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After raids conducted to lookout for Sharjeel Imam, Jahanabad police detain his brother


On Tuesday, the Jahanabad police detained Sharjeel Imam's brother Muzammil Imam, reported news agency ANI. Sharjeel, a JNU student and co-coordinator of Shaheen Bagh protests, who has been booked on sedition and other charges in several states for his alleged "inflammatory" speeches.


ANI

@ANI
Bihar: Jahanabad police detain brother of JNU student&co-coordinator of Shaheen Bagh protests Sharjeel Imam. Delhi Police y'day conducted raids in Mumbai, Patna, Delhi to look for Sharjeel Imam & arrest him for his "cut off Assam from India" remark he allegedly made few days ago

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7:41 PM - Jan 27, 2020
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On Monday, Delhi Police conducted multiple raids in different parts of the country to nab Sharjeel Imam. The Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Sunday booked Imam and slapped him with a sedition case after his alleged speeches went viral on social media where he was heard speaking about "cutting off" Assam and the northeast from India. Imam has been slapped with charges of sedition and inciting enmity between communities under Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Following the FIRs, chief proctor of the JNU summoned Imam to appear before him by February 3 and explain his position on the alleged provocative speeches made by him.

Earlier, a series of videos have gone viral on social media in which Imam is heard saying: "If we all come together, then we can separate the Northeast from India. If we cannot do it permanently, then at least for one to two months, we can do this." "It is our responsibility to cut Assam from India. When this happens, only then the government will listen to us," he is heard saying further in the video.

Assam police had, earlier, lodged a case against him under the anti-terror law--the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Meanwhile, police in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh have registered FIRs against Imam under IPC sections relating to waging war against the nation and sedition. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for life.

Imam's mother reacted with anguish to the developments back home in Bihar's Jehanabad. "My son is innocent. He is a bright young man and not a thief or a pickpocket. I swear in the name of God that I do not know about his whereabouts," Afshan Rahim told reporters.




China's Coronavirus death toll rises to 106 with more than 4,000 confirmed cases


Wuhan (China): The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China has soared to 106 while nearly 1,300 new cases have been confirmed, authorities said Tuesday.

The health commission in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, said 24 more people had died from the virus and 1,291 more people were infected, raising the total number of confirmed cases to more than 4,000 nationwide.

 
 

The World Health Organisation on Monday admitted an error in its assessment of the global risk of a deadly virus in China, saying it was "high" and not "moderate". The Geneva-based UN health agency said in a situation report published late Sunday that the risk was "very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level."

In a footnote, the WHO explained that it had stated "incorrectly" in its previous reports on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that the global risk was "moderate". The correction of the global risk assessment does not mean that an international health emergency has been declared.

 
 
 



Shiv Bhojan: Over 24,000 plates served in 2 days


The Maha Vikas Aghadi government's ambitious Shiv Bhojan scheme — a meal at Rs 10 — has found hungry takers. On the first day, January 26, 11,147 plates, as against a target of 18,000 plates per day, were served in 122 canteens spread over 35 districts. On January 27, 13,500 plates were served.

The scheme, launched on an experimental basis, could not take off in Yavatmal due to code of conduct for the legislative council election.

The meal is served between 12 pm and 2 pm in the canteens identified by the state government. They are supposed to serve 500 plates per day. Initially, 50 outlets/canteens have been opened, and the government wants to increase this number in due course. The lunch plates or ‘thalis’ comprise two chapattis, one vegetable sabzi, rice and dal.

 
 

The Food and Civil Supplies is the nodal department for the implementation of the scheme across the state. The Shiv Sena, which now leads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, had promised this scheme in its poll manifesto. It is similar to the Amma Unavagam scheme in Tamil Nadu and Indira Canteen in Karnataka.

 
 

“The goal of the scheme is to provide affordable and quality food at Rs 10 per plate. The scheme has been started in district headquarters,” said Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal.

The minister informed that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and he will jointly hold a dialogue through web link with a few Shiv Bhojan canteen operators on Tuesday.

Bhujbal said the department gets the update on the number of plates served in these canteens through an app. He also informed that the government has earmarked Rs 6.48 crore for three months for the scheme and it will be increased considering the response from people. A dept official said while the customer gets a plate at Rs 10, its actual cost is Rs 50 in urban areas and Rs 35 in rural areas. The government is giving the balance amount as grant to the district collectorate. He informed that the demand is quite high in urban areas compared to rural.

 
 
 



Iqbal Mirchi money laundering case: DHFL MD Kapil Wadhawan held


The ED on Monday arrested Kapil Wadhawan, Chairman and MD of Dewan Housing Finance Ltd, in connection with the agency’s probe into the Iqbal Mirchi money laundering case.

