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‘Travelled to Saudi Arabia, foreign contribution from inimical countries’: Zubair under lens of security agencies

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Mohammed Zubair, who claimed to have chased facts, has been under spotlight following his arrest in connection with his controversial tweets.

According to security agencies, Zubair, a resident of Bengaluru and holding a Bachelor of Engineering degree in telecom engineering from private M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT), has travelled to Saudi Arabia and Australia.

On two separate occasions, the UP government had vehemently opposed Zubair’s bail in connection with FIRs registered in UP. On July 8, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, told the Supreme Court that the matter is not about a single tweet by Zubair, but rather whether he is part of a syndicate which puts out tweets to destabilize the society.

Mehta further added that in a separate case registered by the Delhi Police, Zubair was under investigation because his company has received foreign contributions from countries, which are inimical to India. He said Zubair’s tweet at a particular time created a law-and-order situation, which is under investigation and “there is something more to it than meets the eye”.

He emphasised that the matter is not of a single tweet, instead his overall conduct is under investigation and added that Zubair is a habitual offender and there are six cases against him in UP.

However, the top court granted an interim bail for 5 days to Zubair in connection with a case registered against him by the UP Police for a tweet, where he allegedly called Hindu seers hatemongers.

Twelve days later, Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad contended in the Supreme Court that Zubair is a person who, instead of informing the police of hate speech, has been taking advantage of speeches and videos having potential of creating a communal divide and he had shared them repeatedly.

Counsel claimed his tweets are meant to inflame communal violence, which actually took place, in certain localities of Uttar Pradesh, where videos of crimes were used along with comments to incite communal elements to indulge in violence.

However, the Supreme Court said there is “absolutely no justification” in subjecting Zubair to endless custody for his tweets, as it granted interim bail to him in six criminal cases registered against him in UP and ordered his immediate release from jail.

During arguments in the apex court, the top court identified Zubair as a journalist, while Prasad argued that he was not a journalist and sought directions to restrain him from tweeting.

Refusing to restrain Zubair from tweeting, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said “It is like telling a lawyer that you should not argue. How can we tell a journalist that he will not write?….” As

Prasad reiterated, “He is not a journalist…”, Justice Chandrachud added that if he violates any law by tweeting, then the authorities can proceed against him as per law.

Zubair has a family with a wife, kids, and parents. He completed his engineering degree in 2005. He then joined Airtel Enterprises in Bengaluru as an engineer for two years. He then worked in CISCO-HCL company for one year before joining Nokia-Siemens Network in 2008 and travelled the entire country including all big metros as part of his job. Zubair worked for the NSN for a decade and met Pravda Media Foundation Director Pratik Sinha and his mother Nirjhari Sinha in 2015.

Pratik Sinha’s father Mukul Sinha ran a campaign against then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi over Gujarat riots. It was after this meeting that Zubair and Pravada Foundation joined hands to set up Alt News by as a fact checking website. The UP state counsel on Wednesday told the apex court that Zubair has earned more than Rs 2 crore for his malicious tweets and is not a journalist. Zubair had moved the top court seeking interim bail in six FIRs registered in UP over his tweets.

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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Goa Police intensify night patrolling for women’s safety

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 In a bid to curb street crimes and to increase safety for women, the Goa Police on Friday announced a special four-wheeler patrol ‘Operation Jagruti’ in the state’s north district.

North Goa Superintendent of Police Nidhin Valsan told media persons that night patrolling will be intensified under this initiative.

“This exercise includes 38 Jagrut North District vehicles having 100 staff deployed from North District and other various units. There are 10 vital routes identified along with additional 40 internal routes in North Goa District in which these vehicles will be patrolling daily from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” he said.

Valsan said that besides this, they will attend to all the other calls received from the control room.

“The main intention of this exercise is to assist and help any distressed woman and child during odd hours,” he said.

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‘Will act considering HC order’, EC to SC on disqualified Lakshadweep MP’s plea

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 The Election Commission (EC) on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it will consider the Kerala High Court order, which suspended the conviction of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal in an attempt to murder case, and take action in accordance with the law.

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Faizal, submitted before a bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph that the by-election cannot go on as the high court has suspended the conviction of his client.

Faizal’s conviction had resulted in his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. The bypoll was announced by the EC after Faizal was disqualified following his conviction in the case.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the EC, contended before the bench, also comprising B.V. Nagarathna, that the action will be in accordance with law against the backdrop of the high court order.

Singh took strong exception to the allegations made in Faizal’s petition that the poll body had acted in a malafide manner and questioned how a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution could be filed in the matter.

The bench said, “Without going into the allegations or pronouncing on any merits, we dispose of the writ petition recording the submission that action will be taken by the EC in accordance with law in light of the high court order of suspension of conviction.”

Faizal, in his plea filed in the apex court, had argued that the bypoll was announced without awaiting the outcome of his plea for stay of conviction and sentence in the high court.

Earlier this month, the EC had said the bypoll to the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha seat will be held on February 27 along with the byelections to six Assembly seats spread across five states.

Faizal, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, had moved the apex court challenging the EC’s press note announcing by-election in his erstwhile Lakshadweep constituency, terming the announcement as was arbitrary, malafide and unlawful.

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