India’s First Blind and Sighted Tandem Cycling Expedition to Himalayas by Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation

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Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation is an organization rooted in the belief that sport has the power to catalyze more inclusive, accepting, healthy societies. Using adventure sport as a platform to promote inclusion between Persons with Disability (PwDs) and the able-bodied community, ABBF believes that change starts at the individual level and nurturing friendships that go beyond markers of disability is the key to shattering stigma and stereotype. To this end, ABBF works in five verticals currently – tandem cycling, scuba diving, mountaineering and trekking, paragliding, and marathons – and since inception in 2014, has been able to reach out to 3500 PwDs and over 1.5 lakh people from the mainstream community. This is only the beginning.
In August 2016, our founder Divyanshu Ganatra set out with a sighted captain to pedal from Manali to Khardung La in the Himalayas, a length of 550 kilometers that the team completed in just eight days. He became the first blind tandem cyclist to accomplish the feat. Divyanshu, who lost his eyesight to glaucoma when he was nineteen years old, previously became the first blind solo paraglider in 2014. His thirst for adventure and love for adrenaline sowed the seeds of ABBF, and the community is only growing by the day. When Divyanshu and his captain successfully completed the expedition on September 4th, 2016, ABBF decided this would only be the beginning of our annual tandem cycling expedition, In Sync. Tandem cycling had so much more to offer.
Built to support a minimum of two riders, a tandem cycle is a perfect solution for accessible adventure. On the heels of last year’s success, this year’s edition of In Sync, #M2K2017 has drawn the participation of blind, sighted, as well as amputee cyclists from across India and beyond. Cyclists are as diverse as one can imagine, with professions ranging from corporate giants to language teachers, from the armed forces to motivational speaking. The age bracket ranges from around fifteen to about seventy years old. The experience on board spans seasoned cyclists to those getting on the pedal for the first time ever. With such diversity in lived experiences comes the opportunity for conversation, camaraderie, and personal growth. At ABBF, we have seen time and again that we climb the mountains as strangers and come down as friends. We are confident In Sync will be no different.
The key to the vision of ABBF is involving as many people as possible, inviting them to join us on this journey. For In Sync to be truly path-breaking, paving the road as India’s first inclusive tandem cycling expedition, we need your support and media coverage.

Check out how you can be a part of it here or contact Ms.Yashasvini Rajeshwar

Jammu & Kashmir State Human Rights Commission awards Compensation to man tied to the jeep.

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Jammu & Kashmir: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Chairman Justice Bilal Nazki on Monday, 10th July 2017, directed the Jammu and Kashmir Government to provide Rs.10 lakh as compensation to the civilian allegedly used as a human shield by the army earlier this year. 

Mr. Farooq Ahmad Dar, the civilian in question, Mr. Dar was allegedly tied to the bonnet of an army jeep and paraded through several villages on April 09 in Budgam during the by-polls of the parliamentary seat of Srinagar.

The State Human Rights Commission, however rightly refused to issue any directions against the army as it observed that it does not have any jurisdiction or authority over the army. 

IMP: This picture has been received via WhatsApp and its authenticity has NOT been confirmed as of yet. 

The Indian Army had carried out its own internal investigation and had declared that Major Gogoi, who lead the Rajputana Rifles unit which allegedly tied up Mr. Dar to a jeep, took the best course of action in front of a huge mob of stone pelters and handled the situation without a single loss of life, and decided to award Major Leetul Gogoi with a COAS Commendation Card.

