank accounts. So, I would say don’t feel complacent…People who wish to use the scheme should avail the PMGKY. We are putting in our efforts to analyse the data that we obtain from the Financial Intelligence Unit and others to do this,” he said.”After the closure of the scheme, it will be really really tough for evaders,” Chauhan told the participants. He said the scheme is valid for people and entities who maintain their own cash and deposits, and if they aim to avail the PMGKY for someone else, whose accounts they handle, that will fall into the purview of the Benami Transactions Act, which is not allowed under the latest scheme. “The declaration made under the PMGKY shall not confer any benefit, concession or immunity on any person other than the declarant,” he said.Chauhan also told them that the PMGKY should not be considered as the “Income Declaration Scheme Part-II” as it has a different “motive and purpose”. While ensuring that the “confidentiality” of the declarations under the latest scheme will be guaranteed, he said this was the “last opportunity” for people with black money to come clean. The PMGKY provides last chance to holders of undisclosed income in the form of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to come clean but any person facing prosecution for corruption, holding benami property, money laundering, violation of foreign exchange or drug trafficking among others will not be eligible to be a declarant under the scheme.The senior I-T department official of Delhi region reiterated the salient features of the scheme during the interactive session. Tax at the rate of 30 per cent on the undisclosed income, surcharge of 33 per cent of tax and penalty of 10 per cent on such income is payable, besides mandatory deposit of 25 per cent of the undisclosed income is to be ensured in the PMGK Deposit Scheme. Income declared under the scheme will not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income Tax Act for any assessment year.Also, non-declaration of the black money under the scheme now but showing it as income in the tax return form would lead to a total levy of 77.25 per cent in taxes and penalty. In case the disclosure is not made either using the scheme or in return and the taxman later detects it through its intelligence and investigation methods, a further 10 per cent penalty on tax will be levied followed by prosecution, he added.The declarations, he said, can be made by the declarant before the Jurisdictional Principal Commissioner of I-T or using the e-filing portal of the department in prescribed forms for both the primary scheme and the deposits scheme.

Rs 69 lakh seized from Mumbai airport in two separate cases, four arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai Customs sleuths on Wednesday seized cash totalling around Rs 69 lakh in two separate cases here, which included recovery of Rs 25 lakh in 2,000 rupee notes.The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Customs made these seizures at the international airport here in the wee hours and four persons were arrested in this connection.In the first case, foreign currency worth over Rs 43 lakh was recovered from three passengers — Shaikh Waheed Ali, Mohammed Sohail and Shaikh Pasha — who arrived here from Hyderabad.”A detailed examination of the baggage of Ali resulted in recovery of 1,39,000 Saudi Riyals, 5,65,000 UAE Dirhams and 14,000 Australian dollars,” said a Customs official, adding that the total value was Rs 43.97 lakhs.This money was found wrapped in newspapers and was concealed in their check-in baggage.The trio in their statement have said that they brought the foreign currency from Saudi Arabia during their visit last week but did not declare the money before the Customs.”They have also said that they came to Mumbai for conversion of the currency expecting good returns,” the official said.They were arrested after a case under Customs Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act was registered against them.In another case, one Arif Koyante who was departing to Dubai was arrested after Rs 25 lakh, in denominations of Rs 2000, was seized from him.Officials said a search of his baggage yielded 1,250 notes kept in 52 different envelopes made of white paper.”These envelopes containing currency were further placed inside layers of 13 cardboards on which ready made garments were neatly wrapped,” said the official adding that the currency was seized on the reasonable belief that it was attempted to be smuggled out of India.A case under Customs Act and FEMA has been registered against Arif and he has admitted to possession, carriage, concealment and recovery, the official said.

Demonetisation: ED arrests Kotak Bank manager for alleged links with Parasmal Lodha

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday morning arrested a manager of the Kotak Mahindra Bank for his alleged links with hawala trader Parasmal Lodha and Delhi-based lawyer Rohit Tandon.

AgencyAgency

Agency

Sources in the ED said that Ashish Kumar, the manager at the Kasturba Gandhi Marg branch of the bank, was arrested for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised notes linked to industrialist J. Sekhar Reddy and lawyer Rohit Tandon.

On 23 December, the income tax department had carried out raids at the branch.

Ashish, a resident of Haryana, would be produced in a Delhi court on Wednesday afternoon.

Lodha, a leading businessman with interests in real estate and mining, was intercepted at the Mumbai airport while he was trying to flee to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the bank said in a statement that it has already suspended the services of the employee and that it proactively informed the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) about the suspicious transactions.

“The Bank on its own, on observing the nature of transactions in these accounts, proactively filed a report with FIU for further investigations well in time. On subsequent investigation by the Income Tax authorities, the Bank, as per their instructions, has deposited the entire amount that was credited with these accounts with the Income Tax department,” the bank said in a statement.

With IANS

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 12:14 IST

Political parties relying on dubious sources of funding: report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a debate on ways to crack down on alleged dubious funding to political parties has been welcomed, the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had skirted the issue, despite a committee making many suggestions on the issue.The report, a copy of which DNA has accessed, was commissioned by the then Finance Ministry through the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in 2011 and it was submitted in 2013. It clearly stated that major political parties were heavily relying on black money through unaccounted political donations. The report never saw the light of day during the then government’s tenure.The two-volume, hardbound blue-covered report, titled “Study of Unaccounted Income of India,” by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) grimly stated the scale of the problem.“In the case of one party, the entire income from such donations is in tranches below Rs 20,000. In seven other cases, it is over 80 per cent. This implies that large amounts are being credited by these parties in their book of accounts as coupon sales or cash donation received from anonymous or unknown sources.” it said.“Cash donations or coupon sales below Rs 20,000 is an open avenue for political parties to introduce any amount into their books of accounts, and also avail exemption from tax with no question asked. This is a venue open to serious misuse and the introduction of black money,” the report said.Such damning findings beg two questions: why did the then government not take cognisance of the report? What was the role of the Election Commission (EC) in this regard?The report also pointed out that though the EC had taken steps to standardise audit reports of parties, little action had been taken and even if implemented, “they were unlikely to put any real check on introduction of black money through these opaque sources (black money avenues).”The report was vetted by 20 officials of the CBDT, which included KV Chaudhry (current CVC), Enforcement Directorate, Director of Revenue Intelligence, Financial Intelligence Unit, Election Commission and the then revenue secretary Sumit Bose.Asked to comment on the report, SY Qureshi, then Chief Election Commissioner of India, confirmed its findings. “Currently, almost 80 per cent of funds to parties are being seen as cash collections from unknown sources and the EC has been protesting about it for a very long time. We would like total transparency and we have to ask that every political party be audited annually by an independent auditor and the audit report be put on the party’s website.”Currently, the regulatory control of EC on the financial affairs of political parties is minimal, once the election period is over.There is evidence that a very large number of registered parties are not filing their contribution reports or audited statment of acounts with the EC.The proforma of return form ITR 7, which political parties are required to submit is the same as that prescribed for ​​Trusts and Section 25 companies. However, t​his is, for the most part, irrelevant to the type of information needed for the proper assessment of the income of political parties. Such a system does not require the particulars of contributions above or below Rs 20,000 to be reported separately.​As the report points out, “there is no mechanism to know as to which political party has not filled the contribution statement (form 24A) under Section 29C of the Representation of People’s Act (RoPa) with the EC, or even its returns of income.”The report also points out that lack of proper investigation by the Income-Tax (I-T) department suggests that parties are able to cover up funds that may be dubious.“Although copies of election affidavits are forwarded by the EC to the I-T department, our discussions brought out that such actions rarely lead to any effective investigation or verification.The main reason is that while the election affidavits have been designed as a statement of wealth of a candidate and his dependents, declaring the market value of the assets on a given date, the data available with the I-T department even in respect of those candidates who are assessed pertains to annual incomes,and not wealth,” the report said.​Not surprisingly, the contents of this report, has put political parties on the defensive. While former finance minister P Chidambaram refused to comment, other parties were vocal.Speaking to DNA, BJP’s national spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao had this to say: “I am sure the report is in possession of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has been constituted by our government and not by the UPA. Given that such information is under the possession of the SIT, it is entirely in its realm to use that report and decide on it. Our government does not have any role to play.”Other parties insisted that a thorough probe was needed. Brinda Karat, CPM politburo member said the matter was under discussion between the EC and parties: “The EC has put this issue on the agenda of their discussions with parties.Such donations should form only a small percentage of the income, but at present there is no such limit and parties take donations from corporates. My party does not take any money from corporates. Our coupon donations are all recorded. Our mass collections form a very small part of our income,” she said.HOW TO REFORM POLITICAL FUNDINGSeparate return form for political parties. Special rules to check the opaque sources of funding, such as coupon sales. Returns of political parties and candidates must be made available for public scrutiny by making appropriate amendments in Section 138 of I-T Act. All parties and electoral trusts may be assessed centrally at the headquarters of Directorate-General of Income Tax (Exemption), Delhi. Parties should not receive any donation/contributions/Fees etc by whatever name from a single person or entity called exceeding Rs 10,000 in a year except through account payee cheques. THE REPORT STATES…In the case of one party, the entire income from such donations is in tranches below Rs 20,000.In seven other cases, it is over 80 per cent.
Cash donations or coupon sales below Rs 20,000 is an open avenue for political parties to introduce any amount into their books of accounts, and also avail exemption from tax with no question asked.
This is a venue open to serious misuse and the introduction of black money. MONEY MATRIXTotal income of parties from unknown sources for FY 2014-15 is Rs 1,131 cr.
60% of party incomes are from unknown sources.
Section 13A of the I-T Act, 1961, confers tax exemption to parties for income from property, income from voluntary contributions, capital gains and other sources. Only income under the head ‘salaries and income from business or profession’ are taxed.

Income tax officials raid Kotak Bank branch, bank denies fake accounts

The Income Tax Department on Friday questioned the manager of a Kotak Mahindra Bank branch here in connection with two of its customer accounts, officials said.

According to a police official, a “raid” was conducted in the morning on the Kasturba Gandhi Marg branch in the heart of Delhi.

Rohit Rao, official spokesperson of Kotak Mahindra Bank, said in a statement: “IT department has visited the bank’s branch in connection with survey of two of its customers and their related accounts.

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Reuters

“No KYC deficiencies were noted in these two customers. The IT department did question the Branch Manager and no adverse report has been submitted to the bank so far.”

Rao said the bank had a “robust system of regularly and proactively filing necessary reports with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for all large transactions.

“The bank denies that there were any fake accounts. The bank is extending full cooperation to the investigating authorities.”

Another private sector bank, Axis Bank has been in news after income tax department and enforcement directorate have detected illegal activities at some of its branches after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The bank’s Ahmedabad branch was raided on Thursday and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) put transactions worth Rs 89 crore under scanner. The raid was conducted at Mayamnagar branch of the bank and the ED scrutinised 19 accounts.

The ED had earlier registered a money laundering case in the alleged forging of a customer’s identity to conduct huge illegal transactions in the branch of Noida for conversion of black money into white post demonetisation.

The bank, according to a PTI report, had suspended 24 employees and 50 accounts after the I-T raids unearthed such illegal activities.

With IANS

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 15:19 IST

Exclusive: After demonetisation, Narendra Modi to tackle benami properties, deals

It may not be a happy new year for benami property holders. Come 2017 and Income Tax (I-T) sleuths may be knocking at their doors. And if proved a “benamidar” (benami property holder), one is likely to face rigorous imprisonment from one year up to seven years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given enough indications on various occasions about his intention to combat the black money menace in India by adopting stringent actions against people involved in benami properties and transactions.

And, to make it successful, unlike in the past, the Modi government has already cleared the ground making amendments in the original Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The provisions of the amended act came into force on 1 November 2016. It has given more teeth to the I-T Department to get cracking on benami properties and transactions, with a comprehensive tracking, identifying and finally taking stringent action against offenders.

Looking back at the Benami Transaction Act

More than two decades ago, in 1993-94 and 1994-95, two alternative budgets were presented by Delhi-based Citizens’ Parliament comprising 230 eminent citizens, including politicians from diverse political parties barring the Congress and the BJP.

The author of the two budgets was Professor Arun Kumar, a noted economist who holds authority on black money. The former professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) had suggested levying wealth tax and property tax on all properties.

“Nothing much has happened in taking action against benami property holders since 1988, when the Benami Transaction Act came into being. We had suggested in our alternative budget to levy wealth tax and property tax on all properties above 25 square yard (20.9 square metres). This will bring every property under the tax net,” Kumar told Firstpost.

“According to my estimate, 62 percent of our GDP — that is Rs 93 lakh crore is the black economy. Given the situation, identifying the benami property holders is a tough job. Will the tax department be able to do it?” said Kumar.

Amended Benami Transaction Act

The legal framework for dealing with benami transactions in the old Benami Transactions Act was weak and nothing much was achieved. Now, the amended act empowers the I-T Department to inquire into any person, place, documents or property during an investigation into any matter related to a benami property transaction.

“The amendments have made the act stricter. Apart from imprisonment and penalty up to 25 percent, the benami property will be confiscated. The property rights would go directly to the Centre, and the government can make use of the property as it wishes purportedly to help rural development plans. Now action will be taken against both the actual owner and the property holder under a bogus name,” a senior I-T official said.

The benamidars invest black money in buying land and houses through multiple channels and use bank accounts of different people. The real owner always remains unidentified. From politicians to bureaucrats — properties like land and flats are bought by floating bogus companies in the name of other people while the actual face behind benami transactions get away unnoticed, untracked.

“It was not easy to track the unknown entities in the past. But after the introduction of permanent account number (PAN) and filing of I-T Returns, the tax department has been able to collect information. Now, information from property registration office, online registration records, Annual Information Report filed with the tax department, the municipal corporation record, etc, have made tracking easy. The amended Benami Transactions Act will make escaping tougher for offenders. Punishment is now stringent,” said chartered accountant Abhishek Aneja.

What is an offence under the new Benami Transactions Act?

Any transaction made under a fictitious name; transaction made without the knowledge of the owner; person who owns the property is not traceable; amount paid to buy property from an unknown source; on records the owner is another person, whereas benefits go to the one who paid for the property yet doesn’t show up in the record of the purchase will be considered a benami.

Benami transactions could be a property or any other asset — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents. Gold or finance securities, stocks and shares can also fall under benami transaction if the requirements mentioned in the act are not met.

However, property held in the name of spouse or children, paid from known source or joint ownership of property with siblings or relatives, paid from known source — are exempted.

Tracking mechanism to be used
According to sources at the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), increasingly it’ll be immensely difficult for those having benami properties or going for benami transactions to escape from I-T radar.

