WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 07 MARCH 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16 |`3|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR TRADE WARS ‘31 MARCH AADHAAR LINKAGE DEADLINE MAY BE EXTENDED’ KARTI FAILS TO GET RELIEF FROM TRIAL COURT, SC P5 SENSEX 33,317.20 -429.58 NIFTY 10,249.25 -109.60 WEATHER Clear sky. Mist in the morning. Maximum and minimum temperatures likely to be around 30 and 14 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min. 28% Bank scam continues to roil Parliament SNS Max: 28.7°C (0) SUN RISES 06:39 hrs MOON RISES 23:41 hrs Min: 14.8°C (+2) SUN SETS 18:24 hrs MOON SETS 10:52 hrs THUMBNAILS India lose despite Dhawan’s feat: Shikhar Dhawan hit 90 off 49 balls as India shrugged off a poor start to post a competitive 174 for four against Sri Lanka in the Nidahas T20 Trophy opener in Colombo. Dhawan hammered six sixes and as many fours. India, however, P16 lost the match. Russian plane crash kills 32: A Russian transport plane crashed on landing at Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria, killing all 32 on board on Tuesday, defence ministry said in a statement carried by RIA Novosti. There were 26 passengers and 6 crew. “The reason for the crash according to preliminary information could have been a technical fault.” The Rs 12,700 crorePunjab National Bank (PNB) scam involving fugitive jewellers, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, continued to make waves along with some other issues within and outside Parliament on Tuesday, forcing the proceedings of the two Houses to be washed out for the second consecutive day of the second phase of the Budget Session. The Opposition members continued to raise slogans and storm the Well of the House or even wave placards in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over their respective issues, forcing their multiple adjournments and continued disruptions before their final adjournment for the day. While the Congress and Trinamul members protested over the PNB scam, seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's response over it, the ruling BJP's ally TDP MPs continued their demand for a special status for Andhra Pradesh as promised by the Centre during the state's P10 ` vs $ 64.96 +16 PAISE NEW DELHI, 6 MARCH Max.83% TEMPERATURE P8 SHOOTER MANU BAKER WINS SECOND GOLD GOLD 29,425.00 -25.00 P15 SILVER 38,700.00 -50.00 BRENT CRUDE (IN $) 66.00 +0.46 PNB fraud: Top bankers appear before SFIO SFIO summons executives of over 30 banks with exposure to Nirav-Choksi's firms PTI Banking turmoil pulls down Sensex MUMBAI, 6 MARCH bifurcation four years ago. The AIADMK members reportedly pressed for creation of the Cauvery Water Management Board, the TRS MPs raised slogans for an increase in reservation quota in Telangana. In the Lok Sabha, the BJP's ally Shiv Sena members also protested in the Well, demanding classical language status for Marathi. The government expressed its wilingness to discuss the bank frauds and other issues in both the Houses, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asserting it in the Lok Sabha and his junior Minister Vijay Goel echoing it in the Rajya Sabha, but to no avail. Amid ruckus in the Lower House, Ananth Kumar said the government was ready for a discussion on the issue of financial irregularities in the bank- ing sector and that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would reply to the debate. "Banking irregularities have been going on. It was happening even during UPA. Why are they running away from discussion. People who indulged in wrongdoing should be punished...Congress should discuss what unscrupulous activity (hera pheri) happened during UPA,” Kumar charged. Congress's leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said thousands of crores of fraud in nationalised banks has resulted in loot of public money and the perpetrators were allowed to leave the country. He insisted for discussion. As the House continued to witness uproarious scenes, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned it till Wednesday morning. TURN TO PAGE 5 S enior officials from private sector lenders ICICI Bank and Axis Bank Tuesday appeared before the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) with regard to investigations into the over Rs 12,000-crore PNB scam. Axis Bank revealed that it has a Rs 200-crore exposure to the scam-tainted companies promoted by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. Sunil Mehta, the managing director and chief executive of Punjab National Bank (PNB), which is at the centre of the scam, has also been summoned tomorrow, sources said, adding officials from all over 30 banks which have had business dealings with the companies are being called. A team from Axis Bank, led by deputy managing director V Srinivasan and executives from the trade and transactions department, went to the SFIO's office here, after the investigating agency called them to help in the probe. “The SFIO has today sought information on the accounts of the Nirav Modi and Gitanjali groups of companies. We would like to state that exposure of Axis Bank to these entities is approxi- MUMBAI, 6 MARCH mately Rs 200 crore,” it said in a late evening regulatory filing. The team from Axis Bank was followed by a senior manager from its larger rival ICICI Bank also going into the south Mumbai office of the agency, where he answered questions regarding its exposure to Gitanjali Gems, sources said. With an outstanding of over Rs 600 crore to Gitanjali, ICICI Bank is the lead bank in the consortium of 31 banks which have loaned over Rs 6,800 