The blast took place when a large number of people were returning after attending the flag lowering ceremony at the main Indo-Pak land border crossing
The death toll in the horrific suicide attack that shook Pakistan minutes after the popular flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah climbed to 61 on Monday, even as security agencies arrested about 20 suspects from the Indo-Pak border area.
Ten women, eight children and three security personnel were among the 61 people who have died in the attack that took place Sunday when a suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb at Wagah.
Over 100 people were injured in the incident and are being treated in different Lahore’s hospitals where emergency has been declared.
The blast took place when a large number of people were returning after attending the flag lowering ceremony at the main Indo-Pak land border crossing, which is heavily guarded by the Punjab Rangers.
A young suicide-bomber blew himself up near the main exit gate of Parade Avenue at 6.03 p.m. (local time), causing colossal devastation.
“The death toll of the devastating suicide attack at Wagah border has risen to 61. The condition of some injured is still critical and the doctors are battling to save their lives,” Punjab Emergency Services Rescue spokesman Jam Sajjad said.
About 43 bodies have been handed over to the families while the remaining are yet to be recognised, Sajjad said.
“We have sought the help of the National Registration Database Authority (Nadra) for recognition of 18 bodies,” he said.
The law enforcement agencies have launched operation in the residential areas in Wagah and taken about 20 suspects into custody, Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider Naqvi said.
“A joint investigation team of police, rangers and intelligence agencies have started its probe into the incident. The army and rangers along with police will provide security to Ashura processions in Lahore and they have been put on high alert in the wake of Sunday’s attack,” he said.
Punjab Interior Minister Col (Retd) Shujah Khanzada said the target of the suicide bomber was the venue of the flag hoisting ceremony.
“The suicide-bomber wanted to reach the Parade Avenue to cause maximum devastation but he blew himself up near the entrance of the main gate after failing to reach the Parade Avenue,” he said.
At least three militant factions have claimed the grizzly bombing. Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group Jundullah, a splinter group of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was first to claim responsibility of the attack.
Shortly afterwards Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said its bomber Hafiz Hanifullah carried out the attack. Later, a lesser-known Mahar Mehsud group also claimed responsibility for the bombing.
HSBC India PMI rebounded to 51.6 in October from September’s nine-month low of 51.0, driven by strong demand conditions and rise in new order flows
India’s manufacturing sector output picked up modestly during October, driven by strong demand conditions and rise in new order flows, an HSBC survey said Monday.
The headline HSBC India Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — a composite gauge designed to give a single-figure snapshot of manufacturing business conditions — rebounded from September’s nine-month low of 51.0 to 51.6 in October.
Amid reports of strong demand, production at Indian manufacturers rose for the 12th successive month in October. A figure above 50 indicates that the sector is expanding, while a figure below that level means contraction.
“Manufacturing activity picked up modestly amid stronger output and new order flows, particularly from overseas clients,” HSBC Co-Head of Asian Economic Research Frederic Neumann said.
New businesses also increased for the 12th month in a row in October, largely owing to general improvements in demand situation.
In addition, export orders received by Indian manufacturers rose in October, extending the current sequence of growth to 13 months.
However, firms continued to trim purchases and refrained from aggressive inventory accumulation, the report said.
On prices, it said that inflationary pressures remained muted in October. While input prices eased further, the improvement in growth allowed firms to raise margins by increasing the output prices slightly.
“This trend could strengthen with growth, which is why the RBI will remain cautious about relaxing its grip at this juncture,” Neumann said.
In the September policy review, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Dr Raghuram Rajan had left all key rates unchanged citing continued risks to inflation and difficult external situation, especially on the geopolitical front. This was the fourth consecutive time that the RBI kept key interest rates unaltered.
The short-term lending (repo) rate remained at 8%, and the cash reserve requirement of banks at 4%.
