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Shah’s barb at Mamata, Delhi riots dominate headlines, pink papers on edge over coronavirus

A round-up of the most important reports in major newspapers around the country – from TOI and HT, Express and The Hindu to The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror and The Tribune, as well as top financial dailies.

Amit Shah in Kolkata
File photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah | Photo: PTI

Communal violence in Delhi takes a break from the headlines today, as the last few days saw some semblance of peace. However, rumours about fresh violence are keeping Delhites on edge.

Home Minister Amit Shah’s aggressive comments on CAA in Kolkata kept Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government on edge too.

And the coronavirus, now detected in over 60 countries, is sending shivers down the market — this makes the lead in mainstream and financial newspapers.

The Times of India, in its lead (“Shah attacks Didi, says BJP will win Bengal with 2/3rd majority”), points out that Shah’s blistering attacks on Banerjee comes ahead of the 2021 assembly elections. He also said, “a son of the soil will be the CM, unlike the Trinamool’s “family succession” plan — an apparent reference to her nephew Abhishek.

In the article “Rumours of fresh violence in city baseless, say cops’’, TOI reports that “(The Delhi) police acted swiftly this time, putting a lid on the rumours through prompt social media posts and other measure.” The report adds, “Such was the impact of the rumours that Delhi Metro shut seven stations briefly as a precautionary measure.”

The coronavirus pandemic has Indians worried in Italy. In “85 Indian students in Italian town send SOS”, the paper notes, “Some of these students were booked on flights to India that got cancelled in the wake of new coronavirus cases being reported in Italy.”

There was some proactive news ahead of International Women’s Day in the report “11 chairs named after 11 female scientists to be filled by women”. The report says, “The range of fields is wide — from cytogenetics to organic chemistry to social sciences. Only women researchers will take up positions and could get research fund up to Rs 1 crore.”

Express focuses on the war of words between BJP’s Amit Shah and Trinamool Congress’ Abhishek Banerjee. In a rally at West Bengal, Shah had blamed Mamata Banerjee for “scaring minorities and refugees” over the citizenship law. Another story is on TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee telling Shah off for “preaching” to West Bengal. “…you should have explained and apologised for failing to save more than 50 innocent lives in #DelhiViolence right under your nose,” the report quoted from his Twitter post.

Further east, there’s news of more violence:  ‘In Meghalaya 3 deaths widen CAA, ethnic faultlines..’ The report explains that following the killing of a Khasi man in the East Khasi hills, masked men went on a “stabbing spree” in Shillong’s Bara Bazar killing a vegetable vendor and injuring several others. The killings had been spurred by clashes between members of the Khasi Students’ Union and non-tribals after a meeting “for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya and oppose the CAA”.

Back in Delhi, “3 more bodies found in drains’’ after last week’s rioting. Oddly, the police said “it was too early’’ to confirm if the “the latest recovery was linked to the riots’’.

Hindustan Times, alone, reminds readers that Parliament reopens today. In its lead report “Parliament opens today”, HT warns of “turbulent session on cards”, and adds, “Opposition parties said on Sunday they will raise the issue of Delhi’s communal riots, which have killed at least 42 people and injured about 350 others, and seek answers from the central government over alleged police lapses.”

The second lead in the paper (“Papers, meters gutted, compensation a mirage”) focuses on the Delhi communal violence as “Officials overseeing applications for compensation received from riot-affected people in north-east Delhi are facing a tough question: how to verify the claims of those whose houses and shops were set afire?”  This after people claimed the identification papers had been burnt in the fires.

A heartwarming but tragic incident is highlighted in, “Army major dies while trying to save pet dog from fire in Gulmarg”. It tells of Major Ankit Budhraja of Corps Signals who “after asking other soldiers to take his wife to safety, went back inside the burning hut to save his second dog.”

The Hindu, in its leads on Shah’s CAA comments (“No minority in Bengal will lose citizenship due to CAA: Shah”), says there was “hectic political activity”. The paper is the only one to highlight, in its lead paragraph, that “… a march of BJP supporters set off shock waves as they raised the incendiary ‘Goli Maro Salon Ko’ (Shoot the traitors) slogan in the heart of the city.”

The other lead is on the fast-spreading coronavirus (“Fears rise as COVID-19 cases, deaths hit new high”). The paper notes “Australia and Thailand reported their first deaths on Sunday, while the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic recorded their first cases”. More than 60 countries have tested positive for the virus, with “more than 87,000 people worldwide’’ having been infected and nearly 3,000 dead.

On a gruesome note — “Four more bodies pulled out from drains in north-east Delhi” — the paper writes, “Despite the recovery of the bodies, the death toll that stood at 42 on Saturday, has not been officially revised.” Some other interesting statistics: one police officer said “…between February 23 and 25, a total of 44 people were reported missing from the riot-affected areas…Of them, five are still untraceable..’’

The Telegraph from Kolkata gives full front page coverage to Amit Shah, leading with the headline: “Wherever CAA goes, it does what the demon did”. The report notes “Amit Shah…. went into a strategy huddle aimed at capturing power in Bengal that stretched close to midnight.”

The papers then returns to the Delhi riots: “An untold victim is education” reports on the collateral damage in Delhi. Telling the story of Shahbaz Khan, who “met his parents after a gap of six days” and came “to learn that all his books and clothes had been burnt to ashes at their home.”

The Tribune also focuses on the upcoming Parliament session in its lead, “Oppn to raise Delhi riots, CAA…”

“The riots and the response of the government, in particular that of the Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah, and the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests, including those in Meghalaya are…..expected to rock both Houses,” says the report.

Also in focus is the US-Taliban peace agreement that hit a snag on Sunday as Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani “said he would not free thousands of Taliban prisoners ahead of all-Afghan power-sharing talks set for next week”. The report emphasises that these comments were the “first hitch in implementing the fragile deal”.

Economic Times leads with the panic over coronavirus outbreak in ‘Stock Could Continues Rocky Rise on D Street’. “With the US Federal Reserve’s efforts to pacify investors on Friday failing to stop the Dow Jones from plunging 1.4%, analysts expect the market to slide further,” the grim report reads.

With all this, the “Rupee is likely to stay under pressure”, according to another report. “The volatility index of the rupee, the movement of which is often determined by the flow of equity and bond funds, has climbed 175 basis points in the past nine trading sessions,” the report highlights.

Mint shatters hopes of an economic recovery with its big and bold lead headline, “Pandemic will blight India’s green shoots of growth”. Trade concerns over coronavirus see the spread of the disease to countries other than China which “is now threatening to disrupt alternative sources of supply”. “Drug makers and fertilizer companies will face imminent shortages if the situation is not resolved soon,” are the gloomy predictions.

There’s also an interesting anchor story about a “little-known tax whiz, who revolutionized Russian revenue collection and now aims to bring the same efficiency to the Kremlin’s ambitious spending plans”. Mikhail Mishustin, a career bureaucrat, replaced “long-serving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in January” and is “wasting no time reshaping the bureaucracy”.