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‘Rising atrocities against Dalits under BJP rule’: Urdu press decries killing of family in MP

ThePrint’s round-up of how the Urdu media covered various news events through the week, and the editorial positions some of them took.

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New Delhi: The killings of three Dalits in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district led the Urdu press to condemn caste crimes in India with an editorial saying it was time to “take note of rising instances of oppression and crimes against Dalits” under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

On 26 October, Inquilab carried news of tensions in Damoh following the killings on page one.

A couple and their son were shot dead by six people on 25 October. Their other two sons were injured in the attack.

In its 27 October editorial, titled ‘The killing of yet another Dalit family’, Siasat wrote that the incident could be a result of a caste conflict between upper castes and scheduled castes. No matter what the problem is, the editorial said, no citizen has the right to take matters into their own hands and decide. People of the country need to take note of the rising instances of oppression and crimes against Dalits under BJP governments, the editorial added.

Among other news, Rishi Sunak’s entry into 10 Downing Street, and Mallikarjun Kharge’s assumption of office as the first non-Gandhi president of the Congress in 24 years kept Urdu papers buzzing.

ThePrint brings you a roundup of the news that made the front pages of the Urdu press this week.

Also Read: ‘BJP trying to whip up hate before Gujarat polls’ says Urdu press on Bilkis convicts release row

Rishi Sunak

The excitement over Sunak, an investment banker-turned-politician of Indian origin, becoming the UK’s first prime minister of colour had the Urdu press’ front pages, as well as its editorials, abuzz. 

In its editorial on 25 October, Siasat had a piece of advice for Sunak. The new PM, it said, must take stock of the situation in the country and also keep in mind the prevailing market conditions as well as concerns of the people.

Although he doesn’t have too much time, he shouldn’t take decisions in haste, the editorial added, attributing his predecessor’s brief stint to the hasty tax cuts her government had implemented. 

On 26 October, the lead story on the front page of Inquilab was of Sunak’s appointment. The news was carried alongside a photo of Sunak shaking hands with King Charles III ahead of his swearing in ceremony. 

An inset in the paper had a statement from Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, Sunak’s father-in-law, expressing his delight and pride. A debate about the chances of a person from a minority community making it to the country’s top post was also reported on the front page of Inquilab.

For context, Sunak’s appointment had sparked a debate in India, with Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor and P. Chidambaram asking if India would ever have a PM from the country’s minority communities, especially given India’s current political environment.

As a counter argument, the BJP, at which the question was chiefly directed, cited the example of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In its headline the same day, Siasat quoted the newly-sworn-in Sunak as having said that the UK was in the throes of an economic crisis.

In its report, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara said Sunak had made history. In an inset, the paper also reported All India Congress Committee general secretary Jairam Ramesh’s response to the minority debate. India, he said, didn’t need to learn inclusivity from other countries.

On 28 October, Siasat’s front page carried news of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first conversation with Sunak after his appointment. The report said the two had discussed the India-UK trade deal. 

In an editorial on 27 October, Inquilab had drawn parallels between Sunak and US Vice-President Kamala Harris, whose Indian-American mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris had moved to the US in the late 1950s. 

The editorial said that there was a long list of countries — such as Portugal, Netherlands, Canada, and New Zealand — where people of Indian origin have scaled the heights of success, although Sunak now tops this list.

The paper also wrote that Indians should feel proud of the fact that Sunak had dared to take the job at a time his country is going through a particularly difficult phase and his predecessor Liz Truss had quit office in 44 days. 

In another editorial on 28 October, Inquilab wrote that Sunak’s awareness of his country’s reality was clear since he had predicted that Truss’ decision to abide by her election promise of tax cuts could be disastrous. This is a trying time for Sunak, the editorial said, but should he succeed, his position in British and world politics would be cemented.

Shah Faesal’s tweet, hate speech hearings in SC 

On 27 October, Sahara carried Jammu & Kashmir Indian Administrative Service officer Shah Faesal’s tweets saying that Muslims have more freedom in India than even in some Islamic countries. In India, Faesal was quoted as saying, the opportunity to reach the top position is open to all. 

