Bhatkal made 27 calls from prison, no mention of ISIS, say officials


Telangana prison officials on Saturday denied reports that jailed Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal had called his wife using a mobile phone from Cherlapalli jail.

“The allegation that Yasin Bhatkal called his wife with a mobile phone from inside the Cherlapalli Prison is baseless, factless and there is no truth… it is a false allegation,” Telangana Prisons Deputy Inspector General A Narasimha said.

The question of bringing in a cell-phone inside the prison does not arise as thorough checks are conducted before anyone enters the premises, Narasimha claimed.

Bhatkal, who is one of the accused in the February 2013 Dilsukhnagar twin blasts case that rocked the city, is lodged in the Cherlapalli Central Prison.

According to reports, Bhatkal called up his wife using a phone from inside the jail and told her that he would get out of the jail soon with help from “friends from Damascus”.

Following the court orders, Bhatkal was granted telephone facility from February this year, wherein prisoners are allowed to speak to their family members twice a week, the DIG, Prisons said.

“Since Bhatkal availed the landline telephone facility, he spoke on two numbers to his mother and wife on 27 occasions. The phone facility is only for five minutes and it automatically gets disconnected after completion of the specified time,” Narasimha said.

The entire conversations have been recorded and the same have been handed over to the investigating and security agencies. “The 27 conversations, which are in Urdu and Arabic have been handed over to investigating agencies,” he said, adding, however, Bhatkal may have spoken during transit (while attending court proceedings in the case) and “that needs to be ascertained”.

Security around the Cherlapalli prison will be enhanced with deployment of additional forces, the DIG said adding they carried out surprise checks on the jail premises on Saturday, but no cell phone was found.

“In the last one month, Bhatkal spoke to his family members seven times through the authorised landline phone facility. He did not speak from cell phone from inside the jail… It is just not possible,” Telangana Director General (Prisons) V K Singh said.

“We deny any such conversation from mobile phone… If he really has such a plan, why would he share with his family members,” the DG (Prisons) said adding, “I don’t know… there may be such a plan and investigating agencies will look into that.”

Meanwhile, an intelligence officer said the National Investigation Agency, which is probing the case, is taking lot of precautions whenever Bhatkal and other accused are taken to court in connection with the case.

“He has a plan to escape from the jail and we are watching it. The trial in the case is going on and lot of precaution is being taken by the NIA whenever Bhatkal and others are produced before the court,” the officer said.

Eighteen people were killed and 131 injured in the deadly twin explosions that were triggered by powerful IEDs planted near Konark and Venkatadiri theatres in Dilsukhnagar, a crowded shopping area in the city on February 21, 2013.

The NIA had on March 14 last year filed its first charge sheet in the case against Indian Mujahideen co-founder Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa alias Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi, who were arrested on the Indo-Nepal border in August 2013.

Bhatkal and Haddi were charged for murder and various other offences under the Indian Penal Code and Explosive Substances Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The second chargesheet was filed in September 2014 against absconding IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and two other IM operatives.

The terror outfit IM had hatched a high-level conspiracy to wage a war against India and carried out the blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of the people and to further the outfit’s activities, NIA had then said.

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Parliamentary panel rejects nearly 50% proposals for salary hike, additional perks to MPs


New Delhi: After a parliamentary panel recommended a salary hike and additional perks to members of Parliament, the government is likely to have shot down 50 per cent of the proposals. Of the 65 proposals, 33 were not accepted while three recommendations have been slated to be decided in due course. No changes were deemed for four proposals.

The joint committee is scheduled to meet again on July 13.

A parliamentary panel headed by Bhartiya Janata Party leader Yogi Adityanath has recommended that salaries of parliamentarians should be doubled and pension for former MPs should be raised by 75%.

The joint committee had also proposed an automatic pay revision mechanism for parliamentarians like the pay commission for government employees.

“The committee has reasoned that the last revision of MPs’ salary happened in 2010 and they don’t get any dearness allowance like government employees,” said a source.

