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Telangana ex-cop makes sensational revelations in phone tapping case

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Hyderabad, May 27 (IANS) Several opposition leaders, including then Congress MP and present Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy, dissidents within the then ruling party, businesspersons, and journalists were among the targets of phone tapping under the previous BRS government in the state, a former state police officer and accused in the snooping case, has revealed.

Former Deputy Commissioner of Police P. Radha Kishan Rao made some sensational disclosures in his reported confession before the investigating officials.

He claimed T. Prabhakar Rao, then chief of the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB), was in charge of the entire operation aimed at gathering data on anyone who seemed to be a threat to the then Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao. The operation was also conducted before the November 2023 Assembly elections and a tab was also put on the dissidents within the then ruling party.

The phone tapping and snooping row came to light after the BRS lost power to Congress and an official in the SIB, who was part of the operation, was found destroying the collected data.

Radha Kishan Rao, who was arrested in March, revealed the details of the operation during his confession statement in April.

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He revealed that once an individual was flagged, the SIB’s deputy chief, Praneeth Kumar, was reportedly tasked with creating profiles to neutralise potential threats to the government.

The former police official reportedly revealed that the operation not only targeted politicians but also snooped on businesspersons in real estate and construction sectors to know their affiliations.

As political leaders, bureaucrats, members of the judiciary, and others avoided direct phone calls following rumours of phone tapping and, instead, used encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Signal, Prabhakar Rao and his group allegedly tracked communications over internet calls by acquiring and examining Internet Protocol Data Records (IPDRs).

The ex-DCP also claimed that iNews journalist Sravan Kumar had a meeting with Prabhakar Rao allegedly at the request of then-minister and senior BRS leader T. Harish Rao. Sravan Kumar allegedly sent information about opposition leaders and their financial backers to the Intelligence Bureau and the same was used to target rivals during a cash seizure operation.

He alleged cash had been moved in official vehicles in the 2018 and 2023 Assembly polls, and gave the Munugode bypoll as an example. He claimed Rs. 3.5 crore had been confiscated from people linked to Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, who contested the bypoll on a BJP ticket.

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Sravan Kumar allegedly assisted Praneeth Kumar’s team in online trolling campaigns against critics of the BRS.

Radha Kishan Rao revealed that the SIB was also used to keep a tab on BRS leaders like MLC Shambipur Raju, who had a conflict with the then Qutbullapur MLA, former Deputy Chief Minister T. Rajaiah who was unhappy with another former Deputy Chief Minister and senior leader Kadiyam Srihari, former minister Patnam Mahender Reddy and his wife, who had a difference with the then Tandur MLA and former MLA Teegala Krishna Reddy.

Revanth Reddy, his family members, retired IPS officer and then BSP state President R.S. Praveen Kumar, Teenmaar Mallanna, BJP leaders Eatala Rajender, Bandi Sanjay, D. Arvind and media personalities NTV’s Narendra Chowdary and ABN’s Radhakrishna were among those whose phones were allegedly tapped.

The surveillance also extended to opposition candidates like Raghuveer, son of former minister Jana Reddy of Nagarjunasagar, Saritha Thirupathaiah of Gadwal, Juvvadi Narsinga Rao of Korutla, and Vamshi Krishna of Achampet.

A court earlier this month dismissed the bail petition of Radha Kishan Rao, who had also served as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Task Force.

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Radha Kishan Rao was arrested as a conspirator along with other suspended police officials D. Praneeth Rao, Bhujanga Rao, and Thirupathanna.

The phone tapping came to light in March when a case was registered with the Panjagutta police after a petition was filed by Additional SP, SIB, D. Ramesh.

Prabhakar Rao had allegedly constituted a team within SIB with his trusted aides including DSP D. Praneeth Rao for surveillance of rival political leaders and their families and dissidents within the ruling party. Praneeth Rao was arrested after he allegedly destroyed hard disks and other data when the Congress came to power.

Bhujanga Rao, Additional Superintendent of Police in Bhupalpally district and Tirupathanna, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, City Security Wing, Hyderabad City Police were arrested on March 23. They had also served in the SIB.

A city court on May 10 issued an arrest warrant against SIB chief Prabhakar Rao, the prime suspect in the phone tapping case. The Nampally Metropolitan Magistrate also issued an arrest warrant against Sravan Kumar. Both are believed to be in the US.

