Gauri Lankesh murder: Sensational disclosure by accused, says cops offered Rs 25 lakh to confess to murder

In a sensational disclosure, a suspect accused in Gauri Lankesh murder case has alleged that the Karnataka police offered him Rs 25 lakh to confess and admit that he had killed the activist-journalist last year. Another suspect claimed that the police forced him to accept the charges by threatening his family.

Parashuram Waghmare, one of the alleged shooters, while being taken to court, told NDTV that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) offered him Rs 25 lakh to accept the crime. Another suspect Manohar Edave denied his involvement in the case and said that the police threatened to incriminate his family and friends unless he confessed to the murder.

Waghmare and Edave are among 12 people arrested in connection with the murder of journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh.

Lankesh, a fierce critic of the right-wing politics, was murdered outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on 5 September 2017. In June 2018, the SIT said that Parashuram Waghmore confessed to the murder and alleged that he was told to kill someone to save his religion, and mentioned that he did not know who the victim was.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad took custody of two accused this month arrested for Lankesh murder in order to interrogate them in connection with the alleged plot to conduct disruptive activities in Maharashtra.

Last month, Maharashtra police Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested three members of a suspected right-wing Hindutva outfit and seized a huge cache of weapons and explosives. Sudhanwa Gondhalekar, one of the arrested men reportedly confessed to his role in the murder of Lankesh as well as rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

It has been alleged that the arrested men have ties with radical Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha which was founded by ‘hypnotherapist’ Jayant Balaji Athavale in 1999.

Source: Times Now

PM Narendra Modi gets UN’s ‘Champions of the Earth’ award

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honour, bestowed upon five other individuals and organisations, for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022.

Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers have been recognised with the Champions of the Earth Award, the UN’s highest environmental honour.

“This years’ laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times,” the UN Environment Programme said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, President of France and Modi have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.

Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy.

Source: Hindu Business Line

Pakistan rakes up RSS, Yogi Adityanath, NRC to attack India at UN

A day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj sharply criticized Islamabad over its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations Saad Warraich on Sunday trained guns at RSS and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to allege that there was no room for dissent in “illiberal India of today”.

Exercising the Right of Reply, Warraich accused the RSS, BJP’s ideological mentor, of supporting the spread of fascism through its centres.

“The breeding ground of terrorism in our region is the RSS centres of Fascism. The claims of religious superiority are perpetrated through straight patronage all across India,” the Pakistan envoy said. He also said that the face of the largest Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was an unabashed Hindu extremist who openly advocated religious superiority of Hindus.

“Members of India’s minorities, including Christians and Muslims, are publically lynched at the hands of Hindus elites, where an unabashed Hindu extremist Yogi Adityanath, who openly supports the superiority of the Hindus, serves as the face of the largest Indian state Uttar Pradesh,” Warraich said.

Without naming BJP chief Amit Shah, Warraich said several Bengalis in Assam had suddenly become “homeless” and “have been called termites by a prominent Indian leader”. “For a country where Right to citizenship to Bengalis in Assam is being arbitrarily rescinded and who have suddenly been made stateless and have been called ‘termites’ by a prominent Indian leader, where churches and mosques are torched, is surely not qualified to give sermons to others,” he retorted sharply.

Warraich’s response came after India’s First Secretary in Permanent Mission of India to UN Eenam Gambhir denounced Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s allegation that New Delhi was behind the 2014 Peshawar terror attack as “outrageous”.

Exercising the Right to Reply at the UNGA, Gambhir said, “Let me recollect for Pakistan’s new government, the out-pouring of sorrow and pain in India that followed the massacre of innocent school children. India’s parliament had expressed solidarity while paying respect to the memory of those killed. Schools all over India had observed two minutes silence in their memory.”

On Pakistan’s claim of fighting terrorism, India asked the neighbouring country if it could deny the fact that was the host and patron of 132 of the UN-designated terrorists and 22 terrorist entities under the 1267 and the 1988 UN Security Council sanctions regime. “Will Pakistan deny that UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed enjoys a free run inside Pakistan, spews venom & sets up candidates for electoral offices?” Gambhir said.

Source: Indian Express

Rahul Gandhi says Modi Govt targeted official who raised objections on Rafale deal

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the Modi government for reportedly targeting a Defence ministry official who allegedly raised “objections” over the price of the Rafale jets.

He took to Twitter to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi with a poem in Hindi alleging that he gave benefits to “crony capitalists” at the cost of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal.

Gandhi also alleged that the officer who raised questions over the deal was penalized, while those who sided with the government were rewarded. He tagged a media report that alleged that the Defence ministry official who raised objections over the price of the Rafale jets “proceeded” on a month’s leave and the 36-Rafale deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council thereafter.

Citing the same media report, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, claimed that the Modi government “sent on leave the ‘whistleblower”, who questioned the loss to the state exchequer “by paying 300% extra for 36 Rafale”.

He also alleged that a senior officer, who overruled the official who raised questions over the Rafale jets pricing, was made a member of UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). “Perks of pleasing Modi govt cover corruption tracks,” he claimed.

