The Times of India – Punjab losing battle against drug addiction, says study

Rohan Dua

Monday, 8 February 2016. Punjab has lost the battle against drug addiction even before it has begun, a study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has indicated.

It will take more than 10 years for the state government to provide even a single episode of treatment to addicts if it continues with the current strategies, the survey by the institute’s National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre says, painting a grim picture of the days ahead.

A single episode of treatment is a standard course of treatment ranging from a minimum of four-to-six weeks to six months where the patient is given opioid substitution treatment (OST) that involves medication like methadone or buprenorphine to help him wean away from drugs.

The study points out that Punjab does not have OST for the patients as a widely available therapy on a long term basis.

“There is a huge gap in the availability of treatment services for opioid dependent individuals despite significant demand. OST is the most evidence-based treatment modality which has been endorsed by United Nations and World Health Organisation as well as the Indian Psychiatric Society. In Punjab, less than 10% of patients have received OST ever,” says the study.

The survey, commissioned by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment in August 2015, has in fact ridiculed the approach by the Punjab government, saying that it is only focused on rehabilitation centres.

“If the treatment strategies remain focused on only treatment admission to a de-addiction centre, it will take about 10 years to provide a single episode of treatment to the entire opioid dependent population in the state,” it said.

It further says that many drug dependent individuals are trying to give up but not many are receiving help from the government. “Our survey indicates that while as many as 80% of opioid dependent individuals have tried to give up, only about 35% have received any help,” it says.”

The Tribune – Treat drug addicts as patients not criminals, say experts

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 7 February 2016. Experts called for decriminalisation of the use of drugs in the state during a national seminar on drug menace held here today. The seminar was organised by Patiala MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi in Sector 29 here.

In his presidential address, Dr Gandhi called for a radical solution to the drug problem, which has assumed alarming proportions in the state.

He said, “The need of the hour is to break the criminal-politics nexus by radically altering the NDPS Act that tends to promote smuggling by putting a wholesale ban on drugs.”

He called upon decriminalisation of drug addicts and treating them as patients needing medical treatment. He advocated legalisation of certain common recreational drugs such as bhukki and bhang.

Eminent economist and chancellor, Central University, Bathinda, Dr Sardara Singh Johl, chief guest at the seminar, said, “Historical evidence points that banning only leads to smuggling and expansion of drugs in society.” He advocated setting up rural industries and proper “evening management” to keep away youth from drugs.

He said it seemed that the governments were working on the model: ban drugs, smuggle drugs and then promote drugs. “This should stop immediately,” he added.

Former DIG Iqbal Singh Lalpura narrated the experiences he had as a police officer posted in the border area. He shared many incidences of nexus between police and politicians when they were promoting drugs and smugglers.

He called drug smugglers as “sleeper cells and agents of ISI” who were working to destabilise India.

Professor Chaman Lal, retired professor of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, highlighted the international dimension of the drug policy, stressing that stringent drug laws were implemented by the USA to destabilise revolutionary regimes in South America by promoting drug cartels, who thrived on smuggling due to bans.

“The stringent NDPS Act established in 1985 has led to proliferation of mafia, strengthened criminal-police-political network and filling jails with drug edicts has overburdened criminal investigators and judiciary,” said senior advocate R S Bains.

Mintu Gurusaria, former drug addict-turned-writer, narrated his journey from being a drug addict and a criminal to eventual reformation and redemption.

He stressed that families and societies should show more consideration and understanding towards drug victims, who are ostracised by larger society. He called upon social mobilisation at the grass-roots level as well as actively involving women in this effort.

