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Murder Case Filed in Farmer’s Death During Border Clash

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The death of a young farmer during a violent confrontation between farmers and security forces at the Punjab-Haryana border has sparked outrage and led to the registration of a murder case by the Punjab Police.

What happened at the Khanauri border?

On February 21, 2023, a group of farmers from Punjab, who were part of the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s farm laws, tried to cross the barricades set up by the Haryana Police at the Khanauri border point. The farmers were heading towards Delhi as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, demanding a legal guarantee on minimum support price for crops and farm loan waiver.

The situation turned tense when the Haryana Police tried to stop them using water cannons, tear gas and batons. The farmers retaliated by throwing stones and bricks at the security personnel. In the ensuing clash, Shubhkaran Singh (21), a native of Bathinda, was killed and 12 security personnel were injured.

How did the Punjab Police react?

The Punjab Police initially claimed that Shubhkaran died due to a heart attack and not because of any police action. However, the farmers and Shubhkaran’s family alleged that he was shot by the Haryana Police and demanded a post-mortem and a murder case to be registered. They also refused to hand over the body to the authorities and kept it at the mortuary of Rajindra Hospital in Patiala.

Murder Case Filed in Farmer’s Death

After a week-long stalemate, the Punjab Police finally registered a case of murder on February 28, 2023, under sections 302 (murder) and 114 (abettor present when offence is committed) of the Indian Penal Code at the Patran Police station in Patiala. The case was registered against an unidentified person, based on the complaint of Shubhkaran’s father. The place of occurrence was shown as Garhi in Haryana’s Jind district, near the Khanauri border.

What was the response of the Punjab government and the farmer leaders?

The Punjab government, led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, had announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore and a government job for Shubhkaran’s sister. The government had also assured the farmer leaders that it would pursue the matter with the Haryana government and seek justice for Shubhkaran.

The farmer leaders, who are spearheading the agitation under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, welcomed the registration of the FIR and said that it was a victory for their struggle. They also said that they would continue to camp at the Khanauri and Shambhu border points till February 29, 2023, when they would decide their next course of action.

Why are the farmers protesting against the farm laws?

The farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the three farm laws passed by the Parliament in September 2020. The laws are:

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, which allows farmers to sell their produce outside the regulated mandis (markets) and across state borders.
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, which enables contract farming between farmers and private buyers.
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, which removes stockholding limits on agricultural commodities, except in cases of extraordinary circumstances.

The farmers fear that the laws will undermine their bargaining power, expose them to exploitation by big corporations, and end the minimum support price (MSP) system that guarantees them a fixed income. They also allege that the laws were passed without proper consultation and consensus with the stakeholders.

The government, on the other hand, maintains that the laws are aimed at reforming the agricultural sector, increasing farmers’ income, and providing them with more choices and opportunities. The government also says that the laws will not affect the MSP system or the mandis, and that they are ready to address the concerns of the farmers through dialogue.

Several rounds of talks between the government and the farmer unions have failed to break the deadlock so far. The Supreme Court has also intervened and stayed the implementation of the laws till further orders. The court has also appointed a committee of experts to examine the laws and submit a report.

Sandeshkhali erupts in joy as TMC leader accused of atrocities arrested

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Sandeshkhali, a village in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, witnessed scenes of jubilation on Thursday as the police arrested TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh, who had been on the run for over 50 days. Sheikh, who is facing several charges of sexual abuse, land grabbing, and assault on ED officials, was nabbed from a house in Minakhan area. His arrest came after the Calcutta High Court lifted the stay on police action against him and directed the CID to take over the investigation.

Villagers celebrate with firecrackers and sweets

The villagers, who had been protesting against Sheikh and his associates for weeks, expressed their relief and happiness over his arrest. They burst firecrackers, distributed sweets, and thanked the police and the judiciary for delivering justice. They also demanded that Sheikh be given exemplary punishment and his properties be seized. Some of them also raised slogans against the ruling TMC and accused it of shielding the accused.

“We are very happy that the police have finally arrested Sheikh. He has ruined our lives and our land. He has sexually harassed our women and threatened us with violence. We want him to rot in jail and pay for his crimes,” said a villager, who did not wish to be named.

Another villager said that they had lost faith in the TMC government, which had failed to protect them from Sheikh’s tyranny. “We voted for TMC, but they betrayed us. They supported Sheikh and his goons. They did not listen to our complaints. They tried to suppress our voice. We are grateful to the High Court and the CID for taking action against him,” he said.

