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18 February 2018

18 Feb. ND: With dust yet to settle on PNB fraud case, Rotomac Pens owner Kothari flees with Rs 800 crore/ Where is Nirav Modi? Authorities in the dark about whereabouts of the bizman





Evening NEWS DIGEST  
18 Feb.2018:01 Jamadiul-2 1439:Vol:9, No:123
INDIA
With dust yet to settle on PNB fraud case, Rotomac Pens owner Kothari flees with Rs 800 crore
While the banking system of the country is yet o recover from Rs 11,400 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, another case of fraud has come to attention. As per several reports, Vikram Kothari, owner of Rotomac Pens, has fled the country along with Rs 800 crore he had loaned from several public sector banks including Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Union Bank of India. According to media reports, Rotomac Pens owner Vikram Kothari has fled the country along with Rs 800 crore he had loaned from several public sector banksJust days after Rs 11,400 crore PNB fraud case shook the entire banking system of India, another multi-crore scam has come to light. According to recent media reports, Rotomac Pens owner Vikram Kothari has fled the country along with Rs 800 crore he had loaned from several public sector banks including Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Union Bank of India.The reports have pointed out that all the banks had ‘compromised’ on several rules to lend the loans to Rotomac Pens. It further says that Kothari had taken a loan of Rs 495 crores from UCO and a loan worth Rs 352 crore from Allahabad bank. However, he did not pay either the principal amount or the interest. Kothari’s office has been locked since the past one week as he is speculated to have fled the country. Bank authorities are now looking at auctioning in a bid to recover the amount.The fresh case of fraud has come to light when the dust is yet to settle on the multi-crore PNB fraud which took place in Mumbai. Under the fraud, the Nirav Modi Godi group had availed fake Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) which enabled it to borrow credit from overseas banks in India. Three officials have been arrested in connection with the case and they have said that they got a “fixed commission” for the issuance of LoUs. Investigative agencies have been conducting regular raids and have managed to recover almost Rs 5,674 crore from Nirav Modi’s family members and business partner Mehul Choksi. Newsx
PNB Scam: Fraudulent 375 LoUs Worth Thousands of Crores Were Issued Between Jan-May 2017
PNB Fraud:UCO Bank says has about Rs2,636 cr exposure
Kolkata: State-run UCO Bank said it has an outstanding exposure of about $411.82 million in the $1.8 billion fraud detected in public sector PNB and that it was confident of receiving the payment.PNB, the second largest public sector bank in India, had detected the $1.8 billion fraud in one of its branches in Mumbai and UCO Bank was among the banks that were said to have offered credit based on letters of credit issued by the PNB."The outstanding exposure involved in the transactions is approximately $411.82 million and the bank is fully confident to receive the payment from the PNB," UCO Bank said in a regulatory filing.The lender said in the normal course of trade business, its Hong Kong branch has been negotiating export documents against letters of credit issued through authenticated SWIFT message by Punjab National Bank.The applicants for these letters of credit includes few of corporate clients associated with the incident of recent fraud happened in PNB, the lender said. NDTV
PNB fraud: Officials of other banks under scanner
New Delhi: As investigations into Rs 11,400 crore scam at PNB gather momentum, officials at overseas branches of other banks, where the fraudulently issued LoUs were encashed, are under scanner, sources said.Officials of Hong Kong branches of Indian lenders including Allahabad Bank, SBI, Union Bank, UCO Bank and Axis Bank are part of the entire fraud which continued for 7 years.As per the guidelines, the tenure for the encashment of LoUs for the gems and jewellery sector is usually of 90 days and not 365 days — the maturity period of most of the LoUs linked with the PNB fraud, sources said, adding that the deviation from the usual practice should have raised alarm in the minds of officials working at the Hong Kong branch of other lenders.But surprisingly this did not happen till last month when PNB refused to honour LoU fraudulently issued by some of the staff at its Brady House branch in Mumbai, sources said. Had someone raised an alarm earlier, the quantum of fraud could have been lower, sources said, adding that it is like alert citizen informing police about some nefarious activity to authorities for the further action.PTI
Where is Nirav Modi? Authorities in the dark about whereabouts of the bizman
Washington:Speculation abounds over the whereabouts of Nirav Modi, the diamond merchant wanted by Indian authorities in connection with a multi-crore bank fraud, with indications he could be in the US, staying in either an upscale Manhattan hotel residential complex or elsewhere in New York state.The Indian government has said in New Delhi that it does not know where Modi is and it could not be ascertained if it had raised the possibility of him staying in the US with American authorities, after reports surfaced of him staying at JW Marriott Essex House apartments in Manhattan, New York City. There was no response to a request for comments sent to the US Department of Justice, which would be the nodal agency for processing an international case such as this.A request to the US for help to trace and track Modi in America would be moved in New Delhi, according to sources, as per the established protocol in these matters between the respective law enforcement agencies of the two countries.Modi is alleged to have fled India on Jan.1, followed by his wife Ami Modi, a US citizen, on Jan.6. Initial reports, also not confirmed by authorities, indicated he was in Switzerland. The family’s Indian passports were suspended subsequently, pinning them down in whichever country they last visited.hindustantimes
Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi denies charges, says wife, son have no links to Nirav Modi
New Delhi;Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that Firestar Diamond International Private Limited of Nirav Modi was being run from a property that allegedly belongs to Adwait Holdings Limited, which is allegedly associated with Anita Singhvi, wife of senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi. Speaking to reporters at BJP headquarters, Sitharaman said Firestar Diamond is one of the several companies Nirav Modi runs. She said, “They have acquired or taken on lease a property that belongs to Adwait Holdings. They own a property at a place called Trade Point Building — on the second floor of it — in Lower Parel, Mumbai.”She claimed that from 2002 one of the shareholders of Adwait Holdings is Anita Singhvi, “whose shrimati (wife) you know it”. She said, “(It) also has Avishkar Manas Singhvi, possibly son, we do not know, but wife of one of the senior Congress leaders is here as property shareholder. She is director by designation….That premises is being used by Firestar Diamond International of Nirav Modi… that building, that second floor, that property which is with Adwait Holdings, whose director is Anita Singhvi, wife of Shri Abhishek Manu Singhvi.”In response, Singhvi stated that BJP and NDA’s “cheap” sense of politics has reached ridiculous proportions. “Neither my wife, sons nor me has anything whatsoever to do with Gitanjali or Nirav Modi companies. Nirav Modi’s company was a tenant of a Kamla Mills property owned by Adwait Holdings, in which my wife and sons are a director. Adwait Holdings owns a commercial property at Parel, as it does elsewhere, which was rented by Firestone many years ago. Neither Adwait nor my family has any interest with Modi or Firestone. Last August Firestone gave notice to quit tenancy and vacated the Parel Kamla Mills premises in December 2017,” he said in a statement.indianexpress
Iran deepens freight discount to boost oil sales to India: Report
New Delhi: Iran has offered to raise the freight discount on oil sales to India in return for New Delhi agreeing to boost imports, as OPEC member is keen to eat into the market share of other producers including top rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq.Iran is pushing to retain customers for its oil in Asia, hoping concessions will boost the appeal of its crude compared with other middle eastern suppliers, even as the threat looms of potential further US sanctions on the country.Since the lifting of sanctions on Iran in 2016 it has been offering India a freight discount linked to a formula translating into 105% of the Platts assessment. For 2017/18 Tehran had reduced the discount to 62% of the formula from 80%, but Iran has offered to change this if Indian refineries step up purchases, three sources familiar with the matter said on Saturday.“Now they are offering 100% discount, meaning a sum equivalent to 105% of the Platts freight assessment,”said one of the sources.Iran said it expected Indian orders to grow.“State-owned Indian companies are going to increase their level of Iranian oil purchase,”Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters after a meeting with Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi. Indian refiners - state-owned and private - will buy about 500,000 bpd of Iranian oil in 2018/19, said Zanganeh, in India as part of a delegation led by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “We have got good incentives compared to other major producers. We will get benefit if we buy from Iran ... We will boost oil imports from Iran compared to this fiscal year,” Pradhan told reporters, without elaborating.Iran, which used to be the second-biggest oil supplier to India before sanctions, is gradually raising its market share in the world’s third-biggest oil consuming nation.Reuters
India, Iran Sign Agreement For Avoidance Of Double Taxation On Rouhani's Visit
As Iran Ridicules US ‘Haggling’, India Supports Full Implementation of Nuclear Deal
Triple talaq Bill headed for 'noisy death' in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: The controversial Bill criminalising triple talaq among Muslims appears headed for a “noisy death” in the Rajya Sabha. Having stopped its outreach to the Opposition, the Modi government is bracing for a vote on the Bill in the Upper House while appearing firm that no ordinance would be passed if the proposal collapses.“The government is no more talking to the Opposition, including the Congress. The Centre is firm that there cannot be concurrence with the Opposition demand to refer the triple talaq Bill to the select committee of the House. So, there will be a vote, which could either help it get passed or defeat it in the House,” said a Union Cabinet minister on condition of anonymity. With the NDA appearing to be in poll mode with several Assembly elections scheduled this year ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls, the BJP seems to see no merit in long drawn-out consultations in the select committee.