Our flagship daily news show, where we talk to in-house experts about what is going on and why you need to care about it.
First, Indian Express’ Jayprakash S Naidu joins host Shashank Bhargava to talk about the murder in Maharashtra’s Amravati district of the 54-year-old chemist named Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, who had allegedly posted Nupur Sharma’s video on social media.
Next, Indian Express’ Tora Agarwala talks about the unprecedented flooding in Silchar, Assam, and the main reason behind it.
And in the end, Indian Express’ Nihal Koshie talks about javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra breaking the national record twice in two weeks, and his prospects at the upcoming World Championships.
Shashank Bhargava: Hi, I’m Shashank Bhargava, and you are listening to 3 things, The Indian Express news show. Last week, a man named Kanhaiya Lal was brutally murdered in Udaipur by two min after he had allegedly posted a video of Nupur Sharma online. Nupur Sharma of course, is the ex BJP spokesperson who had recently made derogatory comments against the Prophet Muhammad. Now since the killing a number of important details have emerged about the case, for example, the National Investigation Agency has found that the killing was meticulously planned and instigated by a person in Pakistan who identifies himself as Salmaan bhai. And this Salman bhai, told one of the two accused Mohammed Gaus that he must do something spectacular in response to the remarks on the Prophet since according to him, peaceful protests will not yield any result. This is what the Indian Express learned through its sources, along with the fact that both Mohammed Gaus and Riaz Mohammed, who is the other accused in the case took part in protests last month in response to the Nupur Sharma controversy. But after this Udaipur murder. Another case has come to light. One that actually happened a week before this one. In Maharashtra Amravati district, a 54 year old chemist named Umesh Kohle was murdered, allegedly in retaliation for posting a video supporting Nurpur Sharma. In the segment, Indian Express’s Jayprakash Naidu joins us on a call to talk more about the case. So Jayprakash tell us what do we know about how when when this killing took place.
Jayprakash Naidu: So this murder took place on the night of June 21. It took place in Amravati city where this chemist named Umesh Kohle aged 54 years was on his way back home after shutting his medical shop. This was around 10:30-11. Umesh Kohl was accompanied by his son and his daughter in law. So when they were on their way home, his scooter was topped by three (inaudible) men and one of them attacked Mr. Kohle on his neck with a knife. And before his son or his daughter in law could try and help him this tree had fled on the bike and then they rushed him to a nearby hospital where he died during treatment.
Shashank Bhargava: And could you tell us how Kohle became a target of these people?
Jayprakash Naidu: So in the investigation, still now, the police have said on record that he has been killed because he was circulating post saying that he supports Nupur Sharma on WhatsApp groups. So it is being said that one of the posts that he said on the WhatsApp group was received by a veterinary doctor so this doctor was friend with Umesh Kohle, so he said to have forwarded the post of Mr. Kohle to another Whatsapp group which included the accused that is how the Umesh Kohle became a target.
Shashank Bhargava: And Jayprakash, who are these people who are accused in the case now.
Jayprakash Naidu: So all the accused residents of Amaravati, there are total of seven of them, all of them come from a poor background. They all are based in one side of the city and they are all connected. So the main accused is identified as one Irfan Khan, he’s 35 years of age. He’s a school dropout. He’s a welder by profession. For the past some years he has started his own NGO called Reber helpline. So as part of this reber helpline, he used to do some social activities during pandemic he was quite active yet also supported the NRC protests that took place in Amaravati. Back then, so this person was the main link. The other accused were involved in the case, including the person who stabbed Mr. Kohle were friends with a fun and they volunteered for this NGO, so they shouldn’t ambulances, they should provide food packets and stuff during the pandemic. So this Irfan Khan guy, he lives in a place called Pathan Chowk. It’s a number over the city. It’s it’s a shawl. And this person, I mean, at least in his society had a very good reputation, even though he was a poor person. But he was known for social activities. And people had a lot of respect for him, because during the COVID, he and his NGO, along with others had helped to complete the lost sight of many bodies like over 100 bodies. These are people who are living in slum right. So they had a lot of respect for this person. And they are all in utter shock that a guy like him could do something like this. So even though they condemned the incident in the place where Irfan lives, it’s a Muslim dominated area, and almost everybody will live over there are Muslims. So even though they are in utter shock that Iran could do something like this, they are of the clear opinion that it’s wrong. They strongly condemned the incident, and nobody should take law in their hands, but they still can’t believe that Irfan did that.
