The Asian Age – Delhi municipal bypolls: AAP wins one ward, leading in 3

More than 50 per cent votes were cast in the bypolls for the five municipal wards held on 28 February

New Delhi – India, 03 March 2021.The AAP is heading for victory in four wards and the Congress in one in the municipal bypolls in Delhi, showed trends of counting on Wednesday morning.

AAP candidate Dhirender Kumar has won the Kalyanpuri ward by 7,259 votes, while party nominees were leading in Shalimar Bagh North, Trilokpuri and Rohini- C wards.

The Congress candidate is leading in Chauhan Bangar, according to trends available at 10 AM.

Congress candidate Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad was leading by 9,854 votes in Chauhan Bangar against AAP candidate Mohammad Ishraq Khan, election officials said.

AAP’s Sunita Mishra was ahead of her BJP rival Surbhi Jaju by over 2,298 votes in Shalimar Bagh North ward, they said.

AAP candidates Vijay Kumar in Trilokpuri and Ram Chander in Rohini-C were also ahead of their nearest BJP rivals by comfortable margins.

Dirender Kumar defeated his nearest BJP rival Siya Ram in Kalyanpuri. Vijay Kumar was ahead of BJP’s Om Prakash by 3,819 votes in Trilokpuri.

In Rohini-C, the AAP candidate was leading by 2,157 votes against BJP’s Rakesh, officials said.

More than 50 per cent votes were cast in the bypolls for the five municipal wards held on February 28.

Out of the five wards, four were held by the AAP while Shalimar Bagh North had a BJP councillor.

The results of all the five wards where the AAP, BJP and the Congress were main rivals is expected later on the day.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/030321/delhi-municipal-bypolls-aap-wins-one-ward-leading-in-3.html

Sikh24.com – Brave and Inspirational Sikh Women in History – Bibi Shamsher Kaur and Bibi Baghel Kaur

Sikh24 Editors

Women History Month, 01 March 2021. There was no shortage of women who played prominent roles in Sikh history, be it during the times of the Sikh Gurus, the period during which Sikhs defeated the Mughals, the Anglo-Sikh wars, resistance against the British, India’s independence, and the struggle for justice during the later part of the 20th century.

However, their roles have often been neglected or not given the same prominence. It is the need of our times to ensure women are given a deserving place in Sikh history.

To honor Women History Month in March, Sikh24 will be publishing a series of articles exploring the role of women in Sikh history and prominent Kaurs from the present-day Sikh struggles.

If you are interested in submitting an article on this topic, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

In this post, let’s explore the role of two prominent Sikh women, one who played a key role during the Misls period and another during the rule of Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Bibi Shamsher Kaur

After being abducted and then rescued by Sikhs but refused by her own father, the Sikhs make Bibi Shamsher Kaur a daughter of the Khalsa. She took Khande Di Pahul and became a warrior saint when she rescued other captured women and led a force of 1,000 strong.

An aged Brahmin (Priest) came crying to Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia of Hansi, now in the state of Haryana. The priest told him that Ali Beg, the chief of Hissar while hunting, came to his village and forcibly took his two daughters.

He said that he begged and cried a lot, but none of the villagers came to his rescue. The chief also turned a deaf ear to his request and said, “How can I leave such beautiful and young girls? Get me two other beautiful young girls, and take yours.”

The priest, who was weeping bitterly, said, “I am losing my eyesight. I would commit suicide if I could not get my daughters back. You are the shelter of the shelterless. Kindly take pity on me.”

The Sardar consoled him and promised that his daughters would be returned to him if they were alive.

At nightfall, the Sardar took a party of Sikh soldiers, rode towards Hissar, and surrounded the fort at Hissar within three hours. At that time, Ali Beg was drinking while some slave girls were dancing.

The Sikh soldiers broke the door of the fort and challenged Ali Beg. In the ensuing battle, three Sikh soldiers died. Meanwhile, Ali Beg was injured, and many of his soldiers were killed.

Ali Beg appealed for mercy and handed over those two girls and three others he also abducted. The Sardar took pity on Ali Beg’s queens and conceded to their request not to kill Ali Beg. He returned to Hansi before dawn. He did not loot the fort but warned Ali Beg to behave in the future.

