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Pressure, effects of politics delay CBI investigation

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Like the Federal Bureau of Investigation of America, the entire structure, rules, etc., of CBI should be made more effective.

 

New Delhi: Be it the recruitment scam of the Lalu Raj in the railways or the mining loot case of Hemant Soren in Jharkhand, leaders of parties on some TV news channels and some journalists also raise the question these days whether the Modi government of the BJP is responsible for the actions of the CBI. Is not choosing the time for your convenience and for putting pressure on opponents? But journalists like us who have covered the affairs of the CBI for four or five decades have been told by the directors of the CBI themselves that the leaders sitting in power or close to their alliance are guilty of corruption and other serious crimes. This delayed the investigation. Earlier, Joginder Singh, the most outspoken and transparent famous director in the investigation of Lalu Yadav’s fodder case, during the prime ministerships of Narasimha Rao, Inder Kumar Gujral, and H.D. Deve Gowda, told me about pressure being the reason for delay, etc. and later accepted it publicly as well. CBI Director Joginder Singhji, who gathered evidence during the investigation of leaders who had been enjoying power, was transferred by the Congress coalition government four months before retirement, that is, removed, and Lalu was jailed from the court after years. Even after this, Joginder Singh and some of his associate officials used to tell us that even during Manmohan Singh’s rule, legal action in the name of coalition compulsion slowed down and Lalu remained a minister at the Centre till 2009 and started new scams. The ruling coalition has had compulsions and impediments in its investigation into the 2G and mine distribution scams.
From this point of view, it should not come as a surprise that the investigation into the railway job recruitment scam, which began in 2021, continues till date. This fact should be kept in mind that whether it is a commission scandal or hawala scam, or coal mine distribution scandal, or 2G spectrum scam in Bofors purchase, it may take months and years to gather evidence from politicians, companies, brokers, relatives, or people close to the country and abroad. Some cases are also within the knowledge of the concerned minister not allowing legal action to reach the high court when a leader is in power. In fact, in 1972-76, when Devendra Sen used to be the director of the CBI, even in his annual report, the cases of corruption did not exceed from a few hundred rupees to a few thousand rupees. Public relations officer Bhishma Pal would sometimes give some information to a reporter like us and there would be more talk about art and culture. Then, in 1974, on my request, director Sen Saheb agreed to give an interview, and then the working of the CBI and the conversation with them appeared in details as a cover story in a leading weekly magazine, Dharmayug (Times Publications). Then director Devendra Sen told me, “The experience has been that, first of all, there is a demand to hand over a serious case to the CBI. But when the findings of the inquiry come to the fore as expected by the demanders, they begin to disbelieve it. Now tell me who will believe CBI if we start giving reports according to the demands of those who demand it? The CBI does not have either the budget or staff like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of America, and the biggest problem is limited authority.
A few months later, we got a piece of important information about investigation into the smuggling of uranium from the Jharkhand mine. Then in the Janata Raj, the case of the destruction of the film of Kissa chair came to the CBI. But then the Congress and Indira Gandhi came to power. Due to increasing political turmoil, corruption, influence of criminals in politics, and the rise of money and muscle power in elections, the cases of scams, murders, etc., that the CBI dealt with increased in number as well as the scam amounts involved. Despite the lack of resources, the number of officers in the CBI has remained the same. In the last few years, the name of even the former director of CBI has come under controversy in the coal mine distribution scam. At present, about 182 such cases have been pending in court for 20 years. About 1,597 cases have been pending for 10 years.
With the passage of time, not only the politicians, pimps, and officials, but also the bribe givers, have become more and more clever. That’s why the CBI has to connect so many strings in collecting evidence of the railway recruitment scam. The hearing and legal action, punishment, or acquittal will be decided only after the investigation and evidence are produced in the court. But from the case registered in 2021, this serious fact came to the fore that no amount of land was given to Lalu Yadav’s family members immediately. For recruitment in the railway, two ordinary employees first took land in the name of themselves or any close ones. Then after a few years, land worth lakhs of rupees was donated to the members of the Lalu family, wife Rabri Devi, daughter Misa, Hema, etc. in charity or at a very low price. After the arrest of Lalu’s close aide Bhola Yadav and now the raids on the houses of Sunil Singh and others, the proceedings in the court will proceed with digital or other documents and any confession. Therefore, the argument of former CBI officials is correct that the Lalu family, being in power, has been adept at delaying such investigations. That’s why they feel that the BJP government and the Prime Minister are in a hurry to get the court’s punishment by speeding up the investigation by declaring a “decisive fight” against corruption. There is also a formula of defence that the leaders sitting in Opposition should make loud propaganda and the impression that they can come back to power soon. This means officers have to be careful. After all, most of the officers in the CBI come on deputation from the states. Union minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh had admitted in Parliament that the CBI has 5,944 sanctioned posts and 1,329 are lying vacant. The government called for names from the states and the central police force, which could be placed after the approval of the Public Service Commission. On the other hand, most of the states do not have single-party governments. The result is that eight non-BJP-ruled governments have imposed 10 restrictions on the CBI from coming to their area because their own ministers or families, or officials are being registered for being implicated in economic crimes.
However, this is not the only situation for the Lalu family. The CBI and Enforcement Directorate can continue the investigation of serious cases related to leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Chidambaram and his son Karthik, Hemant Soren family, Uddhav Thackeray, Sanjay Raut, Sharad Pawar family, Nawab Malik, Amit Deshmukh, Satyendar Jain. A lot of waiting will have to be done for justice, i.e., the verdict of punishment or innocence from the investigation and the court process. Therefore, the recommendation of many politicians and legalists should be accepted that special courts should be set up to try corruption or other types of offences related to political leaders and decide after a time-bound regular hearing.
On the other hand, like the FBI of America, the entire structure, rules, etc. of CBI should be made more effective. There is a need to bring police officers only from the states and change the ghastly law of 1960-70 empowering the Delhi Police.
Politicians who are proven innocent will get relief and punished leaders will be restrained from contesting elections to Parliament or Vidhan Sabha and coming to power.
The author is editorial director of ITV Network India News and Dainik Aaj Samaj.


