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DGCA asks airlines to be ready to operate extra flights to fly out tourists, Amarnath Yatris

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir): Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday asked Indian airlines to be prepared to operate extra flights to and from Srinagar to fly out Amarnath Yatris and tourists from the Valley.

"All scheduled Indian airlines to be prepared to operate extra flights to and from Srinagar at short notice to fly out Amarnath Yatris and tourists from there 'if need be"' DGCA said. This came hours after the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a security advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to immediately curtail their stay in the Valley and "return as soon as possible". However, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan confirmed that no schools in the district have been closed.

"I appeal to people to not believe any rumours. People should contact their concerned deputy commissioners for reliable information," he said. Taking cognizance of the situation, Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh directed the Pathankot district administration to make all arrangements to ensure the safe return of Amarnath Yatris from the Valley.

Soon after DGCA's directions, airlines made announcements to give a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all its flights to/from Srinagar. "In view of the current security situation in Srinagar and the Government advisory regarding it, we are providing a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Srinagar till Aug 09, 2019," IndiGo tweeted.

"Due to the prevailing security situation in Kashmir, we are waiving change and cancellation fees for flights to/from Jammu and Kashmir till August 9. Only fare difference, if any applicable for date change (will be charged)," Vistara tweeted. Meanwhile, Air India and GoAir made similar announcements and said that they are waiving change and cancellation fees for flights to/from Jammu and Kashmir till August 15 and August August 9, respectively.

Earlier in the day, a press conference was addressed by the Corps Commander of the Army and the DGP in which details of the weapons and ammunition recovered in the state was given. Details of the seriousness of the threats that are there were also given. They also mentioned that the security forces were going to tackle these threats head-on and will not allow them to succeed.

It is in this context, the government had issued an advisory asking Yatris and tourists to return as soon as possible. "Unnecessary panic is being created by linking this to all kinds of other issues. A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic," Home Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner said.


Pakistan keeps mum on granting consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav

Islamabad: Pakistan kept mum on granting consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a day after Islamabad said it would allow Indian officials to meet the retired Navy officer on Friday.

Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" in April 2017 following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies. On July 17, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

Following the ICJ order, India has asked Pakistan to grant full consular access to Jadhav at the earliest in "full compliance and conformity" of the world court's verdict. On Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said Jadhav will be granted consular access on Friday, two weeks after the world court ordered Islamabad to allow Indian officials to meet him. "We have offered the Indian High Commission to avail consular access on this Friday. The reply from the Indian side is awaited," Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing.

However, the FO on Friday remained silent on granting consular access to the Indian national. India on Thursday sent a communication to Pakistan making clear its position that the consular access must be "unimpeded" and should be in the light of the judgement by the ICJ. There were reports that Pakistan had put some conditions to grant consular access to Jadhav. One of the conditions reportedly was the presence of a Pakistani official when the Indian prisoner is allowed to meet Indian officials as part of the consular access.

In its 42-page order, the world court, while rejecting Pakistan's objection to admissibility of the Indian application in the case, held that "a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review" of the sentence of Jadhav. The bench, however, rejected some remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court's decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.

The ICJ upheld India's stand that Pakistan had "breached" the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which gives countries the right to consular access when their nationals are arrested abroad. Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.


Unnao rape survivor's uncle transferred to Tihar Central Jail as per Supreme Court's direction

New Delhi: Hours after the Supreme Court's direction, Unnao rape survivor's uncle Mahesh Singh was transferred to Tihar Central Jail from a Rae Bareli jail on Friday. Rae Bareli jail Superintendent in a letter to senior police officials said Singh was sent to Delhi.

Earlier in the day, the apex court ordered the Uttar Pradesh government for the immediate transfer of Singh, who has 13 cases against him under different sections, to the Tihar jail here. The victim's uncle was named in several cases between 1996 and 2002, including those of contempt of court, murder and robbing a train.

He was serving a jail sentence since November 21 last year after he failed to present himself in the court following different criminal cases against him in the local police stations. The Unnao case pertains to the rape of a minor girl allegedly by expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar at his residence in Unnao on June 4, 2017. The incident allegedly took place when the victim had gone to seek a job.

