Gent: Tolpoort – Rabot – Hortensiastraat / Geuzenhuis / Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara

Tolpoort – Rabot – Hortensiastraat
31 March 2017

I took tram 4 from Tolpoort to Rabot
Another 4 approaching the Rabot stop

Tram 1 to Flanders Expo

Hortensiastraat – Tram 1 to Evergem

Hortensiastraat – Tram 1 to Evergem

02 April 2017

Geuzenhuis – Vrijzinnigen/Humanists
During the March Profundo programmes the Gurdwara, The OLV Sint-Pieterskerk and the Geuzenhuis were visited

Gent Gurdwara
02 April 2017

Bhog of Akhand Path
Reading of the final pages of the Guru Granth Sahib

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

NSO – A tribute to Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart MP

We are truly sorry to hear Fiona Mactaggart the MP for Slough is standing down at the forthcoming election.

Slough has the highest percentage of Sikh residents in the UK and for the last two decades she has been nothing short of a champion for the community, and indeed, all minority communities across Britain.

Aside from her annual appearance at the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan, she has frequently raised important issues on behalf of the Sikh community in parliament.

These include the call for better recognition of the Sikh contribution to the Great Wars, advocacy for Sikh faith schools, and speaking out against human rights violations in India.

Lord Singh who first met Fiona at the Communities Faith Forum whilst she was a government Minister said, “At the time, despite poor health, she threw herself into her new role with enthusiasm and vigour in promoting community understanding and engagement.”

He went on, “I join many others in the Sikh community in wishing Fiona health and happiness in her well-deserved retirement from frontline politics.”

Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO)
London UK

Dawn – Bitter foes PTI, PPP launch attack on Sharif

Sadia Qasim Shah & Gohar Ali Khan

Batkhela/Peshawar-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 26 April 2017. The leaders of the country’s main opposition parties raised the “Go Nawaz go” slogan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.

But plans for a grand opposition alliance seemed a distant dream on Tuesday, as Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan also took aim at each other’s parties in speeches that seemed more suited to the campaign trail than as precursors to a possible alliance.

Addressing a public gathering in Malakand, the former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman dismissed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief as “a fake Khan”, and dubbed Nawaz Sharif “a prodigy of General Zia-ul-Haq”.

Mr Zardari alleged that PM Sharif was a product of the establishment and accused him of still furthering the agenda of the former military dictator.

Mr Zardari blamed the philosophy of PM Sharif and his mentor, General Zia, for the brutal killing of Mashal Khan and regretted the blocking of Pakhtuns’ CNICs. Addressing PM Sharif, he said Pakhtuns should be given their due rights.

Imran, Zardari also lash out at each other in KP

He alleged that the Sharif family had looted the nation’s wealth with both hands and vowed to retrieve whatever they had made off with.

He reminded the people of KP about all that the PPP had done for them, giving the impression that he was there to garner votes as much as to assail the ruling parties in the province and at the Centre.

The PPP co-chairman lamented that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was initiated by his government to end the sense of deprivation prevailing in KP and Balochistan, had been snatched by the ruling party and called on Pakhtuns to reclaim what was rightfully theirs.

He claimed credit for renaming the province and accused Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of snatching morsels from the mouths of Pakhtuns by encroaching on their share in the National Finance Commission award.

He recalled how the writ of the government had been established in Swat and how the PPP government had looked after thousands of people displaced from the Malakand division during the conflict there.

Reminding the crowd that the late Benazir Bhutto had always raised her voice for the people of the tribal areas, he vowed that Fata would be merged with KP if the PPP came into power again.

PPP leader said that problems for overseas Pakistanis living abroad particularly in Middle East countries had increased there. He said that people of Malakand division and parts of the country are facing manifold problem in Arab countries but the rulers were enjoying their family relation with these ME countries.

Mr Zardari also lambasted the ruling PML-N for its silence over the use of the massive ‘Mother of All Bombs’ in neighbouring Afghanistan. He also expressed sympathies with the people of Malakand, whose loved ones were facing tough living conditions abroad, such as in the Middle East.

Imran Khan

Fresh from his diatribe against the PPP in Dadu on Saturday, where he accused the former president of “belittling” the party of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, on Tuesday, the PTI chief turned his sights back on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Reminding PM Sharif how he had demanded Yousuf Raza Gillani’s resignation when the Supreme Court had found the latter guilty of contempt, Mr Khan told a gathering of party leaders at the CM House in Peshawar that judges of the Supreme Court had rejected the Sharifs’ evidence, Qatari letter and all.

