New Delhi: While Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Thakur’s call to arms, asking people to keep their vegetable knives sharpened, drew sharp reactions from the Urdu press this week, much was also made of Rahul Gandhi’s description of the Bharat Jodo Yatra as a “shop of love in a market of hate”.
Among other issues that kept the Urdu press busy this week were the renewed buzz over Covid, Allahabad High Court’s decision to hold Uttar Pradesh municipal elections without Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation, and the change of guard in Nepal.
In addition, the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra and its outreach to other opposition parties also remained on the front pages of Urdu newspapers.
ThePrint brings you a round-up of the headlines that made front-page headlines in Urdu papers this week.
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Pragya Thakur’s ‘hate speech’
Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur’s alleged hate speech at Karnataka’s Shivamogga district drew sharp outrage from all three Urdu papers — Siasat, Inquilab, and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.
In her speech in Shivamogga, Thakur asked Hindus to “sharpen their knives” against “love jihad”.
On 27 December, Siasat and Inquilab carried Pragya Thakur’s statement on their front pages. The same day, Siasat’s editorial called Pragya’s advice “provocative” and said BJP leaders continue to mock the law with such statements.
“Disregarding legal and constitutional responsibility, they continue to poison. Attempts are being made to spoil the environment (of the country) in new ways. Yet the government or law enforcement agencies are unwilling to take any action against them,” the editorial said. “It seems that law enforcement agencies have also started working at the behest of the government or under political patronage and they do not remember their duties or they are deliberately avoiding these duties. This kind of attitude has also raised suspicions about law enforcement agencies.”
On 28 December, Siasat carried news of Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla filing a police complaint via email against Pragya Thakur.
Sahara’s editorial the next day — on 29 December — said there were a dozen speeches of Pragya that need to be acted upon in the light of the Supreme Court’s October order on hate speech.
In its order on 21 October, the Supreme Court asked state governments and police departments to take suo motu action against hate speeches.
Sahara’s editorial said that the Shivamogga speech was not only openly hostile against Muslims but could also incite people to commit murder. “Despite this, the Karnataka government isn’t willing to take any action against them. So it should be understood that only some special people are destined for legal action,” the editorial said.
Congress and Bharat Jodo Yatra
The Congress’ invitation to other opposition parties to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra remained on the front pages of Urdu papers this week.
In its lead story on 25 December, Siasat quoted Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the Red Fort. Gandhi, whose 3,500 km yatra had been in Delhi then, claimed that the central government is “not of Narendra Modi but of Adani and Ambani”.
On 27 December, Siasat’s front page carried a photo of Rahul offering floral tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s memorial.
The paper also carried another story on the youth Congress saying that the yatra would defeat hate.
In its editorial on December 28 titled ‘UP opposition agog about Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Siasat wrote that Congress has so far adopted a “wait and watch” policy on the participation of Uttar Pradesh stakeholders in the yatra but in a state that is so politically significant, opposition unity is crucial.
“It would not be possible to stop the BJP juggernaut in the state unless all serious opposition parties came together,” the paper wrote, adding that participation in the yatra could be a starting point for such collaboration.
In its front page lead on 27 December, Inquilab carried Congress’ allegations that the yatris on the Bharat Jodo Yatra had been subjected to questioning by the Intelligence Bureau.
In a related story on the front page, the paper reported that former UP chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary were unlikely to participate in the yatra despite being invited.
On 29 December, Siasat reported on its front page that the Congress party had written to the Union ministry of home affairs about its concerns over the security of its former president Rahul Gandhi in the course of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
In its front page coverage of the celebrations of the Congress’ 138th Foundation Day on 29 December, Sahara quoted Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge as saying that an attack is being made on the foundational values of India.
On 30 December, Inquilab played on Rahul’s description of the yatra as a “shop of love in a market of hate”. In its editorial, Inquilab said the relationship between love and hate is like that of truth and falsehoods — that one always triumphs over the other no matter how strong its proponents.
“Lakhs and crores of people have refused to be swayed by the dominant discourse and remained firm in their values. They are reasons for the success of the yatra, the editorial said.
Inquilab’s 27 December editorial attempted to take stock of the benefits of the yatra so far. Among those it counted as the yatra’s strengths were the strengthening of the party’s organisational structure, improvement in Rahul Gandhi’s public image, and a “change in the general atmosphere of the country”.
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In its editorial on 25 December, Inquilab wrote that Covid numbers in India are fewer than usual. The numbers were so few, in fact, that they aren’t worth discussing, it said.
However, it’s essential to take steps, such as increased checking at airports to ensure that the situation remains so, it said, adding that since it’s also the season of the common cold, special attention needs to be given to the treatment of such ailments.
The news about mandatory testing of travellers from Southeast Asian countries was also the lead story of Sahara on that day. On 27 December, Inquilab reported that two Covid cases had been detected in Kolkata and four in Delhi. These cases were found during random tests on air travellers, the report said
The next day, Siasat lead story said that essential measures are being taken across India to deal with any possible rise in Covid cases. In a separate report, the paper also reported that China had decided to lift mandatory quarantine requirements for foreign travellers from 8 January.
On 28 December, Siasat and Sahara reported that a countrywide mock drill in India had been undertaken a day earlier to check Covid preparedness.
In a separate story, the Sahara reported that Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech’s nasal Covid vaccine would be available from the fourth week of January
On 30 December, Siasat reported the central government’s decision to subject travellers from six nations — including China — to mandatory RT-PCR tests from 1 January.
In a separate report, the newspaper carried news of the Uttarakhand government’s decision to make masks mandatory in all schools in view of the rising Covid cases.
OBC reservation and Allahabad HC
On 28 December, Inquilab and Sahara both reported Allahabad HC’s order asking the Uttar Pradesh government to hold its municipal elections without the latter’s proposed reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Inquilab carried opposition parties’ allegations that the BJP was behind the verdict by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad HC and that the Yogi government in the state was now on the backfoot over defending the rights of OBCs. The newspaper also reported that not only the state government and the BJP but also opposition parties could approach the Supreme Court against the decision.
Inquilab also carried UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s statement that the state government had set up a commission to consider a proposal to give reservations to OBCs in urban local body elections on the basis of “a triple test”.
Sahara also gave space to Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s statement on the issue. Yadav said in his statement that the BJP was shedding “dirty tears” on the OBC reservation.
On 30 December, the front page of Urdu papers reported that the Uttar Pradesh government had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) against the HC’s order.
In its SLP, the Yogi government said that the urban local body elections should be held only after the commission submits its report.
Prachanda — the new Nepal PM
The swearing-in of Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as Nepal’s prime minister made the front pages of Urdu papers Inquilab and Sahara.
On 26 December, Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre chairman Prachanda took oath as Nepal’s prime minister for the third time.
On 27 December, Inquilab and Sahara reported that PM Modi extended his congratulations to Prachanda.
In its coverage, Sahara had reported Modi as having expressed his willingness to work alongside the new Nepal PM to cement friendly ties between the two neighbours.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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