Government Struck Deal With Devas But Stopped Taking Calls; Indians No Longer Have Freedom of Expression
Agnipath breaches 1947 agreement with Nepal, over 1 crore court cases pending for long, Kerala wages over double the national average, list of unparliamentary words grows to threaten communication
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Snapshot of the day
July 14, 2022
The Supreme Court today dismissed a 2009 writ petition seeking an independent probe by the CBI or NIA into the alleged extra-judicial killing of Chhattisgarh tribals by forces in operations against Naxals. In a reprise of the judicial impatience with petitioners targeting the state – last seen in the Zakia Jafri-Teesta Setalvad case – exemplary costs of Rs 5 lakh have been imposed on the main petitioner whom the solicitor general claimed had misrepresented Naxal executions to duplicitously seek the court’s protection for their operations. The order passed by Justices AM Khanwilkar and JB Pardiwala appears to encourage the state to pursue perjury proceedings and seek a conspiracy ― possibly across states.
AltNews co-founder Mohammad Zubair has moved the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of six cases filed against him in different locations in Uttar Pradesh. A sessions court today heard his arguments for bail in the Hanuman/Honeymoon and FCRA case filed in Delhi and will pronounce its verdict tomorrow.
India, where George Orwell was born, is fulfilling his dystopian vision. The use of terms like ‘jumlajeevi’, ‘baal buddhi’, ‘Covid spreader’ and ‘Snoopgate’, and even commonly used words like ‘ashamed’, ‘abused, ‘betrayed’, ‘corrupt’, ‘drama’, ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘incompetent’ will henceforth be considered unparliamentary, according to a new booklet issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. Going by the book, it will become impossible to discuss the state of affairs in India.
The AAP government in Punjab has rolled back a decision to remove pictures of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Jagtar Singh Hawara (convicted of conspiracy in assassination of for former Punjab CM Beant Singh) and other Sikhs, and text pertaining to them, from Punjab state transport buses.
After the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee took strong objection to a part of the Punjabi University’s MA political science syllabus, which descibes Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a terrorist, the university swung into action and decided to remove the content and launch a probe. The syllabus-based book is published by the university’s Distance Education Department.
The ‘Agnipath’ military recruitment scheme, which will apply to Gorkha recruitment as well from this year, has become controversial in Nepal as its impact on society becomes clear. Nepal government officials maintain that it violates the 1947 Tripartite Agreement that governs the recruitment of Nepali youths into the Indian Gorkhas. Any procedural change must be approved by the Nepal government, after consultation. The Tripartite Agreement says that “subject to satisfactory performance and conduct, all soldiers should be allowed to serve for sufficient time in order to qualify for a pension.”
Arguments in the Gyanvapi mosque case continued today in a Varanasi court, with the counsel for the plaintiffs stating that they did not seek possession of the mosque, but only the right to worship in two spots on the premises where “deities were worshipped till 1993”. The 1991 case in the Allahabad High Court is adjourned until tomorrow.
In late February 2020, days before the pandemic struck, a group of US business executives secretly met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at the plush Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, reports the Financial Times. The group had been battling the Indian government for years over the 2011 cancellation of a telecom contract held by its company, Devas Multimedia. Having won a key tribunal decision ordering India to pay Devas more than $500 million in damages, plus hundreds of millions of dollars in interest, they hoped a compromise payout could be struck. Following the meeting, a deal was drafted which included a provision that all proceedings, including a CBI probe, would be dropped. However, apparently, the Indian government abruptly stopped responding to Devas’s calls.
The rupee is in deep trouble and within striking distance of Rs 80 to the dollar, going by the speed of its dive yesterday. The TV humorists who were cracking a million cut-and-paste jokes on TV in 2013 are absolutely mum. So is PM Modi.
India’s industrial production climbed to a 12-month high of around 20% year-on-year in May, but it is up just 1.7% when calculated against the same month in 2019, before the pandemic. Flat growth may prompt the RBI’s monetary policy committee not to go for an aggressive rate hike in August to cool retail price inflation, which was at 7.01% in June and above the central bank’s mandate of 6% for six months.
Nomura has cut its 2023 growth forecast for India to 4.7% of GDP from its earlier projection of 5.4% amid fears of recession and rising interest rates.
Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday said they were barred from visiting the martyrs’ graveyard in Srinagar. The administration has locked the Khwaja Bahauddin Naqshband shrine in the Nowhatta area, where 22 persons known as the first martyrs of Kashmir are buried. They were shot on July 13, 1931, during a protest against Dogra rule (1846-1947) and the jailing of local leader Abdul Qadeer. The protest grew into the Muslim Conference, from which the National Conference later split, and Sheikh Abdullah became a household name across India. The day was a state holiday until the administration removed it from the list of holidays after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019.
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India and China will hold the 16th round of Corps Commander talks on July 17 on the Chinese side of the LAC at Moldo to pursue disengagement in eastern Ladakh. Apart from Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area, India would discuss disengagement from Demchok and Depsang, which have not been ignored by the Chinese. In 15 rounds of talks, disengagement was achieved from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, and from PP 17 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area in August, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash. The 15th round of Corps Commander talks was held on March 11.
The US is consulting with India, China and other major energy consumers to cap the price of Russian oil, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said. G7 leaders last month agreed on a cap to limit Russia’s profits from oil sales, which would fund its war in Ukraine.
A high and rising number of Indian youth of both sexes have never married. J&K tops the list, followed by UP. The government offers ridiculous reasons: “Not getting married or becoming a single father/mother is considered woke. It signifies a modern lifestyle. The mindset is prevalent in mid and smaller cities also… Also, some celebrities, when they say they are not going to marry, influence young minds,” an official said.
In India, your payment data could become evidence of dissent, writes restofworld.org. Alt News’ donors are rightfully alarmed about payment data, released by Razorpay to the government, being weaponized. “The data sharing has had a chilling effect.”
The justice system has always taken its time, and now 1 crore cases are pending for over five years and 76% of prisoners are undertrials, the share having zoomed astronomically since 2019.
Yashwant Sinha, Opposition candidate for the office of President of India, doesn’t stand a chance. But he is making political statements to make the BJP, and the parties which deserted him after proposing his name, squirm. He has now said that if he is elected, he will can the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Interacting with Opposition lawmakers of Assam, Sinha said the BJP-led government has not been able to implement the CAA because it was “foolishly drafted” in a hurry. Sinha has said that the Constitution is in danger “from those in power”.
Former British chancellor Rishi Sunak leads in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister. The Indian-origin Conservative MP says he will run the economy like Thatcher. The son-in-law of Infosys’ NR Narayana Murthy, he has had more than his share of controversies this year ― one related to his wife’s tax status.
Goa Minister for Art and Culture Govind Gaude’s dreadful tryst with architecture continues. First, he had wanted to demolish the open-air auditorium of the Kala Academy in Panjim, a landmark structure designed by Charles Correa. Now, he wants to renovate the structure and plug leaks ― without floating a tender. When this was questioned, he retorted that Shah Jahan had not invited bids for the Taj Mahal either.
NASA has shared the first image of the universe taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest space telescope ever built. Three Indian scientists including Lucknow-born Dr Hashima Hasan, deputy project scientist, helped to make possible this historic photo, which reaches far back into time.
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