By Quamar Ashraf
US the 2020 Human Rights Report:
The US State Department pulling India for poor human rights abuses is the latest in a series of global bodies raising concern on the “resurgence of Hindu nationalism’ in the country’s polity. The report notes instances where news organisations and media persons were “pressurised or harassed” by the Modi “government or actors close to it” (Siasat edit, April 2). The edit further noted Secretary of state Anthony Blinken’s statement, while releasing the 2020 Human Rights Report, reiterating President Biden commitment of putting “human rights back at the centre of American policy”. It further demanded the government to allay the concerns. “The government should take note of the concerns raised by international bodies and do the needful, even as Muslim bodies and human rights organisations on various occasions tried brought the Indian government attention towards incidents of hate-based violence.” HE edit (March 31) notes that such reports are not good for India and calls for introspection.
India Pakistan Relations: Reciprocate with reluctance
The thaw in Indo-Pak relations got good coverage this week with many papers suggesting the Narendra Modi government to “reciprocate Pakistan’s goodwill gesture” with reluctance citing past records of the neighbouring countries. Pakistan’s has in past didn’t fulfil promises (RSU, April 2), so the Indian government should not fall into the trap, writes Sanjay Rai. The paper bestowed two pages on the issues on March 2 to conclude that India should remain cautious. However, the articles were originally published in the Sahara Hindi daily – Hindi newspapers are known for their hawkish approach when it comes to friendly relationship with Pakistan. Interestingly, other papers called for friendly relations with Pakistan with generously mentioned Pakistan army chief General Bajwa’s statement calling leaders of both the countries to “bury the past and move forward” and that Imran Khan’s gesture is “good tidings” (AEM, edit April 1). Pakistan’s army generally remains “tough” when it comes to dialogue with, but the latest move is “praiseworthy”, says Inquilab edit (March 28). Also exchange of letters between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan received positive coverage (Siasat edit, April 1). Some edits and articles raised scepticism over Pakistan PM statement wherein he said that peace with Pakistan will give India direct access to Central Asia even though he mentioned that Kashmir as the “lone irritant” standing in the way of better relations.
Violence erupts in Bangladesh over Modi’s visits
Several newspapers carried edits/articles on the incident which was “deliberately ignored” by mainstream media. RSU edit (March 27) raised concern over the public anger Modi, saying it was anger against India. “Over the years, India enjoyed good relations with Bangladesh, but the people in the neighbouring country are angry over India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its policy towards Myanmar’s refugee”. Besides, in the run-up to assembly elections in West Bengal and Assam, the statements by some BJP leaders and minister with regard to “Bangladeshi intruders” might have provoked the protest. The Sahafat edit (March 28) also raised the same issues behind the anger, pointing towards the concerns of the Bangladeshi protesters who claimed that unlike in India minorities in their country are safe. SKA edit (March 29), however, sought a probe behind the violent protest against Indian PM, arguing such incident was unprecedented given the cordial relations between the two countries. It adds that the issue become significant when leaders of the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal were also guests of honour at the event. Notably, 12 persons, who were raising voice against anti-Muslim policies of the Narendra Modi government, died in police firing.
Besides the three topics which got significant coverage, other issues got the space this week include spike in coronavirus cases, assembly elections with a focus on Bengal and Assam, and CBI court discharging accused in controversial Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Notably, Maulana Arshad Madani wrote a comprehensive piece (HS, April 2) on the 26 Quran’s verses over which Wasim Rizvi moved a petition in Supreme Court seeking change. The article was carried by other papers also. Besides this, Masoom Moradabadi in Inquilab (March 29) logically contested the Azan ban order by the Uttar Pradesh government. The two topics were regularly covered in the shape of “statements with mugshots” of mullahs.