Nupur Sharma Under Security Cover, Fact-Checker Who Nailed Hate Speech in Custody; Can Government Throttle ‘Revolution Of Rising Expectations’?
Modi supports freedoms overseas while govt attacks Freedom House, India’s de facto VPN ban draws global criticism, 25 lakh flood-affected in Assam, FMCG goods dwindling under ‘shrinkflation’
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
June 28, 2022
Digital news media collective Digipub India has condemned in the “strongest possible words” the arrest of fact-checkers AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair. A member of Digipub, it has 416.4K followers on Twitter. Zubair was arrested in Delhi yesterday for a 2018 tweet which is deemed to have hurt the sentiments of Hindus. The image which he tweeted is actually a still from a 1983 comedy film by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, which has also appeared in other media without causing offence. Zubair’s lawyer Vrinda Grover has cited this film in his bail hearing. The arrest is on the basis of a complaint from an almost inactive Twitter handle which, an activist has discovered, has clear links with a BJP IT cell and TekFog.
Zubair was at the forefront in exposing the Islamophobic speech of BJP’s national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Delhi IT head Naveen Jindal, following which the party was taken to task by Islamic nations and, embarrassed, was forced to suspend Sharma and expel Jindal. A Dainik Jagran report now claims that Zubair harmed India’s image and catalysed protests over the party spokespersons’ comments on the Prophet. In just two years, the police have filed six FIRs against Zubair on various pretexts. No FIR or remand application was made available during or well after his arrest yesterday. The Delhi Police secured a day’s remand on Monday night and the magistrate granted them an additional four days custody – accepting the police claim that he was not cooperating and that he needed to be taken to Bangalore for the recovery of his computer. Zubair’s arrest has triggered widespread anger among journalists.
Around 300 protesters gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi yesterday to demand the release of Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officers RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, who have been bizarrely accused of “criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Ajay Maken joined the protest. The FIR against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt was registered on Saturday, after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit the SIT gave to Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, and others in the 2002 riots cases. There have been protests in Goa and Mumbai. Freedom fighter GG Parikh, 93, also came out in Mumbai in her support.
A college principal in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, resigned after a barrage of criticism about her written instructions to students last week to join the ruling BJP. Institutes of the Bhavnagar Stree Kelavani Mandal Trust focus are not political, said Dhiren Vaishnav, director of Bhavnagar’s Smt NC Gandhi BV Gandhi Mahila Arts Commerce College. But in a notice to students on June 24, principal in-charge Rajanbala Gohil had asked students to register as page pramukhs (in charge of electoral roll pages at booth level) of the BJP the next day.
Amid news of fuel shortages in the country and unrest in the neighbourhood, globalpetrolprices.com shows that petrol is costlier in India than in seven of its nine neighbours. Only China (Rs 116 per litre) and Nepal (Rs 124 per litre) are ahead. Myanmar, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives have lower prices, as does Sri Lanka, though chronic shortages mean motorists have to wait in long lines to buy any.
The political crisis in Maharashtra rages on. The Supreme Court has extended the deadline till July 12 for Eknath Shinde’s dissident Shiv Sena MLA, now holed up in a Guwahati hotel, to show cause why they shouldn’t be disqualified. Today, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut will appear before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged money laundering case. Raut received his summons yesterday, and said he would not run away to Guwahati.
Assam is suffering its worst floods in years. Reuters reports that whenever the rain lets up, staff at the waterlogged Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in the Barak valley seize the chance to administer chemotherapy to patients on the road outside. The situation is “so dire that its administrators have requested life jackets and an inflatable raft to transport patients and staff, along with other essential items needed to keep the facility running.”
To defend price points as raw material costs rise, several FMCG companies in India are downsizing product packets. This is “shrinkflation” ― inflation disguised by packaging. India’s wholesale inflation was at a 30-year high last month. Hindustan Unilever put its net material inflation in the March quarter at 4.5 times that in the June quarter of 2020.
The rupee again fell to another all-time low of 78.57 to the dollar in early trade.
Amid severe trust deficit between the Centre and states, the GST Council is meeting today. This is the first meeting in the current calendar year, and will address demands of states to extend compensations for revenue losses.
Martin Wolf of the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, who led the global Environmental Performance Index 2022 report that placed India at the bottom of the 180 countries, has robustly defended its findings against the criticism of the Indian government: “Our team has carefully reviewed the ministry’s rebuttal to our analyses and rankings. The ministry would prefer (that) analyses like the EPI rank countries on their policy intentions rather than on the current state of environmental conditions.”
Two Army men were shot dead by a colleague at the 15th Guard Army Complex at Mirthal near Pathankot. Sepoy Lokesh Kumar (22) of Jharkhand shot dead Gauri Shankar of West Bengal and Suryakant of Maharashtra with an INSAS rifle, the standard infantry weapon.
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Following a backlash over the revision of school textbooks, the Karnataka government yesterday issued a correction order listing at least eight errors that will be rectified. The government has also decided to retain some lessons and portions from textbooks that were designed by the previous Baraguru Ramachandrappa committee. Most of what they now term as “errors” stem from objections and allegations raised by people and organisations about Dr BR Ambedkar, Kuvempu, Basavanna and others.
Following multiple partial or complete demolitions of non-Hindu heritage buildings in Patna, Nitish Kumar has “turned into a true heir” of UP’s ‘Bulldozer Baba’, finds Newsclick.
The emergence of Umran Malik has put the spotlight on Kashmir's fast bowlers. Are there more like him? The answer seems to be a resounding yes.
Shah Rukh Khan is back with a bang. He recently released the poster of his upcoming film Pathaan but also gave his first stage performance in many years, this Sunday. The actor danced on stage at Mumbai Police’s annual cultural extravaganza, Umang.
Business tycoon Pallonji Mistry (93), who headed the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, passed away late last night. He was the biggest individual shareholder in the Tata Group.
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