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ED notes conflicting statements while grilling Abhishek Banerjee

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Calcutta: It has been more than five hours since the Enforcement Directorate (ED) began questioning Trinamool Congress National Secretary General Abhishek Banerjee in connection with the coal smuggling scam on Friday, and the sources said ED detectives have noted a number of conflicting statements from him.

Emergency Department sources said the interrogation began a little after 11 am and at 2 pm, Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was allowed a 45-minute lunch break.

“During the break, our officers corroborated the statements made by Abhishek Banerjee on Friday with his previous statements made to the ED during two previous questioning sessions. Officers found a number of inconsistencies between statements made by him today and those made in the past,” an ED official said.

After the lunch break, a new round of interrogations began and continued until the presentation of this report. Friday’s interrogation is known to relate mainly to certain transactions in bank accounts allegedly held by Abhishek Banerjee, his wife Rujira Narula Banerjee and his sister-in-law Maneka Gambhir.

By the way, the ED is supposed to question Maneka Gambhir on September 5th.

Meanwhile, a comment made by Bengal BJP chairman Sukanta Majumdar led to speculation of possible tough action by the ED against Abhishek Banerjee as early as Friday.

“Something important could happen today. Keep watching. Now I feel that the Congress and CPI(M) leaders will swallow their own accusations that the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are in an understanding about this investigation,” Majumdar said.

Trinamool spokesman Kunal Ghosh said such a comment by Majumdar is proof that the central agencies are acting as the BJP wishes, or that the saffron leaders are aware of possible next actions by the agencies.

“How can you make such a statement?” Ghosh asked.

(IANS)


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R.I.P. true friend of India Dominique Lapierre, you will be missed

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New Delhi: French author Dominique Lapierre (91), who had a special bond with India and was known for his iconic book on Kolkata, ‘City of Joy’, has died due to age-related ailments.

Lapierre’s wife, Dominique Conchon-Lapierre, confirmed the news to the French newspaper Var-matin on Monday.

Lapierre received the country’s third highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan, was fluent in Bengali and wrote the iconic “City of Joy,” the inspiring story of an American doctor who experienced a spiritual renaissance in an impoverished section of Calcutta, plus of collaborating with American writer Larry Collins on such seminal works as “Freedom At Midnight” and “Is Paris Burning.”

Adapted for film by Roland Joffe and starring Patrick Swayze, “City of Joy” is about the unsung heroes of Kolkata’s Pilkhana slum. Lapierre donated half of the royalties he earned from this book to support various humanitarian projects in Kolkata, including shelters for children with leprosy and polio, clinics, schools, rehabilitation workshops, educational programmes, health actions and hospital ships.

Calcutta, now Kolkata, has been nicknamed ‘City of Joy’ after the novel.

To process and channel the charity funds, Lapierre founded an association called Action Aid for Calcutta Lepers’ Children (registered in France under the official name Action pour les enfants des l preux de Calcutta). Aware of the corruption in India, he arranged all of his fund transfers to India in such a way as to ensure that the money reached the right person for the right purpose. His wife since 1980, Dominique Conchon-Lapierre was his partner in the City of Joy Foundation.

His other Indian classic (with Larry Collins), “Freedom At Midnight,” is a detailed account of the final year of the British Raj, the princely states’ reactions to independence, including descriptions of the extravagant lifestyles of Indian princes. , the partition of the subcontinent and the bloodshed that followed.

The events leading up to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and the lives of the motives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah are also described in detail.

There is a third book on India, “Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster” which Lapierre wrote in collaboration with Javier Moro based on the 1984 Bhopal disaster which the authors investigated by living in the city for three years.

Royalties from the book go to the Sambhava clinic in Bhopal, which provides free medical treatment to victims of the disaster. Lapierre also financed a primary school in Oriya Basti, one of the settlements described in the book.

Born on July 30, 1931, in Chatelaillon, Charte-Maritime in France, Lapierre was 18 years old when he received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. A car fanatic from the start, he bought a 1937 Chrysler convertible and fell in love with a fashion editor.

They were married in New York City Hall on her 21st birthday and flew to Mexico in the old Chrysler for their honeymoon. With just $300 in their pockets, they had enough to buy gas, sandwiches, and cheap motel rooms for truckers. In Los Angeles, they won another $300 on a radio game show for Campbell Soup. The prize included a box of soup, which was her only food for three weeks.

