The Statesman – Patel agitation: Omar questions Gujarat model of development

Srinagar, 27 August 2015. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday questioned the Gujarat model of inclusive development in view of the recent violence in the state that has left several persons dead.

“If the Gujarat model of inclusive development is such a success why are so many protesters demanding a share of that progress died?” Omar, who is working president of Opposition National Conference, wrote on microblogging site

Tension prevailed in Gujarat as the death toll in clashes which started on Tuesday during quota agitation by Patel community climbed to nine today and the army was deployed in more cities to rein in the violence.

Police control room officials said no major violence was reported in the state overnight barring a few incidents of stone pelting.

A constable of Chowk Bazaar police station, Dilip Rathore, who was injured in clashes with protesters in Dabholi area, succumbed at a private hospital, taking the toll in the violence to nine.

Hardik Patel, who is leading the stir, had called for a state-wide bandh on Wednesday.

Six people were killed in firing by police and paramilitary forces, while two others died following clashes, police said. Four deaths were reported in Ahmedabad, three in Gadh village of Banaskantha district and one in Mehasana town.

The Sikh Messenger – Concerns over the Sanctity of Marriage in a Gurdwara

I agree with most of what Indarjit Singh wrote, but the fundamental weakness is that he, like most Sikhs since the Singh Sabha movement reforms, think that the Sikh Dharm is a religion, instead of a way of life that can be followed by all of all spiritual backgrounds. I will write about this in more detail in the near future.
Man in Blue

From an Editorial in Sikh Messenger Autumn/ Winter 2012

Indarjit (Lord) Singh

Marriages with people of other religions

There are some mixed views in some gurdwara managing committees over what attitude to take when a Sikh and a non-Sikh wish to get married in a gurdwara. The usual reason given is that the Sikh wants to share the occasion with friends and family.

A more flippant reason sometimes given for a gurdwara ceremony is that ‘it is colourful’. An even less valid reason is that some gurdwara management committees see mixed marriages in a gurdwara as an additional source of income.

Although Sikh attitudes to other religions is one of respect, our Gurus reminded us that Sikhism is a distinct path in its own right with unique emphasis on the equality of all human beings and it’s far sighted teachings on gender equality.

Sikhs are urged to live honestly and work hard to look to the needs of their family and wider society. Sikhs see the one God of us all, the Creator of all that exists, as beyond human understanding.

While Abrahamic faiths share our belief in one God, their view of the Almighty is of someone having human attributes of gender, birth, favouritism, jealousy and anger. Sikhism uniquely rejects asceticism in favour of married life.

This belief is central to the Sikh marriage ceremony in which the bride and groom affirm that they will henceforth be as one in mutual support and service to family and wider society.

Sikhism teaches that we should be open and honest in our behaviour, particularly in a gurdwara, and it is wrong for any couple to go through a Sikh marriage ceremony with no intention of living according to Sikh teachings as emphasised in the Sikh marriage ceremony.

The four perambulations around the Guru Granth Sahib are a reminder of this. Even more of a charade is the increasing practice of someone growing a bit of a beard and putting on a turban for the marriage ceremony and then immediately discarding the turban and shaving for the reception often at the same premises on the same day.

So what should our community do in the case of someone set on marrying a person of another faith and wishing to preserve their ties with the Sikh community? It would clearly be against Sikh teachings to shun them.

It would be equally wrong for the Anand Karaj ceremony to be debased by pretence. One way of meeting this dilemma would be to have service in a Registry Office followed by a reception for friends and family of both parties.

The long term solution is to ensure that Sikh children grow up fully understanding and valuing the forward looking teachings of the Gurus. It is the writer’s experience that most of those who look outside the community for a marriage partner have little or no understanding of basic Sikh teachings.

This is not necessarily their fault and much of the blame often lies with parents unable or unwilling to distinguish between Sikh teachings and sometimes, negative Punjabi culture.

Southall Havelock Road – Another wedding !

