Delhi High Court Allows Sikh Aspirants To Carry Kara And Kripan

New Delhi:  In a big relief to Sikh aspirants, the Delhi High Court has allowed them to wear kara (iron bracelet) and kripan (dagger) in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-UG.

The court has put a caveat that the Sikh candidates will have to report to exam venues an hour prior to the normal reporting time for proper screening and security checks.

A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla rejected the Central Board of Secondary Education’s claim that these items, along with all other metallic objects, were barred from entry on account of use of unfair means in the exam in the past, saying such a prohibition cannot be put in place on the basis of a “vague apprehension”.

“There cannot be a vague apprehension that people who come for the test will do it (cheat). Is there even one instance of misuse of these objects? If you go by your rule, there are lot of implants..,” the court said and added “uniformity of the policy should not lead to absurdity”.

The exam will be conducted on May 6, 2018. NEET UG is conducted for admission to MBBS/BDS courses in India in medical/dental colleges run with the approval of Medical Council of India/Dental Council of India.

Sikh organisations had been pressing the CBSE–which organises the test–for allowing kakars (Sikh articles) in exam venues. Last year, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Kirpal Singh Badungar wrote a letter to the board to ensure that the Sikh candidates carry the articles in exam halls. 

The organisation had underscored the importance of kakars, saying they were integral parts of an Amritdhari Sikh. It had said further that an Amritdhari Sikh was not allowed to take off kakars.

With inputs from agencies



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Venkaiah Naidu To Visit Guatemala, Panama, Peru On His First Foreign Trip

Mr Naidu will first travel to Guatemala in what would be the highest-level visit from either side.

New Delhi:  On his maiden foreign visit after assuming office, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will travel to Guatemala, Panama and Peru from May 6-12 and hold talks with the top leadership of those countries to boost ties in areas such as trade and information technology.

Mr Naidu will first travel to Guatemala on May 6 in what would be the highest-level visit from either side.

The visit would focus on various areas of mutual cooperation such as protection of wildlife, human resource and training, and information technology among others, Preeti Saran, Secretary East in the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters during a briefing.

During his visit, Mr Naidu will meet Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Vice President Jafeth Cabrera and Speaker of Parliament Alvaro Arzu Escobar.

Mr Naidu will then reach Panama on May 7 for the second leg of his visit.

In Panama, Mr Naidu will hold meetings with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel Saint Malo and discuss cooperation in key areas such as agriculture, education and economic cooperation.

The vice president will also visit the Panama Canal, Ms Saran said.

On the third and final leg of his visit, Mr Naidu will visit Peru.

He will hold talks with Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra and Vice President Mercedes Araoz among other leaders.

He will also attend an event to mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Peru.

The vice president’s discussions with the leadership of that country will cover the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including trade, commerce investment, IT, medicine, space, defence and culture, Ms Saran said.



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After Woman Officer Shot Dead, 2 Cops Shifted Out From Himachal Pradesh’s Solan

Shail Bala was supervising a demolition drive in Kasauli when she was shot dead by a hotel owner.

Shimla:  Two senior police officers have been shifted out of Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district after a town planning officer was allegedly shot dead by a hotel owner during a demolition drive on Tuesday.

The state government has decided to confer the “Himachal Gaurav Puruskar” on assistant town planner Shail Bala Sharma, who was shot dead in Solan district’s Kausali.

Solan’s superintendent of police Mohit Chawla, and Parwanoo deputy superintendent of police Romesh Sharma have been shifted out of the district, officials said.

Vijay Singh, the hotel owner who allegedly shot dead the officer, was arrested in Vrindavan on Thursday.

Mr Chawla has been shifted to the police headquarters in Shimla. Solan SP Shiv Kumar has been given the charge of the district till further orders, officials said.

Ajay Kumar Rana has been posted as DSP, Parwanoo in place of Romesh Sharma, who also has been directed to report to the police headquarters in Shimla, they said. 

The government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the family members of Shail Baba Sharma and her full salary till the remaining period of her service.

According to the police, they had been tracking Vijay Singh’s location which kept changing from Delhi, Mathura and finally Vrindavan. Singh had shaved off his moustache and tonsured his head to evade arrest. 

He stayed near the Mathura refinery and the Banke Bihari temple. He used a postman, rickshawpuller and another man’s cellphone to contact a man in Solan. “That was a big lead,” an officer said.

The Supreme Court pulled up the authorities and the police for failing to ensure safety of the public servants who were doing their job. The government has been asked to submit its report on the incident.



