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Govt to name ‘snoopgate’ judge before May 16: Sibal

NEW DELHI: The UPA government will name a judge for investigating the Gujarat ‘snoopgate’ before May 16, Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said and rubbished BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s claim that no judge will “lend” himself to the “political and malafide” exercise targeting Narendra Modi.

Sibal also said that Modi, against whom accusations have been made in the controversy, will be investigated.

“You will get a snoopgate judge before May 16. I don’t know why these people are so worried? Why leaders of BJP are worried and why they are making public statement that no judge should join this commission?” he said in New Delhi.

The Congress leader said BJP is worried as its leaders know the fact that “once the commission is set up there is no saving for Narendra Modi”.

“Because there is documentary evidence of what he (Modi) has done and how he has snooped the activities of a young girl,” he said.

”....They are worried about the national commission set up by the Centre and I think, they should continue to be worried because the commission will be set up and he will be investigated and he will be brought to book,” Sibal said.

The Minister also questioned the Gujarat government-appointed snoopgate probe panel, saying, “It will never move forward” as it was appointed “by the Chief Minister who is sought to be prosecuted”.

“It will never move forward, just like the Nanavati Commission. Twelve years have passed. We have not got any report. This is really the track record of the Gujarat government. So we don’t expect anything from the state government,” he said.

Sibal’s statement comes a day after Jaitley hoped that no judge will “lend” himself to the “political and malafide” exercise keeping in view the cause of judicial dignity.

He had said that all the judges approached by UPA have refused to be part of the “desperate” exercise as the new government will be in place in a fortnight. — PTIBack














Modi claim of friendship a complete lie: Ahmed Patel

NEW DELHI: The controversy over Narendra Modi’s interview to Doordarshan intensified on Friday with Sonia Gandhi’s political aide Ahmed Patel refuting the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s claims of closeness between them, saying the remarks were “baseless” and “a complete lie”.

He said Modi’s “ridiculous” claims of their meeting or the two sharing friendship were a “political stunt” to create “confusion” in the midst of election and offered to quit public life if there was any proof that he had taken favours from the Gujarat Chief Minister.

“This is a political stunt to create confusion and create a cloud of doubt in the midst of elections. How can Modi be able to make friendship with me when he has never been able to strike friendship within his own party?” he said.

Insisting that he never had any meeting with Modi either in his office or at his residence, Patel insisted that he had not taken any favour from the Gujarat Chief Minister. He said that Modi did come to his place for lunch when he was BJP general secretary in the eighties.

Besides that, “I never had any one-to-one meeting with Modi before or after the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002.”

Modi, in an interview to Doordarshan, had said: “Ahmedbhai has been one of my very good friends in Congress. He is not so now. Perhaps he is having some difficulty now and he avoids me as he does not take even my phone calls.

“I used to go to his residence to dine with him. It was a good friendship and I believe that personal friendship should remain,” he said.

“We never used to call him Ahmedbhai. For years, we used to call him Babubhai. This is not known outside. For us Ahmedbhai was Babubhai. But in public life he has to be given respect. It will not look good if I call him Babubhai. Calling him Mian Sahab is very honourable and I use this honourable word,” he said responding to questions, including as to why he used to call Patel ‘Mianbhai’

Responding to this, Patel said: “I do not know who are and who are not his friends in Congress, but if somebody is saying that I was very close to him or is very close friend....It is all to create doubts in the midst of elections. It is all baseless and ridiculous, a complete lie. If he proves that I ever visited his house or his office or taken any favour, I will quit public life”. — PTIBack















11 killed in militant attacks in Assam

GUWAHATI: Heavily armed NDFB (S) militants unleashed violence in two districts of Assam falling under Bodoland Territorial Administration area, killing 11 people, including three children, and leaving three others seriously injured since last night.

A group of 20 to 25 NDFB-Songbijit militants, armed with AK-47 rifles, swooped down on three houses at Balapara-I village in Kokrajhar district in the early hours today and fired indiscriminately killing seven persons on the spot, the police said.

IGP L R Bishnoi told PTI that two children and four women of the minority community were among the seven persons who were gunned down.

The body of a three-year-old child identified, who was also killed in the attack, was recovered from the area later this morning, he said, adding two men were also seriously injured.

Family members of the victims said the insurgents attacked one house after another, firing indiscriminately creating panic in the area.

This was the second attack by the militants since last night.

Three persons of a family, including two women, were shot dead and an infant was seriously injured by NDFB-S militants in neighbouring Baksa district last night.

The militants carried out the crime after entering the house near Ananda Bazar area in Baksa district also within BTAD, the police said.

In the same district one Bipin Boro was shot at and seriously injured in his house by two suspected militants at Nizdefeli yesterday, the police said.He was admitted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital in a critical condition.

In an e-mail to PTI, anti-talk ULFA-Independent assistant publicity secretary Arun Udoy Asom condemned the violence. — PTI















India steps up pressure on Switzerland to share bank info

NEW DELHI: India has strongly objected to Switzerland's denial of information about account details of certain Indians at HSBC's Swiss bank branches, in whose cases "incriminating evidence of tax evasion" have been found here.

