Indore India: 4 Story Hotel Collapsed Killing At Least 10

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

(NEW DELHI) — A four-story rickety hotel building collapsed in central India, killing at least 10 people and injuring three, police said Sunday.

Rescuers working through the night with sledgehammers and chain saws pulled alive 10 people from the debris of the building, which came crashing down Saturday night in Indore, a city in Madhya Pradesh state, said police officer Sanju Kamle.

Up to five people may still be trapped under the rubble, said Nishant Warwade, the district collector.

The Times of India newspaper said the dilapidated building collapsed after a car smashed into its front portion.

The hotel with 25 rooms was located in the commercial hub of Indore, close to railway and bus stations. Indore is around 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of New Delhi.

Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using substandard materials, and as multi-story structures are erected with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around India’s cities and pervasive corruption often result in builders adding unauthorized floors or putting up illegal buildings.

In August 2017, 33 people were killed when an apartment building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.

Netanyahu arrives in India, is greeted by PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Netanyahu arrives in India, is greeted on tarmac by PM Modi

Israeli leader says he greatly appreciates unplanned personal welcome; two men embrace warmly at start of week-long visit

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader's wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader’s wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and his wife Sara Netanyahu on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and his wife Sara Netanyahu on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • The plane carrying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu arrives at the Air Force Station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    The plane carrying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu arrives at the Air Force Station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and the Israeli leader's wife Sara Netanyahu, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and the Israeli leader’s wife Sara Netanyahu, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, seated, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, seated, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

NEW DELHI, India — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched down in this smog-filled city Sunday afternoon, warmly embracing his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in a surprise ceremony at the airport, and celebrating a close personal bond that the two are hoping to parlay into further cooperation between their two countries.

Netanyahu’s five-day trip to India will see him attempt to expand business ties with the subcontinent, though it comes amid a cloud of uncertainty after Delhi canceled a $500 million deal with Israeli arms maker Rafael late last year.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu had been expecting to be met by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and, arriving in Delhi, was apparently surprised to be greeted by Modi. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and held their hands aloft for the press on the tarmac red carpet.

“I very much appreciate the gesture,” Netanyahu said through his office shortly after the two were whisked away from the brief arrival ceremony.

On his official Twitter account, Modi wrote in Hebrew, “Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu. Your visit is historic and special. This visit will strengthen the close ties between our countries.”

Responding in Hebrew on his own Twitter account, Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for Modi’s personal welcome. “Thank you, my dear friend Modi, on the warm and personal welcome to India,” he wrote.

Accompanied by his wife, Sara, Netanyahu is leading a 130-strong trade delegation — the largest ever for an Israeli prime minister — to India meant to boost bilateral business ties, as well as diplomatic relations.

Over the course of the visit, Israel and India will sign a series of bilateral agreements.

Kicking off the heavily guarded trip, the two stopped at a large traffic circle in Delhi marked by a memorial to Indian soldiers who fought in Palestine in World War I, which they saw renamed from Teen Murti Chowk Square to Haifa Chowk Square in a small ceremony.

Laying a wreath on a statue listing places where the Indian Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore brigades fought — such as Haifa, Gaza, the Jordan Valley and Damascus — Modi, Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu stood at attention for several minutes as trumpets played.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader’s wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)

Netanyahu’s visit is the first by an Israeli prime minister since 2003, when Ariel Sharon visited, but abruptly cut his trip short to return to Israel after a terrorist attack.

In contrast with prime ministerial visits to the US or Europe, Netanyahu’s trip, which will take him to three cities in India, will focus very little on Middle Eastern affairs such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. India recently backed a UN General Assembly motion condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, throwing some cold water on hopes for a closer diplomatic relationship.

The confirmation earlier this month that India had canceled the $500 million deal for Spike anti-tank missiles from Israeli firm Rafael also cast a shadow over the trip. While wanting to foster a stronger relationship with Israel, India is also in the midst of trying to develop its own arms manufacturing industry, under the “Make in India” tagline. Last week, however, an Indian news agency reported that Delhi was considering the possibility of reviving the missile sale as a government-to-government deal.

Ahead of the visit, Netanyahu pointed to close personal relationship between himself and Modi cemented during the Indian premier’s trip to Israel last year, his first since taking office.

“This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power. Indian Prime Minister Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit,” Netanyahu said Saturday night before leaving Israel.

Modi’s visit to Israel was also marked by a sharing of tweets and the two leaders accompanying each other nearly everywhere.

