PM Narendra Modi
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While Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to make the headlines for his US visit, newspapers, on Thursday, also gave prominence to the arrest of the 23-year-old female student, who accused former union minister Chinmayanand of sexual assault, on ‘extortion’ charges. The story, however, was not lead on the front page.

In the other grave news, two Dalit children were beaten to death for defecating in the open in Madhya Pradesh.

Also, President Trump’s possible impeachment is front page news.

Chinmayanand case: The Indian Express recalls that, “a month after she accused” BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand, the Uttar Pradesh police “arrested the Shahjahanpur law student.” “She was arrested in a case filed by Chinmayanand’s lawyer sent to 14 days judicial custody,” it reports.

In its ‘Explained’ box, Express says, “The student’s testimony was key to the arrest of Chinmayanand. Her arrest puts a question mark on the sexual assault case itself. The fact that no money changed hands undermines the police case.” It also includes a statement from her father who asserts that this arrest intends to put pressure on her and the family.

The Hindu writes, “The police said they had enough evidence, specifically a video clip, to establish that the law student and her three friends tried to extort Rs 5 crore from Chinmayanand.”

Hindustan Times notes, a local court “didn’t give her any immediate relief later in the day and scheduled her bail plea hearing for Thursday.”

Times of India quotes the woman’s family saying, “SIT raided her house early morning and literally dragger her out. She wasn’t allowed to use the washroom or put on her slippers.”

Dalit children: The story of two children beaten to death for open defecation is given importance in HT while Express reserves space for it under the fold – TOI barely gives it a mention on one of its flaps.

HT reports, “two children from the Dalit community were allegedly beaten to death by two men for defecating at a spot close to the house of the attackers in a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district.”

Hindu quotes Shivpuri Superintendent of Police – “ruling out a community angle at this point, Mr Chandel said, ‘although Yadav’s are dominant in the area, there is no history of animosity between the two communities’.”

Modi in US:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his US visit are the lead item in several newspapers. Express headlines, “Modi reaches out to US investors: Come to India, will personally act as a bridge;” HT agrees with Express: “PM Modi urges business leaders to invest in India;” Hindu is more concerned with Nuclear …. angle, “Modi pitches for India’s NSG entry;” while TOI is caught up with Trump and Indo-Pak ties, “Trump ‘encourages’ Modi to work for better Indo-Pak ties.”

Express reports, PM Modi “pitched India as the ‘only destination for American investment” and assured investors “that he will ‘personally act as a bridge’ if there is any gap,” from “defence to start-ups, infrastructure to urbanisation.”

HT says, “Modi ascribed India’s growth story to the ‘rarest of rare’ combination of four key factors – democracy, demography, demand and decisiveness.”

TOI writes, “even as US President Donald Trump ‘encouraged’ PM Modi to work for improvement of India-Pakistan ties, India steadfastly maintained there couldn’t be a dialogue until Islamabad stopped using terror as an instrument of state policy.”

Hindu features Modi “making a pitch” for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as he “addressed a largely business gathering in the Bloomberg Global Business Forum where he delivered key-note address.”

Trump: President Trump’s declaration of a ‘witchhunt’ over the formal impeachment inquiry also makes it to the front page. Hindu’s lead says that the “move could dramatically change the 2020 presidential race.” The Speaker described the Republican President’s behaviour “as a betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.” (Hindu)

TOI’s lead reports that the National Population Register will for the “first time collect several particulars such as Aadhaar, mobile number, PAN, driving license from all usual residents of India.”

Opinion

Hindu: In ‘The real deal”, the newspaper predicts that a limited India-US trade deal “is some distance away.” Modi and Trump failed to strike a trade deal in New York and that served as a “reality check” after the show of bonhomie in Houston Sunday.

The deal “stumbled” mainly over levies imposed by India on information and communication technology (ICT) products and the demand for greater access to medical devices in India markets by the US, over and above dairy and agricultural products.