The Rafale deal controversy took a new turn last week after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” in selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance Defence as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.

Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.

Congress leader Jaipal Reddy on Thursday alleged that French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.

“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.

Even as the Congress steps up its attack on the government, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar told a Marathi news channel that people do not doubt PM Modi’s intentions and that the opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jet made no sense.

BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar’s statement and tweeted, “I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature.” He tagged the Congress president in his tweet.

Home minister Rajnath Singh asked Congress leaders to advise their chief against using “derogatory” language to target the PM, an apparent reference to Gandhi’s “chor” (thief) jibe at PM Modi in his tweet. “It is not Rafale. It is Ra-fail (Rahul-fail). He will be a failure. Rahul Gandhi is trying to mislead the people on the issue,” Singh said.

Source: Financial Chronicle

 

Delhi HC Sets Aside Order Restricting Cobrapost from Publishing Sting Operation

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday set aside an order restraining the web portal Cobrapost from making public its documentary, which alleged that various media houses have indulged in unethical practices like paid news, saying that public figures and institutions have to fulfil a high threshold to seek injunctive relief in respect of alleged libel or defamation.

A bench of Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and A.K. Chawla said the ex-parte injunction, granted on the plea of Dainik Bhaskar Corporation Ltd, to subsist during the entirety of the pendency of the suit, was unjustified.

“Unless it is demonstrated at the threshold that the offending content is malicious or palpably false, an injunction and that too an ex-parte one, without recording any reasons should not be given,” it said.

However, the bench remanded the matter back to the single judge to consider the question of grant of interim relief on the basis of the pleadings and contentions of the parties.

It asked the parties to be present before the single judge on October 3 and made it clear that the observations made in the today’s decision do not in any manner reflect on the merits of the facts which are yet to be decided by the single judge.

The bench said the consequence of not following established rules and principles would be that the courts would unwittingly, through their orders, stifle public debate.

“If courts are to routinely stifle debate, what cannot be done by law by the State can be achieved indirectly without satisfying exacting constitutional standards that permit infractions on the valuable right to freedom of speech,” it said.

The court said the new age media, especially the electronic media and internet, posts greater challenges and the valuable right of free speech should not be diluted in the process.

“The salutary and established principle in issues that concerned free speech are that public figures and public institutions have to fulfil a very high threshold to seek injunctive relief in respect of alleged libel or defamation,” it said.

The single judge had on May 24 restrained Cobrapost from making public its documentary, titled ‘operating 136: Part II’, on Dainik Bhaskar’s plea.

In its appeal before the division bench, Cobrapost, operated by non-profit organisation Forum for Media and Literature, had said it was a matter of freedom of speech and the single judge had granted ex-parte injunction and stayed the documentary mechanically.

Dainik Bhaskar had argued before the single judge that if released, the documentary would cause irreparable loss and injury to its reputation.

The portal had, however, released the documentary, but without any reference to Dainik Bhaskar.

While passing the interim injunction order, the single judge had issued summons to the Forum for Media and Literature and others.

Cobrapost had carried a story titled “Operation 136: Part I” on 17 media houses and alleged malpractices, including paid news, peddling of communal agenda and acceptance of black currency. It was released on March 26.

Source: The Wire

Whose Pockets Are Being Filled? Rahul Gandhi Questions PM Modi On Soaring Fuel Prices

Rewa (Madhya Pradesh): Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the soaring fuel prices and asked “whose pockets are being filled” because of this.

He also attacked the Modi government, once again, over the Rafale fighter plane deal before wrapping up his two-day visit to the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

“Crude oil prices were 140 dollar per barrel in international market during the UPA regime. These rates have come down to 70 dollars (in global market) now. But, the prices of petrol and diesel in India have been going up,” Gandhi told a gathering at Baikunthpur of Rewa district.

He went on to ask, “Whose pockets are being filled with high prices? Why is the prime minister not speaking on price rise of petrol and diesel?”

Taking a dig at the prime minister, Gandhi said, “Narendra Modi used to ask the people (during his speeches) whether they are getting petrol at Rs 50 now. Yes, the people are getting half-a-litre petrol in Rs 50 now.”

The Congress leader said the Modi government has ignored the interests of farmers but helped a small group of industrialists by waiving loans amounting to nearly Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

Turning to the Rafale figher issue, he said during the UPA rule, the contract related to the deal was given to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) so that it could help create jobs.

“But the Modi government gave this deal to industrialist Anil Ambani and hiked the planes procurement price,” Gandhi alleged.

“When we asked about the price, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied that there was a secret clause. But, French President said that there is no such secret pact,” he charged.

He alleged that French President has said that their government had no option because the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani”s name. Gandhi claimed that Ambani had not manufactured even a single aircraft but was awarded a contract of Rs 30,000-crore after “snatching” the work from HAL.

Ambani has already rejected Rahul Gandhi’s allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in the Rafale- manufacturer French company Dassault picking up his company as a local partner.

