New Delhi: The derogatory remarks allegedly made by Hindu leader Kalicharan Maharaj against Mahatma Gandhi at a religious conference in Raipur, the raid at businessman Piyush Jain’s Kanpur residence, and the upcoming assembly elections in five states dominated the Urdu press this week.
ThePrint brings you a round-up of what made it to the front pages and what editorial stances prominent newspapers took.
On 28 December, three Urdu newspapers, Inquilab, Siasat and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara carried front page articles about Hindu leader Kalicharan Maharaj allegedly making derogatory comments about Mahatma Gandhi at a Dharam Sansad organised in the Chhattisgarh capital of Raipur. In videos from the event, Kalicharan appeared to be abusing Gandhi and praising his assassin Nathuram Godse.
On 29 December, Siasat reported that despite the registration of an FIR against Kalicharan, the Hindu leader allegedly continued to call himself anti-Gandhi and did not withdraw the comments made against the Father of the Nation.
On 30 December, Inquilab and Roznama both carried front page news of the National Commission for Minorities taking cognisance of the alleged hate speeches made at the Dharam Sansad in Raipur, as well as another religious conference in Uttarakhand.
The same day, Roznama and Inquilab also published articles that quoted actor Naseeruddin Shah as having said that those calling for Muslim genocide were calling for civil war in the country.
On 31 December, Siasat published front page news of Kalicharan’s arrest by Chhattisgarh Police. An editorial published in Inquilab the same day questioned how the central and state intelligence agencies were unaware of the plan for minority targeting at the Raipur Dharam Sansad. An editorial carried in Roznama wondered why the conference was allowed at all.
Piyush Jain raid case
News of the raid at businessman Piyush Jain’s Kanpur residence by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), and recovery of an alleged amount of Rs 150 crore in cash, featured prominently on the front page of many Urdu dailies. The newspapers also criticised the BJP government, both at the Centre and in UP, in the case.
On 29 December, Roznama carried an editorial alleging that the Modi government’s claim that demonetisation would help flush out black money has been belied. The paper also claimed that demonetisation had impacted not those who deposit money illegally, but the poor and small businessmen.
The editorial claimed that while the Yogi Adityanath government in UP had called the raid a success, it questioned why it took the government so long to track him. It alleged that while the Modi government was aware of “food in a Muslim family’s refrigerator” (a reference to Muslims being targeted for alleged beef possession and consumption), it was unaware of black money being hoarded by Jain.
The paper also criticised the UP CM — who had alleged that Jain was close to the Samajwadi Party — for giving a political colour to the raid.
In an editorial published on 30 December, Inquilab claimed that while PM Modi had raised the slogan of “na khaunga na khane dunga” (won’t be corrupt, will not allow corruption), the BJP had failed to take action against those with black money.
Election Commission on 2022 assembly elections
On 28 December, Roznama, Inquilab and Siasat carried front page news of a meeting between the Election Commission of India and the health ministry, ahead of assembly elections in five states in 2022.
Roznama wrote that despite the fear of the Omicron variant, there seem to be no immediate plans to push back elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand. Rather the EC has asked the health ministry to speed up vaccinations, which is being seen as an indication that elections will be held according to schedule.
The newspaper also quoted officials as saying that if elections are postponed, it would lead to a situation where President’s Rule would have to be imposed in the states. All the preparations will also have to be done afresh.
Siasat also carried an article stating that a decision on the postponement of elections in these states could be taken in the next meeting of the Election Commission and the health ministry.
On 31 December, Roznama, Siasat and Inquilab carried on their front pages reports on Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra’s announcement of holding assembly elections on time. The announcement came after a team from the commission completed a three-day visit to Uttar Pradesh.
Aam Aadmi Party win in Chandigarh
On 28 December, Siasat and Roznama carried reports of the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections on their front pages. While Roznama described the AAP victory as a big setback for BJP, Siasat predicted the municipal election results could be indicative of a coming change in the Punjab assembly elections.
Rest of the world
On 29 December, Inquilab, Roznama and Siasat reported that Israeli fighter jets had fired missiles at the port of the Syrian coastal city of Latakia in the early hours of Tuesday, but that no casualties were reported.
On the same day, Inquilab carried an editorial remembering South African human rights and anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It also stated that Tutu was strongly against Israeli occupation and aggression in Palestine.
On 30 December, Roznama and Inquilab prominently featured reports of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Israel.