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Congress demands CBI probe in Kerala gold smuggling case

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) After the seizure of 30 kg Gold at Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Congress has upped the ante and demanded CBI inquiry into the case to probe collusion of CPI-M and BJP leaders.

Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a statement said, “Indian National Congress demands a thorough inquiry by the CBI into the extent of this crime, and individuals in the ruling parties, the CPI-M at the State Level and the BJP at the Central Level.”

It is also likely that the individuals involved could not have done what they did, vis-a-vis the “audacious smuggling” of gold under the watch of the authorities and using diplomatic cargo which enjoys diplomatic immunity, without the support or knowledge of those not just in the state government but also in the central government, said Surjewala.

The matter relates to seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic consignment at the Trivandrum International Airport on Sunday which snowballed into a major political controversy in Kerala as the prime suspect, Swapna Suresh, a high-profile woman who wears many hats, happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

Surjewala in the statement said that given the magnitude of the criminal activity, the influential nature of those involved and the wide net of individuals across the Central and State Governments, it is only fitting that the investigation into the entire affair be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

–IANS

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74th Independence Day: PM Modi unfurls tricolour, addresses nation

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Modi Independence Speech

New Delhi, Aug 15 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday unfurled the Tricolour at the Red Fort and addressed the nation amid Covid-19 induced new norms after paying tribute at the Raj Ghat on the occasion of 74th Independence Day.

Continuing the tradition of sporting bright-coloured turbans for his Independence Day speeches, the Prime Minister chose an off-white saafa with broad streak of orange for the second I-Day address of his second term.

Modi also extended greetings to the people of the nation. “Happy Independence Day to all fellow Indians. Jai Hind!” tweeted Modi from his official Twitter account.

The Independence Day function, this year, is relatively muted in terms of participation of people in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.

On his arrival at the Lahori Gate of Red Fort, Modi was received by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.

The Defence Secretary introduced General Officer Commanding (GoC), Delhi Area, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra to the Prime Minister.

The GoC then conducted the Saluting Base in the presence of the Prime Minister, where a combined Inter-Services and Police Guards presented the general salute to him. Thereafter, Modi inspected the Guard of Honour.

He then proceeded to the ramparts of the Red Fort where he was greeted by Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria.

On unfurling the National Flag by Modi, the National Guard performed the ‘Rashtriya Salute’ as the Army Grenadiers Regimental Centre Military Band played the National Anthem.

Major Shweta Pandey assisted the Prime Minister in unfurling of the Tricolour that was synchronized with the 21 Gun Salute fired by the valiant gunners of the elite 2233 Field Battery (Ceremonial).

The National Flag Guard comprising 32 men and one officer each from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Delhi Police who presented the Rashtriya Salute.

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Air India on termination spree: Sacks 50 pilots in a night

ICPA recalled that Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India had given an assurance that unlike other airlines, no employee of Air India would be laid off.

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Air India 777

New Delhi, Aug 15 : Air India pilots have sought the intervention of the management on the issue of “illegal termination” of 50 pilots from service.

In a letter to Rajiv Bansal, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India on Friday, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said around 50 pilots have received illegal termination letters from the Personnel Department in blatant violation of company’s operation manual and service rules.

“What’s happening? Around 50 of our pilots have been terminated overnight unceremoniously without proper procedure being followed. A rude shock for those who served the nation in this pandemic putting the nation first,” ICPA said in a tweet.

It is also learnt that many Southern Base crew contract are not being renewed after they have completed five years. A total of 18 cabin crew have been terminated in southern region and this is the first round with threw crew from Calicut terminated.

ICPA in its letter to Air India CMD added that pilots who tendered their resignation letters as far back as July 2019 but withdrew them well within the mandatory six months notice period have been relieved from service suddenly from 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Pilots allege that the crew were not informed of the acceptance of resignation and therefore by extension, the commencement of any notice period.

They point that after termination of service from the close of office on August 13, a pilot was made to operate AI 804/506 on August 14. The pilots who flew these flights were not technically employees of Air India from the close of office on August 13.

“This is a violation of comic proportion not to mention grave flight safety hazard. What would have been the mental state of these pilots after knowing their services were terminated,” it said.

ICPA recalled that Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India had given an assurance that unlike other airlines, no employee of Air India would be laid off.

“For the safety of the travelling public alone if not on humanitarian grounds these pilots should not have been made to operate flights under such traumatic circumstances. This vengeful exercise carried out by the Personnel Department to illegally terminate pilots compromises the safety of our flights,” ICPA said.

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74th Independence Day Celebrations | PM’s address to the Nation – LIVE from the Red Fort

PM Modi to address the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of the nation’s 74th year of Independence.

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74th Independence Day Celebrations PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day as he reaches the Red Fort shortly. Prime Minister Modi will inspect the guard of honour and then unfurl the flag to mark this joyous occasion before his address to the nation.

Citizens of India look forward to the Prime Minister’s seventh address on the 74th Independence Day. The nation will celebrate the Independence Day mostly indoors as the world remains under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister has wished the 130 crore people of the nation on the 74th Independence Day. He offered his reverence and gratitude at Rajghat, the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, where the eternal flame of non-violence keeps burning.

The Independence Day ceremony will have 4000 attendees. As coronavirus numbers grow, all precautions have been taken to maintain social distancing. The celebrations will be held following the Prime Minister’s clarion call against the invisible enemy – Do Gaz ki Doori. The infantrymen, navy and airmen who will be present in the guard of honour have remained in quarantine for the last 15 days.

The defence minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will be present with the Prime Minister during the event.

WATCH Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation from the Red Fort:

The Prime Minister is expected to thank the key workers who have been vital in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus in his speech. He is also expected to thank and applaud the gallant soldiers who fought the recent Chinese intrusion in Galwan Valley in Ladakh.

The Prime Minister’s speech will focus on self-reliance as India battles along with the entire world to stave off the economic effects the pandemic has brought along with it.

The invitees have already reached the venue. The guests, with masks and ensuring social distancing, are set to celebrate nation’s 74th Independence Day.

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