The murder of Hindu Samaj Party leader Kamlesh Tiwari was the hot topic of discussion on most Hindi channels Wednesday.
In English, NDTV 24×7 debated a Bombay High Court verdict, delivered Tuesday, that struck down phone intercepts to be considered as evidence. Times Now dwelt on the NIA filing a chargesheet Wednesday against the Peoples’ Liberation Front of India in Jharkhand. And on Republic TV, Arnab Goswami “exposed” the Bollywood connection to Dawood Ibrahim and asked if the Enforcement Directorate would investigate movie stars as well.
Zee News: Anchor Aman Chopra opened a politically-charged debate with communal innuendoes on ‘Taal Thok Ke’. He called the Kathua rape case and Kamlesh Tiwari’s murder a conspiracy against Hindus. He was aggressive in naming celebrities who had shown solidarity with the Kathua rape case victim. ‘Pakistani premi gang ki khul gayi pol, kyunki Zee News hai’, (People who love Pakistan are exposed because of Zee News), the headline read.
Chopra needled Abdul Razzak Khan of Janata Dal (Secular) who burst out, “I do not condemn the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari because he deserved this fate.”
BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia asked the audience to cry ‘shame-shame’ and the audience obliged.
Author Madhu Kishwar was no less incendiary: “I say this with complete surety that the girl in Kathua was not raped at all…her own family members were involved in her killing.”
ABP News: Anchor Rubika Liyaquat referred to protests in PoK against the Pakistan Army. The debate turned into a slugfest between BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra and Pakistani journalist Umar Altaf.
Altaf said, “We, at least, allowed foreign media and diplomats to see the ground situation in PoK, your government has locked down the citizens of Kashmir.” He added, “In India, Muslims are killed for eating beef. What kind of a democracy it is?”
To this, Patra replied, “Our country has the world’s second-largest Muslim population which are living peacefully here. We don’t have to learn from you about human rights.”
India Today: Kamlesh Tiwari’s brutal murder saw the case cracked in five days. Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai said the culprits went ahead after a green signal from a maulana.
UP Director General of Police O.P. Singh said, “…this is the best example of investigation done by UP police…. We lost no time in collecting evidence…”
Sardesai played a clip of Tiwari’s mother who said, “It is good that the culprits have been nabbed but I am still not completely satisfied…why did the UP police even allow the culprits to run in the first place, the murder took place in broad daylight at 11 am.”
“…Do you believe there was a security threat not looked into seriously enough?” Sardesai asked Singh.
“…for the last one and a half years Kamlesh Tiwari had been provided with a gunner and a police guard at his residence,” countered Singh.
CNN-News18: Anchor Anand Narasimhan Wednesday gave a good impersonation of Arnab Goswami during a debate on Pakistan being a terror state on #PakBleedsKashmir.
“The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has killed more Muslims than any other country combined.” He went on: “Across their provinces — the occupied ones which form the sovereign territory of Pakistan — all they have is atrocities…”
He was fact-checked by Pakistani journalist Maleeha Hashmey: “Who lives in Pakistan, me or you?”
But Narasimhan shouted at her and another panelist from Pakistan: “You don’t tell me what to do, you first behave like a responsible nation in the first place.”
Mainstream newspapers differ in their choice of leads Thursday. The Times of India leads with the big merger — “BSNL, MTNL to be merged; Centre lines up ₹70,000 cr revival package”; The Indian Express is on the polls and Jammu and Kashmir — “In first test after Art 370 move, J&K votes in block polls today”; Hindustan Times focuses on illegal colonies in Delhi with “Power to the unauthorised” while The Hindu chooses an international story for lead — “39 bodies found in truck in London”.
BSNL-MTNL merger:A massive Rs 70,000 crore revival package was announced for “telecom PSUs BSNL and MTNL” by the government, writes TOI. It also categorically mentions that TOI was “the first to report on the proposed mega package”. The proposed changes along with the merger include 4G spectrum, restructuring debts, voluntary retirement scheme for employees and asset monetisation, reports Hindu.
The newspapers were less than kind in their description of the two firms — Hindu calls them “beleaguered state-owned telecom firms” and HT says they are “money-losing firms”, Express mentions that they are “reeling under the pressure of mounting losses” while TOI calls them “ailing” and “heavily bleeding”.
Illegal colonies in Delhi: The union government announced — “about four million people living across at least 1,700 unauthorised colonies in Delhi will be given ownership rights over their properties,” reports HT. This marks a “long-awaited movement on a politically sensitive issue that has been in limbo for over a decade,” it adds.
Hindu provides the detail that “apart from buying and selling of these properties, the people will be able to get loans…and the government can carry out development works”. TOI significantly points out that the move comes “barely three months before the Delhi assembly polls”. Express carries the report on its Page 1 as well.
39 bodies in London: “Britain launched a major investigation after 39 bodies were found in a truck at an industrial park in Grays, east of London” writes Hindu. Express adds that the truck is believed to be from Bulgaria and came from Belgium and entered Britain. TOI and HT also report the news on their front pages.
Others: Express’ lead is on J&K’s block polls and it writes that “this is the first time that over 26,000 panchs and sarpanchs from across the state…will cast their votes in their respective blocks to elect the BDC chairpersons”. It also reports that with “the NCP, PDP and Congress…deciding to boycott the polls, questions are being raised about the credibility of the process”
Hindu: It writes that the Supreme Court decision to take over pending cases relating to web content regulation, the role of intermediaries and traceability of encrypted messages is both a “challenge and opportunity”. The challenge is to find a “balance between requiring access to the originators of encrypted content and respecting individual privacy”. The “unique opportunity” is to test the pact of the K.S. Puttaswamy verdict (2017) — the judgment that declared privacy as a fundamental right.
Express: Questions about Kashmir’s lockdown raised in the US congressional hearing “Human Rights in South Asia”, “need to be addressed, not managed”, writes Express.
The panel was “unconvinced” with India’s justification that the restrictions were to protect against “Pakistan sponsored terrorism”. The assistant secretary of state for South Asia reiterated that Delhi had not allowed US diplomats to visit Kashmir.
An electoral exercise is underway in the state while “every known politician of the Valley is under house arrest”, but the BJP seems to have “permission” to carry out political activity in the state. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has blamed the “English-speaking liberal media” for being biased, but a “media spin will not be enough to make the questions go away”, writes Express.