Drug trafficking allegation
against Shah Rukh’s son
India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednes-
day alleged that Aryan Khan (left), son of Bolly-
wood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was prima facie
involved in “illicit drug trafficking and procuring
and distribution of contraband” along with others.
The agency also accused Aryan of being in touch
with people in other countries who could be part
of an international illegal drug syndicate.
The NCB’s statement came during a hearing of
the bail applications of Aryan and seven others
who were arrested by drug enforcement agents on
Oct 3 after police raided a cruise ship off the coast
of Mumbai. All eight are currently in police
custody in Mumbai.
Aryan’s lawyers, senior advocates Amit Desai
and Satish Maneshinde, argued that the 23-year-old
was not present during the raid, had no cash to buy
drugs and did not have narcotics on him.
The NCB said there is sufficient material evi-
dence in the form of WhatsApp chats and photos to
show that Aryan was an active link in the illegal
drugs chain along with the other accused.
“WhatsApp chats reveal the accused was in
touch with a foreign national for bulk quantity of
hard drugs,” it said, adding that the probe has
revealed Aryan’s role in the conspiracy.
All those arrested “are inextricably connected
with each other” and “it is not possible to dissect
the role, involvement of one accused from that of
the other”, said the NCB.
“The ingredients of conspiracy are clear and
evident” and “one of the applicants cannot be
considered in isolation”.
The agency said Aryan used to procure the drugs
from his friend Arbaaz Merchant, who was also
arrested on Oct 3 from the ship.
Its agents seized five grams of cannabis from
Merchant and 2.6 grams of marijuana from Aachit
Kumar, who was also arrested on Oct 3.
Strongly opposing Aryan’s bail plea, the NCB
said that, since he is an influential person, he could
tamper with evidence or influence witnesses and
may flee from justice.
The NCB has arrested 20 people who are
allegedly involved in the case.
Indo-Asian News Service
SHAH RUKH ‘HELPLESS AND BROKEN’:
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
OCTOBER 15, 2021
MCI (P) 034/10/2021
LIFE IN JAIL FOR
TO KILL WIFE
FOR ‘ROLE’ IN SPLIT
No move to give booster doses
India currently has no plans to give
booster doses as some nations have
begun doing, the government’s chief
Covid-19 adviser said on Wednesday
as the country nears the milestone of
one billion vaccine injections.
Dr Vinod K. Paul said that, with the
country’s vaccine makers ramping up
production and domestic needs
diminishing, India should be able to
resume being a major exporter of
vaccines from next year.
Homemade Covid-19 vaccine
India on Tuesday recommended
emergency use of Bharat Biotech’s
Covid-19 shot for children below 12
years, making the vaccine maker the
first in the country to get such an
approval after a review of its trial data
for the two to 18 age-group.
The decision comes as India shifts
its focus to vaccinating children against
the coronavirus, having already rolled
out more than 950 million doses to
adults among its population of nearly
Karnataka minister says Indian
women don’t want to give birth
Karnataka Health Minister
K. Sudhakar on Sunday waded into
controversy by claiming that Indian
women want to stay single and that
“even after marriage they do not want
to give birth to children and are opting
for surrogacy”, adding that this was
“not a good development”.
His comment did not go down well
with women’s organisations, which
condemned it and stressed that women
are free to decide whether to have a
child or not.
Woman trampled to death by
A woman in Assam’s Golaghat district
was trampled to death by a wild
elephant on Sunday.
Forest department officials said
Ms Jyoti Tanti, 21, was attacked while
she was taking a bath in the river
Akasa Air gets aviation ministry
nod to fly
Akasa Air, backed by Indian
billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, said
on Monday it expects to start flying
next year after getting initial clearance
from the civil aviation ministry to
launch the country’s latest ultra-low
The approval comes at a time when
India’s aviation industry is reeling from
the impact of Covid-19, with airlines
losing billions of dollars. But the
sector’s long-term prospect makes the
country a hot market for plane makers
Boeing and Airbus.
Invesco lashes out at Zee over
United States investment firm Invesco
on Monday publicly lashed out at
Indian TV giant Zee and objected to
some terms of its proposed merger
with Japan’s Sony Group, asking
shareholders of the Indian company to
support a bid to revamp its
Invesco funds own nearly 18 per
cent of Zee, and its first such public
tirade ratchets up pressure on one of
India’s biggest TV groups just days
after its founder accused Invesco of
plotting a hostile takeover.
Adani to stop handling containers
from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
India’s largest port operator Adani
Ports and Special Economic Zone said
on Monday that its terminals would no
longer handle export and import of
container cargo from Iran, Pakistan
and Afghanistan from Nov 15.
The company did not give a reason
for its action. The decision comes
weeks after Indian officials seized
nearly three tonnes of heroin
originating from Afghanistan worth an
estimated Rs200 billion ($3.58 billion)
from two containers at Gujarat’s
Mundra Port, run by Adani Ports.