Sengar was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and is currently lodged in Sitapur district jail. On July 28, the rape survivor and her lawyer suffered critical injuries after her vehicle was hit by a truck in Rae Bareli. The Uttar Pradesh Police has filed a case of murder against Sengar and nine others in connection with the accident. Probe in the case was transferred to the CBI on Tuesday.

Indian journalist Ravish Kumar wins 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award

Manila: Senior Indian journalist Ravish Kumar on Friday was awarded this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize. Kumar, 44, who is NDTV India's senior executive editor is one of India's most influential TV journalists, the award citation by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.

He is among five individuals who were declared winners of the award, which is Asia's premier prize and highest honour and celebrates greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in Asia. Kumar, born in Jitwarpur village in Bihar, joined New Delhi Television Network (NDTV) in 1996 and worked his way up from being a field reporter. After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel - NDTV India - targeting the country's 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show, "Prime Time."

Kumar's "Prime Time" programme "deals with real-life, under-reported problems of ordinary people", it added. "If you have become the voice of the people, you are a journalist," the citation added. As an anchor, Kumar is sober, incisive, and well-informed, it said. His more important distinction, however, comes from the kind of journalism he represents, the citation added.

"In a media environment threatened by an interventionist state, toxic with jingoist partisans, trolls and purveyors of 'fake news,' and where the competition for market ratings has put the premium on 'media personalities,' 'tabloidisation,' and audience-pandering sensationalism, Ravish has been most vocal on insisting that the professional values of sober, balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice," it said.

His programme takes up current social issues; does serious background research; and presents issues in well-rounded discussions. Kumar interacts easily with the poor, travels extensively, and uses social media to stay in touch with the audience, generating from them the stories for the programme. Striving for a people-based journalism, he calls his newsroom "the people's newsroom," it said.

In electing Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognises his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy, the award citation said.

The four other winners of the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award are Ko Swe Win from Myanmar, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab from Philippines and Kim Jong-Ki from South Korea. Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia's highest honour.

It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader. This year's Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate and a medallion with an embossed image of Ramon Magsaysay facing right in profile. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal presentation ceremonies to be held on August 31, 2019.


How DK Shivakumar-VG Siddhartha friendship cost Coffee King his life

Bangalore: The V.G. Siddhartha (VGS) suicide has cast a pall of gloom over Indian business and in the main the breeding ground of entrepreneurship - Bangalore. More so because Siddhartha was besieged by creditors of all hues. And he was desperately trying to pare his debt by hawking his stake in Mindtree, Tanglin Developments (Blackstone along with southern developer Salarpuria Sattva, was as recently as May 2019 planning to buy Siddhartha's real estate venture Tanglin Developments, which owns a technology park in Bengaluru, for about Rs 2,800 crore) and even Coffee Day Enterprises through an ongoing dialogue with Coca Cola and ITC for close to $1.4 billion.

Days after his death, there is clarity on whether a harassed VGS threw in the towel because of creditor or Income Tax pressure. His suicide note hinted at both. But, why did he take this extreme step after all he was successful in paying off some of his creditors? Or was his political connection and friendship with Congress play maker D.K. Shivakumar (DKS) responsible for his untimely death?

D.K. Shivakumar, Congress strongman in Karnataka said in a tweet that he had received a call from VGS to meet on July 28, but the meeting never happened because he went missing thereafter. D.K. Shivakumar's connection with V.G. Siddhartha is certainly not tenuous. Both were Gowdas. And the events as they unfolded are a matter of sequence.

The Income Tax probe against Siddhartha came after the probe against Shivakumar in August-September 2017. During the overarching probe against DKS initiated on 02.08.2017, the residence of N. Chandrashekar Sukapuri, DKS's financial assistant was also searched. From the said premise information pertaining to financial transactions of DKS's daughter with Cafe Coffee Day Ltd. and M/s. Soul Space was allegedly obtained. When Chandrashekar was confronted by IT sleuths, it was ostensibly learnt that Rs 20 crore had been transferred to DKS in a roundabout and concealed fashion by CCD. This is where the hunt began.