I am still posting June pictures, while it is almost September
Five pictures every day in order to catch up !

Southall Havelock Road
Another wedding !
12 June 2015

Havelock Road – Wedding party

Havelock Road – Wedding Party
On the left the graveyard, on the right is Havelock Court, where I live, right next to the Havelock Road Singh Sabha

Havelock Road – Wedding Party
The groom on the horse

Havelock Road – Wedding Party
The band, the dancing and the Gurdwara

Havelock Road – Wedding Party

The band and the dancing and Havelock Court

To see all my pictures :

More UK pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Human Rights Without Frontiers International – Sri Lankan authorities move to protect religious freedom

JW.ORG, 21 August 2015. Sri Lankan high courts have agreed to review several cases of violence perpetrated by religious extremists against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since 2013, the Witnesses have endured increasing incidents of mob attacks, threats, and verbal abuse instigated by extremist Buddhist monks.

A climate of impunity and religious intolerance exists because the police have not acted to protect the Witnesses or other religious minorities, thus emboldening religious extremists to continue their behavior.

Incidents Leading to Supreme Court Hearing

On March 1, 2014, in Talawa (North-Central Province), two women who are Jehovah’s Witnesses were talking to others about their religious beliefs-a practice that is legally permitted in Sri Lanka. Two Buddhist monks and two policemen falsely accused them of “forcing conversions.”

The police arrested the women and took them to the station, where both the police and the monks verbally abused them  for hours. The police did not charge the women with a crime but still detained them overnight.

In another incident that occurred on October 29, 2014, in Walasmulla (Southern Province), police arrested four women and detained them overnight with convicted criminals. Although unharmed physically, they were subjected to hours of verbal abuse throughout the ordeal.

In both cases, the Witnesses filed a complaint against the officers and a fundamental rights application with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court has found merit to both these claims and agreed to hear the cases.

The women involved in the Talawa incident said: “We are happy that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this matter.

It has restored our faith in the justice system in Sri Lanka.”

At the preliminary hearing, held on May 29, 2015, Justice Sisira de Abrew stated that the Witnesses “are very kind people” and that the religious publications they distribute “are not against Buddhism.” Both hearing dates are set for later this year.

Court of Appeal to Review Police for Failing to Act

In Colombo, the capital city, Jehovah’s Witnesses filed an application with the Court of Appeal citing 11 incidents where police failed to protect them. In one of the incidents, a Buddhist monk severely beat Niroshan Silva and then took him by force to the police station to lodge a complaint against him.

However, instead of protecting Mr. Silva, the police physically abused him.

Mr. Silva stated, “We are not asking for any special treatment in Sri Lanka, only that justice may prevail in supporting the fundamental right of freedom of religion for all.” The court agreed to hear the case.

Recent Progress

Sri Lanka has acknowledged the problem of religious intolerance and has promised to “step up efforts to protect freedom of religion.” Jehovah’s Witnesses view this admission as progress.

Mr. J. C. Weliamuna, a senior fundamental rights attorney-at-law appearing on behalf of the Witnesses, commented: “Sri Lanka has been a multi-religious country for decades, and all these religions have been united in peaceful coexistence until recently.

Some have undermined this by committing acts of intimidation and violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious groups, violating the Witnesses’ constitutional rights. The authorities should not entertain the false accusations but should carry out full investigations.”

The Witnesses remain hopeful that the courts will protect their fundamental right to practice their religion peacefully. They now look to the government to enforce the rule of law and to uphold the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by its constitution.

View this newsletter:

The Hindu – OBC leaders oppose Patels’ demand

Some question the timing and semantics of the agitation

Nistula Hebbar

New Delhi, 28 August 2015. Amid the demand by many communities for Other Backward Classes (OBC) status, the one made by Patels (Patidars), who have been on an agitation in Gujarat, stands out.

Apart from the main question of why a prosperous community would demand the status and job reservations, the timing and even the semantics of the agitation have raised questions.