He had written to Gandhi on December 12, 2017, refuting allegations of his Reliance Group lacking experience to get the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Ambani had written that Reliance Defence has the largest shipyard in the private sector at Pipavav in Gujarat and is currently building five Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (NOPVs) for the Indian Navy and 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard.

Congress president also alleged that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had helped industrialist Vijay Mallya in escaping from the country after defaulting on loans to the tune of thousands of crores but Modi doesn’t utter a word.

Gandhi also attacked the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, saying the roads in the state are full of potholes but Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan claims that they are better than those in the United States.

“As Shivraj comes on the stage (at a public meeting), even a five-year-old child says that a ‘Ghoshana Machine’ (a machine of announcements) has come. No work on ground only announcements, he said.

He said that the teachers in Madhya Pradesh in schools are hired on contract, which gives no security to their future.

Alleging rampant corruption in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress president said Chouhan must answer about the Vyapam scam and the e-tendering scam.

He also promised to implement the Land Acquisition Act with rates four times more than the market costs.

“Madhya Pradesh only pays twice the land prices,” Gandhi said.

Earlier in the day, a member of erstwhile royal family of Rewa Pushparaj Singh joined the Congress in the presence of Gandhi and other leaders.

He was a minister during the Congress regime in the state but had joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2008. Singh’s son Divyaraj Singh is BJP MLA from Sirmour assembly seat.

Gandhi reached Chitrakoot (Satna district) from Allahabad by a helicopter on Thursday and visited the Kamta Nath temple where he performed ‘puja’.

The temple is located in the forested hills of Kamadgiri where, according to mythology, Lord Rama stayed during his exile.

Later on Thursday, he addressed two public meetings respectively at Chitrakoot and Satna besides holding a roadshow in Rewa city in the night.

On Friday, Gandhi addressed public meetings in four assembly constituencies of states Vindhya region including at Baikunthpur (Sirmour), Shahpur (Simaria), Lalgaon (Mangawan) and Chunari (Teothar).

After addressing the rally at Chunari, the Congress president left for Allahabad in a helicopter.

The 48-year-old Amethi MP was accompanied by Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath, state party campaign committee chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia and Leader of Opposition in MP Assembly Ajay Singh.

Source: PTI

Rafale deal: Reliance got contract first, Maharashtra Govt gave land 3 months later

When the storm broke out after the former French president Hollande’s interview, Dassault Aviation which manufactures the Rafale aircraft stated that it selected Reliance Defence not under the pressure from the Indian government but because this company was registered under the Corporate Affairs Ministry of India and it had land in Nagpur which was closer to the runway.

But according to the information which has been revealed, the day when PM Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft from France, that is on April 10, 2015, the Reliance Defence did not have any land at that time.

After the announcement of the Rafale deal on April 10, 2015, Reliance Defence gave a presentation to the Maharashtra government on June 2015 and demanded 289 acres of land in Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport SEZ area in Nagpur.

On August 28, 2015, the formal land allotment ceremony took place, during which Anil Ambani had announced that he would invest ₹6,500 crores in a large Greenfield Aerospace Equipment Manufacturing Centre near Nagpur. It was told that at this center, which would house Anil Ambani’s new fledgling company Reliance Defence Fixed Wing Aircraft, aero-structures for commercial transport aircraft and helicopters, which can be used in both defence and commercial sectors, will be built.

It was also informed that at the same center, the components required for providing the after-sales service of the aircraft would also be manufactured.Now, Dassault Aviation’s argument that one of the reasons behind choosing Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner was the availability of land falls through.It is significant to recall the timeline of the developments in this deal:

    • On April 10, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris that India will buy 36 Rafael fighter aircraft from France
    • Reliance Defence had come into existence only 12 days before this announcement
    • On April 13, 2015, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar declares on Doordarshan that this deal has been done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has supported it
    • In June 2015, Reliance Defence gives a presentation to the Maharashtra government and asks for the land
    • On August 28, 2015, after just 10 weeks, Maharashtra Government allots 289 acres of land to Reliance
    • On September 23, 2016, the agreement to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft between India and France is signed
    • On October 3, 2016, the joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation,the company that manufactures Rafale is announced

Once Anil Ambani’s firm got the land, Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, arrived in India and a programme was held in Nagpur during which Trappier laid the foundation stone of this joint factory. Apart from Trappier and Anil Ambani, the then French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and the then French Ambassador to India Alexandre Zeigler attended this function.

On this occasion, Anil Ambani said that it (the deal and establishing the factory) would not have been possible without the constant support and help of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The most interesting thing about this entire event is that when India entered into a deal for buying 36 Rafale fighters from France in fly-away state, then why was the joint venture between Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence created?

When the aircraft was not to be manufactured in India then why was the slogan ‘Make in India’ so harped about in this deal?

In fact, the entire matter seems to be going beyond these 36 Rafale aircraft.

After the sensational statement by Francois Hollande and the furor it created, explanations and justifications have been coming in from all corners and the recent clarification was given by the law minister on Saturday, September 22, that “36 aircraft are coming from France, rest will be manufactured here in India”.

