The Hindustan Times – Despite ‘solving’ targeted killings, Punjab wants NIA to continue probe

Punjab police have last week nabbed five persons accused of killing people under a conspiracy to spread communal violence

Ravinder Vasudeva

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 17 November 2017. Even after claiming to have solved the cases of targeted killings of right wing leaders in the state, the Punjab government still wants the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to go ahead with its probe in one of the cases, that of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) local leader Ravinder Gosain’s murder in Ludhiana last month.

The probe into Gosain’s killing was handed over to NIA by the state after the RSS top brass raised this demand before chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Punjab police have last week nabbed five persons accused of killing people under a conspiracy to spread communal violence.

“Though we have solved the cases and Gosain’s murderers are also the same men who killed the others, we still want the NIA to go deeper into the case.

The NIA has expertise in dealing with inter-country terror issues, thus it would be in the interest of the nation if the central agency investigates the case further as perpetrators of these killings are in other countries, including Italy, UK, USA, Germany and Canada,” director general of police Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) local leader Ravinder Gosain’s murdertold HT.

The DGP also wrote to the NIA on November 15, giving details of fresh findings, including the alleged role of Pakistan’s ISI and Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), and requested to continue with the case. It was the reason why the NIA on Thursday issued a notification about formally taking over Gosain’s killing.

On a campaign run by some activists in the UK against the arrest of one of the accused, Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi, in which claims are being made that Jaggi is “innocent” and being “tortured”, Arora again said the police have “all the evidence to establish his involvement”.

“Moreover, now when the NIA will probe the case, investigation done by Punjab Police will also remain under check,” he added.

Punjab last week have claimed to busted a terror module behind these killings and arrested four persons, including Jammu resident Jimmy Singh when he landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, upon returning from the UK. Jaggi, who is also a UK resident, was nabbed from Rama Mandi in Jalandhar district. He had landed in India on October 4 for his marriage.

Two alleged shooters, Hardeep Singh Shera and Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian, were arrested from Fatehgarh Sahib and Jalandhar, respectively. A gangster Dharmender Guggni lodged in Nabha jail has also been made accused.

Advertisements – Kanwar Sandhu Raises Suspicion Over Punjab Police’s Story about Jagtar Singh

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 17 November 2017. Kanwar Sandhu, renowned journalist and Aam Aadmi Party legislator from Kharar, has raised suspicion over the story being narrated by the Punjab police about the arrest of Scottish Sikh youth Jagtar Singh.

In relation to the arrest, Sandhu said that his 35 years journalism experience in Punjab doesn’t allow him to trust the story cooked by Punjab police about Jaggi’s involvement in murders of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat leaders in Punjab.

“I don’t know Jaggi Johal or his family personally but on the face of it and having covered Punjab as a journalist for the past 35 years, I don’t find it convincing that a person from UK who comes here to get married would involved in the such matters here,” Kanwar Sandhu posted on his Facebook wall on November 14.

Citing a similar incident occurred during 1980s Punjab, Kanwar Sandhu wrote, “I am reminded of the infamous case of the arrest of Amarjit Singh from Canada in 1980s in Bihar. Let us also not forget, Punjab Police still has certain elements who are specialised in extra-judicial arrests and tortures. Amarjit Singh was of course innocent, was released and is now a powerful federal minister in Canada.”

Seeking intervention of Union government of India in this matter, Kanwar Sandhu said that the Indian government should conduct a joint enquiry in collaboration with UK government in this concern. “In case, there is evidence of his involvement in the crime, the information should be shared with UK Police and the Government,” he added.

Kanwar Sandhu further said that killings of RSS leaders in Punjab were carried out in an attempt to disturb peace and communal harmony in Punjab. He added that the Punjab Police were under tremendous pressure to resolve the cases and it is satisfying that they have made some headway but no innocent should be harassed especially not a foreign national.

Sint-Truiden – Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan

Sangat Sahib Gurdwara Halmaal
Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan
29 October 2017

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Halmaalweg – Gatka Akhara

Halmaalweg – Halloween girls

Halmaalweg – broom walas

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
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BBC News – Scot back in police custody in India over fresh claims

Glasgow, 17 November 2017.  A Scottish Sikh is back in police custody in India, following new allegations against him.

Jagtar Singh Johal, 30, has been in custody for a fortnight. He appeared in court early on Friday and was sent to prison until 30 November.

However, he was returned to court to face new allegations over the death of a Christian priest in 2015.

