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Kavitha skips summons, ED refuses to defer proceedings

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Bharat Rashtra Samiti leader K Kavitha on Thursday skipped the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons here for questioning in the Delhi excise policy money laundering case and made a plea to defer the proceedings but it was rejected by the probe agency which asked her to appear on March 20.

IMAGE: K Kavitha. Photograph: ANI on Twitter

Kavitha, MLC and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, wrote to the ED saying it must wait for the outcome of her plea before the Supreme Court challenging the summons and seeking protection from arrest.

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The apex court on Wednesday agreed to hear the plea on March 24.

The BRS leader, who was first questioned in this case by the ED on March 11 and asked to depose again on March 16, sent her ‘authorised representative’ Soma Bharat Kumar, general secretary of the BRS, in the morning with a six-page petition to the investigating officer stating she was skipping the March 16 summons as they explicitly does not require her to appear in person.

 

‘I humbly beseech your good self that the proceedings before the Supreme Court being sacred and sacrosanct, the outcome thereof must be awaited before any further proceedings take place with respect to the subject summons.

‘I once again request your good self that you may please defer the proceedings awaiting appropriate order(s) or direction(s) by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,’ she wrote in the letter sent to the ED.

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Sources in the ED said her plea was rejected in view of the ongoing investigations which is at an important phase including the requirement of her physical and document-based confrontation with other accused arrested/involved in the case.

Kavitha has been asked to appear on March 20, officials said.

In her letter, Kavitha spoke about her first deposition before the ED where she said she ‘furnished all relevant information and answered all queries to the best of my knowledge, ability and understanding’.

Kavitha, however, expressed surprise and ‘shock’ that her phone was ‘impounded’ by the agency that day and she was not physically confronted with any arrested accused despite the agency’s earlier ‘categoric assertion’ for the same.

She also wrote to the agency that being a woman she should not be called to the ED office for questioning but this exercise should either be conducted over a video link or the investigators can visit her residence for the same.

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‘I, therefore, have reasons to believe and a grave apprehension that the enquiry/investigation being carried out may not have the sanctity of law and my expectation of a free, fair, or impartial enquiry or investigation has been severely impaired,’ she wrote.

Official sources had said that during the nine hours she spent at the ED office in Delhi on March 11, she was confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an arrested accused in the case who allegedly shares close ties with her, apart from those of few others involved in the case.

The BRS MLC’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Kavitha has asserted that she had done nothing wrong and alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre was ‘using’ the ED as the saffron party could not gain a ‘backdoor entry’ in Telangana.

Pillai, the ED had said, ‘represented the south group’, an alleged liquor cartel linked to Kavitha and others that paid kickbacks amounting to about Rs 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party to gain a larger share of the market in the national capital under the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2020-21.

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The ‘south group’, according to the ED, ‘comprises’ among others Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress MP from Ongole Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta and Kavitha.

The ED also alleged in Pillai’s remand papers that he ‘represented the benami investments’ of Kavitha in the excise policy case.

The BRS leader was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case.

The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia.

It has also recorded the statement of Butchi Babu, an accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, where he allegedly said ‘there was political understanding between K Kavitha and the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and the deputy chief minister (Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on March 19-20, 2021’.

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Nair was arrested in the case by both the ED and the CBI. Butchi Babu has been arrested by the CBI.

According to Butchi Babu’s statement, Nair was ‘trying to impress Kavitha with what he could do in the (excise) policy’.

‘Vijay Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia,’ the statement recorded by the ED read.

It is alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.

The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.

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Tamannaah Bhatia and Rashmika Mandanna To Perform at IPL 2023 Opening Ceremony?

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Last Updated: March 24, 2023, 21:49 IST

Tamannaah Bhatia and Rashmika Mandanna to perform at IPL 2023.

Apart from Rashmika Mandanna and Tamannaah Bhatia, Katrina Kaif and Arijit Singh will also be performing at the IPL 2023 opening ceremony.

Every year, the opening ceremony of IPL garners massive attention due to the performances by Bollywood stars. As the most loved cricket tournament gears up for another season, the buzz is that Rashmika Mandanna and Tamannaah Bhatia are most likely to perform on the opening night and add glam to the event.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 is all set to start its 16th season at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 31. The much-awaited tournament will be returning to its ‘home-and-away’ format after the pandemic. The opening ceremony is also happening after a hiatus of almost four years.

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According to InsideSport, a senior official said that while the opening ceremony is planned, it will be a short one. He added, “As the home and away format returns, we felt it was necessary to welcome back the home crowd with a ceremony. The IPL 2023 opening ceremony will see season’s fist game between GT and CSK on March 31 at 19:30 IST.”

He also revealed that apart from Rashmika Mandanna and Tamannaah Bhatia, Arijit Singh, Katrina Kaif, and Tiger Shroff might perform on the event night too. However, there has been no official confirmation of the performances.

