Traffic jam in New Delhi. (Representational Image) | ANI Photos
Traffic jam (Representational Image) | ANI Photos
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Newspapers Thursday choose different lead stories, going from north to south. The Indian Express runs with cross-border infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan while the Chennai-based The Hindu is more concerned with the “high drama” that ensued after Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu and his son were placed under preventive detention in Vijayawada.

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari also makes it to the front pages after several states decided not to implement the revised fines on traffic safety.

The Express lead story says, “Announcing that a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant involved in a recent attack on a fruit merchant’s home in Sopore was gunned down in an encounter”, J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said that “there were many reports of cross-border infiltration which police were trying to verify”.

The Hindu’s lead story says, “Amid high drama”, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh “were placed under preventive detention at their residence at Undavalli”. The police detained them “to foil their plan to take out a ‘Chalo Atmakuru’ rally to protest against alleged attacks on TDP workers and sympathisers by” YSR Congress Party. The newspaper quotes Naidu as saying, “Today is a black day in the history of Andhra Pradesh. This government is violating human rights and fundamental rights of the people.”

Fines on traffic rules

Hindustan Times quotes Nitin Gadkari, “Fines for safety, not revenue; states can make cuts: Gadkari”; The Times of India says, “After Gujarat, U’khand reduces traffic fines, many may follow”; Express says, “3 BJP states move to cut new traffic fines, Gadkari defends law: ‘Meant to save lives’.”

Gadkari is quoted by Express to say, “States are well within their rights to reduce fines but they will have to bear the consequences.”

Gadkari “defended the recent increase in traffic fines, even as” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee “joined Gujarat in announcing that her government will not implement the revised penalties to save people from the additional burden,” adds HT.

Modi on cows and Pakistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes headlines in Express, TOI and HT Thursday but once again, the Express and Hindu, and TOI and HT choose to highlight different remarks he made. “Hitting out at Pakistan without naming it,” Modi said that “India is capable of tackling the challenge of terrorism but the world needs to ‘strong action’ against those who promote terror and ‘provide protection and training’ to terrorists”, writes Express.

Modi “launched a nationwide cattle vaccination campaign” in Mathura, “invoking mythological references to stress need for balancing economic imperatives and the environment,” and “took a swipe at critics who, he said, believed that the gau (cow) represented a regressive past, drawing a swift riposte from the Opposition,” reports HT.

Others

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “remains concerned about any escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and appeals to both sides to deal with it through dialogue”, writes Hindu in its second lead of the day.

Also, on Wednesday, a “temporary court convened inside” AIIMS in New Delhi to “record the testimony of the Unnao rape survivor”, with “legal experts welcoming the unprecedented step that was taken to facilitate day-to-day proceedings in the sensitive case”, says HT.

In TOI’s choice of lead, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) “has relaxed some norms relating to prosecution of income tax defaulters for delay in depositing TDS (tax-deducted at source), under-reporting of income in the tax return or non-filing of I-T return”.

All the newspapers carry a small report on Pramod Kumar Mishra who as HT points out “was appointed principal secretary” to PM Modi, “making him the most powerful bureaucrat in the country” and “giving a final shape to the contours of the PMO in the second Modi government”.

“Crazy or Cool?” is how Tik Tok advertisements over the last two days — in The Hindu Thursday — call on readers to reflect on posting online.

Opinion

The Times of India: In “Enforcement Is Key”, TOI debates the hike in fines for traffic violations as per the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, which came into effect two weeks ago, and has proved to be so controversial that “even a relatively wealthy BJP-administered state” like Gujarat has felt pressured to lower them, writes TOI.

The intention behind the Act has “wide support”, explains TOI, given road fatalities are “more pronounced” in developing countries and, as per a WHO finding, “account for 93% of fatalities with around 60% of vehicles”. However, certain steps are yet to be taken with regard to the Act, like ensuring consistent enforcement through better CCTV surveillance, improved road design and escalating fines for repeat offenders.

The Indian Express: The newspaper criticises Lok Sabha Speaker and BJP leader Om Birla for asserting Brahmins as traditionally occupants of the uchha sthan (apex position) in Hindu society, during his speech at the Akhil Brahmin Mahasabha in Rajasthan. Express does not give Birla the benefit of the doubt and calls his remarks a “heedless extolling of the inequality which has for aeons hobbled Indian society, morally, politically and economically”, unlike Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati whose caste politics “sought more power for the bahujan communities”. Birla’s remarks also reveal “an anxiety within the BJP” which harbours ideological contradictions when it comes to caste and inequities in Hindu society, writes Express.

Prime Time

The refusal of several states to hike traffic rule fines was widely reported across channels — this is one consumer story that TV news has taken to heart.

In other news, CNN News-18 discussed PM Modi’s statement on ‘gau raksha’ and ‘Om’. Republic TV discussed this too as well as the hike in fines.

NDTV 24×7 focussed on a video allegedly incriminating BJP’s Chinmayanand of rape. A Uttar Pradesh law student said she was raped by him but why has the UP police still not questioned the accused, asked the channel.

India Today: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement on millennials contributing to the slump in the auto industry saw anchor Rajdeep Sardesai ask, “Is Modi Govt in denial over auto sector slump?”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra denied it: “I outrightly reject that the BJP is trying to hide from reality. Nirmala Sitharaman quite categorically said that the government is aware of the matter…”

Jagdish Khattar, former managing director at Maruti Udyog Ltd, said that there were far too many factors which affect the auto industry. For the FM to “pin it down to two-three things is not fair”, he added.

Times Now: “Justice For Tabrez” was the headline on ‘The Newshour with Navika Kumar’, after the Jharkhand police dropped murder charges against Tabrez Ansari in a lynching case.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Vinod Bansal condemned “any type” of death: “Making every issue a Hindu-Muslim issue will not do you any good. ‘The Khan Market Gang’ and the ‘Secular Brigade’ keeps doing this.”

Senior journalist Saba Naqvi said, “It is quite clear that this young man was beaten (up) in the public glare. This is a public murder committed on camera.”

Activist Saira Shah Halim said, “The Jharkhand Police is desperate to dilute the criminal charges.”

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia took a strong stand: “No individual should ever be targeted the way he (Tabrez) was.”

India TV: On ‘Kurukshetra’, panelists wondered when Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) would become a part of India as indicated by Union Minister Jitendra Singh who said that the government’s next goal is to retrieve parts of PoK.

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia displayed inordinate enthusiasm, saying. “The day is not far off when our brave brother Abhindandan Varthaman will hoist the tricolor in Lahore…” he exclaimed.

Muslim Political Council of India’s president Tasleem Rahmani reminded him that PoK was not the issue — “our Kashmiri brothers” want their “haq” right now.

Communist Party of India’s Vivek Srivastava felt the minister’s statement was a deliberate ploy: “When you cannot solve your own problems related to economy and unemployment, you divert the public’s attention through such vague statements,” he stated.

ABP News: Rubika Liyaquat on ‘Seedha Sawal’ also discussed PoK.

Pakistani journalist Mona Alam said, “We have been able to internationalise the Kashmir dispute to a great extent. Pakistan and China’s joint statement regarding Jammu and Kashmir is also encouraging… You (India) cannot turn a blind eye to reality.”

BJP’s spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said that if there is any “scope” for bilateral talks, “it is only regarding Pakistan occupied Kashmir. This is our land which has been snatched away by your country…”

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