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On 30th January, a 17 year old minor wielding a gun shot at Anti CAA protestors and students at Jamia University, injuring one student. In the days following the incidents, there were two more shootings in Shaheen Bagh and allegedly Jamia again. Somya Lakhani dissects the events leading up to these shootings, what the reaction to them has been, and how Delhi police is combating this crisis of faith in them. Next, will NRIs be taxed differently? Udit Misra breaks down the clauses in the Budget 2020 pertaining to NRIS and the income tax they will be required to pay. Last, decades after the cheetah went extinct in India, the Supreme Court has cleared a proposal for importing a few from Africa. Jay Mazoomdaar explains whether this expensive project comes at the cost of conserving indigenous species.
(intro) Hi, I’m Neha Mathews, and you’re listening to 3 Things, The Indian Express news show.
Neha Mathews: On today’s episode, we dissect the decision to import African cheetahs to replace the extinct Indian cheetahs and how NRIs will be affected by a tax amendment in the budget.
But first, we talk about the shootings at anti-CAA protesters in the Capital.
On Thursday, January a 17 year old boy wielding a gun shot at anti-CAA protesters and students at Jamia University injuring one student. 12 station house officers and 300 policemen had been stationed at three districts in the morning to stop the march which had been planned from Jamia university to Rajghat in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary. But eyewitnesses allege that the police did not sweep in when they could have. Two days later, there was another shooting in Shaheen Bagh where they have been ongoing protests against the citizenship amendment act, primarily by women of the area since December 2019. Again, On late Sunday night, there was an alleged incident of shooting near Jamia University. Somya Lakhani, who has been covering the shootings joins us now to discuss what happened and what measures the police is now taking in the face of backlash.
Neha Mathews: So Somya in about four days, Delhi has seen three incidents of shootings in areas of CAA protests in Jamia and Shaheen Bagh. On January 28, as well we had a man you know, whipping out a gun, supposedly a local being chased out of Shaheen Bagh by the protesters, so that will be about four incidents of gun toting miscreants. Let’s start with the shooting on the 30th where this minor boy shoots at Jamia protestors. Could you tell us how the events unfolded?
Somya Lakhani: So Jan 30th as you know is Martyr’s Day and Jamia students wanted to march till Rajghat. So there was a group that there was a it was essentially a protest and a march police had said that you know that cordon off the area and they told them that they aren’t allowed to proceed further. In the middle of this suddenly from the cloud and this is the police’s version. That suddenly from the crowd this man emerged with his back towards a line of cops who are standing a few metres away and whips out a gun and is waving it in the air. And at some point and you see in the video clip that for a few seconds, he’s waving it in the air, while reporters who were present covering the protest march, and students themselves are screaming for help. And are saying ‘pistol hai uske hath mei’ . In the video, you realise that the police is not moving for a few seconds. And then he looks back, he turns around and he shoots into the crowd, which eventually injures a Jamia student called Shahdab. So you see that the police is there. Now when you speak to the police, they say their version is that his back was towards us. So we didn’t realise that it was a pistol. And one senior police officer also told me that police personnel present there thought that it was probably a phone that he was waving in the air. So that’s how it happened. That was on Jan 30th. You see in the video that police officer one ATO Khalid Hussein of jamia he managed to neutralise this fellow and turns out that the accused is a minor – he’s a 17 year old so obviously for because of that we will not name him and we can’t name him or you know, publish his picture. But you know, the weapon was also found, Shahdab was given help. He was sent to Holy family hospital. He was referred to AIIMS after that. It left the students absolutely very, very agitated. Tremors will felt in other parts of the city. Of course, Shaheen Bagh was a bit on edge because obviously you feel for your security if this is happening, especially the visual and the video that comes out of this.