To Ouwerkerk, Zeeland, the Netherlands

To Ouwerk, Schouwen Duiveland, Zeeland, the Netherlands
24 October


Goes – NS Railway station


Goes – bus station
Waiting for the bus to Zierikzee (Schouwen en Duiveland)
Bus 132 to Zierikzee – Bus 133 to Vissersweg


Vissersweg – the nearest stop to Ouwerkerk
We were met by the owner of our B&B

In the garden of B&B Ouwerkaarke

My grandmother Maria Hack
who died just before the end of WW II
My grandfather Cornelis Heule
who died less than a month before I was born

To see all my pictures :

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation (UK) to give evidence in UK parliament on campaign for justice

From Sikh Federation UK <>

London, 7 February 2016. The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Home Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Baroness Doreen Lawrence (the mother of Stephen Lawrence) are co-hosting an event in the UK Parliament on Tuesday 9 February on the challenges faced when “Campaigning for Justice”.

The Sikh Federation (UK) is pleased to announce it will be given a platform to talk about past injustices. The format for the event is that it will be in a ‘select committee style’ and open to all MPs and Peers from across the political parties. There is expected to be strong interest and it will be open to the media and to the public.

In total there will be five witnesses representing a range of campaigns. Each witness will be invited to give an opening statement of five minutes. MPs and Peers will then ask questions and delve further into the issues.

The focus of the event is to identify specific policy changes to help campaigners. The fact that the Sikh Federation (UK) has been approached and given the opportunity to give evidence is significant.

The other witnesses will be from the Hillsborough campaign, the Stephen Lawrence campaign, the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which is campaigning against what it describes as police lies during the miners’ strike, and the Shrewsbury 24 campaign, which is campaigning for the quashing of the convictions of construction worker pickets, including the actor Ricky Tomlinson, from the 1970s.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has been asked to focus on the January 2014 revelations under the 30 year rule concerning UK Government assistance to the Indian authorities in the June 1984 Indian army assault on Sri Harmandir Sahib Complex, often referred to as the Golden Temple Complex.

It will be the first time the Sikh Federation (UK) will touch upon its findings from a draft report titled: “Sacrificing Sikhs: the need for an investigation – A review of declassified UK files on India and Sikhs from 1982 to 1985”.

Despite the obstacles presented by the current UK Government the report presents new evidence to challenge the review commissioned by David Cameron undertaken by Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and the most senior civil servant, into the revelations.

The report not only demonstrates how India successfully used promises of arms deals to pressure the UK Government to assist in the Genocide of Sikhs in June 1984, but also take actions to try and discredit and silence the minority Sikh community in Britain from raising its voice of opposition.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The state’s paramount obligation should be to protect life, not to sacrifice the rights of one section of society for the sake of other interests. The British state instead has a duty to investigate any alleged involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.”

It is now clear the Sikh community and the public at large was never meant to have known that a British Special Forces officer carried out a military mission in Amritsar, months before the Genocide of Sikh pilgrims in June 1984. The disturbing story that still to be told is the Indian establishment made lucrative trade and arms deals contingent on the UK implementing anti-Sikh measures.

The vocal minority Sikh community therefore faced and still face state discrimination on the one hand and racist and hate crime from right wing groups on other.

The Sikh Federation (UK) is considering how best to use the report from a political as well as legal perspective. When the report is released in the coming it is expected to include some explosive disclosures. For example, it will present evidence how a Sikh leader was deported from the UK in December 1984, who was then tortured and imprisoned for several years without trial or charge in India.

It may also call into question convictions of several Sikh activists in the UK in the 1980s when British intelligence are believed to have entrapped Sikhs using agent provocateurs that was claimed at the time by leading QC Michael Mansfield.

The number of Downing Street papers from the mid-1980s has fallen by 90% preventing proper scrutiny of a “divisive period” in British politics. Only 58 Downing Street papers from the 1986-88 period were released in December 2015 under the official 20-30 year rule system compared with around 500 papers released in every previous December since 2010.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a vast backlog of files (over half a million) and will fail to meet its declassification deadlines. FCO files on India (and many other countries) from 1983, 1984 and 1985 are still unavailable to the public, over thirty years later, and at a time when the government’s transparency agenda had introduced legislation that promised a streamlined “20 year rule”.

