Times of India – Babri Masjid demolition case: SC adjourns hearing till tomorrow

New Delhi, 22 March 2017. The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of the conspiracy charges against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti matter till March 23.

The apex court will now hear the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s plea against Allahabad High Court’s order dropping criminal conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders in the case on Thursday.

There are two sets of cases, one against BJP veteran Advani and others who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished. The other case was against lakhs of ‘karsevaks’ (volunteers) who were in and around the disputed structure.

The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc. circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It had subsequently invoked charges under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC which was quashed by the special court whose decision was upheld by the high court.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/babri-masjid-demolition-case-sc-to-decide-on-charges-against-advani-others/articleshow/57765364.cms

The Tribune – Lahore police grant security for Bhagat Singh’s function

Sanjiv Kumar Bakshi

Hoshiarpur, 21 March 2017. The Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) of Lahore has assured Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation (Pakistan) of security for their function to mark the martyrdom day Bhagat Singh at Fawara Chowk (Shadman) in Lahore on 23 March.

Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, chairman of the foundation, told this correspondent on the phone from Lahore that Lahore High Court had directed the CCPO to decide our application for the function. The officer today has assured us that security would be provided.”

Pakistan’s Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation had filed a petition in the HC on this count.

Qureshi said they had moved the court after the provincial government and senior police officers did not respond to their request for security.

“We met the CCPO with a copy of the HC order and requested him to decide our application for the function which would start at 4 pm on 23 March. Deciding our application, he has assured us of foolproof security,” said Qureshi.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/community/lahore-police-grant-security-for-bhagat-singh-s-function/380502.html

Tongeren – Hoepertingen

Tongeren
09 February 2017

Maastrichterstraat / Kloosterstraat

Stadhuisplein – Basilica

Ambiorix
Celtic king in the days of Julius Caesar

Grote Markt / Sint-Truiderstraat

Remains of old city wall

Remains of old city wall

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Newsweek – Shattering the Myth of Dutch Tolerance

Annemarie Toebosch

19 March 2017. The Dutch elections on 15 March have received a lot of attention in the international media.

The reason for the attention is clear: A Trump lookalike populist, Geert Wilders, was rumored to win big as part of a Western populist movement that some call the “Patriotic Spring.”

His rise has the liberal West confused and concerned, because if the land of gay marriage and coffee shops falls, then where is their hope for Western liberalism?

But, as results came in, two things were clear: Election turnout was high and Wilders’ support relatively low. Projections showed Wilders’ party winning 19 seats compared to 31 seats for the Dutch-right liberal conservatives of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. What does all this tell us about the populist movement? Is our bedrock of tolerance safe again?

To understand what happened in these Dutch elections, we need to look beyond Wilders and his place in Western populism to the myth of Dutch tolerance.

Students in my race and ethnicity courses at the University of Michigan have been engaged in this very task as they examine current and historic diversity in the Netherlands.

When they read University of Amsterdam sociologist Jan Willem Duyvendak or Free University of Amsterdam Holocaust historian Dienke Hondius, a more complicated picture of Dutch tolerance emerges.

Wilders doesn’t represent a sudden movement of the Netherlands away from tolerance. Dutch tolerance does not really exist in the way the stereotype dictates. Seventy years ago, the country saw a larger percentage of its Jewish population deported and killed than any other Western European nation.

This fact does not lend itself to simple explanations but has at least in part been attributed to the lack of protection of Jews by non-Jews and to Dutch collaboration with the Nazi occupation.

Looking at modern times, CUNY political scientist John Mollenkopf reports poorer immigrant integration outcomes, such as employment rates and job retention, in Amsterdam than in New York City, and Duyvendak finds explanations for these outcomes in white majority-culture dominance.

A few weeks after the 2016 USA elections, elderly Dutch statesman Jan Terlouw made a plea to the Dutch nation.
Speaking as the Jimmy Carter-like voice of reason of the political establishment, he asked the nation to go back to a time where Dutch people trusted each other, a time where people could enter the homes of other Dutchmen freely and without suspicion.

It was a “Make the Netherlands Great Again” message of sorts, but coming from the Dutch center-left.

I grew up in the Netherlands of Jan Terlouw. The country gave me an idyllic childhood, with soccer and hopscotch in the streets, but I never stepped freely into the homes of Indonesians who lived, grouped together, on the next street.

