Your Daily Wrap: Delhi court grants bail to Mohammad Zubair, Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as SL interim president; and more

Observing that “the voice of dissent is necessary for healthy democracy” and that political parties are open for criticism, a Delhi court granted bail to Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair, who was arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity through his tweet made in 2018. The court said “democracy can neither work nor prosper unless people go out and share their views”. Zubair, however, will remain in judicial custody as he has been granted bail in only two out of seven cases.

After a fresh attack by the BJP, former vice president Hamid Ansari today said he stands by his previous statement that he never met or invited Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza. The Pakistani journalist, who a BJP spokesperson alleged came to India on an invitation from Ansari and later shared secret information with the ISI, is best known for peddling conspiracy theories about the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the 2011 tsunami in Japan. He is known in the Pakistan media fraternity as a “name dropper” and “self-projector”. Read Nirupama Subramanian’s report.

The Enforcement Directorate has seized cash amounting to Rs 11.88 crore lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Pankaj Mishra, political representative of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and his associates, in connection with a case of money laundering it is probing against Mishra. The agency claimed that the seized cash is a part of the money generated from illegal mining from various places, including Soren’s constituency Sahibganj. The developments come at a time when Soren is facing allegations of corruption for allotting a mining lease to himself and a plot of land to his wife.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as its interim president Friday until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after mass protests over the country’s economic crisis forced him from office. Meanwhile, the country’s top court barred former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa from leaving the country without permission until July 28, reports said. Follow our coverage on the Sri Lanka crisis here.

Political Pulse

During her visit to Maharashtra Thursday, the BJP-led NDA’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu confined her interactions with the leaders, MLAs and MPs of the ruling camp involving the Eknath Shinde-led rebel Shiv Sena faction and the BJP. Murmu left Mumbai without visiting Matoshree to meet the Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray even though he had announced his party’s support to Murmu’s candidature barely a couple of days ago. BJP insiders sayThackeray’s decision to support Murmu’s candidature was out of “political compulsion”. It is now clear the BJP had decided its Presidential nominee will not visit Matoshree as the party was keen to deny him any “undue political importance and mileage” that Thackeray might have extracted out of this event. Shubhangi Khapre reports.

Events of the last few days have again brought into focus the contested legacy in Punjab of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the chief of Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal who was killed during Operation Blue Star in June 1984. First came the note by the Punjab Police, warning that his pictures on some state government-owned buses could be used to attack the AAP government. This was followed by an order by a nodal officer of the transport corporation, asking for the removal of his pictures, which was quickly revoked following protests. Barely had the brouhaha around the pictures died down, that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee objected to Bhindranwale’s “distorted” portrayal as a terrorist in a political science book. The Opposition claims the episodes of the past week are another instance of the AAP government’s “immaturity”. Others see in it a more sinister design by some forces to drive a wedge between Hindus and Sikhs by scratching old wounds. Read Manraj Grewal Sharma’s report.

Express Explained

On July 14, Ripudaman Singh Malik was shot dead in Surrey, British Columbia, in Canada. Malik was acquitted by a Canadian court in 2005 of charges in the bombing of an Air India jet in 1985, in which 329 passengers and crew were killed. Two other men were charged along with Malik, one of whom was convicted of perjury. What is the Kanishka bombing case? Who was responsible for the attacks? And where did Malik come in? We explain.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India, the industry body representing top Internet companies and tech platforms, has dissolved a key unit set up four years ago to do public advocacy for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector, citing regulatory uncertainty. What is this unit and why has it been dissolved? Read here.

Friday Reviews

This week we reviewed Taapsee Pannu starrer Shabaash Mithu, Rajkummar Rao’s HIT The First Case, Netflix’s Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight, and Sai Pallavi’s Gargi.

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