D.K. Shivakumar, who declared assets over Rs 700 crore is considered one of the richest politicians in Karnataka. He came under the I-T scanner after his properties were raided in August 2017 when 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs were flown down to stay at a resort near Bengaluru to ensure Ahmed Patel was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha. Shivakumar was Congress' centrifuge to ensure none of the MLAs was poached by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha election.

In its press note on Tuesday, the IT department had said that the raids against V.G. Siddhartha was a follow-up action to raids in the properties belonging to a "prominent Karnataka politician", nobody other than the all powerful DKS. Shivakumar's brother and Congress MP D.K. Suresh also told a media outlet that the I-T department moved with great alacrity to attach Siddhartha's shares in MindTree, in which he held 20.3 per cent stake.

"Rules specify that attachment of assets is not to be done at the preliminary stage. In Siddhartha's case, the assessment is yet to be done and tax demand is yet to be determined, but I-T officials rushed to attach his assets at a time when he wanted to sell them to repay debts," said D.K. Suresh.

Incidentally, this is the genesis of VGS's problems. Shivakumar was picked up from a luxury resort in Bengaluru where he was staying with 43 lawmakers flown in from Gujarat by the Congress to check a rash of defections ahead of Rajya Sabha election. From that day onwards, he had been questioned. Shivakumar was also at the centre of the operation that saw Congress-JD(S) roil BJP plans to form the government after the Karnataka assembly elections last year.

On his death, Karnataka Congress said in a tweet, "VG Siddhartha case is very unfortunate. Result of harassment by IT officials & decline of India's entrepreneurial position turning virulent by the day, with Tax Terror & collapse of economy." It added, "Companies which flourished under UPA have been shut down with many people being jobless."

In his suicide note, VGS wrote: "There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taken possession of our Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch."

Income tax raids were conducted at over twenty locations in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Chikmagalur. The Tax Department declared that the group's officials had admitted to "concealed income" exceeding Rs 650 crore. I-T department said CCD founder admitted to personal unaccounted income of Rs 362 crore during probe but Enforcement Directorate, which was also probing the entrepreneur, said the investigation against him "was not very serious and detailed." The truth obviously lies in between.

The Income Tax Dept rebuttal, however, said: "It is based on the unearthing of a credible evidence of financial transactions done by CCD in a concealed manner. A person holding citizenship of Singapore was also covered in the search action. He was found with unaccounted cash of Rs 1.2 crore and admitted that the cash belongs to V.G. Siddhartha."

The Income Tax Department, Bangalore alluded to a Singapore citizen in its rejoinder after Siddhartha went missing. It now emerges that the alleged person in this transaction is Rajnish Gopinath, a Singapore citizen who was found with unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 1.2 crore in his residence during the simultaneous raid on him along with DKS. The cash reportedly was stated by Gopinath to belong to V.G. Siddhartha. It is more damaging to note that numerous messages and calls have been found in his mobile CDR which indicate his active involvement in hawala transactions.

Now comes the twist. Investigation has found that Rajnish Gopinath (whose brother Monish Gopinath was employed as Director Finance with CCD) was found to be involved in various hawala transactions, including many on behalf of CCD through Deekshith (employee of CCD and a very close confidante of V.G. Siddhartha), Ravi and Rafi (employee of Sharma Transport - known hawala operator and closely linked to DKS). During the course of the search, Deekshith reportedly admitted to these hawala transactions.

The Income Tax Department case is predicated on the following: they have claimed that CCD was involved in tax evasion and money laundering, thrown into stark relief by a CCD group company named Devadarshini Info Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (DITPL) which claimed a loss from business to the extent of Rs 15,27,51,620 during the assessment year 2013-14 and debited expenses to the P&L A/c to the tune of Rs 21,62,10,770 incl. purchases of Rs 13,79,30,946.