According to a handout issued on Tuesday, he claimed the verdict had vindicated his party’s stance and called on party workers to make PTI’s April 28 show in Islamabad a resounding success.

He alleged that the institutions tasked with probing the PM were subordinate to him, and questioned how a fair probe could be held while Nawaz Sharif remained in office.

Speaking to party lawmakers, the PTI chief accused Nawaz Sharif of offering him Rs 10 billion to “stay quiet”, adding that he could offer a lot more to other institutions to keep mum. He also stressed the need to maintain public pressure on the government.

Addressing another ceremony, held to mark the inauguration of the under-23 games at the Hayatababad Complex, he told an audience of youths: “Had I given up, I would not have been able to build Shaukat Khanum hospital or to set up the PTI.”

In a speech that seemed designed to inspire young people into action, he stressed the need to instil the sporting spirit among all players.

He attributed his success to his sporting career, saying: “If a champion loses, he never gives up. He gets up, analyses his mistakes and goes to play again.”

When the audience began to chant “Go Nawaz Go”, he observed that this would be “done on Friday”.

He also praised Younis Khan, who hails from Mardan, on becoming the first Pakistani cricketer to achieve 10,000 runs.

The News – SC dismisses request for inclusion of section for Sikhs in census forms

Islamabad, 24 April 2017. The Chief Justice on Monday dismissed the Sindh and Peshawar high courts request of including an option for Sikhs in the religion section of the census form.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said that the first phase of census is completed in more than half of the districts of the country. It would now not be possible to print new forms, he said. The forms are in machine readable form therefore the section cannot even be made manually as the machine will not recognise them.

The court ruled that census cannot take place in areas where it has been completed.

The census form does not have a box for Sikhs to mark their religion though there is one for Hindus and Christians.

A Sikh community leader had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court demanding inclusion of Sikhism in the religion column in the census form.

The divisional bench in Sindh High Court heard the case on March 21 and sent notices to the chief census commissioner and provincial census commissioner to submit their response.

The Tribune – Captain speaks to MP CM on gurdwara row

Other reports suggest that the Indore Gurdwara was completely destroyed
Man in Blue

Chandigarh, 25 April 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has requested his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Chauhan to look into the matter of the alleged damage to a gurdwara in Indore during a recent demolition drive and take steps to assuage the sentiments of the Sikh community, which had been hurt by the reported excessive action of the police and municipal authorities.

Captain spoke to Shivraj Chauhan following reports in a section of the media that Gurdwara Kartar Kiran in Indore district had been damaged during the demolition drive.

He requested the CM to ascertain the veracity of the reports and take action. Chauhan assured him that he would personally look into the matter and ensure welfare of the Sikh community. (TNS)

Gent Gurdwara: School visits – Sassekaai and Neuseplein

Gent Gurdwara
School visits
27 and 30 March 2017

27 March : group photo
With sevadar and Granthi Singh

30 March : Granthi Singh and Sevadars

30 March : Students having tea and ‘snack’

 Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

Sassekaai and Neuseplein/Tolpoort
Works, no trams
31 March 2017

Sassekaai – no Tram service !
I suppose they are working on the drains
It looks like the drains empty out into the docks

You can just about walk past the works
Cars and trams have no hope getting through

Tram 4 Neuseplein – Two Tram 4 services
1) Moscou to Voormuide
2) UZ to Tolpoort

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Times of India – Expel MP: UK gurdwara writes to Labour Party

I am no fan of the previous Gurdwara pardhan Himmat Singh Sohi, I am no fan of the present pardhan Gurmail Singh Malhi nor of committee member Harjit Singh Sarpanch or Virendra Sharma MP. I have lived in West London for about 13 years and I know that there are excellent people in the local Sikh community. Why are these not elected as MP, or member of the Gurdwara committee ?
Man in Blue

Chandigarh, 25 April 2017. There is a different fervour to snap general election campaign in Ealing-Southall this year with Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, passing a resolution seeking expulsion of incumbent Member of Parliament, Virendra Sharma, from the Labour Party of Britain.

This resolution is a result of a social media messaging controversy involving some committee members of the gurdwara. Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, is the largest gurdwara out side India with about 10,000 registered members. The controversy has become a talking point in the local Sikh circles.

Sharma on his part says that the campaign against him is politically motivated and is being stirred up by a small number of people driven by religion and the regions they come from. He insists the protests don’t represent the community’s feelings.

