The Hindu – Maharashtra returnees with COVID-19 in Karnataka outnumber Tablighi Jamaat attendees

Afshan Yasmeen

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 21 May 2020. Till the first week of April, Tablighi Jamaat attendees made up a major chunk of the COVID-19 positive cases in Karnataka. However, from 12 April onwards, the trend changed and those returning from Maharashtra have been contributing to the spike in numbers.

While 118 Tablighi Jamaat attendees and their primary contacts have tested positive so far, over 500 of the 1,040 persons who tested positive from 01 May are those who returned from Maharashtra. The first case of a person who returned from Maharashtra testing positive was on 12 April in Vijayapura. The 60-year-old woman spread the infection to 29 others.

Mandya, which is witnessing an influx of Mumbai returnees, recorded the first such positive case on 27 April. Then on, the number of positive cases in the district has increased to 201, with Mumbai returnees making up 90% of this number.

On Thursday, the number of active cases in Mandya was 176, which is higher than that in Bengaluru (122). While inter-State travellers contributing to the spike was expected, the State health authorities are now worried about the increasing number of Maharashtra returnees testing positive.

Districts such as Haveri, Yadgir, Koppal and Raichur, which had not reported any cases till April-end, are now doing so with migrants returning from Maharashtra testing positive. On Thursday, 96 of the total 143 positive cases were linked to travel from Maharashtra.

Terming the contribution of Maharashtra returnees to the spike in numbers a “worrisome” trend, C N Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said, “Maharashtra returnees’ contributing in such big numbers was not expected.

All our early interventions have now been washed away because of the influx of people from Maharashtra.” Dr Manjunath is the nodal officer for lab testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force.

143 new cases

On Thursday, 143 new cases were reported in the State, and 121 of them were inter-State travellers. As many as 43 of the 143 patients were minors.

While 96 were travellers from Maharashtra, six were from Tamil Nadu, three from Jharkhand, five from Telangana, two from Rajasthan, one each from Chhattisgarh and Kerala, and seven from the United Arab Emirates.

With this, the total number of positive cases in the State is 1,605. This includes 41 COVID-19 deaths, one non-COVID-91 death, and 571 people discharged.

Mandya reported the highest number of cases on Thursday. As many as 29 of the 33 new cases there had a travel history to Maharashtra. Udupi followed with 28 cases. However, two of these had been quarantined at Sirsi in Uttara Kannada and have been shifted to a COVID-19 hospital in Karwar. – ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan at anti-CAA rally was ill-conceived, but it is not sedition

The decision to yell a contentious slogan at a public rally may be worth criticising, but it is not grounds for a sedition charge.

Sruthisagar Yamunan

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 21 February 2020. Eighteen-year-old Amulya Leona was charged with sedition on Thursday after she shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act rally organised by the All India Majlis e Ittehad ul Muslimeen in Bengaluru.

A video of the event at which Leona is seen shouting the slogan has gone viral. In the clip, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi can be seen looking alarmed the moment he hears the slogan and promptly asks the woman to stop the chants. Owaisi later criticised her for misusing the party forum.

Despite this, Owaisi has come under fire from the Hindutva critics on social media, as they questioned his patriotism yet again. In addition, Leona’s father in Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka was made to disown his daughter’s comments on camera and was heckled by a group men to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

A Facebook post by Leona on February 16 that came to attention after the incident seems to show that the teenager did not intend to single out Pakistan for praise so much as to make the point that humanity should be placed above the territorial idea of a nation state.

A translation of the original Kannada message seemed to indicate what Leona was about to say before she was asked to stop her speech at the meeting.

“Hindustan zindabad, Pakistan zindabad, Bangladesh zindabad, Sri Lanka zindabad, Nepal zindabad, China zindabad, Afghanistan zindabad, Bhutan zindabad,” Leona had written. “Whichever country it may be, zindabad to all countries.”