Sheikh arrested in connection with attack on ED officials

Sheikh, who was a TMC block president and a panchayat member, was arrested late on Wednesday night from Bamanpukur area at Minakhan in North 24 Parganas. He was arrested in connection with the case related to the attack on ED officials on January 5. He was one of the principal accused in the case. Several other cases have been lodged against him after protests broke out in Sandeshkhali earlier this month. Those are being investigated, said Supratim Sarkar, ADG south Bengal.

The ED officials were attacked by a mob allegedly led by Sheikh when they had gone to raid his premises in connection with a money laundering case. The officials had to flee for their lives and their vehicles were damaged. The ED had filed an FIR against Sheikh and others for obstructing public servants from discharging their duty.

TMC suspends Sheikh for six years after his arrest

The TMC, which had been facing criticism for its inaction against Sheikh, suspended him for six years hours after his arrest. The party issued a statement saying that Sheikh had been suspended for anti-party activities and tarnishing the image of the party. The party also said that it had zero tolerance for any kind of violence or crime and that it would cooperate with the law enforcement agencies in the investigation.

TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said that the party welcomed the steps of the state police and that its leader Abhishek Banerjee had pointed out the problem of the stay order from the High Court, which had restrained the police from taking any action against Sheikh. After he pointed out the problem, the High Court removed the restrictions and the police became free to take action, Ghosh said.

CID takes over the probe into cases against Sheikh

The West Bengal CID has taken over the investigation of cases against Sheikh following the directive of the High Court. The court had expressed its displeasure over the delay in the arrest of Sheikh and had asked the state government to explain why the CID should not be entrusted with the probe. The court had also observed that the police had not taken any effective steps to arrest Sheikh despite knowing his whereabouts.

The CID has formed a special team to investigate the cases against Sheikh and his associates. The team will also look into the allegations of sexual violence and land grabbing by Sheikh in Sandeshkhali. The CID will submit a status report to the court on the progress of the investigation.

DMK Finalises Alliance with Left Parties for Lok Sabha Polls

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The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu has announced its seat-sharing agreement with the CPI and CPI (M) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, giving them two seats each.

DMK-CPI-CPI (M) Pact Signed

The DMK president M.K. Stalin and the state secretaries of the CPI and CPI (M), R. Mutharasan and K. Balakrishnan, respectively, signed the pact on Thursday at the DMK headquarters in Chennai. The constituencies for the four seats allotted to the Left parties will be decided later.

The DMK, which leads the Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) in the state, had earlier allocated one seat each to its allies IUML and KMDK. The DMK is expected to contest from 20 seats out of the 39 in Tamil Nadu, leaving the rest for its alliance partners.

Left Parties Retain 2019 Seats

The CPI and CPI (M) had contested from two seats each as part of the DMK-led alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and won them. The CPI (M) represents Madurai and Coimbatore, while the CPI has MPs from Tiruppur and Nagapattinam (SC).

The Left parties have been in alliance with the DMK since the 2016 assembly elections, and have supported the DMK government on various issues. The Left parties have also expressed their support for the DMK’s demand for state autonomy and federalism.

DMK Eyes Second Term in Power

The DMK, which came to power in Tamil Nadu in 2019 after defeating the AIADMK, is hoping to retain its dominance in the state and increase its tally in the Lok Sabha. The DMK had won 23 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, while its allies won 14 seats, making the SPA the third-largest bloc in the Parliament.

The DMK is also facing the challenge of the newly formed Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) led by actor Kamal Haasan, which has announced its intention to contest from all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu. The MNM, which debuted in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, had secured 3.72% of the votes and finished third in 12 constituencies.

The AIADMK, which is the main opposition party in the state, is yet to finalise its alliance partners for the Lok Sabha polls. The AIADMK had allied with the BJP, PMK, DMDK and other parties in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but managed to win only one seat.

NIA probe sought into pro-Pak slogans at Rajya Sabha polls in Karnataka

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Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje has demanded a central investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the alleged incident of pro-Pakistan slogans being raised by some supporters of a Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka. The Minister has written a letter to the Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking an NIA probe into the matter, which she termed as a “security breach of seditious nature”.

Slogans raised in Vidhana Soudha

According to reports, some supporters of Syed Naseer Hussain, who won the Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka on Tuesday, shouted “Pakistan zindabad” slogans in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha, the state legislative assembly and secretariat building in Bengaluru. The incident was captured on video and circulated on social media, sparking outrage and condemnation from various quarters.

