Dhirendr BrahmachariIt was one move by Farooq Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, which could have been guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest in and out of Parliament. Abdullah’s police cracked down on two gun factories at the Gandhinagar industrial estate in Jammu, hauling in barrels, butts and,Dhirendr BrahmachariIt was one move by Farooq Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, which could have been guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest in and out of Parliament. Abdullah’s police cracked down on two gun factories at the Gandhinagar industrial estate in Jammu, hauling in barrels, butts and complete firing and locking mechanisms, all imported from Spain and sufficient to make 615 Spanish sporting guns by the application of the proverbial screwdriver.The bigger of the two factories, Shiva Gun Factory, is owned by Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, the ‘flying yogi’ who is regarded by many as being connected with the Gandhi household. Components enough to make 500 guns were recovered from his premises, whereas those for another 115 guns were found in the factory of the neighbouring Khairuddin and Company.It was before a packed court-room that the Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir, V. Khalid, read out his order, granting interim anticipatory bail to Brahmachari but asking him to furnish a surety of Rs 2 lakh, two personal bonds of the same amount, and stipulating that he would not move out of Delhi, his home town, and would make himself available to the police in Jammu and Kashmir whenever required.Earlier, Dharam Chand, a partner of Brahmachari, Laxman Chaudhary, the manager and Brahmachari’s nephew, and Yogendra Jha, the store-keeper, had been arrested and a warrant had been issued against Brahmachari.Imported components: Bizarre dramaThe charges: violation of as many as nine provisions of the Indian Arm’s Act.Wide Notice: The case was naturally lapped up by the media. The extent of the alleged crime was overshadowed by the weight of the personality in question the – dhoti-clad swami hovering for nearly a decade now in the twilight zone between politics and business.advertisementFuelling the fire of curiosity was the rumour of Brahmachari having lately fallen out of favour with 1 Safdarjung Road, a rumour made potent by the abrupt discontinuation of his television programmes, Yogabhyas, early this year.For Farooq, it was a clever plan to catch Mrs Gandhi on the wrong foot because her connection with Brahmachari is so well publicised that the flak going towards him is bound to hit her as well.Brahmachari is of course a deft manipulator, having worked his way upward from the anonymity of a rustic background in north Bihar to the glittering company of successive prime ministers of India, extensive media attention, and acknowledged VIP status.But the fiasco in Jammu also puts to test his capacity to outwit his detractors and to be able to play once more his ace – the Mrs Gandhi card.Obvious Overtones: Though the charges are serious, the political overtones of the episode could not have been more obvious. On November 19, a bare 12 hours after the first search had been made at the premises of the Shiva Gun Factory, Farooq himself accompanied the police team that seized the gun barrels and rounded up the three men.Next day, the chief minister was in New Delhi discussing with opposition MP’s the Brahmachari affair. On November 21, when non-Congress(I) members staged a walk-out from the Lok Sabha demanding a statement from the Union Government, Farooq was seated in the VIP enclosure, observing the discomfiture of the treasury bench.During his stay in the capital, Farooq called on Brahmachari in his Vishwayatan Yogashram on Ashok Road, ostensibly to “inform him of the charges being brought against him”.Police at the Shiva Gun Factory: Sudden crackdownIt hardly assuaged Brahmachari’s feelings, greatly roused by such unaccustomed incursions by the state into his business affairs. At a press conference called immediately after the tete-a-tete with his tormentor, the swami quoted a Sanskrit sloka which meant that a king was “like a prostitute, favouring you now and punishing you when it does not suit him”. He maintained that he had done everything in accordance with law, and the case was a plain concoction by the overzealous chief minister, “a blackmail and a political stunt”.The blackmail theory was Brahmachari’s legal defence, to which O.P. Sharma, his thick-jowled, assertive lawyer added the glib motive that Farooq, by applying pressure on Brahmachari, had in fact wanted him to act as intermediary and improve Farooq’s relations with Mrs Gandhi.Still no statement in his defence was forthcoming from any recognised leader of the Congress(I), thus confirming the view (INDIA TODAY, August 15) that his stock with the prime minister’s house had plummeted.In the application for anticipatory bail, Brahmachari’s counsel noted: “in a most irresponsible manner a false case has been concocted against the petitioner (Brahmachari) which stands registered under the fir No 364 of 1983 in the Police Station. Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. The copy of this FIR would show that it starts with vague allegations to the effect that on 18th November, 1983 there was a report at 4:30 p.m. that a sufficient quantity of barrels and guns with identification marks of a foreign country and an equal number of spares had been stored in Shed No. 6 of the factory and as such ex-facie offence U/S 3/25 of the Indian Arms Act seems to have been committed.”advertisementThe petition added: “There are public documents duly executed by the government authorities which are evidence to the fact that the firm M/s Shiva Gun Factory have been carrying on the manufacturing business with a clear conscience and without any criminal intention. There is no violation of any law, licence or notification, neither the same is indicated in the five days’ investigation by the police.”In Jammu Brahmachar owns three huge estates, including the fortress-like Aparna Ashram at Mantlai on the southern slope of the Shivaliks in Udhampur district and the gun factory, which went onstream in 1980 within months of Mrs Gandhi’s return to power, has since been looked upon with awe and curiosity.The combination of yoga and the firearms is of course a teasing puzzle. But still more confounding is the steep rise in its fortunes. After just three years in business, Shiva Gun Factory is already the second largest among the state’s 25 gun makers, and the largest of the 23 huddled in one block of sheds at Gandhinagar industrial estate.Shed No. 9 of the Shiva Gun Factory: Thriving businessIt is licensed to make 3,000 single and double-barrel guns in a year, but most of the neighbouring factories, though in existence for decades, could not get licence limits enhanced beyond 600-800.However, Brahmachari was licensed by the Union Home Ministry – when Giani Zail Singh was the home minister – to manufacture the guns under Form Nine of the Indian Arms Act. There are two other kinds of licence possible in the small arms trade, under Forms Eleven and Twelve, by which the licencees can repair and “keep and sell” the guns respectively.A Form Nine licence-holder can of course sell the guns he has made, but has no right to trade in guns of a different make, or those which have just been assembled by him through a factory process not covered by the scope of the word ‘manufacture’.Simple Operation: In 1981 and 1982, when Brahmachari’s factory made and sold 3,000 guns worth an estimated Rs 37.5 lakh each year the process he employed was similar to the general practice in the small arms trade: rolling mild steel into a barrel shape, threading and boring holes through it, machining the body and the trigger, sawing the butt into shape, varnishing it, and putting the components together.The product was a fully indigenous Indian gun. Says Charan Pal Singh, secretary-general of the All India Arms Dealers’ Association: “To my knowledge, no Indian gun-maker uses foreign parts or components. The fact that Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari was using or, as the police say, assembling imported components is a revelation to me.”advertisementWith a single-barrel gun made in Brahmachari’s factory priced at around Rs 800 (double-barrel: Rs 1,700), it was considered cheap by Indian standards. Guns made- at Monghyr district in Bihar, the Mecca of the Indian small arms industry, now sell at Rs 1,500 and upwards for single-barrel, depending on finishing and workmanship.Brahmachari sold his guns through registered dealers, and even the police in Jammu affirmed they had no evidence of the guns finding their way into the hands of Sikh extremists.Lawyer Sharma: Rebutting the chargesForeign Connection: However, in a move bearing the hall-mark of Brahmachari’s business genius, he entered into an agreement early this year with Carrero Y. Astellara, the Spanish makers of guns and other firearms, for what he described as “components of guns” but what a police official in Jammu described as “complete guns in a knocked-down condition”.S. Balbir Singh, chairman of the Jammu & Kashmir Small-scale Gun Manufacturers’ Association, who owns the nearby Friends Gun Factory, trotted out the relevant figures. According to Singh, an imported Spanish single-barrels gun would sell in India for a price varying between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500 depending on quality. Since the barrel and the body, as seen after the seizure, distinctly carry the ‘Made in Spain’ markings, Brahmachari’s guns could be sold as authentic Spanish guns.The cost of components, with duty and freight paid – as Singh estimated it – would be about Rs 600 per single-barrel