–IANS

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20k vehicles fined for using pressure horns, hooters in UP

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Lucknow, June 21 (IANS) With the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath calling for an immediate ban on the use of pressure horns and hooters in government and private vehicles, the Uttar Pradesh Police has fined 20,000 vehicles during the weeklong drive so far, the police said.

As many as 2.75 lakh vehicles have been checked by the police across the state since the Chief Minister issued orders.

A senior police officer said that 3,900 vehicles were booked for using hooters and pressure horns in their vehicles. Others include the use of police colours and insignia of the Uttar Pradesh government.

Uttar Pradesh Police collected a fine of Rs 1.3 crore.

Director General of Police (DGP) Prashant Kumar said efforts were being made by the police and transport departments to enforce the statewide ban.

“Traffic police at district and state levels have devised a plan for effective implementation of the order,” he added.

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Additional Director General, Traffic Directorate, B.D. Paulson said a month-long drive against pressure horns has been started.

“District police chiefs and commissioners will ensure compliance of the order. The drive will also crack down on the use of tinted windows in vehicles,” he added.

Lucknow Joint Commissioner Of Police, Law and Order, Upendra Agarwal, said as part of the drive sale of horns and hooters would also be banned.

“While checking 1,718 vehicles using blue lights and hooter sirens, 315 vehicles were asked to remove hooter sirens and pressure horns. They were also issued challans and a mitigation fee of Rs 44,500 was collected,” said a traffic police officer.

Police colours and names of departments inscribed on 346 cars were removed during the inspection of 2,178 vehicles that were using police colours.

Additionally, while issuing challans, an immediate mitigation fee of Rs 65,500 was collected.

Likewise, plates and stickers with the Uttar Pradesh government and the Government of India (except contract vehicles) were removed from 244 vehicles and while issuing the challan, a fee of Rs 47,400 was collected.

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–IANS

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UP man claims sex change operation without his consent, case filed

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Muzaffarnagar, June 21 (IANS) In a bizarre incident, a 20-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar has alleged that he was operated for sex change without his consent at a local hospital, the police said.

However, the hospital has claimed that the man underwent the sex reassignment process of his own will.

The 20-year-old man claimed that one Om Prakash used to molest him.

On June 3, the man said Om Prakash took him to the hospital, where he was sedated and deceptively made to undergo an operation.

When he woke up the next morning, he found his genitals were cut off.

“When I woke up, Om Prakash told me that I am a woman now and that he would take me to Lucknow to marry me. He threatened to kill my father if I resisted,” the man said, adding that the doctors and staff at the hospital were colluding with Om Prakash.

Based on a complaint by the man’s father on June 16, the police have arrested Om Prakash.

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However, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union staged a protest outside the hospital, alleging there was laxity in the police investigation.

According to farmer leader Shyam Pal, the doctors at the hospital were involved in the illegal organ trade.

“I believe there is a very big racket going on here where they remove vital organs of the body and sell them at a higher price,” he said.

Pal also demanded the government to direct the hospital to pay Rs 2 crore compensation to the man and his family.

Ramashish Singh, Circle Officer of Khatauli police station in Muzaffarnagar, said, “There was a case here in which a person was operated for sex change. His family members alleged that he was misled by another person and the operation was done. Whatever allegations have been made by them, have been taken into consideration. Further investigation is underway.”

However, hospital authorities denied the man’s claim that he was deceptively operated on.

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According to Chief Medical Superintendent Kirti Goswami, the man had been coming to the hospital regularly for two months to meet Raza Farooqui, a plastic surgeon.

Goswami said that the man identified as a woman and wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

The Chief Medical Superintendent said that Farooqui referred the man to two psychiatrists to assess his mental condition, which is a prerequisite before a sex-change operation as per law.

The man was operated on only after the two psychiatrists deemed him mentally fit.

“The man came here to get admitted on June 4 and his operation was conducted on June 6. All these procedures are legal and were conducted under the supervision of Farooqui,” Goswami added.

Goswami also claimed that the authorities had a video of the man before his operation, in which he could be seen talking about undergoing an operation to change his gender.

–IANS

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Bengal train collision: Preliminary findings suggest combination of human, procedural lapses

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Kolkata, June 20 (IANS) Preliminary investigation by a joint observation committee in the Kanchanjunga Express–goods train collision on Monday morning suggests that a combination of two procedural lapses was the reason behind the accident, sources said on Thursday.