“It appears that India has played tough and refused to yield to US demands” given that trade negotiations are meant to be about “give and take” instead of one side trying to “bulldoze the other into submitting totally”, writes Hindu.

Express: The newspaper criticises the Supreme Court’s order to the Centre, asking it to draft an affidavit of a way to get social media platforms to share information with law enforcement without breaching the privacy of citizens in “Peekaboo, guess who”.

While anonymous trolling and maligning has turned the internet into an “electronic Wild West”, Express also asks why the government has allowed the law to be misused against citizens who speak out online. Even after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was struck down, some states have even “stooped” to police complaints against their own people.

Since right and wrong are social perceptions, Express fears that the guidelines that the Centre is required to produce could be “arbitrary in practice”. Though the court has widened “the contours of free speech” in the past, it seems to be in “deep waters”, concludes Express.

Prime Time 

With PM Modi’s US trip coming to an end, news channels looked elsewhere for debating topics.

Mirror Now and NDTV 24×7 covered the Chinmayanand case. “Dragged out of her home, the UP law student is behind bars for extortion, while the rape-accused Chinmayanand ‘recovers’ in hospital”, reported NDTV 24×7.

CNN News 18 discussed Pakistan: “Jihadis along LoC, drones on Punjab border. Proof that Pak talks peace, walks terror.”

US President Trump’s “Father of India’ comment about Modi was another topic of interest but Hindi news stuck to Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan.

India Today: The Enforcement Directorate lodged an FIR against Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar in an alleged money laundering case amounting to Rs. 25000-crore. Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai asked, “Is the timing of FIR against Sharad Pawar questionable?”

NCP’s Clyde Crasto said, “They (BJP) are masters at creating a false narrative. Right around election time they have created this whole perception.”

Sardesai pointed out that the scam first surfaced in 2011, “during the Congress-NCP government.”

India Today’s Rahul Shrivastava said that the ED FIR was nothing but a perception game. “Does BJP want to politically eliminate Sharad Pawar?” he asked.

BJP’s Amit Malviya refuted this: “When Chidambaram was rounded up…. there were no elections in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

He added, “NCP is no force to be reckoned with, in this election…. So there is no need to file an FIR again Mr. Pawar to win a few seats.”

Times Now: #ModiFatherFaceOff was the running headline on ‘The NewsHour with Navika Kumar’ which discussed Trump’s remarks that Modi was the one who brought India together, like a father.

Political analyst Abdul Razack Khan said, “In America, this is the culture – of more than one father – but in India that is considered an insult. Traditionally, we believe in one father we belong to.”

Kumar said the Opposition does nothing but criticises the praise Modi receives from other global leaders.

BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma categorically stated: “This is nothing but jealousy, envy and insecurity.”

NDTV India: GPS fitted drones from Pakistan reportedly dropped approximately 80 kg arms on the Indian territory and intelligence reports said a possible terrorist attack was imminent.

Anchor Sanket Upadhyay interviewed former diplomat G. Parthasarathy on this issue.

Parthasarathy said, “As soon as Article 370 was abrogated, Pakistan thought that violence and massive protests will erupt in the Valley but none of that happened.’’ He added that terrorists had been planted at the LoC as well, but they failed to infiltrate.

“Now India has also reconsidered no-first use policy [on nuclear weapons]. This leaves no choice for Pakistan but to indulge in such activities” he added.

Aaj Tak: Anchor Anjana Om Kashyap raised Imran Khan’s complaint that the international community was ignoring Kashmir.

Pakistan’s journalist Umar Altaf said, “The reality is that Trump has talked about mediation for the third time… India kept reiterating that it is their internal matter but US did not pay heed to them.”

Another journalist from Pakistan Mona Alam said, “I am proud of my Prime Minister for the fact that he exposed the hypocrisy of the United Nations at an international platform.’’

BJP’s Amit Malaviya said Pakistan uses terrorism as a state policy. “They have acknowledged it when they accepted that they had trained the Al-Qaeda and fidayeen members… ” he said.

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