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Ranjan Choudhary on Farooq Abdullah’s House Arrest

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Winter session of parliament 2019

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India

Rahul Gandhi condemns arrest of Jammu & Kashmir Congress chief

Jammu, Aug 16 Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday condemned the arrest of the party”s Jammu and Kashmir unit chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and another party leader saying the government has delivered another body blow to democracy.

“I strongly condemn the arrest of our J&K PCC Chief, Ghulam Ahmed Mir and spokesperson Ravinder Sharma in Jammu today. With this unprovoked action against a national political party, the Govt has delivered democracy another body blow. When will this madness end?” Gandhi tweeted.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also took to Twitter and shared a video in which the police can be seen taking the party”s state spokeperson Ravinder Sharma from the press conference along with them.

“Government claims total normalcy in J&K, blatantly and illegally arrests Congress chief spokesman Ravinder Sharma from Jammu while he was briefing the media and places PCC Chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir under house arrest. If this is normal, how are murder of democracy and seize defined?” he said in a tweet.

The remarks of the Congress leaders came after Mir and Sharma were arrested in Jammu during the day.

Senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also accused the government of not allowing him to hold a press conference in Jammu and condemned it for detaining him.

Condemning the action of the government, in a statement the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said, “On one side the State and Central government are asserting that Jammu is normal and people are celebrating, while at the same time the leaders of opposition parties are not even allowed to address the press conferences.”

“This double speak of the government has exposed it on a number of occasions,” he said.

Azad also condemned the government”s action of detaining him and taking him to some undisclosed location. He said that this action of the government is in total violation of any democratic norms.

Azad also demanded the immediate release of former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and senior leaders of other political parties.

(IANS)

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India

Congress condemns house arrest of J&K political leaders

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Monday criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for the house arrest of senior political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it was a signal that the government will defy all democratic norms to achieve its objects.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said: “Before the day is over we will know if there will be a major crisis in J&K. Keeping my fingers crossed.

“The house arrest of J&K leaders is a signal that the government will defy all democratic norms and principles to achieve its objects. I condemn the house arrests.”

Slamming the Modi government, Chidambaram said: “I had warned of a misadventure in Jammu and Kashmir. It seems the government is determined to embark upon one.”

His remarks came hours after many senior political leaders including former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, were not allowed to move out of their houses as strict restrictions were imposed in the Kashmir Valley from Monday morning.

Senior Congress leader and former Union Ministers Shashi Tharoor and Jyotiraditya Scindia also condemned the government over its decision to put the political leaders under house arrest.

Tharoor tweeted: “You are not alone Omar Abdullah. Every Indian democrat will stand with the decent mainstream leaders in Kashmir as you face up to whatever the government has in store for our country. Parliament is still in session and our voices will not be stilled.

“What is going on in J&K? Why would leaders be arrested overnight while having done no wrong? If Kashmiris are our citizens and their leaders our partners, surely the mainstream ones must be kept on board while we act against terrorists and separatists? If we alienate them, who’s left?”

Scindia also took to twitter and wrote: “The uncertainty and fear only serves to worsen the situation. Government must be open, transparent, and take people and opposition leaders into confidence.

“Leaders being placed under house arrest overnight while mass hysteria and deployment of troops, both continue to rise. The situation in Kashmir is indeed worrying. The govt must make its intentions clear.”

(IANS)

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India

Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti to be under house arrest

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti will not be allowed to move out of their houses as strict restrictions will be imposed in the Kashmir Valley from early Monday morning, police sources said.

(IANS)

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India

Priyanka’s arrest shows Bharatiya Janata Party’s arrogance: Congress

The Congress on Friday condemned the Uttar Pradesh government for detaining its leader Priyanka Gandhi when she was going to meet the kin of those killed in caste violence in Sonebhadra district.

Eleven members of the Gond community were killed allegedly by Gujjars over a land dispute on July 17.

Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal said in a statement that Priyanka Gandhi had raised her voice against the alarming rise in crime in Uttar Pradesh since BJP leader Yogi Adityanath took charge.