crore to the company. The SFIO has written to the top managements of all the lenders who have either given loans or extended any other services, sources said, adding that the total number could be around 35. Axis Bank, the third largest private sector lender, does not have any direct exposure to Gitanjali, while it was among the several banks whose overseas branches had loaned money to PNB based on the fraudulent Letters of Undertakings (LoUs). It is alleged that Choksi and Modi got LoUs and foreign letters of credit (FLCs) of Rs 12,636 crore issued in favour of foreign branches of Indian banks based on fraudulent claims. After media reports that ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar and her Axis Bank counterpart Shikha Sharma have been summoned by SFIO regarding the case, stock exchanges had sought clarifications from both the lenders. Both the lenders replied late in the evening, saying the SFIO action will not have any material impact on them. Indian equities tumbled like nine- pins on Tuesday, with the benchmark Sensex plummeting by about 430 points to end at a nearly three-week low of 33,317 due to massive fagend sell-offs in banking counters amid reports that the SFIO summoned other lenders in the PNB fraud matter. This was the lowest closing for the BSE Sensex since December 14 when it had finished at 33,246.70 and also its biggest single-day fall since February 6, when it had lost 561.22. Banking stocks led by State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Kotak Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Federal Bank and Yes Bank fell as much as 2.77 per cent. Investor sentiment was dampened after reports that the SFIO had approached other lenders that have exposure to the firms promoted by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to help in the agency's probe into the PNB scam.PTI (P11) AHMEDABAD, 6 MARCH At least 30 people were killed in an accident on Tuesday morning when a truck carrying a wedding party fell down from a bridge under construction on the Rajkot-Bhavnagar highway. Among the dead are 20 women and five children. The bridegroom Jay, who was in another vehicle along with some relatives, lost his parents in the tragedy on his wedding day. The accident occurred near Ranghola village when the truck ferrying the wedding party hit the railings of the bridge under construction and fell on the dry rivulet bed underneath. The truck was carrying around 60 people, mostly women and children from Aniyali village to Tatam village for the wed- ding celebration. Over a dozen people have been injured in the accident. They have been rushed to hospitals in Bhavnagar, Sihor and Botad. The truck had reportedly overturned and fell 20 feet down on the rivulet. The villagers rushed to the spot and carried out rescue operations even before fire brigade personnel could reach the site with their cranes. However, the wedding was completed as bridegroom Jay had reached the venue on time without the knowledge of the accident that killed his parents and many others. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the accident. The funds would be released from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. An inquiry into the exact cause of the accident has been ordered. Two statues of Lenin pulled down in Tripura SNS COLOMBO, 6 MARCH SNS Lanka declares emergency to quell communal violence AGENCIES 30 killed in Guj truck mishap AGARTALA, 6 MARCH Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in the country's scenic Kandy district that left two persons dead and damaged several mosques and homes. Violence, triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week, erupted yesterday in the Theldeniya area of the central hill district popular with tourists. The government sent troops and elite police commandoes to Kandy to restore order and enforce the curfew. President Maithripala Sirisena and the Cabinet decided to declare a state of emergency for 10 days following the violence prevailed in some parts of the country, Minister of Social Empowerment S B Two statues of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin were brought down in South Tripura, the police said Tuesday, as the CPI(M) and its arch-rival in Bengal, the Trinamul Congress, blamed the BJP for the incidents.The statues were pulled down just days after the Left was defeated in Assembly polls by the BJP and its ally IPFT, which together won a two-third majority in the House in a state where the CPI(M) was in power for 25 years. Deb to be new CM: BJP leader Biplab Deb will be sworn in as the new chief minister of Tripura on March 9 to usher in the party's maiden government in the northeastern state after it ended 25 years of uninterrupted rule of the CPI(M)-led Left Front.BJP leader Jishnu Kumar Debbarma, a tribal, will assume office as Deputy CM. Meghalaya: Backed by the BJP and regional parties, National People's Party(NPP) chief Conrad Sangma was Dissanayake told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. Muslims claimed that around 10 mosques, 75 shops and 32 houses belonging to the minority community were badly damaged in the attacks by the Sinhalese Buddhists, forcing police to fire tear gas shells and impose an overnight curfew to prevent clashes between the two communities. The situation, howev- er, remained tense in part of Kandy, home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics, after charred remains of a Muslim man was recovered today from a burnt building. Fresh curfew was imposed today and heavily-armed police commandos of special task force were deployed in Theldeniya and Pallekele areas