Indian-Origin Man Among 16 Gang Members Jailed For Sex Abuse In UK


The third trial in the case concluded on October 8. (Representational)

London: 

An Indian-origin ringleader is among 16 men jailed for a combined period of over 200 years for being part of a grooming gang which sexually abused vulnerable young girls in the West Yorkshire region of England.

Amere Singh Dhaliwal, 35, was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years behind bars, with other members of the gang jailed for between five and 18 years in jail at Leeds Crown Court.

The court had been hearing the cases since the beginning of January and were told of the men’s years of repeated serious sexual abuse of the girls, supplying them with drugs and alcohol and trafficking them across the West Yorkshire region for their sexual gratification.

The third trial in the case concluded on October 8, with reporting restrictions imposed on the entire case by the judge lifted only on Friday.

“The investigation into this case has been extremely complex and the investigative team have worked tirelessly for the past five years to ensure that no stone has been left unturned. We welcome the convictions and sentences which have been passed down throughout the year to these depraved individuals, who subjected vulnerable young children to unthinkable sexual and physical abuse,” said Detective Chief Inspector Ian Mottershaw, from West Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation.

“I hope the outcomes of these trials will enable the victims to start the process of putting this trauma behind them and reassure any other potential victims that we will treat them with the utmost respect and sensitivity and take positive action against perpetrators,” he said.

Jailing the men, who are all of South Asian origin including Pakistani-origin men, Judge Geoffrey Marson said: “The way you treated these girls defies understanding; this abuse was vile and wicked. As cases of sexual abuse with which the courts have to deal, this case comes top of the scale”.

Ringleader Dhaliwal, a married father of two, had been charged with 21 counts of rape, assault by penetration, four counts of sexual assault, five counts of inciting sexual activity with a child, 13 counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, three counts of making indecent images, one count of inciting child prostitution, two offences of administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual act and a racially aggravated assault.

As Dhaliwal was sentenced, the judge added, “The extent and gravity of your offending far exceeds anything which I have previously encountered. Children’s lives have been ruined and families profoundly affected by seeing their children, over months and years, out of control, having been groomed by you and other members of your gang”.

A further four men found guilty will be sentenced on November 1 at Leeds Crown Court and have been remanded in custody. All 20 men will also be handed down indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, put in place to prevent them from any unsupervised contact with female children under 18.

The convictions follow an “extensive and extremely complex and sensitive investigation” conducted by detectives in Kirklees district of West Yorkshire, spanning nearly five years, in order to bring a case in front of a judge.

In 2013, the first report was made to the police by a victim and since that point, police identified 15 victims and pieced together the investigation.

The location of the crimes was around Huddersfield and all suspects originate from that town. The offences committed occurred between 2004 and 2011 against girls aged between 11 and 17.
 





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Indian-American Woman Minal Patel Davis Awarded At White House For Combatting Human Trafficking


Minal Patel Davis is currently implementing Mayor Turner’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan.

Houston: 

An Indian-American woman has been honoured with a Presidential award by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for her extraordinary contribution towards combatting human trafficking in Houston.

Minal Patel Davis, Special Advisor on Human Trafficking to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, received the ‘Presidential Medal for Combating Human Trafficking’ in the White House last week at a ceremony also attended by President Donald Trump.

“It was unbelievable,” said Ms Davis after winning the award, the country’s highest honour in the field.

“My parents came here from India. I was the first one in my family born in the United States, so to end up in the Mayor’s office a few years ago, and then to now end up in the White House, it was unbelievable,” she said.

Appointed in July 2015, Ms Davis has made a local impact on human trafficking in America’s fourth largest city from a policy-level perspective and by helped in advancing systems change.

She is currently implementing Mayor Turner’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan, which is the first comprehensive municipal response to human trafficking by a US city.

Ms Davis has spoken at several local, national and international panels and presented Houston city’s approach.

She is a past speaker at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit and recently travelled to India and Canada at the request of the State Department to discuss municipal leadership in trafficking with the government officials.

She did her MBA from the University of Connecticut and BA from New York University. 





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Over 60,000 Indians Received Green Cards In 2017: United States


As of April 2018, there were 632,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses were wating for green cards.

Washington: 

Out of the over 600,000 Indians waiting for the most sought-after Green Card, only 60,394 have received the legal permanent residency last year which allows them to live and work in the US, according to the latest official figures.