Andy Burnham said: “There are people today still campaigning for truth and justice relating to that divisive period in our country’s history. The actions of this government are putting yet more barriers in their way. There were a whole series of issues from the mid-1980s onwards that remain highly controversial and highly contested.”

The event will be held on Tuesday 9 February from 2pm in the Lords Committee Room 2 on the Lords Committee Corridor in the Palace of Westminster. Entry is via the main entrance to the Houses of Parliament and through Central Lobby.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) Federation UK
twitter @Sikhfeduk

Dawn – Safety of educational institutions

Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gilani

Monday, 8 February 2016. The good thing is that terrorists have shaken us out of our reverie. The bad thing is that, temporarily awakened, we flail bewilderedly in all directions, but conveniently miss the elephant in the room.

Consequently, when the hand-wringing ends, everyone has ‘strongly condemned the cowardly act’, fingers have been pointed, often in wrong directions, and prayers have been said for the dearly departed, martyred, we are back to our national somnolence.

The worst thing is that this nightmare is not going away soon; the ‘bad guys’ have declared war on us, clearly, unambiguously and resolutely, and we continue to grope for words to couch our confused response in. They are at ‘war’ with us, no doubt. And us? At war? No. At peace then? No. Somewhere in between?

The government must have a good reason to be ambivalent, but we, the people who are being killed and blamed for not taking care of our loved ones, are confused. We are a sturdy and resilient lot, and take life’s calamities bravely, but a little clarity will certainly boost our morale.

It is imperative that we take steps to better secure our children in educational institutions.

In any enterprise worth pursuing, animals and human beings go for the low-hanging fruit first. So it is with the terrorists’ propensity to attack educational institutions first before they go for the ‘hard’ targets.

They started with outlying schools, upping the ante by going for urban schools in guarded terrain and now have ‘graduated’ to hitting universities.

The law-enforcement agencies have done a wonderful job, we applaud that. But it is imperative that we change the political narrative and take steps that enable us to better secure our children studying in schools, colleges and universities.

We know it is a gigantic task; we know all this is a result of our policies at home, and the geopolitical maelstrom we allowed ourselves to be sucked into and so on. Those are ‘big’ issues that will be debated forever; our concern is immediate, here and now, and we must strive to make the security paradigm in educational institutions more robust.

As a former vice-chancellor of a public-sector university, I can speak for many of my colleagues heading such institutions in KP.

Educational institutions are managed mostly by academics who have a rudimentary knowledge of security protocols, and perhaps have no interest in such subjects that are alien to their preferred vocation.

Agreed this was not part of their job description but is now required of them, and they must do their utmost to grapple with the difficult ground reality. But the centre of equilibrium of responsibility in this complex situation must be positioned carefully, with an open mind and such that optimal results are obtained.

And this must be done from a position above the dictates of public safety enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan or the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Security Ordinance 2014. Right now using laws as cover for abdicating responsibilities is fraught with serious consequences. The challenge needs collective effort and collective responsibility.

Here is the situation: we need to strengthen security in our academic institutions. This needs resources. For the public sector these resources mostly come from the government and partly from students. We can increase fees, but that is not desirable.

The government, federal and provincial, can allocate funds to institutions to beef up security. This can be a stopgap solution, but is short of being optimal because academics are not trained in this area and money may be expended without proper outcomes.

We believe the best course would be to provide resources to people who are in the security business and assign them this responsibility, who can then use the academic institution’s strength to compliment and bolster their performance.

For public-sector academic institutions, the primary funding source is the government. This is also true for those that provide security services like the police, Rangers, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary and others.

The difference is that security is the bread and butter of these agencies, whereas it is a relatively alien concept to academia. It needs no genius to think that the best platform to bolster security is to strengthen and reinforce those administratively and institutionally assigned this responsibility. And the money?

We believe funds must be shaved off development projects and invested in security-enhancement projects in educational institutions, designed with the help of experts in the field.

