The 5 key long reads of the year 2019
The year 2019 saw big events which gave India some food for thought, and a chance to reflect. And we at Hindustan Times did some specials on these big events of the year which were appreciated by our readers.
These specials prove that people do read long-form articles. We looks back at five stories that took a deep dive into some of the biggest events that defined this year. More such stories in 2020.
A multi-million insurance fraud
A few conmen in some nondescript villages in Haryana had devised a unique way to extract money from the insurance companies. The fraud went on for two years and involved family members, police officers, record keepers, doctors, insurance agents, and public prosecutors. The gang kept a part of the insured sum, and distributed the rest among its partners in crime.
At least 100 people were accused of being complicit in the scam that executed nearly a 100 cases and cheated more than 25 insurance companies of over Rs 100 crore. Click here to read the full story
A rape survivor takes on a strongman
The Unnao rape case was one of the most-talked-about crime stories in 2019. It is about a 16-year-old girl who was tormented by Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a BJP leader from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. In the badlands of UP, politicians and strongmen are people who are the most feared. But not in Unnao.
The case which lasted for almost two years saw Sengar being sentenced to jail and fined Rs 25 lakh. All this because of the bravery shown by the rape survivor who, despite the hardships and Sengar’s threats, trudged on and ensured the politician was punished. Click here to read the story
Mandrak the Magician’s final act
On June 16, 2019, Chanchal Lahiri, known by his stage name Mandrak the Magician, got ready to perform the act of his lifetime - escape to the surface after being dropped underwater with his arms and legs tied with ropes and chains. He was trying to mend his reputation that was gutted by two devastating previous failures. But that performance turned out his last.
Dressed in bright yellow jumpsuit, red shorts, black socks layered with medical bandages, aviators, and a frizzy bronze wig - the kitschy ensemble a homage to his idol, Mandrake the Magician - Lahiri said moments before being lowered into the Hooghly river near Kolkata, “If I can do it, it will be magic, otherwise it will be tragic.” His lifeless body washed ashore in Howrah at noon the next day. Click here to read the full story
An Eid like no other
The Kashmir valley saw a muted Eid-al-Adha this year after the Centre’s move to nullify Article 370 of the Constitution, and end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Hindustan Times travelled to Kashmir to get first hand account of people’s sentiments after the August 5 move.
While the residents of Srinagar said the enthusiasm has ebbed, others talked about the three things they are worried about. Click to read the Kashmir ground report
The cyanide deaths of Kerala
A 47-year-old woman in Kerala was arrested in September this year for killing five members of her immediate and extended family. Most of the murders were committed using potassium cyanide.
As the police tried to establish her motive, from family property to personal pursuits, life in the small town where she lived turned upside down, as more people alleged her role in mysterious deaths, her church tried to paint her as a bad Christian, and her relatives and acquaintances expressed shock. Click to read this special report from Kerala