Under the current regulation, skilled immigrants from India need to wait anywhere between 25-92 years for a Green Card due to per-country limits, said GCReforms.org, a website founded by members of the Indian diaspora living in the United States that focuses on immigration issues.

As of April 2018, there were 632,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses and minor children waiting for Green Cards.

Of the 60,394 Indians who received Green Cards in 2017, the maximum 23,569 were issued to the employment-based preferences like those on the H-1B visas.

Having a Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US. Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a 7 per cent per country quota on allotment of Green Cards or permanent legal residency.

As many as 20,549 Indians were issued Green Cards in the capacity of them being immediate relatives (spouses, children and parents) of the US citizens, while 14,962 Indians were issued the Green Cards under the family sponsored categories like brothers and sisters.

The latest annual figures released on October 2 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, reveal that the number of Indians getting Green Cards has dropped – albeit marginally – than the previous two years.

In 2015, as many as 64,116 Indians were issued legal permanent residency, and the next year in 2016, the figure was 64,687.

Among the employment-based preferences – which is the route followed by the H-1B visa holders – 137,855 Green Cards were issued.

The DHS said around half of its Green Cards were issued to the immediate relatives of US citizens – spouses (292,909), children (74,989) and parents (148,610).

In all 1,127,167 million foreigners received Green Cards, which is a step below citizenship, in the year 2017, the figures revealed.

The previous year 1,183,505 foreigners received Green Cards in 2016 and 1,051,031 in 2015.

People from Asia (424,743) and North America (413,650) account for the maximum number of Green Card recipients in 2017.

Country-wise figures reveal that China topped the list with 71,565 Green Cards, followed by Cuba (65,028) and India (60,394).

However, India is different from other countries as it has the maximum number of people waiting in line.

Because of the Congressional mandated country quota, Indians according to Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, would have to wait for decades and in some cases as much as 151 years to get a Green Card.

The figures also reveal that in 2017, Americans adopted 222 Indian kids, of which 176 were females and 46 males. Eight of these were of less than year old, 170 between one and four years, while 44 were over five years of age at the time of adoption. 





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Indian Techie In US Gets 8 Month Home Confinement Over Data Breach


Sudhakar Bonthu was an Equifax employee from September 2003 until March 2018. (Representational)

New York: 

An Indian software engineer who was charged with insider trading related to Equifax’s massive data breach in 2017 has been sentenced to eight months of home confinement and fined USD 50,000 after pleading guilty.

Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu was also ordered to forfeit USD 75,979, the US Justice Department said.

The US Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia in a statement on Tuesday said Sudhakar Bonthu, 44, was sentenced to eight months of home confinement by US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg.

“Bonthu intentionally took advantage of information entrusted to him in order to make a quick profit,” said US Attorney Byung J Pak in a statement.

He said that the integrity of the stock markets and the confidence of investors are impaired by those who use nonpublic information for personal gain.

Chris Hacker, the special agent of FBI Atlanta said that it will do everything to hold accountable those who choose to take advantage of their inside knowledge.

“If we don’t hold company insiders to the same rules that govern regular investors, the public’s confidence in the stock market erodes.The FBI will do everything in its power to hold accountable those who choose to take advantage of their inside knowledge,” Hacker said.

Bonthu was an Equifax employee from September 2003 until March 2018. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged him with insider trading in advance of the company’s September 2017 announcement of a massive data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other personal information of approximately 148 million US customers.

The SEC said Bonthu, a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US state of Georgia, committed securities fraud by engaging in illegal insider trading in the securities of information solutions and human resources company Equifax Inc.

 On 12 March 2018, Bonthu’s employment was terminated by Equifax and is currently unemployed.

 In June, the SEC charged that Bonthu traded on confidential information he received while creating a website for consumers impacted by a data breach.

According to the complaint, Bonthu was told the work was being done for an unnamed potential client, but based on information he received, he concluded that Equifax itself was the victim of the breach.

The SEC had alleged that Bonthu violated company policy when he traded on the non-public information by purchasing Equifax put options.

Less than a week later, after Equifax publicly announced the data breach and its stock declined nearly 14 per cent, Bonthu sold the put options and netted more than USD 75,000, a return of more than 3,500 per cent on his initial investment.