The tax authority now has new tools to track benami property holders. Besides, 360-degree profiling of people who file tax returns, the Intelligence and Criminal Investigation wing of the Income Tax at CBDT receives information from multiple sources such as Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), banks, Registrar of properties, annual information report (AIR) from banks, hotels, grand weddings, tours and travel agencies, high-value purchases like house, cars, jewellery, consumer durables, payments made through cards, and from transactions that attract tax collected at source (TCS) and tax deducted at source (TDS).

The database prepared from the information gathered by collating manual and electronic intelligence goes to the data warehouse unit for analysis. A new Non-Filers Management System (NMS) matches the data being obtained from various sources.

“The non-intrusive surveillance capabilities of the I-T Department have been enhanced. There is a huge database with the I-T Department. Parameters have been set to select cases automatically. Based on it, the creditworthiness of the owner of a property is also matched with the I-T returns. The crackdown will be on all those who have been avoiding paying taxes and show their actual income,” a CBDT source said.

“Though it’s tough and challenging for the I-T Department to determine legal and illegal holdings, it’s not impossible now, unlike in the past. The government might also come up with a scheme giving the benami property holders a chance to voluntary declare their hidden assets. In case that happens, and a person doesn’t comply and is caught later, he/she will face stringent punishment,” the source added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 08:38 IST

Exclusive: After demonetisation, Narendra Modi sets sights on benami properties, deals

It may not be a happy new year for benami property holders. Come 2017 and Income Tax (I-T) sleuths may be knocking at their doors. And if proved a “benamidar” (benami property holder), one is likely to face rigorous imprisonment from one year up to seven years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given enough indications on various occasions about his intention to combat the black money menace in India by adopting stringent actions against people involved in benami properties and transactions.

And, to make it successful, unlike in the past, the Modi government has already cleared the ground making amendments in the original Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The provisions of the amended act came into force on 1 November 2016. It has given more teeth to the I-T Department to get cracking on benami properties and transactions, with a comprehensive tracking, identifying and finally taking stringent action against offenders.

Looking back at the Benami Transaction Act

More than two decades ago, in 1993-94 and 1994-95, two alternative budgets were presented by Delhi-based Citizens’ Parliament comprising 230 eminent citizens, including politicians from diverse political parties barring the Congress and the BJP.

The author of the two budgets was Professor Arun Kumar, a noted economist who holds authority on black money. The former professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) had suggested levying wealth tax and property tax on all properties.

“Nothing much has happened in taking action against benami property holders since 1988, when the Benami Transaction Act came into being. We had suggested in our alternative budget to levy wealth tax and property tax on all properties above 25 square yard (20.9 square metres). This will bring every property under the tax net,” Kumar told Firstpost.

“According to my estimate, 62 percent of our GDP — that is Rs 93 lakh crore is the black economy. Given the situation, identifying the benami property holders is a tough job. Will the tax department be able to do it?” said Kumar.

Amended Benami Transaction Act

The legal framework for dealing with benami transactions in the old Benami Transactions Act was weak and nothing much was achieved. Now, the amended act empowers the I-T Department to inquire into any person, place, documents or property during an investigation into any matter related to a benami property transaction.

“The amendments have made the act stricter. Apart from imprisonment and penalty up to 25 percent, the benami property will be confiscated. The property rights would go directly to the Centre, and the government can make use of the property as it wishes purportedly to help rural development plans. Now action will be taken against both the actual owner and the property holder under a bogus name,” a senior I-T official said.

The benamidars invest black money in buying land and houses through multiple channels and use bank accounts of different people. The real owner always remains unidentified. From politicians to bureaucrats — properties like land and flats are bought by floating bogus companies in the name of other people while the actual face behind benami transactions get away unnoticed, untracked.

“It was not easy to track the unknown entities in the past. But after the introduction of permanent account number (PAN) and filing of I-T Returns, the tax department has been able to collect information. Now, information from property registration office, online registration records, Annual Information Report filed with the tax department, the municipal corporation record, etc, have made tracking easy. The amended Benami Transactions Act will make escaping tougher for offenders. Punishment is now stringent,” said chartered accountant Abhishek Aneja.

What is an offence under the new Benami Transactions Act?

Any transaction made under a fictitious name; transaction made without the knowledge of the owner; person who owns the property is not traceable; amount paid to buy property from an unknown source; on records the owner is another person, whereas benefits go to the one who paid for the property yet doesn’t show up in the record of the purchase will be considered a benami.

Benami transactions could be a property or any other asset — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents. Gold or finance securities, stocks and shares can also fall under benami transaction if the requirements mentioned in the act are not met.

However, property held in the name of spouse or children, paid from known source or joint ownership of property with siblings or relatives, paid from known source — are exempted.

Tracking mechanism to be used
According to sources at the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), increasingly it’ll be immensely difficult for those having benami properties or going for benami transactions to escape from I-T radar.

The tax authority now has new tools to track benami property holders. Besides, 360-degree profiling of people who file tax returns, the Intelligence and Criminal Investigation wing of the Income Tax at CBDT receives information from multiple sources such as Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), banks, Registrar of properties, annual information report (AIR) from banks, hotels, grand weddings, tours and travel agencies, high-value purchases like house, cars, jewellery, consumer durables, payments made through cards, and from transactions that attract tax collected at source (TCS) and tax deducted at source (TDS).

The database prepared from the information gathered by collating manual and electronic intelligence goes to the data warehouse unit for analysis. A new Non-Filers Management System (NMS) matches the data being obtained from various sources.

“The non-intrusive surveillance capabilities of the I-T Department have been enhanced. There is a huge database with the I-T Department. Parameters have been set to select cases automatically. Based on it, the creditworthiness of the owner of a property is also matched with the I-T returns. The crackdown will be on all those who have been avoiding paying taxes and show their actual income,” a CBDT source said.

“Though it’s tough and challenging for the I-T Department to determine legal and illegal holdings, it’s not impossible now, unlike in the past. The government might also come up with a scheme giving the benami property holders a chance to voluntary declare their hidden assets. In case that happens, and a person doesn’t comply and is caught later, he/she will face stringent punishment,” the source added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 08:35 IST

Demonetization breathes life into ‘zombie’ accounts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 72,000 dormant accounts in public and private banks came to life in the first 17 days of demonetization with more than Rs 2,000 crore cash deposited in them. Topping the list was India’s largest public sector bank State Bank of India (SBI) with deposits of Rs 586 crore, reveals official data.The average deposit in the 72,000 accounts is Rs 2.79 lakh, a notch above the Rs 2.5 lakh limit specified by the government, according to the Financial Intelligence Unit, a specialised agency that works under the Finance ministry.Tasked with monitoring suspicious bank transactions, FIU had closely scrutinised accounts in the period between November 8-25 and found that dead accounts—those that had not been active for the last two years—had suddenly sprung to life after the government withdrew high currency notes.Almost every bank, public and private, had accepted such deposits, reveals the data accessed by DNA.While SBI heads the list, Punjab National Bank (PNB) follows second with Rs 230 crore being accepted in dormant accounts. UCO Bank (Rs 154 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 116 crore) and Bank of India (Rs 105 crore) are the others in the top five. Amongst the private banks, ICICI is at the top with Rs 51 crore followed by Axis Bank (Rs 36 crore) and HDFC (Rs 9 crore).The largest dormant deposit was found to be in Surat where one individual deposited Rs 3 crore in HDFC. Amongst the other stand-out transactions that have come to light is that of a garment trader depositing Rs 1 crore without quoting a PAN number in the Tirupur branch of PNB.The main intent behind declaring an account dormant or dead is to reduce the risk of frauds. Segregating these accounts leads to bank staff getting alerted to the risks involved and the due diligence needed.But after demonetization, some people are allegedly depositing unexplained cash in these zombie accounts, an expert explained.Recently, in a high profile meeting of tax officials, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) took note of 500 suspicious accounts where more than Rs 15 lakh cash was deposited.The government has started analysing where the higher-than-expected deposits came from and how they got into the system. Banks and their staff could face intense scrutiny, and possible penalties if irregularities are found, an official said.The banks did not respond to emails and repeated messages.

Cong questions new army chief’s appointment, MoD sources say Rawat best suited to deal with terror threats

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, who has been appointed as the next Chief of Army Staff, was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China, and in the North-East.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat to be new Army Chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa to head IAFHe is also known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services.Also, Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa was appointed the next Chief of Air Staff. He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978 and has served in various squadrons, and in the Intelligence Directorate of Air Headquarters.Meanwhile, the Congress has slammed the Centre over the appointment of the new army chief, as the government overlooked a tradition of elevating senior-most officers as service chiefs.The Congress asked why the Centre did not follow the seniority principle in appointing Lt Gen Rawat, the vice-chief in the army.”Why has Seniority not been respected in Appointing of Army Chief? Why have Lt Gen PRAVIN Bakshi & Lt Gen Mohamed Ali Hariz been superseded Mr PM,” questioned Congress leader Manish Tewari on Twitter.

Rajiv Jain to be new IB chief, Anil Dhasmana to head RAW

New Delhi: Jharkhand cadre IPS officer Rajiv Jain was on Saturday appointed as the new chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) while Anil Dhasmana will head external intelligence agency RAW.

Both the officers will have a tenure of two years.

Intelligence Bureau logo. IBNLiveIntelligence Bureau logo. IBNLive

Intelligence Bureau logo. IBNLive

Jain, who is at present serving as the Special Director in the IB, will take over on 1 January after the incumbent Dineshwar Sharma completes his two-year tenure on 31 December.

A recipient of President’s Police Medal, the 1980-batch officer has served in various departments of the IB including the sensitive Kashmir desk.

He was advisor to the previous NDA government’s interlocutor on Kashmir KC Pant when talks were held with
separatist leaders like Shabbir Shah.

In another appointment, Anil Dhasmana will take over the reins of the Research and Analysis Wing, an organisation which looks after the external intelligence of the country.

He succeeds Rajinder Khanna who completes his tenure this year end.

Dhasmana, a 1981-batch officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, has been with RAW for the last 23 years during which he has served on important desks including Pakistan.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 22:35 IST

Modi Govt. has no plans to lax norms for US donor agency Compassion International

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite strong US pressure, India has decided to stick to its decision of keeping Colorado-based child rights donor agency, Compassion International under prior permission watch list.Highly placed government sources said, the government has no plans to remove Compassion International from the prior permission category under which it was put in May this year on Intelligence Bureau’s assessment report for being involved in religious conversions.The tough stand of the government comes a day after US ambassador at-Large for international religious freedom David Saperstein said on Monday that US was hopeful of Indian government “accommodating” their concerns about Compassion international.”We are deeply concerned when civil society organizations who act peacefully are restricted from carrying out their obligations by the government. We really hope that groups like Compassion International, who have indicated they are willing to live by the laws of the land will be allowed to continue their partnership here,” said Saperstein adding the donor agency has communicated that if there have been any violations, though they have seen no documentation, they will fix it.However, the government official said Official said there are no plans to entertain US request and take Compassion International out from the prior permission watch list as, he claimed, there have been cases where people have been given inducements to convert their religion which country’s anti-conversion law does not permit.”The home ministry is only allowing Compassion to given grant to NGOs on case to case basis as per the prior permission category rules. So far we have got request to clear grant for 35 NGOs of which we cleared grant for 10 NGOs last month. We have received report on nine more NGOs and will soon release the grant to them if they are found not involved in religious conversions, “said the source. The home ministry had cleared Compassion’s grant of Rs. 2 crore to 10 NGOs last month.Last week, in what seemed India was softening its stand, additional secretary of foreigner division, Bipin Mallick, who was instrumental in cracking down on several NGOs was transferred to another division.Informed sources, however, believe that the government decided not to soften its stand fearing backlash from strong anti-conversion Hindu lobby back at home. A few days back, top American lawmakers had expressed grave concern over the alleged curbs imposed on a Christian charity organisation, whose representatives appeared before a Congressional hearing seeking change in New Delhi’s policies related to foreign funding of NGOs.”It is my hope that by bringing attention to this issue, as we’re doing here today, the 145,000 children will not be tragically denied the services they desperately need, and that American families… can continue to send the US $38 a month for food and education fees to the poorest of the poor,” Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee had said in his opening remarks.

Trump dismisses reports Russia helped him in U.S. election | Reuters

By Doina Chiacu and Howard Schneider
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump rejected as “ridiculous” reported U.S. intelligence findings that Russia intervened in the presidential election on his behalf through targeted hacking, saying he did not believe it, according to an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”The Republican president-elect’s comments casting doubt on reported U.S. intelligence findings pits him against some leading foreign policy voices in the U.S. Senate from his own party who on Sunday expressed alarm about election meddling by Moscow.”I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” Trump said in the interview, which was taped on Saturday.He blamed Democrats for putting out the media reports and said he did not believe they came from the Central Intelligence Agency.Trump’s dismissal was perhaps aimed at squashing doubts about whether he won the Nov. 8 election fairly. However, his comments could also portend conflicts between the new president and the intelligence agencies he will command and feed criticism that his administration will be soft on Russia.The Republican real estate magnate was expected to appoint as secretary of state Exxon Mobile Corp Chief Executive Rex Tillerson, who has close ties with Moscow and has spoken out against U.S. sanctions on Russia.

U.S. intelligence agencies have told Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama that Russia has grown increasingly aggressive in Syria and Ukraine and has stepped up activities in cyberspace including meddling, sometimes covertly, in European and U.S. elections.A senior U.S. intelligence official told Reuters intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that not only did their Russian counterparts direct the hacking of Democratic Party organizations and leaders, but they did so to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The Republican president-elect questioned whether the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the reports that indicated Moscow wanted him in the White House. “I think the Democrats are putting it out,” he said in the interview.

