Ahead of Modi’s Visit, US State Dept Report Singes India’s Human Rights Record; Assessing the Legacy of Justice MR Shah
Wrestlers were asked for video/audio proof, 'Kerala Story' provokes violence in Jammu college, decentralised Congress stronger, Kissinger firm’s dirty Bhopal role, defence reporter arrested under OSA
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
May 16, 2023
Amid the race for the Karnataka chief minister’s post, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for almost an hour and a half. Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka, and AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal were also present. While former chief minister Siddaramaiah has emerged the frontrunner, with a majority of the newly elected MLAs learnt to have named him as their choice, PCC chief DK Shivakumar, who arrived in Delhi on Tuesday, has been playing hardball. At the time of publication, Kharge was meeting Shivakumar, after which he is set to meet Siddaramaiah.
One month ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, the US State Department has highlighted “continued targeted attacks” against minorities in India and noted that the US Holocaust Museum considers India as having “potential for mass killing”. At an event in Washington, the 2022 International Religious Freedom Report, compiled by the state department, was released by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. At a background briefing for reporters, there were unusually strong and detailed remarks on the state of India’s minorities.
“What we outline in today’s report is a targeted – continued targeted attacks against religious communities, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu Dalits, and indigenous communities; dehumanizing rhetoric, including open calls for genocide against Muslims; lynching and other hate-fueled violence, attacks on houses of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who’ve engaged in attacks on religious minorities – we’re also continuing to see, at the state level, some restrictions on religious attire,” a senior state department official said.
Vivek Raghuvanshi, an India-based defence correspondent who has been writing for the respected US website Defense News since 1991 and is its Delhi bureau chief, has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Official Secrets Act. “Raghuvanshi was allegedly selling strategic details of defence projects, procurement, and future plans to foreign countries for money,” the CBI told reporters, though it has offered no evidence to back this claim up. Raghuvanshi or his counsel have yet to say anything on the matter.
At least three wrestlers who deposed before the Mary Kom-led oversight committee that probed their allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh say they were asked to provide “video or audio proof” of their harassment. The three wrestlers spoke to the Indian Express on condition of anonymity. One said that she was told by a member of the committee that Singh was “like a father figure” and that she had “misconstrued” his behaviour “done in all innocence” as “inappropriate touching.”
India is seeking to normalise the “brutal and repressive denial of democratic and other rights of Kashmiri Muslims and minorities” by holding G20 meetings in Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes has said. Responding to the statement, India’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva rejected the “baseless and unwarranted allegations”. “As G20 president, it’s India’s prerogative to host its meeting in any part of the country,” tweeted the Indian mission.
A 23-year-old student who was brutally assaulted during communal violence, provoked by the controversial Bollywood film The Kerala Story, at Jammu’s prestigious Government Medical College has been suspended by the college administration along with nine other students. An internal inquiry has been ordered into the violence which left five students injured on the intervening night of May 14 and 15, one of them grievously, when two groups of students clashed. Students have alleged that the worst of the violence was perpetrated by outsiders, including a former student, who breached campus security.
In the Supreme Court today, the Tamil Nadu government said the reason the film is not being screened in the state is because cinema hall owners said there were no audiences.
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Ten tribal MLAs from Manipur, including two ministers of the N Biren Singh government, met Union home minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and demanded a separate machinery for the administration of the state’s tribal areas. They gave a signed memorandum to the home minister, in which they said: “The atrocities committed against the ethnic Kuki-Chin-Mizo-Zomi-Hmar minority community has left everyone aghast. That Manipur is now partitioned is a ground reality.”
A court in Punjab recently has summoned Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in a ₹100 crore civil suit filed for allegedly making defamatory statements against Bajrang Dal, reports Bar and Bench. The suit was filed by Hindu Suraksha Parishad’s president, Hitesh Bhardwaj, arguing that the manifesto issued by the Congress during the Karnataka elections had defamed the Bajrang Dal.
Amazon is laying off 500 employees in India across different businesses and functions including Amazon Web Services, human resources and support functions, multiple people aware of the matter told the Economic Times. This is part of the additional layoffs Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced in late March, hitting about 9,000 employees globally.
The onset of monsoon over Kerala will be delayed by three days, the India Meteorological Department said on Tuesday. It is expected to happen on June 4 this year, it said. The normal date for the onset of monsoon over the Kerala coast is June 1. It marks the beginning of the four-month monsoon season, which brings about 75% of India’s annual rainfall.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, who was criticised by the ruling alliance for greeting former prime minister Imran Khan in the Supreme Court with the words “good to see you”, clarified on Tuesday that it was part of court etiquette and carried no political connotation. The chief justice made these remarks during Khan's appearance before the Supreme Court after his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case sparked violent protests across Pakistan by his supporters.
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger will turn 100 on May 27. The Nation, a progressive American magazine, has an article titled “Henry Kissinger, War Criminal – Still at Large at 100”, which, among other things, talks of Kissinger Associates, a private company set up by him to benefit from his contacts in the US government: “In 1975, as secretary of state, [Henry] Kissinger helped Union Carbide set up its chemical plant in Bhopal – working with the Indian government and securing funds from the United States. After the plant’s 1984 chemical leak disaster, Kissinger Associates represented Union Carbide, brokering a paltry out-of-court settlement for the victims of the leak, which caused nearly 4,000 immediate deaths and exposed another half-million people to toxic gases.”
In a front-page report “India Struggles to Eradicate an Old Scourge: Witch Hunting”, the New York Times said on Monday that once driven largely by superstition, the brutal practice is now often simply a tool to oppress women, in many cases violently. “Women branded witches have had their nails pulled out, been forced to eat feces, been paraded naked or been beaten black and blue. They have been burned or lynched. From 2010 to 2021, more than 1,500 people were killed in India after accusations of witchcraft, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.”
Sheetla Singh, editor of the Faizabad-based Hindi daily Janmorcha, died on Tuesday. His newspaper stood out for decades as a beacon of rationality and truth at a time when a major section of the media in Uttar Pradesh embraced the Ram temple movement.
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