“This arrogant and assumptive attitude of the UP government is out of their fear of being exposed for their failure to stop the criminal activities in the state. Instead of reaching out to families of the victims, the government is trying to prevent opposition leaders only to hide the truth from the public,” said Venugopal.

(IANS)

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India

SP’s Azam Khan faces arrest in land grabbing, torture case

More than two dozen poor farmers were illegally detained and tortured for several days before their lands were “forcibly grabbed” by senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and MP Azam Khan in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district, the police said on Saturday.

According to a criminal case registered at Rampur’s Azim Nagar Police Station, Azam Khan and his close aide, former Deputy Superintendent of UP Police Aalehasan Khan, allegedly forged documents and grabbed land worth over several hundred crores for Mohammed Ali Jauhar University, a multi-crore private project of the SP leader.

“Twenty-six farmers have stated that Azam Khan and Aalehasan illegally detained and pressured them to sign on a forged sale deed in a bid to acquire their land running into several thousand hectares,” Ajay Pal Sharma, Superintendent of Police – Rampur, told IANS.

“When the farmers refused to sign on the papers, their land was forcibly occupied. Aalehasan, then circle officer of Rampur, misused his official position in grabbing the land belonging to the poor. After verifying facts we have registered a criminal case against Azam Khan and Aalehasan,” said Sharma.

The case against the SP leader was registered on the basis of an enquiry by the UP Revenue Department, which checked all relevant documents and recorded statements of farmers who mainly belong to the minority community.

“On the basis of the main complaint of the Revenue Department, now 26 separate cases will be filed (against Azam Khan) as it involves different patches of land and different owners,” said the Rampur district police chief.

Asked whether Azam Khan could be arrested, Sharma said, “It may happen any time. The investigation is on.”

The FIR (relating to case) says besides grabbing farmers’ lands, Azam Khan, also misused his position (as Cabinet Minister of UP during 2012-2017) to illegally occupy over 5,000 hectares of land adjoining the banks of Kosi river, which flows along the University campus.

The land falls by the Kosi riverside and cannot be acquired. “But revenue records were allegedly forged and the land, worth over several hundred crores, was illegally occupied by Mohammed Jauhar Ali University,” said a Revenue Officer.

According to the Revenue Officer, the forged documents to fraudulently occupy the riverbed, are now a strong evidence against Azam Khan.

Azam Khan’s dream project, Mohammed Ali Jauhar University, was conceived as a private Urdu university in 2004. Acquisition of land and construction of the university campus started rapidly after the Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power in UP and Azam Khan became one of its most powerful ministers.

In 2012, the Akhilesh Yadav government granted the university’s lifelong chancellorship to Azam Khan, a move which was opposed by then UP Governor.

Last month, BJP leader Jayaprada, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls against Azam Khan, filed a complaint with the Election Commission seeking the newly elected MP’s disqualification for also holding an office of profit as the chancellor of Mohammed Ali Jauhar University.

Jaya Prada cited two examples — one of Sonia Gandhi and another of Jaya Bachchan — both of whom had to resign as MPs and re-contest polls on grounds of holding office of profit.

IANS tried to contact Azam Khan for his comments on being booked in cases of land grabbing, but could not reach him. A Samajwadi Party office-bearer said the BJP was trying to malign the SP stalwart’s image, who had established a world class university for the people of UP in Rampur.

(IANS)

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India

As ‘sword of arrest hangs over Naidu’, his 18 MLAs approach BJP

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) seem to be on the verge of collapse, as more than two-thirds of party MLAs have approached the state BJP leadership in Andhra Pradesh.

After a major defection in the Rajya Sabha, where four out of six TDP MPs defected to the BJP, the developments in Andhra Pradesh seems set to deliver a big jolt to TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu who is making last ditch efforts to prevent party legislators from pulling off another defection on the lines of the one in the Rajya Sabha.

Talking to the IANS, BJP National Secretary and co-in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Sunil Deodhar said that around 18 MLAs were in touch with his party.

At present TDP has 23 MLAs in the 175 members Assembly of Andhra Pradesh.

“The MLAs are well aware that TDP boss Naidu will soon be in jail on (alleged) multiple charges relating to corruption. Several close aides and family members of Naidu are also involved in corruption. It is for this reason that MLAs are approaching us. They realise that TDP’s image of a clean party has taken a beating,” said Deodhar who is also BJP’s state in-charge for Tripura.

