Today Picture

Jignesh Mevani calls PM Modi ‘Namak Haram’

Patna: Gujarat Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Jignesh Mevani has stoked a controversy by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi Namak Haram (disloyal).
Referring to the incident where migrant workers were allegedly beaten up in the state of Gujarat, Mevani, said, “The migrant workers were mercilessly beaten up in Gujarat but the Prime Minister didn’t utter a single word or appealed to stop such violent acts against the people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He is nothing but a Namak Haram.”
The independent MLA, who is known as a staunch critic of Prime Minister Modi, made the statement while addressing a rally in Patna on October 25.
Several migrant workers hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were allegedly attacked and asked to leave the state of Gujarat after a native from Bihar was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district. The members of ‘Kshatriya Thakor Sena’ allegedly staged protests in the northern part of the state and demanded that people from other states should not be given jobs in Gujarat.
This was not the first time when Mevani stoked a controversy by attacking the Prime Minister. Earlier, he mocked the Prime Minister by saying that the latter conducted a surgical strike on the people of the country with demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).


Government treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises: Amnesty

Bengaluru: Amnesty International India said Friday the Union government is treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises in the wake of searches by the Enforcement Directorate at its premises. The ED on Thursday conducted searches at two locations of the rights watchdog in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case.

“Government authorities are increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises,” Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel said in a statement here.

The searches were in connection with alleged violation of foreign direct investment norms that is linked to an earlier case of revocation of FCRA licence of the NGO by the Union Home Ministry in 2010.

“As an organisation committed to the rule of law, our operations in India have always conformed with our national regulations. The principles of transparency and accountability are at the heart of our work,” Patel said.

The focus of ED’s questioning was the relationship between two entities – Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd and Amnesty International India Foundation, it said. Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant authorities, the watchdog said.

Details of Amnesty India’s current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on its website since 2014, the statement said. However, ahead of the raids, the Indian authorities leaked a cache of their internal documents marked “secret” that appear to cast Amnesty India’s operations as a dark web of intrigue, the statement said.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance and dissent,” Patel said.

“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again.

“Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them,” Patel said.

Over 40 lakh Indians have supported Amnesty India’s work over the last six years and around one lakh Indians have made a financial contribution, he said.

Amnesty India said its bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work and it is the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month, it added.

Around 1.30 pm on October 25, a group of officers from ED entered the premises and locked the gates behind them, the statement said, adding that they ordered Amnesty India staff to remain in office, shut their laptops, and not use their mobile phones.

Earlier, in a series of tweets, Amnesty India said its structure is compliant with Indian laws and ED raid showed a disturbing pattern of government silencing organisations that question power and also wants to instill fear among civil society organisations.

“…We reiterate, our structure is compliant with Indian laws,” Amnesty India said in a tweet.

“ED raid on Amnesty India shows a disturbing pattern of the government silencing organisations that question power and it is clear that the government wants to instill fear among Civil Society Organisations,” it said.

The watchdog also said the 10-hour long raid conducted at its office ended midnight and the staff had fully cooperated with officials. The ED, in a statement, had also said, “After Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) was denied the permission/registration under FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) by the MHA (ministry of home affairs) they resorted to bypass the FCRA by floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL).

“This entity has received foreign funds through commercial route to the extent of Rs 36 crore till date,” it had said.

Out of the total amount of Rs 36 crore, it said, Rs 10 crore was received as long-term loans.

“This amount was immediately placed in FDs (fixed deposits) and another Indian entity Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) had established an overdraft facility for Rs 14.25 crore keeping the said 10 crore FD as collateral which means the receipt of FDI by trust only.

“The remaining Rs 26 crore was received in two other bank accounts of AIIPL as consultancy services. The inwards remittances received by the AIIPL from overseas is in violation of FDI guidelines,” it had said.

In this background, searches were conducted at Bengaluru office of the NGO and further probe is in progress, it had said.

Unprecedented employment opportunities in India today: PM Narendra Modi

Surat (Gujrat): Citing disbursal of loans under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna (PMMY), Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said “unprecedented” employment and entrepreneurial opportunities exist in the country today.