of Kandy after rioters disobeyed an overnight curfew and went on a rampage. This will be the first time since August 2011, that a state of emergency will be in force in the Indian Ocean's island nation. T20 to continue: The BCCI said the Tri-nation T20 series in Sri Lanka, also involving the Indian cricket team, will continue despite the country plunging into a state of emergency following communal violence. today sworn in as the chief minister of Meghalaya, heading a 12-member Cabinet and bringing an end to 10 years of Congress rule. Rio to be new Nagaland CM: Senior NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio was on Tuesday appointed the new chief minister of Nagaland by Governor P B Acharya and would be sworn in here on March 8, a Raj Bhavan source said. Governor Acharya, in a letter to Rio, asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly on or before March 16, the Raj Bhavan source added. NK says it could give up N weapons as historic border summit with South announced THE INDEPENDENT North and South Korea have agreed to hold summit talks at the border between the two countries next month, according to officials in Seoul. South Korea's presidential office said the nations had agreed to set up a telephone hotline between their leaders, who will meet for the first time at the summit in a tense border village in late April. Chung Eui-yong, the South's presidential national security director, said Pyongyang had also made it clear it would not need to keep its nuclear weapons if military threats against the country were resolved and it received a credible security guarantee. And in another significant development, Kim Jong-un has agreed to a freeze on all nuclear and missile tests in the event of any talks with the US, South Korea said. Donald Trump has previously said he is willing to talk with the North Korean leader, describing him in an upbeat speech at the end of last week as a "fine man". But the two sides have previously reached an impasse on whether denuclearisation would be a prerequisite for diplomatic progress. The announcement came hours after a 10-person strong South Korean delegation led by Mr Chung returned from a visit to the North, where they met North Korean leaders including Mr Kim. KCNA said Mr Kim held "openhearted talks with the South side's special envoy delegation over... actively improv- ing the North-South relations and ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula". The summit in late April will be only the third-ever since a war between the two Koreas ended in stalemate and without a formal peace treaty in 1953. The two past summits, in 2000 and 2007, were held between Mr Kim's father Kim Jong-il - and two different liberal South Korean presidents. The reports from the South were corroborated by articles in the official North Korean news agency KCNA. It reported that "after being told about President Moon Jaein's intention for a summit... the Supreme Leader (Mr Kim) exchanged views and reached a satisfactory agreement". Those talks resulted in a number of cooperative projects that were eventually scrapped after conservative administrations took over in the South. The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, won that country's election in May last year after campaigning on a mes- sage of new talks with the North. Earlier this year, he said he wanted to be remembered as the leader "who built a peaceful relationship between the North and South". Mr Chung's visit to the North was the most senior in more than a decade. During those talks, Mr Kim seemed to relish a role he rarely gets to take - that of a magnanimous statesman welcoming an important international delegation. Kim's rite of passage He has been in power for six years, but Kim Jong-un has yet to complete one of the defining rituals of a world leader - hosting another head of state, or being welcomed by one abroad. The progress in inter-Korean diplomacy in recent weeks, sparked by the North's presence at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, raises the prospect of that changing. North Korea's state-run media made a point of portraying him on Monday as a confident statesman, holding court over a lavish dinner, beaming with satisfaction during group photos and congratulating South Korea for successfully staging the PyeongchangWinter Olympics. That's quite a dramatic departure from the predominant images of 2017 — Kim surrounded by his generals celebrating their latest missile launch. Make no mistake — Kim is sticking to his nuclear weapons and arsenal of missiles capable of reaching the US mainland. He has said repeatedly that he has no intention of giving them up or of using them as a bargaining chip to improve ties with Seoul, Washington or anybody else. But both of Kim's predecessors travelled outside North Korea's borders during their tenures — Kim Il Sung famous- ly visited the Soviet Union and most of eastern Europe by train in 1984. Kim Jong Un himself has been abroad, having attended school as a boy in Switzerland, and rumours have come up from time to time that he would visit either Beijing or Moscow. If nothing else, it appears Kim does have an aircraft ready for the task. Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, flew to the South for the Olympics on an aircraft believed to be Kim Jong Un's personal jet, which was decked out to resemble the kind of plane other national leaders use for state trips. The optics seemed designed to suggest Kim, like any other political leader, could be ready to hop on a flight if the opportunity arose.
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