What can be understood from this statement? That the deal is not for 36 aircraft but for more than that? Or has it been decided that in the future too, the purchase of new aircraft will be through this new joint venture between Reliance Defence and Dassault Aviation?

Source: National Herald

Open letter from Flynn Remedios to Pratik Sinha of Altnews regarding a one-sided, factually incorrect story

(This email was sent to us by Flynn Remedios – a regular contributor to IndiaScoops.com and our social media expert. We have published it as is)

To

The Editor & Publisher

AltNews.in

 

To

Pratik Sinha

Altnews.in

Dear Pratik,

I am a daily reader of your esteemed website Altnews.in and have great respect and regard for your investigative reporting which has helped unravel and bust several instances of fake news and fake propaganda.

However, I never expected that “one day” I would become a “victim” of your investigative reporting, without you bothering to get any clarification from my end or taking/giving me adequate time to respond to your queries, even if you tried to contact me via any of my social media profiles.

In fact, I had contacted you via your Facebook profile some time ago and requested you to share your contact number as I wanted to discuss a certain story. If I remember correctly – my memory fails me at times as I am getting ‘old’, we even did speak on phone approximately about a year ago.

I am shocked at your story which makes incorrect, wild and highly defamatory allegations against me which have no connection or context with the current situation at hand – the publication of certain articles on a website IndiaScoops.com with which I am editorially connected though not on a daily or regular basis.

Your allegations and references are totally one-sided and biased. Every statement and allegation is totally biased and one-sided and in the interest of justice, I wish and request you to set the record straight and do justice to me.

I have been a journalist for the last 26-28 years. I first started writing for The Daily (during Rajiv Bajaj’s time) and for The Blitz (during Russi Karanjia’s time) as a freelancer, in or around the 1990s, where I covered Politics, Bollywood and City News.

I do not want you to spend your precious time reading my entire bio data, but I have written (as a freelancer or retainer) for Business India, Financial Express, Business Standard etc., on subjects like Information Tech and Finance and publications like Afternoon, Current (Magazine), Mid-day, etc., during 1990 to 1993. I joined Gentleman Magazine and Business Computer (an Indian Express publication) as an employee in 1993-4, before the Express group split into Indian Express and The New Indian Express. I was part of the Nusli Wadia (he was a director on board) core team for a short while.

I covered the Stock Markets for The Asian Age and also did general reporting. I worked (full-time as an employee) with The Sunday Observer, The Indian Express, The Economic Times, Showtime and Island (Magna Group) for varying periods of time. I was associated with The Stock Exchange, Mumbai as an Information Technology analyst and IT auditor and also wrote for the Stock Exchange‘s in-house publications. The concerned people are long retired and some of them may have passed away. This was in 2001-2003.

I have co-authored or ghost written or helped edit/ sub books on IT (C, C++, Network Security) written by the very famous internet guru the late Vijay Mukhi, during 1993-96, under whom I learnt programming languages like C, C++, Assembly (language) etc. I was part of the initial IT industry movement in India in the 1990-1999 with stalwarts like the late Dewang Mehta, Vijay Mukhi, Raj Saraf (founder owner of Zenith Computers) and Harish Mehta (founder of formerly Onward Novell). Due to my association with Vijay Mukhi for 4-6 years, I mastered computers and computer networking and also hacking. I have assisted the Mumbai Cyber Crime cell in 2001 and the IPS College at Hyderabad where I was a visiting lecturer on hacking techniques.

I have also lectured at IIM Ahmedabad on hacking. This can be verified by the news links prominently published on India Today, Times of India, Wired Magazine etc. In 2000-1, I was an adviser to the Maharashtra government on Cyber Crime when most people in India did not know what it was.

I was part of the tech consulting team when the Information Technology Act was first formulated. I am enclosing some links below to prove my claims. Since you have spent so much space on running me down, I think it is just fair that you publish my achievements and detailed tech knowledge as well, or else, I will consider it a fit case for defamation. The articles were published below in 2001. I was a columnist for several publications in 1999 and 2001 on Tech subjects. Some of the links are below:

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/crime/story/20010827-mumbai-police-catch-two-hackers-boast-internet-is-no-longer-a-safe-haven-for-criminals-774065-2001-08-27

https://www.wired.com/2001/07/india-hackers-scared-straight/

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Police-used-third-degree-methods-on-hackers/articleshow/97102008.cms

I was a techno-legal consultant and a practicing advocate as well, for a short while.

However due to personal reasons, I returned my sanad (license to practice issued by the Bar Council)  and stopped practicing law. I still do non-lit work, like drafting or editing and sub-editing plaints and legal notices for several senior counsel in Mumbai.

Unfortunately, most of the news links prior to 2003-5 are no longer online and many of the other websites are non-functional and news portals like The Times of India, The Economic Times, Indian Express, etc., have removed or archived older articles.

