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BJP USING AGENCIES TO PUT PRESSURE IN BENGAL: VADRA

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Robert Vadra spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian on various issues, including the fuel price rise issue and farmers’ protest. He also spoke on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s challenge in UP politics and about the future leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Excerpts:

Q: You have been critical of the fuel price rise and have been attacking the government on its failure?

A: I have stood for labourers and the poor during the pandemic and now I am worried that the worker class is suffering due to inflation. I have spoken and met several people who told me that “we don’t have money for our livelihood”. After the lockdown, there is a cash crunch and they are suffering a lot. Raising fuel prices have pushed the poorer of the country in metros to go back to their native places. I am going to the office in protest on my cycle.

Q: How do you see elections in West Bengal?

A: In every election, we see the BJP using central agencies to put pressure and that’s what is happening in Bengal. Even when Priyanka Vadra and Rahul Gandhi go out to campaign, they have always used agencies like CBI and ED to target me; I have been raided and questioned many times and even when I have

submitted each and every document related to my business, still the process of misuse of these agencies is on and with years, I am hard to resist.

Q: You have been speaking on the farmers’ protest. What’s your take on what happened on 26 January in Delhi?

A: The issues related to farmers should be a priority for the Modi government to solve at utmost priority, but that is not happening; calling and engaging in talks won’t help, you have to reach out and listen to what the farmers want. On what happened in Delhi on 26 January, especially at Red Fort, I too was in Delhi; there was a huge force deployment and one cannot cross the barricades; how did people reach the Red Fort is a question the Central government should answer.

Q: How do you see Priyanka Vadra in active politics?

A: She has got a tough job and a challenging task to put the Congress in order in a state like Uttar Pradesh. She is working hard and I hope the best for her. I am concerned about her security as a husband when she goes out to campaign and attend public rallies; lowering down the security protocol worries me.

Q: A section of Congress is demanding that Rahul Gandhi take over as Congress president.

A: I have known Rahul Gandhi before I got married to Priyanka. He is a nice, simple man with commitment. People of the country should give him a chance to serve.

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Sadananda Gowda inspects HURL plant in Gorakhpur, UP CM expresses gratitude

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Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 4 (ANI): Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday expressed gratitude to Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Sadanand Gowda for investing Rs 8,000 crores in the Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL) plant.
“It is a matter of pride for all of us that Union Minister Sadananda Gowda has come to inspect the Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL) plant. We thank him for investing Rs 8,000 crores in the project,” said Adityanath via videoconference.
Gowda inspected the under-construction HURL plant where he was accompanied by Adityanath. After his visit, the Union Minister said that there was a plan to start the fertilizer factory in July this year.
Gowda said that right now India is importing 80-90 lakh mega tonne of fertilizer. “India’s total consumption is 320-330 lakh metric tons. The Prime Minister’s vision is that imports should be minimised. Therefore, in 2016 the cabinet allowed five fertilizer units to be restarted. It also included HURL.”
“Today, when I landed in Gorakhpur, I was surprised. The development that has taken place is extraordinary. I congratulate the CM for doing this in a short span. What could not be achieved in the last 70 years, has been done in 4-5 years,” said Gowda.
While addressing the joint videoconference, the chief minister further said: “In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone so that the farmers of the country can get fertilizer in the country itself. For one year, the country has been struggling with COVID-19, but despite that the progress of its construction work is satisfactory.”
“Railway Ministry and Fertilizers Ministry has fully supported this. Sadanand Gowda also took full care of the goals that are being given for the benefit of the farmers due to the Prime Minister, “he added. (ANI)

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Delhi man cooks up story to mislead cops after accidentally shooting himself

