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VVIP chopper scam: Singapore responds to CBI’s query on AgustaWestland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Authorities in Singapore seem to have finally responded to queries which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sent through official routes, seeking information related to the infamous AgustaWestland scam. The recent development comes a day after former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, an accused in the scam, was granted bail by a city court.The CBI now claims that the information it received from Singapore will aid its investigators to further the probe.The probe agency had sent eight Letters Rogatory (LRs), which are judicial requests, since 2013 and had received “partial information” from six countries. Two of the eight countries have not even sent partial information even after the probe agency registered an official FIR in March 2013.During its investigation, that will enter its fourth year in March next year, CBI sent LRs to Italy, Tunisia, UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, British Virgin Island, UAE and Switzerland. Excluding Singapore and UAE, six countries had sent a “partial execution report” which means that if the probe agency had sent 10 questions seeking information related to the AgustaWestland deal, only some of the queries received a response. Officials on Thursday, however, confirmed that Singapore had responded to the LR. “The new information is currently being examined by CBI and further action will be based on the probe findings,” a CBI official told DNA.In a major setback to CBI, a Delhi sessions court granted bail to former Air Force chief SP Tyagi on Tuesday. “During the arguments, the CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid,” Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar had noted.The CBI made its first arrests in the case on December 9 when it took into custody Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and advocate Gautam Khaitan in the case related to procurement of 12 AW VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime. According to the FIR, the CBI contended that in 2005, the former air chief abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the service ceiling of the VVIP choppers from 6000 metres to 4500 metres.

Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt dies aged 68 | Reuters

Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt dies aged 68 | Reuters

Dec 24, 2016 17:32 IST

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LONDON Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt died in hospital on Saturday in Spain aged 68 after suffering from a severe infection, his manager said.”We are truly devastated to have to announce that Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt has passed away,” his family and Status Quo Manager Simon Porter said in a joint statement.

“He died in hospital in Marbella, Spain as a result of a severe infection, having been admitted to hospital on Thursday evening following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall,” his family said.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 17:32 IST

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2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

2017 Punjab Assembly elections: Congress releases second list of candidates

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New Delhi: The Congress on Friday released the second list of 16 candidates for the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections. The names announced by Congress General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry include Barinderjit Singh Pahra from Gurdaspur.

Pahra’s father Kartar Singh Pahra was an MLA from 1997 until 2002 and he has been working in the constituency for the last several years.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress had on Tuesday finalised 25 candidates in the second round, but it announced names of only 16 of them.

The party announced the first list of 61 nominees for the Punjab polls last week.

In the first list, the party retained as candidates 31 of its 42 legislators.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 17:20 IST

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Wall Street dips as retailers lag | Reuters

Wall Street dips as retailers lag | Reuters

Dec 23, 2016 00:49 IST

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NEW YORK U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, weighed down by a dip in retailers, as investors stepped back from a recent rally fuelled by optimism that President-elect Donald Trump will invigorate economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 22.95 points, or 0.12 percent, to 19,919.01, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.22 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,260.96 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 24.01 points, or 0.44 percent, to 5,447.42.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 00:49 IST

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Nokia sues Apple for infringing technology patents | Reuters

Nokia sues Apple for infringing technology patents | Reuters

Dec 22, 2016 00:16 IST

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Finland’s Nokia Corp (NOKIA.HE) said on Wednesday it had sued Apple Inc (AAPL.O), accusing the iPhone maker of violating 32 technology patents.Apple sued Acacia Research Corp (ACTG.O) and Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc [GEGGIM.UL] on Tuesday, accusing them of colluding with Nokia to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anticompetitively from Apple.Nokia’s lawsuits, filed in courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, Germany and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, cover patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding.

“Since agreeing a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products,” Nokia said in a statement.

Apple and Acacia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 00:16 IST

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Demonetisation: Army personnel deployed at Salboni & Dewas currency printing press

Demonetisation: Army personnel deployed at Salboni & Dewas currency printing press

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New Delhi: Around 400 army personnel have been deployed for security at the currency printing presses in Salboni in West Bengal and Dewas in Madhya Pradesh.

Army sources said that the soldiers were deployed in wake of security consideration around the press that prints the new currency notes.

The troops deployed are from army’s Eastern and Central Command.

The Dewas Security Press is printing new Rs 500 currency notes whereas new Rs 2,000 and Rs 100 notes are being printed in Salboni.

“Keeping in view the security consideration of such sensitive location, army personnel have been deployed at printing presses,” sources said. The government has already deployed transport aircraft C-17 Globemasters and C-130 J Hercules of the Indian Air Force to ferry currency from the printing presses across the country. The IAF continues to make sorties carrying new currency.

The Modi government had demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8 and had introduced new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 21:51 IST

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Mexico fireworks market blast kills at least 27, hurts scores | Reuters

Mexico fireworks market blast kills at least 27, hurts scores | Reuters

Dec 21, 2016 05:26 IST

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MEXICO CITY At least 27 people died in an explosion at a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday, according to a local emergency services official.The blast at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Mexico City, also injured at least 70 others, according to a tweet from federal police.Isidro Sanchez, the head of Tultepec emergency services, said the death toll was preliminary as rescue workers scoured the site.

Local television showed a flurry of multi-colored fireworks exploding in all directions as a massive plume of smoke rose above the market while people frantically fled.Aerial footage showed charred stalls and destroyed buildings.

A blast struck the popular market in September 2005 just before independence day celebrations, injuring many people.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 05:26 IST

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Real survive scare to win club cup with Ronaldo hat-trick | Reuters

Real survive scare to win club cup with Ronaldo hat-trick | Reuters

Dec 18, 2016 21:43 IST

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By Chris Gallagher
| TOKYO

TOKYO Real Madrid suffered an almighty fright before a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick hauled them back from 2-1 down and gave them a 4-2 win over rank outsiders Kashima Antlers in the Club World Cup final on Sunday.Two goals from Gaku Shibasaki stunned the European champions as the Japanese hosts took a 2-1 lead early in the second half before a Ronaldo penalty brought Real level on the hour.The 11-times European champions then survived several more scares and a possible sending-off for captain Sergio Ramos before Ronaldo scored twice more in the first period of extra-time.Real, who won the tournament for the second time in three years and were crowned champions for a fifth time overall, appeared set for an easy victory when Karim Benzema gave them a ninth-minute lead but Shibasaki changed the story by levelling one minute before halftime.Kashima were the first Asian team to reach the final although they qualified for the tournament as champions of host nation Japan. Asian champions Jeonbuk Motors had lost in the quarter-finals.”We knew it was not going to be an easy one. They were very aggressive,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane told reporters. Real went ahead when Luka Modric’s volley was parried by Hitoshi Sogahata and Benzema tapped in the rebound.

Kashima refused to be overawed, continued playing their neat football and snatched a shock equaliser just before the break.Shoma Doi’s cross found Shibasaki, whose first touch was poor but he was gifted a second attempt when Raphael Varane failed to clear and he smashed the ball into the net.Shibasaki struck again six minutes after the break when he collected a poor Real clearance, got away from three opponents and fired a low shot past Keylor Navas from 25 metres.Real were facing their first defeat since they lost to VfL Wolfsburg in April, a run of 36 competitive games, until Lucas Vazquez was bundled over by Shuto Yamamoto and Ronaldo converted the resulting penalty on the hour.

Kashima continued to give as good as they got and had three good chances in the final minutes of normal time.Fabricio’s goalbound drive was tipped over by Navas and the Costa Rican goalkeeper came to the rescue again one minute later by blocking Mu Kanazaki’s shot after he got free of the Real defence.Yasushi Endo could have won it with the last kick but fired wide at the far post while Sergio Ramos was lucky to escape a second yellow card for a push on an opponent, a decision which Kashima coach Masatada Ishii said “lacked courage”.Ronaldo ended Kashima’s dream when he collected Benzema’s sliderule pass and fired past Sogahata eight minutes into extra-time, then settled the match six minutes later with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.

“We gave Real Madrid problems,” said Ishii. “That’s what we were able to do. But we made small mistakes in positioning and judgment so it’s frustrating.” (Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)

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

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 21:43 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Dec 16th, 2016

IND 391 4 108.0

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WKTS

OVERS

LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 15th, 2016

PAK 382 8 123.0

RUNS

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OVERS

LIVE United Arab Emirates Vs Afghanistan Live Score

UAE vs AFG | Dec 18th, 2016

UAE 145 8 20.0

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Manipur: Curfew imposed in parts of Imphal East district after continued violence

Manipur: Curfew imposed in parts of Imphal East district after continued violence

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Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Imphal: Curfew was imposed on Sunday in certain parts of Imphal East district of Manipur in view of continued violence in the region following Friday’s triple blasts. The curfew comes into force from this noon and covers Porompat and Sawombung subdivisions of Imphal East district and will continue till further directions, an order issued by the District Magistrate said.

The government’s decision to clamp the curfew follows the shutting down of mobile internet services in Imphal West district to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites. The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since 1 November after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.

