In a shocking development, police have arrested Kerala’s former DGP T.P. Senkumar’s appointee in a gold smuggling case at the UAE Consulate. The accused gunman S.R. Jayaghosh told NIA officers that he often collected the diplomatic baggage with smuggled gold from the international airport. Now, it is being alleged that former DGP violated the process specified in the Kerala Government Home Department (Secret Section A) Order in selecting gunman Jayaghosh for the Consulate position and his involvement in the smuggling case has stunned the public.
It has been found out that an estimate of at least 200 kg gold was smuggled in multiple consignments through the diplomatic channels at the Thiruvananthapuram airport, all destined for the UAE Consulate. Jayaghosh including his partners Swapna Suresh, Sarith and cargo agent Sandeep Nair have confessed that jewellery shop owners who were having branches in the Middle-East were involved in smuggling through diplomatic baggage and were making profits (nearly 100 percent including taxes and duties) from the huge cost differences in gold prices between India and Dubai. The smuggled gold was concealed in steel packs and were claimed as food items. The smugglers spent Rs 8 crore for gold in Dubai and ultimately its price was almost doubled at Rs 15 crore when it reached Thiruvananthapuram.
Diplomatic baggage is not checked, unless there is permission from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Because of advanced imaging technology, however, the Customs Officers can see what is coming through the baggage scanner, and in this case, that is apparently what happened, and permission was indeed granted by MEA to open the luggage.
Former Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala who appointed Senkumar to the post of DGP has confessed that it was his “biggest mistake”. At the time, Senkumar was seen as a loyalist of Chennithala. Postretirement, Kumar switched to the BJP.
Senkumar was one of the police officers implicated in the proven false allegations case against legendary ISRO cryogenic rocket engine head Nambi Narayanan, who received the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India and Rs 1 crore from the Kerala government as compensation for all the indignities (including alleged torture) he had to suffer from the fake case designed to thwart India’s progress in liquid propulsion systems.
Thereafter, Senkumar had been making multiple allegations against the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCT) and its director, Prof Asha Kishore, an internationally acclaimed movement disorder specialist in Neurology. SCT is among the top institutions that have been given autonomous national importance status by Parliament, specifically for ensuring excellence. Under Prof Asha Kishore, it has achieved great recognition for path-breaking anti-Covid technologies achieved at a record speed.
Ex-DGP Senkumar, with no scientific background, is nonetheless on boards of the high science institution SCT, an appointment courtesy the Central government. His post-retirement foray into “politics” has been controversial, with it being characterised as one of fits and starts. Earlier this year, Kumar had a verbal altercation at his own press conference with a journalist over a question he did not like, and had the journalist physically removed from the press conference — not something any astute politician would do. Thereafter, Senkumar lodged a case against the same journalist which was investigated by the police and found to be false and so the case was thrown out.
In a poignant scene vividly described in the book Ready to Fire Nambi Narayanan recounts how sadness, anger, sleepless nights, and feelings of helplessness over the false allegations and the despicable coverage by a section of the media came to a point when he decided to commit suicide. He asked his lawyer friend to prepare his will without telling him why.
However, a few days later, his daughter Geetha picked up the phone when his lawyer friend told her to convey that Nambi’s will was ready to be collected, she instantly understood what was happening. She and Nambi’s son Sankar confronted Nambi. “So, you want to commit suicide?” Getting no response, she shouted at him, “You have decided, eh? What happened to my strongwilled Appa? I thought you will fight and prove to the world your innocence, show the world what you are, expose the people behind this controversy. If not any of that, just answer this. Do you want us to live as a traitor’s children? Do you want your grandchildren and the coming generations to live with such a tag?” It took that much for Nambi to realise what he ought to do rather than quitting, and he apologised to his children and resolved to live and fight.
But why should any scientist have to go through such agony just to prove his/her right to work peacefully and with dignity without having to confront false and manufactured allegations every day? Shouldn’t India build systems to protect its scientists working at breakneck speed and under horrendous constraints, financial, administrative and organisational?
In a sign of the anguish that motivated charges against top SCT officials is causing, faculty at SCT’s biomedical wing and clinical faculty have sent representations to Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and President of SCT, Dr V.K. Saraswat who is Member, NITI Aayog, expressing confidence in the institution’s Director and President, and complaining about comments made by former DGP Senkumar to the media disparaging the institution, its breakthrough research and development ranging from India’s first heart valve to now anti-Covid-19 technologies, its advanced tertiary healthcare and public health interventions and training, while being on its Boards.
The scientific community believes that India under PM Modi should build credible systems to protect its scientific excellence from abusive and malicious behaviour. Perhaps Padma Bhushan scientist Nambi Narayanan, himself a victim of fake allegations, can lead a committee to ensure that.
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Economic woes, curbs on dissent in Pakistan marred 2020: Report
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s annual report has asked the Imran Khan government to deliver to the public the “rights and freedoms to which they are legally and constitutionally entitled.”
