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NRI Couple's kind Gesture for Homeless Family in Telangana December 18, 2018 17:51

The United States-based Non-Resident Indian (NRI) couple showed their humane nature by building a four-room house with cement sheets roof for a poverty-stricken family behind the market area in Jagtial town in Telangana. Jagtial based couple, Papatti Aadi alias Harish and his wife Sri Laxmi migrated to the United States in hunt of employment and settled there. Recently, Aadi decided to construct a house for a homeless family in the remembrance of his mother Ramalaxmi and contacted local social worker Renikunta Ramesh, who identified Badri Sujatha's family to construct a house. A beedi roller, a thin cigarette or mini-cigar filled with tobacco flake, Sujatha is striving hard to stay in a dilapidated hut along with her three daughters and in-laws. Besides providing education to her three daughters, Sujatha is taking care of her in-laws after the death of her husband Venkatesh three years ago. With an intent to provide permanent shelter to family, Ramesh had decided to construct a house with the amount donated by NRI couple. Besides the NRI couple, local philanthropists came forward to donate cement bags and doors. Aadi's mother-in-law Damarapati Bharathi along with local corporator Pippari Anitha inaugurated the house on Monday. The construction of the house was completed by spending Rs 1.80 lakh. While NRI couple provided Rs 1.30 lakh, remaining amount was pooled locally, social worker Ramesh told Telangana Today. When Aadi explained regarding his idea to construct a house to hapless family, he began searching for an impoverished family and found Sujatha, who was going through terrible hardships to staying in a dilapidated hut along with her daughters and in-laws. Earlier, he managed to construct houses to 17 poor families besides providing Rs 62.50 lakh financial assistance to 43 needy families during the last three years. -Sowmya    

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Indian-origin Businessman Brings Christmas Cheer to UK Homeless December 18, 2018 12:10

An Indian-origin businessman Prakash Bhojani, based in the East Midlands city of Leicester, has brought Christmas merrymaking to scores of homeless people by donating to a local project and arranging to provide renovated housing to them. The homeless people, to be chosen by campaign group Action Homeless, will be able to move into their new homes prior to Christmas. Bhojani, 70, has been involved in local charity organizations. He also runs a factory and real estate company. The renovated houses owned by Bhojani's company are being leased to the campaign group for a nominal fee. Bhojani donated £100,000 to the project that will benefit those who have recent experience of sleeping rough on the streets. Bhojani told 'Leicester Mercury', a leading local daily: "We've worked hard to make sure the properties have all been renovated to a high standard. We want this to be the first step to people getting back on track, it's important that the homes help them to do that". "I'm in a position where I can give something back. There are lots of reasons someone might find themselves homeless, these people deserve a second chance and they should have somewhere to live that makes them feel that way." Mark Grant of Action Homeless added: "We are really pleased to be able to offer this additional accommodation to people who are affected by homelessness in Leicester. The city as a whole is suffering from a lack of good-quality affordable housing and this has a huge impact on people, leaving many vulnerable. "I am particularly delighted that people without a home will have somewhere safe and comfortable to call their own in time for Christmas. My sincere thanks go to our generous donors who have made this possible." Leicester, the city held up as a symbol of Britain's policies of multilateralism, has a sizable number of people of Indian-origin, many moved there after being expelled from Idi Amin's Uganda in the early 1970s and went on to come through in various professions and business. -Sowmya  

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Indian-Origin Woman Dupes Family of £250,000 Faking Brain Cancer December 17, 2018 11:30

