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Actor Swara Bhaskar called it ‘puerile filth’, while Sonam Kapoor said it was ‘sexist, racist and disgusting.’ Such outrage on social media raised a perfect storm against a controversial article about Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, forcing it to removed by the publication. “Upon further editorial review, we found this story did not meet our standards. We’ve removed it and apologize,” said The Cut, a New York based magazine. This is an unusual move and suggests due diligence had been forsaken for sensationalism by the author.

In the piece, Mariah Smith, a young African-American writer, comedian and producer, described the Bollywood actress who married Jonas last week, as manipulative: “She’s a modern scam artist in my opinion…who never even took the time to make sure he was comfortable riding a horse before arranging for him to enter their wedding ceremony on horseback”. The report alleged that Jonas had been tricked into marriage.

Sophie Turner, the fiancée of Joe Jonas (Nick’s brother), was one of the first to call out the piece: “wildly inappropriate and totally disgusting.”

Chopra seemed unperturbed, and wrote on Twitter: “I don’t even want to react or comment. It’s not even in my stratosphere. I’m in a happy place at this moment. These kind of random things can’t disturb it.”

AgustaWestland

AgustaWestland deal middleman Christian Michel’s arrival in New Delhi displaced the mob violence in Bulandshahr on page 1 with a few twists in the story.

Since his landing in India late Tuesday, Michel has been in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody. As The Indian Express writes, CBI special judge Arvind Kumar asked the agency to produce him on 10 December “not only confront him with available evidence, but also to obtain details of the money trail and people involved in the deal which is being probed for alleged irregularities”.

The Times of India chooses to lead with “Cong expels youth wing member who appeared for Michel”, leaving the party “red faced”. The Economic Times‘s lead story looks at possible “beneficiaries” whom Michel might have paid off during the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal: “Officials of Indian Air Force and defence ministry, and bureaucrats and politicians of the UPA regime who were allegedly ‘influenced and instrumental in changing the decisions’ which made Agusta-Westland eligible in the bidding process of VVIP helicopters”.

Hindustan Times allows the PM to have the first and last word: “Secrets will be out”, a report on Modi’s Rajasthan poll rally speech where he linked the Gandhis for ‘razdar’ Michel. An accompanying piece alleges that Indian investigators pressured Michel to sign a confession that said the deal was signed with Sonia Gandhi. His lawyer is quoted saying, “‘They wanted him to sign a confession, a confession that he couldn’t sign because it was not the real history; it wasn’t true. They wanted him to give full responsibility of the bribes to Sonia Gandhi’.”

The Telegraph smells something fishy in the BJP’s treatment of the matter in, “Thunder on chopper, silence on bomber”. During his rallies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “played up British arms agent Christian Michel’s extradition and referred to the “helicopter scandal” but skirted the Rafale controversy while campaigning in Rajasthan”, observes the newspaper.

Bulandshahr

The manager of a mosque in Nayabans in Bulandshahr, one of the four named in a complaint of cow slaughter by Yogesh Raj Singh, who ironically happens to “be the main accused in the killing of Station House Officer Subodh Kumar Singh”, was arrested, writes the Express on page 1.

“Two accused named in the FIR were just 11 and 12 years old,” reports TOI, saying their arrest caused “some embarrassment” to the police who later “downplayed” it by alleging only one minor had been arrested and then let off.

HT focuses on Singh, meanwhile, as the Bajrang Dal member, took to social media and “defended himself on Wednesday, claiming he wasn’t present when the clashes between police and a local mob left a police inspector and a villager dead.” He is still on the run.

RBI

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to stay interest rates made page 1 on all papers but the Express. The Hindu sees it as “a valid pause”, saying “this may be an opportune time to bolster macroeconomic fundamentals through fiscal prudence.”

Aadhaar

Good news for citizens could be on the way: According to The Hindu’s exclusive, “Citizens may soon be able to leave Aadhaar”. “The government is in the last stages of finalising a proposal to amend the Aadhaar Act to give all citizens an option to withdraw their Aadhaar number, including biometrics and the data,” says the report.

Absent

Today is the 26th anniversary of Babri Masjid’s demolition, and newspapers — even editorials — are silent. Hindustan Times runs a half page article on page 21 on “Ayodhya 2.0”, saying “Hindu identity, cultural links and religiosity form the axis on which the Ram temple movement now spins”. The article looks at supporters of the renewed Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Also, Wednesday was the last day of the election campaign in Rajasthan and Telangana but barring the PM’s attack on the Gandhis, the polls are left for the inside pages

Prime Time

The arrival of AgustaWestland deal middleman Christian Michel rivaled the Bulandshahr mob violence on TV prime time.

The Newshour on Times Now revolved around the alleged Choppergate scam, with a leading question tantalizingly posed: “Will Christian Michel give up ‘The Family’? #AgustaFamilyFile.” Now, when BJP or news channels say ‘family’ there’s only one they allude to: the Gandhis and the mysterious fate of €28 million allegedly given in kickbacks.

BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia was all praise for Michel’s extradition: “PM Narendra Modi has shown today that nothing is impossible…Indians are asking, why does every scam end up at the door of 10 Janpath and the Gandhi family”.

CPI leader Dinesh Varshney took objection to this: “It can be any family, Tyagi or Gandhi family. We are for the eradication of all corruption.”

Lawyer Farruk Khan felt the “BJP government should be more concerned about the Rafale deal and Vijay Mallya, and we should not fall into the trap of this political gimmick right now.”

The Right Stand on CNN News 18 had Anand Narasimhan take up Bulandshahr with a focus on all the noise on ‘gau hatya’ (cow slaughter) and the silence on cop killing.

BJP’s Rakesh Tripathi tried to balance the two: “There are two incidents that took place and there are two separate FIRs filed and few arrests have been made already. All those accused will soon be behind bars.” He claimed that some officers “ran away from the spot and did not fulfill their duty”.

Samajwadi Party’s Anurag Bhadauria said the UP police doesn’t really want to arrest the main accused in the police killing, Yogesh Raj who released a video on Wednesday. “They themselves have hidden him. In this high tech age how is it possible for someone to release videos and be hidden. This policy of no action will only encourage the mobs and rioters,” Bhadauria.

On India Today’s People’s Court, anchor Padmaja Joshi wondered who was more important in “Cows over humans?”

Joshi wanted to know why the Adityanath government didn’t take any action with the murderer of a police officer still at large.

UP BJP’s spokesperson Anila Singh disagreed with Joshi: “The police is after him, he will be behind bars in no time.”

Vikram Singh, former DGP UP police, took a tough stance: “If there is a conspiracy, it is the job of every police officer to get to the root of the problem. They can’t get away with calling it a conspiracy. Subodh Kumar Singh died before his time and justice shall be sought for his murder”.

Antarrashtriya Hindu Parishad’s R.S. Sehravat argued that Yogesh Raj was innocent till proven guilty: “In the video he is pleading innocence, he has no revolver in his hand. You can’t call someone a murderer based up on an FIR.”

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