News Wrap


On the prodding of Delhi High Court, three student protesters against anti-citizenship Act, whose release on bail had been stalled over technicalities were set free on 17 June 2021 evening, after they were granted bail in the Northeast Delhi riots conspiracy case. Jawaharlal Nehru University students Natasha Narwal aged 32, Devangana Kalita aged 32, and Jamia Milia Islamia student Asit Iqbal Tanha aged 25, were in jail since April 2020, and booked under a host of charges, including the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Natasha is from Rohtak in Haryana, Devangana is from Dibrugarh in Assam, while Asif is from Hazaribagh town in Jharkhand. The police had sought to verify their Aadhar Numbers from the Unique Identity Authority of India. The Delhi police special cell comes directly under the union home ministry. On 16 June 2021, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor expressed deep concern at the delays in release of the protesters.

A vacation bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramesubranium, on 18 June 2021, made it clear that the Delhi High Court verdicts granting bail to three students activists in North-east Delhi riots case, will not be used as a precedent by courts in the country. The apex court agreed to hear the appeals filed by Delhi Police challenging the verdicts of the High Court, and issued notices to JNU students Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita, and Jamia student Asit Iqbal Tanha, seeking their responses. While refusing to stay the High Court verdicts granting bail to the three accused, the bench said that these judgements will not be treated as precedent by any party, before any court.

Oil Leak Affecting Haldia Marine Life
A Portuguese vessel sailing from Colombo, with 130 kms of Sulphur fuel oil, is supposed to have spilled 10 kilolitres into the sea, about 450 kms off the Chennai coast. The vessel reached Haldia sand head on 19 June 2021. The possible trail of oil from the vessel will adversely impact the Haldia marine life and the fishing eco-system. Fishing season in Bengal began on 14 June 2021, following a two months halt for breeding.

Taishan Nuclear Plant
China’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is jointly owned by China Guangdong National Power group and French multinational electric utility Electricite de France, the main owner of Francotome, which helps operate the plant. The two reactors entered commercial operations in December 2018 and Septrmber 2019. China has dozens of nuclear plants, the world’s third highest, after the United States and France. It has invested billions of dollars to develop its nuclear energy sector. In the second week of June 2021, the French company that partly owns and helps to operate the Taishan nuclear power plant, warned of an imminent radiological threat. The warning included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was raising the acceptable limits of radiation detected outside the Taishan Nuclear Power plant in Guangdong province, in order to having it shut down. China has played down the reports of a leak at the Taishan nuclear power plant, asserting that there is no abnormal environmental radioactive level in the surrounding areas, and the public safety is guaranteed.

Meanwhile, at a Summit in mid June 2021, in Brussels, leaders of the group of 7 and NATO, declared to confront China’s economic and military might, considered a threat. The declaration was part of US president Joe Biden’s strategy to build a coalition of like minded Nations, to confront China over its activities. Chinese officials reacted to NATO Declaration with owner and scorn, accusing the alliance of recycling out-dated cold war strategies.

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Vol. 54, No. 8, Aug 22 - 28, 2021