We can readily do with slower-paced general development in the prevailing circumstances, but cannot countenance another tragedy where life is snuffed out from the young, innocent, and bright custodians of our future.

In a nutshell, it is the responsibility of the state to provide security to its people, and as a corollary, they foot the bulk of the bill. The people must be asked to help and reinforce the government’s efforts in combating terrorism, but, like I said, the centre of gravity of responsibility must fall closer to the government than the governed.

It is imperative that we take the bull by the horns and put in place all the right protocols that the times require. The nation is nervous and insecure; parents are on a razor’s edge when their loved ones are in school. Children are being taught fear by mock drills in which ‘bad guys’ are being shot at and killed.

Such a pantomime is counterproductive. It is time we get real. It is time we do whatever we possibly can so that we have no regrets later. We all understand that there cannot be perfectly foolproof security, but dealing with this menace in a half-baked, lukewarm way will not absolve us in the critical eye of posterity for failure and dereliction.

Simply pointing in all directions will not wash off the stains from our fingers.

The writer is a former vice-chancellor of the University of Engineering & Technology.

The Asian Age – Amit Shah to meet BJP Punjab leaders

Asian Age Correspondent

New Delhi, 6 February 2016. Finding the Punjab terrain tough for the Assembly elections early next year, BJP president Amit Shah is likely to meet state leaders on Saturday to finalise the name of its next state unit president.

Though names of senior leaders, including Ashwani Sharma and Avinash Rai Khanna, are doing the rounds for the next Punjab BJP chief, sources disclosed that supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu are also lobbying for him.

A former Amritsar MP, Mr Sidhu has been sidelined in the BJP as he doesn’t share a good rapport with the SAD and had criticised their leadership on various occasions. Speculation was rife that the AAP was in touch with Mr Sidhu and his wife, who is an MLA.

A section within the BJP’s Punjab unit wants the party to snap ties with ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as they feel that the Prakash Singh Badal-led government faces a strong anti-incumbency factor which could also effect the saffron party’s poll prospects.

Congress stalwart and former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is seen as the party’s CM candidate while the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP could also damage the SAD-BJP ruling alliance. The AAP had won four out of 13 parliamentary seats in the state in 2014 and has made significant inroads in the state since then. However, the AAP also faces factionalism in the state.

Sources disclosed Mr Shah could also discuss election-related issues with state leaders amid indications that the SAD-BJP might not be third time lucky in the state. There is also speculation that current BJP state unit chief Kamal Sharma could get another term.

Sources said the BJP is getting feedback that issues like the Punjab government’s failure to check the drug menace and the sliding graph of industry and agriculture will effect the SAD-BJP alliance.

Also, allegations of involvement of senior SAD leaders in the multi-crore drug racket, Abohar dalit murder incident and recent incidents of sacrilege can also impact the ruling alliance’s poll prospects. – Over 300 Sikhs Campaign Outside Portugal Embassy in London

Bhagwant Singh,

London, UK, 6 February 2016. Today, over 300 supporters of Bhai Paramjit Singh Pamma, the Birmingham family man arrested in Portugal at the behest of the Indian Government, campaigned outside the Portugal Embassy in London.

Delegates from the support group managed to speak with the Portuguese Ambassador at the embassy, who agreed that the Portuguese government would pursue India for every document related to the previous case (during his asylum appeal) lodged against Paramjeet Singh in Britain, by the Indian government.

Upkar Singh, a campaigner at the protest said, “These will be compared to the current case being brought against him. This will make everything transparent and have a bearing on the final Portuguese decision.”

Bhai Paramjit Singh has been under detention since December 2015 after a red flag Interpol warrant, requested by the Indian government, was issued and actioned against him when he was visiting Portugal with his family.

A team of Indian police, represented themselves in Portugal last week, before returning to India with their tail between their legs when they were each identified as the accused in torture against Paramjit Singh himself.

Cases were immediately submitted to the authorities which means the Indian police members could very well be arrested if they return to Portugal. Sources reveal that the Punjab Government is in dismay and unsure of sending its own delegation to represent its case on February 15 in Portugal.

