The Indian Express – After arrest of ‘key SFJ recruiter’, 18 more are on NIA radar

No police action was initiated against these 18 after the FIR was lodged in 2018.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 27 June 2020. Around 20 months after the Amritsar police booked Pargat Singh (23) in a sedition case for his alleged links with outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) radical outfit, the NIA’s move to arrest him has brought the focus on 18 others named in the same 2018 sedition case.

No police action was initiated against these 18 after the FIR was lodged in 2018. They are now believed to be on NIA’s radar after Pargat’s arrest, who is alleged to be the key recruiter of radical Sikh youths for SFJ.

While Punjab Police had booked 30 accused in original case, it had submitted challan only against 11 at an Amritsar court in March 2019, keeping 19, including Pargat Singh and banned outfit Sikh For Justice’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, out of it.

However, NIA told Mohali court earlier this week that Pargat Singh was one of the key conspirators and recruiter of radical Sikh youth while working under the directions of handlers located abroad to further the activities of SFJ (Sikhs For Justice) which has already been declared an unlawful association.

Pargat Singh (23), a Sikh priest [There are no Sikh priests] from village Tarmala in district Sri Muktsar Sahib, was produced before the NIA Special Court, Mohali on 23 June and was remanded to NIA custody till 29 June.

His arrest also came months after Sikh for Justice was banned in India in July 2019.

Case File

The original case was registered at Sultanwind Police Station, Amritsar (City) vide FIR No 152 dated October 19, 2018.

The case was subsequently re-registered by NIA on April 5, 2020.

According to the NIA FIR, “A module had been motivated by one Javed Khan, an ISI handler based in Pakistan for conducting subversive activities and pasting of Khalistan/Referendum-2020 posters/banners at different locations in Punjab and New Delhi.”

The agency in a recent statement added that the “case is related to series of acts of violence including acts of arson in Punjab during the year 2017-18, carrying out of propaganda activities both online and on ground, campaigns in support of Referendum 2020/SFJ including pasting of posters in Delhi and various parts of Punjab, committed by groups of radicalised youths under direction of and financial assistance from SFJ handlers located abroad.

Investigation has revealed that arrested accused persons, including Pargat Singh, had received funds from their foreign handlers.”

Intriguingly, Punjab Police, while investigating case till April 2020, had not even visited the house of Pargat Singh on single occasion after filing the FIR in October 2018.

“There is no criminal record of Pargat Singh at our police station. We were never approached by any police team to raid the house of Pargat Singh,” said SHO, Lambi, under whose jurisdiction Pargat’s village Tarmala falls.

Apart from Pargat Singh, there were total 10 accused in India, who were not interrogated by Punjab Police during last 20 months.

These include Balwant Singh from village Waring, Tarn Taran, Sandeep Singh, Harjeet Singh, Davinder Singh, Sukhbir Singh and Bhupinder Singh, all five from Srinagar, Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh all from Dera Ajnala Amritsar.

Ajnala Dera is run by Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala, who was appointed Takht Kesgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib Jathedar during the 2015 Sarbat Khalsa at Amritsar.

“Most of the accused were students at Damdami Taksal faction being run by Amrik Singh Ajnala in Ajnala town. We never raided Ajnala Dera. Amrik Singh was also not questioned.

Four accused Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh, not nominated in challan, couldn’t be arrested,” said former ACP, Amritsar, Palwinder Singh, who looked after the probe in sedition case before handing over the case to NIA. Palwinder was recently transferred as DSP Jalalabad in Fazilka.

He added: “We raided homes of all these accused, not mentioned in the challan, from time to time, but we couldn’t arrest them. However, they were not declared proclaimed offenders.”

As soon as NIA took over the case, Amrik Singh Ajnala was questioned in Amritsar on June 23. “We have handed over case to NIA because it was related to Interpol.

NIA can investigate and make efforts for arrest of foreign nationals,” said DSP Palwinder Singh. Apart from SFJ’s face Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is in the US, there are five accused from South Africa, one each from UAE and Kuwait.

Think about Jagtar Singh Dumbarton who was arrested in 2017, and until now no proof against him has been produced.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/after-arrest-of-key-sfj-recruiter-18-more-are-on-nia-radar-6478736/

The Tribune – Pursue cases of Sikh youths, SGPC told

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 30 June 2020. After raking up the issue of a separate Sikh state “Khalistan”, Akal Takht’s officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh today directed the SGPC to pursue cases of Sikh youths who were arrested by the Punjab Police recently.

