Times of India – Punjab terror attack: GPS points to Pakistan angle

New Delhi, 28 July 2015. The 11 hours it took to neutralise the three terrorists who stormed into Gurdaspur was because of a deliberate strategy to try and capture at least one of the terrorists alive, sources said.

The plan was to have an Ajmal Kasab, the lone gunman seized in the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 who provided elaborate details of Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Toiba’s role in the carnage.

Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh, who led the operation, told reporters that efforts were made to catch the terrorists alive so that they could be interrogated later.

Sources said this was also the reason the government did not press the Army and other security agencies into the operation with their heavy firepower. The Army or the National Security Guard would have gone for the kill, depriving the government of a prized terror catch.

So the operation was left to Punjab Police’s barely five-year-old SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team. “It was a deliberate decision, in the hope that we would be able to nab at least one of them,” a source said.


Sikh24.com – France Calls Upon the SGPC To Discuss Religious Requirements for Sikhs

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib, 28 July 2015. French Government has reportedly given a call to the SGPC to discuss Sikh requirements around turbans and kirpans. SGPC member Bibi Kiranjot Kaur shared this information with Sikh24.

She said that she raised the issue with the French Government while attending a summit on theme ‘Call to Conscience Climate’ in Paris as a delegate of the Sikhs.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur informed that she was allowed to attend the summit while wearing Kirpan. The summit was called by the France government with motive of preparing for the upcoming Conference in Paris in December, 2015 to discuss the possible ways to decrease global temperature by 2ºC.

It is notable that intellectuals of different religions and social organizations from more than 195 countries were invited for the summit and Bibi Kiranjot Kaur took part on behalf of SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib. President of France was hosting the summit.

Assistant General Secretary of UNO Jains Paster appealed on the behalf of UNO to make efforts to control rising temperature globally. Intellectuals, Religious Delegates, Artists and other participants has prepared a Dossier that will be handover to every Delegation Chief participating in ‘Conference of Parties (COP 21)’ going to be held in December month in France.

Sikh24 Editors can be reached at


Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Belgium & the Netherlands – May 2015

I took too many pictures while in the Netherlands
From now on five pictures every day in order to catch up !

Naar Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Marieke & Gurdwara
21 May 2015

Station Sloterdijk – High Level
NS Intercity to Vlissingen
I will get off at Den Haag (The Hague) Holland Spoor

Station Sloterdijk – High Level

My last walk in Den Haag
22 May 2015

Brandtstraat – Citroen Deux Chevaux

006.u.Paul Krugerlaan.22.05.15
Paul Krugerlaan – the shop with the Hindu Idols

Park between Delftselaan and Herman Costerstraat
Christian Community Group sharing with all

To see all my pictures :


More Belgian and Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

CNN – Surat Singh Khalsa and continued struggle for Sikh political prisoners

Dr Iqtidar Karamat Cheema

The substance of the right of self-determination has taken shape in the U.N. Charter, as well as various other general and regional instruments has defined and recognized this right and freedom as a part of international law.

In India, various oppressed ethnic and religious minority groups who struggled against their exploitation, for a more unprejudiced and egalitarian society have been arrested, imprisoned and denied political prisoners’ rights in the Indian jails.

India has imprisoned thousands of Sikh political activists in 80’s and 90’s in the various prisons of Punjab and the rest of the country. These Sikh political prisoners were the political activists for the attainment of right of self-determination for the Sikh Nation.

An 82 year old American resident from California Surat Singh is a Sikh activist who is on hunger strike since January 16th, 2015. He wants the government of India to release the Sikh prisoners who are still in jails despite of completing their respective sentences.

I raised the issue of his hunger strike and the release of Sikh political prisoners during my briefing to United States Congress on 3rd June, 2015 organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and American Sikh Congressional Caucus.

The principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations. Earlier it was explicitly embraced by US President Woodrow Wilson, by Lenin and others, and became the guiding principle for the reconstruction of Europe.

Indeed, of the religious communities in India, the Sikhs probably possess the strongest sense of their own identity and community. In 1946 Sikhs demanded for a separate Sikh state to protect their economic, religious, and cultural identity. However, the Sikhs finally gave up their demand for a separate State after Congress leaders promised that Sikhs would have a special status in independent India.

However, after the transfer of power in 1947, India was declared as a ‘socialist secular state’, special representation of Sikhs was withdrawn and joint electorate introduced in place of separate electorate. The clause 2 subsection B of the article 25 of Indian constitution curtailed the religious identity of Sikhs, by not recognizing them as separate religious entity and treating them as Hindus.