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Eight Mbale hospital staff held in State House raid

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The State House Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) in liaison with Police in Mbale City have arrested eight staff of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital over corruption and mismanagement of patients.

The arrest of the officials followed a two-week investigation by the Monitor and NTV Uganda, subsidiaries of Nation Media Group, into impropriety at the region’s largest public health facility.

The investigation unearthed a cartel involving some doctors, nurses, clinicians, and administrative support staff at the blood bank, guards, and other attendants that work together with private clinics near the hospital.

 The Mbale City Police Commander, Mr Samuel Abbedi Aliria, said those arrested will soon be taken to court.

“Most of the arrested are hospital staff for corruption and mismanagement of patients. They are currently detained at Mbale city Central police station,” he said.

The Monitor has learnt that about 20 people were amputated at the hospital after being mismanaged by either quacks or junior medical workers.

Mr Abbedi said as a result of beefing up security in the hospital, police managed to arrest a hawker, who has been stealing mobile phones from caretakers and patients at the facility for long.

A source familiar with the investigations told this newspaper that they are digging into procurement, financial and human resource management systems of the hospital that have led to smuggling patients from the facility to private clinics.

Dr Ayella Ataro, the assistant director of the State House Health Monitoring Unit, said they are following up the public outcry about the poor service delivery in the hospital.

 “Patients have fallen prey to these extortion and bribery syndicates, the effect on some of them is profoundly long-lasting,” Dr Ataro said.

 A 20-year-old boy, who requested not to be named,  said he was admitted to the hospital last December following a motorcycle accident that left him with a compound fracture.

After a few days at the hospital where he was barely attended to, he says he was sneaked out of the facility by unknown people to a private clinic in Nkoma Ward, Northern Division.

 At the clinic, the boy immediately underwent an x-ray and an operation that included clamping his bones, which cost Shs1.5m. Three months after the operation, the bone clamps snapped and his injuries degenerated.

 Scans conducted later showed the first operation was poorly conducted. For a new corrective operation, he required Shs4.5m which he doesn’t have.

The Mbale Resident City Commissioner, Mr Ahamada Washaki, said the intervention by  State House has changed the situation in the hospital.

Dr Warren Namara, the Executive Director of the State House Health Monitoring Unit, said they will leave no stone unturned.

“We are investigating a number of things and we have discovered a lot,” Dr Namara said.

