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Hyderabad court issues NBW to Digvijaya Singh

Lokeswara Rao

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The Hyderabad Special court of people’s representatives has issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for not appearing before it in connection with a defamation case filed against him in 2016.

A Special Court for Trial of Cases pending against MPs/MLAs issued the NBW against Singh after he failed to appear before it in connection with the defamation case filed against him by the AIMIM’s S.A. Hussain Anwar. He alleged that Digvijaya Singh had defamed AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, saying the Hyderabad MP’s party was contesting elections in other states for the sake of financial benefits.

Digvijaya alleged that Owaisi takes money from BJP and splits votes of Congress. Counsel for the petitioner, Mohammed Asif Amjad, said they had sent legal notices to both Digvijaya Singh and the Editor of an Urdu daily, which carried the article, seeking an apology and subsequently moved the court as they failed to respond.

During the last date of hearing, the court had directed that Digvijaya Singh and the Editor be present before it on February 22. The Editor did so, but Singh failed to appear before the court, he said. Digvijaya Singh’s counsel had filed a petition, seeking exemption from appearance on medical grounds, but the court dismissed it and issued the NBW, Asif Amjad said.

The court posted the matter to 8 March. Singh’s counsel said they have already filed a stay extension petition before the High Court to quash the proceedings.

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Ambani bomb scare: Threat letter calls it ‘a trailer’; NIA reaches Mumbai

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A suspicious vehicle was found parked near businessman and billionaire Mukesh Ambani›s residence, Antilia, in Mumbai on Thursday. The car was laden with 21 gelatin sticks which is an explosive material.

In an exclusive conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Chaitanya S. said that an FIR has been registered at the Gamdevi Police Station against unidentified persons in connection with the seizure of a vehicle. An FIR has been registered for the case under Indian Penal Code Sections 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (punishment for forgery), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal), 506(2) (criminal intimidation, if threat be to cause death or grievous hurt), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy). Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 (punishment for attempt to cause explosion, or for making or keeping explosive with intent to endanger life or property) has also been included in the FIR.

A threat letter was also recovered from the car which mentioned the names of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and his wife, Nita Ambani. The handwritten letter was reportedly written in Hinglish with grammatical mistakes, calling the planted explosives a ‹trailer› and warning that there will be a return after more preparation to assassinate the whole family later. The contents of the letter read: “Nita bhabhi aur Mukesh bhaiya aur family, ek jhalak hai ye. Agli baar ye saaman pora connect ho ke aayega. Original gaadi mein aayega. Tum pura family ko udaane ke liye intajaam ho gaya hai. Sambal jaana. Gud nit”.

The olive-coloured Scorpio with gelatin sticks was found abandoned on Carmichael Road in Mumbai’s posh Pedder Road area. The SUV had a wrong number plate and was found about 500 metres away from the Ambanis’ house on Altamount Road. The SUV had been apparently stolen from Mumbai›s Vikhroli area and the police have identified its real owner, but the suspect has not been traced so far. Hiren Mansook, the car owner, said his car had crashed in Thane and stopped moving, which is why he had he left his car there, only to come back the next day and realise that it had been stolen. The car owner reached the Commissioner of Police office for further investigation on the case.

Mumbai Police has deployed its personnel outside the Ambanis’ house after the explosives were found in the area, tightening security at Antilia. The police also called in the bomb squad after the police control room was informed about the vehicle. On Friday evening, the National Investigation Agency team also reached the Mumbai Commissioner of Police office to investigate the case further.

Reliance Industries released an official statement which said, “We are thankful to Mumbai Police for their quick and immediate action. We are confident that Mumbai Police will complete their thorough investigation quickly.”

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Upset G-23 leaders may give strong message to Gandhis from Jammu today

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The rebellion within the Congress—brewing within the party for months between senior party members and Team Rahul Gandhi comprising young leaders—is all set to come out in the open. Days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “North-South” remark, senior leaders from north India are expected to make a strong statement against the top party leadership in Jammu on Saturday.

While Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to head towards the poll-bound Tamil Nadu on Saturday, the party’s dissenters, also known as G-23 leaders who had questioned the party’s functioning in a letter to interim president Sonia Gandhi, will hold a show of strength in Jammu.

Senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kapil Sibbal, Raj Babbar, Vivek Tankha, Ghulam Nabi Azad will address an event in Jammu on Saturday which Manish Tiwari is also expected to join. They all belong to north India.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior leader of the Congress G-23 told ANI on Friday that it is a message to Rahul Gandhi: “We will tell the country that from north to south India is one.”

Last year in August, G-23 leaders through a letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed their discontent and urged the top leadership of Congress to bring immediate reforms, including organisational elections from the grass-roots to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) level.

Today, they are once again up in arms against the Gandhi family and their loyal close circle who are holding key positions in the party and the parliament.

A senior leader from G-23 said, “What’s happening in Congress today is a clear violation of the agreement reached in Congress Working Committee in December last year, but there are no signs of any reforms or election.”

According to G-23 sources, the leaders are also furious over the treatment meted out to Ghulam Nabi Azad, who recently retired from Rajya Sabha and was not accommodated by the Congress high command.

A leader from the G-23 group said, “When other parties were offering seat to Azad, PM spoke so well about him. Our congress party leadership showed no respect to him. In fact, a lawyer who is fighting cases of Robert Vadra has been brought to Rajya Sabha.”

Mallikarjun Kharge’s appointment as leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha by Congress, while ignoring other senior leaders also enraged members of G23.

A senior leader from the G-23 grouping told ANI that the flashpoint or the tipping point is the north-south statement made by Rahul Gandhi in Kerala recently.G-23 sources said that leaders will speak their minds, show solidarity, and give a message to the party leadership.

According to sources, Congress’ top leadership is aware about the moves of G-23 leaders. A top source in the party said leadership is keeping an eye on the whole episode and “not in a hurry to come to any conclusion”.

It is also important to note down that Gandhis have not reacted in the episodes yet, although the last attempt was made to cool down the situation was done in December last year, when G-23 leaders were invited by Sonia Gandhi at her residence for meeting.

WITH ANI INPUTS

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INDIA FINDS 81 ROHINGYAS ADRIFT AT SEA, ASKS BANGLADESH TO TAKE THEM

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India is negotiating with Bangladesh to take back 81 Rohingyas whose boat drifted into its territorial waters in mid-February. Eight Rohingyas on that boat have already died and one has gone missing, possibly drowned in the Andaman Sea.

“We are in discussions with the Government of Bangladesh to ensure their safe and secure repatriation,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava has said.

However, a Bangladesh foreign ministry press release has made clear the country’s unwillingness to take back the sea-stranded Rohingyas on the ground that their boat is far away from the country’s territorial waters.

But Srivastava insisted that 47 of the boat’s 90 occupants possessed identity cards issued to them by the UNHCR office in Bangladesh, which indicated clearly they were displaced Myanmar nationals and persons of concern to UNHCR registered by the Bangladesh government.

Speaking at a video briefing, Srivastava had said that, on 11 February, the boat sailed from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh carrying 64 women including 8 girls and 26 men including 5 boys.

“The engine of the boat failed on February 15 and since then it has been drifting. Due to the severe conditions, we understand that eight occupants have died and one of the occupants had been missing since February 15,” Srivastava said.

“When we learnt of the boat in distress, we immediately dispatched two Coast Guard ships to provide food, water and medical assistance to the occupants. Seven of them were administered IV fluids,” he added. But Bangladesh does not seem inclined to take back these Rohingyas. A press statement by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Saturday said that the UN news release “clearly specified the location of boat at Andaman Sea which lies to the southeast of Bay of Bengal, south of Myanmar, west of Thailand and east of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands”.

The MOFA statement said: “The boat has been traced approx. 1700 km away from Bangladesh at a location which is approx 492 km from Myanmar, 363 km from Thailand, 281 km from Indonesia and 147 km from India. The location is far off the territorial water of Bangladesh and proximate to other littoral states.”

“Other states, particularly those, on whose territorial water the vessel has been found, bear the primary responsibility and they should fulfill their obligation under international law and burden-sharing principle,” it added.

So by implication, the Bangladesh foreign ministry seems to be putting the onus of rescue and relief for the Rohingyas on India. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, had raised the alarm earlier this week over the missing boat.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are living in teeming camps in Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after Myanmar’s military conducted a deadly crackdown in 2017.

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Post Pangong success, India asks China to resolve remaining boundary issues

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The government said on Friday that following the disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, it is not in the interest of either side to prolong the remaining boundary issues between the two countries.