The states of Haryana and Himachal Pardesh were carved out of the Indian Punjab. Sikh grievances grew during the 1960s as Sikhs began to feel that their religion and their social structure faced the subtle threat of absorption into Hinduism. The Punjab Reorganization Act resulted in Punjab losing close to 75% of its riverine waters to the Hindu-dominated states of Haryana and Rajasthan.

In 80’s the Sikhs started their movement of liberation and for the establishment of a separate country, Khalistan. In June 1984, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Forty other Sikh shrines were simultaneously attacked by Indian Army using massive fire power.

On the excuse of apprehending ‘a handful of armed men’ lodged inside the Golden Temple, the Indian Army unleashed a terror unprecedented in post-independence India. Desecration of the Golden Temple likewise resulted in greater support for an independent Khalistan.

Later during that year amid the month of November, Sikhs were burnt alive, Sikh ladies got raped, Sikh business and properties flared to cinders in the towns and streets of world’s largest democracy. This planned mass-murder of the Sikhs has rightly been declared as ‘Sikh Genocide’ by various forums in the world including the California’s state assembly.

Following Sikh genocide, the Indian government commenced a sweeping crackdown on Sikhs across the Punjab under the code name ‘Operation wood rose’. The Indian army charged the villages and towns. Sikh males, particularly the youth, were arrested. The Sikh political prisoners were given a minimum sentence of 20 years.

Due to dysfunctional judicial system and discriminatory law enforcement, many of them, old and ill, still remain in prisons despite of completing their period of imprisonment. These political prisoners have been pilloried, maltreated and tortured. Even while in Jail they have been segregated from the inmates and even physically beaten whenever they stood up for their rights.

Surat Singh began his hunger-strike unto death on January 16, 2015 at his ancestral village of Hassanpur in Indian Punjab. He has a very legitimate demand that Indian government should release the Sikh political prisoners who have already completed their sentences, but being illegally detained.

The Government of India arrested him and forcefully admitted to a hospital where he was force-fed. I met, Surat Singh’s daughter Rupinder Kaur in April this year when she co-spoke with me in a conference at Birmingham City Council organized by a British Sikh lawyer Ranjit Singh Srai.

Rupinder Kaur gave a chilling account of how her 82 year old father has been forcibly fed by Indian security forces. She told me that Indian police have isolated him from the Sikh masses and illegally detained and tortured his son.

On 15th April, 2015 seven members of United States Congress who are also the members of American Sikh Congressional Caucus wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to “assist” the release of Surat Singh and his son Ravinderjit Singh. Both were then released from Indian police custody.

Ravinderjit Singh upon his release issued a formal statement in which he wrote, “During these 2 months, I was scheduled for five court hearings, and all were cancelled. I was not even arraigned. This violated standard proceedings for almost all democratic countries, which typically require arraignment within 48 hours.

While I was in the custody I was treated as a criminal and was tortured multiple times by the police officials. I was even beaten in the judicial custody during a court hearing.”

Surat Singh’s hunger strike has drawn support from across the world from Sikh political and religious spectrum. It has gained a viral international attention, as Sikhs have marched outside the White House and British Parliament in favor of his demands.

On 23 July, 2015 the Supreme Court of India permitted the state governments to grant sentence remissions to life convicts and release them. Following the Supreme Court verdict the Sikh activists have demanded that Punjab Government should immediately ensure the release of Sikh prisoners in cases which fell under state purview.

However, both the governments at Centre and of Punjab do not seem to be willing to release the Sikh political prisoners. The Indian administration claims its prisons as correctional institutions, despite the fact that Indian jails have become torture cells.

There is hardly any observance of the rights of the prisoner. The Indian government till date does not have a national prison policy or legislation on the category of political prisoners. While the government of India continues with the colonial Prisoners’ Act of 1894, the time is running out.


The Hindu – Gurdaspur encounter ends; four policemen, three civilians killed

Mehboob Jeelani

New Delhi, 27 July 2015. The gun battle between terrorists and the Punjab Police in Gurdaspur district, which stretched for over 10 hours, came to an end at around 5:30 p.m.

Police officials confirmed that four policemen, including an SP rank officer, and three civilians were killed in the attack.

“Ruk ruk key fire aaraha hai [the gun shots are coming irregularly],” Salwinder Singh, the Superintendent of Police in Gurdaspur, who was leading a police party on the front line, told The Hindu at 5:05 p.m. “We have no clue how many [terrorists] are inside. It seems three or four are still active. I think the operation will continue all night.”