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CBI Books Journalist For Giving False Info To Access “Sensitive” Areas

Several persons related to the case are being examined by the CBI. (File photo)

New Delhi:  The CBI has booked senior journalist Upender Rai along with an official of Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd for allegedly giving false information to access “highly sensitive” areas of national importance and entering into dubious financial transactions, officials said on Thursday.

The scribe associated with many well-known media outlets has been booked along with Prasun Roy, CSO of Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd, they said.

It is alleged that the duo gave false information for obtaining access to highly sensitive areas like airports and entering into dubious financial transactions, the officials said.

The investigative agency is carrying out searches at eight locations in Delhi, Noida, Lucknow and Mumbai in this regard.

Several persons related to the case are being examined by the agency, the officials added.
 



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Supreme Court To Ex-ISRO Scientist S Nambi Narayanan

Supreme Court told S Nambi Narayanan that a total compensation of Rs 25 lakh can be granted to him (File)

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court today said it may consider granting Rs 25 lakh as compensation to former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan and ordering a probe to ascertain the role of SIT officers who had framed him in the ISRO espionage case.

“I have served the nation. I am hurt. It was a fabricated case. I have suffered the agony for ten years. The CBI gave me the clean chit and the closure report was accepted by the Magistrate,” the 76-year-old scientist told the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

“I seek compensation of Rs one crore and action against the (SIT) officers who framed me,” Mr Narayanan, who has received Rs 10 lakh as compensation so far, said.

The bench, which also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said, “it cannot go the extent of awarding Rs one crore as the public remedy compensation”.

It, however, told the scientist that a total compensation of Rs 25 lakh can be granted to him and the state will be asked to find out and ascertain the role errant officers for framing him in the fake sensational case.

It further said that the compensation amount would be deducted from the salary or the pensionary benefits of the errant officers.

The counsel for CBI also said that the agency had found the case to be fake and filed the closure report which has already been accepted by the court.

The bench then asked the agency as to whether it conducted any investigation to find out and fix the responsibility of the errant officer. The CBI replied in negative.

The bench fixed the matter for further hearing on May 11.

Earlier, the court had said it would hear in detail the plea the former ISRO scientist seeking action against former DGP Siby Mathews and others who were part of an SIT which had probed the matter in which he was framed.

The 76-year-old former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan had filed an appeal against the judgement of division bench of the Kerala High Court which had said no action needed to be taken against the former DGP and two retired Superintendents of Police, KK Joshua and S Vijayan, who were held allegedly responsible by the CBI for his illegal arrest.

He has said the division bench had “failed to appreciate the real undercurrent that passed through the mind of the top court, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the single judge of high court in their verdict and on untenable reasons, quashed the order of the single judge”.

The top court had in 1998 granted compensation of Rs one lakh to Narayanan and the others who were discharged in the case and directed the state government to pay the amount.

Later, Mr Narayanan had approached NHRC claiming compensation against the state government for mental agony and torture suffered by him.

The NHRC, after hearing both sides and taking into account the top court judgement of April 29, 1998 awarded an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh on March 14, 2001.



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India To Continue Probe Despite Cambridge Analytica Closure

Cambridge Analytica announced it is closing down operations as it was losing clients

New Delhi:  The Indian government will continue with its enquiry into the Cambridge Analytica data leak issue, irrespective of the British firm announcing closure of business, senior IT Ministry officials said today.

The UK-based data analytics and political consulting firm has been under fire in various countries for allegedly harvesting data from almost 87 million Facebook users and leveraging them for political campaigns.

The Indian government too has shot-off notices to both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, confronting them with questions on data breach issue. The last date for the two companies to respond is May 10.

On Wednesday, however, Cambridge Analytica announced its closure in a statement on its website and claimed it had been “vilified” for activities that are legal and considered a standard component of online advertising.

Indian officials familiar with the questioning and notices sent in the data leak matter said the ongoing probe will continue as the liability of the company existed prior to the closure announcement.

They, however, declined to divulge further details in the matter, saying that both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have time till May 10 to send written responses to official questioning.

In a fresh notice sent to Cambridge Analytica last month, the government asked what kind of data was collected in India and the research instruments used to capture such data. It also asked whether the company harvested any data through third party apps and whether or not mining of such data was done with user consent.

Quizzing the British firm on the non-disclosure pacts signed by the company with its associates and clients for Indian assignments, the government also asked it to share the templates that were used in signing such agreements.