The blockade was imposed following the state government’s announcement of formation of seven new districts, four of which have been formally inaugurated. Tension in the state heightened after suspected militants continued their violent attacks on Manipur Police and other state forces in the last few days that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured last Thursday. The attack was followed by triple bomb blasts at Nagaram area in Imphal West district allegedly by Manipur Naga People’s Front on Friday.

In another incident, suspected militants overpowered a small outpost of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Nungkao area yesterday in Tamenglong district and fled with nine service weapons.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 17:34 IST

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LIVE India Vs England Live Score

IND vs ENG | Dec 16th, 2016

IND 391 4 108.0

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 15th, 2016

PAK 382 8 123.0

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

LIVE United Arab Emirates Vs Afghanistan Live Score

UAE vs AFG | Dec 18th, 2016

UAE 145 8 20.0

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

Cricket Scores

Triple talaq denies equality of law to Muslim women in India: Kerala High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala High Court said equality before law has been denied to Muslim women in India in the matter of triple talaq. Disposing of three cases involving divorced Muslim women including change of name in spouse in passport for a person who had ended his marriage by triple talaq, the high court urged the need for codified law with regard to divorce.In its 60-page judgement, the court said entire exercise is to alert the state that justice has become elusive to Muslim women and remedy lies in codification of law of divorce.Delivering the judgement, Justice A Muhamed Mustaque observed that it is for the lawmakers to formulate the law relating to divorce through the process of legislation.The court asked the registry to forward the copy of judgement to the Law Ministry and Law Commission of India. The state is committed to respect the promise of dignity before law and it cannot shirk its responsibility by remaining mute spectator of malady suffered by Muslim women in the name of religion, the court said. The court also urged the need for a state legislation to regulate triple talaq.The court added that the Quran nowhere approves triple talaq in one utterance and on the other hand promotes conciliation as best method to resolve marital discord. Even Islamic countries like Egypt, Iraq and UAE have totally derecognised the concept of triple talaq. One has to wonder how equality before law has been denied to Muslim women in India, the court said.State, as a measure, must strive to achieve meaningful action to sustain equilibrium towards national oneness in character of society while giving freedom to remain as one group, the court said.The need for common civil code, though it is debated at different levels, still remains as mirage for want of agreement among different groups, it said.It is possible to have a common code at least for marriage laws in India, the court said.The judgement concluded quoting verses from the Quran. “It is for the state to consider formulation of codified law to govern the matter. Therefore, I conclude drawing attention of those who resist any form of reform of the divorce law of Muslim community in India to the following verses of Holy Quran (Chapter 47:2);”And those who believe and do good works and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammed- and it is the truth from their Lord-He riddeth them of their ill deeds and improveth their state”;”Thus we display the revelations for people who have sense” (Chapter 30:28).”

India top country of origin of international migrants: Pew research

Washington: India is the top country of origin of international migrants, with 15.6 million Indians living abroad, according to a Pew research which said international migrants make up 3.3 percent of the world’s population.

Ahead of the International Migrants Day, Pew Research said as of 2015, nearly 3.5 million Indians lived in the UAE, the world’s second-largest migration corridor.

Unlike the Mexico-US corridor, the number of Indians living in the UAE and other Persian Gulf countries has increased substantially during the past decade, from 2 million in 1990 to more than eight million in 2015, Pew said.

“Most have migrated for economic opportunities in these oil-rich countries,” it added.

Representational image.  Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Authored by Philip Connor, the report said if all of the world’s international migrants (people living in a country that is different from their country or territory of birth) lived in a single country, it would be the world’s fifth largest, with around 244 million people.

“Overall, international migrants make up 3.3 percent of the world’s population today,” it said.

The top origins of international migrants are India (15.6 million), followed by Mexico (12.3 million), Russia (10.6 million), China (9.5 million) and Bangladesh (7.2 million).

Among destination countries, the US has more international migrants than any other country.

It is home to about one-in-five international migrants (46.6 million), it said.

Other top destinations of migrants include Germany (12.0 million), Russia (11.6 million), Saudi Arabia (10.2 million) and the United Kingdom (8.5 million), Pew said.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 12:28 IST

VVIP chopper scam: CBI yet to get full info on money trail from 8 countries contacted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not received complete responses in any of the Letter Rogatories (LR’s) it sent to eight countries to seek information on money trail related to the infamous AgustaWestland scam.According to official sources, the probe agency has sent eight LRs, which are basically judicial requests, since 2013 and has received “partial information” from six countries. Two of the eight countries have not even sent partial information even after the probe agency registered an official FIR on March, 2013.According to CBI officials, the probe agency during its investigation, that will enter its fourth year in March next year, sent LRs to Italy, Tunisia, UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, British Virgin Island, UAE and Switzerland. Excluding Singapore and UAE, six countries have sent a “partial execution report” which means that if the probe agency had sent 10 questions seeking information related to the AgustaWestland deal, only some of the queries have received a response.Official sources told DNA on Thursday that investigators probing the Rs 3,726 crore chopper scam have sent multiple reminders to the authorities in the eight countries requesting them to send out information about the scam. The latest reminder was sent to Mauritius which sent a response in November this year however the response too was a partial execution report.”Its a massive investigation and a major part of the probe involves accessing documents and data lying in various countries. When a probe such as AgustaWestland spreads to multiple countries, coordinating with authorities of those countries can be time consuming,” a senior CBI official told DNA, adding that authorities abroad have been cooperating with the probe agency so far.The CBI made its first arrests in the case on December 9 when it took into custody former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and advocate Gautam Khaitan in the case related to procurement of 12 AW VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.According to the FIR, the CBI contended that in 2005, the former air chief abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the service ceiling of the VVIP choppers from 6000 metres to 4500 metres.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks.The CBI alleged that the bribes were routed through multiple companies in India and abroad and involved middlemen and other individuals, including British national Christian Michel and Italian nationals Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Companies including Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named in the 2013 FIR by the CBI.The accused were first sent to CBI custody twice by a Delhi court. The CBI in its argument seeking custody claimed that crucial information was collected from three countries — Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius — via LRs and the accused were required to be confronted with it to unearth the larger conspiracy in the chopper deal case. Interestingly, authorities in Italy too has sent partial execution report, sources said.

Demonetisation day 21: SBI branch in Imphal vandalised; woman killed over dowry in Odisha

The Opposition observed Jan Aakrosh Divas to protest against the demonetisation move and the Left-dominated Tripura and Kerala went for Bharat Bandh, on Monday, affecting banking services in these two states. However, banks across the country stuck to normal banking hours.

Many ATMs are still running dry despite recalibration of more than 60 percent of such cash-dispensing machines. There are also reports that banks in major metros are getting less than their cash requirement leading to chaos at the branches. And though bank branches across the country reopened to very short queues after a two-day break on Monday, news updates of day 21 since the demonetisation of higher denomination notes show that there were more than reports of cash shortage at some locations.

Congress leader dies during protest march

Gwalior District unit chief of the Congress party Darshan Singh, 56, died of cardiac failure on Monday while taking part in the Jan Aakrosh march to protest the demonetisation decision of the central government.

Some Congress workers taking part in the protest march said the march began from Phoolbagh around noon. They walked up to the office of the Divisional Commissioner and submitted a memorandum there.

It was after this that Singh complained of chest pain. He was taken to the hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Currency exchange gang busted

Police have arrested seven members of a currency exchange gang and seized Rs 8.20 lakh in valid notes from them, a senior official said. Allegedly, the gang was involved in exchanging banned notes on commission basis for valid currencies in Peddapalli district.

Acting on a tip-off about the gang, a Police Sub-Inspector, G Vijender, was sent as a decoy customer looking to exchange old notes worth Rs 11.50 lakh for new ones to one of its members, Poorna Chandra Sekhar, said K Vijayender Reddy. Sekhar promised Vijender to give valid notes of Rs 8.20 lakh in exchange of banned currencies of Rs 11.50 lakh and asked him come to Peddapalli railway station to complete the deal, he said. But the moment Sekhar and six of his gang members reached the spot, they were apprehended.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Customers vandalise SBI branch

Angry customers vandalised an SBI branch on the campus of Manipur University in Imphal on Monday after the bank refused to let people withdraw Rs 24,000 each. Although police reinforcements rushed to the bank, no arrest was made. Normal bank work was disrupted, witnesses said.

The State Bank of India manager said the trouble started when two customers demanded Rs 24,000 each — the maximum a person can take out from the bank every week after demonetisation. When it was pointed out that senior bank officials had declared that such big amounts could not be withdrawn, they turned unruly and did not allow bank work to continue. However, an SBI customer, said people who had been queuing up from early in the morning became furious when they were informed they could take out only Rs 2,000 each from their savings accounts. Sensing the mood, the SBI said they could take out Rs 4,000 each. “But the bank will be closed once the cash runs out,” one officer told the crowd. On hearing this, the account holders started vandalising the office, the witnesses said.

Newly-wed Odisha woman killed

A newly-married woman was killed by her in-laws in Odisha’s Ganjam district as her father failed to give dowry of Rs 1.70 lakh in new currency, the state police said on Monday.

