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India catches only 2 of 72 fugitive scamsters in 5 years: RTI




In a candid admission, the Centre has stated that of the 72 absconding economic offenders, the government has managed to bring only two in the past nearly six years, as per a reply under the Right To Information (RTI).

On January 4, 2019, the government had submitted the names of 27 businessmen who had defaulted on bank loans or other economic offences since 2015.

A year later on February 5, 2020, the Minister of State for Finance S.P. Shukla informed the Lok Sabha that a total of 72 Indians charged with frauds or financial irregularities are currently abroad and efforts are being made to bring them back to the country.

Mumbai RTI activist Jeetendra Ghadge, taking the 2019 reply as the base, filed an application with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking details of those from among the 27 absconders who were successfully brought back home.

“I was shocked to learn that till date only 2 of the fugitives have been brought back to India to face the laws… They are Vinay Mittal and Sunny Kalra.

“The RTI reply doesn’t comment on the other absconders, many of whom are very big names,” Ghadge told IANS.

As per the MoSF reply to Lok Sabha in 2019, the hit-list included both individuals and families: Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Neeshal Modi, Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi, Nitin J. Sandesara, Dipti Chetankumar Sandesara.

Besides, Sunny Kalra, Sanjay Kalra, S.K. Kalra, Aarti Kalra, Varsha Kalra, Umesh Parekh, Kamlesh Parekh, Nilesh Parekh, Ashish Jobanputra, Priti Ashish Jobanputra, Hitesh N. Patel, Mayuri Patel, Rajiv Goyal, Alka Goyal, Pushpesh Baid, Jatin Mehta, Eklavya Garg, Vinay Mittal, Sabya Seth and Ritesh Jain.

MoSF Shukla further said that the government is making an all-out effort to bring back the culprits by Look Out Circular, Red Corner Notice, extradition requests or action under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, depending on the cases.

The government said the extradition option is quite complicated as it involves the legal process as per bilateral treaties, if any, with the concerned country and its own domestic laws, even as the number of fugitives tripled in a year.

Both the offenders Sunny Kalra and Vinay Mittal were finally brought back to face various charges of allegedly duping public and private sector banks of huge amounts.

Mittal, extradited from Indonesia in 2018, is accused of defrauding 7 banks to the tune of around Rs 40 crore, while Sunny Kalra brought back by CBI in March 2020 is charged with a Rs 10-crore loan fraud involving Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Ghadge said that two other queries pertaining to the Look Out Circular and Red Corner Notice against the absconders, was forwarded to the CBI and Ministry of Home Affairs who flatly declined to enlighten on the issue, prompting a First Appeal which is pending.

“Merely hauling back the small fries won’t instill fear among the white-collar criminals… The government must catch the big fish like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Nitin J. Sandesara, Lalit Modi, etc. to curb the loot of public monies,” Ghadge said.

As per an earlier statement in Lok Sabha in March 2018, the government had said that 31 economic offenders had fled abroad, and many of them also figured in the list provided a year later in 2019.

The 2018 list included Ami Nirav Modi, Sanjay Bhandari, Soumit Jena, Vijaykumar Revabhai Patel, Sunil Ramesh Rupani, Surender Singh, Angad Singh, Harsahib Singh, Harleen Kaur, Nithin J. Sandesara, Hemant Gandhi, Ishwar Bhat, M.G. Chandrasekhar, C.V. Sudeer, Nausha Kadeejath and C.V. Sadiq.


Railway bribery case: Vijay Singla met accused Sandeep Goyal at ex-Min Bansal’s bungalow




Vijay Singla, the nephew of then railway minister and Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal held meetings with Sandeep Goyal, one of the accused in the railway bribery scam, at the Delhi residence of the Minister and also used his landline phone, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in its charge sheet in the railway bribery scam case.

The revelations were made in the ED charge sheet that has been filed in a Special PMLA court in Chandigarh last month, which has been viewed by IANS.

In his statement to ED in December 2018, Singla stated that he “met Goyal at the official residence of Bansal”, who was then the Railway Minister.

Singla further stated that he stayed on number of times at the residence of Bansal in Delhi and also used his official landline phone.

The financial probe agency has filed a charge sheet against Mahesh Kumar, then Member Staff of the Railway Board, Singla, N. Manjunath, Goyal, Ajay Garg, Rahul Yadav, Sameer Sandhir, Sushil Daga, C.V. Venugopal, M.V. Murali Krishna and Venketeshwara Rail Nirman Pvt. Ltd. under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED case is based on the FIR and charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Kumar, Singla, Goyal and seven other accused persons.

The CBI had arrested Singla red handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 89.68 lakh for favourable posting of Kumar, a 1975 batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE) as Member (Electrical), Railway Board.

“During the investigation it was revealed that Manjunath on behalf of Kumar had persuaded various Railway vendors/S&T manufactures/contractors for making arrangement of bribe amount for promotion of Kumar as Member (Electrical) by alluring them that all the contributors will be taken care of/benefited from the desired posting of Kumar,” the official said.

It was also found that for the favourable posting of Kumar, the first instalment of the bribe amount of Rs 89.68 lakh was contributed by Manjunath, Krishna, Daga and Venketeshwara Rail Nirman Pvt. Ltd.