Drug Wave in Hyderabad? Children as young as 13 years found buying LSD

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Hyderabad, India: The Telangana Excise and Prohibition department has, in a raid last week, seized substantial quantity of drugs including MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ‘ecstasy’ worth Rs 30 lakhs which has a market value of over Rs 1 crore from the drug peddlers.
The investigation has revealed shocking details and Excise department believe that the gang was mainly supplying drugs, including LSD and MDMA, to the students, as young as 13 year old, of several high profile corporate and international schools in the twin cities where the children of celebrities, politicians and police officers study.
LSD is sold in tablets or in liquid form, and is said to be one of the most potent narcotic drugs while MDMA, commonly known as ‘Molly’ or ‘Ecstasy’, is extensively used in parties and were apparently sources by the dealers from the US. The drugs were brought over the Deep Web and paid for in bitcoins. The dealers would revive orders via whatsapp and deliver the products in crowded places such as malls. 
LSD is sold in small patches or dots which are to be kept under the tongue. The drug is supposed to dissolve in 30 minutes. 
Representative image of a LSD Blot

The excise sleuths got information about after analysing phone details of the arrested, which revealed that hundreds of school and college students were purchasing drugs from them. The officials had seized 700 dots of LSD worth `20 lakh and 35gm of MDMA worth `1.4 lakh from the trio.

While the Excise Department has formed a two member special investigation team (SIT) it has also sent instructions to 20 Schools and 16 collage requesting them to sensitize its teacher and students about the issue of ‘substance abuse’.
It has also asked to watch out ‘erratic/deviant’ behaviours of students and also monitor the use of cash and cards by students in school premises and nearby shops.

Supreme Court Division Bench Refuses to Grant Stay On Government Notifications Mandating Aadhaar For Social Schemes

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | 2 Comments
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the government notifications that make it mandatory to furnish Aadhaar cards from July 1 to avail social security benefits, including availing scholarships, right to food and mid-day meals.

[Read more about Aadhaar being made compulsory for TB-related welfare schemes HERE]

A vacation Bench of Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and Navin Sinha declined to pass any interim order till the Center filed its response through Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who also contended that the cut-off date for those who do not possess the Aadhaar card has been extended till September 30, by virtue of Office Memorandum dated 22nd June 2017 and hence no interim measures need be passed till the Center had filed its reply. 
The Court stated that “In view of this submission and the observations found in the judgment in the case of Binoy Viswam vs. Union of India and Others [Writ Petition (C) No.247 of 2017] decided on 9th June 2017, no further observation is required.”

In the case of Binoy Viswam vs the Union of India, the Hon’ble Court had held that does without Aadhaar could not be forced to get Aadhaar till the Aadhaar Act withstood the test of Constitutionality under Article 21 in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) And Anr. vs Union of India and Others [WP (c) 494 of 2012.]
The matter has been listed again for the 7th of July, 2017.
Read the Supreme Court Order dated 27/06/2017 HERE

Aadhaar Now Compulsory To Claim Benefits For TB Cure Under RNTCP Scheme

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | One Comment

Despite the fact that the question of the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 itself, is pending before a Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Ors, and the latest the Order of the Supreme Court in Binoy Vishwam vs Union of India declaring that people without Aadhaar cannot be made to get Aadhaar and link it with PAN till the validity of Aadhaar itself is decided, the Central Government has brazenly gone ahead  declared Aadhaar mandatory not only for for Financial Transactions over Rs. 50,000/- , but now also mandatory for prevailing benefits under the RNTCP Scheme.

Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) (sometimes known as RNTCP 1) was started in 1997. The RNTCP was then expanded across India until the entire nation was covered by the RNTCP in March 2006. At that time the RNTCP also became known as RNTCP II. RNTCP II was designed to consolidate the gains achieved in RNTCP I, and to initiate services to address TB/HIV, MDR-TB and to extend RNTCP to the private sector. RNTCP uses the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy and reaches over a billion people in 632 districts/reporting units. 

As per the National Strategic Plan 2012–17, the program has a vision of achieving a “TB-free India”, and aims to achieve Universal Access to TB control services.The program provides, various free of cost, quality tuberculosis diagnosis, and treatment services across the country through the government health system.
The Gazette notification makes Aadhaar compulsory for benefits including compulsory cash assistance, free medical aid etc. It is important to note here that the well endowed can practically afford TB medicines, but those who are genuinely poor and suffering cannot afford the medicines and absolutely need the benefit of the scheme. As such the scheme cannot be made conditional to registration under an Act (Aadhaar) whose very locus is under challenge. 