My white Dutch friends still know little to nothing about the relationship between race and our colonial history, or about the people of color who came to live in the Netherlands through that history.

Some Americans may be surprised to learn that the Netherlands has a more than 20 percent non-majority ethnic Dutch population, 10 percent of which are Indonesians, Surinamese and Dutch Caribbeans from former or current colonies, as well as Turks and Moroccans who (or whose family) originally came as part of guest worker programs.

Terlouw’s story is a beautiful story, then, but it isn’t true, and neither is the story that the Dutch have suddenly become intolerant as part of global Western populism.

In reality, the Dutch good old days were good old days because racial minorities were sidelined and did not complain, for example, about the slaves depicted on the golden coach that carries the Dutch king to the annual “Throne Address,” or the state of union.

Wilders isn’t unique

Now Dutch intolerance in the person of Wilders is on display around the world, and it is not limited to his party.

Of the 28 parties on the Dutch ballot this year, five had anti-Islam or anti-immigrant platforms, some more openly so than others. The Party for Entrepreneurs, for example, calls for a “mosque watch.”

Another one of these five parties, the Forum for Democracy party, which has a restrictive immigration and EU-cautious platform, appears to have won two seats.

Dutch nationalism does not just live on the right.

All the big parties that are contenders to enter a coalition government after this election, from all the way left to all the way right—reference “Dutchness” in one way or another in their party platforms, as a presumed understanding of what it means to be Dutch, or in the form of shared national values and a “be like us” message to immigrants.

Dutch nationalism is ubiquitous

But one important aspect of today’s elections is overshadowed by the Wilders discussion. The Dutch citizens who voted Wednesday had the choice of voting for a party called “DENK,” with mixed Dutch-Turkish, or Dutch-minority, values that some critics call the Dutch Erdogan satellite party.

Voters could also support “Artikel 1,” a party founded by minority rights activist Sylvana Simons nine weeks ago, and just four months after the country saw its racist holiday character of Zwarte Piet (the blackfaced helper of Saint Nicholas) phased out on national television amid white nationalist screams and quieter criticisms about the end of Dutch culture and tradition.

Artikel 1, named for the equality clause in the Dutch constitution, has the slogan “All Different But Yet The Same” and calls for equal rights for all Dutch people, men, women, gay, straight and, importantly, black, white, native and immigrant.

This election was the first time we saw minority parties such as DENK and Artikel 1 with programs advocating for education about Dutch migration history, the teaching of languages beyond the traditional European ones, a registry for racist hate crimes and a national holiday to celebrate the emancipation of Dutch slaves.

Remember: The Kingdom of the Netherlands is still a colonial power over the nation states of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, and the country of the Netherlands over the three Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

As a new Dutch government is formed in the weeks to come, we could brush the minority parties off as a reaction to Wilders’ populism and see his defeat as a return of Dutch tolerance, but we would be wiser to see these elections as the beginning of a sea change in a country that is slowly changing to meet its tolerant mythology.

Annemarie Toebosch is director of Dutch and Flemish Studies, University of Michigan.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/shattering-myth-dutch-tolerance-111002053.html?hl=1&noRedirect=1

The Hindu – Amarinder to seek legal advice on Navjot Singh’s appearance in serial

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has decided to seek legal opinion on whether his Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu can continue to appear as a celebrity judge on a popular television show.

“Captain Amarinder has said he is not sure what the law says regarding a Cabinet minister working on a television programme, and will have to ask the State’s advocate general to give legal advice on the matter,” his media advisor, Raveen Thukral, told The Hindu.

Conflict of interest

“It’s about whether there’s any conflict of interest if he [Mr. Sidhu] continues to work in television…If there is any, then the Chief Minister will talk to him [Mr. Sidhu] and bring it to his knowledge,” he added.

The controversy erupted after Mr. Sidhu recently said that he will continue to appear on a popular TV show as a celebrity judge. “TV shows will not interfere with my Cabinet responsibilities. The public had elected me five times with what I have been doing…If they don’t have a problem, why should anyone else have it,” Mr. Sidhu had said.

