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Jet Airways air hostess held for smuggling Rs 3.2 crore in US dollars part of hawala ring

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New Delhi:Jet Airways air hostess, who was caught smuggling $480,200 (valued at ?3.25 crore) wrapped in aluminium foil, had reportedly smuggled foreign currency on at least seven previous occasions before she was caught late night on board a Delhi-Hong Kong flight.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), who have arrested Deveshi Kulshreshtha (25) along with her agent Amit Malhotra (39), said the duo are part of a bigger international hawala syndicate.

A city court sent Kulshreshtha and Malhotra to two-day judicial custody and directed the DRI to produce them before the concerned metropolitan magistrate on January 11.

 

Sources said that Malhotra met Kulshreshtha in August last year when he was returning from Hong Kong by a Jet Airways flights. “Malhotra had a chat with her while she was serving the meal to him. They exchanged contact details and later met to discuss the plan. She made four-five domestic trips before going to Hong Kong. Before going there, she used to meet the supplier and collect the currency from him,” said a DRI official on condition of anonymity.
Investigators said she used to get 1% of the total money she laundered as commission.

“In August last year, she travelled for the first time with $50,000. Thereafter, she travelled with $1,00,000 and this was her eighth trip with the Hawala money. Another person used to come to the hotel in Hong Kong to collect the money. Malhotra, who runs a tour and travel business in east Delhi’s Vivek Vihar, has also been arrested,” said the DRI official.

Official said that Amit too had travelled to Hong Kong on multiple occasions on the same money laundering business. The DRI has raided Malhotra’s house in east Delhi and recovered ?3.3 lakh in Indian currency and $2,500 along with other evidence.

The DRI said that some businessmen and colleagues of the airline crew were also on their radar and will be interrogated soon.

“Malhotra knew several businessmen and promised to convert their black money into white. Now, we have to work on the leads given by them and more arrests are likely to happen soon,” the officer added.

Investigators also said that crew member was well trained in hiding money and used to wrap the currency bundles in aluminum foil, which the scanner at the airport was not able to detect easily.

A Jet Airways spokesperson had confirmed the incident. “Based on the investigations and inputs from law enforcement agencies, the airline will take further action,” the spokesperson said in a statement. There was no fresh statement from the airlines.


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India asks China to be sensitive to its concerns

Sakeena Banday

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New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed the progress in bilateral ties since the Wuhan summit last year and said both sides were implementing the decisions in a manner in which “we are sensitive to each other’s concerns”.

His meeting with Wang, who is also the State Councillor, a high-level post in the hierarchy of the ruling Communist Party of China, took place as both the countries grappled with a host of issues, including Beijing’s continued attempts block efforts list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the United Nations.

In his opening remarks, Gokhale said it has been year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Chinese city of Wuhan where the two leaders reached many understandings.

 

He said both sides were making efforts to implement the understandings reached at the Wuhan meeting.

“As your excellency said we will work together with the Chinese side to deepen understanding to strengthen trust to implement the decisions that are taken by leaders and to do it in a manner in which we are sensitive to each other’s concerns,” he said.

He also referred to the “brisk” political exchanges since the Wuhan summit, including Wang’s visit to New Delhi to launch people to people mechanism and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is “looking forward to come to China this year”.

Gokhale, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday is also scheduled to hold detailed talks with Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou on Monday.

In his opening remarks, Wang said China and India are two emerging market countries besides neighbours and “each other’s strategic partners.”

“In that sense, it is important for the two countries to work together to increase strategic communication, deepen mutual political trust and strengthen strategic cooperation on international and regional issues.

“Given that it is timely and important for you to have regular consultations with the Chinese side,” he said.

One of the issues that was expected to figure during this round talk was China’s continued attempts block efforts list JeM chief Azhar as global terrorist by the UN.

China blocked Azhar’s designation for the fourth-time recently stalling efforts by the United States, the United Kingdom, France move at the 1267 UN counter terrorism committee following the February Pulwama terrorist attack. It was the first technical hold put up by China post Wuhan summit.

Also, India continues to have strong reservations to join China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative due to its objections over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Both the issues have become major irritants in the bilateral ties.

In order to counter China’s technical hold in the 1267 committee, the US, the UK and France have taken the Azhar issue to the UN Security Council, which Beijing firmly opposed, saying that it should be resolved by the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee.

China also said the issue moved towards settlement and accused the US of attempting to scuttling its resolution.

Gokhale’s visit also coincides with China holding its biggest international event, the second Belt and Road Forum next week to showcase its BRI projects.

India, like the first BRF held in 2017, is reportedly not attending its second edition being held here from April 25-27.

Foreign Minister Wang said on Friday that differences over the BRI would not come in the way of the development of India-China relations and China is preparing for a Wuhan-style summit meeting this year.

He also said the CPEC is an economic project and has nothing to do with the sovereignty issues.

“One of our differences is how to look at the BRI. The Indian side has their concerns. We understand that and that is why we have stated clearly on many occasions that the BRI including the CPEC is only an economic initiative and it does not target any third country and has nothing to do with the sovereign and territorial disputes left from history between any two countries,” he said.

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Interpol offers Lanka help to probe Easter blasts

Agencies

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Colombo: The Interpol on Monday said it is ready to offer full support to the Sri Lankan authorities in investigating the country’s deadliest terror attack that killed 290 people in a series of eight blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in the country.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in a Twitter message said, “Interpol strongly condemns the horrific attacks and has offered its full support to the investigation being carried out by national authorities.” Paris-based Interpol is an organisation which facilitates worldwide police cooperation. Stock said Interpol can deploy an Incident Response Team at the request of a member country to provide on-site support during a crisis situation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims,” he tweeted. Eight coordinated explosions targeted Easter worshippers and high end hotels popular with international guests.

 

The blasts targeted St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa as the Easter Sunday mass were in progress. Three explosions were reported from the five-star hotels – the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.

According to the Government Analysts Department, a total of seven suicide bombers carried out the devastating blasts killed 290 people and injured 500 others.There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police on Monday arrested 24 people and declined to give further details.

The blasts – the deadliest attacks in the country’s history shattered a decade of peace in the island nation since the end of the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

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IS says it’s behind attack on security building in Saudi Arabia

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Riyadh: The militant Islamic State (IS) group says it was behind an attack the previous day on a Saudi security building in the town of Zulfi in which all four gunmen were killed and three security officers were wounded.

The kingdom’s state-run al-Ekhbariya news channel had reported that police foiled Sunday’s attempted attack. Zulfi is about 250 kilometres north of the capital, Riyadh.

Videos circulating on social media show dead gunmen with machine guns and explosive devices.

 

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency released a video on Monday of the four alleged “martyrdom-seekers” behind the attack. It’s unclear when the footage was filmed.

In the video, one man criticises the Saudi royal family and says the attack is to avenge Muslims imprisoned in the kingdom, Syria and Iraq.

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