Lapierre sold the Chrysler for $400 in San Francisco and bought two tickets on the SS President Cleveland to Japan. The honeymoon lasted a year. They made their way through Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon. When they returned to France, Lapierre wrote his second book, “Honeymoon around the Earth.”

On his return to Paris after his honeymoon, he was conscripted into the French army. After a year in a tank regiment, he was transferred to SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) headquarters to serve as an interpreter. One day in the cafeteria he met a young American corporal, Larry Collins, a Yale graduate and recruit and they became instant friends.

When Collins was discharged, he was offered a job at Procter & Gamble. Two days before he reported for the new job, United Press offered him a job as a subheading editor in their Paris office, for much less money than Procter & Gamble offered. Collins accepted the United Press offer, and Newsweek soon tapped him to be its Middle East correspondent.

When Lapierre was discharged, he found a job as a reporter for Paris Match magazine. Collins became godfather to the Lapierres’ first daughter, Alexandra. On several occasions, Collins and Lapierre met while on assignment. Despite their friendship, they had to compete with each other for stories. But they decided to join forces to tell a great story that would appeal to both French and Anglophone audiences.

His first best-seller “Is Paris Burning?” it sold close to 10 million copies in 30 languages ​​by mixing the modern technique of investigative journalism with the classical methods of historical investigation. It was also made into a movie.

After that, they spent four years in Jerusalem to reconstruct the birth of Israel for the book “Oh Jerusalem!” Lapierre was proud that, after spending so much time in Jerusalem, he was intimately familiar with every alley, square, street, and building in the Holy City.

Lapierre and Collins wrote several other books together, notably “The Fifth Horseman”, the last being “Is New York Burning” before Collins’ death in 2005.

RIP true friend from India Dominique Lapierre. You will be greatly missed.

(IANOS)


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33 persons killed in Colombia landslide

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Bogota: At least 33 people died from a landslide that buried vehicles along a highway in Colombia, Interior Minister Alfonso Prada said.

The landslide that occurred on Sunday buried a bus carrying passengers from Cali to Condoto, along with a car and a motorcycle on the Pereira-Quibdó highway, in the central-western department of Risaralda, the Xinhua news agency reports.

“We have identified 33 deceased people, including three minors. We have rescued nine people, four of them are currently in critical condition,” Prada said Monday.

Personnel from Colombia’s Risk Management Unit and the Transportation Ministry’s Transit and Transport Directorate, as well as the police department and the army, rushed to the rescue, he said.

Following the landslide, authorities plan to declare a nationwide high alert to prepare for weather-related disasters amid a cold snap that is expected to continue for several more months, Prada said.

President Gustavo Petro ordered the installation of a Unified National Command Post in the capital Bogotá by Tuesday at the latest to determine the state of the roads in adverse weather conditions, he said.

Risaralda Governor Víctor Manuel Tamayo told reporters that the road where the accident occurred is in poor condition, complicating efforts to find survivors and recover the bodies of the victims.

(IANOS)


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At 6, Indian-origin boy is youngest S’porean to trek to Everest Base Camp

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Singapore: A six-year-old boy of Indian origin has become the youngest Singaporean to reach Everest Base Camp in Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 metres.

Om Madan Garg walked for 10 days in October together with his parents, covering an elevation gain of around 2,500m from Lukla village at 2,860m to the base at 5,364m, according to the Singapore Book of Records.

Om, a Kindergarten 2 student at Canossaville Preschool, “managed well despite bad weather, flight cancellations, lack of amenities, hot days and cold nights.”

The Garg family reached Lukla, which is the starting point and also the gateway of the base camp trek on September 28, and arrived at the base on October 7.

They were accompanied by a licensed guide and two porters.

From Lukla, they walked to Phakding and continued until they reached Namche Bazaar, the commercial center of the Everest region.

From Namche Bazaar the trail goes to Tengboche and eventually to Everest Base Camp at 5364m.

“I threw my hat into the sky and caught it and we climbed to the top of the rock at Mount Everest Base Camp and took a photo. “We flew the Singapore flag,” he told Channel News Asia in an interview.

The preschool student received a certificate from the Singapore Book of Records.

Their entire stay has been documented in a seven-part series on the family’s YouTube channel, The Brave Tourist.

Three-year-old Heyansh Kumar from India is the youngest person to reach Mount Everest Base Camp.

Kumar was three years, seven months and 27 days old when he achieved the milestone.

(IANOS)


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