Upbeat about political developments in the state favouring BJP, the party is launching one of its biggest ever membership drives in Andhra Pradesh which will begin simultaneously from all Dalit settlements in each district of the state.

“Our focus is to reach the poorest of the poor. We are targeting at least one lakh new members in each Lok Sabha constituency. Beside this programme , the party is also preparing for the all important annual three-day meet of top RSS leaders beginning July 11 in Visakhapattnam,” said Deodhar, a full-time pracharak of RSS in the northeast, who later joined as national office-bearer of the BJP.

Deodhar also informed that on July 6, RSS Sarsanghchalak (Chief) Mohan Bhagwat will be present in Guntur for a gurudakshina programme. Several senior BJP leaders are expected to join this function.

Commenting on the TDP’s dismal performance in the recent state assembly polls, Deodhar said that Naidu threw norms of propriety to the wind as his government indulged in gross financial irregularities.

“TDP is now a party with no future as Naidu’s misdeeds and acts of corruption have been exposed in public. From cash-for-vote scandal to various controversial government contracts awarded by his (TDP) government, Naidu seems neck-deep in corruption. The sword of arrest hangs over his head. It is almost certain that he (Naidu) will be in jail soon,” said Deodhar who was the main architect of BJP’s historic win in the Assembly elections of Tripura.

(IANS)

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India

BJP seeks Mehbooba Mufti’s arrest for violence call

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday demanded the arrest of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on charges of instigating people to break the law.

Speaking to reporters here, BJP spokesman Sunil Sethi said: “A FIR should have been registered against Mehbooba Mufti for her statement instigating public to defy vehicular ban on (Srinagar-Jammu) highway on Wednesdays and Sundays.”

The spokesman said politics in the state had touched its lowest ebb.

“Politicians are now trying to get votes by asking people to break the law. The order to allow only security forces to move on the national highway is a well thought decision which was taken to avoid situations like the Pulwama terror attack,” the spokesman said.

IANS

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India

Arrest Yogi for creating hatred, demands Asaduddin Owaisi

MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday demanded arrest of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for creating hatred against Muslims by calling Congress leader Imran Masood a relative of Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar.

Owaisi said the Election Commission should get the UP Chief Minister booked and arrested under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.

Addressing an election meeting on Monday night, Owaisi said Yogi was linking Imran Masood to Masood Azhar because of the Muslim name.

Imran Masood is Congress candidate from Saharanpur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Owaisi, who is seeking re-election from Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency for a fourth term, also urged the Election Commission to remove Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh for making an appeal to people to vote for Narendra Modi.

“I want to ask Kalyan Singh, are you a governor or a political leader. If you have some respect for Constitution, you should resign,” he said.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief also slammed Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani for his statement that if BJP doesn’t win the elections, Pakistan will win. He said the parties trying to defeat Modi so that India became successful and democracy was strengthened.

“This fight is to protect India’s composite culture and brotherhood in which the central government failed.”

Owaisi said at an election meeting two days ago he had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should own up responsibility for failing to prevent terror attack at Pulwama in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

“I had asked if he had eaten biryani and slept. As usual TV channels reported that I used word ‘bade ki biryani’ (beef biryani). Modi’s ‘chamche’ on social media asked me don’t you know he doesn’t eat meat. I don’t know. How do I know. Had I gone to his house to see. He may not eat. That’s his choice.”

Stating that chowkidar should be ‘zimmedar'(responsible), Owaisi said he should explain how 50 kg RDX was brought under his nose.

The MIM leader poked fun at Modi for promoting sale of T-shirts and other merchandise as part of ‘mein bhi chowkidar’ campaign.

“Parents want to see children in good positions but he is asking them to wear T-shirts of chowkidar,” he said.

Owaisi slammed Modi for providing Rs 1,500 crore from State Bank of India (SBI) to Jet Airways and said it was another instance to prove that he is favouring the rich. He wondered how Modi could offer the funding without approval from the cabinet. “This is public money not anybody’s baap ki jagir,” he said.

He alleged that BJP leaders and a NCP leader used to stay as guests at Naresh Goyal’s house in London.