An HRCP release said that the pandemic aggravated existing inequalities, leaving millions of vulnerable workers at risk of losing their livelihoods. “The Benazir Income Support and Ehsaas Programmes, which the government sensibly made part of its approach to the pandemic, likely saved thousands of households from sinking deeper into poverty, but these programmes are only a small facet of what a robust, pro-poor strategy should look like,” HRCP said.
The report noted that the pandemic was also a huge blow to educational institutions, with students compelled to attend online classes to the detriment of thousands in Balochistan, the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan, who had little or no access to reliable internet connections.
This is now the third year running in which HRCP has underscored escalating curbs on freedom of expression and opinion in its report.
“From the abduction of senior journalist Matiullah Jan to the arrest of Jang Group chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, it is clear that media groups continue to be pushed into towing the line. Worryingly, the National Accountability Bureau continued its operations as an instrument that violates fundamental human rights, including the right to fair trial and due process, among other things,” the report said.
Prisons in Pakistan remain sorely overcrowded, with an occupancy rate of 124 percent. This is marginally lower than in 2019, but the ever-present risk of infection in the country’s prisons shows that the state has failed in its duty of care, the report added.
“The long-awaited bill aimed at criminalising enforced disappearance has still not been passed despite commitments to this effect by the incumbent government since 2018. Indeed, despite the fact that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances has failed to address entrenched impunity, the government extended the latter’s mandate by another three years,” HRCP said.
Meanwhile, Balochistan remained especially vulnerable to excesses of power, from the extrajudicial killing of Hayat Baloch, an unarmed student, by a Frontier Corps soldier, to the shooting of four-year-old Bramsh and allegations that the men responsible had been sent by the alleged local leader of a ‘death squad.’
U.S. TO SEND ASTRAZENECA VACCINE TO COUNTRIES BY JULY 4
President Joe Biden on Tuesday (local time) provided an update from the White House on goals for providing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to countries by July 4. “I am not prepared to announce who else we will be giving the vaccine to, but we are going to by the Fourth of July have spent about 10 per cent of what we have to other nations including some of the ones who you mentioned,” said Biden while responding to a question about when vaccines will be provided to countries like India and Brazil.
“We’re helping Brazil and India, significantly. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi. What he needs most is the material and the parts to be able to have his machines that can make the vaccine work, we’re sending oxygen. We’re sending them a lot of the precursors. So, we’re doing a lot for India,” he said.
The US will be sending 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries starting from June 2021, the White House announced earlier.
“That means of all the vaccines we produced for the United States at that time, we will have given about 10 per cent to the rest of the world as a significant humanitarian commitment in addition to our funding of COVAX,” said Biden.
On Tuesday, Biden announced a plan of ensuring 70 per cent of American adults receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Independence Day.
“Our goal by July 4 is to have 70 per cent of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday.
“That means giving close to 100m shots – some first shots, others second shots – over the next 60 days.”
At the briefing, President Biden said that he has not yet announced whether his administration will support a global push to waive intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re going to decide that as we go along,” he told reporters following a White House briefing on vaccine distribution. “I haven’t made that decision yet.”
The Biden administration is facing pressure from the international community, drug pricing advocates and congressional Democrats to back a move that would temporarily waive the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS), that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets.
The World Trade Organization will assess the waiver, which has effectively provided pharmaceutical companies monopoly over vaccine production, potentially locking out poor countries from expanding their supplies. The Biden administration is expected to set its position clearly at the World Trade Organization meeting on Wednesday.
CONSIDER USING ARMY ENGINEERING WING FOR SETTING UP OXYGEN STORAGE FACILITY: DELHI HC TO CENTRE
The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, while hearing a plea on various issues arising due to the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases in the national capital, asked the Centre to consider utilising the engineering wing of the Armed Forces for setting up a storage facility for oxygen.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional solicitor general (ASG) Chetan Sharma informed the division bench of justices of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, who was hearing various aspects relating to the crisis that arose due to spike in Covid-19 infection, that Armed Forces› help can be taken for transportation of oxygen. The High Court had earlier asked the Centre to respond to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia›s letter to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on seeking Army›s help in dealing coronavirus crisis in the national capital.
ASG Chetan Sharma apprised the court today about details of help extended by the DRDO and said he has received a communication that the Army, Air-Force and Navy are on the job. «Airforce has helped in the transportation of tankers,» Sharma submitted.
The High Court also told Sharma about the direction passed in the afternoon regarding developing a channel for production and distribution of liquid medical oxygen like Petroleum products and on availing services of the engineering wing of the Army for storage of oxygen. ASG Sharma stated that the said aspect would be considered and will inform the court after seeking instructions from the Centre.
Meanwhile, Deepti, Joint Secretary (Health), Armed Forces joined the hearing via video conference. ASG Sharma informed Deepti about the Court›s suggestion of involving the army in the storage aspect.