‘Not office of profit’

He insisted that his TV shows will not interfere with his Cabinet responsibilities. “I have no liquor, sand mining or transport business like former deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. I earn a living through TV shows and I will be in Chandigarh from Monday to Thursday and in Amritsar from Friday to Sunday.

What I do at night should not be anyone’s concern. I will take first flight back to Punjab after TV shoots in Mumbai,” he said.

Mr Sidhu, who currently holds the portfolios of local government, tourism and cultural affairs, has been maintaining that doing a TV show does not come under the ambit of “office of profit”.

Meanwhile, Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur has come out in support of his husband through a Facebook post, saying that the issue was being over-hyped without any reason.

“Such hype has been created about Navjot earning a living from television. He has left 80 per cent of shows, which included IPL, commentary, etc.I think it is a meagre time for a non-socially active God-fearing workaholic,” she wrote on Facebook.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sidhus-tv-show-puts-govt-in-a-spot/article17567173.ece?homepage=true

The News – Bhagat Singh: his times and ours

Ammar Jan

Op/Ed 21 March 2017. The 23rd of March will be the 86th death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, one of the most revered figures of the anti-colonial movement.

In India, his life and death will be commemorated by a right-wing government which, after the nomination of an outright anti-Muslim bigot as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given up even on any pretence of justice or inclusivity.

And in Pakistan, apart from a few civil society and Left activists, the day will either be ignored or consciously repressed. With a nationalism premised on the obliteration of all traces of a shared past between Muslims and non-Muslims, the story of a young Sikh man’s struggle for freedom becomes a source of collective embarrassment.

It is a form of historical violence to restrict a person to specific identitarian markers when his/her entire life was a formidable effort to overcome all limitations of race, caste and religion that structured the world he inhabited.

Bhagat’s internationalist and cosmopolitan outlook (despite having never travelled abroad) can be gauged from the inspirations he cites in his letters from prison, German communists, English philosophers, Russian anarchists and novelists, and leaders of the National Congress and the Caliphate movement.

Categorising a man who called for total communal harmony and identified with global revolutionary movements of the era as only an Indian, Sikh or even Punjabi does not diminish the universal potential of his life and struggle.

It only indicts us, demonstrating how alienated we are from universalism, from our own past and, eventually, from our own humanity.

Yet a compelling question often posed is: if Bhagat is to be considered an icon to the youth today, how do we explain some of his actions, including the murder of a police constable and a bomb attack at the legislative assembly (purposely thrown in an empty area to avoid casualties)?

This is a pertinent question, particularly at a moment of rising communal, religious and ethnic violence in our region, not to mention the spiralling financial and human costs of the ‘war on terror’. Do we then need to emulate a man who was condemned as a terrorist, and who immediately accepted responsibility for his actions?

The question of violence, however, is presented today in an ahistorical manner in the debates on the subject.

In such frameworks, one can equate the military occupation of foreign lands to the resistance against that same occupation, or the deaths of four million Bengali peasants due to a British-created famine to the violence of the Tebagha Peasant Movement against such lethal exploitation of the peasantry.

One should not forget that even Gandhi’s ‘non-violent’ movements were regularly accused of instigating riots, resulting in imprisonment, torture and death sentences handed out to many ‘peaceful’ anti-colonial activists by the colonial state.

Therefore, one cannot mimic the language of the state to collapse disparate political projects into the awkwardly woven categories of ‘violence’, ‘fanaticism’ or ‘totalitarianism’ without regard to their specific historical development.

And it is pertinent to remember that the context that produced the possibility of a Bhagat Singh was an outright assault on the lives, property and dignity of the Indian population.

In 1919, a Punjab-wide agitation began against the growing economic crisis in the province, often led by soldiers who had loyally served the British during the First World War but now faced precarious conditions due to the demobilisation of soldiers at the end of the war effort.

Tensions reached a crescendo when hundreds of people celebrating the Baisakhi festival at the Jallianwala Bagh were massacred by Colonel Dyer’s troops for allegedly violating a curfew.

This was also a time when imposing humiliating conditions on the general public was meant to, in the words of a British official, “teach them obedience”.

For example, it was made compulsory for all locals in Gujranwala to salute a European every time they saw one, while natives were forced to crawl through a street in Amritsar where a British woman had been harassed.

The Punjab of the 1920s was littered with examples of such forms of collective punishment and humiliation meted out to the locals.