This is the second case the SEC has filed arising from the Equifax data breach. In March, SEC had charged former chief information officer of a US business unit of Equifax, Jun Ying, with insider trading. He has pleaded guilty and his case is pending.

Bonthu’s wife, addressing the judge during the sentencing hearing, questioned why her husband was being punished when top executives were not.

“He’s just a small fish in this whole game,” Rekha Vummadi said.

Bonthu also addressed the judge, saying he accepted responsibility for his actions and that he was sorry to Equifax stakeholders and to his family.

 According to the Associated Press, Bonthu faces possible deportation as a result of his felony conviction. 





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Hiral Tipirneni, Sri Kulkarni, Indian-Americans Gain Momentum Ahead Of US Mid-Term Congressional Polls


Washington: 

Two Indian-American candidates have increased their winning chances in the November 6 mid-term elections as the Democratic committee has added them to the ‘Red to Blue’ programme which is for the most viable and high-impact campaigns.

Hiral Tipirneni is running for the US House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament called Congress, from Arizona’s 8th Congressional District and Sri Kulkarni from Texas’ 22nd Congressional District.

On November 6, Americans will vote for members of both chambers of Congress — the US House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as for governors in 36 out of the 50 states.

All 435 seats in the House are up for election while 35 out of the 100 seats are being contested in the Senate. Republicans currently control the House and the Senate.

‘Red to Blue’ designation by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)’s is for the most viable and high-impact campaigns.

Earlier this year, the party had recognised Aftab Pureval from Ohio’s 1st Congressional District with its ‘Red to Blue’ designation.

Wednesday’s addition of Ms Tipirneni and Mr Kulkarni represents a record number of Indian-American candidates on ‘Red to Blue’, said Indian-American Impact Fund.

“In March, Impact Fund endorsed Hiral and Sri because we were confident they have the passion, tenacity and drive it takes to run, win and lead,” said Deepak Raj, co-founder of Impact and chair of the Impact Fund.

“We’re thrilled that the DCCC agrees with our analysis and grateful for their strong support for our candidates,” he said.

Ms Tipirneni and Mr Kulkarni are both highly qualified and passionate candidates who will bring fresh energy and ideas to Congress, said Raj Goyle, co-founder of Impact and a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives.

“With just 20 days to go, it’s critical that Indian American voters, volunteers and donors do their part to get them across the finish line,” Mr Goyle added.





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Deepak Pavithram, Kerala Expat In Saudi Arabia, Fired From Lulu Hypermarket, Riyadh For Alleged Sexist Remarks Against Women


Dubai: 

An Indian man in Saudi Arabia has been fired from his job for allegedly posting “derogatory comments” on women, amid the Sabarimala temple row, a media report said Wednesday.

Deepak Pavithram, a Keralite working with Lulu Hypermarket in Riyadh, was fired on Tuesday for allegedly making misogynistic and insensitive remarks about women on social media.

“We have a strict and zero tolerance policy with regard to our staff misusing social media to spread malicious or derogatory comments which might hurt religious sentiments,” V Nandakumar, Chief Communications Officer at Lulu Group, told Khaleej Times.

“All GCC nations are home to a large cosmopolitan population from almost all countries in the world and we respect their sentiments, culture and religious beliefs,” Mr Nandakumar said.

Kerala expats in the Gulf took to social media to express their appreciation for Yusuff Ali MA, chairman and managing director of Lulu Group, for taking a strong step against the derogatory remarks, the report said.

This is the second termination in recent times by the Indian-owned retail giant on similar grounds.

In August, they had terminated the services of a Keralite expat in Oman after he posted distasteful comments about flood victims in Kerala.

The company took action against him despite an apology he had issued the next day, for the remarks.

The Supreme Court on September 28 had ruled that women will be allowed entry into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The temple opened its door for all women visitors of all age groups for the first time on Wednesday after the historic apex court ruling last month.

Tension prevailed Wednesday morning in Kerala’s Nilakkal, the main gateway to Sabarimala, after the police used force to disperse protestors opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the hill shrine.

The temple would be closed on October 22 after the five-day monthly prayer during the Malayalam month of Thulam.





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US To Propose Revision Of ‘Specialty Occupation’ Definition For H-1B Visas


Department of Homeland Security said the USCIS plans to come out with its new proposal by January, 2019

Washington: 

The Trump administration has said it is coming out with new proposals to not only revise the definition of specialty occupations under H-1B visas, but also the definition of employment under this foreign work visa category which is popular among Indian companies.