Shashank Bhargava: Yeah, but now he is said to be the mastermind behind this killing. Do we know what exactly he did as the mastermind?
Jayprakash Naidu: So he was the one who has assign tasks to the other accused. Like he’s the mastermind. He was the one who said three of y’all will be doing (inaudible), the other three of y’all will be on the bike, the ones who are doing the (inaudible), who will tell, when does this guy leave? And you know, accordingly others will chase and commit the murder. And he also provided logistical support
Shashank Bhargava: And do these people, including Irfan Khan, have any previous criminal records.
Jayprakash Naidu: So none of these accusers have any criminal history, maybe one or two petty cases like Irrfan has one particulars of assault several years ago, and once he was also detained, because he had helped his friend eloped with a girl from another community. So at that time, he was detained by the local Nagpuri police station, but otherwise Irrfan is known to the target position as a person who’s into social issues. And he’s too often come to the police stations with you know, others who needed some kind of police help, you know, try to help them out. So this way, even the Nagpuri police officials did not think that he’s capable of doing something like this.
Shashank Bhargava: Okay, and when we look at this killing and the one that happened in Udaipur, what similarities do we see between them? Apart from the fact that both victims had allegedly shared the Nupur Sharma video.
Jayprakash Naidu: I would say poverty, because in this case, also all of them, they were poor and they did not have any criminal records. So I think what they have done is is because of the whole religious extremism, if I may say that, that has two things, one, the (inaudible) and the other one that they are from poor background and in this case, it is being investigated if they were radicalised if there are any further links. So as of now, the police said that, you know, these are the only accused involved in the case and we are finding out if you know, there was any, like there’s a handler who told them what to do, like it is in the case of Udaipur, but as of now it ends with Irrfan
Shashank Bhargava: And now we know that this case is sensitive and has taken place at a time when the government in Maharashtra is changing. What concerns do police have going forward.
Jayprakash Naidu: So tomorrow there will be Shok Sabha over here. It will be at the Raj Kamal Chowk. So the reason that I’m saying that small talk is because the same place where riots are broken out last year in November, if you remember, there were protests in three parts of Maharashtra in November last year by the Muslim community to show their solidarity towards Muslims who are facing violence in Tripura. So when the Muslims have protested just a day later, the BJP had a kept a morcha and during the morcha a lot of violence took place and The morcha was kept at Raj Kamal Chowk. So now the people include Mr. Anil Bonde just recently became a Rajya Sabha member. So Mr. Anil Bonde was arrested last year for the violence so Mr. Anil Bonde has approached the police saying that they want to have a Shok Sabha for Mr. Kohle at the Raj KamalChok and about 2000 people are expected to attend the Shok Sabha. So presently, the police have not given them permission, and they have told them that you will be allowed to have the Shok Sabhaif y’all do not give any speeches at all. So that is they are just talking about it. And as of now, nothing has happened, but I mean no permission has been given. But this is certainly going to happen and three companies of the srpf have come to Umbra with him as a preventive measure and the bandobast has been beefed up.
Shashank Bhargava: And next week talk about Assam. For the past few months, the state has witnessed massive flooding that has led to destruction and affected the lives of millions in the region. Now, floods happen in Assam every year, almost like clockwork. But this time, two things have been different. One is that this time, floods happened even before the monsoons arrived. And the second thing is that after the monsoons arrived, certain areas saw unprecedented flooding, like the town of Silchar, for example, which lies in the southern part of the state. Silchar is the second most populous town in Assam, and the flooding it saw this time is the kind that it has never seen before. And even though the flood hit the town two weeks ago, the water in many parts has still not gone away. Indian expresses Tora Agarwala who recently went to Silchar tells us what she saw. Tora, people in Silchar have said that this has been the worst flood they remember seen. What was this flood like?
