New Delhi: First the hijab row, and now restrictions on non-Hindus from doing business in and around temples in some districts — controversies in Karnataka have dominated the front pages of Urdu newspapers for many months now. Urdu papers have persistently covered these incidents, with some linking them to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) “need to save its government” in the state.
The current condition of India’s Opposition, especially after the recently concluded assembly elections in five states, and in light of increasing fuel prices, were also closely followed by the Urdu media. As were the 28-29 March trade union strike and the future of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose ruling coalition is set to lose its majority in the country’s National Assembly after a key coalition partner switched sides ahead of a parliamentary no-confidence vote.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of this week’s page one news and editorials from the Urdu press.
Karnataka a hot potato
Karnataka’s communally charged political developments have been on the Urdu front pages for several weeks now. First it was the hijab row, and now it is the issue of non-Hindus being barred from doing business within the premises of some temples. On 29 March, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara carried on its front page a report about Belagavi North BJP MLA Anil Benake’s statement against the move.
Benake had said there is no justification for such restrictions, and it is wrong to try to tell people where to buy things from, but if people themselves enforce a boycott, there is little that can be done.
The paper also carried a small item about building tensions in the state over some Hindutva groups’ campaign against establishments selling ‘halal’ meat ahead of Ugadi (New Year).
News about the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) approaching the Supreme Court over the hijab row was on the front pages of all three newspapers on 29 March. The AIMPLB has moved the apex court against the Karnataka High Court judgment that upheld the hijab ban in some pre-university (PU) colleges of the state and declared that the headgear was not part of essential religious practice in Islam.
Inquilab, on 29 March, also carried a report about a student wearing a hijab allegedly being evicted from an exam centre in Karnataka, where Class 10 state board exams are underway.
Siasat’s report on the AIMPLB was headlined ‘Courts should not decide what is essential and in which religion’, and quoted from the board’s meeting where the decision to appeal the HC order was taken.
In its 30 March editorial, titled ‘Hate politics in Karnataka too’, Siasat wrote that the BJP is “resorting to hate propaganda” in the state to “save its government” that was formed through the “back door”. The party and its government in the state have started taking steps so that people forget about the basic issues faced by citizens, it further wrote.
Trade union strike & Opposition watch
The Congress’ comprehensive defeat in the recently concluded assembly elections in five states and every move by non-BJP parties continues to be followed closely by the Urdu press. The trade union strike against the Centre’s privatisation policies was on the front pages of all three newspapers on 27 March, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter to Opposition leaders seeking unity against the BJP was on the front page of Inquilab on 30 March.
In an editorial titled ‘What is the position of the Opposition?’, Inquilab on 1 April wrote that Opposition parties, despite having important issues at hand to take on the government, including inflation, unemployment etc., are hardly making the kind of noise that is required. The need of the hour, the paper emphasised, is opposition unity, even if it has to be affected bit by bit.
In its 29 March edition, Siasat wrote on the front page that the first day of the trade union strike elicited a mixed response.
On 1 April, both Siasat and Inquilab carried reports about the Congress’ protest against the constant rise in fuel prices. In its editorial on the same day, Siasat wrote that there seems to be some animation in the Opposition ranks, as if the parties have realised that unless they take to the streets to raise the issues of the common man, they will not get public support.
The paper wrote that Opposition parties which have differences should resolve them and come together on a common platform because without unity, there is no hope of taking on the government.
Imran Khan’s fate
In its 29 March editorial, Siasat wrote that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to put up a show of strength by holding a rally in capital Islamabad before the 3 April no-confidence vote. It was an attempt to bring the people together, although it would have no impact on the no-confidence motion, the editorial said, as the future of the government looks bleak after many parties left the coalition.
It further said many members of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have also got angry with Imran Khan, adding that those who are still with the PM also say that the fall of the government is almost certain and fresh elections need to be held. As far as Imran Khan’s rally is concerned, it is a kind of “election preparation”, though Khan’s retention as PM has become doubtful.
Criticising the Opposition by holding a public meeting is a way of acknowledging defeat, the editorial said. The Islamabad rally is, in fact, an attempt to allay the fears of Imran Khan as it could not help save the government, wrote Siasat.
On 30 March, Roznama carried a front-page report commenting that the political crisis in Pakistan has deepened — with key partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM) leaving the ruling coalition and jumping ship to the Opposition, dark clouds are now hovering over the PM’s chair.
Commenting on the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court that state governments too can declare any community a minority within a state, Roznama in an editorial on 29 March wrote that care should be taken so that the question of who is a minority citizen does not end up getting politicised.
Assam-Meghalaya border pact
On 30 March, Roznama and Inquilab carried front-page reports on Assam and Meghalaya signing a pact to partially resolve their 50-year-old border dispute.
Roznama prominently displayed its report, which said that in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Rameswar Teli, MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, the two states agreed to resolve their border dispute in six of the 12 areas of dispute, spread across around 39 sq. km, freeing 70 per cent of the border between the states from conflict.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
Source: The Print