Bheed review – lockdown thriller cuts across India’s class conflict

A tense, state-of-the-nation drama set in Covid-era India successfully exposes how the caste system underpins much of the country’s division and strife

‘No one ever plans for the poor,” says a young police officer in this tense, painful pandemic drama from India. Shot in black and white, it’s set at the start of the government-imposed lockdown in May 2020 that led to the exodus of 10 million migrant workers from India’s cities. The police officer has been put in charge of a rural roadblock to stop poor workers returning to their families and villages – preventing the spread of the virus. But realising that no help is arriving, the crowd, feeling hungry and abandoned, get angry. The results are explosive, exposing the fault lines of caste prejudice and class conflict.

The officer Surya (Rajkummar Rao), is himself from a lower-caste family, but he’s climbing the ladder; he is a competent, decent cop who refuses kickbacks or bribes (just what a modern police force needs). Still, his boss never lets him forget his place, and we see how Surya has internalised prejudice too. All of society turns up at his checkpoint. A rich upper-caste woman (Dia Mirza) waltzes over accompanied by her driver, fully expecting to sail through. A young woman who worked as a maid in the city risks her life to get her alcoholic father home to their village. There’s an elderly security guard travelling on a bus; then a film crew arrives from a TV news channel.

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Pakistan delays Punjab election despite supreme court ruling

Former prime minister Imran Khan says election commission’s move is violation of Pakistan’s constitution

Pakistan has postponed elections in Punjab, the country’s most populated province, in a move that spurns a recent supreme court ruling and is likely to cause more sparks between supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan and the government.

In an eight-page order seen by the Guardian, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) claimed that “it is not possible to hold and organise the elections honestly, justly, fairly, in a peaceful manner”, blaming security threats and financial problems. It said it would be unable to provide a “level playing field” to all political parties as a result.

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Rahul Gandhi found guilty of defaming Narendra Modi

Indian opposition leader accused of implying prime minister was a criminal in remark made in 2019

A court in India has found the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for a remark implying the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, was a criminal.

On Thursday, Gandhi, 52, was sentenced to two years in prison but was granted bail after his lawyers announced their intention to appeal.

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India reduces security outside UK high commission in New Delhi

Barriers also removed from high commissioner’s residence after Sikhs protest at Indian mission in London

New Delhi has reduced security outside the British high commission and the high commissioner’s residence in the Indian capital, removing the usual yellow metal barriers that provide an extra layer of protection.

Political analysts say it is retaliation for the UK police failing to stop a violent protest by Sikhs outside the Indian mission in London on Sunday when they vandalised the premises and pulled down the Indian flag.

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Children are dying. We need a worldwide medicines treaty to avoid further tragedies | Dinesh S Thakur and Prashant Reddy Thikkavarapu

Recent deaths linked to drugs made in India underline the need for a global framework for quality control and swift cross-border action when things go wrong

In the last six months, there have been four global alerts from the World Health Organization (WHO) for “Made in India” medicine where patients have either died, been blinded or suffered adverse incidents.

Two alerts, one in October and the other in January, were for adulterated cough syrups manufactured by two different Indian companies. These syrups are suspected to have caused the deaths of up to 71 children in the Gambia and 18 children in Uzbekistan. A third alert, in December, involved a cancer drug sold in Yemen and Lebanon which was found to be contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The fourth alert, in February, was for eyedrops sold in 55 countries that the WHO recommend be removed from circulation due to quality issues.

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UK begins inquiry into alleged SAS extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave issues call for evidence, saying it is critical law-breakers be referred to authorities

A judge investigating allegations of more than 50 summary killings by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan has issued a call for anyone with evidence to come forward, saying it was critical that law-breakers be referred to authorities.

Launching his independent inquiry, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave said he was “very hopeful” there would be “full cooperation” with his work, which he said was ultimately about restoring the reputation of the military and “moral authority”.

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‘I skip meals to make my insulin last’: the cost of diabetes in the global south

The three firms that control the insulin market are to cut costs in the US, but elsewhere users can spend all their pay to get the life-saving drug

‘I ration my insulin every month,” says Khushi Ahuja, a law student from Delhi who has type 1 diabetes and relies on human insulin manufactured by the US company Eli Lilly to manage her condition. While insulin is available at no cost in some public hospitals in India, it is mostly up to individuals to buy the drug.

“Every month I hear about insulin prices rising and I feel guilty about burdening my parents,” Ahuja says. “I skip meals to make my insulin last longer.”

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Earthquake hits Pakistan, Afghanistan and India with at least 11 dead

Nine die in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan from magnitude 6.5 event, with more than 200 people injured

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake has rattled much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, sending panicked residents fleeing from homes and offices, and frightening people even in remote villages. At least nine people died in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday

More than 200 people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley region of Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a state of shock, said Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s emergency services.