Netanyahu is set to have dinner with Modi Sunday night after meeting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. On Monday the two will hold a series of meetings focused on expanding trade ties, and on Wednesday, they will travel to Modi’s home state of Gujarat before leaving for Mumbai, where Netanyahu will attend memorials for the 2008 terror attacks that took place there.

While there, he is also slated to meet with several Bollywood figures as part of Israel’s drive to expand tourism by attracting Indian films to shoot in Israel.

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India miffed as Palestine envoy shares stage with Hafiz Saeed in Rawalpindi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India miffed as Palestine envoy shares stage with Hafiz Saeed in Rawalpindi

Photos of the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, sharing the stage with Hafiz Saeed and addressing the rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi were circulated on social media on Friday. The rally was organised to condemn the US move on Jerusalem.

INDIA Updated: Dec 30, 2017 08:30 IST

Rezaul Hasan Laskar
Rezaul Hasan Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Walid Abu Ali (L), Palestine ambassador to Pakistan, seated next to Hafiz Saeed at a rally in Rawalpindi.
Walid Abu Ali (L), Palestine ambassador to Pakistan, seated next to Hafiz Saeed at a rally in Rawalpindi.(Photo: Twitter)

India reacted with anger after Palestine’s envoy to Pakistan joined Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed at a rally organised by jihadi groups on Friday, just days after New Delhi backed a UN resolution that denounced the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Photos of the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, sharing the stage with Saeed and addressing the rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi were circulated on social media on Friday. The rally was organised to condemn the US move on Jerusalem.

The development triggered an angry response from the external affairs ministry, with spokesperson Raveesh Kumar saying in a brief statement: “We are taking up the matter strongly with the Palestinian ambassador in New Delhi and with the Palestinian authorities.”

The statement noted that the Palestinian envoy had been seen at the rally “organised by the JuD chief and mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed”.

Officials said a strongly worded demarche would be sent to the Palestinian government.

The external affairs ministry was especially angered as the development came less than 10 days after India joined 127 other members of the United Nations to back a resolution criticising US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The countries disregarded Trump’s threat to cut aid to countries that voted for the resolution.

India’s decision to back the resolution prompted a protest from Israel, a key ally in defence and security matters.

New Delhi explained the vote by saying its position on Palestine is “independent and consistent” and “shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country”.

The “Tahafuz Baitul Maqdas” rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) in Rawalpindi featured several jihadi leaders condemning the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The event was attended by thousands, including members of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah.

Photos on social media showed the Palestinian envoy seated next to Saeed and addressing the large gathering. Several speakers at the gathering, including Saeed, also referred to the Kashmir issue and made anti-India remarks. Saeed also called on Muslim nations to act in the defence of Jerusalem.

The DPC is a grouping of some 40 extremist and jihadi groups that was formed by Hafiz Saeed and other extremists in 2012. It has campaigned for long for snapping ties with India and the US.

Chinese agency has another video on Doklam, minus the overt racism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES) / (HOW DOES ONE SAY CHINA’S GOVERNMENT IS FULL OF S-IT IN MANDARIN?)(IS THE REASON DONALD TRUMP AND XI JINPING GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER IS BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH HABITUAL LIARS?) (TRS)

 

Chinese agency has another video on Doklam, minus the overt racism

Chinese news agency tries a different tack with a video explainer claiming “sober, cooperative solution is in need to tackle China-India border standoff”.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2017 07:48 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A screenshot of video posted by China Xinhua News on Twitter.
A screenshot of video posted by China Xinhua News on Twitter.

After last week’s bizarre, racist anti-India video, Beijing mouthpiece Xinhua is trying a “sober” approach.

It’s still pretty silly, but at least we’re spared the Chinese actors trying to pass off for Sikhs… and the unintentionally hilarious beards.

This time, Chinese news agency tries a different tack with a video explainer on the Doklam standoff that features a newsman in a suit arguing, not that China is right, but that India is wrong: why, is never explained.

There is even a vaguely conciliatory reference to the two countries’ great histories, during which the video shows a montage of the famous Xian warriors, followed (inexplicably) by a snippet featuring a camel caravan that is presumably meant to represent India!

Bhutan, the country caught in the middle of it all, gets no mention.

Still, there’s no overt racism in the new video, which must count as an improvement. This might even pass for a sign of grudging respect.

