Hafta 266: Delhi violence, coronavirus, parliament ruckus, and more
In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Raman Kirpal, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Kapil Komireddi, author and journalist.They start with a discussion on the Delhi violence. Abhinandan asks the panellists how precisely they will describe what happened. Was it “riot” or “pogrom”? Kapil believes it was more than a riot and, had it continued to escalate, could have become a pogrom. Anand sees it purely as communal violence and a confrontation between supporters and opponents of the citizenship law. Mehraj prefers the term “communal carnage”.Talking about the foreign media’s coverage of the violence, Kapil says there’s a lack of nuance. “When a piece is written in Delhi and sent to London or New York for editing, I think the editors add their own language, they compress language, nuance somehow gets eliminated from that coverage,” he adds.He, however, rejects the suggestion that such coverage is a conspiracy to defame India. “I think India is supplying enough material to people who dislike the country,” he argues.Kapil goes on to question Narendra Modi’s competence as a leader, “For weeks, Gujarat burnt around him and he did nothing. In Delhi, in the capital of the country, the city burnt for three days and again he was incompetent, he could not do anything. So the defining characteristic of the prime minister is incompetence.”Speaking about how the violence started, Raman says, “I think prima facie, it was deliberate. It was started with some intentions to teach a lesson.” He adds that Muslims retaliated where they were in large numbers, making it a full-blown riot.About the police’s role, he says, “There are few brilliant individuals in any institution. But let us face it, on those three days, these men in khaki, they behaved like Hindus.” Anand, however, argues that it is early to say the police were incompetent considering the sequence of the events is still unclear. He says, “The cause and effect relationship, what caused it, is still very hazy.”Mehraj disagrees. “If we have to find the truth, we have to go beyond these institutions, beyond the police,” he says. “This is a police that not only sided with the rioters but was complicit in the violence”. He notes that the police actively destroyed CCTV cameras to ensure there was no evidence of their actions.The panel then discuss the coronavirus pandemic. “It seems a lot more alarming but when you see the age-wise break-up of fatality, for a young fit person, this is like a flu that goes away,” Abhinandan says, initiating the conversation.Mehraj, however, points out that the fatality rate being low doesn’t mean that the threat isn’t severe for a country like India, where “without a proper healthcare system, you are asking for disaster.”They also discuss the suspension of seven Congress MPs, Justice S Muralidhar’s transfer from the Delhi High Court to Punjab, freedom of speech, and much more.Tune in!
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