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Court validates Associated Journals Ltd property seizure in money laundering case



New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) The seizure of the property of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) last year, has been acknowledged as valid by the court (adjudicating authority).

In November 2023, the ED seized properties worth Rs 751.9 crore belonging to AJL and Young Indian, entities associated with the Congress, on charges of money laundering.

It had interrogated several individuals, including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and others, in connection with this case.

On November 1, 2012, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a private complaint in the court alleging that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had committed fraud and land grabbing worth Rs 16 billion by acquiring a publicly limited company called Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) through their owned private company, Young Indian (YI).

The court had, on December 19, 2015, granted bail to the Gandhis and others in the case.

The AJL, the publisher of the National Herald Newspaper, founded under Jawaharlal Lal Nehru’s chairmanship, ceased operations in 2008 with a substantial unpaid debt of Rs 90 crore. The YI was incorporated on November 23, 2010, with a nominal paid-up capital of Rs 5 lakh, wherein Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi collectively owned 76 per cent of the shares.

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In December 2010, YI resolved to ‘own’ the outstanding debt of AJL, which had obtained an interest-free loan from the Congress. Party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, were instrumental in this decision. AJL’s board, including individuals from Congress leadership, transferred the entire share equity to YI in exchange for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh.

YI, in turn, wrote off the loan obtained from the party. Following this transaction, YI gained complete ownership of AJL, which possessed real estate assets estimated at Rs 5,000 crores, originally provided by various Central and state governments for newspaper printing and publishing purposes.

Despite the vast real estate holdings, YI, with 100 per cent equity ownership by Congress Party leaders, declared that it would not engage in publishing any newspapers, including the National Herald.

The National Herald House in New Delhi, a prime property, was rented out commercially, generating a monthly income of at least Rs 60 lakh for YI.

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Metropolitan Magistrate of Patiala House Courts on June 26, 2014, established a prima facie case against the accused individuals under Sections 403 (Dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (Criminal breach of trust), and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) read with section 120B (Criminal conspiracy) of IPC.



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Keen to experience 'Band, Baaja, Baraat', European travellers say 'I Do' in Rajasthan




Jaipur, July 14 (IANS) Indian marriages are something new on travel agents’ itineraries as there are many couples who want to visit India and exchange vows following Indian rituals.

For them, it is like marriages are made in heaven but are celebrated in Jaipur.

Keen to experience the ‘Band, Baaja, Baraat’, they have started requesting Indian travel agents to arrange for wedding outfits, bouquets, garlands, wedding destinations, flowers, priest, and fire so that they can tie the knot following Indian traditions.

Many of these couples are married who just want to experience the grandeur of big fat Indian weddings and hence are coming here to solemnise their wedding in Indian style.

Recently, one Monica Barbon from Milan, Italy, decided to give a surprise to her husband Enrico Scroccaro and organised an Indian-style marriage in India.

Both of them were part of a group of 14 esteemed travellers from Milan, Italy, and were taking a trip to Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.

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Monica, deeply enamoured by the richness of Indian culture and tradition, orchestrated a heartfelt surprise for her husband Enrico, commemorating their 15 years of marriage with a sacred ceremony in the heart of Jaipur.

This entire wedding experience was filled with emotions, Rajasthani folk music, ancient rituals, and the warmth of traditional wedding customs.

The sacred vows were exchanged at the Laxmi Nritya Gopal Temple under the guidance of revered priests of Jaipur.

From the soul-stirring melodies of folk music to the intricacies of timeless rituals such as the phere ceremony and varmala exchange, every moment was infused with the essence of tradition and culture.

Adding to the enchantment, Monica and Enrico’s attire, specially designed in advance, resonated with the grandeur of the occasion, reflecting a harmonious blend of Italian elegance and Indian splendour.

Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, a decorated car awaited Monica and Enrico, ready to whisk them away to their hotel.

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Speaking in this reference, a travel agent Sanjay Kaushik from ‘Rajputana Holiday Makers’ said that foreign tourists these days want to visit India to experience the rich culture and tradition.

They have been sending emails requesting experiential tourism.

Around six to seven couples have sent their requests to tie the knot following Indian rituals in Jaipur.

Being from European nations, they want to experience the beauty of Indian weddings wearing Indian costumes, jewellery and make-up with flowers and mehendi, etc, he says.

He further says that these couples express a desire to tie the knot in places like Pushkar, Udaipur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer.

When we choose a wedding destination, we ensure that locals too benefit as they are given tasks to provide flowers, vegetables, cooks, etc.

So overall, it’s a kind of sustainability being practised simultaneously while serving such clients which makes it a win-win for all, he adds.



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UP: Man arrested for killing brother to claim insurance money




Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), July 14 (IANS) A man shot dead his elder brother in Barabanki to claim the Rs 10 lakh insurance payout his brother’s death would have fetched, the police said.

However, the plan was revealed and he was arrested on Saturday.

Sanitation worker Arvind Kumar was shot dead on July 5.

Police investigations revealed that Arvind was shot by his younger brother, Virendra.

Police said Virendra had an illicit affair with Arvind’s wife. He needed money to settle his debt and decided to eliminate Arvind to claim the insurance money through his wife.

Barabanki Superintendent of Police, Dinesh Pratap Singh, said that on the night of July 5, Arvind Kumar, 35, a resident of Murai Majre Madhnapur village in the Badosarai police station area, was shot dead while sleeping in the front room of his newly constructed house.