She added, “Children are taught that country means territory. But, we, the children, want to tell you, a country is its people. Every person is entitled to basic amenities. All the people should have citizenship rights. The governments of all countries should look after its people in a good manner. Zindabad to everyone who works in the service of people.”

Despite the criticism of Leona’s action, it is clear is that the police’s decision to invoke the sedition law is disproportionate.

Labelling Muslims

Owaisi’s response to the slogan was clearly the right thing to do, given the atmosphere that has been created across India ever since protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act broke out in December. The new law introduces a religious criterion for awarding citizenship, providing illegal immigrants from three countries a fast track to Indian citizenship, except if they are Muslim.

Hindutva groups, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its ministers, have repeatedly attempted to portray Muslims agitating against the law as “anti-nationals”.

In such a situation, for someone to chant slogans in support of Pakistan at a meeting organised by a Muslim party is irresponsible and ill-conceived. Such an action plays into the hands of Hindutva groups, which are now trying to justify their bigoted opinion that all Indian Muslims harbour sympathies for Pakistan.

There is, of course, little evidence for this at the protests across India, which foreground in speeches and artwork the Preamble of the Constitution that guarantees equality, justice and fraternity.

As many such as Left activist Kavita Krishnan have pointed out, Leona’s intention was never to celebrate Pakistan. It seems the legitimate anxiety that the chant created at the event led to the unfortunate consequence of her being stopped from completing her statement. As a result, she is heard shouting “Pakistan Zindabad” three times before the microphone was taken away from her.

While it could be argued that she was simply trying to get the attention of the crowd, the consequences that the chant would have created for the protests is dire. Owaisi’s decision to stop her cannot be faulted.

What can be faulted is the manner in which the state has responded to events. The police immediately filed a case of sedition against Leona and the magistrate has sent her to judicial custody for 14 days.

Khalistan, Pakistan and sedition

Can chanting “Pakistan zindabad” without an intention to bring about disaffection against the government be deemed seditious? Clearly not. In fact, the Supreme Court has condoned similar statements made in even more drastic circumstances and has criticised police officials who had failed to apply their mind in moving prosecutions for sedition.

In 1995, the case of two Punjab state officials booked for sedition came up in appeal before the Supreme Court. Balwant Singh and Bhupinder Singh were tried for sedition after they shouted “Khalistan Zindabad” and “Hindustan Murdabad” in Chandigarh hours after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh guards on 31 October 1984.

The Khalistani movement was a separatist movement that Indira Gandhi put down with force. Its aim was to create a separate nation for Sikhs. In June 1984, security forces stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out Khalistani militants and their leader Jairnail Singh Bhindranwale. Any support to the Khalistanis at that point was deemed anti-national.

The two were convicted by the lower court. But the Supreme Court threw the cases out and observed:

“Keeping in view the prosecution evidence that the slogans as noticed above were raised a couple of times only by the appellant and that neither the slogans evoked a response from any other person of the Sikh community or reaction from people of other communities, we find it difficult to hold that upon the raising of such casual slogans, a couple of times without any other act whatsoever the charge of sedition can be founded.”

The court added that it did not appear that the police “should have attached much significance to the casual slogans” raised by two a couple of times and “read too much into them”.

Leona’s case is similar. Even if for a moment it is assumed that her intention was only to chant “Pakistan zindabad” and nothing else, it was merely a statement.

While it could be deemed irresponsible given the political atmosphere, the fact that there was no serious response from others to this slogan makes it unfit to attract the sedition provision under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code.

In fact, the reaction was the exact opposite: the organisers immediately took the microphone away from the woman and condemned her statements. Thus, no feelings against the government were excited by the statements, a requirement to fulfill charges under the law.

Given the Supreme Court precedent, it is unfortunate that the magistrate acted in a mechanical manner and did not apply his mind before sending Leona to judicial custody. Legitimising unfounded sedition charges acts as a catalyst in perpetuating opinions that certain sections and communities are “anti-national”.