Neha Mathews: I was wondering about the shooter himself. Could you tell me more about him what the police learned about him. Why he may have done what he did
Somya Lakhani: you know, so we also scanned through his social media profile and you know, we’ve got some interrogation details and it just appears that you know, the 17 year old boy claims to be a member of Bajrang Dal, the RSS. Of course the outfits themselves have sort of really distanced themselves from this guy. But you see videos and photos of him holding guns and a colleague of ours went to his village to his house. And, you know, he realised that, you know, he was a fanatic, as I would describe it. Beyond that, you know, a lot of the people who knew him describe him as a very quiet person. So A lot of people have great disbelief, that, you know, was this even possible, but when you scan through social media profiles, we could only do very briefly because Facebook took it off. But yeah, he comes across as a bit of a fanatic, you know, and once the incident happened, and we went on Facebook, and we went through his profile, there were two profiles to begin with. And you know, he’s done a Facebook Live for like about an hour or two before the actual shooting, and there are some very distasteful messages that he’s posted on Facebook about Shaheen Bagh and about the protest and, you know, so it gives you an idea that here’s a person who was doing something he was there with, you know, he had an He had a goal.
Neha Mathews: So coming back to what you’re saying about Jamia students being agitated. One thing was we had BJP leaders like Anurag Thakur and kapil Mishra , who have had chants of “goli maaro desh ke gaddaro ko” in their protests. These Jamia students now wanted action against the sloganeering. Has anything of that sort happened.
Somya Lakhani: if you’re talking about police action, no police action has been taken against this sloganeering. EC did apply some amount of restrictions on their star campaigners like Anurag Thakur for the chants that he said, but beyond that, there was no police action. And of course students, residents, locals, everybody there is very agitated and as you know, across where they believe that, you know, this is something that may be led to you know, this was an encouragement and this was, you know, what they said was step one and then the shooting was step two. So there is a lack of faith between the students and the cops. So two days after that on Feb First, we have a shooter showing up in Shaheeb Bag. can you tell us a little bit about that incident? So you know, this is around 4:30-4:45. there was 50 metres away from the Shaheen Bag stage. So just right behind the stage, that stretch of one carriage one stretch of road is where this man walks in with a pistol and fires about minimum two rounds. One according to eyewitnesses one he fired in the air and one he just fired in front. Nobody was injured because this is an area which is usually occupied by very few volunteers and which is why there was no crowd ever there were a few people who saw there were a few people who managed to neutralise him and this is right near the police barricades. Now I witnesses say that they neutralise this fellow and then you know he threw his pistol in the bushes which was then retrieved and the bullets you can see we saw them there are photos etc as well. And then the man was handed over to a police person who was present there. This is a 25 year old man, father of a three year old girl, runs a dairy business in Dallupura . Now what the police has told us Is that during interrogation, this man said that he was really fed up of the traffic and the inconvenience that it was given to commuters because of these protests. Apart from that, there are also videos of you know him when he’s been neutralised and handed over to the cops. He is chanting Jai Sri Ram. And he is saying things like ‘Hindustan sirf Hinduon ka hai”. there are videos there are there is this radicalised tendency that, you know you’re seeing, but this happened very close to where the women have been sitting for an hour record of 50 days. And of course, it led to a lot of chaos, fera, grief, anger, you know, within the protest site as well. But later in the evening, when I was there, I realised that the women were very confident about not going back. So there was this resilience, this resolve of staying back and carrying on with the protest. Now what the Delhi police and the volunteers at Shaheeb Bagh what they’ve done is they’ve really beefed up security or it appears they have beefed up security. So for example, all the lanes that are there that are leading to the protest, there are gates there. Now volunteers stand at all those gates, especially since the protests they started frisking people, they started checking their IDs. If you are a person who wants to speak on stage, there is a whole process so you know, you will be checked your ID will be seen, it will be discussed what you’re going to speak which is something that Shaheeb Bagh had been doing anywhere but now I think they’re just more stricter with this. They will also talk so putting up CCTV cameras to bring in a generator so that even if electricity goes, the area the protests site is well lit. So nothing untoward can happen that was on Feb First.
Neha Mathews: Now on the second we have another incident which may or may not have been shooting is the police version. Could you tell us about that so we can dissect that a little bit
Somya Lakhani: so a little before midnight on Feb second, I’d say moving into Feb Third, You know it was flashed that you know there has been another shooting at Jamia gate number seven, near gate number seven. Okay, gate number seven is also where the stage is so little few metres away from there is where they said the Shooting and happen. A day after also police has said that they don’t have any evidence to prove that the shooting had happened however in a FIR under Section 307 which is attempt to murder has been filed and also under the arms act. Police has filed in an FIR they are investigating the matter. There is a CCTV footage that is available, but the CCTV footage doesn’t show a shooting you know, it just shows that you know there is some chaos that happens and people run towards one part of the road the other carriageway,
Neha Mathews: but no there is the you know, gun has retrieved no bullets have been found.
