In its latest review, the NCERT has made some controversial deletions, including some pertaining to the Mughals and Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The changes have been widely condemned by critics of the Narendra Modi government.

On 4 April, Sahara’s main report on its front page was about the changes. The report said a chapter on the Mughal Empire had been removed from the history textbooks and that some poems and paragraphs from the Hindi book were also cut out.

In an editorial on 5 April, the Sahara editorial said only time will tell what consequences these changes in the curriculum will bring, but they will certainly ensure that a generation will be deprived of knowledge not only about the important facts and events of India’s history, but also of events in other countries that played a role in shaping the world.

Children will not only be ignorant of the harmful effects of the immoral alliances, imperialism, militarism and nationalism that caused the First World War, they will also be deprived of the knowledge of the causes and causes of the industrial revolution that changed the world.
Abantika Ghosh
Heena Fatima

Russian Federal Security Service investigators have formally charged Evan Gershkovich with espionage but the Wall Street Journal reporter denied the charges and said he was working as a journalist, domestic news agencies said on Friday.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said on March 30 it had detained Gershkovich in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and had opened an espionage case against him for collecting what it said were state secrets about the military industrial complex.

TASS reported that FSB investigators had formally charged Gershkovich with carrying out espionage in the interests of the United States, but that Gershkovich, 31, had denied the charge.

"He categorically denied all the accusations and stated that he was engaged in journalistic activities in Russia.”

Gershkovich is the first American journalist detained in Russia on espionage charges since the end of the Cold War.

The Kremlin said Gershkovich had been carrying out espionage "under the cover" of journalism. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told the United States that Gershkovich was caught red-handed while trying to obtain secrets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment publicly on the case.

A fluent Russian speaker born to Soviet emigres and raised in New Jersey, Gershkovich moved to Moscow in late 2017 to join the English-language Moscow Times, and subsequently worked for the French national news agency Agence France-Presse.

Russia announced the start of its "special military operation" in February 2022, just as Gershkovich was in London, about to return to Russia to join the Journal's Moscow bureau.
Guy Faulconbridge
Thomson Reuters

MP Farmers
Thousands are celebrating in Madhya Pradesh as the state government has called off the Atal Progress Way project. The project sought to cover the Chambal Valley with gleaming highways and glitzy establishments—but those who would have been deprived of land, livelihood, and shelter were simply not convinced. It is indeed a moment of victory for the All India Kisan Sabha, which led thousands of farmers and other affected persons against this disguised privatisation of peoples’ assets.
All India Kisan Sabha

Criminalising Journalism
Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the arrest of Irfan Mehraj, a Srinagar-based freelance journalist and researcher under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 20 March 2023 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the so-called ‘NGO Terror funding Case’ of October 2020. Irfan’s arrest is deeply condemnable as it shows the unrelenting executive crackdown on the valley’s scribes in the name of terror activities. This attack on the professional rights of journalists is well-illustrated in the February 2022 arrest of Fahad Shah, Editor of Kashmir Wallah, in several FIRs under UAPA; the January 2022 arrest of Sajad Gul, a trainee reporter with Kashmir Wallah under sections of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy and murder and the Public Safety Act (PSA), and the 2018 arrest of Aasif Sultan of Kashmir Reporter under the UAPA. Furthermore, apart from arrests, journalists such as Sanna Arshad Mattoo have been restricted from travelling abroad to receive the prestigious Pulitzer prize for her reportage on the second phase of COVID in India.

Within this trend, Ifran Mehraj’s arrest is even more disquieting. It coincided with the ten-day remand that a Delhi Court granted the NIA to investigate further the already jailed human rights activist Parvez Khurram of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). In the so-called NGO terror funding case, the NIA has charged Khurram with fundraising for terror activities under the garb of propagation of human rights. And since Mehraj was associated with JKCCS, his arrest is meant to establish the alleged involvement of activists and journalists in cases of terror funding. This bid to brand human rights activities and journalism as a variant of terror activities in the valley is disturbing as it shows intolerance towards independent fact-findings and reportage. It is a known fact because of continuous state pressure; reportage on the local situation and rights violations in the valley has been credibly carried out by freelance journalists and local independent platforms. The present spate of arrests is a concerted effort to silence these voices, despite international concern as expressed by the Universal Period Review, a peer evaluation body of the UN Human Rights Council in November 2022, over the widespread detention of activists and journalists under the UAPA.

This criminalisation of journalism and human rights activities in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as other parts of India, must stop. Freedom of expression and the right to know are fundamental rights. A free press is essential for giving people a voice and making information available to them.
Joseph Mathai and Paramjeet Singh, Secretaries, PUDR


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Vol 55, No. 43, April 23 - 29, 2023