Giani Hapreet Singh condemned the police for allegedly implicating Sikh youths on the false pretext of supporting Khalistan.

“If Sikh youths are arrested on frivolous charges in the name of Khalistan, it is condemnable. The SGPC should pursue cases of innocent Sikh youths,” he said.

On 06 June, during the anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Giani Harpreet Singh had triggered a controversy by stating that every Sikh wanted a separate state and “if the government offers us Khalistan, what else do we need? We will accept it.” Later, he clarified that Sikhs can never be defined by the idea of Khalistan.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/pursue-cases-of-sikh-youths-sgpc-told-106780

Gentbrugge – Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
08 April 2020

The water table in the Meersen has drastically lowered since April

I do not know what this white stuff is, but I do know that this used to be ditch full of water

View of Koningsdonk across the field

Tree felled by the storms earlier this year

Sloversdreef – Koningsdonkstraat

Sloversdreef

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Nation – Plea against temple’s construction in Sector H-9 rejected

Islamabad – Pakistan, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday rejected a plea seeking a stay order against the construction of a temple for Hindu community in Sector H-9 and sought comments from Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the matter.

Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing on the petition moved by Tanvir Akhter Advocate.

The court said minorities’ rights were protected in the Constitution and it must be cared. The court, however, directed the civic body to explain that whether the temple in Sector H-9 was part of the CDA’s master plan or not.

At the outset of hearing, the petitioner adopted the stance that there was already a temple existed in Saidpur Village and it could be renovated further.

He pleaded the court that the land allocated for temple in Sector H-9 was a violation of CDA’s master plan, adding there was no Hindu community residing around this sector.

https://nation.com.pk/01-Jul-2020/plea-against-temple-s-construction-in-sector-h-9-rejected

The Hindu – India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s ‘missing females’, says UN report

The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years – from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

New York – United Nations, 30 June 2020. India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s 142.6 million “missing females” over the past 50 years, a report by the United Nations said on Tuesday, noting that the country along with China form the majority of such women globally.

The State of World Population 2020 report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world organisation’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said that the number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

Of this global figure, India accounted for 45.8 million missing females as of 2020 and China accounted for 72.3 million.

Missing females are women missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past, the agency said.

Girls ‘missing’ in India at birth

Between 2013 and 2017, about 460,000 girls in India were ‘missing’ at birth each year.

According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two-thirds of the total missing girls, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about one-third, the report said.

Citing data by experts, it said that China and India together account for about 90-95 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide due to gender-biased (prenatal) sex selection.

The two countries also account for the largest number of births each year, it said.

The report cites data by Alkema, Leontine and others, 2014 ‘National, Regional, and Global Sex Ratios of Infant, Child, and under-5 Mortality and Identification of Countries with Outlying Ratios: A Systematic Assessment’ from The Lancet Global Health.

Highest rate of excess female deaths

According to their analysis, India has the highest rate of excess female deaths, 13.5 per 1,000 female births, which suggests that an estimated one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 may be attributed to postnatal sex selection.

The report notes that governments have also taken action to address the root causes of sex selection.

India and Vietnam have included campaigns that target gender stereotypes to change attitudes and open the door to new norms and behaviours.

They spotlight the importance of daughters and highlight how girls and women have changed society for the better.

Campaigns that celebrate women’s progress and achievements may resonate more where daughter-only families can be shown to be prospering, it said.

The report said that successful education-related interventions include the provision of cash transfers conditional on school attendance; or support to cover the costs of school fees, books, uniforms and supplies, taking note of successful cash-transfer initiatives such as ‘Apni Beti Apna Dhan’ in India.

It said that preference for a male child manifested in sex selection has led to dramatic, long-term shifts in the proportions of women and men in the populations of some countries.

Demographic imbalance

This demographic imbalance will have an inevitable impact on marriage systems. In countries where marriage is nearly universal, many men may need to delay or forego marriage because they will be unable to find a spouse, the report said.

This so-called “marriage squeeze”, where prospective grooms outnumber prospective brides, has already been observed in some countries and affects mostly young men from lower economic strata.

“At the same time, the marriage squeeze could result in more child marriages, the report said citing experts.

Some studies suggest that the marriage squeeze will peak in India in 2055. The proportion of men who are still single at the age of 50 is forecast to rise after 2050 in India to 10 per cent, it said.

The UN report said that every year, millions of girls globally are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities.

At least 19 harmful practices, ranging from breast ironing to virginity testing, are considered human rights violations, according to the UNFPA report, which focuses on the three most prevalent ones: female genital mutilation, child marriage, and extreme bias against daughters in favour of sons.

Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential, says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Female genital mutilations

This year, an estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation.

Today, 33,000 girls under age 18 will be forced into marriages, usually to much older men and an extreme preference for sons over daughters in some countries has fuelled gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect that leads to their death as children, resulting in the 140 million missing females.

The report said that ending child marriage and female genital mutilation worldwide is possible within 10 years by scaling up efforts to keep girls in school longer and teach them life skills and to engage men and boys in social change.

Investments totalling USD 3.4 billion a year through 2030 would end these two harmful practices and end the suffering of an estimated 84 million girls, it said.

A recent analysis revealed that if services and programmes remain shuttered for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 13 million girls may be forced into marriage and 2 million more girls may be subjected to female genital mutilation between now and 2030.

The pandemic both makes our job harder and more urgent as so many more girls are now at risk, Kanem said.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-accounts-for-458-million-of-the-worlds-missing-females-says-un-report/article31951401.ece

The News – Timely intelligence alert and police preparedness foiled Pakistan Stock Exchange attack

Islamabad – Pakistan, 30 June 2020. It was the perfect combination of timely issuance of intelligence alerts and quick response by police and security officials that has foiled Indian-backed BLA’s terrorist attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday.

Informed sources said that the intelligence agencies had the information that the terrorist may attack certain targets in Karachi. Intelligence alerts were also issued one of which had clearly identified Pakistan Stock Exchange as the possible target of the terrorists.

Following these reports, the Karachi police beefed up the PSX’s security and deployed a team of its commandos. The private security of the Pakistan Stock Exchange was also enhanced.

Karachi police sources said that in view of this preparedness when the Indian sponsored BLA attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building, they were quickly countered and killed.

Days before the Monday’s attack, an intelligence alert was issued warning police and others concerned to prepare for the possible attack.

The report had recommended enhancement of police deployment at and inside Pakistan Stock Exchange. According to the intelligence alert, Pakistan Stock Exchange is one of the key business installations of the country.

A large number of businessmen and investors come to Pakistan Stock Exchange for business activities, the alert said.

The intelligence alert had also discussed the then security level of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and feared that any terrorist might manage to enter the premises of Pakistan Stock Exchange to carry out any sabotaging activities.

“Therefore, it is recommended that Police deployment may be enhanced at and inside Pakistan Stock Exchange,” said the report, adding, “It is pertinent to mention that the backside of Pakistan Stock Exchange, area opposite the railway tracks is hub of illegal activities which might be used by terrorists to attack Pakistan Stock Exchange.”

It was recommended that security arrangements be enhanced and new police posts should be established on the backside of the building, which faces the railway track.

In the light of this intelligence report, the police reviewed the security situation in and around the Pakistan Stock Exchange and upgraded the same to counter a possible terrorist attack.

On Monday, when the terrorists attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange they were quickly and successfully countered by the police and private security guards deployed there.

According to media reports a police sub inspector and two security guards were martyred while successfully repelling this terrorist attack. All the four heavily armed terrorists were killed.

The terrorists had come heavily equipped with modern weaponry and had entered the building from the parking area of the Pakistan Stock Exchange but they were killed before causing any destruction.

In charge of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Raja Umar Khatab said that the terrorists had planned for a long fight but they were failed to fulfill their evil design.

The terrorist organization BLA has claimed the responsibility of the attack and said that it was BLA’s “Majeed brigade” which had hit the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/679862-timely-intel-alert-and-police-preparedness-foiled-psx-attack

Sikh24.com – Pakistani Sikhs mark death anniversary of world’s best ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Sikh24 Editors –

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 30 June 2020. On 29 June, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Evacuee Trust Property Board marked the 181st death anniversary of the world’s best rule Maharaja Ranjit Singh at his tomb in Lahore.

A religious program was organized on this occasion in which the numbers of attendees were kept low in the wake of corona-virus pandemic.

Sharing the details of program with Sikh24, Lahore based Babar Jalandhari informed that the Raagi Jathas delighted present attendees with melodious Kirtan following the culmination of Sri Akhand Path Sahib.

PSGPC’s general secretary Amir Singh shed light on the life history of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

He informed that the ETPB’s chairman Dr Aamir Ahmad has announced to name a prominent building of Lahore after Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Resentment among Sikhs over inaction against Khawaza Saad Rafique

Former PSGPC general secretary Gopal Singh Chawla has expressed grudge over inaction against Khawaza Saad Rafique for labeling Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a profligate and dacoit ruler.