Somya Lakhani: nothing, none of that. Eyewitnesses claimed that you know, whatever they claim that they saw. They also mentioned that there was a two wheeler they gave a registration number also the number plate whatever they could read, but the police’s, they haven’t come to a conclusion about it. But police has again sort of beefed up security in the area. There are two pickets they’ve also spoken to the alumni group of Jamia. They’ve also spoken to residents special CP, joint CP they’ve all gone. volunteers are Jamia, that is the Jamia Coordination Committee has also started frisking people checking their IDs, checking cars, sort of looking and inquiring if there’s somebody defined suspicious. So efforts are on to make sure that these places are safe.
Neha Mathews: This is also preceded by the Jamia violence, the JNU violence, in which a lot of questions were asked about by the police didn’t intervene or why did they go into Jamia and beat up students? What is the police doing to combat this because this is a crisis in faith towards them,
Somya Lakhani: um, for obviously, their students, especially residents, people who live there, they’re very unhappy. They do believe that the police hasn’t done their bit. There is a crisis of faith that they’re dealing with. There is a constant belief that for instance, when the Jamia shooting happened, the January 30 shooting when that happened, you know, we went to Shaheeb Bagh also a day later and you know, the tremors were felt in Shaheen Bagh, where protesters said that hey, what if this happens here is the police going to look out for us are they Going to care for us? Are they going to ensure that we’re not injured or hurt? Or are they going to try and neutralise this person on time? So there are a lot of questions. And, you know, the Delhi police has, you know, has a lot of work to do they have to sort of that image is a bit tarnished, I would say. And they have a lot of trust building efforts that have to be done. So I was speaking to a senior police officer today and I asked him that, you know, you keep saying that the incident the third shooting that we’re talking about that happened on Sunday night, you don’t have any conclusive evidence to even say that the incident happened, then why did you file the FIR so quickly? And one of the reasons he said was because we want to maintain a good relationship with the residents and the students. I believe there is an effort that police is making a little bit of an effort of sort of ensuring that students and residents there don’t feel that they’re being completely unheard. Efforts are being made, but I believe there’s a long way to go
Neha Mathews: In the budget 2020 released on Saturday, there were certain clauses pertaining to non resident Indians, which due to lack of clarity cost a lot of confusion. So will NRIs be taxed differently. Or will those residing in countries that don’t charge income tax have to be the same in India? Udit Mishra who writes on the economy for Indian Express joins us to explain.
Neha Mathews: So Udit, when the budget 2020 was released, there were certain clauses pertaining to non resident Indians, Nirmala Sitharaman, did’t read these out in her speech, but there was a lot of confusion and when then because there’s no clarification, what are people confused about?
Udit Mishra: So in the finance bill that comes along with the union budget every year, the government proposed an amendment to the Income Tax Act, in particular section six of the Income Tax Act, which pertains to how do you decide whether a particular person is a resident of India, especially for taxation purposes and One of the amendments there suggested that a citizen who is not paying taxes anywhere in the world, and is outside India, even if he’s not spent a single day in India will be deemed as an Indian resident. And as such, his income would be charged. That is the Indian income tax laws will apply to his income. Now, this obviously raised massive hallaballu because there are a lot of people say, a lot of people from Kerala who work in the Gulf. So UAE, which is a tax free jurisdiction, they do not pay taxes there. And immediately the import was that whatever X amount they earned in a year in UAE would then attract Indian income taxes, which is substantial and moreover, more importantly, it basically undermines the whole point of going out and working and repatriating all that Money, why would you go all the way and work there, if not for enjoying more benefits? And moreover, there’s also sovereignty issue, how could you undermine their policy US policy of having a tax free income tax regime and attracting certain kind of talent and you are going to tax it. So it raised a lot of hue and cry. And within a day, the government came out with a clarification. So that was essentially the whole issue.
Neha Mathews: Let’s start with the basics. Now say a country like India, if they were to tax a person, how do we decide who to tax right.