The IPL 2023 Opening Ceremony will be aired on the Star Sports channel. The broadcaster acquired the rights to the 2023 IPL season and will be showing all matches live. The digital rights of IPL 2023 have been sold to Viacom18 which will be providing free online streaming coverage through JioCinema.

The new season of the Indian Premier League will be starting off with Chennai Super Kings playing their first match against Gujarat Titans.

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Coming back to Rashmika and Tamannaah, the former was last seen in Mission Majnu with Sidharth Malhotra. She is currently busy filming Animal with Ranbir Kapoor. Whereas, Tamannaah was last seen in Plan A Plan B with Riteish Deshmukh.

Read all the Latest Movies News here

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Supervisor of supermarket arrested for sexually assaulting three minor girls

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CHENNAI

All Women Police, Ennore, on Friday arrested the supervisor of a supermarket for sexually assaulting three minor girls who were working there. The police arrested the owner of the supermarket for beating up the girls.

The girls were working at a supermarket run by M. Senthilkumar near Manali. The police said K. Chandrasekar, 62, who worked as supervisor, inappropriately touched the girls and sexually harassed them at the store. Upset, the girls mixed diarrhoea tablets in his tea last Sunday. Chandrasekar reported this to his employer.

The owner of the store first beat them up and dismissed them from the job. Frustrated, the girls attempted to end their lives near a wedding hall in Sowcarpet. Passers-by rescued them and rushed them to the Government Stanley Hospital where they are under treatment.

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The police said Senthil has been booked for causing injury to the girls and for employing minors.

Chandrasekar has been booked under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Both were arrested and remanded in judicial custody.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104, Tele-MANAS 14416 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050).

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Most narcotics are shipped in Pakistan, Amit Shah tells conference

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Friday security in the ocean needs to be strengthened as most of the narcotic drugs are shipped in Pakistan and go via Iran to Sri Lanka and Africa.

He stressed that drug control was not just the Centre’s fight but of the states, societies and citizens.

“At least 60-70 per cent of drug smuggling happens through the sea route,” he said addressing the regional conference on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ for southern states and Union territories.

“We need to have a top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top approach sparing none who is involved in drug trafficking.”

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He highlighted the need to investigate the chain of networks down below when a big fry was caught.

 

“When we catch a big fry, we need to investigate the entire chain of networks down below. When we catch a drug addict, we need to investigate those who supplied them,” he said.

“If drug addiction is not controlled, it will become an incurable ulcer in the body.”

“We have set a goal of drug-free India. We have the target of (becoming) a developed nation by 2047 and a five trillion (USD) economy in 2025. Drug-free society is the foundation to achieve these goals. All the governments should join hands. We have to make the eradication of drug menace a people’s fight,” Shah said.

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Shah urged all the government departments such as revenue, social welfare, education and culture should join hands with the health department in the drive against drugs. Drug detection, network destruction, culprit detention and addict rehabilitation are the four pillars of the fight against narcotics.

“I am sorry to say that the detention of culprits is taken very lightly. We are not being stern against them. We should not take drug cases in isolation. We have to deal with it sensitively. You have to fight collectively through detection of drugs, destruction of networks, detention of culprits and rehabilitation of those addicted.”

According to Shah, there are strong provisions in the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act, which are not being implemented effectively.

“Please review it and find out how many properties of drug dealers have been confiscated, and how many of them have been jailed using these laws,” he suggested.

He reminded the officers that the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has adopted a zero tolerance policy against drugs to make India drug-free country.

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He further said that under the platinum jubilee of the Indian independence, it was decided that during the 75-day campaign starting from June 1, 2022, 75,000 kg of narcotics will be destroyed.

A total of 5,94,620 kg of narcotics worth Rs 8,409 crore has been destroyed so far, over-achieving the target manifold, Shah said.

The Union minister noted that his ministry has adopted a three-pronged approach to crackdown on narcotics, which includes strengthening institutional structures, empowerment of all agencies related to control of narcotics and launching an awareness campaign.

Shah told the gathering that a total of 1,257 cases were registered between 2006 and 2013, which increased by 152 percent to 3,172 between 2014 and 2022, while, the total number of arrests during the same period increased by 260 percent to 4,888 from 1,362.

Similarly, during 2006-2013, 1.52 lakh kg of drugs were seized, which doubled to 3.30 lakh kg during 2014-22. Drugs valued at Rs 768 crore were seized during 2006-2013, which rose by 25 times to Rs 20,000 crore during 2014-2022.

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During the event, 9,298 kg of seized narcotics worth Rs 1,235 crore were destroyed.

Apart from this, a memorandum of understanding was also signed between the Rashtriya Raksha University and the Government of Karnataka to open a new campus of the University at Shivamogga.

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