Sources said that the first procedural lapse was that the “absolute block system” was not followed in the case of the goods train that had hit Kanchanjunga Express from behind.

The absolute block system (ABS) is followed by railways in case the automatic signalling system is inactive within a particular area between two stations. In that case, a train will not be allowed to leave one station unless the preceding train in the same line (the ‘block’) leaves or crosses the next station ahead. However, as per a preliminary report, the goods train was given permission to leave the Rangapani station before the Kanchanjunga Express, which was moving in the same line, crossed the next station which was Chatter Hat.

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Had the ABS been strictly followed in this case the accident, which has taken 11 lives so far, could have been avoided.

While this was the first procedural lapse, as per the preliminary findings, the next human error was on the part of the loco-pilot (now deceased) of the goods train, where he overshot the prescribed speed limit while crossing a distance where the automatic signalling system is non-functional. As per norms, for the trains passing through such a distance, the speed should never exceed 15 km per hour, to maintain a reasonable distance between the two trains passing on the same line.

Preliminary findings suggest that the collision occurred due to the violation of the speed limit between the Rangapani and Chatter Hat stations.

At the same time, sources said, from the impact of the collision on the last four coaches of Kanchanjunga Express, the last two being the parcel coach and guard’s compartment, it was clear that the speed was well above the prescribed limit of 15 km an hour.

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–IANS

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Madhya Pradesh Police arrest over 1K involved in cattle smuggling in 6 months

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Bhopal, June 21 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh Police have claimed to have registered as many as 575 cases in the last six months related to cattle smuggling and arrested a total of 1,121 people in this connection.

Besides, more than 7,000 cows were rescued from illegal possession during the same period.

The police said that most cases of cattle smuggling were reported in Balaghat, Seoni, Chhindwara, Barwani, Khargone, Burhanpur, Ujjain, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.

A source said the operation against cattle smuggling was carried out extensively following the direction received from Chief Minister Mohan Yadav.

“Several teams of police were formed across the state and the routes that were used frequently for cow trafficking were identified. Sources were developed in particular regions to get real-time information and the cases of 10 years were examined,” a police source said.

The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government has been strict on cattle smuggling and the sale of meat in open places for the last several years.

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Notably, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, in one of his initial orders after taking over charge of the CM Office, directed the police to take strict action against cattle smuggling.

The recent action in Mandala where 11 houses were demolished was as part of action against the illegal beef trading in the state, a police officer said.

The action was taken after a tip-off was received that numerous cows had been held captive for slaughtering.

–IANS

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BJP and Congress conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries, alleges BRS

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Hyderabad, June 21 (IANS) The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) on Thursday alleged both the BJP and the Congress were conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) through the auction of coal mines.

BRS Working President K.T. Rama Rao said the BJP government at the Centre and the Congress government in Telangana were undermining Singareni by opting to auction coal mines in Telangana instead of allocating them directly to Singareni.

He slammed the state government for participating in the auction of mines instead of demanding direct allocation to Singareni.

“The Central government is auctioning more than 60 mines in the country, including Singareni, starting tomorrow. The state government’s participation in the auction contradicts their previous stance of opposing the auction and seeking direct allocation from the Central government to Singareni,” he said.

He also reminded the public that the present Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy had written a letter to the Central government seeking the cancellation of the Singareni mines auction and requesting direct allocation to Singareni.

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KTR, as the BRS leader is popularly known, questioned Revanth Reddy’s silence now over the Central government’s auction of mines in the Singareni area, considering his opposition earlier.

He claimed that BRS and its government had stalled the auctioning of coal mines in the Singareni area for the past nine years to safeguard Singareni’s future.

“With 16 MPs, neighbouring state’s Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying to halt the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant and safeguarding their state’s interests. In contrast, the 16 elected MPs from Telangana, both from Congress and BJP, remain silent despite the Central government’s attempt to harm the state’s prospects through the mines auction,” he said.

KTR demanded that all MPs and the two Union Ministers from Telangana should immediately take steps to cancel the Singareni mines auction. He also accused the Central ministers from Telangana of harming the state’s interests by remaining silent on this matter. KTR stated that the same Central government made the Vizag Steel Plant incur losses by not allocating dedicated mines.

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The BRS leader also said that even if companies participate in the auction and get the mining rights, the BRS would cancel the leases “once they come into power after four and a half years”.

–IANS

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