The officer said Rs 50 lakh was contributed by Manjunath himself, Rs 25 lakh by Krishna, Rs 5 lakh by Daga and Rs 10 lakh from the account of Venketeshwara Rail Nirman Pvt. Ltd. by Rahul Yadav and Daga.

“The said amount was routed through the account of various companies or individuals and with assistance of hawala agents,” the officer said, adding: “The amount Rs 89.68 lakh was finally made available at Delhi in the form of cash which was delivered to Singla at his office in Sector 28, Chandigarh by the employees of Daga and Yadav of Delhi.”

The ED in July this year questioned Bansal for several hours in Chandigarh in connection with the case.

In May last year, the ED had attached the Rs 89 lakh amount which the CBI seized from the office of Bansal’s nephew Singla in 2013 in the corruption case related to appointments at top positions in the railways, when the Congress leader was the Union Railway Minister in the United Progressive Alliance-2 regime.

Bansal had to step down from the post after the controversy.

“Singla demanded Rs 10 crore through Sandeep Goyal from N. Manjunath to get Mahesh Kumar posted as Member (Electrical),” the ED had said, quoting the CBI probe.

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12 years after 26/11, Pakistan’s Punjab is imploding




Twelve years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the Pakistan province of Punjab – the place where the attacks were plotted – is imploding.

The province is in the grip of Islamist fundamentalism which was until recently led by a cleric named Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the founder of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), an extremist organisation which believes in the execution of “blasphemers” of Islam.

The wheelchair-bound cleric along with thousands of his supporters recently held protest demonstrations in Islamabad demanding the Imran Khan government to sever Pakistan’s diplomatic ties with France over the fresh controversy related to the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. Given the popularity of the movement, the Khan government under pressure signed an agreement with TLP that it will cut off its relations with France after the National Assembly approved it in three months.

Mysteriously, Rizvi died at the age of 54 on November 19. After his burial, his son, Hafiz Saad Rizvi, with an equally massive following as his father, vowed to carry forward Rizvi’s mission against “blasphemy”.

What connects Rizvis with the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks — the mastermind and chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Saeed, terrorist Ajmal Kasab, Lashkar operatives David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana — is the Punjab province of Pakistan. Not only are all of them from the same province, but all share the same fundamentalistic zeal for Islam and issues related to blasphemy.

While Headley and Rana were affiliated to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which follows the hardline Deobandi school of Islam, Rizvis are Barelvis, once deemed Islam’s moderate strain. But the extremist face of Barelvis got exposed in Pakistan when Khadim Rizvi backed Mumtaz Qadri who had assassinated Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer for supporting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been wrongly jailed for alleged blasphemy against Islam. When Qadri was convicted, Khadim Rizvi led a mass movement for his freedom. After he was hanged in 2016, Qadri got a massive funeral, shocking the whole world. The movement culminated in the creation of TLP.

Interestingly, Headley and Rana, apart from planning the Mumbai terror attacks against India, were also driven by the same issue of blasphemy. At the direction of Lashkar, both planned a terror attack against Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which had published 12 cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in 2005. The cartoons led to protests, including violence by Muslims world wide.

The recent Khadim Rizvi-led renewed movement against “blasphemy” was triggered after a French teacher showed caricatures of the Prophet in a class discussion on free speech. The teacher was beheaded by an Islamist student, drawing global condemnation. French President Emmanuel Macron not only stood by the teacher and France’s freedom of expression, he made it clear that his country will not tolerate Islamist radicalism.

Even Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is on the same page as Headley, Rana and Khadim Rizvi on the issue of blasphemy. He was critical of France and warned that “blasphemy” against Islam can’t be committed under the garb of free speech.

Insiders in Pakistan say that Islamic radicalisation has reached its peak in Punjab province.

“This is a result of Pakistan Army’s repeated use of religious fundamentalists of different sects in Punjab province for its own strategic goals against India. All the hard liner schools, Deobandi, Jamaat-e-Islami and Ahl-e-Hadith, were used to create terror groups in Punjab province aimed at India in Kashmir. All their chiefs and terror camps for Kashmir remain intact even as there has been so much international pressure.

“But since 26/11, it has been the Barelvis, over 50 per cent of the population in Pakistan, who are driving Islamic fundamentalism within Pakistan. This is tearing apart the heart of Pakistan, that is Punjab,” a journalist from Lahore told IANS.

Majority of Pakistan’s top Army officers are also from the Punjab province.

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8-year-old ‘hangs self’ in Uttar Pradesh district




An eight-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh apparently died when she allegedly hanged herself from a ceiling fan at her home in Muzaffarnagar district.

According to Station House Officer (SHO) of Charthawal police station, Dharmendra Singh, by the time police reached the spot for investigation, the family members of the girl had already buried the body.

The incident took place in Nirdhana village. Apparently the drastic step was taken on Wednesday after her mother refused to take her along to a wedding ceremony.

The family members said the girl had been pressurising her mother to take her to the wedding ceremony of a relative but she instead took her son to the function.

According to villagers, the girl had locked the door from inside and hanged herself. The family members and some locals broke open the door and found her hanging.

The SHO said that the matter is being probed.

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