Karandlaje, who is the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, said that it was imperative to uncover the identities of the perpetrators and any potential instigators behind this reprehensible act. She also said that the local law enforcement agencies may face undue pressure or influence, and hence a centrally monitored investigation by the NIA was necessary.

Congress denies allegations

The Congress party, however, has denied the allegations of pro-Pakistan slogans being raised by its supporters. Hussain, who is also the Congress spokesperson, said that he did not hear any such slogans and that he would cooperate with any investigation. He also accused the BJP of trying to create a controversy and malign his image.

The Karnataka police have registered a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including sedition, and are awaiting the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report to verify the authenticity of the video and the audio. The police have also collected the CCTV footage from the Vidhana Soudha and are examining it.

BJP alleges Congress links with PFI

The BJP has alleged that the Congress party has links with the Popular Front of India (PFI), a radical Islamist outfit that has been accused of involvement in several cases of violence and terror activities in the country. The BJP has claimed that some of the supporters of Hussain were associated with the PFI and that the Congress was trying to appease a certain section of people by allowing such anti-national elements to enter the Vidhana Soudha.

Karandlaje said that there was a growing apprehension that the PFI elements may have been involved in the incident and that the NIA should probe their role and nexus with the Congress. She also said that the Congress was trying to divide the nation and that the people of Karnataka would not tolerate such acts.

Train mishap in Jharkhand kills two, injures several

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A tragic train accident occurred in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district on Wednesday evening, when a local train ran over some passengers who were walking on the track. Two people have been confirmed dead and many others have been injured in the incident. The authorities have ordered an inquiry and announced compensation for the victims.

What happened at Kalajharia railway station?

The accident took place around 6 pm at Kalajharia railway station, which falls under the Asansol division of Eastern Railway. According to eyewitnesses, some passengers of the 63591 Asansol-Bokaro MEMU train got down from the train on the wrong side and started walking on the track. They were unaware of another train, the 63592 Bokaro-Asansol MEMU train, coming from the opposite direction. The train hit them at a high speed, crushing some of them to death and injuring others.

Some reports suggested that there was a fire on the track due to some stones that were laid along the track during the day. The fire caused panic among the passengers, who jumped off the train and ran towards the other track. However, this version was denied by the Eastern Railway CPRO, who said that there was no fire and the passengers were walking on the track.

How did the authorities respond to the accident?

As soon as the accident was reported, the railway officials and the district administration rushed to the spot to carry out rescue and relief operations. The injured passengers were taken to the nearby hospitals for treatment. The railway authorities also requested the state government to provide ambulances and medical teams.

The railway authorities also set up a helpline number for the relatives of the victims to get information. The helpline number is 0341-2306131. The railway authorities also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for the minor injured.

A three-member committee has been formed by the Eastern Railway to probe the cause of the accident and fix responsibility. The committee will submit its report within 15 days. The railway authorities have also appealed to the passengers to follow the safety rules and not to walk on the track or cross the track from the wrong side.

How did the political leaders react to the accident?

The train accident in Jamtara drew the attention and sympathy of the political leaders from the state and the centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his pain and sorrow over the incident and offered his condolences to the bereaved families. He also wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

President Droupadi Murmu, who hails from Jharkhand, also expressed her grief and sadness over the accident. She said that the news of the sudden death of many people in the train accident was extremely saddening. She prayed for the peace of the departed souls and the speedy recovery of the injured.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Champai Soren also expressed his sorrow and anguish over the accident. He said that he was saddened by the news of the train accident near Kaljharia station of Jamtara. He said that he wished God to grant peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families to bear the difficult time of grief. He also said that the administration team was engaged in relief and rescue work on the spot and he wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari, who visited the accident site, said that he had given directions to identify those responsible for the incident. He also said that he would raise the issue in the assembly and demand justice for the victims. He said that the deceased had not been identified yet and the process was underway.

Ronaldo Banned for One Match After Controversial Gesture in Saudi League

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Cristiano Ronaldo, the star striker of Al Nassr, has been handed a one-match suspension by the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF) for making a controversial gesture during a league game against Al Shabab on Sunday. The Portuguese legend was seen cupping his ear and thrusting his hand near his pelvis, apparently in response to chants of “Messi” from the rival fans.

