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Pakistani Artistes’ Agents demand Payment in ‘black’ in India, says a Report

The insistence for payment in black money also violates Service Tax and Income Tax laws

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New Delhi, Nov 16, 2016: Agents of Pakistani artistes like Fawad Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafaqat Amanat Ali, Mawra Hocane and Imran Abbas Naqvi are involved in black money transactions in India, a sting by Hindi news channel News18 India has alleged.

The news channel’s sting report comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to curb black money in India.

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The sting operation, carried out by News18 India over a fortnight ago in New Delhi and Mumbai, was aired on Tuesday night.

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According to a statement issued by the channel, undercover reporters caught on camera the “agents of the Pakistani artistes” demanding majority of their fee in black. The fee was for appearance in wedding ceremonies.

While a few demanded part of the fee in cash, others wanted it transferred to their bank accounts in Australia or Dubai, the statement alleged.

The formal contract, however, reflected a paltry sum as compared to the amount agreed upon, the News18 India statement read.

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As per the sting, Fawad’s manager demanded Rs 50 lakh for a two-hour appearance. He demanded that the payment should be made in black and white. The black money component was to be 25 per cent of the deal amount and the rest was to be transferred to the actor’s UAE-based bank account, the statement alleged.

Singers Shafqat Amanat Ali’s manager and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s representative demanded Rs 35 lakh and Rs 65 lakh respectively. Whereas, the former’s contract showed just Rs 8 lakh, the latter’s showed Rs 23 lakh, including taxes, News18 India said.

Actor Imran’s manager demanded Rs 35 lakh for a performance, with Rs 32 lakh to be paid in black while the contract was to reflect a fee of just Rs 300,000.

Mawra’s Pakistan-based manager demanded Rs 50 lakh for a two-hour appearance and asked for Rs 25 lakh in cash to be paid to her contact in Mumbai. The rest was to be transferred to her Australian bank account, the channel statement said.

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News18 India said that since all the Pakistani artistes come to India on a work permit obtained through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for professional engagement, these activities violate statutory laws.

The insistence for payment in black money also violates Service Tax and Income Tax laws.

The details of the sting operation could not be independently verified. (IANS)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google to charge $40 per device to Android makers. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?