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Judicial custody of Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid extended till November 23




A Delhi Court on Friday extended the judicial custody of JNU scholar Umar Khalid and research scholar Sharjeel Imam, accused in the Delhi riots case, till November 23.

Both the accused, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were produced before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat through video conferencing at the end of their judicial remand.

The case against the duo pertains to a ‘conspiracy’ to incite the riots, which had left 53 people dead and 748 injured. In the case filed against Khalid, the police had claimed that the communal violence was a premeditated conspiracy allegedly hatched by Khalid and others.

On November 6, the Delhi government had given sanction to Delhi Police for prosecution of Khalid. On receiving prosecution sanction against Khalid from Delhi government as well as Home Ministry, the Delhi Police can now name him in their supplementary chargesheet.

To prosecute the accused under Section 13 of the UAPA, the Delhi Police needed sanction from the MHA and under Sections 16, 17 and 18 from the Delhi government.

The Delhi Police has filed a 17,500-page chargesheet against 15 persons for “propagating violence” during the riots. The chargesheet were filed under the UAPA, Arms Act, and the Indian Penal Code.


CBI searches multiple locations in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala; recovers Rs 1 crore




The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday carried out searches in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in connection with two separate cases of disproportionate asset and graft registered against a Railways Chief Engineer, Assistant Director of India Tourism and others, and recovered cash to the tune of Rs 1.07 crore, officials said.

A CBI official here said that the first case was registered against Ravish Kumar, CEDE, ECR in Bihar’s Hajipur over the allegations of acquiring huge moveable and immovable properties in his name and in the name of his family members during the period January 2009 to October 2020 while posted in Railway.

The official said that it was further alleged in FIR that during the said period, the accused received a total income of Rs 1.04 crore from his salary and others and Rs 40 lakh income of his wife.

The CBI official further said that during the said period, Kumar’s total expenses were allegedly Rs 67.41 lakh. “Thus, his likely saving during check period was allegedly Rs 76.59 lakh,” he said.

The official said that it was also alleged that during the said period, he acquired and possessed movable and immovable assets at various places in his name and in the name of his family members of value of Rs 3.4 crore.

It was further alleged that during check period disproportionate assets have been computed as approx Rs 2.64 crore, which is approx 183.40 per cent of his net income, which is disproportionate to his known sources of the income.

The official said that searches were conducted today at the premises of accused and others including relatives which led to recovery of cash of Rs 76 lakh, documents related to investment in around 15 properties, investment in jewellery and banks etc. and several incriminating documents.

The official said that in the second case the agency has named S.Ramakrishnan, Assistant Director, India Tourism in Tamil Nadu’s Chennai and others including unknown private and public servants on the allegations that the accused along with the Regional Director conduct periodical inspection in various hotels for the purpose of issuing classification or licence and in the process, in conspiracy with Consultant or Hotel owners, undue advantage is obtained by him and others.

He said, it was further alleged that the accused would be proceeding to Palani near Madurai with the bribe amount of Rs 7 lakh collected from various hoteliers for giving favourable report.

“Ramakrishnan was intercepted while proceeding Palani,” the official said.

He further said that searches were conducted around 15 places located in Patna, Chennai, Kochi, Ernakulam & Kollam which led to recovery of cash of Rs 31 lakh and incriminating documents.

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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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