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Nation at a Glance

Green signal for Gehlot US trip

New Delhi: The Prime Minister appears to have come to the rescue of the Rajasthan chief minister as he has reportedly cleared Ashok Gehlot’s visit to the US, reports our special correspondent.

Though Gehlot will still have to travel in his private capacity, the political clearance, sources said, has been prompted by Rajasthani expatriates who approached the Prime Minister.

The Centre had earlier denied official status to Gehlot to attend the International Rajasthani Sammelan in New York.

Fearing the refusal could prove counter-productive in the run-up to the Assembly polls, Vajpayee is said to have intervened to prevent a repeat of the denials to the Congress chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.

Gehlot was the third Congress chief minister to face the Central barrier after Digvijay Singh was refused permission to visit Vancouver in Canada for a Dalit conference, and Sheila Dikshit’s plea to attend a mayor’s meet in the US was turned down.

Racket bust at Calcutta port

New Delhi: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has busted a smuggling racket flourishing at Calcutta port by arresting two persons on charges of evading customs duty to the tune of Rs 2 crore, reports our correspondent.

In a joint operation conducted by the DRI headquarters and its Calcutta branch, the sleuths rounded up Vinod Lachwani, the alleged mastermind behind the racket, and Supriya Chaudhary, a director of Soham Impex Private Limited, in Calcutta on June 12. The two have been remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody.

Lachwani had imported electronic goods, including telephones, walkmans, button cells, calculators and toys, from China that were valued approximately at Rs 5 crore. The goods landed at Calcutta port in eight batches since January.

According to customs rules, after a consignment lands at the port, it is supposed to be taken to the Special Economic Zone in South 24-Parganas, where the importer pays the customs duty. After adding value to the imported items, the consignment is exported. Around one-fourth of the imported goods can be sold in the domestic market, but only after they have been declared. Lachwani forged papers to show that the consignment had reached the special zone when he had actually sold the entire consignment in the domestic market without paying duty, DRI sources alleged.

He had showed on record that after importing the goods, he had sold the papers to Soham. The firm was supposed to ship the goods abroad. Investigations by the DRI, however, revealed that Chaudhary was working in collusion with Lachwani to divert the goods to the domestic market.

Undertrials flee court

Gopalganj (PTI): Two undertrials escaped from a district court here after kidnapping a policeman accompanying them.

Sharif Dewan and Sri Choudhary were brought to the court with other undertrials on Thursday. While returning to jail, they asked for permission to go to the toilet and fled in a waiting car after dragging policeman Santram Yadav inside. Yadav, who returned late at night, said he was released by the criminals at a deserted spot.

Labourers freed

Jammu (PTI): Police have rescued 51 bonded labourers from a brick kiln at Asmailpur village here. Superintendent Ravinder Singh said they were brought from Gurdaspur in Punjab by the owner of the kiln, Kulbir Singh, about 18 months ago. The labourers were kept captive without medicare and not paid wages. The police raided the premises on Thursday evening.

Youth shot

Rohtak (PTI): A youth was shot dead allegedly by two brothers in Patel Nagar early on Friday. The deceased was identified as Rajender alias Titoo, 35. Police have booked two the brothers, Gurnam and Gurmeet. The brothers allegedly shot Rajender after a quarrel over money.

Harassment charge

Ajmer (PTI): The National Commission for Women has received complaints of sexual harassment and exploitation from about 1,600 journalists, said its chairperson Purnima Advani. The complaints have been forwarded to the Press Institute of India, which has constituted a committee to take action. The commission, she said, was making efforts to impress upon newspapers and electronic media to constitute panels in their offices to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.

Girl abducted

Jaipur (PTI): A 22-year-old girl was abducted by some youths in a Maruti car from the outskirts of the city on Friday. Police said about four or five youths in a white Maruti forcibly dragged the girl into the car on Khatipura Road in Vaishali Nagar and fled. Pickets have been deployed at all exit points of the city and a search is on to rescue the girl.

Tick

An elephant pulled out by villagers from a mire in the Kottaimalai forests on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border drowned in a river. The animal, injured in the legs, collapsed while crossing the river. An autopsy has been ordered.


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