Two leading Republican voices on foreign policy in the U.S. Senate, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, joined two Democratic senators on Sunday in expressing concern over possible Russian interference in a U.S. presidential election.”For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyber attacks at America’s physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted,” the senators, including Democrats Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed, said in a statement.”Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”

“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country,” the senators said in a statement. Reince Priebus, the Republican Party leader Trump picked to be his chief of staff in the White House, attacked the news reports for relying on unidentified sources and denied a New York Times report that the Republican National Committee was hacked. He was speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”Russian officials have denied all accusations of interference in the U.S. election. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Howard Schneider; Editing by Mary Milliken and Phil Berlowitz)

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

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 21:11 IST

Centre transfers bureaucrat who cracked down on Zakir Naik’s NGO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has given shunting orders to senior home ministry bureaucrat Bipin B Mallick who played a key role in cracking down on televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) besides cancelling foreign funding licenses of several Christian charity based NGOs for being involved in activities against the national interest.The move coming on the instructions of “competent authority” apparently has to do with the US pressure, said sources. The USA has raised the matter more than twice with India asking why Church based NGOs, especially child rights NGO Compassion International, were being targeted by the government.Compassion International was put in the prior permission category in May last year that allows clearance of funds by the RBI on case to case basis on the instructions of the union home ministry. Facing the heat, the Prime Minister’s Office has already sought a report on the NGO along with the evidence that the Intelligence Bureau has claimed to have gathered, home ministry sources said.Top American lawmakers on Wednesday had expressed concern over the curbs imposed on Compassion International, whose representatives appeared before a Congressional hearing seeking change in India’s policies related to foreign funding of NGOs.Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, had lamented that the recent efforts to regulate foreign funding and enforce taxation laws had made it impossible for them to carry out social work in India.Though the allegations were promptly dismissed by the ministry of external affairs, as based on “limited understanding of India, its society, Constitution and laws”, the government apparently is finding ways to remove tough conditions that have been put on certain NGOs, highly placed sources said. Late last month, the foreigner division had refused to renew the licences of 25 NGO, most of them Church based charity organisation, for indulging in activities that were inimical to the national interest. Sources said, Mallick had little role in this as he was just following government instructions to expedite the screening of NGOs as per the Intelligence Bureau’s report.An additional secretary in foreigner division of the union home ministry, Mallick has been asked to take charge of the disaster management division from immediate effect. The bureaucrat, a 1986-batch IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre, had taken a slew of measures in the FCRA division since he took over in July this year. Besides, implementing e-filing of documents and completing the tedious task of going through the documentation of over 40,000 NGOs and trimming the list of abiding NGOs to about 21,000, Mallick had worked proactively on government’s instruction to cancel FCRA licenses of several NGOs or put them in tough prior permission category that fell in Intelligence Bureau’s classification of working against country’s interest.

Jaipur defies black money fight, emerges as top centre for filtering old currency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Guess which city has registered the maximum transactions in Jan Dhan accounts? No, it’s not Delhi, Kolkata or even financial capital Mumbai but Jaipur, which has Rs 47,201 crore in the accounts. This amounts to 87 per cent of the Rs 53,770 crore all-India transactions, in the first two weeks of demonetization. The Rajasthan capital has emerged the top centre for filtering old currency from November 8-22, reveals data from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a specialised agency that works under the Finance ministry to monitor suspicious bank transactions. Kolkata, with Rs 720 crore deposited in the same period, and Delhi, with Rs 197 crore, follow far, far behind. Moreover, Jaipur has seen 30,542 of the total 35,000 transactions across India. Jaipur is followed by Kolkata, New Delhi and Chennai. Of these 30,542 transactions, 11,000 transactions do not have PAN (permanent account number), ministry sources told DNA.The revenue department is working on the FIU data to take action against ‘unexplained’ depositors. Income-Tax (I-T) department sources added that they have started sending notices. B Class cities like Haldwani are seeing Rs 7-8 crore every day, it is learnt. Agents who were active in Delhi and other metro cities came to Jaipur every day to collect money, said a prominent hardware and sanitary shop owner in Jaipur. “The going rate is Rs 80 (in new currency) to Rs 100 (old currency),” he added on condition of anonymity. A Jan Dhan account holder said that people were ready to convert black money into white on a commission of 20 per cent. With the government declaring that deposits up to Rs 2.5 lakh would not be questioned, there are instances of Jan Dhan account holders being enticed to put the money and keep a percentage when they finally withdraw it.Launched on August 28, 2014, under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY), Jan Dhan accounts can have deposits of up to Rs1 lakh a year. Accounts that don’t adhere to Know Your Customer (KYC) norms have a lower limit of Rs 50,000. Of the 25.51 crore Jan Dhan accounts, 5.86 crore have no money in them. However, there has been a surge since November 8 when the government withdrew high denomination notes. Kolkata-based Saeeda Laieek is the top Jan Dhan account holder, with Rs 58 lakh, followed by Jasbir Singh of Delhi with Rs 33.4 lakh, shows data from November 8-22. In his recent public rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been telling the poor to not allow the misuse of their Jan Dhan accounts. He said in Moradabad that those who had deposited money this way should not return it. ​Unofficial sources had earlier said that West Bengal led the pack of states that had seen the highest deposits in the first fortnight of demonetization. But FIU data suggests that that might not be the case.

India, Bangladesh Home Secretary level talks from today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A two-day Home Secretary Level talks between India and Bangladesh will begin in New Delhi on Monday.During the meeting, security, border and other bilateral issues will be discussed. Anti-terror cooperation and sharing of intelligence will also figure during the talks.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and his Bangladesh counterpart Mozammel Haque Khan and their teams are expected to engage in intense discussions. The last such meeting was held in November 2015 at Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Nagrota terrorists were in India for a week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Post the Nagrota attack in Jammu, where seven Army men were killed on Tuesday, an assessment carried out by intelligence agencies reveals alarming findings. Intelligence officials believe that the terrorists had not only been in Indian territory for over a week, but also had the support of freshly recruited local militants.Officials say that this was made clear by the perfectly fitting police uniforms worn by the terrorists. Also, the truck used by them and the reconnaissance mission carried out before the terror strike indicates that the three terrorists were not part of a fresh infiltration, according to a preliminary report by the Army.Intelligence sleuths are also probing if the weapons used by the terrorists were handed over to them by local aides. There has been a sharp increase in arms snatching during the local unrest in the Valley in the last four months following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. According to estimates, over 100 weapons have been snatched during the recent turmoil.Three terrorists were gunned down after the day-long encounter on Tuesday, in which sixteen hostages—including 12 soldiers, two women and two children were safely rescued—but seven army personnel, including two majors, lost their lives.”It appears that the terrorists have spent considerable time in Indian territory and were provided logistics and help by locals,” said an Army official.”They seemed to be well-prepared and had an idea of their target,” he added.With intelligence reports constantly indicating an increase in local recruitment following the unrest in J&K, local assistance to Pakistani terrorists has alarmed security forces. Sources said there was prior intelligence about a week back that Pakistan-based terrorists would target military establishments, especially in Jammu.According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.The three terrorists were carrying AK-47 rifles, four under barrel grenade launchers, Japanese-made Icom radio sets, 15-16 loaded magazines, and a huge cache of medicines with Pakistani markings.While the Army has gunned down over 140 terrorists this year, there has also been a sharp increase in casualties. There have been 67 Army casualties in J&K till date this year. Out of this, 24 Army men have died in the last two months after the Army launched surgical strikes destroying terror camps across the Line of Control. In 2015, there were just 33 army casualties in J&K.On September 18, Indian Army personnel were killed in Uri after which the surgical strikes were planned. Since then there has been frequent skirmishes in the border areas with heavy shelling and firing from both sides.Following a series of attacks on defence installations, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vohra, on Wednesday, asked all security forces, commanders, and the government to enhance surveillance and immediately review security operations in all important installations.After being briefed about the attacks by Pakistani terrorists at Ramgarh and Nagrota on Tuesday, the Governor spoke with the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda, J&K DGP K Rajendra, GOC XVI Corps Lt Gen A K Sharma, GOC 26 Div Maj Gen S Sharma and IG BSF (Jammu Frontier) DK Upadhyaya.

By putting onus of India-Pakistan talks on New Delhi, Abdul Basit is at his slimy best

Abdul Basit, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India at New Delhi showed a glimpse of classic chutzpah by announcing that the onus for any bilateral engagement on sidelines of the forthcoming Heart of Asia conference at Amritsar is on India. Well-timed, his statement comes right before the arrival of Pakistan’s de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz on 4 December to participate in the event.

Basit’s logic behind the ‘onus being on India’ is because India is the host nation for the Heart of Asia conference. But Basit would be at pains to explain which international regulation or norm binds the host nation to take the initiative to propose bilateral dialogue. Why isn’t Pakistan asking for such dialogue at Amritsar? The media describing Basit’s announcement as having put the ‘ball in India’s court for any bilateral engagement’ is certainly way off the mark.

The fact remains that nether Aziz nor Basit, or for that matter Pakistan, has the guts to ask India for opening up the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue not only because of Pakistan’s heightening proxy war on India, but also through demonstrative future plans with respect to India. That is why Aziz is slipping into Amritsar directly for the Heart of Asia conference and slinking back immediately after the event. There is no way he could have requested for a bilateral dialogue and planned to make it more meaningful with a stopover at New Delhi. Basit’s statement hopes to provide ‘Dutch courage’ to Aziz as he represents a country notorious for being the epicentre of terrorism.

File image of Abdul Basit. CNN-News18

File image of Abdul Basit. CNN-News18

There is clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the beheading of an Indian Army soldier in the Machil sector of Jammu and Kashmir recently; the handiwork of a Pakistan Army-backed BAT (border action team) equipped with grenades sporting Pakistani markings as well as night sights and radio sets with US markings, as the search of the area found. It is a different issue that after the mutilation of our soldier’s body, the heavy retribution extracted by the Indian Army through a fire assault in PoK forced the DGMO of Pakistan to call up his Indian counterpart for ‘unscheduled talks’, after which there has been lull in ceasefire violations by both countries after over a month of heavy exchanges.

The ceasefire along the LoC has been violated by Pakistan hundreds of times since it was agreed to by both nations in 2003. Its sanctity was anyway irrelevant with Pakistan not only breaching it time and again through artillery and mortar fire but also providing cross-border covering fire for every infiltration — which happens on an average at least once a week. Of late, Pakistan has also been violating the International Border in addition to the LoC, plus deliberately targeting civilian villages. What the Pakistani Army did not expect was the surgical strikes by Indian Special Forces into PoK, following the Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack at the army base at Uri, and although Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif included) maintained that the said surgical strikes had not taken place, a telephonic intercept of the superintendent of police of Mirpur in PoK confirmed the casualties that the surgical strikes had inflicted. More recently, Pakistan suffered heavy casualties because of Indian fire assaults in response to the Pakistan army’s BAT action that saw an Indian soldier mutilated.

The ceasefire violations by Pakistan may have somewhat reduced (temporary break?) but the terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir continue to occur on a daily basis — the directions for which come from the Pakistan military and its proxies including the covert arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence. At the time of writing, encounters between terrorists and security forces are taking place in the Nagrota and Samba areas of Jammu and Kashmir. So, the Pakistani military is in no mood to change its policy of inflicting ‘thousand cuts’ on India, irrespective of Pakistan’s army chief having been changed. By avoiding ceasefire violations but increasing the terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan is avoiding casualties on its side of the LoC, yet stepping up attacks on Indian security forces. This, despite Lieutenant-General DS Hooda — Northern Army commander — categorically stating that de-escalation depends on Pakistan checking terrorism against India, thereby implying we will continue to hit back across the LoC when deemed necessary.

Basit has said that Pakistan wants dialogue along the lines of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) that the two countries announced when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad in December 2015; dialogue on all outstanding issues, including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir. But Basit fails to acknowledge that much water has flowed under the bridge since then, because of which India had conveyed to Pakistan that any bilateral dialogue would have to be preceded by Pakistan stopping terrorism against India. Should Basit, Aziz and co use a wee bit of intelligence, what India has said does not merely mean a temporary halt in terror attacks but it also means that Islamabad must take effective action against the anti-India terrorist groups in PoK and Pakistan, which in effect are patronized by the Pakistani military.

A cross-section in India may feel that Basit’s above statements are a change of heart or perhaps he is getting ‘de-radicalised’. Nothing could actually be farther from the truth. Meeting and briefing Hurriyat separatists along with his ISI-trained diplomats holed up in the Pakistani High Commission, Basit has been playing a major role in supporting and upping terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. If he is acting the peace parody before the arrival of Aziz in Amritsar, he is merely playing up Pakistan’s policy of TPAW (Talk Peace, Act War). In doing so, he is also playing up to Pakistan’s military constituency, particularly to Qamar Javed Bajwa, the new Pakistani army chief, lest he be ordered to get back home. Without doubt, Basit will be hoping to replace Aziz one day as the de facto foreign minister of Pakistan one day, if not the foreign minister proper.

There is plenty of speculation about what would be Pakistan’s India policy with Bajwa now holding the country’s reins from the background. The indications are already on ground through the setting up of a high-level committee in Pakistan to formulate ‘a doable and sustainable’ policy to highlight the Kashmir issue globally. This committee was obviously formed not only in consultation with the Pakistani military but perhaps on behest of the latter. More significantly, it will be ‘controlled’ and directed by the military with members as senior officials from ministries of defence, interior and information, the military operations directorate, ISI and Intelligence Bureau, but none from the foreign ministry. With the Kashmir obsession of the Pakistani military, it is unlikely that Raheel Sharif did not discuss formation of such a committee with the military hierarchy, which included Bajwa. So, it may be naïve to think about any change of heart with Bajwa assuming command.

Dawn described the real purpose of the above committee as a measure for “reaching out to Indians who are opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘extremist policies’.” So, we should expect ISI’s love blooming with the type of politician who pleaded to Pakistani news channel to help dethrone Modi. Interestingly this politician is known at home as the ‘pole tortoise’; doesn’t know how he climbed up, doesn’t know what to do atop, and doesn’t know how to get down. Pakistan will not only compensate these types for whatever they lost because of demonetisation, and cater for their next seven generations, but perhaps also confer them with the Nishaan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest civilian award.

Therefore, the only change in Pakistan’s policy towards India may perhaps be more non-kinetic measures added to whatever it is presently doing, to tray and destabilise India as much as possible. The five government mints in Pakistan are probably working round the clock already for faking the new Indian currency.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 13:45 IST

Punjab jailbreak: KLF Harminder Singh Minto sent chief to 7 days’ police custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF) chief Harminder Singh Mintoo was sent to seven days’ police custody on Monday by a Delhi Court which noted that “custodial interrogation” of the accused was required to unearth conspiracy in the Nabha jailbreak case. Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh sent Mintoo to custody till December 5 after Delhi Police sought seven days’ remand to interrogate him.”I am satisfied that custodial interrogation is required to unearth the conspiracy in the case. The accused is sent to police custody till December 5,” the judge said.While seeking his remand, the police said that they needed the custody of the dreaded terrorist to know about the role of “insiders and outsiders” who assisted him and five others in fleeing from Nabha jail in Patiala. They further said that the role of Inter-Services Intelligence and some terror organisations is needed to be probed in the case as he had also visited Pakistan.
ALSO READ Punjab jailbreak: Mastermind Parminder sent to 14-day judicial custodyOne loaded pistol and six live cartridges were recovered from his possession, the police said, adding that he was earlier a member of Babbar Khalsa International and later floated his own group. “About 100 rounds of ammunition were fired in the incident of jail break and two jail official were injured. He also snatched one official rifle from a jail official,” the police said.Mintoo was nabbed from a Delhi railway station, a day after he escaped with five other inmates from the jail. The UP police last evening had arrested the alleged “mastermind” of the daring daylight jailbreak, Parminder Singh.
ALSO READ Punjab jailbreak: Escaped Khalistani terrorist Harminder Singh Mintoo arrested near DelhiHe was arrested from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district when the getaway vehicle — a Toyota Fortuner — was stopped at a police picket.He had escaped on Sunday along with five other prisoners in a sensational jailbreak after armed men in police uniform tricked the sentries into opening the gates and fled with the inmates while firing a hail of bullets. Mintoo, who was wanted in ten terror cases, was arrested by the Punjab police after he was deported from Thailand in November 2014.

