Top news of the day: Two pilots killed after Army’s Cheetah helicopter crashes in Arunachal Pradesh; Rahul Gandhi asks Lok Sabha Speaker to allow him to speak in House, and more

The major news headlines of the day and more.

March 16, 2023 07:32 pm | Updated 07:36 pm IST

Congress MPs Rahul Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury at Parliament House complex during the ongoing Budget Session on March 16, 2023.

Congress MPs Rahul Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury at Parliament House complex during the ongoing Budget Session on March 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Two pilots killed after Army’s Cheetah helicopter crashes in Arunachal Pradesh

An Army Aviation Cheetah helicopter flying an operational sortie near Mandala, West of Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh crashed on March 16 morning, killing the two pilots Lt Col V. V. B. Reddy and Maj A. Jayanth. The helicopter lost contact with the ATC at around 09:15 AM. “Five search parties of Indian Army, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were immediately launched. The wreckage of the aircraft was found near Village Banglajaap East of Mandala,” the Army said in a statement. “With regret we inform that the pilot and the co-pilot of the helicopter lost their lives in the accident.”

Rahul Gandhi meets Lok Sabha Speaker, says ‘will speak in Parliament if allowed’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on March 16 arrived in Parliament House after his return from abroad and met Speaker Om Birla urging him to allow him to speak in Lok Sabha. The meeting was held at 1:45 p.m. in the Speaker’s Chamber. He earlier said he has said nothing against India or the Parliament during his London visit. Mr. Gandhi said he would speak in Parliament if he is allowed by the chair. “I went to the Parliament and told the Speaker that I want to speak in the Parliament. Four Ministers have made allegations against me and that’s why it’s my right. There is no clarity but I am not sure that they would allow. I am still hopeful that they would allow me tomorrow,” Mr. Gandhi said at a press conference.

Opposition leaders form human chain in Parliament premises, demand JPC probe into Adani issue

Opposition leaders on March 16 formed a human chain in the Parliament House premises demanding a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) into alleged irregularities in the Adani Group. Carrying placards and raising slogans, Opposition lawmakers, including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, DMK leader T. R. Baalu, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah, Shiv Sena (Thackeray faction) leaders Priyanka Chaturvedi and Arvind Sawant, also protested against what they called the BJP government’s “diversionary tactics”.

India approves capital acquisition of military hardware worth ₹70,584 crore

India on March 16 approved the capital acquisition of indigenously-developed military hardware worth ₹70,584 crore as part of a mega procurement plan that is expected to significantly boost domestic defence manufacturing. The approval to the procurement proposals was accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, officials said. The total approval granted for capital acquisition in the financial year 2022-23 now stands at ₹2,71,538 crore, of which 98.9% will be sourced from Indian industries, the officials said.

ED conducts searches on Franklin Templeton MF officials: sources

The ED conducted searches on March 16 on the premises linked to the officials of the Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund, according to sources. The searches are underway in Mumbai and Chennai, sources said. In November 2020, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had issued a show-cause notice to the company following its April 2020 decision to wind up six debt schemes having ₹25,000 crore of AUM from 3 lakh investors, citing liquidity challenges because of the pandemic.

Anti-money laundering | Enforcement Directorate data says only 2.98% cases filed against MPs/MLAs; conviction rate 96%

The Enforcement Directorate has said that only 2.98% of its overall Enforcement Case Information Reports or complaints have been filed against serving or former MPs and MLAs even as its conviction rate under the anti-money laundering law is at a high of 96%. The ED has published an updated data of its action under the three laws it implements — the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act — till January 31, 2023.

Delhi Excise policy case | ED rejects BRS leader Kavitha’s plea to defer proceedings against her; issues fresh summons for March 20

The ED on March 16 rejected BRS leader K. Kavitha’s plea to defer proceedings against her till the Supreme Court ruling on her petition seeking protection from arrest and summons, as it issued a fresh notice to her for questioning on March 20 in the Delhi excise policy money laundering case, officials said. The Telangana MLC sent an “authorised representative” in the morning with a six-page petition to the investigating officer of the case in Delhi stating she was skipping the March 16 summons as they explicitly does not require her to appear in person.

Delhi snooping case | CBI registers case against Manish Sisodia, 6 others

The CBI on March 16 registered a case against seven people, including former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in connection with the allegations of snooping. The Union Home Ministry in February gave the CBI permission to prosecute Mr. Sisodia in connection with allegations of “snooping on political opponents through a specially designed feedback unit“. Reacting to the development, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that the PM’s plan was to slap several false cases against Mr. Sisodia and keep him in custody for a long period.

U.S. releases video of Russian jet dumping fuel on its drone

The Pentagon has released footage of what it says is a Russian aircraft conducting an unsafe intercept of a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea. The 42-second video, released on March 16, showed a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 drone and beginning to release fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said. The U.S. military said it ditched the MQ-9 Reaper in the sea on March 14 after the Russian fighter jet poured fuel on the unmanned aerial vehicle and then struck its propeller.

U.K. bans TikTok on government devices over security concerns

TikTok will be banned from U.K. government phones amid security concerns around the Chinese-owned social media video app, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden announced in Parliament on March 16. The ban brings the U.K. in line with the U.S., Canada and the European Union (EU) and also India – which banned TikTok entirely from the country, even as the company strongly denies sharing user data with the Chinese government. Mr. Dowden told MPs that there “could be” a risk to how government data and information is used by the app.

Pakistan judge offers to stop attempts to arrest Imran Khan if he surrenders in court

A district court judge in Pakistan said on Thursday he would halt attempts by the Islamabad police to arrest Imran Khan in a corruption case if the ousted premier surrendered before the court. Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal said this during the hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) case seeking criminal proceedings against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief for hiding details of Toshakhana gifts. The judge had re-issued non-bailable arrest warrants for 70-year-old Khan on February 28 and directed the capital city police to bring him to court by March 18.

Israelis step up protests after PM Netanyahu rejects compromise

Israeli protesters press ahead on March 16 with demonstrations against a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary, pushing back against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he rejected a compromise proposal that was meant to defuse the crisis. Despite the effort by the country’s figurehead President, Isaac Herzog, to seek a way out of the stalemate, the sides appeared to be further digging in. PM Netanyahu and his allies were set to barrel forward with their original plan despite weeks of mass protests and widespread opposition from across Israeli society and beyond as well as warnings by Herzog that Israel was headed toward an “abyss.”

Credit Suisse shares soar after announcing Swiss Central Bank aid

Credit Suisse’s shares have soared 30% after it announced it will move to shore up its finances by borrowing up to nearly $54 billion from the Swiss Central Bank. It’s a massive swing on March 16 after its shares plunged 30% on the SIX stock exchange a day earlier after its biggest shareholder said it would not put more money into the Swiss lender that dragged down other European banks as fears about the banking system expanded overseas following the collapse of some U.S. banks.

Gianni Infantino re-elected FIFA president till 2027, promises greater revenues

Gianni Infantino was re-elected as FIFA president during the 73rd Congress in Kigali on March 16, promising record revenues in the next four-year cycle of $11 billion as he called for more football to be played around the world. Infantino stood unopposed, making his re-election as head of football’s governing body a formality, even if he is not universally popular among member associations for a range of reasons, including pushing for a failed plan to play the World Cup every two years.

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup | Prize money hiked 300% to $150 million

The Women’s World Cup is getting 300% increase in prize money for this year’s tournament. The $150 million fund for the first 32-team tournament is a huge boost from the 24-team edition in 2019, and 10 times what it was in 2015. Some of that prize money must be dedicated to paying players, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on March 16.

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