New Delhi: Well, will you believe it? Drugs, Bollywood and Sushant Singh Rajput just found competition on prime time news. Thursday’s debates focused primarily on the alleged Hathras gangrape and murder case and the arrest of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi by Uttar Pradesh Police while they were en route to Hathras. Meanwhile, NewsX discussed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s alleged intent to bring Gilgit-Baltisan within its borders.
ABP News’ Rubika Liyaquat decided to take on other news channels — she hit out at those which did not cover the Hathras case, and questioned their silence, before launching a scathing attack on the UP Police’s Additional Director General (ADG) Prashant Kumar, who has claimed that the Dalit woman wasn’t raped. “Did the victim lie before she died?” the anchor demanded.
“A statement given before death is called a dying declaration. This statement is admissible in court. How many times will Hathras’ daughter be killed?” she asked.
Liyaquat also spoke about Rahul Gandhi’s fall in the tussle with the UP Police when they prevented him from reaching Hathras. “This is the first push to Gandhi in his political career that made him fall to the ground,” she said, dramatically.
The channel also ran the now viral video of Hathras’ District Magistrate telling the woman’s family that the media would leave after a few days, but “we [the UP authorities] will be here”.
On News18 India, Amish Devgan asked the BJP’s Sambit Patra what the party’s problem was with the Gandhis visiting Hathras.
“If they were going, they should have gone within the boundaries of law and order,” Patra replied. “If you also go there with posters, with so many people, you are bound to write a letter informing the DM. Take permission from the law,” he said.
But Devgan was having none of it: “Gandhi said that he is ready to go alone, we have it on camera.”
India Today‘s Rajdeep Sardesai asked if UP’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is held at all accountable for events in Hathras when “it clearly involves lapses on the part of the local administration”.
BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia claimed the UP government takes “100 per cent responsibility”. He added: “It is a matter of shame for everyone that a daughter of the country has lost her life… But the words of Yogi Adityanath ji are reassuring.”
Sardesai wasn’t interested in this homily to the CM, and pointed out, “Words are not enough.” He then read out a list of rapes of lower-caste women and girls in other parts of UP, including Bulandshahr, Fatehpur, Balrampur and Azamgarh, “in the last 24 hours”.
Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev pointed out how the Hathras woman’s FIR was not registered for seven days and even then, parts of it were “diluted”.
And on the issue of the state police hurriedly burning her body in the middle of the night without her family’s consent, Samajwadi Party national spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari made a direct allegation: “Do you think a constable would have the courage to light the fire? The decision was taken at the level of the Chief Minister.”
Times Now‘s Padmaja Joshi explored the BJP’s suggestion about whether the Gandhis’ attempted march to Hathras was “a fight for rights or rajneeti’’. Later, she asked why the Congress was not holding marches in other states where similar horrific incidents occur, like in Rajasthan where they are in power.
To this, Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam asked, “Can the Baran incident omit the Hathras incident?” He was referring to the alleged rape of two minor girls in the Rajasthan district.
NewsX was the odd one out, as anchor Megha Sharma focused on Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan’s reported intent to include Gilgit-Baltistan as Pakistan’s fifth province. Not only has this not gone down well with India, but even some Pakistani opposition leaders claim the move reeks of Chinese influence, according to a Dawn report.
Former Ministry of External Affairs Secretary Deepak Vohra said Gilgit-Baltistan is part of China’s China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is a flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). “China has its own interests. The Belt and Road Initiative radiates out of China…it wants to be the Middle Kingdom again,” said Vohra.
Sharma later asked, “How difficult will it become for India to further its projections and ambitions when it comes to Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK?”
The Sunday Guardian editor Joyeeta Basu said: “Imran Khan has been doing exactly what he has been accusing us [India] of doing in Kashmir”.