Tora Agarwala: So the flood hits Silchar town on June 20th. I mean taking into account its topography, because it’s lies adjacent to the Barak River and it’s bowl shaped so the town has seen water logging or does see water logging frequently like other parts of Assam, you know, urban floods as they call it. But what happened on June 2oth was a flood like no other because it was literally as though the river had come inside the town and in a matter of hours, the water levels increased From ankle length to knee length, and finally it went over cars. And in some cases, it even crept up to the first floor of buildings. So every resident in the town has one story related to the flood because there was not a single person in this town who wasn’t affected by the waters. And as a result of this, it was so intense. And it was such a big flood that everything in the town came to a standstill, because the water levels were so high, transformers went underwater. So electricity was cut off, network snapped when there was a lack of drinking water. So it was just basically like, everything came to a grinding halt because of this. I mean, if you see the pictures from there, like really apocalyptic levels of water.
Shashank Bhargava: Yeah, and now it has been two weeks since the flood hit the town. But we understand that in some parts, water has still not receded. Now, you went to Silchar to report on it? What did the people that tell you?
Tora Agarwala: So while the waters have receded in most parts of the town, there are certain pockets that continue to be submerged even now. So that means for 14 days straight localities have had water and the situation there is still pretty bad because many houses still don’t have electricity, there is a problem of access to drinking water, or even water for other purposes. So those localities continue to be affected even now. So I was in Silchar, earlier this week, and I visited one such locality, and it’s called Chengkuri road. And that area has had water since June 19th. And when I went there, it’s like, you have to see it to believe it because it seems like a floating town. Because everything is happening literally on water.
Shashank Bhargava: Yeah. And even when you were there, you had to talk to people while being on a boat, right?
Tora Agarwala: Yeah. So when I went to this particular locality, even I had to report on a boat and interview people who were either on a boat also but all wading through water or in their balconies on a higher floor. (Locals talking about peene ke paani ki problem being the most intense). So that whole area is as I said earlier, is resembles a floating town and you know, people were joking with him that oh, this is our Venice. But it was sad to see because there was a sense of resignation among people because it’s been two weeks. And that’s how, like, if someone had to, you know, go to the shop to buy something, they just come down, they’d like walk the water, go to another locality, buy whatever, then come through that water and go back home. in Assam. I’ve covered both, you know, rural floods and urban floods. And there is a stark difference in the water. When you report from rural areas. The flooding happens from say river water, okay. And it’s a little bit less a little cleaner than what you see in urban areas. Because apart from the river water, which is coming in, it’s also water from drains, it’s also water from all the garbage, the plastic, so it’s really dirty water. And when I spoke to residents, they told me that earlier, the water was let’s see, maybe light brown. But on the 13th day, I was there on the ninth day, the water by that time had turned grey and black. And it was sad to see that, you know, people had to walk across that to get you know, basic things. We met one gentleman retired school teacher who was working and he had this plastic bag full of mobile phones and he was carrying it at a height because to go to another locality to charge the mobile phones that was not just his mobile phones, but phones of his neighbours as well. So a lot of people would just you know, give one person in the neighbourhood all their phones, and you know, he’d go and charge it elsewhere. Apart from that there were other people who weren’t walking but they were on these wooden country boats and they had to pay like maybe a few 100 rupees to sort of move from one place to another and the moment they would reach dry land it would go by whatever from the shop and then take a boat again and come back to their house
Shashank Bhargava: And Tora, were the hospitals in the region affected during this time as well.