An Indian-origin woman has been sentenced to four years in prison in the United Kingdom for faking terminal brain cancer and conning her family, friends for 250,000 pounds. In 2013, the 36-year-old Jasmin Mistry told her then-husband, Vijay Katechia, that she had cancer, along with a supporting WhatsApp message from what he thought was her doctor. However, investigations later revealed that the message had been sent by her using a different SIM card. At the end of December 2014, she told her ex-husband that her severe brain cancer meant she had no more than six months to live, with further messages from another fictitious doctor suggesting that it could be treated in America - at a cost of around 500,000 pounds. Jasmin's ex-husband became suspicious when a friend of his saw a picture of a brain scan she had said was taken at one of her consultations. The plot was ultimately unearthed after her ex-husband showed a "scan" to a doctor friend, who told him it had been lifted from Google. Her husband likewise found SIM cards Jasmin had been using send messages posing to be other people, and when confronting her she confessed that she made up a story. She was arrested in 2017. During interviews, she confirmed to officers that she was not terminally ill and that she did not know why she had lied, Met Police said. According to the report, it was found that 20 members of her extended family and eight others were found to have lent her money. The total fraud sum of money was calculated as 253,122 pounds. Jasmin had pleaded guilty to the crime after her arrest earlier this year. Jasmin, a medical secretary from Loughborough town in the Midlands region of England, was convicted of fraud by mendacious representation and imprisoned for four years at Snaresbrook Crown Court this week. Described in court as a "pathological liar", she created a fake online account of a counterfeit physician to message her husband and as well posted "Stand up to cancer" messages on social media. "This is a terrible crime. To tell everybody you have cancer and take money from them... It's an awful situation," Judge Judith Hughes told Jasmin in court. -Sowmya  

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Indian-American Ph.D. Scholar Accuses BHU Faculty of Harassment December 14, 2018 16:37

An Indian-American Ph.D. scholar has accused Banaras Hindu University's Ayurveda Head of Department Anand Chaudary of harassment and stalking over five years. Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya, who received her doctorate in Rasa Shastra from the Faculty of Ayurveda from aforementioned university lodged a complaint with the Lanka police in Varanasi against Anand on November 22 and has claimed no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered in the case at the behest of the university. "For the past 5 years, Mr. Anand Kr Chaudhary has threatened me using defamation, derogation, stalking and both sexual and academic harassment. In fear for my career, withstanding threats that I would not be allowed to complete my studies, I withheld complaints until I safely received my Ph.D. degree certificate today," she wrote in the complaint. Bhaswati believes that there is pressure from the BHU on the police to not pursue the case, however, the BHU administration has denied this claim. Bhaswati enrolled in BHU for mid-career a Ph.D. in 2014, with a senior Fulbright faculty grant. She alleges that Anand began harassing her when she started her course. "He has tried to stop my progress in so many ways - from preventing me from attending classes and conferences to phantom violations on attendance, to sexually colored remarks about me to students in the department and faculty. He spread rumors that I had been sleeping around with other students and professors in the department," she says. Bhaswati says that Anand also stalked her. "He has also admitted over an email to faculty that he spent hours on my Facebook page trying to gather 'evidence' against me," she says. Although she approached the university regarding the harassment in 2015, and the Vice-Chancellor passed an order that Anand must ensure Bhaswati was not denied any opportunities, the harassment has continued, she alleges. The administration enabled his abusive behavior, and it is more or less an open secret, she says. After April 2015, the harassment - and social exclusion at the university - worsened, she says. In that month, she had filed a case after five men in the campus allegedly attempted to rape her and another colleague. The faculty saw this complaint as an attempt to defame the university, she says. BHU Public Relations Officer Rajesh Singh, when questioned about whether it was on BHU's behest that an FIR had not been filed in Bhaswati's case, said, "See, it is the police's job to file the FIR. What role do we have to play in it? Anyone can go to the police and file a complaint, if the police find that the allegations are authentic and true, they will register an FIR." When asked about the allegations against Anand Chaudhary, he said, "Our internal inquiry committee under the chairmanship of Institute of Medical Sciences Director, looked into the allegations made by her (Bhaswati) and has given Dr. Anand Chaudhary a clean chit." Anand Chaudhary denied Bhaswati's allegations, "There was never any stalking or sexual harassment. Nothing was done from my side as the Head of my department which may harm her in her academic pursuits." He alleged that this complaint is a "conspiracy" by Bhaswati to sabotage his career, that she tried to work around the Ph.D. rules of BHU, and he has only worked to enforce them. Anand added that in June 2017, Bhaswati had withdrawn her complaints against him. However, Bhaswati counters that she was forced to do that under threat that her thesis submission seminar would not be scheduled or else. -Sowmya Sangam

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NRI in Bid to Promote to Jute Cultivation December 11, 2018 18:56