Such a move, which is part of the Unified Fall Agenda of the Trump administration, will have a detrimental impact on the functioning of Indian IT companies in the US and also small and medium-sized contractual companies in the IT sector, which are mostly owned by Indian Americans.

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January, 2019.

It will “propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation” to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, DHS said. In addition, DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders, the administration said.

The DHS reiterated that it is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The DHS said it is also finalising its interim regulation governing petitions filed on behalf of alien workers subject to the annual numerical limitations applicable to the H-1B non-immigrant classification.

This rule precludes an individual from filing duplicate petitions on behalf of the same alien temporary worker. This rule also makes accommodations for petitioners to create a more efficient filing process for H-1B petitions subject to the annual numerical limitation.

Observing that the demand for H-1B visas has often exceeded the numerical limitation, DHS said it is proposing to establish an electronic registration programme for such applications. This will allow USCIS to more efficiently manage the intake and lottery process for these H-1B petitions, it said.





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12 Indian-American Candidates Raise $26 Million For Midterm Polls


Ro Khanna, academic, lawyer, and politician is one of the candidates for US midterms.

Washington: 

About 12 Indian-Americans running for the US Congress next month have collectively raised over $26 million for their election campaign with six of them outraising their opponents, according to the latest official figures.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera, Hiral Tipirneni, and Aftab Pureval have outraised their opponents in their respective seats for the US House of Representatives.

For the political pundits, funds raised by a candidate is considered the barometer of their popularity and one who raises more than his/her opponent is normally considered to win.

Most of the fund-raising figures released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are till September 30 and the final number before the November 6 polls is likely to jump further.

If they win the number of Indian-Americans in the US House of Representatives could jump from the current four to six, with two of them being woman and one being of Tibetan origin.

Raja Krishnamoorthi from the eighth Congressional District of Illinois till September 30, as per FEC figures, has raised more than $5 million, topping the list.

His opponent, Jitender Diganvker also an Indian-American has raised a paltry $35,817, which is also the lowest fund-raising figure among the dozen Indian-Americans in the race for the Congress this time.

Shiv Ayyadurai who is running for a Senate seat in Massachusetts against the powerful Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, has surprised many by raising $5 million. But political pundits give him very little chance against the Warren, who has raised $20 million so far.

Indian-American physician Hiral Tipirneni has raised over $3.76 million. Tipirneni lost to incumbent Debbie Lesko during the special elections early this year.

The momentum looks like is with the Indian-American woman in this eighth Congressional District of Arizona as her opponent so far has raised $1.8 million.

And so has Aftab Pureval, who is seeking to enter the US House of Representatives from the first Congressional District of Ohio.

The only Indian-American to be endorsed by former US President Barack Obama, Pureval has raised $3.1 million, as against his Republican opponent and incumbent Steve Chabot of about  $1 million. Chabot’s latest figures with FEC are only till June 30.

Three-time Congressman from seventh Congressional District of California Dr Ami Bera has raised $2.69 million as against  $373,000 by his Republican opponent Andrew Grant.

All the previous three elections bids for him had been tough and all the three times he was declared elected only after recounting of votes.

Representing Silicon Valley, Ro Khanna from the 17th Congressional District of California is pretty close with $2.62 million. He virtually has no contest at all.

Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives has raised $1.66 million, according to the FEC figures till July 18. Her opponent Craig Keller has raised about $3,000 till the same period.





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UK Gears Up To Celebrate Durga Puja With Festive Cheer


Key organisations marking the occasion with decorations all the way from Bengal. (File)

London: 

Numerous organisations across the UK are celebrating Durga Puja with elaborate festivities for the Indian diaspora this week as the festival gains increasing prominence in the country.

Hundreds of people are expected to descend upon the town halls and community centres around the country from Wednesday, which marks the festival of Ashtami.

Most of the festivities will spill over into the weekend beyond Navami on Thursday, or the ninth day of the fortnight-long celebrations, to attract larger family crowds.

The London Durgotsav Committee is marking 55 years of its Durga Puja in Camden, north London, around the theme of “Distant Durga”.