IANS

Categories
India

Chidambarams interim protection from arrest extended

A special court here on Monday extended the interim protection from arrest for former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti till April 26 in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

This is the third time in a month that the court has extended the protection to the Chidambarams.

The court had issued a similar order on February 18, extending the protection till March 8 which was later extended till March 25.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing how Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED on October 25, 2018, had filed a chargesheet naming him and a few others in the case.

Last July, the CBI had filed another chargesheet against 18 persons.

IANS

Categories
India

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq placed under house arrest on Friday

Jammu and Kashmir authorities have place senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq under house arrest here on Friday.

The development comes ahead of post-Friday prayers protests called by separatists against the custodial death of Rizwan Asad Pandit, a 28-year-old private school teacher, on Monday.

On Thursday, National Conference leaders Ali Muhammad Sagar, Nasir Sogami and others took carried out a protest march from the Nawa-e-Subha party headquarters here demanding stern action against those responsible for Pandit’s death.

According to the police, Pandit was arrested last week in connection with a militancy related case.

IANS

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India

Nirav Modi’s arrest a ‘got-up match’; Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday refused to give any credit to the Narendra Modi-led government for the arrest of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi in London and termed it a “got-up match”.

“This is a ploy of the BJP. The credit must go to the London Telegraph journalist who exposed Nirav Modi. It is a got-up match. No credit goes to the BJP government,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat, Nabanna.

Calling the businessman’s arrest a “strike” by the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress supremo said there will be a number of such “strikes” by the Centre during the general elections.

“You will see many such ‘strikes’ during the time of elections. You have seen a strike on Nirav Modi. There will be two-three similar strikes. All these are made up like a film script. They (Centre) have done this intentionally,” she said.

“You (the Centre) cannot see where he is hiding. Now a journalist is giving you information about where he is staying. Don’t we know what is going on behind the curtains? It has been exposed that the main thief is behind the curtain,” Banerjee said, making a veiled reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Banerjee said the BJP government’s ploys would not yield much benefit as its “expiry date” was already over.

“This government has no credibility. I have said before that its expiry date is already over. We do not need their ‘medicines’. We do not consume medicines that have passed their expiry dates,” she said.

“I do not give them any credit. There is another man. I do not want to mention his name. He is also there. They are not Indian citizens now. There are so many people with a lot of property,” she alleged.

Taking a swipe at Modi for calling himself the “chowkidar” (watchman) of the country, Banerjee said it was more important to be loyal to the nation and maintain peace than turning oneself from a “chai-wala to chowkidar”.

Fourteen months after he fled India, Nirav Modi was on Wednesday arrested in London on charges of defrauding on a huge loan taken from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), official sources said.

The police made the arrest seven days after the London Westminster Court issued an arrest warrant against the businessman, who left India days before the scam came to light in January 2018.

IANS

Categories
World

UK court has issued an arrest warrant against Nirav Modi 

A UK court has issued an arrest warrant against fugitive Indian diamantaire Nirav Modi, wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case, confirmed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday.

According to the ED, the Westminster Court issued the arrest warrant on March 13.

The development came days after the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper claimed that Modi was spotted in London, leading to the Congress slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for its “failure” to bring the fugitive diamantaire to justice while he apparently thrived elsewhere.

Accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, Nirav Modi is living openly in a three-bedroom flat, occupying half the floor of the landmark Centre Point tower block, The Telegraph had reported.

The report also claimed Nirav Modi was involved in a new diamond business, run from an office in Soho, just a few hundred yards from his apartment. The new business was incorporated in May 2018, said the report.

The Interpol had issued a red corner notice against Nirav Modi in July 2018 on the request of the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

An extradition request against him has been pending before the UK authorities since last September.

The ED on February 26 attached Rs 147 crore properties of Nirav Modi and his associate companies in connection with the PNB fraud case.

IANS

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India

Chidambarams’ interim protection from arrest extended till March 25

A special court here on Friday extended interim protection from arrest to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti till March 25 in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

This is a second time in a month that the court has extended the protection to the two. The court had issued a similar order on February 18, extending the protection till March 8.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing how Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED on October 25, 2018, had filed a chargesheet naming Chidambaram and a few others. Earlier in July same year, the CBI had filed another chargesheet against 18 persons in the case.

