QBullet: MEA Debunks “Spy” Video, EgyptAir Hijacker Held & More

All the top stories that you need to know

7 min read
A passenger leaves the hijacked EgyptAir aircraft after landing at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus. (Photo: AP)

1. Confession Video of “Indian Spy” Tutored, Says MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday dismissed the remarks made by an alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in a video released by Pakistan in which he “confessed” New Delhi’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities in Balochistan.

A statement by MEA said:

We have seen a video released by Pakistani authorities of a former Indian naval officer, doing business in Iran, who is in Pakistani custody under unexplained circumstances. The video has this individual making statements which have no basis in fact. That the individual claims to make the statements of his own free will not only challenges credulity but clearly indicates tutoring.

MEA has also requested permission to gain consular access to Jadhav which is yet to be answered by Pakistan government.

A video released by Pakistan’s Dawn News shows Jadhav making explosive claims about his association with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Jadhav has claimed that the Indian authorities have funded activities which constitute terrorism in Balochistan. He claimed that he was working for Anil Kumar Gupta, the joint secretary of RAW.

Meanwhile, foreign affairs expert, C Raja Mohan argues that India and Pakistan should institute spy swaps to bring them back when they are caught.

It’s natural for India and Pakistan to spy on each other. But it’s time they instituted spy swaps to bring them home when they get caught.
C Raja Mohan, Foreign Affairs Expert to The Indian Express

2. Uttarakhand Crisis: Court Versus Centre

As the Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday ordered a floor test in the Assembly on 31 March, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat called it a “tremendous setback” for the Centre.

Harish Rawat, Uttarakhand Chief Minister. (Photo: PTI)
Harish Rawat, Uttarakhand Chief Minister. (Photo: PTI)
The Congress and our government have full respect for the judiciary. We still do not have the full judgment of the high court but the part of the order available shows that the court holds the Centre’s decision wrong. 
Harish Rawat, Former CM, Uttarakhand

Even as Congress expressed satisfaction with the order, the BJP called it a “victory” of its stand as the court allowed the disqualified MLAs to vote in the floor test. The Congress also indicated it will seek legal opinion on allowing the nine disqualified MLAs to vote.

Both the parties brainstormed on the court’s order to decide their next course of action. According to The Indian Express, there is still no clarity on whether the high court direction for a floor test meant that President’s rule had been stayed and the Rawat government restored.

The high court has not stayed President’s rule in the state.
Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General to Hindustan Times

The BJP is reportedly exploring options, including “challenging the court decision”. According to a Hindustan Times report, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi will oppose the floor test in the Uttarakhand High Court.

Read more on The Quint.

3. Pathankot Probe: NIA, Pak JIT to Meet

The Pakistani JIT visited the sanitised areas of the Pathankot IAF base on Tuesday where the brutal attack had left seven security personnel dead. The visit was marked by protests and slogans by Congress and AAP workers.

All the five members of JIT listened to an audio clip that India believes is irrefutable proof of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad’s (JeM) links to the attack, reports Hindustan Times. This even as they confirmed to the NIA that the terror group chief Maulana Masood Azhar was in their preventive detention.

Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. (Photo: Reuters)
Masood Azhar, chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. (Photo: Reuters)

NIA has now decided to seek access to Azhar and his brother-in-law Abdul Rauf.

India blames JeM for the attack that derailed proposed talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries.

Read more on The Quint.

4. Mysterious EgyptAir Hijacker Arrested

The suspected hijacker of an EgyptAir airliner surrendered to authorities at Larnaca airport in Cyprus, Cypriot authorities said. The hijacker emerged from the aircraft with his hands in the air, state TV said.

“It’s over,” Cyprus’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.

An EgyptAir domestic flight MS 181 from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday and diverted to Cyprus. The highjacker who identified himself as Seif el Din Mustafa has been arrested.

The highjacker threatened the pilot with a fake suicide bomb belt.

The officials have clarified that this was not a terrorist attack and the hijacker was in an unstable psychological state.

What we have clarified is that it is not about terrorism. It appears to be a person who is unstable, in an unstable psychological state and the issue is being handled accordingly. 
Alexandros Zenon, Cyprus Foreign Ministry Official

The motives of the highjacker still remain a mystery.

Also Read: EgyptAir Ordeal Ends, Hijacker Surrenders

5. Govt Didn’t Consider Netaji a War Criminal

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (Courtesy: Netaji.org)
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (Courtesy: Netaji.org)

The Centre declassified 50 fresh files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on Tuesday. According to a Hindustan Times, the files reveal that the government did not consider Netaji a war criminal.

