Kochi (Kerala) [India], February 19 (ANI): The Kerala High Court on Thursday said 12 accused who got bail from the Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in the gold smuggling case have not committed any “terrorist” act.
The high court’s observation came while it was hearing a petition filed by the NIA challenging the bail granted by the Special NIA Court to 12 accused persons.
During the hearing of the plea, the Bench of Justices A Hariprasad and MR Anitha said: “Materials placed before the trial court for considering the bail plea are insufficient to hold prima facie that those released accused were involved in any terrorist act as defined under section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Smuggling is not defined under the UAPA. The argument raised by the NIA cannot be accepted.”
The high court also declined the appeal filed by Muhammad Shafi P, the seventh accused in the case against the order of the Special NIA Court which rejected his bail petition.
“The 7th accused played a pivotal role in the alleged conspiracy. Various accused persons obtained smuggled gold through him. Allegations against him are certainly graver than those against the accused who were enlarged on bail,” it said.
The Kerala gold smuggling case pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels. It had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5, 2020.
It is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), NIA and Customs department. (ANI)
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Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission supplies drinking water through taps in Ladakh village
Overcoming the challenges posed by nature, the Jal Jeevan Mission has been successfully implemented in Stok village in Leh district. People in the village are now getting regular drinking water through taps at home.
The Centre started work for the Jal Jeevan Mission in Ladakh in September 2020. The project, budgeted at around Rs 362 crore, intends to provide safe drinking water through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) to every home across the Union Territory’s 125 villages by December 2022.
Ladakh poses a massive challenge when it comes to water supply due to its extreme weather and rough terrain. The water gets frozen in the pipelines during winter, disrupting supply to homes. These geographical conditions were kept in mind, along with factors like the availability of groundwater and water supply from river channels, by Jal Jeevan Mission officials while taking measures to ensure regular water supply.
The team arrived at Stok after talks with the villagers. Various measures were discussed, after which the infiltration gallery technique was decided upon. In this technique, sub-surface water (water under frozen ice) is brought to a certain location that has a system in place for filtering. The sub-surface water is deposited in an overhead tank to protect the pipe from freezing. The pipe is then connected to the bottom of a reservoir or river. The water is cleaned before it is transported to the supply site.
Solar energy is used to keep the water hot in the overhead tank and then supplied to the village at a scheduled time to prevent it from freezing.
Additionally, pipes are laid three to four feet below the ground to protect the water pipes from freezing and bursting. Insulated pipes are used to prevent them from cooling too quickly.
A similar water supply technique is being used to provide drinking water in Stok, Nang and Phyang villages.
Jagan has turned Andhra into a debt-ridden state: YSRCP MP
YSRCP rebel MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju has alleged that the YSRCP government had turned Andhra Pradesh into a debt-ridden state. He questioned whether it was necessary to build three new ports in the debt-ridden state and said that the government has to take further loans for the construction of these ports.
Raju asked what is there to sell to build the ports. He questioned how far it is good to issue tenders for inexperienced pharmaceutical company to build the ports. Raju took a jibe at the government, saying that it was ridiculous for the YSRCP government to give assurances that new hospitals would be built without improving the existing ones. He accused the government of filing false atrocity cases against him. He said he had complained to the Lok Sabha Speaker about this and asserted that soon, he would lodge a complaint with Home Minister Amit Shah.
Raju said, “Our government took loans to tune of Rs 74,000 crorein 10 months. No state takes this much of loans as Andhra Pradesh. The government of Andhra takes hand holds also from the RBI, in the name of welfare schemes. The CM has been damaging the state.”
He questioned why no action has been taken against the culprits who killed his uncle. Religious conversions have increased in the state after Jagan took charge as CM, he alleged.
SASIKALA QUITS POLITICS AHEAD OF TAMIL NADU POLLS
CHENNAI: Expelled AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala on Wednesday stated that she is quitting public life while asking the AIADMK cadre to stand united and ensure DMK is defeated in forthcoming Assembly elections. “I have never been after power or position even when Jaya (J Jayalalithaa) was alive. Won’t do that after she is dead. (I am) quitting politics but I pray that her party wins, and her legacy goes on,” Sasikala said. “I will step aside from politics and pray that Amma Government is established in Tamil Nadu,” she said in a statement, adding: “I pray for golden rule of Amma (Jayalalithaa).”
Sasikala’s statement comes ahead of Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, which will be held in a single-phase on 6 April 2021.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) said the AIADMK would decide on accommodating Sasikala in the ruling party-led alliance the state assembly polls. The AIADMK has so far ruled out accommodating her or her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam in the party or in the alliance led by it.
Sasikala had stepped in as chief of the party after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016 and was set to take her post when she was sentenced to a four-year jail term for corruption. Before leaving for jail, she handpicked EPS to take over as CM, but in her absence, he patched up with OPS—who had rebelled against Sasikala’s leadership—and the two removed her from the post and the party.
India’s Covid-19 recovery rate surges to 97.06%
Fatality rate stands at 1.41%, while active cases are recorded above 1.7 lakh after a month.