A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) and PULSES Chief Executive Officer Srinubabu Gadela wage a war against plastic saying it is ruining the health of the people and the wealth of the farmers with the huge drop in jute production in the backward Srikakulam district. The United States-returned NRI has been organizing meetings for the past few months to make farmers to go back to jute. He says adequate availability of raw jute would lead to a revival of all the closed industries. Dr. Srinubabu, who hails from Allena village of Burja mandal, completed his post-doctorate from the Stanford University and started Omics International Private Limited to facilitate free access of journals for researchers. Later, he established the Pulses Group, a health informatics and health care services in Hyderabad. Dr. Srinubabu, who is not content with his achievements, is keen on enhancing the income sources of farmers by guiding them in the usage of the latest technology and information in agriculture. He has been conducting training programs for youngsters to become entrepreneurs. "Thousands of farmers and laborers have fallen victims with little demand for jute cultivation and closure of many industries in Rajam, Bobbili, Vizianagaram, and other places. The revival of jute production and processing would certainly minimize the usage of plastic covers and bags. There is a huge demand for jute material in paper and textile industries too. That is why I am suggesting the farmers go back to jute cultivation which is sure to generate more income and employment." Ambedkar University Vice-Chancellor Kuna Ramjee said the University would sign an agreement with the Pulses Group in training PG students in a systematic way. "Youngsters from poor families and Telugu medium can also do wonders if they work hard and develop new ideas. That is why we requested its chairman to take up special training programs and help the PG students to get jobs in reputed firms and start their own industries," said Dr. Ramjee. Minister for Human Resources Ganta Srinivasa Rao felicitated Dr. Srinubabu for coming forward to serve the native district. "We should do something for our native places. It will certainly make other well-settled NRIs utilize their knowledge and wealth to benefit the backward areas," he said. -Sowmya Sangam

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Shashi Tharoor Launches Indian Author's Book at Sharjah Book Fair December 11, 2018 10:12

The Lady Biker, a collection of short stories by an Indian-American actor, producer, and author Thampi Antony, was released by Member of Indian parliament and author Shashi Tharoor, at the Sharjah International Book Fair earlier this month. Published by Mathrubhumi Books, Tharoor gave a copy to Abu Dhabi-based writer and cultural critic Shajahan Madampat on November 9. Tharoor said he is a great Malayalam short story enthusiast and lauded Antony's work. Antony, a resident of Alamo, California, said it was a matter of great privilege and delight, as a writer, to have the work released by Tharoor, a public figure with an enormous following and a packed schedule. Referring to the excitement that the presence of the Indian National Congress MP created, he said that there was a near stampede at the event. "Even the security guards couldn't do much," he said. "Some of my closest friends couldn't get anywhere near the book release event. I am delighted that he kept his promise to me and came for the release." The Lady Biker (original Malayalam title: Pen Biker) is a collection of 14 stories that was first published in several prominent Malayalam weeklies over a period of two years. The Lady Biker, the title story, was published in the Kalakaumudhi weekly. In the author's own words the book is an amalgam of the American life and Malayalee experiences. "Each story is a conversation," reviewer Veena Chand wrote in Mathrumbhumi. "Each character talks to the reader in plainest of languages." The Lady Biker is Antony's fifth Malayalam book and second short story collection. He has also written a novel, a collection of poems and a play. Antony has acted in 40 films, mostly in Malayalam, including Sufi Paranja Katha, Beyond the Soul, and Parudeesa. His latest movie Puzhayamma, directed by Vijeesh Mani, is scheduled to be released in the New Year. He also acted in Cash, a Hollywood movie that he produced. The Californian has likewise produced 7 films, most notably the Calcutta News. -Sowmya Sangam

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Telangana NRIs Vow to Support TRS In Future Bids December 10, 2018 17:35

Telangana Non-resident Indians (NRIs) on Sunday expressed their confidence over the winning of Telangana Rashtra Samithi in the assembly elections held on December 7, saying the party would retain power and continue to implement welfare and development activities. The NRIs vowed to continue their support to the TRS and its president K. Chandrashekar Rao in their future endeavors after the election results are announced Tuesday. Speaking to the media at Telangana Bhavan on Sunday, TRS NRI wing coordinator Mahesh Bigala said the Telangana NRIs had traveled wide and far across the State to campaign on behalf of the TRS for the Assembly polls. "We have witnessed a positive response from people cutting across caste, religion and region lines. They are overwhelmed with the governance of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. We are confident that the results will be in favor of the TRS," he said.Mahesh further said Chandrashekhar Rao would play a vital role in the creation of the Federal Front to bring qualitative change in the national politics. He reiterated that the Telangana NRIs would rally behind the Chief Minister in this regard. "The people of Telangana would never accept TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu in the State, and the Congress and TJS president M Kodandaram lost their credibility due to their alliance with Naidu," he said. TRS NRI wing leader Mahesh Tanneru thanked the Telangana NRIs who took part in the poll campaign. He said Chandrashekhar Rao had already assured to address the issues pertaining to Telangana NRIs after returning to power.By Sowmya Sangam