This is not the first time the sedition law is being invoked for merely making statements in the context of the Citizenship Amendment Act protests. Earlier this month, the Karnataka police booked a parent and a teacher in a school at Bidar for a school play about the citizenship law.

The student production is alleged to have contained statements that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The students, the youngest of whom was nine years old, were harassed five times under the garb of questioning them.

The sedition law was also invoked against Sharjeel Imam, a Jawaharlal Nehru University student who asked for a blockade of Assam. In this case too, there was no reaction on the ground and the statements were disowned immediately by others.

Earlier this month, the Mumbai Police filed a sedition case against 51 persons for allegedly chanting slogans in support of Imam at a queer pride event.

The Print – From writing history to becoming a part: How Ramachandra Guha became face of CAA protests

Historian Ramachandra Guha fights his battles more with words. Which is why when he hit the streets to protest CAA, it seemingly shook even the BJP.

Simrin Sirur

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 21 December 2019. When Ramachandra Guha, one of India’s foremost historians and public intellectuals, was dragged and then detained by the Bengaluru Police on 19 December for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Twitterverse exploded with outrage.

Academics, journalists, politicians, and even business people expressed shock that an eminent personality like Guha was denied speaking to the press and whisked away by the police. Guha, 61, was accosted mid-sentence, on camera, by a group of policemen who literally dragged him away, even as he nearly lost his balance.

With the video going viral with visuals of his detention being widely telecast on TV channels or shared on social media and WhatsApp groups, Guha became a popular face of the nationwide protests against the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC). This is why Ramachandra Guha is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.

Guha’s early works as a historian revolved around India’s ecology and environment, but he is better known as a biographer of Mahatma Gandhi, and it is here that his antagonism with the Narendra Modi-led BJP government begins. Guha hasn’t shied away from claiming that the BJP has “appropriated” Gandhi to further its own political objectives. The BJP, in turn, has labelled him an ‘Urban Naxal’.

Like most liberal intellectuals, Guha fights his battles more with words than performative action. Before the CAA was passed, for example, Guha wrote op-eds calling it “blatantly communal”, put out tweets likening Home Minister Amit Shah’s push for the law to Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s two-nation theory, and signed petitions demanding that it be revoked.

Guha also made himself heard on TV, where he is greatly sought after by primetime channels and regularly gives interviews criticising the BJP and its version of Indian history. In an interview to NDTV before the citizenship bill became a law, Guha said: “Those who believe fusing religion into State powers and State laws will lead us to a prosperous India needn’t look further than Pakistan.”

Usually, Guha’s dissent is spelled out in the editorial pages of Hindustan Times, The Telegraph or The Indian Express, where personalities like Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Romila Thapar keep him company, rather than on the streets.

Perhaps this is why watching him being yanked away by policemen on the streets finally shook the conscience of India’s educated class.

Guha hitting the streets has shaken up even the BJP, or so it seems, as the party’s Karnataka unit put out a tweet on his detention from its verified handle: “#UrbanNaxals who operate in a Dark World are completely unknown to the Common Man.

They make their presence felt through inciting violence & organizing protests at the behest of their Masters. They are getting exposed now.”


After being released, Guha, speaking to NDTV, called the move to impose Section 144, under which he was detained, as “paranoid, fearful and insecure”.

“We have been through difficult times before, like Gandhi’s death, the Emergency in the 1970s, the riots in the 1990s riots. This is the fourth major crisis in the country. We will get out of this but only if we are patient and work in a non-violent way,” he said.

From writing history to becoming a part: How Ramachandra Guha became face of CAA protests

The Print – Over 1,000 scientists oppose citizenship bill, say it violates spirit of Constitution

Read full text of statement signed by more than 1,000 scientists & scholars who say they find it troubling that bill uses    religion as a criterion to determine citizenship.

Bengaluru -Karnataka – India, 09 December 2019. In a statement circulated online, more than 1,000 Indian scientists and scholars from the country and abroad have released a statement opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill tabled Lok Sabha by the Narendra Modi government Monday.

