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Saturday,06-March-2021

Crime

Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa won’t appear before NIA on Sunday

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Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa on Saturday said he will not be able to appear before the counter-terror task force, National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Sunday owing to his pre-occupations relating to the wedding of his granddaughter and he would remain busy in family affairs till February 7.

He said he got the notice on WhatsApp at a short notice and there was no formal notice from the agency.

The President of Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society, one of the unions participating in talks with the Government of India over the new farm laws, on Friday night came to know from a reporter that the NIA issued him a notice in connection with a case registered against banned outfit the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

Talking to the media in this Punjab city, Sirsa accused the central government for trying to derail the farmers’ protest by adopting various means.

“First, they (the government) tried to put pressure on us (farmers) through people and politicians and then through the Supreme Court. Now it is using the NIA,” he said candidly.

Without mincing words, he said, “The government is trying to ‘torpedo’ our agitation.”

Accompanying three others who too got the NIA notice regarding the case against the SFJ activists, the farmer leader, who didn’t participate in the last and the ninth round of talks between the farmers and the government, asked the NIA to give him time to appear before it after February 7.

“Before it, it is difficult for me to appear (owing to the marriage of my granddaughter),” he said.

Sirsa said many people associated with the agitation have got the NIA summons. “The government tries to terrorise those working for farmers. We are not afraid and going to bend with such tactics. The government is bent on defaming the protest.”

In a surprise move, the NIA has sent notices to over a dozen of people, including a journalist, farmer leaders associated with the agitation and others, in connection with its probe into the SFJ case.

The NIA last month filed a charge sheet against 10 Khalistani terrorists, including US-based designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, in the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) case in the special NIA court in Mohali in Punjab.

Crime

SUV near Ambani home: ‘Don’t politicize Hiren’s death’

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Terming the mystery death of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiren as “unfortunate”, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Saturday said it would be wrong to politicize it and point accusing fingers at the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

Interacting with mediapersons, he said unraveling the truth behind the intriguing death of Hiren was critical for the “image and prestige” of the MVA government.

Hiren shot into the limelight after his stolen SUV, a Scorpio, was found parked suspiciously outside Antilia, the lavish multistoried home of Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman Mukesh Ambani, on February 25, in south Mumbai.

The police later recovered 20 gelatin sticks and a purported typewritten threat letter, creating a sensation in the country’s corporate and political circles.

“It will be wrong to politicize the (Hiren’s) death and put the government in the dock Doubts are being raised whether his death was a suicide or a murder. The police are investigating. He was also an important witness in the (SUV) case,” Raut said.

He also called upon the home department to find the truth about Hiren’s death at the earliest and urged the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to have faith in the police probe.

“The Home Minister has already handed over the case to the Anti Terrorist Squad There’s no need for transferring it to the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” Raut stated.

Hours after Hiren’s autopsy was completed but the report and doctors’ opinion kept in ‘reserve’, his family demanded that the post-mortem report and the video-recording of the procedure must be made public.

An ATS team on Saturday morning visited the marshes adjacent to the Thane Creek near Mumbai from where the body of Hiren – an expert swimmer – was fished out on Friday morning.

ATS sleuths and Thane Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Avinash Ambure, and several BJP leaders visited the family at their residence in Vikas Palms society in Charai where the police have deployed tight security since early Saturday morning.

The Naupada Police on Friday lodged an accident death report even as further probe by the ATS is underway as the sensitive case sparked off a political row.

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Bollywood

NCB’s 12K-page charge sheet ‘damp squib’: Rhea Chakraborty’s lawyer

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Terming the voluminous 12,000-page charge sheet filed against Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and 31 others as “expected”, their lawyer Satish Maneshinde launched a sharp attack on the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), virtually accusing it of a witch-hunt, here on Saturday.

“All efforts of the NCB have been directed towards Rhea Chakraborty, to somehow rope her in. The entire NCB, from top to bottom was engaged in unearthing the drug angle in Bollywood,” Maneshinde said.

“The charge sheet is a damp squib standing on the foundation of inadmissible evidence and statements recorded under NDPS Act Sec. 67 even after the Supreme Court judgement in the Toofan Singh case. Without Rhea Chakraborty being charged, this case has no substance,” Maneshinde said.

Referring to the NCB’ contentions in the charge sheet that it has seized various narcotic drugs (Charas, Ganja, LSD, Ecstasy) and psychotropic substances (Alprazolam and Clonazepam), the lawyer rubbished the federal drug agency’s claims.

“The entire amount of ‘Narcotic Substances’ recovered against the 33 accused are nothing compared to what even a Constable in Mumbai Police or Narcotics Cell or the Airport Customs or other agencies recover from one raid or trap,” Maneshinde pointed out.

Moreover, he said there’s hardly any material against any known faces, who were paraded during the investigations, and wondered whether the allegations were false, or “only God knows the Truth”.

The lawyer added that even the Bombay High Court did not find prima facie material at the stage of bail of the ‘alleged’ financing of drugs trade, as claimed by the NCB.

Maneshinde’s strong reactions came a day after the NCB lodged its charge sheet — a 11,700-page plus more in electronic format — with the Special NDPS Court in Mumbai, signalling an end to the probe.

The NCB came into the picture in August 2020 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) stumbled on the drugs aspect of its probe into the financial angles surrounding the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14 at his rented duplex in Bandra, Mumbai.

Besides Rhea and Showik, the NCB has named the late actor’s ex-manager Samuel Miranda, his domestic help Dipesh Sawant, a drug peddler Anuj Keshwani from whom commercial quantity of drugs like LSD sheets and Marijuana) were first recovered.

Also figuring in the charge sheet are two foreigners — actor Arjun Rampal’s South African girlfriend and model Gabriella Demetriades, her brother Agisilaos Demetriades, besides Kshitij Prasad, a former executive producer with Dharma Productions, and two collegians, said to be the last-mile peddlers.

“We will have the last laugh Satyameva Jayate,” an unfazed Maneshinde concluded.

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Crime

Coal case: CBI notice against Trinamool leader’s brother

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Swinging into action against Trinamool Congress youth wing leader Vinay Mishra’s brother, Vikas Mishra, in an alleged coal smuggling case, the central probe agency has issued a look out circular (LOC) notice.

A senior CBI official in Delhi told IANS: “The CBI has issued a LOC against Vikas Mishra today.” The action comes as West Bengal gets battle-ready for a crucial Assembly poll in March-April, with results expected on May 2.

According to CBI officials, an LOC against Vinay was issued earlier as he has been absconding in the coal smuggling case. Now a LOC has also been issued against Vikas, the official said.

The CBI had registered a case against the alleged kingpin of the pilferage racket Anup Majhi alias Lala, Eastern Coalfield Ltd General Managers Amit Kumar Dhar and Jayesh Chandra Rai, ECL chief of security Tanmay Das, area security inspector Kunustoria Dhananjay Rai, and SSI and security in-charge Kajora area Debashish Mukherjee.

On February 23, the CBI team questioned Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in Kolkata in connection with the case. The CBI also quesstioned Rujira’s sister Menka Gambhir on February 22.

Following the questioning of Rujira and Gambhir, the CBI team also carried out searches in Kolkata on the premises of a businessman Randhir Kumar Barnwal on February 26 this year.

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 had also carried out searches at 13 locations in four districts of West Bengal including the premises of coal mafia Jaidev Mondal.

The action of the CBI assumes importance as the polling to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases, on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Voting will take place on May 2.

The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP are engaged in bitter war of words in the state.

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