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‘Won’t’ tolerate obstruction’, allows ED to summon Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Delhi High Court’s order, which dismissed Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and his wife’s challenge to the ED’s summons issued in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged West Bengal coal scam.

However, the top court allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to summon Banerjee at its Kolkata office, and added that it will not tolerate any hooliganism or obstruction, when ED questions Banerjee in Kolkata.

A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit said the state government will provide assistance to the ED officials, who will have to give a 24-hour prior notice to question Banerjee and his wife. “If there is any kind of hooliganism or infraction, we will not tolerate it,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju told the apex court that Banerjee is a potential accused in the coal scam and the ED needs to interrogate him in Delhi. Raju said it will be very difficult to interrogate him in Kolkata. Last week, Raju told the top court that Banerjee is an influential politician. “My lords know how Central agencies were treated in Kolkata…CBI officers were gheraoed…I should not be saying this,” he submitted.

The top court recorded that the West Bengal government has assured that no coercive action will be initiated against ED officials without approaching it.

Banerjee and his wife’s plea, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, said: “The party to which the petitioner No.1 (Abhishek) belonged, comprehensively trounced the political party at power in the Centre, thereby giving justifiable cause to ‘target’ and ‘fix’ the petitioner No.1, by misusing the Central Investigation Agencies”.

Maharashtra

26/11 Fallout: From coastal security upgrade to amping up anti-Pak social media war

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The ease with which terrorists entered the country and carried out one of the deadliest attacks on November 26, 2008, dealt a huge blow to the nation’s security system, which led to steps being taken to strengthen coastal security after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Since 2008, the victims of the terror attacks have not been able to recover from the shock completely, but the internal security of the country has seen several major changes.

Taking lessons from the terror attacks, security arrangements have been made fool proof, making it safe from rerun of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Considered a failure of various intelligence agencies, the attacks also gave rise to several questions concerning the internal security of the country.

Today India has done a better job on all such diverse fronts concerning safeguarding the internal security matters of the country. Meanwhile, there has been a drastic shift regarding the changes related to the internal security of the country.

Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police have created a three-tier security system in the coastal areas of the country so that no suspicious activity can go undetected.

The Government of India constituted the Information Management and Analysis Centre in 2014 so that the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police could work as a three-tier integrated security unit.

Its main purpose is to ensure that an incident like 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks does not happen again. It acts as a nodal centre for the collection and dissemination of information on coastal security to multiple places.

Apart from this, the Director General of the Indian Coast Guard has been accorded the status of Commander of the Coastal Command, who acts as a coordination between the Central and state intelligence agencies.

At the same time, the strength of the Indian Navy has also increased significantly as compared to 2008. The radar system of the Indian Army has been vastly strengthened, due to which the Navy is able to keep a sharp surveillance in the sea.

The Union government has also procured several patrolling boats and surveillance equipment to beef up coastal security.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Coastal Security Scheme Phase-2 has been started in the direction of building maritime infrastructure.

Under this initiative, 121 Coastal police stations have been set up. At the same time, till 2021, 35 jetties and 10 marine operational centres have been established.

Apart from this, 131 four-wheelers and 242 motorcycles have also been purchased for patrolling. The government has also started coastal mapping through which every activity related to maritime security is being monitored with the help of mapping.

The government has also initiated a tracking system for monitoring boats of fishermen going for fishing in the sea. Under this system, one biometric card has been issued to each fisherman. This system has been implemented in many states across the country.

In such a situation, the Coast Guard or Navy can check the identity of any boat by checking its biometric card in case of any suspicion.

After the Mumbai terror attacks, the Maharashtra government formed a special team of commandos named ‘Force One’. The training of Force One personnel is on the lines of training undergone by NSG personnel.

The NSG has also been made much more effective than before. After 2008, now the NSG has regional centres functioning at five places in the country, namely Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Gandhinagar so that the response time can be reduced in case of a terror attack anywhere in the country.

At the same time, mock drills of NSG jawans are organised from time-to-time in different parts of the country so that they are always well-prepared to handle any situation.

At the time of the Mumbai attacks, the NSG commandos were kept waiting at the airport for eight hours. Such shortcomings have also been removed. The government has given exclusive rights to the NSG, which can now take aircraft from any operator in times of emergency.

Organisations running their terrorist activities from Pakistan work to spread religious fanaticism and collect funds through social media. In view of this, Indian intelligence agencies have laid siege to these organisations on social media as well. Several teams of experts are continuously monitoring social media and taking strict action by identifying people involved in anti-national activities.

The most successful experiment after the Mumbai attacks was the creation of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Since its inception on December 31, 2008, NIA has been successfully investigating, not only terror attacks and fake Indian currency cases, but also funding networks of terrorist organisations, anti-national organisations and Maoists in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast India effectively.