Regardless of all the rhetoric of a civilising mission, colonial rule was established and secured through pain imposed on the bodies of individuals refusing to accept colonial sovereignty, and the fear such procedures induced in bystanders.

Yet, pain and fear remain remarkable omissions in the history of political thought, particularly in their centrality to the experience of colonial modernity.

It is here that we witness what is unique about Bhagat’s actions, his absolutely breathtaking indifference to the machinations of power.

If fear of the colonial state’s reprisals hindered the development of public opposition to the Raj, the young man’s voluntary surrender to police authorities signalled his determination to face the worst excesses of colonial power in its notorious dungeons for political prisoners.

One can assess his steadfastness from his writings and actions while in prison. Bhagat and his comrades refused to offer any defence in the case, using the trial instead to highlight their opposition to colonial rule.

In fact, he castigated his father for displaying “weakness” when the latter submitted a review petition in an attempt to save Bhagat from the impending death sentence; Bhagat reminded his father that his son’s life was not worth compromising the principles of the freedom movement.

In another letter written to an imprisoned comrade who was contemplating suicide, he emphasised that the process of enduring pain and suffering was a necessary component of the fight against colonial power, and ending one’s own life would be tantamount to surrender.

The hunger strikes led by Bhagat and his comrades against ill-treatment in jail captured the imagination of the country, and were met by solidarity events and hunger-strikes throughout the country.

The appeal of his persona can be judged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s response to the news of the hunger strike, as he stood in the Legislative Assembly to declare his sympathy with the young men, boldly declaring that “the man who goes on hunger strike has a soul.

He is moved by that soul, and he believes in the justice of his cause. He is no ordinary criminal who is guilty of cold blooded, sordid wicked crime”.

If colonial sovereignty was secured through its inscription on the tortured bodies of the colonial subjects, Bhagat Singh’s decision to voluntarily undergo suffering and turn it into a national spectacle became a major embarrassment for the British.

In overcoming the fear induced by pain, it demonstrated the limits, and eventually, the fragility of colonial power.

What further propelled him into the national imaginary was his subversive tactics in the courtroom, a platform he used not for his own defence, but to mock the Empire and its judicial system in front of the national media.

Poetry, jokes, and slogans substituted legal reasoning in the courtrooms, with the accused questioning the right of an occupying power to judge their case.

One can imagine the appeal of such tactics for ordinary Indians, who were caught in the perpetual drudgery of facing humiliation at the hands of colonial institutions.

An Empire that seemed eternal and was built upon rituals of obedience suddenly appeared contingent, vulnerable and fragile, opening up possibilities of a post-imperial world, an idea that occupied Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Therefore, Bhagat Singh’s singularity was not an unrestrained penchant for violence. In fact, in his famous letter to ‘Young Political Workers’, he explicitly denounced the cult of the bomb, and encouraged the youth to educate themselves and work patiently with the masses.

It was his tactical genius in opening up political imagination beyond the colonial present that was truly remarkable. Even more impressive was his readiness to face the consequences of his commitments, which eventually took him and his comrades, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru, to the gallows in Lahore on the 23rd of March, 1931.

What concrete lessons we draw from these episodes and how we fight our collective amnesia about heroic figures from our past depends on us.

In either case, all those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and human dignity, like Bhagat Singh, – live eternally and are in no need of acknowledgement from those holding onto their privileges and fears in a mediocre present.

Instead, we should reverse the question and ask whether ‘we’ are dead or alive in their eyes. This simple reversal will have immeasurable consequences on how we view history, ethics and, eventually, life itself.

The writer is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and a lecturer at the Government College University, Lahore.

Email: ammarjan86@gmail.com

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/193528-Bhagat-Singh-his-times-and-ours

Sikh24.com – American state to mark April as ‘Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’

Sikh24 Editors

Dover-Delaware-USA, 20 March 2017. Amidst rising hate crime incidents against Sikhs in the USA, the state assembly of Delaware, a state south of New Jersey, has resolved to mark the month of April as ‘Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’.

A resolution regarding this was unanimously passed by the Senate as well as Representative House of Delaware state assembly.

“Delaware stands with the Sikh community in denouncing hate crimes directed towards any individual on account of their religious beliefs”, reads the resolution announced by senator Brown Townsend in the state assembly.

