The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against industrialist Naveen Jindal and 14 others in the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation matter. The matter will come up for hearing in the CBI court on Thursday. Apart from Jindal, among those named in the chargesheet are former Minister of State (Coal) Dasari Narayana Rao, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and former coal secretary HC Gupta. The chargesheet centres on a transaction in 2008 where a company owned by former directors of the Naveen Jindal Group, and then by Jindal himself, gave an unsecured loan of Rs 2.25 crore to a nondescript trading company called ND Exim. This company then used the Rs 2.25 crore to buy shares of a company owned by Rao on extremely generous terms.
In this story, I argue that the CBI should not get any credit for this chargesheet. that its work, as i have written earlier, has been more coverup than investigation.
the previous story reported that the autonomous tribal councils of Mizoram are trying to cosy up to the BJP. the sequel looks at whether direct funding to the councils will improve the lives of people living there.
Last month, for the first time, the Bharatiya Janata Party won an election in Mizoram. The party contested 201 seats in 37 village councils in the autonomous tribal area for Chakmas, a Buddhist community that is an ethnic minority in the predominantly Christian state. It won 42 seats and a majority in seven councils.
“We are Buddhists, not Christians, and so they [the Mizos] want to keep us backward,” said Deepak Larma, a resident of Borapansuri, which lies along the Bangladesh border, as he explained the appeal of the BJP. “The way things are, we will not advance in Mizoram, and so we are thinking of partnering with Modiji. We have voted for the Congress and the MNF [Mizo National Front] and they did nothing. Can Modiji do something for us?”
But it’s not just the Chakmas who are turning to the BJP. Leaders of the Lais and the Maras – two minority tribes that follow Christianity and have with their own autonomous councils in south Mizoram – are also making overtures to the party.
and so starts a dangerous game.
Until last fortnight, most nights in Mizoram were lit up by the red glow of forest fires. Long thin lines of flame, rising and falling along the contours of the hills, ate their way up through the forest. It was jhum time in the state, when farmers who practice the traditional practice of slash-and-burn cultivation torch large sections of jungle so that they can begin planting next season’s crops.
In Mizoram, as in other parts of the North East, the forests are owned by the local community. There is little individually-owned farmland. Each year, villages burn a part of their community forest to clear land for farming. The next year, they move to a new tract, leaving the previous one fallow for the soil to recover, returning to it after some years.
This year, the administration set March 15 as the deadline for burning forests. And so, in the evenings, even in the state’s capital of Aizawl, one could see thick tendrils of smoke rising from its surrounding hills. In the mornings, one woke up to see wisps of soot and burnt leaves on the ground and in the air.
in 2011, the congress government in mizoram launched NLUP — new land use policy. ostensibly to get farmers out of jhum cultivation. in this story, i take stock of how the programme is working. and find that it has been subverted by the state government into nothing a tool for gathering voters by doling out patronage.
When Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah makes his planned visit to Mizoram this month, officials of his organisation’s state unit have arranged for him to meet with church elders and receive a memorandum from them. Their note will remind the BJP that “India is a secular state, that the people of Mizoram are against the beef ban, and that we protest the anti-conversion bill”, said a senior official in the party’s Aizawl office.
The memo, which challenges some of the Sangh Parivar’s most prized axioms, is the brainchild of the party’s own state unit. A senior party leader contacted church elders and asked them to prepare it. Mizoram, which is 85% Christian has long been wary of the BJP’s Hindutva preoccupations. Party leaders were hoping that the Modi effect will neutralise some of that suspicion. However, recent steps by the BJP have made matters worse.
The latest source of anger for the state’s people is the sacking of Mizoram governor Aziz Qureshi on Saturday. He is the sixth governor to leave the state since the Modi government took charge in May. He was the second governor to be sacked – after Kamla Beniwal.