gun, whereas that of a double-barrel gun would be Rs 2,500. With a Spanish double-barrel gun costing Rs 15,000 in India, Brahmachari could easily earn a profit.The disputed consignment would have fetched him Rs 14.5 lakhs, by trading in the 500 foreign guns bought lock, stock and barrel.However, when Shiva Gun Factory was allotted importers’ code number B 8211595 on February 21 this year, it was on an application that it would import parts of arms including gun barrels and blanks; components of 12-bore shot-guns; metal joining machinery and tools; and explosive items. Brahmachari’s plea is that, being an actual user (that is, a licensed industrial undertaking), he is free to import the necessary components under open general licence (OGL).Differences: The basic difference between an Indian gun and a European gun is in the metal. Whereas the barrel of an Indian gun is made of mild steel, prone to bursting whenever there is an obstruction in the path of the bullet, the European gunsmiths use alloy steel of a higher grade, more ductile and malleable, which would ‘bulge’ rather than burst in the event of a firing jam.Gun-dealers holding licence under Form Twelve of the Indian Arms Act often ask, and get, fancy price for English, Czechoslovak and Spanish sporting guns.Talking to the press, Brahmachari asserted that he had decided to import foreign components to “improve the quality of the product”. He repeated the argument that, as actual user, a term defined in the Union Government’s Import-Export policy manual as an industrial undertaking duly licensed to manufacture any goods, he was fully entitled to import the components.He produced the customs documents as well as the importer’s code number, allotted to him by the chief controller of imports and exports, to prove his bona fides as a legal importer.However, the prosecution counsel, while challenging Brahmachari’s petition for anticipatory bail, said:what Brahmachari was claiming to be components of guns were really complete guns in broken-down condition;he is licensed to store fire-arms and their components in Shed No. 9, but he stored them in Shed No. 6 which, though belonging to Shiva Gun Factory, is not mentioned in the 1983 licence;he brought the “guns” to Jammu & Kashmir without securing a ‘no objection certificate’ from either the home secretary of the state or the commissioner of police of Delhi, the place where the consignment arrived. This, the counsel added, amounted to “clandestine” movement of arms and was punishable under Section 26 of the Indian Arms Act, the maximum punishment for which was imprisonment for seven years.The legality of the import and use of the components will naturally be decided by the court. But the news of Brahmachari’s Spanish connection could not have leaked out had it not irked the labour force, 101 of whom (out of 131) had been employed on casual basis and had been asked to leave last month because, as Laxman Chaudhary said, “the licence quota for the year had been fulfilled”.As a matter of fact, some of the workers told police that their future was uncertain because the owners would from now on require only a minimal work-force for just joining the parts together. Farooq said the police stormed into the factory only after they were “tipped off” about the Spanish guns by the workers.However, the move against Brahmachari could not have been purely accidental; indulgence is perhaps the right word that sums up the relationship till recently between Brahmachari on one hand and the late Sheikh Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah on the other. Even Farooq admitted, though on an obvious note of injured innocence: “He (Brahmachari) has been kind to me all his life. He knew my father. I did not know that he’d take advantage of this and use this facility for virtual gun-running.”Friendly Exchanges: The friendship is obvious from the fact that Farooq, on assuming chief ministership of Jammu & Kashmir, made use of the Swami’s six-seater Cessna aircraft a number of times: between October 1982 and April 1983, the aircraft’s log-book shows at least eight entries of the chief minister’s name.However, more significant is the fact that the National Conference Government had continuously overlooked the manner in which Brahmachari and the various societies floated by him had acquired immovable property in Jammu & Kashmir.Under the Permanent Resident’s Certificate Act of Jammu & Kashmir, read with the Transfer of Property Act valid in the state, no transfer of land is possible in favour of someone who is not a permanent resident of Jammu & Kashmir unless it is with express permission of the state Cabinet. However, at Mantlai, altogether 628 kanals and 14 marlas (roughly 79 acres) of land has been allowed to be transferred to Aparna Ashram, of which Brahmachari is the director, from 71 small plot-owners.The Jammu & Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1978, says