While Janata Dal(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has supported the movement, many other OBC leaders are not so sanguine about the demand of Patels.

“I think this is a conspiracy, a way in which to eventually finish off OBC reservations in this country. Where is the space in this category? Why should an otherwise forward community like that of Patels demand reservations?

Tomorrow Reddys from Telangana and Kammas from Andhra Pradesh may also make the demand. Why leave out Brahmins,” asked V Hanumantha Rao, Congress Rajya Sabha member and convener of the parliamentary forum for OBCs since 2002.

‘Take advantage of quota’

Mr. Rao said existing OBC communities need to do more to take advantage of reservation. “We have been raising our voice for according constitutional status to OBC reservations, and to extend the definition of creamy layer.

Even after all these years, OBC representation in many spheres of government is just 8-9 per cent; we don’t want more additions before existing issues are sorted out,” he said.

His fear that the agitation might spread to other parts of the country with more and more communities demanding OBC status is endorsed by Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, who, while hailing from Gujarat, is an MP from West Bengal.

“The leader of this movement, Hardik Patel, chooses to speak mostly in Hindi. If this was only a localised movement, that would not be so,” he said.

The agitation is seen not just as one timed with the Bihar Assembly elections (where the BJP is locked in a tough contest against the JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal) in mind but also as a slow build-up of an anti-BJP assertion.

“Visuals of the police crackdown on agitators will not go down well, when BJP president Amit Shah has already spoken of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India’s first OBC PM,” a senior BJP leader said.

Ghanshyam Shah, political scientist and author of Social Movements in India and The Plague in Surat, told The Hindu that he believed that “assertions of various kinds” had fed into this “spontaneous agitation.”

Times of India – How police turned Hardik Patel into a bigger hero

Ahmedabad, 27 August 2015. A strategic police blunder in dealing with Hardik Patel’s arrest on Tuesday not only made the police the prime target of mob fury, but also gave the agitation a second wind at a time when it looked like it would fizzle out.

The use of excessive force against a few thousand peaceful protesters — down from the lakhs who joined the rally on Tuesday morning, who had lingered on at the GMDC grounds, smacked of a conspiracy to provoke violence.

Following a lathicharge at the venue, police also fired at protesters in other places, killing four Patidars in Ahmedabad, three in Banaskantha, one in Mehsana and one in Surat. In retaliation, Patel mobs torched government property, attacked the men in khaki, and escalated the tension to the second day running on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, when Hardik seemed to have disillusioned many of the agitators by deciding to go on a fast rather than prolong the protest to a second day, the police blundered by deciding to formally detain him. Resorting to the lathicharge was an even bigger goof-up.

As news of Hardik’s arrest and the baton charge spread across the state through social media, violence erupted in the city and other places, particularly in north Gujarat.

The intensity of the Patidars’ reaction to Hardik’s detention apparently took the police by surprise, forcing them to release the young leader within two hours and leaving Hardik a hero he hadn’t thought he would become when most of the protesters had abandoned the protest venue.

It gave him the audacity to warn the government of a potential backlash and demand that the Army be given charge of maintaining law and order.

The 22-year-old’s standing among Patels got a big boost when chief minister Anandiben Patel put the police in the dock for the arrest and the violence. She has ordered an inquiry into the police action.

City police commissioner Shivanand Jha searched for answers when asked why his force had suddenly decided to take action on a leader who had only been sitting on a fast. All he could say was, “The chief minister has ordered an inquiry and we are waiting for the papers to come.”

The police had shown patience in maintaining law and order throughout the 56 days of the movement in which the Patidars had taken out 340 rallies across the state. But just when Hardik Patel’s movement seemed to be running out of steam, the police miscalculated and turned Hardik into a bigger hero.

The Tribune – Dinanagar Attack, Ample proof of terrorists’ Pakistan identity, says probe

New Delhi, 26 August 2015. The three terrorists, who carried out the Dinanagar attacks, had come from Sargoda in Pakistan, and a pair of shoes recovered from the slain terrorists bore “Cheetah” mark, a popular brand in that country.