Apart from this, on the basis of flawed understanding of the Lokniti Foundation judgment, the Government has already started forcing people to link their Aadhaar with their mobile numbers. 

First, they try to get people to link Aadhaar to PAN via a Money Bill and are stopped by the Supreme Court and now they go full steam ahead despite the matter being sub judice. The only explanation to this can be that the Government intends to put us in a scenario where Aadhaar has already been made 100% enforced, thus making any possible negative judgment against Aadhaar in the case of KS Puttaswamy redundant.

List of resources to read with respect to problems with Aadhaar here, here, and here

Narmada Bachao Andolan – The tale of non-existing Compensation, Rehabilitation, and lives of 40,000 Families

By | Campaigns; Public Awareness; Your Voice, Conflict Chronicles, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | No Comments

Via a Press Release dated 17th June 2017, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts. The NCA which under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.

Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar Sarovar dam on the River Narmada was laid the Gujarat government got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. While 30 gates of the dam have been closed, it will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged.

Besides the statement issued by noted activist Medha Patkar (viewed above) Narmada Bachao Andolan also issued a statement on 17th June. 2017 stating that;
“The level of falsehood involved in the decision taken by NCA on the closure of Sardar Sarovar gates is unprecedented.” Even the media has been spreading such lies about resettlement of Narmada affected families, even the the government cannot claim this: “A total of 46,840 PAFs have been resettled in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.”

On the 19th June 2017, supporters of Narmada Bachao Andolan laid siege to the entrance of Ministry of Water Resources protesting against the undemocratic and unjust decision of Narmada Control Authority to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, in its June 16th meeting. The decision paved the way for imminent submergence of 192 villages and one township of Madhya Pradesh this monsoon season when the full reservoir level will be achieved. 

In past two months, despite many assurances from NCA, NVDA and govt. officials, including citing the Supreme Court order of February 2017, the decision had been taken without verifying actual ground conditions in Madhya Pradesh. The Andolan supporters strongly pointed out that the claims of the almost complete disbursement of the compensation, as per SC judgment, is not at all true since a number of applications are still pending infront of the Grievance Redressal Authority in Madhya Pradesh. 
In these matters, the claims of the project affected families for disbursement of the appropriate amount for the land lost hasn’t been settled yet. It also needs to be noted that those who have received cash compensation, are yet to receive their due R&R entitlements for the loss of their houses and other common facilities, simply because 88 R&R sites in Madhya Pradesh are not complete. In such a situation, it is impossible for nearly, 40,000 families to move to these sites, which lack even most of the basic facilities, including drinking water.

Graphic: Raj Kumar Singh

The Supreme Court order while bringing down curtains on the legal battle had brought relief to the 2,039 displaced families. However, those facing displacement to allow the dam to function at its full capacity say they have nowhere to go

Down To Earth, an on the ground organization which has spoken to many locals shared a grim picture of those trapped on the ground with no place to go. 

“In 2003, I was given Rs 40,000 and a plot on the floodplains of the Khooj rivulet ( a tributary of the Narmada) in compensation,” one Iqbal Reyaz from Dharampuri, who works as a daily-wage labourer, told DownToEarth. Five years ago, Reyaz decided to relocate to the rehabilitation colony, aptly named Dharampuri Basahat, literally Dharampuri resettled. He was the first one to build a house there. But it got submerged the very next year, during the floods of 2013. “No one compensated me for the loss of the new house, and I had to return to my old house,” Reyaz stated. “I was a fool to go there. Since the colony is in the floodplains, no one from my town dares to shift there,”.

But going by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award guidelines, the authorities should also provide a primary school for every 100 families, a drinking water well for every 50 families, a seed store for every 500 families, before initiating the eviction process. Barely a month left to meet the apex Court’s deadline, it is unlikely that the requirements would be met. 