After applying the stringent MPID Act in the QNet case, the EOW has arrested a top leader for conducting a training session for the MLM scheme. The Mumbai police has even asked Cafe Coffee Day-CCD to shut its doors to representatives of the controversial MLM operator and all its associate companies
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police is tightening the rope around QNet, the controversial multi-level marketing (MLM), its exclusive franchisee Vihaan Direct Selling (India) Pvt Ltd, QNet Ltd (Hong Kong), Transview Enterprises India Pvt Ltd and Vanamala Hotels, Travels & Tourism Services Pvt Ltd and all its agents. The EOW also arrested Tarun Ratnani, a top leader from QNet, while he was conducting a training session at Andheri in Mumbai on Sunday.
Earlier, following directions from the EOW, popular coffee shop chain Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) has banned representatives of QNet, Vihaan and all its associate companies from operating from its coffee shops. A notice pasted by CCD at all its outlets in Mumbai, reads: "As per instructions received from Economic Offence Wing- Crime branch, Mumbai and Additional Police Commission of EOW Mumbai, entry is prohibited for representatives, staff and employees of Vihaan Direct Selling, QNet, Transview Enterprises and Vanamala Hotels, Travels & Tourism Services. NOTE: We are not associated with the above mentioned in anyway." Coffee shops such as CCD and Barista have been regular haunts for the hardsell of QNet schemes and, in what seemed to be a tacit understanding with the staff, they were allowed to hang around for hours without placing any order.
According to a report from Mumbai Mirror, Ratnani, who has been associated with the company for the last three years, was caught red-handed by the EOW team while holding a training session for dozens of people at a hall in Andheri. According to EOW officials, on Sunday the workshop was being conducted at Kentstar Hall, near Fun Republic multiplex in Andheri. Ratnani, along with around 70 people, had assembled in the hall at 10am for the training workshop. The owner of the hall told the newspaper that the premises were being regularly used since August, and so far six workshops were conducted on weekdays as well as weekends.
Quoting an official from EOW, the report says, Ratnani was found involved with QNet for past three years and had collected profits worth Rs50 crore. Ratnani's BMW is also seized by the police.
Last week, the EOW booked 19 accused including Michael Ferreira, the former world champion of billiards and five companies related with QNet, under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act. This means all the cases against QNet, Vihaan and all those involved in the MLM scam would be heard before the special MPID Court. Until now, the accused were being investigated for cheating and forgery under the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978, and for money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Commenting on the EOW move, Zaheer Merchant, legal head and director of corporate affairs at QNET, in a statement said, “It is really unfortunate that the police have chosen to take this drastic step despite the fact that QNet and its India franchisee Vihaan have been fully cooperating with the investigation. We will challenge this legally to protect QNet, its employees and customers’ interests.”
Ferreira, the former world billions champion, has been under the EOW scanner following the exposure of the QNet MLM scam. Ferreira owns 80% stake in Vihaan Direct Selling that handles QNet's MLM operations in India since 14 April 2012.
In August 2014, the EOW while making a sensational disclosure has told the Sessions Court that a document submitted by the seven QNet leaders in their anticipatory bail application was bogus and concocted.
According to EOW, the team leaders of QNet, including former world billiards champion Ferreira, Srinavas Rao Vanka, Magarlal Viravali Balaji, Malcolm Nozer Desai, Navjyot Mahesh Das, Chinar Surendra Shinde and Mereilla Kamal Dutta have misled the Court by submitting a fake document while seeking bail. This is in connection with various charges made by the intrepid whistleblower Gurpreet Singh.
The EOW of Mumbai Police, which is probing the MLM fraud, had so far arrested 19 team leaders of QNet for allegedly duping investors by offering to sell products such as magnetic disks, herbal products and holiday schemes through fraudulent practices. The accused have been charged with cheating and forgery under relevant sections of the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.
Another interesting aspect in the whole episode is all top officials (?) of QNet India do not want to reveal their identity and remain hidden. We repeatedly sent emails to the company's official PR agency and also some officials from its parent QI group. Till date, neither the MLM company nor its PR agency is ready to reveal identity of its top management or leaders in India.