Archives  >  2019  >  July  >  22nd

The Sonbhadra Massacre

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1. What’s the story?

Eastern Uttar Pradesh is on the boil. Last week, 10 landless Adivasi farmers were gunned down over a land dispute by a group of men led by the pradhan of Sonbhadra district’s Umbhha village. More than 20 were injured. The state administration has now imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Court (CRPC) in the area, and banned the entry of all politicians. (Quick recap: CRPC’s Section 144 gives an executive magistrate the right to forbid more than four people from gathering in an area.).
Tell me more.
Back in 2017, the accused Yagya Dutt had purchased a few bighas of disputed land. However, that land had been traditionally tilled by generations of farmers from the local Gond community. Despite their protests and official complaints to the state government, the land was finally legally registered under Dutt’s name in 2019. That simmering tension of two years finally came to a head last week, leading to the bloodbath.

The seeds of this discord actually go back to Independence, when this land was owned by the local princely state. The 1950s land reforms made the princely state transfer ownership of this land to an Adarsh Cooperative Society, which in turn transferred it to an individual in the late 1980s. All through this time, local tribals had been ploughing the land, but had no ownership over it.
So, what now?
Over the weekend, prominent political representatives, such as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Congress and Derek O’Brien from Trinamool Congress (TMC) were stopped by the local administration from meeting the victims’ families. Gandhi, eventually, did manage to meet the affected, though not before a prolonged altercation with the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh (UP) Government. UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, visited Umbhha on Sunday. The State Government has announced INR 18.5 lakh compensation for each of the victim’s families.

Keep your eyes on this space. Things may not have completely calmed down yet.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Delhi, that’s where. On Sunday, former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was cremated with full state honours at Nigam Bodh Ghat in Delhi. Dikshit, one of the most prominent Congress politicians, and, according to some, the face behind New Delhi’s transformation in the late 90s, was fondly remembered by many – including her bitter political rivals.  

3. What more?

In a widely appreciated move, the Central Government has allotted more than INR 2 crore to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) across the nation to install hundreds of sanitary pad dispensers for women recruits.

“The call for having ‘gender-sensitive’ budgeting and creating an enabling environment for women in ‘khaki’ was first mooted during the ‘National Conference for women in Police’ in 2016 … The survey found that while women personnel go on long spells of no water to avoid urination, it was also hard for them to find a proper place to wash their clothes and even to dry their undergarments while on the job.”

CRPF has also unveiled its first “body protector” made especially for women. Since Independence, women cadets have had to make do with bulky protectors designed for men. In 2019, things finally seem to be changing.

4. Anything else?

In New York, a Hindu priest in religious attire was brutally beaten up, in what the NYPD is investigating as a hate crime. The perpetrator allegedly shouted “this is my neighbourhood” before attacking the elderly priest, who is currently in the hospital with severe injuries.

“The incident comes days after US President Donald Trump took to twitter to target four democratic congresswomen including Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born US citizen, asking them to ‘go back’ where they came from.

‘Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!’ Trump tweeted.”

5. Is that all?

In Singapore, politicians and journalists are fighting a very different kind of battle. A new law in this Asian nation has allowed political representatives to declare some online content “misleading” and demand for it to be taken down. Politicians say this will help fight fake news. Journalists say this is just a new way of censorship. “…in a country where the ruling People’s Action Party has for decades exercised subtle but pervasive control over conversations in the public sphere…” such legal loopholes may prove to be dangerous for press freedom.

6. Before you leave …

Make sure to take a look at all the extraordinary women reshaping professional sports today      .

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