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PNB Fraud Case: ED issues summons to Nirav Modi’s father, sister

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New Delhi, May 18: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued summons to absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi’s father Deepak Modi, sister Purvi Mehta and her husband Mayank Mehta as part of its probe in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, an official said here on Friday.

The fraud was committed during 2011-17 by illegally issuing Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs).

Deepak, Purvi and Mayank have been asked to appear before the ED investigators at its Mumbai office to record their statements in the case as the agency is in the process of filing chargesheet in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai, expectedly by the next week.

ED investigators said Nirav Modi’s relatives were summoned in the first week of this month and were given 15 days time to appear before it in the ongoing money laundering probe of over Rs 13,000 crore. The alleged banking fraud was committed by the diamond merchant, his group of companies — Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds — alongwith uncle Mehul Choksi and others.

An ED official said that further notices would be issued to the three in case they fail to respond to the first summons, an ED official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Deepak is reportedly based in Antwerp in Belgium, while Purvi and her husband are settled in Hong Kong. “They were sent the summons through mail,” the official said.

Purvi is under ED’s radar for her alleged role in round-tripping of Nirav Modi’s laundered money via Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) back to India while her husband is suspected of supporting the diamond merchant in similar operations.

The multi-crore fraud was committed in connivance with PNB’s Mumbai Brady House branch officers between 2011-17.

The ED had started money laundering probe against Nirav Modi, his brother Nishal, wife Ami and others, based on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) FIR lodged on January 31, following PNB’s first complaint against the businessman for allegedly cheating it of Rs 280.70 crore.

ED investigators have claimed to have traced over Rs 5,000 crore assets of Nirav Modi so far. The official said that the crores said to have been sent as FDI transactions from Singapore-based firm Islington International Pte Ltd, whose beneficiary owner is stated to be Purvi’s husband, are doubtful in nature.

The ED investigations is also based on Income Tax department’s February report to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Union Finance Ministry against Nirav Modi and his uncle Choksi in which it is reportedly mentioned that nearly Rs 4,900 crore transactions were unexplained.

IANS

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Congress Slams Yogi Adityanath for Not Allowing Durga Puja ‘Pandals’ in Uttar Pradesh

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions.

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New Delhi: Ahead of Durga Puja which is slated for the last week of October, the Congress has raised the cause of Bengalis in Uttar Pradesh and lashed out at the UP government for not allowing Durga Puja ‘pandals’ in the state.

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions. Only shows that for the BJP faith is a matter of convenience while the only thing that matters to them is politics.”

The Congress leader who has just been appointed the state in-charge and has been meeting state leaders has raised the issue to corner the BJP in Bengal which has high political stakes. The BJP is rising in the state politically and Congress has a tough challenge to retain its position in the state.

The Congress has pitched this issue after the matter was raised by Swapan Dasgupta who is a nominated MP but close to BJP, and he has termed it discriminatory.

Dasgupta said in a tweet: “UP Govt’s order that Durga Puja should be done at home is unfair and even absurd. Like the allowances for Ram Lila, Durga Puja should be permitted with harsh but sensible restrictions. Otherwise it is discriminatory. Bengali Hindus in UP appeal to @myogiadityanath to review order.”

The UP government has issued guidelines regarding Durga Puja and has asked the worshippers to do worship at home but has directed authorities that Ram Lila should be only with 100 people due to Covid-19 protocols and to curb the spread of the virus.

The Congress is trying to regain its position in Bengal where Durga Puja is a major festival while the TMC in the state has been targeted by the BJP which accuses the Mamata Banerjee government of minority appeasement so this issue could lead to a new political battle for ‘Bengali Asmita’ in the state.

State government sources say that it has been left to district officials to ensure that there is no crowding during Durga Puja. The matter was also challenged in the Allahabad High Court which refused to entertain the petition filed by Bengali Welfare Association of Prayagraj.

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Situation along Ladakh border in uneasy ‘no war no peace’ status: Air Force chief

India and China are engaged in a four-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.

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New Delhi, Sep 29 : The current situation along the eastern Ladakh border with China is in an “uneasy no war no peace status” and Indian forces were prepared for any eventuality, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S Bhadauria said on Tuesday.

“The IAF has responded with resolve to counter any misadventure. Air power will be a crucial enabler in our victory in any future conflict. It is, therefore, imperative that IAF obtains and maintains technological edge over our adversaries,” Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said during a webinar jointly organised by Centre for Air Power Studies and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers.

He added that the recent induction of Rafale fighter jets along with C-17 transport aircraft, Chinook heavy lift helicopters, Apache attack helicopters and other aircraft fleets, has provided IAF with “substantial tactical and strategic capability enhancement.”

The IAF chief also said that the air force is looking at 450 new aircrafts, including helicopters over the next two decades. “Not to count around 300 aircraft upgrades that will take place in this period,” he said.

His comments assume significance as the Indian Air Force is struggling with its depleting combat strength, which is down to 31 squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons.

To augment the force, five French-made multi-role Rafale fighter jets were inducted into the IAF on September 10 and three more are expected to join the airforce’s Ambala-based Golden Arrows squadron by the end of next month. The delivery of 36 Rafale jets with India’s specific enhancements is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

Recently, the air force has intensified its combat air patrol in eastern Ladakh after the Indian Army occupied strategic heights on the southern and northern bank of Pangong Tso.

India and China are engaged in a four-month-long standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Despite several levels of dialogue, there has not been any breakthrough and the deadlock continues.

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Provide Ration To Sex Workers Without Identity Proof: SC Directs States

The bench, citing the points raised in the application, said the court is concerned that sex workers can’t access dry ration, cash transfers and other facilities due to lack of identity proof.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the state governments to provide dry ration to all sex workers, who have been identified by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and district legal authorities, without asking for ration card or any other identification proof.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi took into account the hardships faced by the sex workers, who have been rendered almost destitute due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The bench said that none of state governments have taken adversarial stand to its direction, and asked the authorities concerned to inform it within four weeks about the implementation of its order and also the number of sex workers who have benefited from its direction.

The remarks from the bench came during the hearing of an application moved by the NGO Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee seeking relief for over nine lakh female and transgender sex workers across the country.

The NGO had moved the apex court citing the hardships faced by the sex workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The top court also asked the Centre to inform it within four weeks if there is a possibility to provide financial aid to the sex workers.

The bench, citing the points raised in the application, said the court is concerned that sex workers can’t access dry ration, cash transfers and other facilities due to lack of identity proof.

Additional Solicitor General R.S. Suri contended before the bench that the Centre has no objection if amenities are provided by the states without insisting on identity proof. The counsels for Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal informed the bench that they have already taken steps in this direction.

The amicus curiae in the matter, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, suggested that the court should monitor the implementation of its order.

Another amicus curiae in the matter said that sex workers should be permitted to open bank accounts without identity proof, which will help them in receiving benefits rolled out either by the Centre or the states.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the applicants, contended that there are gaps in the process of identification of sex workers. To which, the bench replied, “We are concerned at present with providing dry ration to sex workers for their survival.”

The court will hear the matter again in the last week of October.

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