Monday saw mainstream newspapers going their different ways for leads. The Indian Express led with ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Hindustan Times with deaths caused due to heavy rains this year, The Hindu and The Times of India highlight the capsized boat in the Godavari – the number of deaths vary between eight (Hindu, HT and Express) to “46 feared dead’’ in TOI. TOI’s other lead is Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s nuclear war “warning”.
HT dedicates its front page “in memory of the greatest Indian ever” Mahatma Gandhi as it kicks off its coverage of his 150 birth centenary with a two-page spread inside.
In, “Loss in a conventional war may trigger N-conflict, warns Imran”, TOI says Pakistan’s PM has “raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict with India over the Kashmir issue, saying it could be a ‘consequence’ in case of Islamabad losing a conventional war against New Delhi,” writes TOI. It quotes Imran Khan in an Al Jazeera interview: “…if say Pakistan…, we are fighting a conventional war, (which) we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice: either you surrender or you fight till death for your freedom, I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom”.
“Ahead of UN meet, India says 21 killed this year in ceasefire violations by Pak”, writes Express. It adds that “ahead of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly,” during which “India and Pakistan are expected to face off over Kashmir,” India had Sunday said the “Pakistan Army has committed more than 2,050 ‘unprovoked’ ceasefire violations this year in which 21 Indians have been killed.”
HT’s second lead outlines that Pakistan “has sought to use the changes in Jammu & Kashmir, described by India as an internal matter, to internationalise the issue”.
Express, in its Explained box, states, “as Pakistan steps up the rhetoric over J&K, India has gone on the offensive by revealing the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan’s army. Before the UN General Assembly, the ball has set rolling to corner Islamabad on cross-border terror”.
Interview with CM Yogi
HT and Express each have exclusive interviews with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath While Express gives it prominent display on page 1, HT treats it as a box item in “UP can achieve $1 trillion economy in 5 years: Yogi’’. Express quotes Adityanath to say: “if need be, UP can look at NRC in phases… Assam an example: CM Yogi”.
“Describing the implementation” of the NRC in Assam as an “important and brave decision,” UP CM Adityanath said that “his government is not averse to carrying out such an exercise in his state – if need be, in phases.”
Also, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is “joining the chorus of BJP leaders seeking” a NRC in their states. Khattar said, “The government would implement NRC in Haryana” (Express). HT notes that this announcement “came days after Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das pushed for the implementation of NRC in his state as well”.
HT lead reports the “southwest monsoon overcame an arid start to record slightly above-average rainfall in a year that saw the highest number of extreme rainfall events”. It notes that “between 1 June and 14 September, at least 1,422 people were killed because of rains”.
The Hindu’s lead story covers the “major tragedy” in Andhra Pradesh, where “a private boat carrying tourists to Papikondalu capsized in Godavari river,” leaving “at least eight dead and over 37 missing.”
The Hindu’s choice of second lead headlines, “Voices grow louder against Shah’s pitch to push Hindi”. It writes that Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s “assertion that Hindi, as the most spoken language, could work to unite the country continued to draw sharp reaction from the Opposition parties”. Hindu quotes statements from CPI(M) leaders, Jairam Ramesh (Congress Rajya Sabha member), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala CM) condemning the reported statement.
TOI: In ‘Odd Even Fixation’, the newspaper criticises Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s “last-line measure” of an odd-even vehicle rationing scheme to tackle high pollution levels in November. It suggests that the scheme falls into the category of “token gestures which grab attention in election season”. The scheme’s efficacy is questionable, writes TOI, especially as it was implemented twice in 2016 “and then abandoned”. Previously, the absence of buses were “keenly felt” in areas of Delhi that lacked metro services. In fact, stubble burning in surrounding states and Diwali firecrackers contribute more to high pollution levels than vehicular emissions, explains TOI. Curbing stubble burning via monitoring mechanisms and “incentivising happy seeder machines” should be the next step, it suggests.
