New Delhi: The outrage of the Muslim world over comments made by the now-disgraced Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal dominated the front pages of the Urdu press for much of the week.
The Urdu press covered the diplomatic and political fallout — mainly the backlash from the Muslim world — over the comments on Prophet Muhammad. Editorials argued that while the BJP could claim that the party didn’t hold these views, the controversy had now created an atmosphere where even those in responsible positions would feel they could make such comments with impunity.
Among other prominent issues, the Gyanvapi mosque row and the Hijab controversy in Karnataka continued to make headlines this week.
ThePrint brings you a wrap-up of headlines and editorials in the Urdu press this week.
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Nupur Sharma, Prophet Muhammad and diplomatic dilemma
On 6 June, the lead story in Inquilab reported that Sharma had been suspended from BJP. The second lead was about the riots that Sharma’s comments and Jindal’s tweets had triggered in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. The paper reported that communal tension continued to simmer in the city even as the police continued to make arrests. A third story reported that Indian ambassadors in Kuwait, Iran and Qatar were summoned over the comments.
Although the Roznama Rashtriya Sahara reported Sharma’s suspension and Jindal’s expulsion from the BJP, the lead story was Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s Haj 2022 announcement.
Siasat took the story against the two BJP leaders in a single column on the front page, choosing instead to lead with a fire at a container depot in Bangladesh that killed 49 people. However, the paper argued in its editorial that the suspension was too small a punishment and that despite the BJP’s declarations about respecting all religions, the mood in the country had been so vitiated that even those in responsible positions made unwarranted comments with no regard for people’s sentiments.
On 8 June, Sahara’s front page reported Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal’s assertion that Sharma’s statement would have no bearing on India’s relationship with the Gulf countries.
On 7 June, Siasat carried the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s statement criticising the central government and urging it to ensure the safety of Indian Muslims. The paper also reported about internal tensions in the BJP over the party’s action against the two leaders — it said that while some BJP supporters were upset over the party’s action against the two leaders, others were questioning its timing. It’s inevitable, the paper argued, that the BJP would face political backlash for its action but that it must understand the cost of hate politics.
On 10 June, Siasat carried a front-page story on Delhi Police booking both Sharma and Jindal, along with journalist Saba Naqvi, for hate speech. In an inset, the Hyderabad-based paper reported that All India Majli-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi was also booked for the same offence.
In its editorial on 10 June, Inquilab wrote that the controversy over Sharma’s and Jindal’s comments wouldn’t blow off easily and that the central government had its work cut out — not only must it maintain internal law and order, but it must also convince the world that such incidents won’t be repeated. Until the BJP reins in its “motormouth” leaders, the paper argued, Indian diplomacy won’t work, and neither will it gain the prestige it wants on the world stage.
Gyanvapi mosque, and mandir-masjid politics
Not even the international outrage over Sharma’s and Jindal’s comments could keep the mandir-masjid controversy out of the front pages. On 9 June, Inquilab reported that after the Varanasi district court dismissed an application to allow prayers for the Shivling allegedly found at the Gyanvapi Mosque premises, the applicant announced a nationwide protest.
On 4 June, Inquilab carried on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that there is no need to look for a shivling in every mosque on its front page.
A day later, Inquilab reported tensions simmering in Karnataka’s Srirangapatna, where some “communal elements” insisted on reading Hanuman Chalisa at the local Jama Masjid. The same day Siasat carried a front page story about Islamic organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’s petition asking to be made party in petitions challenging some sections of the Places of Worship (Special Act Provisions) Act, 1991, in the Supreme Court.
Inquilab reported the story a day later, also on the front page.
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Hijab row yet again
It’s been six months since the controversy over the Hijab — a headscarf — first broke out, and yet it refuses to die down. On 8 June, Sahara reported on its front page that 24 girls had been suspended at the Government First Grade College in Uppinangady in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district for wearing the Hijab.
In a related report, the paper reported Karnataka Minister U.T. Khader statements criticising educational institutions targeting students over Hijab while saying at the same time that the “freedoms” given to Indian citizens shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Siasat also took a story on the students’ suspension on the front page. On 10 June, the paper reported that the suspension of six students had been revoked.
On UP by-elections
On 6 June, Inquilab ran a front-page story on by-elections to Rampur and Azamgarh Parliamentary seats. The paper reported that while BJP has already announced its candidates, the Samajwadi Party appeared reluctant to do so. It also reported that Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s wife Tazeen Fatima and his aide Asim Raja were both keen on contesting from the Rampur seat.
The next day Inquilab ran a front-page story on how the Samajwadi Party waited to announce its candidates until the last day for filing nominations — SP chief Akhilesh Yadav decided to field his cousin Dharmendra Yadav from Azamgarh seat and Azam Khan from Rampur on 6 June.
Rising Covid cases
On 9 June, Siasat wrote in an editorial about rising Covid cases and the central government’s letter to five states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra — asking them to remain alert.
The editorial said the central and state governments must take the rising cases seriously and ask the public to follow Covid protocols, while ensuring that their facilities are kept ready.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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