We will punish train killers, says Maoist rebel leader



MIDNAPUR WEST BENGAL // A leader of the largest Maoist umbrella group said yesterday that the renegade cadres most probably responsible for last week's train derailment, which resulted in the death of 148 passengers, would be "punished" if found guilty in an internal investigation.

"We shall soon begin our probe on the two accused cadres. If they are found responsible for the train crash, they will receive punishment from us," said Akash, a leader of the Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist), an umbrella group for the leftist rebels, by phone from an undisclosed location. Akash - who until Saturday had hinted that West Bengal's ruling Marxists were behind the sabotage and the Maoists were being falsely framed - indicated that "very soon" a Maoist probe in the case would take its course.

"Our investigation will be impartial. Any member of any group close to us will face punishment if their involvement in the sabotage is proved beyond doubt," Akash said. Hours after Friday's train crash police said that by intercepting mobile phone conversations they had pinpointed members of a local rebel Maoist militia who had sabotaged the railway tracks and triggered the train crash. Within two days, West Bengal's Criminal Investigation Department presented a report to the state's chief minister blaming cadres of a Maoist offshoot - the Maoist People's Committee Against Police Atrocity (PCAPA) - for the sabotage.

"We have definite evidence of Maoists' involvement in this case and we hope to arrest the two main culprits soon," said the West Midnapur police chief, Manoj Verma. The CPI-Maoist leadership, which usually claims immediate responsibility for attacks, originally refuted the charge, saying that no Maoist groups were involved in the attack on the train. At least four CPI-Maoist leaders called several news organisations on Friday and Saturday, and said their groups were being wrongly accused.

But this week, after some local newspapers and television channels ran reports further "exposing" the subversive role of the two Maoist cadres in the train disaster - with one cadre even confessing to the Indian Express newspaper that he had sabotaged the track - the CPI-Maoist leadership appears to be changing its position on the case. Kolkata's largest Bengali daily, Ananda Bazar Patrika, reported on Tuesday that Umakanta Mahato, a local PCAPA leader, hatched the plan and his deputy, Bapi Mahato, who is not related, executed the sabotage.

"On Umakanta's order, Bapi forced the day-wage linesmen to accompany him with their sledgehammers, hacksaws, pick-axes and other accessories. Virtually held at gunpoint, the linesmen removed the elastic rail clips and sawed off the rails," the paper wrote in its investigative report. The Indian Express reported on Monday that before police announced that Bapi was behind the sabotage, the local Maoist PCAPA leader, 25, confessed to the paper that he was behind the sabotage on the railway track.

"We are sorry. We never wanted these innocent civilians to die. Trust me, we targeted a goods train. But somehow, we were fed some wrong information ? There must have been some miscalculation," Indian Express reported Bapi as saying. Bapi also told Indian Express that Friday's sabotage was organised as part of an angry protest against torture by security forces and armed squad members of the ruling CPI-Marxist (CPI-M).

"Our villagers are being tortured mercilessly by security forces and in the wee hours of Thursday, several teams of security forces came along with 'Harmads' [armed goons backed by the CPM-M into villages and picked up people indiscriminately. So they were seething with anger." Many villagers in the West Midnapur district of West Bengal state, where the train crash took place, said the Maoist leadership is usually very serious in dealing with their "rogue cadres" and that the punishment would likely be execution.

"Since it is now clear from several media investigations that [the two accused Maoist People's Committee Against Police Atrocity leaders] Umakanta Mahato and Bapi Mahato indeed sabotaged the railway track, we believe the Maoist probe too will find the two guilty," said Nabin Mandi, a private tutor in a Maoist-dominated area of Lalgarh in West Midnapur. "The issue is very serious involving death of so many innocent people.

"We are sure the Maoist leadership will decide to execute the two rogue cadres following a Maoist trial," Mr Mandi said. A school teacher who is known as a Maoist sympathiser and lives around Sardiha, where the train derailment took place, said in an interview that he is sure the two PCAPA leaders will be handed out "very tough" punishment by the Maoist command. "I shall be surprised if they are not handed out capital punishment by the Maoist command ? At least a dozen PCAPA, Village Defence Force and other Maoist group members have received such capital punishment for indiscipline in eastern India in the past year," the teacher said, on condition of anonymity because he fears police harrassment.