The DITPL's main object is to manufacture computers and computer peripherals, with no employees on its payrolls, however, it indulged in apparent bogus trading of timber and logs (from another CCD Group company incorporated in Guyana (Vaitarna Holding Private Inc., foreign subsidiary of M/s Vaitarna Timber Trading (P) Ltd.) to illegally transfer funds out of India without any formal agreement. It further made advances that are greater than the sale consideration by three times.

The IT Dept Bangalore has been ceaselessly and doggedly pursuing Siddhartha, more so it tried to impede the sale of his Mindtree shares to L&T Infotech twice and Siddhartha himself has stated in his suicide note that the DG IT was terrorising and harassing him. Against this IT claim that a Cypriot Company by the name of Arduino Holdings Ltd had lent funds to CDEL in the form of Cumulative Convertible Debenture (CCD) in 2010. Cyprus is a tax haven. CDEL is the only company in India which has received funds from this Cyprus-based company. It was alleged that numerous evasion techniques have been used in the conversion of the above stated CCD into equity shares by CDEL.

IT Dept also reckons that during its investigation, it found that many employees and directors of the CCD Group companies were being given loans through KR Pradeep's Lakshmi Vilas Bank which, in turn, were diverted to group companies. The loans were being given rampantly without assessing the credit worthiness of the individuals relying on bogus purchase guarantee letters by CCD group. Some of these loans, it is felt by IT Dept, were being used to prop up the shares of CCD.

What makes the whole thing even more curious is that while VGS was on a selling spree to extricate himself from the mountain of debt, why was Income Tax Department harassing him? As mentioned earlier, in May, he was on the verge of doing a second distress sale - Global Village, is a 4-million-sq ft tenanted office space located on a 120-acre campus. It counts Accenture and Mphasis as among its tenants, besides having the headquarters of Mindtree.

Did his friendship with DKS cost him his life in the end? His problems with the IT department and ED started with raids in 2017. Following tax raids on DKS, the agencies claimed to have unearthed undisclosed transactions between the two. In fact, political gossip in the state was rife that his father-in-law S.M. Krishna joined the BJP as a precautionary shield against his son-in-law from further prosecution.


Would intervene on Kashmir 'if wanted' by India, Pakistan: Donald Trump


28,000 more troops of security forces being deployed in Kashmir, week after govt deployed 10,000 personnel

Srinagar: Over 280 companies of security forces are in the process of being deployed in the Kashmir valley, official sources said on Thursday. The security forces, mostly CRPF personnel, are being deployed in vulnerable spots in the city and other parts of the valley, they said.

However, no reason was given for the sudden deployment of over 280 companies (28,000 troops) late in the evening, the sources said. All major entry and exit points of the city have been taken over by the Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) with a token presence of local police, they said. Officials said that security has been withdrawn from some isolated shrines because of intelligence inputs that foreign terrorists are planning to target police guard there.

Summer vacations have been been preponed at educational institutions and they will be closed for 10 days starting Thursday, they said. Some langars for the Amarnath Yatra have also been closed, they added. Local residents have started panic-buying essentials as they are linking the deployment of forces to apprehension of deterioration in the law and order situation. The Centre had earlier ordered deployment of about 10,000 central forces personnel to Kashmir in order to strengthen counter-insurgency operations and law and order duties.

Doctors to continue strike against National Medical Commission Bill

New Delhi: The Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) will continue their 24-hour nation-wide strike on Friday in protest against the passage of the National Medical Commission Bill.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences Patna and Delhi and United Resident Doctors' Association (URDA) have also given a call for strike against the Bill. Healthcare services are likely to be crippled for the second consecutive day in the national capital as thousands of doctors will shutdown medical services. Dr Rajeev Rajan, General Secretary at AIIMS-RDA, said the strike will continue on Friday. "Medical services will be shutdown following the protest against NMC Bill," he said.

On Thursday, a massive protest was held by doctors of AIIMS, Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Lok Nayak Hospital, etc. The NMC Bill will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) by a National Medical Commission. According to a press statement issued by Resident Doctors of Safdarjung hospital, the NMC Bill will deteriorate the medical education sector.