Ronaldo’s Gesture Sparks Outrage and Criticism

The incident occurred after Al Nassr secured a 3-2 victory over Al Shabab, with Ronaldo scoring the opening goal from a penalty. The gesture was not captured by the television cameras, but footage on social media quickly went viral and drew widespread condemnation from fans, pundits, and officials.

Many accused Ronaldo of being disrespectful and provocative, while some also questioned his decision to play in the Saudi league, which has been marred by allegations of human rights violations and corruption. Some also compared Ronaldo’s gesture to the infamous “cojones” celebration by Diego Simeone, the coach of Atletico Madrid, who was fined and banned for four games by UEFA in 2019.

Ronaldo’s Club and Coach Defend Him

Al Nassr, the Riyadh-based club that signed Ronaldo in December 2022 for a reported fee of $75 million, issued a statement on Monday expressing their support for their captain and denying any intention to offend anyone. The club said that Ronaldo was merely celebrating his goal and responding to the “unfair and unjustified” chants from the Al Shabab fans.

Al Nassr’s coach, Rui Vitoria, also defended Ronaldo in a press conference on Tuesday, saying that he was a “professional and respectful” player who had a “great relationship” with his teammates, opponents, and referees. Vitoria said that Ronaldo was “surprised and saddened” by the reaction to his gesture, and that he had apologized to anyone who felt offended.

Ronaldo’s Suspension Could Affect Al Nassr’s Title Hopes

Ronaldo’s suspension means that he will miss Al Nassr’s next league game against Al Fateh on Thursday. This could be a blow for Al Nassr, who are currently second in the Saudi Pro League table, four points behind leaders Al Hilal, with one game in hand. Ronaldo has been the top scorer in the league with 22 goals in 18 games, and has been instrumental in Al Nassr’s title challenge.

Al Nassr are also in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League, a tournament they have never won. Ronaldo has scored six goals in six games in the continental competition, and will be hoping to lead his team to glory. Al Nassr will face Iranian side Persepolis in the first leg of the quarterfinals on March 9.

How psychological therapies can improve physical health in menopause

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Menopause is a natural transition in women’s lives that can bring various challenges, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and cognitive difficulties. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often prescribed to alleviate these symptoms, some women may prefer alternative options or have contraindications to HRT. A new study by UCL researchers suggests that psychological therapies, such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), could be effective treatments for non-physical symptoms of menopause.

Psychological therapies can reduce distress and enhance quality of life

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, is the most up-to-date meta-analysis of 30 randomized controlled trials involving 3,501 women who were going through the menopause in 14 countries, including the U.K., U.S., Iran, Australia, and China. The researchers found that women showed statistically significant improvements in anxiety and depression following CBT and mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) when compared to no or alternative treatments. This equates to small to medium changes in everyday life. CBT and group-based psychosocial interventions were also effective in reducing memory and concentration difficulties. All psychosocial interventions were effective in improving quality of life, regardless of their type.

Lead author, Professor Aimee Spector (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences), said, “Women can spend a notable number of years in their lives dealing with a range of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, mood changes and brain fog. These symptoms can have a great impact on women’s well-being and quality of life. Menopause management is now a prioritized topic in public health. However, most studies of menopause symptom management focus on hormonal replacement therapy and physiological symptoms. This restricts treatment options for women who are concerned about the risks of hormone replacement therapy and overlooks the well-being of women with non-physiological symptoms, such as brain fog and mood problems, which are highly prevalent.”

How do psychological therapies work for menopause?

The psychological therapies that were examined in the meta-analysis included different types of interventions, such as CBT, MBI, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), group counseling, marital support, health promotion coaching, and emotional freedom techniques. The common feature of these therapies is that they aim to help women cope with the psychological and emotional aspects of menopause, such as negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to enhance their acceptance, awareness, and resilience.

CBT is a form of therapy that teaches women to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about menopause and to adopt more adaptive coping strategies, such as relaxation techniques, symptom monitoring, and behavioral activation. MBI is a form of therapy that encourages women to focus on the present moment and to cultivate a non-judgmental attitude towards their menopausal experiences, such as bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Both CBT and MBI have been shown to increase psychological flexibility, which is the ability to adapt to changing situations and to act in accordance with one’s values and goals.

What are the implications and limitations of the study?