I worked with Rahul Mahajan (not officially his company on paper) in a company India Online Network Ltd as vice president projects, for a short while, which can be proved by the article here published in 2001.

http://www.networkmagazineindia.com/200109/case1.htm

I have also worked with the late Pramod Mahajan for a short while

I have worked with the Reliance Group as a freelance consultant, when Shri Dhriubhani Ambani was heading the company in the early 1990s on some very special projects.

The article on Rafale which is at the centre of the storm is based on voice recordings of the concerned persons. Indiascoops.com has proof to prove their claims. And the editor Megha Chaudhary can give you more details on this. I partially worked on this article which was co-authored by 3 people.

I am replying to your individual claims and allegations individually as below: My replies are in red and bold / italics below the text of your story published on Altnews.in.

I kindly request you to publish this clarification as is, since you have given so much space to accusing an otherwise simple, ordinary and aging ‘journalist and publicist’.

The text of the Altnews.in article is reproduced below: 

IndiaScoops is a website that recently came under the scanner after it published a report which claimed that 35 lakh rupees had been spent by the PMO for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s yoga video and photoshoot on International Yoga Day on June 21. An RTI report had subsequently confirmed that this claim is false. This false report was shared by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor among others critical of PM Modi.

The story clearly mentions that it was based on hearsay and speculations made by a PMO source on the telephone. It does not claim to be gospel truth. Also the article clearly states that the alleged amount of Rs 35 lakh was not necessarily spent on shooting the video, but was all inclusive of promotion of the video on various TV channels that ran it prominently. I am not connected to indiascoops.com on a daily basis, though I am associated with them as I handle social media for them and also occasionally write for them on certain subjects. The website indiascoops.com is managed by an independent team of writers, of whom I am one of the contributors and founding members.

This report was refuted by the Government which emphatically stated that it is untrue. On September 24, another article by IndiaScoops was shared by Congress social media head Divya Spandana who tweeted a link according to which ‘two top technical heads at Dassault Aviation’ had spoken to IndiaScoops and claimed that “the entire technical staff team at Dassault Aviation were unhappy with the move to drop the Indian PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd(HAL) and go ahead with Reliance Defence Ltd.”

This article by IndiaScoops served as ammunition for the opposition. Many verified handles on Twitter had shared the link to this article in the midst of the Rafale controversy.

Since IndiaScoops is a website that has been caught spreading fake news earlier, Alt News decided to investigate the origin of the website and the entity behind its operation. What we found was a complex maze of dubious websites and user accounts with shadowy operations.

I am not the right person to defend Indiascoops.com and you should contact the editor, but since I write for them and also handle their social media, in all fairness before you state that indiascoops.com has been caught spreading fake news, please show me one fake article. There may be unverified news which has been clearly stated so in the articles, but no articles are fake to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Alt News investigates

On Twitter, using a date filter, we found that the first tweets to the IndiaScoops website were from the Twitter account @IndiaScribesTV. These dated back to the first week of May this year. We checked this Twitter account and found that it is the account of a website named IndiaScribes.

On opening the website, we found that the two websites, IndiaScoops and IndiaScribes were near-identical in their format and user interface, suggesting that the two websites are run by the same entity.

The IndiaScribes website mentions one Flynn Remedios as the editor and publisher. The website is not fully functional. Clicking on the ‘About Us’ section results in a ‘404-file not found’ error.

I cannot afford to maintain IndiaScribes.com since I have no funds and no sponsors and hence it is non-functional or partially functional.

Alt News found that the Facebook page of IndiaScoops started off as a fan page of model and actor Arshi Khan. It was later renamed multiple times. This has been earlier revealed by OpIndia.com. At the time of writing, the page had been deleted.

The page is not deleted. It was mass-reported by bhakts and BJP trolls in an organised and concerted campaign on 25 and 26 Sept and hence has been unpublished by Facebook. I have appealed the decision of FB to unpublish my page – which I handle on their behalf, based on fake reporting by paid trolls belonging to one particular political party and I am awaiting the appeal process.

I used to handle PR, publicity and other activities for Arshi Khan till March 2018 to augment my income. The page was an Arshi Khan Bigg Boss fan page when she was in Bigg Boss and I sold it to indiascoops.com in May 2018, after it was no longer required after the show was over. Besides Arshi Khan created a new page and got it verified and wanted to handle it herself.  This is not a crime in any way and is a common practice in the social media circuit. 

We also looked at all those who were sharing links to IndiaScoops articles on various social media platforms, and came across a group on Facebook called Mumbaiwalla. We found that here too, a majority of the posts were by a Facebook user, Flynn Remedios.

We also came across a domain name themumbaiwalla.com on DomainBigData and found that it is registered in the name of Flynn Remedios. Additionally, the phone number mentioned on the Mumbaiwalla Facebook page too is registered in the name of Flynn Remedios according to Truecaller.

Furthermore, we also found that the same phone number has been shared by another Twitter account called IndyaNewz.

The said number used to belong to me till about 3 years ago. It now has been re-cycled by the operator and belongs to someone else.

