The Big Story: Democracy's stepchild

In India’s iconography and public narrative as a republic, there are few more stirring memories than Indira Gandhi censoring the press during the Emergency. Tales of CR Irani’s Statesman and the Indian Express, which refused to bow down to the totalitarian diktats of the Congress party, are still told today with reverence.

Of course, that did little to stop it from happening again. Early on Sunday, the Jammu and Kashmir government raided printing presses, stopped printing machines and detained media staff. This is over and above the fact that internet and mobile-phone communication had already been snapped, as had cable television in large parts of the state.

In 2016, Kashmiris have been forced by the Indian state into a Stone Age information vacuum.

The trigger was the unrest after security forces shot dead Burhan Wani, a commander with the militant group Hiz-ul-Mujahedeen last fortnight. The massive crowds at Wani’s funeral and the public reaction it spawned is a barometer of the alienation that the average Kashmiri feels from the Indian state and its political processes. Yet, rather than address these concerns, the Indian state is simply making matter worse by curtailing Kashmir's democracy even further.

The ruling party both in Srinagar and Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has made a career out of criticising Article 370 which gives “special status” to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Union. Article 370 has been diluted to almost nothing today, making sure that the state government is mostly a pawn in the hands of Delhi. Of course, that does not mean Kashmir’s “special status” has ended. Since the region merged with the Union, it has been subject to all manners of injustice. Elections have been rigged to suit Delhi and draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Power Act are in place. And now we have a near-total media crackdown.

The government must ask itself: would this sort of media blackout have been allowed in any other state? Could the police have shut down newspapers in Maharashtra or Bihar? Could cable TV have been snapped off in Delhi? If the BJP still wants to end Kashmir’s “special status”, maybe it could start by ending this discrimination?

The Big Scroll
Rumours rule as newspapers disappear in the Kashmir Valley, reports Rayan Naqash.

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Political Picks
1. Kashmir: No newspapers for the second day running as restlessness grows in Valley.
2. A Kashmiri man was detained by the Delhi Police for protesting with a placard that read, “I want justice."
3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks all-party consensus on the Goods and Services Tax bill.
4. Grading writers and artistes is the new brainwave of Mahesh Sharma’s Culture Ministry.
5. The judges of Calcutta High Court have declined to accept a proposal to replace “Calcutta” with “Kolkata” in the name of India’s first high court.
6. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, it seems, is at last taking the threat of organised terror seriously.


1. The new FDI policy in food products is unlikely to be a game-changer by itself, says Ashok Gulati in the Indian Express. The government must also clear up the policy environment.
2. After the coup, the purge by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of his enemies begins in Turkey, writes Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker.
3. In the Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan has a guide on how to explore London on a shoestring budget.

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Four years after a riot at Maruti’s Manesar plant, questions remain in the case made against workers, reports Anumeha Yadav.

“Of 35 not given bail, 12 are union body members,” said Meher. “The others include several young workers and apprentices who were picked up from their houses later and jailed simply because they worked at the Manesar plant.”

He said that the Haryana government was attempting to make an example out of the jailed workers to appease factory owners.

“Their labour laws have failed, and they are now using criminal cases to stifle workers who protest,” said Meher. “In jail, besides those of us from Maruti, a group of extremely poor youth, who worked in garment factories, were also imprisoned after they protested against the management at their work-site. They too were denied bail for over a year.”