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THE BIO

Family: I have three siblings, one older brother (age 25) and two younger sisters, 20 and 13 

Favourite book: Asking for my favourite book has to be one of the hardest questions. However a current favourite would be Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier

Favourite place to travel to: Any walkable city. I also love nature and wildlife 

What do you love eating or cooking: I’m constantly in the kitchen. Ever since I changed the way I eat I enjoy choosing and creating what goes into my body. However, nothing can top home cooked food from my parents. 

Favorite place to go in the UAE: A quiet beach.

The Last White Man

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192 pages 

Published by: Hamish Hamilton (UK), Riverhead Books (US)

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ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
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Essentials
The flights: You can fly from the UAE to Iceland with one stop in Europe with a variety of airlines. Return flights with Emirates from Dubai to Stockholm, then Icelandair to Reykjavik, cost from Dh4,153 return. The whole trip takes 11 hours. British Airways flies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Reykjavik, via London, with return flights taking 12 hours and costing from Dh2,490 return, including taxes. 
The activities: A half-day Silfra snorkelling trip costs 14,990 Icelandic kronur (Dh544) with Dive.is. Inside the Volcano also takes half a day and costs 42,000 kronur (Dh1,524). The Jokulsarlon small-boat cruise lasts about an hour and costs 9,800 kronur (Dh356). Into the Glacier costs 19,500 kronur (Dh708). It lasts three to four hours.
The tours: It’s often better to book a tailor-made trip through a specialist operator. UK-based Discover the World offers seven nights, self-driving, across the island from £892 (Dh4,505) per person. This includes three nights’ accommodation at Hotel Husafell near Into the Glacier, two nights at Hotel Ranga and two nights at the Icelandair Hotel Klaustur. It includes car rental, plus an iPad with itinerary and tourist information pre-loaded onto it, while activities can be booked as optional extras. More information inspiredbyiceland.com

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If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

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Annual fees for the Technical University of Munich - £600

Shared rental accommodation per month depending on the location ranges between  £200-600

The family had budgeted for food, books, travel, living expenses - £20,000 annually

Overall costs in Germany are lower than the family estimated 

As proof that the student has the ability to take care of expenses, international students must open a blocked account with about £8,640

Students are permitted to withdraw £720 per month

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Price, base / as tested: Dh269,000 / Dh369,000

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Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

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Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Sebastian Stan

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UAE release: January 31 

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A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.

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Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment

DC League of Super-Pets

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Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

WHAT MACRO FACTORS ARE IMPACTING META TECH MARKETS?

• Looming global slowdown and recession in key economies

• Russia-Ukraine war

• Interest rate hikes and the rising cost of debt servicing

• Oil price volatility

• Persisting inflationary pressures

• Exchange rate fluctuations

• Shortage of labour/skills

• A resurgence of Covid?

Changing visa rules

For decades the UAE has granted two and three year visas to foreign workers, tied to their current employer. Now that's changing.

Last year, the UAE cabinet also approved providing 10-year visas to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least Dh10 million, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 per cent of the total. Investors can bring their spouses and children into the country.

It also approved five-year residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams.

The government also said that leading academics, medical doctors, scientists, engineers and star students would be eligible for similar long-term visas, without the need for financial investments in the country.

The first batch - 20 finalists for the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Distinction.- were awarded in January and more are expected to follow.

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

'Midnights'

Artist: Taylor Swift

Label: Republic Records

Rating: 4/5

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

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Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

NYBL PROFILE

Company name: Nybl 

Date started: November 2018

Founder: Noor Alnahhas, Michael LeTan, Hafsa Yazdni, Sufyaan Abdul Haseeb, Waleed Rifaat, Mohammed Shono

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Software Technology / Artificial Intelligence

Initial investment: $500,000

Funding round: Series B (raising $5m)

Partners/Incubators: Dubai Future Accelerators Cohort 4, Dubai Future Accelerators Cohort 6, AI Venture Labs Cohort 1, Microsoft Scale-up 


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