At present, sitting MPs get a monthly salary of Rs 50,000. The panel has also recommended that the daily allowance of Rs 2,000, which they get for attending the House during Parliament sessions, should be raised substantially , sources said.

“The hike is overdue. Our daily expenses only for offering tea to visitors come to around Rs 1,000. Can we stop showing this little courtesy to voters,” asked a sitting BJP lawmaker.

The panel has also recommended that former MPs should be entitled to 20-25 free domestic air trips in a year and their pension should be increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000 per month. There is another recommendation that each sitting MP should get an additional free air conditioned first class railway pass for their companion, such as private secretary. At present, only the MPs and their spouses are entitled for first class AC travel.

 

After Tomar, another AAP MLA Bhavna Gaur lands in fake degree row


New Delhi: After former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar, AAP legislator Bhavna Gaur has come under scanner over her educational qualifications.

A Delhi court has taken cognisance of a complaint seeking criminal prosecution of the MLA for allegedly furnishing false details in her affidavits for the Assembly polls.

Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma admitted the complaint, which alleged discrepancies in details related to educational qualifications in affidavits filed with the Election Commission in last two Assembly polls held in December 2013 and February 2015.

The development comes less than a month after AAP MLA Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested and had to resign as law minister over the charge of having fake degrees.

Complainant Samarendra Nath Verma has filed the petition under provision of 125 A of the Representation of People Act, dealing with penalty for filing a false affidavit. The offence under Section 125A of the Act entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.

 

The court has now fixed the matter for next hearing on 25 July.

As per the complaint, during the 2013 Assembly polls Gaur, an MLA from Palam constituency, had mentioned her highest qualification as 12th while during the elections held in 2015, she mentioned her highest educational qualification as BA and BEd.

“The complainant failed to understand, how just within a span of 14 months (period between filing of her first affidavit in 2013 and 2015), she obtained additional qualifications of BA and BEd., whereas normal time required for finishing the aforesaid courses taken together would be five years (three years for BA and two years for B.Ed.),” the complaint said.

“The accused (Gaur) must have filed false affidavit related to her qualifications either on 12 November, 2013, or on 15 January, 2015, ” it said.

 

SBI launches initiative to speed up home loan applications


Country’s largest lender State Bank of India on Friday launched an initiative to provide doorstep services and expedite home loans application process.

The initiative known as ‘Project Tatkal’ will help get the loan within 10 days after receipt of application form and relevant supporting documents, the bank said in a release.

“It will bring down the average time taken for delivery of home loan to within 10 days from the date of receipt of completed home loan application form and relevant supporting documents from the customer,” the release said.

The implementation will be done at large centres with sizable home loan business.

The bank has also recently introduced an online customer acquisition solution (OCAS) for instant e-approval of home loan applications.

The bank has over three million home loan customers with a portfolio of over Rs. 16,60,000 crore.

7-year-old rape victim diagnosed with tumour, admitted to NIMHANShild harrasement


A seven-year-old girl, raped by her cousin, was diagnosed with a brain tumour was reported from a village in Chickballapur district. The girl has been admitted to NIMHANS in Bengaluru.

The rape accused has been identified as Harish (20), a resident of Jeeganahalli under Mandikal hobli under Gudibande police limits in Chickballapur district.

Though the rape took place about five days ago, a complaint was filed with the police only on Thursday after the girl developed health complications.

The relatives reportedly kept silence over the incident fearing for the honour of the family as the family member was involved in the shameful act.

The girl, a second standard student, fainted on Thursday evening and was taken to a private hospital in Chickballapur. Though her illness was not apparently due to the sexual assault, the parents told the doctors about the incident. But, the doctors diagnosed the girl with tumour.

In spite of disclosing the sexual assault to the doctors, the parents were hesitant to lodge complaint with the police. However, on insistence by the police officials they relented police sources told The Hindu on Friday.

Harish was regularly visiting his paternal uncle’s house and said to have sexually abused his cousin when nobody was at home.