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Punjab hit by internet blackout as authorities hunt for Sikh preacher

Shutdown imposed as part of search for Amritpal Singh Sandhu, accused of disrupting communal harmony

Economic life in the north Indian state of Punjab has been paralysed by an internet shutdown, affecting 30 million people, imposed as part of a huge manhunt for a Sikh preacher fighting for a separate Sikh state.

Police have been searching for Amritpal Singh Sandhu, who is wanted for allegedly disrupting communal harmony, since Saturday.

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Scarred for life: the Himalayan towns sinking into oblivion

The construction of vast dams and a network of roads and railways have taken a heavy toll on the state of Uttarakhand, with buildings in Joshimath and other settlements collapsing and residents blaming government indifference

Beneath the dark, jagged peaks of the Himalayas, Ashish Joshyal surveys a crater where his house once stood. Behind him, the bright green walls of his kitchen and living room tilt at jarring angles, some collapsed altogether. The floor is a sea of rubble and stone.

Not long ago, Joshyal’s house stood upright. But, like hundreds of others in Joshimath, a sacred town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand high up in the Himalayas, his problems began one night in early January. Cracks appeared in his roof, then crept down the walls. They got wider and wider until they were gaping chasms.

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The Guardian view on the forgotten Rohingya refugees: lives without futures | Editorial

More than five years after hundreds of thousands fled Myanmar, conditions in Bangladesh are deteriorating

The hungry and desperate are now much more so. Last month, the rations to Rohingya living in the world’s largest refugee camp – Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – were slashed. Another drastic cut is due next month. This is, as a UN expert warned, a matter of life and death. The Rohingya have lived on a knife edge for too long.

Their suffering made global headlines in 2017, when the Myanmar military, supported by militias, launched a murderous campaign that took thousands of lives, forced 700,000 to flee Rakhine state for Bangladesh and was described by a UN human rights expert as genocide. In the last two years, what little attention has been paid to Myanmar has focused on the military’s coup and attempts to crush civilian resistance. But the suffering of the Rohingya began decades ago and continues to this day, even outside Rakhine state. Many had fled before, returning (not always by choice) when they were assured it was safe. It was not. They experienced discrimination and repression, military operations, pogroms and the stripping of their citizenship. The 600,000 or so who remain in Myanmar are confined to camps, subject to government violence and denied essential services.

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‘Bulldozer politics’: Modi’s demolition drive fuels Muslims’ fears in Kashmir

Violence and censorship rife among citizens and the media, as push to reclaim state land belies Indian government’s claims of peace in disputed region

Suhail Ahmad Shah stood despairingly before the wreckage that for two decades had been his livelihood. Just hours before, he had been busy at the workshop when he heard an ominous crunch above him and the tin roof began to cave in. He barely made his escape before a bulldozer flattened the entire place.

“No notice was served to us,” said Shah, 38. “The officials came suddenly and demolished our workshop. No one is listening to us. We’ve been paying rent. Isn’t this an atrocity? They have snatched our livelihood.”

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Court cancels Imran Khan’s arrest warrant after clashes in Pakistan capital

Supporters of ex-prime minister and police fight outside court where he was addressing charges of unlawfully selling state gifts

A court in Islamabad has cancelled Imran Khan’s arrest warrant after intense clashes between police and the former prime minister’s supporters outside the judicial complex.

Khan officially appeared before the court in Pakistan’s capital on Saturday, complying with a judicial order that led to a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday. He is facing various legal challenges including unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while in office from 2018 to 2022. Khan says he followed legal procedures in acquiring the gifts.

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Myanmar is a failing state, led by a junta fuelled by Russian arms, says UN rights envoy

Civilians are being killed by Russian weapons just like in Ukraine, says special rapporteur Tom Andrews in call for global action

Myanmar is a “failing state” and the crisis is getting exponentially worse, a UN special rapporteur for the country has warned, urging countries to adopt the same unified resolve that followed the invasion of Ukraine.

“The same types of weapons that are killing Ukrainians are killing people in Myanmar,” Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the Guardian in an interview, citing the supply of Russian weapons to the junta since the coup two years ago. The junta relies heavily on aircraft from China and Russia, and has increasingly resorted to airstrikes to attempt to quell determined resistance forces.

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Pakistan court orders police to halt efforts to arrest Imran Khan

High court move follows violent clashes between police and supporters outside former PM’s house in Lahore

A court in Pakistan has ordered police to suspend an operation to arrest Imran Khan, after violent clashes between the former prime minister’s supporters and law enforcement outside his house.

The vicinity of Khan’s residence became a battleground on Tuesday, when police arrived after a lower court in Islamabad issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for not appearing before it despite several summonses.

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