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2019 Rewind: 14 Major Events that Defined the Year

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By: Sabreena Zeenat Hannan

As 2019 draws to a close, and 2020 draws nearer, let us take a look at the events that shaped the year:

Chapter 1: Pulwama

2019 began with one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir where 45 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were martyred. The Pulwama attack happened on February 14, 2019 where a convoy of vehicles carrying CRPF personnel was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The bomber identified as Adil Ahmed rammed the vehicle carrying over 100kg of explosives into the bus. The attack left at least 35 people injured.

Chapter 2: Surgical Strike 2.0

In the early morning hours of February 26, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter aircrafts of the Indian Air Force attacked the Jaish-e- Mohammed terrorist camp in Balakot.

The attacks were carried out at 3.30 AM by the Air Force pilots who dropped five Spice 2000 bombs out of which four successfully hit the rooftops of the building in which the terrorists were sleeping, killing 200-300 militants. In order to maintain secrecy, this Surgical Strike 2.0 was code-named as ‘Operation Bandar (Monkey)’.

Chapter 3: The Aero-Warrior Abhinandan

Pakistan retaliated to the Surgical Strike 2.0 by striking down a MiG 21 aircraft on February 27. The Pakistan military took in Abhinandan Varthaman an Indian MiG 21 Bison pilot in their custody.

A video was released in Youtube by Pakistan where the Pakistani armed forces were interrogating the pilot who was blindfolded with blood dripping from his nose.

Abhinandan Varthaman, the Indian MiG 21 pilot who was in the custody of Pakistani armed forces from February 27 was released on March 1. He was handed over to the Indian officials at the Wagah border. From the morning, crowds gathered at the Indian side of the Wagah border, the main crossing between India and Pakistan. The pilot is being hailed as a hero in India.

Chapter 4: “Main Bhi Chowkidaar”

The 17th Lok Sabha elections was held from April 11 to May 19. It was held in seven phases where 650 parties contested in these elections. About 8,039 candidates contested from 542 parliamentary constituencies.

In the 2019 general elections, about 900 million people were eligible to vote. It witnessed the highest voter turnout with 67 percent as well as the highest participation by women voters with 68 percent.

Chapter 5: The Cyclone that Bit Like a Snake

Extremely severe cyclonic Fani hit Odisha’s coast in Puri at the early morning hours on May 3. The speed of the wind was around 175 kmph.

It was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Odisha since the 1999 Odisha cyclone. The cyclone took lives of at least 72 people overall in India and 64 in Odisha. It severely affected electricity supply, telecommunication in several coastal areas of Odisha.

The total damage in Odisha were estimated at Rs. 120 billion. This deadly cyclone originated from a tropical depression formed in the west of Sumatra on April 26.

Chapter 6: The ‘Return of the Chowkidar’

The results of 2019 general elections were declared on May 23 with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 303 seats. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 353 seats. The Indian National Congress (INC) won 52 seats and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won 91. Other parties and their alliances won 98 seats.

BJP became the single largest party in the House. Narendra Modi became Prime Minister for the second term and took oath as the 14th Prime Minister on May 30. It was the second-time in Indian history, that voters re-elected the same party to power with a bigger majority.

Chapter 7: India Shoots for the Moon

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Chandrayaan 2, India’s second mission to moon on July 22 at 2:43 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The main scientific objective of this mission was to map and study the variations in lunar surface composition, the location as well as abundance of lunar water. The mooncraft consisted of a lunar orbiter – the Vikram lander and the Pragyan lunar rover which were all developed in India. This second lunar exploration mission was developed by ISRO after Chandrayaan-1. The mission has an allocated cost of Rs. 978 crore.

Chapter 8: The Wave

With the arrival of monsoon, Assam reeled underwater with devastating floods. The floods affected 52,59,142 people, 1,63,962.02 hectares of crop area. 30 districts of the state were severely affected namely – Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur district, Darrang, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Goalpara, Kamrup, Kamrup Metro, Golaghat, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, among others. At least 3,024 villages in the affected districts were underwater. Over 2400 of an endangered species of Indian rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park were badly affected by the calamity.

Chapter 9: Talaq, Talaq, Talaq

The Supreme Court of India ruled that triple talaq is illegal and a punishable offence on August 1. This issue has always struck a controversy and debate.

Triple Talaq implies the practice of Islamic divorce used by Muslims in India according to which any Muslim man could legally divorce his wife by uttering the word talaq (divorce) three times orally, written or in any electronic form. The Parliament of India declared on 30 July, the practice (triple talaq) as illegal, unconstitutional and a punishable act. The violation of this law can lead to three years in jail.

Chapter 10: BJP’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ Cuts Kashmir into Two Halves

The Central Government revoked the Article 370 and Article 35A from the Constitution of India on 5 August. Home Minister, Amit Shah at the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), announced it.

The government decided to bifurcate the state into two Union territorities – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature and Ladakh which will be without any legislature. Article 370 provided a special status to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The aftermath of this led to curfews, communication and internet shutdown and house arrest of the political leaders in the valley.

Chapter 11: Moon Hopes Dashed, Onto the Next

The Vikram lander and the Pragyan lunar rover of Chandrayaan -2 were scheduled to land on the south polar region of the moon on September 6. However, the lander deviated from its intended trajectory and lost communication before it touched down on the moon’s surface. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed reports of suggesting a crash. If the soft landing was executed successfully as planned, India would have become the fourth country to soft-land on the moon after United States, Russia and China.

Chapter 12: Mandir Wahi Banega

The five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 announced their verdict over the controversial The Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. According to the verdict, the land belonged to the government based on tax records. It further ordered the land to be handed over to a trust to build the temple and ordered the government to provide an alternate five-acre tract of land to the Sunni Waqf Board to build the mosque.

Chapter 13: Rape and ‘Singham’ Justice

The gang rape and murder of a 26-year old veterinary doctor on 27 November 2019 in Shamshabad, Hyderabad shook the nation and sparked outrage all across the country. The body of the victim was found in Shadnagar on November 28.

The Telangana Police arrested the four rapists. According to the police, the victim parked her scooter near a toll plaza and they (perpetrators) deflated her tire and pretended to help her. They pushed her into nearby bushes where they raped and murdered her by smothering. Then, they allegedly loaded her corpse onto a lorry, dropped it on the roadside and burned it.

The four rapists of the Hyderbad gangrape – murder case was killed in a police encounter on December 6 under a bridge on Bangalore Hyderbad national highway.

The encounter took place at 6:30 AM when the accused were taken to the location for a reconstruction of the crime scene where two of them allegedly snatched guns and attacked the police. In the shootout, all the four suspects were shot dead. Telangana Police arrested the four rapists based on the evidence from CCTV cameras and from the victim’s phone.

Chapter 14: CAA, the Saga Continues

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 was passed on December 11. Home Minister, Amit Shah introduced the Bill in the Parliament. According to this Bill, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian minorities who has fled religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014 will be granted Indian citizenship.

This led to a series of massive on-going protests that began in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya among others to oppose the Bill which is deemed to be unconstitutional and communal as it excludes Muslim refugees. Moreover, it is being pinpointed that it violates the Assam Accords.

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