The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. An  earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale hit the Hindu Kush mountain region in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday, leaving more than 200 dead and hundreds more injured.
2. Chhota Rajan, a wanted criminal who for years was said to be an Indian intelligence asset against terror and crime syndicate head Dawood Ibrahim, was arrested on Monday after Indonesian authorities were tipped off by Australia.
3. The World Health Organisation has concluded that processed meats are a major cause of cancer, and added that red meat may be a cause as well.

The Big Story: Whose fault?
Despite members of his own party's extended political family questioning the very idea of reservations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought to portray himself as the protector of backward classes, saying he would prevent any efforts by the opposition to give reservations to "a particular community" (read: Muslims).

Reservations certainly have captured the headlines over the past few months, but not in the way Modi appears to be describing. Instead, members of the well-off Patel community in Gujarat have taken to the streets asking for either reservations to be scrapped or extended to them as well, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan took the quota over a court-mandated 50% reservation and, most influentially, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has made noises suggesting the entire reservation structure needs a rethink.

That last bit isn't new coming from the RSS, but coming as it did on the day of the second phase of elections in Bihar, which is somewhat ruled by quota politics, it had a big effect on those who have benefited by reservations. The BJP has been in damage control mode since then, and now it seems Modi has decided to turn it into an attack, by bringing up the bogey of religious reservations.

"These leaders are making a devious plan," Modi said. "They are conspiring to take away 5% reservation of dalits, mahadalits, backwards and extremely backwards and give it to a particular community. I will not allow this to happen."

The Big Scroll
The reservation debate continues, but as myth not reality, writes Kamal Mitra Chenoy. Also, reservation for the poor and forward castes: What is the legal position of Rajasthan’s new bills?

Politicking & Policying
1. Geeta, the deaf-mute girl who strayed across the India-Pakistan border and was stranded there for more than 15 years, has returned to India where she failed to identify the family that claimed her and will be housed with an NGO for now.
2. The current National Democratic Alliance government is nothing but the "Congress plus cow", Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie said, at a book launch.
3. Nine districts of Uttar Pradesh continue to be on the boil because of communal tensions, with more than 100 arrested and 25 cases lodged.
4. Members of the Hindu Sena created a ruckus at Kerala House in New Delhi, alleging that it served cow meat, prompting the police also to attempt searching the premises without a warrant. For now, the guest house is taking even buffalo meat off its menu.

1. Ananya Sengupta and Samyabrata Ray Goswami at the Telegraph consider the theories behind Chhota Rajan's arrest.
2. The Hindutva brigade hasn't produced a notable historian since the 1960s, writes Harbans Mukhia in the Hindu, claiming this is because it doesn't believe in discussion, disputation and debate.
3. India needs to think harder and more formally about security cooperation with Africa, writes C Raja Mohan in the Indian Express.

Don't Miss
Urvish Kothari has a few questions for Modi's whataboutery fans.
However, despite being perfectly in step with the Congress, the BJP overachieved its objectives. A party which originated from street rhetoric and a toxic mindset against Gandhi, Muslims and Christians outdid itself on brazenness. For instance, the Congress did not exactly take out a yatra on the back of the 1984 genocide. Narendra Modi, however, had no qualms doing so after the Gujarat riots. Whenever any BJP or Sangh leader was questioned on the impropriety of the issue, the standard response was: “Where were you when…?”