Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Manipur horror stories: The latest update
The context: This Big Story painstakingly pieced together what happened in the Manipur gang rape case. An earlier Big Story laid out the roots of the conflict between the Kukis and Meitei—and why it has exploded into bloody violence now.
One: The police arrested another person in connection to the sexual assault on three Kuki women exposed in that viral video. This brings the total to six.
Two: New cases of violence have been revealed since the clip made headlines. The Hindu reports on the FIR filed by an 18-year-old Kuki woman who was handed over to four armed men by a group of women who call themselves Meira Paibis or ‘Mothers of Manipur’. The Quint has her first-person account that is almost impossible to read. Hindustan Times reports on two Kuki women who were raped and murdered in their home in Imphal. Also in The Hindu: the killing of a 21-year-old undergraduate student arrested for sharing a social media post criticising CM Biren Singh. He was dragged out and beaten to death by a mob—who intercepted him as the police were escorting him to court.
Three: Over 13,000 people have been detained since the beginning of the violence on May 3. More importantly: since tens of thousands of people have been displaced, the police are flooded with zero FIRs—which can be filed in any police station. This is making investigation difficult—more so since neither community trusts officers who belong to the other.
Four: The effects of the violence are reverberating in neighbouring Mizoram. Meiteis living in the state are fleeing to Assam after a video by a former Mizo militant group “advised” them to leave for their own safety. The Manipur government has offered to charter a flight for them.
Torrential rains in Gujarat
Unprecedented flooding claimed parts of the Saurashtra region in Gujarat due to heavy rain for the past three days. And roads in places like Junagadh were turned into rivers—like so:
And there were floating gas cylinders in Navsari:
There is no sign of relief as the state is likely to witness heavy to extremely heavy downpours for the next two days. Twitter was inundated with clips of the damage—some of which revealed the shoddy construction of major infrastructure projects. For example: The Ahmedabad airport:
Terrible news about avian flu
The context: The most deadly strain of avian influenza is the H5N1. The virus is highly contagious, and infection can wipe out 90% of farm birds within 48 hours. Worse, it has also shown the ability to jump to mammals such as bobcats, harbour seals and bears. In 2020, migratory birds carried the H5N1 virus to Africa, Asia, and Europe—and in late 2021 it popped up in North America—and resulted in the culling of 58 million birds. Back in February, experts warned that the current outbreak has likely resulted in the deaths of thousands of wild birds—resulting in the mass destruction of wildlife. We looked at the avian flu threat in this Big Story.
What happened now: Scientists released the results of the first attempt to assess the number of deaths on a global scale—tracking them since October 2021. The numbers are devastating:
- 40% of all Peruvian pelicans died over a period of a few weeks in early 2023.
- Also in Peru: deaths of more than 100,000 boobies and 85,000 cormorants,
- 17% of sandwich terns died in Europe in 2022
- 40% of south-east European Dalmatian pelicans died in 2021
- 62% of Caspian terns breeding on Lake Michigan died in 2022
There are signs that the virus is spreading to Indonesia and perhaps Australia. Researchers say: “That’s the first time in the history of this virus, or group of viruses, that we’ve seen that global spread on such a scale. It’s a gamechanger.” (The Guardian)
The seas are changing colours
According to a new study, oceans are becoming bluer due to declining populations of phytoplankton—a marine algae that lives on the surface of the water. These use green-coloured chlorophyll to convert sunlight into food. Their numbers are likely dwindling due to warming sea temperatures and changes in acidity—a product of more carbon dioxide dissolving in the waters. Why this is no good:
[T]he tiny plants are responsible for up to half of the oxygen we breathe. They help suck up much of the atmosphere’s carbon and are the backbone of the marine food web, serving as food for zooplankton, which then get eaten by fish, which fuel even bigger fish, and so on.
Washington Post has lots more on the colours of the oceans
‘Oppenheimer’ triggers Hindu nationalist wrath
The movie scored Rs 130 million (13 crore) in India—doing better than ‘Barbie’ at Rs 50 million (5 crore). But it has managed to piss off something called the Save Culture Save India Foundation. Its founder Uday Mahurkar is outraged at a scene where the father of the atomic bomb quotes the Bhagavad Gita while having sex with his lover. He declared: “This should be investigated by the I & B Ministry on an urgent basis and those involved should be severely punished."
FYI: Mahurkar is also the Information Commissioner of India and his foundation “aims to unite the nation against makers of sexually perverted content on OTT, social media platforms, films & pornography who are the main cause of increasing rapes and sexual perversion in society as per established worldwide academic studies.” Mercifully, he has not accused ‘Oppenheimer’ or its director Christopher Nolan of such crimes. (NDTV)
Also worth checking out: Author Devdutt Pattanaik argues that the real life Oppenheimer had misinterpreted the Gita in this clip. You can watch Oppenheimer citing the lines from the Gita—that he remembered when he watched the first atomic explosion.
AI companies make promises
Seven of the biggest tech companies—OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon, Anthropic and Inflection—have promised to take measures to make their AI tech more ethical and safer for humanity. They will watermark all AI content—so you know it was generated by a machine. They will also allow their products to be tested by third party experts for safety. It is not clear how the watermarking will work when sharing AI-generated content. And there are no deadlines or reporting requirements for any of these measures. Point to remember: governments around the world are under pressure to introduce AI-related laws to protect the public good—and much of this is about forestalling excessive regulation. (Reuters)
Four things to see
One: Get ready to say goodbye to the blue bird. Twitter owner Elon Musk announced: “And soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.” He then shared a series of ‘X’-themed logos/clips. Like this one that resembles a clip from a bad 1970s sci-fi flick. (CNN)
Two: Italy is being battered by extreme weather. First came the heatwaves and now massive hail storms—with hailstones the size of tennis balls. Below you can see large chunks of ice floating through the streets of Seregno, a town close to Milan. (Washington Post)
Three: The bizarre social climate in our country is best demonstrated by petty everyday forms of harassment. Last week, a clip of a woman harassing a Muslim bus conductor for wearing a skullcap went viral. Below you can see a train passenger haranguing an official for serving ‘halal certified’ chai—during the holy month of Sawan. FYI: many Indian products are sold in the Middle East and therefore carry the required label—including Haldiram snacks, Tata Salt etc. (Mint)
Four: The enfant terrible of scream-TV—Arnab Goswami—shocked viewers by stridently criticising the government for its ‘whataboutery’ over Manipur violence. The person who most prominently cited Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh while expressing his ‘pain’ over the violence: Modi-ji himself.