Haiti’s gang violence crisis, China-Philippines dispute, James Anderson on ‘Mount 700’, and more | The week in 5 charts

Here are five charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from last week

Published - March 10, 2024 11:59 am IST

(Left) England’s James Anderson after taking the wicket of India’s Kuldeep Yadav. (Centre) Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba addresses a press conference following his release from the Nagpur Central Jail. (Right) Member of the General Security Unit of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

(Left) England’s James Anderson after taking the wicket of India’s Kuldeep Yadav. (Centre) Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba addresses a press conference following his release from the Nagpur Central Jail. (Right) Member of the General Security Unit of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

(1) Haiti capital a ‘city under siege’

Residents of Haiti’s capital scrambled for safety on March 9 following the latest spasm of gang violence, with a U.N. group warning of a “city under siege” after armed attackers targeted the presidential palace and police headquarters.

Criminal groups, which already control much of Port-au-Prince as well as roads leading to the rest of the country, have unleashed havoc in recent days as they try to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry as leader of the Western hemisphere’s poorest country.

The unrest has seen 362,000 Haitians internally displaced — more than half of them children and some forced to move multiple times, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Saturday.

The well-armed gangs have attacked key infrastructure in recent days, including two prisons, allowing the majority of their 3,800 inmates to escape.

Along with some ordinary Haitians, the gangs are seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Henry, who was due to leave office in February but instead agreed to a power-sharing deal with the opposition until new elections are held.

The United States has asked Henry to enact urgent political reform to prevent further escalation, but did not urge his resignation — a key demand of powerful gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier. Henry was in Kenya when the violence broke out and is now reportedly stranded in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

At least 15,000 people have fled the worst-hit parts of Port-au-Prince. Dozens of foreigners, including many from the United States and Canada, are stranded in Haiti, desperately trying to leave the violence-torn country where anti-government gangs are battling police. They were in Haiti for reasons ranging from adoptions to missionary and humanitarian work. Now, they are locked down in hotels and homes, unable to leave by air, sea or land as Haiti remains paralyzed by the mayhem.

(2) Ex-DU professor G.N. Saibaba acquitted in Maoist link case

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on March 5 acquitted former Delhi University Professor G.N. Saibaba and five others in a Maoist links case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), saying the prosecution could not prove the case against them beyond reasonable doubt.

Within hours, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court seeking an urgent hearing, after it failed to convince the High Court to stay the implementation of the judgment.

A Division Bench of Justice Vinay Joshi and Justice Valmiki S.A. Menezes also set aside the life sentence awarded to Prof. Saibaba and the other accused — Mahesh Tirki, Hem Mishra, Pandu Narote, Vijay Tirki and Prashant Rahi — by a sessions court in 2017, and held the sanction for prosecution under UAPA as “null and void”.

A Bombay High Court led by Justice Rohit B. Deo too had acquitted Prof. Saibaba and the other five accused on October 14, 2022, only for the Supreme Court to stay the verdict and ask for the case to be heard afresh.

“My health is very bad. I can’t talk. I will have to first take medical treatment, and then only I will be able to speak,” G.N. Saibaba said after coming out of Nagpur Central Jail on March 7.

Prof. Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound, was arrested on May 19, 2014 while he was on his way home from Delhi University, by a joint team of the Maharashtra police, Andhra Pradesh police, and the Intelligence Bureau, in a case pertaining to ties with Maoist organisations. He has been lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail since his arrest in the case in 2014.

In March 2017, a sessions court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, convicted Prof. Saibaba and five other accused for indulging in activities amounting to waging war against the country. They were also held guilty of possessing Naxal literature that they planned to circulate among underground Naxalites and the residents of Gadchiroli to provoke the people to resort to violence.

On 5 March 2024, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court observed that the evidence provided by the prosecution in the case against GN Saibaba lacks technical regularity and looks “dodgy.”

(3) Rising Tensions between China and the Philippines

Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels collided in the disputed South China Sea and four Filipino crew members were injured on March 5 in high-seas confrontations. This marks the most serious confrontation between the two countries over this dispute in recent times.

According to the Philippine Coast Guard, its boats were stopped near Second Thomas Shoal, where a group of sailors have been living on board a warship that was sunk by the Philippine forces 25 years ago to reinforce their sovereignty claims. One of the Philippines’s boats suffered “minor structural damage” in the incident, the Coast Guard said.

Timeline of the dispute between China and Philippines

Timeline of the dispute between China and Philippines | Photo Credit: Graphic News

China claims almost the entire waterway, brushing aside competing claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations and an international ruling that has declared its stance baseless.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said on Wednesday that he sees Chinese actions in the South China Sea with “great alarm”. “Once again, we will make our objections known and hope that we can continue to communicate to find a way so that such actions are no longer seen,” he said.

“The South China Sea is wide enough for both our nations to peacefully co-exist as we have done for centuries,” said Jonathan Malaya, assistant director-general of the Philippines’ National Security Council.

(4) James Anderson on ‘Mount 700’

England pacer James Anderson added another glorious chapter to his remarkable tale of longevity when he became the first pacer and third bowler to take 700 Test wickets on Saturday. Anderson reached the milestone in his 187th Test by removing India’s Kuldeep Yadav caught behind on day three of the fifth Test in Dharamsala.

Anderson is the third bowler in all of Test cricket to reach 700 wickets, with only spinners Muthiah Muralidaran (800) and Shane Warne (708) ahead of him in the all-time list. No specialist bowler of any type has played more Tests than Anderson, who is currently playing his 187th match of a career that began against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in May 2003, nearly 21 years ago.

The wicket of Kuldeep was the 149th that Anderson has claimed against India, the most he has claimed against any Test opponent. Of those, 44 have now come in 17 Tests in India, at an average of 30.27. In all he has claimed 434 of his 700 wickets on home soil, and 266 overseas, including 92 in Asia, at 27.51.

Zimbabwe’s Mark Vermeulen was Anderson’s first Test wicket, at Lord’s in May 2003. Since then, his landmark victims have been South Africa’s Jacques Kallis (100th), Australia’s Peter Siddle (200th), New Zealanders Peter Fulton and Martin Guptill (300th and 400th respectively), and West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite (500th).

(5) ED probes money trail in Tamil Nadu illegal sand mining case

The Enforcement Directorate launched searches at multiple locations across Tamil Nadu to verify huge money transfers involving certain individuals, contractors, and prime suspects in the illegal sand mining scam on Saturday. The agency suspects that these activities are to the tune of 4,730 crore rupees. The recorded revenue to the government from sand sales is just over 35 crores.

Illegal sand mining has been a problem in the State for several years now. It has led to gruesome killings of government officials who have blown the whistle over such activities. This investigation by the ED is the first of its kind. Here is a brief timeline.

The modus operandi for illegal sand sales is that miscreants set up stalls in government depots and conduct offline sales at exorbitant prices. They generate fake QR codes and GST numbers that are not recorded as official sales data.

In December last year, the State government informed the High Court that over 16 lakh tonnes of beach sand minerals might have been illegally transported between 2018 and 2022. A report in 2018 assessed stocks in three districts at 1.5 crore tonnes. Another report in 2021 reassessed the stocks at 1.33 crore tonnes. This led to the shortfall of 16.04 lakh tonnes transported illegally.

The graphic below shows the details of stocks transported from different plants.

Also read | In Tamil Nadu, yet another sand storm

The government has introduced measures to curb this menace by mandating the approval of a building plan for purchase of sand, online system of booking of sand and payment, and a policy document on “M-sand” (or manufactured sand, as an alternative to river sand). However, these moves have fallen short in the absence of a strong no-tolerance message.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.