New Delhi: Rioters set ablaze a shop during clashes between those against and those supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in at Gokalpuri in north east Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 | PTI
Rioters set ablaze a shop during clashes between those against and those supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in northeast Delhi's Gokulpuri, on 25 February | Photo: PTI
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As parts of Delhi were on fire for the third consecutive day and the death toll rose to 18, The Times of India and Hindustan Times chose to lead with banner headlines on the Modi-Trump love fest, confining the violence in Delhi to their flap pages. The Indian Express and The Telegraph, on the other hand, boldly reported on the violence targeting Muslims.

The Times of India leads with Trump’s parting statement, ‘Don’t want to discuss CAA…’ 

“…Trump refused to get drawn into a discussion on CAA as he wrapped up a high octane…visit”, notes TOI. The rest of the report highlights the joint India-US statement which “unequivocally reflected India’s concerns…” on Pakistan’s role in terrorist attacks. 

More interesting is the report, ‘Bihar becomes first NDA state to adopt anti-NRC resolution’. According to the report, “The resolution, virtually a copy of CM Nitish Kumar’s response to the Centre’s letter seeking feedback on NPR, also states “the National Register of Citizens is not needed in Bihar”. 

While coronavirus may be the flu of the season, ‘Five SC judges catch H1N1…’ along with “thousands of practising lawyers….” This postponed hearings including one on the “ambit and scope of the right to religion”. 

‘Riot-hit northeast Delhi’ notes, the government “seemed to have finally woken up to the serious situation…” there as Rapid Action Force and CRPF were “visible in the riot-hit areas…” It mentions the communal nature of the clashes just once, saying eight more deaths “bore witness to the intensity and viciousness of the communal riots.”

In its lead, ‘Mob, courtesy Delhi Police’, Express reports on the shocking communal nature of the violence up front, calling out the Delhi Police for their inaction. In detailed eyewitness accounts by its reporters, the paper described scenes involving “groups of men with stick and rods” setting fire to Muslim homes and shops “all right under the noses of the police who either stood as silent spectators, looked the other way or were plain missing when they were most needed”. 

Its second report ‘Divided in violence, united in grief’ it states grief knew no religion, as Muslim and Hindu families shared losses and Hindus, who had lost their loved ones, blamed “BJP leader Kapil Mishra for instigating violence”. 

Express also notes in ‘Jafrabad protest cleared…’ that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited the conflict-hit areas, late Tuesday night, after visiting the offices of DCP (Northeast) in Seelampur, Ved Prakash Surya.  Surya “was the officer standing next to BJP’s Kapil Mishra when he” had made the incendiary remarks on Sunday about clearing the area.

The anchor piece, ‘Under the scanner for 11 deaths…’ reports that a deadly batch of cough syrup led to the death of 11 children in Jammu’s Udhampur district. Police are trying to track down consumers of the 3,400 bottles, which “contained a poisonous compound”, through sales receipts.

Like TOI, Hindustan Times gives prominence to the Trump-Modi bonhomie with an 8-column headline. It leaves the ‘Communal riot rages in Delhi’ for the flap, which you can’t see here.

Like Express, HT calls out the incidents for their religious nature. Its opening sentence calls the violence, “A full-scale communal riot, Delhi’s worst in at least three decades.” It adds that what began as pro- and anti CAA clashes “degenerated into communal violence on Tuesday”. It points out that journalists were also targeted “as clashes spread”. 

On POTUS’ state visit, the paper says Modi and Trump “asked Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks, calling for perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to be brought to justice…” 

The report, ‘Special jet to bring back Indians on Corona ship’, says, “India is sending a special flight to Japan to evacuate its citizens who were on a cruise ship from which 700 passengers are now infected with the deadly new coronavirus.” 

Today marks a year since the Balakot attacks and in ‘IAF chief to visit MiG base in J&K…’ HT reports that “Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, will on Wednesday visit a front-line base in Kashmir that launched fighter planes last February to engage Pakistan Air Force aircraft.” 

Uncharacteristically, The Hindu has little to offer in its bland recitation of the clashes in Delhi (`Violence continues in Delhi for third day…’). It avoids the communal tinderbox as the lead report reads: “Mobs carrying lathis roamed the streets of northeast Delhi, attacking shops and burning vehicles…” 

More interesting is its choosing to focus on POTUS’ statements about mediating in Kashmir issue, yet again, in its second lead, ‘Trump renews offer to mediate on Kashmir..’ It adds that “India and the United States on Tuesday strengthened their partnership with agreements on healthcare and energy…’’ 

Hindu also reports on Bihar’s anti-NRC resolution — ‘NDA ruled Bihar passes resolution against NRC’. RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav called “the CAA [a] kaala kanoon (black law).” 

