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Rahul and McKnight: Family ties that drove biz partnership



Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) At his press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a biting claim: “Although Ulrik McKnight is an American citizen, he is a member of the social gang of Rahul Gandhi.”

McKnight was the Congress president’s business partner at Backops, the UK-based firm that they both opened – it folded up in 2009. It was a troublesome relationship in the sense that the controversy over Rahul Gandhi’s alleged British citizenship emanated during the incorporation of the company – he was described as a British citizen in the documents for incorporation.

It is difficult to say whether McKnight is part of the Congress president’s “social gang” but the relationship between the two is not just about being former business partners.

The relationship is actually more direct than elliptical. McKnight is the son-in-law of former Union minister, veteran Goa leader and Congress loyalist Eduardo Feleiro. McKnight’s wife Sonia Faleiro, the former minister’s daughter, is a London-based writer. Her first non-fiction work, “Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars”, was enthusiastically received by the literary world and outside.

As a family, the Faleiros and now McKnight have never fought shy of revealing their close connection with the Congress first family. They named their daughter Indira Freya McKnight.

McKnight caught the eye of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders for reasons beyond the Backops affair and the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship. Interest over who he was developed following a Rs 20,000 crore deal for the supply of six Scorpene submarines to India – it involved a defence firm that McKnight was associated with after Backops shut down.

There were suggestions about the existence of a web of companies driving defence deals that made money from kickbacks.

On the ground though, the Faleiro-McKnights apparently live a normal, even idyllic life. Some of Sonia Faleiro’s photographs, published with her interviews, bear a heart-warming creditline: Ulrik McKnight.

In one of her interviews following the publication of “Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars”, she speaks of life with her husband.

“I was born in Goa, lived in Delhi and Bombay (Mumbai), studied in Edinburgh, and moved to the Bay Area three years ago. My husband’s a Bay Area local – he’s from Albany. We met in India, lived there for several years, and decided three years ago that we were ready for new adventures. That’s when we moved,” she told a local publication in Noe Valley, San Francisco, in 2012.

“I’d been to San Francisco only once before, on book tour. So I didn’t know its different neighbourhoods. My husband Ulrik vaguely remembered Noe because he’d come down to Bliss Bar when he was a student at Stanford. A friend recommended Noe, and when we saw it we fell in love. We love the families and kids, the dogs, the aromas from the Noe Valley Bakery, the friendliness,” she added

However, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, who wants a money laundering case to be registered against Rahul Gandhi, tweeted recently: “Bambino (this is a name Swamy uses for the Congress president) has another case awaiting him: ED to register FERA (this no longer exists) and money laundering cases for operating an illegal Barclay’s Bank Account and perhaps laundering Scorpine Submarine Kick Back with Eduardo Falerio’s son in law through Back Ops. MoF must not block the case.”

Jaitley has been no less punishing. Punning on the name of the company, Backops, he said on Saturday: “What did this Backops mean? That there will be a back office and will help you?”

Meanwhile, Eduardo Faleiro has not been forgotten even though, at 78, he is ailing and not in active politics. For the current Lok Sabha polls, he was named on the Goa manifesto committee. Congress party sources said that Faleiro needed to be kept in good humour.


Haunting Past: Frontrunner for Air India Ops director comes under criticism



Air India 777

New Delhi, July 7 : A frontrunner candidate for Air Indias Director Operations post has come under criticism from certain section of the airline for his past record of siding with unions against the national carrier.

According to sources, the current Executive Director for Operations Captain R.S. Sandhu has in the past been allegedly hand-in-glove with a particular pilots” union.

“He was terminated once due to his close association with one of the pilots” unions. He had sided with this union during a strike. Now as a member of senior management, how can we trust him not to repeat the past incident,” sources said adding that he is one of the frontrunner candidate for the post.

“After the strike, he was reinstated back but only after a deal was struck between the management and the union. These past incidents are serious and must not be ignored.”

The event in reference is from 2011, when a pilots” union of erstwhile Indian Airlines” went to strike.

Subsequently, Sandhu was terminated as a deputy general manager operations in April 2011, when he openly sided with the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots” demand to get parity with those from IPG.

However, in May after a settlement was reached between the union and the airline, Sandhu was re-instated.

Interestingly, this past incident among some others have been in public knowledge but it is only now that some quarters of the airline have started to speak about these.

Nevertheless, another source in the airline said the post of Director Operations is vacant since March-end and the selection process has been stalled due to the pandemic and airline”s divestment process.

“Therefore, no recruitment to this position is taking place as of now,” the second source said.

Last year in December, Ministry of Civil Aviation had invited application for three director level posts including that of Director (Operations).