Prabhati of Rangipur village married Laxmi Nahak of the same village on 9 November, a day after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was announced. Her family had earlier agreed to give Rs 1.70 lakh in cash as dowry. However, when her family offered the money in old demonetised notes on the marriage day, the groom’s family refused to accept the money and instead demanded new notes within stipulated time. Prabhati’s parents said her in-laws killed her on Sunday as they did not get the new notes in dowry, the police said. Inspector Alok Jena, who heads the Golanthara police station, said a case of dowry death has been registered.

Indian expats in UAE affected

Expatriates in the UAE are finding it difficult to send money to their families in India due to the continuing cash crunch caused by demonetisation, according to a media report, by Gulf News.

The cash crunch has badly hit rupee remittance transaction to India through bank transfers and instant cash transfers, according to the staff at some money exchanges in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, the situation has deprived Indian expatriates of an excellent opportunity to cash in on a record low exchange rate of rupees, it said. North Indian villages, especially where access to banking system is limited, mainly depend on instant cash transfers, have taken a hit.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 14:15 IST

After being stuck for 8 months on a terrace in UAE, Indian gets Rs 10 lakh from philanthropist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> An Indian philanthropist from Oman has given Rs 10 lakh to a jobless compatriot who has been living on the terrace of a building in the UAE for more than eight months without proper food, media report said today.Sajeev Rajan, an electrician in his early forties, belongs to Kollam in Kerala where his wife, two children and ageing parents live. Indian philanthropist from Kerala Dr K T Mohammed Rabeeh Rabeeullah, chairman and managing director of a healthcare conglomerate, came from Muscat and handed over 5,000 dirham (Rs 93,272) to Rajan for immediate relief. He also promised to transfer Rs 10 lakh to his bank account in India, Khaleej Times quoted Rajan’s friend Biju as saying.He was left with no other option but to live on the terrace of a building in Ajman city because his employer had refused to return his passport after settling his dues, the paper said. His company officials visited the Indian consulate and agreed to return his passport at the earliest. The Indian mission in the UAE and social workers have come forward with moral and material support for the man.”It is a big relief for me because my pocket is empty. I have not received any money for the past eight months and my travel back home seemed impossible,” Rajan said.He spent 236 days on the terrace because he does not have a job or money to get a bed space, the report said. He has been surviving with the generosity of some construction workers and shop owners, it said.”My contract ended on March 11 and I wanted to go home. Working for 900 dirham (Rs 16,761) per month did not meet my expectations,” he said.Ranjan alleged that his employer was not ready to relieve him from work and send him back home after clearing his gratuity and leave salary.On March 21, Ranjan was forced to vacate the company accommodation in Ajman. “The employer from Punjab, India, promises to return my passport in front of officials who mediate for my release, but once he leaves their office, he refuses to hand it over to me,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.After his plight was highlighted by the paper, several people came forward with offers to buy air tickets, give him a job among others, the report added.

VVIP choppers deal: CBI to seek extradition of middleman Christian Michel from UAE

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI will soon approach UAE authorities seeking extradition of British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James in connection with its probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.Official sources said the agency will seek cooperation from their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates in order to take the probe forward regarding suspected “bribes paid to politicians and bureaucrats” in the case.Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by CBI and Enforcement Directorate.Both the agencies have notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him even as the ED has already made a similar request to UAE authorities against Michel.Michel, said to a “key” man in the deal, was extensively interviewed by the Indian media in Dubai earlier this year and both the agencies want him to join their respective probes in the said case.ED has filed a charge sheet against him in June under money laundering charges and it had said Michel received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.It had said that the money was nothing but “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in “guise of” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.ED had also brought on record, in the charge sheet, that the three middlemen “managed to” make inroads into the Indian Air Force (IAF) to influence the stand of the officials into reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m in 2005. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.CBI had also got issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case.

MJ Akbar holds talk with senior UAE ministers, defence ties likely to be strengthened

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar today held talks with senior UAE ministers here and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, including in the defence sector.Akbar, who was here on a three-day visit from Tuesday, held meetings with UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Minister of State for Defence Mohammed Al Bawardi. During his meeting with the UAE Foreign Minister, bilateral ties and ways to promote them were discussed.They also discussed the preparation for the forthcoming visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India in January 2017.The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year. During his meeting with Bawardi, the two discussed ways and means to promote bilateral cooperation in the defence sector, according a statement released here.Akbar also addressed the India-UAE Economic Forum and highlighted that the developmental agenda adopted by the visionary leaders of the UAE in the 20th century must be utilised by India and the UAE together to achieve a greater success story of the 21st century. He explained the avenues available for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India in various sectors.Wooing investors, Akbar highlighted the transparent process offered by the present government and the speed with which the business proposals are facilitated.He also interacted with the Indian community at India Club, Dubai.Together with Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, he also met senior officials in Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to discuss investment opportunities in India. Akbar also met prominent CEOs to discuss the promotion of bilateral trade and investment. Seeking investments from the UAE in the infrastructure sector, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today pitched India as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and said the ease of doing business under the present government had substantially improved.Gadkari highlights India’s ease of doing business in UAEShipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari,in his keynote address at the India-UAE Business Forum, highlighted the positive initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the vast investment opportunities available in India.He said India was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the present government had substantially improved the ease of doing business. Gadkari said the government had also instituted targets for growth in roads and highways. The National Highway Authority of India had a AAA rating, he said.An infrastructure group had been created under his chairmanship to resolve all issues related to clearances and processes had been streamlined, the Minister pointed out. The strategy was to shift from “build road” to “move in India” with the focus on efficient operation and network management for improving logistics sufficiency, he said.With regard to shipping, Gadkari said all the ports were already linked as part of the Sagarmala, which is a programme for port-led development. This initiative would lead to manufacturing hubs in coastal region, good connectivity to ports as well as efficient ports, he said.The Minister also interacted with various CEOs and representatives of India Business Professional Group as well as other members of the business community. Together with Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, he met senior officials of the Abu Dhabi Investment authority and held discussions on promoting investment into India.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram

Getting a visa to UAE is set to become hassle-free for Indians as a new dedicated visa centre opened in New Delhi along with a Consulate General in Kerala this week. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday inaugurated a UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram which will cater to the visa demand from south India.

People from south India, who wish to visit the United Arab Emirates, will now get their necessary documents processed at the new mission, to be headed by Consular General Jamal Hussein Al Zabi. The UAE government decided to set up the office here as a significant majority of Indian expats in the UAE hails from Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTIKerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. PTI

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday inaugrated the UAE Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram. PTI

Currently, all those proceeding to the UAE from south India have to get their educational certificates and other documents certified by the UAE embassy in New Delhi or the consulate in Mumbai.

Earlier in the week, UAE Ambassador to India, Ahmed Al Banna inaugurated the dedicated consular and a visa service centre in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi at a programme chaired by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

The centres, which were housed in the UAE embassy earlier, will provide visa services, attestation works and all consular services for Indian nationals and citizens of the UAE who are in India.

Banna batted for enhanced strategic ties with India during the event and termed the prevailing bilateral relations as “historical”.

“Relationship between India and UAE is historical and quite great. Now our relationship is going to a further strategic level.

“After the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (to UAE) last August and the visit of his Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (to New Delhi) in February this year, there has been an understanding to look into strengthening that relationship,” he said.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year.

UAE is home to around 2.6 million Indians who constitute nearly 30 percent of its population. It receives around 10,000 visa applications on a monthly basis.

With inputs from agencies

First Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi ready by end 2017: businessman | Reuters

First Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi ready by end 2017: businessman | Reuters

Updated: Oct 11, 2016 19:19 IST

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ABU DHABI The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will be ready to welcome worshippers by the end of 2017, a businessman overseeing the project said on Tuesday.The temple is being built on land donated by the government of Muslim Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Hindus currently travel to Dubai, the UAE’s tourism and commercial hub more than 100 km (60 miles) away, to perform prayers.The government announced it was allocating land to build the temple during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hundreds of thousands of Indian Hindus live in Abu Dhabi.Indian billionaire businessman B.R. Shetty, who is chairman of the Temple Coordination Committee, said: “The UAE is a great example of religious tolerance with people of different nationalities living in harmony here.”

The temple project will be funded privately, he said. The government has allocated 20,000 square meters of land in Al Wathba, just outside Abu Dhabi city.Indians make up the largest expatriate group, about 2.6 million or 30 percent of the UAE population, according to figures from the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai also has a Sikh Gurdwara and both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have Christian churches.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will be the chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day parade next year. (Reporting By Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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

Urgent need for new neighbourhood policy for India after collapse of Saarc

By Ashok Malik

With the crippling of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc), India’s quest for a new architecture for its neighbourhood policy has taken on a certain urgency. Other than expanding political, trading and connectivity arrangements with immediate neighbours independent of the Pakistan veto within the Saarc, two other factors have also played a role:

  1. The logical and geographical extension of neighbourhood policy into broader regional arrangements
  2. The arrival of China as a factor in almost every country in South Asia – a product of the past decade and of China’s rapid, post-2008 aggressiveness – that is causing New Delhi to rethink and reimagine its neighbourhood approach
File image of leaders of Saarc countries. PTI

File image of leaders of Saarc countries. PTI

To India’s east, this new policy has been more obvious. As the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit begins in Goa, India has spun off its invitation to outreach countries into a conference of the BIMSTEC. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, to use the full form, is made up of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal, besides India. Five of the BIMSTEC’s seven members are also founders of the Saarc. Four of them comprise the BBIN: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.