Modi addressed the employees of Hari Krishna Exports, a prominent Suarat-based diamond processing-exporting firm, through video conference from Delhi. The company, led by Savji Dholakia, gifted 600 cars to its employees Thursday as Diwali bonus at an event named as ‘Hari Krishna Skill India Incentive Ceremony’. “Around 14 crore loans were disbursed across the country under this (Mudra) scheme. Out of these, 40 lakh loans were given to the youth of Gujarat. In the last four years, loans worth Rs 7 lakh crore were disbursed under this scheme,” Modi said in his speech.

“Out of all those who took loans under Mudra, over 3.5 crore youth were first-time entrepreneurs, as they have chosen the path of self-employment for the first time. Today, there exist unprecedented employment as well as entrepreneurial opportunities in the country,” the prime minister said. Two women, one of them a disabled person, and two male employees of the firm received keys of their cars from Modi himself in Delhi. The prime minister said his government has been taking many steps to strengthen the gems and jewellery sector, as it is a significant generator of employment and a key contributor to the exports.

Referring to the “Main Nahin Hum” portal and app launched yesterday, Modi urged the company and its employees to dedicate some time for social causes. He appealed Dholakia and his company to set themselves a target of making at least 100 villages “digital” by 2022. He would be visiting Gujarat on October 31 to dedicate the Statue of Unity of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Modi said. “The biggest Diwali for Gujarat will be on October 31, when the Statue of Unity will be dedicated to the nation,” he said.

Amnesty India FEMA probe case: Enforcement Directorate conducts searches in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday conducted searches at two locations here in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case against human rights watchdog Amnesty International India, officials said.

They said the searches are being conducted under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the central probe agency is looking for documents.

The ED, they said, is looking at a possible and alleged violation of the FEMA linked to an earlier Union home ministry’s probe into the NGO’s accounts related to Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) funds.

The agency, sometimes back, has frozen over a dozen bank accounts of environmental NGO Greenpeace and its linked entity after it conducted searches at their premises in Bengaluru on charges of alleged forex violations.


Removal of CBI chief by PM Modi is insult to Constitution, illegal: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday said forcing CBI director Alok Verma to go on indefinite leave was “illegal” and alleged that it was done as the government panicked over the possibility of him investigating the Rafale jet deal. Addressing a press conference here, he claimed that Verma’s removal was an “insult” to the Constitution, the chief justice of India and the leader of the opposition.

The move was “illegal”, the Congress chief said.  The interim charge of the agency has been given a person who has cases against him so that the prime minister can control him, Gandhi alleged, referring to joint director Nageswara Rao. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday said Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were asked to go on leave as per the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission and it was “absolutely essential” to maintain the institutional integrity of CBI.

Google admits incidents of sexual misconduct, fired 48 people

California: Google has fired around 48 people including 13 senior managers, for sexual harassment in the last two years.
According to an email sent to Fox News by Google Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai, people from the management who were accused of sexual misconduct were also sacked from the company.
In the email, Google spokesperson stated that “the company was dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace.”
The email which was also sent to all the employees of the Google came after a US national New York Times reported that the company gave Android creator Andy Rubin 90 million USD as an exit package after being accused of sexual misconduct by an employee.
Pichai, however, said that as many 13 senior managers were sacked from the company and none of them received any exit package.
The email which was also signed by Eileen Naughton, vice president of people operations, encouraged the employees to report any incidents of sexual misconduct or harassment they experience or notice.
We are dead serious about making sure we provide a safe and inclusive workplace. We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action.
In recent years, we’ve made a number of changes, including taking an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority: in the last two years, 48 people have been terminated for sexual harassment, including 13 who were senior managers and above. None of these individuals received an exit package.
In 2015, we launched Respect@ and our annual Internal Investigations Report to provide transparency about these types of investigations at Google. Because we know that reporting harassment can be traumatic, we provide confidential channels to share any inappropriate behaviour you experience or see. We support and respect those who have spoken out. You can find many ways to do this at go/say something. You can make a report anonymously if you wish.
We’ve also updated our policy to require all VPs and SVPs to disclose any relationship with a co-worker regardless of reporting line or presence of conflict.
We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately.