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Telangana Polls: NRI Contests from Warangal West to Change City's Fate December 05, 2018 17:16

A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) who lived in the United States is trying his hand at Telangana Assembly elections 2018 from Warangal West constituency, with an aim to change city's fate. Vikranth Babu Samidha came back to India three years ago from the United States to engage himself in social work in his motherland and is currently contesting as an independent candidate. He worked with prestigious companies such as Apple and AT & T in the U.S. "People watch movies like Sarkar, and hoot and cheer for such movies, but they won't come out to vote. They spend time and money to travel to watch these movies, but they can't go to a polling booth in their own locality to cast a vote, which can bring about change," says Vikranth to TNM in Warangal. Vikranth will be competing against Member of Legislative Assembly Dasyam Vinay Bhasker of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Telugu Desam Party's Revuri Prakash Reddy, and Dharmarao Marthineni from Bharatiya Janata Party. Motive to Join politics "It's not about winning or losing for me at the moment. It's more about spreading awareness among people on their right to vote. And I felt like it required me to enter politics actively and use that as a platform to do so and that's what I'm doing," he says. Image Source: The News Minute Born and brought up in Warangal, Vikranth completed his Masters in computer science at Texas A&M University and currently is the I-T head at Apollo Sugar Clinics, Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad. "I work as a consultant. This is so that I can work for three days a week and dedicate the rest of the week for the various organizations I volunteer for here in Warangal," he says. "I have been working with various organizations, mostly in the field of education where we ensure people go to school, donate books, bags and other necessities so they can receive a decent education. Through this, we also started teaching people about sanitation, etc. As elections approached, we were asking people why they don't come to vote and realized that there is little awareness about the need to vote and the need to elect the right leaders. I felt like people needed to know why and who they vote for and ensure that they hold them accountable for the lack of development. At this point, several people asked me why don't I enter politics myself, so I thought - why not," he adds. Vikranth works with organizations such as Helping Hands India, Youth for Swachh Warangal and Young Pioneers of India. 'No Promises' Vikranth says he doesn't want to make many promises and then fail to fulfill them. His motto too, he says, is 'Neraverchani maatalakanna, panulu chese chethulu minna," which translates to 'working hands are better than empty promises.' "We don't want to engage in pointing fingers at others or getting personal. Our agitation is against the work that hasn’t been done yet and we will work on finding solutions for current problems instead of complaining," he adds. Vikranth wants to concentrate on four major areas: Health, education, smart cities, employment for youth. And his focus too, he says, is on the growing urban population in these towns. He believes that a 'one size fits all' manifesto won't make sure that development trickles down to the bottom of the pyramid. "Things like health and education can be generic but beyond that, every MLA needs to have manifestos specific to their constituencies that target specific problems," he adds. Vikranth points out that more than 65 percent of our population comprises youth. "For any development and innovation going forward, youth will play a very important role and we are seeing that happen slowly. But the saddest part is that today our Parliament is one of the oldest in the world in terms of age of politicians. When we need youth for everything, why don’t we want them to rule the country?" he says. Vikranth wants to bring about more employment opportunities for the youth and turning Warangal into a smart city is one such big opportunity, according to him. Warangal was selected as a smart city in the second list put out by the government. But Vikranth claims that no work has been done on this front. "Look at things like rapid transportation systems, solid waste management, or even underground drainage. There is so much that can be done but nothing has been done. Nearly Rs 900 crore has been released for this purpose for Telangana and we have found that not even Rs 200 crore has been utilized. And the leaders too, don’t seem to know how to make Warangal a smart city," he adds. Vikranth wants to implement solid waste management and underground drainage in the city if he comes to power. He also wants to create recyclable bricks and lay roads with recycled material. "There is immense employment opportunity through solid waste management since everything is recyclable and a lot can be done with the waste generated in these towns," he says. "Involving the youth in making Warangal a smart city will ensure the development is holistic." Use of Digital Media For his campaigning, Vikranth is focusing on digital media, with digital ads online and through WhatsApp. Apart from that, there is also print campaigns and door-to-door campaigning. His budget, Vikranth says is Rs 10 lakh and the moment that money is exhausted, he says, he will stop campaigning. "I have taken the initiative and put a step forward to bring about some change. Whether I win or not, is something people will decide. But through the campaigns, if I manage to influence at least 10-20 percent of the people, I will be happy. At least some change would have begun," Vikranth says. -Sowmya Sangam