Seeking his custody for seven days from a special PMLA court, the ED called him an ‘active conspirator’ in the case.

On Monday, the special PMLA court also granted bail to Kapil’s brother Dheeraj who is accused by the agency of being the ‘prime mover’ of a property deal between a company linked to him and late drug lord Iqbal Memon, alias Mirchi.

The ED has alleged in its complaint how properties of Mirchi, believed to be proceeds of crime, were sold to Sunblink Real Estate Private Ltd, a company linked to Dheeraj Wadhawan. Dheeraj claims he was not aware that Mirchi was a wanted man.

 
 

Arguing for custody of Kapil, the agency told the court that in 2010-11, DHFL had given loans to five shell companies amounting to Rs 1500 crore, and by July 2019, the outstanding amount had reached Rs 2186 crore.

The beneficiary owners of these companies are Kapil and Dheeraj, the agency has alleged. “The sole purpose of these companies was to siphon off public money,” it added.

 
 

It is further alleged that these five entities and Sunblink Real Estate Private Ltd are inter-related and have been used and controlled by Kapil to ‘layer and obfuscate’ the origin of the monies. Kapil, the agency alleged, has played a ‘very crucial role’ in the nefarious transactions by way of money laundering. “He first diverted huge funds from DFHL to shell companies. Later these shell companies got amalgamated with Sunblink real estate to cover the alleged diversion of loans acquired from DHFL,” it said.

Kapil is also one of the promoters of RKW Developers. The agency told court that a loan of Rs 50 crore taken from DHFL was later repaid by a loan taken from RKW developers while Kapil Wadhawan was in control of affairs of both.

Appearing for the ED, special public prosecutor Hiten Venegaonkar told court that this Rs 50 crore was disbursed by DHFL to Sunblink without taking into account the loan policy of DHFL. At the time of sanctioning of the loan, there was no substantial property in the name of Sunblink. The ED also mentioned in court the statement of one real estate broker involved in a land deal who had stated that Kapil Wadhawan had visited London with him to meet Iqbal Mirchi, but that he did not meet him.

Appearing for Kapil, his advocate Prasad Dhakephalkar argued that the five companies are totally unconnected to the Iqbal Mirchi case and questioned the basis on which the agency had come to the conclusion that the companies were shell companies. Special judge PS Rajvaidya gave the agency custody of Kapil till Wednesday.

 
 
 



Budget Expectations to Revive Fraying Economy


The Budget to be presented on February 1 is being keenly watched for a number of reasons.  First, the Finance Minister has to do a tight rope walk in balancing the considerations of fiscal consolidation and providing a stimulus at a time when the economy has been slowing down and inflation is on the rise.  There is considerable pressure to loosen the purse and relax the FRBM targets to revive consumption and investment demand.  Second, the Budget this year will incorporate the first report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission which decides the volume of resource transfers to the States and thereby determines their fiscal fortunes.  Third, in the prevailing poor investment climate, there is considerable demand for rationalisation of the direct taxes by removing the dividend distribution tax and aligning the individual income tax with the rate of corporation tax reduced in September.  

Even in normal times, Finance Ministers have an unenviable task of balancing the books, but in the present economic environment, the challenge is formidable.  The growth rate of 4.5 per cent recorded in the second quarter is the slowest in the last 26 quarters and the 5 per cent growth estimated for the whole year is the slowest in the last 6 years.  In fact, if the growth recorded on account of public administration and defence is excluded, the real economy is estimated to be recording just 3 per cent growth in the current year.  Core sectors have been shrinking since August and exports have been stagnant.  While the monetary policy has traversed a considerable distance with its accommodating stance, the lurking fears of inflation do not provide further scope for rate cuts. 

 
 

The twin balance sheet problem has conti­nued with the private sector not taking the investment initiative and the burden of revival has been placed at the door of fiscal policy.  Although the recapitalisation of the banks has helped, governance issues rem­ain unaddressed and bankers are not will­ing to lend and corporates are unwilling to borrow.  In addition, there is a NBFC crisis af­t­er the collapse of ILFS which has dried up resou­rces for the small and medium sector.

 
 

Sea­r­ch for fiscal space for expenditure expansion:

Not surprisingly, the chorus of opinion is to shun fiscal conservatism and go for massive expenditure expansion to revive the economy.  In any case this fiscal is likely to see substantial slippage due to substantial shortfall in revenue collections, first due to far too optimistic revenue projections in the budget estimate and second due to much lower growth of nominal GDP at 7.5% as compared to the assumed 12%.  To be sure, the assumed growth of taxes in the budget estimate over the actual collections in the previous year is a staggering 18.3%.  The shortfall is estimated at about Rs. 2.5 trillion of which the Central share would be Rs. 1.7 trillion.  Thus, despite the additional contribution by the RBI of Rs. 0.86 trillion over and above the budgeted Rs l 9 trillion, there could be slippage in the fiscal deficit numbers by about 0.5 points.