“The stand of the Opposition to force sending the Bill to the select committee is obvious — that it gets delayed without making enough noise in public. The government will not heed the demand. There are no more talks with the Opposition on the issue any more,” added the minister. After the Lok Sabha passed Bill criminalising triple talaq following a brief debate, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced it in the Rajya Sabha amid ruckus at the fag end of Parliament’s winter session. The government is gearing to take up the Bill in the second part of the Budget session beginning March 5.“We have to go to the people if the Bill is defeated in Rajya Sabha. Since there is no urgency, the government will not come up with an ordinance.Bill has already generated strong debate within the minority community. BJP will seek further debate on the stand taken by the Opposition, particularly the Congress, to stall a rare reform legislation for the benefit of women of the minority community, who have already suffered enough,” said the minister.newindianexpress
After Dalit activist's death, Jignesh Mevani detained while travelling to meet protesters
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani was detained by police Sunday, while was on his way to an informal gathering of people protesting the death of Dalit activist Patan Bhanubhai Vankar. Mevani was about to kick off a bandh he had called last night.In a video of the incident, Mevani can be heard saying, "Show me your buckle number. How can you behave with an MLA like this?"The police reportedly snatched the car keys and broke it, while forcefully pulling Mevani out of the vehicle. Reacting to allegations that the police misbehaved with Mevani, JK Bhatt, JCP (crime) said, "His (Mevani) behaviour was inappropriate but police maintained cool and gave deserved respect to an elected representative."Bhanubhai Vankar set himself ablaze Thursday outside the Collector's office in Patan. He succumbed to his injuries Friday night. Now, members of the Dalit community have taken to the streets after his death.Vankar was fighting against the delay in allotment of land to a Dalit family in Patan. Significantly, Vankar had written a letter to the district Collector, saying he would immolate himself on Feb.15 if the demands were not met. However, on Thursday, when he set himself on fire on the premises of the collectorate, several onlookers, police and fire officials failed to prevent him from doing so.Vankar's family has refused to perform his final rites unless the government meets the demands. Most of these plots of land are actually either encroached upon or still in possession of the government authorities or other higher caste individuals, Mevani said Saturday.In 2006, scores of landless Dalit families were promised land under Agriculture Land Ceiling Act. As a lawyer, Mevani represented several Dalit families in their fight for the land allotted to them on paper decades ago. But they never got possession of this land.Mevani claimed that upto 56,873 acres of land that was rightfully allotted to Dalits on paper was still in the government's possession, or encroached upon.indiatoday
Dalit activist passed away after torching himself, accused government of neglecting land allotment to Dalits
Mevani, others detained ahead of Adhmedabad rally
Ghar wapsi rally: Hindu Samhati men in judicial custody
Kolkata: Arrested for attacking mediapersons during a rally in Kolkata Wednesday, the founder and 3 members of Hindu Samhati were on Saturday sent to judicial custody till February 22 by the Bankshal court after their police custody ended. The Hindu group had given a call of “ghar wapsi” — to “reconvert” Muslims — and presented 14 members of a Muslim family who have “returned” to the Hindu fold at the rally. Founder Tapan Ghosh and members Rishikesh Ray (32), Tapan Shil (21) and Preetam Pal (18) were booked for allegedly assaulting journalists, who tried to pose questions to the family.At the rally, Ghosh had allegedly delivered provocative speech against Muslims. “Let us take a pledge for ghar wapsi… I appeal to our Muslim brothers and sisters, who were forced to give up their original faith, to return home, and once again embrace Hinduism,” he had said.indianexpress
UP cops diffuse communal tension, arrest 2, book cases against 13 in Muzaffarnagar
​Muzaffarnagar: Acting with alacrity, Yogi Adityanath Government in UP arrested 2 persons and slapped cases against 13 persons for allegedly attacking a youth belonging to a minority community in Sarvat Road area in the communally-sensitive Muzaffarnagar city.The accused alleged thrashed a person identified as Akib Hasan and thrashed him. They also set afire his two-wheeler. The miscreants forced their entry into the house of Akib and beat him. Akib has since been shifted to a hospital, where his condition is stated to be stable and out of danger.The police, who moved to the affected area quickly, brought the situation under control and ensured that no untoward incident occurred. The arrested persons have been produced in the court. The police have been deployed in large number to tighten the security in the area.HANS INDIA
Pressure on police to transfer SHO who saved Muslim youths, stopped another Kasganj-like incident