The latest notice by the government had also flagged the “cryptic and evasive” reply given by Cambridge Analytica to the first notice.

On the other hand, the notice to Facebook had taken note of the US social networking company’s candid admission of unauthorised use of its user data by Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook was asked to list out the security architecture proposed to be created “so that data concerning Indians are not pilfered or manipulated again for extraneous purposes including to influence the elections”.

While Facebook had previously admitted that nearly 5.62 lakh people in India were “potentially affected” by the data breach incident, Cambridge Analytica had claimed that it does not have any Facebook data on Indian citizens.

The British firm on Wednesday said it is shutting down and cited a sharp drop in business behind its decision.

In its statement, Cambridge Analytica said, “Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the Company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas”.



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Trinamool Meets President, Blames BJP For Murders Of Party Supporters

Kolkata:  The Trinamool Congress today complained to President Ram Nath Kovind that the BJP was “involved” in the murder of five Trinamool workers in West Bengal in panchayat poll-linked violence. 

“Five Trinamool supporters have been killed,” said Trinamool lawmaker Sudip Bandopadhyay after meeting the President. “We took their family members to the President so they could tell him their woes,” he added.

BJP leader Raju Banerjee contested, “They are giving the President wrong facts, which is very disrespectful of the post.” 

In a four-page letter to the President, the Trinamool said it is not true that the opposition could not file nomination in the panchayat polls. “BJP spread rumours. More than 96,000 opposition nominations have been filed,” the letter read. 

The Trinamool went on to write, “Few incidents, however, did take place. These have been over-projected through one particular ‘sponsored’ media group to tarnish the image of the government which has worked wonders in West Bengal after being voted to power in 2011.”

The Opposition is up in arms on the issue. CPM leader Biman Bose, on a sit-in protest against panchayat poll violence at the Lenin statue in central Kolkata, said, “The Trinamool seems to think that if you keep repeating a lie, it will one day be accepted as the truth. But people are beginning to see the truth.”

Among other points made by the Trinamool in the letter to the President is that Dildar Khan, killed in poll-related violence in Birbhum on April 23, was a Trinamool supporter and that he was killed while going with his wife to file her nomination as a Trinamool candidate at Suri.

Dildar Khan was shot dead when he was going, according to eyewitnesses, in a BJP procession to file the nomination, not of his wife but of his sister-in-law on a BJP ticket.

This was also what Dildar Khan’s father had said hours after his son’s death. BJP claims he later changed his statement under Trinamool pressure. Sitting next to Birbhum Trinamool chief Anubrata Mondal, the father said his original statement was made under BJP pressure and his son was a Trinamool supporter. 



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Chhota Rajan Got Journalist J Dey Killed To Send Out Message To Media: Court

Chhota Rajan was given life imprisonment for the murder of journalist J Dey (File Photo)

Mumbai:  Gangster Chhota Rajan had ordered the killing of senior journalist J Dey as he wanted to send out a message to the media, general public and his rivals that his organised crime syndicate was still “alive and kicking”, observed a special court here.

Special MCOCA judge Sameer Adkar, in his judgement in Mr Dey’s murder case delivered on Wednesday, also said that Rajan’s “ego would have been hurt” by the articles written by the journalist.

The court sentenced Chhota Rajan and eight others to life imprisonment for the murder committed here in June 2011 but acquitted two others, including a former journalist Jigna Vora, citing lack of evidence.

In the 599-page judgement, Mr Adkar observed that Rajan was angered by the articles written by Mr Dey and felt that the journalist was showing him in a poor and weak position and was glorifying his rival Dawood Ibrahim.

“When the statements made by J Dey in the articles are considered from the point of view of a criminal mind then certainly these would anger a criminal mind. On reading such news, a criminal mind will feel that he was undervalued, demeaned and was shown to be very weak in comparison to his arch rival. Ego would have been hurt,” the judgement said.

It added that the articles written by J Dey had the potential to affect the activities of the organised syndicate as the articles not only showed Rajan in a very weak position but also desperate to show that he had a very strong hold in the underworld.

“Criminals and gangs thrive on the fear factor. In order to ensure their gang flourishes, they instill fear in the minds of others. The fear so created would further the cause of the syndicate. Therefore, if Rajan was shown to be in a weak position then people would not fear him,” the order said.

“By committing murder of J Dey, who was a reputed journalist, a clear message was sent to the media and through the media to the general public and the rivals that the organized crime syndicate of Rajan was very much alive and kicking and nobody should dare to say anything against him and if they did so then they would meet the same fate as J Dey,” Judge Adkar said.

