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Maneka Gambhir’s Bangkok visit remains uncertain as Calcutta HC refuses plea

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Maneka Gambhir’s trip to Bangkok to visit her mother there has remained uncertain as a vacation bench of the Calcutta High Court refused to hear her plea on this ground on Thursday.

Instead, the Calcutta High Court’s vacation bench of Justice Lapita Bandopadhyay has referred the matter to the regular bench of the court, which means that the matter will be heard only after the full operations of the court resume at the end of the ongoing festive season in the state.

Maneka Gambhir is the sister-in-law of Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary and party MP, Abhishek Banerjee. While rejecting her plea, Justice Bandopadhyay observed on Thursday that since Gambhir has already made a similar plea at a regular bench of the Calcutta High Court earlier, there is no justification of hearing in the matter by a vacation bench.

On October 17, she made an application at a vacation bench for the permission to go to Bangkok to visit her ailing mother there. However, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed the request on grounds that another single judge bench of the court had already refused to entertain a similar plea.

On the night of September 10, the immigration department at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata did not allow Gambhir to board a flight to the Thai capital due to the look out notice issued against her by the ED.

In response, she filed a contempt of court petition against the probe agency ED at the single judge bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya.

Her contention was that when there was a prior court order barring the central agency from adopting any cohesive action against her, such a refusal amounted to contempt of court.

However on September 30, Justice Bhattacharya’s bench dismissed the contempt of court petition and observed that neither the ED nor the immigration department had resorted to any sort of contempt of court by denying her the permission to board the flight.

Gambhir was questioned by the ED on September 12 in connection with the central agency’s ongoing probe on the coal smuggling scam in West Bengal.

The ED sleuths have also questioned Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Narula Banerjee on this count.

Crime

Mumbai: Minor boy detained for raping 5-year-old girl in Nagpada; victim to get free education till 10th std

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A minor boy was detained for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl in Nagpada and sent to a juvenile correction centre.

He was detained within six hours of the crime.

Free education till 10th standard for victim

The Nagpada police officials have collected Rs 1.10 lakh for the victim and have made provisions for giving her free education till the 10th standard.

A case has been registered under sections of IPC and POCSO.

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Crime

Teachers scam: WhatsApp chat hinting question paper leak recovered

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 The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the multi-crore teachers’ recruitment scam, has recovered WhatsApp chats hinting at possible advance leaking of question papers to select candidates who took the written examination for primary teachers’ posts in West Bengal in 2016.

Sources said that the selective leaking of question papers were mainly done by the youth Trinamool Congress leader, Kuntal Ghosh, who was arrested by the ED from his residence on January 21.

The probe agency has also recovered Whatsapp chats indicating that Ghosh enjoyed the patronage of former state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

From the documents seized from Ghosh’s residence, the central agency officials have also recovered copies of the admit cards of certain candidates who appeared for the recruitment examination for primary teachers in 2016.

The ED sleuths have come across the names of 35 individuals who secured jobs as teachers in state- run schools by paying money to the arrested youth leader and all of them are currently employed with different schools. Each and every one of them will be questioned to take the investigation forward.

“The recruitment scam seems to be in multiple layers, which again have sub-layers involving multiple players and multiple angles. The uncovering of one layer is leading to other layers. That’s why the investigation process is getting prolonged,” said a legal associate of ED.

The fact that question papers were leaked to select candidates was established after the ED sleuths noticed that some extremely below-average candidates, as per their academic records, scored exorbitantly in the recruitment examination.

Sources said that the marks secured in their academic examinations did not justify their scores in their optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets.

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Crime

Israeli fighter jets strike Gaza in response to rockets firing

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Israeli fighter jets on Friday carried out a series of airstrikes on facilities belonging to militant groups in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from the coastal enclave, witnesses said.

Israeli army drones and fighter jets were heard buzzing in the air, and several explosions were heard in central Gaza Strip, the witnesses told Xinhua news agency.

They added that more than 14 missiles were fired at a military post that belonged to Gaza militant groups.

Palestinian medical sources said that no injuries were reported during the strikes that mainly targeted posts and facilities that belong to the Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The airstrikes were in response to the firing of two rockets at southern Israel, said a spokesman from the Jewish state’s army.

No group has claimed responsibility for firing the rockets, which was a response to the killing of nine Palestinians during an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp, deemed to be the most deadly in nearly two decades.

During the Israeli airstrikes on Friday, militants in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave also fired at least five rockets at southern Israeli communities close to the borders with the Gaza Strip and anti-craft missiles were fired at Israeli fighter jets by Hamas militants, sources close to Hamas security told Xinhua.

Media outlets in Gaza quoted an Egyptian source as saying that Egyptian intelligence is in intensive contact with the Palestinian factions to prevent an escalation in Gaza.

More than 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in 2022, and at least 29 have been killed in January this year, according to figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry.

According to the UN, 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.

The tensions have been further aggravated since Israel’s most right-wing government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took office last month.

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