A group of terrorists, as per the Punjab Police, had crossed the International Border near Gurdaspur district early morning. They planted bombs on a railway track and subsequently launched their assault that left three civilians and four policemen dead. The Punjab Police swung into action and neutralised two terrorists by noon.

The Indian Army from Pathankot district arrived at the spot, but the Punjab Police was unwilling to involve them in the operation. “We are very well trained and well equipped to deal with this matter on our own,” said Rakesh Kaushal, Senior Superintendent of Police in Gurdaspur. “The Army has been kept on a standby mode.”

Earlier, former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah said that the attack had a striking resemblance with the ones carried out in March in Samba and Kathua sectors of Jammu region.

In response to Mr. Abdullah’s analysis, K. Rajendera, the Director General of Police in Jammu & Kashmir, told The Hindu that it’s too early to draw such parallels. “We are watching the situation very closely,” he said.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal condemned the terror attack and said terrorism was not a State problem and has to be tackled through national policies.

“Terrorism is a national problem, it is not a state problem. It has to be tackled by national policies,” Mr. Badal said.


Hindustan Times – Fears for tribes as government eyes Andaman island expansion

Reuters, Jirkatang, 27 July 2015. Bollywood hits blare from a line of food stalls serving tourists outside the entrance of a densely forested tribal reserve on the far flung Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Beyond the barrier patrolled by police, a few hundred members of the Jarawa tribe hunt the lush rainforest for turtles and pigs and shoot fish with bows and arrows, largely unseen and untouched by the outside world.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to accelerate development on the islands to promote its military, trade and tourism, preserving the pristine environment and handful of unique tribes is likely to become more difficult.

“The islands are fragile, they are in a seismically active zone not far from Indonesia’s Aceh coast,” said Pankaj Sekhsaria of Pune-based environmental NGO Kalpavriksh.

“Above all, they are home to indigenous tribes. This is their land, their history. There are serious concerns about the impact of tourists … If history is any indication, interaction between our world and their world has proved damaging for them.”

Tourism is only part of the Centre’s vision for the Indian Ocean islands. Lying on a busy shipping route between the subcontinent and southeast Asia, they are seen as ideal for extending India’s economic and military reach.

A floating dock of the Indian navy is pictured at the naval base at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to promote its strategic value, and offset China’s recent forays into the Indian Ocean, there are fears about the impact on the forests and the tribals. (Reuters Photo)

With that in mind, the Modi government is determined to push harder than previous administrations to develop the islands, while at the same time protecting tribes and landscapes.

“The support we have got from the central government over the last year has been phenomenal. They want things to happen,” AK Singh, lieutenant governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told Reuters.

“We want comprehensive development of the islands and its people while protecting the interests of the tribes as well as the environment. Ours is a transparent, deliberate policy. There is nothing to hide.”


To integrate or isolate?

The dark-skinned Jarawas, numbering around 400 and one of six tribes believed to have lived on the islands for up to 55,000 years, refused until recently to have any contact with the outside world.

“There are two schools of thought. One is to protect and preserve their cultural identity and avoid inter-mingling with the outside world,” said DM Shukla, the islands’ tribal welfare secretary.

“The other is to mainstream them into the outside world so that they enjoy the fruits of the development.”

The latter argument is gaining momentum, with government officials saying economic development must not be held back.

Boosting tourism and other industries is not easy in a territory where over 90% of land is off-limits forest.

But already the military is lengthening runways at airfields in the north and south of an archipelago that generals believe is a key but long neglected outpost to counter the Chinese navy’s thrust into the Indian Ocean.

The civilian administration, energised by Modi’s push to boost development, plans direct air links to Southeast Asia, an undersea cable to improve communications and a free port area.

State carrier Air India will begin flights this year between the Andaman capital Port Blair and Thailand’s Phuket, which gets more tourists than all of India put together, according to island officials.

“If we get even a fraction of that traffic to our beaches, it would transform the islands,” said the islands’ chief secretary Anand Prakash.

A more ambitious plan to build a port in Great Nicobar island near the mouth of the Strait of Malacca, through which some 60,000 ships pass annually, is on hold because it would need vast amounts of land in an ecologically sensitive belt, Prakash added.

“Dole-based economy”

Vivek Rae, former chief secretary of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, said it was unrealistic to reserve 1,000 square km of forest for 400-odd Jarawas.