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Kolkata-Born Scientist Rahul Mandal Wins UK's Popular Baking Show November 01, 2018 12:34

A Kolkata-born research scientist, who is currently living in the United Kingdom has crowned the winner of a popular baking show on British television after winning over the judges with his elaborately-designed pastries and cakes. The 30-year-old Rahul Mandal was declared the winner of Channel 4's 'Great British Bake Off' on Tuesday night after impressing the judges with his "East meets West" style of baking. As the winning name was revealed, he said: "I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I just feel I need to talk with my mum." Mandal was born in Kolkata and moved to the United Kingdom as a student, where he started elevating curiosity for cooking and baking. Mandal from Rotherham in northern England struggled with disasters during the show's finale when his icing bag exploded during a doughnut challenge. Shortly after, his mixing bowl smashed while he was creating his rock garden, motivated by Victorian explorers bringing back exciting plants from around the globe, for the "Edible Landscape" show-stopper challenge. Despite the mischances, the taste and quality of Mandal's baking saw him win over the judges as he beat fellow British Indian contestant Ruby Bhogal and Kim-Joy Hewlett in the grand finale of the long-running television show. "He is one of those characters that you will miss when you are not with him. I don't think he realizes still how good he actually is and I think that's what's magic about Rahul," said celebrity chef Paul Hollywood, one of the judges. "I never baked when I was in India. My baking journey began in the UK about five years ago when I was feeling lonely, and needed to do something along with my studies," he said. "At that time, it was limited to making bread and biscuits. The first cake I made was about two years ago when my parents visited the UK for the first time," he added. The winner is bestowed with a coveted cake stand trophy and the publicity from the show can outcome in a huge career boost for galore contestants. Every year, amateur baking enthusiasts vie to get a spot among 12 bake-off contestants and spend nine weeks in a large tent to compete in a series of elimination rounds. "Cooking programs always interested me. Even as a child, rather than watching sports, I enjoyed watching cookery shows. I started cooking and experimenting with food from the age of 15, however, proper everyday cooking started since I moved to the UK," Mandal said. "I like the simple classics, sometimes with a little twist in it. My colleagues love my Lemon drizzle cake and its cousins like Lemon and cardamom drizzle cake, or lemon and elderflower drizzle cake - they like them a lot," he said. While baking is a hobby, he sees a connect with his day job as a scientist as he believes precise planning and attention to detail come in handy for both. "If it is something big, I develop and design it over the week and then execute it over the weekend," he said. The final three contestants in the 2018 series were evenly matched for this year's finale, which attracted a lot of social media attention.    ImageSource: The Telegraph Fans were split over Mandal being given an extra 15 minutes after he smashed his mixing bowl while creating his showstopper but the majority were rooting for the diffident and humble scientist-baker. The recent series evidenced a rating success for Channel 4, which took over the show earlier this year following its move from its original home on the BBC. -Sowmya Sangam

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Former NRI Fills Drinking Water Pots Each Morning to Serve People October 25, 2018 17:48

