Manipur Video Jolts Mute PM Into Political Speech; Sir CP, Monazite and the Threat of an Independent Travancore
Russians retain majority in Vande Bharat JV, Europe seeks Bangla help on extreme weather, Karnataka didn’t report 1.2 lakh Covid deaths, Malviya FIR stayed, Domino’s India bakes world’s cheapest pizza
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Snapshot of the day
July 20, 2023
76 days of violence and 75 days of silence. After refusing to open his mouth on Manipur for more than two and a half months, the prime minister finally spoke about the beleaguered state for a sum total of 30 seconds. Actually, he spoke for one minute and 47 seconds. But he didn’t speak about the ethnic conflagration in Manipur at all. The violence has already taken the lives of over 150 people and displaced tens of thousands.
Narendra Modi spoke about a sexual crime in Manipur that occurred on May 4 and gone unreported as far as the public was concerned – but which was known all along to the authorities in the BJP-run state government, who did nothing about it for over two months. Soon after the Chief Justice of India took suo motu notice of the videographed crime, the chief minister said one person had been arrested. While Modi directed chief ministers to contain crimes against women, he threw in a reference to the Congress-run states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, which go to the polls later this year. Manipur, the current basket case of India, has a BJP chief minister.
The back story: on July 12, Sonal Matharu reported in The Print that after an image of a Delhi murder victim was circulated as the purported body of a Meitei girl raped and killed by Kukis in Churachandpur, two Kuki women were abducted by Meitei men, paraded naked and raped in a paddy field. Yesterday, as a video of the incident taken by a perpetrator began to circulate, more reports have emerged. Sukrita Baruah of the Indian Express agrees with Matharu that two women were targeted, and they were forcibly taken from police custody by a mob. In The Hindu, Vijaita Singh says that three women were stripped and paraded, and one of them was raped. The crime was recorded in a zero FIR against persons unknown, but now the first arrest has been made and the chief minister, who had failed to contain the violence, speaks of the death penalty.
But these are details. The larger point is that very early in the conflict, ‘revenge rape’ was a feature. The Print’s headline read: “No one wants to talk about rapes in Manipur. There’s a silence at the heart of the violence.” While Smitha Nair pointed out that prime time television news is almost silent on the violence in Manipur, a dramatic crime has made television as voluble as the BJP leadership. An example:
A week ago, women journalists were appealing to keep Manipur in the news. Now, the monsoon session of Parliament has begun, and it’s going to be noisy. Because, as the political observer Suhas Palshikar says, Manipur is an early warning of the fate of India.
Predictably, the government is going after social media companies for allowing the shocking video to circulate. The objection is not based on valid concerns about ensuring the dignity of the survivors but on ‘law and order.’ Even platforms that used pixelated images and footage where the identity of the women is shrouded have been asked to delete the video.
Conventional wisdom says that civil society interventions can find a solution to the crisis in Manipur. But what if society is part of the problem, asks Bipin Sebastian in The Wire. “The situation unfolding in Manipur begs the question of whether there really is a civil society – as opposed to politicians and members of militant organisations – left outside the ecology of violence and antagonism, who can decisively intervene in the conflagration.”
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Having failed to agree upon a way to describe the Russia-Ukraine conflict for a joint communique on the current G20 talks of foreign and finance ministers and central bank chiefs ― India will be the first G20 chair to fail to forge a consensus, says Bloomberg ― the constituent nations have agreed to meet more often to jaw-jaw about war-war, so that they can decide the issue by the time the national leaders meet in New Delhi on September 9-10. The process will take 10-12 gruelling rounds, said Amitabh Kant, India’s chief negotiator.
An Army captain was killed and three soldiers were injured in a fire incident at Siachen glacier in Ladakh on July 19. Meanwhile, two forest department officials were shot by unidentified gunmen in Sangerwani forest near the Yusmarg resort of central Kashmir, while they were on routine patrol. One is in a critical condition while the other has succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Srinagar.
There was high drama in the Karnataka Assembly as BJP MLAs tore up bills and hurled them at the deputy speaker. Ten BJP MLAs were suspended until Friday. Tensions escalated further when Opposition members vehemently protested against the actions of BJP legislators.
In the Emerging Asia Cup at Colombo, India A defeated Pakistan A by eight wickets, riding on Sai Sudharsan’s century and the five wickets taken by Rajvardhan Hangargekar.
In India, its second-biggest market after the US, Domino’s has responded to punishing inflation by baking the world’s cheapest pizza, reports Reuters. It says it wants to “own the price point of Rs 49”.
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