“While it is nobody’s case that the entire land mass should be denuded of forest cover and the tribes relegated to the dustbin of history, there is surely a compelling case for clearing up some of the land for exploiting the economic and strategic potential of these islands,” he wrote in India Today.

Some business leaders on the archipelago agree.

“Ours is a dole-based economy. Everything is subsidised, from our food to our travel to the mainland. How sustainable is that?” said Mohammad Jadwet, of the Jadwet Trading Company, one of the islands’ oldest enterprises.

Proposed measures will put Delhi on a collision course with environmentalists and human rights groups who have long argued that the archipelago of 556 islands, 37 of which are inhabited, should be left undisturbed.

The dark green islands dotting an azure sea boast bird, reptile and butterfly species found nowhere else, as well as some of the finest corals in the world, Sekhsaria said.

At Jirkatang, tourists travel in convoy with police cars at the front and back, and no photography or contact with tribes is allowed in order to protect them.

But occasionally images are captured and food thrown to tribe members, and Survival International has called for the main road through the Jarawa reserve to be closed to tourists.

It calls their activity there “human safaris.”


The Tribune – Terror attack in Gurdaspur leaves 5 dead, 10 injured

Four terrorists in Army fatigues fire at bus stand, storm police station; blast on rail track averted

Dinanagar (Gurdaspur), 27 July 2015. At least five persons were killed and 10 injured when heavily armed terrorists wearing army fatigues hijacked a car, drove down to this town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, opened fire at a bus stand and then stormed a police station.

While the authorities have so far confirmed that five persons were killed in the terror attack, unconfirmed reports said the toll may be higher.

Three Home Guards personnel who were inside the police station were among those feared killed. Other victims were civilians, including a person inside an adjoining hospital.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to D K Pathak, Director-General of the Border Security Force (BSF), and instructed him to step up the vigil on India-Pakistan border in the wake of the attack in Gurdaspur.

Special forces of the Army and NSG as well as Punjab Police commandos have taken up positions around Dinanagar police station.

This was the first major terror attack in Punjab following the assassination of then Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.

Monday’s attack began at 5.30 am at Dinanagar town in Punjab’s frontier district of Gurdaspur, close to the India-Pakistan border and near the border with Jammu and Kashmir state.

A gun battle raged between the terrorists, holed up inside the Dinanagar police station, and security forces, including soldiers. Continuous sound of firing and grenades could be heard hours after the first shots were fired by the militants.

The police station, an adjoining government hospital, residential quarters inside the police station and nearby private houses were quickly cordoned off by security forces.

Minister of State for Home Kirren Rijiju told IANS in Delhi that “as of now there is no information regarding hostages being held. We are looking into it and once I get some more information, I will come out with it”.

The terrorists, numbering four, are believed to have come from Pakistan. They arrived in a Maruti 800 car which they had hijacked after firing at the driver and killing a person at a ‘dhaba’ nearby. They also fired at people near Dinanagar bus stand and then attacked Dinanagar police station, located about 100 metres away.

Eyewitnesses said the terrorists fired on a bus going towards Jammu and later entered the police station.

“We were hit by a burst of gunfire suddenly. I was hit on the shoulder. They are firing indiscriminately every five minutes,” a Punjab police official, who was injured in the attack, told media as he was being taken to the hospital.

The town is about 15 km from the India-Pakistan border and 25 km from the border of Jammu and Kashmir state. It is about 235 km from Chandigarh.

Additional Director-General of Punjab Police, Dinkar Gupta, told media the “attack took the Dinanagar police by surprise”.

Army and police reinforcements were rushed to the spot.

Punjab Police sources said it may be a suicide attack.

The attack took place just a day after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal faced pro-Khalistan slogans while attending a function at Panjab University in Patiala.

Rail tragedy averted

In a related development, five live bombs were found on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway track.

The bombs were found by passersby on a bridge near Parmanand railway station on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway section, who informed security forces. Trains on the route were stopped immediately.

A major railway tragedy was averted as the bombs had been carefully wired to the railway track at a small bridge near Parmanand railway station, 5 km from Dinanagar. A police spokesman told media that the army bomb disposal unit had defused the bombs.

A train, which was to pass over the track, was stopped just 200 metres from the spot where the bombs had been planted.

State on alert

Condeming the terror attack, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday said all measures would be taken to maintain law and order and the safety of people in the state.