Counter-cyclical fiscal policy warrants fiscal expansion, but do we really have the fiscal space?  With household sector’s net financial savings at 6.2 per cent and when the government and public sector enterprises borrow over 8.5 per cent there is hardly any fiscal space for increased government borrowing.  Thus, even as the repo rate has been reduced by over 135 basis points since January 2019, this has not seen transmission in the lending rates.  The RBI had to repeatedly come up with open market operations to ensure liquidity in the economy which in effect, meant monetising the deficit which was formally stopped after the agreement between RBI Governor and the Finance Secy in 1996.

Thus, increased spending by the government will have to be achieved mainly by speeding up disinvestment and privatisation.  This is necessary not only to augment the much needed revenue but also to ensure the right role of the government.  Should the government be running airlines, steel mills, travel agencies, hotels or telecom firms?  There is a massive increase in the fees of telecom companies after the Supreme Court judgement on AGR.  Although there are serious questions on the appropriateness of the judgement and viability of telecom companies, if it is finally implemented additional revenue will accrue to the government in the next few years. 

Even if it is decided to miss the fiscal targets, it is important to ensure the credibility of the numbers.  In fact, it does not make much sense to fix the fiscal deficit target at 3.3% and finance expenditures through off budget mecha­nisms.  The C&AG has repeatedly drawn attention to various off budget liabilities and financing of deficit through non-transparent ways.  The IMF Article IV report released in Dec too draws attention to the need to make the Budget compreh­en­sive and transparent.  Perhaps, gov­e­r­n­ment should come clean and declare the correct numbers, record the extent of slippage and lay down the path of conso­lidation in the MTFP.  Will they do it? I doubt it.

Need for increased infrastructure spending.

In the prevailing poor investment climate, substantial increase in infrastructure spending is necessary not only to augment the investment demand but also to enhance productivity. The Finance Minister has come up with the announcement that there will be an investment of Rs. 102 trillion in the next five years.  According to the announcement, 43% is already under implementation and 33% is at the conceptualisation stage.  The share of the government in this is estimated at 78% equally shared between the Centre and States and the remaining 22% will be spent by the private sector.  The major infra­ sectors for investment include energy (24.5%), transport (25.7%) and urban and rural development (24%).   The capital outlay of the Centre itself is supposed to increase from Rs. 3.5 trillion in 2018-19 to Rs. 10 trillion in 2024-25.  This implies virtually doubling the capital expenditure – GDP ratio from 1.5% of GDP to more than 3%.  If only wishes were horses!

Much of the increase in capital expenditure will depend upon how much we are willing to rationalise by phasing out subsidies and transfers and how much additional borrowing is resorted to.  The amendment to the FRBM Act done last year did away with the revenue deficit target which implies there is no targeted reduction in revenue expenditures.  Will this also remain as yet another announcement without action?  The real test of the promise of augmenting investment expenditures will come in the Budget. 

—(Dr M Govinda Rao is former Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Member, Fourteenth Finance Commission) (Syndicate:The BIllion Press)

 
 
 



'Dictatorship is at its peak': Chandrashekhar Azad on forcibly being sent to Delhi


Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was detained on Sunday by Hyderabad police while he was en route to address a public meeting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, tweeted on Monday saying that he was “being sent to Delhi”.

Azad tweeted in Hindi saying that, “Dictatorship is at its peak in Telangana. People’s right to protest is being snatched, first, our people were beaten with sticks, then I was arrested, now I have been brought to the airport and being sent back to Delhi. @TelanganaCMO Remember Bahujan society will never forget this insult. Will be back soon.”


Chandra Shekhar Aazad

@BhimArmyChief
तेलंगाना में तानाशाही चरम पर है लोगों के विरोध प्रदर्शन करने के अधिकार को छीना जा रहा है पहले हमारे लोगों को लाठियां मारी गई फिर मुझे गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया,अब मुझे एयरपोर्ट ले आएं है दिल्ली भेज रहे है। @TelanganaCMO याद रखे बहुजन समाज इस अपमान को कभी नही भूलेगा। जल्द वापिस आऊंगा

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4:09 PM - Jan 26, 2020
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The 33-year-old Bhim Army leader was in Hyderabad on Sunday was heading, to address a gathering on the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register, that is when he was arrested by the police. The Hyderabad police had said they had not granted permission for the programme to be held.

