MADURAI l friday l march 24, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION After Adani, Hindenburg goes after Jack Dorsey’s Block Inc Hindenburg Research on Thursday disclosed short positions in Block Inc and alleged that the payments firm overstated its user numbers Up to 75% of user accounts fake: Report Founders accused of cashing out $1 bn The former Twitter CEO’s firm was also accused of understating customer acquisition costs. The US short-seller, behind the over $100-billion market rout in Adani Group, said in its latest report that former Block employees estimated that 40%-75% of accounts they reviewed were fake, involved in fraud, or were additional accounts tied to a single individual ■ Hinderburg added that co-founders Jack Dorsey and James McKelvey collectively sold over $1 billion worth of the firm’s stock during the pandemic as the company’s share price soared. Block’s Indian-origin CFO Amrita Ahuja also dumped millions of dollars in stock, it alleged ■ Last month, Block had said it was going slow on hiring to control costs 20% Fall in shares of Block Inc after the Hindenburg report was published CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Rahul sentenced to two years in jail for Modi slur Gets bail, will file appeal; court says his crime is more serious since he is an MP; judgment suspended; verdict sparks political slugfest D i l i p S in g h K sh at r i ya @ Ahmedabad what’s cooking? West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses the media after meeting Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Thursday | DEBADATTA MALLICK | P5 Man throws acid on wife at court in Kovai R K i r u ba k a r a n @ Coimbatore TENSION gripped the Coimbatore Combined Court Complex on Thursday morning, after a man threw acid on his wife as she was waiting in front of a court hall. The woman was rushed to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) where doctors said she’d sustained 80% burns and fighting for her life. This is the second brutal assault in the area since a youth was hacked to death near the court complex on February 13. Police identified the suspect as 40-year-old P Sivakumar. The victim Kavitha (32), hails from Kovilpatti village in Madurai district. Police said the couple had committed several thefts together since moving to Coimbatore a decade ago. There are four theft cases against Sivakumar and three against Kavitha. Kavitha was at the court complex for a hearing at the Judicial Magistrate Court in connection to a 2016 case. According to police, Sivakumar had been trying to find her since she’d left him and their two daughters and started living separately. He’d lodged a missing person complaint at The bottle in which the acid was brought to court; the victim Kavitha (inset) | Express the Sulur police station three days ago. Knowing she’d be at court, Sivakumar came to the complex and met Kavitha at the waiting hall. He is learnt to have told her something about their two daughters and asked her to come with him. When she refused, Sivakumar, who had brought the acid in a plastic water bottle, threw the chemical on her body, police said, adding that he’d deliberately avoided her face. Kavitha cried for help, ran out of the waiting hall and fell on the floor near the Judicial Magistrate II court while Sivakumar tried to escape. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Thursday sentenced to two years imprisonment by the Surat District Court in a criminal defamation suit over a ‘Modi surname’ slur. The court suspended the sentence for 30 days to let Rahul file his appeal and granted bail. Rahul was present in the court when the verdict was delivered. The case was filed following a police complaint lodged by BJP leader Purnesh Modi. Rahul made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In its verdict, the court said the seriousness of Rahul’s crime increased because a speech delivered by a Member of Parliament has a “very wide impact on the public”. Chief Judicial Magistrate H H Varma said if the accused is given lesser punishment, it would send a wrong message to the public, adding the purpose of defamation law would not be fulfilled. Rahul could have limited his speech to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Anil Ambani, but “intentionally” made a statement that hurt individuals carrying the Modi surname, committing defamation, the court said. Rahul’s lawyer Kirit Panwala said, “We will file an appeal. The verdict is flawed because there has been no loss or defamation to society or the community.” In the court, he had argued that Narendra Modi Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives at the IGI airport in New Delhi on Thursday hours after his conviction in a criminal defamation suit by a Surat court | PTI Jury is still out on disqualification Whether or not Rahul would be liable to be disqualified as a Lok Sabha member is not clear yet. While a section feels the disqualification clause would kick in immediately, others claim it won’t because the sentence has been suspended and not Purnesh Modi ought to have been the complainant because the PM was the main target of Rahul’s speech. For his part, Purnesh Modi welcomed the verdict. “Rahul irresponsibly tried to defame the entire community He must . be punished,” he said. Rahul’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lashed out at the BJP , saying “the entire machinery of a scared government is using money and muscle power to silent Rahul Gandhi’s voice. My brother has never been afraid and will never be. He lived his life speaking the truth and will continue to do so.” Whether or not Rahul’s would stand disqualified as an MP is still a legal gray area. The Representation of the People Act mandates that a lawmaker sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall be disqualified “from the date of such conviction” and remain so for another six years after serving time. While DMK chief M K Stalin spoke to Rahul over the phone, the latter got support from unexpected quarters, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the BJP-led government wants to get Rahul removed from the LS through disqualification as he speaks the truth and exposes it. P7 Amritpal out of Punjab, last spotted in Kurukshetra area “In a joint operation with Haryana Police, we apprehended Baljeet Kaur, Fugitive Khalistani leader Amrit- 28, from Shahabad. We have CCTV pal Singh