The South Asian Network on Dams, Network, and People wrote a detailed article questioning the legality of the lower of the gates of the Dam. 

[Story to be updated. Last updated 20/06/17]

MP, Gujarat Police Stop Narmada Bachao Andolan – Protesters Arrested.

By | Conflict Chronicles, Newsupdate | No Comments
On the 3rd day of the ‘Rally For The Valley’, which is a campaign of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, leaders of the rally, Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Soumya Datta, Dr. Sunilam, Jasbir Singh (All India Kisan Sabha, MP), Nita Mahadev (a noted Gandhian, Gujarat) along with hundreds of protestors have been detained at Kavta check post, kavta village of Chhota Udaipur district.

Police check post at Katva Village

As per reports, the rally was going to visit the Jeevanshala (a school run by Narmada Navnirmaan Abhiyan) of Chimalkhedi, Maharashtra when police officials stopped them from crossing the Gujarat border. The police officials failed to produce any written order. Even the vehicles with Gujarat number plate and local buses were stopped from crossing the border.
The protestors, under the leadership of social activist Medha Patkar have been detained by the Gujarat Police while they were moving from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra via Gujarat. The protestors have been stopped at the Gujarat Border and are not allowed to cross the Gujarat border.

Activist Medha Patkar (second from the right) with an injured boy
“A group of people, who were on their way to Chhota Udepur, were detained at Kavta check-post on Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border,” the police official from Kawant police station said to Newsd.
“They were detained as per the notification under section 144 of CrPC, which prohibits unlawful assembly or processions in the district,” district collector Vijay Kharadi said to Newsd.
According to Idrish Mohammed, a law student at Jamia Milia Islamia University took to Facebook and posted a picture of detained school kids from Kerala who joined the rally, the Gujrat Police assaulted protesters infront of the Madhya Pradesh Police. 
As seen above Idrish last posted on Facebook 11 hours ago painting a bleak picture of the administration stating, The kids who were beaten up by the police were sent to the hospital for medical examination. The medical officer is completely drunk and not in his senses. He SLAPPED the kids and harassed them badly. Another face of Justice System”

Local villagers gathered for Protest. 

The Narmada Bachao Andolan has been going on since 1985. 

Story to be Updated.
All Pictures are sources from the Facebook of Mr. Idrish Mohammed and are his property.

Wanna Cry? All You Need To Know About The Ransomeware

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A ransomware is a software which scrambles information stored on a computer system to make it inaccessible. The process of scrambling is done through known methods of encryption. The purpose is to then ask for an amount of money to decrypt valuable information. 

So how does Ransomware work?

How does it get through?

Imagine you hired the best architects and got a palace built for your yourself. Little known to you or the architects, there exists a weak wall near your garage. This can be broken by application of minimal force and people can get in through that and steal your expensive car. They can also disrupt your telephone and gas lines to cause you further harm. Or worse even, plant a bomb below your bedroom. Scary isn’t it?
Something similarly keeps happening with all software companies. They hire the best developers to write the most intricate codes, and little known to them they leave out vulnerabilities which can be brute forced and broken. Now people can get in and cause all sorts of mayhem.
If these vulnerabilities are unknown and not solved, they are called ‘zero-day exploits’. 
A ransomware may or may not use a zero-day exploit to leverage the attack. A ransomware might just promise you a lottery ticket, free coupons, facebook or gmail hacking, etc.

What does it do?

A ransomware is a simple software which encrypts and decrypts data based on a condition. Once the ransomware is loaded onto the computer using a vulnerability, it will instantly encrypt and make the data unusable.
It may ask for a password to decrypt. Or, It may show a message communicating the condition for decryption. It may also ask for payment, it may ask for release of a prisoner, it may ask for change in politics, anything.
Once the condition is met, a password is provided which can be used to unscramble the information and make it usable again.

What is WannaCry?