He had also written to the gurdwara’s general secretary, apologising for sharing a What sApp message that was against the gurdwara’s management committee.

It is alleged that during the annual Southall Baisakhi Nagar Kirtan earlier this month, Sharma passed on messages on social media that were allegedly defamatory and malicious that targeted some of the gurdwara management committee members, including its president Gurmail Singh Malhi.

Expressing concern during a specially convened executive committee meeting, gurdwara vice-president Harjit Singh Sarpanch said, “It is more serious because it has been done and being done by a public person like Sharma in collaboration with his supporters to spread hatred in the community”.

Sarpanch alleged that Sharma was not capable of representing the diverse people of Southall and Ealing and that he had been dividing communities.

“This is an act of political criminality. He has sent messages on WhatsApp relating to me and my colleagues’ personal matters. He must be suspended as an MP by the Labour Party”, claimed Manjit Singh Buttar, the gurdwara general secretary, who is also a Councillor in the London Borough of Hounslow.

The management committee has since passed a resolution planning to take action against Sharma.

The executive committee unanimously condemned “malicious, conspired, character assassination on the day of Nagar Kirtan to cause maximum harm to the reputation and character of our key committee members.” It was also resolved that the case be reported to the police and further civil action be initiated as per legal advice.

It was also decided that the committee would report the matter to the Leader of the Labour Party calling for action to expel Mr Sharma MP from the party as well as to approach the Speaker of the House of Commons requesting him to take appropriate action against him.

Sharma said, “The argument with Buttar and the gurdwara is all product of a misunderstanding. There is no real conflict between us and I have offered to meet with everyone concerned to clear up the issue.”

The April 20 letter written to the gurdwara general secretary by the MP, a copy of which has been provided to TOI, Sharma said, “On the 9th April I received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number.

This message contained numerous allegations about a number of highly respected members of our local community and people I consider to be pillars of society. I will not waste space on the scurrilous rumours and gossip in the message, but I told the sender that it was wrong to make such allegations anonymously…”

He added in the letter that when the first accusations were followed by further accusations, he shared the number and message with very few friends to try to ascertain the identity of the sender.

“In doing so I realise that I spread the gossip further and I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for this, and any accidental credence I lent the allegations, this was not my intention,” he said.

The Hindu – Sukhois join frontline squadron in Punjab

Major force accretion as the ‘Valiants’ are near the border

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 24 April 2017. The Halwara-based 221 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, “Valiants”, has inducted the frontline Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. The squadron used to fly MiG-23s till they were phased out in 2009.

This is a major force accretion as the squadron is based in Punjab facing Pakistan. The Su-30MKI is the most modern multi-role fighter in the Indian Air Force.

The aircraft were formally inducted by Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, on Monday during which he handed over the official documents of the squadron to Wing Commander H.S. Luthra, Commanding Officer of the Squadron, the IAF said in a statement.

The “Valiants” were formed as an offensive fighter squadron on February 14, 1963 at Barrackpore and was equipped with the Vampires, Spitfire, Hurricane and Su-7 aircraft. The “Valiants” were the first to carry out strikes during the Kargil war.

The Asian Age – In J&K Valley, rebuild bridges and reach out

Modi has been unable to build a consensus on a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem.

S Nihal Singh

Op/Ed, 24 April 2017. All the do-gooders seeking an out-of-the-box solution to the Kashmir imbroglio miss a central point. Can a BJP government at the Centre and in a coalition in the state surmount its inherent limitations to prove equal to the task?

The answer, as events in the Kashmir Valley prove each day, is a qualified “no”. To begin with, the BJP’s ideological blinkers and narrow definition of nationalism make any solution of the problem more difficult.

Added to this mix, the macho culture the BJP cultivates, as opposed to its concept of weak coalition governments of the past, is eminently unsuited to tackling the problem. Witness the suggestion of a BJP minister in the state Cabinet recently suggesting that stone-pelting protesters should be shot.

The tragedy is that the one politician who could make a bold move to untangle the situation is inhibited by his own upbringing in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its long arm over the government’s decision-making process.
To add to a series of failures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi erred in believing that the impasse would work to his advantage even as the frustrations among the young in particular grew.

Besides, the decision to speed up the “Hinduisation” of the rest of the country inevitably riles the people of the Valley.

Mr Modi’s limitations can best be judged from his public declaration some time ago that a vast majority of the cow protection units were goons, only to eat his words in less than 24 hours to suggest that goons were participants in only a few of such units.