He added that the prosecution has proved that Rajan was angry with Mr Dey as the journalist was giving credit to others for the work done by him (Rajan).

“Prosecution has also proved that Rajan suspected that J Dey was working for Dawood Ibrahim. It cannot be forgotten that while in the courts of law it is said that suspicion howsoever strong does not take the place of proof but in the underworld slightest of suspicion about one’s conduct can lead to his elimination,” the judgement said.

The court added that except for this advantage there was no pecuniary gain or economic advantage behind the murder.

“Apart from these articles, J Dey was also in the process of writing and publishing one book related to Rajan and another book on Dawood Ibrahim. As per the prosecution, these books portrayed Rajan as a small time criminal and at the same time glorified Dawood Ibrahim which made Rajan angry,” the court said in its order.

The court also accepted the extra-judicial confessions made by Rajan in the phone calls he made to four crime reporters taking responsibility for the killing and said that he did so as J Dey was tarnishing his image.

Judge Adkar said Rajan was apparently irked with Mr Dey’s writings on his diminishing clout in the underworld. He, therefore, chose to announce to some media persons that he had got Mr Dey killed, hoping that it would be perceived as a show of his strength, or a warning to others.

“It may be appropriate to answer one question which should arise in the mind of every prudent person – ‘Why criminals phone (call) to the media and claim responsibility for the crime committed by them’?” the judge said.

“The answer to this question is not that difficult. Most often, such calls are made to gain attention. Most people like being seen as an authority and getting the attention that makes them feel important,” he observed.

Additionally, a criminal or an accused may want to give his side of a story if he feels that he is being misrepresented as he would not like it if he is put in a false light, judge Adkar said in his judgement.

“It could also be because criminals have a desire to promote themselves. They may not be paid for the interview but they also do not have to pay to the journalist either. It is an easy way of generating publicity,” he noted.

The judge said a criminal would be fairly confident that he will never be caught afterwards as he feels he is untouchable. “Some may not see themselves as criminals but as misunderstood, hard workers being oppressed by the system.”



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PM Modi, Xi Gave Broad Guidelines For Building Military Trust: Official

New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have given “overarching” direction for building of trust between their militaries, which will now deliberate on operational matters to take it forward, the foreign ministry said today.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the possibility of India and China working on economic projects jointly in Afghanistan was discussed during the informal summit between PM Modi and Xi in China’s Wuhan last week.

He said both sides will have to carry forward discussions on it, adding the leaders, however, did not focus on any specific project in Afghanistan.

Mr Kumar said PM Modi and Xi gave “broad” guidelines to improve ties. During their meeting, PM Modi and Xi had also decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications to build trust and understanding.

The decision was seen as an effort to bring down tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the nearly 3,500 km-long border between India and China.

People familiar with the matter in the military said the Indian Army has already issued instructions to troops deployed along the LAC to avoid “aggressive patrolling”. 

On whether China’s Belt and Road Initiative or the Chabahar port project were discussed, Mr Kumar said the talks did not focus on specific issues.

Indian soldiers will also rigidly follow their banner drill in disputed areas. Under this, in cases of transgression where Chinese soldiers unwittingly enter Indian territory in snowbound areas, where there are no landmarks, they are shown a banner to notify them of the fact. The messages on the banner are in English and Mandarin script. The idea is to avoid any “escalation”, sources said.

With inputs from PTI



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Calcutta High Court Asks West Bengal BJP Chief To Produce Educational Qualification Documents

Dilip Ghosh was elected to the West Bengal Assembly in 2016 from Kharagpur Sadar constituency (File)

Kolkata:  The Calcutta High Court today directed BJP West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh to produce documents related to his educational qualification in connection with a petition filed by a former party leader.Petitioner Ashok Sarkar had moved the plea in May last year alleging that Mr Ghosh’s claim in his nomination for that Assembly election to have obtained a diploma from Jhargram Polytechnic College was false, and as such his election from the Kharagpur Sadar seat be nullified.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice J Bhattacharya and Justice A Banerjee directed Mr Ghosh to produce documents relating to his qualification a week after the summer vacation.

Mr Sarkar, a former BJP state committee member, had moved the plea seeking cancellation of Mr Ghosh’s election, saying that he had passed out from another institute at Jhargram in West Midnapore district and not the one mentioned in his affidavit before the Election Commission.

Mr Ghosh was elected to the West Bengal Assembly in 2016 from Kharagpur Sadar constituency.



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