Promoted by India as the fast track within the Saarc, the BBIN is the embryo of a more vigorous Indian bolstering of the BIMSTEC. Meaningful outcomes within the BIMSTEC will also strengthen India in its negotiations within the China-incubated BCIM (Bangladesh-China–India–Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation). The BCIM is the one segment of President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” programme where India and China have scope for cooperation and intersection, provided political suspicions are sorted out.

The elements of the new architecture to the east are becoming apparent. But what of the west? Afghanistan is a Saarc country and an important friend and ally for India. Yet, the country in between – the massive land mass of Pakistan – is unavailable for mutually beneficial projects and has to be in a sense leapfrogged. There is also the issue of China’s presence in Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC), which India sees as a strategic threat.

The CPEC promises Pakistan a Chinese investment amounting to $46 billion. Of this, a third, about $14 billion, has already been put into projects, including those for energy and road construction. Prima facie there is nothing wrong with Pakistan receiving economic support and an infrastructure increment, but the fact is that many of the projects listed under CPEC are simply not commercially viable.

At two points, in Gilgit-Baltistan – part of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir and territory on which India has legal claim – and in Gwadar, the port town on Balochistan’s Makran coast, New Delhi is alarmed by the nature of the CPEC. In Gilgit-Baltistan, infrastructure and roads that cannot reasonably have anything but a military purpose – and could serve to unify Chinese and Pakistani troops on a common front – is becoming visible. In Gwadar, a Chinese naval base in the Arabian Sea, at India’s doorstep, could trigger a tectonic reshaping of India’s strategic geography.

How is India responding to regional angularities to its west? Before attempting to answer that, it is important to understand the context in which Pakistan is operating and the gaps it is both covering and leaving vacant, for these offer a clue to what India can realistically achieve and what it cannot. Having moved away from the United States, Pakistan now sees China as its major benefactor on the international stage. India’s proximity to the US and Russia’s increasing dependence on China is also allowing Islamabad opportunities – but limited opportunities – to reach out to Moscow.

Simultaneously, as it moves away from its South Asian moorings, Pakistan finds itself trapped between a conservative society that is looking to West Asia as an anchor of identity, and a military and strategic elite that sees benefit in becoming an understudy to China – even if the process holds the longer term risk of a Finlandisation of Pakistan.

The spaces Pakistan is leaving open to its west offer some opportunities for India. Like in the Indo-Pacific, where India is juggling relationships with a variety of competing powers – and managing some of those relationships with dexterity but others with discomfort – India has room for manoeuvre with major Sunni kingdoms (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar), the major Shia power (Iran) and smaller powers as well.

It needs to be understood that this room for manoeuvre is far from limitless. There is little chance of a collective grouping or call to action. There are too many contradictions between the countries themselves and not one of them would want to directly confront China. Nobody is going to oppose the CPEC directly, not for India’s sake.

Yet, to what degree can the CPEC and to what degree can Pakistan’s monopolistic denial of Indian physical access to Afghanistan be overridden, contested, bypassed, made problematic (even controversial) and rendered that much harder to defend, implement and persist with? These remain imponderables. For example, Indian diplomatic endeavour in highlighting Pakistan’s human-rights violations against its Baloch minorities will need to be sustained over several years and several governments – and will probably need to be complemented by other instrumentalities and mechanisms within Balochistan – for there to be tangible impact.

The Chabahar port (on the Gulf of Oman, in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province) is not quite an alternative or a rival to Gwadar but offers the hope of allowing India easier access to and opportunities in Afghanistan and the region. It is pertinent that the Iranian authorities have urged India to invite Oman as a partner in the project and thereby add to the strategic weight and viability of Chabahar.

The prospect of a Chinese-run facility in Gwadar also concerns the UAE. If India worries about the port’s military implications, the Emirates realises that given Chabahar’s maritime location, a full-fledged commercial port could cannibalise Dubai port’s market share. As for the wider consequences of the CPEC, how the Iranians will ultimately take to the arrival and settling of a new imperial power – the Chinese – in their neighbourhood cannot be thought through just yet.

Across the Gulf region, there are fears about Pakistani terror infrastructure and religious radicalisation capacities. There are questions of direct linkages with terrorist groups and of propaganda spreading among or through expatriate worker communities that can be traced back to Pakistan. In parallel, there is interest in infrastructure, energy, military production and other such investment avenues in India where sovereign wealth funds from the Arab countries can be deployed. Over two years, the Modi government has leveraged this assiduously to enhance India’s visibility in Gulf region capitals.

One of the milestones in this effort is the invitation to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi – and the next ruler of the UAE – to be the chief guest on the Republic Day next year. Given that the Modi government’s first two Republic Day invitations went out to President Barack Obama (2015) and President Francois Hollande (2016), the symbolic message will not be missed. It would be fair to suggest that the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular have become the centrepiece of India’s “Think West” policy just as Singapore was the cockpit for the “Look East” policy 25 years ago.

Gradually then, the structural design of a post-Saarc neighbourhood-regional strategy is emerging. There is no doubt though that those being targeted will respond, as will their “iron friends”. The coming three months, from the moment President Xi leaves Goa to the moment the Crown Prince lands in Delhi, will inevitably challenge Modi and India with “surprises”.

This article first appeared on ORF and is being reproduced with permission

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince invited as Republic Day chief guest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year.This was announced by External Affairs Spokesman Vikas Swarup here today. “We hope to welcome a dear friend of India, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, as Republic Day 2017 Chief Guest,” he tweeted.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mohamed bin Zayed expressed “thanks for the kind invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations”. “Our strong relations are deeply rooted in history. Our strategic cooperation has increased, driven by our mutual aspirations to develop it,” the Crown Prince said. The visit of Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, is expected to give boost to bilateral ties in the key areas of trade and security.It is also significant given that UAE is a close ally of Pakistan, whom India is trying to diplomatically isolate over the issue of cross-border terrorism. During Modi’s visit in August last year, the two countries had condemned efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy.They had also decided to strengthen their cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism. Trade is another important component of the bilateral ties as UAE is India’s third largest trading partner after China and the United States. Bilateral trade between UAE and India is around USD 60 billion.There are also more than 2.6 million Indians live in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around USD14 billion.

IITs plan entrance test in SAARC, UAE, Pakistan excluded

The prestigious IITs, which are planning for the first time to hold entrance tests abroad including in SAARC nations, will not do so in neighbouring Pakistan, at least for the upcoming year.While preparations are underway for conducting entrance tests in other SAARC countries and also in Singapore and the UAE for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, Pakistan will not figure in the list, sources told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Considering various factors, especially difficulties involved with regard to students procuring visas, it has been decided that entrance tests for IITs may not be conducted in Pakistan for the upcoming year,” a senior official said.Earlier, it had been decided that to attract more talent, the coveted IITs would hold tests in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia in Africa, Singapore and Dubai (UAE) next year onwards.Pakistan was also among the first list of probable countries that had been prepared for conducting JEE tests abroad.Officials had held that seats to be offered to foreign nationals would be additional in nature and would not reduce those available to Indian nationals at the IITs.While the test is to be held in 2017, the outreach programme for the exercise would be conducted earlier.

India and UAE will set up joint parliamentary committee to boost ties

Dubai: India and the UAE will set up an Emirati-Indian parliamentary committee and exchange visits of lawmakers to boost parliamentary ties as part of their growing strategic partnership and unify their visions on various issues, including security and challenges facing the region.

A decision was taken in this regard during a meeting between first woman speaker of UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC) Amal Abdullah Al-Qubaisi and the Indian ambassador to UAE, TP Seetharam in Dubai on Saturday.

A file photo of UAE's Crowned Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) with PM Modi during his India visit. The two nations are engaging to boost bilateral ties. ReutersA file photo of UAE's Crowned Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) with PM Modi during his India visit. The two nations are engaging to boost bilateral ties. Reuters

A file photo of UAE’s Crowned Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) with PM Modi from his India visit in Feb 2016. The two nations are engaging actively to boost bilateral ties. Reuters

During the meeting, Al-Qubaisi stressed the importance of activating parliamentary relations between FNC and Indian parliament by establishing a friendly Emirati-Indian parliamentary committee, and by prompting parliamentary visits between the two sides, state-run WAM news agency reported.

Al Qubaisi said it was important that the two countries strengthen relations in all fields and achieve the required communication for parliamentary diplomacy, as well as to unify their visions and positions on various issues as part of their important roles in addressing issues of security and stability and the challenges facing the region.

The two sides stressed the importance of consultation and coordination between FNC and Indian parliament delegations during their participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union in order to unify positions and views on various issues of interest to both countries and peoples.

They also agreed to prepare a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the parliamentary committee, and highlighted existing areas of cooperation in various political, economic, cultural and investment sectors.