The Sardar called the priest and said, “Take your daughters to your village and marry them to suitable matches. I can help you financially if you desire.”

The priest thanked the Sardar for saving his daughters from a devil but expressed his fear that if he took his daughters to his village, none of his relatives would have any dealings with him as the girls have lived in the company of Muslims and taken their food.

The Sardar encouraged the Brahmin and said, ” Take the girls with you. I also shall try to find some suitable match for the girls and arrange their marriages.” The Brahmin unwillingly agreed and left for his village.

After a week, the priest came back weeping to the Sardar. On being asked, he said, “None in the village is willing to talk to me. They want me to leave the girls with Ali Beg, or he might attack the village and abduct the girls again whenever he finds a chance.”

The elder daughter, Shamo, said to Jassa Singh, “Sardar Ji, I will never go back to the village and live among cowards. Our father has been crying since he left you. Kindly let us live here.”

The Sardar said to the priest, “I shall treat these girls as my daughters and get them married when I find suitable matches. They can live among the families of my soldiers and take food from the common kitchen. You may go to your village.”

The new environment and society changed the life of young girls. They adopted the dress of Sikh girls as well as their eating habits. They served in the common kitchen, prayed with others, and started to learn to use arms.

Shamo was more intelligent than Ramo. She was quick to learn reading Punjabi, horse riding, and the use of weaponry. Upon their request, both the sisters were baptized.

The elder one was named Shamsher Kaur, and the younger one, Ram Kaur. The Sardar proposed two soldiers as the girls’ husbands, and with the consent of all concerned, they were married.

It was the period of feudalism, and big landlords like Ali Beg ruled over certain territories under their control. Might was right. Sikh Sardars like Jassa Singh in Punjab were also divided into eleven groups called Misls.

Every group was headed by a Sardar and controlled a certain area. Sardar Jassa Singh was the head of Ramgarhia Misl and ruled over the area surrounding Batala in Punjab. He was defeated by the Sardars of Kanhiya, Shukarchakia, and Ahluwalia Misls, in 1778 and had to flee far away from his territory to Hansi.

He conquered a large area near Hansi, where he saved the two daughters of the priest.

In 1785, differences arose between the chiefs of Kanhiya and Shukarchakia Misls. Sardar Mahan Singh of Shukarchakia Misl invited Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia to Punjab and promised to help him get back his lost territory if he, in turn, would help him to defeat the chief of the Kanhiya Misl.

Jassa Singh Ramgarhia grasped this golden opportunity to get back the lost territories and his honor. Shamsher Kaur and her husband insisted on accompanying him to help him fight against his enemies.

Jassa Singh wanted them to stay back and supervise his area, but he yielded when Shamsher Kaur insisted on going with him. In the fierce battle at Batala, Shamsher Kaur fought like a brave and loyal soldier, and it resulted in the victory of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia.

He was so pleased with the active part taken by Shamsher Kaur that he bestowed upon her five villages near Hansi and asked her to go back with a few soldiers to look after the area so that tyrants wouldn’t bother the innocent.

She thanked the Sardar for his blessings, and together with her husband, started for Hansi. She dressed like a male soldier and was known only as Shamsher. Many did not know that Shamsher was a female. She was a kind and popular ruler of her small kingdom and preached Sikhism.

She set right many dacoits and other bad characters. She never tolerated female oppression and was very popular among the people of the area. The poor thought that God had sent her to save them from the tyrants.

Mohammad Ali, chief of the village Kot Ali Khan in that area, was a lustful young man who secretly planned to marry Razia, his servant Haider’s young daughter, forcibly. Razia and her parents did not like the idea, as Mohamed Ali already had many wives.

Razia and her mother left the village at midnight to save themselves from the chief. When the chief came to know of it, he took Haider to the task and told him that he was getting a bad name because his daughter and wife had left the village.

He ordered him to present them as he wanted to marry Razia. Haider said, “Sir, you already have many wives. We cannot spoil the life of our daughter by marrying her with you, and besides, my daughter does not like the proposal.”

The chief did not listen and ordered his men to arrest Haider and put him in prison. The chief sent his soldiers to find Razia and bring her and her mother to him. The soldiers found the ladies and brought them back to the chief.