Gentbrugge – Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
08 April 2020

Wonderful bridge

Impressive stairs !

Staartmeespad – Long-tailed-tit path

Pont and trees

A battered old tree but still alive

The fence is to keep the cattle within their allotted area

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Hindustan Times – Missing ‘saroops’: Ex-employee files police complaint against SGPC officials

Kanwaljit Singh, who retired from service on 31 May, in the complaint refuted SGPC’s claim that only 14 ‘saroops’ were damaged in the 2016 fire. He said the number of ‘saroops’ damaged in the blaze and due to water in fire control operation was 80 and the SGPC officials hid this truth.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 29 June 2020. A former employee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Kanwaljit Singh has lodged a complaint with Amritsar police commissioner against the officials of the gurdwara body with regard to missing of 267 ‘saroops’ of Guru Granth Sahib from its publishing house.

Kanwaljit, who retired from service on 31 May, in the complaint refuted SGPC’s claim that only 14 ‘saroops’ were damaged in the 2016 fire. He said the number of ‘saroops’ damaged in the blaze and due to water in fire control operation was 80 and the SGPC officials hid this truth.

“The record of remaining 187 saroops was taken away from me by the SGPC officials. They did so to hide the 2016 incident,” he said.

“Apart from forcibly getting an affidavit from me, the SGPC officials continue to harass me to make me keep my mouth shut.

I want a case registered against the SGPC officials and a free and fair inquiry. I have evidence and will produce them before the inquiry officer,” said the complainant.

On the other hand, the SGPC has termed the accusations as “misleading” and “condemnable”.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/missing-saroops-ex-employee-files-police-complaint-against-sgpc-officials/story-q5kt5vPwszymHq6MSELaYN.html

Scroll.in – ‘China’s historical memories of subjugation have fuelled its obsession with territory’: Rana Mitter

An interview with the China expert at the University of Oxford

Arunoday Majumder

Oxford – Oxfordshire – UK, 29 June 2020. China is dominating news cycles globally, beginning with the corona-virus outbreak in Wuhan early this year and Donald Trump’s accusation that it has “total control over the World Health Organisation”.

Earlier this month, military tensions with India along the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh escalated after the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

There is now growing anti-Chinese rhetoric in India amid calls to boycott Chinese goods. China also recently engaged in territorial disputes with Nepal and Japan.

This interview with Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, explores China’s social, political and economic history to help determine a global response to the country’s recent actions.

Mitter describes China’s evolution from “command socialism to market-driven socialism”, its rise as the driver of a global consumerist economy, and how the “century of humiliation” continues to be the dominant narrative of its nation building.

Excerpts

These days the focus is almost entirely on the Chinese state and its diplomatic, military and trade arms. Do you think that the responses to China will be far more fruitful if the world tries to know a little more about the society in which the Chinese state operates?

That’s a very shrewd question and I think it gets to the heart of something very important. Within the last 30 or 40 years, China has turned from command socialism to market-driven socialism.

I think if you look at the society as a whole, there are a lot of phenomena that do not immediately seem to be obvious results of that kind of one-party system.

One thing is that economic freedom has grown very considerably in the last 30 or 40 years.

There has been a sort of bargain, unspoken but real, particularly after the Tiananmen Square killing incident in 1989, that the party-state is ordering its people not to get involved in politics. But it is promising a sort of economic harvest.

Like an economic growth that will emerge as a result of their policies. So that means a very great deal of most exciting part of Chinese life on the ground is in the small and medium enterprise sector.

It’s a country which has generally been very amenable to starting up and doing business and that has been one of the reasons behind its huge economic growth in the last 30-40 years.

Particularly in the manufacturing sector?

Traditionally in the manufacturing sector. I think that’s moving and changing very much into a whole variety of areas considered to be more high value.

A lot of manufacturing these days, meaning within the last five to 10 years, is moving off-shore from China to places like Vietnam and Cambodia.

China is now developing hugely profitable and productive domestic services. Companies like Alibaba, Tencent are taking advantage of the fact that one quarter of the earth’s population is in China.

That means China has also driven a very powerful, sort of, consumerist economy that I think isn’t often appreciated.

So the Chinese are opening the economy and at the same time not allowing people the freedom that Western democracies or even India or other postcolonial nations have experienced. How does the Chinese state maintain that?

It’s a very interesting question which is asked frequently. But the answer I shall give is that you are starting from what many Chinese would regard is the wrong premise in the first place.

If your point of comparison is why China could develop one of the world’s most innovative and powerful consumer-driven economies while having very heavy censorship and authoritarian party-state, arbitrary arrest of many academics and lawyers; ask the question differently.