States hit by power outages as
coal supply still tight
India’s energy crisis is starting to bite
with states from Uttar Pradesh to
Rajasthan and Kerala hit by blackouts
over the weekend.
The shortage of coal – which makes
up around seven per cent of India’s
electricity mix – is forcing people to
use generators and some industrial
users to buy electricity at the power
India-China border talks stall, with
both sides blaming each other
China and India on Sunday blamed
each other for a lack of progress in
finding ways to ease friction along
their disputed border, underscoring the
lingering ill-will following clashes last
The Chinese side “made great
efforts” to calm tensions during a
meeting of military officials at the
Chushul-Moldo border meeting point
in the Ladakh region on Sunday,
Colonel Long Shaohua, spokesperson
for the Western theatre of the People’s
Liberation Army, said.
“But India still stuck to
unreasonable and unrealistic demands,
which added difficulties to the
The Indian military hit back, saying
it made suggestions for resolving areas
of dispute, “but the Chinese side was
not agreeable and also could not
provide any forward-looking
Anti-drugs officer alleges he is
being spied on
A top officer of the anti-drugs agency
Narcotics Control Bureau, who is
investigating the case in which
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s son
has been arrested, has alleged that he
is being spied on, reported NDTV.
NCB zonal director Samir
Wankhede spearheaded the raid on
the cruise ship off Mumbai coast
earlier this month, leading to the
arrest of Aryan Khan.
Sources in the agency said
Mr Wankhede and senior officer
Mutha Jain have met the Maharashtra
police chief to complain about the
Minister’s son denied bail, two
A court in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar
Pradesh, on Wednesday denied bail to
Ashish Mishra, the main accused in
the murder of four farmers and a
journalist who were allegedly run over
by a convoy of vehicles, including a
jeep owned by his father and Union
Minister Ajay Mishra.
Three others were killed in
subsequent violence at Tikonia on
Oct 3. The Special Investigation Team
(SIT) of UP Police have arrested two
more persons – 38-year-old Ankit Das
and 37-year-old Lateef alias Kala– in
connection with the incident, taking
the total number of arrests in the case
Domestic flights to fly at full
Domestic flights in India will fly at full
capacity from Oct 18, India’s civil
aviation ministry said on Tuesday, as it
lifted one of the major restrictions on
the industry since the onset of the
pandemic 18 months ago.
The government’s move comes
ahead of the Indian festive season.
Fewer outdoor Ramleela celebrations in New Delhi
An artist dressed as Lord
Rama rehearses backstage
before performing in the
traditional annual play
called Ramleela in New
Delhi on Wednesday.
Fewer enactments of the
Hindu epic Ramayana are
being staged this year in the
national capital because of
the Covid-19 restrictions.
In the pre-pandemic
years, Delhi usually hosted
about 100 Ramleelas of
varying scales of grandeur,
with the most prominent
one being the Luv-Kush
Ramleela on the grounds
outside the iconic Red Fort.
The state disaster
management authority has
not allowed visitors at the
venue this year, following
which several organisers
have gone for live-streaming
of the Ramleela.
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V.K. Santosh Kumar
Channel Excellence Lead
Police take Sooraj Kumar into custody after he was sentenced to life in jail on Wednesday.
An Indian man who used a cobra and
a viper to murder his wife was sen-
tenced to life in jail on Wednesday in
what prosecutors called the “rarest of
Sooraj Kumar set loose a highly
venomous Russell’s viper on his wife
Uthra that left her in hospital for
almost two months, prosecutors said.
While she recovered at her parents’
house, the 28-year-old husband ob-
tained a cobra from a snake handler
and threw it at his sleeping wife.
Its poisonous bite killed the
Sooraj pleaded not guilty but police
said his phone records showed he was
in touch with snake handlers and had
watched snake videos on the Internet
before the killing in March last year in
Sooraj stayed in the room with
Uthra after the cobra bit her and went
about his morning routine the next
day when alerted by the woman’s
mother, said prosecutors.
“The mode of execution and the
diabolic plan of the accused to murder
Uthra, his wife who was bedridden,
makes it (the case) fall into the cate-
gory of rarest of rare,” said the public
prosecutor, who had sought the death
Snake handler Vavarukavu Suresh
said it was possible that Sooraj had
“inflicted pain on the reptile to pro-
voke it to bite”, the Hindustan Times
quoted him as saying.
Ms Uthra, who had disabilities, was
from an affluent family but her hus-
band, a bank worker, was not well off.
The dead woman’s parents became
suspicious after Sooraj tried to take
control of her property after her
Their marriage involved a big
dowry including a new car and Rs5
According to media reports,
Sooraj’s family was charged with con-
spiracy after some of Ms Uthra’s gold
was found buried near Sooraj’s home
days after the murder.
Initially, Ms Uthra’s family treated
her death as accidental, caused by
snake bites as her body had turned
blue. But, later, while searching her
room, her brother Vishnu found a
cobra which was killed.