Azad was in Hyderabad to attend two meetings against the CAA, organised by alumni of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and All India Dalit Muslim Adivasi Progressive Front (AIDMPAF).

Azad's detention came 10 days after his release on bail from Tihar Jail. He was arrested by Delhi police on December 20 on charges of inciting people during anti-CAA protest. He was held when he tried to take out a march from Jamia Masjid to Jantar Mantar.

The court also restrained Azad from visiting Delhi for four weeks and directed him not to hold any dharna till the elections in the national capital. The court also said that before going to Saharanpur if Azad wants to go anywhere, including Jama Masjid, in Delhi till 24 hours, police will escort him there.




'India's constitution and democracy is in danger, won't let country to be divided': Yashwant Sinha


Lucknow: Former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, who is presently on a 3000 km Gandhi Peace March, has said that the country's Constitution is in danger as attempts are being made to divide the country on religious lines.

Sinha, who arrived in Lucknow on Saturday, said in an informal chat with reporters, "We are out to spread the message of peace, non violence. The reason we decided to take out a Yatra is because the country's Constitution, its democracy is in danger. There appears to be great unrest. The farmers are unhappy and there are protests everywhere."

He further said: "Hatred for each other is growing among the masses and this needs to be checked. In a democracy, each of us has a right to be heard. If the people are unhappy over something the government needs to hear them."

Sinha had begun his peace march with his supporters on January 9 from Mumbai. So far he has covered Rajasthan, Haryana and now Uttar Pradesh. The Yatra will conclude at Rajghat in Delhi on January 30, which is the death anniversary of the Father of the Nation.

Yashwant Sinha has got the support of NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha in his Yatra.

The former union minister unfurled the flag with Akhilesh Yadav in Etawah on Saturday on the occasion of Republic Day.




BJP leader Pankaja Munde to hold day-long hunger strike over Marathwada water crisis


Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pankaja Munde will be leading a day-long hunger strike and protest here on Tuesday to outline the issue of water crisis in the region.

"We are going to organise a day-long hunger strike over the issue of Marathawada water crisis and want the Uddhav Thackrey government to take measures to resolve the same. The protest is also about other problems which are in Maharashtra", she said.

"Due to the lack of water, farmers are facing difficulties in Marathawada. Owing to low produce and lack of funds, they are not able to provide education to their children. The lack of water has increased unemployment in the region," she said.

"We are expecting that all the leaders of Maharashtra will join our movement. If we will not get success in one day rally then in future we will take some other steps," the BJP leader added.

 
 
 



Protestor beaten up for raising anti-CAA slogans at Amit Shah's rally in Delhi


New Delhi: A youth, among a small group who raised slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Union Home Minister Amit Shah's poll rally here on Sunday, was beaten up by people at the rally.

Shah, who was present at that time, directed his security to take the youth to safety.

As the Home Minister was addressing the rally in Babarpur Assembly constituency for the February 8 Delhi Assembly elections, four-five youths began shouting slogans demanding the rollback of the act. People seized hold of one of the youth and beat him up before Shah's intervention.

In his speech, Shah targeted both the city's ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought in the CAA but "Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal and company were opposing it".

"They (the opposition) incited and misled the people, buses were burnt, cars were burnt and if these people come back, then Delhi will not be secure," he alleged.

Appealing to the people to vote for the BJP, he said his party's victory would ensure Delhi remains secure and incidents like the Shaheen Bagh protests are curbed.

He said that the BJP and Modi would transform the city, and urged people not to go by the "false promises" of others.




'Tribals are the original inhabitants': Sharad Pawar backs tribals for recognition of their indigenousness


Indore: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday voiced his support for the tribal community's demand for recognition of their indigenousness from the United Nations.

"Tribals are the original inhabitants of the country, we support their demand for recognition of their indigenousness from the United Nations," said Pawar.

Earlier in the day, the NCP leader had demanded the installation of statues of social reformers including Tantya Bhil in the premises of the Parliament.

"On January 26, the birth anniversary of Tantya Bhil will be celebrated across the country. I will try to have deliberations with the President, Prime Minister and the Speaker regarding the installation of statues of those who have contributed to the country including Tantya Bhil in the Parliament premises," Pawar said during a programme organised to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tantya.

Adding that Tantya and Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, were born in the land of Madhya Pradesh, Pawar said, "The Kamal Nath-led government will work for the tribals in the State. Great Bhil and Ambedkar were born here, in this land. I feel that there is a need to take some steps for the development of our society." Tantya was a member of the Bhil tribe, the indigenous Adivasi community, and is recognised as a heroic figure. He is known for his contributions to the society and the Indian Rebellion of 1857.




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