escaped from Punjab and footage that shows Amritpal under an was last located in Haryana on March umbrella at Shahabad. Though the 19 (Sunday) where he got shelter from face is not visible, the gait suggests it an female MBA grad at Shais him,” said Gill. habad. With her arrest by Another of the self-styled the Punjab Police, the count preacher’s close associates, of those under detention Tejinder Singh alias Gorkha has swelled to 207. Baba of Mangewal village Inspector General of Poin Khanna district, has been lice Sukhchain Singh Gill arrested. Incriminating vidsaid after leaving a gurdeos of arms training at a wara at Nangal Ambian vilmake-shift firing range have lage on a bike, Amritpal and been recovered, which indiAmritpal Singh his accomplice subsequentcates the building of a prily took an autorickshaw. How they vate militia, Gill said. reached Shahabad in Kurukshetra on In Delhi, a yet another close aide of Sunday is not yet clear though it is Amritpal was arrested. “Amit Singh, suspected they drove in on a white who works as an insurance agent was two-wheeler. The next morning, they picked up by the Punjab Police from left Kurukshetra. Tilak Vihar,” sources said. H a r p r e e t B a j w a @ Chandigarh e x p r e s s r ead Jumbo deaths: HC summons Tangedco chief Accenture to lay off 19,000 staff over 1.5 yrs Chennai: After four elephants were electrocuted in Dharmapuri district in a fortnight, the Madras HC on Thursday summoned the Tangedco chairman and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests on April 19 to explain why low-lying power lines were not removed despite court orders | P2 New Delhi: IT services and consulting firm Accenture will lay off 2.5% or 19,000 employees over the next one and half years, the company said in a regulatory filing. Accenture currently employs over 7 lakh people and is estimated to have the largest employee base of 3 lakh in India 7 held in Hyd for theft of 16.8 crore Indians’ data Hyderabad: The Cyberabad Police on Thursday said it had arrested seven members of a gang allegedly involved in the theft and sale of sensitive data of the government, including details of 2.55 lakh defence personnel as well as the personal and confidential data of 16.8 crore citizens across the country K 1 2 K a n n u al f ee U’khand govt says cheers to personal bar permit N ARE N D RA S ET H I @ Dehradun IN a move that could cheer up liquor lovers, the Uttarakhand government has amended its excise policy to allow residents of the state to open ‘authorised personal bars’ in their homes — for a fee. Permit holders will be able to stock up to 60 litres of English liquor (whisky imported and Indian , scotch, beer) equivalent to 80 bottles at their home bars against nine litres (12 bottles) now, excise secretary Harichandra Semwal told this newspaper. An annual fee of `12,000 will have to be paid for the licence. Besides, the excise department will collect an amount of `50,000 as guarantee at the time of applying for the licence. Only those who have been regularly filing income tax returns (for at least five years) will be able to apply. Applications will have to be submitted online and approved by the district magistrate. The licence comes with a set of conditions, though. The licencee can keep only the liquor meant for civilian use. Action will be taken if the liquor is obtained from military canteens or any other state. The licence terms also stipulate that young men or women below the age of 21 years should not be allowed entry to the personal bar premises. There are set limits for separate types of liquor that can be kept a t i n d iv i d u a l bars. According to the terms and conditions, alco- hol made in India and Indian Scotch cannot exceed nine litres each. In the case of imported liquor, the limit is double, at 18 litres (two boxes). Only one box of wine can be kept in a licenced home bar, while the maximum allowed quantity of beer is 15.6 litres. Meanwhile, the excise department has also reduced the licence fee for opening imported liquor shops, in a bid to encourage tourism in the hilly state. Uttar Pradesh, too, has a similar policy to allow its residents to have licenced home bars. Other states such as Jharkhand give temporary permits to serve liquor on special occasions such as private parties. ‘ m o r al j u s tice ’ TN house re-adopts anti-gambling bill, to seek guv nod T M u r u ga n a ndh a m @ Chennai THE Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday re-adopted the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 without any changes. It will be sent to Governor RN Ravi for his assent. Since the DMK came to power, this is the second bill to be re-adopted by the House due to the governor return- CM MK Stalin tabling the bill in the ing them. The bill to dispense Assembly on Thursday | Express with NEET for undergraduate medical admission in TN ence on eliminating online was re-adopted on February gambling, which kills peo8, 2022. ple. The state government The bill to ban online gam- has the right to discipline, bling was first adopted by guide and protect the people the House on October 19, within its jurisdiction. Un2022. After 141 days, the gov- ion Minister Anurag Thakur ernor returned it on March 6 on March 21 told Parliament stating the legislathat state governture lacked legislaments have the powtive competence to er to enact legislaenact the bill. tion to ban online Moving the bill in gambling as the subthe House on Thursject comes under day, Chief Minister Entry 34 of the State Assembly MK Stalin said he List.” time was tabling it with a “I wish to declare heavy heart as 41 in this august House persons had died by suicide that we cannot rule by due to online gambling. putting our conscience on Quoting the plea for a ban sleep mode. This bill is being made by one victim, he said, tabled to protect moral jus“This bill has not been draft- tice and discipline. I appeal ed using only intelligence to all members to support but also compassion. We may this bill to prevent the loss of differ for political reasons... one more life due to online but there should be no differ- gambling,” he said. Pondy plans to move similar bill The Puducherry government will soon bring in a legislation banning online gaming in the union territory, Information Technology and Law Minister K Lakshminarayanan announced in the Assembly on Thursday.
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