New Delhi: The Supreme Court remained the flavour of the week, with ‘love jihad’ and forced conversions making headlines in Urdu newspapers. However, it was a verdict that’s now four years old that made a return to the front page following criticism from one of the court’s own.
The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi ruling of 2019 was in the crosshairs of a former SC judge, who criticised it for having opened the floodgates for similar communally sensitive litigations.
Among other issues that kept the papers busy was the tussle between the Delhi government and lieutenant general (L-G) and the tension over cracks and demolitions in Joshimath, the cold wave conditions across the country, and the announcement of the 2023 Haj quota.
ThePrint brings you a weekly roundup of all the news that made headlines in the Urdu press this week.
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A flurry of cases in the Supreme Court on sensitive issues and some rather belated analysis of its judgments frequently made the front pages throughout the week.
On 7 January, Inquilab reported on its front page that the Muslim socio-religious organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the apex court asking for the laws passed by five states against ‘love jihad’ — a moniker given to instances of Muslim men marrying Hindu women following the latter’s conversion — to be set aside. The laws, the petition says, are against personal freedom and the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
Another report on the front page said that the Indian Railways didn’t have documents to prove their ownership of the contentious land in Haldwani, where the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) intervention stopped demolitions that would have affected about 50,000 people, mostly Muslims.
On 10 January, Siasat reported the SC’s observation that forced conversions are a serious issue that shouldn’t be given a political colour. The court’s remarks, carried on the front page of the day’s edition, came on the back of a petition that demanded a law against forced conversions.
The same day, Justice (retired) V. Gopala Gowda, a former SC judge, made the front page of Siasat front page for his apparently critical take on the SC’s ruling on the Ayodhya title dispute.
Justice Gowda was speaking at the national convention on ‘Save Constitution, Save Democracy’ organised by the All India Lawyers Union, Delhi Union of Journalists, and Democratic Teachers Front.
In his speech, the former SC judge said that the 2019 judgment in which ownership of the disputed land that once housed the Babri Masjid had been handed over to the Hindu side, had opened the floodgates of similar litigations such as the Gyanvapi mosque dispute.
On 11 January, Inquilab reported that the SC had given four weeks for responses to a petition that asked for the cut-off date for citizenship to be fixed as 1951 instead of 1971. The report said that in his petition, which was filed in the context of Assam, Jamiat president Arshad Madani had opposed the idea saying that such a revision would raise grave humanitarian issues.
Another issue that caught the Urdu press’s attention was the recent revelation by the Union government that 79 per cent of the judges appointed to India’s high courts were from the upper caste, while only 2 per cent were from the Scheduled Castes and minorities.
Commenting on the submissions, which the Union government had made before a parliamentary panel, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara said in an editorial that the numbers were worrying. However, the editorial, published on 11 January, said that these numbers should not be used as an excuse by the government to make appointments of its own choice as that would effectively end the independence of the judiciary.
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On 13 January, Inquilab reported on its front page that after Joshimath, cracks appeared in houses at Karanprayag in Chamoli. The report said that cracks had appeared in 82 places, forcing authorities to move residents to safer places.
The newspaper also carried a statement by Army Chief General Manoj Pandey on Joshimath. In a statement, he said several soldiers had been asked to leave the town.
On 11 January, Inquilab reported on its front page that 4,000 people have been moved out of Joshimath. The report also said that while authorities had decided to demolish the structures that had developed cracks, residents refused to allow government authorities to go ahead with it, demanding fair compensation and rehabilitation in its place.
Haj also figured prominently in the Urdu press. On 10 January, Siasat reported that India had managed to corner the largest increase in Haj quota after Saudi Arabia agreed to admit 1,75,025 Indians for the holy trip in 2023.
On 11 January, Inquilab reported that Saudi Arabia had lifted the restrictions that it had placed on the number of Haj pilgrims in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
Siasat and Sahara said that the country had reinstated the number of pilgrims to the pre-pandemic numbers.
Kejriwal vs L-G
The ongoing tussle between the Delhi government under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena also made front-page headlines.
On 13 January, Sahara prominently reported that a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court was hearing the tussle. The paper reported that on the third day of the hearing, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked why Delhi still had an elected government if all administrative decisions were in the hands of the central government.
The SC’s remarks came after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Union Commission, the Union Service Commission, and the Union Public Service Commission all came under the All India Service Code. Mehta said that the question about the national capital “will have far-reaching implications”.
The cold wave conditions in the north and the India Meteorological Department’s predictions for the next few days also remained on the front pages of all three Urdu newspapers throughout the week.
On 8 January, Inquilab reported that north India was in the grip of a cold wave and that several cities will see rain.
In a similar story on 9 January, Sahara said states like Bihar and Rajasthan recording lower temperatures even than Jammu. Several trains had been cancelled, the report, which was carried as a flier, added.
On 12 January, Sahara reported that Delhi was witnessing the worst winter in 23 years.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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