Former JNU leader Shehla Rashid
Activist and former JNU student union leader Shehla Rashid | Twitter | @CafeDissensus
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Prime Time

Activist Shehla Rashid’s controversial tweets on alleged abuse of human rights in Kashmir by the Indian Army saw the return of the ‘tukde lobby’ to prime time on Times Now, Republic and CNN-News 18, while floods pre-occupied Hindi news channels — NDTV India, India TV, News 24 and News18 India showed the havoc wreaked across north India.

ABP News, on the other hand, took up the heroic rescue of two stranded men by the Indian Air Force on the Tawi river, which flows through Jammu, while Zee News and Zee Hindustan remained obsessed with Pakistan — anchor Sudhir Choudhury eyed PoK: “…now India is saying, we want PoK, soon…”

On CNN-News 18’s ‘Restaurants v/s Aggregators’, a confused anchor Zakka Jacob wondered why restaurant owners complained. “…no one is forcing you to join,” he told restaurateur Simant Tyagi.

Tyagi replied there was tremendous public pressure for online deliveries.

Journalist Vir Sanghvi set out the menu clearly. “No one gets onto a platform if you don’t need to,” he said.

Also on CNN-News 18, anchor Bhupendra Chaubey wondered at Shehla Rashid’s audacity during such sensitive times.

Advocate Avishkar Singhvi condemned Rashid’s comments: “…saying things like the Army is abusing the people, without any evidence, is problematic”.

Kashmiri activist Rakesh Kaul sneered at Rashid: “I call such people attention seekers”.

Khalid Shah, associate fellow at Observer Research Foundation, agreed, but said that, “Rumours can be killed by information…the communication blockade is not helping with that.”

Republic: Anchor Arnab Goswami was disgusted: “Will ‘Tukde’ backers justify fake news campaign now?”, he asked.

“Nationalism means you don’t abuse the Army, show respect to the people,” said M.R. Venkatesh, political analyst and lawyer.

Major (retired) Gaurav Arya, Republic’s consulting editor, said, “When Balakot happens, they demand proof. Is there no proof needed for what Shehla Rashid says?”

Political analyst Iftikar Misgar asked the most relevant question of all: “Who is Shehla Rashid? Why are you promoting her by even having a debate on her?”

India TV: It was Rashid all the way on “Kurukshetra”.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra coined a new moniker: “I would call these people ‘conflict entrepreneurs’ who make a living by spreading venom. The armed forces replied to her allegations and I firmly believe they would never lie.”

Maulana Syed Athar Hussain Dehalavi, chairman of Anjuman Minhaj-e-Rasool, dismissed Rashid, saying, “These people are running Pakistan’s propaganda.”

Salmaan Nizaami, a Kashmiri activist, said Rashid has been promoting violence and hatred “to fulfill her political ambitions”. “I am from the Valley — I have not heard of any such incident,” he said.

ABP News: On ‘Samvidhan Ki Shapath’, anchor Romana Isar Khan referred to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on doing away with reservations.

Lawyer Sanjiv Unniyal remarked that, “If we make anything untouchable or a showpiece, we make the issue out to be bigger than it really is.”

“The main issue is that if you want to get rid of reservation, you must also get rid of the root of that problem, which is the caste system,” insisted BSP leader Satish Prakash.

BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Modi ji has made it clear that reservation will not go anywhere. Reservation is what united the people of India.”

Front Page

The front pages Tuesday are divided on their lead stories.

The Indian Express and The Hindu feature President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phone call while in Hindustan Times and The Times of India, Yamuna crossing danger levels in Delhi takes the lead.

Also making news is poor attendance in schools in Kashmir Valley.

“Trump dials PM who calls out Imran: His anti-India talk doesn’t help peace,” headlines Express. This is the first phone conversation between PM Modi and Trump since the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked.

Modi told Trump that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace,” writes Express. It notes that this remark was “clearly aimed” at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has “ratcheted up the rhetoric against India in the last two weeks.”

Hindu highlights the White House’s statement: “The President conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region.” It sheds light on the fact that the phone call “comes close on the heels of a telephonic conversation on Friday between” President Trump and PM Imran Khan.

National dailies report poor attendance in primary schools in Kashmir after they reopened for the first time in a fortnight.

Hindu quotes the Director of Education Younis Malik: “Of the 196 primary schools opened, 72 schools registered thin attendance.” It also carries a statement by Information Director Syed Sehrish Asghar: “The situation by and large remains normal and people continue to offer their cooperation.”

HT says attendance remained thin even as the “government further relaxed restrictions”.

TOI, on the other hand, reports seemingly unrelated events such as “growing uncertainty fuelled by multiple incidents of stone-pelting” and the “appearance of posters in several localities calling for an indefinite slowdown” along with the news on uniformly thin attendance in schools.

It also mentions sources that said “youths suspected to be members of separatist groups were behind the posters that were pasted overnight on walls across neighbourhoods in Srinagar.” This attempt “challenged the administration’s attempt to restore normalcy,” remarks TOI.

NRC deadline: “Barely 10 days to deadline, Assam CM keeps the door open for law on NRC count,” headlines Express.

On Monday, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal “indicated that any decision to challenge the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) through the legislative route could be discussed in future,” writes Hindu. It quotes the CM: “In a democracy, everyone has the right to ask questions. After the publication of the NRC on August 31, if necessary, we will take whatever steps will be required.”

In its ‘Explained’, Express says the CM’s comment “is an indication of how the state aims to deal with the NRC aftermath. It is yet to devise a plan for those who could be rendered stateless”.

Yamuna’s level: Delhi government officials “began preparations to evacuate nearly 24,000 people from close to the Yamuna as the river flowed above the danger mark and was expected to reach levels close to its all-time record,” writes HT.

It quotes Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal: “Over 2,100 tents have been set up for those being evacuated.”

Rajiv Gandhi anniversary: TOI and HT celebrate former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s 75th birth anniversary with Congress advertisements on ‘Empowering India’.

Opinion

TOI: In ‘Aadhaar hydra again’, TOI views the Election Commission’s request to link voter roll to Aadhaar card data as an example of “rushing into technological fixes”. It is also an attempt to revive the 2015 National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP), which although meant to eliminate duplicate or ineligible voters from the database, lacked “adequate consultation or parliamentary sanction”.

Since Aadhaar is a voluntary document and voter ID is proof of citizenship, using one to verify another could “delegitimise genuine citizens”. Extending Aadhaar’s public use also invites cyber security risks, writes TOI, and could compromise a citizen’s private information. The EC, it suggests, should instead focus on improving its booth-level verification methods for voting.

HT: The newspaper reviews the government’s policy response to the current economic slowdown, especially the drop in domestic demand. Though “still on paper”, the proposals include reducing taxes on automobiles and industry packaging, and also pumping liquidity into some projects. The government seems to be treating the slowdown as “cyclical” instead of structural. It is still unclear how bad the slowdown is given overestimated GDP statistics and risky policies like demonetisation and GST, which are now reflecting in declining demand, says HT.

However, the government hasn’t made “any attempt” to analyse the effect of these factors on the economic situation. A good place to start, suggests HT, would be looking at household expenditure data in the Consumption Expenditure Survey (CES) and employment statistics in the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).

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