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Bride-to-be doctor, 23, killed as bike skids over pothole

Thane: A 23-year-old homoeopath was killed in Thane on Wednesday night after the bike on which she was travelling skidded over a pothole. She was thrown on the road and run over by a container truck which was coming from behind. The mishap occurred in Dugadphata.

The deceased, identified as Neha Alamgir Shaikh, was riding pillion on her brother's bike. Her brother Shadaf Sheikh suffered minor injuries.

According to police sources, Neha was a practising homeopath; incidentally, she was going to be married on November 7. She and her brother had gone to Thane for wedding shopping and the tragedy befell them as they were returning home.

Residents of Kudus village, where the mishap occurred, protested against the potholes on Dugadphata Road and blocked the Wada-Bhiwandi national highway toll naka.

The police have booked the unidentified truck driver for 'causing death due to negligence'. They said the container had rammed into the rear of the bike, which led to the mishap.

Locals, who claimed to have witnessed the mishap, told police that when the bike passed over the "potholed patch", both, the rider and the pillion rider, fell. They also said that a "speeding" container that was behind them ran over the woman and she died on the spot.

Locals alerted Ganeshpuri taluka police, who reached the spot and sent the body to IGM Hospital for post-mortem examination.

Assistant inspector Mahesh Sagade, Ganeshpuri police station, said that their preliminary probe has shown that the motorcycle "skidded after it ran over a pothole and the container that was behind hit the bike".

According to villagers, Manor-Wada road is in a bad shape, pock-marked with potholes. This is the third road accident due to potholes in the last one month.


Jammu and Kashmir admin releases three politicians from detention

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday released three politicians who were under detention since August 5 when the Centre abrogated the special status granted to the state under the Constitution, officials said.

Yawar Mir, Noor Mohammed and Shoiab Lone were be released on various grounds, the officials said, explaining the reasons for ending of their detention.

While Mir is a former PDA MLA from the Rafiabad assembly seat, Lone contested unsuccessfully on a Congress ticket from North Kashmir and later resigned as district president of the party.

Noor Mohammed is a National Conference worker who has been managing the party's show in the militancy-infested Batmaloo area of the Srinagar city.

Before his release, he will be signing a bond to maintain peace and good behaviour, the officials said on Wednesday night. The governor administration had earlier released Imran Ansari of the People's Conference and Syed Akhoon on health grounds on September 21.

More than a thousand people, including politicians, separatists, activists and lawyers, were detained after the August 5 move of the central government to abrogate the state's special status.

The detainees include three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

Over 250 people were sent to the jails outside Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah was subsequently detained under the stringent Public Safety Act, while other politicians were mostly detained under different sections of the criminal procedure code.


BSF spots drone entering Punjab border from Pakistan side, for 3rd consecutive day

Ferozepur: Border Security Force (BSF) personnel on third consecutive day spotted drone entered from Pakistan's side on Wednesday evening in Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur, sources said.

The drone was first spotted around 7:15 pm and again spotted by security personnel and locals after three hours. Later, information was given to the local police.

Punjab Police is investigating the matter. BSF personnel had earlier spotted a drone entering from Pakistan's side on Monday night.


Railways made Rs 35,073 crore in 10 years by just selling scrap

Bhopal: The Indian Railways, which does not exactly hold the reputation for being a profit-making entity has managed to swell its coffers by Rs 35,000 crore, which is more than the annual budget of three northeastern states put together.

The Railways managed to make Rs 35,073 crore in 10 years by selling off scrap, including coaches, wagons and rail tracks.

A data collected by social activist and senior journalist Jitendra Surana, seeking Right To Information, showed that the amount was even greater than the budget of Sikkim (around 7,000 crore), Mizoram (9,000 crore) and Manipur (13,000 crore) together for the fiscal year 2018-19.

Surana who hails from Malwa-Nimar region in Madhya Pradesh, has revealed the Railways figure.

The Indian Railways said it earned maximum profit of Rs 4,409 crore by selling scrap in 2011-12. The lowest income of Rs 2,718 crore was in 2016-17. Among scrap, rail tracks were sold the most, and the overall income from selling the tracks in 10 years stood at Rs 11,938 crore.


Madhya Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh to receive heavy rainfall today: IMD

New Delhi: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday said that isolated places over Madhya Maharashtra, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Yanam, Interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal are likely to receive heavy rainfall today.

The weather forecast agency further predicted that places over Karaikal, Kerala and Mahe are also likely to witness heavy downpour throughout the day.

