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Sunday,09-August-2020

National News

Congress demands CBI probe in Kerala gold smuggling case

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Congress-spokesperson-Randeep-Surjewala

After the seizure of 30 kg Gold at Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Congress has upped the ante and demanded CBI inquiry into the case to probe collusion of CPI-M and BJP leaders.

Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a statement said, “Indian National Congress demands a thorough inquiry by the CBI into the extent of this crime, and individuals in the ruling parties, the CPI-M at the State Level and the BJP at the Central Level.”

It is also likely that the individuals involved could not have done what they did, vis-a-vis the “audacious smuggling” of gold under the watch of the authorities and using diplomatic cargo which enjoys diplomatic immunity, without the support or knowledge of those not just in the state government but also in the central government, said Surjewala.

The matter relates to seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic consignment at the Trivandrum International Airport on Sunday which snowballed into a major political controversy in Kerala as the prime suspect, Swapna Suresh, a high-profile woman who wears many hats, happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

Surjewala in the statement said that given the magnitude of the criminal activity, the influential nature of those involved and the wide net of individuals across the Central and State Governments, it is only fitting that the investigation into the entire affair be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

National News

Rajnath Singh promised a bang, but ended with whimper: Chidambaram

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Rajnath-Singh

After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced an import embargo on 101 defence items, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram took a dig at him on Sunday and called his announcement a “whimper”.

“The Defence Minister promised a ‘bang’ on a Sunday morning and ended with a ‘whimper’!” Chidambaram said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Rajnath said: “The Ministry of Defence is now ready for a big push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. The MoD will introduce an import embargo on 101 items beyond the given timeline to boost indigenisation of defence production.”

Chidambaram pointed out that the only importer of defence equipment in India is the Defence Ministry. “Any import embargo is really an embargo on oneself.”

“What the Defence Minister said in his historic Sunday announcement deserved only an office order from the minister to his secretaries!” he added.

The Congress leader also said that the ‘import embargo’ is “high-sounding jargon”.

“But what it means is we will try to make the same equipment (that we import today) in 2 to 4 years and stop imports thereafter!” the former Finance Minister said.

Rajnath on Sunday announced the ban on import of 101 items to make Indian defence industry self-reliant and boost indigenisation.

The list of 101 embargoed items comprises not just simple parts but also some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, and radars.

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National News

Mukhtar Ansari’s aide, accomplice shot dead by STF in Lucknow

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Mukhtar Ansari.

A dreaded shooter, said to be a close aide of mafia don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari, was gunned down along with an accomplice by a team of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) on the outskirts of Lucknow on Sunday morning.

Officials said that shooter Rakesh Pandey aka Hanuman Pandey carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head.

STF IG Amitabh Yash said Pandey was gunned down in retaliatory firing when the STF team tried to arrest him after he went to an area falling in Sarojini Nagar police station limits to meet one of his accomplices.

Police said Pandey was involved in a number of murders and shootouts carried out by the Ansari’s gang in the past 23 years. He was also accused of hatching a conspiracy to kill BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, who was shot dead in 2005.

Pandey was, however, acquitted after a trial in a subordinate court.

The police officer said Pandey had at least 10 criminal cases registered against him between 1993 and 2010. He said the criminal was untraceable for the last 10 years or so.

Police was continuously trying to track him down for the past many months, the IG said.

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National News

Two disasters in 48 hours has affected Kerala badly: Kerala Governor

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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan who arrived here with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a few of his cabinet colleagues on Saturday, expressed deep sadness at the tragedy after visiting the injured at the Medical College hospital.

“In the past 48 hours, Kerala has seen two tragedies and this has affected the state very badly. I got a call from the President who has conveyed his deep condolences,” said Khan.

It was on Thursday night that a landslide near Munnar in Idukki district left 23 people dead. Around 50 people residing in four tea estate lines are missing after a portion of a huge hill came down on them.

And on Friday night an Air India Express flight from Dubai skidded off the runway at Kozhikode airport and fell into a 35 feet deep gorge, leaving 18 dead and several others injured.

Vijayan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him soon after learning about the accident.

“The flight had 190 people on board and included six crew. Eighteen people including the two pilots and a crew member have died. Among the dead are 14 senior citizens (seven men and 7 women) and four children. 149 of the injured passengers are in various hospitals, 23 of them have been discharged, while the condition of 21 is serious,” said Vijayan.

One passenger of the ill-fated flight has tested Covid positive and the results of all the others are awaited.

“The pilot and co-pilot and a crew member have lost their lives and Air India will take possession of their bodies. From 3 p.m. onwards the bodies of the victims will be handed over to the relatives. We have announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased, while the cost of the entire treatment of all the injured will be borne by the State. If need be, the State will again come to the help of all if there is a need,” said Vijayan.

“I will take this opportunity to thank each one who came to the rescue of the passengers the moment the accident occurred and it includes locals, airport officials and also the health professionals,” added Vijayan.

Both Khan and Vijayan also inspected the accident site.

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