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With air strikes, PM?Modi locks his political script for Lok Sabha polls



For days and weeks to come, there will be finely combed analysis on what the Indian Air Force did in the early hours of February 26. There will be claims and counter-claims from India and Pakistan about the nature, scale and success of the operation. The world will keenly wait to see if there is an escalatory spiral. International relations scholars will ask if this marks the end of Pakistan’s ability to deploy nuclear blackmail to wage an asymetrical war with India.

But in the theatre that means most to political parties, the strikes, although they may not have been motivated by political considerations (the mood across the country was one that was demanding retaliation for the Pulwama terror attack), have given one side the clear edge on national security.

With less than 50 days to go before the elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi have locked in their political script. This script, coming in the wake of a challenging political climate, will have three key inter-related ingredients — of a “decisive” and “muscular” leader who can be trusted; of a “nationalist” party willing to defend Indian interests; and of a “stronger” India which has changed the rules of engagement with its arch-rival.

To be sure, neither the Pulwama attack nor India’s response to it should be politicised , but the nature of politics anywhere in the world is that attacks and strikes such as these will be used in campaigns. Two caveats are essential at the outset.

Indian general elections are deeply complex. It is often a sum of state elections. Each state has its own political dynamic. Regional parties play a huge role in many of these states. Local factors — of candidates, caste, social engineering, alliances and arithmetic, religious polarisation — matter. So does the economic narrative. The nature of the campaign is also key in determining the outcome. And few elections in India have been won or lost because of a single factor.

This is also a fluid diplomatic and military situation. Pakistan has threatened a response. And it is not clear what form it will take, and what India will do next. At the same time, the Pulwama terror attack and now the cross-border air response gives a key talking point for the BJP in the elections and leaves the Opposition scrambling to find an appropriate response.

Here is the context. After the setback in the state polls last year, the BJP was staring at a rather drastic reduction of its 2014 tally. The Modi “hawa” was seen to be ebbing. The Congress revival was the big story. Rahul Gandhi had come into his own, with sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra making an entry into politics. Key opposition alliances had got stitched, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. The issue of jobs and agrarian distress undermined the government’s narrative of progress. The BJP’s state governments were underperforming too, adding an extra layer of anti-incumbency. And while losses in north, west and central India seemed inevitable, corresponding gains in the east and south were not apparent.

When presented with this scenario, BJP leaders often turned to two formulations. The first was how this will be a presidential election.They had Modi. The Opposition had no leader. And the second defence rested on how this narrative underestimated the tremendous work done in creation of rural assets — housing, toilets, roads, electrification — and in the structural reforms.

But a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader admitted candidly last month, “Modi has always believed that you need an emotional factor in elections. That emotional factor is missing so far.” The air strikes gives the BJP precisely this emotional factor.

Over the past 10 days, there has been both spontaneous outrage and organised campaigns to channel the upsurge of nationalist sentiment. Modi himself ratcheted up expectations at his public meetings — emphasising how angry India was, how the terrorists had made a mistake, how he had given a free hand to the forces to respond, and how there will be a price to pay. BJP leaders were deputed to attend funerals and visit the families of martyrs. The party will do everything in the next few weeks to advertise these air strikes as proof of Modi’s decisiveness.

This, then, will be used to reinforce the BJP’s commitment to national security, laced with the subtext that the opposition parties have always been weak on the question. The BJP will repeat its assertions that the Congress kept quiet after 26/11, while this government responded after both Uri and Pulwama. It will claim to have called Pakistan’s bluff and made sponsoring terror more costly for them. And it will suggest in campaign speeches that this is an India which faces threats; it needs a strong leader epitomised by Modi and a strong party and not a chaotic leaderless coalition of disparate forces. The BJP is feeling vulnerable in its stronghold of Hindi heartland — and it hopes this message will resonate the loudest exactly in this area.

Whether this works or not will only be known on result day. But the Opposition has a clear challenge. It knows the national mood was for strong action after Pulwama. It has praised the air force. But non-BJP parties feel stuck, for they cannot be seen as either congratulating or criticising the government. The former will allow Modi to monopolise credit; the latter will allow the BJP to accuse the Opposition of politicising the attacks even as it does so on its own quite systematically. Rahul Gandhi played a smart tactical card by appointing Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda to head a task force on national security. But the Opposition now needs to take a call — of whether to engage on national security issues at all where the BJP has the edge in public imagination or cede that space and seek to turn the conversation back to domestic economic issues where it may have an edge.

The air strikes may or may not alter the outcome of the elections entirely. But they will change the nature of the political conversation and shape the campaign for sure. This suits the BJP. The Opposition will have to find innovative ways to wrest back the initiative.



Delhi Police Arrest Three in Wine Shop Burglary Case, Including Bangladeshi National



Representational Image | Source: Unsplash

New Delhi: In a significant development, the Delhi police apprehended three individuals, including a Bangladeshi national, in connection with a recent burglary at a wine shop in Krishna Nagar police station area. The arrests were made in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, as confirmed by the police on Saturday.