The thunderstorm accompanied with lightning very likely at isolated places over Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Sikkim, Odisha, Madhya Maharashtra, Konkan, Goa and Coastal Andhra Pradesh.

In Delhi, the sky will partly be cloudy with the minimum and the maximum temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius and 33 degrees Celsius. The relative humidity in the area would be around 78 per cent.


PMC bank scam: Political broker is under hawala lens

The ED suspects that the money laundered to a foreign destination was part of Wadhwans' crime proceeds.Sources said the executives' office and residential premises were searched by the ED sleuths on Saturday.

Mumbai: A top HDIL executive and a controversial 'liasoning agent' are presently under the Enforcement Directorate scanner for laundering an estimated Rs 1,000 crore at the behest of the Wadhwans, who have been arrested in connection with the Rs 4355 crore scam in the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) bank.

The ED suspects that the money laundered to a foreign destination was part of Wadhwans' crime proceeds.Sources said the executives' office and residential premises were searched by the ED sleuths on Saturday.

He, along with the 'liasoning agent' were subjected to day-long questioning on Monday.Sources said that the HDIL executive, who works as a senior manager in the company, is considered to be a close confidant of the Wadhwans.

The liasoning agent, who lives in Bandra (w), is known for his proximity to a string of top notch politicians from across the spectrum as well as the nouveau riche party-circuit in the western suburbs.

"The (liasoning agent) has long been known to broker deals between filthy businessmen and politicians for a commission. He is an old hand in parking black money abroad through hawala," sources said.

Sources also said the duo helped park between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore of the Wadhwans in a West Asian country between 2008 and 2012.

That was the time when maximum loans had been allotted to HDIL and its affiliates by the PMC, whose total exposure to the Wadhwan-led firms has been estimated at over Rs 6,600 crores.

The money, laundered using hawala channels, had been remitted from two (out of the 44) borrowal accounts opened by the Wadhwas in PMC for making proxy investments in two bogus off-shore petroleum ventures.

As per the findings so far, the default loans in the 44 accounts, calculated to be Rs 4355 crore till the last count, were masked by opening 21,000 bogus accounts in order to avoid queries during audits.

By Debasish Panigrahi

Effect of global 'synchronized slowdown' is 'more pronounced' in India: IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva

Washington: As the global economy is witnessing "synchronized slowdown", the effect is "more pronounced" this year in some of the largest emerging market economies like India, said the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva.

Georgieva pointed out that the widespread deceleration means that growth in 2019-20 will fall to its "lowest rate" since the beginning of the decade. Almost 90 per cent of the world will face slower growth, she said on Tuesday.

"Two years ago, the global economy was in a synchronized upswing. Measured by GDP, nearly 75 per cent of the world was accelerating. The global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown.

In 2019, we expect slower growth in nearly 90 per cent of the world," said Georgieva in her first speech as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"In the United States and Germany, unemployment is at historic lows. Yet across advanced economies, including in the U.S., Japan, and especially the euro area, there is a softening of economic activity.

In some of the largest emerging market economies, such as India and Brazil, the slowdown is even more pronounced this year," Georgieva said.

The IMF Managing Director said that global trade growth has come to a "near standstill." The IMF had cut its projection for India's economic growth by 0.3 percentage points to 7 per cent for the fiscal year 2019-20 owing to the "weaker-than-expected outlook" for the domestic demand.

Georgieva, who this month took over leadership at the IMF from Christine Lagarde, said that currencies are once again in the spotlight and Disputes now extend between multiple countries and into other critical issues.

"Even if growth picks-up in 2020, the current rifts could lead to changes that last a generation -- broken supply chains, siloed trade sectors, a "digital Berlin Wall" that forces countries to choose between technology systems," she said.

Amid rising trade war between the countries which is generally fought through tariffs and counter-tariffs, the chief called for nations to work together and said: "Everyone loses in a trade war".


Pakistan using its diplomatic missions to push fake currency into India, for terror financing

London: Three years after India demonetised high currency notes to crackdown on black money, Pakistan has started producing, smuggling and circulating better quality Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) to finance illicit activities and militant groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates, Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Senior officials reveal that a large amount of counterfeit currency from Pakistan is making its way into India using pre-2016 system and infrastructure- of gangs, their syndicate, channels, and routes.

Most surprisingly, Pakistan has been misusing diplomatic channels in Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries to bring and distribute consignments of Fake Indian Currency Notes.

Sources reveal that Pakistan's secret agency, the ISI, manages to create this currency of better visual quality than the earlier photocopied notes.