Moreover, we discovered that one of the earliest tweets on the IndiaScribes account pointed to the IndyaNewz website. This website is no longer operational. We searched the details of this website on domainbigdata.com which is a repository of historical information for different domain names. Here, we found that IndyaNewz is also registered in the name of Flynn Remedios.

This helped establish the fact that Flynn Remedios is the person who is running the IndiaScoops website.

I have already stated above that I handle social media and occasionally write for indiascoops.com and am part of the founding team.

Who is Flynn Remedios

According to this profile on Facebook, Remedios is a journalist, editor, social media guru and managing editor/publisher of IndiaScribes. We searched for Flynn Remedios on Twitter and came across an account where he again describes himself as the editor of IndiaScribes. We found that this account is not active: the last tweet is of January 10, 2018.

We then searched for Flynn Remedios on the professional networking site LinkedIn and found that there were four profiles by the name.

Intriguingly, we did not come across a single photograph of this person. The only photographs we found on his name were of female models and actors.

A tangled web of dubious portals

One of his LinkedIn profiles refers to his professional history and shows that he was also managing editor of multiple websites like IndyaWire, IndiaNewsInfo and IndiaNewsNet among others. Alt News found that these websites are no longer functional.

Just because they (the websites) feature Bollywood gossip and bikini images which are used by all top film and news portals, why are they dubious portals. Websites which are operated by me individually do mention my name and contact email id. Does that make them dubious? This is clear attempt at one-sided defamation without ascertaining the full truth. For your kind information, top news portals purchase images or give me a back link credit when using my images in their stories? Just because a subject does not appeal to you or is not your cup of tea, does it become dubious.

In one of his LinkedIn profiles, Remedios has been designated as the editor and CEO of Futuristic Media Network. This took us to a Blogger profile by the name of Futuristic Media Network. Here, we found a plethora of links to blogs which mostly deal with Bollywood gossip. Many of these blogs date back to 2007 and 2008. Intriguingly, we found articles from The Economic Times dating back to 1997 which were authored by Flynn Remedios. However, there is not a single verifiable social media account of this person that we came across.

This blog list took us to yet another website, Newz66, which is again operated by Flynn Remedios. This website too is no longer operational. The archived version can be accessed here. It mentions Remedios as the editor and publisher of Newz66.

Our research led us to conclude that all these questionable websites which have similar templates are being operated by a single entity, Flynn Remedios. These websites are full of sensational content. The titles of the articles published on these websites are click-bait in nature, there are no references to the claims made in the reports.

Is it a crime to publish gossip or filmy news in India? I have also been a film journalist in the past and also handle PR for artistes and Tv personalities (to augment my personal income as one cannot at all survive as a free lance journalist in India.) Is that a crime? You have used the word sensational content. Please clarify. Is publishing bikini images a crime? I am also a freelance photographer and do photo shoots –and publish them on my websites. Many models cannot pay for their photo shoots during their initial struggling days and also want to get noticed online. So please tell me if doing a bikini or glamour shoot and publishing a few images online, is in anyway a crime in India?  For your kind information, publications and media houses like the Times of India, India Today, Hungama.com etc and content providers and content aggregators  like Rediff, Santabanta.com, Yahoo and MSN pay the photographers huge amounts for such shoots. Is it illegal to do this, as has been implied in your article?

Sensationalism and fake news

All the websites operated by Flynn Remedios are replete with articles on Bollywood actors and models, apart from a few reports on politics. Many of the stories are make-believe; for example, on the IndiaScoops website, we found numerous ‘news reports’ on Flynn Remedios himself which make rather bizarre claims.

Why can’t I promote myself or my business as a PR, photographer and publicist? What bizarre claims have been made? Instead in my humble opinion, it is Altnews that is resorting to sensationalizing this story without waiting for a response from me.

Alt News spoke to actor Arshi Khan who confirmed that Remedios is not her publicist. “I am not associated with him in any way. He is a controversial person who keeps making false claims about me. He is neither my manager nor my PR agent.” On being asked as to why there are links to IndiaScribes on her Twitter account, she stated that she did not have a Twitter account when she first appeared on Bigg Boss, and that the account in her name was created and operated by Remedios without her knowledge. She later managed to retrieve her Twitter account from him.

I spoke to Arshi Khan and she has completely denied saying this. She told me she only said I no longer handle her PR and work, which is true. I have WhatsApp print screens to prove this. However, I still handle some legal issues for her. Just today I attended the court of The Competent Authority (Rent Act) at Mumbai (Konkan Division) to submit an application on Arshi Khan’s behalf. I am not handling her PR and work as a manager right now, due to certain issues which are privileged and private between us and hence I do not want to specify here. Besides, due to my health (I suffer from diabetes, asthma and other health problems) and my age, I am not able to run around as events and appearances for a celebrity need a younger person who can run around more.

