India unwrapped: ’Plot’ to kill PM, Kashmiri editor’s murder sum up sombre week
People carry the body of Rising Kashmir editor Syed Shujaat Bukhari, who was killed in Srinagar. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The week began with a controversy surrounding an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and ended with the tragic murder of a senior journalist.

On 6 June, the Pune police arrested five suspected Maoist sympathisers from Delhi, Nagpur and Mumbai. From their belongings, the police allegedly found a letter that detailed a plot to kill Modi in a similar manner as former premier Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated in May 1991 in Tamil Nadu, by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The alleged plotters were described by the police as “urban Maoists”. This led to a huge political controversy. The opposition effectively alleged that the letter the police recovered was either planted or fake, and that this was a ploy by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led regime to malign its opponents, after losing a string of key bypolls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Sadly though, the week ended with an assassination, in Srinagar. In what was a grim reminder of the murder of Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh in September last year, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, a leading Kashmiri journalist and the editor-in-chief of local English daily Rising Kashmir, was shot dead on Thursday along with his two bodyguards.

Although the exact identity of the killers or their motivation behind his assassination is yet unknown, home minister Rajnath Singh and senior police officials said that terror outfits in the valley could be behind the murder of the 52-year-old journalist.

In Lankesh’s case, however, the Karnataka police seem to be making some headway. A report by The Indian Express on Friday said the police believe the suspected shooter, Parshuram Ashok Waghmare, was given firearms training in Maharashtra and Karnataka, before being chosen to kill Lankesh.

Corporate conundrums

Meanwhile, former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna has been tasked with leading a probe into the alleged dealings of ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar, following complaints by an anonymous shareholder who says she favoured her husband, his brother and Venugopal Dhoot of the Videocon group.

Srikrishna was appointed after the bank received fresh complaints from the shareholder, alleging non-adherence to the code of conduct, a quid-pro-quo and a conflict of interest. Several agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation are already looking into the matter, with pressure mounting on Kochhar to quit as the bank’s CEO pending investigations.

Even as Kochhar faces a multi-pronged probe, many audit firms are under regulatory scrutiny. Moreover, the so-called Big Four—EY, PwC, Deloitte and KMPG—are either removing or relaxing revenue targets for their audit partners, a report in The Economic Times said. This comes after several of them resigned abruptly from companies including Manpasand Beverages and Vakrangee.

While investigators have their hands full, diamond merchant Nirav Modi is believed to be globetrotting on a Singapore passport. Modi, who was allegedly behind the Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam, was first reported to be in London to seek asylum and then reportedly left the UK within hours. He is now believed to be in Brussels. His Indian passport was revoked a few months ago.

The diamond merchant might be making news for all the wrong reasons, but another Indian did so for the right ones. Chennai-born Dhivya Suryadevara was named the chief financial officer of General Motors, the biggest auto company in the US.

Back home, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) announced a Rs 16,000 crore share buyback on Friday. India’s largest IT company had announced a buyback last year, too, as had competitors Infosys and Wipro. Shares of TCS rallied after the announcement, sending its market valuation above the Rs 7 lakh crore mark.

Meanwhile, the battle for control of bankruptcy-bound edible oils maker Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd is set to reach a climax in the coming week, when yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali makes its final bid as part of a Swiss Challenge process in which the other contender Adani Wilmar has offered Rs 6,000 crore for the firm.

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