Spooked By Pension Row, Union Government Bans Employees From Protesting and Striking; Far Right Extremism: The Perfect Storm
UN Special Rapporteur seeks release of Kashmir journalist, Rahul Gandhi’s right to speak under siege, unmarried women denied transvaginal ultrasounds, Akalis oppose crackdown on Amritpal
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Snapshot of the day
March 22, 2022
Thousands of posters with a political call against PM Narendra Modi, put up in parts of Delhi, have invited a police crackdown in which over a 100 FIRs have been registered and four people arrested. Two of them own a printing press. In a massive operation on Tuesday, the Delhi Police, which is directly under Union Home Minister Amit Shah, took down nearly 2,000 posters. Most had the slogan “Modi hatao, desh bachao (Remove Modi, save the country)”. Police said that the arrests were made for defacing public property and under a law that requires posters to bear the name of the printing press. The BJP regularly ‘defaces’ public property in New Delhi by putting up posters but one cannot recall the last time that has led to arrests.
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Mary Lawlor has said: “I’m deeply concerned about Kashmiri human rights defender and journalist Irfan Meraj. He was called to come to the NIA office in Srinagar and arrested in a 2020 case, in which he is accused of serious offences. I call for his immediate release.” Amnesty International also seeks his release. The Press Club of India has opposed the “imposing of UAPA on mediapersons” and the “misuse of this draconian law by NIA in randomly arresting Irfan Meraj.”
On Sunday, the London Observer reported that bulldozer politics in J&K, the “push to reclaim state land, belies the Indian government’s claims of peace” in Kashmir.
Kannada actor Chetan Kumar alias Chetan Ahimsa was arrested yesterday for his “controversial” tweet in which he said Hindutva “was based on lies”. The Dalit actor and activist also listed out as “examples of lies” Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar’s statements, the claim that the Babri Masjid site is the birthplace of Rama, and the narrative that Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda killed Tipu Sultan. The actor was arrested in February last year for tweeting about a judge who was hearing a case concerning hijabs in government schools.
The BJP is the most important political party in the world says Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal, because it “combines market economics, traditionalist values and populist rhetoric” and “for the foreseeable future … will be calling the shots in a country without whose help American efforts to balance rising Chinese power are likely to fall short.” Concerns about democracy, press freedom and minority rights “aren’t wholly misplaced” he claims, but “there are other stories as well”. Such as, believe it or not, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat “disavow[ing] the idea that religious minorities should suffer discrimination or loss of civil rights” in his conversation with the visiting American columnist, and Yogi Adityanath speaking “about bringing investment and development to his state”. We don’t know if Adityanath said this before or after he told Mead he had a monument in Agra to sell.
The Akali Dal, an ally of the BJP in Punjab till it broke ranks on Modi’s farm reform laws, has denounced the police crackdown against pro-Khalistan activist Amritpal Singh and his supporters.
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The White House has refused to confirm an exclusive story in the US News and World Report that the US provided crucial real-time intelligence to the Indian military late last year that helped it repel Chinese incursions in the Himalayas. Unprecedented intelligence-sharing with the US military caught China’s People’s Liberation Army off-guard and enraged Beijing. It may have forced the Chinese Communist Party to reconsider its approach to land grabs along its borders, the report said. Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9 and the face-off resulted in “minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides”. John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House, refused to confirm it yesterday.
Across the nation, unmarried women are denied transvaginal ultrasounds, which provide clearer imaging of the pelvis, Newslaundry reports. Under Article 21 of the Constitution, denying medical treatment is a violation of the right to life, but this bizarre deference to virginity continues.
Several Indian diaspora groups held a ‘We stand by the High Commission of India’ demonstration outside India House in London yesterday, following vandalism by Khalistan extremists. Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami hosted a diaspora briefing and addressed the concerns of community leaders. In Delhi, the Modi government has ‘retaliated’ against Britain by withdrawing police protection from British diplomatic buildings.
Trouble continues elsewhere. An event in British Columbia scheduled to be attended by the Indian envoy to Canada had to be cancelled after a violent protest by Khalistan supporters, Global News, the news and current affairs division of the Canadian Global Television Network, reported.
The Credit Suisse crisis will change the way well-off Indians see international wealth managers, a firm backed by Liechtenstein’s royal family told Bloomberg yesterday. Rajesh Cheruvu, chief investment officer and managing director at LGT Wealth India Private Ltd, said in the past 15 years, many multinational financial institutions have come and gone from Indian markets, and this latest incident is making wealthy investors nervous.
There is disturbing news from Gujarat. In two incidents, migrant workers, one from Nepal and another from Chhattisgarh, were lynched by locals, who “mistook them for thieves.” They were brutally thrashed by frenzied mobs.
Hours after the Home Ministry approved the Delhi government’s budget, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called PM Narendra Modi his “elder brother” and said he wants to work with the Centre. Kejriwal said he is “tired of fighting”.
Embarrassed after Interpol revoked the Red Corner notice against fugitive diamond-wallah Mehul Choksi, the CBI has asked the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files for its restoration. Choksi is wanted for a Rs 13,000 crore fraud involving Punjab National Bank, and Interpol had moved against him in 2018 at the request of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library has launched an ambitious project to “digitise the research material in its possession.” The goal is to ensure the digital conversion of the entire India House Collection of the Library, consisting of 40,000 books, reports, periodicals (of about 70,00,000 pages), 55,00,000 pages of archival documents, and 30,000 microfilms and 57,000 microfiches (consisting of approximately 2.5 crore images).
At the ICC’s quarterly meetings last weekend in Dubai, the BCCI is learnt to have assured the global body that visas for the Pakistan contingent to participate in the cricket World Cup will be cleared by the Indian government. The BCCI is headed by Jay Shah, whose daddy, Amit Shah, heads the Union Home Ministry which takes all decisions on visas for Pakistanis.
Actor Ranveer Singh emerged as the most valued celebrity of 2022 with a brand value of $181.7 million, ending cricketer Virat Kohli’s reign of five years in the top spot, according to Kroll’s latest Celebrity Brand Valuation Report. Kohli secured the second rank with a brand value of $176.9 million, and Akshay Kumar held steady in third position with a brand value of $153.6 million. Alia Bhatt retained the fourth spot and the title of the most valued female celebrity with a valuation of $102.9 million. Deepika Padukone rejoined the league of the top five most valued celebs, with a brand valuation of $82.9 million.
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