Razia was thirsty and requested the soldiers to let her take a watermelon from the field nearby. They agreed and allowed her to take a watermelon. In the meantime, 20 Sikh horsemen with their leader appeared on the scene and asked the soldiers about the ladies.

The soldiers told a lie, but Razia told them the real story. The leader, Shamsher Kaur, ordered the soldier to leave the ladies, go back, and tell their chief to release Razia’s father, or the chief and his entire family would be killed.

The soldiers surrendered their arms and went back to their chief. Shamsher Kaur took Razia on her own horse, gave her mother a separate horse, and with her soldiers left for Hansi. She took both the ladies to her house.

When she changed her clothes, the ladies were surprised to find that their savior was a lady.

Mohammad Ali would not release Razia’s father. One night when he was busy drinking and watching a beautiful girl dance, his watchmen cried that enemies had surrounded them. At once, Shamsher and her soldiers climbed the tree near Mohamad Ali’s house’s walls and raised slogans of “Long live Shamsher.”

Mohammad Ali and his soldiers were taken aback when the Sikh soldiers with their leader jumped into the house from the tree. Those who resisted them were killed. Mohammad Ali drew his sword, but soon his sword was broken, and he surrendered.

He handed over the keys of the prison. Shamsher rescued Razia’s father and brought him to her headquarters. She set Mohammad Ali free when he requested forgiveness and promised not to repeat such actions in the future.

Ali could not tolerate this insult. He held a meeting of the Muslim chiefs of the area and said, “It is a matter of shame that a Sikh lady should rule over us. She has a lot of money in her fort. If you help me, we can catch her.

You may take the money and leave her for me.” They agreed and brought their forces to help him. Altogether they had about 3,000 mercenaries.

Shamsher and her husband left the fort and faced them in the open so that they might not be surrounded in the fort. There was a lot of bloodshed, and many from both sides were killed. Ali challenged Shamsher to come forward and fight one to one.

She raised the slogan of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” and, with a stroke of her sword, cut Ali’s right arm. With the second stroke, she separated his head from his body. Her husband was badly injured in the battle. Now the remaining Muslim soldiers took to their heels.

Her husband did not recover despite the available treatment and breathed his last. She treated it as the will of God and did not cry.

Now she was left alone, but she did not lose heart. The next year, Marathas from west India conquered Agra, and after subduing many petty chiefs, they sent a message to Shamsher to hand over her territory to them and leave her fort. They had an army of many thousands, but she had only one thousand soldiers.

Neither Jassa Singh Ramgarhia nor any other Sikh chief could help her as they were far away. She decided that she preferred death to subordination. She and her soldiers fought bravely against the enemy. Many soldiers from both sides died fighting. It is said that her dead body had as many as thirty injuries. Her name is still mentioned in folklore, and older adults of the area remember her with respect.

Derry Journal – Invaluable contribution of Sikh community

Derry & Strabane Councillors have praised the positive contribution of the local Sikh community.

Brendan McDaid

Derry – Northern Ireland – UK, 02 March 2021. The Council have also unanimously backed a motion welcoming the nomination of Khalsa Aid International for the Nobel Peace Prize and expressing solidarity with the thousands of farmers across India engaged in peaceful protest.

The motion was tabled by Foyleside SDLP Councillor, Mary Durkan.

Miss Durkan said: “The strong cross-party support for this solidarity motion is reflective of the valued contribution of the Sikh community’s day-to-day living in Derry and Strabane through their work as well as their generous support of local charities and organisations.

“So many councillors, and indeed citizens, can share their personal experiences of the hospitality of the Sikh community here.”

Ms Durkan spoke of the escalating violence directed at Indian farmers in Delhi and beyond during protests against controversial agricultural reform bills.

“Many of these protestors are elderly and desperately worried about livelihoods and the future for their families,” she said, while also expressing alarm over “particularly disturbing stories around the detention of female journalists and activists”.

“The local Sikh community members are rightly proud of the nomination of Khalsa Aid International for the Nobel Peace Prize. This organisation is currently delivering vital on-the-ground aid at the farmers’ protests in India.

For over two decades, people all around the world, from all faith backgrounds and none, have been supported by Khalsa Aid in response to natural disasters and conflict situations.

