Sanatan Sanstha Named In Lankesh Murder Case Is Spiritual Body, Says Bombay HC; What Rahul Needs Now is an Opposition Jodo Yatra
Rajasthan pioneers Right to Health Act, US heat on Modi after Rahul’s disqualification, midair collision over Nepal averted, former Army chief speaks of routine clashes on LAC, boxing brings in golds
A newsletter from The Wire | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and Sushant Singh | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
March 27, 2023
To the alarm of their families, after eight months of solitary confinement in Doha, eight Indian naval veterans are likely to be charged individually under Qatari law. They have been denied bail eight times. The Ministry of External Affairs has been very quiet on this issue, though it makes noises on other matters. The New Indian Express says the families are “panic-stricken”.
The Modi government’s diplomatic priorities lie elsewhere. After removing the security barricades at the UK High Commission in Delhi, the government plans to build a public toilet near the High Commissioner’s residence, raising more stink in India-UK ties. Sending income tax surveyors to raid the High Commission, as it did with the BBC Delhi office, is not an option due to diplomatic immunities.
A Pakistani delegation of officers from the three armed forces attended a working group meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in New Delhi, the Pakistan Foreign Office confirmed on Friday, strengthening the possibility that Pakistan’s defence minister may visit next month. India has invited the Pakistani defence and foreign ministers for the SCO meetings scheduled in April and May, at Delhi and Goa.
Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt, one of the 11 men who gangraped Bilkis Bano during the 2002 Gujarat riots, and were released prematurely, posed for pictures and shared the stage with a BJP MP and an MLA at a government programme in Gujarat. Dahod MP Jasvant Sinh Bhabhor and Limkheda MLA Sailesh Bhabhor were on stage with the rapist in Karmadi Village of Dahod district on Saturday.
A report by the Citizens and Lawyers Collective, led by senior advocate CU Singh, has found “distinct” and “eerie” patterns in sharp spikes of communal violence during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in April 2022, in which Muslim places of worship and residences were pointedly targeted on festival days. They found “commonalities” in how religious events were used to perpetrate communal violence. Their report documents what many commissions and committees have said about riots and communal violence before.
Hitesh Pandya, additional PRO in the Gujarat CM’s Office, resigned on Friday evening after nearly 22 years in office under five chief ministers ― Keshubhai Patel, Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel, Vijay Rupani and Bhupendra Patel. He was asked to resign because his son Amit, 43, a businessman associated with the BJP, has links with “conman” Kiran Patel, who is in custody in J&K for posing as a PMO official. Pandya acknowledged that Amit had visited J&K this month with Kiran Patel “for business purposes”, with his consent. Amit and Jay Sitapara were with Kiran Patel when he was arrested. They have been called for questioning by the J&K Police.
Mehbooba Mufti, PDP president and the last chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, has written a powerful article on ‘The Thugs of Naya Kashmir’. She writes that “while Patel’s conman act has been exposed, the bigger con – of presenting the situation in J&K as normal by creating a parallel and make-believe Kashmir – stands in stark contrast to the actual situation.”
Sanatan Sanstha is not a terrorist organisation or banned under UAPA, but a spiritual organisation imparting education on dharma, spirituality and religion, the Bombay High Court has said, going entirely by the claims the organisation has made about itself on its website. It is a registered charitable trust which aims to impart spiritual knowledge and inculcate religious behaviour, the court said. It did not mention that the organisation has been accused of the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. The bench granted bail to Vijay Lodhi, accused under UAPA of making bombs at his home, and set aside the order of a special court which had rejected his bail plea.
Rajasthan has become the first state in India to introduce a Right to Health Act. This is a landmark legislation, says Scroll, making access to healthcare the legal entitlement of every resident of the state. Under the law, neither government nor private hospitals, nor doctors, can refuse a person seeking emergency treatment.
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The Haryana and Punjab Assemblies last week passed unanimous resolutions against the water cess imposed by Himachal Pradesh on hydropower projects. They have failed to resolve the long-standing issue of sharing the same river water via the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. Last week in the Supreme Court, Haryana said the water came via Punjab, which was not abiding by the court’s order on the construction of the canal. Punjab pleaded that it faces a water scarcity and has none to spare. It said, “There is no point in building canals like the Taj Mahal when there is no water to flow.”
Billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources has close to $2 billion in bonds to settle in 2024 — half of which is due in January. His London company has less debt than Adani but its bonds are low-grade, and he risks losing crucial access to funding. Vedanta must raise cash when highly leveraged Indian conglomerates are under increased scrutiny after Hindenburg Research’s report on Gautam Adani brought Asia’s richest person low. The strength of Agarwal’s political connections could decide his fate, reports Bloomberg.
The Wall Street Journal inspects Gautam Adani’s “elusive” elder brother Vinod Adani, who played an important role in the activities highlighted by the Hindenburg report. “Corporate filings in Mauritius, the Bahamas, Cyprus and other countries, reviewed by the Journal, show that Vinod Adani has been deeply entwined with Adani Group operations for decades,” it reports.
The Indian Army’s ambitious plan to reconstitute its offensive capabilities by forming Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) is again delayed. “Complexities” of raising these self-sustaining formations present difficulties. Raising and ground tests are being carried out since 2019, but there’s been no concrete development despite many announcements.
“Eastern Ladakh is certainly live now. There are two or three areas in Arunachal and Sikkim also, where [the Chinese] keep coming and clashes happen. In North Sikkim also, there is one place where similar kinds of fisticuffs happen, in Tawang area… Yangtse also, these kinds of incidents happen. Rest of Arunachal Pradesh, or RALP as we call it, there also their patrols come but it is so vast that the chances of clashes are low. There are five to six disputed and sensitive areas where such incidents occur,” says former army chief Gen MM Naravane in an interview.
On January 13, Nationalist Congress Party leader PP Mohammed Faizal was sentenced to 10 years in a 2009 case of attempted murder. The prosecution called it a “politically motivated” assault. Faizal, MP from Lakshadweep, was immediately disqualified from the Lok Sabha. Although his conviction was suspended by the Kerala High Court on January 25, he and his party are still fighting to have the disqualification revoked by the Lok Sabha Speaker and are preparing to move the Supreme Court. “The Lok Sabha Speaker disqualified me within a day of the court’s order but is not ready to take a decision after my conviction was suspended,” says Faizal. Another matter: the Speaker has not held the election for deputy speaker for four years because it would go to the Congress party by tradition.
A Karnataka court has directed the police to file a criminal defamation case against IPS officer D Roopa Moudgil, for allegedly posting objectionable pictures and videos of IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri, and for accusing her of unethical practices. The 24th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate issued the order on Friday, based on a private complaint filed by Sindhuri. There was a public spat between the two officers a month ago.
In Moradabad, UP, people gathered at Zakir Khan’s private residence were not allowed to read the namaz. At the urging of the local Bajrang Dal chief, the Moradabad police ordered them to read the namaz in only designated areas.
A rare saras crane has been confiscated from the man who nursed it back to health from injury after the story of their bond made headlines. UP officials moved the protected bird ― featured in a recent BBC video ― to a wildlife sanctuary. The crane is now in a cage. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the bird was forcibly taken away from its ‘friend’ because he visited the farmer and his supporter, Arif Khan Gurjar.
And in a hospital, the gods are propitiated at the expense of the oxygen supply.