Al Qubaisi and Seetharam stressed that bilateral relations have reached a higher level of strategic partnership following the momentous visit by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in February to India, the report said.

She said India has a deep-rooted democracy in the world and serves as a model for a constitution based on democracy, pluralism, and women’s political participation.

Al Qubaisi also paid tribute to the important role played by the Indian parliament locally and internationally in serving the people of India.

6,804 Indian citizens languishing in foreign jails

As many as 6,804 Indian citizens are languishing in the jails of 72 countries across the globe. More than 41 per cent of the total inmates are imprisoned in the jails of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone. At least 49 Indians have died in prisons of different countries since 2013.The Information was provided by the Ministry of External Affairs to a Jammu-based RTI activist Raman Sharma in response to his online RTI application submitted to the ministry last month.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the data available, the highest number of Indian prisoners –1,696 –are in the jails of Saudi Arabia. It is followed by the UAE and Nepal which houses 1,143 and 859 prisoners of Indian origin respectively.Three other nations that have maximum number of Indians in their jails are Kuwait with 434, Malaysia and United Kingdom with 356 prisoners each.There are 230 Indians imprisoned in Pakistan. USA has jailed188 Indians while as China has imprisoned 161 Indians. France houses 48 Indian jail inmates, Germany 59, Russian Federation six, Sri Lanka 32, Spain 52 andSouth Africa 13.Bangladesh, Qatar, Singapore, Oman and Bahrain have detained 137, 129, 115, 113 and 107 Indians respectively. Countries having least number of Indian prisoners are Japan with seven, Denmark eight, Kenya five, Egypt three, Portugal four, and Uzbekistan, Armenia, Fiji, Georgia, Hungary, Malta, Niger and Senegal one Indian each in their jails.”Indian prisoners lodged in foreign jails for crimes such as violation of immigration/visa rules such as overstay and illegal entry, non-possession of valid travel documents, economic offences, violation of employment contracts, working without any visa/permit”, the RTI reply says.The reply also cites consumption of alcohol as a reason for arrest of Indian nationals in such countries which have prohibition of alcohol. Some Indians are also jailed for grave offenses like drug trafficking, theft and murder. The ministry has denied giving gender based numbers of inmates lodged in different foreign jails. The MEA has advised the RTI activist to approach respective Indian missions of different countries to get this information as they are designated public authorities.

Court extends the period of probe against three ISIS sympathisers

A special court has extended the period of investigation till June 10 against three accused persons, recently deported from UAE for their alleged ISIS links, in a case of alleged conspiracy to carry out terror strikes in India and other countries.According to the sources, special judge Rakesh Pandit extended period after National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that the probe was still underway in the case. The court also extended the judicial custody of accused persons — Sheikh Azhar Al Islam, Mohammad Farhan Shaikh and Adnan Hussain — till June 10.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After going through the entire material brought before me, the period of investigation and judicial custody of accused persons is extended till June 10. Let they be produced before the concerned court on June 10,” the judge said in an in-chamber proceeding.The source said that the NIA, in its application, had submitted that a lot of work was remaining in the investigation in the case.Earlier, the agency had told the court that the accused persons were required to be interrogated to unearth the larger conspiracy of ISIS in India and abroad.It had also told told the court that they were active supporters of Islamic State and remained in close contact with several active members of IS using internet, telephone and other means of communication in furtherance of its activities.It had told that there was a larger criminal conspiracy of IS activities in India and abroad including recruitment of resident and non-resident Indians by the IS and the accused persons were involved in it.Adnan, who hails from Karnataka, Farhan who is from Maharashtra and Sheikh Azhar from Jammu and Kashmir were arrested on January 29 by the NIA after being deported from the UAE.

VVIP chopper deal: ED to request action on Letters Rogatories

Enforcement Directorate has obtained, from the courts, a total of ten LRs to countries like Tunisia, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mauritius, Israel, Finland, Singapore and Denmark Enforcement Directorate (ED) is expected to issue follow up requests on its earlier Letters Rogatories (LRs) to at least ten countries in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.Officials said while seven of the LRs (judicial requests) have been already dispatched, three are being sent.The agency has obtained, from the courts, a total of ten LRs to countries like Tunisia, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mauritius, Israel, Finland, Singapore and Denmark in order to obtain details about the financial transactions that have taken place in the case by the accused firms and individuals named in its charge sheet filed before a court here last year. They said the agency is also expected to summon former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief S P Tyagi for questioning in the case in the near future. He has been questioned by CBI last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A court in Italy’s Milan has recently sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes.Apart from filing a charge sheet, the ED has also attached assets worth Rs 11 crore belonging to the cousins of Tyagi and Italian national and alleged middleman in the case Christian Michel James.The CBI, meanwhile, is getting the order of the Milan Court of Appeals translated from Italian to English even as it is yet to get a certified copy of the order for which it has made a request to the government.Agency sources said they have got copy of the order informally which will be studied.

India, Middle East countries in talks on oil-for-food scheme | Reuters

NEW DELHI India is in talks with some Gulf nations to buy oil to fill its strategic reserves and sell food in return, seeking to use its position as the world’s third-largest oil importer to both secure energy supplies and boost exports.

Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters the idea was still fluid, but New Delhi had held preliminary conversations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have discussed the issue twice, Pradhan said.

“We are discussing various models,” Pradhan added.

India imports about four-fifths of its oil needs, with bulk of that supplied from the Middle East. A global supply glut has oil-rich countries there struggling to boost sales.

India is also the world’s biggest rice and wheat producer after China and has large stocks of the staples.

Countries in the Middle East import food in large quantities as the region has less arable land and water.

The cost of food imports there could double to $70 billion in 20 years, as climate change hits crop yields and the population rises, an analyst at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year.

On Feb. 1, rice stocks at the state-run Food Corporation of India were 16.2 million tonnes, against a target of 7.6 million tonnes. Wheat stocks totaled 20.3 million tonnes, higher than the government-set target of 13.8 million.

“They can buy food from here and store in India or in their countries; and we can buy oil from there and store in our strategic storage,” Pradhan said.

Pradhan said such a deal would help Indian farmers secure a new market for their produce, mainly rice and wheat.

The mechanism envisaged by India will be different from the United Nations-designed oil-for-food programme, in which Iraq was allowed between 1996 and 2003 to sell oil in exchange for goods that met basic humanitarian needs, including food and medicines.

Pradhan said India had offered the UAE a part of its Mangalore strategic reserves to store oil. Under the arrangement being proposed by the Indians, the Gulf state would be allowed to use about a third of that oil for trade, while keeping the rest for India to use as strategic reserves.

India will complete the first phase of its strategic reserve to store 39 million barrels by May and later this year begin work on the second phase which will have a capacity to hold 91.6 million barrels, Pradhan said.

(Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in NEW DELHI; Editing by MarkPotter)

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

India vs Pakistan: Pakistan erred in assessing the pitch, admits Shoaib Malik

Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik on Sunday conceded that Pakistan had “no idea” about the nature of the Sher-e-Bangla strip and they have learnt from their mistakes committed against arch-rivals India.”Yes, it was tough to bat yesterday, but we had miscalculated somewhat, because we had no idea about the conditions. It was not a typical T20 wicket where you look at 170 or 180. It’s especially tough if you are playing against a good batting side. Obviously, you learn from your mistakes, and that’s why we are here to practice,” Malik said after the optional training session today. Pakistan will play UAE tomorrow and Malik said that it’s no less an important game than the India encounter which they lost by five wickets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In this tournament, every game is very crucial. Playing against India, it’s a pressure game for both the teams. We made some mistakes, we did not know what the conditions here would be. Now we have played, now we know how to deal with it. It’s going to be a good game against UAE,” said the former captain. Malik declared that Pakistan’s pace attack is the best among the five teams in the tournament.”We know we have the best attack among all the teams. Batsmen have to take responsibility. Whoever gets in has to score 60-70, so your team ends up scoring 140-150, which the bowlers can defend. I am not thinking about run-rate. Our goal is to win our first game and then take it from there,” he said.Malik felt the two run-outs of Khurram Manzoor and Shahid Afridi also cost them dearly in the match against India. “We should have scored at least 130. We had two run-outs. Otherwise one of them might have gone on to score 40-50. Of course, India’s batting is better, but Pakistan’s bowling is better than theirs. In these conditions, 130-plus is a great score, I think, unless the conditions change,” Malik said.

‘Gulf Malayalees’ are getting pink slips in sheaves: This is why Kerala must learn to depend less on them

By Srinivasa Prasad

A recently-released, much-acclaimed Malayalam film Pathemari (dhow) portrays the travails of a man who takes a boat ride to the Gulf — it is set 50 years in the past — to make a living. Homesick, he later returns with a suitcase full of gifts for the family, but is forced to go back to make ends meet.

Even as the movie was running to full houses in Kerala and UAE in October-November 2015, many Malayalees began to pack up and return to Kerala, not with goodies for their dear ones but with pink slips.