In May 2019, a recently released D-company associate, Younus Ansari, was arrested with three Pakistani nationals at Kathmandu Airport with a huge consignment of Indian currency totaling Indian Rs 76.7 million.

The temerity of the couriers was obvious from the fact that the stash was not even concealed, as in the past, but was loosely dumped into checked-in baggage. The consignor was notorious Pakistan-based FICN smuggler Razzak Marfani.

Interestingly, the same Younus was arrested a few years ago in Nepal for conspiring to implement a hit-job on an Indian diplomat in Kathmandu.

On September 22, police in Indian Punjab seized FICN worth Rs.1 million from Sikh radical elements belonging to the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), which had also received five AK 47 Rifles, 30 bore pistols, nine hand grenades, five satellite phones, two mobile phones and two wireless sets, sent across the international border with Pakistan, through Drones.

Again, on September 25, police in Dhaka seized FICN worth Indian Rs. 4.95 million.

A Dubai-based individual 'Salman Shera' had sent the parcel to Sylhet in Bangladesh, which was sent to Dhaka via a courier service 'SA Poribahan.' The individuals apprehended revealed that from Sylhet the consignment was headed to Sreenagar Upazila in Munshiganj District in Dhaka.

The original consignor Salman Shera is the son of Aslam Shera, a notorious Pakistan-based ISI dealer in FICN, active since the late 1990s, said senior officials.

Before demonetisation, the Pakistani Embassy in Kathmandu was the nerve centre for FICN operations, and used Birgunj Town as its vital transit point for almost all fake currency notes entering India.

Sources reveal that ISI had set up a large network of agents from Kathmandu to Birganj and all along the border, to push consignments of FICN from Nepal into India.

ISI transported fake notes through the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines, or through the diplomatic bag to its Missions in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Doha", sources revealed.

They added, "From these locations, couriers brought consignments on PIA or other international flights to Kathmandu or Dhaka".

In Bangladesh, Pakistan has been misusing diplomatic channels to bring and distribute consignments of FICN. Mainstream Bangladeshi media is replete with incidents, wherein Pakistani nationals posted at its High Commission in Dhaka have been expelled, formally and informally, for ferrying FICN and for terror financing activities.

In late 2015, Second Secretary at the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka Farina Arshad, was withdrawn after Idris Sheikh an operative of the militant organization Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) admitted to having links with her.

Sources reveal that prior to this in January 2015, Mazhar Khan an Attache in the Consular Section of Pakistani Mission in Dhaka was similarly expelled after Bangladeshi intelligence accused him of peddling FICN and providing funds to terror outfits.

Mazhar Khan had cultivated a Bangladeshi national Mujibur Rahman, and had sent him to India 11 times and to Thailand 22 times in just a few years, to circulate FICN.

The above Pakistani Mission officials had also developed close ties with radicalized elements in Dhaka University, officers of Pakistan International Airlines and a section of Bangladeshi nationals residing along the border with India in places such as Lalmonirhat, Jessore, Thakurgaon, and Benapole, the main ingress points for FICN into India.

The earnings from FICN smuggling operations were further channeled to terror outfits operating from Bangladesh, like Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Ansurullah Bangla Team and Jamaat Shibir.

The Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) report on 'Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Related to Counterfeiting of Currency', referred to Article 3 of the Currency Counterfeiting Convention (Geneva, 1929) which defined counterfeiting as "fraudulent making or altering of currency, whatever means are employed." FATF Recommendation 3 designates counterfeiting currency as a predicate offence for money laundering.

It identifies money laundering and terror financing as aspects associated with counterfeit currency, and these are, in turn, related with organized crime.

The report categorically stated, "India has also reported large scale use of counterfeit currency, by both State and non-State actors, to assist/fund terrorist acts.

The case studies in this regard furnished by India, expose the scale and intensity of the problem. In particular, there is evidence of multiple bases being used to flood the country with counterfeit notes, thereby attempting to attack the 'economic security' of the country, besides using it to fund/assist specific terrorist acts".

The role of organized criminal groups in the production of counterfeit currency was elaborated in FATF's 2013 report. It cited the case of a seizure in February 2012 of counterfeit Indian Rupees concealed in a shipping consignment from Pakistan via Hong Kong, China to Nepal.

The report highlighted that high-quality counterfeit Indian notes were printed in Pakistan and then smuggled into India through transit points at Dhaka, Bangladesh as well. The other route to smuggle FICN was by smuggling through the India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh and India-Nepal borders.

