Latest Current Affairs 15 June 2021


A) Choksi legal team releases videos and photographs to prove he was kidnapped from Antigua.

A U.K.-based law firm looking after the case of fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi on Monday released images and videos purportedly showing individuals, including Indian-origin men, involved in an elaborate operation to take Choksi from Antigua to Dominica on May 23. Justice Abroad, the law firm, has claimed that Choksi was kidnapped with the help of a female acquaintance and men who gagged and tied him to a wheel chair and used at least one unmarked boat to transport him from Antigua to Dominica. Michael Polak of Justice Abroad has said the intention behind the entire episode was to whisk away Choksi to India by shortening the legal process. The evidence in this case shows that Choksi was kidnapped from Antigua, where he had outstanding cases before the Courts, and unlawfully renditioned to Dominica. We believe that the aim was for him to be whisked away to India bypassing the proper legal processes in Antigua and Dominica, said Polak in a statement. In documents and photographs seen by The Hindu, the legal team fighting the case in Dominica shows a few men who appeared to be of Indian origin on the deck of a boat that was allegedly used to transport Choksi from Antigua. Two videos shared by the legal team show an unnamed boat allegedly carrying Choksi moving faster than the permissible limit of 8 kmph. The boat was not carrying a flag at the time of its movement from Antigua’s Jolly Harbour North Finger to a rendezvous with another boat that eventually took the fugitive diamond trader to Dominica. The legal team of Choksi claims that he came to the beach front villa in Antigua of his recent acquaintance Barbara Jarabik on the evening of May 23 and was soon overpowered by a group of men who rushed out and beat him. He was gagged and tied to a wheel chair at knife point and placed on the unmarked boat. This boat next placed him on Calliope of Arne, a private yacht, which took him to Dominica. One of the photographs of Calliope of Arne shows passengers with South Asian features. Choksi’s team maintains that the kidnappers carried out a reconnaissance mission in early April and travelled from London to Antigua and Dominica. They claim that the team involved in the kidnapping travelled between London and Dominica and consisted of four individuals. The argument is aimed at countering the case in a Dominican court where Choksi is being tried for entering the island illegally. The legal team shows that Choksi was kidnapped and gagged and then handed to the authorities in Dominica who denied the due process of law to him for days. Choksi’s team has been claiming that he belongs to Antigua as he acquired citizenship of that island in 2018. India, however, has maintained that he remains a fugitive who should be brought back to face justice for defrauding banks.


B) Big scam by Ram temple trust, SC must take cognizance, says Congress on Ayodhya land deal. 

The Congress on Monday alleged corruption in the purchase of land in Ayodhya by the Ram temple trust and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the charge. The party also alleged that it was a big scam committed using funds collected from devotees and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should answer whether those behind it had his protection, PTI reported. Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged at a press conference that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust had purchased 12,080 square metres of land at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh at an inflated price of ₹18.5 crore. The land was purchased by the temple’s trust at ₹18.5 crore on March 18, and according to land deeds, only a few minutes earlier on the same day Kusum Phatak had sold it for ₹2 crore to Ravi Tiwari and Sultan Ansari from whom the trust bought the land, he claimed. Citing the land deeds, Surejwala claimed that trust members Anil Mishra, who is a BJP leader, and Hrishikesh Upadhyay, a former mayor of Ayodhya, are signatories to the ₹18.5 crore land deal. The land was in the name of Pathak and was sold to Tiwari and Ansari, who in turn sold it to the trust, the Congress spokesperson claimed. Surjewala said the trust formed for the construction of the temple for Lord Ram, who is considered a symbol of faith by crores of people, was set up on February 5 last year on the directions of the Supreme Court. He said the facts that have come to light point to a big scam in funds collected from devotees and this amounts to committing a big sin and wrongdoing. But Prime Minister Modi, who formed the trust on the directions of the Supreme Court, is totally silent, Surjewala said. Will the prime minister answer if those sinners, who have traded the faith of Lord Ram’s devotees, have his protection, he said. How could BJP leaders commit such a big malpractice in the name of Lord Ram whose words, values and ethical conduct are sworn as ideals. How much more land has been purchased in such a manner at throwaway rates out of funds received for the temple’s construction, Surjewala asked. He said that with such a scam and facts coming to light, the Congress demands that the prime minister answer to the nation. The chief justice and the Supreme Court must take cognisance of the matter and order a court-monitored probe into the charges, Surjewala said.