Ask it this way: 50 years ago in the early 1970s, China was in the middle of the Cultural Revolution, one of the most destructive periods. Even the Chinese themselves, the Chinese Communist Party, rejected it as a massive, destructive era.

And 50 years after that, which in historical terms is not really a very long time, they have the second biggest economy in the world and a country with geopolitical influence.

Now that doesn’t happen by accident. Many Chinese, the ordinary Chinese, the middle-class Chinese, are very proud of what their country has managed to achieve.

So their point of comparison is not saying whether we necessarily have everything the liberal society has but rather how does China look now compared to what their parents had or what their grandparents had. That would be their logic.

So what you are then saying is that their comparison is not with their contemporaries. It’s not a horizontal comparison in time that they are making but their comparison and sense of satisfaction grows from a vertical comparison through time, that is to go back in history?

Broadly speaking, yes. I mean today even the middle-class Chinese, particularly ones living in big cities like Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing, travel overseas very frequently and it’s actually quite normal.

The fact that they can go on quite expensive holidays is also regarded by them as sign of their developing middle class lifestyles that their parents could never afford. But they also go to these places and see clearly what it is like having uncensored TV.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they come to China and say, “We have it so much worse.” In some cases they do.

But in other cases, they come back and say, “Well that’s just one of the differences, but what we’ve been living with actually does show year on year, decade on decade improvement in terms of our industrial lifestyle compared to what we were used to.”

There’s a lot of focus about China being primarily an authoritarian, communist political culture.

But I am also interested to know whether China is only a communist, political culture which looks up to Mao very favourably or is it that it is equally nationalistic and we are forgetting about the influence of Chiang Kai Shek?

You have to dig a little bit into modern Chinese history to understand some of what you have implied.

But essentially up till 1949, China was ruled by a succession of nationalist leaders like Chiang Kai Shek, who you mentioned, and probably the most prominent till 1927 and 1949; particularly during the period of WWII in China.

After that Chairman Mao came to power and the Chinese Communist Party has been in power ever since.

But one of the phenomena that’s most notable in the last 25 to 30 years is that as China has moved from a socialist top-down command economy as it was under Mao, to being a country that is authoritarian but has a certain amount of leeway for non-state organisations, more under previous presidents than under Xi Jinping, many people have looked back at the earlier period and said in some senses that it looks more similar to the kind of nationalist governments of pre-communist era than Mao period.

The major difference was that Mao’s China was dedicated to revolutionary social change.

One thing that is very clear is that Xi’s government does not want any kind of revolutionary social change. It wants evolution and not revolution in terms of economy and in terms of social welfare.

So to that extent, I suspect that that the mindset would have been much more familiar to Chiang kai Shek than it would have been to Chairman Mao.

There seems to be almost an obsession with territory as far as China and the Chinese state is concerned. Is there any historical ambition which they think is unfulfilled and which they now wish to fulfill?

I think history is very important. You are right. The Chinese still talk today and they talk extensively about the early 20th century, about what they call the “century of humiliation” lasting from “the opium wars” of 1840s to the World War II in the 1940s.

And this is the idea very much understood by all educated Chinese that China had been previously invaded and occupied by Western powers.

In fact, they look at India under the British as an example of how a nation could become completely occupied and lose its national status because of the actions of outside imperialists.

The “century of humiliation” still lives very strongly in the historical memories of the Chinese and it has created this huge, as you have implied, sensitivity about territory because they still have memories of imperial powers essentially deciding what China’s borders were going to be.

And having regained their autonomy from 1945 to 1949, they are determined that one thing one they are unwilling to make any sort of compromise is the question of borders.

That’s one of the reasons, I think, why it has become such a strong and in many ways, obstinate obsession on the part of the Chinese state.

There seems to be some sort of sympathy towards both Mao and Stalin in academic circles. I study in a university which had Mao and Stalin on its library walls even a few months back. Why is that?

Not the academic circles in which I move, I can tell you that. I think anyone would have to say that it’s an objective fact that Stalin and Mao were responsible for millions of deaths and that they operated totalitarian systems of government which created immense suffering amongst their people. I think that that’s something which is historically demonstrable.

Arunoday Majumder is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University and an assistant professor of sociology at the School of Law, NMIMS Bengaluru.

Waliya Hasan has helped transcribe the interview.

https://scroll.in/article/965645/chinas-historical-memories-of-subjugation-have-fuelled-its-obsession-with-territory-rana-mitter