The arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, the co-founder of Indian Mujahidin, allegedly responsible for several blasts in the country, and at least eight cases of terror attacks in Maharashtra, has brought much hope to investigators in Mumbai, who had been on his trail for several years. There was even an an award of Rs 10 lakh for information on him. Although one accused in the German Bakery blast has been sentenced to death, the cops are confident that Yasin’s arrest will throw much more light on that case as well. Given that Dawood Ibrahim remains out of bounds for India, arrest of an "important functionary" of an "important terror module" is very significant for a city that has been attacked almost every couple of years for the past decade or more.
The Ordeal Continues
The photojournalist who survived the gang rape was discharged from Jaslok Hospital after she was found to be recovering well. Prior to that, her family issued a statement thanking the prompt action and support from government and media. They were also forced to request for privacy— which, of course, is her right, but which seems to have been threatened with invasive media outlets giving out details about the crime. In other related developments, forensic experts from Gujarat and Delhi visited and inspected the crime scene. All the accused were taken there too. One of the accused is said to be a minor, and so we are back to the debate about minor offenders, just what happened in the Delhi gang rape case. The police have also found a witness, we are told. And Raj Thackeray of course decided that it was because of the migrants who are responsible for increasing crime in Mumbai. Of course, he was criticised, but he got his talk time on television nonetheless.
The Fatal Festival
The Dahi-Handi festival gets bigger (not necessarily better) every year. The prize money runs into crores, making one wonder if recession touches politicians. But that was the end of good news. Two Govindas— those who make human pyramids to break the pot (and win the prize money)— died while commuting on bike from one Dahi Handi site to the other. The festival, depicted generously in Hindi movies, that celebrates Lord Krishna’s birth has increasingly become political and fiercely competitive. The handis are set in the middle of arterial roads, apart from big grounds, causing horrible traffic jams and crowd gathering. The Govindas who travel on trucks and bikes were seen breaking all traffic rules— helmets, signal, pillion riding and so on. Apart from celebrities from Marathi film industry, Bollywood presence, including Shah Rukh Khan, at the grounds made the crowd go crazier. More than 300 were injured and 80 still remain in various public hospitals with fractures and trauma injuries. Some groups repeated the record of nine layers of forming a human pyramid, and others have demanded that it be given status of “sport” and the benefits that come with it.
After a Sanatan Sanstha worker was detained and at least 50 questioned in Dr Narendra Dabholkar murder case, members of the Hindu religious organisation lashed out at the state government for defaming them. “The police seem to be under political pressure to act against us,” said the spokesperson. He gave details about how they have been made to sit for hours in police stations. At the same time, the police seem to have no real clue so far. All this seemed par for the course until the Sanatan Sanstha chose the same occasion for muck raking and spoke about financial irregularities in Dabholkar’s Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, as if there was a connection between the murder and the allegations. They also alleged that the police have stopped investigating the “gem industry” which Dr Dabholkar reportedly wanted to take on. Amidst all this, the state government passed the Anti Superstition Bill rather hastily, after sitting on it for years, perhaps in an effort at damage control and placate Dabholkar’s followers. Whether they will succeed in catching the culprits— like they did in the Mumbai Gang Rape Case— or the case will be consigned to the cold storage remains to be seen.
Six of the 11 bodies recovered from INS Sindhurakshak have been identified. Reports say the bodies have been handed over or are being transported to the native places. However, in all 18 members were on board when the blast happened and took the submarine down. It is still not clear if the remaining seven bodies were found and how long would the navy search for them.
A Marathi newspaper reports that villagers from Jaitapur, the hotbed of struggle and protest against the Nuclear Power Plant Project, have started accepting monetary compensation. Villagers had earlier fought tooth and nail against the powerful forces to keep their land, returned cheques and the struggles had even taken a violent turn. Shiv Sena declared support to the protests and gave it added boost. While environmental concerns about the project remain, it is unclear whether the passage of the Land Acquisition Act had any role to play, whether the villagers benefitted in any way, or what exactly transpired. Watch this space.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
The only positive this week seems to have come from a delightful piece of news in a Bollywood news supplement. Apparently, actor Irrfan will be teaming with Naseeruddin Shah for a sequel of the cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. A sequel we will all wait for. Hopefully it will be a rich tribute to late Ravi Baswani, Naseer’s partner in crime and also late Bhakti Barve, who played their editor, in the original. While Om Puri too played a hilarious role in the film, we will spare you the latest details on the horrific reports of his being involved in a wife-battering incident.
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