The regional offices of NIA have been opened in many states. Over the years, the NIA has been able to establish itself as an anti-terror investigative agency.

India has now started a major fight against terrorism, not only within the country but also at international fora. India has hosted three global events this year — the Interpol Annual General Assembly in Delhi, a special session of the UN Anti-Terrorism Committee in Mumbai and Delhi, and the ‘No Money for Terror’ conference.

In these three conferences, an important strategy was prepared on cross-border terrorism and ways to deal with it. Not only this, India has also exposed Pakistan through these global fora.

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International News

China protects four key 26/11 perpetrators from UN sanctions

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 China continues to defy the other members of the Security Council and the overwhelming anti-terrorism sentiments by protecting from UN sanctions four key leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attack.

Fourteen years after the attack that killed at least 166 people, Beijing works with Islamabad to undermine anti-terrorism measures against Pakistan-based terrorists behind the carnage.

The four from LeT who got China’s umbrella this year were the group’s commander Sajid Mir, who orchestrated the 26/11 attack; deputy chief Abdur Rehman Makki; deputy chief of the LeT front Falah-I-Insaniyat Foundation Shahid Mahmood, and LeT commander Hafiz Talha Saeed, who is LeT chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed’s son.

China also put a hold on sanctions on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group’s deputy leader Abdul Rauf.

China had initially allowed eight LeT leaders to be sanctioned, four in the month after the 26/11 attack, and four later, before taking a hardline in support of other LeT leaders in a show of solidarity with Pakistan.

“Our efforts to sanction the perpetrators and facilitators of these terror attacks were blocked in the past for political reasons,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj said last week at the Security Council.

“These actors continue to walk free and have been organising further cross-border attacks against my country,” she said.

US Permanent Mission’s Political Coordinator John Kelley at the same meeting regretted that only one entity was added to the sanctions list this year and said, “The important work of this committee must remain free from politicisation that only benefits the terrorists.”

The committee paralysed by China’s intransigence was only able to add Khatiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a terror group operating in Syria to the sanctions list this year, while the LeT leaders and another Pakistan-based terrorist have been spared.

The Security Council’s panel, known as the 1267 Sanctions Committee for the resolution setting it up, places individuals and groups under sanctions that include travel bans and financial restrictions for terrorist activities involving the al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and affiliated organisations like the LeT.

The committee includes all the 15 members of the Security Council and gives every one of them the right to place a hold on sanctions, which amounts to a veto.

When the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) met in Mumbai last month, an audio clip of Mir directing the 26/11 terrorists at the Jewish centre was played to focus on the role of the terrorist under Beijing protection at the UN.

At the CTC’s special session in the terrorists’ killing field, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said, “The key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished.”

This, he said, “undermines our collective credibility and our collective interests” and until “the masterminds and perpetrators of this attack” are brought “to justice, this task remains unfinished”.

In a video message to the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “That is what the US has been working to do, together with India and other partners for the last 14 years because when we allow the architects of these attacks to go unpunished, we send a message to terrorists everywhere that their heinous crimes will be tolerated.”

In the first flush of global fury against the horror of the 26/11 attack, China in December 2008 did not stand in the way of sanctioning LeT boss Saeed, operations head Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, finance chief Haji Muhammad Ashraf and financier Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq.

Later, four others from the LeT were added to the list: Muhammad Arif Qasmani and Mohammad Yahya Aziz in 2009, and Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhattvi and Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz in 2012.

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National News

‘Women look good even without clothes’, says Ramdev

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 In a potentially controversial development, Yoga expert Ramdev on Friday commented on women’s attires, raising eyebrows in political and social circles.

Addressing a free Yoga training programme here, Ramdev said without batting an eyelid: “Women look good in saris, they look great in salwar suits, and in my view they look good even if they don’t wear anything.”

At that time, he was flanked by Thane’s Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena MP Shrikant Shinde, son of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and singer Amruta Fadnavis — wife of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and other prominent personalities.

Ramdev, 56, was speaking at a Yoga Science Camp & Women’s Meeting organised by Patanjali Yoga Peeth and Mumbai Mahila Patanjali Yoga Samiti here.

He interacted with women who had brought their yoga attires and saris for the conclave and attended a training camp conducted by Ramdev.

Since the meeting started soon after the training camp, many women did not get time to change and attended it in their Yoga suits.

Observing this, Ramdev said that there was no problem if they had no time to switch to saris and they could do it after going home, and then made his remark — termed as ‘sexist’ in some quarters.

He also urged the people to remain happy and smiling, similar to Amruta Fadnavis to live a long life.

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