Wednesday, October 6 2021

Dive In


The IAF law is very strict on any such incident. The two-finger test conducted on a woman officer is misreported. No two-finger test was not done. We’re well aware of the rules and all due action would be taken.

That’s Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari strongly denying the charges of a female officer laid out in her police FIR. She has accused Flight Lieutenant Amitesh Harmukh of raping her, and the Air Force of trying to force her to withdraw the rape complaint. Part of this included a medical examination at the Air Force hospital where women doctors examined her private parts, asked about her sexual history—and performed the two-finger test, typically used to ascertain virginity. The News Minute has a detailed report of her account.

Big Story

Lakhimpur Kheri: The latest update

The TLDR: A controversial autopsy report, a big arrest, and suspicions about a farm leader—we round up the latest developments in the hit-and-run tragedy in Uttar Pradesh. ICYMI, here is our detailed explainer on the incident.


First, a quick recap

  • On October 3, farmers were assembled in the Uttar Pradesh district of Lakhimpur Kheri to stage a protest against the Deputy Chief Minister—who was expected to attend an event in the area.
  • Three cars mowed down and killed three farmers—and maybe one reporter. And four others were killed in the violence that ensued—including two BJP workers, a driver, and a farmer who may have been shot. 
  • Big question #1: Was union minister of state Ajay Misra’s son Ashish driving one of the cars? Farmers say ‘yes’. Minister Misra insists his son was attending a nearby event at the time.
  • Big question #2: Did Ashish get out of the car, pull out a gun, and shoot a farmer in the head—in an attempt to escape an angry mob? Farmers again say ‘yes’. The police insist that no shots were fired. 


About Lakhimpur Kheri: We now have a clearer picture of the district where the tragedy occured. It is the largest of UP’s 75 districts—and contributes the most to its GDP. It is also home to the largest Sikh population in the state. So contrary to popular assumption, the protesters were not outsiders from Punjab. FYI: The BJP swept all eight seats in the district during the 2017 state elections. And local leaders are worried the incident will cost them votes with the 2022 elections round the corner.


A controversial autopsy

After the incident, angry farmers refused to release the bodies of the victims to the police—and conceded only after farm union leader Rakesh Tikait brokered a deal. But one of the autopsy reports has once again sparked a serious controversy.


The victim: is Gurvinder Singh—the farmer who was allegedly shot by Ashish Mishra. But his autopsy report states that he died of internal injuries. The family is furious and refusing to cremate the body. Relatives also shared videos with the media that show a round injury mark at Singh’s temple:


“Hundreds of farmers present there saw what happened… They didn’t mention the bullet injury in the report. They said he had injuries in his leg and abdomen. Abdomen injury we can understand, but how can anyone die of leg injury.”


More eyewitness accounts: insist that Ashish was sitting in the car that ran over the farmers. He emerged after the car turned over, and shot Singh while trying to escape on foot. The FIR filed against Ashish also reiterates this sequence of events. 


A new deal: Tikait has now brokered a new deal that includes a second autopsy—to be conducted this time in the presence of family members, and will be videotaped.


Note the messy reporting: It is almost impossible to get two media news reports that agree on how many were killed and how. Hindustan Times takes the police line that there were no bullet injuries on any of the bodies—and merely cites “injuries from a sharp object” on Gurvinder Singh. There isn’t any agreement on the number of people who died that day—be it eight or nine.


The big arrest

Headlines that matter

France’s big child sex abuse scandal

According to a report issued by an independent commission, an estimated 330,000 children were victims of 3,000 predators within the Catholic Church over the past 70 years. At least two-thirds of the abusers are priests, and 80% of the victims were boys. Point to note: victim advocates say the high ratio of victims per abuser is particularly “terrifying for French society, for the Catholic Church.” (NBC)


A big breakthrough in depression therapy

California researchers have developed a new device that can be implanted into your brain to treat depression. Think of it as a pacemaker for the brain. It uses something called ‘deep brain stimulation’ or DBS—which allows the device to detect erratic brain activity patterns that cause depression and stimulates the brain to counteract it.  And it offered almost instant relief to the patient it was tested on. (Gizmodo)


Speaking of depression: A new UNICEF survey shows that one in five young people between the ages of 15 and 24 say they feel depressed. One big reason: The pandemic. The number is as high as one-third in places like Cameroon. Also: 13% of 10- to 19-year-olds are estimated to live with a diagnosed mental health disorder—which is 89 million boys and 77 million girls. (The Guardian)


Captain Kirk is going to space

One of the four passengers on Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin’s next flight will be 90-year old Star Trek legend William Shatner—who will become the oldest person in space. He tweeted in delight: “So now I can say something. Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” (Washington Post)


One thing to see

Lots of folks are furious at Givenchy after its models walked down the runway wearing necklaces shaped like nooses: “Givenchy shows a ‘noose necklace’ in its Paris Fashion Week show. I guess a swastika, or a model carrying a gun, or wearing a white hood, were all too edgy.” (BBC News)



In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Balenciaga’s screening of a special 10-minute episode of ‘The Simpsons’


A list of curious facts

  • How would mummies look if they had faces?
  • Why did Ian Fleming name his most famous secret agent James Bond?
  • AI completes an unfinished symphony by Beethoven
  • Everyone farts all the time

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