Neighbours and relatives sympa-
thised with the family as she had just
recovered from a snake bite at her
husband’s home on March 2, which
had left her bedridden for 52 days.
The next day the local newspapers
published her obituary as death by
snakebite. The case would not have
attracted police scrutiny as there was
no suspicious circumstances to suspect
Ms Uthra’s father Vijaysenan be-
came suspicious when Sooraj and his
parents showed no emotions during
the funeral and seemed in a hurry to
get the ceremonies done.
After a week, he lodged a com-
plaint at the Anchal police station in
Kollam saying he suspected foul play
in his daughter’s death.
He also informed the police that
Ms Uthra had informed him that
Sooraj was an expert in handling
Kollam Rural Superintendent of Po-
lice (SP) S. Hari Sankar formed a
special team under Crime Branch
Deputy Superintendent of Police
A. Ashokan to conduct a detailed
Sooraj then panicked and went into
hiding. The police arrested him on
May 23 along with Suresh, who sold
two snakes to Sooraj for Rs10,000.
“We conducted a scientific investiga-
tion, did research on snakebite deaths
and sought expert opinion to gather
evidence in the case,” said SP Hari
Sankar. “It was complicated as there
were no witnesses.
“Our team did a wonderful job in
building up a strong case.”
The police also conducted an au-
topsy and DNA tests on the cobra
which bit Ms Uthra.
The crucial breakthrough came
when snake experts informed the po-
lice that, in an accidental bite, cobras
would leave marks of about 1.7cm; a
forcefully done bite mark would leave
2.8cm long wounds.
The inquest report of Ms Uthra
revealed that there were two bite
marks of 2.5cm and 2.8cm on her
The investigation team conclusively
proved that Sooraj had brought the
cobra home in a bag and forced the
snake to bite his wife twice to ensure
He also stole her gold jewellery
from a bank locker after her death.
Black ticks on their foreheads marking the eye to be
operated on, dozens of patients in green overalls
wait in line, beneficiaries of a pioneering Indian
model that is restoring sight to millions.
With a highly efficient assembly line model
inspired by McDonald’s, the network of Aravind Eye
Care System hospitals performs around 500,000
surgeries a year – many for free.
There are an estimated 10 million blind people in
India, with a further 50 million suffering from some
form of visual impairment. Cataracts – clouding of
the eye lens – is the main cause.
“The bulk of this blindness is due to cataract
which can be easily set right through a simple
surgery,” said Mr Thulasiraj Ravilla, one of the
founders of Aravind.
The hospital was set up by Dr Govindappa
Venkataswamy, who was inspired by McDonald’s
ex-CEO Roy Kroc and learnt about the fast-food
chain’s economies of scale during a visit to the
Hamburger University in Chicago.
“If McDonald’s can do it for hamburgers, why
can’t we do it for eye care?” he famously said.
Aravind started as an 11-bed facility in 1976 in
Madurai, a city in Tamil Nadu, but has expanded to
care centres and community clinics across India.
The model has been so successful that it has been
the subject of numerous studies including by Har-
vard Business School.
But it is the outreach camps which have been the
cornerstone of its no-frills high-volume work –
nearly 70 per cent of India’s population lives in rural
areas. “Access is the main concern, so we are taking
the treatment to the people rather than waiting for
them to come to us,” said Mr Ravilla.
The free eye camps are a boon for those like
Mr Venkatachalam Rajangam. He had to stop
working because he was unable to see the money
customers at his provisions store gave him and
stumbled on the stairs or when out after dark.
The 64-year-old found out about a camp next to
his village in Kadukarai, some 240km from Madurai,
where doctors screened his eyes and detected a
cataract in the left one.
Mr Rajangam was taken in a bus with some 100
others to a shelter run by the hospital, which also
provides basic meals and mats to sleep on free of
charge, and underwent a procedure to remove the
cataract. “I thought the operation would be for an
hour but within 15 minutes everything was over,” he
said. “I didn’t have to spend even a penny. God has
created eyes, but they (the hospital) are the ones
who restored my eyesight.”
Aravind eye surgeon Aruna Pai said the doctors
receive rigorous training to make sure they can
perform surgeries quickly. The complication rate is
less than two per 10,000 at Aravind compared to
four to eight per 10,000 in Britain or the United
States, according to the hospital. “We have wet labs
where we are taught to operate on goats’ eyeballs.
This helps us sharpen our skills,” said Dr Pai, who
performs some 100 surgeries a day.
Aravind said it does not take charity money but
instead uses the revenue generated from paying
customers to help cover the cost of those who need
free treatment. It reduces costs further by manufac-
turing lenses for cataract treatment at its own facility
Life in jail for using cobra to kill wife
“The mode of
execution and the
diabolic plan of
the accused to
murder Uthra, his
wife who was
it (the case) fall
into the category
of rarest of rare.”
– The public prosecutor
Hospital restores eyesight inspired by McDonald’s
Aravind hospital staff preparing Mr Venkatachalam
Rajangam for eye surgery.
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