“The theme portrays a single-canvas collage of memories of long-left-behind and distant Kolkata, the City of Joy and the very different world of London. This year we have shipped our new idol of Goddess Durga from distant Kumortuli in Kolkata,” said Mainak Roy, Trustee and Treasurer of the London Durgotsav Committee, which dates back to the 1960s.

It claims to be one of the very first organisers of what came to be known as Camden Durga Puja and this year the group plans to conclude its celebrations with a special Bijoya or Dussehra concert on Sunday.

London Sharad Utsav will mark their 10th anniversary of festivities at Ealing Townhall in west London with a modular Durga concept, which showcases various art forms from different regions of Bengal in association with the Bengal Heritage Project.

Among some of the other pujas planned during the week across London include events in Hounslow by Prabashi, with a Durga idol created by Prasanta Pal from Kumortuli – the area of Kolkata famed for its creative idols of the goddess.

Beyond the British capital, Milton Keynes Ananda Club will celebrate its 30th Durga Puja in the southern England region.

“The two prime aspects of Durga Puja are the authenticity of the puja itself, which is well taken care of by the women of 55 member-families, and the authentic and elaborate home-cooked food,” said Subir Chatterjee, Vice-President of the club.

The city of Bristol is also among those joining in the rituals, with traditional prayers to be held at the Bristol Hindu Temple.

It is coordinating its Durga Puja with Navratri celebrations, with a common kitchen serving fusion food from Bengal and Gujarat.

The Royal Berkshire Bengali Association, Indian Cultural Society of Cambridge and Basingstoke Durga Puja are among some of the other key organisations marking the occasion with decorations all the way from Bengal and authentic food of the region. 





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Indian-Origin Man Chirag Patel Jailed In UK Over Stolen Vehicles Worth 7 Lakh Pounds


Chirag Patel was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and possession of criminal property.

London: 

An Indian-origin man has been sentenced to eight years in jail by a UK court for handling of 19 stolen high-value vehicles worth over 7,00,000 pounds.

Chirag Patel, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and possession of criminal property at the end of a five-week trial at Croydon Crown Court last Friday.

“Patel played the leading role in a sophisticated operation to handle high-value, stolen vehicles, motivated only by sheer greed,” said Acting Detective Sergeant Billy Clough, who led the investigation for the Metropolitan Police.

“He even attempted to convince the jury that he was a legitimate businessman, who had simply been unlucky in obtaining such a vast quantity of stolen items, but the jury saw through this and convicted him of being the key player in a significant criminal enterprise,” he said.

Patel was jailed for conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to the cars and keys, for which he received eight years’ imprisonment.

He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for possessing criminal property and in relation to over 440,000 pounds of unexplained cash deposits which had been identified from two personal bank accounts in his name

Both the sentences will run concurrently.

“I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organised criminality will be pursued robustly,” the Met Police said.

The court was told that in February 2015, Patel reported to police that his Porsche had been stolen.

At first, Patel resisted giving his home address, instead providing details of his parent’s address.

When he finally gave his own address, officers attended the property as part of their investigation into the stolen car.

Here they discovered a number of high-value vehicles in the basement car park. Officers identified that one of cars had a personalised number plate identical to one seen earlier on a vehicle outside Patel’s parent’s address.

Further inquiries by officers established that the five vehicles in the car park had false number plates and all were later confirmed to have been stolen.

Patel was arrested at his home address soon after.

During a search of his property, Met Police officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, as well as lists of vehicles and registrations, machines for accessing on-board computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

Following a detailed investigation, led by officers from Croydon’s Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit, a total of 19 stolen vehicles with an estimated value of 728,000 pounds were linked to Patel and subsequently seized, as well as nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop stolen during a burglary in Streatham area of south London.

During the trial, judge H H J Gower praised the work of the Scotland Yard officer, Police Constable Andy Garland, whose work identified the first stolen vehicle.

The judge said: “It was his sharp eyes and investigative nose and approach which first spotted a stolen vehicle and set this investigation in motion and he receives my formal commendation.”

The police later discovered that Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an “off-the-books” vehicle rental business, where vehicles were rented out to his associates and contacts.

The vehicles had been stolen by unknown individuals during burglaries and keyless thefts across London between October 2012 and January 2015 and were stored at or near addresses owned by Patel and his family, or with associates who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him.

The identities of the cars were concealed using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off on official records.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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