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New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): A man accidentally shot himself in the knee and then cooked up a story of being shot allegedly by two bike-borne men in Delhi on Wednesday.
The man, identified as Sujeet Kumar, aged 30 years, and a resident of Indira Enclave, lives with his wife and a 10-year-old son and works as a driver in Saket.
A PCR call was received on March 3 at 10.50 am at Police Station Neb Sarai regarding a firing incident at the Indira enclave. “The accused complained that when he was smoking a cigarette at the corner of a park near his house when two boys came on a bike and on a petty issue followed by an argument shot him in his left knee and flee from the scene,” said Atul Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Delhi.
The victim is being treated at the trauma centre and is out of danger, he added.
Speaking to ANI, DCP said, “During the investigation, it was noticed that the victim was not answering the questions straight and was diverting the issue. The eye-witness at the mentioned spot did not notice any firing incident or sound. Also, no blood could be discovered at the alleged spot.”
The victim was examined again at AIIMS Trauma Centre where he disclosed that he allegedly had a fight with the neighbouring boys namely, Sumit, Arjun and Vicky 15 days back.
“On sustained interrogation and examination the boys disclosed that the victim was carrying a pistol which he had showed to them in the morning. After he took the pistol inside the room, he and his wife came out with a bullet injury on his knee. When they offered help, the victim refused,” Thakur said.
The victim’s wife was finally traced from a relative’s house.
“She disclosed that her husband had accidentally fired himself from the pistol that he had acquired from a friend or relative. She did all this at the instance of her husband to save her husband,” DCP added.
The pistol was recovered from the scooter of her relative where she was herself hiding too.
Sujeet (victim) has been previously involved in two cases of murder and another under the Arms Act case of 2016 in Ghaziabad district. He had also remained in custody in Dasna jail.
FIR has been lodged against him under the Arms Act and further investigation is underway. (ANI)

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BNS Prottoy Commander meets Western Naval Command Chief in Mumbai

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 4 (ANI): Commanding Officer (CO) of Bangladesh Navy Ship BNS Prottoy Captain Ahamed Amin Abdullah met Vice Admiral RB Pandit, Chief of Staff of the Western Naval Command on Thursday as part of the Bangladesh Navy ship Prottoy’s visit to Mumbai from March 2 to March 4.

The CO of Bangladesh Navy ship also laid a wreath at Sea Monument “Gaurav Stambh” within the Naval Dockyard premises in Mumbai.

“Captain Ahamed Amin Abdullah Commanding Officer (CO) of Bangladesh Navy Ship BNS Prottoy accompanied by Assistant Defence Advisor, High Commission of Bangladesh called on Vice Admiral RB Pandit, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command Headquarters,” tweeted the Indian Navy.
“BNS Prottoy on return passage to Bangladesh from Abu Dhabi, UAE is currently visiting Mumbai from March 2 to March 4. The CO also laid a wreath at the ‘Gaurav Stambh’ – a monument to commemorate Victory at Sea, at Naval Dockyard Mumbai,” further read the tweet. (ANI)

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Indian Army along with NGO inaugurates bakery to provide employment to women in J-K’s Rajouri

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Rajouri (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 4 (ANI): The Indian Army in collaboration with a non-governmental organization (NGO) has inaugurated a bakery to provide employment to women in Kalakote village in Rajouri district.
The bakery was inaugurated on Wednesday in collaboration with the NGO Aseem Foundation.
The 63 Rashtriya Rifles came up with the project to help create employment for women of the under-developed and remote area and help them become self-reliant and improve their standard of life.
The women were trained for 21 days starting from February 8 to February 28 and during this period they were provided with practical knowledge about the bakery operation and baking techniques of several items like cakes and cookies.

“We were provided training for 21 days, in which we learned to bake cakes and cookies of several types. We really thank the NGO and Indian Army for helping and guiding us during the process,” said Saroj Bala, a baker.
Speaking to ANI, Mehak Khurshid, a teacher at Aseem Foundation said, “It is a great experience in teaching other women such tasks through which they can stand up on their feet and be financially independent. We really thank Indian Army for supporting us through the way.”
“During the training period, we taught them to bake a banana cake, walnut cake, dry cake, bread, a famous Maharashtra’s sweet named “Naan Khathai”, and coconut cookies,” Khurshid added.
Expressing gratitude towards the Indian Army, another baker, Khalida Parveen said, “It is a great opportunity provided by the Indian Army. They stood behind us like a backbone and we will be always thankful for the effort they have put in for us.”