What explains the change of tone? Perhaps it’s an acknowledgment that last week’s video went too far into crazytown. Or perhaps, a recognition that the Dokram affair will not be resolved by blatant propaganda directed at Indians, especially when their own response has been to laugh out loud.

Far be it for us to suggest that the video Hindustan Times commissioned, featuring comedienne Vasu Primlani had anything to do with it…

Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NDTV)

As Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

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As Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

General Bipin Rawat met Jammu and Kashmir students coached by the Army under its ‘Super 40’ initiative.

NEW DELHI:  For young men and women picking up stones in Kashmir, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has a message: Pick up books, not stones.  And he has some inspiring stories to share – that of 35 children from Jammu and Kashmir who prepped for engineering schools under the army’s ‘Super 40’ initiative.
Nine of them have made it to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology this year. The rest have qualified for other engineering schools across India. On Tuesday, the Army Chief came face-to-face with the 35-odd students, a sharp contrast to the ones that the army usually deals with in Jammu and Kashmir.This group had quietly enrolled for coaching under the army’s initiative to give children from the state a better chance to join the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) when their friends were out on the streets..

General Rawat hoped there were more like them in Kashmir.

“They (the youth) should either have a laptop or a book. Whatever time they get they should devote to studies,” General Rawat told the young students according to Press Trust of India, his remarks aimed at the youth back home who have been turning up on the streets in Kashmir, often with stones in their hand, to target security forces.

In recent weeks, the Army Chief has come out strongly in support of army officers using innovative measures to fight what he had called was a proxy war, a “dirty war”.

At one point, he had suggested in an interview that it would have been much simpler if it had people firing weapons at them, instead of flinging stones. “Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do),” he told Press Trust of India last month in an interview that echoed the predicament of the army officers in dealing with youngsters.

On Tuesday, General Rawat also told the young students born well after militancy peaked in the 1990s that he had served in the state in 1981-82 when the “situation was good”. The situation started deteriorating during his second posting between 1991 and 1993, the Army Chief said, noting that he also had stints in J-K from 2006-2008 and then from 2010-12.

“Generations have been destroyed due to this. The fear that has set in the mind of people of Kashmir and the youth… (that) a militant or the security forces will come… So you have militants on one side and security forces on the other. How long will we stay in this atmosphere? We have to put an end to it. We wish that peace is restored there and we carry out our daily work without any problem,” Gen Rawat told the students who had broken all previous records this year.

An army statement said a record 26 boys and two girls from the state had cracked the IIT-JEE Mains Exam 2017 including nine cleared the IIT Advanced Exam. This was the first batch in which five girls from Kashmir valley were coached. A PTI report said the ‘Super 40’ students who did not clear the IIT-JEE Mains exam had made it through the state’s entrance test for engineering.

All-Women Police Battalions In Jammu And Kashmir To Deal With Stone Throwers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

All-women battalion in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with stone pelters

PTI | Updated: Apr 27, 2017, 06.16 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS
  • An all-women India Reserve Battalion will be raised in Jammu and Kashmir
  • The Battalion will primarily deal with incidents like stone pelting
  • The women battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties

Women police officers dealing with protesters during a clash Women police officers dealing with protesters during a clash

NEW DELHI: An all-women India Reserve Battalion will be raised in Jammu and Kashmir to primarily deal with incidents like stone pelting, a home ministry official said on Thursday.

The move comes days after girl students were seen fighting pitched battles with security forces at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar on April 24, the day the educational institutions in the restive valley reopened after a five-day shutdown.

The exclusive contingent will be among the five IRBs the Centre has sanctioned for the state grappling with persistent violence.

The women battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties but its personnel will be primarily deployed for tackling protesters, the official said.

As many as 1,40,000 candidates have applied for 5,000 posts in the five IRBs. The home ministry decided to go for an all-women battalion after discovering that 6,000 applicants were women.

The issue was discussed today at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the Rs 80,000 crore development package announced for Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

The process of recruitment to the five IRBs has started. Nearly 40 per cent of the applicants are from the Kashmir valley.

The response is very encouraging with nearly 30 applicants against one post, the official said.

The IRBs are being raised with an aim to provide jobs to the local youths. Sixty per cent of vacancies will be filled with candidates from the border districts.

Top Comment

Allow the para military to use real bullets/pellet guns just raising battalions for number sake and risking their lives for t political oppertunism won’t help Bhattacharyya

The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs 61 crore, and 75 per cent of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre. Personnel of India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) are normally deployed in their respective states but they can be sent elsewhere if there is a requirement.

