IAMC Weekly News Digest, 19th November 2021
Yogi Adityanath, the diminutive 49 year-old saffron-clad fire-breathing monk and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous and thus, electorally, its kingmaker state), head priest of the powerful Goraknath Mutt (a temple-monastery-shrine complex), part of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but boasting a famously frosty history with its elite, whose rampant, purist Hindu nationalism many believe exceeds even Modi’s, is up for re-election.
And if the BJP wins the crucial state elections that are just four months away, Yogi, who is universally addressed (according to his own request) as Maharaj (King) will be the front runner to be the heir and successor to Narendra Modi, the hardline Hindutva prime minister of India.
Yogi Adityanath is sui generis in the Hindu nationalist ecosystem, known as the Sangh, as unlike the Modi and other current BJP government ministers, he has no current connection to or background in the secretive and militant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the mothership of the BJP and source of its Hindus First vision for India. The RSS has been banned multiple times, most notoriously for its involvement in Gandhi’s assassination. And yet Yogi is today a contender for the party’s top job….
The Karera-Bhitarwar road, passing through Ramnagar Gadhai, a remote village in Madhya Pradesh’s Narwar Tehsil, 60 kilometres from Shivpuri district,… had remained largely unheard of until November 9 this year when it first got media attention after a scuffle broke out between the Jatav family and the police, in which the family’s youngest member, 10-month-old Shiva, died, allegedly as a result of police lathicharge….
“I was cutting paddy in our field and was carrying my boy. From the field, I saw the police beating my husband and other family members. I thought of intervening to save my husband…,” said Vandana. Then, things escalated suddenly, she said. “They hit my leg with a baton and hit my child on the head. My husband snatched the baby from my hands as I fainted. When I regained consciousness, I heard everyone screaming, ‘Take the baby away, take the baby away’,” she said.
While speaking to this reporter, her voice choked several times. Meanwhile, Ashok did not realise that their child was hurt. “I kept arguing with the police while holding the baby in my arms. But when I felt that my shirt was getting wet, I realised that my son was bleeding and was unconscious. His breathing was very slow. We rushed him to the Karera hospital in the tehsildar’s vehicle but he lost his life on the way,” he said….
When Gulzar Ahmad Dar reads the local newspaper, he isn’t interested in the news and latest events in Kashmir. He wants to know what is happening to his son, Manan Gulzar Dar. The photojournalist, whose work has appeared in local outlets and publications such as The Guardian and the Pacific Press photo agency, was arrested October 10 as part of a conspiracy case in which India says militant groups were plotting to take action….
Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saaib Bég told VOA that the prevailing uncertainty on what will merit a charge under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or other anti-terror laws has a direct and detrimental effect on the quality of information available to the public. “Even in a situation where the charge is proven false, reliance on anti-terror legislation has potential to create suspicion and indifference towards the victim because the general public assumes that the person must have done something to merit being charged under a legislation as drastic as the UAPA,” said Bég….
India’s anti-terror laws are vaguely worded and broadly designed, granting sweeping powers of detention that can extend for many months even before the matter is listed before any court, he said. “The law fails to provide any legal safeguards that would prevent arbitrary abuse of the powers. These anti-terror legislations are so prone to abuse that one may wonder whether they have been shaped in this manner out of incompetence or out of malice,” Bég said….