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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Newswallah: In the English-Language Press Wednesday

 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged that his government would produce a strong Lokpal bill soon, according to a letter he wrote to Anna Hazare and released to the news media. His Cabinet, he said, is working on an “exhaustive agenda to fight corruption and improve governance,” he wrote. Mr. Singh, whose reputation for rectitude has been tarnished by a string of scandals, has been struggling to regain some ground on Mr. Hazare, who has gone on the offensive against Congress in a key by-election. (Hindustan Times) The Times of India reported that India’s law minister, Salman Khurshid, said that the Lokpal would have constitutional status and greater powers and independence than the Election Commission. (Times of India)

India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile sought to harness the anti-corruption fervor whipped up by Mr. Hazare and settle its internal squabbles over who will lead it. L. K. Advani, the octogenarian prime ministerial also-ran, began a yatra, or journey, to oppose corruption and stir up support for the party. The reformist chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, appeared at his side as Mr. Advani began his journey. (Hindustan Times)

After a peaceful summer in the disputed province of Kashmir, India’s home minister recommended that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act be lifted from several areas, the Indian Express reported. P. Chidambaram, the home minister, met with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and recommended that change. The act, which shields security personnel from prosecution in disturbed areas, has been a rallying cry for protesters in the region who say it encourages impunity. Last summer security forces killed more than 100 people, almost all of them unarmed civilians who participated in mass protests against Indian policies in the region. (Indian Express)

A trio of interlocutors appointed by the government will suggest a variety of autonomy measures for the valley, Times of India reports, quoting anonymous sources. They will recommend  “a mix of internal autonomy for Kashmir and regional councils for Jammu and Ladakh,” the paper reports. The interlocutors have been at work for the past year trying to find a formula to soothe internal tensions in the region. (Times of India)

Times are tough but in the Bellary hills, where a Supreme Court-ordered shutdown of mining has depleted the pocketbooks of miners and truckers. Mint reports that financially strapped truck drivers have stopped answering their mobile phones, fearing the repo man. “Everyone here is steeped in debt,” said Maradi Basavraj, president of the Lorry Owners’ Association in Danapur, in a field where around 50 idle lorries are parked, their owners huddled together in anxious groups. “The mining mafias have made their money and we are stuck.” (Mint)


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