Varanasi Provocateurs Prevail on Gyanvapi Mosque 'Survey'; Now, Violent Rhetoric at Bengaluru Hindutva Meet
Cryptotrader faces RBI 'pressure', VPN crackdown betrays mass surveillance project, sedition order unambiguously against S. 124A, measles cases double and Sherpa woman climbs Everest for 10th time
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Snapshot of the day
May 12, 2022
This morning Lakpa Sherpa, 48, became the first woman to climb Mount Everest 10 times. Since she doesn’t have much competition, she had to be content with breaking her own record of nine summit ascents. Denied formal education because she had to take up the trade of the Sherpas, she climbs to inspire other women. Another Sherpa, Kami Rita, scaled the summit of Everest for the 26th time last Saturday. He broke the record for the most climbs.
Now, to summitry that’s much less inspiring: the Ministry of External Affairs is doing its best to shield Hindutva from being categorised as an exclusivist, discriminatory and supremacist ideology. The gloves of cultural specificity were attempted to be thrust upon it in a recent statement by Meenakshi Lekhi at the High-Level International Conference on Human Rights, Civil Society and Counter-Terrorism: “We need to distinguish between the political ideologies which are part of a pluralistic democratic polity, as against radical ideologies which subscribe to terrorism. To paint them with the same brush is inaccurate and counterproductive.” (Read about a less distinguished right wing gathering in Bengaluru below).
As the Supreme Court hit pause on the colonial era sedition law yesterday, one of the petitioners, Major General Sudhir Vombatkere (retired), told NDTV that he turned to the court because the Constitution that he swore to protect was being challenged.
The split verdict on marital rape by the Delhi High Court provides an excellent window onto both sides of the division. But the order by the judge who thinks the exception favouring men in marriage should stay made some extraordinary points ― the most startling being that but for marital rape being the exception to rape, several lawyers would not have come into the world. Quite a slap on the face of marriage as an institution. Unwittingly delivered, we are sure.
In Varanasi, a local court is pressing ahead with a survey (including videography) of the Gyanvapi mosque on the plea of five Hindu women who want to pray at what they say is a Hindu shrine on its premises. This, even though the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, bars the jurisdiction of courts and prohibits the conversion of any place of worship – as it existed on August 15, 1947 – from one religion to another. Conversion is defined by the Act to include “alteration or change of whatever nature”.
However, a related push by a BJP office holder to ‘reclaim’ the Taj Mahal as a ‘Hindu’ shrine was rebuffed by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday. “The issues lie outside court and … should be left with the historians,” it ruled, dismissing the petition filed.
“Do not call such girls over here,” Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama leader MT Abdulla Musaliyar was heard saying in anger when a Class X student came on stage to receive an award organised by his organisation in Mallapuram, Kerala. His misogyny drew an angry riposte from an activist of the Muslim Students Federation. “A community’s leadership should keep such Muslim girls close to the society and should be encouraging them. We should be able to use their talents and skills for the betterment of our community and society. Removing them from stages and insulting them will have far-reaching consequences in society,” wrote Fathima Thahiliya.
Russian importers are connecting with small Indian businesses to secure fresh produce, auto parts, medical devices and other key goods that are scarce due to international sanctions, reports Reuters. Private players in Russia have met with suppliers in India and are opening specialised bank accounts at home for rouble-rupee transactions, with the blessings of the two governments. As sanctions bite, Russian businesses need imports and global companies want to avoid them, for fear of contagion. For now, small is beautiful.
The Union is likely to reduce the gap between the second dose and booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine for persons travelling abroad to a minimum of 90 days after the second dose. An official announcement from the Union Health Ministry is awaited. NTAGI had recommended that people travelling overseas can take the ‘booster’ before the mandatory nine-month gap.
Muslim residents of Khambhat in Gujarat’s Anand district have filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court stating that they are victims of the communal violence which took place during Ram Navami on April 10. “Police has shown its religious bias and that police, directly and indirectly, encouraged the mob,” it says, and seeks the court's intervention “to initiate departmental, civil and criminal action against erring officers responsible for non-transparent, unfair, discriminatory treatment in connection with both the FIRs.” The petitioners demand the immediate arrest of those accused in the second FIR, leaders of the Ram Navami procession. They stated that “despite the availability of visual media, the investigation is not adequately and satisfactorily being carried out.”
The Union has again made its hostility towards the Tablighi Jamaat evident while defending its orders blacklisting some citizens of 35 countries from travelling to India for 10 years for alleged involvement in its activities. The Modi government has told the Supreme Court that entry into any sovereign country can never be an enforceable fundamental right. The bench headed by Justice Khanwilkar was unwilling to rule on this question but ordered the government to consider future visa applications by the backlisted individuals without being influenced by its earlier blacklisting order,
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A STOPKILLINGUS, #Action2022 campaign has been launched by citizens including Bezwada Wilson, who reveals that in the 75th year of independence, 57 citizens have died in sewers and septic tanks. A 75-day campaign has been launched.
Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive of Nasdaq-listed cryptotrader Coinbase, has said that the company disabled the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) from its platform because of “informal pressure” from the RBI. Armstrong also said that the RBI and the Indian government have been exerting soft pressure to disable some of these payment systems. Armstrong also said that this stance of the RBI is against the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Two weeks ago, the Delhi High Court passed an interim order in an important battle that has implications for how many companies bid for ad slots on Google search. The question was whether using a competitor’s trademark in keywords for Google Ads to advertise your own brand is an infringement of trademark law. In the interim order made public earlier this week, the court has unequivocally said it is, reports The Morning Context. The case was filed by MakeMyTrip against Amsterdam-based rival Booking.com and others, including Google.
Restofworld.org writes that India’s VPN crackdown demonstrates a growing focus on mass surveillance.
Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma on May 5 claimed that there was no shortage of coal across the country. FactChecker referred to official data and records to assess its validity and found that 40 of the 109 “critical” power plants (36.7%) have less than two days’ coal stock, and 34 plants have 2-4 days’ coal for generation.
In a sudden move, UP Police chief Mukul Goel has been removed, allegedly for disregarding government duties and not taking enough interest in departmental work. Appointed Director-General of UP Police in June 2021, he will now be DG, Citizen Security. This follows the resignation of the DGP of another BJP-ruled state, Karnataka.
The Gujarat High Court recently directed a woman who deserted her husband under the influence of her family because he is of a different sub-caste to pay him Rs 10,000 as compensation. A court in Halol in Panchmahal district yesterday sentenced BJP MLA Kesarisinh Solanki and 25 others to two years rigorous imprisonment in a gambling case. In July 2021, a police team had raided a resort located under Pavagadh police station from where 26 were arrested including seven women, four of them from Nepal.
India’s measles cases have doubled in 2022. Over 2 crore vaccinations were skipped last year.
“The cricket fraternity is a family,” says Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan on playing with and learning from Cheteshwar Pujara, his teammate at Sussex. “It doesn’t matter if someone comes from India, Pakistan, South Africa or the West Indies… The fight stays restricted to what happens on the field.”
Reuters reports that rescuers in Gujarat are picking up dozens of exhausted and dehydrated birds every day as the heatwave dries out water sources in Ahmedabad.
Violent rhetoric at Bengaluru Hindutva meet
Karnataka, ruled by the BJP, whose capital Bengaluru is the Silicon Valley of India, has seen a spurt in Hindutva rallies and protests in the last few years. While several districts ― Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shimoga ― have always been
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