A recession brought on by the oil price crash has been forcing companies in the Gulf to cut costs – and jobs. Some 60 lakh Indians work in West Asia, about a third of them from Kerala. There have been lay-offs since the second half of 2015 when the crude price dipped lower and lower. And by December 2015, when the price crashed to an 11-year low, the bad news turned worse.

No other Indian state is as devastated by the Gulf crisis as Kerala: Around 50 lakh families in the state depend on the money that the migrants send home. And Gulf remittances – besides tourism, sale of liquor and cash crops like rubber and spices — drive the state’s economy.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The precise number of Malayalees losing jobs there is hard to get. But reports trickling in from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain indicate that the number is on the rise. Many who lost jobs are looking for alternatives wherever they are, even for less pay and reduced perks. Without waiting for pink slips, many Malayalees are scouting for opportunities in Kerala and elsewhere. Many have sent their families home, expecting to be made redundant soon. And head-hunting agencies in Kerala are reporting drastically reduced levels of recruitments.

Job losses in West Asia will mean reduced remittances to Kerala, which grew to approximately Rs 1 lakh crore last year, amounting to about a third of the state’s GDP. Reduced cash inflows can dampen the real estate and consumer durables market and so on in the state. And questions are once again being asked about the wisdom of a state excessively relying on migrants to keep its economy going.

That leads to the inevitable question: Why doesn’t Kerala have enough jobs? The inevitable answer: The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), which take turns in ruling Kerala, are the obvious culprits.

Over the last few decades, the CPI(M)’s bizarre version of communism in Kerala and the Congress party’s own regressive policies together created an environment that was hostile to job-generating industries. This drove Malayalees to virtually every nook of India, West Asia and other parts of the world for employment; though some delude themselves by romanticising it as the Malayalee’s penchant for “wanderlust”.

Despite Kerala’s impressive Human Development Index, laudable performance in health and literacy and a per capita income that is more than the national average, the state’s unemployment rate is 7.4 percent. This is thrice the national level, and only Nagaland and Tripura have higher unemployment rates than Kerala, according to the state government’s Economic Survey released last week.

For Malayalees, the Gulf has been a favourite hunting ground for jobs. The Centre for Development Studies (CDS) estimates there are some 21 lakh people from Kerala working there. UAE and Saudi Arabia together employ about 65 percent of them. The state government’s Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (Norka) department says drivers, salesmen and nurses make up a third of the Malayalee workforce in West Asia. Other jobs they take up range from healthcare and engineering to plumbing and housekeeping. The CDS estimates that, on average, three people migrate overseas from every ten families in Kerala.

Now the recession has put not only white-collar Gulf jobs on the line but even the blue-collar ones. And it’s not just the oil companies, but even the construction sector, a big employer for expatriates, and other firms are laying off staff in a big way. Even marketing jobs are disappearing.

Malayalees’ migration to the Gulf had its origins in the 1930s when oil reserves were first discovered there. The relatively more educated Christians were among the first to get wind of the job opportunities there and grab them, though in small numbers. By the 1950s, large-scale commercial extraction of oil had begun and Muslims from north Kerala started to go there – illegally on Arab merchant vessels to begin with and by legal means later. About 40 percent of all emigrants are Muslims. They found jobs as mechanics, drivers, electricians, plumbers and masons. Then followed Hindus.

The trickle turned into an exodus in the 1970s when oil price peaked and Arab nations used their “petro wealth” to turn the desert’s sand dunes into buzzing cities, leading to a construction boom and a bonanza of jobs for expatriates. Many Malayalees, as did Indians from other states in smaller numbers, began to take up even white-collar jobs there.

But the “Gulf money” did nothing to boost Kerala’s economy the way it was expected to. It led to general lethargy among dependent families and stagnation of agriculture and industry. This was partly because the money was channelled in wrong directions, quite a bit of it being lavished on ostentatious living and gadgets.

A unique 1989 study by Prema Ann Kurien, an India-born professor of sociology at Maxwell School of Syracuse University at New York, said that the way migrants spent their money depended, among other things, on the “values” of their communities. Her study indicated that:

–“Status spending and public generosity” were common among all migrants.

–Muslim migrants tended to spend money on community and religious activities and offered high-interest loans back home.

–Backward Hindu caste Ezhavas were prone to gift-giving and entertaining.

–Christians, on the other hand, confined the gains of migration largely to their immediate families. They spent a little on religious causes but saved most of their money for their children.

But even if the migrants wanted to put their money in productive ventures, the state was anything but investor-friendly.

For some time now, warning bells have been ringing about a “remittance economy” – some called it a “money order economy” – not being a sustainable one. Its sustainability came into question when many Malayalees returned home during the Gulf War of 1990, when debt crisis hit Dubai in 2008 and when Saudi Arabia imposed job reservations for locals in 2011.

The CDS warned in its latest survey released five months ago that the situation this time could be different as the lower oil price regime could last a long time. “The obvious need for diversification (of education, employment, skill-training and policy options)…cannot be understated.”

The Economist said in a recent report on Kerala: “Some believe there might be a future in medical tourism: perhaps Gulf Arabs have become so accustomed to Keralites that they will travel to the state for treatment.”

So Kerala’s people are bracing for an economic disaster; but Kerala’s government is not. The ruling UDF and the opposition LDF are busy gearing up for the coming Assembly elections instead. And the BJP, busy fashioning itself into a “third force”, lacks leaders with economic acumen. If the BJP has an alternative economic agenda for Kerala, it has kept it as a secret.

India, UAE ask countries to cut ‘support’ to militant groups

Deciding to expand cooperation in combating terrorism, India and the UAE on Friday came out strongly against use of terror as an “instrument of state policy” and asked countries to cut “all support” to militant groups operating from their soil.Without naming any country, both sides, in a joint statement, also condemned use of religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism while expressing concern over radicalisation and religious intolerance. They said nations must control activities of ‘non-state actors’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On trade, a major aspect of bilateral ties, the statement, issued a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held extensive talks, said UAE will ramp up investment in diverse sectors in India including railways, petroleum, roads, ports and shipping.It said both leaders looked forward to the early signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement to further expand ties and resolved to build on the momentum by pursuing collaboration in trade and investment, security and defence, energy and climate change among others.The talks produced “far-reaching cooperation”, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said. The two sides also agreed to bolster strategic ties by continuing to work closely on a range of security issues, particularly on counter-terrorism, maritime security, and cyber-security, the statement said.The two countries have signed nine pacts covering a range of key areas. UAE Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna, earlier this week, had said 16 MoUs, including one on cooperation in civil nuclear energy may be signed. No nuclear pact was signed and there was no indication why the figure for MoUs given by the envoy did not materialise. When asked, sources only referred to the inter-agency processes without elaborating.On dealing with terrorism, the statement said they deplored the “use of double standards” in addressing the challenge and agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system.”They reiterated their condemnation for efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy. “They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all states to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-state actors’, and to cut all support to terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states,” the statement said.

India, UAE sign 9 agreements, to boost ties further

New Delhi: Nine agreements were exchanged between India and the UAE, including on cyber security and infrastructure investment, as the two sides agreed to further boost bilateral ties on Thursday, the second day of the three-day visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndiaMohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Apart from cyber security and infrastructure investment, the other agreements are for cooperation in the areas of renewable energy, space exploration, insurance, culture, skill development, trade and business, and currency swap arrangement, according to the ministry of external affairs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Mohamed held bilateral talks at Hyderabad House here during which the two leaders discussed ways to promote bilateral cooperation.

The two leaders agreed that promoting bilateral cooperation would drive forward the strategic partnership between the United Arab Emirates and India. The two leaders also discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Modi expressed his happiness on the occasion of this important visit which would serve the interest of the two nations. He also praised the special relationship the UAE and India enjoy.

Sheikh Mohamed was accompanied in the visit by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE deputy prime minister and minister of interior, and Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court among others.

Sheikh Mohamed expressed his happiness on visiting India, saying that the country has a special relationship with the people of the UAE and the Arabian Gulf dating back centuries.

He added that this deep-rooted relationship has helped to strengthen the bonds of friendship that the two nations enjoy today.

He said the UAE, under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was keen on pushing its relationship with India forward on the solid basis of mutual respect and common interests. He also commended the contributions of the Indian community to the development and growth of the UAE.

There are around 2.6 million expatriate Indians in the UAE, 60 percent of whom are blue collar workers.

The two leaders also discussed regional and international issues, including current developments in the Middle East such as violence and terrorism.

The two leaders concluded their talks by stressing that the two nations have passed a milestone in the path of their strategic relationship, expressing their keenness on pushing this relationship forward.

They also agreed that it was important for the international community to exert more efforts to achieve stability and security at the regional and international levels and to confront the challenges that the people of the world face, including the menace of terrorism, extremism and violence.

Sheikh Mohamed’s is the second highest level visit to India from the Gulf region after the visit of the emir of Qatar in March 2015.

The region, which hosts seven million expatriate Indians and is an important source of remittances, has a strong bearing on India’s security and stability in its neighbourhood.

The UAE is the third largest trading partner of India after the US and China and also the sixth largest source of India’s crude oil imports.