“Since September 11, 2001, the Sikhs are often mistaken for Taliban or followers of Al Qaida, owing to the commonality of their beards and turbans, and subjected to a disproportionately high rate of hate crimes, and Sikh boys suffer bullying at least twice the national bullying rate for other boys”, it said.

The move was welcomed by the State Governor, John Carney, who in a meeting with the Sikh community assured all kind of help to the community, which he said of late has been experiencing a spate of hate crimes in the US. He further said that such kind of racial attacks were totally unacceptable.

“We have fear mongering going on at a national level, and stereotyping and all of that. It is an embarrassment for America as a country,” Carney told a delegation of Indian-Americans led by local businessman and community leader Charanjeet Singh Minhas.

Meanwhile, Charanjit Singh has welcomed the Delaware’s move in taking a lead in displaying it’s solidarity with the Sikh community, despite having only a small Sikh population, compared to the other states like California, New York and New Jersey.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/03/20/american-state-to-mark-april-as-sikh-awareness-and-appreciation-month/#.WNCBB6K1vIU

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Liège-Guillemins – Tongeren – Hoepertingen

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Liège-Guillemins
09 February 2017

Track 12 IC from Limburg to Belgian coast

Track 11 IC from Belgian Coast to Luik/Liège

Liège Guillemins – ICE to/from Germany

Liège Guillemins – ICE to/from Germany

Waiting for the train to Tongeren

Maastrichterstraat
Tongeren has a long shared history with Maastricht,
dating back to the times of the Roman Empire

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

DNA India – Sikh body demands fresh probe into the Chattisinghpora massacre

Srinagar, 20 March 2017. A Sikh body here today demanded a fresh probe into the Chattisinghpora massacre which claimed the lives of 35 Sikhs on this day in 2000.

“After 17 years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Sikhs of the Valley, are still waiting for the justice. We urge the state and central governments to nab the culprits of the massacre,” Chairman, All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina said in a statement issued here.

He said it was “unfortunate” that the government is maintaining “silence” on the issue.

“We urge the state and central governments to go for fresh a probe into the incident. If they fail to do so, then we will consider it as a huge injustice with the Sikhs of Kashmir,” Raina said.

“We will not rest till the real culprits of the massacre are brought to justice,” he vowed.

After the massacre on 20 March 2000 in Chattisinghpora village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the security forces claimed to have killed five “militants” responsible for the murder of the Sikhs at a nearby village.

However, a CBI inquiry, ordered by the state government after massive protests, revealed that the deceased were civilians who were abducted and killed in a fake encounter.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sikh-body-demands-fresh-probe-into-the-chattisinghpora-2360423

Dawn – Bill for extension of military courts presented in National Assembly

Muhammad Bilal

Islamabad, 21 March 2016. The constitution amendment bill for the extension of military courts was presented in the National Assembly on Monday with lawmakers debating on the subject and criticising the government.

The bill was presented by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and the final vote on the amendment is expected to take place on Tuesday.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Shaikh Rasheed criticised the federal government over, what they said, was its failure to curb terrorism in the country without seeking the military’s assistance.

“Has the country reaped any benefits from the establishment of the military courts in the last two years?” Achakzai asked.

“You cannot govern a country in this manner,” he added.

Rasheed said if justice is not served then people will be forced to take matters in their own hands.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Naveed Qamar, also the former defence minister of Pakistan, lamented the state of affairs in the country, saying he does not believe things will improve in the next two years even if the military courts are revived.

“The need to re-establish military courts in the country is evidence of how the federal government has failed,” said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi during the NA session.

“Was the government not aware that the mandate over military courts will expire after two years?” the PTI leader asked. However, he said that there is consensus that military courts will not be made a permanent part of the Constitution.

Military courts were disbanded on 7 January after a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established expired.

The government and the opposition had struggled to reach a consensus on reviving the courts despite frequent discussions.

The primary concern of critics was the mystery surrounding military court trials: no one knows who the convicts are, what charges have been brought against them, or what the accused’s defence is against the allegations levelled.

Proponents say the courts act as an “effective deterrent” for those considering violent acts.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1321735/bill-for-extension-of-military-courts-presented-in-national-assembly