“Our city and district is based on good community relations. We are continuing to build an inclusive society based on mutual respect, and enriched by cultural diversity.”

https://www.derryjournal.com/news/people/invaluable-contribution-of-sikh-community-3151134

FirstPost – Tamil Nadu Assembly polls: State should oust K Palaniswami government and ‘keep out BJP’, says Rahul Gandhi

The Congress leader, who was on a three-day tour of Tamil Nadu, participated in multiple events in Kanyakumari district ahead of the 6 April Assembly polls.

Kanyakumari – Tamil Nadu – India, 01 March 2021. Tamil Nadu should show the way to India in keeping away forces that are inimical to language and culture and those projecting “one culture – one nation – one history” concept, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Monday.

The Lok Sabha MP participated in multiple events in this district as part of his three-day tour of Tamil Nadu, ahead of the 6 April Assembly polls in the state which his party is facing in alliance with the MK Stalin-led DMK.

He also said the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), strongly opposed to by Tamil Nadu political parties, was a “big issue” and “not beneficial” for students.

The Wayanad MP displayed his fitness when he effortlessly did multiple push-ups, including one-handed, while he shook a leg with the students he interacted with, as accompanying Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and K S Alagiri joined him.

At a public address in Nagercoil in the district, Rahul said history has shown nobody can rule Tamil Nadu other than the Tamil people.

“This election will show the same thing that only a person who truly represents the Tamil people can be a Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” he said.

“Tamil Nadu chief minister (K Palaniswami) who bows to Prime Minister Narendra Modi will never be able to do this. The chief minister should bow to the people of the state,” he said.

The RSS and Modi “insult Tamil language and culture”, he said, adding the people should not to allow them to gain a foothold in the state.

Rahul further said “Modi talks about one culture, one nation, one history and one leader.”

“Is Tamil not an Indian language? Is Bengali not an Indian language? Is Tamil culture not Indian culture? This is the battle that is being fought in this election,” he said as the crowd cheered.

“It is my duty to protect the Tamil language, culture and history just as it is my duty to protect all languages and religions in India,” he said.

He accused the BJP-led government at the Centre as well as the Palaniswami government of not respecting Tamil language, culture or tradition.

Recalling the yeoman service of late Congress MP H Vasantha Kumar, Gandhi said he always stood by the party values. He laid a wreath at Kumar’s memorial at Kanyakumari.

During his interaction with students of St Joseph’s Matric Higher Secondary School, Mulagumoodu in the district, he said NEET is a ‘big’ issue in the state.

“NEET is a big issue here. It is stopping many youngsters from pursuing their dreams. It is not beneficial,” he claimed.

Arguing that teachers and students are both equally important in shaping education policy, as they are the pillars of the institution, he said no policy will be beneficial if the views of teachers and students are not obtained.

“If I force you to read, then it is arrogance, but if I ask what do you require, then it is humility. Arrogance creates problems whereas humility resolves problems,” he said.

Asked why youngsters don’t want to make politics a career, Gandhi said it could be so because “there are some politicians who steal from people.”

“There are good political leaders who work for the people, try to understand people and empower them. Draw inspiration from such leaders who help people,” he said.

Recalling his brief interaction with a few boys with whom he sipped tea, before arriving at the school, Gandhi said he was impressed by the ambition of one of them who wanted to become an astronaut.

He said he would write a letter to the Chairman of ISRO who may allow the boy to visit the space station.

“When he visits, he may be inspired and will grow up to join the space mission…,” Rahul said.

Becoming an astronaut was the boy’s choice but helping him achieve his dream was the politician’s job, he added.

Asked what he would ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if he were to interview him, he shot back, “You have asked me a tricky question,” evoking laughter from the audience.

“I would ask, why are you convinced that all answers should come from you. Why don’t you listen to what the people of the country feel or want to say,” he said. Many students who interacted with Rahul addressed him as Rahul “Anna” (elder brother).

What is Rahul anna’s recipe for good health, does he follow a special diet regimen, a student asked. “I run, swim and cycle. I have learnt Aikido martial art,” the Congress leader said and demonstrated the Japanese technique.

During his tour, he tasted palm fruit and sipped tea in a shop.

