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Probe Agency’s Response Sought On Bail Plea Of Journalist In Money Laundering Case – dot newz

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Delhi High Court directed the agency to file its status report within two weeks. (File photo)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court Thursday sought Enforcement Directorate’s response on the bail plea by Delhi-based freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma who was arrested in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to alleged leakage and supply of sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers.

Justice Mukta Gupta directed the agency to file its status report within two weeks and clarify the journalist’s connection with the allegedly illegal financial transactions.

“Please tell your officers to justify the connection with the petitioner. If he is in receipt of money from shell companies, it is an illegal offences. But there has to be admissible evidence to connect him,” the judge told the ED’s counsel.

ED counsel Zoheb Hossain stated that Sharma received cash from a shell company run by the Chinese and investigation was ongoing.

“Investigation into further proceeds of crime is going on. Rs 48 lakh is what they have found till date,” he said.

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur, appearing for Sharma, submitted that the alleged money laundering case arises out a police case under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), in which his client was released on default bail last year.

“I’m given default bail by the high court in December 2020. In February 2021, ECIR is registered. I join the proceedings. On July 1, I am called and arrested. Nothing is forthcoming. It is becoming a trend that anybody says anything..,” he said.

Sharma has already furnished all details pertaining to financial truncations and bank accounts to the agency, he said.

“An offence under the Official Secrets Act is not a scheduled offence. They are roping me in on the basis of Section 120B (conspiracy),” Mathur added.

On July 17, a sessions court here had denied bail to Sharma, saying that if released on bail, he would definitely attempt to wipe off the footprints and cover up the traces.

Dismissing the journalist’s bail application, the judge had said, “Sharma received lakhs of rupees on multiple occasions, invariably in cash, from dubious sources” and failed to furnish any palpable explanation regarding the receipt of the said money.

“It is further intriguing to note that the annual income of the accused was reported to be barely Rs 8.6 lakh and yet he is financing his son”s education abroad, enjoying multiple foreign trips and is even lending lakhs of rupees to his friends and acquaintances for investment purposes,” the judge noted.

The agency had told the sessions court that its probe found that Sharma “had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for remuneration, thereby compromising the security and national interests of India”.

The ED arrested Sharma under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on July 1.

The ED case is based on a Delhi Police FIR filed under the OSA and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Sharma last year.

The journalist was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi Police on September 14 last year and charged with passing on information about the Indian Army’s deployment and the country’s border strategy to Chinese intelligence officers.

He was granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the case in December last year.

The case would be heard next on September 9.



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2 Space Technology Startups Get Access To ISRO Facilities. What They Plan To Test – dot newz

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Department of Space entered into an agreement with 2 aerospace tech startups (Representational)

Bengaluru:

The Department of Space (DoS) has entered into a framework agreement with aerospace technology startup Agnikul Cosmos for access to ISRO facilities and expertise towards the development and testing of subsystems/systems of space launch vehicles.

The agreement will enable the company to undertake multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) centres for testing and qualification of its single piece 3D printed Semi Cryo engine and other systems.

It will also enable Agnikul, based in National Centre for Combustion R&D of IIT-Madras, Chennai, to avail technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying its space launch vehicle systems and subsystems.

Agnikul said the agreement would formally enable it to go forward with its testing plans at ISRO.

“With this level of Govt. support, low earth orbit does look close”, tweeted the company, which raised USD 11 Million Series A round from institutional and angel investors earlier this year.

Top Agnikul officials met Department of Space secretary and ISRO Chairman, K Sivan, who assured all support from Department of Space for qualifying Agnikul launch vehicle systems.

ISRO’s Scientific Secretary and Chairman, Interim IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) Committee, R Umamaheswaran signed the agreement on Friday on behalf of DoS and Agnikul CEO Srinath Ravichandran inked it from the company side.

Department of Space also entered into a similar agreement with Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace last week for access to ISRO facilities and expertise towards the development and testing of subsystems/systems of space launch vehicles.

The Framework MoU will enable the company for undertaking multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO centres and also to avail technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying its space launch vehicle systems and subsystems.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the ISRO Chairman inaugurated the spacecraft research laboratory at Bellatrix Aerospace located at the Indian Institute of Science campus in Bengaluru.

This privately funded propulsion lab has in-house facilities for development and testing of electric and green chemical propulsion technologies, according ISRO.

Dr Sivan appreciated the young team for establishing the state-of-the art facility which houses equipment such as integrated thermal high vacuum test facilities, catalytic reactors, propellant preparation facilities, and specialised high temperature coating facilities.
 



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Kashmiri Hindus Face Identity Barrier In PM Scheme For Kashmiri Pandits – dot newz

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Government jobs were announced for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in 2009 in J&K

Srinagar:

For Navjot Kumar, it’s a fight over identity to get a government job in Jammu and Kashmir. A court ruling that he’s not a Kashmiri Pandit has shattered his dreams. Like Mr Kumar, over two dozen Hindus living near the Line of Control in Uri sector had qualified for a job under the Prime Ministers special employment package for Kashmiri Pandits.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court, however, dismissed a petition on Tuesday that sought to include Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs into the jobs scheme for Kashmiri Pandits.