Badal, who is on a visit to Poland starting today, asked people to remain calm and maintain peace and harmony in the state, an official release said here. He said he was closely monitoring the situation and had asked the state police chief to personally visit the spot of the attack.

He said alert had also been sounded along the International Border.

The deputy chief minister expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and said the state government would provide free medical treatment to the injured.

Sukhbir Badal is on an investment promotion trip to Poland and Hungary for five days, beginning Monday. (IANS/PTI)


Belgium & the Netherlands – May 2015

I took too many pictures while in the Netherlands
From now on five pictures every day in order to catch up !

Naar Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Marieke & Gurdwara
21 May 2015

Schakelstraat – Guru Nanak Gurdwara

Schakelstraat – Guru Nanak Gurdwara

Good, relevant information in the local language
Free entrance. Everybody welcome, including non-Sikhs
Guru Nanak Gurdwara
Schakelstraat 21
1014 AW Amsterdam

The Gurdwara is in the province of North Holland,
in a country
called the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Sloterdijk
NS Rail and GVB Metro station

To see all my pictures :


More Belgian and Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – India tightens security on border after Punjab attack

New Delhi, 27 July 2015. India tightened security on the border with Pakistan on Monday after its military said heavily armed men stormed a police station in the northern frontier state of Punjab killing at least five people and wounding several others.

Authorities said two police officers and three civilians had been confirmed dead in the ongoing siege in the northern state of Punjab, and at least seven more injured.

The group of about five attackers came in a white Maruti-Suzuki car, dressed in army uniforms, said Harcharan Bains, an adviser to Indian Punjab’s chief minister. The attackers took the vehicle at gunpoint from a roadside “dhaba” restaurant, another local politician told Reuters.

Television footage showed a white Maruti-Suzuki sedan with its windshield peppered with bullet holes, and broken glass and bullet casings on the passenger seat. What appeared to be improvised explosive devices on railway tracks were also shown.

Armed police were exchanging fire with the gunmen, who were holed up in the police station in Gurdaspur district near the border with Pakistan, officials said. Counter-terrorism teams were on their way to the scene, the government said.

Gunshots could be heard on television as security forces in red turbans surrounded the building in the town of Dinanagar, about 20 kilometres from the international border.

Local police spokesman Rajvinder Singh said “We don’t think there are any hostages. And for now, while the operation is on, it won’t be right to divulge details,” he said.

Five bombs were also found on a railway track in the state, suggesting a attempted coordinated attack, around the time India is marking the anniversary of a near-war with Pakistan in northern Kashmir in 1999.

Police sources said the attackers had entered India from Pakistan a couple of days ago in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, to the north.

Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, alleged Pakistan involvement. “There have been earlier reports of Pakistan infiltration and cross-border mischief in this area,” said Singh, whose constituency in the Jammu region borders Gurdaspur.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since both nations gained independence in 1947, has denied any involvement in insurgencies in Indian Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the head of India’s Border Security Force and “instructed him to step up the vigil” on the border.

“The situation is under control,” Singh told reporters.


The Asian Age – ‘Life sentence is like slow poison’

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi, 24 July 2015. At one point during Thursday’s proceedings on the issue of granting remission to life convicts who were jailed for over 14 years, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu observed: “In a death sentence one is dead and gone, and people also forget about that person as people’s memory is short. But a life sentence is like slow poison.

We want them to be alive and suffer and realise the crime he committed and understand how the victim’s family felt.”

The bench permitted the President of India (to exercise his power under Article 72) and the governor (under Article 161) in these type of cases, but not in other cases. The interim order would be subject to the final orders to be passed in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Earlier, the CJI told solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar and senior counsel V. Mohana, who questioned to why Tamil Nadu could not exercise its remission powers, pointing out the executive power exercised earlier was in mercy petitions when the convicts were facing a death sentence.

With the court commuting the death sentence into life imprisonment, the entire scenario changed and in these circumstances what was wrong in the state considering the remission. But counsel stuck to the position and reiterated that being a CBI-investigated case, tamil Nadu had no jurisdiction to grant remisison.

Senior counsel Rakesh Diwedi for Tamil Nadu justified the state’s decision to grant remission to seven convicts. He said the decision was taken pursuant to this court’s judgment. He said: “The letter of Tamil Nadu government to Union of India to release them is only a proposal and part of the consultation process and the Centre could have raised its objections to the proposal. The Union of India should have indicated its stand to the Tamil Nadu government.”

The Centre’s submission that no remission could be granted by the state, if accepted, would have horrendous consequences, it was argued.



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