IANS

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India

Mehbooba leads protest against arrest of Jamaat members

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday led a protest march against the arrest of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) members in the state.

Mufti led the march of her party leaders and workers in Anantnag town.

“The arrest of members of Jamaat Moulvis and Imams affiliated with Ahle Hadith is a direct interference in our religious affairs. We won’t tolerate this,” said the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The JeI has been banned by the Centre and orders have been issued to seize the assets of the socio-political religious group.

The state government has, however, made it clear that orphanages and mosques run and owned by the group had been kept out of the seizure order.

IANS

Categories
Business World

Huawei CFO sues Canadian government over arrest

Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Chinese tech giant Huawei, has sued the Canadian government, the national police force and the country’s border agency, alleging “serious breaches of her constitutional rights” when she was detained, searched and interrogated at the Vancouver International Airport last December.

Meng’s lawyers revealed on Sunday that the lawsuit against the federal government, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was filed on Friday in the British Columbia Supreme Court, reports the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

In the claim, the embattled Huawei CFO said that she was seeking damages for “misfeasance in public office and false imprisonment”.

It says Meng was held for three hours without explanation and access to a lawyer before an RCMP constable told her why she was arrested.

The lawsuit has also alleged that Meng suffered “mental distress, anxiety, and loss of liberty” as a direct result of her detention at the airport on December 1, 2018, while in transit to Mexico and South America.

She was arrested on suspicion of fraud involving violations of US sanctions on Iran, and American prosecutors are fighting for her extradition.

RCMP Constable Winston Yep, three unnamed CBSA officers, and the Attorney General of Canada are named in the civil suit.

It also alleges that the officers obtained a warrant ordering Meng’s immediate arrest, but intentionally delayed that arrest under the guise of a routine border check in order to extract evidence from her, CBC said.

Meng has been living under strict bail conditions in her Vancouver home since her release last December. She has hired at least 13 lawyers from six law firms.

On Friday, Canada announced that an extradition hearing for Meng can move forward.

Meng’s defence team said in a statement that she maintains she is innocent of any wrongdoing and that the US prosecution and extradition is an abuse of legal process.

IANS

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India

Robert Vadra’s interim protection from arrest extended

A Delhi court on Saturday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, in a money laundering case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar extended the interim protection from arrest to Vadra and his associate Manoj Arora till March 19.

The court also directed them to appear before the Enforcement Directorate, which is presently probing the case, whenever they are required.

The court was hearing Vadra and Arora’s anticipatory bail pleas.

The case relates to the ownership of overseas assets worth 1.9 million pounds by Vadra.

On December 7, 2018, the ED had raided several of Vadra’s properties in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru.

IANS

Categories
India

Court extends Chidambarams’ interim protection from arrest

A Delhi court on Monday extended former Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram’s interim protection from arrest till March 8 in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing how Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED on October 25, 2018 filed a chargesheet naming Chidambaram and a few others. The CBI had on July 19, 2018 filed another chargesheet against 18 persons in the case.

IANS

Categories
World

Australia denies issuing arrest warrant for Bahraini refugee footballer

Australian authorities on Friday dismissed Thailand’s claim that it has issued the Red Notice for the arrest of Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, presently detained in Bangkok.

The Thai Foreign Ministry on Thursday suggested al-Araibi was arrested on arrival in Thailand in November 2018 after it “received the Red Notice alert from the Australian Interpol”, reports Xinhua news agency.

Responding to the assertion, Australia’s embassy in Bangkok issued a statement to “clear up confusion regarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against Hakeem al-Araibi”, saying Bahrain issued the Red Notice, which is a form of international arrest warrant.

“Australia never issued a Red Notice against al-Araibi. This Red Notice was issued by Bahrain on November 8, 2018, shortly before al-Araibi travelled to Bangkok,” the statement said.

“The Red Notice should never have been issued because of al-Araibi’s status as a protected refugee. This was a breach of Interpol’s regulations.

