Tuesday, 21 March, 2023
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Alert in Kutch is TOI’s lead, Express, HT go with Pakistan missile test & Hindu flags NRC

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Newspapers Friday are divided in their lead choices.

While The Times of India’s is “Pak-trained ‘commandos’ may enter Gulf of Kutch, warns intel”, for The Hindu it is: “Those excluded from final NRC list will get a window of 10 months”.

The Indian Express is concerned with the missile and airspace threats — “Meeting on Kartarpur today, but Pak ratchets up tension with missile test, airspace threat”.

Express writes that Islamabad “ratcheted up tensions” by announcing that it has “test-fired a nuclear capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile warning that it could order the closure of its airspace for India” at a time “of its choosing…”.

This story is Hindustan Times’ lead too but with a different angle. It writes that India “condemned” what it said were “provocative and irresponsible statements by the Pakistani leadership following the effective revocation of Kashmir’s special status”.

TOI notes that the Gujarat coast “has been put on high terror alert following inputs from central intelligence agencies” that Pak-trained commandos “with underwater strike capabilities may try and enter the Gulf of Kutch through the Harami Nala-Sir Creek area”.

NRC deadline

Hindu’s lead story on NRC says that those excluded from the “final” National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be “published on August 31 will get a window of 10 months to prove their citizenship before being sent to detention centres”.

The publication of the register “could be the start of an unprecedented complication — more of the humanitarian kind than of law and order,” observes Hindu.

RBI annual report

Interestingly, RBI’s annual report 2018-2019 that points towards a downturn in the economy is ignored by TOI and Express on their front pages. Hindu says that RBI notes the “lack of domestic demand is holding back the animal spirits in the economy”, and it emphasises the “need to revive consumption demand and private investment during 2019-20,” writes Hindu.

HT quotes RBI governor Shaktikanta Das asking “banks to pass on past rate cuts to borrowers at a faster pace by linking lending rates to external benchmarks such as repo rates”.

The news, expectedly, finds front-page billing on Business Standard and Economic Times.

CBI and Narada

Express’s second lead is CBI seeking Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s “sanction for prosecution of three Trinamool Congress MPs”. It underlines the Narada sting case that “pertains to some TMC leaders who were caught on tape accepting money from a person posing as a representative of a private company”.

Zomato is its other exclusive report. At the “heart of the standoff between restaurateurs and online restaurants discovery platform Zomato” is a “telling fact by scaling its Gold programmes that offered customers a discount at the expense of restaurants”. Express adds, Zomato raised “$400 million in funds — almost 60 per cent of what it has raised since its inception”.

Chidambaram case

HT’s second lead concerns P. Chidambaram – the Supreme Court “reserved its order” on the former finance minister’s “pre-arrest bail petition in the INX Media money laundering case until September 5”. HT says that this decision has extended the “Congress leader’s interim protection from arrest by Enforcement Directorate”.


Express: In ‘Opening the Door’, the newspaper looks on the bright side of the Centre’s announcement of 100 per cent foreign direct investment in contract manufacturing, coal mining and related activities. The government’s decision to ease local sourcing norms, previously a major roadblock for FDI in single-brand retail, sends “a positive signal to the international community” currently dealing with the US and China trade war.

It could also help India to be viewed as a manufacturing hub, it writes. Express terms the revised policy as the Centre’s attempt to “prop up the economy”. While these initiatives are “a much needed fillip” to India’s subdued exports, they need to be introduced along with market reforms that can address larger structural problems in the economy, Express says.

HT: Last year, activist Vernon Gonsalves and others were arrested in Pune for allegedly instigating violence among Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon. Remarks made during the recent bail hearing prove the “fragile state of India’s civil liberties”, writes HT. In ‘Possessing literature is not a crime’, it criticises Justice Sarang Kotwal of the Bombay High Court, who asked the defendant (Gonsalves) why he kept “objectionable material” in his house. Reports said the judge specifically named Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace then said he meant Biswajit Roy’s War and Peace in Junglemahal, and a CD titled ‘Rajya Daman Virodhi’. Citing literature as evidence, writes HT, should not be the basis of the court’s verdict and nor should the State determine what people should read.

Prime Time

Prime time took up different issues on Thursday.

Mirror Now’s Faye D’Souza discussed the case of a law student who went missing from Uttar Pradesh after being allegedly harassed by BJP leader Chinmayanand.

India Today reported Delhi’s water crisis as 82 crore people face water scarcity, while CNN-News 18 debated the latest developments in the Chidambaram case as well as how fake degrees are being sold in Mumbai and Delhi.

NDTV 24×7: In ‘Left, Right and Centre’, Vishnu Som discussed the threat posed by Pakistan after intelligence reports said Pakistani terrorists and commandos threatened to enter India via the Gulf of Kutch.

Pakistan also tested its Ghazni nuclear ballistic missile. On this, K.C. Singh, former diplomat, said, “Pakistan is trying to say that there is a nuclear flashpoint — they are agitating to keep this issue in the public.”

BJP’s Lalitha Kumaramangalam said, “We’re all reacting a bit too much to Pakistan’s song and dance.” “There is a huge amount of pressure on their Army to show that they can stand up to India,” she added.

In light of the US State Department’s concerns over restrictions in Kashmir, political analyst Desh Ratan Nigam said, “When (Article) 370 was removed, India was aware that were (would) issues at the international level. Nobody is sabre-rattling in India. The fact that we aren’t reacting to Pakistan’s statements is rattling them.”

Times Now: The controversy over which War and Peace in the possession of detained activist Vernon Gonsalves alarmed the Bombay High Court judge was the debate on ‘The NewsHour’ with Navika Kumar.

Political analyst Ashutosh said media report suggested he referred to the Leo Tolstoy novel. “It is good that the judge has clarified…”

Activist Ashoke Pandit placed the blame elsewhere: “The Khan Market gang is trying to malign the image of our Prime Minister.”

Advocate Arjun Sheoran was more reasonable. “It doesn’t matter whose War and Peace it was — whether it was Tolstoy’s or Biswajit Roy’s. You cannot be proscribed for having a book in your house. We have the right to read any kind of book,” he asserted.

ABP News: On ‘Sidha Sawal’, Pakistan’s nuclear challenge to India was the hot topic of discussion.

M.S Bitta, chairman of All India Anti Terrorist Front, said, “This is not the same India it was before where we tolerated nonsense. The time has gone when our soldiers’ heads were chopped off. We will fight back.”

Retired Colonel Asad Mahmood from Pakistan said, “We are not trying to threaten anyone (but) we really mean business.”

“You have gotten responses from our side in four different wars,” Major General (retired) K.K. Sinha retorted angrily. “We will take care of ourselves. It is Pakistan which needs to worry,” he said.

Zee News: Here too Pakistan was the topic of debate.

Major General (Retired) S.P. Sinha said, “Pakistan should pay their electricity bills before they even think of going to war with India.”

Shubhransh Rai, political analyst, wanted war: “It is time to repeat history. The way India Gandhi divided Pakistan in two (parts) in the war of 1971, it should now be broken down even further in 2019.”

Muzafar Saad, Kashmiri activist, said something similar: “Pakistan should be treated the way it treats other countries”.

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