The study provides evidence for the effectiveness and feasibility of psychological therapies for menopause-related mood symptoms, cognitive difficulties, and quality of life. The researchers suggest that psychological therapies could be offered as a first-line treatment or as an adjunct to HRT for women who experience non-physical symptoms of menopause. They also recommend that psychological therapies should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of individual women, and that more research is needed to identify the optimal dose, format, and delivery of these interventions.

However, the study also has some limitations that need to be considered. The quality of the included trials varied, and some of them had small sample sizes, high dropout rates, or inadequate control groups. The researchers also noted that the heterogeneity of the psychological interventions, the outcome measures, and the populations made it difficult to compare and synthesize the results. Furthermore, the study did not examine the long-term effects of psychological therapies or the mechanisms of change that underlie their effectiveness.

How blood tests can help prevent heart attacks in rheumatoid arthritis patients

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects about 2 million people in the US. It causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, and can also damage other organs. RA patients have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart attack and stroke, than the general population. However, predicting who is most likely to have a cardiovascular event is challenging, as standard risk factors like age, cholesterol, and blood pressure may not reflect the true level of risk in RA patients.

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, has identified six blood biomarkers that are associated with increased cardiovascular risk in RA patients. These biomarkers are proteins or metabolites that reflect different aspects of inflammation, metabolism, and vascular function. The researchers found that measuring these biomarkers improved their ability to predict changes in arterial inflammation, a key indicator of CVD risk, compared to using conventional risk scores.

The biomarkers of cardiovascular risk in RA

The study was led by a team of physicians from Mass General Brigham, a health care system that includes Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They recruited 109 RA patients who were participating in a randomized clinical trial (the TARGET Trial) to compare the effects of two different RA treatments on CVD prevention. The patients had their blood samples and arterial inflammation measured at the beginning and after six months of treatment.

The researchers tested 24 candidate biomarkers that had been previously linked to RA and systemic inflammation. They found that six of them were significantly associated with increased arterial inflammation and CVD risk in RA patients. These biomarkers were:

  • B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a hormone that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance
  • High-sensitivity cardiac troponin I (hs-cTnI), a protein that indicates heart muscle damage
  • Adiponectin, a hormone that regulates glucose and lipid metabolism
  • Adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein (A-FABP), a protein that transports fatty acids in fat cells
  • Heart-type fatty acid-binding protein (H-FABP), a protein that transports fatty acids in heart cells
  • Lipocalin-2, a protein that binds to iron and modulates inflammation and infection

The researchers also developed predictive models that incorporated these biomarkers along with standard risk factors and RA disease activity. They found that these models improved their ability to predict changes in arterial inflammation over six months, compared to using the Framingham Risk Score, a widely used tool that estimates the 10-year risk of CVD based on factors like age, sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.

The implications and limitations of the study

The study suggests that measuring these six biomarkers could help identify RA patients who are at high risk of CVD and who may benefit from more intensive preventive strategies. The biomarkers could also help monitor the effects of RA treatments on CVD risk, as some treatments may have different impacts on inflammation and vascular function.

However, the study has some limitations that need to be addressed in future research. First, the sample size was relatively small and the follow-up period was short, so the results may not be generalizable to a larger and more diverse population of RA patients. Second, the study did not measure the actual occurrence of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke, but only changes in arterial inflammation, which is a surrogate marker of CVD risk. Therefore, it is not clear whether the biomarkers are associated with clinical outcomes and whether they can improve the management and prognosis of RA patients. Third, the study did not explore the underlying mechanisms of how these biomarkers are related to CVD risk in RA patients, and whether they reflect causal or confounding factors.

The researchers concluded that their study provides a proof-of-concept that blood biomarkers can improve cardiovascular risk prediction in RA patients, but more studies are needed to validate their findings and to determine the optimal use of biomarkers in clinical practice.

Massive Drug Haul Off Gujarat Coast: Five Foreigners Arrested

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) have seized a record 3,300 kg of narcotics worth over Rs 21,000 crore from a fishing vessel off the Gujarat coast on Tuesday. Five foreigners, including two Sri Lankans and three Iranians, have been arrested in connection with the case.

The Biggest Drug Bust in Indian History

According to the ICG and the NCB, this is the biggest drug bust in Indian history and the largest maritime seizure of heroin in the world. The operation, codenamed ‘Operation Kraken’, was launched after the agencies received intelligence inputs about a suspicious vessel carrying narcotics from Iran to Sri Lanka.