Just last month I was thinking there is not much interesting things to write about. I was not wrong but impatient.
WannaCry gets onto the system through common phishing tactics. An email containing an attachment is circulated. Upon downloading the attachment it instantly freezes the system and asks for a payment of $300 in BTC. If not paid within three days, the payment amount is doubled to $600.
However, it promises to hold events (time periods) when data can be decrypted for free by clicking the decrypt button, after expiry of six months. This is for poor people 
WannaCry got first reported on Friday the 12th of this month (May, 2017), and within a day it spread over to a quarter of a million computers across the globe.

How did it start?

WannaCry reportedly used a vulnerability on older Microsoft Windows operating systems. Mostly Windows XP and 7 attacks were reported. Microsoft held that systems running updated versions of Windows 7 and above were immune to it.1 There has been no reports negating this. 

Who got affected?

It started with the crippling effect on Britain’s National Health Service. Unlike in the US where people pay for healthcare in hefty bills, medical service in UK is free of cost. Therefore, outdated systems dying for lack of attention.
While Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April 2014 many UK agencies missed that. A Freedom of Information Act request by Citrix in December, 2016, reported 90 percent of UK hospitals had computers running outdated Windows XP.2
As it was not a targeted attack, it spread on to many other parts of the globe, some reports on Middle Eastern banking systems also surfaced.



To Microsoft’s credit they had already released the security updates back in March, here is a compilation of all the relevant security updates.3 If you have not updated your system you should go through them.
Code Name Solution
EternalBlue Addressed by MS17-010
EmeraldThread Addressed by MS10-061
EternalChampion Addressed by CVE-2017-0146 & CVE-2017-0147
“ErraticGopher” Addressed prior to the release of Windows Vista
EsikmoRoll Addressed by MS14-068
EternalRomance Addressed by MS17-010
EducatedScholar Addressed by MS09-050
EternalSynergy Addressed by MS17-010
EclipsedWing Addressed by MS08-067
Microsoft also released a malicious software removal tool specifically for WannaCry on 22nd May for a permanent resolution.

Other quirky solutions

young cyber security expert from London figured that the WannaCry malware repeatedly tries to connect with a website. If the website responds it shuts down. So he bought the website and made it respond.
For instance, a malware may check if is live or not. Depending on that there can be further instructions for the malware to commit.
This shows that WannaCry was not remote controlled. It means it is an independent malware which is supposed to run and spread all on its own.

Global Politics

It would be unfair to not talk about National Security Agency of the United States, Shadow Brokers, and the lesser known philosophy behind hacking.
A lot of internet develops due to constant work by different anonymous groups. As soon as one attack is launched, and gets enough attention, the global internet fortifies against it. Much like our bodies’ immune systems. Therefore, more the attacks, better the internet gets in the long run.
Sometimes attacks are just attention-seeking in nature, and sometimes they are deadly. In my opinion, WannaCry was seeking attention towards larger societal flaws. If it meant to cause real damage it would not have been made into a ransomware virus asking for $300 to $600. Also total revenue from WannaCry is said to be around $50,000 at max. It uses technology which can be used to target core banking companies and siphon off millions of dollars never making it to global media. Or worse, target nuclear plants where a lot of devices still run on outdated Microsoft products.

Attention sought for what?

The National Security Agency of the United States has been in the offensive since its inception. It is unofficially known that 90% of NSA’s budget goes into development of offensive weapons. The NSA constantly researches and adds to it’s library weapon grade software. The EternalBlue vulnerability used in WannaCry is just one among million options that NSA has for itself. Other deadly offensive weapons released in the past include the billion dollar STUXnet virus, which was recently linked to NSA.
Especially in EternalBlue’s case, NSA had found it long back but decided not to report it to Microsoft. It was the Shadow Brokers group who stole a considerable part from NSA library and reported it to Microsoft. Enabling it to release an update in March 2017, much before the breakout of the virus.
When hacker groups like Shadow Brokers get hold of such software they either report it for money or release it on the internet. The public quickly gets immune to it, thereby spoiling the weaponry NSA spends millions to build. And the best part is that NSA does all of it legally.
Anonymous Internet groups across the globe are fighting against orchestrated surveillance, censorship and rogue government agencies. One thing that’s for sure, our immune systems may make us feel sick, but if we fight our immune systems we will be dead faster.
  1. Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks
  2. Nine in Ten NHS Trusts Still on Windows XP
  3. Microsoft Security Updates