A letter from the MEA specified that the International Military Tribunal for the Far East does not have any records to prove that he was either a war criminal or a prisoner of war. Also, when Justice Mukherjee Commission, which was set up to probe Netaji’s death, asked whether any file pertaining to the relevant terms of reference of the commission were destroyed, the government replied in the affirmative.

The fresh batch of files also reveals that the Indira Gandhi government did not set up a fresh enquiry into Netaji’s mysterious death. Despite the demands made by a large number of MP’s in 1968, the government said that there was no need to order a fresh probe into the matter, reports The Times of India.

6. Telangana MLAs Become Highest Paid State Legislators

Telangana Finance Minister Etela Rajender presents state budget 2016-17 at Telangana assembly in Hyderabad, on March 14, 2016. (Photo: IANS)
Telangana Finance Minister Etela Rajender presents state budget 2016-17 at Telangana assembly in Hyderabad, on March 14, 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Lawmakers in Telangana will now get a monthly package of Rs 2.50 lakh against the existing Rs 95,000 with the state assembly on Tuesday unanimously passing a Bill hiking their pay and allowances.

Members of both houses of the state legislature will get a hike of 163 percent in their package which includes both the monthly pay and the allowances.

The Telangana Payment of Salaries and Pensions and Removal of Disqualifications (Amendment) Bill, 2016 ensures the hike in the salaries of legislators, legislative councillors, chief minister, ministers, the chief whip, whips and presiding officers of both the houses.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has justified the hike. The chief minister argued that facilities were necessary for lawmakers to play an active and positive role in nation building and remain free from corruption, reports Hindustan Times.

Speaking in the assembly, Rao dismissed criticism over the salary hike and asked the media to not demean the legislators by terming this a “loot” of public money.

Read more on The Quint.

7. BJP Moves EC Seeking Kolkata Police Chief’s Resignation

BJP president Amit Shah alleged that Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar was behind the alleged “sting” on party leader Rahul Sinha and demanded his removal. According to Telegraph, Shah singled out Kolkata police commissioner for attempting to frame Sinha.

We have heard about sting operation by journalists. In Bengal, policemen are conducting sting operations. This was a clear attempt to frame Rahul (Sinha).
Amit Shah, BJP President to Telegraph

The Election Commission, after receiving Shah’s complaint, said that they will look into the matter.

Shah also attacked Mamata Banerjee for siding with TMC leaders who were caught on camera allegedly accepting bribes in the recent Narada News sting operation.

Read more here.

8. Chhattisgarh Doesn’t Want This Human Rights Activist

Bela Bhatia has been in the crosshairs of the Chhattisgarh administration ever since she helped tribal women register an FIR against security personnel for gangrape and grievous sexual assault last November.

No arrests have been made so far, yet the three FIRs, registered over a period of two months, have the potential to hurt the forces and embarrass Chief Minister Raman Singh.

According to The Hindu, the police has accused Bhatia of fabricating the cases.

We were helping the tribals with the legal processes, along with human rights activists. Three rapes involving sexual assault and beating by security personnel and the police, with the testimonies of the women have been submitted to the collector
Bela Bhatia, Human Rights Activist and Social Researcher to The Hindu

Read more here.

9. Opinion: Aadhaar Bill Instigates Debate on Right to Privacy

 (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.aadharcardkendra.org.in/">Aadhaar Card Kendra</a>)
(Photo Courtesy: Aadhaar Card Kendra)
Most of the debate on the Aadhaar Bill has centred on the right to privacy. All five amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha, subsequently rejected by the Lok Sabha, had an element of this right within them
Apar Gupta in his column for The Indian Express

Gupta, however, feels that greater difficulty lies in enforcing the safeguards created by the Bill.

Many people regard privacy as an amorphous concept, which is also why it is hard for them to visualise any harm to it. Recognising this problem, in 2012, the Justice AP Shah Committee suggested nine distinct principles canonising the right to privacy. An analysis of the Aadhaar bill shows that it does not even recognise some of these nine principles. Broadly, the three forms of judicial remedy usually enforced are civil, criminal and the writ jurisdiction of high courts and the Supreme Court. The Aadhaar bill makes all these three remedies ineffective for individuals.
Apar Gupta, Advocate

Read more here.

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