The week in 5 charts | Hathras rape-murder case, Nepal’s ‘revolving-door’ politics, Delhi excise scam case, and more

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

Updated - March 09, 2023 01:14 pm IST

Published - March 06, 2023 02:07 pm IST

Policemen cremate the body of the gang-rape victim in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. | File Photo | Photo Credit: PTI

Policemen cremate the body of the gang-rape victim in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. | File Photo | Photo Credit: PTI

(1) Hathras rape and murder | SC/ST court acquits three, holds one guilty of culpable homicide

The gang rape that took place in Bul Garhi, a tiny village near Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, marked a new phase in the eventful history of rape-as-caste-atrocity in the 21st century. It was alleged that four youths belonging to a dominant caste group from the same Bul Garhi village gang-raped the girl before trying to kill her. An SC/ST court in Hathras on Thursday acquitted three out of four accused persons and convicted one person for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, in the case involving the rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.

The convicted Sandeep Sisodia was sentenced to life imprisonment by the court after founding him guilty under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and fined ₹50,000. The special court acquitted the other accused — Ramu, Lav Kush, and Ravi — due to lack of evidence.

The victim’s family is likely to approach the Allahabad High Court against the verdict. “No murder or rape charges are framed on the accused, others set free. We will move our appeal on the lower court’s verdict at the Allahabad High Court,” Mahipal Singh, the lawyer representing the victim’s family, said outside the Hathras court.

Following her brutal assault, the young woman fought for her life at Aligarh’s J.N. Medical College and Hospital and later passed away in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on September 29. Her death and hurried cremation by the district administration sparked an outcry across India and protests in some pockets. It highlights the plight of women in the State and the country, continuing caste-based discrimination, and lapses in administration.

Also read: Hathras gang rape | A long caste feud, a horrific crime, and a sudden cremation

(2) Assembly elections | BJP coalition retains Tripura, Nagaland, to back NPP in Meghalaya

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies retained power in Tripura and Nagaland, while in Meghalaya, the National People’s Party (NPP) emerged as the single largest party. The results show that voters in these northeastern States largely rejected calls for a change.

Also Read | BJP and allies retain power in Tripura, Nagaland; hung verdict in Meghalaya

The polls in each of the three States were seen as a litmus test for the BJP with the 2024 Lok Sabha election just a year away.

As the BJP and its alliance partner Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) crossed the majority mark by winning 37 seats in Nagaland, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 2 thanked the people of the state. PM Modi said that the double-engine government will keep working for the state’s progress. In Tripura, the BJP won 32 seats along with coalition partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, which won one seat, in the 60-member Tripura assembly, securing its return to power in the state for the second time in a row. The BJP will support Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party in Meghalaya, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Drama ruled in Meghalaya after NPP supremo Conrad K. Sangma met Governor Phagu Chauhan at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong to submit his resignation as the Chief Minister and stake his claim to form the next government. In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s Neiphiu Rio will lead the coalition government which includes the BJP, while the BJP’s Manik Saha staked his claim to form the government in Tripura.

Watch | Assembly elections 2023 | Key winners and losers in Meghalaya, Nagaland & Tripura

(3) Delhi excise scam case | Manish Sisodia’s CBI custody extended till March 6

A Delhi court on March 4 extended former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s CBI custody by two days. The CBI on February 26 evening arrested Mr. Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped liquor policy for 2021-22.

Earlier, the Rouse Avenue Court posted the hearing on Mr. Sisodia’s bail plea to March 10, at 2 p.m. After the CBI claimed that Mr. Sisodia was ‘not cooperating’, the court of Special CBI Judge M.K. Nagpal announced the extension of remand.

There was heavy security presence in and outside the Rouse Avenue Courts premises. The supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party staged a protest outside the premises and raised slogans.

Take a look at how the controversy around the case unfolded.

A day after his arrest Sisodia resigned from his post, challenging his arrest in the Delhi excise policy case. Satyendar Jain, who is currently in jail and was holding the Delhi Health Minister’s post resigned along with him.

(4) IMD predicts heatwaves between March and May

On Tuesday, the Indian Meteorological Department predicted a searing summer, with heatwaves between March and May. Most parts of India, except for the northeastern States, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and coastal Karnataka, are set to see heatwaves. 

Number of total heat wave days between 1969 to 2019 by district

Number of total heat wave days between 1969 to 2019 by district

This is in tune with the areas that are generally the most prone to heat waves. The map below shows the number of heatwave days recorded in each district between 1969 to 2019. 

These regions face the brunt of high summer temperatures because of a warming Arabian sea off India’s western coast, warm winds from the Middle East entering India’s northwest regions, and air warming quicker because of global warming. 

Also read |Explained | IMD is already sensing heat waves. What are they and why do they happen?

IMD’s temperature warnings do not stop with this year’s March-May months. Earlier, it had said that this February was the hottest since 1901, with the average maximum temperature reaching 29.54°C. Out of the top five years with the hottest February temperatures, three are within the last six years - 2023, 2016 and 2017.

Last year’s summer was no exception. Wheat production and procurement took big hits. Procurement by the Food Corporation of India and state agencies for the central pool fell to a 15-year low (187.92 lakh metric tonnes). Wheat procurement was difficult since the farmers wanted to see if they could sell their crops for higher prices than the MSP. The other reason was lower production due to heat. Lower production, high global prices and the Russia-Ukraine war led to agovernment prohibition on the import and export of wheat in May last year.   

One estimate for central pool procurement this year is 245 lakh tonnes, which is 57.08 lakh tonnes higher than last year’s procurement. Along with promoting newer crop varieties that mature early, there should be greater stress on aiding farmers to tweak soil and water management practices to adapt to these changes.

 Editorial |Searing changes: On heatwaves predicted by the Met Office

(5) Nepal’s ‘revolving-door’ politics

Nepal’s political scene saw another upheaval this Monday as the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) withdrew support for the seven-party ruling alliance. 

This comes after the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ said he would support the opposition party Nepali Congress’s candidate for President. Soon after, Rashtriya Prajatantra Party stepped out of the alliance. The Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) withdrew its ministers from the government. As many as 16 Ministries fell vacant.

Now,Prachanda will seek a confidence vote after the March 9 Presidential elections and reshuffle his cabinet. However, it will be an easy victory. To win the confidence vote, Prachanda will need 138 supporters. With the three major parties, NC (89), CPN-Maoist Centre (32) and RSP (20), Mr. Prachanda has the support of at least 141 lawmakers. 

Moreover, Janata Samajbadi Party (12 seats), Janmat Party (six seats) and the Nagrik Unmukti Party (three seats), earlier with CPN (UML), have switched their support to Poudel. Poudel is the Nepali Congress candidate that the CPN (MC) supported, triggering the seven-party alliance’s collapse.  

With the support of these parties, Poudel will have the support ofnearly three-fourth of the electoral college.    

Also read | Nepal politics, past, present, and future

Nepal’s history is marked with shifting political alliances. These are often described as ‘marriages of convenience’, tending to serve the allies in the near elections rather than based on common ideology. Every party has internal fractures. The highly ambitious political leadership does not want to share power. Nepal’s political institutions are weak with people close to the leadership appointed to powerful positions. Now, with the CPN (UML) in the position of a minority, Nepal’s parties will once again come together to form opportunistic alliances.

Nepal shifting alliances by TH Graphics Team
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