The initiative is a small part of the overall effort of the Indian Army towards women empowerment in order to enable them to seek better job opportunities and to make them capable of initiating their own ventures and become self-reliable.
The Municipal Committee Chairman and the general public of the village conveyed their gratitude for this enterprising initiative for the positive engagement of the unemployed women to pursue a line of a profession with better opportunities. (ANI)

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Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel inoculated in 2nd phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive

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New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): As second phase of vaccination of COVID-19 is underway in India, Union Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Thursday took the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“I trust the visionary leadership, scientist, indigenous vaccines, doctors and healthcare workers of this nation. I received my first dose of vaccine at AIIMS Delhi today,” Patel tweeted.
Several other union ministers and politicians have also received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the second phase of the world’s largest vaccination drive.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi and appealed to all those who are eligible to get inoculated.
Following the PM, several Union Ministers, including Amit Shah, S Jaishakar, Jitendra Singh, also received their first vaccine jabs.
India commenced its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus from March 1. (ANI)

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AgustaWestland case: Court dismisses ED’s plea for cancellation of bail to Gautam Khaitan

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New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): A Delhi Court on Thursday dismissed the Enforcement Directorate’s plea for cancellation of bail granted to the accused Gautam Khaitan in AgustaWestland money laundering case.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar while passing the order noted that the alleged act raised by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the part of the accused Gautam Khaitan is not so serious as to warrant the cancellation of bail of the accused. However, the court imposed several more bail conditions on Khaitan.
“However, some further conditions need to be imposed on accused to avoid any chance of tampering of evidence or influencing the witnesses. The accused shall report to the ED office once a week. He shall not contact any witness of this case particularly Pareen Khan. It is made clear that the aforesaid conduct of the accused shall be considered, also at the time of considering the request of the accused for the permission to travel abroad, if made,” the court said in the order.
The ED contended that the accused Gautam Khaitan had tried to mislead the investigating agency in as much as in his statement recorded in 2014 he failed to recognise Pareen Khan, however, in the year 2017-2018 he mentioned her to be a family friend of the accused of more than 30 years and tried to avoid joining investigation on the excuse of paucity of time from December 18, 2019 to December 21, 2019 in order to avoid confrontation with the witness namely Pareen Khan who was in India to join the investigation.
The ED further said that other than meeting Pareen Khan personally, the accused has been contacting her regularly either through Whatsapp messages or through alternate mobile numbers. It is submitted that accused has been instructing the witness to delete the chat messages and has been deleting the same from his own mobile phone. The ED also submitted that the accused kept on projecting a wrong picture of the investigation and kept telling Pareen Khan to not come to India to join the investigation.
The ED also contended that the accused Gautam Khaitan had made all possible attempts to derail the investigation and not let the said witness join the investigation and asked her to destroy the Whatsapp chat. Accused Gautam Khaitan had further tutored her for presumable questions of the investigation in case of any eventuality.
Meanwhile, senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra and Advocate Pramod Luthra who represented Gautam Khaitan submitted that the accused was granted bail on January 9, 2015 after being arrested on September 23, 2014 and has since then cooperated with the investigation and attended all the court hearings in the last five years.
The lawyers further stated that Pareen Khan had not been cited as a witness in any of the complaints/supplementary complaints filed by the ED. Therefore, there was no reason for the accused to influence her. It is contended that Pareen Khan had nothing to do with the AgustaWestland controversy, which is the admitted case of the ED.
According to the ED, the accused Gautam Khaitan is involved in laundering proceeds of crime and there is sufficient evidence against him that he had floated and used various shell companies in his name and in the name of his clients to launder the proceeds of crime arising out of 12 VVIP helicopter deals between the Government of India and AgustaWestland.
The AgustaWestland case is an alleged case of corruption that is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED. It has been alleged that bribes were paid during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime to “middlemen”, perhaps even politicians, when India agreed to buy 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by an Italian defence manufacturing Company Finmeccanica at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore. Later in 2014, the said deal was scrapped by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. (ANI)

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