At present, there are 144 India Reserve Battalions in the country. In addition, four IRBs each are being raised in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 12 in Maoist-hit states, besides the five in Jammu and Kashmir.
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Scare And Sell: How Indian Call Centers Scam/Cheat Foreign Computer Owners

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Scare and sell: How Indian call centre scammers cheat foreign computer owners

A tech support scam begins by planting a pop-up message in the target user’s web browser that alerts them to a so-called virus infection, employees and experts say.

INDIA Updated: Apr 10, 2017 07:03 IST

Snigdha Poonam and Samarth Bansal
Snigdha Poonam and Samarth Bansal
Hindustan Times, Gurgaon/New Delhi
India call centres

A tech support scam begins by planting a pop-up message in the target user’s web browser that alerts them to a so-called virus infection, employees and experts say.(Reuters Representative Photo)

Dusk is falling on Gurgaon’s Sohna Road, an upscale neighbourhood crammed with gleaming steel-and-concrete buildings that power India’s software surge and offer hopes of a brighter future to millions.It’s about 5pm. Backpack-laden young men and women pour out of cabs and auto-rickshaws and take a lift to the sixth-floor call centre of Saburi TLC, past a company motto inscribed in bright orange, “If you work only for money, you will never make it”.In 15 minutes, they diffuse into a maze of blue-and-white cubicles where they will spend the next eight hours with a computer, a desk phone and a pair of black headphones.There are hundreds of similar call centres in the neighbourhood. But Saburi TLC is different, a shadowy outfit accused of being among the biggest players in a thriving tech-support fraud that cons unsuspecting foreigners into buying expensive security software for their perfectly normal computers.

The charges against Saburi TLC are just the tip of a growing rot in India’s $110-billion business process outsourcing (BPO) industry that is being potentially hollowed out by fraud businesses thriving in the absence of strong regulation and oversight.

Many of these dodgy businesses operate a stone’s throw away from major companies in places such as Gurgaon, Pune and Bengaluru but are notoriously difficult to pin down because the victims are foreigners who can’t file police complaints in India, and the firms are often run out of flats or nondescript locations by a handful of people.

If the trend isn’t checked, experts warn, India might soon join the ranks of Nigeria and Vietnam where employment shrunk rapidly as investor confidence eroded because of high cybercrime rates and angry customers.

“Anyone doing bad things is not good for us because the impression gets generalised. In the mind of those affected by the scam it’s not a company or a person, it becomes a country,” says Raman Roy, chairman of India’s main IT industry lobby NASSCOM.

Testimonies of many victims float on the internet, in tech blogs, chat rooms and even with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the United States’ consumer protection agency that has investigated several Indian BPOs for fraud.

Ask Timothy Gatewood of Texas, United States. “I got a pop-up notice from Apple saying ‘you have virus infecting computer, call this number’. So I called the number, and it was some guy with an Indian accent,” the 53-year-old Houston-based DJ told Hindustan Times.

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“He said he was a representative of Apple, and he’s with this company, Tech Live Connect. I paid them 200 dollars, all they did was delete a couple (of) files, and maybe put a couple (of) apps from the App store, and said, there you go, bada-boom bada-bing, 200-something dollars!”

Tech Live Connect’s call centre is run by Saburi TLC whose promoter and CEO Anuj Jain has heard of these complaints but denies that the blame lies with his company.

“Some of our ex-employees impersonate us, which is why you see the complaints,” Jain tells HT, sitting in a corner office with a wall full of certificates praising his achievements in the BPO industry. “They steal data from us and start calling our clients.”

Jain, 42, says Tech Live Connect (TLC), a Singapore-based company, is one of Saburi TLC’s “major clients”, handling their customer calls out of its call centre in Gurgaon. He denies any other links between the two companies.

But an HT investigation and interviews with former and present employees of Saburi TLC reveal the two companies are intimately connected.

A SCARE-AND-SELL INDUSTRY

In the satellite city of Gurgaon, an hour’s drive from downtown New Delhi, Saburi TLC’s 20,000-sqft is manned by mostly fresh-out-of-college graduates, eager for a job and who don’t ask too many questions.

A tech support scam begins by planting a pop-up message in the target user’s web browser that alerts them to a so-called virus infection, employees and experts say. The pop-up alarms the user, sometimes by locking their devices, forcing them to call a phone number flashing in the message.

The call is picked up by someone like Vikas Tanwar*.

