Protests in Soura, Downtown Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on 11th August, 2019 | Photo: Praveen Jain
Protests in Soura, Downtown Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi is making headlines today. “J&K move won’t impact Line of Control or Line of Actual Control: India to China,” headlines The Indian Express. Jaishankar claims that “underlining the future of India-China relations” will depend on “mutual sensitivity” to each other’s “core concerns,” writes Express.

When the Chinese brought up the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, Jaishankar had reiterated that there would be “no implications for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China,” writes Express. “The legislative measures were aimed at better governance and socio-economic development,” writes The Hindu.

The Hindu covers a story on the high altitude Kailash Mansarovar, a Hindu holy site in Tibet. “Reception centres at various points of the pilgrimage” have been built “thanks to the initiative by the Chinese government to improve the material comforts of the pilgrims,” tells Hindu. It quotes Jaishankar’s statement on the same: “Some suggestions were made by the Chinese side to expand Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and we are deeply appreciative of these initiatives.” Wang Yi added that the pilgrimage has “increasingly become a pathway of friendship.”

Eid in Kashmir 

Hindustan Times’ lead underlines a ‘sombre Eid’ in Kashmir. The “muted” Eid al-Adha was marked by an “unprecedented lockdown keeping a lid on tensions in the Valley,” mentions HT. It reports that “large congregations were not allowed” and the “old city area was locked down with reinforced vehicles, coils of barbed wire and armed personnel guarding major roads.” Some stone-pelting incidents and protests were reported too. However, statements from the Union home ministry “dismissed these as isolated and insignificant incidents,” tells HT.

The Hindu uses reports from international media. “Reuters said hundreds of people shouting anti-India slogans spilled on to the streets following prayers in Soura,” but authorities “largely sealed off the area and kept the protest localised.”

All newspapers report a lockdown in Kashmir on the occasion of Eid, but The Telegraph paints a different picture – one of a ‘living hell’. “Security officers tied black bandannas over their faces, grabbed their guns and took positions behind checkpoints,” writesTelegraph. A sense of “coiled menace hung over the locked-down city and the wider region” on Saturday, a day after “huge protest erupted into clashes” between Kashmiris and Indian security forces. Telegraph mentions The New York Times’ account of the same on Friday afternoon: “Witnesses said tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrations were moving through Srinagar chanting freedom slogans” and “waving Kashmiri flags” when Indian forces “opened fire.”

Saudi Aramco

Also making headlines today is the Rs 1 lakh crore-deal between RIL and Saudi Arabia ‘s Aramco. “In what could be the largest foreign direct investment in India, Saudi Aramco has proposed to sign a non-binding Letter of Intent to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the oil to chemicals (O2C) division – comprising of refining, petrochemicals and fuels marketing businesses of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL),” tells Express.

The investment which is “subject to due diligence and regulatory approvals, will help RIL, India’s largest private sector company, cut its debt of Rs. 1.54 lakh crore ($22 billion),” The Times of India mentions this story as its lead of the day.

Hindu throws light  on Reliance Jio’s plans to “disrupt the fixed broadband market with the launch of Jio finer on September 5.” Jio Fiber will offer “free voice calls for life from landline phones, high-speed broadband of a minimum speed of 100 mbps,” it reports.

Meanwhile, reports on monsoon fury causing floods only finds mention in HT. The southwest monsoon’s “trail of destruction” continued to “claim lives across states including West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, with at least 227 reported dead in floods.”

Opinion 

HTIn “The PM’s economic signal”, HT discusses Prime Minister Modi’s interview with The Economic Times on Indian economy and concerns about its slowdown. It credits Modi with key economic reforms including the “much needed” Goods & Services Tax (GST). It does not entirely credit him for the state of fiscal deficit, inflation and India’s macroeconomic climate, all of which it claims is “under control”.  The cause behind the current slowdown remains unclear, writes HT, and the Centre’s plan to maintain a “low-inflation, low deficit environment” may not do enough to boost growth and declining domestic demand. Modi’s “zeal” to push policy reforms, as expressed in the interview, suggests that “not enough attention” was paid to the impact of such changes.