Sundar and Eileen

Agency inputs

Two Chinese helicopters violated Indian airspace near Ladakh area: Sources

New Delhi: Two Chinese helicopters on September 27 crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC)- the de-facto border between China and India, sources said. The transgression happened near Ladakh trig heights also known as Trade junction, which connects Ladakh with Tibet.

The sources further suggested that the two choppers remained in the Indian territory for about 10 minutes before heading back. This comes weeks after Pakistan violated Indian airspace in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Official sources said a white-colour chopper crossed into this side in Gulpur sector and hovered for sometime before turning back. It was alleged that inside the chopper were PoK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Tourism Minister Mushtaq Minhas, and the province’s Education Minister Ifthikar Gilani. These allegations were later rejected by the PoK Prime Minister.

CBI vs CBI: Congress to hold protest on October 26 over ongoing CBI row

New Delhi: The Congress party will hold protests across the country on October 26 over the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) row. Top Congress leaders will stage a protest outside the CBI headquarters in the national capital, while state leaders will protest in front of the CBI offices in their respective states.

After a spell of the internal fight, that appeared to tarnish the image of the country’s premier investigative agency, the Centre divested the CBI director Alok Verma and special and Rakesh Asthana respectively from their roles and sent both of them on leave. Asthana and Verma were at loggerheads on several issues and accused each other of blocking several important cases to be heard.

The CBI had recently filed an FIR against Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe from a businessman, who was linked to Moin Akhtar Qureshi case. Asthana was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was probing Qureshi’s case. Amid this internal slugfest, M Nageshwar Rao was appointed as the interim director of the CBI with immediate effect on Wednesday.

Sabarimala row: Kerala police issues lookout notice for 210 people for instigating violence

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): The Kerala Police on Wednesday issued a lookout notice for 210 people who are suspected to have involved in instigating violence, manhandling journalists and devotees at Nilakkal, Pamba and Sabarimala last week over the entry of women in Sabarimala temple. The notice has been circulated among all district police chiefs.

The state of Kerala witnessed strings of protests after the doors of the hill shrine opened on October 17 in compliance with Supreme Court’s order wherein it lifted the ban on the entry of women falling in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the temple. On September 28, a five-member constitutional bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra had allowed the entry of women of a menstrual age (10 to 50) in the temple. However, not a single woman could enter the shrine owing to the widespread protests across the state. The temple closed down for the month on Monday after it opened for five days as a monthly ritual in the Malayalam month of Thulam.

Global warming is challenge, saving natural resources important: PM Narendra Modi

Pune: Stating that global warming and environmental degradation have posed a challenge before the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday stressed the need to conserve natural resources.

Interacting with IT professionals as part of a townhall through video-link from Delhi, he said rampant exploitation of natural resources is not an Indian tradition. “It is true that due to global warming and environmental issues we are facing difficulties. And this problem is becoming apparent day by day. Therefore saving natural resources is our responsibility,” Modi said. “Whatever we are doing (by exploiting natural water resources) is not our tradition and culture, and this is one bad habit we have borrowed from somewhere (else),” he said in reply to a question by Siddhesh Bhobe of PersistentSystems who had asked how the IT industry can be a part of Modi’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

The prime minister added that rainwater harvesting has been a part of Indian culture. “But unfortunately, over the years, we stopped that thing and created the current situation,” he added. There are some social entrepreneurs and NGOs which are using conventional methods for water conservation and ground water recharging, and “we need to see how can we do this scientifically and turn it into a mass-movement,” Modi said.

He also pitched for increased use of drip irrigation. IT professionals can go to universities and colleges in Pune to create awareness about water conservation, the prime minister said. “You will find that 60 per cent of students living in hostels are from rural and farming background. So you can use them, train them and help them to mobilise resources and when the students go back to their villages in holidays, they will be your volunteers and will help spread the word in their area,” said Modi.