Agra: A day after TOI reported that BJP national general secretary Anil Jain’s elder brother Nanak Chand Agrawal pleaded with Firozabad police to not take action against the party workers who allegedly assaulted an SHO, senior officials on Saturday admitted that they were under tremendous pressure to either attach the officer to Civil Lines or transfer him to another police station.Firozabad Uttar police station SHO Lokesh Bhati had to face the wrath of alleged BJP workers after he prevented them from assaulting two youths from the minority community on Thursday night.“SHO is a hero who risked his life to save youths from the minority community so that a Kasganj-like situation does not arise. He should be rewarded, not transferred,” said Firozabad SP (city) Rajesh Kumar Singh. SP said that had Bhati not timely intervened and sent the two youths to police station accompanied by cops, their politically-backed attackers would have killed them. “They allegedly manhandled SHO and hurled abuses on him. However, Bhati did not lose his cool and refrained from using his service weapon. By the time the backup arrived, he kept trying to pacify the unruly group,” Singh said.Lokesh Bhati, who was on patrolling duty on Thursday night when he received a distress call, said, “I just did my job and will continue to do it until I am a part of the UP Police. Let them transfer me; there will be another Lokesh Bhati in khaki to stand up against those who threaten peace and tranquility.”“They were in an inebriated state. Not only did they abuse me verbally, but they also slapped me for doing my duty. My first priority was to rescue the two youngsters. The group had attacked the youths after passing objectionable comments about their skullcaps. More than anything else, I was surprised to see senior political leaders come in support of those goons. They requested us not to file an FIR against them,” SHO said.Meanwhile, on Saturday, Firozabad police conducted raids at several locations to arrest the three main accused who have been identified as Dheeraj Parashar, Uday Thakur and Lucky Garg, alias Nakul. In 2010, Lucky was booked for attempting to murder a cop in an area under Dakshin police jurisdiction.
Uttar Pradesh: 3 BJP members booked for allegedly assaulting police officer, two Muslim men
UP: Increased Budget for minorities but no new schemes, state pushes for “modernisation” of madrasas
UP Govt, led by Yogi Adityanath, introduced its annual budget on Friday, with Rs 2,575 crores allocated under the name of minority development and welfare schemes. Rajesh Agrawal, Finance Minister at UP, informed while announcing the budget that out of the allocated Rs 2,575 crores, Rs 404 crore will be spent modernising Arabic and Farsi Madrasas of the state. Moreover, Rs 486 crore will be used as a grant for Arabic schools, and Rs 215 crore of ‘Aalia level’ madrasas.The recent budget of Uttar Pradesh sees a rise of Rs 282 crore from the last year’s budget allocated under the same head. State minister Mohsin Raza claimed that increasing the budget is a welcome step and shows government’s commitment towards the agenda of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’.The budget allocation under minority head for the fiscal year 2018-19 becomes important as, since its election in 2017, the state govt has been cracking down on Madrasas for several reasons. During August 2017, the government put out an order asking all the Madrasas of the state to submit proof of celebration of Independence Day.The state government it seems, however, is using “modernisation of madrasas” to distract any attention over the absence of new schemes of minority welfare. State minister Mohsin Raza said, “Modernisation of Madrasas in the state is one thing which every regime till now has been overlooking. This year’s funds expenditure under minority head will be used chiefly for modernisation of madrasas.”“Muslim community is backward,” said Raza while adding that “the government is trying to link the modern education with the religious teachings of madrasas”. Raza further explained, “We see many Muslims studied ‘Maulviyat’ (study of Islamic clericalism) past independence, but we know only a few in the society. The rest struggle hard to get into the mainstream. They are not doing any good. We want to change.”Coming again to the absence of new schemes, Mohsin Raza said that the state government will assist the central government in implementation and increased the reach of its various programs, “which are not just for minorities, but for all the religions, castes and groups of the society”.TCN
BJP leader sacked over derogatory comments on Shivaji: Chindam to be shifted out of Ahmednagar jail, protests rage on
Pune;Shripad Chindam, the former Ahmednagar deputy mayor who was arrested for making derogatory statements about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was on Saturday remanded in judicial custody till March 1. Chindam had been fired by his party, BJP, and removed from the deputy mayor’s post in the Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation after an audio clip of his comments went viral on Friday. Initially, Chindam was shifted to the Ahmednagar jail, but later, prison authorities submitted a letter to the court, seeking permission to shift him to Yerwada Central Prison in Pune or Nashik Central Jail. While some media reports claimed that Chindam was being shifted because he was beaten up by some inmates in Ahmednagar prison, authorities denied such reports. They said some prisoners at Ahmednagar jail had raised slogans against him.A senior prison official said Chindam was being shifted because of the lack of a segregated facility at Ahmednagar jail. Chindam had made the derogatory comments while abusing a civic staffer over the phone on Friday . The incident had triggered violent protests in Ahmednagar, where protesters had ransacked Chindam’s residence, offices and hotel in the city.Meanwhile, after a photograph of Chindam in an uniform of RSS went viral on social media, the RSS issued a statement condemning him and demanding stern action against him. Corporators in Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation also launched a signature campaign — to remove Chindam from the post of a corporator — and a letter in this regard was submitted to the municipal commissioner.indianexpress