HT: HT discusses linguistic diversity after Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments Saturday suggesting Hindi be the one language by which India can be identified globally. In “The language question” it explains how the issue first came up in newly independent India when language was recognised as a basis for state-formation. It resurfaced again in the 1960s with the implementation of “a three-language formula” – of the use of English, Hindi, and a regional language. This arrangement exists today and as suggested by HT, is “best left intact”. Linguistic diversity is a facet of Indian democracy, writes HT, and such comments only widen the political divide between North and South India. BJP should also tread carefully, explains HT, as the political backlash it faces over such comments may “harm its own prospects”.
Prime time across channels Sunday saw debates on different topics. Mirror Now and CNN News 18 discussed the capsized boat in Andhra Pradesh that killed 11 people while Republic asked, “Is the Opposition alone responsible for a #NoOppnCountry?” and Aaj Tak returned to ‘Pakistan and war’ while NDTV India discussed the single-use plastic ban.
Times Now: Anchor Navika Kumar interviewed spiritual leader Jaggi Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhguru. On Ayodhya, Kumar asked him, “Do you think the views (on Ram Mandir) will remain as unbendable as they are at the moment?
Sadhguru compared the Ram Mandir issue to that of property dispute in a family. “This is the nature of what you call justice, somebody will be unhappy.”
“After going through many processes, the case has come to a stage where it is a simple real estate issue,” he added.
Kumar asked, “Do you think faith doesn’t come into it?”
“No, the faith aspect is over. Now it is only about those 3.77 acres,” he replied.
He also backed the Centre of Article 370: “….it was the right step’’, he said, adding that this should have been done “20 years’’ after it was first introduced.
India Today: Anchor Pooja Shali discussed the row following the Home Minister Amit Shah’s reported push for Hindi to be the national language.
BJP spokesperson Aman Sinha said, “Article 343 and 345 clearly mandate that Hindi would be the official language of the union. Amit Shah…. was merely stating the legal constitutional position which exists.”
DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram, while being repeatedly interrupted by the BJP spokesperson, still had his say: “One of the key factors of fascism is to not let any other voices be heard. This whole debate has come up because Shah has spoken about one nation and one language.”
He added, “Maybe it’s a north versus south issue, you have to understand who is trying to create these divides.’’
NDTV India: On `Hum Log’, anchor Nagma discussed whether India is ready to put an end to single-use plastic.
Swati Singh Sambyal, Centre for Science and Environment, observed that, “Every day, 25,000-ton plastic is generated, but the appeal by the Prime Minister is showing some effects. I have seen posters outside shops asking people to bring their own bags.”
Confederation of All India Traders’ Praveen Khandelwal suggested that with 7.5 crore people employed in the plastic production sector, “the government should also create alternative employment…’’ for them.
Ravi Aggarwal, former chairman of the All India Plastic Industries Association, wanted clarity on what was to be categorised as “single-use plastic’’. It has still not been defined properly.”
Aaj Tak: Anchor Rohit Sardana debated India, Pakistan and the possibility of a nuclear war after Imran Khan’s comments to Al Jazeera.
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia turned jingoistic: “Pakistan ka jo haath bandook uthayega, na wo haath rahega na wo insaan” (Whoever from Pakistan shall raise the gun, will cease to exist).
CPI (M) leader Suneet Chopra attacked the government: “The employment rate is the lowest in the last 45 years. Either you generate employment and give people jobs or you divert their attention and indulge them in war talk – this government (BJP) is doing the latter.”
Imran Khan interviews
Over the weekend, Al Jazeera interviewed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on his one year in office.
On the upcoming UNGA in New York Khan said he would “mainly’’ talk about the Kashmir situation. “The Indian version of the ‘final solution’ is happening in Kashmir as eight million Muslims are under siege,” he said.
“Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist, I am anti-war, I believe that wars do not solve any problems,” he clarified. But, he added, “When two nuclear armed countries fight, if they fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war. The unthinkable.”
In an interview with RT News, the Russian news channel, Khan said that big powers like US, Russia, France and Germany “can play a role in the issue of Kashmir.”
“The more force they (India) use, the stronger is the desire for freedom in Kashmir,” he added.
“India has, unilaterally, annexed Kashmir. Their main aim is to change the democracy of Kashmir,” he said.