Amnesty Offered To First-Time Stone Pelters In Jammu And Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has announced amnesty to first-time stone pelters, officials said on Thursday.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday night, Mufti said: “It gives me immense satisfaction to restart the process of withdrawing FIRs against first-time offenders of stone pelting.

“My government had initiated the process in May 2016 but it was unfortunately stalled due to the unrest later that year.

“It is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families. This initiative will provide them an opp ortunity to rebuild their lives.”

The Centre’s special representative on Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma had recommended the move to instil confidence among the stakeholders for a sustained dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Why Congress’s Silence On ‘Padmavati’ Is Terrifying A Section Of Muslims In Gujarat

A series of events last week, leading up to the postponement of a period drama about a Rajput queen, has polarized opinion and shifted the focus of prime time news from pressing matters such as an ongoing farmers’ agitation in the heart of the national capital, to a raging discussion on Hindu pride.

In a recent conversation with HuffPost India, Hanif Lakdawala, a doctor based in Ahmedabad, recalled the events with shock and disbelief, particularly the threats of violence made against Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone, the director and lead actress of the film Padmavati — based on an epic poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

“How can people saying that they are going to chop off someone’s nose and head over a movie. Still, no one is coming forward to defend free speech or even to condemn such hateful statements. What is going on in this country?” he said.

There is a deep sense of helplessness in the Muslim community, rich and poor.

Congress and Hindutva

While the BJP has always accused the Congress of appeasing the minority for votes, political analysts believe that the Congress has practiced “soft Hindutva” since the eighties.

In 1985, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi nullified the landmark judgement that granted alimony to a Muslim wife from Indore named Shah Bano, just to appease orthodox Muslims who opposed the Supreme Court’s interference in their personal laws.

To restore the balance, a few months later, Rajiv Gandhi ordered the lock on the Babri Masjid to be removed, giving Hindus access to the birthplace of Lord Rama. But long time observers of the Gujarat elections say they have never seen anything like the current campaign.

They are not even mentioning minorities. It is scary for Muslims. It is scary for all of us.

Like Lakdawala, the former Jawaharlal Nehru University professor believes that Congress’s silence over Padmavati went beyond the election. “I believe that that Congress has lost its capacity to speak on issues like free speech.”

For Mujahid Nafees, a 35-year-old Muslim man from Ahmedabad, the Congress is playing a “dangerous game” in not condemning the agitation against Padmavati. “Today, they are quiet about Padmavati. What will it be tomorrow? What’s the limit of looking the other way,” he said.

Nafees, who runs an advocacy group called the Minority Coordination Committee, continued, “Right now, the Congress believes that Muslims will always vote for them. Eventually, Muslims will just have to stop voting and that just hurts the democratic system that we live in. It is dangerous.”

Amnesty Offered To First-Time Stone Pelters In Jammu And Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has announced amnesty to first-time stone pelters, officials said on Thursday.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday night, Mufti said: “It gives me immense satisfaction to restart the process of withdrawing FIRs against first-time offenders of stone pelting.

“My government had initiated the process in May 2016 but it was unfortunately stalled due to the unrest later that year.

“It is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families. This initiative will provide them an opp ortunity to rebuild their lives.”

The Centre’s special representative on Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma had recommended the move to instil confidence among the stakeholders for a sustained dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Question is, if Gandhi and his social media rise is so insignificant, why does the Modi government feel the need to field senior ministers to counter him?

This can be witnessed with the jittery behaviour of many senior ministers of the Modi government who seems to be on an overtly defensive mode. Sample this. For every tweet done from Rahul Gandhi’s handle that is critical of the Modi government, Smriti Irani would instantly counter it with another tweet as if on cue. Whether it warrants the stature of a cabinet minister to come down to trolling on social media is a different debate altogether. Question is, if Gandhi and his social media rise is so insignificant, why does the Modi government feel the need to field senior ministers to counter him? Irani who had once called Rahul Gandhi a ‘failed politician’ incidentally lost the Amethi Lok Sabha elections in 2014 to the Congress scion. Quite an irony I must say.