According to the dossier prepared by Union Government for handing over to Pakistan during the now-cancelled NSA-level talks, independent experts analysed the two GPS devices recovered from the slain terrorists, who killed seven persons in Dinanagar on July 27.

The experts have found that on July 21, the GPS coordinates (32.161639 N, 72:42E) were observed near Sargoda of Pakistan on the Canal Road near the main Shahpur-Sahiwal Road.

The same location also appeared as one undated entry. The experts have conclusively found that GPS-2 shows presence inside Pakistan, the dossier reads.

The insoles of one pair of shoes recovered from the killed terrorists bore “Cheetah” brand. The markings were scratched and inked in the other two pairs of shoes to conceal the brand name. Shoes of “Cheetah” brand are not available in India but it is a popular name in Pakistan.

Investigators have found that the three Pakistan-based terrorists entered into India after crossing the Ravi river from near Tash, close to Mastgarh village under Narot Jaimal Singh police station in Gurdaspur district.

The post-mortem of the terrorists was done by a board of doctors. No label/tag was found on any of their clothes other than on the gloves of a terrorist as they had been removed deliberately to avoid identification. The gloves bore a “Made in Pakistan” tag.

The disposable rocket launcher recovered from the attackers carried Yugoslavia/Czech Republic markings while forensic analysis of cartridges traced their origins to China, Russia, Ukraine, and Czech Republic.

AK-56 rifles had markings removed, but forensic analysis has found them of Chinese design.

Analysis of GPS sets recovered from the attackers shows possible origins in Taiwan or the US. Sets could have been located in the UK sometime. Even IEDs planted by them had Duracell batteries not made in India. (PTI)

Gallipoli Memorial Service – St Martin-in-the-Fields / Southall Havelock Road – Another wedding

I am still posting June pictures, while it is almost September
Five pictures every day in order to catch up !

Gallipoli Memorial Service
St Martin-in-the-Fields
8 June 2015
Last picture of Sikh in World War I Indian Army uniform
Outside St Martin-in-the-Fields church
Man in Blue with the kirtanis who did an excellent job during the memorial service
(picture taken by Amrik Singh Heathrow)
Outside St Martin-in-the-Fields church
Another picture with the kirtan jathas
(picture taken by Amrik Singh Heathrow)
Outside St Martin-in-the-Fields church

The last picture with the kirtan jathas
(picture taken by Amrik Singh Heathrow)

For more information on Gallipoli and the Sikh soldiers involved :

Southall Havelock Road
Another wedding !
12 June 2015

Havelock Road – Another wedding

To see all my pictures :

More UK pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Human Rights Without Frontiers International – Pakistan, Faisalabad: Christian family forced to flee from place to place after wife converts from Islam

Khurram Naveed, 33, a Christian man, and Sobia, 25, a Muslim woman, taught at the same school. Aided by Khurram, Sobia discovered Christianity and decided to be baptised.

Since they got married and had two daughters, her parents, Muslim neighbours and imams have tried to convert them to Islam or face the consequences. The two are hoping to emigrate abroad.

Asian News, 26 Augustus 2015. Khurram Naveed and his family have been on the run since he married a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity.

“Since we got married we have had to change places many times,” he explained. “Wherever we go, people ask about my beloved wife’s conversion. Sometimes, imams try to force us to convert to Islam, issuing terrible threats.”

“My wife, I and our children have had to flee from place to place. We feel threated as soon as people find out about by wife’s Muslim past. However, running from one place to another is not easy. There are so many problems.”

“Until now I have to change job six times,” he noted, “and finding new employment is not easy. But we need security for our life and we ask for help from the people of God.”

Their odyssey began when Khurram Naveed, a 33-year-old Christian man, and Sobia, 25, daughter of Muhammad Riaz, a resident of Jameel Park in Faisalabad, started to teach at ‘The Light Christian Primary School in 2009.