The court said every Hindu resident of Kashmir valley is not a Kashmiri Pandit as Pandits have their separate identity and other Hindu castes cannot be treated as Kashmiri Pandits.

“Jammu and Kashmir administration denied us the right (to jobs scheme) on the grounds that Kashmiri Hindus, Rajputs and Kshatriyas do not fall under the Kashmiri Pandit category. The court was our only hope, but the decision was not in our favour,” said Mr Kumar, a Kashmiri Hindu.

“The court said Kashmiri Pandits and Rajputs are different. Our community has been discriminated against. We want justice,” Mr Kumar said.

Under the Prime Minister’s special employment scheme, some 6,000 government jobs were announced for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in 2009. While 4,000 posts have been filled, 2,000 jobs were recently advertised by the Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board.

The controversy started after the centre included non-migrant Pandits in the recruitment package last year. The Hindu groups and Sikhs also demanded their inclusion as they equally suffered during the turmoil and never migrated from Kashmir valley.

The Kashmiri Sikhs say they will go to the Supreme Court as the government’s policy to reserve jobs for only one specific community is a clear discrimination.

“Everyone has suffered here, not just one community. Majority and minority have suffered. Minority include Hindus, Pandits and Sikhs. But when you single out Kashmiri Pandit community and say only they have suffered, it is sheer injustice. I’m taking up this case with the Supreme Court,” said Jagmohan Singh Raina, chairman of the All Sikh Coordination Committee.

In the judgment, Justice Sanjeev Kumar said, “Kashmiri Pandits is a separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the valley like Rajputs, Brahmins, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and many others.”

“It is thus difficult to accept the contention of the petitioners who are mostly Kshatriyas, Rajputs, Scheduled Castes and non-Kashmiri Brahmins that they should be treated as Kashmiri Pandits and admitted to the benefits of the Prime Minister’s revised package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants,” the high court said.

Kashmiri Pandits welcomed the judgment. They say it is line with Kashmiri Pandit identity, which is distinct from the larger Hindu identity.

“We have a separate identity, culture. Our rituals are different from the rest of the people. If you look at it, the Hindus, even if they live in Kashmir, don’t follow Nilmat Puran Kashmiri Pandit rituals, which are altogether different than the rest of the people following larger Hinduism,” said Satish Mahaldar, Kashmiri Pandit leader.

The petitioners still maintain that if the Prime Minister’s package is meant for those who lived through periods of extreme violence and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, then people from all sections of society have suffered and should be included.



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Amarinder Singh On Backfoot? Congress Calls Key Meeting Of Punjab MLAs – dot newz

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The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year (File)

New Delhi:

There is fresh sparking in the Punjab unit of the Congress. Citing “representation from a large number of MLAs”, the Congress, in a late night tweet, has called for a key meeting of its Punjab legislators today.

“The AICC has received a representation from a large number of MLAs from the Congress party, requesting to immediately convene a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of Punjab. Accordingly, a meeting of the CLP has been convened at 5 PM on September 18 at Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee office.

“AICC directs the PPCC to facilitate this meeting. All congress MLAs of Punjab are requested to kindly attend this meeting,” Harish Rawat, Congress’s Punjab in-charge, tweeted Friday night.

Mr Rawat also tagged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in his tweet.

Navjot Sidhu, who continues to take potshots at his Chief Minister, retweeted Harish Rawat, then tweeted, and repeated, that a meeting has been called.

“As per the AICC directive, Congress Legislature Party meeting has been convened at @INCPunjab PPCC Office, Chandigarh on 18 September 2021 (Saturday) 5 PM,” said Mr Sidhu.

Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken will be the central observers for the Punjab meeting.

There has been no reaction from Captain Amarinder Singh so far.

Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators had raised a squadron of complaints against the Punjab Chief Minister and said that they had no faith in his ability to honour poll promises.

The Congress has been papering over the differences between the two top leaders in the state unit, telegraphing a message of unity and cooperation.

As recently as September 8, Mr Rawat, speaking to news agency ANI, said that the people assume party leaders in Punjab are fighting because the ”brave” leaders put forward their opinion strongly.

“Punjab is the land of braves. People there put their opinion very strongly there and it looks like they will fight. But, there is nothing like that, and they find solutions to their problems. Punjab Congress is solving their issues themselves. We are not doing anything,” the Congress leader said.

When asked about the relation between Amarinder Singh and Mr Sidhu, Mr Rawat said, “If there would be a dispute, it would be good for Congress.”

The BJP, in a sharp contrast, has replaced four chief ministers in six months. Most recently Vijay Rupani quit as Gujarat Chief Minister a year ahead of polls.. His resignation follows that of BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka in July and a double blow in Uttarakhand, where Tirath Singh Rawat quit barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat.

Both Gujarat and Uttarakhand will vote for new governments next year.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was declared the Punjab Congress chief in July after weeks of infighting and in face of strong opposition by Captain Amarinder Singh. He has been a vehement critic of the state government.

Even after a month of assuming the new role, Mr Sidhu keeps pulling up the government for not fulfilling the pre-poll promises.

The Congress, which has only a skinny group of states in its kitty, has been battling leadership issues in Punjab, which is quickly turning into a political sinkhole for the grand old party.

The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year.





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