“You ask for remote access and show them temp files, run fake software to show fabricated security threats, and convince them their computer is corrupt. Then we tell them that if you don’t buy our security products, the computer will become unusable,” says Tanwar, who knew the scare-and-sell script by heart by the end of his first week at Saburi TLC.

“We know there are no viruses. User ko to nahi pata (the user has no idea),” says Anshul, 26, who gave only one name and who joined the company five years ago. Like other employees – past and present – HT spoke to Anshul wants to hide his name. “They will have me killed.”

Tanwar, a 24-year-old commerce graduate, joined the company in November 2016. He says the brief was clear: To con every caller of anywhere between 10 and 500 dollars.

“The moment you put on your headphones, your supervisor tells you ‘you are scammers. Aapko customer ko fasana hai, kuch bhi kar ke… (you have to trap the customer, no matter how),” says Tanwar, who quit Saburi TLC in February.

It’s on the back of millions of English-speaking, tech-savvy college graduates like Anshul and Tanwar that the Indian BPO industry has grown to be a behemoth. But a paucity of jobs, easy access to foreign clients and lax regulation have caused an explosion in cyber-related crimes – exemplified last year when a Thane call centre was busted by Indian and US police for cheating 6,500 US nationals of almost $100 million.

MAZE OF DECEIT

Jain’s career maps the highs and lows of the Indian BPO industry, from a global powerhouse to a potential destination for the desperate and devious. From 2002 to 2011, Jain worked for a series of companies at the top of the BPO ladder, from Wipro to Quattro. Then, in November 2011, he launched Saburi TLC.

The first is registered in India under Jain’s name and the second, Tech Live Connect, in Singapore under the name of Brian Cotter, a former colleague of Jain’s at Quattro who left around the same time as him.

“No one knows Saburi TLC as a brand. So we reach out to clients as Tech Live Connect, who see us as one company,” says Jain.

But that argument flies in the face of evidence put together by HT.

Tech Live Connect is the owner of the domain, saburitlc.com — the official website of Saburi TLC. It’s also from an email ID registered with the domain techliveconnect.com that Jain used to communicate with HT. On LinkedIn and Facebook, Jain introduces himself as director and chairman of Tech Live Connect.

Jain and Tech Live Connect promoter Brian Cotter attribute the overlap to the “nature of partnership” between them. Cotter told HT that Saburi TLC handled its clients’ service and tech support calls.

BLOWING THE LID

To be sure, Saburi TLC’s operations include some legitimate services. Jain is the co-owner of Imagine Tressor, a premium reseller of Apple products with 11 stores across north India. He also runs two premium Apple service centres in and around Delhi.

In an industry where customer interface rarely goes beyond long distance calls, small legitimate operations often act as smokescreens for many fraudulent cyber businesses.

To capture the scam, an HT journalist called Tech Live Connect’s registered number to complain that his perfectly healthy Windows laptop was running slow.

He was first instructed to hand over remote access to the computer and then told, in an escalating tone of alarm, about a range of security threats, from “junk files” to “virus, malware, Trojan” to that his “computer has been hacked”.

The journalist was told his computer would be “unfixable” if he didn’t buy an $8 one-time fix followed by a year’s worth of security service from Tech Live Connect.

Had HT bought the security solution, Saburi TLC executives would have taken the customer through one of six or seven US-based payment gateways to deposit money in American bank accounts, says Tanwar, recapping steps he followed hundreds of times to extort money from unsuspecting clients.

“They would then launder it back to India,” he says. Tanwar thinks the call centre makes at least $5000 off the scam every day. Rajat Garg, a former Saburi TLC employee, says it makes $100,000 a day.

Tanwar made an average of 15 calls every day at Saburi TLC with a “target” of $500 on every call. “If you sell services worth $1000 dollars, you get 1000 rupees,” says Tanwar, who made Rs 20,000 in monthly salary but a far bigger amount in “incentives”.

HT also filed a request for information with the office of the US Freedom of Information Act, which revealed that the US FTC had received 699 consumer complaints against Tech Live Connect. The latest was filed on March 28 by a resident of Warner Robins, a city in the US state of Georgia, who narrated a harrowing tale of deceit and threats from Tech Live Connect. HT has copies of 50 such complaints.

Asked if Tech Live Connect was under investigation, FTC spokesman Frank Dorman told Hindustan Times: “All information about investigations is nonpublic, including whether or not there is an investigation.”