He has not been charged with any crime and his lawyer claims his client has been tortured by police.

Indian police have accused Mr Johal of financing the purchase of weapons used to kill Hindu leaders, but his lawyer said he is now accused of involvement in the death of a priest in Ludhiana in July 2015.

Mr Johal was taken from a street in the Indian state on 4 November.

His family say he was there on holiday having married in the region in October.

Appearing earlier on Friday, Mr Johal was presented at a lower court in Bagha Purana, Moga.

He entered the court room flanked by half a dozen Punjabi officers.

Prosecutors did not ask for Mr Johal’s police custody to be extended.

During the brief hearing, he was transferred from police to judicial custody after the judge questioned the prosecution about claims the accused was tortured.

A British High Commission official was also in court and met with the accused.

The court also allowed Mr Johal’s mother-in-law and father-in-law to meet him briefly.

‘Concerns of torture’

Campaigners have called for the immediate intervention of the British Foreign Office in the case.

On Thursday about 400 British Sikhs demonstrated outside the Foreign Office in London demanding more be done to help him.

The Sikh Federation said it feared Mr Johal was being targeted over his work highlighting the Sikh genocide in 1984.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our consular staff in New Delhi have visited a British man who has been detained in Punjab. We have met his family to update them, and have confirmed that he now has access to his lawyer.”

On allegations of torture, the spokesman added: “We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action as appropriate.

“When considering how to act, we will avoid any action that might put the individual in question or any other person that may be affected at risk.”

The Hindu – Separatist Alam Bhat faces 36th Public Safety Act (PSA)

Special Correspondent

Jammu-Jammu&Kashmir-India, 17 November 2017. Separatist leader and Muslim League head Masrat Alam Bhat was held under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Wednesday for the 36th time and shifted to Jammu’s Kotbalwal Jail.

The J&K High Court had quashed the detention of Bhat under the PSA. However, a fresh PSA order was issued on Wednesday evening by the Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, in an old case as “the government perceives him as a threat to peace of State”.

Mr Alam, behind bars since 2015, had been shifted to a Kupwara jail recently. He has over 29 FIRs against him, including cases of “waging war against the state”.

“The government has been sending us a clear message that court orders don’t matter to them and they do whatever they like to do. We are not surprised as it is the practice of the government to choke the voice and crush the sentiments of people,” a Muslim League spokesperson said.

The Indian Express – BJP leader Shiv Kumar, security guard shot dead in Greater Noida

According to TV reports, Shiv Kumar was in his car when the bikers reportedly drove up and fired shots at him

New Delhi, 16 November 2017. BJP leader Shiv Kumar and his security guard were shot dead by bike borne assailants in Greater Noida’s Bisrakh on Thursday.

Shiv Kumar was in his a white Fortuner car near Tigri village when the bikers fired shots at him. Kumar’s car lost balance and hit a girl near a divider. The girl was admitted to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

According to the police, the incident took place around 4 pm. “The BJP leader, Shiv Kumar, was in the car along with his driver and another person. Sharma and his driver Balli suffered multiple gun shot injuries and succumbed to them.

The third car passenger Rayees Pal has been admitted to GTB Hospital in Delhi with severe injuries. They had left from a school which is run by Kumar’s family,” said Prabhat Dixit, PRO, Gautam Buddha Nagar Police.

While the two bodies have been sent for postmortem examination, the medical report is still awaited. “Investigations are underway to ascertain the identity of the assailants. The only surviving victim, Rayees Pal, is not in a condition to talk,” Dixit further said.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Suniti Singh said initial investigation showed the motive behind the murder appeared to be personal. “But we can say more only after the investigation is completed. We are conducting raids to nab the criminals,” Singh said.

BJP leader Shiv Kumar, security guard shot dead in Greater Noida

The Tribune – Terror module: Cops to verify 800 contacts in accused’s phone

Nikhil Bhardwaj, Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, 15 November 2017. The police have started probing the links of Ramanadeep Singh alias Raman who was among the five alleged operatives of the terror module busted recently.

To trace the accomplices of Raman, a resident of Chuharwal village in Ludhiana, the police have scanned his call details and contacts saved in his mobile phone. Raman allegedly used to accompany sharp shooter Hardeep Singh alias Shera while carrying out the killings.

A source said: “We have recovered around 800 phone numbers of persons with whom Raman had interacted several times in the past over one month. All these numbers are being verified.

