The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. Honour killing: Dad, uncles killed Mandya girl for affair with Dalit boy.
2. 3 Dalit teens stripped and beaten for stealing bike in Chittor.
3. A 31-year-old Dalit, working as a clerk in an Ahmedabad court, committed suicide at his home alleging casteist discrimination and harassment at his workplace.
4. A Spanish couple have been attacked in Pushkar, Rajasthan and the woman’s clothes torn off.
5. Pilibhit fake encounter case: CBI court sentences 47 policemen to life for killing 10 Sikh pilgrims after branding them Khalistani terrorists.
6. The Bharatiya Janata Party has filed a police complaint against a journalist whose tweet mocked Modi’s trip to Saudi Arabia.
7. The price of petrol has been hiked by Rs 2.19 a litre and diesel by 98 paise per litre.
8. Virat Kohli has been named captain of World Twenty20 XI, but there’s no Indian in women’s team of the tournament.
The Big Story: Mass murder as mundane
On Sunday, yoga guru Baba Ramdev addressed a sadbhavana, peace and understanding rally organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Haryana. The aim of the function was to bring back peace after the brutal Jat reservation riots in February. But Ramdev doesn't seem to have got the full memo.
Instead of focussing on peace, he seemed to hint at mass murder and the decapitation of lakhs of people who refuse to say “Bharat Mata ki jai”.
“Some person wears a cap and stands up,” began Ramdev referring to Muslims. “He says I will not say 'Bharat Mata ki jai' even if you decapitate me. This country has a law, otherwise let alone one, we can behead lakhs. But we respect this country’s law. If somebody stands up and speaks like this, that gives strength to hooligans. We respect this country’s law and Constitution. Otherwise if anybody disrespects Bharat Mata, we have the capability of beheading not one but thousands and lakhs.”
Muslims and other minority groups that believe in monotheism have pointed out that they can be nationalistic without invoking India as a goddess.
Ramdev's comments came just a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavais demanded Indians who woudn't say "Bharat Mata ki jai" to be expelled from the country.
In both cases, the religious nationalism of the demand that all Indian chant “Bharat Mata ki jai” as a proof of their patriotism is a convenient smokescreen to hide behind given the BJP’s massive failures in governance. Ramdev’s call to turn Haryana’s attention to Muslims who refuse to chant a slogan is a poor cover for the BJP’s complete faiure to control the terrible violence during the recent agitation for reservations by Jats. So scandalous was the official response that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Haryana – apprehensive of more riots – meekly agreed to be arm-twisted into actually awarding the quota. In Maharashtra, Fadnavis's rhetoric is a cynical attempt to distract attention from the crushing drought in the state.
In 2013, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi was arrested for hate speech. Were the same standards applied to Baba Ramdev, the police would be pursuing him with equal vigour. But given the climate of majoritarianism today, that seems an unlikely prospect.
The Big Scroll
Watch the video of Ramdev admitting that India’s laws prevent him from beheading the "lakhs" of people who refuse to say Bharat Mata ki Jai. How Bharat Mata” became the code word for a theocratic Hindu state. And historian DN Jha points out that it's only from the late 19th century that the idea of Bharat as mother found its way into the popular vocabulary.
Politicking & Policying
1. I spent the most important years without my father: Saibaba’s daughter.
2. Row in Bihar over the inclusion of strongman Shahabuddin in the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s newly constituted national executive committee.
3. Congress government in Meghalaya may collapse on its own, claims the Bharatiya Janata Party.
1. India should have close ties with the Gulf countries and with Iran, argues Kanwal Sibal in the Telegraph.
2. VP Ansari’s remarks on the need to protect minority rights have been made before. But they bear repeating, says Fali S Nariman in the Indian Express.
3. Ajit Balakrishnan in the Business Standard asks that if we can come up with ways of sharing property rights on the internet, why not do something similar in urban spaces?
Raksha Kumar explains why two adivasi women and an activist refused to ask for bail in Chhattisgarh
The district of Raigarh is protected under the Fifth Schedule of India’s Constitution, with special safeguards around the transfer of indigenous lands.
Chhattisgarh’s rehabilitation guidelines state that families, especially those living in districts covered in Fifth Scheduled areas, are eligible for the allocation of alternate land or housing, preferably in the area where they already reside.
The protesting villagers of Bankhet are yet to get alternate land or housing. The state revenue department officials claim an eviction notice was issued to the three households on March 22, asking them to vacate their homes by March 30. However, according to the residents, the notice reached them only on the morning of April 1, the day the bulldozers arrived with the police.