While Thursday’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cyber security provides for technical cooperation in cyber space and in combating cyber crime, the one on infrastructure investment aims at establishing a framework for facilitating the participation of UAE institutional investors in infrastructure investments in India.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August last year, the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, the Gulf nation committed $75 billion in investments in India’s infrastructure sector.

A framework agreement on renewable energy provides for bilateral cooperation through extensive projects, investments, cooperation in research and development in renewable and clean energy.

Another MoU establishes a framework for cooperation in space science, technology and applications including remote sensing, satellite communication and satellite based navigation.

Earlier on Thursday, after being accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and paying floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat here, the crown prince held a restricted meeting with Modi.

Following this, he called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

During the meeting, Mukherjee, who hosted a private lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary, expressed “great satisfaction” at the elevation of the relationship between India and the UAE to a comprehensive strategic partnership during Modi’s visit last year.

The crown prince later also met Vice President Hamid Ansari at the latter’s residence here during which the two leaders discussed friendly ties and cooperation between the UAE and India as well as ways to promote them in order to achieve common interests.

IANS

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince gets ceremonial welcome; meets PM Modi to discuss ways to curb radicalism

New Delhi: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was on Thursday accorded a ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Al Nahyan, who is on a three-day visit, was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour in the sprawling courtyard of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in what is his first state visit to India.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndiaMohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were present on the occasion.

Modi and Al Nahyan, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, later met at the Prime Minister’s residence.

“An exceptional tete-a-tete. PM meets the Crown Prince for a restricted meeting at 7RCR before talks in the evening,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

The two leaders will hold detailed deliberations on Thursday following which both sides are expected to sign a number of agreements.

Ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with the Islamic State are likely to figure prominently in the talks.

Before his ceremonial welcome, the Crown Prince also visited Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat, laid a wreath and planted a sapling there.

Al Nahyan arrived in Delhi on Thursday to a warm welcome, with the Prime Minister setting aside protocol to receive the “special friend” at the airport with the hope of adding new vigour and momentum to India-UAE ties.

PTI

PM Modi receives Prince of Abu Dhabi at New Delhi airport

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to a warm welcome, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeping aside protocol to receive the “special friend” at airport with the hope of adding new vigour and momentum to India-UAE ties.During Al Nahyan’s three-day trip, his first State visit to India, the two countries will discuss ways to enhance ties in a range of areas including energy, economy and security and are expected to sign a number of agreements to boost cooperation in sectors like oil, nuclear energy, IT, aerospace, railways and electronics.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PMO tweeted with a photo of the two leaders shaking hands at the Palam Technical Airport.Modi had visited UAE in August last year, the first by an Indian Prime Minister after a gap of 34 years, and Al Nahyan had received him at the Abu Dhabi airport.”This is Sheikh Mohammed’s 1st state visit to India & am glad he is visiting with his family,” Modi said in a tweet.”Sheikh Mohammed is a visionary leader. His visit will add new vigour and momentum to comprehensive strategic partnership between India & UAE,” the Prime Minister added.External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup also tweeted: “A special honour 4 a special guest! Breaking protocol, PM receives Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Al Nahyan at airport.”Al Nahyan, also the Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE armed forces, is accompanied by a power-packed delegation for his three-day trip till February 12 which includes several top ministers and over 100 business tycoons and CEOs of top companies. It is Al Nahyan’s first state visit to India.Official sources said Modi went to the airport to receive the Crown Prince without any disturbance to the normal traffic in a compact carcade without having any ambulance. The two leaders will hold detailed deliberations tomorrow following which both sides are expected to sign a number of agreements.Ways to contain radicalism, stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation and dealing with the ISIS are likely to figure prominently in the talks between the two leaders on Thursday.Economy of UAE, one of the leading producers of oil, has been hit hard by falling crude prices and it is expected that the Gulf nation would like to invest significantly in India’s energy and infrastructure sectors from its sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion. India has been eyeing the fund, being managed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector including for railways, ports and roads.Soon after the Crown Prince’s arrival, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him and discussed various issues of mutual interest.Joint production of defence equipment is another key area where both the countries are working hard. Under the initiative, UAE may make investment for manufacturing such equipment in India and get the products’ supply.Strengthening existing cooperation in information sharing and counter-terrorism will be another focus area in view of rising threat of ISIS. UAE has deported about a dozen Indians with suspected links to the terror group.”The security cooperation between the two countries has been exemplary. There is concrete meeting of minds on the issue,” said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.President Pranab Mukherjee will host a private lunch for Al Nahyan tomorrow, in a reflection of importance the government has accorded to his visit. Al Nahyan will travel to Mumbai on Friday where he will visit Bombay Stock Exchange and interact with select industry leaders before departing.A major focus of the visit by the UAE leader will be on significantly enhancing trade volume from current annual figure of USD 60 billion.During Modi’s visit to UAE in August, it was decided to increase the current volume of trade by 60 per cent in the next five years and Wadhwa said the two sides are drawing action plans to achieve that target.

Trade, security cooperation to be focus of Modi-Al Nahyan talks tomorrow

New Delhi: Boosting trade ties by ramping up UAE’s investment in India and stepping up defence and security cooperation in the wake of rising threat of IS are set to be the major focus of talks between Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

Economy of UAE, one of the leading producers of oil, has been hit hard by falling crude prices and it is expected that the Gulf nation would like to invest significantly in India’s energy and infrastructure sectors from its sovereign wealth fund of around USD 800 billion.

Narendra Modi. ReutersNarendra Modi. Reuters

Narendra Modi. Reuters

India has been eying the fund, being managed by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector including for railways, ports and roads. Joint production of defence equipment is another key area where both the countries are working hard. Under the initiative, UAE may make investment for manufacturing such equipment in India and get the products’ supply.

Strengthening existing cooperation in information sharing and counter-terrorism will be another focus area in view of rising threat of IS. UAE has deported about a dozen Indians with suspected links to the terror group.

“The security cooperation between the two countries has been exemplary. There is concrete meeting of minds on the issue,” said Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Asked whether India will raise the issue of attaching properties of wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim in UAE, Wadhwa refused to talk about any specific individual maintaining these are “ongoing processes”.

Al Nahyan is accompanied by a power-packed delegation for his three-day trip till 12 February which includes several top ministers and over 100 business tycoons and CEOs of top companies.

President Pranab Mukherjee will host a private lunch for Al Nahyan on Thursday, in a reflection of importance the government has accorded to his visit. Wadhwa said he does not recall such gesture by the President in recent times. The Crown Prince will also have a working dinner with Modi on Thursday.

A number of pacts in a wide range of sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways are expected to be signed on Thursday after talks between Modi and Al Nahyan, an influential leader in the UAE who is also the country’s Deputy Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

After visit here of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in March last year, Al Nahyan is another important leader to come to New Delhi from Gulf region, home to 7 million Indians who are a major source of remittances. It also fulfills 60 per cent of India’s energy needs.

“The visit takes place after we have decided to elevate our relationship to comprehensive strategic partnership during our Prime Minister’s visit to UAE in August last year and this will provide an opportunity to have detailed discussions to consolidate the domains of existing partnership,” said Wadhwa.

He said areas of cooperation will include production of defence equipment in India, strategic partnership in security and counter-terrorism and cooperation in nuclear and space sectors.

Al Nahyan will travel to Mumbai on Friday where he will visit Bombay Stock Exchange and interact with select industry leaders before departing.

Wadhwa said collaboration in counter-terrorism including information exchange and steps to ensure that youths do not get radicalised have been in place.

A major focus of the visit by the UAE leader will be on significantly enhancing trade volume from current annual figure of USD 60 billion.

During Modi’s visit to UAE, it was decided to increase the current volume of trade by 60 per cent in the next five years and Wadhwa said the two sides are drawing action plans to achieve that target.

On the proposal that UAE would invest upto USD 75 billion dollars in India, Wadhwa called it an “aspirational figure” adding discussions were on for investment in diverse areas.

India is UAE’s number one trading partner while the Gulf nation is India’s third largest trading partner after the US and China. UAE is India’s second largest export destination.

For India’s energy security, UAE is an important country as it gets 9.38 per cent of total crude requirement from that country. The volume of supply in 2014-15, was 15.99 million metric tonnes.

The two countries had already agreed to make bilateral investments in the petroleum sector and also take up joint projects in third country.

On whether India will raise the issue of levying of taxes by UAE to offset impact of falling oil prices as its tax has hit Indian people also, Wadhwa said every country has to manage its economy and that it was an internal matter of UAE.

But he said welfare of Indians usually comes up in the discussions and if the specific issue is mentioned, then it may talk about their difficulties.

He said UAE has initiated a Mars mission for 2020 and India can assist that country. He said ISRO was willing to help UAE in the mision.

