New Delhi: From the swearing-in of a new prime minister in Pakistan and the still-raging Russia-Ukraine war, to communal violence on Ram Navami and hate speeches back home, there was much news abroad and in India to keep the Urdu newspapers busy.
ThePrint brings you a round-up of what the papers gave top billing to on their front pages, and what they expressed editorial opinions about, in our weekly feature UrduScope.
Ram Navami violence
The violence on the day of Ram Navami across several states and also at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi was one of the most important stories all week, and Urdu papers covered it prominently.
On 12 April, both Inquilab and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara reported the incidents of violence on their front pages. Inquilab also carried a small inset about a statement from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that hate was weakening the country.
On the same day, Siasat wrote on its front page that the administration had used bulldozers to raze at least 50 houses belonging to people from the minority community as retribution for the violence in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, on Ram Navami.
On 14 April, Inquilab carried on its front page a report about a tweet by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the largest opposition party in Bihar, which claimed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party had turned Ram Navami into Danga Navami in an organised fashion. The party used the hashtag ‘Indian Muslims Under Attack’, the paper reported.
In a reference to the violence in JNU, allegedly over allowing meat in hostels on Ram Navami, Sahara’s 13 April editorial, titled ‘Veg+Non-Veg=Hindustan’, said RSS and some of its organisations were trying to recreate the pre-Independence atmosphere in India for electoral gains, but that its fallout would affect the entire country.
The same day, Inquilab wrote in its editorial that from protests about Friday prayers in Haryana to tension in Karnataka over hijab and the use of loudspeakers for azaan, there was a systematic effort to make anything to do with Muslims a contentious issue. However, it said, had the police done its work, the hijab row would not have taken on such proportions. The press too must refrain from adding fuel to the fire, the paper said, advocating the return of peace committees.
As court hearings continue over hate speeches at a religious gatherings, the issue continued to dominate Urdu papers.
On 14 April, Inquilab and Sahara reported on their front pages that the Supreme Court had asked the government of Uttarakhand to submit a status report on its inquiry into the Haridwar dharam sansad and the court’s refusal to stop a similar gathering in Himachal Pradesh. In the latter case, the court issued notice to the state administration, the paper reported.
Both Inquilab and Sahara also carried on their front pages divisive statements made by a saffron-clad mahant Bajrang Muni on 9 April, and news about his arrest on 14 April.
On 15 April, Siasat ran a front-page report saying that the Indian chapter of Amnesty International had objected to the targeting of properties belonging to Muslims in Khargone.
On 9 April, Siasat carried a front-page story on the Ashok Gehlot government’s decision to have Ramayan Path at temples in Rajasthan and the Ajmer administration’s ban on using loudspeakers at religious places.
On 14 April, Inquilab wondered in an editorial if Karnataka would become the next stronghold of communal politics after Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. It went on to say that the economic fallout of communal incidents is not limited to just one community.
On 15 April, Sahara carried front-page news about Uttar Pradesh’s Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak pausing midway through his speech when he heard azaan being played at a local mosque. The paper wrote Pathak’s gesture came at a time when playing azaan over loudspeakers has become a contentious topic in Karnataka and in Maharashtra, where the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena wants it stopped.
Pakistan’s political crisis
The constitutional crisis in Pakistan took up headlines for much of the week.
On 11 April, Sahara, Siasat, and Inquilab all quoted an Al Jazeera report that proceedings in Pakistan’s National Assembly continued until Sunday morning in the absence of the members of the ruling party, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and the Speaker.
Inquilab said in its report that Khan was voted out as the prime minister of Pakistan, bringing the curtains down on his era.
A column in Sahara on the same day reported that a petition before the Islamabad High Court wanted Khan and some of his cabinet ministers to be added to Pakistan’s Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent them from leaving the country.
The same day, Inquilab reported that Shehbaz Sharif, who was being talked about as the next prime minister at the time, spoke about Kashmir even before he officially became the prime minister. The article also quoted Sharif as saying he wanted peace with India but that wasn’t possible until the Kashmir issue was resolved.
Sahara said in its editorial on 11 April that Pakistan’s power game continued even after Imran’s ouster, with PML-N president and United Opposition candidate Shehbaz Sharif filing his nomination for the Leader of House. The editorial then wondered that if the opposition parties were to put aside their differences and come together, how long would it last.
Siasat said in its editorial on 11 April that although there were no allegations of corruption against Imran Khan, the allegations against his friend and financier Aleem Khan could corner him. It also praised Imran Khan’s persistence in fighting till the end, but said he could have responded to the allegations on the floor of the house and left with dignity if he had faced the vote of no confidence.
On 12 April, Inquilab, Siasat, and Sahara ran front-page news of PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif’s oath-taking late in the night after being elected unopposed with 174 votes.
Sahara also wrote in its report that as a state that has grappled with political instability and the military since its inception, Pakistan is yet to have a prime minister who has completed their full term of five years.
Siasat said in its editorial on 12 April that Shehbaz Sharif will now have to hold the alliance together. A look at Pakistan’s politics makes it clear that alliance can be made or broken anytime, the editorial stated.
Sahara reported on 13 April that Shehbaz Sharif had thanked his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for having congratulated him on his ascent to power and said he wanted a peaceful and cooperative relationship with India. However, Sharif also said peace could be had only if pending disputes, such as the Kashmir issue, are resolved.
Sahara reported on 14 April that Sharif could take some time to announce his new cabinet, given the fragile nature of the ruling coalition. It cited sources in the PML-N and PPP quoted by The Dawn newspaper as saying that the leadership in both parties wanted to accommodate supporting parties in the federal cabinet and give them the ministry of their choice.
The paper also reported in another column that the new government of Pakistan had directed its Interior Ministry to renew the passports of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, both of whom live in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom, and that the ruling PML-N is now debating how to get Nawaz Sharif, the new PM’s older brother, to return to Pakistan.
Inflation and Ukraine
The war in Ukraine and its effect on fuel prices and inflation continued to make front-page news. In its lead story on 14 April, ‘Not just Muslims, all Indians are bothered by Inflation’, Siasat wrote that inflation that began in India after 2014 had spiralled out of control recently.
Inquilab linked the Russia-Ukraine war to inflation and fuel price rise, and wrote on 10 April that the world economy would have made a recovery from the effects of the pandemic had it not been for Putin and the war in Ukraine. The paper analysed the war in another editorial on the same day, writing that Russia, which has been accused of using vacuum and cluster bombs, was unprepared for the resistance that the Ukrainians showed.
The 2+2 talks between the USA and India and the barbs they exchanged over rights violations also made the front pages.
The virtual meeting between PM Modi and President Joe Biden made lead news in Siasat on 11 April. On 13 April, Inquilab led with the US flagging human rights violations in India with Minister For External Affairs S. Jaishankar and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
A day later, Inquilab also carried Jaishankar’s response saying India was concerned about rights violations in the US.
On 14 April, Sahara carried news about Rajnath Singh’s arrival in Hawaii for a tour of the United States Indo-Pacific Command.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)