Cafe Coffee Day promoter V G Siddhartha | PTI Photo
Cafe Coffee Day promoter V G Siddhartha | PTI Photo
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The passage of the Triple Talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha and the disappearance of Cafe Coffee Day’s founder V.G. Siddhartha—he was found dead Wednesday morning—vied for the top spot across newspapers.

The lead story of the day for The Indian Express and Hindustan Times is the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, informally known as the Triple Talaq bill. Express highlights that “cracks in Opposition’s Rajya Sabha ranks and walkouts enable the passing of the bill”, while it reports PM saying “archaic practise finally in dustbin of history”.

The passage of the instant triple talaq Bill “is a major win for the government given that ruling NDA lacks numbers in Rajya Sabha”, writes Express. HT underlines that this is the “second key legislation to be passed” by BJP in “less than a week despite being in minority in the upper house”. The Bill was “defeated 99 to 84”, making the practise a “penal offence for the husband”, writes HT.

But, HT seems most concerned with the “Opposition’s ability to stall or defeat bills” or even have them “referred to parliamentary committees being greatly diminished”. It reports the passing of the Bill amid walkouts, “Rajya Sabha has a total strength of 241, but only 193 MPs voted”. Further parties such as the “BSP, Telugu Desam Party, many leaders of Samajwadi Party and NCPs Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were missing from action”, it reminds. TOI, too, seems concerned with this “palpable lack of mobilisation of the opposition ranks”.

V.G Siddhartha

The Times of India finds the Siddhartha story irresistible and devotes two full pages inside, besides a lead on page 1. In “Debt row may’ve pushed CCD founder over the edge, search on in Mangaluru river”, it calls Siddhartha a “soft-spoken”, “self-effacing” creator.

TOI and The Indian Express also dwell on his financial woes. TOI says “Rs 4,200 crore Cafe Coffee Day chain was in the news for the past several months due to his debt woes”, and that the “sale of his 20.3% stake in tech company Mindtree to L&T for Rs 3,269 crore in May was aimed at reducing his financial burden”.

Express in ‘1,700 outlets, but pressure from PEs and huge debts’, mentions the `diversified group’s debt woes… alleged pressure from private equity investors wanting to sell their shares’’ and the income tax department’s `enforcement action’.

The Hindu mentions that Siddhartha left a letter behind, “a purported letter highlighted his financial troubles and blamed harassment by a senior Income Tax officer”. He “particularly faulted the IT Department’s move to attach the shares he held in Mindtree Ltd. and later, in Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd. towards his tax liability creating a liquidity crunch”, writes the Hindu. It also reports the state of business at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet on Vittal Mallya Road, where customers “nursed” their cappuccinos and “nibbled” on their snacks.

Unnao rape case

The national dailies Wednesday offer different angles to the Unnao rape case. “UP BJP says we suspended accused Sengar last year, its disciplinary chief says he doesn’t know”, says the Express. It mentions that as the Opposition “demanded answers on the continuance” of BJP MLA, the party “scrambled for cover claiming that it had already suspended him in April 2018 when CBI probe was ordered into the rape case”. The Express also reports that the Unnao “victim” had written a letter to CJI stating “that she faced threats by the accused in the rape case”.

Hindu chooses to write about the protests that “rocked” Lok Sabha over Unnao accident. Congress members “took the lead in protesting over the accident” and they were joined by DMK and BSP raising slogans and demanding justice, it underlines. HT writes about how the mother of the Unnao rape ‘survivor’ filed a petition in the Supreme Court “claiming a threat to the family and the possibility of the suspects influencing witnesses”.

Meanwhile, TOI chooses to cover the fact that the “family had sent 35 written complaints to the local police and administration in the last one year expressing fear that they would be targeted by the henchmen of the jailed BJP MLA”, this brought about no action from the police.

In other news is, Express claims that according to “government sources’’ the Centre’s move of “infusing troops” in Jammu and Kashmir is “to provide security cover for a move to hoist the Tricolour in every Panchayat in the state this Independence Day”.

TOI also chooses Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s “unprecedented decision” to “give permission to the CBI to register a case against sitting Allahabad High Court Judge Justice S N Shukla” under the “Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged favours to a private medical college for MBBS admissions”. It outlines the fact that “before 1991, no investigating agency had ever probed a sitting HC judge” and “this is the first time since then that the CJI granted permission to an investigating agency to lodge an FIR against a sitting judge”.

