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Sunday,28-February-2021

Crime

Sandalwood drug case: SC grants bail to Ragini Dwivedi

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The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Kannada film actress Ragini Dwivedi in the Sandalwood drug case, who has been in custody for four-and-half months.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing Dwivedi, contended before a bench headed by Justice R.F. Nariman that nothing was recovered from his client from the searches conducted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Karnataka government, submitted that the substance was not for personal use, instead she arranged it for the rave parties. Mehta insisted that there is a probability of tampering of evidence and the court may consider declining bail at least till the time charge sheet is filed in the case.

The bench also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph after a brief hearing in the matter granted bail to Dwivedi, who was in custody since September 4 last year. Granting bail, the court said on a prima facie finding only small quantities of drugs were involved and, hence Section 37 of NDPS Act was not attracted.

Dwivedi’s plea filed through advocate-on-record Sahil Bhalaik said the prosecution has concocted a false case against her to attract public attention. Bhalaik said though the state government claimed she was part of the drug racket, there was no material to show harbouring and finance in the case.

The plea argued that it is remarkable that Ragini has been made an accused and she was arrested on the statement of a co-accused in the case.

Dwivedi contended that the only on the basis of a false statement extracted by the police she has been implicated and became a victim of a media trial.

Dwivedi filed a special leave petition in the top court challenging the November 3 order of the Karnataka High Court, which declined to grant her relief along with another accused Sanjjanaa Galrani in the case. The duo was arrested by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch Police in September this year.

Ragini was arrested on September 4 and Sanjana on September 8 under various provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly consuming and supplying banned drugs at parties and events organised in the city over the last couple of years. All the accused are lodged in the central jail on the outskirts of the city’s southern suburb.

On September 28, the trial court had dismissed their bail applications on the grounds they could influence the other accused and hamper investigation into the drugs scam.

The special NDPS court had also refused to grant bail to both the actors on the same day (September 28).

The city police began a crackdown on the use of banned drugs in the Sandalwood industry in August last week after noted Kannada film producer Inderjit Lankesh alleged that about a dozen actors were into drugs and there was a nexus between them and drug mafias. Besides Ragini and Sanjana, 20 drug peddlers, party organisers and their associates were arrested and jailed pending the investigation.

Crime

India reports highest new daily Covid cases of February

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Fresh Covid-19 cases are showing a worrying upward trend over the past one week, with the country reporting single-day rise of 16,752 cases in the last 24 hours taking the overall tally to 1,10,96,731 on Sunday, Union Health Ministry said.

The rise is the highest in this month.

The positivity rate has been rising gradually, which is now at 1.48 per cent. As per the Ministry’s data, there are 1,64,511 active cases at present after 11,718 patients were discharged in a day.

Meanwhile, 113 more deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours, taking the overall toll to 1,57,051, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

The experts have expressed a number of possibilities which could be owed to the stride ranging from lax attitude of people towards following Covid protocols to likeability of “mutations and new strains” causing the surge, as has been studied by the laboratories involved in Covid detection across the country.

Last week, officials said that the average daily new infections for the last 15 days were oscillating between 9,000 to 12,000 while the deaths were between 78 to 120.

On February 9, India had reported 9,110 new cases, the lowest this year so far. Last year, the lowest 9,633 cases were recorded on June 3.

Till now, 1,07,75,169 persons have been discharged so far. The recovery rate has reduced to 97.10 per cent, a change of 0.4 per cent in the last two days. Meanwhile, the fatality rate remains 1.42 per cent.

On Friday, around 90 per cent of the new cases came from six states — Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka and Gujarat, while six states accounted for 84.62 per cent of the new deaths included Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.

The Ministry also informed that 7,95,723 samples were tested on Saturday. The cumulative tests done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) so far stands at 21,62,31,106.

So far, 1,43,01,266 doses of corona vaccine have been administered in the country since the drive began on January 16 after approval for ‘Covishield’ and ‘Covaxin’.

As per the Union Health Ministry, India has become the fastest nation in terms of the vaccine doses administered, even though many countries had launched their vaccination campaigns much earlier.

The third phase of vaccination against Covid-19 pandemic will begin from March 1 and will cover 27 crore of people above 60 and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. While people will be vaccinated free of cost at government hospitals, those taking the shots at private hospitals will have to pay.

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Crime

NIA names 4 in Delhi-Jharkhand human trafficking charge sheet

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National-Investigation-Agency

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday filed its first supplementary charge sheet against four people for running a human trafficking racket from Jharkhand to Delhi and neighbouring states.

The gang used to traffic vulnerable poor boy and girls from Jharkhand on the pretext of providing them jobs in Delhi and neighbouring states.

The case pertains to human trafficking in the guise of running placement agencies. It was initially registered in Jharkhand’s Khunti district on July 19, 2019 in which 37-year-old kingpin of the gang, Panna Lal Mahto, was arrested. Mahato was running a human trafficking network in Jharkhand and Delhi.

The NIA took over the case on June 13 last year.

During investigations, it was revealed that Panna Lal, along with his wife Sunita, was operating a human trafficking network in the guise of six placement agencies in Delhi. Sunita is still absconding.

The agency said that the victims were exploited and were never paid the promised remunerations.

Two other accused, Gopal Oraon and Shiv Shankar Ganjhu, were arrested during investigations. They were close associates of Panna and were actively involved in trafficking vulnerable persons from Jharkhand.

Investigation has also revealed that both were owners of three placement agencies in Delhi, involved in human trafficking racket.

In order to unveil the racket, twenty-two victims have been identified, rescued and examined till now,
the NIA said while presenting the charge sheet in a special court here against four people– Mahato, Sunita, Oraon and Ganjhu.

The accused has been charged with criminal conspiracy, Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and Section 79 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 and other various sections under Indian Penal Code.

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Crime

2 arrested for plotting to assassinate activist Sushil Pandit

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Sushil-Pandit

In a major development, the Delhi Police on Saturday arrested two persons for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit.

According to the Delhi Police, Sukhwinder (25) and Lakhan (21) were caught by the RK Puram Police after they received intelligence inputs that the two were planning the assassination.

The staff of RK Puram police station arrested Sukhwinder, 25 and Lakhan, 21, both acquaintances from Punjab who were sent to Delhi on the instructions of one Prince alias Tuti.

“During interrogation, it came out that Prince is facing a murder trial in Faridkot Punjab and is a childhood friend of Lakhan. The duo was offered Rs 10 lakh to assassinate human rights activist and CEO of Hive Communication India Sushil Pandit. They were provided with 4 pistols and 4 cartridges and a mobile phone containing a photo of Sushil Pandit,” said DCP South West, Ingit Pratap Singh.

A case has been registered under sections of Arms Act, 120 B, 115 at RK Puram police station.

“Considering the seriousness of the case and the possibility of foreign involvement, the case is now transferred to the special Cell,” the officer added.

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