Later, at a roadshow, he lashed out at the Centre over demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying they “destroyed” many small and medium businesses. “The new farm laws are going to destroy the lives of our farmers,” he said.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/tamil-nadu-assembly-polls-state-should-oust-k-palaniswami-govt-and-keep-out-bjp-says-rahul-gandhi-9362941.html

The Telegraph – Rights first: India’s migrant workers

Addressing the plight of such a mobile, diffused but significant section of the population requires an understanding of complex, intersecting issues

The Editorial Board

Kolkata – West Bengal – India, 03 March 2021. The invisibility of India’s migrant constituency starts to dissipate when their numbers become apparent.

This happened when thousands of migrant workers, pushed to desperation by the loss of jobs owing to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown last year, were forced to make arduous journeys on foot back to their home states.

Suddenly a suffering people erupted on the national radar although their labour has, for decades, propelled the nation’s growth. Nearly 80 per cent of migrant workers in the informal sector lost their jobs and many casualties were reported during their march home.

Yet the government, in another telling show of indifference, informed Parliament recently that it is ‘still collecting’ data on the number of deaths of migrant workers.

Addressing the plight of such a mobile, diffused but significant section of the population requires an understanding of complex, intersecting issues.

The Niti Aayog’s draft policy on migrant workers is thus a welcome initiative.

It highlights some of the most pressing problems plaguing migrant labour: loopholes in existing legislation designed to protect the constituency from exploitation; the absence of a rights-based approach towards empowerment; lack of development in home states and access to dignified, well-paid jobs that lead them to migrate in the first place, and so on.

Hearteningly, the draft makes valuable suggestions to address the problem.

For instance, given the weaknesses inherent to the Inter State Migrant Workers Act, 1979, the draft calls for a comprehensive law that would safeguard the rights of all migrant workers and form the legal basis for building a social security system.

This is crucial on several counts, not least of which is that internal migrants are not registered as voters in their places of work, thereby pushing them to the margins of welfare initiatives that invariably prioritize local population over migrants.

But enumeration and social security would not be enough. Affirmative action must take place at the policy level to treat migrants as equal citizens with secure access to basic entitlements such as food, education, healthcare and labour rights.

But such a recognition is unlikely to come to pass unless the State acknowledges that the welfare of the nation is inextricably linked to that of the migrant worker.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/rights-first-indias-migrant-workers/cid/1808144

The Tribune – Ruckus in Punjab Assembly over farm laws as Budget session begins

Akalis raise slogans as Governor begins address; AAP MLAs ride bicycles to Vidhan Sabha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 01 March 2021. Being held in the shadow of the farmers’ agitation against the three central agricultural laws, the Budget session of the Punjab Assembly was off to a stormy start with the Opposition MLAs protesting over various issues.

AAP legislators on Monday came to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on bicycles, shouting slogans against the alleged “unfulfilled promises of the Congress government”.

Ahead of the start of Governor’s address, Akali Dal MLAs led by Bikram Singh Majithia raised slogans of “go back Governor” over the farm Bills.

Congress workers protest against the Union government at MLA hostel in Sector 4, Chandigarh.

The Opposition members questioned the Governor for “not sending the amendments” passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on the farm Bills to the President.

SAD supporters gather at Sector 25 in Chandigarh ahead of the protest march to the Punjab Assembly on Monday.

As many as 40 Congress MLAs, including Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pargat Singh, are present in the House. The Akalis raised slogans as the Governor began his address.

The Akalis stormed the Well of the House, raising slogans against the Governor.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/ruckus-in-punjab-assembly-over-farm-laws-as-budget-session-begins-219014

The Guardian – British Sikh ‘tortured’ in India after arrest must be freed, say MPs

Nearly 140 parliamentarians warn trumped-up charges could result in death penalty for Jagtar Singh Johal

London – UK, 28 February 2021. Nearly 140 MPs and peers have written to Dominic Raab urging him to do more to secure the release of a young Sikh man facing the death penalty in India after a confession allegedly extracted under torture.

The letter calls on the foreign secretary to accept that Jagtar Singh Johal is being detained arbitrarily, and says at least three of the charges levelled against him carried the death penalty.

In the letter the parliamentarians wrote: “When a British national is arbitrarily detained, tortured, and faces a potential death sentence, all on the basis of trumped-up political charges, the British government must make clear this is unacceptable.

This is a moment for the UK to take a stand and bring this young British man home.”

