Time to unlock: On a year after the removal of J&K's statehood

At least two dozen politicians in Jammu and Kashmir remain in detention, some unnotified, a year after it was deprived of its Statehood and special constitutional status on August 5, 2019. Last week, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s detention was formally extended by another three months under the J&K Public Safety Act, but several others remain restrained within their homes in Kashmir, which is now a Union Territory under the rule of Delhi. Last week again, the administration flat out denied before the Supreme Court that former Union Minister and Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was under detention, though he has been restrained from moving and speaking freely. He was allowed to visit his ailing sister but denied a meeting with his daughter by the police on Friday. Neither the J&K government nor the Centre has released a list or number of leaders who were detained last year. At least 16 National Conference and eight PDP leaders

Toxic brew: on the increase of liquor tragedies

Once again, the scourge of illicit liquor has struck, this time in Punjab, killing more than 100 people and leaving many crippled. The victims, in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts, were sold hooch that apparently had a large amount of denatured alcohol. The State government, which is responsible for both excise and law and order, has sanctioned financial relief for the affected families, and suspended some policemen and officials in charge of excise enforcement. Wiser after the fact, the police claim that there was an inter-district racket in operation and made several arrests; on the other hand, the kith and kin of those who died say the illicit brew was peddled virtually in the open by small-time vendors, some of whom have now been arrested. There are echoes in the tragedy of last year’s two major incidents involving Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and Assam, both witnessing large-scale loss of life. Moreover, there have been fatal outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as
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