In a move that will raise the political temperature, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced investigation into alleged violations of income tax and foreign donation rules against the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
The move came after the BJP led by its president J.P. Nadda raised several questions about the funding of the three trusts, especially by the Chinese embassy. An inter-ministerial committee has been constituted on behalf of the MHA, which will look into the funding of these foundations, and the alleged violations committed by them. This committee will be headed by the Special Director, Enforcement Directorate.
A spokesperson of the Union Home Ministry tweeted about this on Wednesday. The tweet read, “The Union Home Ministry has constituted an inter-ministerial committee, which will look into the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.”
This investigation will look into the violation of the rules of PMLA Act, Income Tax Act, FCRA Act. The committee will be headed by the Special Director of ED.
The issue came into the limelight during the ongoing tension between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Central government. The BJP hit back saying that the RGF had received funding from China.
Apart from this, the BJP alleged that the UPA government also gave money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund which was created for the country. The BJP alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received funds from the PMNRF till 2008 during the tenure of the UPA government. The BJP also alleged that the Foundation took huge sums of money from several corporates and in return, the government awarded several contracts. The BJP also said that in the UPA regime, pressure was allegedly put on SAIL, GAIL, SBI, etc., to give money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was started on 21 June 1991 in the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to fulfil his vision and dreams. According to the Foundation’s website, from 1991 to 2009, it worked in the areas of health, education, science and technology, women and child development, disability cooperation, assistance to the physically handicapped, Panchayati Raj, natural resource management, etc. In 2010, the foundation decided to focus on education.
Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Suman Dubey, Rahul Gandhi, Shekhar Raha, Prof M.S. Swaminathan, Ashok Ganguly, Sanjeev Goenka and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are also trustees of the foundation.
On the issue, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the RGF has nothing to fear as the government is just trying to bring down the Opposition. He said, “Please ask anything you want to, we are ready to answer. Not a single question is being asked to blue-eyed organisations like Vivekanand Foundation, India Foundation, RSS and Overseas Friends of BJP which received much higher quantum money.”
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted, saying: “Mr Modi believes the world is like him. He thinks everyone has a price or can be intimidated. He will never understand that those who fight for the truth have no price and cannot be intimidated.”
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MACRON CALLS BENNETT ON ALLEGATIONS OF SNOOPING
JERUSALEM: According to a media report, French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken to Israeli PM Naftali Bennett regarding reports that Morocco’s security forces may have used the Pegasus spyware to snoop on his cellphones,.
A global media consortium last week reported that 50,000 cellphone numbers were being spied on using the Pegasus malware, which has been developed by Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group. The mobile phones of French President Macron and 15 members of his government may have been among potential targets, according to a member of the media consortium.
Macron called Bennett on Thursday and asked him to ensure that “the issue was being taken seriously”, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Saturday evening. The Israeli PM said that the allegations are from a period when he had not assumed office but assured that the required conclusions on the matter will be reached upon. Macron had called an urgent national security meeting on Thursday to discuss the Pegasus spyware after reports about its misuse in France emerged.
IN A FIRST, SAUDI WOMEN STAND GUARD IN MECCA
MECCA: Dozens of female soldiers have become a part of the security services that monitor pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam. This is a significant stride towards women empowerment.
For the first time, Saudi female soldiers are standing guard in Mecca as thousands of Muslim pilgrims take part in this year’s Hajj, as per Deutsche Welle report.
Women dressed in military khaki uniforms were seen monitoring the security situation in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Along with khaki, they were sporting a hip-length jacket, loose trousers, and a black beret over a veil covering their hair. While adhering to Covid-19 protocols, thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims gathered at Mecca to perform Hajj.
According to Al Jazeera, 10,000 vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca last Sunday, but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the Coronavirus takes its toll on the Hajj for a second year running.
63 dead, 5 missing in China’s flood-hit Henan
HENAN: The death toll from the heavy rains and floods that hit China’s central province of Henan has risen to 63, while five people remain missing as of Sunday.
More than 852,000 people were relocated. Some 876.6 thousand hectares of crops were affected and 24,474 houses collapsed, reported Global Times. Torrential rains have battered Henan province since last weekend. Several videos surfaced on social media showing the severity of the flooding.
Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of 12 million people, is one of the worst-hit areas.
Zhengzhou’s meteorological station has described the level of rainfall as “once in a thousand years.”