In a strongly-worded letter to his Swiss counterpart, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has also warned that an effective exchange of tax-related information was "extremely important" for economic co-operation between the two countries and Switzerland must honour its "rights and duties" agreed to in their bilateral Direct Tax Avoidance Convention (DTAC).

This is Chidambaram's third letter to Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer Schlumpf within four months on this matter and he again reiterated that India would continue to take a position at the Global Forum about Switzerland lacking legal and regulatory framework for an effective exchange of information.

Chidambaram also said that the interpretation made by Switzerland that it can not share information as per India's request was not in accordance with international standards.

Switzerland communicated its decision against sharing the information through a letter dated April 7 to Chidambaram, pursuant to which India has now stepped up its pressure on the European nation, which has been long perceived as a major safe haven for alleged black money stashed by Indians and other foreign nationals due to its strong banking secrecy laws.

Under global pressure, Switzerland has agreed to ease its banking secrecy laws in recent years and it also signed a revised tax treaty with India in 2011 to facilitate greater flow of information about alleged black money.

However, it has refused to share information with India about the accounts mentioned in the so-called 'HSBC list' which India had received from France through a bilateral treaty.

However, it has been widely reported that France had received that list after data was stolen by a disgruntled HSBC employee in 2011 and those names eventually found their way to tax authorities across the world including India. — PTIBack














Chennai blasts: CB-CID team rushes to Bangalore

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu special investigative wing probing the twin bomb blasts on the Bangalore-Guwahati Express suspect that the explosives could have been planted at Bangalore.

Sources in the investigation agency, which rushed a team to Bangalore to pursue the new leads it stumbled on, have information that the perpetrators of the explosion could have got support from sleeper modules working in Karnataka.

An official refusing to be named told PTI here that information so far collated by it suggest that the bomb fitted with a timer device could have been planted at Bangalore.

The CB-CID police have been interacting with neighbouring State police and viewing CCTV footages of Chennai Central Railway station, the scene of the blast, sources said.

“We are studying the footages to see if the accused actually travelled in the train”, the official said.

The train, which left Bangalore on April 30 at about 1135 hrs, arrived here yesterday by 7.10 a.m. and was delayed by about an hour. Ten minutes after its arrival, two low-intensity bombs exploded in quick succession, killing a woman techie and injuring 14 others.

In another development a six-member National Security Guard (NSG) team led by Lt. Col. Balakrishna arrived here late last night to assist the State police in the ongoing investigation into the explosions, sources said.

The NSG team held discussions with top police officials of the state on the incident, the sources said. — PTIBack
















Four Indians win awards at Harvard competition for startups

NEW YORK: Four Indians are among the winners of a Harvard Business School competition that awards prizes worth over $3,00,000 to new and innovative business and social impact startups conceptualised by the US institution's students and alumni.

Harvard MBA student Amrita Siagal won the grand prize in the 'Social Enterprise' category at the 18th Harvard Business School New Venture Competition for her venture 'Saathi' which she cofounded with Oracle engineer Kristin Kagetsu.

Saathi provides affordable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fibre to women in rural India. 

Siagal and Kagetsu, who both hold mechanical engineering degrees from MIT, received a $50,000 prize at the competition which supports both students and alumni launching new business and social impact ventures inspired by "belief that one simple idea can change everything".

Saathi also got the audience choice award through an electronic crowd vote.

The winner in the business track category was the start-up 'Alfred', being launched by Saurabh Mahajan, Marcela Sapone and Jess Beck.

Alfred is a concierge service individuals can use for their daily and weekly tasks, including dry cleaning, house cleaning, groceries, laundry, and more.

The Alfred team also won $50,000. The runners-up in the social enterprise track was 'Tomato Jos' founded by MBA students Mira Mehta and Mike Lawrence.

'Tomato Jos' is a vertically integrated tomato processing company that helps small farmers in Nigeria grow tomatoes that can then be made into tomato paste.

In the business category, 'Booya Fitness' founded by MBA student Pritar Kumar won the runner-up award and a $25,000 cash prize.

The venture is an on-demand video platform featuring workouts created by the industry's best boutique gyms and instructors.

The capstone event of the HBS's expansive offerings in entrepreneurship, this year's competition attracted 150 Harvard MBA candidates as well as students from six other Harvard graduate schools.

In addition, HBS graduates from 17 HBS alumni "hub" clubs worldwide participated in 14 regional competitions.

As part of the finale programme, a member of each venture delivered a 90-second pitch to the audience, leading to an electronic crowd vote.

Over the course of the entire competition, which began last fall, more than 200 judges and mentors took part.

Alumni winners were chosen by an online crowd vote by other HBS graduates around the globe, HBS students, and a panel of judges in three categories - most innovative, greatest impact, and best investment. — PTIBack




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