School drop-out rate among Muslim girls, which is more than 72%, is a matter concern: Union minister Naqvi
Mumbai : The school drop-out rate among Muslim girls, which is more than 72 per cent, is a matter of concern for government, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said today.The minority affairs minister was addressing a training programme for women here, organised by the Maharashtra BJP Minority Morcha."The school drop-out rate among Muslim girls, which is more than 72 per cent, is a matter of concern.To change the situation, (Narendra) Modi govt has focused on educational empowerment of Muslim girls.This has created awareness among the minorities regarding better education," Naqvi said. Naqvi also said that the literacy rate among minorities, especially Muslims, is much below than the national average literacy rate, which is also a matter of concern."Our government has started a strong campaign for educational empowerment of minorities to fill this gap. Socio-economic-educational empowerment of minority women, especially girls, is our priority," the minister said.Naqvi claimed that due to the Modi government's policy of "Empowerment without Appeasement" and "Development with Dignity", the poor, weaker sections and minorities are also becoming equal partners of the development process.PTI    
Police deny permission for Aurangabad Tablighi Ijtema, seeks source of funding
Aurangabad: Even as the organisers are working day in and day out since last more than two months for the state level Tablighi Jamaat Ijtema to be held in Limbe Jalgaon village near Aurangabad, local police have refused the necessary permission.The police have also asked the organisers to furnish them the details of their source of the amount being spent to organize such a large scale gathering.Tablighi Jamaat has planned to organize a 3-day Ijtema in Limbe Jalgaon village near Aurangabad from Feb.24 to Feb.26, 2018. Organisrers claim that hundreds of thousands of Muslims from Aurangabad and other cities,towns and villages of Maharashtra are expected to attend the 03-day Ijetma.The police however said the organisers have not taken the necessary permission for organizing a gathering of such a large scale. Hence Waluj police themselves have dashed a letter to Syed Anees Aamir Patel, the Sarpanch of Limbe Jalgaon village, saying the permission for the Ijtema could not be given.The letter signed by Police Inspector Satish Kumar Tak and addressed to the village Sarpanch, Syed Anees Aamir Patel, said that the organizers should have sought permission for the Ijtema three months in advance.Inspector Satish Kumar in his letter further said that, since the Ijtema is expected to be attended by a large number of people, it is necessary to seek permission well in advance from the police and other departments so that traffic management can be planned and other arrangements are made.In his letter addressed to Syed Anees, Inspector Satish Kumar Tak also asked to furnish the details of the sources of funding to organize the Ijtema. Local media had earlier reported that the organisers have so far spent more than 11 crore rupees for the Aurangabad Ijtema. According to reports, the Aurangabad police also expressed surprise that the work is on to organize the Ijtema since more than two months but the organizers did not approach the police for permission.Deputy Commissioner of Police Vinayak Dhakane however said that the Ijtema organizers gave the police intimation about the state level Ijtema, but only recently.Meanwhile, the organisers are hopeful that all the issues raised by the police will be resolved soon and the Aurangabad Ijtema will be held as per the announced schedule.ummid.com
Inform status of report on linguistic minorities:Karnataka HC Centre
High Court of Karnataka has directed Union government to inform about the steps taken based on the report submitted by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by the former CJI Ranganath Misra, in 2007 on granting recognition to linguistic minority communities. Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the direction while hearing a petition filed by Kasturba Education Trust, Bengaluru, questioning non-grant of linguistic minority status certificate by the authorities concerned despite being eligible for such a status for availing the benefit of being excluded from admitting students under the Right to Education Act.thehindu
JK: Opposition NC calls communalisation of Kathua rape-murder case deplorable​
Jammu: Opposition National Conference decried "communalisation and politicisation" of a rape-and-murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua district, saying it was highly deplorable and against civilised behaviour.NC provincial chief Devender Singh Rana urged the administration to take all necessary steps to instill confidence among the people to sternly dealt with criminals and their sympathisers irrespective of their religious backgrounds.Body of the minor girl was recovered from Rassana forest on Jan.17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area. The government had on Jan.23 handed over the case to crime branch of the state police which arrested a SPO for his alleged involvement in abduction and killing of the girl.Rana's statement came a day after J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti despised a rally by a right-wing group for using the Tricolour and demanding the release of the arrested SPO.Mehbooba was referring to the rally taken out by the Hindu Ekta Manch on Thursday here, demanding the release of SPO Deepak Khajuria, who was arrested last week in connection with the brutal murder."Can politics stoop such lower depths where barbaric act against a girl child falls prey to religious chauvinism", Rana asked, adding those spearheading the cause of a criminal or criminals should have vouched for the victim whose "agony and wilderness at the time of commission of the crime might have shook the heavens".PTI 
