About: the world this week, 26 June to 2 July 2022, lots of legal stuff- brace yourselves for the supreme, a killing in India, fuel less in Sri Lanka, scorching hot in Japan, and dining underground.
Russia is cold, unrelenting, and pushing its forces awfully hard ever since it illegally invaded Ukraine four months ago. They have eliminated most of Ukrainian defences in the Luhansk region, consolidated control of a belt of territory in the south and have blunted the effectiveness of Ukrainian attack drones. And now, they have complete control of the Luhansk region, after Ukrainian forces finally gave up the city of Severodonetsk.
This week Russia showed a murderous streak when it fired a missile into a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk. More than 1,000 people were inside at that time and the number of victims is unknown – could be deadly.
It’s worrisome that Russia appears to be gaining ground in this war, but Ukraine has a clear, genuine motive to win. And win it must. Remember Snake Island, captured by Russia, at the start of the war? It’s now back with Ukraine!
Courts Rule…and Rule: Supreme, in the US, and India
Late last week the Supreme Court of the United States (US), in a 5-4 ruling, struck down the ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision that federally protected a woman’s right to have an abortion. It leaves abortion rights to be determined at the State level. And several Republican Party-led states have already moved to enact statewide bans.
In 1973, in the landmark ‘Roe versus Wade’ case, the Supreme Court had ruled that unduly restrictive state of regulation of abortion is unconstitutional and that criminalising abortion, in most instances, violated a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
It was a stinging decision that left the US gasping for breath, obliterating a woman’s right to choose. Hard to imagine that a country known for its freedom can suddenly cage women’s rights and become so cruel.
US President Joe Biden wasn’t happy with the Supreme Court’s decision and vowed to find a way out. He inherited a Supreme Court, which benches were packed with conservative judges during the previous Presidency, the results of which are there for all to see.
A woman has a fundamental right to choose what is best for her body over religious diktats and interpretations. People are entitled to hold their own convictions on the issue, but they should not dictate or rob another from making their own decisions. This is a regressive decision moving woman’s rights backwards and kills the freedom enjoyed over near about half a century.
I sometimes wonder whether, like an active Gun Lobby in the US, could there be a slippery Condom Lobby too?
In another ruling, the US Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law, enacted more than a century ago that placed restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home. In a 6-3 majority it ruled that the Constitution protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. That’s a ‘Yes’ to guns. Now to some kind of a ‘No’…
However, this week in what seems a sincere attempt in controlling the reckless gun-fire, one of the most significant US gun control bills in nearly 30 years was signed into law by President Joe Biden. It imposes tougher background checks on buyers younger than 21 years and encourages states to remove guns from people considered a threat. The reforms include: better funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades. It also closes the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ by banning those convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun – not just those who are married to their victims or live with them.
Keeping-up with the supreme, not to be left behind, India’s Supreme Court (SC) upheld and threw-out a ‘devoid of merit attempt’ to challenge the clean chit given by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to 64 people, including Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi – who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat- in the 2002 Gujarat Godhra Riots. The Courts said that the plea to challenge was an attempt ‘to keep the pot boiling for ulterior design’ when there was no credible evidence to suggest that the then Chief Minister or his administration was involved.
The protest petition was filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of a Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots.
The SC held there was no reason to question the merits of the SIT, which was specifically set-up by the SC itself, and that her submissions were far-fetched and sought to undermine the integrity of the SIT. “On such false claims the structure of a larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level has been erected . The same stands collapsed like a house of cards following the thorough investigation by the SIT. Those involved in such abuse need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law” it said.
This comes as a huge relief to PM Modi who was accused and hounded by the media and the opposition for near about 16 years as being complicit or turning the other eye, or failing to do enough to prevent or bring the riots under control.
It all started on 27 February 2002 when 59 Hindu pilgrims returning from the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, by the Sabarmathi Express was attacked by a Muslim mob and their Coach, S-6 of the train, set ablaze at the Godhra Station, where it had stopped. All 59 passengers in the Coach including 27 women and 10 children were burnt to death.
In what is described as a spontaneous outbreak, violence broke-out out in Gujarat State, where hundreds of Muslims and Hindus were killed triggering one of the worst post-independence riots in India.
Returning to the verdict, the SC said the co-petitoner and activist Teesta Setalvad exploited the emotions of petitioner Zakia Jafri. And antecedents of Teesta Setalvad need to be reckoned with and also because she has been vindictively persecuting this dispute for ulterior motives.
That hint was enough, I reckon, as the Gujarat Place immediately swung into action and arrested Teesta Setalvad from her Mumbai home, to dig deeper into the case while the earth is pliant and soft. The charges were criminal conspiracy, forgery, and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people.
Also arrested and ‘put in the dock’ were former State Director General of Police Sreekumar, and former IPS Office Sanjiv Bhatt -partners in perjury crime!