PM Modi asks police to develop soft skills

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday pitched for qualitative change in police through better training while underlining the importance of technology and human interface for the force to keep progressing. Addressing the annual conference of state police chiefs in Hyderabad, he pressed for development of soft skills in training and advocated that human psychology and behavioural psychology should be vital parts of training.He also launched a mobile app ‘Indian Police at Your Call’ and presented President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Service to officers of the Intelligence Bureau. The Prime Minister “called for a qualitative change in the police force through a collective training effort,” a PMO statement said.He said that technology and human interface are both important for the police force to keep progressing, it added. On training, the Prime Minister said the development of soft skills is now essential, and should become a part of the training drill, the statement said. Aspects such as human psychology and behavioural psychology should be vital parts of training, he added in his address to DGsP/IGsP at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.Modi said leadership skills are important, and the onus lies on senior officers to inculcate these skills in the police personnel, it added. On the subject of law and order, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of foot patrolling and constabulary Intelligence, the statement said.On law and order, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of foot patrolling and constabulary intelligence.Modi noted that November 26 is the day that a deadly terror attack had struck Mumbai, and police had bravely fought against terrorists. He also recalled the over 33,000 police personnel who have attained martyrdom. The Prime Minister said that the annual conference of police chiefs has now undergone a transformation in the way it is conducted.This is for the third time since Independence that the conference is being held outside Delhi. It was held in Guwahati in 2014 and Kutch in Gujarat last year. The idea of holding the meeting of DGPs and IGPs outside Delhi was mooted by Modi after he assumed power in 2014. The Prime Minister also laid emphasis on concrete outcomes out of the actionable points that have been finalised. He said leadership skills were important, and the onus lay on senior officers to inculcate these skills among the police personnel.It has become a platform for sharing experiences, which leads to good inputs for policy planning, he said. Modi laid emphasis on concrete outcomes out of the actionable points that have been finalised. Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the Martyrs Column at the National Police Academy. He also offered floral tributes at the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and planted a sapling.

Names for HC judges rejected due to serious complaints, adverse intelligence reports: Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government on Friday defended its move to return to the Supreme Court collegium names of 43 candidates for appointment as judges in high courts, saying the decision was based on adverse intelligence reports and serious nature of complaints against them.”The major reasons for referring back 43 recomendees to the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of judges are views of consultee judges, views of constitutional authorities, adverse Intelligence Bureau inputs, serious nature of complaints received against recommendees,” Minister of State for Law PP Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. Out of the 43 names returned to it by the government for reconsideration, the Supreme Court collegium has “reiterated” its recommendation for 37, deferred three proposals while three other names are still with it.On November 18, the Supreme Court had informed the government that it had reiterated every one of the 43 names that was sent back by the government to the collegium for reconsideration. “We have reiterated 43 names for the appointment as judges of high courts which were rejected by the government and have been sent back for reconsideration,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and A R Dave had said.But Chaudhary told the upper house that the collegium has reiterated its recommendation for 37 candidates only. He had made a similar statement in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.In response to another question on vacancies in the Supreme Court, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply that the government has not received any proposal from the apex court collegium to fill up the existing seven vacancies. The Centre had on November 15 told the apex court that it has cleared 34 names out of the 77 recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in various high courts in the country.The government had also apprised the apex court that no file with regard to the recommendations for appointment of judges was pending with it.

A beacon of hope, but dim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the key elements to check another strike — equipping about 2 lakh fishing boats with Automatic Information System- Proprietary (AIS-P) transponders — is yet to be done. The proposal was cleared at a meeting of coastal states with the Union Home Ministry in June, 2016. The decision was driven by the fact that with fishing becoming a non-viable activity near the coastline because of pollution and ship traffic, even smaller boats are being forced to go into the high seas. “The fishermen are like eyes and ears on the sea for country’s security. But we are yet to receive transponders for small boats. It is must for us as our small boats are forced to go beyond the mandatory 12 nautical miles into the high seas to catch fish across the Maharashtra coastline. We must get it for free,” says Narendra R Patil, General Secretary, Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samitee (MMKS).Each transponder costs about Rs 17,000 and the cost of about Rs 336 crore for installing two lakh transponders in small boats will be borne by the Union Home Ministry. Until recently, only dhows or vessels bigger than 20 metres in length were fitted with transponders, leaving out a vast majority of sea boats that according to an Intelligence Bureau report can be used by terrorists again. There are more than a lakh fishermen in just Palghar district of Maharashtra. Two lakh transponders may fall short even for Maharashtra, it says. An AIS-P transponder is fitted on a boat that responds automatically by emitting a friendly signal when intercepted by coastal security and sends out a distress signal when under threat. The signal reaches the nearest Coast Guard/ Navy ship or marine speedboat within 5 seconds. It can track up to 50 km from the coast.But most of the small boats across Maharashtra coastline are yet to be fitted with transponders. Fishermen argue that the system of allowing licensed boats in the sea is also full of loopholes.

DNA Exclusive: India sceptic at Pak terror alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid rising tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has informed the Delhi Police and other Central intelligence agencies that “Hindu radicals” could attack the Delhi-Lahore bus service, the Samjhauta rail service that operates between India and Pakistan, and the luxury bus service from Delhi to Nepal.This information, the MEA said, had been provided to them by the Pakistan High Commission.Following directives from the MEA, the Delhi Police have increased security at Old Delhi Railway Station and the Ambedkar Stadium Bus terminal and intensified checking.The communication, which was shared by the Pakistan High Commission to the MEA, and accessed by DNA, stated: “A message has been conveyed from the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi that Hindu radical organisations can attack rail and bus services operating between Pakistan and India in the aftermath of Pathankot attack.”The alert has triggered serious concern among India’s security agencies. Decoding the alert by Pakistan High Commission, a review done by India’s intelligence agencies claim that the alert could be a “smokescreen” for Pakistan’s ISI to aid in terror activities across India. Intelligence officials also believe that the ISI is planning terror strikes in India by activating sleeper cells of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Indian Mujahideen.”The ISI could carry out terror strikes in India’s heartland and blame it on saffron terror. It is amply clear from the Pakistan High Commission’s input that the ISI has already activated its sleeper cells and the so-called alert it has shared with the Ministry of External Affairs is nothing but preparing the ground for outright denial after the attack.”Intelligence agency officials also believe that the Pakistani communication may be playing on the fact that Hindu radicals have been accused of being behind previous blasts on Indo-Pak rail service.On February 18, 2007, twin blasts on the Samjhauta Express connecting Delhi and Lahore – near Diwana station at Panipat killed 68 people. During investigation, eight Hindu radicals were charge-sheeted in connection with the Samjhauta blasts. The accused include Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand, late Sunil Joshi alias Sunilji, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange (both absconding), Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Amit and Rajender Choudhary.Meanwhile, the Pakistani communication also advises Indian agencies to keep sharp vigil. “Keeping a view on the sensitivity and international matter, sharp vigil, tactful handling and adequate police arrangements by local police, PCR and Traffic are suggested. Besides, a close watch may be kept over activities of such radical groups and organisations,” the communication to the MEA further stated.

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi nukes Pakistan’s ‘RBI’, cripples ISI’s fake note network

Pakistan’s code word for high quality Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) is ‘RBI’ — Reserve Bank of India — which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation policy abolishing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes, Faizabad bus stand in Rawalpindi, Pakistan has lost its charm for Lala, a former ISI officer, who coordinates the smuggling of FICN to India.

A retired brigadier-rank officer of the Pakistani Army, Lala, till last week was the key figure to procure and supply ‘RBI’ or FICN through an intricate network of couriers and smugglers. But, since Modi activated his ‘original RBI’ to junk high-denomination notes last week, there are virtually no takers for Lala’s ‘RBI bundles’ across the entire stretch of Muni Road in Rawalpindi, the northernmost part of Punjab province.

The chatter from across the border, intercepted by intelligence agencies, indicates that Modi’s action against black money in India has demolished a section of the ISI headquarters in Rawalpindi, where many fugitives from militant outfits like Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan Zinadabad Force and Indian Mujahideen used to hold meetings with ISI officials to infuse fake currency into Indian’s financial system with the twin motives of economic destabilisation and financing terror activities in India.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The supply source

The ISI used to provide lucrative exchange rate with a profit of nearly Rs 300 per fake Rs 1,000 rupee note. A margin of these profits was paid by ISI to the field agents like Lala and underworld modules with multinational networks, popularly known in Pakistan as ‘office’.

Said ‘office’ was responsible for running an ‘hub and spoke’ business model that included smuggling FICN through both direct and indirect routes. The direct route was Munabao-Khakrapar and the Attari border, while the indirect route usually ran through the UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore before arriving in Kathmandu and Dhaka.

The top secret intelligence agencies dossier reviewed by this writer for Firstpost show that China was recently included in ISI’s smuggling route to exploit commercial courier services. Shenzhen, a major city in Guangdong Province, located north of Hong Kong, had become a major hub for ‘office’ which used to export ethnic garment containers with carefully concealed FICN for onward transmission into India through Nepal and Bangladesh.

The ‘office’ used to run the operation with Suleman and Mulla in Bangladesh and Rana and Ansari in Nepal. Ansari, a Nepali politician from Lalitpur and close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, was arrested by Nepal Police in January 2014. However, until last year, Ansari was said to have maintained close links with ISI officials posted at the Pakistani embassy in Maharajgunj Chakrapath in Kathmandu.

It is no secret that Pakistani embassies abroad are using their diplomatic channels for FICN circulation and the crackdown started by Modi may perhaps render many undercover ISI officers jobless in South Asian countries. The secret dossier mentioned above said:

“There are a number of intelligence inputs available to indicate the involvement of Pakistani officials in Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand of having assisted, managed and supplied FICN at times using the diplomatic bag to wholesale operations in those staging countries. The diplomats, who were associated with FICN trade, were also known to be involved in counter-intelligence operations against Indian diplomats in those countries.”

There are no authentic reports about the total circulation of FICN, however, inputs from various agencies and organisations involved in the detection of counterfeit notes suggest that the ISI may have pumped in over Rs 4,500 crore worthof  fake currency into India’s financial system.

As far as recoveries and seizures of FICN are concerned, government agencies had analysed three time periods — 2005-07, 2008-10 and 2011-13 — including 78 overseas seizures.

Of the 78 foreign seizures, there was the direct involvement of Pakistani nationals in 35 cases with 44 Pakistani nationals being arrested. Of the 28 seizures at foreign airports, 12 were from flights that originated directly from Pakistan while all others from flights transiting a staging-post country but originating in Pakistan,” the secret government note said.

Plugging the gaps within

The Central agencies responsible for generating and analysing economic intelligence are also monitoring the sources from where the most fake currency was either intercepted or reported, to strengthen the gaps, if any. With the introduction of new currency, which is learnt to have used highly specialised and exclusive technology, agencies believe that close imitations of genuine notes will be virtually impossible, unless ink supply by international companies to sovereign governments are compromised.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) has already started analysing Counterfeit Currency Reports (CCRs) from banks that will help in tracking the supply sources in case the fake currency menace stages a comeback in the next couple of years.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) makes production and distribution of high quality FICN a terrorist offence and Intelligence Bureau (IB) recently in a note observed that CCRs collected and analysed by FIU should be shared with other agencies for immediate action as banks continue to report difficulty in registering FIRs.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 09:45 IST

Government cracks down on Zakir Naik’s ‘unlawful’ NGO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has been declared as an unlawful organisation. The decision was taken at meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which took cognizance of the note sent by the Home ministry.Following the decision, Islamic Research Foundation can no more accept any foreign funds and will have close down all its activities immediately.The Home ministry note called for invoking Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act provisions against IRF and televangelist Naik on three counts – promoting enmity and hatred between different religions and motivating youth to commit terrorist acts; having dubious money dealings with Peace Television accused of propagating terrorism; and Naik being implicated in criminal cases for alleged involvement in radicalising youth.Naik and his organisation came under renewed scrutiny after July 1 terror strike in an upmarket café in Dhaka suburbs. The Mumbai-based preacher has not returned to India ever since the controversy came to light after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran Naik’s propaganda on the Facebook.The Home ministry used inputs, containing irrefutable evidence, from both Maharashtra police and the Intelligence Bureau to prepare the note.Action against Naik and IRF became pertinent after investigations revealed that Naik had also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable hate” programmes. Some of these programmes that were shot and made in India contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” through Peace TV.