Boris Johnson to visit India in January in bid to transform G7

Signatories include the former Brexit secretary David Davis; the former international development secretary Hilary Benn; the father of the house, Sir Peter Bottomley; the SNP leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford; Sheffield’s mayor, Dan Jarvis; the former Foreign Office minister Lord Hain; the former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell; and Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative member of the foreign affairs select committee.

They claimed in their letter that Johal, who has been detained for three years, is a Sikh human rights activist from Dumbarton who travelled to India in October 2017 to get married and, three weeks after his wedding, was violently arrested by plainclothes police officers in Punjab before being “bound, hooded, and bundled into a car”.

“We understand that his arrest was unlawful, amounting in effect to an abduction by the state,” they wrote.

They added, after his detention, “Jagtar was brutally tortured with electricity into ‘confessing’ his involvement in an alleged conspiracy.”

Jagtar is being supported by the legal NGO Reprieve, which said the charges, of procuring arms, conspiracy to commit murder and a terrorist act, all carry the death penalty in Indian law.

It has been alleged he provided £3,000 to a Sikh planning to kill members of the extremist nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a charge he denies.

Despite an extraordinary 145 court appearances, his trial has been repeatedly delayed at the request of the prosecution, and basic information to defence counsel denied.

Reprieve deputy director Dan Dolan said: “It’s baffling that the Foreign Office hasn’t sought Jaggi’s release. We’re talking about a young British man facing a death sentence, based on nothing but a supposed confession he recorded after being tortured with electricity.

It is about as clear a case of arbitrary detention as you can imagine, but the government hasn’t acted to bring him home. Why?”

The issue is likely to be diplomatically sensitive for the prime minister, Boris Johnson, as he seeks to cement economic ties with India by travelling to see its prime minister, Narenda Modi, on a postponed trip, as well as to host Modi as a guest at the UK’s G7 gathering set for Cornwall in June.

The wooing of India is part of a wider UK government tilt towards the Indo-Pacific that is likely to be a central feature of the UK’s ‘global Britain’ strategy.

This story was updated on 28 February to clarify that Jagtar is alleged to have been in a conspiracy to kill members of the RSS. The original story it was a conspiracy to kill Hindus.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/28/british-sikh-tortured-in-india-after-arrest-must-be-freed-say-mps

Dawn – A cold peace?

Zarrar Khuhro

Islamabad – Pakistan, 01 March 2021. The recent developments on the Line of Control have engendered a great deal of debate, or at least what passes for debate in our discourse.

That discourse is as tedious as it is predictable, littered as it is with bombast, homilies, false equivalences, straw man arguments and partisan point-scoring.

So let’s try and cut through that noise as much as possible, while acknowledging that any actual analysis of an evolving situation is a work in progress and subject to revision.

To start with, this isn’t the melting of ice as much as it is the (temporary?) extinguishing of a burning fire.

The ceasefire that both Pakistan and India have jointly pledged to observe has been in place since 2003 but in recent years had seen unprecedented violations, mostly from India, which have resulted in both military and civilian casualties.

Indian forces have conducted indiscriminate shelling on civilian targets while Pakistani forces have targeted only Indian military installations.

So in the immediate, the beneficiaries of this re-established ceasefire are Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC and that cannot, under any circumstances, be considered a bad thing.

Now, repeat after me: one ceasefire does not make for a comprehensive peace agreement. I’m asking you to repeat this because far too many seem to think this agreement somehow means that Kashmir has been abandoned/sold/given away, and that the government/establishment/state has taken a craven U-turn on its previous stance vis-à-vis what they called the fascist/genocidal/ Nazi-inspired Indian government.

It’s understandable when this sort of talk comes from opposition politicians and spokespersons; having been accused of treason and selling out Pakistan with every other breath, this provides, in their mind, an opportunity to push back and counter-accuse. When it comes from people one would expect to have a more holistic view, it’s somewhat disturbing.

We have no way of knowing how long the ceasefire will last.

Let’s start by understanding that no amount of bloodshed at the LoC brings the liberation of Kashmir even an inch closer, and never will.

Note also, that a cessation of hostilities, as mentioned before only saves the lives of innocent civilians and is thus more in Pakistan’s interests than it is in India’s, which has never shown any regard for the lives, livelihood and honour of Kashmiris.