Opinion

Express: In ‘Unnao Indictment’, Express delves into the murky sequence of events of the Unnao rape case, in which BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar is one of the accused. Earlier this year, the victim wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India when her “repeated cries for help” and justice went unaddressed. The recent car crash, which killed two of the victim’s aunts and has left herself and her lawyer grievously injured, is one of many incidents in a string of “police harassment and intimidation”, writes Express. With the spotlight on Uttar Pradesh, chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s “regime”, which has so far been “effete” in this case, will have to be “shamed into action”.

In “A test of law and humanity”, HT also weighs in on the “emblematic” Unnao case that represents a marginalised female citizen struggling under the pressures of political power and state machinery. The first time the case received public attention was when the victim attempted self-immolation outside chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence. The victim’s recent car accident, and the hospitalisation of her lawyer and her, was the second, writes HT. The accident occurred when she was on her way to meet her uncle in prison — he had been convicted in a case filed by the brother of rape-accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar. HT explains that Sengar had motivation and means but “it would be wrong to attribute the accident to a conspiracy” until the CBI completes its investigation.

Prime Time

Triple talaq Bill, the Unnao rape case and Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha disappearance dominated television news coverage Tuesday.

Most channels referred to the passage of the triple talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday evening as “historic” and featured Muslim women distributing sweets or welcoming the bill.

English and business channels — NDTV 24×7, Times Now, News X, CNN News 18, BTVi and ET Now — discussed the disappearance of the CCD founder and his allegations of harassment by Income Tax officials.

Zee News: On ‘Taal Thok Ke’, CPI leader Amir Haider Zaidi welcomed the bill: “Talaq-e-biddat is haraam. There should definitely be a criminal punishment.”

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia was all smiles: “With this law we will ensure that Muslim women can fight for themselves”.

Aaj Tak: ‘Beti bachao ya votebank badhao?’ was the headline on ‘Dangal’, as anchor Rohit Sardana discussed both the Bill and the Unnao rape survivor’s ordeal after a purported accident.

BJP’s Shalmani Tripathi tried to defend the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh “This perception is being created that we stand by Kuldeep Singh Sengar (BJP MLA accused of the rape). I want to make it clear, we are with the survivor.”

Sardana shifted focus to a rape survivor in Rajasthan who set herself on fire after trying to file a police complaint.

Tehseen Poonawalla, political analyst and Congress supporter, said, “Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan CM) will take action against this. Just give us 24 hours.”

“How are you any different than BJP? They also say Yogi will take action and then do nothing?” retorted Sardana.

Republic TV: On the 9 pm debate with Arnab Goswami, participants differed in their responses to the Bill

“I can’t express how happy I am, we have been waiting for this since long. My husband gave me talaq on the phone, I have two kids,” said Muskaan Sayyed, a triple talaq victim.

Maulana Sayeed Ul Qadri, treasurer of the Muslim United Front said, “This happens in every religion not only in Islam. The fight is against violence. We don’t support triple talaq… (but) our main concern are provisions in the bill.”

Women’s activist Amber Zaidi said, “Triple talaq is completely inhumane and unconstitutional, I want to thank PM Modi…”

“Why don’t you take a referendum (of) Muslim women in India? It will make everything clear,” argued political analyst Danish Qureshi.

Mirror Now: The Unnao rape case grabbed anchor Faye D’Souza’s attention as the case appears to get murkier with alleged police negligence being revealed.

“Is Kuldeep Sengar still a member of BJP? Why did Sakshi Maharaj felt the need to go to Unnao jail and thank him for the elections?” D’Souza asked BJP’s Ramesh Tripathi.

Tripathi replied, “I have said this before and I’ll say it again— Sengar is in no way a part of the BJP. When the case came to light, immediate action was taken against him.”

D’Souza turned sarcastic: “Based on the statement made by Sakshi Maharaj, one wonders what help Sengar was giving the BJP when he was no longer a part of it.”

Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research India, was much harsher: “(There) is a criminal and political nexus in Uttar Pradesh. There’s absolutely no way that U.P. police is going to hand over any information because they’re in no mood to frame him (Sengar).”

With inputs from Pia Krishankutty. 

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