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India again demands consular access to Jadhav, Ansari

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Kulbhushan Jadhav

New Delhi, July 1, 2017: India on Saturday again sought consular access to its nationals Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on alleged espionage charges, and Hamid Nehal Ansari, an Indian engineer and businessman who was sentenced to three years in jail for entering Pakistan.

In a statement, Ministry of External Affairs said that “India again requested Pakistan to grant full and early consular access to the Indian nationals lodged in the custody of Pakistan, including Hamid Nehal Ansari and Kulbhushan Jadhav.”

“India once again requests Pakistan for the early release and repatriation of Indian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats whose nationality has been confirmed by India,” it stated.

Jadhav was allegedly arrested from Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016. Pakistan claimed that the former Indian Navy officer confessed in a video that he was involved in spying and terror activities in Balochistan, a charge rejected by India. He was convicted in April by a Pakistani military court and sentenced to death.

India has maintained that Jadhav was abducted from Iran, where he was pursuing his business, and passed off as a spy.

In May this year, India moved the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which then stayed the execution pending a final decision by the court.

Ansari, an engineer and business professional, had gone to Kabul in Afghanistan on November 4, 2012, on a tourist visa for a job in aviation. He entered Pakistan on November 12.

From his e-mail accounts, it was revealed that he was in touch with a Pakistani girl on Facebook and had gone to Pakistan, where he was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail.

According to the ministry statement, in line with an agreement signed in 2008, India and Pakistan on Saturday exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of nationals – including civil prisoners and fishermen – of each country lodged in the jails of the other country.

The Agreement on Consular Access between India and Pakistan, which was signed on May 21, 2008, provides that a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in the other country’s jails has to be exchanged twice each year, on January 1 and July 1.

“India remains committed to addressing on priority all humanitarian matters with Pakistan, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen,” the statement said.

“In this context, we await from Pakistan confirmation of nationality of those in India’s custody who are otherwise eligible for release and repatriation.”

India

Jammu and Kashmir: 3 killed in Pulwama Encounter

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Pulwama, April 24: Three persons, including two security personnel and a militant, were killed in an encounter in Lam village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral on Tuesday.

“The security personnel killed included an Indian Army soldier and a state policeman” news agency IANS reported citing police sources.

A joint operation was launched by the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Lam forest area of Tral following information about the presence of terrorists.

Sepoy Ajay Kumar of 42 RR, who was injured in the initial firing exchange, succumbed to his injuries at Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Badami Bagh Cantonment area here.

Latif Gujar of Jammu and Kashmir Police also succumbed to injuries, while the only militant killed in the gun battle has not been identified so far.

Reports claimed two-to-three militants were engaged in the gunfight with the security forces in the densely forested area.

The encounter comes a day after Pakistan Army violated ceasefire at Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district.

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Govt stays action against Maharashtra BJP MLC’s firm alleged tax evasion, human trafficking

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New Delhi, April 24: The central government has stayed Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) order denying security clearance to aviation services company promoted by a Maharashtra BJP MLC and his wife for its alleged involvement in tax evasion and human trafficking.

According to The Indian Express report, the order was passed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to BCAS (its own security wing) on April 4, which had denied clearance to Lad’s firm in connection with alleged involvement in evasion of tax and human trafficking.

The report claimed that Aviation Ministry’s order was signed by Under Secretary Staish Chander. The BCAS had alleged that Krystal Aviation Services Pvt Ltd had created ‘ghost employees’ to evade taxes. The BCAS said that the employees were shown in the payrolls of associate forms and cited a security report that accused Krystal Aviation Services of sending people to Dubai for jobs.

On April 9, the Maharashtra BJP MLC approached the Ministry seeking an intervention in the matter.

Following this, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on April 18 put a stay on the BCAS’s order and directed it to give a personal hearing to Lad’s company.

Besides, the Ministry asked its security wing to obtain a detailed report from the central security agencies and deliver a final order within two months.

As per BCAS order, their verdict was on the basis of central security agency’s findings that had carried out the background check of Lad’s firm.

“The central security agency had in its report dated 09/02/2018 mentioned that Lad’s aviation company had recruited people and sent them to Dubai for jobs in security, housekeeping and maintenance activities. It also raised fears that documents collected by Krystal Aviation Services for sending people abroad are being misused, particularly to create ghost employees to evade taxes. The group, it said, is involved in human trafficking”, the India Express reported citing BCAS order.

The BCAS further stated that since the central security agency’s report is ‘seriously adverse in nature’, it can be seen as allegations levelled against Krystal Aviation Services Pvt Ltd.

Apart from Kyrstal Aviation Service, Lad has six more companies, which include: Krystal Integrated Services Pvt Ltd, Krystal Techno-Engineering Services Pvt Ltd, Krystal Family Holdings Pvt Ltd, Ayushmati Infra Tech Pvt Ltd and Shoubham Cine Vision Pvt Ltd, Krystal Gourmet Pvt Ltd, Flame Facilities Pvt Ltd and Singapore-based Krystal Global Pte. Ltd.

The Indian Express report also said that Krystal Aviation Services was given security clearance by BCAS from 2010 to 2015. At present, it is involved in providing ground handling services to firms across five international airports in India.

In an interview to the daily, Lad described the charges levelled against him as ‘baseless and rubbish’. He stated that “the BCAS has not shown any single complaint against his companies. “So far, there is not a single complaint or FIR against any of my companies”.

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Supreme Court adjourns hearing in Tarun Tejpal rape case

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Tarun Tejpal

New Delhi, April 24: The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in connection with a rape case involving former Tehelka magazine editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal.

The apex court fixed May 9 for next hearing.

Earlier, on April 9, the court had refused to stay proceedings pending against Tejpal.

The court was hearing Tejpal’s petition seeking suppressing of rape and other charges levelled against him.

In 2013, a female employee accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her inside the elevator of a five-star hotel in coastal state Goa.

Tejpal has been charged under section 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe), 341 and 342 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

He was also framed with the allegation of rape and was held in November 2013. He was later released on a bail after six months of imprisonment.

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