Following the stream of arresting action this week, Mohammad Zubair co-founder of fact checking website called Alt News was arrested. Earlier he had called out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader and spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks against the Prophet, only after he had deleted or edited portions- equally whiplashing against Hinduism, which trigged Nupur Sharma in the first place, and ended in her being sacked. A well-laid trap? And it’s minefield out there on religious provocation.
Mohammad Zubair is alleged to have routinely put tweets and posts, which were anti-Hindu, spawned Hindu-hatred, and mocked Hindu gods. He was arrested for blasphemy, a law he advocated until very recently. Most of these tweets were deleted once Nupur Sharma was shown the door by her party for hate-mongering.
Investigations are on to ascertain ‘the real’.
A Horrific Killing in India
This week, on a Tuesday afternoon, Kanhaiya Lal, a Hindu Tailor was working in his shop in the busy Dhan Mandi area of Udaipur in India’s Rajasthan State when two Muslim men walked-in, posing as customers. While Kanhaiya Lal was taking measurements on one of them, the other brandished a cleaver and tried to behead him, failing which he slit his throat, killing the Tailor (Police later said the head was not severed or beheaded). The other person took a video recording the incident on his phone and posted it on Social Media. In the video they were seen gloating over the murder and issued similar threats to India’s PM Narendra Modi, brandishing their cleavers. All of this was apparently over Kanhaiya Lal sharing a post in support of Nupur Sharma and thereby insulting Islam-they claimed, in their rant.
Previously, Kanhaiya Lal had been arrested by the Police, for the same post and let-out on bail with a warning. Since then, he had been receiving death threats, which he had reported to the Police. And appears to have been taken lightly by them.
After the killing, the Police, for once, were quick on their heels, identified and caught the killers, Gos Mohammad and Riyaz Akhtari, residents of Surajpole, Udaipur. They were trying to escape from the area when the Police locked onto them.
The macabre incident sparked outrage across the Country and India is treating it as a terror incident, and investigations are on a roll.
The Trial and punishment should be swift and effective so that it acts a deterrent to such uncivilised brutal acts in the name of religion: an unforgivable act of Islamist radicalisation and terrorism. I’m sure this does not represent the sane, mainstream Islam.
Late in the week, an Indian Supreme Court Order stood out as egregious when it appeared to blame Nupur Sharma for the killing. ‘Loose tongue…sets the country on fire…’ were some remarks made, which brought and outcry of disgust and calls for withdrawing the comments made. Noises of impeachment and reforming the judiciary could be heard.
Should not the Supreme set an example?
Clueless and Fuel Less in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is in talks with Lenders over a bailout deal to rejuvenate its economy and climb out of its worst economic crisis in decades: an economy crushed and hit hard by the pandemic, rising energy prices, populist tax cuts, among many other reasons.
Meanwhile, it continues to struggle, and this week, Sri Lanka suspended sales of fuel for non-essential vehicles. For the next two weeks, only buses, trains, and vehicles used for medical services and transporting food will be allowed to fuel-up. Schools in urban areas have shut and officials have told the country’s 22 million residents to work from home.
Gosh! Has this ‘work from home’ thing become a solution to every crisis?
Scorching Hot in Japan
While Sri Lanka battles it out with shortage of food, fuel and electricity, Japan is asking some 37 million people living in and around Tokyo to use less electricity and ration air-conditioning even amid a record heat wave that has seen temperatures in some parts of the country cross 40 degrees Celsius. The government urged citizens in the capital to turn off lights and power switches for three hours in the afternoon and to use air-conditioning ‘appropriately’; as the country struggles with growing electricity shortages.
Japan’s power supply has been tight since March, when an earthquake in the northeast forced some nuclear power plants to suspend operations. Demand is also at its highest since 2011, when Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. The mismatch between supply and demand is becoming ‘severe’. But with recent temperatures soaring to dangerous levels, rationing electricity will not be easy.
This week Tokyo experienced scorching heat for a fourth successive day after setting records for the month of June at the weekend.
Temperatures in the capital soared over 35 degrees Celsius, while the city of Isesaki northwest of Tokyo hit 40.2 degrees Celsius – the country’s highest in June since record keeping began in 1875.
This week Scientists discovered a carnivorous plant that grows prey-trapping contraptions underground, feeding of subterranean creatures such as worms, larvae, ants, mites, and beetles.
The newly found species of pitcher plant was unearthed in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. Like other pitcher plants, ‘Nepenthes pudica’ has modified leaves, known as pitfall traps or pitchers, that its prey fall into before being eaten – dissolved. One species is so large it can trap rats.
This plant places its – about 11 cm – long pitchers underground, where they are formed in cavities or directly in the soil, and trap animals living underground. No other species of pitcher plant, known to science, catches its prey in such a place.
More hot and cold stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay cool and above ground with World Inthavaaram.