Syndicates working overnight to crack new Rs 2,000 note: Sources

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The coming few weeks, it seems, will be crucial for the Rs 2,000 note. Intelligence sources reveal that Bangladesh-based criminal syndicates manufacturing Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) are studying “features” of this new note to create counterfeit currency.According to a senior BSF official, a number of copies of Rs 2,000 rupee notes have been seized across the country in Bangladesh, but so far he claims such replicas are mere scanned copies. These are made out of paper instead of rag which is used to make original currency. The same material has to be used to create a high quality counterfeit.”The recently seized Rs 2,000 notes are mere copies which have been scanned to make it look like a currency note. It will take time for FICN gangs to regroup and we are hoping to counter any such attempts of counterfeiting,” the official told DNA. He, however, added that syndicates would soon ramp up efforts to create and circulate fake currency.So far though, security officials say they are pleased with initiatives introduced by the RBI which has made counterfeiting currency more difficult. In 2015, the RBI had introduced modifications to the now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note that was especially difficult for FICN syndicates to crack.This year too, RBI modifications had sent FICN gangs operating in South Bengal, especially in Malda, into a tizzy. And now it remains to be seen how the recently issued Rs 2,000 note stands up against counterfeiting. In fact, security officials are already studying possible methods by which counterfeiters could look to copy and circulate fake currency.”There are 16 main features of an Indian currency note, four of which are invisible to the naked eye. Till 2014, the fake notes coming out of Bangladesh were increasing in quality. The 2015 modifications by RBI however marked an end to this and the result was that most notes seized by us were of 2014 make. Furthermore, more modifications introduced in the notes issued in January this year had made it more difficult for FICN to produce a good quality counterfeit,” said an intelligence official.The tough modifications introduced by the RBI, has ensured that security agencies so far are enjoying increased success in cracking down and seizing fake currency. According to government data, fake currency seized in South Bengal, including Malda, was a whopping Rs 1.7 crore in 2014, Rs 2.6 crore in 2015 and Rs 1.3 crore this year till October.”Most of the seizures made by the BSF or other probe agencies such as National Investigation Agency in 2015-16 were of 2014 make and most of seizures we made showed signs that the gangs were not able to crack the new modifications. The last big haul of the 2014 make fake currency was recovered on October 22 in Kaliachawk, (Malda district, West Bengal)” the official said.Officials also pointed out that the strict security measures introduced in the Rs 2,000 note ensures that copying and issuing such currency would require a huge network and major financial backing.”Indian currency is made out of pure rag which is only available with sovereign governments. To copy and circulate fake currency a vast international network would be required, which can only become possible with some state backing. For example, the security threads that exists in all our currency notes today can only be accessed by a sovereign government,” said a BSF official posted along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Indian naval patrol team intercepts boat with 2 armed men after tip off

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Acting on a tip off from the Sri Lankan Navy, an Indian naval patrol team intercepted a fibreglass boat with two armed men and chased them away when they tried to enter Indian territorial waters.”The team acted on a tip off from the Sri Lankan Navy that the boat with two armed men would try to cross Indian territorial waters,” police quoted Coastal Marine Group police and Intelligence Bureau officials as saying.The incident occurred at Olaikuda area, they said.There was an exchange of fire between the two but none were injured and the Sri Lankans managed to go back to their territorial waters, they said.Marine Police and Q branch and also the IB, said they got details from some Indian fishermen who were in the area.Police said naval officials had told them that an enquiry was being conducted into the incident.

Foreign currency racket: Jeweller alleges assault by DRI officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A jeweller, arrested in a foreign currency racket case in which three persons were earlier nabbed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport purportedly hiding €3.9 lakh in their rectums, has alleged in a Delhi court that he was beaten up by DRI officials in custody.The allegation of beating and assault by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) was denied by the agency prosecutor who said that before being produced in the court, the accused was medically examined at RML Hospital and no such incident has taken place.Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sumit Dass, however, directed that Shakti Mehta be taken to AIIMS for medical examination and sent him to judicial custody till November 25.Advocate Ashutosh, appearing for Mehta, moved a bail plea contending that DRI has procured a false medical record from RML Hospital. The bail plea would come up for hearing on November 15.According to DRI, three men were caught at the IGI Airport in October, hiding 3.9 lakh euros – equivalent to Rs 2.9 crore – in their rectums. The money was wrapped in plastic pouches and inserted into their body cavity, it said.They were accused of carrying foreign currency abroad and during interrogation, they claimed they were doing so at Mehta’s behest. Mehta’s counsel sought bail claiming that he was forced to make some statements under the DRI Act which were incorrect and not voluntary.He alleged that nothing incriminating was recovered from his house in Panipat or jewellery shop which was illegally sealed by DRI officials.The counsel also sought the court to take cognizance of the alleged illegal acts of DRI officials and action against RML Hospital officials for giving false medical certificate. Mehta had earlier approached the Delhi High Court seeking direction to de-seal his shop in Panipat but the court had directed him to appear before the authorities.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 note ban: SIT calls for verification of jewellery sales, bank reporting large deposits

New Delhi: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has suggested the government put a limit on cash holding and also ask banks to report to the I-T department large cash deposits.

The SIT has also recommended that cash deposits made by jewellers should be correlated with their sales and PAN number of jewellery buyers.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Supreme Court-appointed SIT Chairman Justice MB Shah and Vice-Chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat said that Government has taken a “bold step” by demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. They said that putting a limit on cash holding is especially important in this regard since with the introduction of Rs 2,000 notes, it shall be even easier to store large amounts of money in cash.

“If no limit to cash holding is imposed, we may lose the benefits of demonetisation quite soon,” the letter said.

The former Judges of the Supreme Court in their letter have recommended that instructions should be issued to banks to report to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) or Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) the transactions which fall in the suspicious category. They recommended that large cash deposits which are made in any account above a particular threshold be reported by the bank.

“The threshold need not be made public or it shall encourage people who deposit black money to do so below the threshold prescribed. All such deposits be analysed in reference to known sources of income of the person and heavy penalty and prosecution should follow in case the deposit is beyond the known sources of income of the person,” it recommended.

Besides, they said people holding black money may also use poorer people to convert their money into white by parking the money in their bank accounts.

“Instructions also need to be passed on to banks to report any deposits not commensurate with the average transactions in those accounts. Wide publicity needs to be given the in case such cases are detected action shall be taken against both, the person holding black money as well as the facilitator,” they said.

The two former Supreme Court judges quoted media reports to state that a large number of people are reported to have bought jewellery in cash on the day demonetisation was announced.

“Cash deposits made by jewellers should be correlated with their sales and PAN number of the buyers of jewellery. The same should then be analysed against known sources of income of PAN holders and action taken accordingly,” they added.

They also suggested putting a limit of cash holding and cash transaction and said cleansing, achieved through this demonetisation measure, is likely to be short-lived in case systemic steps are not taken to ensure that people do not start hoarding black money in cash again.

The Supreme Court-appointed SIT in its previous reports had recommended putting a limit on cash transactions and also having an upper threshold on cash holding. They reiterated that both these recommendations if implemented, shall go a long way in ensuring that cash is not used as a medium of storing black money in the future.

“… while it is a step in the right direction, a few steps would need to be taken to not only ensure that people holding black money in cash are not able to convert it into white but also to ensure that after a few months, a similar situation where the unscrupulous people are again able to store their illicit income in form of cash, does not arise,” the letter said.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 23:41 IST

Six Indian High Commission officials leave Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six Indian High Commission officials, out of the eight accused by Pakistan of being members of Indian intelligence agencies, have left the country, the foreign office said, with three diplomats leaving on Wednesday. “Six out of eight Indian diplomats found involved in subversive activities in Pakistan have left,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters during a briefing.He did not name those who have left. Three Indian officials, accused of working for the Intelligence Bureau, left Pakistan early on Wesnesday said security sources. “Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil left via Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 615,” they said.The name of the third official who left Pakistan today was not know yet. Zakaria had last week identified eight Indian High Commission officials by name and designation. He had alleged that several Indian diplomats and staffers were involved in “coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments”.Those named were Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri (Commercial Counsellor), Anurag Singh (First Secretary Commercial), Amerdeep Singh Bhatti (Attache Visa) and three staffers – Dharmendra Sodhi, Vijay Kumar Verma and Madhavan Nanda Kumar. Singh, Verma and Kumar left Pakistan on Tuesday.Last month, Pakistan had declared Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh ‘persona non-grata’ after India’s action against Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar following Indian police’s busting of an ISI-run spy ring. On November 2, Pakistan had pulled out six of its officials in the wake of the spy scandal.

Pakistan: Two more Indian High Commission officials leave for India

Pakistan: Two more Indian High Commission officials leave for India

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Islamabad: Two more Indian High Commission officials, out of the eight accused by Pakistan of being members of Indian intelligence agencies, on Thursday left for India.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil left via Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 615,” sources said.

Both the staffers were named as undercover agents of Indian intelligence agencies. With this, the number of Indian High Commission officials leaving Pakistan has reached five.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria last week had alleged that several Indian diplomats and staffers were involved in “coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments”.

Last month, Pakistan had declared Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh ‘persona non-grata’ after India’s action against Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar following Indian police’s busting of an ISI-run spy ring.

On 2 November, Pakistan had pulled out six of its officials in the wake of the spy scandal.

One suspicious financial transaction every 12 minutes; 2.23 lakh ‘black deals’ in 5 years: reveals FIU report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On October 27, two weeks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on black money by demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Finance Intelligence Unit (FIU) wrote to the finance ministry on the urgent need to tighten the noose around those involved in suspicious financial dealings.A worried FIU, which collects and analyses data to uncover patterns of transactions suggesting suspicion of money laundering and related crimes, put the spotlight on the problem following a report that revealed one suspicious financial transaction every 12 minutes in the five years during 2010-15, sources said.According to the report, accessed by DNA, there was a quantum jump in the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs)— from 17,000 in the 2006-10 period to 2,23,000 in 2010-15.Raising serious questions on the nature of business activities in Maharashtra and Delhi, the report also says that the two states generate the maximum number of transactions conducted in an illicit manner. The two states are followed by Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat.The findings—which come to light just after the prime minister’s sudden and dramatic late evening announcement on Tuesday and should give a fillip to the campaign against black money hoarders—make a strong case to note trends for two biggest challenges of terrorism and black money facing the country, sources said. Terror financing is a major agenda of G20 countries.”Some notable trends during 2009-10 to 2014-15 are as follows. The banking sector contributed 68% of STR in conformity with their share in the financial assets (70%). The top 5 states having largest share in reporting of suspicious transactions are Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat,” the report states.The report goes on to add that public sector banks have the largest percentage ratio in terms of cash withdrawal to total debits and cash deposited to total credits. This indicates that public sector banks are generating STRs mainly on the basis of the cash component of the transaction. The insurance sector accounted for 6 per cent of STRs with Maharashtra topping the list. Mutual funds account for 2.57 per cent of STRs.What are STRsFIU records a transaction as suspicious if and where identity of the client is either fraud or forged or is conducted by someone who is on the Interpol watch list or has criminal records. It also covers unexplained transfers made in multiple accounts with no rationale or in dormant accounts, where nature of transaction is doubtful or where the value of transactions is made just below the reporting norm or threshold.

Pakistan declares three Indian officials persona non grata, sends them back home

Islamabad: Pakistan authorities on Tuesday declared three Indian High Commission officials, accused of spying, as persona non grata. The officials have left for home, media reported.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Four other officials will leave for India via the Wagah Border on Tuesday, Geo News reported.

Pakistan had ordered the expulsion of seven Indian High Commission officials on charges of spying, Geo reported.

According to sources, the three officials, First Secretary commercial Anurag Singh, Vijay Kumar Varma and Mandhawan Nanda Kumar, left Islamabad Airport at 9 am.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to Geo that initially they were expected to leave on Sunday, but due to incomplete documents their travel plans were delayed.

Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Balbir Singh, Amardeep Singh Bhatti, Jiya Balin and Dharmendra Sodhi will leave by road, the daily said.

Pakistan accused the Indian officials of working for Indian intelligence agency RAW and Intelligence Bureau.

Pakistan has earlier alleged that Indian diplomatic official Surjeet Singh who was recently expelled was also part of Balbir Singh’s network, the report said.

Phone tapping allegation: Police writes to Kejriwal, Delhi CM puts onus on IB for proof

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said police should ask the Intelligence Bureau (IB) whether judges’ phones were tapped amid reports that Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma has written a letter to him regarding the matter.A letter, purportedly written by Verma to Kejriwal seeking details about his allegations that judges’ phones were being tapped, is doing the rounds on Twitter. Kejriwal tweeted his response to the letter: “Ask IB. They will tell u.” However, police didn’t confirm the authenticity of the letter.”It might be a confidential letter and not many people might be aware about it,” said a police source, without confirming the authenticity of the letter that is doing the rounds on Twitter. The letter says that it’s a serious matter that the chief minister is talking about.”As you are aware, phone tapping is an extremely serious matter and is not allowed without due authorisation after following strict procedures mandated under law. Therefore, your alluding to the matter raises serious concerns,” the letter reads.The letter asked the CM to inform them about the source on which he has based his allegations. “Under the circumstances, please let us know of any incident or case of phone tapping that you have referred to in the course of your speech. We would also appreciate if you could inform us the source on which you base your allegations so that appropriate action can be initiated in the matter,” it said.Addressing the golden jubilee celebrations of the Delhi High Court on October 31 in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India T S Thakur also participated, Kejriwal had claimed that during his meetings with judges he has “overheard them telling each other that they should not talk on phones because they could be tapped”.The Chief Minister claimed that when he told them the phones of judges cannot be tapped, “they retorted by saying that all phones could be tapped”.”I don’t know whether it is true or not but there is a widespread fear. If it is true that phones are tapped then judges can be influenced…,” he had said.

Rs 3,000 crore worth Mandrax drug seized, Mumbai-based bizman held

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is deemed to be one of the biggest seizures of Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized about 23.5 tonnes of Mandrax tablets (methaqualone) at Udaipur in Rajasthan. Mandrax is a banned psychotropic substance under Schedule I of the NDPS ACT, 1985.The mastermind of the syndicate, a Mumbai-based businessman, has been arrested. A follow-up operation is under way to nab the others involved.DRI officers seized the tablets after raiding the premises of M/s Marudhar Drinks, Bhamasha Industial Area, Kaladwas, Udaipur, on a tip-off on October 28. They detected a hidden room filled with cartons of Mandrax tablets and seized about 2 crore of them, worth over Rs 3,000 crore. The DRI claimed that it is one of the largest seizures of methaqualone not just in India, but in the entire world.The major raw material for Mandrax is acetic anhydride, which was manufactured by the syndicate at Shreenath Industries, Rajsamand. The other raw materials for methaqualone are anthranillic acid, which was imported from Indonesia through the Kandla Port by misdeclaring it as mallic anhydride, ortho toloudiene, phosporous trichloride and locally procured caustic soda.Methaqualone is a depressant and its overdose can lead to coma and death. It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. It is commonly known as Mandrax, M-pills, buttons, or smarties, and is usually smoked with cannabis.In the past, the DRI has neutralised 10 factories across several states manufacturing various types of synthetic drugs like mephedrone, ketamine, alprazolam and precursor chemicals like ephedrine. In the last five years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kg of heroin, and 7.4 tonnes of ephedrine, along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances. The DRI has been in active liaison with international agencies to combat the menace of drug abuse.The DRI was assisted by the Border Security Force (BSF) during the Udaipur raid.