Police arrested Harish from Perumakalapalli near Amadagur in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday night. He took shelter in a relative’s house after committing the crime. He has been remanded in judicial custody.

A case under POCSO Act, 2012 has been registered.

Arrest in another case

Meanwhile, the Chintamani Rural police in Chickballapur district have arrested Vishwanath, a rape accused. Vishwanath was absconding after raping a minor girl on pretext of giving her drop to Chintamani on Wednesday.

Sena lashes out at Fadnavis for delaying Air India flight


After facing flak from the Opposition for delaying a U.S.-bound Air India flight, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is now under attack from his own saffron ally in the State, the Shiv Sena.

An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana sharply rebuked Mr. Fadnavis, questioning whether he would have gone to similar lengths to aid a disabled person.

Despite strenuous denials on part of the Chief Minister, an official email form Air India confirmed that the flight was delayed by 57 minutes after Mr. Fadnavis refused to leave without his Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi as the latter had forgotten to carry his old passport on which he was granted his valid U.S. visa.

“If such a person can flout all rules, then our latest security concern ought to emanate from the ‘VIP’ category. This issue is serious and needs thorough probing,” mocked the editorial, while trading barbs with Mr. Fadnavis.

While a belligerent Sena launching broadsides on the BJP on a rash of issues in recent days, the latest attack comes as no surprise given the notoriously fragile relationship of the two allies.

The Sena’s potshots echoed those of former Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, who said that if Mr. Fadnavis had indeed requested the delay, then he must apologise for it.

‘Hema Malini never enquired about our child’


The distraught father of the two-year-old girl, who died in a car crash with actor Hema Malini’s sedan, is inconsolable, while the injured mother is constantly asking “Chinni kahan hai?”, not knowing her daughter is dead. The family is even more hurt that neither the actor nor her aides bothered to ask about their well-being though, they say, the accident was caused by her speeding car.

The mother’s uncle, who did not wish to be identified by name, said: “We have told the father, Hanuman Khandelwal, of the death of the child in the accident. He was shocked and has been crying since yesterday night. We try to console him but fail to do so. “But we have not told the mother as she is still in a bad condition after the accident,” the relative said.

The family was travelling in an Alto car when it was smashed by Ms. Malini’s Mercedes car coming from the opposite direction. The car was being driven by the BJP MP’s driver Mahesh Thakur, with the film actor seated inside. The accident took place on Thursday night near Dausa, over 50 km from here.

“We only tell her that she is fine and with us. We do not have the guts to tell her about the death as we are afraid how she will react. Chinni was the most lovable daughter in the family,” the relative said. He said Hema Malini’s car was speeding, and this caused the accident.

The family is bitter that the BJP MP could have at least checked up on the condition of the family after the accident but she did not do so. “We know she (Hema Malini) was also hurt but at least she could have enquired about the well being of the family… (She could have) asked the doctors to give (the family) proper treatment,” said the relative.

Doctors at the SMS Hospital said the family was doing “well”. Rajasthan Medical and Health Minister Rajendra Rathore visited them on Thursday night and directed the hospital to provide free treatment. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje also visited the accident victims. Hema Malini is doing “fine”, doctors at the Fortis Hospital said.

Now, a National Award for rag pickers


Now, rag pickers’ services will be recognised by the government which has decided to give national award for their contribution to keep India clean.

“There are millions of rag pickers in the country. This informal sector has saved the country. They are doing a good job and I have decided to recognise their efforts. We will grant national award,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at an event on waste management in New Delhi.

The national award, with a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 lakh, will be given to three best rag pickers and three associations involved in innovation of best practices, he added.

Stating that rag pickers are helping to some extent in handling waste, the Minister pitched for setting up of a credible agency like Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that can guide municipal bodies to take measures to address waste management in a scientific way.

“At present, agencies that handle solid waste are working on contractual basis and this has failed miserably. Handling waste cannot always be a profitable business. We have suggested that the Urban Ministry build a credible agency like DMRC that can give scientific guidance,” he said.