The statement came a day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a conversation over phone that lasted for 75 minutes. The two Foreign Ministers discussed the situation along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh and also issues related to overall India-China relations.

Noting the completion of disengagement in the Pangong Lake area, Jaishankar emphasised that both sides should now quickly resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. He said that once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards the restoration of peace and tranquillity.

According to the MEA release, “The EAM referred to the meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister in September 2020 in Moscow where Indian side had expressed its concern on provocative behaviour and unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter status quo. He noted that the bilateral relations have been impacted severely over the last year.”

Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart that “a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side. It was, therefore, necessary that the two sides should work towards early resolution of remaining issues”, the MEA said on Friday.

It is necessary to disengage at all friction points in order to contemplate de-escalation of forces in this sector. That alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquility and provide conditions for the progress of bilateral relationship, Jaishankar told Wang Yi.

The ‘Boundary Question’, he said, may take time to resolve, but disturbance of peace and tranquility, including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship.

The minister said that during their meeting in Moscow last year, both ministers had agreed that the situation in the border areas was not in the interest of either side and decided that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage and ease tensions.

He noted that the two sides had maintained continuous communication since then through both diplomatic and military channels. This had led to progress as both sides had successfully disengaged in the Pangong Tso Lake area earlier this month.

Noting the completion of disengagement in the Pangong Lake area, Jaishankar emphasised that both sides should now quickly resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

He said that once disengagement is completed at all friction points, the two sides could also look at broader deescalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace and tranquility.

The MEA statement said that Wang Yi, on his part, expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far. He felt that it was an important step forward for restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas. He also conveyed that it was is necessary to sincerely implement the common understanding reached at various levels.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said that both sides should make efforts to consolidate the outcomes. He also spoke about the need to improve management and control in the border areas.

WITH AGENCY INPUTS

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Gujarat: Fire breaks out at furniture factory in Navsari

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Navsari (Gujarat) [India], February 27 (ANI): A fire broke out at a furniture factory in Navsari city of Gujarat on Friday.
Fire tenders rushed to douse the fire.
Locals were gathered at the spot.
More details are awaited. (ANI)

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EXISTING COVID-19 GUIDELINES TO CONTINUE UNTIL 31 MARCH: MHA

Aishvarya Jain

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India recorded its single-day increase in Covid-19 cases above 16,000 for the second consecutive day as the infection tally rose to 1,10,63,491 while the recoveries have surged to 1,07,50,680. A total of 16,577 infections were reported in a day while the death toll increased to 1,56,825 with 120 new fatalities. The number of active cases increased to 1,55,986 which accounts for 1.41% of the total infections. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,07,50,680 which translates into a national recovery rate of 97.17%. The case fatality rate stood at 1.42%.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the existing Covid-19 guidelines will remain in force till 31 March. The states and union territories have also been advised to speed up the vaccination of the target population to break the chain of transmission and overcome the pandemic.

Delhi recorded 256 new coronavirus cases, the highest number of single-day incidences in February, while one death pushed the death toll to 10,906. This is the third successive day when the daily cases count have stood at 200-mark or beyond.

Maharashtra registered 8,333 fresh Covid-19 cases, pushing its tally to 21,38,154. The death toll reached 52,041 after 48 fatalities were recorded. The tally includes 20,17,303 recovered cases and 67,608 active cases. Of the total number of fresh cases, 1,035 cases were from Mumbai alone.

Odisha’s coronavirus tally rose to 3,37,108 as 94 more people tested positive for the infection. The death toll remained unchanged at 1,915 while 53 patients have died due to comorbidities so far.

Tamil Nadu logged 481 new Covid-19 cases including one who returned from the United Arab Emirates and five fatalities, taking the overall caseload to 8,50,577 and the toll to 12,488. Recoveries marginally outnumbered new infections with 483 people getting discharged, taking the cumulative number to 8,34,043, leaving 4,046 active cases.

Karnataka reported 571 fresh coronavirus cases, 642 recoveries, and four deaths. The total cases rose to 9,50,207 while total recoveries stood at 9,32,367. Active cases stand at 5,501. 

Jammu and Kashmir recorded 85 new positive cases of Covid-19, taking the tally to 1,26,286, and one death. The death toll is 1,956.

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