Also know that the escalation at the LoC was largely due to India, and its agreeing to observe the ceasefire it repeatedly violated (to the extent of targeting a UN vehicle) does seem an acknowledgement that the campaign at the LoC has not given them the desired results.

Another factor is that the confrontation with China, and subsequent deployment of a significant number of Indian troops to the Line of Actual Control also diverts Indian attention and resources.

Some hawks on our side are lamenting that we didn’t ‘take advantage’ of this confrontation to mobilise against India, but that is a childish refrain, emphasising tactics over strategy and ignoring the fact that we simply cannot afford war.

We also made the same mistake after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, where China’s victory led Pakistani military planners to underestimate Indian capabilities with unpleasant results three years later.

Nevertheless, the Chinese threat to India is now permanent, and this will have lasting effects.

Was this agreement possible without some level of contacts and political cover? Absolutely not.

Any such move is the result of contacts and channels that stay open even in the worst of times, and in the case of Pakistan and India, this has been the norm throughout decades and different governments.

But does this translate into a far-reaching peace agreement in which Kashmir is presumably ignored? To comment on that at this point would be recklessly premature, but the situation argues against any such thing being on the cards.

For one, we have no way of knowing how long this (re-established) ceasefire will last, or whether the Indian government, dominated as it is by theocratic hawks who suborn foreign policy to domestic political and ideological agendas, has any real commitment to peace.

As for Kashmir, we have few cards to play, and the cards that we have played in the past have caused more harm than good. At the risk of sounding cynical, you cannot give away what you do not possess and have little hope of possessing in the foreseeable future.

It is also being said that Pakistan has communicated to India that the restoration of occupied Kashmir to its pre-annexation status is a prerequisite to formal talks, and if that is so then the odds are that talks are a distant dream as, given the situation on the ground, it seems politically impossible for the Modi government to walk back on such a crucial policy plank.

The current arrangement, then, is a step forward, but it is not peace. One swallow does not make for spring.

The writer is a journalist.

Twitter: @zarrarkhuhro

https://www.dawn.com/news/1610094/a-cold-peace

The Hindustan Times – BJP fears Gandhi-Nehru family most, very scared of Rahul too:

Chhattisgarh CM

Guwahati – Assam – India, 28 February 2021. The Chhattisgarh CM, a close confidante of Rahul Gandhi, said the Lok Sabha MP is the only pan-India leader fighting against the BJP across the country.

The BJP “fears” the Gandhi- Nehru family the most in Indian politics, feels Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who also insisted that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is the “only choice” for the party’s national president post.

Baghel said the BJP is also very scared of Gandhi as he constantly raises pertinent issues affecting the people.

“If BJP fears someone or something the most, it is the Gandhi-Nehru family. When Indira Gandhi came to power, then the same Jan Sangh people used to call her ‘gungi gudiya’ (dumb doll). They made fun of her using that phrase.

“But, Indira Gandhi proved that she was an iron lady through her work. When she got a chance, she divided Pakistan and created Bangladesh. The world has not seen anything like what she did,” Baghel told PTI in an interview.

The Chhattisgarh CM, a close confidante of Rahul Gandhi, said the Lok Sabha MP is the only pan-India leader fighting against the BJP and RSS across the country.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bjp-fears-gandhi-nehru-family-most-very-scared-of-rahul-too-chhattisgarh-cm-101614511149215.html

Sikh24.com – Arrested farmer leader Mohinder Singh Khalsa did nothing wrong by standing for farmers

Sikh24 India Bureau

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 27 February 2021. The Delhi police arrested Jammu-based farmer leader Mohinder Singh Khalsa on 22 February in relation to 26 January incident at the Red Fort of Delhi.

Another young farmer activist Mandeep Singh was also arrested along with Mohinder Singh Khalsa, and the duo were taken to Delhi.

After their arrest, a sharp outrage is observed among Jammu residents against the Delhi police’s act of framing an innocent farmer leader and a young farmer activist on January 26’s incident.

To bring forth the ground reality, Sikh activist Papalpreet Singh is in Jammu on Sikh24’s behalf.

In this video, he has interviewed an eminent local female activist Gurmeet Kaur about Mohinder Singh Khalsa’s arrest.