Threat of Haryana Communal Violence Prompts SC to Direct State Government; Muslim Life in India has become Dangerously Uncertain
SC hearing Art 370, Opposition says govt smearing ousted data man, Bihar caste survey upheld, Gujarat leads in custodial leads, abrupt rice export ban irresponsible, another cheetah dead in Kuno
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia and Tanweer Alam | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
Snapshot of the day
August 2, 2023
A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court today began to hear a batch of over 20 petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The court is hearing the matter after five years.
Unusually, CJI DY Chandrachud interrupted the hearing to take cognisance of a petition seeking the court’s intervention to contain the threat of communal violence in Haryana, where at least five persons have been killed in two days of violence in Nuh and Gurgaon. The violence was triggered by an aggressive procession taken out by Hindutva organisations with armed participants, preceded by inflammatory speeches. The VHP has responded by announcing a bunch of rallies across the national capital region and the apprehension is that these will further fuel tension and violence. A special bench set up by the CJI heard the petition – which wanted the rallied banned – and directed the Haryana government to take steps to prevent hate speech and ensure a large police presence.
Former J&K governor Satyapal Malik says that the communal clashes in Haryana were not spontaneous, and that the region had not seen communal violence since Partition. He warns of much more violence before the general election: “The whole country will burn like Manipur if these people are not contained.” A mosque was vandalised in Sohna hours after the police organised a peace march, an indication of the fragility of the situation. Two members of the Haryana ruling coalition – Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, who is with the BJP, and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala of the Jannayak Janata Party, an alliance partner – have broken ranks with the state government’s official narrative by faulting the Hindutva organisations for their role in stoking the violence.
In response to a report in The Wire that the head of the International Institute of Population Sciences, KS James, was removed because the government was unhappy over National Family Health Survey data contradicting official claims, ‘health ministry sources’ have now put out that he was suspended because 11 of 35 allegations made against him have been proved. Among the charges: attending a seminar in China and “leaking research papers to foreign entities”. The Congress says that James is being smeared for revealing unpleasant truths.
To diversify out of China, Tesla is exploring the possibility of establishing a plant in India to build a $24,000 model for export. The stumbling block is that unlike China, India does not have a network of component suppliers, and Chinese suppliers may not get clearance to set up shop in India because of the Ladakh effect. Reuters reports that the Indian authorities have suggested the workaround that Apple is following ― find a local partner for its plant first, and then look to component manufacturers. Meanwhile, Apple supplier Foxconn plans to invest $500 million in two component factories in India.
In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has for the first time, categorically stated that it has no information on any notification issued by the Centre under Article 355 of the Constitution between January 2023 and June 13, 2023. The provision requires the Union to protect every state against external attack and internal strife. This is significant because the Supreme Court has said that the state machinery in Manipur has “completely failed” and there is no law and order there, and because official sources had spoken of Article 355 being invoked in the first week of May itself when new officers were assigned to head the security apparatus there.
The no-trust-debate in the Lok Sabha will be held August 8 and the Prime Minister will reply on August 10. At stake: accusations that his government has allowed the Manipur violence to continue and not taken steps to stop it. The government is expected to win the vote handily but the Opposition went down this route in order to force Modi to address parliament, something he has avoided doing so far.
Growing international research indicates a potential link between Sars-CoV-2 and heart disease, with studies highlighting risks following recovery from Covid-19. But many Indian doctors are unconvinced, and attribute rising morbidity and mortality to lifestyle issues which were visible even before the pandemic. Western studies which found heightened post-Covid heart disease have not looked at the South Asian population. Scroll.in has looked at partial Health Ministry data and found trends like those found in Italy and Scotland, but the integrity of the data is in question, and patients who are reporting symptoms find it frustrating not to know for sure.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on 20 individuals and 29 firms in the Maldives, for raising funds for terror, recruiting people to war zones and the murder of a journalist.
A rights group says that Indian authorities have been beating Rohingya refugees, denying them due process and indefinitely detaining them or sending them back to the killing fields. “Many BJP politicians over the years have stirred up anti-Rohingya sentiment, using discriminatory language and policy,” its official said.
In Kashmir, the government is now seeking to revoke the passports of reporters on ‘security’ grounds though none has been charged with any offence.
Ashok Gulati and Raya Das tell the BBC that India’s abrupt ban of non-basmati rice exports does not befit its role of a “responsible leader of the Global South in [the] G-20”. That’s because Indian rice makes up the bulk of over 42 countries’ rice imports, and this includes many African nations. The resulting spike in prices will put more inflationary strains on already stressed economies.
Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law’s firm Infosys secured a billion-dollar deal with BP just before the UK Prime Minister opened new licences for North Sea oil and gas extraction. It has since come to light that the IT giant has been involved in £172 million worth of public sector contracts in the UK, and even the “most innocent bystanders would admit that the current drive to increase oil and gas exploration in the North Sea is more than convenient.” Furthermore, Infosys has closed its biggest deal ever with Shell, whose CEO Wael Sawan recently joined Sunak’s business council, raising concerns over conflict of interest. Sunak has maintained that the business dealings of his wife’s family are not of public interest.
Workers culled at Byju’s are being shunned by recruiters, who seem to fear some miasmatic contagion, says The Ken.
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