The ICG intercepted the vessel, named ‘MV Hennry’, about 170 nautical miles west of Porbandar on Tuesday morning. The vessel was escorted to the Gujarat Maritime Board jetty at Dwarka for further investigation. The NCB officials joined the ICG team and conducted a thorough search of the vessel, which revealed a huge quantity of narcotics hidden in a specially designed cavity.

The seized narcotics included 2,988.22 kg of heroin, 22.1 kg of hashish, 199.5 kg of methamphetamine, and 6.4 kg of opium. The total value of the drugs is estimated to be over Rs 21,000 crore in the international market. The five crew members, who claimed to be fishermen, were taken into custody and are being interrogated by the NCB.

A Transnational Drug Trafficking Network

The NCB said that the seizure of such a large quantity of narcotics indicates the involvement of a transnational drug trafficking network that operates across the Indian Ocean region. The agency suspects that the drugs were sourced from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and were destined for Sri Lanka, Maldives, and other countries in Africa and Europe.

The NCB also said that the operation was a result of the close coordination and cooperation between the Indian and foreign agencies, including the Sri Lankan authorities. The NCB had earlier shared information with the Sri Lankan counterparts about the possible movement of narcotics from Iran to Sri Lanka via the sea route.

The NCB said that the operation has dealt a major blow to the drug syndicates and has prevented the proliferation of drugs in the region. The agency also said that it will continue to work with the ICG and other agencies to curb the menace of drug trafficking and smuggling.

A Rising Threat of Maritime Drug Smuggling

The operation has also exposed the rising threat of maritime drug smuggling in the Indian Ocean region, which has become a preferred route for the drug traffickers due to the vast and porous coastline and the limited surveillance and enforcement capabilities of the coastal states.

The ICG and the NCB said that they have intensified their vigilance and patrolling in the maritime domain to prevent and deter such illegal activities. The agencies also said that they have enhanced their information sharing and intelligence exchange with the regional and international partners to counter the drug trafficking networks.

The ICG and the NCB also appealed to the public and the fishermen community to report any suspicious or unlawful activities in the sea to the authorities and help in maintaining the security and safety of the Indian waters.

Bopanna-Ebden and Yuki-Haase reach last eight, Nagal bows out in Dubai

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Top seeds continue their winning streak

Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden, the top seeds in the men’s doubles event of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-fought win over Skander Mansouri and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi on Tuesday night. The Indo-Australian pair, who won their maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month, prevailed 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) in a tight contest that lasted one hour and 41 minutes. Bopanna and Ebden, who are playing their first tournament since their triumph in Melbourne, saved four break points and converted one out of three to edge past their opponents, who are ranked 71st and 49th respectively in the ATP doubles rankings.

Yuki-Haase stun higher-ranked opponents

Another Indian in the fray, Yuki Bhambri, also made it to the last eight of the men’s doubles event, partnering with Robin Haase of the Netherlands. The unseeded duo pulled off an upset by defeating the fourth-seeded pair of Adrian Mannarino of France and Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-7 (6) 6-3 10-8 in a thrilling encounter. Yuki and Haase, who are ranked 118th and 54th respectively in the ATP doubles rankings, bounced back from losing the first set in a tie-breaker to dominate the second set and clinch the match tie-break. They fired 10 aces and broke their opponents twice to seal their spot in the quarterfinals.

Nagal exits in singles

However, there was no joy for India in the men’s singles event, as the country’s top-ranked player Sumit Nagal crashed out in the round of 32. The 23-year-old, who is ranked 125th in the ATP singles rankings, lost to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 4-6 7-5 1-6 in a match that lasted two hours and 16 minutes. Nagal, who had qualified for the main draw by winning two matches in the qualifying rounds, put up a spirited fight in the first two sets, but could not match the intensity of his opponent, who is ranked 34th in the world, in the decider. Nagal, who had reached the quarterfinals of the Singapore Open earlier this month, failed to convert any of the seven break points he had in the match, while Sonego broke him five times to advance to the round of 16.

Quarterfinal line-up

Bopanna and Ebden will face Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, who defeated Lloyd Harris of South Africa and Julian Ocleppo of Italy 6-4 6-4 in their round of 16 match. Yuki and Haase will take on the third-seeded pair of Michael Venus of New Zealand and Jamal Murray of Great Britain, who beat Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan and Andrea Vavassori of Italy 6-3 6-4 in their round of 16 match. The quarterfinal matches will be played on Wednesday.