News Wrap


After communal clashes breaking out in market places across Aurangabad (Maha-rashtra state) on 11 May 2018 night, and continuing over the next few days, two persons including a minor were killed, and over 60 injured. Clashes rose from an ongoing drive against illegal water connections, including in religious places in the city, an anti-encroachment drive in which fruit sellers and other hawkers, mostly muslims in Shahgang were targeted, a disputre between some fruit sellers and Shiv Sena activist Lacchhu Pailwan during the anti-encroachment drive; and a dispute between a Hindu and a muslim youth over a cell phone in Motikaranja. To start with, an armed mob had attacked a few persons in Motikaranja area. The violence later spread to the sorrounding areas of Rajabazar, Shahganj, Navapur, Saraf Bazar and all market places in the city. Mobs carried sharp weapons, hockey sticks, stones and petrol bombs. Police resorted to lathicharge and firing of pellets, as the situation worsened. While curfew was imposed in some parts of Aurangabad, prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was also invoked. As a pre-cautionary measure, Internet services were suspended. At least ten police personnel, including three assistant commissioners and a policewoman, were among those injured. Over 100 vehicles had been torched, and some shops set on fire. A seven-minute video has emerged, showing policemen purportedly turning a blind eye as rioting continued, with the mobs given a free hand.

Adivasi Mancha in Jhargram
The ruling Trinamool Congress failed to find political agents in 12 booths in Belpahari, which went to polls for West Bengal's panchayet elections on 14 May 2018. The party has been muscled out by a fledging tribal organisation, Adi Adivasi Samanway Mancha, with no previous political background. Hand-picked Independent candidates, under the banner of the mancha contested all the 128 gram panchayet seats in Belpahari (Jhargram district). Nitya-nanda Hembram, Disham Paragana (the head of the Majhis and Marwas) of Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal selected candidates from the local Majhis and Marwas, and issued a diktat to support them. The Adivasi Mancha does not support any party or block, but want the locals to run the local bodies, so that they can deliver more. Since the polling day morning, the Mancha supporters guided the voters to the polling booths. Though not a political party, the Mancha aids their candidates to win the local body seats. The locals do not believe in doles, but want work. Earlier, Belpahari was a maoist hot bed, part of the Jangalmahal contour; and backed TMC's Mamata Banerjee in the 2011 West Bengal state assembly polls. The traditional CPI(M) tribal base of support, has aligned itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Again, the Mancha has elements who were part of the now-disbanded PCPA, led by Chatradhar Mahato. The Mancha inducted Mahato's wife Niyati in their campaigning, and is offering a job for their eldest son. Despite doles for the underpriviledged granted by Trinamul Congress, the BJP, with a large number of uncontested seats, won more than 20% gram panchayets that went to vote in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Jhargram, Purulia and parts of West Midnapore and even Birbhum.

Clashes in Gaza
The USA on 14 May 2018, opened its embassy in Jerusalem, under a controversial move by President Donald Trump that has infuriated the Palestinians, who clashed with Israeli soldiers in Gaza. In a show of anger fuelled by the embassy move, protesters set tyres on fire, sending plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled fire bombs and stones towards Israeli troops across the border. Israeli fire killed at least 65 Palestinians and injured more than 3000 along the Gaza border, marking the deadliest day of violence there since a devastating cross-border war. The Israeli army claims that more than 35,000 people were involved in the protests and clashes. The Hamas-led protest in Gaza was meant to be the biggest yet in a week-long campaign, against a decade old blockade of the territory. The march was also directed at the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Since the protests began on 30 March 2018, nearly 200 Palestinians, including 30 children were killed.

Iran Nuclear Deal
On 08 May 2018, president Donald Trump of USA announced that United States would be pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, calling the argeement "defective at its core". Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal was negotiated and agreed to by Iran and the P5+1 (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany). European leaders maintained that they world stay committed to the accord, even after Trump defied allies and other would leaders in breaking the commitment. In a joint statement after Trump's announcement, British prime minister Theresa May, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron called on the US to ensure that the structure of the deal stay intact and "avoid taking action which obstruncts its full implementation by all other parties to the deal". USA will now reinstate all the sanctions it had waived, as part of the nuclear accord, and will impose additional economic penalties that are now being drawn up by the US Treasury Department. Should the deal collapse completely Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has warned that he has instructed Iran's atomic energy agency to restart enrichment of uranium at an industrial level in a few weeks' time. US sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran's oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US banknotes in dollars. The sanctions on oil would not drive up oil prices, because some of the required oil will be pulled from the market at a time when oil prices are already rising, because of production cuts by the OPEC and Russia, as well as instability in Venezuela.

Vol. 51, No.6, Aug 12 - 18, 2018