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Agusta Westland chopper scam: S P Tyagi, others granted bail by Delhi court

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New Delhi: Former Air Force Chief S P Tyagi and his cousins were granted bail by the Patiala House Court in Delhi on Wednesday in the AgustaWestland money laundering case.
They were asked to furnish Rs 1 lakh as bail bond with one surety of the same amount. The case pertains to the alleged money laundering of Rs 3,600-crore deal through many channels to make AgustaWestland helicopters eligible for the India contract.
Special judge Arvind Kumar, after taking cognizance of the chargesheet filed in the case, had summoned over 30 accused in the case to appear before it today, including former AgustaWestland andFinmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini and lawyer Gautam Khaitan and his wife Ritu.
AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica SPA were also issued summons. All the foreign individuals and firms failed to appear before court today.
In 2010, AgustaWestland signed a Rs 3,546 crore contract to supply 12 AW-101 helicopters to the IAF. Eight of these were to be used to transport VVIPs including the President, Prime Minister, the Vice-President and others, while four were to be used for other duties. Finmeccanica edged out American chopper maker Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk to bag the contract.
The AW-101s were meant to replace the Soviet Mi-8 helicopters, which had completed their technical life.
In its chargesheet filed under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED accused 34 people and entities of playing a role in the deal. It said a company, which Tyagi was a partner at, received over Rs 1 crore in kickbacks as part of the deal. Tyagi and his cousins Sanjeev Tyagi and Rajeev Tyagi were a 50 per cent partner in the firm.


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Amritsar attack: CM announces Rs 50 lakh for information on attackers

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Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced a reward of Rs 50 lakh to anyone giving information regarding the two youth who carried out Sunday’s grenade attack on a prayer meeting at the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan of Amritsar district.

The Punjab Police has formed several teams to investigate the grenade attack in Adliwal village in Rajasansi area. CCTV footage of places near the blast was being scanned to know more about the two masked attackers.

Forensic teams and a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached the spot late on Sunday to start the probe.

While some injured have been discharged from the Amritsar hospital, others are still recuperating. One of the injured was still serious, a police officer said.

Inspector General (Border Range) S.P.S. Parmar told the media on Monday that the probe would look at all angles and police teams were trying to trace the culprits.

In a major attack, three persons were killed and 20 injured when two motorcycle-borne youth threw a grenade at a Nirankari congregation about 15 km from Amritsar.

The attack on the campus located in the rural belt, around three kilometres from the Guru Ram Das Jee Amritsar international airport, created panic.

All victims were sect followers from nearby villages who had gathered for the weekly Sunday religious meeting.

Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora, who immediately rushed to the spot along with senior officers, claimed that it was a “terror act”.

The Punjab Police has drawn flak for intelligence failure regarding the attack despite the border state being on high alert since Nov 14 regarding the movement of six to seven suspects in the state.

Eyewitnesses told the police that two youths on a motorcycle, their faces covered, forced entry to the sect campus by pointing a pistol at a woman volunteer at the gate.

There were around 200 followers in the campus at the time.

Amarinder Singh, who on Sunday directed the police to immediately enhance security arrangements at all sensitive places, terming it as “the first such indiscriminate attack on innocent people in recent past”, said that the “possibility of involvement of ISI-based Khalistani/Kashmiri groups cannot be ruled out”.

The Nirankari sect, with headquarters in Delhi, has millions of followers across the country and abroad.

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‘First temple, then govt’: Shiv Sena’s new slogan ahead of 2019

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Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sought to intensify the party’s campaign for Ram temple in Ayodhya by giving a new slogan which called for the construction of temple before government.

Thackeray held a meeting with senior party leaders to review preparations for his visit to Ayodhya on November 24 and 25. Sena leaders from outside Maharashtra too attended the meeting.

“Har Hindu ki yahi pukar, pehle mandir fir sarkar (Every Hindu has one demand, the temple first and then government),” he said at a press conference which was held later.

The Shiv Sena, which is the part of the BJP-led governments in both Maharashtra and the Centre, has been aggressively pushing for the construction of the temple since the party’s annual Dussehra rally last month.

The party has often taunted its ally BJP over the saffron party’s “failure” to construct the temple in the last four years despite coming to power.

Thackeray also asked party workers to conduct a ‘maha aarati’ (grand puja) on November 24 all over the state as well as in other parts of the country where the Sena has presence.

He will be conducting ‘Sarayu puja’ on November 24 in Ayodhya.

“All Sena workers will perform puja on the same day and same time in their respective areas,” said Thackeray.

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Activists of Hindu outfit threaten to perform ‘puja’ inside Taj Mahal

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New Delhi : A day after women belonging to a local Hindu outfit barged inside the mosque at Taj Mahal and offered ‘puja’ and did ‘aarti’ inside the premises, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists threatened to do a similar thing.

The activists were protesting against the security agency’s failure to stop a Muslim group from offering prayers inside the mosque, which is in violation of the Supreme Court order, IANS reported.

The president of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal’s women’s wing president Meena Diwakar claimed that namaz was being offered inside the temple premises every day and if the guilty were caught and punished for breaking the law then they too were ready to face any police action.

“Permission was granted for offering namaz once on Friday but it has been offered on other days too. So we also offered ‘aarti’. We are prepared to face action if those violating the norms by offering ‘namaz’ on weekdays are punished,” HT quoted Diwakar saying.

The incident comes on the backdrop of an ongoing war of words between the ASI and members of Masjid Taj Mahal Intezamia Committee, which manages the mosque, over a Supreme Court order on Taj Mahal.

ASI contends the SC order implies that namaz can only be offered on Fridays by local residents, whereas the committee members say the order means that free entry for locals is on Fridays, while on all other days, anyone who has bought a ticket can offer namaz. The apex court had upheld a local administration’s January order barring non-residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque on security ground.

Members of the committee allege that around 10 days ago, ASI locked the vazu tank, where namazis wash hands and feet before prayers, and even asked the imam to show up only on Fridays.

The move has invited ire of the local Muslims, who contend that they have been offering namaz inside the mosque for 400 years now and can’t be stopped by the ASI. They contend that the SC order merely bars non-locals on Fridays while there is no word on not allowing namaz on other days.

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