Udit Mishra: So, there are two basic parameters here, the most important parameter is residency. Now say in a country like United States, if you are a citizen, then you are a resident, regardless whether you staying there or not, and for taxation purposes, they apply that marker, but in India, that doesn’t work. In India, you have to be an actually a resident for a certain period of time. And then, for income tax laws to apply, you don’t necessarily also have to be just an Indian citizen, you know, even a outsider, any individual who’s spending enough time in India and earning income here would have to pay income tax. So residency is one big thing. And the other thing is source. Where are you getting the income from? As such, imagine that if you’re somebody sitting in the US and have a house here and get rental income from India, then typically that rental income would attract income tax in India. Similarly, if you’re sitting in Delhi, and have a house in London, and that gets you rental income, that would also attract. So in the first case, it would be the source because the source of income is in India. In the second case, it would be because you are yourself the resident of this country. Basically, either you are the resident of this country, and hence your income is charged or else your income Coming from this country in that part of the income, that fraction of the income will be judged. So that’s broadly the two ways in which we decide.
Neha Mathews: So now with the finance minister clarifying on Sunday what this meant that clear any doubts?
Udit Mishra: Yeah, so the issue is that know what the government’s intent here was that there are a lot of people, at least there are some people who gamed the system, who ensure that they do not stay in India for the X number of days, that would make them qualify as a resident of India. Right. And they do this in other jurisdictions also, and save taxes everywhere. So basically don’t pay taxes anywhere. And we are the so called stateless people. And what the government was trying to do was a well intentioned move in that sense that well, if you are somebody who’s gaming the system we’ll tax you. We will deem that you are a resident of India because You do not pay taxes anywhere, and you are an Indian citizen will deem that you are a resident in India. So that part, the government’s intent was justified where perhaps the communication was lacking, and which has now got clarified, is that the idea was not to tax all the income earned elsewhere. The idea was to tax the income that such people would be earning from India.
Neha Mathews: So there’s no worry that’s a person who’s in citizen working in the Middle East, their entire salary there may be taxed, that does not happening.
Udit Mishra: no, that is not happening. And the government has clarified that and they’ve said that they’ll make the necessary changes in the amendment to the Income Tax Act that we are bringing about,
Neha Mathews: but certain things like you mentioned, where they already taxable for this announcement to say rent that is coming in. I think we had a Nirmala Sitharaman saying this is going to be an anti abuse provision, like the clarification has it also caused more questions to crop up
Udit Mishra: well hopefully it Should not. I mean, a lot of people are now realising that they intent was not to penalise any and everybody who’s going out and working. But the idea is to penalise those or catch hold of those who are gaming the system and that by any measure, there are more people evading taxes as a proportion of population within India, then I would suspect that number of people as a proportion, gaming the system outside, so governments move is justified. But the messaging was perhaps not as articulate
Neha Mathews: with this backlash. So even though this is preliminary, Do you think this proposed amendment will pass?
Udit Mishra: Yeah, it should pass. I mean, under normal circumstances, I mean, government has the majority, the floor of the house, so that should not be a worry, but obviously, if it was the case that people thought that they are genuine, incomes in other lands would be taxed, and it would raise a huge political outcry and anybody who goes outside the country to earn better money, this would undermine all that and impose Indian taxes on those incomes, it would neither fly with those countries nor with the individual. So that was a non starter. And I’m sure the government has realised that that that was not their intent. They have clarified that also.
Neha Mathews: Decades after the cheetah went extinct in India, the Supreme Court has cleared a proposal for importing a few from Africa. The Apex court set up a three member Committee, which is to guide the national Tiger Conservation Authority, who will eventually make the decision on whether to import these African cheetahs or not, but this project itself, throws up questions about conservation of species and whether the introduction of an exotic species makes up for the extinction of an indigenous one. Associate Editor Jay Mazoomdaar joins us now to explain the issue.
So to start with, could you tell us about how the Indian Cheetah species went extinct,
Jay Mazoomdaar: the cheetah was hunted to extinction By the 1950s. Though we had hundreds and thousands of captive animals with different royalties, they don’t breed very well in captivity. So they could not recover And by the 60s, Cheetah was lost in India though there were some, some sporadic reports after that. But we can say they went extinct nearly 50 years back.