Faesal quit the civil services in January 2019 to float his own party — the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) — but left it in August 2020. He returned to civil services in April this year but it was only in August that he was appointed deputy secretary in the Union tourism ministry.

On 22 October, all three newspapers carried news of the Supreme Court’s direction to the Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttarakhand governments to take suo motu cognisance of hate speeches on their front pages. 

Emphasising India’s status as a secular country, the court directed the police of the three states to register cases without waiting for complaints and warned that any delay would be considered contempt of court. 

In its editorial on the same day, Sahara said that while the SC had directed that action be taken against inflammatory statements, it remains to be seen how active the administration and police are on this front and what action they would take against the “poisonous statements” of political leaders. 

Their inaction could damage the world’s perception of India’s record in protecting human rights — particularly those of minority communities — thereby causing embarrassment, the editorial said.

Also read: BJP’s barbs at Congress prez polls will get sharper as ‘Bharat Jodo’ goes on, says Urdu press

Kejriwal’s appeal and the banknote controversy

On 27 October, Siasat ran the news of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s request to the central government to put pictures of Hindu deities Ganesh and Lakshmi on banknotes in order to bring the economy back on track.

In a separate column, the newspaper reported Congress leader Salman Anees Soz’s criticism of Kejriwal’s statement. Allah and Jesus, said Soz, should also be included on banknotes. 

In its report, Siasat wrote that Kejriwal has sparked a new controversy before the Gujarat assembly elections.

In its editorial on 27 October, Sahara wrote it was challenging for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to compete with the BJP in Gujarat — Modi’s own state. As a result, the editorial added, Kejriwal wants to try every trick in the book to attract Hindu votes and that along with trying to answer the BJP in its own language, AAP was also using mythology as its electoral weapon. What’s interesting, the editorial further added, is that “those at whom such tactics are aimed” understand this well. 

Kharge takes charge

Mallikarjun Kharge taking charge as the first non-Gandhi president of the Indian National Congress in 24 years kept the front pages of Urdu papers buzzing.

On 26 October, Sahara reported that Kharge would take over from Sonia Gandhi the same day and that he would face a “mountain of challenges”.

In its front page lead on 27 October, Inquilab reported Kharge had assumed office. The paper also carried his photo, seated in his chair with his hands folded, while several Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot — the Rajasthan chief minister who almost ran for the Congress presidential elections — applauded. 

Siasat too carried the same photo on its front page and reported on Kharge’s promise of putting up a united front to take on the BJP. 

In its editorial on 22 October, Inquilab had written that it could be either providence or design that Kharge was about to take charge of the Congress at a time when the Bharat Jodo Yatra is ongoing. The editorial said the yatra, which has been on the road for a month-and-a-half, has generated much enthusiasm — not just among Congress workers but also among the common people. 

The editorial also said that the “messaging” by Kharge’s challenger Shashi Tharoor has also been very good. 

On 28 October, Inquilab quoted Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the Kashmiri Pandit’s ongoing “exodus” from the Valley. 

The report, which was carried on the paper’s front page, quoted Gandhi as saying that the BJP government had undone the “good work” done by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

The same day, Sahara’s front page carried a report on Rahul Gandhi’s emotional tweet to his mother, Sonia. “Ma, I’m proud to be your son,” the tweet said. 

The photo carried alongside showed him tying his mother’s shoelaces earlier this month when she had joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Tumkur, Karnataka.

Diwali pollution

The rising pollution levels in Delhi NCR — thanks partly to the bursting of firecrackers on Diwali — caused much concern. 

On its front page on 26 October — two days after Diwali — Inquilab reported firecrackers were burst in large numbers in Delhi despite a ban on them. 

In its headline, Sahara said that the pollution levels in Delhi-NCR had spiked post Diwali, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) touching severe levels of 353 the day after the festival.

The paper, though, also reported Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai as having said that the post-Diwali pollution this year was the lowest in five years. 

Both Inquilab and Siasat also carried news about communal tensions in Vadodara, Gujarat, on the day of Diwali. In its front-page report, Siasat said that the tensions came “while the whole country was celebrating the festival”. 

Inquilab reported that more than 20 people had been arrested in connection with the tensions.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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