We are living with the consequences of such mixed signals: the lynching to death of a Muslim dairy farmer transporting cattle and, more recently, of a nomad family severely beaten up in Jammu because they were with their cattle, their only source of livelihood.

Proposals for a solution of the Kashmir problem have been repeated ad nauseam. Begin serious talks with all sections and parties in the Valley, including the separatists, and set up parallel talks with Pakistan.

The latter prospect has receded in view of Pakistan’s decision to hang an Indian to death after a secret military trial on spying charges. But there is nothing to prevent discussions with Kashmiris in the Valley, once the ground has been prepared.

Mr Ram Madhav, the BJP’s pointman for Kashmir, had to make a quick trip to the state to try to stem the growing fissures in the coalition; whether he administered a slap on the wrist of the erring BJP state minister for his foolish comment is not known.

On his part, Mr Modi seems unable to discipline his partymen to refrain from making provocative remarks that seek to raise issues of cow protection and other concepts to keep the communal pot boiling.

Thus far, for party political reasons or otherwise, Mr Modi has been unable to build a consensus on a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem. The abysmal scale of voting in the Srinagar byeelection made the country sit up and even the May date for the bye election in Anantnag seems unrealistic.

Members of mainstream parties, including the state’s ruling party, are hiding, instead of campaigning, with terror of the gun dominating the environment.

The projected meeting of the state chief minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, with the Prime Minister will lead nowhere unless the latter is clear on how to begin resolving the problem. If he can get rid of his own inhibitions, he must convince the RSS leadership that the country requires a different approach to Kashmir.

The only BJP leader who had a measure of credibility with Kashmiris is Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who headed a coalition government, and sang the song of insaniyat (humanity). But you cannot begin the process if your leitmotif is to shoot the stone-pelters.

In a sense, the question boils down to Mr Modi’s capacity to make a sharp U-turn in the larger interest of the country by prevailing upon the RSS to give him the room to resolve an old problem which bears the burden of the subcontinent’s tragic partition and its murderous consequences.

He could get past the RSS for a time in Gujarat, but it was one state, not the whole country, and the RSS is riding high with the BJP’s victory in the 2014 election bringing three decades of coalition governments to an end. Its dream of a Hindu rashtra is within grasp.

Before setting out for Rawalpindi as the first Indian newspaper correspondent to be posted in Pakistan after the 1965 war, I had a meeting with Indira Gandhi on the morning of April 21, 1967.

In her view, Field Marshal Ayub Khan had to give in to pressure from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (then foreign minister) and associates to adopt an anti-India stance because the latter felt that only such a posture could keep Pakistan together.

She said no Indian government could placate Pakistan on Kashmir, adding, “And what new solution can there be on Kashmir?”

The actors on the two sides have changed, but Mrs Gandhi’s words ring as true today as it did then. It is thus essential to begin the task of reconciling with the people in the Valley in a dramatically changed environment in India.

She espoused secularism and although the secular creed is still enshrined in the Constitution, Mr Modi’s followers in the BJP and the RSS are doing everything in their power to push their concept of the Hindu rashtra.

Where do we go from here? There is only one sane argument: create the mood for reconciliation by making moves on the ground. Mr Farooq Abdullah’s suggestion to impose President’s rule is no answer.

Rather, the answer lies in building bridges to the people of the Valley. Inevitably, terrorists of the local and Pakistani provenance must be answered with the gun.

But New Delhi’s best answer would be otherwise to sheath the sword and befriend the Valley and its people by assuring them of autonomy and fair play.

S Nihal Singh has four editorships under his belt, with globetrotting stints in Singapore, Pakistan, Moscow, London, New York, Paris and Dubai. – General Election: Sikh Council UK urges increase in selection of Sikh candidates

Sikh Editors

London-UK, 21 April 2017. The Sikh Council UK is urging all political parties to positively select Sikh candidates ahead of the snap General Election.

There are some members of the House of Lords from Sikh background, but no Sikh members of the House of Commons.

Representatives from all the main political parties have spoken of the huge contribution that Sikhs make to British society and have acknowledged the lack of Sikhs in the House of Commons.

Sikh Council UK Secretary General Elect Jagtar Singh said “We call upon the parties to address the glaring lack of Sikhs in Westminster by shortlisting and selecting promising Sikh candidates in winnable constituencies. We will offer support to Sikh candidates who make it through the selection processes”.

Theresa May has called a General Election for 8 June 2017. Polls that indicate she could win a huge Tory majority in Parliament.