Arshi Khan told me clearly that she has been misquoted by your website and she never said the above. Whatever the truth, I have mentioned my side of the story. I created and managed her Twitter account till Feb 2018, after which I mutually handed it over to her. The statement above that her Twitter account was managed without her knowledge was completely false. Since the last one year, I have not posted any news on Arshi Khan. I handled her PR when she was in the Bigg Boss house and for two months after that and all content published on her was with her explicit consent. We are in regular touch with each other and are good friends. She considers me as her father and I treat her like my daughter, because of our age difference.

This is hardly surprising, as Remedios had earlier claimed to be the agent of actor Rakhi Sawant, which was rubbished by the actor in 2011, “This Flynn guy had been calling me, posing as a journalist first and extracting information about my work, in the garb of taking my interviews. Later, when I learnt that he was incorrectly claiming to be my publicist, I stopped speaking to him and taking his calls. He has never been my publicist, but keeps issuing fake statements on my behalf”.

I worked with Rakhi Sawant in 2005 for about 2 months. She gave me a cheque from PNB and I can search and provide records of the same. After which I went to Delhi to work with Anil Ambani. If you may recollect the Ambani brothers were at war in 2005, for distribution or share holding of the business and I was part of the Anil Ambani team for a short while of about 2 months. Tony Jesudasan of Team Anil Ambani and Mrs Olga Tellis, former Editor of The Asian Age can confirm this if required.

 I also wrote a book titled “Brothers in Arms” on the battle between the two Ambani Brothers based on my experiences, where I interviewed several journalists covering the Ambani war at that time. This was covered in a column in the Deccan Herald or Deccan Chronicle – I don’t exactly remember, which I think has been removed or is no longer available online.

This was in June-July 2005, after the two Ambani brothers reconciled and came to a settlement. The book was never published as no publisher was willing to publish such a book that was not particularly favourable to the Ambani clan, particularly after they had sorted out their differences to a larger extent.

The above quote by Rakhi Sawant is dated 2011, six years after I ceased working with her and was given to the publication by a rival publicist who was later on handling Rakhi Sawant at that time in 2011, due to professional rivalry. I was with Rakhi Sawant for only 2 months as her PR, but that is a fact and I stand by it. I wonder how this is relevant to this article on Altnews, but without knowing the entire context you have used this old article or snippet – which in itself is one sided and does not have my side of the story –  about 8 years old to try and prove that I peddle fake news, which is editorially and ethically incorrect.

Remedios was also in the news in 2010 when Ritu Sachdeva, a Kannada model and actor had accused him of duping her of Rs.4 lakh with the promise that he would guarantee her a break on Bigg Boss. A police complaint had been filed against him.

This was in 2008. I shot, edited and released 4 music videos for Ritu Sachdev, which in my opinion was worth the money she paid me. She did not give me Rs 4 lakhs but had paid a much lesser amount.  The model filed a fake complaint and the matter was eventually dismissed by the court. I am not aware of any latest developments but this was 10 years ago.

Alt News also found that Flynn Remedios tries to contact young female models/actors on Facebook, and the common theme of these comments is that he is going to publish an article/interview of that person, and asks them to personally message him.

This is done my most journalists who do not have a contact number of a person they seek to interview. If I message a model on Facebook since I am a freelance journalist and PR, I am legitimately doing my business. Is that a crime?

Your article mentions legitimate business activity and tries to portray it as a crime or criminal activity.  You have published my private conversations on Facebook. That is a breach of privacy and if you could get these private FB conversations, why couldn’t you reach me or wait for a reasonable time frame till I could respond. I take strong objection to this tactic used by you / Altnews.

Alt News found that the extent of this dubious operation by Flynn Remedios which spans across several questionable websites, is staggering.

Specify the “dubious operation” in detail as alleged above? Don’t make wild, baseless allegations. Running Bollywood websites anonymously is not at all a dubious activity, as falsely alleged by you. I have a right to protect my privacy online. This is my fundamental right. Your own website Altnews only mentions a contact email id. Which I have also done on my sites.

Apart from Bollywood gossip, a new area of operation appears to be fake news around politics and policy. Considering the opacity with which the PMO operates and the secrecy around defence agreements, it is ludicrous and plain inconceivable that an obscure website like IndiaScoops would manage to access sensitive details concerning the money spent on either the Yoga video or the Rafale deal.

Dear Altnews, please wait, there is much more to come. I have worked with the Ambanis’, on some “special projects”, but due to certain professional ethics and my respect for the patriarch, the late Dhirubhai Ambani, I am not opening my mouth, which if I did, would shake the industry today.

It has been observed that public figures active on social media have repeatedly shared content from such obscure websites owing to confirmation bias, thus providing traction to these fraudulent websites.

Your article has gone to great lengths to defame me in this story and have published all material that is defamatory to me, without waiting for a clarification or digging deeper or publishing the positive aspects. I have sent you news links to prove my claims.

In the earlier years from 1990 to 2002, there were no websites or news portals for the publications I worked for, like there are today, or for that matter FB was also practically unknown, or in other cases my articles and content has been removed and hence my professional achievements are not online. My investigative journalism articles published in The BlitzThe Daily and Island Magazine before 1996 are hence not available online. This does not in any way mean that I have not been a full time mainline journalist and your article does not mention that at all.