Tit for tat diplomacy: Pak recalls 6 from its Delhi mission, India likely to pull out 8 from Islamabad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Wednesday pulled out six of its officials in the wake of a spy scandal involving staffers of its High Commission here even as India was mulling withdrawal of eight of its diplomats from Islamabad as their security has been “completely compromised”.The six Pakistani officials, including four senior diplomats, named for spying for a High Commission staffer, who was arrested and expelled last week for espionage, left India for home as bilateral ties continued to slide.India was also planning to “eventually” withdraw eight of its diplomats from Pakistan after their names and photographs were published and broadcast in the media there, sources in the External Affairs Ministry said.Pakistan pulled out the six officials days after a mission staffer Mehmood Akhtar was expelled by India over alleged espionage.Though there was no official announcement here about Pakistan withdrawing its diplomats, according to Pakistani sources, six mission officials have returned home.The officials, who left India, included commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal whose names were referred to by Akhtar during his interrogation in connection with the spying scandal, according to sources in the Pakistan High Commission.”The decision has been taken after it became impossible for the officials to work in this vitiated atmosphere.”Indian government is threatening and blackmailing our diplomats. So, in this condition, it is impossible for us to stay in this country and work,” sources alleged.The development comes days after India declared Pakistani official Akhtar persona non-grata for espionage activities, triggering a tit for tat action by Islamabad, which also expelled an Indian High Commission official posted there.Earlier, media reports emerging from Islamabad said Pakistan may ask at least two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities.The two officials were identified and their photographs were being flashed by different TV news channels in Pakistan. Geo TV reported that commercial counsellor Rajesh Agnihotri and press counsellor Balbir Singh may be expelled. Indian officials said because of such media reports the security of these diplomats has been “hugely compromised”.Citing sources, the channel claimed that Agnihotri was directly linked with RAW, while Singh was working for Intelligence Bureau (IB). The duo, it was alleged, were using their positions in Pakistan as cover to hide their real identities. It claimed Singh was also running a network of militants in Pakistan and expelled High Commission official Surjeet Singh was also part of his network.

DRI seizes banned drug worth over Rs 3000 crore; Bollywood producer arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its biggest-ever drug seizure, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized a huge haul of banned narcotic substance worth over Rs 3,000 crore from a factory in Udaipur and also arrested Bollywood producer Subash Dudhani in this connection.On October 28, DRI officials raided the premises of Udaipur-based Marudhar Drinks and detected a room filled with cartons of banned Mandrax tablets. “The total number of tablets are estimated to be about 2 crore in numbers with a weight of about 23.5 metric tonnes. The international market value of seized tablets is estimated to be over Rs 3,000 crore,” CBEC chairperson Najib Shah said.This is the biggest ever drug seizure done by DRI, the investigative arm of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). “We have arrested the mastermind and efforts are underway to nab others involved with the drug syndicate,” he said.Shah said that Subhas Dudhani, who has produced Bollywood films, also had businesses and properties in Mumbai.The information came to DRI Mumbai and then it was traced to Udaipur and with active assistance from Border Security Force (BSF), the mastermind was arrested.The drug is commonly known as Mandrax,M-Pills, buttons or smarties and is usually smoked mixed with cannabis. It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. “The consignment was manufactured in Rajasthan and consigned for Mozambique or South Africa,” he said.In last 5 years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kgs of heroin and 7,409 kgs of ephedrine along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances.In recent past, the DRI has also neutralised 10 other factories manufacturing synthetic drugs like Mephedrone, Ketamine, Alprazolam and Ephedrine, across several states.

Guess who headed the Pak spy ring?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The reverberations of the Pakistani spy ring saga continue to impact New Delhi and Islamabad. What has baffled intelligence agencies in India is that the person in-charge of India-Pakistan trade relations has turned out to be a top Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer and chief of intelligence operations in India.This came to light after the interrogation of Mehmood Akhtar last week. Akhtar, an ISI officer and Pakistani High Commission staffer, was part of the spy ring.Intelligence officers said that the top ISI officer, Syed Furrukh Habib, was posted as Commercial Counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission. This is a big worry for India’s intelligence officials as it shows that Pakistan has even made trade as a means to gather intelligence.Intelligence agencies say that the other ISI officers in the spy ring are Khadim Huss­ain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal. They are all working in the Pakistani High Commission.New Delhi is now mounting pressure on Islamabad, demanding the immediate removal of these four ISI officers from the Pakistani High Commission. Top intelligence officers said that these officers were running an espionage network under the guise of doing other jobs.As per a diplomatic arrangement between two countries, only one intelligence sleuth can be posted in their respective missions.Akhtar had been caught along with Indian agents but could not be arrested as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. He was declared persona non grata and was sent back to Pakistan. The Delhi Police had also arrested four Indians who were part of the spy network.Sources say that as a bait to extract information from Akhtar, he was told that he would neither be arrested nor anything would be disclosed to the Pakistan High Commission.”He was made to sit at ease, and he was promised that his confession would not be shared and his arrest will be kept secret. Upon this, he disclosed almost all the underhand dealings of the mission and their agents around,” said an intelligence official.Sources say that Pakistani officials were irked at Akhtar for spilling the beans and he was even roughed up when handed over to the Pakistani High Commission. In Pakistan, he has become a target for blowing the cover of other officials. Akhtar has told Pakistani newspapers that he had given the statement under duress.Indian officials counter his claims. They said that his interrogation was video-graphed when he spilled the beans. Officials also claim that Akhtar had named 16 other “staffers” who were in the espionage ring. Crime Branch teams are raiding various places in Rajasthan to apprehend locals who were providing confidential documents and information to Akhtar.Two teams of the Crime Branch are currently in Rajasthan along with the Indian nationals who have been arrested— Maulana Ramzan, Subhash Jangir and Shoaib—to seek details of the paramilitary personnel who might have leaked information, sources said. Two other persons have also been detained in Rajasthan and are currently being questioned, said the officer.Reacting to the Pakistani spy ring, senior BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said: “The reality is that the High Commission here has become an ISI den. It is breaking all rules and laws…Its work is no longer diplomatic. It has become a centre of smuggling information from here to there (Pakistan).”

Government fast tracks judge’s appointment, 10 names cleared for Delhi and Gauhati HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fast tracking the appointment of high court judges following apex court rap, the government has cleared 10 names for the Delhi and the Gauhati high courts even as it set in motion the process for the Supreme Court collegium to consider names for eight others as judges. The five appointments for Delhi High Court are from the judicial service while the five for Gauhati High Court are both from the bar and the state judicial service. The files have been sent to the Rashtrapati Bhawan for final nod.The nod may come by this weekend following which notifications will be issued. The Delhi High Court has an approved strength of 60 but is functioning with 34 judges — a shortage of 26. On Monday, the Law Ministry is learnt to have forwarded eight other names of advocates recommended by the Delhi High Court collegium for appointment as high court judges for the consideration of the SC collegium.As per the established practice, the government receives recommendations from the HC collegium, gets them vetted by the Intelligence Bureau and forwards them to the SC collegium for consideration. The government is also considering recommendations for 35 judges in Allahabad High Court, eight of which have been pending since January.
ALSO READ Judicial ethics should not be compromised at all: CJI ThakurIn a scathing attack, the Supreme Court had on Friday said the government cannot bring the judiciary to a “grinding halt” by not appointing high court judges despite the recommendations of its collegium long ago and said it could as well close the courts and lock “justice out”. “You cannot bring the entire institution (of judiciary) to a grinding halt. If there is a problem with the name of a person, please send it back and ask us to reconsider,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre.

Pakistan information minister removed over newspaper leak that angered army | Reuters

Pakistan information minister removed over newspaper leak that angered army | Reuters

Updated: Oct 29, 2016 19:14 IST

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By Asad Hashim and Sheree Sardar
| ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD Pakistani Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid has been removed from office over a newspaper leak that sparked a rift between the army and the government earlier this month, the prime minister’s office said on Saturday.Two sources from the Information Ministry told Reuters that Rashid had stepped down from his post until an inquiry confirms whether he was the source for a newspaper article detailing the discussion in a top-level national security meeting.”Evidence available so far points to a lapse on part of the Information Minister, who has been directed to step down from office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry,” a statement by the prime minister’s office said.The inquiry is seeking to identify the source of the Dawn article, published on Oct. 6, which gave an account of a tense, high-level security meeting held between military and government officials.Government and diplomatic sources say the Dawn article soured relations between Sharif’s ruling PML-N party and the military, with army officials blaming PML-N for the leak and demanding the source be punished.

Relations between the civilian government and military have often been strained in a country where several prime ministers, including Sharif himself, have been ousted in coups. Quoting anonymous sources, the Dawn article said civilian government officials called for the military not to interfere if civilian authorities tried to arrest members of anti-India militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba.India has long accused Pakistan’s military of sponsoring these groups to foment unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere, a charge that Pakistan denies.

The office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly rejected the article as inaccurate and the journalist who wrote it was at one point temporarily barred from leaving the country.On Saturday, the prime minister’s office said the Oct. 6 story was “planted” and termed it a “breach of national security”. Dawn newspaper editors have stood by the story and its author.The committee being set up to investigate the leak includes senior officers from the ISI, the most powerful intelligence agency in Pakistan. Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau agencies will be in involved in the committee.

The military on Friday said top PML-N leaders – including finance minister, interior minister, and Sharif’s brother – met the army chief Raheel Sharif, who is not related to the prime minister, to discuss the Dawn leak. The head of ISI was also presentRashid did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. The military could not be immediately reached for comment. (Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Stephen Powell)

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

Espionage case: Close aide of SP leader Munawwar Saleem arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Pakistan spy-ring was busted a few days ago, one more person, Fahat, who is a close aide of Samajwadi Party leader Munawwar Saleem was detained by Delhi Crime Branch.The details of his involvement are yet to disclosed.Delhi Police had announced on Thursday about the spy-ring that a Pakistani spy Mehmood Akhtar has confessed that there was a spy ring being run in India to obtain top defence secrets. Akhtar, who was an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, working in the Pakistan High Commission, named 14 others who were working as spies there. Investigators said Akhtar’s confession has been videotaped. In the video, he talks about obtaining top secret files relating to the deployment of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces on the border.Since Akhtar enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was let off but has been asked to leave the country by October 29. Two Indians, Maulana Ramzan Khan and Subash Jangir, who worked for him have also been arrested. They will be grilled over the next 12 days.Police officials have also revealed the role of women in the racket. “These women were used as honeytraps to extract information from officers and other groups,” said a senior police officer.Police has recovered coded maps of army intelligence from Ramzan and Jangir, revealing force movements. Officials say that the spies were planning to set up a stronghold in north-western India, along the border areas, so that they would be better informed about the location of the various forces guarding the borders.

India facing two ceasefire violations daily after surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani forces have been making desperate attempts to retaliate since the surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army last month, which destroyed terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).The Forces have been kept busy over the last month, as on average, two ceasefire violations have taken place every day since the precision operation by the Indian Army. According to official figures, out of the 115 violations along the border this year, 60 have taken place after India’s offensive last month. The Indian Army hit back after 18 armymen were killed in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.”There has not been a single day since the surgical strikes when Pakistani forces have not indulged in shelling and firing. We have hit back each time,” said an intelligence official.Sources say the situation will continue to remain volatile as Pakistani forces are now desperate to hit back across the LoC and International Border. (IB) “According to ground intelligence and chatter picked up from across the border, Pakistani forces are pumping in more fidayeens (suicide bombers) to strike at Indian forces,” said an intelligence official.Intelligence inputs also indicate that after India’s surgical strikes, the Pakistani Army has carried out “precautionary deployment” all along the LoC on their side to fill up the gaps, as they fear another round of strikes from Indian forces.”Soon after our raids, they have increased deployment in areas they consider vulnerable. Precautionary deployment is roughly 25 per cent of full mobilisation,” said an intelligence official.It’s not just in the IB, where security forces are facing a stiff challenge but also in the Kashmir Valley that has been in turmoil over the last three months since the killing of local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian forces.Taking advantage of the situation, Pakistani terror groups have intensified their efforts to recruit local Kashmiri youth into militancy. It is estimated that around 100 youth have gone missing in the last three months, raising fears of a massive local recruitment drive. According to a recent review by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the number of locals joining the outfits could go over 150 this year. “Last year, around 80 young men joined the terror ranks but we expect this to double by the end of the year,” said a top intelligence official.Sources also said that around 4,000 people, who were part of the stone- pelting mobs attacking security forces, have been arrested in the last three months. These were mostly from areas in south Kashmir that have the maximum number of local recruits.Figures released by the Army show that 129 terrorists have been killed this year till now. Contrast this to 2015, when the figure for the entire year was 97. Sources say that most of the kills this year have happened near the LoC as infiltrating terrorists were intercepted.Pak blames India for ceasefire violationsDr Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan’s Director-General (SA & SAARC), summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh on Friday and strongly condemned the “unprovoked ceasefire violations” on October 27 by Indian forces at the working boundary in Shakargarh sector and on the LoC in Nikial sector, resulting in the martyrdom of six civilians, including two women and injuries to 22 civilians, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Government all set to ban Zakir Naik’s NGO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has come a step closer to banning controversial Salafist Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research foundation (IRF) by invoking provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.Union Home Ministry is ready with the draft note that may soon be sent for the final nod of the Cabinet. The Home Ministry has used inputs, containing irrefutable evidence, from both Maharashtra Police and the Intelligence Bureau to prepare the note, highly placed sources said.The note, sources said, invokes UAPA provisions against IRF and televangelist Naik on three counts — promoting enmity and hatred between different religions and motivating youth to commit terrorist acts through hate speeches; having dubious money dealings with Peace Television, an international Islamic channel accused of propagating terrorism; and Naik being implicated by Maharashtra Police in criminal cases for alleged involvement in radicalising youth.Action against Naik and IRF became pertinent after investigations revealed that Naik had also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes. Some of these programmes that were shot and made in India contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to become terrorists” through Peace TV, added sources.Investigators have found nearly 50 speeches of Naik highly objectionable for being provocative. Besides, there are about half-a-dozen criminal cases pending against him. The Mumbai-based preacher has not returned to India ever since the controversy came to light after Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook quoting Naik.Two other educational trusts run by Naik have also come under the scanner of the Home Ministry and agencies have been asked to investigate into their activities. Proceedings against them are expected to begin soon, said sources.In lectures, aired on Peace TV, Naik had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” and even indirectly praised Osama bin Laden for “terrorising the terrorist, America.” The televangelist is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches, and is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.

