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Friday,03-December-2021

Crime

CBI questions Abhishek’s sister-in-law Menka in coal smuggling case

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A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recorded the statement of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s sister-in-law Menka Gambhir in connection with its probe into the illegal coal smuggling case.

According to CBI officials, an eight-member team of the CBI led by Investigation officer Umesh Kumar along with two women officers arrived at the residence of Gambhir and recorded her statement for over two and half hours.

CBI sources said that the agency questioned her about few banking transactions.

The development comes a day after CBI summoned Gambhir on Sunday to record her statement in the case, which it registered in November last year.

Meanwhile, Abhishek’s wife Rujira Banerjee, who was delivered a summon at her residence on Sunday afternoon also responded to the CBI and agreed to be question on Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at her residence.

Abhishek is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee.

The CBI action comes ahead of the high octane Assembly polls scheduled later this year where the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP are in a bitter contest.

Following the CBI action, Abhishek on Sunday said that he has full faith in the law of land, but asserted that he would not be cowed down.

“At 2 p.m. today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife. We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not the ones who would ever be cowed down,” he said in a tweet.

Reacting to the development, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh had said that there is nothing new in it as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying everything to unseat the Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal.

“They are using central agencies to malign the image of Abhishek Banerjee ahead of the state Assembly elections. The CBI notice is just a step towards that,” he said.

The CBI had registered a case of illegal theft of coal last year in November. The agency had registered a case against coal mafia Anup Majhi alias Lala, his deputy J. Mondal, and other unidentified people, including some employees of the Eastern Coalfields Ltd. and of other Central government offices. It was alleged that Majhi was involved in coal theft from the leasehold mines of the ECL in Kunustoria and Kajora areas.

On November 28 last year, the CBI had conducted raids at 45 locations in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh in connection with the coal smuggling racket.

On February 19, the CBI team carried out searches at 13 locations in four districts of West Bengal, including the premises of coal mafia Jaidev Mondal.

Crime

Centre clarifies on 3rd wave possibility after Omicron detection

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Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa. India has also reported two cases of Omicron Covid variant and is likely to spread to more countries.

“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” said the Health Ministry on Friday. It added further that the scale and magnitude of rise in cases and most importantly the severity of disease that will be caused is still not clear.

On the question of existing vaccine efficacy against this variant, the health ministry has said that there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved.

“Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease, and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated,” it added.

The response measures for all variants of concern, including Omicron, is the same as that for SARs CoV2. The ministry has said that the precautions and steps to be taken remain the same as before. “It is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation to the maximum possible”, said the ministry in a statement.

The government is monitoring the situation closely and is issuing suitable guidelines, said the ministry, adding that the scientific and medical community is geared up for developing and deploying diagnostics, carrying out genomic surveillance, generating evidence about viral and epidemiologic characteristics, and development of therapeutics.

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Crime

Trouble looms for Balakrishnan as Mumbai HC to hear son’s DNA case

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The Mumbai High Court has posted for January 4 the case of a DNA test result of Binoy Kodiyeri, the elder son of CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who was all set to return as Kerala CPI-M state secretary.

A woman from Bihar has alleged that Binoy had a relationship with her while she was working at a dance bar in Dubai in 2008 and till 2015, he used to send her money every month. They also have an eight-year-old child.

The woman had first filed a petition in 2019 and in July 2019 Binoy approached the Mumbai High Court seeking dismissal of the rape case filed by the woman. The court asked all the three to go for a DNA test and Binoy appeared for it on July 30, 2019.

Following which the case went into a limbo. In December 2020 the DNA result was filed before the court in a sealed cover and on Thursday the woman approached the court wanting to know the result. The court has now posted this case for January 4.

Incidentally Balakrishnan who is a cancer patient, was given medical leave by the party soon after his younger son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested in October 2020 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

However Balakrishnan breathed easy when Bineesh got bail from the Karnataka High Court after being in a jail in Bengaluru in October this year. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan strongly backed Balakrishnan to return to the post and the green signal was to have come from the state secretariat on Friday, when came the news about Binoy.

The news about Binoy has come at a time when the CPI-M, ahead of the party state conference scheduled for early next year, wanted Balakrishnan to take over. Sources in the know of things say Balakrishnan will be asked to take over after the national leadership of the party last month asked the state leadership to take a call on it.

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Crime

Five dead, one injured in road accident in Gurugram

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 Five people were killed after a car crashed into a roadside wall and overturned on Sadhrana road near Gadhi village here on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

According to police, the deceased have been identified as Sagar, Jibech, Niaz Khan, Prince and Jagbir.

One person, identified as Hardik Tiwari, was injured in the incident.

The victims were returning to Gurugram city from Sadhrana village after attending a marriage.

“All of them were coming from a wedding ceremony in Sadhrana village. The mishap was a result of speeding and a damaged road. All the victims used to work in a city-based private hospital. Police are taking necessary action,” Gurugram police spokesperson Subhash Boken said.

“The injured man has been shifted to a hospital in critical condition. While the bodies have been sent for post-mortem. Further probe is on,” he added.

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