The Minister also mentioned that there are adequate funds for waste management. “What is lacking is scientific guidance to handle different kinds of waste,” he said.

Expressing concern over the large quantity of untreated waste and sewage in the country, Javadekar said that current rules have been revised to ensure every village of over 5,000 population has a waste treatment plant.

The country generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually. “This is expected to increase to 165 million tonnes by 2030 and 450 million tonnes by 2050,” he said adding that the worrying fact is that 68 per cent of waste and sewage is not treated in the country at present.

He said the new draft norms on waste management, which aim to put in place a strong mechanism to address concerns related to different kinds of waste, would be implemented from August-end after seeking public comments.

73 per cent of households lives in rural India


Around 73 per cent of households in India are rural, according to the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data released by the government on Friday. Of these, 18.5 per cent and scheduled caste households and 11 per cent belong to the scheduled tribe category.

The SECC, jointly released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh, also shows that the bulk of India’s rural households subsist on very low incomes. According to the data, 74.5% of rural households have an income of the highest earning member below Rs. 5000 per month. Only 8.3% of rural households have an income of the highest earning member above Rs. 10,000 per month.

Only the provisional data pertaining to rural India was released on Friday. The Census also provides data on households regarding various aspects of their socio-economic status-housing, land-holding/landlessness, educational status, status of women, the differently-abled, occupation, possession of assets, SC/ST households, incomes, etc.

The data also shows the hand-to-mouth existence of large parts of rural India. For example, over 50 per cent of rural households get the bulk of their incomes from manual casual labour and 56 per cent do not own any land.

India is now a $2-trillion economy


India’s GDP crossed the $2-trillion mark in 2014, according to data released by the World Bank in Washington late on Wednesday. After taking 60 years to reach the $1-trillion mark, India added the next trillion in just seven years.

The World Bank data also show that India’s gross national income per person rose to $1,610 (around Rs. 1 lakh) a year during 2014 from $1,560 the previous year. An analysis by The Hindu found that it would take India a little more than a decade to rise from its current ‘lower middle income’ category to the ‘upper middle income’ level.

India’s growth rate, at 7.4 per cent in 2014, makes it the fastest growing major economy along with China’s, which is a whopping $10.4 trillion in size. The Indian economy, at $2.06 trillion, has almost doubled in size since the financial crisis hit the country in 2008, and has more than quadrupled from the start of this millennium.

Despite its increase in per capita gross national income (GNI), India has remained in the ‘lower middle income’ category ($1,046-$4,125). Using the World Bank’s data, The Hindu extrapolated from India’s average annual growth rate in per capita GNI over the last decade — of 8.9 per cent — and found that it would become an ‘upper middle income’ country ($4,126-$12,735) in 2026, a little more than a decade from now. This will put it in the category China occupies now.

China, however, with a per capita GNI of $7,380 and an average annual growth in this parameter of 15.6 per cent, will leave the ‘upper middle income’ category by 2018 to become a ‘high income’ country like the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Japan. It will take India till 2039 to reach that level, at the assumed growth rate.

The World Bank’s data on gross national income per capita — the total value added by all producers within the country, plus income received from citizens working abroad, divided by the population of the country — show Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Paraguay, Argentina, Hungary, the Seychelles and Venezuela have shifted their income categories for the better. For example, Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar, and Tajikistan are now ‘middle income’ countries from being ‘low income’ nations.

Gross national income measures the total value added by all citizens of a country, whether in India or abroad. Gross domestic product (GDP), on the other hand, is the total value of a country’s production and services within its boundary, whether by its nationals or foreigners.

“While we need to measure development progress in different ways, income-based measures, such as GNI, remain the central yardstick for assessing economic performance,” said Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President.

“Our latest data show that in terms of this indicator, the world’s economic geography has changed a lot. In 1994, 56.1 per cent of the world’s population — 3.1 billion people — lived in the 64 low-income countries. In 2014, this was down to 8.5 per cent, or 613 million people living in 31 countries. Over the last one year itself, four nations crossed over to the lower-middle income category,” he said.