Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath, Niveditha Ajay & Rhea Saincher
Manipur violence: The latest update
The context: Since May 3, the dominant Meitei and Kuki tribes have been involved in violent clashes. The trigger: a high court ruling directing the government to give the Meitei tribal status—which would allow them to move into protected tribal land.
What happened now: The violence continues unabated despite bringing in thousands of military personnel. Women-led vigilante groups have jumped into the fray. They are blocking key roads to prevent security forces from accessing villages being targeted by their community:
“There is a pattern to these blockades. Whenever a village or a property is to be targetted, around 200-300 women block the road. A mob that follows them then carries out the violence. Even if the affected villagers make distress calls, the forces are unable to reach,” the source said… on June 12 and 13, when Kuki villages were being burnt by a Meitei mob in Kangpokpi, women protestors blocked the movement of the Army contingent from Imphal to the affected areas.
At least six arterial roads have been shut down. Meanwhile, tribal communities in the hills are blocking the movement of essential supplies to the valley. If you have no idea what’s happening in Manipur, we have everything you need in this Big Story. (The Hindu)
The wrestlers’ #MeToo protest: The latest update
The context: Since January, Indian wrestlers have been protesting alleged widespread sexual abuse in the sport. And it starts at the top—with wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh—who is also a BJP MP. For details on the sexual abuse, see our Big Story. The protest has been suspended until June 15 after talks with the Sports Minister.
What happened now: As promised, the police filed a charge sheet against Brij Bhushan yesterday—on the day of the deadline. But it contains mostly minor charges—such as outraging the modesty of a woman and stalking. At the same time, the police have approached a separate court—seeking to drop the most serious charge. This involves the sexual harassment of a minor—who retracted her statement in recent weeks. It is unlikely that Brij Bhushan will be arrested anytime soon.
As for the wrestlers: They plan to study the charge sheet before making the next move. Speaking about the minor, Sakshi Malik said:
[I]if Brij Bhushan was arrested when the minor’s statement was (first) recorded before a magistrate, then the minor would not have withdrawn the complaint. And not only that. Other girls would have also come forward and complained (about sexual harassment). There was pressure and threats is what I have heard. The court will have to decide what to do (with the statement).
Music labels sue Twitter
Seventeen music publishers have sued Twitter—seeking more than $250 million in damages for enabling copyright violations involving nearly 1,700 songs. The NMPA represents the biggest names in the biz—including Sony Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management and Universal Music Publishing Group. It alleges that unlike Facebook, TikTok, YouTube or Instagram, the platform has not struck a music licensing deal. And the agreement that was in the works fell apart when Elon Musk took over. The Verge has lots more including the court filing.
Synthetic human ‘embryos’ are here!
Scientists have created structures that resemble human embryos—except they were not created from an egg and sperm—but from stem cells. There have been other successful experiments, but this one went the furthest:
The embryo-like structures that [they]... created were grown from single human embryonic stem cells that were coaxed to develop into three distinct tissue layers… They include cells that would typically go on to develop a yolk sac, a placenta and the embryo itself… [They]... are also the first to have germ cells that would go on to develop into egg and sperm.
These “embryo models” are supposed to teach us how pregnancies develop—and most importantly, why some of them fail. And it is illegal to implant them into a womb. But bioethicists are not happy:
Unlike human embryos arising from in vitro fertilisation (IVF), where there is an established legal framework, there are currently no clear regulations governing stem cell derived models of human embryos. There is an urgent need for regulations to provide a framework for the creation and use of stem cell derived models of human embryos.
The Guardian has more details on the study.
A migrant boat tragedy in Europe
The context: The EU has been swamped by refugees since 2015—when Syrians fled their country in the midst of a bloody civil war. That tsunami has since become a regular and permanent stream. In 2021, around 125,000 migrants and asylum seekers entered Europe via the Mediterranean. Countries like Italy and Greece have borne most of the burden. Back in January, Greek authorities prosecuted 24 humanitarian workers—whose real crime was saving refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, which has become the most dangerous border in the world. For more, read our Big Stories on how Greece and the UK are cracking down on the ‘boat people’.
What happened now: A fishing boat carrying 400 refugees from Libya capsized near the southern Greek coast on Wednesday. 104 have been rescued—while at least 79 are dead. But the hopes of rescuing the others now seems remote:
The chances of finding (more survivors) are minimal. We have seen old fishing boats like this before from Libya: They are about 30 metres (100 feet) long and can carry 600-700 people when crammed full. But they are not at all seaworthy. To put it simply, they are floating coffins.
Karnataka anti-conversion law is history
The context: Various states have been passing anti-conversion laws mainly aimed at cracking down on interfaith marriages between Hindu women and men from other communities (this Big Story has all the details and history of these laws). Karnataka was one of them—and its version was among the strictest:
The Karnataka law also allowed anyone who has been converted or any person who knows of the conversion to lodge a complaint. In laws passed in other states, a complaint could be filed by family members, any blood relative, or a relative by marriage or adoption, or even an associate or a colleague of the person.
Donating your body to Harvard? Don’t!
A former manager of Harvard Medical School’s morgue—and four others—have been charged with selling parts of bodies donated to science:
According to federal prosecutors, from 2018 to 2022, Mr. Lodge stole parts from cadavers that had been donated to the medical school and dissected — including heads, brains, skin and bones — before their scheduled cremations.
What’s astonishing is the people who wanted these remains. Example: a store called Kat’s Creepy Creations that bought two dissected faces—which it then sold on Instagram. The really sad bit: the victims include families of two stillborn babies that were supposed to have been cremated. (New York Times)
Asia Cup venue melodrama ends
Pakistan was picked to host the cricket tournament. But India’s refusal to play in the country led to lots of angry battles within the Asian Cricket Council. Islamabad threatened to boycott the World Cup if the cup was taken away due to New Delhi’s objections. The compromise: the matches will be split between Pakistan and Sri Lanka—where the BCCI can send its team without losing face. (Dawn)
One cause of Swedish inflation: Beyoncé!
We kid you not. A leading Swedish economist has blamed the pop star’s Renaissance World Tour performance in Stockholm—on May 10 and 11—for mehangai in the nation.
Fans flocking to Sweden’s capital city sent hotel prices soaring, said economist Michael Grahn. Calling it a “Beyoncé blip,” he estimates that Beyoncé’s tour contributed about 0.2 percentage point to inflation.
The inflation rate was slightly higher than expected in that month—9.7% as opposed to 9.2%. Other economists disagree but let’s not forget that Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour helped Las Vegas nearly match pre-pandemic tourism levels in March. (Wall Street Journal)
Three things to see
Two: First, Republic TV’s Hindi reporter went viral thanks to this ‘ground report’ from Gujarat on the cyclone. Not to be outdone, Times Now served up this masterful ‘helicopter’ segment to entertain all of us.
Three: Here’s a perfect end to your manic work week. This Zara shirt that seems to have been designed by someone who was either smoking something good or… C’mon—“Dilli ki dhoop Dilli. Chawal — elements of voyage”—really? Even South Indians can do better lol! (Business Today)