Top Pak Army officer handpicked Mehmood Akhtar for India spy mission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehmood Akhtar, a Havildar in the Pakistani Army, was handpicked for the espionage mission by a top army officer who was once in the race to be the Pakistan Army Chief. Intelligence officials told DNA that Akhtar was part of the 40 Baloch Regiment after joining the Pakistan Army in 1997 before being sent to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on deputation on the recommendation of a Lieutenant-General, who also happened to be the Colonel Commandant of the regiment.Sources said Akhtar was deputed to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in January 2014 after undergoing a three-month special training in espionage.Soon after recommending him for the ‘special assignment’, the Lieutenant-General retired six months later. This officer was in the race to be Pakistan Army chief but lost out narrowly, as he retired months before then chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s scheduled retirement in 2013.”Mehmood Akhtar was just a Havildar, one of the lowest ranks in the army but he had the backing of the Pakistan Baloch Regiment Colonel Commandant,” said an intelligence official.Akhtar was not alone. A senior who he reported to was also sent for the assignment along with him on the recommendation of the same officer, sources said. The Delhi Police also confirmed that Akhtar got his deputation to ISI in January 2013.”His interrogation disclosed that he was posted in Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, for about two-and-a-half years and was working in the visa section,” said Joint Commissioner (Crime Branch) Ravinder Yadav.”He also disclosed that he is on deputation to ISI since January 2013 and is a serving Havildar of the 40 Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army,” he added. Akhtar’s name was disclosed while officials were tracking other spies. “He was on special assignment and came under the crosshairs of intelligence sleuths recently, though other local spies were under the scanner since January,” sources said.

Delhi cops bust major Pakistani spy ring

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani spy Mehmood Akhtar has confessed that there was a spy ring being run in India to obtain top defence secrets. Akhtar, who was an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, working in the Pakistan High Commission, named 14 others who were working as spies there. The Delhi Police announced the busting of the network on Thursday.Investigators said Akhtar’s confession has been videotaped. In the video, he talks about obtaining top secret files relating to the deployment of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces on the border.Since Akhtar enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was let off but has been asked to leave the country by October 29. Two Indians, Maulana Ramzan Khan and Subash Jangir, who worked for him have also been arrested. They will be grilled over the next 12 days.Police officials have also revealed the role of women in the racket. “These women were used as honeytraps to extract information from officers and other groups,” said a senior police officer.Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official from the Pakistan High Commission, who was involved in espionage and that he was being declared persona non grata.Intelligence sleuths have also seized coded army intelligence maps, details of deployment and military movement. “Documents in his possession have revealed the deployment of the army and paramilitary forces in Rajasthan and Gujarat,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav.Akhtar worked in the visa section at the Pakistan High Commission. He was in touch with another person, identified as Shoaib, who, along with his father, worked for Akhtar. Shoaib, who worked as a visa agent, was detained by the Rajasthan Police in Jodhpur late on Thursday evening. Officials say that he recruited spies for Akhtar. In fact, both Maulana Ramzan Khan alias Hazrat and Subhash Jangir were both recruited by Shoaib.Acting on specific intelligence, the cops nabbed Akhtar, Ramzan and Jangir, just outside Delhi Zoo. The duo was to pass on sensitive documents to Akhtar. When they were apprehended, Akhtar used a fake name and showed a fake Aadhaar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.Ramzan (50) is a school dropout and came to Nagaur, Rajasthan, around 25 years back. He ran a clothes shop and also started working as an Islamic preacher in a local mosque ‘Qureshiyon ki Masjid’ in Jodhpur. In 2015, he came into contact with Shoaib, who asked him to join him in collecting confidential information about the army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan. He was a resident of the border area and familiar with the topography.Jangir (35) ran a grocery shop and their shops were close. Jangir was in heavy debt and Ramzan recommended him to Shoaib and recruited him.Police recovered coded maps of army intelligence from Ramzan and Jangir, revealing force movements. Officials say that the spies were planning to set up a stronghold in north-western India, along the border areas, so that they would be better informed about the location of the various forces guarding the borders.Akhtar was a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO). Ramzan and Jangir had been working for him for a year and a half. They met at least once a month at tourist locations and exchanged sensitive documents. Each time, they received an undisclosed amount of money.In a statement in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the Indian action was accompanied by an extremely negative and orchestrated media campaign. “We reject the Indian allegations and deplore the Indian action, which is indeed a violation of the Vienna Convention as well,” it said.

MEA summons Absul Basit after arrest of Pak High Commission staffer for espionage

Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistani High Commission staffer, who was arrested on Tuesday morning by Delhi Police on espionage charges, has been let off as he enjoys diplomatic immunity on Indian soil, CNN-News18 reported. He will be sent back in 24 hours.

Akhtar, along with four others, was arrested on Tuesday morning after a tip-off by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and was arrested with sensitive defence documents. However, according to NDTV, two staffers from the Pakistani High Commission were held. Official confirmation is awaited.

Delhi Police arrests Pak High Commission staffer with Defence documents; Basit also summoned by MEA at 11.30AM
-reports @manojkumargupta

He was remanded at Chanakyapuri police station under the espionage charge. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit at 11.30 am on Thursday to convey that Akhtar has been declared persona non grata.

According to CNN-News18, some maps and details of force deployment were found with Akhtar. It also quoted sources as saying that Akhtar was on Pakistan ISI’s payroll.

The Crime Branch also arrested two persons, residents of Rajasthan, for allegedly passing on sensitive information to the staffer. “The spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan’s ISI. The spies were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information,” said a senior police officer. Those arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir.

A former Raw official RSN Singh told CNN-News18 that the fact that this has been released to the media and this is being given so much importance, reveals that this is a major catch.

Crime branch officials have also briefed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, according to a report by The Times of India.

Pakistan’s government has lodged a protest over the arrest of Akhtar with the Indian authorities.

Some staffers came under scrutiny after a spy ring with links to Pakistan intelligence was busted in November, 2015, according to an NDTV report. Four arrests were made in Jammu and Kashmir and one of the accused was supposed to meet a high commission staffer who would have helped him with papers to reach Pakistan.

The identity of the accused’s source at the High Commission could not be ascertained then. Further details are awaited.

With inputs from PTI.

India, China intelligence cooperation led to arrest of Pakistani smuggler

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Intelligence sharing and cooperation between India, China and Sri Lanka led to the arrest of a Pakistani currency smuggler, Faiz Muhammad, in China’s Guangzhou province recently.At the time of his arrest, Muhammad was found with fake Indian currency notes worth Rs. 2.5 million printed in Pakistan, said a report filed by the Sri Lankan Daily newspaper Ceylon Today.His arrest was the result of a tip-off by Indian intelligence agencies to their counterparts in Colombo and Beijing.The arrest of this Pakistani national, while raising concerns in Islamabad, must be seen as a feather in the cap of both Delhi and Beijing, who took the significant step of signing a bilateral security cooperation pact in November 2015, under which both nations agreed to actively share intelligence on terrorists, terror groups and their activities through a dedicated communication channel.In the year gone by, both India and China have taken steps to coordinate positions on anti-terrorism endeavours at regional and multilateral levels and are supporting each on counter terrorism cooperation.New Delhi sees such cooperation in intelligence sharing with Beijing as providing a major boost to security ties between the two countries, as also a great help in analyzing and evaluating operations of regional and international terror groups.This trilateral sharing of intelligence has left Pakistan, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) alarmed as the India China intelligence cooperation exposed Pakistan’s use of Sri Lanka as another point for promoting its terror activities globally.In fact, it is being reported that alarm bells are ringing within the Pakistan establishment, as they see this arrest of one of their nationals in another country as the end of a crucial importation operations hub.It is now being assessed that the ISI’s primary and apparent objective in using Sri Lanka as an intelligence operations hub is aimed at encircling India from all sides, and specially have access to its southern parts, to possibly scout for terror networks as also to recruit fresh cadres for them in Muslim dominant pockets.It has also been exposed that the ISI used Colombo as a transit point for terror funding.The world’s major powers, including India, are ensuring greater cooperation between intelligence agencies to counter and neutralise such activities before they assume dangerous dimensions.

Pakistani spy arrested in Ramgarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid escalating tension on the border, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police arrested a milkman-turned-spy of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) from the Ramgarh sector on Saturday. Besides, the security forces busted a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) module and arrested two militants involved in the attack on an army convoy in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.Police sources said milkman Bodh Raj (42) was arrested on the basis of specific intelligence inputs regarding his espionage activities along the International Border (IB). Police recovered two Pakistani SIM cards, two mobile phones, a memory card and maps showing movement and deployment of the security forces.Sources said Bodh Raj, a resident of Arnia, was under surveillance for the last four months. “Once we were confident that he was involved in espionage, we arrested him. He developed some health complications and was rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with typhoid,” said a police officer.”He was passing on vital information to Pakistan regarding troop deployment and movement,” said another officer. Police are also interrogating him for his possible role in facilitating infiltration from across the border.Meanwhile, security forces busted a JeM module and arrested two top ultras — Safeer Ahmad Bhat and Farhaan Fayaz Liloo — in a joint operation by the police, army and CRPF at Baramulla.”This Jaish module is headed by a Pakistani terrorist, operating by the code name of Khalid. This module, along with the arrested duo, was involved in a terrorist attack on army and police convoy on August 16, in which two army men and one policeman were killed,” said Imtiyaz Hussain, SSP Baramulla.

CID begins probe to decide whether 153 pigeons seized in Kashmir are spies or not

Jammu: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Jammu and Kashmir is probing the possibility of use of over 150 smuggled pigeons for the purpose of espionage to pass on secret information to the Pakistan Intelligence Agencies across the Line of Control (LoC).

Representational image

Representational image

The CID is investigating a case in which 153 pigeons were seized by the police that were being smuggled from the Punjab border to the sensitive Pulwama district of south Kashmir, a police officer said.

“Few days ago, police seized few cartons from a Kashmir-bound vehicle in which 153 pigeons were being smuggled to the Kashmir Valley. The pigeons had strange pink marking and suspicious rings after which the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Jammu referred the case to the CID for investigation,” Sunil Gupta, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jammu, told PTI.

He said that the police has handed over the case to the CID whereas on its part it has registered a complaint under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the accused were produced in the court where they paid the fine.

“As far as the other side of the case is concerned, CID is investigating it under the directions of DC Jammu,” he said.

When contacted, the DC Jammu, Simrandeep Singh, said that he got message that the pigeons could have been used for transmitting secret messages across the border.

“The pigeons were packed in extremely cruel conditions. A case under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was filed and the court released the pigeons and the man after depositing the fine,” he said.

He said that after becoming suspicious of the strange pink markings on the pigeons and different types of rings attached to them, he instructed the CID to probe the matter before the birds are released.

“The CID is examining the purpose of special colour applied to the pigeons and whether they were any colour code. We want to be fully sure before the pigeons are released,” the DC said.

The pigeons were having different colour rings and some of them had different and special magnetic rings attached to them.

The birds have been handed over to an NGO — Save Animals Value Environment (SAVE) — and would be released only after the investigation is completed.

“The CID is investigating the case and after that decision will be taken whether to release the birds or not. As of now the investigation is going on,” the DC said.

Earlier, the authorities had received intelligence inputs that the terrorists might use unconventional means to target security installations in the region following which restrictions were imposed on the air-borne activities in the state.

Are missing Kashmiri youths becoming jihadis?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated 100 young men have gone missing from their homes in various parts of the Kashmir Valley over the last three months. According to a secret internal report by security agencies, following the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani in July this year, 80-100 youth are reportedly untraceable.Security agencies believe that these men may have been part of a mass recruitment drive by terrorist outfits. A review done by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also indicated that the recruitment of local youth was likely to increase in the coming months.”We expect a big surge in local recruitment in the next few days. It’s difficult to give an accurate number as of now, but in the last three months, the numbers have gone up considerably,” a top security official told DNA.
ALSO READ Kashmir tense as Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani killedSources in the security establishment said with the local armed movement gathering momentum, security forces and particularly the Army have been asked to carry out area domination exercises in parts of the state considered especially prone to terrorist activity. Areas and neighbourhoods in south Kashmir have been identified as potential recruitment hubs which are now under watch.AT A GLANCEClashes between raging stone pelting protestors and security forces have killed more than 80 people and left thousands wounded in the Valley.Figures show just how alarming the situation in the Valley has become. Last year, security agencies estimated that 80 Kashmiri youth had joined the terror ranks.This year, till July, before Wani’s death, only 35 Kashmiri youth had been recruited.Post Wani’s death, agencies say the number of radicalised Kashmiri youth has risen to 90, out of the total number of 145 militants in the Valley.”Before Wani’s killing around 35 locals had taken up arms this year. We had expected the numbers to be low. But now everything has changed in the last three months and the number of militants are likely to go well over 100 this year,” said an official.
ALSO READ Latest video of new Hizbul Mujahideen commander emerges in KashmirOfficials privy to the situation say that it is no surprise then that Pakistan-based terror outfits are taking advantage of the situation and luring local men. Just like Wani who soon became the posterboy of indigenous militancy in the conflict hit state, another rung of young men are now being prepared to be showcased as local militants.The rise in local militants is alarming as it can help Pakistani-based terrorists to carry out attack on security forces with greater ease. “Not only do the local recruits gather support for an armed insurgency but also play a crucial role in assisting fidayeens who infiltrate from Pakistan to carry out terror strikes,” says a security official.
ALSO READ Who is Burhan Wani? All you need to know about the Hizbul Mujahideen poster boyIt’s not the first time that recent events have caused Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun. In 2013, the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for the Parliament attack of 2001, became a catalyst for local youth in the state to join terror groups.The Burhan Wani killing could well just be another catalyst for an even bigger indigenous militant movement against Indian security forces.

India should have attacked Pakistan after 2001 Parliament attack: BJP MP RK Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Former Home Secretary RK Singh on Monday said India should have attacked Pakistan after the December 13, 2001 terror strike on Parliament.”After the parliament attack, we had mobilised troops, but did not act. We should have attacked Pakistan, as it was an act of war,” he said.Responding to the reports that the Jaish-e Mohammed may attack Parliament, the former home secretary said, “Just want to convey to them that this will be crossing of ‘red line’.”Indian intelligence agencies have received reports about Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) plans to execute a 2001 style attack on the Parliament to avenge the Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the Line of Control (LoC), reported by a leading dailyJeM may also target Delhi Secretariat, Akshardham and Lotus Temple, the report added.According to the report, Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has given a free hand to JeM to avenge the surgical strikes by the Indian Army.On September 18, four heavily armed JeM militants had stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 18 soldiers and injuring 19.In retaliation to the attack, seven terror launch pads across the LoC were targeted by the army on the night of 28 September in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heli-borne and ground forces were deployed.

Surgical strikes: Political involvement is what separates the latest operation from the others

Away from the increasing politicisation of the recent surgical strikes that the Indian armed forces conducted across the Line of Control (LoC), one aspect that is not properly highlighted in our discourse on the subject is the fact that it was a “strategic decision” — a decision taken at the highest level of the political leadership of the country (involving the Prime Minister of India). Such strikes, as the Congress rightly points out, were carried out in the past (it claims that there were three such strikes in between 2011 and 2014). But the difference between the strikes conducted when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister and the ones conducted last fortnight is that unlike the recent ones, the past strikes were “tactical” in nature. And this is something both the former army chief General Bikram Singh, and his DGMO Lieutenant-General Vinod Bhatia, have confirmed.

