Tuesday 14th June 2016 17:44 EDT

An empire built in Jawar Bagh, a 280 acre public park in the Uttar Pradesh city of Mathura,  by a cult leader named  Ramvriksh Yadav, ended in tragedy when police stormed it last week following an exchange of gun fight with the illegal occupants who were armed to the teeth. Twenty four people, including two policemen were killed. Among the dead were also five women and two children and Yadav himself. A huge arms cache of bombs and guns was discovered at the site. Yadav, a self-confessed devotee of Subhas Chandra Bose had set up what he called Azad Bharat [Free India]. His racket had existed for several years. 

Numerous Allahabad High Court orders calling for the eviction of the site and with an inter-departmental paper chase no action was taken. When a final court order threatening contempt arrived at the UP Chief Minister’s office, the seemingly paralytic State government was galvanized into feverish activity. The paper’s correspondent made out a convincing case alleging a widespread protection racket between ruling party politicians, State ministers and bureaucrats.

The Telegraph (June 7) made this its front-page lead story, giving dates to this circular bureaucratic correspondence. Government departments, a local magistrate, police et al were involved. It is a macabre and bizarre tale that defies the imagination. In New Delhi, the Supreme Court is set to hear a petition from an Advocate, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay calling for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the affair as a matter of urgent national interest.

Blame game

The Hindu newspaper’s coverage, also front-page (June 7), was more low key. It made much of the Uttar Pradesh government’s ‘comprehensive report’ on Mathura to the Union government in New Delhi without giving too much away about its contents. The Uttar Pradesh government placed the blame for this tragedy on local civil servants and the magistrate for the entire affair.

The Hindu ascribed the arms cache at Mathura to possible links between the Yadav outfit and the Naxalites. It would have helped if some shred of evidence was provided. Mere speculation can lead to dark alleyways. For all one knows, it could have been the Khalistani hand. Or even that of Islamic State. The Mint report (June 7) was exemplary, factual and lucid. 

Growth to surge: YES Bank

An expected bountiful monsoon, the Seventh Pay Commission recommended wage hike and revival of private sector investment will bring a surge in economic growth to 8.1 per cent or over in the current fiscal predicts YES Bank. ‘YES Bank projects India’s GDP to cross 8.1 per cent in Fiscal Year 2017 (ending March 31) on the basis of a visible pickup in consumption demand like cement, oil, and electricity along with stronger than anticipated fourth quarter corporate earnings (2016 ended March 31), said YES Bank in its Economic Suvey (Hindu June 7)

Rajan retains key rate

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left the key interest rate, the repo rate, unchanged at 6.5 per cent citing risk of a rise in inflation. ‘Incoming data since then [April] show a sharper than anticipated upsurge in inflationary pressures emanating from a number of food items, as well as a reversal in commodity prices,’ said RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan at a media briefing in New Delhi.(Hindu, Times of India, Mint June 8)

Hindu priest, Christians killed in Bangladesh

Yet another Hindu priest and two Christians were killed in the past few days in Bangladesh. The priest was 70 year-old Amulya Ganguly, while the first Christian was 65 –year-old Sunil Gomes, A second Christian, one Samir Ali,  was also murdered; these incidents occurring in far-flung rural areas of the country. In a similar gruesome incident in the port city of Chittagong, they claimed the life of the wife of the anti-terrorist police chief, Mahmuda, who had collected her child from school when she was shot dead by three men on motor cycles. There has been a spate of such killings by terrorists claiming to belong to Islamic State or al Qaeda or other kindred bodies. Progressive Muslim writers and university academics have also been done to death for espousing intellectual freedom and secularism.

