CAG Report Reveals Rail Safety Fund Spent on Flag, Foot Massagers, Crockery; What’s the Fuss About Karnavati?
Citizens’ CoWIN data exposed, dead in Coromandel crash almost all poor people, more hate speech in the hills, Tamil asylum seekers in hellish limbo in Diego Garcia, the restless elephants of the South
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
June 12, 2023
The New York Times reports what has gone unremarked in the Indian press. Almost all of the 288 dead in the Coromandel Express crash were poor people stuffed in three unreserved coaches, which held about 300 passengers. Of the dead, only two have been identified as passengers in reserved coaches. The Wall Street Journal reports on a family from Nepal who searched hospitals and morgues in three cities over three days for their son, 16, who was on the Coromandel Express, a train crucial for migrant workers. (Also see below: Rail safety fund spent on flag and foot massagers)
Delhi slapped together a peace committee for Manipur which the people of the state are irritated with. Kuki members are unhappy about the unannounced entry of Chief Minister Biren Singh who, the minority community says, fuelled the trouble. They do not wish to talk to the government while violence continues. Meanwhile, the Manipur government has extended the suspension of internet and mobile data services till June 15, apparently under Digital India. Reporter Banjot Kaur visited nine relief camps of both communities in various villages of Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Kangpopki and Kakching districts. Common people of the two communities still disagree about why the violence broke out, and possible solutions. In fact, divided survivors are united by their anger directed at the government. The Times of India reports that 4,573 weapons (including AK47, M16 and Insas rifles) have gone missing from Manipur state armouries. Of them, only 990 have been returned.
“Himanta, who?” scolds an editorial in the Imphal Free Press. It says, “The central leadership must understand that Himanta Biswa Sarma is not representative of the voice of the Northeastern states.”
India and Pakistan braced for a severe cyclone later this week, as authorities on Monday halted fishing activities and deployed rescue personnel. Cyclone Biparjoy is heading for the coastline of Gujarat in India and Sindh in Pakistan. It will make landfall on Thursday and could reach maximum wind speeds of up to 200 kph (124 mph), according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department. During its lifecycle, the cyclone underwent rapid intensification twice, experts told The Hindustan Times. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to hold a meeting to review the situation, reports ANI. Meanwhile, his long silence on the violence in Manipur continues.
BJP noisemaker Giriraj Singh is amping up rhetoric about expelling ‘illegal’ Bangladeshi ‘infiltrators’ and Rohingya Muslims from Bihar. The minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has also said that Nathuram Godse - Gandhi’s assassin - is a worthy son of India, unlike Babur and Aurangzeb. Babur was indeed born in Ferghana, but Aurangzeb was born in Dhoh, Malwa.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that the number of nuclear weapons held by major powers has increased by 86 in one year. China leads the field with 60 new warheads, while India has four. With this surge, the world has 12,512 nuclear warheads, of which 9,576 are in military hands and ready for use.
At a rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal likened the PM to a dictator and said that the ordinance handing over the running of the capital to his appointee, the Lieutenant Governor, is a curtain-raiser for similar actions in Opposition-run states.
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In just nine days, for lack of evidence, a Delhi trial court has acquitted four Muslim men in two different cases filed in relation to the 2020 riots in the city. Two judges have rapped the Delhi Police, who are under Home Minister Amit Shah, of shoddy investigation.
Since October 2021, dozens of Tamil asylum seekers have been stuck on the remote British territory of Diego Garcia, the site of a UK-US military base, in what the BBC describes as “hellish conditions”. Diego Garcia was of great strategic significance in the conflict that led to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, and its unusual status has made conditions impossible for the refugees.
It took New Delhi two months to appoint an ambassador to Qatar, where eight Indian retired naval officers are in custody with what appears to be espionage. Vipul, joint secretary (Gulf) in the Ministry of External affairs, will take charge, to the relief of the families of the men in custody.
In Uttarakhand, where photocopied posters recently ordered “love jihadis” to clear out before a fictitious ‘Mahapanchayat’, the Reporters’ Collective finds hate speech against Muslims has become commonplace in the hills, that political leaders use it freely and the police are uncaring.
The Delhi Police probe into sexual assault charges against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is being politically steered, retired IPS officers are saying. They point out that the Sports Minister has even set a date for completion of the investigation, which no one has the authority to do.
The dramatic India vs Pakistan match in the ODI World Cup later this year is scheduled for October 15 in the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, as per BCCI’s preliminary schedule. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board has proposed a hybrid model for the Asia Cup, with Sri Lanka as the neutral venue. Four, perhaps five, of the tournament’s 13 games will be played in Pakistan. All the India-Pakistan games will be played in Sri Lanka, as will the final if India is involved. This model is likely to be approved by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). However, India’s “best bowler is considered superfluous”, scolds The Economist.
The last Indian reporter in China, representing PTI, has been told to clear out when his visa expires this month. The second-last, who represented the Hindustan Times, left on Sunday. The visas of two more, from Doordarshan and The Hindu, were frozen in April, as China perceived that its reporters were being treated unfairly in India, following the standoff in the Himalayas.
A stringer from Dainik Bhaskar in Amethi insistently sought a quote from Smriti Irani, and she responded by threatening to call the owner of his newspaper to convey the rather bizarre charge of insulting the people. Things got hazy thereafter. The paper said it did not have a person in Amethi ― and someone else lost their job. Meanwhile, the CPI(M) in Kerala faces criticism after an Asianet journalist was booked on the complaint of PM Arsho, state secretary of the Students’ Federation of India, after she ran a story alleging that he had passed his MA Archaeology exams without actually taking them. Here, too, some haziness seems to be involved.
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