The News, in Briefs:
#1: The Delhi police today told the High Court that they have no video evidence against Kanhaiya Kumar and that he cannot be seen shouting anti-national slogans.
That is not a typo. He cannot be seen shouting anti-national slogans, according to the Delhi Police.
Now read this clip from the status report filed by the Delhi police, and note among other things the distinction drawn between the doctored video and the full version — which, the police said, it had examined. What did the police see then that they are unable to see now?
All of which begs the question: What then of the “video evidence” certain news channels have been promoting? If the videos are real, why did the Delhi police say there is no video evidence? If the videos are fake, will the Delhi police — who in the first status report said they relied on video evidence supplied by the channel — now initiate action against Zee News for misleading them and through them, the courts? (“Proactive journalism”, Zee’s editor in chief calls it)
And who will take action against outgoing Police Commissioner Bhim Bhassi for his many acts of omission and commission — collected together here by way of farewell? A sample, below:
For reference, link to the full report filed in court by the Delhi police on 24.2.2016.
#2. The Adani group wants to gag its own lawyer, who blew the whistle on irregularities to do with the company’s solar power project in Tamil Nadu:
In one of these letters, dated January 25, Manoharan has alleged “fraudulent documentation and surreptitious compliance that could definitely lead to losing out on the Rs 7.01/ unit business opportunity”. The letter also mentions “illegalities in purchase of land at the ground level, continued non-compliance with many of the regulatory compliances necessary under existing laws, illegal and fraudulent documentation that has formed the basis of meeting TANGEDCO’s (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) specifications and conditions before entering into EPA/ PPA (Energy Purchase Agreement/ Power Purchase Agreement).” He has warned that the disclosures would risk the group’s line of credit of about Rs 4,606 crore. The letter also refers to violation of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Regulation 30, which refers to
He has warned that the disclosures would risk the group’s line of credit of about Rs 4,606 crore. The letter also refers to violation of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Regulation 30, which refers to substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers and warns of SEBI action for non-disclosure of material information.
#3. The Economic Times reports that the DRI has unearthed a Rs 1000 crore scam in rice exports, with connections to three states: Haryana and Gujarat (both of which, coincidentally, are ruled by the BJP) and Punjab (where the BJP is an ally of the Akalis):
Over 25 big exporters from Haryana and Punjab are under the scanner of DRI and other agencies for their involvement in the multi-crore scam, they said.
Explaining the modus operandi, the sources said rice would be taken to Gujarat’s Kandla Port by these exporters. They would then file Shipping Bills–documents filed with customs authorities carrying details of goods to be exported, consignor and consignee–for export to Iran, they said.
Instead of the consignment reaching Iranian shores, it would be diverted mid-sea to Dubai allegedly with the connivance of cargo ship operators carrying the goods.
Surprisingly, payments were also made from Iran to these exporters in India. Importers and port officials would allegedly acknowledge the receipt of rice and allow payment to be made against it here, the sources said.
What is worrying for intelligence agencies here is that they do not know the end-use of rice off-loaded in Dubai. They suspect use of rice as barter system to fund some illegal activity like terror financing, the sources said.
#4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes — actually, “firmly believes” — that transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of any pro-people government. We believe this on the authority of the prime minister’s own website. Laudably, the PM started this Budget month by disclosing his own assets. Several of his ministers did not. They don’t have to, per the new rule from the PMO.
In a blow to transparency, the PMO has decided to block public access to the wealth declarations made by ministers. The details of assets and liabilities of the union council of ministers has been available online since 2010. However, the details are now password protected and can only be accessed by the authorized personnel.
Transparency is a pre-requisite for trust, says Mr Modi. RTI responses should be transparent, says Mr Modi. RTI should enable citizens to question the government, says Mr Modi. #justsaying seems an appropriate hashtag.
Update, posted March 1: Ref the story above, a subsequent report in the Times of India quotes the PMO as saying it is a technical glitch, not a denial of information.
Reacting to TOI story that the details of assets and liabilities of the council of ministers was not available on the PMO website, @PMOIndia tweeted, ” Page is accessible. NIC is transferring PMO site to new servers due to that few pages temporarily appear as password protected.”
So that is ok then; apologies to the PMO for suggesting otherwise. (I’m not deleting my earlier words because I don’t believe bells can be un-rung.)
#5. Survivors of Murthal speak of how they were raped. Cops tell survivors to remain silent for the ‘sake of their honour’. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi says her team found no “substantial evidence” for the rape. Ms Gandhi is the minister for women. And for children — who reportedly were tossed around like waste paper while their mothers were being raped.
#6. Asianet anchor Sindhu Sooryakumar is subjected to threats and abuse for moderating a debate on whether celebrating Mahishasur Jayanti was an act of treason. The playbook is familiar: First the rumor, then the amplification, finally the threats and the intimidation (emphasis mine):
Speaking to The News Minute, Sindhu said that almost 98% of the people who called her up and abused her had actually not seen the discussion on television.
Apparently someone had spread the rumour on social media that Sindhu had found no fault with Durga being termed a sex-worker.
The alleged messages on Whatsapp and Facebook reportedly circulated Sindhu’s mobile number too and exhorted one and all to call Sindhu and shower her with the choicest abuses for her supposed act of treason.
Sindhu shudders at the thought of how people could subject her to such verbal sexual abuse without even verifying the truth of such blatant rumours.
She said, “Even now while I’m speaking to you, I’m getting call alerts. Since Friday night, I’ve been threatened with beatings, even death with most calling me a sex-worker. I guess I must have had almost 2000 calls till now with people even calling me from abroad.”
In this context, a Raghu Karnad oped in the New York Times makes a telling point:
To delete a manipulated photograph is easy; to correct a manipulated opinion is not. Doctored images can be exposed, and they have been, but each one leaves a permanent warp in the public’s mind. They chip at Indians’ confidence in what the state and the media are presenting to them. And they drive us away from the shared ground of reliable fact into the opposing trenches of hard-line conviction.