Not only on Twitter, senior ministers like Smriti Irani, Piyush Goel and Nirmala Sitharaman have come out to attack Gandhi by holding regular press conferences. If anything, they’ve been ceding more ground and attention by doing so. Even in the absence of a fight, their behaviour is giving the electorate a sense that the ruling party is getting jittery and defensive. Interestingly, a recent story done by ANI claimed that Gandhi’s rise on his Twitter following, which jumped from 20 lakhs in May to nearly 37 lakhs, within the next two months can be attributed to bots. Same was claimed for the high volume of RTs that Gandhi had attracted, even crossing popular leaders like Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal who are the most and second most followed Indian politicians on Twitter respectively.

In politics, it is perception more than reality that matters.

Now even if we were to believe that what the story claimed is true, it hardly makes any difference as in politics, perception matters more. For that matter, a Twitter audit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account suggests that out of his 35 Million plus followers 13 Million are real where as close to 22 million are fake or bot accounts. As per a CNBC report, close to 48 Million accounts on Twitter are bots. So out 48 Million of those, if nearly 22 Million belong to Modi. You can imagine the magnitude of the smokescreen created by the ruling party to highlight the popularity of the Prime Minister on Twitter. But as mentioned earlier, in politics it is perception more than reality that matters.

The shifting dynamics with growing palpable anger against the government and it’s policies is helping the grand old party script it’s success on social media. With interesting infographics, statistics, fact checks and prompt and witty responses, the Congress seems to be winning the digital game as of now. Many might feel that the euphoria is far fetched but it clearly helps in building a popularity perception for Gandhi. Specially at a time when elections are due in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh as well as Rahul’s elevation to the Congress President’s post. We shouldn’t forget that this is not restricted only to social media, but almost all mainstream news channels and newspapers have debated and discussed this sudden change in dynamics. Which in turn, results in a complete media blitzkrieg in spreading the message to the masses that Rahul Gandhi has completely transformed himself as a mature politician.

This has made the ruling party extremely nervous as it goes against their strategy of painting Gandhi as a novice and a failed politician

The impact can be seen on ground given the large number of crowds that he’s drawing in all his rallies in Gujarat where he’s singlehandedly running the campaign. This has made the ruling party extremely nervous as it goes against their strategy of painting Gandhi as a novice and a failed politician. But this renewed vigour with which Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party is fighting the battle both on the social media and on ground is a welcome change. The electorate seems to be receiving it positively. Whether it translate to a electoral victory is something that we’ll have to wait. But a lot of credit for their spectacular rise on social media has to be given to Divya Spandana who seems to be doing a fabulous job. Let’s see if they can sustain the momentum and whether it delivers them electoral dividends in the near future.

The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of HuffPost India. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and HuffPost India does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

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Modi Govt. Mulling Law To End Triple Talaq

The government is considering bringing a legislation in the winter session of Parliament to put an end to instantaneous triple talaq, a Muslim way of divorce which is still in practice despite the Supreme Court striking it down.

A ministerial committee has been set up to propose a suitable legislation or amend existing penal provisions, which would make instantaneous triple talaq an offence, government functionaries said today.

As the law stands today, a victim of talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq would have no option but to approach the police for redressal of her grievance as a Muslim clergy would be of no assistance to her.

Even police are helpless as no action can be taken against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in the law, they explained.

The ministerial committee has been constituted to frame a new law or an amendment bill, and the government plans to bring this legislation in the winter session of Parliament, the functionaries said.

How Divya Spandana Has Turned Around Congress’s Social Media Game

A lot has been spoken about Congress’s recent social media rise, particularly the shift in tone, language and promptness of Rahul Gandhi’s tweets. Many are hailing Gandhi as a rising social media star, courtesy his witty tweets and sharp attacks in recent times. While it’s true that popularity on Twitter or any other social media site doesn’t guarantee electoral success. But it’s definitely a good start for a party and a leader of which obituaries were written even until few months ago. Not only has Gandhi and the Congress being able to bring about a significant change in their social media strategy. They’ve also been able to capture the narrative in the digital space which was until recently being dominated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.