The Ludhiana police have got the custody of Jimmy Singh on production warrant. The police are interrogating him over the murders of Hindu leaders Amit Sharma and Ravinder Gosain and pastor Sultan Masih.

Mintoo, Ramandeep’s police remand extended

Moga: The police on Wednesday produced sharpshooter Ramandeep Singh alias Canadian and KLF chief Harminder Singh Mintoo before a local court. The police pleaded that they needed to trace the links of Ramandeep Singh in Meerut from where he had procured weapons to kill religious leaders.

The court extended the police remand of Ramandeep Singh for another three days and of Mintoo for two days.

Sajjan, Tytler were their next target?

Sources said the radical activists had planned to assassinate senior Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler for their alleged involvement in the 1984 riots. Both Ramandeep and Hardeep Shera had revealed this to the police, they claimed.

Sint-Truiden – Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan

Sangat Sahib Gurdwara Halmaal
Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan
29 October 2017

Halmaalweg – Palki Sahib, Sangat, Basant Kaur

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Halmaalweg – Sangat

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

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The Telegraph – Sikh volunteers give aid to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Burma

Mark Molloy

16 November 2017

A team of Sikh volunteers are providing aid to some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and violence in Burma (Myanmar).

Khalsa Aid, a UK-based international humanitarian relief organisation, have been helping refugees as they cross into neighbouring Bangladesh, where thousands are already living in overcrowded camps.

They were one of the first international organisations to reach the Bangladesh / Myanmar border in September, where refugees from the stateless minority have been waiting in lines stretching for kilometres across muddy rice fields.

The volunteers are returning next week to progress the project and focus on providing food and sanitation.

Volunteer Jeevanjot Singh, from the Indian branch of the organisation, was pictured sharing his last bottle of water with Rohingya refugees, who are described as the “world’s most persecuted minority”.

“We had come prepared for providing relief to some 50,000 people, but there are more than three lakh (300,000) here,” Amarpreet Singh, director of Khalsa Aid India, previously told The Indian Express.

“They are living without water, food, clothes and shelter. They are sitting wherever they can find a corner.

“It is raining, but people do not have anywhere to go. It is miserable to say the least. We will be providing them langar food (community kitchen) and shelter.

“We are arranging tarpaulins, but since the number of refugees have overwhelmingly exceeded our preparations, it [could take] some time to make arrangements.”

He also spoke of the overcrowded refugee camps, designed to accommodate 50,000 people, which are housing more than double that number.

“The priority is to not let anyone sleep without food,” he said. “Children are roaming without clothes and begging for food. Those who do not get space in camps are sitting along roads in hope of getting food from someone.”

The United Nations has described the treatment of Rohingya Muslims as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, with Human Rights Watch accusing the Myanmar military of widespread rape of women and girls.

Rohingya Muslims are seen as illegal immigrants from the Indian subcontinent in the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, where the government refuses to grant them citizenship status, effectively making them stateless.

Dawn – Guru Nanak, Wali Qandhari and other stories about how Hasan Abdal got water

Haroon Khalid

Hasan Abdal-Panjab-Pakistan, 16 November 2017. Overshadowing the vast complex of gurdwara of Panja Sahib, one of the most popular Sikh shrines, associated with Guru Nanak and located in the city of Hasan Abdal in Pakistan, is the tallest mound in the region, rising high above its other shorter cousins.

The entire city of Hasan Abdal is this interaction between mounds and planes, the narrow alleys with their wooden jharokas, abandoned Hindu temples, tall minarets of mosques and some recently constructed plazas, rising and falling as the earth beneath them breathes in and out.

However, there is something spectacular about this mountain. The scatter of the city, its ancientness, pales in comparison with the permanence of this mound.

The focal point of this historical city is the shrine of Guru Nanak, a vast complex protected by tall walls. Every year, hundreds of pilgrims descend upon this gurdwara from all over the world to celebrate different religious festivals including Baisakhi and Guru Nanak Gurpurab, the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism.

This year as well, when Sikh and other devotees of Nanak come to Pakistan to participate in his birthday celebrations, Gurdwara Panja Sahib will be one of the places pilgrims will be allowed to visit by the Pakistani state.

No Muslim, besides representatives of the state, will be allowed within the premise of the gurdwara.

The legend

Right next to the main entrance of the gurdwara manned by police officials, a tiny stream flows into the shrine.

