Daily briefing: Govt orders CBDT-led probe into Pandora; Jammu player clocks stunning 150-kmph on IPL debut

From owners of Radico Khaitan, manufacturer of IMFL, having their assets in offshore trusts to Power Minister saying coal shortage beyond usual, situation touch and go, here are the top news today.

The Big Story

As the UP government scrambled to contain the fallout of Sunday’s Lakhimpur Kheri incident, it was BKU Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait who played a key in mediating with senior government officials and extracting promises of a judicial probe and  Rs 45 lakh compensation each for families of the deceased farmers. 

Chilling footage of three SUVs, including one owned by Union MoS Ajay Mishra, ploughing through farmers protesting in Lakhimpur Kheri also emerged the same day. On the ground, The Indian Express spoke to several eyewitnesses who described scenes that, they said, will haunt them for the rest of their lives. 

Meanwhile, there’s disquiet in the ruling BJP as key UP leaders are on the backfoot hoping the situation doesn’t snowball. “Raita phail gaya hai,” (the mess has spread) said one Cabinet Minister in the Yogi government. Another Minister expressed his anguish at the leadership’s handling of the situation.

Pandora Papers

In part-2 of The Indian Express investigation of records of Pandora Papers, a top Army officer incorporated a  Seychelles International Business Company six years after his retirement. Lt General (retired) Rakesh Kumar Loomba, who held the sensitive post of Director General of Military Intelligence,  registered Rarint Partners Ltd in Seychelles along with his son Rahul Loomba. 

Facing bankruptcy proceedings in the UK,  steel baron LN Mittal’s younger brother Pramod Mittal claimed he owed over £1 billion to a British Virgin Islands (BVI) company and also denied ownership of his long-time London residence, which he said was owned by another BVI company. But records show that the two companies belonged to a Trust in which Mittal himself is a beneficiary. In effect, he was his own creditor. 

Investments by offshore entities in Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisees Royal Multisport Private Ltd (owners of Rajasthan Royals) and KPH Dream Cricket Private Ltd (owners of Kings XI Punjab), which kicked up a row in 2010 and led to their temporary expulsion from the league, find their footprints in the Pandora Papers.

Meanwhile, a day after The Indian Express began a series of investigative reports that show how Indian elites have found ingenious new ways to ring-fence their assets abroad from scrutiny at home, the Government directed a multi-agency probe involving the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Enforcement Directorate, Reserve Bank of India, and Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate the cases of Pandora Papers. 

Must Read 

Union Power Minister R K Singh,  in an interview with The Indian Express, said he is bracing for a trying “next five-six months” after a sharp surge in energy demand has triggered an unprecedented fuel shortage at the country’s coal-fired stations. While there is expectation that the demand could start tapering off from the latter half of October, Singh said the bridging of the fuel gap is still likely to be a “touch and go” affair.

The Supreme Court asked a farmer outfit that approached it seeking permission to hold protests against the three farm laws what it wanted to protest against, given that the laws are not in force and were stayed by it. The apex court also said that when incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri happen, “nobody takes responsibility” and added it will examine whether a party which has already approached a Constitutional court seeking remedy has an absolute right to simultaneously protest on the streets over the same issue.

And Finally…

In Jammy’s Gujjar Nagar, locals can’t stop talking about Sunday night. That’s when Umran Mallik, the son of a local fruit and vegetable seller, clocked 150 kmph on his IPL debut for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He isn’t the first Indian to touch that magical mark but cricket’s obsession with young tearaways and the 150 milestone has triggered a growing buzz around the 21-year-old.

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