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Rafale deal audit report by CAG to be another cover-up: Congress



Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Feb 10 : A day before submission of the audit report on military procurement, including the Rafale jet deal, by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India to the President, the Congress on Sunday citing a “conflict of interest” said the exercise is a cover-up of the “scam”.

Holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi “guilty” of compromising national security, the Congress also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government for being “opaque, intransient, obscure and obstinate to cover up the layers of corruption in the Rafale scam”.

In a memorandum to CAG Rajiv Meharishi, the Congress accused him of committing “gross impropriety” by auditing the Rafale deal, saying as the Finance Secretary he was involved in the deal announced by Modi in April 2015.

“You were the Finance Secretary from October 29, 2014 to August 30, 2015, including at the time of unilateral announcement for purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft. Even at the time of cancellation of the 126 aircraft MMRCA deal you were the Finance Secretary.

“Consequently, you were directly involved in the Rafale deal on both these occasions as the Finance Secretary. Not only this, you were also involved in negotiations of the deal as a representatives of the Finance Ministry,” the Congress said in the memorandum.

It accused Meharishi of being “complicit in the irregularities” in the deal and questioned his propriety to audit the deal as the CAG.

“The irregularities, bungling and corruption were happening at the highest level with your direct or indirect complicity and consent. This reflects your direct collaboration in the entire matter.

“There is no reason or occasion for you to audit the 36 Rafale aircraft deal as you can neither be a judge in your own cause (case) nor can sit in audit over your own actions to which you were a party.

“This conduct points to a direct conflict of interest, making you a judge in your own cause (case) and rendering you ineligible to conduct any audit on the Rafale deal as CAG,” the party said.

Addressing the media later, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the CAG report was yet another attempt of the Modi government to cover up the “Rafale scam”.

“The CAG in his report, likely to be submitted on Monday, will not only defend his action in deal as then Finance Secretary but also do cover-up for the government. Despite all the irregularities happening before his eyes, the CAG will only come out defending the government and saying there is no corruption in the deal,” said Sibal.

“Being legally not entitled to audit the deal, the CAG should recuse and refrain from submitting a report on the deal,” said Sibal. The Congress has repeatedly demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in to the “country’s biggest defence scam”.


Himachal avalanche: 5 soldiers still missing, rescue underway



Avalanche, Representative Image, PC Zee News

Shimla, Feb 21: Despite inclement weather, rescuers on Thursday resumed a search operation near the Tibet border with Himachal Pradesh where a snow avalanche claimed life of a soldier and five went missing.

As the rescue operations entered the second day, the authorities suspected that the soldiers might be trapped in the snow pile spread over a 200 square metre area.

“This morning the search operation began despite intermittent snowfall,” a government official told news agency IANS.

The calamity triggered yesterday when the glacier near Namgia Dogri, burying six jawans of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles while 16 of them were on a routine patrol.

Five Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP) soldiers were also wounded in the mishappening.


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Fresh snowfall, landslides shut Jammu-Srinagar highway



jammu srinagar highway
ANI File Photo

Jammu, Feb 21: Fresh snowfall in the Bannihal sector and multiple landslides in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector blocked the Jammu-Srinagar highway, prompting halt of all traffic on Thursday on the strategic route.

“Over a foot of fresh snow has accumulated on the highway in Bannihal sector. There have been multiple landslides triggered by heavy rain at places in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector, as well,” a traffic department official said.

It is raining heavily along the 300-km stretch at various places both in the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu division.

“No vehicular traffic will be allowed on the highway today. Snow and landslide clearance operation will be started immediately after the weather improves,” the Traffic Department said.

The official said stranded vehicles along the highway were all parked at safe places.

The highway is regarded as the jugular vein of the landlocked valley as all essential supplies are routed to Kashmir through this road. Each time the highway gets blocked, shortages of essential supplies hit the valley.

From February 6 to 12 the highway had remained shut causing acute crisis in the valley.


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Pulwama fallout: Security of 18 separatists, 155 politicians in J&K withdrawn



Jammu kashmir Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
The security cover of four senior separatist leaders -- Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday. (Photo Credit- Reuters)

Jammu, Feb 21: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday withdrew security of 18 separatists and 155 political persons in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which over 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

An order issued by the Home Department late on Wednesday said security cover of separatists and some mainstream politicians was also being withdrawn/downgraded apart from those that were initially withdrawn on February 18.

As per the new order, the new list includes names from the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Some of them are Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, former IAS officer Shah Faesal and PDP leader Waheed Para.

“Over 1,000 personal security guards and 100 vehicles provided to the secured persons are being withdrawn,” officials said here.

The security cover of four senior separatist leaders — Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday.

The decision to cut down heavily on separatist leaders’ cover was taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack when an explosive-packed SUV rammed into a bus of a Central Reserve Police Force convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway killing 40 paramilitary troopers on the spot in the worst-ever terror attack in the state since militancy struck there in 1989.


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