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Interpol issues 3 Red Corner notices against Mehul Choksi’s suspected kidnappers

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 The Interpol has issued three red corner notices against persons suspected of kidnapping and torturing fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi in May 2021.

These moves were at the Antigua and Barbuda authorities’ request.

A statement issued by the police force of the island nation said: “Those Red Notices were approved (by a magistrate of the country Conliffe Clarke) and issued (by Interpol).”

The Interpol notices are a setback for Indian law enforcement and intelligence agencies, who accuse Choksi of defrauding the public sector Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore and want him for questioning in India.

Choksi denies the charge and insists his companies never defaulted on loans from the bank.

Choksi, who has apparently been a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda since 2017, complained that he was beaten up, blindfolded and forcibly taken on a boat from Antigua to Dominica, another island in the West Indies.

This complaint was prima facie upheld by an interim finding of the Antiguan police as well as by a Dominican court.

The charge made by Choksi was he was lured into a Hungarian woman’s flat in Antigua, following which two UK-based men of Indian descent took him to Dominica and handed him over to Dominican police.

Reportedly, Indian law enforcement officers arrived in Dominica on a leased Qatar Airways executive jet to secretly whisk him away to India; but were dramatically thwarted by a local radio presenter, Loftus Durand, breaking the news of Choksi’s illegal detention.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, Atlee Rodney, has sternly denied any collusion between his force and Choksi as suggested in an article circulated by an Indian news agency and carried by a section of Indian news media last week.

The piece seemingly quoted a blogger Kenneth Rijock (described as “a renowned financial crimes investigator”), who the wire report claimed “said that Choksi has been scheming to illegally extend the court process in Antigua, by paying bribes to government officials, including senior Antigua police official, Adonis Henry”.

“Multiple witnesses report that Choksi and Inspector Henry have been meeting at least three times a day at Al Porto, a Jolly Harbour (an area in Antigua) restaurant reportedly owned by Choksi, wrote Rijock in his financial crime blob.”

“Choksi not only reached out to Henry but also tried to influence Antigua magistrate Conliffe Clarke through illegal payments,” it added.

Reacting to such reporting, Commissioner Rodney stated: “It is most unfortunate that Mr Kenneth Rijock, on his internet blog, made several false statements, concerning the Antigua and Barbuda Police Force in relation to Mr Mehul Choksi without ascertaining the facts.

“The entire blog is false with inadequate or no research of the facts and has a malicious purpose and ought not to have been posted.”

The Antiguan police testified that only two meetings took place between Choksi and Inspector Henry.

“Both engagements occurred around August 2021 and June 2022 during an investigation… at Mr Choksi’s office… in the presence of his attorney.”

A media report in IMI, an internet media outlet, claimed Rijock received a four-year federal prison sentence for duping US tax authorities and that there are several libel cases against him.

As for Choksi attempting to influence Magistrate Clarke to delay court proceedings relating to India’s demand for his extradition, Antigua News Room, a media portal, produced a copy of a letter his attorneys have written to the Registrar of the High Court in Antigua.

The letter pointed out that Rijock’s article, as reported via a news agency, “has the clear and significant potential to undermine the justice system of Antigua and Barbuda”.

Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s party was re-elected in a general election on Wednesday.

There was no comment from the government.

Crime

RS extends condolences to earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria

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 The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday paid condolences to the victims of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.

Leading the house, Chairman Jagdeep Shankar said that the house wishes that those who are still in the rubbles are rescued.

On Tuesday, India dispatched the first batch of humanitarian aid along with a rescue team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to Turkey where a massive 7.8-magnitude quake has killed over 4,300 people and injured thousands others.

Taking to Twitter, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “India’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) capabilites in action.”

“The 1st batch of earthquake relief material leaves for Turkey, along with NDRF Search & Rescue Team, specially trained dog squads, medical supplies, drilling machines & other necessary equipment.”

The 51-member NDRF team headed by Deputy Commandant Deepak Talwar left from the Hindon Airport in Ghaziabad for Turkey on board an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft in the early hours of Tuesday.

Also in a tweet, the IAF said that “An IAF C-17 got airborne for Turkey. Bearing Search & Rescue teams of the @NDRFHQ.”

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Crime

Shraddha Walkar murder: Delhi court takes cognisance of charge sheet, scrutiny on Feb 21

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A Delhi court on Tuesday took cognisance of the charge sheet filed by Delhi Police against Aaftab Amin Poonawala, accused of murdering his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar and then chopping her body into several pieces.

On January 24, the police had filed the charge sheet in the case which contains over 6,000 pages and the court had extended Poonawala’s custody for 14 days.

After taking cognisance of the charge sheet, the court posted the matter for its scrutiny on February 21.

According to sources, the charge sheet was prepared on the basis of forensic and electronic evidence, and has around 100 witnesses.

Poonawala has been accused of killing Walkar and then chopping her body into several pieces and storing them in a refrigerator before disposing of them in the Chhatarpur forest area over a period of three months.

During the last hearing when Poonawala was produced before the court through video conferencing before Metropolitan Magistrate Aviral Shukla, he had contended that he wanted to change his lawyer.

Poonawala had demanded law books to study. The court had also directed the prison authorities to provide him with warm clothes.

On January 6, Poonawala had moved an application in the court seeking release of his debit and credit cards, citing the need for funds to purchase day-to-day items, as well as warm clothes.

Poonawala’s application was moved through his advocate seeking to release funds from his bank account citing that he did not have enough warm clothes to counter the winter chill inside the prison.

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Delhi: Riders of Ola Bike, Rapido among 5 held for robbery

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Delhi Police have arrested five men, including two riders of Swiggy, Rapido and Ola Bike, for allegedly robbing a 55-year-old man of Rs 32 lakh at gunpoint in Delhi.

New Delhi, Feb 6 : Delhi Police have arrested five men, including two riders of Swiggy, Rapido and Ola Bike, for allegedly robbing a 55-year-old man of Rs 32 lakh at gunpoint in Delhi.

The accused have been identified as Rihaan, Ansaar, Nazim, Rahul Verma and Aakash alias Yogesh.

Police said that Rahul and Aakash are working as a rider of online food delivery app Swiggy, online delivery app Rapido and Ola Bike.

According to Rohit Meena, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara), on January 29, 51-year-old Mohan Lal told police that three assailants came on a bike, hit him with the butt of the pistol, threatening to kill him, and robbed his bag containing Rs 32 lakh near Hedgewar Hospital in the area.

“During investigation, the route of travel was mapped and after an amalgamation of CCTV analysis, Rahul and Aakash were nabbed who upon interrogation revealed that many more persons were involved in conspiring, recce and execution of the robbery and thereafter they were booked under dacoity,” said the DCP.

Nazim, Ansaar and Rihaan were also nabbed after multiple raids. “Their interrogation revealed that one accused, who is on the run, planned the dacoity along with Ansaar, Nazim and Rihan. More persons are yet to be arrested,” said the DCP.

“The accused had been doing recce of Mohan Lal for the past 15 days and January 26, they planned to commit the dacoity but dropped it. on January 29, after making a foolproof plan which even involved weapons, they executed and looted Rs 32 lakh,” said the DCP.

“There were four bikes and nine persons, who were assigned individual tasks with minute details of execution. Further raids are being made to nab the remaining accused persons and to recover the remaining amount,” the official added.

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