New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the sedition law till the Centre completes its exercise of re-examining its provisions, the plea to open 22 closed rooms of the Taj Mahal to “ascertain the presence of Hindu idols” that was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court, and the Gyanvapi-Kashi Vishwanath legal tussle jostled for space on the front pages of Urdu newspapers this past week.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of headlines and editorials in the Urdu press this week.
SC judgment on sedition law
The Supreme Court order putting on hold all pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges under the sedition law was covered prominently by Inquilab, Siasat and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara on their front pages.
All three papers maintained an unwavering gaze on the proceedings. The Centre’s U-turn on the contentious legislation — from staunchly defending it to telling the apex court that it will reconsider the provisions of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — was also featured on the front page by both Inquilab and Sahara on 10 May.
A day later, when the apex court passed its order, Inquilab, in an article, described it as a “blow” to the government.
A front-page opinion piece published in Inquilab on 12 May lauded Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, who was part of the three-judge bench that passed the order, stating that he had done what many of the sharpest legal brains at the dawn of India’s Independence had called for, and for this act he deserves a salute from all those who were victimised under the law. This is not the end of the matter, but is a historic step, the piece further said.
An editorial in Sahara published the same day said that, ideally, the government should suo motu reassess the sedition law, which is being misused and against which petitions are being filed in court. It further said the government had come to a belated realisation that the law needs a relook.
A 13 May Siasat editorial stated that there are countless instances of the sedition law having been used to imprison people over simple statements, and activists’ voices were often sought to be throttled by application of this law, due to which some of them languished in jail for years.
Gyanvapi mosque legal tussle & Taj Mahal row
The stalling of a court-ordered survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex in connection with a title dispute case in Varanasi, and the court proceedings that followed, found place on the front pages of all three papers.
On 8 May, Inquilab reported about the survey team’s unsuccessful attempt to enter the Gyanvapi mosque. As an inset in the report, it carried a statement made by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who said the judicial direction to conduct the survey was a violation of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, and the Supreme Court judgment given in the Babri Masjid title dispute.
On 9 May, Sahara published a front-page story under the headline ‘Gyanvapi Masjid: Division among petitioners’, reporting that one of the petitioners, the Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh, had decided to withdraw its petition. Siasat, too, carried a front-page report on the same.
On 12 May, Inquilab reported about the proceedings in the case. Next day, Siasat ran a front-page report on the court’s direction to wrap up the survey by 17 May.
Meanwhile, another dispute of the same genre was nipped in the bud when the Allahabad High Court threw out a petition seeking the opening of 22 locked rooms inside the Taj Mahal. Siasat put the story on its front page, alongside its Gyanvapi report. Sahara, too, carried the news on its front page.
Jahangirpuri & Shaheen Bagh
On 9 May, Inquilab and Sahara reported on a Rohini court’s strong observations on the communal flare-up that took place in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri last month. The court commented on the “utter failure” of the Delhi Police in stopping the Hanuman Jayanti procession — which was held without permission and during which the violence occurred. It also said the police’s complicity, “if any”, needed to be probed.
In another article, Inquilab reported that the Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against “the dangerous politics of bulldozers that has been started to destroy minorities especially Muslims under the guise of crime prevention in BJP-ruled states”.
On 10 May, Inquilab and Sahara reported about a civic body’s action against alleged encroachment at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. Inquilab wrote on its front page that the Supreme Court had heard the petitions of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind that sought a stay on the anti-encroachment drive.
The apex court refused to stay the drive and gave the petitioners the option of approaching the Delhi High Court. The court also told the civic body “not to remove structures without issuing notice”.
Sahara’s report said that civic officials who reached Shaheen Bagh to remove encroachments had to return with their bulldozers amid mass protests by local residents who took to the streets to oppose the drive.
Population & census
On 9 May, Sahara carried a front-page report stating that the fertility rate among India’s Muslims had recorded the steepest decline over the past two decades, citing data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5). The fertility rate has dropped by 47 per cent, reaching 2.3 in 2019-2021 from 4.4 in 1992-93, when the first such survey was carried out.
In a 10 May editorial, Inquilab said the latest report of the National Family Health Survey has “exposed the lies of Hindutva elements and the misconceptions spread by them”. It further said that this is “not a new tactic of the sectarians”, who have “long been bent on imprinting on the minds of the majority that Muslim population of the country would soon exceed that of Hindus”.
A 10 May article in the paper dealt with the long-running debate over police reforms in India. The report also stated that, according to a 2019 report of the National Campaign Against Torture, around six people die in custody every day in India.
In an article the same day, Sahara reported that Union Minister Amit Shah had announced that the next census would be an e-census, which would provide the basis for the country’s development plan for the next 25 years. He also said India’s birth and death register would be linked to the census.
The soaring temperatures and power shortage were a persistent theme in the Urdu press this past week. Inquilab, in a 7 May editorial titled ‘After Hai inflation it is Hai power’, said it is a double whammy that a population already battling inflation has to now deal with power shortages at a time when temperatures are on the rise.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)