C) LJP implodes with five of the six MPs elbowing out Chirag Paswan. 

Less than a year after the death of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan, his party is on the verge of a split, with five of its six Lok Sabha members replacing party president Chirag Paswan with his uncle, Pashupati Nath Paras, as the leader of the Parliamentary Party. The revolt coincides with a widely expected Cabinet reshuffle. For months, Paswan had pinned hopes of filling the vacancy that arose on the death of his father. The rebellion clearly shows that Paras too nurses the same hope. Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan arrives to meet party leader Pashupati Kumar Paras at his house, in New Delhi on June 14, 2021. Paras has been supported by Paswan’s cousin Prince Raj (Samastipur), Mehboob Ali Kaiser (Khagaria), Veena Devi (Vaishali) and Chandan Singh (Nawada). All five MPs met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Sunday evening, submitting a memorandum electing Paras as their Parliamentary Party leader. Paswan came to know of the revolt late on Sunday night. On Monday morning, he rushed to meet his uncle. He was stopped at the gate for nearly 25 minutes and when he finally managed to enter his uncle’s residence, he was told that Paras was not at home. The rebel MPs had an hour-long meeting with JD(U) leader Lallan Singh at party MP Veena Singh’s residence. Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Paras said he had no complaints against his nephew and that he was only trying to rescue the party. He also, in the same breath, praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, calling him ‘vikas purush’, indicating that the party will not follow the line set by his nephew, though he made it clear that the MPs would not join the JD (U). Paras had served as a minister in Kumar’s Cabinet. What is particularly damaging for Paswan is that the rebel MPs include his cousin Raj, who is said to be very close to him and whom he had anointed as the Bihar unit chief, replacing Paras. Raj is the son of Ram Vilas Paswan’s younger brother Ramchandra Paswan, who died in 2019. Ram Vilas Paswan never recovered from the shock of his brother’s death and in some way that accelerated the deterioration of his own health, leading to his death a year later. The Sunday evening events are the culmination of a nearly seven-month long discontent in the party against Paswan for his particularly twisted political stand. He launched a campaign targeting the JD(U) and Kumar without severing ties with the NDA. He continued to sing paeans about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The LJP won one Assembly seat, managed to garner nearly 6% vote share and cost the JD(U) nearly 35-40 seats.


D) Surging fuel prices push wholesale inflation up to nearly 13%

India’s wholesale price inflation shot up to a record 12.94% in May, up from 10.5% in April, driven largely by a sharp spike in fuel and power inflation, which rose to 37.6%, and the low base effect from May 2020. Fuel and power inflation nearly quadrupled to 37.6% from the 9.75% recorded in March this year, and is significantly higher than the 20.94% mark attained in April. Manufactured products’ inflation rose to 10.83% from 9% in April. While the wholesale food prices inflation climbed marginally from 7.58% in April to 8.11% in May, on a sequential basis, the food price index cooled off from April significantly.  Inflation in wholesale prices for the month of March was also revised upwards from 7.39% to 7.89%, by the Economic Adviser’s office in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.  Meanwhile, Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday said the reason for the high inflation in the country is the daily rise in petrol and diesel prices. WPI Inflation is 12.94 percent. CPI Inflation is 6.3 percent. Do you want to know why? Fuel and Power inflation is 37.61 per cent. Thanks to PM Modi raising petrol and diesel prices every day, Chidambaram said on Twitter.


E) Uttar Pradesh scribe who expressed threat to life by ‘liquor mafia’ dies in ‘road accident’ 

