New Delhi: The week saw a flurry of demolition drives across the country, ending with bulldozers razing properties in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, just days after the locality witnessed communal violence during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.
While the bulldozer — referred to as a tool of “hate” and “replacement for court” — dominated the front pages of Urdu newspapers, the row over loudspeakers, the Russia-Ukraine war and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India too received prominent coverage.
ThePrint brings you a round-up of this week’s top news and editorials from the Urdu press.
Bulldozers & riots
Communal violence during Hanuman Jayanti in Jahangirpuri, followed by a spate of demolitions by the North Delhi civic body, kept this locality in the news for much of the week. The lead story on the front page of Inquilab on 22 April was about the Supreme Court’s order for status quo on the demolitions, which continued for a while even after the apex court’s directions.
The paper carried two statements as insets. The first one was by Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, a Delhi-based organisation of Islamic scholars, who commented that: “From now on, after every riot, bulldozers will be used to target a particular community.” The other was from the organisation’s president, Maulana Arshad Madani, who welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) order. The Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind is a petitioner in the matter.
Both leaders were also quoted in the Roznama Rashtriya Sahara’s lead story about Jahangirpuri on its front page, with Maulana Arshad Madani refuting Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s claim that the Jamiat was trying to “communalise” the matter. The Siasat, alongside a report about the SC order, carried a statement by actor Prakash Raj which read: “These people will someday break the country too.”
The Jamiat’s petition to SC against the demolition has been on the front pages since it was filed. On 18 April, the lead story on Sahara’s front page carried the headline ‘Jamiat in Supreme Court against use of bulldozers against properties owned by Muslims’. On 19 April, Inquilab reported that the Hanuman Jayati procession at the heart of the flare-up in the area, did not have the requisite police permission.
On 16 April, even before the Jahangirpuri incident had occurred, demolition drives were conducted in various parts of the country, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The lead headline on Siasat’s front page read: ‘BJP’s bulldozer of hate continues its journey’. Its 17 April editorial titled ‘Bulldozer as a replacement for court’ claimed that BJP governments in various states are not even willing to wait for court proceedings, even though there is no law in the country that allows demolition of properties of people accused of inciting riots. On 21 April, Sahara quoted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as saying that the “rule of law had been bulldozed”.
In its 18 April editorial, Sahara wrote that a large segment of the population does not want riots, but many are often too scared for their own and their family’s safety to stand up to rioters. This situation, the piece said, needs to change if “we are to prevent a handful of people from repeatedly causing strife”.
In its 22 April editorial, Siasat wrote that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, buoyed by his party’s victory in the Punjab assembly elections, is busy making plans for other states at a time when his own city is witnessing communal tensions peaking. Inquilab in its 21 April editorial wrote that communal violence never happens at the spur of the moment. “There is first an attempt to vitiate the atmosphere and these days it is done through social media. If the police cyber cell stays alert, a lot of these incidents can be prevented”, the piece said.
The aftermath of a growing number of voices opposing use of loudspeakers by mosques continued to make headlines. On 19 April, Sahara carried a report that said Maharashtra is looking to frame guidelines regarding loudspeaker usage. A day later, the paper carried a front page report that said 72 per cent mosques in Mumbai had already reduced the volumes of their loudspeakers.
On 21 April, Sahara reported about Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a national policy on the use of loudspeakers that should first be implemented in Gujarat, Bihar and Delhi.
Boris, Russia & Biden
On 18 April, Siasat carried a front page report on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India and his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Roznama on 19 April published a report on its front page about Sweden, where a far-right, anti-immigration group allegedly burnt the holy book of Muslims, leading to riots. Another column in Roznama also mentioned that Saudi Arabia had strongly condemned Sweden over the violence.
A 19 April editorial in Roznama claimed that US President Joe Biden’s Palestine policy is no different from that of his predecessor Donald Trump, so it is unthinkable that his government would take a hard line on the Al-Aqsa Mosque incident in Jerusalem. Last Friday, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians after the former entered the mosque’s compound. Over 150 were reportedly injured in the incident.
“It is unlikely that such an incident will affect Israel’s relations with Arab countries for which its friendship is of great importance, but it is certain that such an incident will not have a good effect on Muslims of these countries,” the piece read. It further commented that Israel’s handling of the clashes was surprising as Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is a coalition that includes an Arab party. Arab countries will be able to tolerate the way the incident is being handled, only to a certain extent.
A 19 April editorial in Inquilab on the Russia-Ukraine war said that imposing sanctions against Russia and freezing its assets abroad is not enough. It further said that reports suggest Russia’s own citizens are disliking the war, because of which Moscow is shutting down many sources of information.
A 20 April editorial carried by Roznama on the Kabul school attacks said that the new Taliban regime seems to be doing the same things done by the old regime. The situation of Afghanistan’s minorities in particular is deteriorating, and the Taliban do not seem serious about fulfilling their promises on basic issues such as human rights, civil liberties and tolerance, the piece further said.
According to the editorial, the Taliban’s old attitude towards minorities and women in particular has been one of the biggest obstacles to building Afghanistan. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise due to the suspension of foreign aid, and lack of financial resources is hampering the rebuilding of the country, it added.
On 20 April, Siasat carried an editorial on the Sri Lanka crisis which claimed that the government of that country is either exhibiting indifference on public issues, or the situation is out of its control. In either case, the government should step down, the piece said. A joint meeting of all opposition parties should be convened to discuss measures to control the situation, it added.
On 18 April, Roznama carried a front page report on the effect of rising prices of petrol and diesel, which said that according to industry data, sales of petrol and diesel declined by about 10 per cent and 15.6 per cent respectively in the first 15 days of April, while demand for LPG dropped by 1.7 per cent in the same period.
The paper on 19 April reported that wholesale price-based inflation hit a four-month high of 14.55 per cent in March, attributing the rise mainly to higher crude oil and commodity prices.
On 21 April, Inquilab carried an editorial that questioned rising fuel prices when oil is cheaper in the world market. It also said that the government had given a bizarre justification for the same in the form of “free vaccines and free rations”. “Not every citizen of the country benefits from these facilities, but petrol and diesel prices affect everyone, so the government must monitor tax rates,” it said.
Renewed Covid scare
On April 21, Inquilab carried a front page report on the Delhi administration’s decision to make face masks mandatory again. The report said that there is now fear of another Covid wave. Sahara too carried a new report on the renewed mask mandate in Delhi, highlighting Rs 500 fine for violating it.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)