The unprecedented protest by thousands of Delhi Police personnel Tuesday is the lead story on the front pages Wednesday. The Indian Express and The Hindu keep it simple— “Capital’s police pour out in protest” (Express) and “Delhi police stage protest after attacks on colleagues (Hindu). The Times of India has chosen a long, dramatic headline with a pun, “’Protect the protectors’: Police personnel besiege HQ, alleging cop-out by seniors” while the Hindustan Times has focused on the internal unrest, “Unrest in the ranks”.
The Telegraph notes Home Minister Amit Shah’s silence o with the interesting headline, “Anyone home, HM?” The Delhi Police falls under the union home ministry.
There is little else common to the front pages but TOI and HT do carry pollution reports. The Pegasus-WhatsApp hacking story moves out of the front page to the editorial section.
Delhi Police: “Thousands of Delhi Police personnel… laid siege to the force’s headquarters for 11 hours and staged a virtual revolt, sparked by two attacks on colleagues,” writes The Hindu. Express says the police were protesting the “recent attacks against policemen by lawyers following a parking row last week”. TOI explained their demands: “These men and women – ranging from constables to inspectors – had launched an agitation for the entire force to reclaim their dignity and demand a safe environment.”
HT in accompanying report, compares the protests to another clash between lawyers and police personnel that occurred in 1988, following the arrest of a lawyer from the women’s washroom at St. Stephen’s College. Kiran Bedi, the current Puducherry governor, was a deputy commissioner of police (DCP) at the time.
Pollution: HT reports that while “Delhi takes a breath”, the plume of smoke that was “choking” the city has moved onto the Gangetic plain. The air pollution level in Kanpur, Lucknow and Patna was at ‘severe’ Tuesday. TOI, on its flap, notes that despite the Supreme Court’s warning, “farm fires raged on in Punjab on Tuesday, registering the second-highest count of the season”.
ISRO security breach: In an exclusive, Express reports that “not just the Kudankulum plant of the Nuclear Power Corporation Limited, the Indian Space Research Organisation, too, was alerted of a possible breach by suspected malware”. In its Explained box, it writes that the malware was identified as Dtrack, which “can give the ‘threat actor’ complete control over all infected devices.
Others: “At least one million devotees are likely to descend on Ayodhya” for Kartik Purnima, writes HT. It adds that this is significant because the “Supreme Court is expected to deliver its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute, sparking security concerns” any day now.
TOI reports that a man from Tamil Nadu, Jabin Charles, seeking anticipatory bail had to hand in an undertaking that he will not use social media for a year, to the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. Charles had allegedly morphed a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the underside of its flap, TOI carries a story on the families of the six rights activists who were detained last year in the Elgar Parishad case for suspected Maoist links.
The Indian Express: The “unprecedented and shameful” face-off between lawyers and the police in New Delhi undermines the “entire justice system”, writes the Express. After a violent clash in New Delhi’s Tis Hazari Saturday, where both lawyers and policemen were injured, reports emerged of lawyers having assaulted litigants, policemen, journalists and ordinary citizens.
Lawyers have an “ethical duty” to maintain basic standards of “legality and public decency”, it writes, adding that in 2016, lawyers attacked journalists and JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar during his sedition hearing — one of many instances where lawyers have “openly flouted the law”.
India’s criminal justice system is an “intimidating beast” and lawyers and the police have a duty to be available and accessible for ordinary citizens, it writes. But those meant to uphold the law and ensure order are behaving in the “most crass manner possible” over something as petty as a parking spot”, it states. All those who indulged in violence, “whether donning khaki or a black coat”, “must be brought to book”, it adds.
Hindustan Times: After seven years and nearly 10 rounds of negotiations, India has finally decided against joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), writes HT. New Delhi has claimed potential “disadvantages” to its services and agrarian sectors, and has cited the fear of cheap imports from China. Some of India’s concerns are “justifiable”, writes HT but adds that by not signing the deal, New Delhi has “missed the opportunity” to be part of global supply chains — a difficult “trade-off”.
However, considering India’s economic slowdown, entry into the RCEP would have caused “significant pain”, with more industrial distress and job losses, writes HT. It adds that now bilateral trade deals should become more important and India should close a deal with the United States, and explore deals with countries such Australia.
Prime Time was overwhelmed by the massive police protests that shook Delhi, with News18 and India Today running similar banners that read #PoliceVsLawyers, and ‘Protectors needs protection too’. Hindi channels, too, had their hands full with the protest.
Aaj Tak: On the day-long strike by police officers, anchor Rohit Sardana asked if this is a ‘loktantra or thoktantra?’
BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia, being a lawyer himself, favoured the advocates and asked if it was right on the police’s part to “barge into a court complex and shoot “.
Lawyer Vishnu Jain targeted the media. “When Robert Vadra pushed a news agency’s mic away, why did you run the news for two days? Because the journalist was from your professional community.”
Former joint commissioner of the Delhi Police, Maxwell Pereira, condemned the clashes but said the judiciary was “solely responsible for it”.
“There is enough electronic evidence. Every single person who violates the law needs to be taken into cognizance,” Pereira said.
Zee News: Zee ran the banner #LawVsOrder and called the whole incident ‘nyay ke maharathiyon ki Mahabharat (the Mahabharat between those who ensure justice)’.
BJP’s Sambit Patra was unusually diplomatic, saying that the judiciary, executive and legislature are an important part of democracy and the delicate balance between the three needs to be “maintained”. He urged that the matter be dealt “with more maturity”.
Ved Prakash from the Delhi Bar Council dismissed the protests. “The policemen are protesting against the transfer and suspension of some of their colleagues. How can they protect against a judicial order?” he asked.
Times Now: Padmaja Joshi on the NewsHour debated #FarmFiresChokeDelhi.
On the debate, Kanak Gupta, a member of the organisation Right to Breathe, said, “The visibility has improved but the air quality is still very bad… We have a very simple ask from all the governments… We want an AQI of 60.”
Political analyst Dushyant Naagar called for a ban on stubble burning.
NDTV: Sanket Upadhyay’s 10 pm debate also focused on the police protests. The debate was conducted live at the Delhi Police headquarters in ITO, instead of a studio.
On the video of lawyers beating up a policeman, Supreme Court advocate Ashwani Dubey said, “The video that you are showing and displaying is half the video… The High Court has already ordered a judicial enquiry, then why is the arrest not being made?”
The debate also had Shivani, whose mother is in the Delhi Police. She said she turned up to show solidarity. “I felt that if I don’t stand up for Delhi Police now then I would feel extremely small and would not be able to look my mother in the eyes properly,” she said. “I say this because whenever there is a problem, the police is ready 24 hours to find a solution. Now when they are being wronged, we need to stand by them.”
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