From Nupur unrest and bulldozer politics to AIMPLB shun-TV pitch to waiting for Rahul

‘A bulldozer has been turned into a symbol of the politics of fear,’ the Hyderabad-based daily Siasat says, stressing that the victims should take legal recourse and move courts and human rights panels to challenge it.

As street protests erupted in towns and cities across the country amid unrest over derogatory references made to the Prophet by ex-BJP spokespersons, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, which led to violence, police action and casualties in some states, their coverage and analysis dominated the news and opinion pages of the leading Urdu dailies. The contours of the raging row and its domestic and international dimensions were dissected and examined. Their headlines and editorials also tracked a wide array of various social, political and economic issues.


In its editorial on June 12, headlined “Aisa bohraan aur aisi khamoshi (this crisis and such a silence)”, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab writes that the BJP government has to deal with inflation, unemployment and economic problems as well as the Nupur-Jindal row, as both could hurt it if they spin out of control. “On one side is the issue of these continuing problems and on the other is the anguish of Indian citizens who believe in the country’s pluralistic sarva dharma sambhava ethos besides many countries’ protests,” it says. Following the chorus of outrage from the Islamic world, especially the Gulf countries, the government activated its diplomatic missions there asking them to highlight that India is run by a secular Constitution and that it has always been a multi-cultural country where people of all faiths have co-existed for thousands of years, the daily writes, adding that the government believes the crisis would be resolved diplomatically. It says that besides suspending Nupur and expelling Jindal from the party and filing some FIRs, the saffron dispensation has not taken any action. Highlighting that “no important government or party functionary has made any statement on the row so far,” the editorial states that “their silence, albeit not unprecedented, is bewildering” as this is the time to reach out to the minorities and apply the healing touch. “In the face of such a crisis, their silence is painful and unfortunate,” it says.

The daily’s editorial on June 10 focuses on the international repercussions of the row, stating that it has severely dented India’s global image, especially in Arab countries, and that the Narendra Modi government can no longer afford to remain silent on the issue. It says the Modi government must clamp down on hate speech within and outside the BJP ranks and take necessary domestic measures while taking these countries into confidence.

Referring to a recent interview of former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, with Karan Thapar on The Wire, the daily writes that Ahmad has pointed out India “faces a very serious crisis” with regard to the Islamic world due to this row for three reasons. First, the veteran diplomat told Thapar, the editorial notes, that there are 80 lakh Indian workers in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including 30 lakh in Saudi Arabia, whose annual remittances to India add up to $35 billion, which is one-third of the country’s annual oil import bill. About 4 crore people in the country depend on these remittances from the Gulf nations. The second point made by Ahmad, the daily says, is India’s energy dependency on the Gulf countries. He said 40% of India’s oil comes from them, of which Saudi Arabia accounts for 18%. Similarly, 40% of India’s gas requirement is imported from Qatar. The third reason cited by Ahmad, the edit notes, is India’s trade ties with these countries, which soared from $33 billion in 2000-01 to $121 billion in 2018-19. These countries are also dependent on imports of many items from India, but another major area of concern could be the recruitment of Indians there, done mainly by private companies, as a fallout of the row, the daily writes quoting Ahmad.

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