The states of the nation: news, headlines, gossip, rumours, things we learnt
Nine months after they were passed, three bills ostensibly meant to protect the land rights of indigenous people have got them divided instead. While the Meiteis in the valley demand presidential assent as soon as possible, the hill Nagas, who have so far refused to bury the bodies of nine people who fell to police bullets during protests last August, have warned against it. Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju won’t find this one easy to sort out.
“As I was getting out of the toilet, a uniformed armyman forcibly held my hand. I screamed and ran away,” said the ‘Handwara girl’, recalling the April 12 incident that sparked protests across the state. After nearly a month in “protective” custody, she accused five cops, including the SP, of forcing her to pin the blame on local boys for the soldier’s alleged act.
You have to be at least a joint secretary to carry files out of ministries. But it came out recently that MHA under-secretary Anand Joshi had broken that ‘glass ceiling’. He is accused of not just taking away files but also calling up foreign NGOs to read out minutes of meetings, serving them arbitrary notices and demanding money to settle cases. Currently in CBI custody, he says he was offered Rs 200 crore to go soft on the Ford Foundation.
When the Congress government was completing three years in office, chief minister Siddaramaiah was quite apparently on the backfoot. Faced with a 27-page chargesheet from the BJP, he kept a straight face but that didn’t help keep the opposition from attacking him over farmer suicides, breakdown of infrastructure in Bangalore and diluting the role of the Lokayukta. And barbs of favouring “suit boots” over commoners made him give up a Hublot watch costing Rs 70 lakh following a furore.
On hearing rumours that Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel could be the next Punjab governor, Arvind Kejriwal predictably quipped that the PM was readying for an AAP takeover in Punjab. That joke fizzled out with Patel saying she’s not leaving her post anytime soon. But the season of speculation continued with talk of a cabinet reshuffle. No one expects a quake, just ‘minor tremors’, and yet, with the thumbs-down in the market, it was enough to lay bare more fissures among the ruling set. Arun Jaitley, for instance, wants RBI governor Raghuram Rajan to stay, but old-MP, BJP-newbie Subramanian Swamy wants him out pronto. Speculation aside, it’s common sense that in the end it is about who the PM prefers.
Big names in the Panama affair included Amitabh Bachchan, Gautam Adani’s elder brother and lawyer Harish Salve. M. Siva Rama Vara Prasad was among the lesser-known ones. An NRI, he has resigned as non-executive, independent director of Heritage Foods, owned by chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, while the income-tax probe is on.
The NIA may have tied itself in knots with its supplementary chargesheet in the Malegaon blasts case (the ATS filed two chargesheets in 2009 and ’11). Accusing Hemant Karkare, slain in the 26/11 attacks, of using ‘torture’ to build a case against ‘Hindu terror’, it also admits two of the accused were RSS workers. R. Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange have been absconding since 2008 despite a Rs 10 lakh bounty and an Interpol red-corner notice.