Better Business Bureau (BBB), a leading US consumer protection forum, set up a “business profile” of Tech Live Connect on its website after receiving multiple complaints against it.

“We especially do this if the company appears to have a pattern of complaints as was the case with Tech Live Connect,” BBB spokeswoman Katherine Hutt told HT. Some of these complaints with BBB were resolved, mostly with a refund. Former Saburi TLC employees told HT this was done to avoid trouble and manage online reputation.

LEGAL LOOPHOLES

A 2016 Stony Brook University study showed that 86% of all tech scams originated in India.

“Unfortunately, the scale of such scams originating from India is huge,” says Roy, also the founder of Quatrro, a big name in India’s BPO industry. “A small group of people with an internet connection and VoIP numbers can launch a tech support scam.”

And the art of scamming is not at all difficult to learn, says Garg, a former Saburi TLC employee. According to Garg, “even a 10th pass can get a job at TLC.”

Garg, 26, says he has worked for many such scam outfits. In 2012, he joined Saburi TLC but left in a year to join iYogi, a big name in Indian tech support, for a better salary. In 2015, he left iYogi after a lawsuit was filed against the company in the United States for running a tech support scam.

In 2016, he landed at Prime Technologies but lost his job the same year after founder Aman Mehndiratta – an ex-Saburi TLC employee — was convicted in a US court of routing fraud money to India using the bank account of an American co-conspirator.

But why is it so difficult to shut down such companies? A major reason is the ease with which these companies can be launched or re-launched, experts say.

Apple and Microsoft know about the scale of the fraud. A Microsoft spokesperson told HT it has a dedicated online portal to report tech support scams, which receives an average of 10,000 consumer complaints a month. To a detailed questionnaire from HT, Apple just said, “We take security very seriously”.

Vakul Sharma, an advocate at the Supreme Court, says India has the legal framework, but the complainants need to be physically present in an Indian court or send a lawyer as a representative. Hardly any American victim of tech scams do that.

In 2012, the US FTC charged six tech support firms with fraud in a US district court– five in India alone. In 2014, a US court ordered the six companies to pay more than $5.1 million dollars in damages. It was not clear if these companies paid up.

“We have met with the CBI, and with local law enforcement officials, on many occasions and hope to coordinate our efforts to halt these frauds and the damage they do to consumers as well as the reputation of India’s call center industry,” Dorman told HT in an email.

But the industry isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon, say people who have been a part of it.

“It’s very easy to scare Americans,” says Amit Singhal, who worked at Saburi TLC between 2012 and 2013.

“Bade bhole hote hain (They are very gullible).”

(Input from Harry Stevens in NEW DELHI and Yashwant Raj in WASHINGTON)

*Names of current and former Saburi TLC employees changed to protect identity

Kashmir: 8 Killed During Voting Violence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

8 killed in Kashmir bypoll violence, Srinagar registers poor voter turnout of 7.14%

INDIA Updated: Apr 10, 2017 08:29 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bypolls

Srinagar: Youths throw stones on Security forces during clashes in Srinagar on Sunday. Four civilians where killed and more than two dozens were injured during the clashes. (PTI Photo)

At least eight people were killed in clashes with security forces during Sunday’s by-election to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, which recorded a poor voter turnout of 7.14%. (HIGHLIGHTS)Violence marred polling in Ater assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh too, where police firing was reported from two places after villagers allegedly threw stones at Congress candidate Hemant Katare’s car. Six vehicles, including police cars, were damaged, sources said.The biggest bloodshed was recorded in Srinagar, where the by-poll was held along with 10 assembly constituencies in eight states, including New Delhi’s Rajouri Garden.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) float in a river after protesters attack on polling station at Kanihamma in Srinagar on Sunday. More then 20 people were injured during the clashes. (PTI Photo)

“There were more than 200 incidents of violence, mostly in Budgam district, which included stone-pelting, petrol bomb attacks, setting ablaze of a polling station, some vehicles and attempt to burn another two polling booths,” Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shantmanu said.

“It was not a good day for us.” And he admitted that the by-poll in Anantnag on April 12 would be a bigger challenge.

Internet services in the Valley have been suspended till Wednesday.

The violence in Kashmir followed a separatist call to boycott the by-election, saying the situation is not right to hold a democratic exercise after last year’s unprecedented public unrest triggered by the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Wani.

People took to the streets to enforce the boycott across the constituency straddling Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts.

