Arnab Goswami | YouTube screengrab
Arnab Goswami | YouTube screengrab
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Prime Time

Arnab Goswami may have been the talk of Twitter after comedian Kunal Kamra took him to task him on his ‘journalism’ during an Indigo flight, but he steered clear of the issue on his shows. Instead, he interviewed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Adityanath asserted that UP was a safe state for all, and accused anti-CAA protestors and “rioters” for putting women and children at the forefront, which resulted in the 8-year-old’s death in a stampede.

Ravish Kumar, on his show ‘Prime Time’ was all sympathy for Sharjeel Imam’s mother after she read out a statement saying her son was innocent (NDTV India). The JNU student was recently arrested in Bihar on charges of sedition after he made a controversial speech at the Aligarh Muslim University.

In a rather unconventional interview, Aaj Tak anchor Chitra Tripathi donned a leather jacket and took Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia for a ride on her bullet motorbike. They travelled through Delhi to see how many promises the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had kept.

Times Now: In an ‘explosive new twist’, anchor Navika Kumar reported that a man was found with a gun at the Shaheen Bagh protest site. Kumar reminded viewers that this came at “the back of an EC notice to BJP leader Anurag Thakur”. Thakur was caught on video inciting hate-mongering slogans at an election rally.

Kumar seemed most concerned for the safety of the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, “The same goli maaro brigade has reached Shaheen Bagh”. However, in a dramatic twist of her own, Navika suddenly boosted the audio for the viewers to listen in to the paranoia in Shaheen Bagh when the gunman was found: “Who is responsible for ‘gun-goli’ politics?” she asked.

By the way, fact-checking website Alt News said Times Now misreported that lawyers Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaisingh were accused of taking money from the Muslim organisation Popular Front of India (PFI) for protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The lawyers received money from the outfit in 2018 in an unrelated case.

CNN News-18: The channel decided to fact check a video by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir of a dilapidated school that he claimed showed AAP had lied about the development of government schools. A CNN News reporter visited the school shown in the video.

“Gambhir’s video fails to focus on the notice posted on the board which says that the school has been shifted to another location”, the reporter said.

ABP News: On ‘Shikhar Sammelan’, there was a face-off between BJP’s Sambit Patra and AAP’s Sanjay Singh over the arrest of Sharjeel Imam.

Patra gleefully reminded the audience about Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s challenge to Home Minister Amit Shah to arrest Imam within 24 hours. “Look, it’s done,” he said. He then recited a few verses of a poem he wrote on Imam —

“Imam ka hukum hain, chale desh tode, 

 Ye majme ye naare, siyasat ke manjar, 

Apno ke khaate mein apno ke khanjar 

Yeh waqt na aayega, 

Mauka na chhode

Imam ha hukum hain

Chalo desh tode….”

Sanjay Singh pointed out that the BJP had no answers to questions about how they would subsidise electricity, water, travel for women or education in Delhi, and only had one answer to everything — Shaheen Bagh.

Front Page

In an interesting turn of events, the Supreme Court of India granted bail to 14 convicts sentenced to life in a Gujarat riots case. The news features on the front pages of all mainstream papers Wednesday. It is the lead in The Hindu and The Times of India.

Hindustan Times leads with BJP MP Parvesh Verma’s derogatory and threatening comments about those protesting at Shaheen Bagh, while The Indian Express has an exclusive on the “Plan to cut Army from internal security duties in N-E: Chief”.

TOI belatedly reports on US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to India in February. The news was broken by HT last week and was followed up by Hindu Monday.  HT is also the only one that Prime Minister Modi is likely to visit Bangladesh in March.

SC on Gujarat riots convicts: TOI reports that “the court…ordered them (the convicts) to be shifted outside Gujarat, asked them to do spiritual and social work and directed the legal services authority to find them work to earn a livelihood.” Hindu notes in  “14 sentenced to life in Gujarat riots case granted interim bail”, the chronological sequence of events of 2002 in “A Trail of Death and Destruction”. Oddly, none of the papers mention what “spiritual work” actually entails.

BJP MP on Shaheen Bagh: Lead in HT, “BJP MP in hate row as pitch turns communal”, the report highlights how “Delhi’s election took a sharply divisive turn” when MP Parvesh Verma said that Shaheen Bagh protesters will “enter homes…rape…and kill”. No other paper reports the story on their front page.

While BJP leaders are obsessed with Shaheen Bagh, Prime Minister Modi is training his guns on Pakistan. HT reports that at an NCC event, Modi said, “India needs 7-10 days to defeat Pak in war”.

Army Chief on NE: In an exclusive interaction with Army chief M.M. Narravane, Express notes that the army “plans to draw down all its regular forces deployed in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and internal security duties from the North-East in the next 18-24 months”. The report also quotes Narravane as saying, “LoC incidents have increased as (Pak) under pressure, they have lost Kashmir”.

Others: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the “NPR (National Population Register) in new format can create confusion”, writes Hindu. Reiterating that the state will not implement NPR, it adds that Kumar said, “Centre should continue to retain the old format, in use since 2011”.

Express reports an important development to ease abortion laws in the country, “Draft Bill proposes raising abortion upper limit to 24 weeks.” The bill also proposes that the provision of contraceptive failure to end a pregnancy should also cover unmarried women.

Opinion

The Times of IndiaThe tripartite agreement between the central government, Assam government and the Bodo representatives is a welcome move, writes TOI. In “New Bodo accord”, it notes that the accord aims to end the 34-year long Bodo movement in Assam that killed approximately 4,000 people.

While the provisions of the accord look positive, majority of Bodo areas have non-Bodos and not bringing them onboard could repeat ethnic tensions, it predicts. The accord could end one of the longest running Northeast insurgency if it stands true to its promises, argues TOI. It suggests that other insurgency movements also need a negotiated settlement including the Naga peace talks. It also recommends avoiding moves like the CAA, which could light new fire in the Northeast.

Hindustan TimesIn “Crackdown on hate speech”, HT calls Union Minister of State and BJP MP Anurag Thakur’s controversial remarks during a Delhi election campaign rally, “deeply disturbing” and “plainly undemocratic”.

The slogan ‘desh ke gaddaro ko…. goli maro saalon ko’ (shoot the traitors) has been used for anti CAA protestors. HT notes that the slogan is an open incitement to violence and encourages vigilantism. For any minister to chant such slogans is “outright unconstitutional”. It appreciates the Election Commission’s notice to Thakur and suggests that the BJP must act too.

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