To ensure justice, JKPCC demands fool proof investigation to Kathua rape case incident
Jammu:JKPCC has decried attempts to give any religious or communal colour to the worst ever shameful act of alleged rape and murder of an eight year girl in Kathua recently and said that identification of real culprits should be the interest of all right thinking persons in the society.Demanding a fool proof probe into the heartrending incident of worst kind in order to bring the culprits to book and ensure justice to the victim, which should serve as a deterrent to inhuman elements of such a mentality in the society, JKPCC has said that any religious or communal twist is totally unwarranted and condemnable, if it is aimed at to derail the investigation and defeat the ends of justice. Scoop News
BJP Leader in Front, Hindu Ekta Manch Waves Tricolour in Support of Rape Accused in Jammu
2  policemen killed, 6 injured in encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma
Raipur:Two policemen were killed and 6 others injured in a gun-battle with the Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Sunday, a top official said.The encounter took place in a forest under the Bhejji police station when a joint team of the STF, DRG and local police was out on an “area-domination operation”, DIG of Police  Sundarraj P told PTI.As the team was passing through the forest between Bhejji and Elarmadgu, around 500 km from state capital Raipur, it came under heavy firing from the ultras, leading to the gun-battle, DIG said.The exchange of fire lasted for over two hours, he added.“Assistant constables Madkam Handa and Mukesh Kadthi of DRG were killed and six other jawans were injured,” DIG said.PTI
BJP offers Jerusalem trip to Nagaland voters
Guwahati: BJP has given a new spin to its offer of trips to Jerusalem for the Christian-majority state of Nagaland, promising to take 50 senior citizens chosen by drawing lots to the Holy Land annually.In its manifesto, which was released by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Dimapur, has promised to "Set up senior citizen board who will annually select around 50 members through lucky draw for a free trip to Holy Land of Jerusalem."Amid apprehensions expressed by the church over spread of Hindutva in Christian-majority state, BJP stated in its manifesto that the party is for an all-inclusive development and promised to protect all minority communities in the state, which include mostly Hindus and Muslims. Christians comprise about 88% of Nagaland's population.TOI
Tripura Assembly Election 2018: EC says 74% voter turnout recorded in state, 17% less than 2013 polls
New Delhi: The total voter turnout stood at 74 percent in the single-phase Tripura Assembly polls on Sunday, 17 percent less than the last Assembly election when the polling percentage was recorded at 91.82.Voting was on Sunday held in 59 of the total 60 seats as polling could not be held in the Charilam constituency due to the death of CPM candidate Ramendra Narayan Deb Barma last week.The constituency will go to polls on 12 March.According to the figures released by the Election Commission on Sunday, the voter turnout stood at 74 percent.The BJP, an ‘also-ran’ until now in the northeastern state, is making a determined bid to demolish the red bastion of 25 years, with stalwarts like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah leading the charge.PTI
Karnataka: Congress expels MLA NA Haris' son for assaulting man in Bengaluru pub; police files FIR
An FIR was registered on Saturday against Karnataka Congress MLA NA Haris' son Mohammed Haris Nalapad and ten others for allegedly assaulting a man in Bengaluru's UB City, said media reports. Nalapad, who is Bengaluru district Youth Congress general secretary, was expelled from the party for six years following the incident, according to News18. President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, G Parameshwara on Sunday informed Nalapad's suspension.The incident happened when Nalapad, with his friends, walked into a pub in UB City around 10 pm. According to India Today, the victim, identified as Vidwath was having dinner in the same pub with his friend. Nalapad and his friends got into an argument with Vidwath when they asked him to sit properly.firstpost
‘Honey-trapped’ IAF officer arrested: Women shared videos from adult sites with accused, says police
