The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. The Delhi Police filed sedition cases against some Jawaharlal Nehru University students for allegedly raising anti-India slogans at an event against the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
2. The second phase of the Delhi government’s odd and even road rationing scheme will be implemented from April 15 to 30.
4. The Sensex plunged more than 800 points to drop below 23,000. The fall was driven by weak global markets.
5. Scientists just detected gravitational waves, entering a whole new world for research in astronomy.

The Big Story: Encounter politics

Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley’s testimony had a sensational impact as he told a Mumbai court on Friday that Ishrat Jehan, the 19-year-old student killed in an encounter in Gujarat in 2004, was a member of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar e Taiba.

Jahan, a student from Mumbai, was shot dead by the Ahmedabad Police in 2004. They claimed that she was on a mission to kill Narendra Modi,who was Gujarat chief minister at the time. In 2009, the Ahmedabad Metropolitan court ruled that the killing of Ishrat Jahan was a fake encounter. Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah was accused in this case, and was even sent to jail for this. In 2014, however, after the BJP government was sworn in at the Centre, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a report before a special court in Ahmedabad that it did not have prosecutable evidence against Shah

Headley is an accused is a separate case, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and is now a state approver, liable to be pardoned at the end of the trial.

Jahan’s layer, Vrinda Grover has dismissed Headley testimony in this case, arguing that the 26/11 case is unrelated to Jahan’s killing. Headley’s testimony is based on hearsay, she said, and the public prosecutor asked a leading question in order to get Headley to name Jahan.

During this interrogation, Headley has initially said he didn’t know the names of any suicide bombers in the LeT. Public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam then gave Headley three names to choose from, from which Headley picked Jahan’s.

But if this has no legal impact, why did Nikam, who was awarded a Padma Shri last month, bring up Jahan at all in a case concerning the 26/11 terror attacks? The answer maybe lies in the strong way Headley’s testimony was politicised, with the BJP using it to score political points against the Congress, which had earlier come out to criticise Jahan’s killing.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh led the charge. “You must have heard what David Headley has just said in court, that Ishrat Jahan was a suicide bomber," said Singh. "Ishrat Jahan regarding whom so many accusations were cast on our leaders. Tell me, will the accusing political parties now apologise to the nation for trying to fool the people?”

The Congress, in turn, repeated it old stand, that Jahan’s killing was wrong and produced the 2009 Metropolitan Court judgement to back its position. “If a person is a terrorist, he needs to be arrested, he needs to be tried, he needs to be brought to justice like Afzal Guru was brought to justice or Ajmal Kasab was brought to justice,” party spokesman Manish Tewari said. "But to try and justify a fake encounter, I am afraid, is something which the law does not permit."

While the Congress might be legally correct, it seems it has lost the perception war here. Headley’s testimony might not be legally admissible but the impression it has created has immensely helped the BJP to burnish its anti-terror credentials, paint the Congress as a party wedded to the politics of and recover from a case in which the party’s president himself was once in prison.

The Big Scroll
Headley’s deposition might have made a splash but it still doesn’t tell us whether Ishrat Jahan’s killing actually a fake encounter. And this is how David Headley identified the targets for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Politicking and policying
1. Band-Aid won’t do, banks need deep surgery, says Raghuram Rajan, as loan-write-offs to companies cripple banking sector.
2. India and the United Aarab Emirates have signed seven agreements across various sectors, as Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi visits Delhi.
3. The Bharatiya Janata Party termed Rahul Gandhi as a leader with “negative mindset” and accused him of “stalling” the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

4. In West Bengal, the Left says it is open to alliance talks with Congress for the upcoming Assembly elections


1. The case of Scroll’s Malini Subramaniam poses some difficult questions to the Chhattisgarh government and its cohorts, says Sudeep Chakravarti in the Mint.
2. There is a growing strain between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian capitalism, says Swapan Dasgupta in the Telegraph.
3. Each element of the direct transfer network – Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile – needs some significant fixes to work effectively points out Sumit Kale in the Mint.
4. In the Business Standard, Bhupesh Bhandari attempts to make sense of the Indian Premier League auctions.

Don’t Miss
Saraswati symbolises a rare, holistic and multicultural stream of tradition that has created and recreated India, says Mrinal Pande.

One myth describes her as the cerebral progeny of Brahma. The powerful Vedic god, the creator of all things, like many creative artists, fell in love with his own creation and chased Saraswati. But his mercurial daughter escaped his advances. Still, wifehood followed her. Myths describe her as having become Vishnu’s wilful wife, constantly quarrelling with his other wives, Ganga and Lakshmi. Like many men, Vishnu sorted out his domestic squabbles by presenting Ganga to Shiva and Saraswati to Brahma while retaining the domesticated Lakshmi with her considerable bounty.

Saraswati seethed within. She deliberately arrived late to participate in a vital yagna being performed by her father-cum-consort Brahma that could not be performed without his wife being present. But Saraswati was furious to find that Brahma had, in the meanwhile, married Gayatri to complete the ritual. She then cursed Brahma before stomping off: there would be no temples built to Brahma and even within ones that existed, he would be worshipped only once a year.