Eight Mbale hospital staff

The State House Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) in liaison with Police in Mbale City have arrested eight staff of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital over corruption and mismanagement of patients.

The arrest of the officials followed a two-week investigation by Daily Monitor and NTV Uganda, subsidiaries of Nation Media Group, into impropriety at the region’s largest public health facility.

The investigation unearthed a cartel involving some doctors, nurses, clinicians, and administrative support staff at the blood bank, guards, and other attendants that work together with private clinics near the hospital.

 The Mbale City Police Commander, Mr Samuel Abbedi Aliria, said those arrested will soon be taken to court.

“Most of the arrested  are hospital staff for corruption and mismanagement of patients. They are currently detained at Mbale city Central police station,” he said.

Daily Monitor has learnt that about 20 people were amputated at the hospital after being mismanaged by either quacks or junior medical workers.

Mr Abbedi said as a result of beefing up security in the hospital, police managed to arrest a hawker, who has been stealing mobile phones from caretakers and patients at the facility for long.

A source familiar with the investigations told this newspaper that they are digging into procurement, financial and human resource management systems of the hospital that have led to smuggling patients from the facility to private clinics.

Dr Ayella Ataro, the assistant director of the State House Health Monitoring Unit, said they are following up the public outcry about the poor service delivery in the hospital.

 “Patients have fallen prey to these extortion and bribery syndicates, the effect on some of them is profoundly long-lasting,” Dr Ataro said.

 A 20-year-old boy, who requested not to be named,  said he was admitted to the hospital last December following a motorcycle accident that left him with a compound fracture.

After a few days at the hospital where he was barely attended to, he says he was sneaked out of the facility by unknown people to a private clinic in Nkoma Ward, Northern Division.

 At the clinic, the boy immediately underwent an x-ray and an operation that included clamping his bones, which cost Shs1.5m. Three months after the operation, the bone clamps snapped and his injuries degenerated.

 Scans conducted later showed the first operation was poorly conducted. For a new corrective operation, he required Shs4.5m which he doesn’t have.

The Mbale Resident City Commissioner, Mr Ahamada Washaki, said the intervention by  State House has changed the situation in the hospital.

Dr Warren Namara, the Executive Director of the State House Health Monitoring Unit, said they will leave no stone unturned.

“We are investigating a number of things and we have discovered a lot,” Dr Namara said.


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For Iranian protesters, a digital double-edged sword

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Iran’s anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody, have gone viral, and then some.

The internet is an essential tool for these demonstrators. For more than a week, millions have shared wrenching videos and vivid online images of confrontations between protesters and Iranian authorities.

They’ve topped news broadcasts and ricocheted across the globe.

The hard-line government in Tehran has deployed digital trackers and waged an all-out media war against protesters and their supporters — a strategy it used in 2019 to quash protests in just three days. Back then, authorities took control of the internet and unleashed a violent crackdown that resulted in thousands of arrests and as many as 1,500 deaths.

This time is different. The protests are well into their second week and show little sign of waning.

They began Sept. 16 after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who allegedly had violated the country’s conservative dress code, and quickly tapped into wider discontent with government corruption and declining living standards. Officials say 41 people have been killed, including demonstrators and police, and 1,200 arrested, while rights groups claim much higher figures.

A key reason protesters have been able to keep the demonstrations going and maintain the world’s attention: They were ready to do battle in cyberspace.

“In 2019, everybody was shocked authorities could impose a massive internet shutdown, but this time many predicted it would happen,” said Mahbod, a 27-year-old student at Tehran’s Sharif University. Like others interviewed, he gave only his first name for fear of reprisals.

Hackers and tech experts worldwide have weighed in to help cyber-savvy activists organize, fight back and dominate in the digital domain — a key battleground that Iran’s leadership, more than ever, appears unable to control.

Hours after the protests began, internet monitor Netblocks reported a 33% loss in connectivity in Tehran, which later spread to other cities and provinces across Iran.

But activists quickly outmaneuvered the government, turning to Instagram and WhatsApp — some of the few social media sites still functioning — to call for demonstrations or set up meeting points. They started a hashtag under the Persian version of #Mahsa_Amini that was retweeted by some 30 million people despite the shutdown. It has reached more than 100 million users, making it the most retweeted hashtag in Twitter’s history, Iranian opposition outlets say.