Since it was Christian schools, students and staff could take Bible courses. Sobia joined some Christians in one such courses and eventually was drawn to the Gospels and their teachings. She began reading the Bible and decided to embrace the Christian faith.

In order to share her impressions about Christianity and get some help to move towards it, Sobia asked for the help of another teacher, Khurram Naveed, who talked to a clergyman about the situation.

After several discussions with Sobia, and seeing that she was fully consenting in her belief, the pastor decided to baptise her when she reached the age of maturity at 21. Baptised on 9 January 2010, she took a new, Christian name, Mariam (Mary).

After conversion, she wanted to marry the young Christian man. On 20 April 2010, Khurram Naveed and Mariam eloped under Articles 32 and 54, section 9, of the Christian Marriage Act.

However, after their marriage, they could no longer live in Jameel Park. So, the couple fled to Farooqabad, a suburb of Faisalabad, where they were able to start their married life.

All went well for three years, until Mariam’s parents found their address in April 2015. The family did not go after them directly, but stirred the couple’s Muslim neighbours. They began to say that Mariam was Muslim, who had been kidnapped and converted by Khurram Naveed.

Neighbours continued to challenge the couple’s religion until some imam ordered them to convert to Islam or suffer the consequences.

After a few days, the Christian couple had to flee to another secret place, but Mariam’s parents found them again.

And so they had to flee again, to another city, because they felt unsafe whenever people found out about their past.

At present, they are hiding out at a secret place, along with their two daughters, Ramia, 4, and Eman, 2.

“Although the school was doing well and was highly respected, it was impossible to keep it open in the city after Sobia’s conversion,” said Rev Mukhtar Fazal, owner of ‘The Light Christian Primary School’. “I had to sell the building at half of its market value. My business was ruined even though I was not directly involved in the affair.”

“I pray for this Christian couple that they might find some quiet in our society. However, I hope that some Christians in the world might help them find some peace of mind. For me the only way out is for them to move to another country.”

Mariam spoke to AsiaNews about the difficulties of being Christian in Pakistan. “I became a Christian more than five years ago, but I still do not have my Christian identity card, as well as other papers,” she explained.

“If I go to some government office and ask for papers marked with my new faith, I could be threatened for converting to Christianity. Still, having the papers is crucial. Without them, we cannot enroll our daughters in school.”

“Since I am still registered as a Muslim, we are open to threats. I really hope someone will help us because it is now impossible to lead a free life. In any event, despite all these problems, we remain firm in our faith following the teaching of the Lord Jesus until the last breath,” she said. “I accepted Him in my heart and shall not go back.”

View this newsletter:

Dawn – Kasuri’s book an insider’s account of interaction with India on Kashmir

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Lahore, 27 August 2015. Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri joins a long list of senior state functionaries who have penned down their memories, as his book ‘Neither A Hawk, Nor A Dove’ on Pakistan’s foreign policy will be launched early in September.

The book contains an insider account on developments on the Kashmir issue and details regarding backchannel negotiations on Kashmir and the peace process from 2002 to 2007.

Kasuri has updated the book to early 2015, including the advent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India and has analysed the situation regarding latest developments in India, Afghanistan and on Pakistan-US relations based on his experience of dealing with these countries as a foreign minister.

He has also given an account of his interactions with the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party since the peace process started under former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his three Indian counterparts — Pranab Mukherjee, current Indian president, Yashwant Sinha and Natwar Singh.

He has given details much beyond the so-called ‘four-point formula’ often referred to in the media.

The book also deals with Kasuri’s relationship with former president retired General Pervez Musharraf and contains interesting details regarding the judicial crisis in March 2007. He has also devoted a chapter on the attitude of the Pakistan Army towards the peace process with India and on the Kashmir framework.

Besides, the book also covers Pakistan’s relations with the US, China and Afghanistan as well as with major countries of the Muslim world, particularly, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.


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