Farm Agitation Ends as Govt Surrenders; No Naga Peace Talks Under Shadow of AFSPA, Says NSCN
Govt's CDS dilemma, Sudha Bharadwaj finally free, 40% human rights violations happen in UP, after abortive takeoff Mamata needs new flight plan, and K-pop has young Indians learning Korean
A newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, Sushant Singh and Tanweer Alam | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
December 9, 2021
Representatives of several governments, including Pakistan, US, Israel and Russia, expressed their condolences over the tragic death of India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in a helicopter crash yesterday. The Air Force confirmed the deaths in the evening after hours of speculation. One report says Gen Rawat was rescued alive but died en route to hospital. The Mi17V5 chopper went missing at 12.22 pm. “I saw the helicopter coming down. There were terrible loud sounds. It hit a tree and was on fire,” Krishnswamy, an eyewitness, said. “On reaching the spot, we saw locals trying to rescue the occupants. We were only a few metres away, but it was tough to go near the chopper,” said a fireman in the rescue team.
The shocking demise of India’s first CDS affects the top military hierarchy and the government will likely announce a succession plan soon, as India is locked in a border standoff with China, top officials told Hindustan Times. “The situation is unprecedented as General Rawat was the country’s first CDS. The government will have to select a top officer and appoint him. The succession line-up in the three services is broadly known but not so in the case of CDS, as it’s a new appointment,” said an official. Army chief Gen MM Naravane is the seniormost serving chief but a retired officer can also be made CDS. If the Army chief is elevated before he retires in April 2022, this will likely have a cascading effect on the army’s own succession chain.
“As the most important potential bulwark against China, India, which Sweden’s V-Dem, a research institute that measures levels of democracy, recently downgraded to an ‘electoral autocracy’, could not be kept off the guest list. Once India was on it, however, arch-rival Pakistan had to be added too, even though it is a military-dominated state and a close ally of China,” reports the Financial Times on US President Joe Biden “smuggling realpolitik into a summit that was meant to be about (democratic) values”. Pakistan has decided to skip the summit, though.
Activist Sudha Bharadwaj walked out of Byculla Jail today, after three years in custody in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. The National Investigation Agency has set 16 conditions for bail. No 7 is a gem: she “shall see that the trial is not protracted due to her absence.” That’s a joke, since the trial has not even begun, three years after an alleged conspiracy against the state.
Reuters reports that Indian Covid-19 vaccine makers are lobbying the government to authorise boosters, because supply is so ahead of demand that one drugmaker has suspended production of more than 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik shot. The Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, and Sputnik’s Indian distributor, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, have both approached health authorities about boosters. The Indian Medical Association has warned about a severe third wave of Covid-19 due to the Omicron variant. The top medical body said precautionary measures are key.
Between 2014 and November 2021, 2,783 foreign companies with liaison/branch office/project office and subsidiaries shut shop in India. As on November 30, there were 12,458 active subsidiaries of foreign companies.
The Congress delegation which went to Nagaland to meet survivors of the Oting shooting and the families of the dead was not allowed to do so. Yeishang and Sheiwang, the only survivors, who are admitted at the Assam Medical College Hospital in Dibrugarh, have been restrained from meeting anyone. Hours after the only interview with them was published, all media conversations with the survivors and their family members at the hospital have been barred.
The Home Minister’s statement in Parliament defending the security forces has left the party at odds with its own leaders in Nagaland. This was evident in the BJP Nagaland state executive’s WhatsApp group. In a voice note in Nagamese, Nyawang Konyak, Mon district BJP president, said, “The statement by Amit Shah that they didn’t stop at the check gates and were trying to flee was a lie.” Nyawang confirmed to The Wire: “That they were trying to flee is not true. It is a lie.”
The National Socialist Council of Nagalim Isak-Muivah (NSCN I-M), the main Naga rebel group, has said that no peace talks are possible “under the shadow” of the Armed Forces (Special Powwers) Act (AFSPA), which grants the security forces virtual impunity, and termed Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament on the botched counter-insurgency operation as “irresponsible” and “like rubbing salt and chili in the wounds of the Nagas”. Oting villagers had claimed that the army shot to kill villagers without ascertaining their identity, and tried to dress them in fatigues to pass them off as militants after the ambush.
MP and former chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has finally admitted it was wrong to have heard the sensitive sexual harassment charge against himself. “In hindsight, I should not have been a judge on the bench… We all make mistakes. No harm in accepting it.” The scandal-prone MP made plenty of news yesterday (See Reportedly below).
At least 96 civilians and 81 members of the security forces have been killed in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. In the same period, 366 terrorists were also killed, the government told the Rajya Sabha. Replying to Congress MP Digvijaya Singh, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai gave the figures for deaths between August 5, 2019 and November 30, 2021.
About 40% of cases of human rights violations lodged every year by the National Human Rights Commission in the past three years till October 31, 2021 were from Uttar Pradesh. The Home Ministry revealed UP’s dubious record to the Rajya Sabha.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Lt Gen DP Vats (retd) said during a parliamentary debate that Khaps in Haryana practice eugenics which, according to him, help produce healthy athletes for the country. Khap panchayats are clan-based kangaroo courts, and Vats is an old supporter.
Bloomberg tracks the rising fortunes of the world’s 25 richest families, as millions slide into poverty. Mukesh Ambani is at number 6.
The fuss over Omicron and travel from and to South Africa notwithstanding, the Indian cricket team will fly there. Rohit Sharma has been appointed captain for one dayers and T-20, in place of Virat Kohli. It does not seem to be a smooth transition. Kohli will only captain the Test side now.