Senior BJP leader and MLA from the politically important district of Kangra, Ramesh Dhawala, who could not make it to the Cabinet, was made the pro tem Speaker of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Acharya Dev Vrat. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and his Cabinet colleagues including Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor, Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj and Health Minister Vipin Parmar were present at the ceremony.Mr. Dhawala was a Cabinet Minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal government from 1998 to 2003. He had then won as an independent candidate (BJP rebel) and was instrumental in the formation of the first BJP government.
The National Investigation Agency has recovered six more of the 56 pistols that went missing from the armoury of the 2nd Battalion of the Manipur Rifles during 2016-17 only to land in the hands of extremists.The recovery of the pistols on Saturday from a place 20 km from Manipur capital Imphal followed NIA’s arrest of Congress MLA Yamthong Haokip, 72, on charges of illegally “procuring” police weapons and distributing them among militant groups “to wage war against the State”.20 recovered so farThe NIA has so far recovered 20 of the missing pistols since taking over investigation into the missing arms case in May. The trigger for the probe was the recovery of three pistols besides two German-made rifles and a semi-automatic shotgun from an SUV near Manipur’s Ukhrul town on May 21 during a search by the Assam Rifles.An NIA spokesperson said David Hangshing, the chairman of the extremist Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) who was arrested on Friday, had provided the address of the place were the six 9mm pistols had been hidden. The KRA is in an agreement of suspension of operations with the government.“During interrogation, he said he had received the police pistols from Saikul (Assembly seat) MLA Haokip,” he said.Matching numbersThe seized pistols were found to be from the lot of missing pistols. The serial numbers of five pistols matched with those of the missing pistols while that of one pistol had been erased, the spokesperson said.Hanshing was on Saturday produced before a magistrate, who remanded him to police custody. He will now be produced before a special NIA court.Mr. Haokip is one of 11 persons arrested in connection with the case of the missing police pistols. One of these pistols, bearing licence number 18506735, was seized from his Imphal residence during a raid on July 30.Two other pistols – a U.S.-made Beretta and an unlicensed 9mm Pietro Beretta Gardone pistol, made in Italy – were also seized from Mr. Haokip’s residence.Investigations revealed that apart from KRA, some of the 9mm police pistols reached United Kuki Liberation Front, another Manipur-based extremist outfit. Nine of these pistols were recovered from the house of this group’s chief Soson Haokip in Imphal on Thursday.
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