New Delhi : Investigation into the arrest of a Group Captain posted at the Indian Air Force headquarters has revealed that five videos shared by the two women — to whom he allegedly passed on classified information — were downloaded from adult websites, police said. According to police, the women had told the accused that they were sharing videos of themselves. The accused, Arun Marwaha (51), was arrested for allegedly sharing classified information about three new tri-service agencies with the women — believed to be working for a foreign spy agency. “Police have retrieved the deleted video clips from his mobile phone. Police confronted him about the clips and he claimed that they were sent by the two women,” a senior police officer said.Police said the investigation officer has written to Facebook, requesting it to share IP addresses of the profiles of the women. “IO has asked when and where the profiles were generated. He also asked the company to share deleted messages, as they are probing the case under the Official Secret Acts,” a police officer said. Marwaha was produced before a Delhi court, which sent him to 14-day judicial custody to Tihar Jail. Police had conducted raids at his home and seized pen drives and a hard disk, which were sent to CBI’s forensic lab.During questioning, Marwaha is learnt to have told police that he was in Thiruvananthapuram on an assignment a few months ago when he was added on Facebook Messenger by one of the women.“He visited her profile and found that an old colleague was a mutual friend. He and the woman started chatting. One of her friends also sent a request and started chatting with him. They spoke about two of his colleagues,” the officer said, adding that they exchanged numbers and started talking on WhatsApp and Telegram. The women also contacted Marwaha via an internet call through VoIP.indian express
WORLD
Iranian passenger plane crash kills all 66 on board  in central Iran
An Iranian passenger plane with 66 people on board has crashed in central Iran during a flight from Tehran to the city of Yasuj, according to Iranian news media reports.A spokesperson for Iran Aseman Airlines told state TV that Sunday's air crash killed all 66 people on board.The plane went down in a mountainous area near the town of Semirom, the news agency ISNA quoted Mojtaba Khaledi, emergency services spokesperson, as saying.The Iranian Red Crescent said it had deployed to the area, which was quite foggy at the time of the crash.State-run PressTV said the Iran Aseman Airlines flight was carrying 60 passengers and six crew members.Iran Aseman Airlines is a semi-private air carrier headquartered in Tehran that specialises in flights to remote airfields across the country and also flies internationally.Iran Aseman Airlines has dismissed the possibility of technical failure, pinning the blame solely on bad weather. Aljazeera
Do not test Israel:  Netanyahu brandishes ‘drone piece’, warns Iran
 Munich:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran on Saturday over aggressions by what he called Iran and its “proxies” in Syria, while showing what he claimed was a piece of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace.Saying he had “a message to the tyrants of Tehran” during a speech at the Munich Security Conference, he warned: “Do not test Israel’s resolve.”He brandished a rectangular piece of dark green metal which he called “a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it, after we shot it down.”Israel’s response marked the first time it publicly acknowledged hitting Iranian targets in Syria since the 2011 start of the civil war there.Calling Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif the “smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran’s regime,” Netanyahu said: “Mr. Zarif, do you recognise this? You should, it’s yours.” Again referring to Zarif, who is expected to speak later in Munich, the Israeli leader said: “No doubt Zarif will brazenly deny Iran’s involvement in Syria.”Reuters
Netanyahu: Iran is the greatest threat to the world
Egypt court jails 65 Morsi loyalists up to 10 years
Cairo:An Egyptian court sentenced on Saturday 65 loyalists of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi up to 10 years in prison over inciting anti-state riots, protests and violence.Zagazig Criminal Court sentenced 44 defendants to 10 years in jail and 21 to two years while acquitting eight of the said charges, Xinhua reported.The convicts are mostly members and supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group which has been outlawed in Egypt as a terrorist organisation.Most Brotherhood leaders, members and supporters, including Morsi himself and the group's chief Mohamed Badie, are being detained.Many of them have been given appealable death sentences and lengthy jail terms over charges of inciting violence, murder, espionage and jailbreak.Morsi is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence over inciting deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents in late 2012 and a 25-year jail term over leaking classified documents to Qatar.IANS
Scholar Tariq Ramadan hospitalised in France
Paris: Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was remanded in custody in France on rape charges earlier in the month, has been hospitalised due to multiple sclerosis, his support group said Saturday. 55-year-old Oxford University professor, who will now undergo an independent medical evaluation to determine if he is to remain in jail before trial, was sent to hospital on Friday night, a source close the case confirmed."His state of health is getting worse, particularly since the judges refused to issue a visit permit to his wife and children yesterday," a source close to Ramadan said on Saturday.Another source close to the case said he would remain in hospital at least until Sunday.Ramadan's lawyers said that their client's condition was "not compatible with detention", based on an initial medical examination on Tuesday. Charged with rape and rape of a vulnerable person, Ramadan had been held at Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris since Feb. 2.A court ordered Ramadan be detained ahead of his trial, saying he was a possible flight risk and fearing potential pressure on women who testified anonymously.A Paris appeals court ordered the medical evaluation on Thursday and postponed its ruling on his detention until Feb. 22 after Ramadan went to the hearing in an ambulance.AFP 