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Polling staff abandoned almost 70% of booths in Budgam district because of the violent protests. Army was called out to help security forces quell mobs throwing stones and petrol bombs at polling stations in Ganderbal district.

Security teams fired bullets as well as the controversial pellet guns to disperse mobs. Pellet guns — a so-called non-lethal weapon — have killed, maimed and blinded hundreds of people during the 2016 unrest.

On Sunday, at least one man died of pellet wounds, director general of police SP Vaid said.

A senior doctor at Budgam district hospital confirmed that the majority of patients were being treated for pellet wounds.

Most of the dead were young men, including a 15-year-old Faizaan Ahmad Rather and Amir Manzoor, who was 17.

Protesters throwing stones at a burning polling staff bus after they attacked a polling station at Kanihama in Srinagar on Sunday. (PTI)

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was pained that most of them were teenagers. “I am distressed … they were yet to understand the intricacies of the issues,” she said.

Former chief minister and opposition National Conference working president Omar Abdullah, whose father Farooq Abdullah is contesting the by-poll, said he had never seen this level of violence in elections in Kashmir.

“I am talking about having fought my first election in 1998 at the peak of militancy. Even then the environment for campaigning and voting was not as bad as it is today. That may itself tell you just how mismanaged this state is under Mehbooba Mufti,” he said.

Repolling could be ordered in “anywhere around 50 or 100 polling stations or more” because of the violence, according to state poll panel chief Shantmanu.

“The tentative voter turnout is 6.5%,” he said.

That’s much lower than the 2014 parliamentary polls, which recorded 26%.

In the 1989 elections, National Conference’s Mohammad Shafi Bhat won the seat uncontested. The previous lowest turnout in the prestigious seat was 11.93% in 1999 when Omar Abdullah had defeated Mehbooba Mufti in a straight contest.

Police firing was also reported in Madhya Pradesh’s Ater seat after Congress and BJP workers clashed. Polls in the state were preceded by controversies related to electronic voting machines.

People damaged the Congress candidate Katara’s car at Sankri polling booth, where he had gone to check reports of booth capturing by BJP candidate Arvind Bhadoria’s followers.

But the state election commission dismissed reports of booth capturing.

By-elections in another assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh, two in Karnataka, one each in West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi ended peacefully.

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In all, by-elections were held in nine assembly constituencies in six states, besides the Srinagar parliamentary seat.

Rajouri Garden assembly seat in west Delhi recorded a poor turnout of 47%. The by-election is seen as the trailer to the municipal polls this month. The seat was held by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Jarnail Singh before he resigned to contest the Punjab assembly polls this February.

In Jharkhand’s Littipara assembly by-poll, about 72% turnout was recorded till evening.

The by-poll is viewed as a prestige issue for the ruling BJP and the opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in the state. The BJP is trying to capture a seat that the JMM has held for 40 years.

Polling was peaceful and around 52% votes were cast in six hours in the Kanthi Dakshin assembly by-poll in West Bengal. The ruling Trinamool Congress has nominated former minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya as its candidate.

Bhattacharya had lost from Dum Dum (North) in last year’s assembly polls.

In Karnataka, by-polls to Nanjangud and Gundlupet assembly constituencies were held. Fresh polls had to be called at Nanjanagud as V Srinivas Prasad, the Congress MLA, resigned after he was dropped from the ministry. Prasad is now the BJP candidate.

In Dholpur assembly constituency in Rajasthan, where the BJP is in power, 74% polling was recorded.

Polling was peaceful amid reports of electronic voting machine (EVM) and voter verified paper audit trial (VVPAT) malfunctions at some booths, Rajasthan’s chief electoral officer Ashwini Bhagat said.

(With inputs from HTC Bhopal, Kolkata, Ranchi and agencies)

India: Cops Halt Church Prayer Because Hindu Group Alleges Conversion: Democracy, Really?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

In Uttar Pradesh, cops halt church prayer after Hindu group alleges conversion

INDIA Updated: Apr 08, 2017 07:49 IST

Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Gorakhpur, New Delhi
Yogi Adityanath

People inside the church on Friday. Eleven US nationals were also present in the church. (HT Photo)

Police stopped a prayer attended by more than 150 people, including 11 American tourists, at an Uttar Pradesh church on Friday after the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini complained that the event was a cover for religious conversion.The youth group, set up by chief minister Yogi Adityanath in 2002, filed a complaint against Yohannan Adam, the pastor of the church at Dathauli of Maharajganj district.

