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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 11, New Delhi, February 27, 2021

Letter to the readers, Mainstream, Feb 27

Saturday 27 February 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Feb 27, 2021

In 2003 India and Pakistan had signed a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kashmir region but this agreement had pretty much broken down in the recent years and there had been continuing violations and tensions on borders. There has been an important development on that front and Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement —“Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021”. The agreement to observe a ceasefire and a return to the understanding of 2003 is a very positive development since there had been a long impasse and even a serious escalation leading to dramatic air combat between the two countries after the Pulwama incident. There are signs that show that this agreement wasn’t just hard work on part of the top military authorities but that back-channel negotiations may have also been at work. The constituency of citizens who have long argued for peace and normalcy in relations between the two countries should publicly welcome this move. Secretary-General of the United Nations has welcomed the development and the US State Dept. Spokesman also welcomed this development

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The climate activist Disha Ravi who was detained recently by Delhi police and is facing sedition charges has been granted bail. In the order granting bail the Sessions Court in Delhi has made observations against the use of sedition law to curb dissent. "Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic Nation. They cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with the State policies", Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said in the bail order. The court offers hope and there should be continued discussion & public campaigning in society with the aim to permanently remove colonial era provision of sedition from statute books in India.

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On February 25, the Government of India has announced Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 — an all encompassing move to regulate social and digital media and streaming entertainment on Over The Top (OTT) platforms. A number of commentators have raised concerns that the implementation of these regulations could lead to Government overreach and censorship of content, since this is being done without any consultation or debate or a law made by Parliament.

Tributes:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet, publisher and political activist who inspired artists and writers in San Francisco from his reputed bookstore City Lights, died on February 22 in San Francisco. He was 101.

Dal Orlov, 86, Russian film critic, screenwriter who co-wrote the script with Jean Claude Carrier for Hard to Be a God (a 1989 science fiction film directed based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky) passed away on February 24, 2021

Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri the well-known writer and scholar of Malayalam literature passed away on February 25, 2021. He was the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Government of India had honored him with Padma Shri in 2014.

Comrade D Pandian, a former member of the National Executive and former secretary of the Tamil Nadu state council of the Communist Party of India passed away on February 26, 2021. He was also editor of the party daily Janasakthi.

We pay our tributes to the above figures

February 27, 2021 – The Editors

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