Palestinian teenagers killed in Israeli air raids on Gaza
Two Palestinian teenagers were found killed in the southern area of the besieged Gaza Strip, following two waves of Israeli air raids.2 bodies of the 2 17-year-old boys were retrieved in the city of Rafah on Sunday morning, Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza's health ministry, confirmed.At least two other Palestinians have been wounded, one of whom is in critical condition, and are currently treated in a medical facility in Rafah.In the past 24 hours, Israel said it had targeted 18 Hamas positions, in response to an "improvised explosive" device that detonated near the border with Israel early on Saturday, wounding four Israeli soldiers.According to the Israeli army, six "large-scale attacks" were carried out on Hamas positions, including a tunnel that extends from Gaza to Israel.Attacks that followed targeted positions in the town of Beit Hanoun, Rafah, Deir el-Balah, and Khan Younis in the southern part of the strip - on what Israeli media described as Hamas military installations.The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that missiles launched from an Israeli F-16 attack aircraft damaged several civilian homes.In a series of Twitter posts, Palestinian political party Hamas blamed Israel for the "escalation"."Palestinian resistance will not turn its back on protecting Palestinian people, and will continue to do defend it and confront enemy aggression," the movement governing the Gaza Strip said on Saturday night.aljazeera
Turkey official denies use of chemical weapons in Afrin
A senior Turkish official has denied the claims by a monitoring group and Syrian state media that Turkey's military used chemical weapons on civilians in its operation against the Kurdish YPG fighters in northwestern Syria."It is out of question for Turkey to use an internationally prohibited war tool in Afrin," Yasin Aktay, a chief adviser to the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, told Al Jazeera over the phone on Sunday. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said six people were wounded in Turkish shelling in Al-Sheikh Hadid in the Afrin region on Friday had difficulties breathing and had their pupils dilated.aljazeera
Is Russia attempting to erase Crimean Muslim culture?
Bakhchisaray, Ukraine - The mosque looked like a bandaged patient.The 500-year-old limestone building was wrapped in wooden scaffolding and long pieces of cloth that hid geometric ornaments and Koranic calligraphy.Next to it lay heavy bundles of steel rods that seemed alien in the courtyard of the seemingly weightless, palatial complex out-of-a-fairy-tale, built for Crimean Khans. The dynasty of Genghis Khan's descendants was dethroned after tsarist Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula in 1783.In January, almost four years after Moscow's second annexation of Crimea, pro-Russian authorities started restoring the oldest and holiest part of the complex - the Big Khan Mosque built in 1532. They also announced plans to restore the entire palace.But experts, community leaders and Ukrainian officials have lambasted the restoration as the destruction of the complex's authenticity. They call it part of Kremlin's drive to reshape, ban and erase the cultural identity of Crimean Tatars, a Muslim ethnicity of 250,000 that largely resisted Crimea's return to Russia.aljazeera
We have eliminated all terror groups, no militant camp on Pakistani soil: Army General Qamar Bajwa in Munich
Presenting Pakistan’s new perspective on global and regional security, the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that with its continuous efforts to eliminate terrorism from the country, Pakistan has now defeated several terror groups like al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and many more. Addressing a military conference in Munich, the Army General stated that Pakistan has proudly eliminated all the terror groups and said that there are no organised militant camps that exist on Pakistani soil. Taking the stage at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that terrorists have several terrorists outfits that are active in Afghanistan.General Qamar Javed Bajwa further stated that the terrorists carry out attacks from Afghanistan against Pakistan. Hinting at the fact that Pakistan is ready to help in restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan, Bajwa stressed that joint efforts by all the countries would help in eradicating terrorism from the region. Expressing his concerns over rise in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Bajwa highlighted that Pakistan has undertaken fencing of its border with Afghanistan. He further added that global cooperation is required in order to remove terrorism from its roots. He said, “We can proudly say that there are no militant camps in Pakistan”.NewsX
Saudi women can now start their own business without male permission:AFP
Riyadh:Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on Thursday, also marks a major step awa from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.“Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian,” the ministry of commerce and investment said on its website.AFP
FLASH: VIEWS & NEWS
Why an Early Election Has Become a Political Compulsion for Modi:ANAND K. SAHAY
School Children Need a Re-Modeled Education System, Not Tips to Crack Exams, Mr PM:ROHIT KUMAR
UP Mosque near highway which caused at least 80 road fatalities finally demolished after 10 year delay: opindia



Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:17 PM)

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