Initially, it was reported that someone from outside shot him through a window. However, during a forensic examination by Forensic Science Laboratory experts, it was determined that the shot was fired from close range. Later, based on surveillance, it was found that Virendra’s location was at the same spot, said the police.

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“A team questioned him and Virendra could not give a reason for his location and broke down,” the police added.

Virendra, who deals in property transactions, had borrowed money from several people and was in debt.

Further probe revealed that Virendra also had an illicit relationship with Arvind’s wife and frequently visited her at a rented house in Barabanki.

The police have found the firearm used in the crime and have sent the accused to jail, the police said.



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Akhara Parishad to issue I-cards for saints, seers in Maha Kumbh




Prayagraj, July 14 (IANS) For the first time in the Maha Kumbh, scheduled to be held in early 2025, saints and seers of different akharas will be given identity cards that will give them access to the Mela areas, said a top Akhara Parishad official.

The decision was taken by Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP).

“The process for making ID cards is on. ID cards are being made for all officials, including seers, mahamandaleshwar, mandaleshwar, naga sanyasis, etc. associated with the 13 akharas,” said ABAP President Mahant Ravindra Puri.

The identity card will bear the name, age, name of the guru, name of the siddha, madhi, dhuni, Aadhaar number and PAN number along with a photo of the seer.

The decision is aimed at identifying fake saints and keeping them away from the Maha Kumbh.

The ABAP, after the recent Hathras stampede in the religious discourse of Bhole Baba, has announced that it would weed out ‘black sheep’ and prevent people from getting duped by fake seers.

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BJP chief Nadda to address party's UP executive meet today




Lucknow, July 14 (IANS) BJP President J.P. Nadda will preside over the State Executive meeting of the party in Lucknow on Sunday, a party spokesman said.

This is the first executive meeting time after the BJP’s poor show in the 2024 Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh.

According to the BJP spokesman, closed-door sessions will be held in which party lawmakers will place their views before the National President and the state leadership of the party.

Around 3,000-3,600 delegates from across the state will attend the meeting at the Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University auditorium.

Along with the party’s sitting MLAs and MPs, all Lok Sabha candidates who lost the poll have been invited.

Besides, MLCs, Zila Panchayat chairpersons, Nagar Palika adhyakshas (municipal heads), district presidents, and all office bearers of the party will attend the meeting.

“Usually, 300 to 400 delegates attend the State Executive meeting of the BJP. But this time around 3,000- 3,600 delegates will attend the meeting,” said Hero Bajpai, State BJP Spokesperson.

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After winning only 33 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP had constituted 40 teams with two members each to visit 78 Lok Sabha constituencies to figure out reasons for the party’s poor show and submitted their reports to the State BJP President Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary. They received feedback from party workers.

These issues could come up before BJP President Nadda at the State Executive meeting on Sunday.

Earlier, BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh was in the state capital on a two-day visit on July 6-7.

B.L. Santhosh met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak and regional heads of the party to discuss several issues along with the party’s performance in the state in the Lok Sabha poll and the by-election to 10 Assembly seats to be held later this year.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Badlapur BJP Legislator Ramesh Mishra stoked controversy by stating that the BJP would lose the 2027 Uttar Pradesh elections if Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is not removed from office.

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This statement comes amid growing discontent, with some leaders, including ministers, claiming their pre-election warnings about anti-incumbency and other issues were ignored.

However, hours later Mishra retracted his video statement saying it was read out of context.

Union Minister and Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel had also raised concerns about irregularities in government appointments, particularly affecting OBC, SC, and ST candidates as damaging the party’s prospects.



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GST official's wife commits suicide in Lucknow residence




Lucknow, July 14 (IANS) Neelam Bharti, the wife of GST Assistant Commissioner Santosh Kumar Bharti, committed suicide by hanging herself at her house in Lucknow on Saturday, the police said.

The post-mortem report confirmed death by hanging.

The deceased’s family has filed a complaint accusing her brother-in-law of murder.

The police are investigating the allegations.

GST Assistant Commissioner Santosh Kumar Bharti lives with his family in Sushant Golf City.

He went to the gym and his two daughters, Khushi and Shreya, had gone to school.

When Santosh returned home, he saw that the doors were open.

When he went inside, he saw that his wife Neelam was hanging from the noose following which he took down the body from the noose.

Santosh first informed an officer living in the neighbourhood while his gunman informed the police.

He also called Neelam’s family members living in Patna and informed them about the incident.

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A few hours later, Neelam’s brother Naveen, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district, arrived.

Meanwhile, the police and forensic team went to the spot and investigated.

Neelam’s brother Naveen is a bank manager in SBI. He is currently posted in Basti.

He said that the body was sent for post-mortem even before he could reach.

He alleged that Neelam was murdered.

A written complaint has also been filed accusing Santosh.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (ADCP) South, Shashank Singh, said that no suicide note has been found in the case. Neither have the family members been able to give any information that could reveal why Neelam committed suicide.

The allegations in the complaint are being investigated.

The deceased’s brother said: “I married my sister to Santosh in 2010. For about seven years, my sister was being harassed by her husband and in-laws. They used to beat her. She was mentally harassed. She used to tell me repeatedly that the whole family is against me. I tried to talk to my brother-in-law about this many times, but he did not listen to us.”

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