Jammu & Kashmir DSP Davinder Singh | PTI
Jammu & Kashmir DSP Davinder Singh | PTI
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All mainstream newspapers lead with different items Wednesday. Kerala’s decision to challenge the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Supreme Court is in The Indian Express. The court is also on the front page for rejecting the curative petitions of the 16 December gangrape-murder case convicts. TOI leads with a report Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s candidate list for the 8 February Delhi assembly polls.

The Hindu is the only newspaper to lead with US President Donald Trump’s likely visit to New Delhi next month—a story broken by Hindustan Times, Tuesday.

Kerala challenges CAA: In “CAA violates basic structure: Kerala is first state to move SC against new law”, Express notes that the plea calls CAA a “colourable legislation… in violation of the secular nature of Constitution”. Two accompanying reports on judiciary in the paper cover the court’s slamming of Delhi Police during the bail hearing of Chandrashekhar Azad (“You behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pak”) and the Muzaffarnagar arrests in relation to anti-CAA protests (“Cases started falling in Muzaffarnagar: 19 of 107 freed after police say no evidence”).

Hindustan Times reports on Kerala plea on its flap, adding that Article 131, under which the state went to court, “empowers the Supreme Court to hear disputes between the central government and states”. TOI notes this is the “second time in 60 years that a state has invoked Article 131”.

16 Dec convicts: “Presidential mercy Dec 16 killers’ final plea before gallows” is the lead in HT, with the report noting the Supreme Court’s judgment on the curative petitions: “No case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this court in Rupa Ashok Hurra v Ashok Hurra case. Hence, the curative petitions are dismissed”. Express reports, “Dec 16 Delhi gangrape: Curative pleas rejected, one convict files mercy plea”. Hindu writes, “No merit in their appeals to spare them the gallows: Bench”. TOI skips the story on its front page. 

AAP candidate list: TOI’s lead (“23 new faces in AAP’s full list of 70 for assembly showdown”) writes that AAP is the first party to release the list and has upped the number of women candidates from five in 2015 to eight this time. HT mirrors TOI in its headline, adding that AAP is “dropping 15 while repeating 46 of its sitting legislators”. Hindu, however, differs from TOI writing “24 new faces in the party list”.

Others: Hindu writes that President Trump is “likely to visit Delhi in late February”. Express, however, reports the date can fall anywhere between “Feb to Sept”.

Meanwhile, HT keeps up with Jawaharlal Nehru University updates (“JNU’s VC tweaked rules, got loyalists on key posts”). In “India plans more curbs as Malaysia PM talks tough”, TOI reports the Modi government’s plans to “step up the heat” on Malaysia after PM Mahathir Mohamad sticks to his stand on CAA and Kashmir.

Express reports Kashmir may see some relief after over five months as “Broadband connection back in J&K institutions, call on lifting curbs for public after Jan 26”. 

Opinion

The Times of India: In “Let’s inflate growth”, TOI writes that the remedy to the rising inflation — highest in five years at 7.35 per cent — requires a clear-sighted analysis of the primary issue.

The surge in inflation has primarily been driven by food prices, especially vegetables, it writes. The current increase in inflation is also accompanied by a decline in core inflation (at 3.5 per cent), which is a measure of the price level of a household consumption after excluding food and fuel.

TOI writes that core inflation is “the most troublesome part of December data”. With the current slowdown exceeding 18 months and early revival unlikely, TOI suggests that the government in conjunction with RBI should find a way to improve the quality of financial intermediation for a positive impact on economic growth and transmission of monetary policy.

The Hindu: In “Theological thicket”, Hindu writes that the hearing of the matters related to the religious freedom under the constitution before a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court has revealed “a conceptual confusion”.

The bench has clarified that it will only focus on “larger questions” and has asked lawyers to “re-frame” the issues. It has also declared that the bench will not hear petitions seeking a review on the Sabarimala verdict. However, according to Hindu, it would be unwise if the “examination of every discriminatory practice becomes a fresh treatise on Articles 25 and 26”.

The reconsideration of religious denominations having autonomy to decide essential religious practice “will be useful only if it gets the court rid of theological thicket”, writes the daily. 

Prime Time

Some prime time debates Tuesday focused on the contentious issue of Davinder Singh — a Jammu and Kashmir police officer who is in the dock for allegedly ferrying terrorists — while others instead choose to look at CAA protests and the downfall of the Indian economy.

NDTV 24X7 anchor Nidhi Razdan spoke to Rathin Roy, director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, and asked him if the Modi government listens to advice. The “government listens to advice that it chooses to seek”, said Roy.

Meanwhile, Republic TV’s anchor Arnab Goswami explained the Shaheen Bagh “provocation”. Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary said countrywide anti-CAA protests distracted us from more important issues like rising prices. On a lighter note, NDTV India made a medley of a now-viral video of the channel’s reporter asking BJP leader Kirti Somaiya about a pro-CAA campaign being run in schools. Somaiya responded with “Maine aapko jawab de diya hai (I have answered your question)” a whopping 27 times.

Times Now: In “Tirangas, Tattoos, Taqleef”, anchor Padmaja Joshi made the “effort” to bring a ground report from Shaheen Bagh. She wondered why Shaheen Bagh is so important. “We are taking you here on a day that the Delhi High Court has told the Delhi Police that public interest and protest must be balanced out,” adds Joshi. The one thing that “stands out” for Joshi during her field work was the “messaging”. “It is almost reminiscent of the Anna (Hazare) agitation,” said Joshi.

India Today: After its on unmasking JNU’s miscreants, the channel continued its “hard-hitting journalism” with anchor Shiv Aroor raising nine “uncomfortable” questions on DSP Davinder Singh who was caught with two militants in Kashmir. Some of the questions were: “Was (Singh) transporting terrorists for terror attacks?”; “Where were they planning to strike?”; “Why was Afzal Guru’s charge never probed?”; “Who has been protecting him so far?”; and “Is there a larger conspiracy afoot?”

ABP News : On “Panchnama”, five anchors stood in line on a set featuring red walls, red ceiling, red floor, and recited top headlines of news that ranged from administration’s attempts in Delhi to clear Shaheen Bagh protests, to the court’s dismissal of the curative petition in the 16 December gangrape case, to the Congress’ attack on the Modi government over rising expenses.

The lone male anchor then broke the “hard” news about Davinder Singh. Flashing visuals of the house where Singh is said to have housed the “terrorists”, ABP’s Srinagar correspondent noted that the house is only 300 metres away from an Army base. He added said that Singh was allegedly building an “alishaan bangla (luxurious house)” of his own, just down the road.

NDTV India: On “Prime Time with Ravish Kumar”, the anchor said he is “shocked” that people are shocked about Davinder Singh’s arrest. He said he is surprised because despite repeated warnings, people still continue to associate terrorism with  a religion, and without other links.

 “If you see terrorism in countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria through the lens of politics, terrorism might appear to be related to religion, but you can see links to a government also,” said Kumar.

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