This article has been republished with due permission of the Author, Mr. Donnie Ashok, from his website IndianTechLaw.
Original article can be viewed here

Donnie Ashok is a freelance technology advisor, cyber security advisor and a final year law student studying B.A.LL.B at Gujarat National Law University. IndiaTechLaw is an initiative by Donnie Ashok.

Dr. Tharoor v. Arnab Goswami & Anr. Brief Court Proceedings of 29.05.2017

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After intense arguments, which went on for 45 mins today, during which time Justice Manmohan, of the Delhi High Court, gave a patient hearing to both parties during this 45 minutes, Justice Manmohan clearly stated that he was reluctant to pass any gagging/restraint order against the Defendants. 

Dr. Sashi Tharoor had filed a civil defamation case for the compensation of Rs. 2 Crore before the Delhi High Court.  His Counsels have contended that as Dr. Tharoor resided in Delhi and the Defendants have an office in Delhi and that his show was telecasted in Delhi, the Delhi High Court does have jurisdiction.

Though Justice Manmohan took note of the fact that the media house can publish facts related to the incident as there is no charge sheet since three and a half years, the judge categorically noted that such name calling including usage of words like “masquerading criminal” by Defendant was uncalled for and that he has a right to silence. Nevertheless, the Judge stated that no one could be restrained to put out facts to the public. 

Senior Advocate and Congressman Salman Khurshid appeared for Shashi Tharoor. Referring to the reporting style of Goswami, he stated that the kind of language used by the defendants is unacceptable.

As per the Counsels representing Dr. Tharoor, the 2 Crore compensation he has asked for will be completely donated to some NGO in the memory of his late wife.  

“I am not asking for a gag order but they cannot continue like this. The police has not reached any conclusion. He must be protected.”
Senior Advocate Mr. Sandeep Sethi, appearing on behalf of defendant stated at the outset that he could prove every word spelled by his clients in the show and that calling Dr. Tharoor a masquerading criminal was a retaliation of Dr. Tharoor’s tweet. However, Mr. Sethi offered to speak to his clients about the Lordships views. 

The matter stands adjourned to 16.08.2017 with the Court issuing summons to the defendants. 
Reply to the suit and rejoinder thereto is to be filed before the next date of hearing.
It is perhaps interesting to note that Justice Manmohan is not only presiding over this matter but is also presiding over the Times of India vs Republic case, with respect to the very same tapes. 
Would either of the cases affect the other? Only the Delhi High Court can tell.

Sashi Tharoor files defamation suit against Arnab’s Republic

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Congress politician Shashi Tharoor on Friday filed a defamation case in the Delhi high court against senior television journalist Arnab Goswami over the airing of alleged defamatory remarks by the latter’s Republic TV with regard to the death of Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar.

The suit, drafted by the Office of Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, is to be heard by the court on 29 May 2017.

The first hearing for the suit, bearing no. CA (OS) 253/2017, has been posted on Monday, 29th of May, 2017. It has been listed as Item No 23 before Court Hall 24 presided by the Hon’ble Justice Manmohan, Delhi High Court.  There are also 3 separate Interim Applications listed in this matter. 

As per our sources, the IA’s filed are;
a) Permission to file adequate Court Fee at a later date.
b) Section 65B IT Act certificate for electronic evidence of The Republic show.
c) Interim Injection restricting Republic from reporting anything more on this matter.

Check Cause List of Monday, 29th May 2017 HERE