Production and smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes by Pakistan exposes its nefarious designs to destablise the Indian economy and support terrorism.


Will Rafale fighter jet be a 'game changer' for India?

New Delhi: Induction of the Rafale fighter jet will be a "game changer" for India in regional geopolitics of South Asia in so far as Pakistan is concerned, defence experts had said though any comparison with the air power of China still has a long way to go.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will ceremonially receive the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft in France on Tuesday, even though the combat jet will be seen in Indian skies only in May 2020.

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had said soon after taking over as air chief on September 30 that induction of the Rafale is going to be a "game changer".

Rafale, categorised as a 4.5 generation aircraft for its radar-evading stealth profile, will be a game changer for the Indian Air Force (IAF) since most of the aircraft in its inventory - including the Mirage 2000 and the Su-30 MkI - are classified as either third- or fourth-generation fighters.

"Pakistan has the multi-role F-16 in its inventory. But it is only as good as the Mirage 2000 of India. There is nothing equivalent to the Rafale in Pakistan," retired Air Marshal Matheswaran said.

The upgraded version of the Mirage and Sukhoi 30 can at best reach up to the category of fourth-generation fighters. The indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas can be categorised as fourth-generation in terms of avionics and technology but it is too small an aircraft to make a difference.

India will only be the fourth country, after France, Egypt and Qatar, to fly the Rafale. But Rafale cannot be compared with the J-20, an indigenously developed fifth-generation aircraft of China.

The J-20 is soon set to be inducted in large numbers into the People's Liberation Army Air Force of China after it was successfully developed and displayed, said defence sources.

The Hong Kong-based English language newspaper South China Morning Post had reported, quoting the Chinese state media, as far back as March 2017 that the PLAAF had inducted the latest stealth fighter J-20.

Besides, China already has over 600 4 to 4.5 generation fighter jets in its air force. "We have the capability to defend ourselves. But capabilities also include a lot of strategic issues in the global system.

The differentials are too much between India and China as far as air power is concerned," added Air Marshal Matheswaran.

As per defence experts, with its J-20, China is eyeing to compete with the US, which boasts of fifth-generation fighter jets including F-22 and F-35 manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

India's mega deal with Russia to develop a fifth-generation aircraft, which could have put it in the same league as US and China, fell off in 2018 amidst uncertainties.

There is no decision yet on whether fifth-generation aircraft will be purchased off the shelf even as the IAF is short of at least 10 to 12 squadrons of fighter jets.

With both the Bison and non-Bison versions of the MiG 21 also set to be decommissioned soon, the IAF has claimed that it is fully committed to developing the indigenous Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) as replacement.

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria had said in New Delhi last week that "there is no question of imports whatsoever in the foreseeable future". "The AMCA is a development project and it will be several years before it actually takes off.

The project is still on the drawing board. India will have to have a long-term partnership with any leading company of the world in order to develop the AMCA. The partner is not chosen yet," said a top IAF official, on condition of anonymity.



Aarey tree felling: What does ‘status quo’ mean?

MMRCL claims ruling is only with respect to cutting of trees; other work, including clearing of already felled trees, will continue at the site; activists claim stumps cannot be removed

Mumbai: While the Maharashtra government has been asked by the apex court to maintain the ‘status quo’ until the next hearing, the MMCRL has not been restrained from undertaking work on the car shed site, which has already been cleared.

MMCRL is interpreting the court order to imply that the "status quo (is) to be maintained only with respect to cutting of trees." The corporation issued a press statement after the court order which reads, “We respect the order. No future tree felling activity at the car shed site in Aarey Milk Colony will be undertaken.

Other works, including clearing of already felled trees, will continue at the site." Elaborating, an MMRCL spokesperson said, “As on date, 2,141 trees have been felled. These will be cleared from the site and subsequent construction activities will be carried out."

However, the activists are adamant that the authorities cannot do anything at the site. "They have managed to kill trees but what about the stumps? They have not uprooted the stumps," Aarey crusader Zoru Bhathena said.

"In order to continue with their construction work, the authorities will have to uproot the stumps, which is not possible. The order specifically says maintain status quo. Hence no work of any kind," Bhathena claimed.

ALL TREES NOT CUT: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court on Monday that "the MMRCL has cut all the requisite trees." However, according to crusader Bhathena, the statement is misleading.

"The statement made by the SG is false and has not been taken on record. It has been disseminated on social media only to ensure that people get frustrated and do not visit the site," Bhathena said. "They haven't cut the required number of trees but managed to kill a few hundred,’’ Bhathena further claimed.