In ‘… as Gujarat model reaches Delhi’, The Telegraph compares Delhi to Gujarat in 2002 when the state saw communal violence in which thousands of people died. “Many residents alleged that the police did not act when they were attacked. Late at night, reports came in that shanties in Mustafabad had been set ablaze and ambulances were blocked.” 

Another report (‘Rudraksh mala safer than pen’) gives a first person account of how a couple escaped the goons en route to Ahmedabad. And in a chilling  description (“Frightening face, reassuring sign”) goons were heard chanting “maaro maaro mullah ko maaro” (kill the Muslims). 

In a lacklustre front-page, The New Indian Express reduces Delhi’s violence to a small sliver you barely notice — ‘Fresh violence takes toll to 13…’

The lead, ‘Trump, Modi discuss religious freedom…’, focuses only on the “deepened cooperation between India and US” achieved during POTUS’ visit.  The report mentions that apart from deciding on defence deals and a permanent office of the US International Financial Corporation, the two countries did discuss “touchy issues like Kashmir, religious freedom and Pakistan”. 

“While the Indian side was not very forthcoming on the talks on these issues…Trump was more open in his press conference,” the report notes describing his statements as a “balancing act”. 

The Tribune report on the violence in Northeast Delhi, ‘Shoot at sight orders..’ is unremarkable save for the detail about the attacks on two journalists. “JK 24X7 News channel reporter Aakash was shot” and “NDTV’s Arvind Gunasekar lost three front teeth in an assault,” the report notes. 

The other relevant report, in light of Delhi’s violence, is “SC to take up pleas on CAA violence today”. It says the top court is set to “take up a plea by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and others seeking direction to the police to lodge FIRs with regard to the ongoing violence”. 

Read the report about 82 per cent of private schools in Faridabad and 89 per cent of those in Gurugram flouting government rules and not providing 10 per cent seats to children from economically weaker sections (EWS).

‘Hope county remains a progressive democracy’ is the exclusive  lead for Economic Times regarding Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s visit to India. The report highlights Nadella’s almost evasive response about the controversy over his earlier critical remarks on the Citizenship Amendment Act. “I think every country is going to define their own policies around immigration and national security,” the report quotes him as saying. 

In ‘Death toll rises to 13..’, the newspaper says 11 FIRs have been registered by the police “under charges of murder, rioting, arson and destruction of public property”.

There’s more worrying news, as the anchor report indicates that the coronavirus outbreak “could become the first truly disruptive pandemic of the globalisation era ..’’ renewing doubts over the stability of the world economy.

“Oxford Economics reckons an international health crisis could be enough to wipe more than $1 trillion from global GDP,” the report notes.

‘Delhi on edge’ captures the grim scenes in Delhi yesterday. Mint lets a series of three photographs tell the story — note the police in riot gear and a scared resident looking on from behind a steel gate. 

Also in ‘Indigo flouted rules’, read how the shares of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which operates Indigo airlines, plunged after it was found guilty violating “governance and listing guidelines in some of its related-party transactions”. There’s a similar anchor story about the $1 trillion-impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the world economy, which quotes the same data from Oxford Economy.

Business Standard’s lead is unimpressed with the outcome of Trump’s visit — ‘Lot of chemistry but little maths’, it says.  The paper “did not see any deadlock broken on the bilateral trade deal“. 

There’s a small but important item about the second round of privatising six airports in Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur and Trichy being “put on the back burner” as “different arms of the government are debating whether to cap the number of airports an entity can bid for“.

Read the interesting anchor story — ‘Rs 500 notes to push Rs 2000 out…’, which says a major recalibration exercise will be carried out on 240,000-odd ATM machines across the country to “replace Rs 2000 notes with Rs 500 notes“. 

“While the highest-denomination currency will remain legal tender, it will gradually be pulled out of circulation,” the report highlights. This definitely begs the questions — what was the point of the demonetisation policy?

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3 COMMENTS

  1. UK has fifty pounds as the highest and USA has one hundred dollars. India should never have two thousand notes in the first place. There should be no currency notes higher than five hundred.

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