At present, executive director-level officials are officiating these positions.

Till March, Captain Amitabh Singh was officiating as operations director.

In 2018, Captain A. K. Kathpalia was removed from this post, after his alcohol direction test results came positive after operating a flight.

As a result, his flying licence was suspended for three years.

The post in question is both coveted and controversial as the incumbent is always under scanner of all the employees, the second source added.


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No manual cleaning of sewage chambers in Rajasthan, says CM Gehlot




Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, July 7 : No sanitation worker should be forced to enter into sewage chambers to clean the sewer lines, said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while addressing a video conference with public representatives and urban bodies.

The entire cleaning work should be done by machines and there should be no deaths during cleaning of sewerage lines, he instructed all district collectors and civic authorities on Monday.

Gehlot said that the sanitation workers, who have been risking their lives to keep us safe, played a strong role in keeping the city, streets and neighbourhood free from the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The government was able to check the spread of the pandemic due to the dedication with which the sanitation workers and the public representatives of the urban bodies worked, he added.

The CM said that Rajasthan”s pride “increased” in the nation owing to hard work by doctors, nurses, anganwadi workers, police, sanitation workers and urban bodies. In fact, Rajasthan was the first state to provide insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to government and non-government personnel engaged in Covid-19 battle, he said.

The CM also took suggestions from the civic body mayors, chairpersons, councillors and others and released two posters to create awareness among the people against the virus.

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Kanpur encounter: Slain DSP Mishra’s letter alleges links between cops and gangster, Probe on



Eight Police Men Killed Kanpur

Kanpur, July 7: DSP Devendra Mishra, who lost his life in Kanpur encounter had written a letter to Kanpur SSP on March 14, alleging links between the now suspended Chaubeypur SHO and gangster Vikas Dubey, but nobody acted upon this information, said AAP leader Sanjay Singh.

SSP Kanpur Dinesh Prabhu has said that a thorough inquiry is underway.

The officer had complained in it about cops helping the gangster, especially Vinay Tiwari, the police officer in charge of the Chaubeypur police station, now suspended.

Vikas Dubey, allegedly tipped off about the raid by an insider in the police, is missing since the massacre of cops.

Mishra had reportedly accused Vinay Tiwari of helping the criminal and shielding him against any possible police action. The letter called for strict action against the police officer.

“I am aware that such a letter is viral on social media. The preliminary search was conducted at the DSP’s office and the offices of the Kanpur SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police) dispatch and receiving section. So far there are no records of this letter and we have found no file. But we are looking at it with more details and we will not hesitate to share more details,” said Dinesh Kumar P, Kanpur’s police chief.

A team of 50 policemen from three police stations led by Mishra in a raid aimed at arresting Vikas Dubey in an attempt to murder case. The criminal is charged in 60 cases including murder, kidnapping, extortion and rioting.

Vikas Dubey was allegedly alerted to the raid by policemen and was ready with an armed gang to attack the police. Four policemen have been suspended on suspicion of links with the criminal.

The bounty on him was raised to Rs 2.5 lakh. So far, there seems to be no information on where he could be hiding.

A Kanpur police press release sent late last evening confirmed three more arrests. One of them is a neighbor of Dubey who allegedly refused to let in cops trying to escape the indiscriminate firing by the gangster and his men. The other is Dubey’s help and the third person to be arrest is a woman who allegedly pointed out hiding cops to the shooters that morning.

The suspended policemen are from the same police station, Chaubeypur, and are accused of being in regular touch with Dubey. Call records of more than 100 policemen have been scanned in the last four days.

In his letter, Mishra had written that he wanted to act against Dubey and his men. He was helpless as Vinay Tiwari (SHO) was helping Dubey. Devendra Mishra was an honest officer and UP Police should be proud of such officers,” he added.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh further said that there are 60 cases registered against Vikas Dubey.
“Still, he was roaming out for two and a half years, why was he not arrested? Who are the people patronizing him,” he asked.
Devendra Mishra’s daughter has claimed that a conspiracy has been hatched against his father, said AAP leader.
Vaishnavi Mishra, daughter of Devendra Mishra, said, “I will not let the sacrifice of my father go in vain. I was preparing for medical exams but now I will also become a police officer and serve the nation like my father.”
“So far, why Yogi Ji could not catch Vikas Dubey? There are only two reasons – either the Yogi government has met Dubey and or is grossly inefficient. The public is suffering,” Singh said later in a tweet.
Sub-inspectors Kunwarpal and Krishna Kumar Sharma and constable Rajiv have been suspended after police came to know that they were involved in tipping off Vikas Dubey.

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