PTI

3 alleged ISIS sympathisers sent to 10 days’ NIA custody

Three terror suspects, who were recently deported from UAE for their alleged ISIS links and for conspiring to carry out terror strikes in India and other countries, were on Tuesday remanded to 10 days’ NIA custody by a Delhi court. Sheikh Azhar Al Islam, Mohammad Farhan Shaikh and Adnan Hussain were produced in muffled faces before District Judge Amar Nath during in-camera proceedings after expiry of their NIA custody.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources, the NIA sought extension of police remand of the three accused for 12 days, saying they were required to be interrogated to unearth the larger conspiracy of ISIS in India and abroad. “During questioning, accused had disclosed that they were active supporters of Islamic State and remained in close contact with several active members of IS using internet, telephone and other means of communication in furtherance of its activities,” the NIA said in its remand application.The agency further contended that sustained custodial interrogation of these three accused was required “to unravel the larger criminal conspiracy of IS activities in India and abroad including recruitment of resident and non-resident Indians by the IS.””Custodial interrogation of the accused during this period has resulted in the revelation of many facts which are pertinent to establish the inter-connection amongst these accused and their association with IS. The sustained questioning of the accused also led to the discovery of many facts which need to be further verified and investigated to establish their involvement in furtherance of their activities of the IS by the accused,” the agency said.Advocate M S Khan, who appeared for Farhan and Adnan, opposed the NIA’s plea saying his clients have already been interrogated at length and there was no need to extend their custody.Adnan, who hails from Karnataka, Farhan who is from Maharashtra and Sheikh Azhar from Jammu and Kashmir were arrested on January 29 by the NIA after being deported from the UAE. The trio were detained by the NIA on arrival from the UAE at the IGI airport here.The three suspects, along with other unknown associates, were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to identify, motivate, radicalise, recruit and train Indian citizens, located in India and abroad, for planning and executing terror attacks, according to the NIA. On September 15 last year, the UAE had deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The UAE had also sent back last year a 37-year-old woman Afsha Jabeen for allegedly recruiting youths for ISIS. In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey.According to Indian intelligence agencies, around six Indians who had joined the ISIS were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq and Syria.

Three alleged Islamic State sympathisers sent to 10 days’ NIA custody

New Delhi: Three terror suspects, who were recently deported from UAE for their alleged Islamic State links and for conspiring to carry out terror strikes in India and other countries, were on Tuesday remanded to 10 days’ NIA custody by a Delhi court.

Sheikh Azhar Al Islam, Mohammad Farhan Shaikh and Adnan Hussain were produced in muffled faces before District Judge Amar Nath during in-camera proceedings after expiry of their NIA custody.

According to sources, the NIA sought extension of police remand of the three accused for 12 days, saying they were required to be interrogated to unearth the larger conspiracy of IS in India and abroad.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“During questioning, accused had disclosed that they were active supporters of Islamic State and remained in close contact with several active members of IS using internet, telephone and other means of communication in furtherance of its activities,” the NIA said in its remand application.

The agency further contended that sustained custodial interrogation of these three accused was required “to unravel the larger criminal conspiracy of IS activities in India and abroad including recruitment of resident and non-resident Indians by the IS.”

“Custodial interrogation of the accused during this period has resulted in the revelation of many facts which are pertinent to establish the inter-connection amongst these accused and their association with IS.

“The sustained questioning of the accused also led to the discovery of many facts which need to be further verified and investigated to establish their involvement in furtherance of their activities of the IS by the accused,” the agency said.

Advocate M S Khan, who appeared for Farhan and Adnan, opposed the NIA’s plea saying his clients have already been interrogated at length and there was no need to extend their custody.

Adnan, who hails from Karnataka, Farhan who is from Maharashtra and Sheikh Azhar from Jammu and Kashmir were arrested on 29 January by the NIA after being deported from the UAE.

PTI

3 ISIS sympathisers arrested by NIA after deported from UAE

Three Indian sympathisers of ISIS, who were deported from UAE for allegedly being on a mission to carry out terror attack in India and some other countries, were arrested by NIA on Friday night. Adnan Hussain, who hails from Karnataka, Mohammad Farhan, from Maharashtra, and Sheikh Azhar Al Islam, from Jammu and Kashmir, were arrested by NIA after registering a case here, official sources said. The trio were deported from UAE and they were detained by the NIA upon their arrival in the IGI airport last night. They will be produced in a court on Saturday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three suspects along with other unknown associates were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to identify, motivate, radicalise, recruit and train Indian citizens located both in India and other countries for planning and executing terrorist attacks in India and in other friendly countries, sources said. The youths believed to be members of the Abu Dhabi module of the ISIS. On September 15, 2015, the UAE had deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS.The UAE had also sent back last year a 37-year-old woman Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for ISIS. In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey. According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of whom six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq-Syria.Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan. The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bengaluru), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane), Faiz Masood (Bengaluru) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS.As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East. Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youths from Kalyan in the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.

Three Indian sympathisers of ISIS deported from UAE

Three Indian sympathisers of ISIS, who were allegedly on a mission to carry out terror attack in India and some other countries, were deported here from United Arab Emirates.Adnan Hussain, Mohammad Farhan, Sheikh Azhar Al Islam were deported and were detained by the NIA upon their arrival in the IGI airport on Thursday night, official sources said. They belong to Maharashtra, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The trio along with their other unknown associates were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to identify, motivate, radicalise, recruit and train Indian citizens in India and other countries for planning and executing terrorist attacks in India and in other friendly countries, the sources said.The youths are believed to be members of the Abu Dhabi module of the ISIS. The NIA, after registering a case, is questioning the suspects and a formal arrest is expected soon. On September 15, 2015, the UAE had deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS.The UAE had also sent back last year a 37-year-old woman Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for ISIS. In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey.According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of whom six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq-Syria. Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan.The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bengaluru), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane), Faiz Masood (Bengaluru) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS. As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East.Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youths from Kalyan in the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.

NIA’s arrests of suspected Islamic State operatives show terror outfit’s growing India footprint

In a major anti-terror swoop across the country ahead of Republic Day, the NIA on Friday took into custody 14 people — suspected to be Islamic State sympathisers and believed to be plotting attacks in different parts of the country. Of the 14 suspects detained, 13 have been arrested, according to a Home Ministry spokesman.

The arrests were made following simultaneous searches and raids conducted at 12 locations in six cities — Bengaluru, Tumkur, Mangaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Lucknow with the support of local police forces. The Maharashtra ATS also conducted raids and searches at two other locations.

NIA named the arrested Muttabir Mustaq Sheikh (33) from Thane district near Mumbai, Mohammad Nafees Khan (24) of Hyderabad, Mohammad Shareef Moinuddin Khan (54) of Hyderabad, Najmul Huda (25) of Mangaluru and Mohammad Afzal (35) of Bengaluru.

These arrests by the NIA are the latest in the ongoing effort by Indian investigative agencies to identify people taken in by IS’s radicalisation — prompted by the rise of Indians joining the terror outfit. The IS doesn’t have a strong on-ground presence in the sub-continent as yet.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

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

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

So far, more than 20 Indians are believed to have gone to Islamic State hold areas in Iraq-Syria to fight for the terrorist group. Of them six were killed while one returned home in Mumbai. 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by IS elements, were also prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the West Asia.

According to a report by Daily Mail, the manhunt for the recruits was launched after monitoring the cyber activities of 14 youth who were inspired by the Islamic State and were in contact with a former member of Indian Mujahideen (IM). The IM operative is also the brother of a slain Indian IS recruit.

Daily Mail also adds that the IM members who fled India after a crackdown, had ended up fighting on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border before joining the IS. These IM members were also said to be in touch with Indians inspired by the terror group, which could play a large part in the radicalisation of IS sympathisers.

Thus, the connection between IM, a terror group that has been responsible for several attacks in India, and the IS will be a cause for concern for Indian authorities.

In fact, among the six Indians, who fought alongside IS and got killed, three were IM terrorists, including Sultan Ajmer Shah and Bada Sajid, who had joined its ranks after being in Pakistan.

An earlier Firstpost article on the changing face of Islamic terrorism had pointed out, radicalisation of Indian youth into the fold of terror groups has not only emerged as one of the most potential threats, but has also posed a serious challenge for the security agencies.

Among those who are currently fighting for IS are two youths from Kalyan (in the outskirts of Mumbai), an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.

In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested at Hyderabad airport when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey.

In May 2014, four youths from Kalyan township in neighbouring Thane district had gone to Syria to join the IS. One of them, Areeb Majeed, returned and is currently in NIA custody while the whereabouts of the other three were not yet known.

On 15 September 2015, the UAE deported four Indians suspected to have links with IS. The UAE had also sent back in September a 37-year-old woman, Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph, who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for terror organisation.

In December, a 16-year-old Muslim girl from Pune was reportedly radicalised by her IS contacts abroad and brain-washed to go to Syria. According to the ATS, who interrogated the minor girl, she attracted to the IS ideology after watching a documentary on television and subsequently started regularly monitoring news on Al-Jazeera channel. She then used the internet to get in touch with IS contacts and got in touch with about 200 young persons from different countries. Her interrogation also revealed that she was told to come to Syria for medical education and for further initiation. She is currently undergoing a de-radicalisation programme.

The three Mumbai youth who went missing in the latter half of December were also suspected to be part of IS sympathisers. The three youths were identified as Ayaz Sultan (23), Mohsin Sheikh (26) and Wajid Sheikh (25).

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