Finally, I have worked with the Reliance Group on some very special projects, approximately 20 or 21 years ago (don’t remember exact dates) and again in 2005. If I open my mouth, the mountains will fall….

I have not responded to articles by websites like OpIndia, MyNation, RightLog etc., as these websites are BJP right-wing propaganda machines and are funded and supported by the BJP or pro-right or pro-BJP teams. The people who write for them are relative amateurs and have no idea of “what really lies beneath”.

I am not Anil Ambani’s enemy or anti-Modi or anti BJP – many of my friends are BJP local leaders in Mumbai, but as a writer and citizen of democratic India, I have a right to express my views.

Unfortunately, these above websites like OpIndia and MyNation are managed or owned by my former colleagues or professional contacts, with whom I have interacted with in the past.

It is a sad state of affairs in India today, where the world of journalists has got divided into two sides – BJP or right-wingers and left or liberal or Congress sympathizers.  Journalism in India has got split down the middle – either you are pro-Modi or anti-Modi.

There was a time in the late 1990s and even before the Modi era, when we as journalists never bothered which political party you sympathized with -that was totally personal and private

But a respectable and impartial website like Altnews.in, which I hold in great esteem runs such a one-sided, defamatory story is very hard to digest, dear Pratik?

Please, publish this email in totality, in the interest of justice, failing which I will be compelled to take appropriate legal action – both civil and criminal against the one-sided original story published by Altnews, that is completely and factually incorrect and makes wild allegations and insinuations, based on coincidences and conjecture.

Thanking you

Flynn Remedios

HAL Lost Rafale Deal as it Quoted ‘257 Man-hours’ For Job Dassault Said Could be Done in 100: Minister

New Delhi: Wading into the Rafale jets controversy, Union Minister Babul Supriyo Thursday indicated that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) lost on the deal because it quoted 2.57 times more man-hours to build fighter jets.

While HAL was to produce 108 fighter jets locally in a joint venture with French firm Dassault Aviation in the deal for 126 Rafale jets that the previous UPA regime had negotiated. The state-owned firm, however, was left out in the deal as the present government signed to buy 36 fighter jets in ‘fly-away’ condition from France.

Minister of State for Heavy Industries Supriyo, speaking at a conference on public sector enterprises organised by CII here, said HAL quoted “257 man-hours” for a job Dassault said could be done in “100 man-hours”.

For the production of Rafale fighter jets, “when Dassault said they needed 100 man hours, HAL said they needed 257, so that is indeed a big factor,” he said.

Stating that there may be political controversies over the issue, the minister said his limited point was about economics.

“I am just saying that we need to definitely look into why something that can be made in 100 hours would require 257 hours. Are we faltering somewhere. Can we bring it down? Can we negotiate on that? These are small areas that need to be looked into,” he said.

“So that is the question that all of us need to answer and that is where the government is trying their very best to support and push those public sector enterprises which need that support by the infusion of funds or the right injection at the right time – be it funds or any R&D.”

Later speaking to PTI, the minister clarified that his remarks were directed at the PSUs to assess how to match with their private peers in a time of globalisation.

HAL is a Bengaluru-based defence public sector unit and does not come under his department.

Source: PTI

Go on Offensive on Rafale Deal: Gadkari to BJP Functionaries

Mumbai: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday told BJP functionaries to go on the offensive to counter the Opposition’s allegations on the Rafale fighter jet deal instead of being defensive.

In an unrelenting tirade against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA over the deal with French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation to buy 36 jets, the Congress has claimed the cost per aircraft is triple compared to the one fixed by the previous UPA government.

It also claims that the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was kept out of the offset deal with the French firm to benefit Anil Ambani’s firm.

Speaking at a state-level BJP meeting here, Gadkari said, “Reliance Defence will be supplying some parts to Dassault. What (aircraft) will be assembled in Nagpur and who should be Dassault’s vendor is their decision”.

“Dassault has many international parts suppliers. It is Dassault’s decision whom to appoint as their vendor,” he said.

The road transport and highways minister alleged that the Opposition was trying to create confusion about the deal.

“The Indian government had nothing to do with it (Dassault’s choice of Indian partner). (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi also has nothing to do with the deal. The Opposition is unnecessarily creating confusion about this deal. We are a transparent government. We should be on the offensive and not be defensive on it,” Gadkari told party functionaries.

“India has been buying fighter aircrafts since 2002. I feel sad about the condition of the aircrafts we have right now. So many fighter planes have crashed till date. The condition of helicopters is such that (it feels as if) you are sitting in a truck. Modi travels in such helicopters,” he added.

He claimed the cost negotiated by the NDA for Rafale jets was 40 per cent cheaper than what the UPA had agreed upon.

At a media interaction here on Tuesday, Union minister Prakash Javadekar had claimed that the cost of the jets was 20 per cent lower compared to the price negotiated by the UPA dispensation.

Source: News18.com