On 22 September 2016, in a movie studio near the city of Chester in Pennsylvania, at the far end of a small stage with a campaign poster in the backdrop, stood a statue of Rocky, made in the likeness of Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential nominee. Rocky, the titular character that the actor Sylvester Stallone played in the eponymous movie series, is a boy from the working-class neighborhood of Philadelphia who goes on to conquer the world of professional boxing. Clad in a white T-shirt that said, “Trump-Pence 2016”, the statue struck a victorious pose with its hands in the air. Later that day, Trump would walk on stage to the film’s theme song, ‘Gonna Fly Now.’ The use of this trope was a nod to the location of the rally, just 22 miles away from Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania. The state of Pennsylvania is a battleground this election—both Hillary Clinton, the Democrat nominee, and Trump are tied in the polls here, making it crucial in determining the final outcome.
At around 7.30 pm on 20 August 2016, the sound of an explosion broke through the din of the evening at Koothuparamba in Kannur district, Kerala. An explosive stored in the house of P Dikshith, a 23-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker
, had been set off accidentally. Residents from the area rushed Dikshith
, who was reportedly alone at home then and had been making bombs, to the Indira Gandhi Cooperative Hospital at Thalassery. It was too late. The doctors who attended to him declared him dead. In and around the district of Kannur, Dikshith is one of the many political party workers who have lost their lives because of explosives that are stored, often in residential buildings, to make country bombs. In the district, accidental bomb blasts
have resulted in the deaths of and injured not just party workers, but also children who happened to pick up the curious-looking objects. Such accidents are symptomatic of the larger culture of violence that has become an integral part of the political landscape in Kerala.
Is a war between India and Pakistan inevitable? The mainstream news media in India certainly seems to be suggesting so. Even entertaining the possibility that such a war may be ill-advised would cast aspersions on the patriotic zeal of these news organisations. So, the answer must be yes.
A founding member of Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muzaffar Hussain Baig is a former deputy chief minister of the state, and is currently a member of parliament. In the wake of the recent unrest in Kashmir, Baig reportedly said that the state government in Jammu and Kashmir should resign if it was unable to fulfil the promises it had made to the people in the region. On 9 September 2016,
the Indian Express reported that
Baig had stated that the government has so far, “failed to deliver” on its “agenda of alliance.” In other interviews,
he suggested that the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti should resign if the situation in Kashmir remains unchanged six months.
On 19 September 2016, PEN International, a worldwide organisation of writers, in collaboration with PEN Canada, its Canada chapter, and the International Human Rights Program at the faculty of law in the University of Toronto, released a report titled, “Fearful Silence: Chill on India’s Public Sphere.” The report is an update to PEN’s 2015 report, “Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech,” which looked at the ways in which freedom of speech was being curtailed in India. The update discusses the rapid pace at which the space for free speech is shrinking in socio-political domains in India, and looks at recent instances such as the censorship of films and a rising tide of online harassment. It says that, in most of the cases, restrictions on the freedom of speech are imposed because of “a small number of aggrieved citizens.” The update notes that the growing culture of intolerance in India is accompanied by an increasingly loud nationalist discourse, and that it has become more menacing since the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in 2014.
On the afternoon of 31 August 2016, a man in his fifties sat outside the intensive care unit in the Trauma Centre, a special wing of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a government hospital in Delhi. Dressed in a pheran, Abdul Rashid was pouring over pages from the day’s Times of India. His eyes were locked on a photo of a young man throwing a stone at a police van in Kashmir
In her introduction to Garrisoned Minds: Women and Militarisation in South Asia, its editor Laxmi Murthy writes: “As in many parts of the world, when underlying causes of conflict have not been addressed, there is no ‘post’ war harmony. Simmering discontent and bitterness in an uneasy ‘peace’ is most-often sought to be suppressed by aggressive troop deployment and repressive colonial laws … This everyday nature of occupation defines the rhythm of life in these margins.”
On 7 January 2016, the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, promulgated an ordinance amending
the Enemy Property Act of 1968. The Enemy Property Validation and Amendment Bill, 2016 is currently under consideration by parliament. The act was originally promulgated in 1968 after India’s 1965 war with Pakistan. Along with the Enemy Property Act, the bill amends the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971. It replaced the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016, which was scheduled to lapse in April 2016. On 13 August, the president promulgated the ordinance for a fourth time