Tora Agarwala: So yeah, luckily the medical college that wasn’t inundated. But the approach to it was inundated. So for many people, they couldn’t go to the hospital. But then there’s this Cancer Hospital and Research Centre run by society. And the approach to it was also flooded. And when I when that continued to be flooded, so what the authorities did over there was the fashioned the raft. And basically, that was what people who needed any sort of treatment for us to get inside the hospital. And when we went there, we saw people going to the hospital and plugging machines they could take home. So I met this person whose grandfather had a stroke. So he had gone to the hospital, he had rented a suction machine, and he was sort of lugging that back on the raft to take home to his grandfather, you know, because it’s a cancer hospital. And many patients require critical care and chemotherapy and things like that. And with treatments like chemotherapy, you can’t really miss your date. So what the hospital did was they had a temporary OPD outside the hospital, basically, before the waters began, they basically held temporary OPD under the trees and whatever treatment they could give patients, some treatment happened there as well. So obviously, I mean, when disaster like the strikes, you have to improvise. And a lot of people did that. I mean, they had no choice but to do that.
Shashank Bhargava: And Tora during this time, how has the local administration and the state government responded to this crisis?
Tora Agarwala: Of course, they try their best to, you know, do what they can, but the thing is, it was just a disaster, which was so unprecedented. And you know, as I said earlier, waterlogging does happen, but to this scale is a little, you know, is a little unheard of before. So the administration was caught by surprise as well. And initially, they didn’t have enough boats. And then they started using country boats for rescue, but the currents were too strong. So the boards kept getting pushed away. So initially, the first few days it was completely crazy. Then, of course, I mean, the government stepped in additional columns of the NDRF and all of a call from Bhubaneshwar, Dimapur, Guwahati additional health was sent. The cabinet minister has been camping there for the last few days. And he’s overseen the relief operations, the chief minister himself has visited I think three times in a span of 10 days. So they are trying but the thing is, the intensity of the flood was quite huge. And that’s why they’ve not been able to reach each and every person for sure. I mean, they also admit that
Shashank Bhargava: Okay, now let’s talk about the reason why this flooding happened. Now, earlier you mentioned the Barak river runs adjacent to Silchar. And for years, there has been this embankment this wall like structure that was built to stop the river from coming into town. But now in this particular part of town called Bethukandi, this embankment was actually broken by the people who live in that area. Could you tell us why did they break this embedment in this Bethukandi?
Tora Agarwala: So now this area and beta candy near the embankment is also a wetland, and it’s called (inaudible) it’s a huge wetland. And around that wetland, there are a lot of like, many, many people stay around in that area. So what happened was that these people who live here for more than two decades, they’ve faced this problem of chronic flooding, you know, regardless of whether the Barak river overflows or not this people who live around this wetland, even if there’s a small spell of rain, then this whole area will flood. So locals say that they’ve been telling the government about this been mostly met with indifference, and no one’s done anything about it. And this time in the first wave of floods happened, the area obviously got flooded. And later, when the rains stopped, and the level of the Barak river went down, it made no difference to the area because that wetland was still like brimming with water. So what we hear is that locals basically took matters in their own hand, and they got a bit of that embankment so that water from the wetland goes back into that river. So it gave the locals around that area a bit of respite. And after they cut that embankment, obviously that was against the law, and this was in May 22. May this happen, and 23rd, an FIRwas also registered. And the locals also apparently they say that they inform the government that, you know, this kind of breach has happened over here, please look into it. And again, the administration really did not do anything about it. So from 14th June onwards, when the rains began, again, the Barak river level increased and through this gap, which was earlier used me to sort of help these people the water came flowing back through the same gap and this gap was obviously much bigger now. So many say this is the reason why, you know, the floods became so bad and even now, the chief minister that day said that this miscreants have done it and this is a manmade flood and that’s why it’s got so bad currently there’s some CID investigation into it. Some people have been detained also. So basically the one reason is of course, just that the rainfall has increased. But yeah, I mean, the breach the cutting which happened many say that seems to be the main reason.
Shashank Bhargava: And in the end, we talk about the Olympic gold medal winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. In the past few weeks, Chopra has broken the national record twice. The first was in Finland, where he threw the Javelin at 89.30 metres and then just last week in Sweden, where he managed to set the mark at 89.94 metres. Now with this last row, he came extremely close to the 90 metre mark that he has been aiming to hit for years. In this segment, we speak to Indian Express’s Nihal Koshie, about Neeraj Chopra, his prospects at the upcoming World Championships and what it would mean for him to cross that 90 metre mark.