The 2019 bill, which was approved by the Union cabinet on 4 December, seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there.

In the statement, the scientists have argued that the “use of religion as a criterion for citizenship” would be a “radical break” with the idea of independent, post-colonial India. The bill is a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 and would reduce the residence period in India from 11 years to six years to obtain citizenship.

Drafted over the weekend, tT. These include scientists and research scholars from institutions such as various IITs, the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS, Bengaluru), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR, Mumbai), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Indian Statistical Institute, and different IISERs as well as international institutes such as Harvard University, University of Chicago, University of Toronto, Nikhef Amsterdam, and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

Signatories also include directors of major research institutions, such as Rajesh Gopakumar of ICTS, Sandip Trivedi of TIFR, and Atish Dabholkar of International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy.

We are a group of Indian scientists and scholars

We are issuing this statement in our personal capacity as concerned citizens to express our dismay at the reported plans to table the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in the parliament. We do not have access to the exact text of the current version of the Bill.

Our statement is based on media reports and the text of the previous version of the Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha in January 2019. Nevertheless, we feel compelled to issue this statement already at this point of time in view of the reports that the Bill may be tabled in parliament early next week and may be taken up for voting in both houses soon after.

We understand that the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The stated intent of the Bill is to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries.

While we support this laudable objective, we find it deeply troubling that the Bill uses religion as a legal criterion for determining Indian citizenship.

The idea of India that emerged from the independence movement, and as enshrined in our constitution, is that of a country that aspires to treat people of all faiths equally. The use of religion as a criterion for citizenship in the proposed bill would mark a radical break with this history and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the constitution.

We fear, in particular, that the careful exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the Bill will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country.

We note that article 14 of the Indian constitution prohibits the State from denying “to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” While it is the job of legal experts to determine whether this draft bill violates the letter of the constitution, it seems certain to us that it violates its spirit.

For the reasons mentioned above, we call for the immediate withdrawal of this bill and as its replacement request for appropriate legislation that will address the concerns of refugees and minorities in a non-discriminatory manner.

Over 1,000 scientists oppose citizenship bill, say it violates spirit of Constitution

The Asian Age – Lies being spread about Article 370 by J&K mainstream leaders: BJP working president Nadda

‘The architects of Indian Constitution were against Article 370. There were no takers of this Article in Constituent Assembly,’ he said.

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 22 September 2019. BJP working president J P Nadda on Sunday slammed mainstream leaders of Jammu and Kashmir for allegedly spreading lies pertaining to Article 370, which was recently scrapped from the state.

“Leaders like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Farooq Abdullah, and others have spread the lie that Article 370 gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status. It is clearly mentioned in the Indian Constitution that Article 370 is temporary and transitional,” he said while addressing a meet of intellectuals on ‘One India, One Constitution’ here.

Talking about the history of Article 370, Nadda said: “The architects of the Indian Constitution were against Article 370. There were no takers of this Article in the Constituent Assembly.”

“Gopalaswami Iyenger had said in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 that Article 370 will be temporary and transitional and all laws of the Constitution of India will apply to Jammu and Kashmir in a phased manner,” he added.

The BJP working president Nadda also mentioned about Sheikh Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, in his address and claimed that he rigged the first Vidhan Sabha elections in 1951 and changed his stance over the status of Jammu and Kashmir after sweeping the polls.

“Sheikh Abdullah had rigged the first Vidhan Sabha elections in 1951. He had disqualified all competing candidates and had ensured the victory of NC members on all 75 seats in J&K.

After winning the rigged elections, Sheikh Abdullah changed his stance and started calling the J&K Legislative Assembly as the Constituent Assembly, a sovereign body and thus, we will form our own Constitution,” he said.

Speaking about the benefits of abrogation of Article 370, Nadda said that the tribals residing in the Valley and Ladakh region will now get representation in the Vidhan Sabha and laws on sexual assault against children will be imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region.