Though attempts have been made in a section of the media to portray that General Bikram Singh and General Bhatia have said differently (presumably because of their differing political preferences) on the subject, any dispassionate analysis will reveal that in essence, they were talking the same language. Both of them have said that the strikes across the LoC in the past were “a routine matter” and “tactical” in nature, which the previous governments were keeping secret.

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

In fact, General Singh has repeated what he had said on 31 July, 2014, the day he retired. While talking to the press on his last day in office, he informed how India gave a befitting reply to Pakistan, whose Army, on 8 January, 2013, had beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj and mutilated the body of Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh along the LoC in Poonch sector of J&K. “It (retaliation) has been done. Please understand that when we use force, that use is from tactical to operational to strategic levels…It has been done at the tactical level by local commanders… chiefs don’t get involved in it.”

It is worth emphasising what General Singh had said. The force is used “from tactical to operational to strategic levels”. Strategic level decisions are made by the political leadership, operational level decisions are taken by the senior military commanders in coordination with or permission from the Army Headquarters in Delhi, and tactical decisions are the preserve of the local commanders, where “chiefs don’t get involved in it.”

General Bhatia, in his interview to a TV channel, has also said the same thing. Though political twists have been given to his statement as he challenged the Congress thesis that under the UPA regime, the three surgical strikes were similar in nature to the latest strikes under the Modi-government, the former DGMO had a point when he said, “We never carried out such strikes earlier. They were not strikes, but actions carried out at very very local level. When you are firefighting, you may go across the LoC a few meters, but then you cannot call them cross border strikes.”

What exactly then are the differences? The surgical strikes this time were conducted simultaneously at multiple spots, a first of its kind. “The current strikes are a class apart, they are perfect. They are a well thought out action done at a national level, with strategic and tactical planning. They have yielded the desired results and more importantly, they have displayed India’s strategic resolve and strong political will,” General Bhatia said.

Not only has the Modi government gone to town on these strikes, which have been video-graphed (but not released), but, according to some reports, the Prime Minister and Defence Minister were seeing the live-actions throughout the night (like US President Barack Obama who, with his team, witnessed in 2011 the live-actions of his Special Forces, Navy Seal, killing Osama bin Laden in Abottabad). Secondly, the follow-ups of the strikes have been well-coordinated with the Ministry of External Affairs; the Indian diplomacy has been pretty active in explaining to the international community only why the strikes took place but also its limited nature (of fighting the terror outfits in Pakistani soil, not waging a limited war against Pakistan).

Of course, it is a legitimate question whether it was a proper decision to conduct surgical strikes of this intensity (at the strategic level) that has got every possibility of counter-strikes from Pakistan, resulting in an unavoidable war between the two countries. Would not it have been better to conduct a tactical-level strike following the Uri-attack?

Answer to this question has to be “political” in the sense that the Modi government has taken a political risk by what it has done. It can justify its actions by arguing that these are difficult times that the country is undergoing. The national morale was very low following the terror strikes at the Uri military camp, and that too at a time when the Kashmir valley is under turbulence and Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to internationalise the Kashmir problem. In such a situation, it is incumbent on the Prime Minister of the day to intervene and restore the national confidence by creating situations whose symbolic value is immense for the nation and the rest of the world to take note of. But this does not necessarily mean that the Prime Minister will always be involved in matters that are best left to the local commanders. The surgical strikes in question should, therefore, be treated as a rare or one-time case.

But now the more important questions are: how did the Prime Minister take this one-time decision? Was it a collective decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security that he heads and comprises the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of External Affairs? Did the National Security Council (NSC) provide some inputs to the decision-making? Or, was it essentially a decision taken in an ad hoc manner by the Prime Minister with a select group of officials, including the National Security Adviser (NSA), involved in the process? All these are very important questions that, surprisingly, have not figured properly in our national discourse following the latest surgical strikes.

Let us face the sad reality that India’s national security decision-making processes so far have been archaic and anarchic. We have a got an NSC about whose functioning nobody knows. The NSC is supposed to be a three-tiered organisation that operates within the office of the Prime Minister, “liaising between the government’s executive branch and the intelligence services, advising leadership on intelligence and security issues”. It comprises the Strategic Policy Group (headed by the Cabinet Secretary, it is responsible for inter-ministerial coordination and involves three Service Chiefs and secretaries of core ministries like foreign affairs, defence, interior, finance, atomic energy and space beside the heads of the Intelligence agencies and the Governor of Reserve Bank), the National Security Advisory Board(consisting of retired officials and strategic analysts from the media, think-tanks and universities), a secretariat from the Joint Intelligence Committee and the NSA.

However, nobody knows how exactly the NSC functions. There is a complete dearth of information on the functioning of the NSC. In fact, many doubt whether it functions at all. Former Deputy NSA Satish Chandra has described the performance of the NSC as far from satisfactory. The SPG (Strategic Policy Group) hardly meets. In strict sense of the term, there is no National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) at the moment. The NSAB’s two-year tenure ended in January 2015, but the Modi government has not constituted a new one in its place as yet. In fact, there have been reports that the government wants to do away with the NSAB as a body altogether.

Even otherwise, the Modi government has not undertaken any major reforms in the arena of national security in the last two-and-a-half years of its tenure. The military leadership of the country is highly disgruntled that its voice is not being heard in the civilian-controlled Ministry of Defence. A long standing demand for having a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or any other equivalent post to be a single-source of interactions between the military and the political leadership has not been made. The country’s intelligence-gathering system is highly fragmented.

All these things are really surprising since many expected that if any government could vitalise India’s national security structure, it was the Modi government. In fact, the BJP’s elections manifesto in 2014 had promised that the Modi government will “reform the National Security Council to make it the hub of all sector-related assessments”, “completely revamp the intelligence gathering system by modernising the intelligence department”, and “ensure greater participation of Armed Forces in the decision-making process of the Ministry of Defence”. Regrettably, there have been no signs of implementation of such promises, although the present government has competed half of its term.

And that means that behind all the bravado surrounding the latest surgical strikes, India’s national security decisions continue to be ad hoc in nature, a sad scenario for a rising global power.

Surgical strikes fallout: Is Jaish-e-Mohammad planning a Parliament as revenge?

Indian intelligence agencies have received reports about Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) plans to execute a 2001 style attack on the Parliament to avenge the Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the Line of Control (LoC), reported The Times of India.

JeM may also target Delhi Secretariat, Akshardham and Lotus Temple, the report added.

According to the report, Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has given a free hand to JeM to avenge the surgical strikes by the Indian Army.

In case the militants fail to attack prominent targets, JeM handlers have instructed them to attack crowded market places to inflict maximum damage, reported Zee News.

The report added that New Delhi faced a major threat from JeM and its break-away faction Jaishul-Haq Tanzeem, which was involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

On 18 September, four heavily armed JeM militants had stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 18 soldiers and injuring 19.

In retaliation to the attack, seven terror launch pads across the LoC were targeted by the army on the night of 28 September in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heli-borne and ground forces were deployed.

On 24 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the attackers will not go “unpunished” and that they will not be forgiven.

With inputs from PTI

DRI seizes illegal Chinese firecrackers worth Rs 9 crore in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has for long had a love-hate relationship with foreign firecrackers, especially Chinese ones. Despite continuous efforts by the government to crack down on China-made firecrackers, especially during the festive season, smugglers always try to find a way in.This was demonstrated all too well when on Sunday morning, the Director of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized nine crores worth of China-made firecrackers, at the Inland Container Department in Tughlaqabad, on the outskirts of the Capital. Authorities said that the crackers—found in six containers, each of which was 40-foot-long—bore names like ‘Leopard King’ and ‘Pop Pop Snappers.’But it was no easy task to find them. The containers were packed with permissible items like bicycle, iron baskets, and steel wheel chairs among other things. It was only in the innermost carton that they found the banned fire crackers.Authorities said the goods had been declared at Customs as medical equipment and bicycle parts for the physically challenged. This is how they were able to enter the country.Sources in the DRI claimed the Chinese crackers were being trafficked by a Punjab based businessman Anil Singla. They added Singla, in active connivance with Delhi based custom broker Vikash Gupta, had used a dummy Import Export Code (IEC) code to bring the crackers into the country. Incidentally, Gupta is associated with a shipping company Falcon India Ltd. The DRI has arrested both Singla as well as Gupta.This is not the first big haul of smuggled firecrackers into the country. In August, the DRI seized firecrackers worth Rs 7.2 crore in Mumbai port which were again loaded inside cargo containers labelled as “Adhesive Tapes” and “Badminton Rackets”.Fireworks are restricted for import under the Foreign Trade policy 2015-16. The Union Home Affairs Ministry has issued an advisory to states cautioning them about Chinese firecrackers, which are more likely to cause fire incidents than others.This year, DRI has increased its surveillance to crack down such illegal smuggling of firecrackers. In Delhi, DRI officials say that Rs 11 crore worth of illegal firecrackers have been seized in the Capital this year.

Gun shots alarm raised at Porbandar Naval base hoax: Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A complaint was received on Friday by police of gun shots heard at a Naval base in Gujarat’s Porbandar, but later it turned out to be a hoax after the security men conducted a thorough search in the entire area. “We received a complaint this morning from one of the guards at the communication room of the Naval base which said that he had heard two-three gun shots being fired,” Porbandar Superintendent of Police Tarunkumar Duggal said.”We carried out search operation in the entire area, in and around the Naval base, for about three hours,” he said. “However, after a thorough search operation, nothing was found. The alarm raised seems to be a hoax,” Duggal further said.He also denied that there were any reports of explosion at the Naval base. The Porbandar city located on Gujarat coast is on a high alert following the surgical strikes recently carried out across the Line of Control by the Army. The Indian Coast Guard, Navy and the Gujarat coastal police have increased vigil on the coast.Security has been enhanced on the Gujarat coast, which have vital installations like ports, oil refineries and famous temples at Dwarka and Somnath, following inputs from intelligence agencies about possible infiltration bids by terrorists through the sea route, police had said on Thursday.The alert has been issued for coastal districts of Gujarat based on an input received from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) recently, they had said. Gujarat, having 1,600 km-long coastline, shares border with Pakistan. During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, terrorists had hijacked a fishing trawler from the mid-sea in Gujarat to travel to Mumbai shores.

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.

India should extend its full support to people of PoK: Shiv Sena

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for exposing Islamabad’s real face before the world, the Shiv Sena on Thursday urged the BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre to fully support the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).”It is a very big thing that the Pakistani Government claims that people in Pakistan occupied Kashmir are very happy in their region and they try to show the same picture again and again in the UN or to our Kashmiri people,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.”But the reality is that when the people residing there speak openly then the entire world will come to know that it is Pakistan which is violating the human rights there. And the manner in which Pakistan’s real face has been exposed before the world, it is the victory of India’s diplomacy,” he added.The Shiv Sena leader further said it is a very big achievement for India that the people living in Pakistan occupied Kashmir have rebelled against the government in Islamabad. “So, I think the Indian Government must extend its full support to the people there,” he added.The local people and leaders in various parts of PoK erupted in protest on Thursday voicing concerns against the mushrooming of terror camps that have made their lives miserable. Demanding that terrorism needs to be eliminated, they said that providing shelter to terrorists won’t solve the issue.The residents of Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Chinari, Mirpur, Gilgit, Diamer and Neelum Valley in PoK claim that their lives have been gravely affected by terror training camps operating in the area.Tensions escalated in PoK earlier on Sunday after residents took to the streets to express their anger against the alleged atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Police arrests two bakery employees for video shooting Indian Air Force station premise

Pune: Two bakery employees were on Wednesday arrested under the Official Secrets Act after they were allegedly found video shooting in the Air Force station premise in Lohegaon area, police said. The two accused – Juber Alam Abdul Rauf Ansari (25) and Saiuddin Ansari (41) – hail from Uttar Pradesh and are working at a bakery in Vimanagar, an official attached to the Airport Police Station said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“They were entrusted to deliver 600 patties (a snack) at the Officers’ Mess in Air Force Station premises last evening. While coming and going in their van, Juber, with the help of his cell phone, started video shooting of the Air Force station premise, where photography or video shooting is prohibited,” said the official.

“However, a patrolling team of the station spotted Juber and signalled the duo to stop the vehicle. However, they tried to flee the spot and after a brief chase, the security officials caught hold of them,” he said. As per the official, when the cell phone was screened, footage of the Air Force station area was found.

“Since the duo could not give satisfactory answers as to why they carried out the video shooting and ultimately tried to escape, the security officials decided to hand them over to police,” he said. Assistant Security Officer of the Air Force station registered a complaint following which a case under section 3 (penalties for spying) of The Official Secrets Act, 1923 was registered in this regard.

“Beside police, other agencies like the Intelligence Bureau too are investigating the matter,” he said. The official said the background of the accused is being probed.

Pathankot attack: Pakistan govt still in the dark about Islamabad’s involvement in terror attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan government has admitted on the floor of the Senate that it is still in dark about Islamabad’s involvement in the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in India.According to Dawn, Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, who was responding to questions on behalf of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, failed to give satisfactory replies to the questions put by the members on the issue and later admitted that the government had no information at all since the ‘sensitive’ issue was being dealt by the intelligence agencies and secrecy was also involved in it.Uproar followed his remarks as Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani asked the minister whether the intelligence agencies were ‘above the federal government’.”Do you know what you are saying? Can there be anything secret even for the federal government? You have left me speechless,” Rabbani said.In response, the minister said the agencies were not above the government, but so far the government had not received any report from the intelligence agencies on the matter.Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq alleged that India was in the habit of levelling false allegations against Pakistan whenever some militant attack took place in the country. However, he did not categorically state if the government had received any report about the attack.

India, China hold first high-level dialogue on counter-terrorism in Beijing

Beijing: India and China on Tuesday held discussions on enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism as officials from both countries met in their first high-level dialogue in Beijing.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The two sides had in-depth discussions on enhancing cooperation in counter-terrorism, security and on measures to jointly deal with security threats and reached important consensus in this regard,” said an Indian government official.

The meeting comes 10 days after a terror attack at an army base in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed.

The meeting was co-chaired by RN Ravi, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, and Wang Yongqing, Secretary General of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of China.

The official said the two sides exchanged views on the international and regional security situation.

They exchanged information on respective policies, systems and legislation to deal with terrorism, and further enhanced their understanding on issues of major concerns to both sides.

India has repeatedly raised the issue of terrorism with China.

In his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told him about terrorists crossing over from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

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.

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