The arrested individuals have been identified as Bilal, a Bangladeshi national, and Mohd Gazi Sheikh and Shaikh, both hailing from West Bengal, according to officials.

The incident came to light when the victim, Wasim Abbas Naqvi, a resident of Shahdara, Delhi, approached the police on April 25 to file a complaint. Naqvi reported that unidentified culprits had entered the wine shop by digging a hole in the roof, subsequently breaking the lock of the Almirah and stealing a significant amount of money.

Following the complaint, a case was registered under sections 457/380/411/34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Krishna Nagar police station, considering the gravity of the matter and the unusual method employed by the perpetrators.

A joint team comprising TST Shahdara and Crack Team Krishna Nagar was formed to investigate the case. The initial stage of the investigation involved the analysis of more than 50 CCTV footage obtained from the vicinity of the crime scene.

Preliminary findings from the CCTV footage revealed that three to four individuals had arrived at the wine shop on foot around 1:30 am. They accessed the vacant area above the store and executed the burglary by digging a hole. However, due to the late hour, no further leads were immediately apparent regarding their escape route.

Taking a technical approach, ASI Deepak Kumar from the Technical Surveillance team analyzed thousands of mobile numbers, eventually shortlisting 150 potential suspects. These numbers were subjected to further examination, including analysis of Call Detail Records (CDRs), Subscriber Detail Records (SDRs), dossiers, and social media profiles. This meticulous analysis aided in identifying each of the accused individuals.

Following the identification process, a multi-layered CDR analysis was conducted on the suspects, leading to the planning of targeted raids for their apprehension. The accused individuals were found to be residing in sensitive areas of Loni and Pasonda.

The Crack Team Krishna Nagar then initiated field operations and executed the raids with the utmost sensitivity, considering the sensitive nature of the locations involved. As a result, all the accused individuals were successfully apprehended. The police recovered a sum of INR 44,700, along with the clothes and shoes worn during the burglary, a mobile phone, and a scooter that were purchased using the stolen money and utilized during the crime.

The Delhi police expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the operation, highlighting the successful collaboration between various teams and the utilization of advanced investigative techniques. The arrested individuals will now face legal proceedings as per the law.

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Woman found dead in under construction building in Delhi’s Sonia Vihar



Representational Image | Source: Istock Photo

On Saturday, officers reported the discovery of a deceased 30-year-old woman in an under-construction building located in Sonia Vihar, Northeast Delhi. The woman, identified as Meena Giri, was a mother of three children and a resident of Sonia Vihar.

According to DCP (Northeast) Joy Tirkey, a PCR call was received at 10:34 am on Saturday, reporting the finding of a woman’s body with visible blood on her head and face in a building under construction in Sonia Vihar. Meena Giri and her husband, Kripa Shankar, originally hailed from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. “As per Kripa Shankar’s statement, Meena had been missing since 7 pm on Friday,” stated the police.

Authorities have identified a worker in the area as the primary suspect. It is suspected that the woman and the accused were acquaintances who engaged in an argument over a certain matter. Allegedly, in a fit of rage, the accused fatally assaulted Meena with a heavy object.

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Delhi Crime Branch Takes Down Drug Dealers: 43 Arrested, Narcotics Worth Crores Seized



The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police announced on Sunday that it has apprehended more than 43 individuals and confiscated drugs valued at Rs 1-2 crore. These actions were carried out through simultaneous raids conducted at 100 different locations across the national capital under the initiative named Operation Kawach.

According to police sources, they have also identified more than 64 hotspots within the city where the sale and consumption of drugs such as heroin, MDMA, ganja, and other narcotics are prevalent. It has been reported that a significant number of the apprehended individuals were specifically targeting school and college students.

Since January, the Delhi Police have been actively engaged in combating drug abuse, as well as detecting and preventing its spread among both young children and adults. These efforts have been undertaken under the guidance of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Ravindra Singh Yadav, the Special Commissioner of Police (Crime), stated, “We have carried out our actions in accordance with the directives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF). Over the past five months, we have arrested 534 offenders in 412 NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) cases. In the process, we have successfully recovered approximately 35 kg of heroin/smack, 15 kg of cocaine, 1,500 kg of ganja, 230 kg of opium, 10 kg of charas, and 20 kg of poppy husk.”

To increase their effectiveness, the police formed 80 specialized teams and instructed field officers to apprehend more offenders. Between May 12 and 13, these teams conducted raids at 100 locations, leading to the arrest of over 43 drug peddlers.

Yadav further added, “This operation was a collaborative effort involving the district police. We utilized undercover officers, surveillance teams, canine squads, and intelligence teams for assistance. Our operation successfully targeted drug dealers at both the street-level and higher levels in Delhi.”

The majority of the drug recoveries were made in the areas of North Delhi, Rohini, Dwarka, and East Delhi.

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