Henan’s water resources department, meanwhile, has called rain levels in parts of the province “once in 5,000 years.”
XI JINPING MEETS TOP MILITARY OFFICIALS IN LHASA
Chinese President Xi Jinping, 68, made his first official visit to Tibet from Wednesday to Friday. But his important visit was kept under wraps by China’s official media till the end of the tour on Friday due to the sensitivities of the trip.
Xi underlined the importance of long-term stability and prosperity in Tibet during a meeting with top military officials in Lhasa, the state media reported on Saturday, a day after he made aunannounced visit to the strategically important region, including to Nyingchi, a town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi, who is also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met top officials of the Tibet Military Command of the People’s Liberation Army, guarding China’s border with India in Arunachal Pradesh, and also called for “fully strengthening the work of training soldiers and war preparation,” as per the CPC-run tabloid Global Times report.
As part of his trip, he first went to Nyingchi, a strategically located town close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh. On Thursday, Xi went to Nyingchi Railway Station. It was the first time in recent years, a top Chinese leader visited the Tibetan border town. From there he went to the provincial capital Lhasa by the recently launched high-speed train.
He wound up his visit to the politically sensitive Himalayan region on Friday by meeting “representatives of troops stationed in Tibet”.
“Xi met with representatives of troops stationed in Tibet, calling for efforts to strengthen military training and preparedness in all aspects and make contributions to the lasting stability, prosperity and development of Tibet,” as per the state-run Xinhua news agency report.
However, the Global Times said that Xi, in his meeting with the PLA representatives, stressed “the local troops should fully strengthen the work of training soldiers and war preparation and contribute positive strength to promote the long-term stability and prosperity of Tibet”.
Xi’s first visit to Tibet took place amidst the current India-China military tensions in eastern Ladakh.
According to Xinhua, Xi visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in connection with the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation the first time in the history of the Party and the country.”
He extended congratulations to the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, visited officials and ordinary people of various ethnic groups and conveyed the CPC Central Committee’s care to them, the report said.
CHINA DISMANTLING PEACE IN AFGHAN BY COLLUDING WITH PAK, TALIBAN: COLUMNIST
New Delhi: A columnist from Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Ganderbali, on Sunday, blamed China for dismantling peace in Afghanistan by collaborating with Pakistan and supporting the Taliban. Ganderbali tweeted,“China is trying to dismantle peace in the region by collaborating With Pakistan and supporting Taliban, all this at a time when peace and civilian rule of democracy was getting restored in the great nation of Afghanistan. The adventures of Pak-China will kill stability for Afghan.” He often writes in a Pakistani Newspaper Pakistan Christian Post highlighting the plights of the Christian minority in the country. Ganderbali is also the founder of Peace and Justice Forum.
With the US troops’ drawdown from Afghanistan on the verge of completion, a new terror axis is emerging in the Afghan-Pak geopolitical theatre with the convergence of interests between Pakistan and China. Amid the Taliban’s increasing grip over Afghanistan, Pakistan has dropped all pretensions of being an ally of the US led-western countries despite the much-needed American safety net on key issues that have a direct impact on its economy, wrote Fabien Baussart in The Times of Israel.
“We will no longer allow China’s Uyghur separatist fighters (from Xinjiang),” Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a widely circulated interview. Taliban spokesperson admitted that some Uyghur had previously sought refuge in Afghanistan. He, however, promised not to host them.
According to Baussart, the Taliban can be as duplicitous as their patrons. “Well, China may hope to leverage its money power against any likelihood of a breach in the promise by the Taliban; such a hope, even after its Pakistan experience, exposes its inability not to look beyond the nose.” From all accounts, he stated that China seeks to fill the unfolding void in Afghanistan. “It is ready with cash and weapons that the Taliban may need in case the nationalist forces try to checkmate its expansion within the country.”
INDIA AND PAKISTAN NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE BILATERAL ISSUES: US
WASHINGTON: The United States has said that India and Pakistan need to work with each other to resolve their bilateral issues, observing that it had always encouraged the two neighbours to build a more stable relationship going forward. “With regard to India-Pakistan, I would just note that we strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves,” .
During a conference call on Friday, Dean Thompson, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs told reporters, “We are pleased to see that the ceasefire that went into place earlier this year is — has remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward.” Thompson said this in response to a question. —Correspondent
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