Doctors have also been raising their voices against sections 32 and 15 of the Bill pertaining to licence to health providers and the entrance exam for post-graduate course/NEXT. "Doctors have been protesting against section 32 of the Bill. The NMC Bill will open the gates for quackery by providing licence to community health providers, who do not hold MBBS degree, to practice scientific medication. There is no certainty on the entrance exam for postgraduate course/NEXT under section 15," Dr Prakash Thakur, president of Resident Doctors' Association at Safdarjung Hospital told ANI.

Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president FORDA, said: "We are unhappy and concerned about privatisation of medical education. The NMC Bill will give undue favours to the private medical colleges/unaided universities by decreasing the percentage of seats under the controlled fee structure from 85 per cent to 50 per cent." "FORDA will continue the strike on Friday. We will agitate till our demands are met," he said. Doctors have also been raising concerns over section 45 of the Bill. They say that the Bill empowers Central government to override any suggestion of the NMC.

The Bill will decrease the representation of elected members from 75 per cent in MCI to 20 per cent in NMC. On Thursday, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh had staged a protest along with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against the Bill.Calling the Bill "draconian", PGIMER had stated that the Lower House dumped health care and medical education of this country into darkness by approving the undemocratic NMC Bill, 2019."Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for the licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practice modern medicine. The term community health provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in the NMC and is licensed to practice modern medicine. Also, there is no clarity about pattern and other details of the NEXT exam," PGIMER had said.

The organisation was also of the view that this proposed Bill will increase corruption and decrease autonomy in medicine. On July 29, the Lok Sabha had passed a Bill that seeks to create National Medical Commission in place of Medical Council of India (MCI) with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan terming it as an "anti-vested interests Bill" which will be remembered as one of the greatest reforms brought by the Modi government.

Will I meet Unnao rape victim's fate: Girl asks senior UP police officer

Barabanki: A senior Uttar Pradesh police officer faced uneasy moments when a girl, during a safety awareness campaign event, asked him if she would face the same fate as the Unnao rape survivor, whose vehicle was hit by a truck in which her two aunts died.

Speaking at a Balika Suraksha Jaagruktaa Abhiyaan programme at a school here on Wednesday, Additional Superintendent of Police (North) R S Gautam said girls should remain alert, and if they feel anything wrong is being done to them, they should immediately call up the toll-free number. At this, the student stood up and asked him: "If the person against whom we are complaining comes to know about it, and if we have an accident, what will happen?"

"Will I get justice on registering a protest? Because in Unnao an MLA had outraged the modesty of a girl, and when she was fighting the legal battle, she had an accident. "She is now battling for her life," the girl asked. The question puzzled the officer and he cryptically said, "All complainants to toll-free number would be provided help." On Sunday, the car in which the Unnao rape survivor, her family and lawyer were travelling was hit by a truck in Rae Bareli, killing her two aunts and leaving her and the advocate critically injured.

The CBI, which has taken over the investigation into Sunday's road accident, booked 10 people for murder, including BJP legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who is already in jail, charged with the rape of the Unnao woman when she was a minor in 2017. The UP police on Monday filed a murder case against Sengar and nine others after the rape survivor's family filed a complaint alleging conspiracy behind the accident.

CBI books BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, 10 others in Unnao rape survivor's accident case

New Delhi: The CBI has booked BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and 10 other under murder charges in the accident case of Unnao rape survivor, officials said Wednesday.

According to the normal procedure, the CBI has taken over investigation in the accident case from Uttar Pradesh re-registering its FIR. The agency has also alerted its officials, who may visit the accident site and take details from police officials of Gurubakshganj Police Station in Rae Bareli where the accident took place, they said.

On Tuesday, the Centre has handed over the probe to the CBI on the recommendation of the Uttar Pradesh government which had come under severe criticism for failing to provide security to the girl who has alleged that the BJP MLA had raped her. On Sunday, the car in which the rape survivor, her family and lawyer were travelling was hit by an overspeeding truck in Rae Bareli, killing two members and leaving her and the advocate critically injured. The Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday filed a murder case against Sengar and nine others after the rape survivor's family filed a complaint, alleging "conspiracy" behind the accident.