There are not a lot of souls around in our country who have a heart of compassion, nevertheless, 69-year-old Alag Natarajan is one from the noble minority.The former Non-Resident Indian (NRI) who lived in London for about three decades intended to do a bit for the people on his comeback. One thing that caught his eyes is that people who spend most of their time on the roads do not get the minimum necessity of water to slake their thirst.According to a report in Inuth.com, Natarajan, a resident of South Delhi, started setting up water coolers around his locality to meet people's needs. He installed 10 coolers at different locations, starting from his own residence in Panchsheel Park. But immediately, he grasped that no one was keen to fill water in those coolers. There was as well the difficulty of getting an electric connection to run the devices."It has been four years now including the cooler maybe five years. When I started, I installed 10 coolers in different parts of Delhi but half of them I have to bring back because people had no respect for it. Each cooler cost me Rs 25,000," he was quoted as saying by Inuth.The man did not lose trust, however. He switched to a low-priced substitute - earthern pots of 'matkas'. He placed around 80 of them in different areas and on a daily basis, at around 4 a.m., he takes out his water van to fill them.Natarajan, however, does not charge money for his social service. Now and then, people donate money for his hard work, but his financial support comes mostly from his pension in London. His family too supports him. One 'matka' costs him Rs 350, he said.In addition to serving water, the veteran as well provides breakfast to security guards, laborers, and drivers and at the present, he has started making the foodstuff (idli) besides serving cucumbers and bananas. He has as well put up self-help cycle pumps in different areas to promote cycling.-Sowmya Sangam

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Indian-Origin Man Jailed in UK Over Handling Stolen Vehicles October 17, 2018 10:54

An Indian-origin man has been sentenced to eight years in jail by the United Kingdom court for the 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 ownership of the criminal property at the extremity 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 imprisoned for conspiracy to handle stolen goods in relation to the cars and keys, for which he received eight years' in jail. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for owning 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 judgments will run simultaneously. "I hope this sentence sends a message that those involved in this type of organized criminality will be pursued robustly," the Met Police said. The tribunal was told that in February 2015, Patel reported to police force that his Porsche had been purloined. Initially, Patel resisted giving his residence address, rather providing details of his parent's address. When he eventually gave his own address, officers attended the property as part of their probe into the stolen car. Here they discovered a number of high-value vehicles in the basement car park. Officers identified that one of the cars had a personalized 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 fake number plates and each was later confirmed to have been purloined. Shortly, Patel was arrested at his address. During a hunt of his possessions, Met Police officers recovered 26 sets of car keys, likewise lists of registrations and vehicles, devices for accessing onboard computers in vehicles, programming keys and a number of tablets, mobile phones, 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 later seized, also nine sets of keys which had been stolen from Jaguar Land Rover's plant in Solihull, West Midlands, and a laptop purloined in Streatham area of south London during a burglary. During the trial, judge H H J Gower commended the work of the Scotland Yard officer, Police Constable Andy Garland, whose work identified the first stolen vehicle. The police subsequently discovered that Patel had been using the vehicles in the running of an "off-the-books" vehicle rental enterprises, where vehicles were rented out to his connections and associates. The vehicles had been purloined 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 kin, or with links who looked after the vehicles for him or rented them from him. The identities of the cars were hidden using legitimate insurance details of vehicles which had been written off on official records. By Sowmya Sangam

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Indian-Origin Man with Eye-Condition to Get Guide Horse in UK October 15, 2018 10:44

An Indian-origin man based in north-west England, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, is set to become the first person in the United Kingdom to acquire a guide horse to assist him with day-to-day tasks once he loses his imagination completely. Mohammed Salim Patel, 24, a journalist based in Blackburn at Lancashire, suffers from a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, due to which he is left with a very little amount of vision in his right eye and will sooner or later turn totally blind. The thought of a miniature guide horse came to his attention as he suffers from a deep-seated fear of dogs since a scary childhood encounter and could not rely on the more usually used guide dogs for the unsighted. "Digby (guide horse) is still a baby and will be two years old in May 2019. His training will take around two more years," Patel said. "Digby will be able to work into his 40s, whereas a guide dog has to retire at the age of eight," he said. After spending some time with his companion-to-be, Patel believes a guide horse has numerous added benefits over guide dogs, even a much longer working life, 350-degree vision and ability to see in the dark. "Even if his training takes longer than two years, it doesn't matter too much as once he's trained, I will have decades with him as my assistant animal," Patel explained. The tale of Digby caught the attention of the annual Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons, where the horse is amongst the finalists in the Hero Pet category - intended at honoring animals who have transformed the lives of their owners. "It's very nice to have Digby recognized for his great work, despite still being in training. He is a star," said Patel, in reference to the awards. The journalist works with the BBC North West Tonight Television after completing a Journalism Trainee Scheme. By Sowmya Sangam

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