that any such transfer without permission of the revenue minister is void. This act was amended in 1981 and the restriction was removed to the extent of transfer up to four kanals.Religious Offerings: However, 37 of the 71 plots transferred to Aparna Ashram measured more than four kanals. As many as 52 transfers were effected after 1975, so that the National Conference Government cannot take the plea that the earlier Congress regime had ordered all the transfers.Revenue Minister Pyare Lai Handoo says the transfers were executed in the guise of religious offering, or sankalp. He agreed that sankalp had no legal sanctity. In fact, his department is currently raking up land records. “We must take action on ascertaining the facts,” he said on behalf of the Government after 12 year of inaction. The first transfer at Mantlai was effected in 1971.The Aparna Ashram at Mantlai is a sort of yogic Xanadu complete with a 15-acre airstrip, control tower, two hangars, a swimming pool, central road as spacious as Delhi’s Janpath, orchard, lawns and a building-cum-hostel complex with a close-circuit colour television network, which is fully air-conditioned, marble-floored and designed like a tree with rows of rooms resting on suspended cantilevers. All this was built on land whose tenure was, at best, uncertain.Said Bhim Singh, MLA from Chenani in Udhampur district: “The Central Government allowed Brahmachari to build his palace knowing well that the airstrip was only seven miles from a sensitive radar unit and less than 15 miles from the headquarters of the entire Northern Command. The state Government ignored the illegality of the land transfers. Brahmachari certainly knows magic.”In 1978, when the late Sheikh was the chief minister, the state Government issued a gazetted notification allowing “a transfer of immovable property situated at Katra and the villages contiguous to it in favour of Vishwayatan Yogashram, a society registered under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860”. Brahmachari is the director of Vishwayatan Yogashram too.Thus, the transfer of 177 kanals of land to the Yogashram was legalised at Katra, an important centre along the pilgrim trail to the shrine of Vaishno Devi. The Katra ashram too is now equipped with an air-strip, two-way radio communication equipment and control tower.The third unit of the swami’s yoga establishments in Jammu is currently coming up at Gandhinagar, the upper class residential suburb of Jammu city, only two miles from the airport. In the Gandhinagar area, construction of only two floors, or up to 35 feet, is allowed; but Aparna Ashram is building a six-storey 90-feet structure without permission from the Jammu Municipal Council.A recommendation to that effect by Ved Bajaj, president of the council, to demolish the building has not been acted upon. The municipal records also say that the land does not belong to Aparna Ashram but to Sohan Singh, a taxi-driver of Jammu, though the signboard of Aparna Ashram is consipicuously displayed at the building.Deft Manoeuvres: However, none of his other enterprises could grow faster than his arms business. Brahmachari secured the licence to manufacture guns, again, by a series of deft manipulations: firstly, by picking up a mechanic, Dharam Chand, whose own petty repairing licence had lapsed on non-use 30 years ago; then by offering him finances and getting his licence upgraded to initially a licence for making one gun at a time (1977), and then for making 3,000 guns (1980).If the state Government had not abruptly gone and thrown a spanner in the works, the Spanish deal would have given him a clear headstart in the market for superior guns by paying moderate customs duty on imported components.And his field of activity would invariably have been Jammu & Kashmir, a state which he has frequented since early ’50s and where he feels secure. During the Janata period, he shifted to Mantlai and possibly would not have come back to Delhi if Mrs Gandhi had not returned.Says Farooq: “Look at his Delhi Ashram which, with its cheap partition walls, frayed upholstery and ramshackle structure, looks like a transit camp. And look at his places in Jammu, solidly built, massive and secure.” Apparently, the swami always kept in mind the contingency of the fluctuating fortunes of his patrons in Delhi, and regarded Jammu & Kashmir as a haven of continuity, where the ruling people would always remain on the right side of Mrs Gandhi and her minions.The police entered the premises of Shiva Gun Factory shattering the unusual swami’s fond dreams.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 25, 2018 Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua attends the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium. – Taufatofua — the bare-chested flag bearer who became an online sensation at both the Rio and Pyeongchang Olympics — plans to break out the baby oil once again and compete at the Tokyo Games in 2020. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua — the bare-chested flag-bearer who became an online sensation at both the Rio and Pyeongchang Olympics — plans to break out the baby oil once again and compete at the Tokyo Games in 2020.After traveling to Brazil as a taekwondo fighter and South Korea as a cross-country skier, Taufatofua is aiming to paddle his way to the Tokyo Olympics as a kayaker.ADVERTISEMENT DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “I’m trying to be the first person in the modern Olympics to do three unrelated sports,” said the 35-year-old, who will also attempt to compete again in taekwondo in Japan.“You’ll have indoor sports, winter with the cross country skiing and water,” he told AFP.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“I grew up in a kayak on the ocean, so it’s not such a big leap for me.”Taufatofua first captured global attention when he appeared at the Rio opening ceremony shirtless in 2016, his torso glistening in oil and wearing just a traditional Tongan ta’ovala mat around his waist. LATEST STORIES PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss After the ceremony he went viral, racking up 45 million mentions on Twitter and later appearing on US talk shows.He repeated his performance two years later at Pyeongchang, this time risking frostbite in sub-zero temperatures.Brisbane-born but fiercely proud of his Tongan heritage, Taufatofua had been practicing taekwondo for 15 years before the Rio Games.Qualifying for Pyeongchang was a much more bizarre affair. Not only had Taufatofua never skied before, but he’d also only seen snow once in his life.‘Not scared of failing’ADVERTISEMENT He made it after completing a training regime that included strapping planks of wood to his feet, in an attempt to recreate the rigors of cross-country skiing in sweltering Australian heat.Preparation for the 200-meter kayak sprint in Tokyo has been no less madcap, with Taufatofua starting his bid for Olympic glory paddling a plastic toy canoe — the only vessel he had available.He now has a proper kayak but it weighs 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and, compared to the sleek 10-kilogram Olympic vessels, more closely resembles a bathtub.“I’ve sat on a race kayak and I’m struggling just to even balance on the thing at the moment,” he said.“Maybe in time we’ll get the right kayak but for now we don’t have the funds.”He faces a tough challenge to reach Tokyo. He needs to either finish in the top five at the World Championships in Hungary in August, or win outright at the Oceania qualifiers against seasoned rivals from Australia and New Zealand.Taufatofua was eliminated in the first round of the taekwondo competition in Rio and finished 114th out of 119 in his event in Pyeongchang.But results are not the prime motivation for the personable engineering graduate, who works with homeless children when not pursuing quixotic sporting quests.“I’m not scared of coming last, I’m not scared of failing in front of everyone,” he said.“That gives me freedom to allow myself to try. It’s about what’s the next level that we can try and achieve.” Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue MOST READ Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Taufatofua’s Olympic adventures are not for everyone. His tilt at the winter Games left some established skiers decidedly off-piste.“I think he looks better covered in oil than with skis on his feet,” sniffed one Norwegian Olympic champion.The kayaking fraternity have been more welcoming, with the International Canoe Federation tweeting its support.“We are very excited to have @pitaTofua choose our sport to target a potential third Olympics! It will be a tough road, but if anyone can do it…,” it posted.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Tim Tebow struggling in Triple-A, still a work in progress
00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO ( KUSI) – The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County rose today for the 27th consecutive day, increasing 1.5 cents to $4.039, its highest amount since July 30, 2015.The average price has risen 33 of the past 34 days, increasing 71.7 cents, including 3.3 cents on Saturday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is 22.5 cents more than one week ago, 70.4 cents higher than one month ago and 46.4 cents greater than one year ago. The recent sharp increases are the result of a series of refinery issues that have reduced supply, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.“Out of the 10 major refineries in California, six are dealing with planned maintenance, unplanned breakdowns or both, and four of those refineries are in Southern California,” Spring said.“(Wednesday’s) report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicated that Los Angeles gasoline inventories dropped by about two million barrels, and a source reported to Oil Price Information Service that Southern California received no imported gasoline in the last week. Because demand also typically increases at this time of year, this has posed seriousconcerns for supply.” KUSI Newsroom, April 14, 2019 Posted: April 14, 2019 San Diego gas prices rise for the 27th consecutive day KUSI Newsroom Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter
Kolkata: Sumaita Laisa of Usha Martin School in Shimuldhabi under Gajole police station area in Malda has topped from the state in the CBSE Class X examination, the results of which were declared on Monday. Laisa scored 99.4 percent marks, bagging 497 out of 500.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the students of the state. “Congratulations to all students who excelled and those who passed the CBSE exams. Good wishes to your parents and good luck for all your future endeavours,” she tweeted. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata”I had expected 95 to 96 percent marks but 99.4 percent came as a surprise for me. I want to be a doctor so I will take up Biology in my higher studies,” Laisa said. The schools in Kolkata affiliated to the CBSE board also fared well, with South Point High School emerging at the top with Suchana Haldar scoring 496 out of 500. However, Saumodip Das of Khalsa Model High School in Dunlop scored the same marks as Suchana. “I want to study Chemistry in my higher education. The support from my parents and my school has contributed to my success. I was confident of scoring high marks but 99.2 percent has come as a surprise,” Saumodip said. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateHis father Amarnath Das, who works in an MNC, said that he studied six to seven hours daily and would never keep any school assignment pending. “He has been topping the school right from nursery,” Das added. Suchana wants to become a doctor like his father. “The credit goes to my parents who devoted calculative time despite their busy schedule. I had a single private tutor,” she said. Her father D K Halder, who is an ENT specialist at Panihati State General Hospital, said: “I have twins studying in South Point. My son Saswata also got 95 percent marks. He has also taken Bio-Science in higher secondary level like my daughter. They both are very good in table tennis and have represented their school team in other states and have bagged prizes.” A total of 725 students appeared from South Point High School, out of which 223 scored 95 percent and above. Rounak Roy and Sreyashi Holme Choudhury have both scored 495 out of 500. Abhirup Mistry of Birla Bharati School at Santoshpur located in the southern fringes of the city scored 495 out of 500. Interestingly, Abhirup did not have a single private tutor. “Our teachers have been so cooperative. I cleared doubts if any from them only,” Abhirup said. DPS Ruby Park also performed very well with four of the students bagging more than 98 percent marks. Lokesh Somani of Birla High School emerged as the topper in the school with 98.4 percent, in which 53 got more than 90 percent marks out of 163 students.
Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now You’ve probably seen “retweet to win” contests on Twitter, and maybe even won a t-shirt, concert tickets or marshmallows. But computer engineer Hunter Scott completely automated the idea and created a bot that entered every Twitter contest it could find — 165,000 in total. As a result, he claims to have won four contests a day for nine months, for a total haul of over a thousand prizes. A lot of that swag was terrible, and a lot of it he couldn’t accept. But the interesting part was how he allegedly managed to beat Twitter’s system.Scott said that “the most difficult part of this project was preventing the bot from getting banned by Twitter.” The social network has limits in place to stop such activities: unless you have a high follower count, you can only follow up to 2,000 people yourself, for instance. At the same time, you can’t follow and unfollow users too rapidly or retweet too often. Luckily, Scott’s Python script was able to balance all that and follow every single contest it found.He said his win rate was “pretty miserable” considering the low quality of the prizes. He couldn’t claim the best one, a $4,000 trip to New York’s fashion week because of taxes and fact that he didn’t live near New York. Nevertheless, he was fond of a few them, especially a cowboy hat autographed by actors in a Mexican soap opera. “It really embodies the totally random outcome of these contests,” he said. Scott never revealed the name of his Twitter bot, so we’ve reached out to verify his claims — but the prizes appear to check out. Enroll Now for Free 2 min read August 10, 2015 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. This story originally appeared on Engadget