Nihal Koshie: Yeah, the first thing is that people have been asking him this question repeatedly, like when will you reach 90 metres but we should remember that in 2016, which is just six years ago, our national record was 82 metres. So somebody throwing 89-94 itself is a huge thing. And yeah, 90 metres is that barrier, I mean, if you cross 90 metres, you are in that small group of those who have thrown over 90 metres, he will cross 90 metres. I mean, the form he is in currently, like after returning to competition since the Olympics in the past one month in June, he threw 89.30, his best throw in a competition at the power Normie games come back competition, then he threw at 86.69 in the second competition and then 89.94. So it’s just that after such a long break to come and throw 289 Plus throws is a big deal because it shows his inform, and he’s fit and he is peaking at the right time. So if he crosses 90 metres great, and I’m quite sure he will. And the thing is that you don’t have to throw 90 metres to win at a major event. I mean, since the start of the millennium, if you look at the world championships and the Olympic Games, only seven of the 48 medalists that is gold, silver bronze when I say medalists have thrown over 90 metres and won a medal.
Shashank Bhargava: Yeah, because even during the Olympics, where he won the gold medal, he had only reached 87.58 metres. So why is it so hard to reach that 90 metre mark in this sport.
Nihal Koshie: Now, javelin throw is a very technical sport. There are a lot of force of the body when you throw and it’s almost like you’re running and then you’re stopping and then you’re throwing so there’s that weight transfer and that weight has to go into the javelin, the angle of the Javelin has to be perfect. So even a little change in something technical that day, or it can be even if it’s a slightly open stadium, you could have headwind tailwind, anything can affect it, you know, it’s it’s like any other sport but Javelin is highly technical. So it could have been like Neeraj Chopra through at some 87.58 in the Olympics final anyone gold wetter who was throwing here a 97 metre throw about almost 9-10 months before the Olympics and he was constantly at 7, 90 metre plus throws in 2021. But at the Olympics, he just couldn’t throw a baby the track was not to his liking. His body was a bit stiff. He just didn’t get the angle right that day. The good thing about Neeraj Chopra is unlike most of the Indian athletes, when it matters he performs there is no up and down graph we have seen over the years, so many athletes, they will peak just before a big event. They’ll go there and flop that has been the story of Indian athletics. Maybe there was a PT Usha and there was an Anju Bobby George, who did consistently well, but we have seen this in the past our star athletes going there and just not performing.
Shashank Bhargava: Yeah, but like you said, this has not been the case with Chopra. And now we have the World Championships happening in three weeks. What do his prospects look like?
Nihal Koshie: I think that form he’s in he should finish on the podium. And if you look at the top list this year, there’s nobody who’s really consistently throwing over 90 metres there’s Anderson Peters of the defending world champion who had 93 metres at the start of the year. I think it may in Doha and then like a wetter in 2021 I was throwing 90 Plus consistently wetter also just throw it in one meet so far. I think it could be he’s just Stop taking it easy or there are reports of him being injured. So we don’t know. So I think Chopra will finish on the podium, he could even win a gold, which would be historic. And you have to go back to I think, a decade to find that athlete who’s won gold at the Olympics and followed it up with gold at the World Championships. And the fact that he’s been able to throw so consistently well, is also a psychological thing for his opponents because they know that he is throwing 88-89 and Chopra we have seen that competitions he comes out and throws big initially, the first two three throws, he lays out the mark A comes in has a big throw and then the others sort of have not been able to respond. But it’ll be interesting. If someone not want to athletes to throw suddenly come up with 92-93 It can happen you know, someone can throw 93-94 a lot of experience throws and then we’ll have to see how Chopra responds, but he has it in him to win a medal at the World Championships.
Shashank Bhargava: You were listening to 3 things by the Indian Express. Today’s Show was written and produced by me, Shashank Bhargava and was edited and mixed by Suresh Pawar. If you like the show, then do subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. You can also recommend the show to someone you think would like it, share it with a friend or someone in your family. It’s the best way for people to get to know about us. You can tweet us @expresspodcasts and write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org