The legend goes that the stream once flowed from a spring on top of the hill, near which lived a local religious figure named Wali Qandhari.

This spring was the only source of water for the inhabitants of Hasan Abdal.

But once Nanak arrived and started gathering a congregation around him, Qandhari felt jealous and angry as his popularity declined. It is believed that Qandhari stopped the flow of water downstream.

Needing water, the people appealed to Qandhari to let the water flow as before. “Go to your Guru, the one you visit everyday now and ask him for water,” he is supposed to have responded angrily.

The inhabitants of Hasan Abdal went to Nanak, who sent Bhai Mardana, his disciple and companion, to plead with Qandhari, who in turn is said to have refused angrily and turned him away with the same response.

Nanak sent him again, and then again, but to each time come back with the same response. Eventually, Guru Nanak is said to have removed a stone from the ground under his feet, making a stream of water gush out of the earth.

Qandhari’s spring, as per the legend, is said to have dried up because all of its water had come gushing out from under Nanak’s feet. In his wrath, Qandhari is supposed to have hurled a boulder towards Nanak, which he is said to have stopped with his right hand, leaving a permanent mark on the rock, thus lending this gurdwara its name – Panja Sahib.

It now rests in the sacred pond created from this stream of water, facing the main shrine, as pilgrims form a long queue to place their hand where once Nanak is said to have rested his fingers.

Many festivals

The climb up the mountain, which Bhai Mardana is believed to have undertaken thrice to plead with Qandhari, is arduous.

On a barren mountain interspersed with a few trees, the authorities have in the past few years constructed a pathway. Many Sikh and Hindu devotees who come to visit the shrine of Nanak also sometimes travel up this mountain.

At the time of Baisakhi when the courtyard of Nanak’s gurdwara is swarming with pilgrims, there is a festival arranged here as well. There is a separate date for another festival at the shrine which is unique to it.

Graffiti on some of the rocks on this mound present another form of religiosity. “Allah O Akbar”, it says. On a cool morning a few years ago when I undertook this trek, there were several people whom I saw on their way to the lone shrine at the top of the mound.

These were young students in school and college uniforms, families with picnic baskets, a few devotional pilgrims carrying their slippers in their hands, intentionally attempting to make this spiritual journey more difficult for themselves.

Midway, there was a small bazaar, while there was another one right outside the shrine, selling not only religious paraphernalia but also refreshments.

In an empty ground behind the shrine, there were a few dervish preparing a hashish cigarette, with the panorama of the world with its people engaged in their daily grind at their feet.

Standing at the edge of the cliff, the gurdwara seemed far away, beautiful with its white dome and a green pool.

Many stories

In the Sikh tradition, Wali Qandhari is an arrogant saint who refused Mardana water and then hurled a rock towards Nanak, for his Muslim devotees he is Baba Hasan Abdal, who lends this city its name.

There are several stories associated with the saint. Some suggest that he prayed on the top of this mountain and then mysteriously disappeared, which is why he is also referred to as the Zinda Pir.

There is no grave inside the shrine, but a green box has been put up by the authorities to collect donations made by the pilgrims.

Another narrative suggests that the saint was responsible for extracting two streams from these mountains that now flow through the city.

In this version, he was not the jealous or arrogant saint who refused Mardana water, but rather the benefactor who gave the city the gift of water.

There is yet another story associated with the pond at Hasan Abdal which recalls its reverence in the Buddhist tradition.

Hasan Abdal happens to be approximately 20 km from Taxila and the Chinese Buddhist traveller Hiuen Tsang, who travelled to India in the 7th century CE provides a detailed description of his trip to a place about the same distance from Taxila, with an ancient tank covered with lotus flowers, where devotees would come to pray for fine weather and rain.

The pond, according to Hiuen Tsang, had become sacred because of a boon bestowed on a Buddhist king, Elapatra, by the gods.

With relics of ancient Buddhist cities and stupas in all directions around the town, Hassan Abdal in ancient India fell within the geographical location of the famed Gandharan civilisation.

While there are three stories that describe the origin of this pond, there is only one thing common in all of them – its sacredness.

This article was originally published on Scroll and has been reproduced with permission.

Haroon Khalid has an academic background in anthropology from LUMS. He has been traveling extensively around Pakistan, documenting historical and cultural heritage. He is the author of Walking with Nanak, In Search of Shiva: A study of folk religious practices in Pakistan, and A White Trail: A journey into the heart of Pakistan’s religious minorities.