Neha Mathews: And now this plan to introduce African Cheetahs to India, that was first floated in 2009. What would proponents of this plan say the purpose is and why was this idea shot down then.
Jay Mazoomdaar: see, this idea was never very practical. So it was not conceived with some utility in mind, it was more of a idealistic plan to have an animal that we have lost back from extinction. And to put it in perspective, that this is the only big Carnival that we have lost in modern history. So there was this idea for many tickets that we should have it back somehow there was some plans to clone it, which did not materialise because we did not have the genetic material from Iran. And we didn’t have any in the captivity. So this idea came up in 2009, to have a few animals from Africa. And initially there was some doubt about the genetic purity. But then it was ascertained that the two sub-species, the African and Asian, they separated some 5000 years back. So in a historical timescale that’s not too far back over. And they are quite closely related. So that was one aspect. But when it came up before the Supreme Court, it was shot down, primarily because of two reasons. One is that, yes, it was an exotic species, though they’re not two distinct as subspecies. But these Cheetahs are not Asiatic cheetahs, that so that was one aspect. The other more important point was that the cheetahs was supposed to come to Kuno-Palpur, and that was a forest sanctuary that was being prepared for the lion to create a second home for their sheer decline, so that they are not wiped out if there is a natural calamity or if there is a epidemic. So the court observed That since India could not trust the lions for nearly 20 years, the plan is hanging file since the early 90s. So now to have a cheetah project and to supersede that plan may not be a good idea. And so the court said that bring down and forget Cheetah, so that was a stand in 2013.
Neha Mathews: And now in December we had the Supreme Court approving this move, but if they were say to be imported to India, where would they be hosted now.
Jay Mazoomdaar: so the government has looked into a few options in Rajisthan and also in Gujarat. But chances are that they will come to MP if they come at all. And Kuno-palpur is back in contention but it may not be the spot which will get to host this cheetahs because the previous is not adequate. And also the lion question hangs there. So they have a new sanctuary called Nauradehi where they plan to have an enclosure a huge enclosure, about 100- 125 Square Kilometre and where they will do a soft release and supply them with pray and then they will overtime try and release them in the wild into the open.
Neha Mathews: One major worry that comes up with say, introducing exotic species to a new ecosystem would be what effect they would have on that ecosystem and the indigenous species there was this very with the African cheetahs as well.
Jay Mazoomdaar: see the issue of introducing exotic species, The main concern is that because they don’t have any natural checks and balances, they usually outcompete the other species. In this case, that is not the concern because one that they are not really exotic, they are closely linked to sub-species we had and secondly, in all likelihood, Cheetah will struggle to survive. So the question of them, outcompeting our species really doesn’t arise. But the problem which it could pose in terms of competition to other carnivores in the landscape where they will be introduced, because if you introduce a new species, they will obviously, compete with the existing ones like wolves we have in order here, so they have to compete. And also they may, if they’re introduced in the areas where we had Great Indian Bustards, they may pray on them. And that may damage the chances of recovery of that bird.
Neha Mathews: You have previously also talked about how our resources for conservation in India are very meagre. So would that perhaps maybe this it’s an expensive project, would this be introduced at the cost of you know, conserving indigenous species that are already at risk here in India?
Jay Mazoomdaar: Yeah, that’s one of the main concern because in South Africa, for example, we have cheetahs in huge enclosures. So as a vanity project project, or if we want to have some animals in a ranch like atmosphere, that is always possible. But the issue is that if India can afford that, we have very meagre budget for conservation. And if you take away tiger and the tiger forests, so the annual allocation for the rest of the country’s forests and all species comes to about 165 crore a year, so Compared to that this Cheetah project, when it was conceived 10 years back, they picked the first year’s expenditure at about 300 Crore. So, clearly, it’s expensive. And if we can find this budget from some external agencies or sponsorship, even then it may not make really great sense, because we have a very thing overstretched a forest management wildlife management system. So they will have to focus on these and they’ll be further stretched. And as I said before that this may not add any conservation value to India, and it may, on top of that, create problem for the existing species that need that fund that we have 20 plus identified species, identified with the government that need urgent intervention for recovery. So we need funds there that should be the priority.
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