Express: With more international eyes on Kashmir, India risks backlash over its decision to remove special status in the state, writes Express in “The external test”. So far, India’s move has been backed by Russia and Pakistan’s attempts to “internationalise the issue” by appealing to its Western allies and global human rights organisations have been not been successful. The newspaper calls Islamabad’s response “hyberbolic” given its silence on China’s attempts to “de-Islamise” Muslim citizens in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. However, by imposing a lockdown in the Valley, the Indian government also risks “the ‘K’ word” being brought up in the UN Human Rights Council. As the Ministry of External Affairs gears up for the task ahead, India must also be prepared for increased “cross-border militancy” and its plans once restrictions in the Valley are lifted.

Prime Time 

Kashmir and Congress’ divided front on BJP’s Article 370 move dominated day time coverage and prime time debates. With Congress leaders like P. Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar criticising the revocation of Article 370, questions were raised about confusion in the party over Kashmir.

Zee NewsOn `Taal Thok Ke’, anchor Sachin Arora accused Congress of match-fixing with Pakistan.

BJP’s Subramnainam Swamy attacked the Congress: “That Congress and Pakistan agree on the government’s move to abrogate Article 370 is of no surprise. The one issue they never have an answer for is when five lakh Kashmiri Pandits were disgraced and dragged out of their homes.”

Arora asked, “Why is a peaceful Kashmir a threat to Congress?”

Swami laughed and replied, “Congress’ entire basis for the general elections was to unite the Muslims and divide the Hindus, but the exact opposite has happened. ….Hindus have united…(and) Muslim women are also happy with us as we fought for their rights by abolishing Triple Talaq.”

India TVAnchor Sushant Sinha said although many people believed there will be outrage on Eid, “there is absolute peace. Has Kashmir passed the test?”

BJP’s Sambit Patra said, “Absolutely. This is not a small thing.”

Advocate Ilyas Laway said, “Every year, on Eid, people gather in our margazhi eidgah in Srinagar. But for the first time in history that has been shut down.’’ He added that on Eid, “we meet all our friends and families, but you aren’t letting us. What kind of democracy is this?”

Political analyst Shehzad Poonawalla had a different take: “We are seeing today what we haven’t in the last 70 years. Goli marne wali Eid se gale milne wali Eid ka faasla tay kiya hai.”

CNN News 18On `Viewpoint’ anchor Bhupendra Chaubey discussed Sonia’s leadership and Congress’s confusion on Article 370.

Shehzad Poonawalla said, “There is only one way out for Congress…. The day the party dumps the ‘parivarik‘ interest for party’s gain, it will come back strong.”

Senior journalist Abhigyan Prakash observed that there was “enormous confusion’’ in the Congress. “In a situation where Article 370 has been abrogated, its leaders are only addressing local political issues. Those at the top are too confused.”

Chaubey remarked tartly, “The only clarity the party has is that the Gandhi family must be there.”

“What the Congress needs is a young face which understands media,” believed journalist Saba Naqvi.

RepublicWith the hashtag #SoniaDontDivide, the channel looked at how “Congress continues to peddle lies to fear monger over Article 370’s revocation’’.

“Article 370 was brought in because J&K is a predominantly Muslim state. No Hindu state enjoys this special status,” said M.R. Venkatesh, political analyst and lawyer.

Commenting on the BBC footage of protests in Kashmir that the India government has denied, he said, “I don’t believe BBC. I believe Arnab GoswamiPeople like Shobha De are being used by the Pakistanis to write articles against the country.”

Advocate and BJP spokesperson Aman Singa said, “Congress is not only toeing the Pakistani line…. they are trying to disturb the situation on the ground.”

“Kashmir is refusing to riot and they want to create mayhem to prove a point,” said Sushil Pandit, Kashmiri activist.

A Sarvanan, DMK spokesperson and advocate, violently disagreed: “BJP is clearly a fascist party because they cannot take dissent,” he said, “What the BJP has done is a historical blunder and a constitutional fraud.”

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