A Just Giving page has been created by campaigners, to help financially support the ongoing case in Portugal, to help fight for the return of Paramjit Singh to the UK.

Similar rallies were held across the world in support of Bhai Paramjit Singh Pamma.

To Ouwerkerk, Zeeland, the Netherlands

To Ouwerk, Schouwen Duiveland, Zeeland, the Netherlands
24 October


Brussel airport to Roosendaal (NL)


Roosendaal NS railway station
Doubledecker EMUs


Roosendaal NS railway station
‘Sprinter’ (all station) train to Den Haag (The Hague)


Roosendaal NS railway station
On the right NMBS all station train to Antwerp


Roosendaal NS railway station
Waiting for the train to Goes


NS Intercity to Vlissingen taking us to Goes

To see all my pictures :

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

United Sikhs Meets Ambassador to Rebut France’s Denial of Turban Ban

New Delhi: United Sikhs led a meeting with the French ambassador on Thursday to rebut France’s recent statement that the turban was not banned in France.

United Sikhs director, Gurpreet Singh, submitted to the French ambassador, H.E. Francois Richier, that it was misleading to say that there is no Sikh turban ban in France as the 2004 ban in public schools and on ID photos continues to date.

“We reminded the ambassador that the turban ban continues even though United Sikhs lawyers had won three cases against the ban before the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC),” said Gurpreet Singh.

The French embassy had issued a statement on 2nd February titled ‘No ban on Sikh turban in France’ following the call from Sikhs to the visiting French President, Francois Hollande, to lift the ban on the turban in France. Read the French embassy’s statement in full at:

At the meeting with the ambassador, which was also attended by former ambassador K C Singh, S. Daljeet Singh of United Sikhs and S. Partap Singh of the Sikh Forum, the ambassador was urged to take up the matter with the French Government immediately so that Sikhs in France do not continue to face harassment for wearing the turban.

“Mr. Richier assured us that he would take up with his government the need to consider using biometric ID documents without photos and to consider allowing the patka at schools,” said Gurpreet Singh.

“The meeting was very constructive and the matter was discussed at length. We shall continue to be in touch with him to follow up on the progress of his efforts”, added Gurpreet Singh.

United Sikhs had submitted a letter to the President of France on his visit to Chandigarh on January 25, asking him to reverse the turban ban. You may read our previous press release on this issue at:

Issued By Mejindarpal Kaur
International Legal Director, United Sikhs

The Hindu – All religions are anti-woman: Taslima Nasrin

The Bangladesh author wondered why secularists in India were questioning only Hindu fundamentalists, while they let alone Muslim fundamentalists.

Aabha Anoop

Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala, 6 February 2016. Taslima Nasrin does not think India is an intolerant country. “I think most people are quite tolerant of each others’ faith. The laws in India do not support intolerance.

But there are so many intolerant people in this country”, she said. The Bangladeshi writer in exile was in Kozhikode to attend the first ever Kerala Literature Festival on Saturday. This was her first outing to any place other than New Delhi since 2005.

Responding to a query put forth by writer K. Sachidanandan, Ms. Nasrin wondered why secularists in India were questioning only Hindu fundamentalists, while they let alone Muslim fundamentalists. She alleged that a democracy based on pseudo-secularism was not a true democracy at all.

She said that the true conflict in India was between secularism and fundamentalism, between Innovation and tradition, between humanity and barbarianism and between people who value freedom and who do not. She condemned the Dadri incident and appreciated the intellectuals in the country for their unique mode of protest.

Explaining her struggles as a writer and her fight against Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh, Ms. Nasrin said all religions were anti-woman though distortion caused by fundamentalists added to it.

“You have to keep religion separated from government. There is no need to practise 7th Century laws in the 21st Century”, she said and explained how the influence of religion in law-making has caused the oppression of both Muslim and Hindu women in Bangladesh.


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