The Court asked Deepti to discuss it within the Army hierarchy. Deepti told the court that she did not see any difficulty as these are unprecedented times. She assured the Court that despite Army›s resources being stretched, it will do its best.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra on various issues that arose due to an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in the national capital. The matter was disposed of on 14 January but after the national capital was hit by the fourth wave of coronavirus infection, the Court revived the petition in April again. WITH ANI INPUTS
Ministry of Steel supplies 4,076 MT Liquid Medical Oxygen
The Ministry of Steel on Wednesday said it has supplied 4,076 MT Liquid Medical Oxygen in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country.
Steel companies from across the country, from both the public and private sectors, have stepped up efforts to meet the nation’s requirement of medical oxygen. Yesterday, the Total Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Production by the steel plants was 3680.30 MT, and the Total LMO Supply was 4076.65 MT. “In comparison, the LMO supply was 3131.84 Metric Tonnes to various states on 25 April 2021. In mid-April, on an average 1500-1700 Metric tonnes /day was being dispatched,” read an official release by the ministry.
Union Minister of Steel and Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan last week had held a series of meetings with captains of steel companies of both public and private sectors. He had called for doing everything possible to enhance the supply of medical oxygen from steel plants and also for building jumbo-sized Covid-care facilities with oxygenated beds to augment the healthcare infra.
Steel Authority of India, one of the largest domestic steel producers, has been enhancing its capabilities to supply Liquid Medical Oxygen in the country. The daily delivery of LMO from its integrated steel plants situated at Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Rourkela (Odisha), Bokaro (Jharkhand), Durgapur and Burnpur (West Bengal) has been increased from a level of about 500 Metric Tonnes (MT) in the 2nd week of April to more than 1100 MT per day currently.
The company has so far supplied over 50,000 MT of LMO. In the month of April 2021, SAIL delivered more than 17500 MT LMO to 15 states across the country including the states in which the plants are located.
14 “Oxygen Express” trains carrying more than 950 MT LMO have been loaded by yesterday for various parts of the county from SAIL plants at Bokaro, Rourkela and Durgapur. SAIL plants have also received tankers, which have been airlifted and after loading has moved to their destinations by road and rail.
WITH ANI INPUTS
EXTENSIVE COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS IN WEST BENGAL ANNOUNCED
Hours after taking oath as the chief minister of West Bengal for the third term, Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced various steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the state, adding that hawkers, transporters, and journalists will be given priority when it comes to vaccination.
Announcing extensive restrictions across the state, Chief Minister said shopping complexes, gyms, cinema halls, beauty parlours will remain close in West Bengal. Local trains will be suspended from today and Friday onwards, those entering the state will have to show a negative Covid test report.
“Hawkers, transporters, journalists will be given priority in administering of the first dose (of vaccine). Looking at the Covid-19 situation, we have to take some steps. Wearing of masks to be mandatory, there’ll be only 50% attendance in state government offices. Shopping complexes, gyms, cinema halls, beauty parlours to be closed. Social/political gathering prohibited,” he said. Trinamool Congress Supremo said that all markets, retailers, standalone shops in the state will be allowed to function from 7 am to 10 am and later from 5 pm to 7 pm only. Talking about interstate and intrastate movement, Banerjee said, “local trains to be suspended from tomorrow. State transport, including metro, to function with 50 per cent capacity: From May 7, nobody will be allowed to arrive at airports without RT-PCR negative report not older than 72 hours. Those who will be positive will be sent to 14-day quarantine, arranged by the airport authority with the state government.”She said that random checking will be done in inter-state buses, RT-PCR negative report not older then 72 hours is mandatory for the passengers. “The ruling is also applicable to the passengers of train services,” she said. The Chief Minister informed that banks in the state will operate from 10 am to 2 pm, while Jewellery shops will remain open from 12 pm to 3 pm only.“Work from home for the private sector, for 50% of the staff allowed. Home deliveries should be encouraged,” she added. Moreover, Banerjee also reinstated IPS officer Virendra as Bengal Director general of police(DGP) along with Jawed Shamim as Additional Director General (ADG) (Law and Order). Before the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Election Commission had directed the state government to appoint P Nirajnayan as the Director General (DG) and IGP of the state in place of the serving DG and IGP Virendra, and Jag Mohan as ADG (Law and Order).
WITH ANI INPUTS
Delhi Police registers 113 FIRs related to black marketing of Covid medicines
Delhi Police has registered 113 FIRs, of which 61 cases pertain to cheating and fraud in the name of providing Covid-19 medicines or oxygen, while 52 cases related to black-marketing, hoarding or overcharging.A total of 100 arrests have been made in these cases, the police informed on Tuesday. The Delhi Police has also begun action against fraud callers and cyber financial cheats. In the last two days, 200 mobile numbers, 95 bank accounts, 33 UTR and 17 UPI/Wallet involved in this inhuman crime have been identified, the police said. The Delhi Police cyber unit CyPAD has also aligned with the Cyber and Information Security Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, to create an integrated platform for law enforcement agencies and financial intermediaries like banks, wallets, merchants for real-time incident reporting, transmission, escalation, estoppels and resolution. “The singular objective of this platform is to prevent the defrauded money from exiting the financial ecosystem and ending up in the hands of the fraudsters either in hard cash or as goods purchased over e-commercial sites,” the statement said.
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