The organisation accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity, a charge the pastor denied.

“No prior permission was taken before the meeting. We stopped the meet after a complaint was registered. A probe is underway and appropriate action will be taken if the charges are correct,” said police officer Anand Kumar Gupta.

The US tourists were let off after police checked their visas and relevant documents.

“The presence of US nationals indicates that innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted by the missionaries, who lured them with money to change their religion,” said Krishna Nandan, a Hindu Yuva Vahini leader who surrounded the church with his supporters in the afternoon.

They dispersed after police promised a probe and adequate action, though Nandan was not happy that the Americans were cleared.

The church authorities dismissed the conversion allegations.

“The charges are absolutely baseless. The people were attending a prayer meeting voluntarily. We prayed. Nothing else was done,” pastor Adam said.

The Hindu right wing has been at loggerheads with Christian missionaries, accusing them of converting people through coercion and allurement to their faith.

Several Hindu organisations have conducted ghar wapsi or homecoming of such people, which minority groups say is a couched term for re-conversion.

Earlier this year, Hindu Yuva Vahini activists attacked the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur, accusing it of religious conversion.

Chinese Media Keeps Up It’s Angry Tirade Toward India Because Of Dalai Lama’s Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND IANS (INDO ASIAN NEWS SERVICE))

Chinese media keeps up angry tirade on Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, April 6 (IANS) The Chinese media on Thursday kept up its tirade against India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, with an editorial in a state-run daily suggesting that if China, with its higher military capabilities and support among India’s neighbours, wants it can create trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.

In an editorial, titled ‘India’s use of Dalai Lama card tactless’, the Global Times says: “With a GDP several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India’s peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India’s turbulent northern state borders China, if China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”

It said that China considers India as a friendly neighbour and partner and has “never provoked” bilateral disputes or made any “pressing demand” on India over the Dalai Lama. “New Delhi should respond to Beijing’s goodwill with goodwill.”

The editorial comes a day after Beijing summoned the Indian envoy Vijay Gokhale to protest the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which China considers disputed and part of south Tibet. India has maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of its territory. The protests come as the Dalai Lama is in Arunachal Pradesh and is on way to Tawang for a major Buddhist event.

The editorial says that while the Dalai Lama has been to Arunachal Pradesh before, what makes this trip different is that he is “received by and accompanied by India’s Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. When China raised the concern over the visit, Rijiju commented that China shouldn’t intervene in their “internal affairs.”

The editorial is mistaken on this point, as Rijiju, who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, was not in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday and did not receive the Dalai Lama or accompany him. Rijiju is set to accompany the Tibetan leader during his visit to Tawang. The Dalai Lama was received by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday, who is accompanying him on his road journey.

The daily says, in faulty English, that on the one hand New Delhi takes a stance that it opposes the Dalai Lama engaging in anti-China activities on the soil of India, but “it has long attempted to use the Dalai Lama as a card”.

“When India emphasizes the relationship with China, it would place a tight control on the Dalai. When it has a grudge against China, it may prompt the Dalai to play certain tricks as a signal sent to China,” it goes on to say.

It suggested that India is using the Dalai Lama as a “diplomatic tool” to put pressure on Beijing on the NSG and Masood Azhar issues, but it termed it “a clumsy and rude move”.

The editorial said that since the Tibetan leader is a highly politicised symbol in China’s diplomacy, a country’s attitude toward him almost affects the entire relationship with Beijing.

“The West has fully recognised the nature of the Dalai Lama as a diplomatic card and is extremely prudent in using it.

It said that earlier the Dalai Lama was received by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in December. “At a time when the Dalai Lama has been given a cold shoulder in many places of the world, New Delhi is bucking the trend and treating him as a favourite.”

The editorial warned that “New Delhi probably overestimates its leverage in the bilateral ties with China”.

“The two countries in recent years have continuously strived to improve their relationship and the peace on the border area has been maintained. India has benefited from the good momentum of bilateral relationship as much as China. If New Delhi ruins the Sino-India ties and the two countries turn into open rivals, can India afford the consequence?”

On Wednesday too, the Global Times in a belligerent editorial had said that New Delhi’s inviting the Tibetan spiritual leader to the “sensitive region” would “gravely damage” India-China relations.

It said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “unlike his predecessors” was taking a different stance on the Dalai Lama issue by “raising public engagements with the monk and challenging Beijing’s bottom line” on Arunachal Pradesh.

–IANS

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