People lifting uprooted poles following a storm in Chennai on Monday. (Photo: PTI) 

QBullet: Vardah Wreaks Havoc; SIMI Undertrials Now In Single Cells

1. Cyclone Wreaks Havoc but Early Signs Suggest City Better Prepared than Last December

Cyclone Vardah uprooted trees and blew off toll plazas as it cut a swathe of destruction through Chennai this afternoon, handing the city a December date with disaster for the second consecutive year.

But unlike last winter's floods that killed over 500 people in and around a city caught unawares, a better-prepared state government appeared to have been able to contain the death toll on Monday.

Chief minister O Panneerselvam said three people had died, but revenue officials said the toll was seven, mostly from wall collapse.

Chennai had gone into a protective shutdown, just as it had last Monday in anticipation of Jayalalithaa's passing.

(Source: The Telegraph)

2. Post Bhopal Jailbreak: SIMI Undertrials in Single Cells, New Locks Everyday

Since the October jailbreak leading to the killing of eight alleged SIMI undertrials, Bhopal Central Jail has isolated its remaining SIMI undertrial and tightened security to the extent of changing locks on these cells everyday.

The new security measures have led to allegations about torture, with SIMI operatives having reportedly complained to visiting relatives.

In another move, which goes beyond the Bhopal jail, authorities have barred relatives starting this week from carrying food and other items of personal use for all undertrials lodged in 121 jails in Madhya Pradesh. The government justified the order citing instances of some relatives passing blades and marijuana to undertrials.

(Source: The Indian Express)

3. Aadhar ID for More Exams Under Study, Says Javadekar

Infosys co-founder and former Aadhar Chairman Nandan Nilekani. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute/ <a href="">Wikimedia Commons</a>)
Infosys co-founder and former Aadhar Chairman Nandan Nilekani. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute/ Wikimedia Commons)

After making the Aadhaar card mandatory for all candidates appearing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to check impersonation, the government is considering extending the requirement to other competitive examinations, Human Resource and Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday.

Aspirants seeking entry to the prestigious IITs, NITs and designated institutes, except candidates from Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir, have to write the JEE (Mains) examination in 2017 using their Aadhaar.

There has been a controversy over whether the government can mandate Aadhaar for such activity, with the Supreme Court reminding the government in September that it could not mandate the Aadhaar number for scholarship schemes.

Asked whether the government could demand possession of Aadhaar to appear for an examination, as no service or benefit was being provided, Javadekar said this was for security purposes.

(Source: The Hindu)

4. New ISI Chief for ‘Aggressive Measures’ Against India in Afghanistan

The new ISI chief believes Pakistan could resort to “aggressive measures” to undermine India’s role in war-torn Afghanistan to prevent Kabul from becoming a “proxy” for New Delhi.

Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, named the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence as part of a major shake-up of the Pakistan Army top brass, also wrote in a paper five years ago that “moderate” Taliban factions should be accommodated in the government in Kabul before US troops withdraw from the country.

Mukhtar’s views on the Taliban and India are largely in line with the thinking within the higher echelons of the Pakistan Army. For a long time, the top generals in Rawalpindi have favoured an accommodation with the Afghan Taliban, whose leaders have sheltered in the Pakistani province of Balochistan for years.

(Source: The Hindustan Times)

5. Railways Threaten Action Against Officials ‘Critical’ of Govt Policy

(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Stung by criticism of the government’s policies by civil servants, the Railways Ministry has struck back by threatening disciplinary action against those found guilty.

While Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has actively been promoting the use of social media to further the government’s agenda, the ministry seems to have realised that such platforms are double-edged weapons that could be – and were – being used to slam government policies.

“The cavalier and freewheeling manner of the criticism of government policies by the rail bureaucracy is unacceptable. Therefore, the need to reiterate the Service Conduct Rules of 1966, which prohibit officials from making any adverse criticism of the current or recent policy or action of the central or state government,” a senior ministry official said.

6. AgustaWestland: Ex-IAF Chief Tipnis Defends ‘Scapegoat’ SP Tyagi

Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi at CBI headquarters. (Photo: PTI)
Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi at CBI headquarters. (Photo: PTI)

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday arrested former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi and two others for alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.

Reacting to the arrest, former IAF chief AY Tipnis said that the “arrest comes as a shock,” News18 reported on Monday. He said that Tyagi was being made a “scapegoat”in the whole situation.

Tipnis further sided with Tyagi saying that whatever the ex-IAF chief “did is on record” and that dragging the former Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the case is “outlandish”, News18 reported. He also said that the old MI-8 choppers had to be replaced, mounting a defence for Tyagi.

Read the full story on The Quint.

7. Government 'Stings' Corrupt Bank Officials: Reports

Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were discontinued from 8 November as a step to curb black money. (Photo: PTI)
Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were discontinued from 8 November as a step to curb black money. (Photo: PTI)

The government has reportedly carried out sting operations at several banks to expose corrupt officials who are helping black money hoarders.

According to reports, CDs of these sting operations have been prepared and submitted to the concerned authorities.

Reports say sting operations have been carried out at nearly 625 branches of various banks. In at least 425 branches, corrupt bank officials, businessmen and hawala operators have reportedly been caught on tape trying to convert black money into white.

The reports of sting operation come in the backdrop of repeated warnings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that those indulging in corrupt practices to derail the demonetisation exercise won't be spared.

(Source: Times of India)

8. Officer Alleges Vendetta by Rijiju’s Relative

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju (Photo: PTI)
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju (Photo: PTI)

Satish Verma, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, who assisted the CBI in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, has said in a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that his services as the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) of a power corporation were curtailed as he had flagged a transportation scam worth Rs 450 crore involving a relative of Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and also for investigating a fraudulent land deal in Gujarat.

Rijiju represents Arunachal Pradesh in the Lok Sabha and the alleged scam pertains to the Kameng hydroelectric project being developed by NEEPCO.

Verma said that Goboi Rijiju, one of the affected transporters and a ‘distant cousin’ of Rijiju, came to his office in Shillong on 29 December 2015 and offered to help him with his promotion if the officer cleared his payments that had been stuck for months. To support this, Verma submitted an audiotape to the tribunal.

When contacted, Kiren Rijiju told The Hindu: “He (Goboi) is a distant cousin. Be it anyone, whether distant cousins or friends, will not tolerate if my name is used to get their works done. Anyway, I will always ensure that my people don’t face hardship.”

(Source: The Hindu)

9. Now, Our Eyes are Set on, Says Legion

(Photo: iStockPhoto)
(Photo: iStockPhoto)

Legion, the hacker group behind the four high-profile Twitter account breaches and two data dumps in the past fortnight, says its members now have their eyes set on – which provides email services to government employees.

“Next is a dump of emails. Which is quite big. It includes a lot of _BIG FISH_,” a Legion member told, a tech news website, over an encrypted chat interview.

In another interview, with Washington Post, a Legion member claimed to have access to entire servers, like that of hospital chain Apollo, where J Jayalalithaa was hospitalised before her death.

(Source: Times of India)