Then on Wednesday, the government restricted access to most social media, curtailing it sharply between 4 p.m. and approximately 1 a.m., when most protests take place. Apple and Google Play stores are blocked to prevent people from installing Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps they could use to circumvent surveillance.

Still, Mahbod’s more tech-inclined friends at university share information on which software and settings to use; it’s not uncommon for people to have four or five different programs to switch between depending on the day and area.

“The VPNs we use are much more complex than they were a few years ago,” said Mehdi, a 39-year-old self-described computer geek from Tehran. “Cheap ones you need to switch every three or four days, but the more expensive ones with subscriptions work well.”

Help has also come from outside Iran’s borders. The tech collective Anonymous has hacked government websites, including that of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On Sunday, it doxxed members of parliament, releasing lawmakers’ phone numbers and other data.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department on Friday eased sanctions by authorizing technology companies to offer “secure, outside platforms and services” to Iranian users.

“As courageous Iranians take to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, the United States is redoubling its support for the free flow of information to the Iranian people,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.

“With these changes, we are helping the Iranian people be better equipped to counter the government’s efforts to surveil and censor them,” the statement added.

Hours later, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said that the Starlink satellite system, which relies on a low-Earth-orbit satellite network to offer broadband internet, was now activated in Iran.

Tehran soon blocked access to the Starlink website, and dummy activation links containing malware were planted in the Iranian Twittersphere in an apparent attempt to lure anti-government protesters.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Saturday said that by loosening communication-related sanctions but keeping up others, “America is seeking to advance its own goals against Iran with hypocrisy.”

He added that “attempts at violating the Iranian sovereignty will not go unanswered.”

Iranian tech experts working abroad have also joined the fray. Kooshiar Azimian, who heads the U.S.-based biotech company 310.ai and is a former Facebook engineer, regularly gives updates on his Instagram page on the latest method for accessing internet service in Iran.

Another U.S.-based Iranian computer scientist, Moshfegh Hamedani, has posted information on Twitter on how to bypass website filtering, and excoriated programmers working with the government.

A growing chorus of government officials are threatening punishment for those who take part in the unrest.

Iran’s hard-line judicial chief, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, said in a visit to police headquarters this week that protesters, whom he described as rioters, were “the foot soldiers of the enemies of the Islamic Republic.” Echoing previous harsh statements by President Ebrahim Raisi, he declared that those who defy authorities would be shown “no leniency.”

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment tweeted that the government wanted to restrict internet access “so it can repress people in the dark.”

The best way the United States and other Western allies can help Iranians, he wrote, is to keep the Iranian government from blocking access to the internet. Protesters’ best hope of effecting change, Sadjadpour said, lies in “connecting with one another and the outside world.”

Special correspondent Khazani reported from Tehran and Times staff writer Bulos from Beirut.


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Man jailed for violating sex offender conditions of parole – The Morgan Messenger

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West Virginia State Police troopers have jailed a Berkeley Springs man on charges that he violated the requirements of his sec offender registry here.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, Roy Rankin Jr., 36, of Rankin Lane was arrested on a warrant issued September 22 for failing to register or update information with the West Virginia Sex Offender Registry.

Sgt. J.D See reported that the State Police had been contacted in July by Rankin’s parole officer, who asked that Rankin’s cell phone be examined.

At that time, Rankin was on parole for a Pennsylvania conviction in 2019 for indecent assault and corruption of minors. The sex offender registry specifies that Rankin’s victim was a female under the age of 5, and that Rankin served three months in prison and given five years’ probation.

Sgt. See reported that Rankin’s parole has special conditions, including that he was not to purchase or use any explicit materials or devices, that he was not permitted to use any computer or device with internet access without authorization of his parole officer, and that he must report any internet access or accounts to the parole officer.

Upon examining the SIM card in Rankin’s cell phone, the West Virginia State Police found the device contained instant messages, social media accounts, web bookmarks and web internet history, plus data files from more than 100,000 images, 5,158 videos and texts, plus an email address.

Police reportedly found no pornographic images or evidence of child pornography but did find photos of young girls and videos of young girls dancing.

Rankin’s sex offender registry information had not been updated to reflect his new cell phone number or his email address.

Rankin was jailed at the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $20,000 cash or surety bond.




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