India’s total tally of Covid-19 cases rose to 1,11,39,516 with 14,989 new infections, while the active cases were recorded above 1.7 lakh after a month, on Wednesday. The number of deaths increased to 1,57,346 with 98 fatalities in a day. The Covid-19 active caseload has increased to 1,70,126 which comprises 1.53 per cent of the total infections. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,08,12,044 which translates to a national Covid-19 recovery rate of 97.06%, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.41 per cent.
Delhi reported 217 new Covid-19 cases and no new fatalities in the past 24 hours, taking the tally to 639,681 cases and 10,911 deaths.
Maharashtra reported 7,863 new Covid-19 cases and 54 deaths, taking the state’s tally to 21,69,330 cases and 52,238 deaths. Mumbai’s tally reached 327,621 cases and 11,481 deaths as the city reported 849 new cases and 2 fatalities.
Rajasthan recorded 215 more coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the infection tally to 3.21 lakh. No fresh death from the pathogen was recorded and the death toll stands at 2,787. The total number of cases rose to 3,20,772, including 1,470 who are under treatment and 3.17 lakh who have been discharged. Mizoram reported only one new Covid-19 case in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of active cases in the state to 4,427 on Wednesday. The state now has 20 active cases, while 4,397 people have recovered from the disease. The death toll in the state stands at 10.
Kerala reported 2,765 new Covid-19 cases and 15 more deaths on Wednesday, pushing the caseload to 10,67,393 and toll to 4,241, while 4,031 people recuperated from the disease, taking the tally to 10,16,515.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded 104 fresh Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the infection tally to 1,26,693, even as no new death due to the virus was reported in the past 24 hours.
Goa’s coronavirus caseload went up by 70 to reach 55,143 on Wednesday. The number of recovered patients in the state rose to 53,737 as 42 of them got discharge from hospitals during the day. The death toll remained at 796 as none of the patients succumbed to the infection on Wednesday. There are 610 active cases of coronavirus in the state at present.
Andhra Pradesh reported 135 fresh cases of coronavirus, 82 recoveries and one death on Wednesday. The gross positive of Covid-19 cases climbed to 8,90,215 and the recoveries to 8,82,219. After 7,170 deaths, the number of active cases jumped to 826.
Netflix goes all-out to woo Indians, ready with 41 new shows, films
Netflix said on Wednesday it would release 41 shows and films in India this year, calling the move its “next big leap” in the world’s second most populous nation where video streaming services have become more popular, Reuters reported.
India, with its 1.3 billion people, is a vast and valuable market for the U.S. streaming service and its rivals Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Disney+Hotstar.
The platforms, which are all offering an increasingly broad range of local language content, have been luring users with cheaper billing plans and offers.
Netflix’s new roster of 41 titles includes films with top Bollywood actors, stand-up comedy shows and original series, the company said in a blog post. Most will be in the Hindi.
“We are taking our next big leap in India,” Netflix said on its post, saying the upcoming line-up “features more variety and diversity than we have seen before”, Reuters reported.
India, whose Bollywood film industry makes more productions each year than Hollywood, remains a challenging market for the streaming services.
Amazon’s Prime Video has become embroiled in legal cases and police complaints over a political drama Tandav deemed offensive to Hindu religious sentiments. The U.S. service has apologised to viewers over some scenes.
Netflix has also faced court cases and complaints over some its content, with some viewers saying it promoted obscenity or hurt religious sentiments.
Netflix said some of its 41 shows to be released this year would be produced by India’s Reliance Entertainment, Viacom18 and Bollywood director Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment, Reuters reported.
In 2019, Netflix said it planned to invest almost $400 million to develop content for India. Reuters reported last year that Netflix was in talks with Viacom18 to create shows to help expand its offerings in India.
CALLER ON BBC LIVE RADIO SHOW ABUSES PM MODI’S MOTHER, CAUSES OUTRAGE
BBC Asian Network’s “Big Debate” drew massive flak and caused outrage across social media after a clip of a caller using a misogynistic slur for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother on the show surfaced on Twitter.
A speaker who had dialled in for an episode of the live radio show, which was broadcast early on 1 March, used an offensive phrase in Punjabi against the mother of PM Modi. “This offensive statement… is a common Punjabi offensive slur that is used to degrade women with the sole purpose to offend,” noted the Twitter handle ‘British Indians Voice’.
Since the video clip was shared on Twitter, many have slammed BBC and the radio show host for allowing such a comment to be aired, while others have called out to the UK’s Office of Communications to review the broadcaster’s licence. Users also marked their tweets with the hashtags #BoycottBBC and #BanBBC, causing them to trend on the platform.
“This is absolutely disgusting! BBC Asian Network needs to be held accountable for such vile language used during the day when minors can be listening and such disgraceful words used against India’s Honourable Prime Ministers mother. Serious action needed!! (sic)” said a Twitter user.
Host Piya Rai issued an apology later during the show, saying, “Before we carry on though, we would like to apologise for some of the offensive language used by the guest on the show earlier. It’s a live show and we discuss controversial issues often. There was no reason for the type of language that was used and I would like to say sorry again for any offence that was caused.”
The BBC also edited the programme to remove the derogatory remarks and issued a statement which clarified, “This programme has been edited since the broadcast.”
The caller had uttered the offensive slur during the course of a debate on the topic of racism against Sikhs and Indians in the United Kingdom. However, the talk had veered towards the massive ongoing protests against the three new farm laws which are seeing the participation of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.
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