AK Antony's office 'bugged', ministry orders IB probe

The matter come to light soon after the long-drawn battle between the Army and the Defence Ministry over the issue of General VK Singh's age

New Delhi: In a sensational case, Defence Ministry authorities have detected alleged bugging of the office room of Defence Minister AK Antony and Intelligence Bureau (IB) has been asked to probe the matter.

Sources in the Ministry told PTI on Friday that the development came to notice on 16th February following which Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma took up the matter with IB for a probe.

The matter was brought to notice by two Army personnel who were manning the telephone lines in the Ministry.

After this was brought to notice, Ministry officials refused to get their phone lines checked by the Army personnel, they said.

The matter had come to light soon after the long-drawn battle between the Army and the Defence Ministry over the issue of General VK Singh's age came to rest following an intervention by the Supreme Court.

Gen Singh's age issue was resolved after the apex court forced him to withdraw his petition on February 10 where he was asked to accept 10 May 1950 as his date of birth. The Army has not yet commented on the development.

Last year, a similar incident was reported from the office of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee when snooping devices allegedly were found from there.

A inquiry was ordered by the Finance Ministry after adhesive-like substances were recovered from his office, raising suspicion that they might have been used to implant electronic listening devices.

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Stage set for final phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh

Stage set for final phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: Polling for the final and seventh phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections covering 60 seats spread over 10 districts would be held tomorrow that would decide the fate of 962 candidates including Samajwadi Party's Muslim face Mohammad Azam Khan, reports PTI.

The final phase would cover Bijnore, Moradabad, Bheem Nagar, Rampur, Jyotiba Phule Nagar, Badaun, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur and Lakhimpur Kheri in which more than 18.2 million voters are expected to exercise their franchise

Besides Samajwadi Party's Muslim face Mohammad Azam Khan, who is contesting from Rampur, fate of minister in Mayawati government Omvati from Nagina seat, BSP MP Jugal Kishore's son Saurabh from Kasta and Rastriya Parivartan Dal head DP Yadav, considered heavyweight from Sahsawan seat, would be decided in this concluding phase.

The impact of BJP MP from Aonla Maneka Gandhi, her son and BJP MP from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, Union Minister and MP from Dhaurara seat in Lakhimpur, Jitin Prasad and Congress MP Azharuddin in their constituencies would be keenly watched by political observers.

In the 2007 assembly polls, out of 57 constituencies BSP had emerged the biggest party bagging 27 seats, while SP and BJP had got 17 and nine seats respectively.

While Rashtriya Parivartan Dal (RPD) of DP Yadav had got two seats, Congress and others got one seat respectively.

After denial of his entry in the SP, Yadav has fielded candidates from his own outfit. SP has also put all its strength to increase its tally in these districts.

Rashtriya Lok Manch of Amar Singh and local Rampur MP Jaya Prada's influence would be on test as they tried their best to ensure defeat of Azam Khan in his home turf

As far as Congress is concerned, impact of party general Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who addressed 211 rallies and conducted roadshows covering 18 assembly constituencies from November 14 till February 29 including this region would also be at test in this phase.

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SIAM flays plan to hike tax on diesel cars, duty cuts for EU

Expressing concern that India may be giving away too much in the proposed free trade agreement with EU, the SIAM said cutting import duties would not result in any benefit to auto makers.

New Delhi: Auto industry body the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Friday lashed out at the government for trying to impose higher tax on Indian diesel cars, while preparing to cut duties on those imported from Europe, reports PTI.

Expressing concern that India may be giving away too much in the proposed free trade agreement with EU, the SIAM said cutting import duties would not result in any benefit to auto makers.

"It is also a contradictory policy that while we are talking about discouraging production and use of large and diesel cars in India, for the same type of cars we will be reducing the import duty under the FTA and making imports cheaper," SIAM said in a statement.

The industry body has been expressing apprehension over speculations that in the upcoming Budget higher taxes could be imposed on diesel passenger vehicles as the subsidised fuel has been benefitting the affluent.

At the same time, it has also opposed cutting of duties on fully built cars from Europe as has been demanded by the EU as part of the ongoing FTA negotiations with India.

"SIAM understands from EU sources that India has made an offer to EU for reducing tariff of all cars from current 60% to 30%," it said.

Additionally a certain number cars, much more than what EU is exporting to India today, can be exported by EU at a highly reduced duty of only 10%-15%, it added.

Such a move, SIAM said, will "be a total reversal of the policy of high tariffs to force investment, local manufacturing, local value addition and local employment and will not result in any benefit to the Indian auto-manufacturers".

Citing trade data of the Ministry of Commerce, it said already the trade imbalance in the automotive sector is heavily in favour of the EU.

"In 2010-11...EU is already exporting around $3.4 billion worth of cars as CBUs (completely built units) and CKDs (completely knocked down units), against India's export of $1.7 billion worth of cars," it said.

Automotive products export of EU to India grew by 51% last year, including 109% growth in car exports. This is against 11% growth in import of automotive products from India to EU, and decline of 15% in cars, it said.

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