“When the Australian government became aware of the situation, we ensured the red notice was rescinded as soon as possible. This happened on November 30, only three days after al-Araibi arrived in Bangkok.

“The Australian government has said unequivocally on many occasions that al-Araibi should be returned to Australia, where he is a permanent resident with protected status, as soon as possible, the statement added.

Al-Araibi, a former member of Bahrain’s national football team, fled his home country for Australia in 2014 after he was accused of vandalising a police station.

He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia and Bahrain has applied to Thailand for his extradition so that he can serve the sentence.

Speaking in Thai court where he was refused bail on Monday, al-Araibi said he fears he will be tortured if returned to Bahrain.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to his Thai counterpart asking for al-Araibi’s immediate release twice.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government was doing everything in its power to return al-Araibi to Australia.

The extradition trial will return to court on April 22.

IANS

Categories
World

130 students arrested in visa sting face only civil immigration charges

The 130 students arrested so far in a “pay-to-stay” sting operation using a fake university face only civil immigration charges, according to media reports.

“We have arrested 130 foreign nationals on civil immigration charges,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Carissa Cutrell was quoted as telling the Detroit Free Press on Thursday. She added that more of them could be arrested.

Those students who knowingly participated in scam knowing it was not a genuine academic programme face deportation.

Eight people who allegedly ran the scam as recruiters of the students face criminal charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbouring aliens for profit and face maximum sentences of five years, according to the ICE service.

Documents filed in court by federal prosecutors said as many as 600 students were enrolled at the fake institution, University of Farmington, set up by immigration officials for the sting operation to catch student visa fraud.

Prosecutors called it a “pay-to-stay” scam because the students paid the recruiters to get documents from from the fake university to enable them to stay on in a student visa without attending classes.

Court documents show that the recruiters were paid between $5,000 and $20,000 at meetings with Homeland Security Investigations agents involved in the university for recruiting the students.

Shiva Kumar, the chairperson of SEVA, the American Telugu Association’s legal assistance programme, told IANS that they were working with the affected students to provide them help.

He said that he had met India’s Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla to ask for help for the students.

The Detroit News said that six alleged recruiters, who were arrested locally, were produced in a local federal court on Thursday wearing ankle chains and handcuffs.

Federal Magistrate Judge David Grand ordered them held without bail. On Monday the court will hear lawyers’ arguments on whether they should be jailed pending their trial.

The two others arrested elsewhere are expected to brought to Detroit.

The Free Press said the students were arrested in early morning raids in New Jersey, Atlanta, Houston, Michigan, California, Louisiana, North Carolina and Missouri states.

The federal prosecutor in Detroit, Matthew Schneider, said in a statement: “We are all aware that international students can be a valuable asset to our country, but as this case shows, the well-intended international student visa program can also be exploited and abused.”

The students had come to the US on legitimte student visas, but did not fulfill the condition of attending universities for the required classes making their continued stay illegal, which would be compounded if they worked.

Many of the students enrolled in the university were students who had transferred from other universities, according to media reports.

ICE, which carried out the operation, admitted in a press release that it had set up the private university run by undercover agents.

Farmington University had a web site as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts – but did not have a campus or faculty.

ICE said that the alleged recruiters facilitated hundreds of foreigners to illegally remain and work in the US by enrolling in the fake university without the intention of attending classes.

“All participants in the scheme knew that the school had no instructors or actual classes,” ICE said.

Sting operations are used quite frequently by US law enforcement officials, who sometimes create fake institutions to create a sense of credibility.

University of Farmington is the second fake institution of higher learning created by law enforcement to catch student immigration scams.

Although the latest arrests came during a period of heightened immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump, Farmington University was set up in 2015 by Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

Obama administration officials had also set up the other fake institution, the University of North Jersey, and ensnared over 1,000 students, most of them from India and China, in 2016.

Twenty-one people who acted as student visa brokers were arrested in that sting.

The Detroit News reported that Michigan state allowed Farmington University in 2015 to conduct business after confirming it had “demonstrated plans to provide housing space, administration facilities, labs, a library and other teaching facilities”.

But the News said it had none of the facilities and operated out of a single office suite in the basement of an office building.

Its president was a fictional character named Dr. Ali Milani, the News reported.

IANS