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




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.


Maharashtra police bust illegal arms factory of Maoists in Gadchiroli




In a significant achievement, the commandos of Gadchiroli Police bust an illegal arms manufacturing factory deep in the forests of Aheri, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Friday.

A 70-strong force of commandoes battled Maoists’ gunfire as they charged into “the remote and virtually inaccessible core areas” of the rebels for over 48 hours before notching the stunning success, Deshmukh said.

The operation was carried out under the police’s Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign to weed out the strongholds of the rebels in this Maoist-infested district.

“One commando has received bullet injury on his leg and has been rushed to the headquarters in a helicopter for treatment. His condition is stable,” Deshmukh said.

The minister congratulated the Gadchiroli Police for their courage and dedication that resulted in this big victory over the Maoists.

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Maharashtra panel moots ’10-point’ agenda to end farmers’ suicides




A farm-panel on Friday submitted a ’10-point programme’ intended to arrest the agrarian crises in Maharashtra and end the saga of farmers’ suicides in the state, a top official said here.

The Vasantrao Naik Shet Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari, accorded a Minister of State status, formally submitted the 10-point charter to Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte.

On his part, Kunte directed the Agriculture Department to initiate the necessary measures in the matter on priority, Tiwari told IANS after the meeting.

The parched Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh regions of the state have been under the grip of a severe agro-crisis since the past nearly 25 years, forcing thousands of woeful farmers to end their lives and the trend continues even now.

“Despite measures, relief packages or loan-waivers worth over Rs five-lakh crore given by successive governments, the core issues remain untouched and need to be addressed on top priority to bring succour to the peasantry,” Tiwari told Kunte.

The 10-point programme includes: state to address input cost reduction and output cost intervention; shifting to crop pattern as per demand of the local and global market; to stop frequent failure of the credit-cycle in new farm credit policy; secondary livelihood management income activity; core issues of irrigation, water conservation, soil health revival; proper risk management with effective crop insurance and climate change issue.

Besides, Tiwari called for proper incentive for agroforestry, promotion of pulses and oilseed crops; professional quality health and education rural infrastructure; food security; and improvement in the quality of local governance.

The VNSSM chief contended that the rural agrarian distress also remained unresolved owing to a hostile administration, non-cooperation of the bankers, ill-intended interventions and complex issues pertaining to social-engineering, besides the economic crises in the country, especially in the past seven years.

Tiwari assured Kunte that the VNSSM has a detailed ready plan to tackle all these issues which can eliminate ‘directionless relief or loan waivers packages’ and end the cycle of farmers suicides on a permanent basis.

In the past 25 years or so, Tiwari said an estimated 35,000-plus farmers, including several women, have resorted to the extreme step of suicide as they could not bear the burden of pending loans, leaving behind a large number of destitute widows and orphans across the state.

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22-year-old woman hangs herself, two children




A 22-year-old woman committed suicide by hanging herself along with her two children following an argument with her husband in Subhash Place area of Delhi, the police said.

According to the police, on Thursday the woman had sought permission for going to her native place Madhubani in Bihar for the Mundan ceremony of their child. But this turned into an argument. Thereafter, the husband left for work. After he left the woman hanged herself along with the two children.

“The husband of the woman was on his job. After coming back from work he saw them hanging from the window. The door of the room was closed from inside and he broke it open with the help of neighbours,” said Usha Rangnani, DCP North West.

They were married about five years ago, Rangnani said, adding that the bodies have been sent to a hospital for postmortem.

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