International conspiracy  

None of the assailants have been brought to justice. Indeed Bangladesh Home Minister Asuduzza Khan made the preposterous charge that the deaths resulted from an ‘international conspiracy’ involving the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. ‘In the current climate of impunity increasing numbers of people have been facing threats that the authorities have repeatedly failed to address,’ stated Amnesty International (Hindu, Times of India June 8)

Church of Santa Monica Church, Goa, restored

Following years of restoration work, the 450-year-old Church of Santa Monica in Old Goa was opened for public worship. The church, part of the Convent of Santa Monica, Asia’s first and the largest Convent in Old Goa, a State-protected monument, has been restored by the Museum of Christian Art with financial help from the Goa Directorate of Archives and Archaeology (Hindu June 8)

Parrikar’s South East Asian odyssey

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Singapore, where he interacted with South East Asian leaders, followed by a trip to Vietnam is a clear sign of India’s energized ‘Look East’ diplomacy. Vietnam is the linchpin of India’s regional security relationships. Industry major Larsen & Toubro has tendered for a contract to supply Patrol Vessels form India during Parrikar’s presence with his Vietnamese counterpart, General Ngo Xuan Lich. The deal will be funded by India’s $100 million line of credit. Vietnam has embarked on a major defence modernization programme, with both countries operating Russian equipment, thereby facilitating cooperation in this area between the parties (Hindu June 7)

Brahmos missiles for Vietnam mooted

India and Russia have agreed in principle to export their jointly developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to a range of third countries with whom India and Russia have friendly ties. Vietnam tops the list, which also includes South Africa, Chile, Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Thailand, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Greece and South Korea. BrahMos travels at thrice the speed of sound. Current research seeks to increase its to hypersonic levels, six or more times the speed of sound. Its kinetic force has unprecedented destructive power. The missile has been adapted for use by land, sea and air forces (Russian TASS report May 29, also Jane’s Defence Weekly, London)

Chinese sneer on Chabahar

Global Times, long regarded as muscular organ of China’s leadership, has broken the regime’s silence on Indian diplomatic moves to bring about a sound Trilateral relationship between India, Iran and Afghanistan. The Global Times perceived this as a counter-stroke to China’s ‘all-weather friendship’ with Pakistan and the construction of the Gwador port on the Pakistani coast abutting the Persian Gulf. So it is, to some extent. But India’s ‘geostrategic ambitions extend to Central Asia, the Caspian Sea and beyond. So it does, Comrades. The paper sneered that India’s pockets were not sufficiently large to fund the Chabahar hub and its outreach. Better to wait and see. The paper suggested that Iran’s interest do not always coincide with India’s – which is undoubtedly true.

Mature relations

Both sides are mature enough to recognize this; nevertheless there are convergences of national interest between the trilateral partners that make their alignment worthwhile. India wishes to extend its influence to the Middle East, commented the Gobal Times with accustomed Middle Kingdom. True again. The Persian Gulf and other waterways are not a Chinese lake, as Beijing perceives the South China Sea to be, with its littoral states as part of a metamorphosed tributary system, whose rulers are expected to kowtow to the Son of Heaven in Beijing. China’s bullying tactics over the right of passage in the South China Sea have clearly backfired (Hindu June 8)

Russia aerospace eyes Haryana

Setting its sights on investment opportunities in India, Russia’s aerospace delegation, led by Minister Sergey Cheremin, met with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu in Chandigarh with a view to setting up an aviation hub in Hissar, some 150kms from Delhi’s International Airport.

Strong ties, past, present

They assured their visitors of full support for any Russian ventures in the State. India had had a strong relationship with the Soviet Union and these well knit bonds continued with the Russian Federation, they said (Hindu May 25)

A glory has passed

Fulsome tributes were paid to the memory of Muhammed Ali from all corners of India, among them the tweets of Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Viswanath Anand. The media recalled the fevered excitement of Ali’s presence in India in 1991, and his larger than life personality. As a boxer, Ali was the stuff of legend, yet nothing could match his moral integrity in refusing the draft of military service in America’s criminally unjust war in Vietnam. As a result, he forfeited four of the best years of his sporting life in the ring and millions of dollars with it. Muhammed, You were The Greatest.  A glory has passed.

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