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Panaji, Feb 23 :  Four Russian nationals have been arrested for alleged possession of drugs in North Goa's Mandrem village, police said Saturday.

One of the arrested persons has also confessed during interrogation that he has been involved in thefts at ATMs in the state, a senior official said.

Acting on a tip-off, a Pernem police team Friday raided the house of one Ilia Alexsandrovich Shtennikov (30), a Russian national, who was found cultivating cannabis in a rented apartment, said Superintendent of Police (North) Chandan Chaudhury.

Shtennikov told police during questioning that an apartment in Mandrem area, in Pernem taluka, was being used as a base for peddling drugs by a group of Russians, she said.

A raid on this house led to the arrest of Radik Vafin (35) and MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) and ganja (cannabis), worth Rs 2.09 lakh, was found, the official said.

Vafin has said during interrogation that he had used gas-cutters and explosive substances to break open ATMs in the state to steal cash, Chaudhury said.

Ecstasy tablets, MDMA and ganja worth Rs 2.38 lakh was found from another Russian national identified as Evgenii Zakharin (38), the SP said.

The fourth accused, Igor Markov (32), was found with drugs worth Rs 7 lakh.

All four have been charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and further probe was underway to find out more about the network the accused were operating, the SP informed.                [Agencies]


Hyderabad, Feb 23 :  A 40-year-old CRPF jawan, part of a 14-member team, has been reported missing during a train journey from Delhi to Secunderabad here and a case registered, railway police sources said Saturday.

Saldesh Kumar, from Jammu and Kashmir, was found missing after the team arrived here by Telangana express train on February 20, according to the complaint lodged by an official of the paramilitary force.

Investigation was on to trace the jawan, they added.

The CRPF personnel were coming to their Group Centre at Hakimpet, Secunderabad, the sources said.                [Agencies]


Srinagar, Feb 23 :  Nearly 150 people, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, were detained during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday as tension gripped the Valley ahead of a hearing by the Supreme Court on Article 35A of the Constitution.

Though police termed the detentions as routine saying that leaders and potential stone pelters have been picked up in the past, officials privy to the developments said this is the first major crackdown on the Jamaat-e-Islamia.

The hearing on Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to take place in the apex court on Monday.

The outfit in the past has been touted to be the political wing of the Hizbul Mujahdeen, but the organisation has always maintained that it is a social and religious group.

Palpable tension was in the air and people were seen grouping at streets even as security had been tightened.

As many as 100 additional companies of the paramilitary (nearly 10,000 personnel) have been sent to the Kashmir Valley in the wake of a potential law and order situation. 

Officially no one has been able to provide reasons for such a massive deployment.

The Jamaat issued a statement condemning the detentions and said "...The move is a well designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region." 

The outfit claimed that during the intervening night of February 22 and February 23, police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Valley, wherein dozens of its central and district level leaders were arrested, including its Ameer (chief) Jamaat Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).

The Jamaat termed the raids as "fishy" at a time when the Supreme Court is to hear a petition regarding Article 35A of the Constitution 

"...The way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jamaat members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains. Any attempt of eroding or tampering Article 35A is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.

Besides this, police also detained JKLF chief Yaseen Malik on Friday night.

The action comes days after an audacious terror attack on a convoy in Pulwama district in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives. 

Reacting to the valley-wide crackdown, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti questioned the legality of the action saying the "arbitrary" move will only "precipitate matters" in the state.

"In the past 24 hours, Hurriyat leaders and workers of Jamaat organisation have been arrested. Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in JK," Mehbooba tweeted.

"Under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas," she said.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned JKLF chief Yasin Malik's detention and the crackdown on the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir leadership, saying "force and intimidation" will only "worsen" the situation.

"Strongly condemn the nocturnal crackdown on Jamat-e-Islami leadership and cadres and the arrest of Yasin Malik. Such illegal and coercive measures against Kashmiris are futile and will not change realities on ground. Force and intimidation will only worsen the situation," the Mirwaiz posted on Twitter.

Leader of People's Conference, an ally of the BJP, Sajad Lone also said such crackdowns in the past have yielded no results. 

"Gov (sic) seems to be on an arrest spree. Just a word of caution. Large scale arrests took place in 1990. Leaders were ferried to Jodhpur and many jails across the country. Things worsened. This is a tried tested and failed model. Please desist from it. It won't work.Things will worsen," he tweeted.
          [Agencies]


Washington, Feb 23 :  Asserting that there is a lot of problems between India and Pakistan, US President Donald Trump has said New Delhi is looking at something "very strong" in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.

Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) rammed a vehicle carrying a huge quantity of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

India launched a major diplomatic offensive against Islamabad after the attack and highlighted Pakistan's role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

The international community led by the US pressed Pakistan to deny safe haven to terror groups operating form its soil and bring the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack to justice.

Trump, after his meeting with a visiting Chinese trade delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He, told reporters in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday that "in Kashmir, it's very dangerous".

The President referred to the possibility of a strong response from India in the wake of the terrorist attack.

"India is looking at something very strong. And I mean, India just lost almost 50 people with an attack. So, I could understand that also," he said when asked about India's right to self-defence.

Responding to questions on the tense situation between the two South Asian neighbours, Trump said the US is talking so does some other nations, without mentioning them.

"We are talking and a lot of people are talking. But, it is a very, very delicate balance going on right now. There's a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what just happened," said the US President.

"We're very much involved in that, if that's what you're referring to," he said.

Trump described the current situation between India and Pakistan as very dangerous.

"It's a terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India... it is a very, very bad situation and it's a very dangerous situation between the two countries. We would like to see it stopped. A lot of people were just killed and we want to see it stopped," he said.

Trump claimed that his administration has developed a much better relationship with Pakistan, even after he stopped USD 1.3 billion in financial aid to Islamabad.

"I stopped Pakistan, the USD 1.3 billion that we were paying them. In the meantime, we may set up some meetings with Pakistan.

"Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the United States under other presidents and we were paying Pakistan 1.3 billion a year. I ended that payment to Pakistan because they weren't helping us in a way that they should have. And honestly, we've developed a much better relationship with Pakistan over the last short period of time than we had," Trump said.

In the wake of the Pulwama attack, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval last week that America supports India's right to self-defence as both sides vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan ceases to be a safe haven for JeM and other terror groups.

India has asked Pakistan to take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control.

New Delhi also announced the withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation status for Pakistan and hiked the customs duty by 200 per cent on goods originating from Pakistan.              [Agencies]