A journalist in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district, who had written to police fearing threat to his life by the ‘liquor mafia’, died in an alleged road accident a day later on June 13 night, police said. Shulabh Srivastava, 42, worked as the district correspondent of news channel ABP News. While stating that prima facie, he died in a road accident, the police noted they were probing all other angles.  A murder case was lodged against unknown persons on a complaint of his wife. She suspects he was killed by the liquor mafia and the suspects tried to project it like an accident. On June 13 night, around 10-11 p.m., Srivastava was returning to Pratapgarh from Lalganj after a news coverage when he was found injured near a brick kiln at the Katra crossing after falling from his motorcycle, said Additional Superintendent of Police (East) Surendra P. Dwivedi. He was taken to a hospital but was declared brought dead. Prima facie, it was found that he was travelling alone and the death happened after he collided with a pole and tubewell on the side of the road. The police, however, were probing all other angles deeply. In an application submitted to ADG Prayagraj, allegedly through Whatsapp, Srivastava on June 12 expressed a threat to his life by the liquor mafia who, he said, were unhappy with his coverage of recent unearthing of illegal liquor factories and police raids of these sites in the district. He sought security and a probe into his matter. Last two days, whenever I went out of my house for some work, I felt I was being followed. Based on sources and public discussion, I feel that some liquor mafia who are unhappy over my news can cause harm to me and my family, he wrote. Pratapgarh SP Akash Tomar on Monday inspected the site of the incident and instructed the officials concerned to probe all angles.



A) Novavax claims 90% efficacy for its Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccine maker Novavax said Monday its shot was highly effective against Covid-19 and also protected against variants in a large, late-stage study in the U.S. and Mexico. The vaccine was about 90% effective overall and preliminary data showed it was safe, the company said. While demand for Covid-19 shots in the U.S. has dropped dramatically, the need for more vaccines around the world remains critical. The Novavax vaccine, which is easy to store and transport, is expected to play an important role in boosting vaccine supplies in the developing world. That help is still months away, however. The company says it plans to seek authorisation for the shots in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere by the end of September and be able to produce up to 100 million doses a month by then. The Novavax vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators, making it easier to distribute.


B) At NATO meet, Biden vows to defend Europe.

U.S. PresidentJoe Biden told fellow NATO leaders on Monday the defence of Europe, Turkey and Canada was a sacred obligation for the United States, a marked shift from his predecessor Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the military alliance. Arriving in Brussels from the weekend’s G7 summit in England, Mr. Biden again sought to rally Western allies to support a U.S. strategy to contain China’s military rise as well as showing unity in the face of Russian aggression. Article Five is a sacred obligation, Mr. Biden said, referring to the transatlantic alliance’s collective defence pledge. I want all Europe to know that the U.S. is there, he said after arriving in his black presidential limousine. NAII is critically important to us, said Mr. Biden, who is seeking to mend ties after Mr. Trump’s denigration ofthe nuclear-armed alliance over the past four years and what Mr. ‘frump said were its delinquent members. Allies are expected to brand China a security risk to the Western alliance for the first time, a day after the Group of Seven rich nations issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation. Mr. Biden said both Russia and China were not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped, referring to Western efforts since the mid-1990s to bring both countries into the fold of liberal democracies.


A) Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath admits using a computer in his win against Viswanathan Anand.

Viswanathan Anand’s simultaneous online chess games against celebrities on Sunday night raised more than ₹10 lakh. Less than 24 hours later, the event, conducted by for Covid-19 relief, began to be talked about for all the wrong reasons: one of the players, it turned out, had resorted to unfair practices during his game against the five-time world champion. Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of stockbroker firm Zerodha, had sprung a surprise. He was the only one among the nine celebrities to defeat Anand. Actor Aamir Khan, cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal and singer Arijit Singh had all lost. Kamath is now facing allegations of cheating – that is, using the aid of a computer during his game against Anand. has closed his account for violating the fair play policy. He has admitted this much on Twitter:  I had help from the people analyzing the game, computers and the graciousness of Anand sir himself to treat the game as a learning experience. This was for fun and charity. In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn’t realise all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies. Anand was understandably upset by the whole episode. He tweeted: Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money. It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone. The interesting fact is that Anand would not have lost that game if he had not chosen to concede. Kamath had only a few seconds left on the clock, but Anand resigned, rather than waiting for his opponent to lose on time. Aruna Anand, his wife and manager, said what happened was unethical and against the spirit of the game and the cause. Mr. Kamath had spoken to Anand over phone this morning, Aruna told The Hindu. Anand said to him: ‘Whatever you do, you please do in your personal capacity, and don’t involve my name’. Then Anand also texted that he cannot deny what an algorithm finds out. She said Anand’s name should not have been dragged into Kamath’s tweet and be used as an excuse. I think Mr. Kamath now needs to set the moral compass right, she said.

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