“Jammu and Kashmir did not give any tribal rights to the tribals from the Valley and Ladakh. They do not have any tribal seat in the Vidhan Sabha even for the Gujjar and Bakarwals, who serve the nation in the Army.

After the abrogation of Article 370, now delimitation will take place, and our tribal brothers will get to represent their communities in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha,” he said.

“There is no right to information, no right against domestic violence, no right against sexual assault against Children in the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. The Indian Parliament has passed 104 laws that were not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

“Prior to the removal of Article 370 and 35A, women from J&K that married a non-NRC holder lost her right to property. To stop such injustices, the abrogation was very important and we took that step,” the BJP working president further stated.

In his concluding remark, the BJP working President lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for making efforts to abrogate Article 370 and 35A from Jammu and Kashmir and splitting it into two Union Territories.

“Our power to abrogate Article 370 and 35A comes from your belief and votes. It was also helped by the will power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the political know-how of Union Home Minister Amit Shah,” he said.

There is much in this article that I cannot judge, but I agree that there was a mechanism that allowed for the changing or abolishing of the article, and that mechanism was used by the Modi Sarkar. What went wrong is that they did not consult the people of Jammu and Kashmir, nor the elected assembly. The government appointed governor decided the issue.

The Hindu – One nation-one language will never be a reality: Jairam Ramesh

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 15 September 2019. Amid a raging debate over Hindi as a common language for the country, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said it would never be a reality.

The Rajya Sabha member also noted that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was under attack daily by forces out to “denigrate and obliterate” his legacy and the very idea of India would “die” if his ideas were abandoned.

“We may have one nation-one tax, but one nation-one language will never be a reality. We are one nation, we are many languages,” he said.

Mr Ramesh was delivering the Sir M Visvesvaraya memorial lecture, A Prime Minister and an Engineer, at an event organised by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry to commemorate the birth anniversary of its founder Visvesvaraya, who was also the Diwan of Mysore State.

Mr Ramesh, who began his speech by addressing the dignitaries, including the Governor and Chief Minister, and the audience in English, Kannada and Hindi, said “I have spoken in three languages in one minute, just to give you a message”.

“We may have one nation-one tax, one nation-one election, but under no circumstances can we have one nation-one culture, one nation-one language,” he added.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday had pitched for Hindi as a common language for the country, reigniting the debate on the issue, as parties in the South said they would oppose any attempt to “impose” the language.

Congress, too, had cautioned against stirring up “emotive” issues “settled” by those who framed the Constitution, after Mr Shah said that while diversity in languages is India’s strength, a national language is needed so that foreign languages and cultures do not overpower the country’s own.

Listing out various accounts related to Nehru and Visvesvaraya, Mr Ramesh said he was a perfect model of intellectual integrity and financial probity, both values that are endangered today.

“Today we recall this remarkable man as an annual ritual. How much our country would gain if we were to follow his example the other 364 days as well,” he said.

Mr Ramesh said Nehru, the architect of the modern Indian nation state, had anchored in an open, liberal, representative democracy, that was also a celebration of diversities amidst unity, scientific temper and planned economic development, all of which were now under “daily attack” by forces out to “denigrate and obliterate” his legacy.

“As an unabashed but not uncritical admirer of his, I must say that the very idea of India will die if we abandon the ideas of Nehru. Recognising his contributions and standing up for the causes he championed would be the best tribute we would be paying to Visvesvaraya himself,” he added.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa were present at the event, where Advaith Hundai director Dr S V S Subramanya Gupta was conferred with the Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award, 2019.

Referring to Dr Gupta’s request to the Chief Minister for better infrastructure in Bengaluru, Mr Ramesh mocked Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol’s recent comment that good roads were responsible for accidents, without taking his name.

“There are some people who think that good roads in Bengaluru lead to more deaths,” he said.

Amid calls that the government should first improve road infrastructure before imposing hefty fines for traffic violations, Mr Karjol had recently said good roads were responsible for accidents.