The Statesman – Before de-escalation, China wants India to vacate strategic heights in Pangong Lake

China first wants to resolve the mentions at the south bank of Pangong Lake where India is in a strategically strengthened position, but India wants a roadmap to de drawn out for de-escalation on all along the LAC.

New Delhi – India, 25 September 2020. Ahead of the disengagement talks, China wants India to vacate strategic heights on the south bank of Pangong Lake on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), sources at Indian Army said.

In the Corps-Commander level talks for disengagement in the eastern Ladakh region which has seen built up by both sides for the past four months, China is adamant on not proceeding the disengagement talks till India vacates the strategic positions.

China first wants to resolve the mentions at the south bank of Pangong Lake where India is in a strategically strengthened position, but India wants a roadmap to de drawn out for de-escalation on all along the LAC.

India during the commander level talks has stated that all friction points including Depsang should be discussed for de-escalation along LAC.

“Why should discussions be restricted to one or two places when there is a massive build-up all across the LAC,” a top Indian Army officer said to IANS.

India has taken control of Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari on the south bank of the Pangong Lake which were unmanned till date. This move allows India to dominate the Spangur Gap under Chinese control and also the Moldo garrison on the Chinese side which has irked China.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops have thus made multiple attempts to dislodge Indian troops that has lead to warning gunshots being fired. China has also armed its troops with medical weapons.

The Indian Army after these attempts had asked its commanders on the ground to take the decision on whether to use arms if their troops face a life-threatening situation and the same has been communicated to China.

India army has also put barbed wire along LAC to prevent any intrusion attempts by Chinese troops.

Senior commanders of India and China held the 6th round of Military Commander-Level Meeting on 21 September.

A statement by the Indian Army stated: “The two sides had candid and in-depth exchanges of views on stabilising the situation along the LAC in the India-China border areas,”

The statement further said, “They agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgements, stop sending more troops to the front line, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation.” – Sikh face of BJP resigns from party in protest against anti-farmer bills, exclusion of the Punjabi language in J&K

Tarn Taran Sahib – Panjab – India, 26 September 2020. Feeling embarrassed and suffocated to be part of the BJP after it took anti-Punjab and anti-Punjabi decision, its Sikh face in Majha region, Advocate R P Singh Maini, today resigned from the saffron party in protest.

Maini has expressed dissatisfaction over the farm bills, scrapping Punjabi as one of the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir, and the stand of BJP on Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue.

Releasing a video on social media, Advocate Maini said, “I have been associated with the BJP for the last 20 years. I remained president of its Tarn Taran unit for five years, while state spokesperson for three years. In every party, there is internal democracy.

I mean leaders of the party have a right to express their opinions on any issue. These opinions reach the party’s central leadership and are considered.

But the BJP does not have such a system. It is like one-way traffic, wherein you are bound to obey the orders issued by the central leadership.”

“There are three issues, over which I have decided to quit. First, its government in the centre is about to implement anti-farmer laws.

As Punjab is an agrarian state, these laws will devastate the farmers and others associated with it directly and indirectly. Unfortunately, the BJP government got these bills passed in the parliament forcibly violating democratic norms.

Thus, it strangulated democracy,” he said.

He said, “The second bill was regarding the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Punjab leadership of the BJP has failed to convince its high command to include Punjabi as the official language of the state-turned-union territory.

The state leadership of the BJP never took a stand in favour of Punjab and has always stood with its Delhi leadership ignoring the interests of Punjab.

Today, entire Punjab has taken on streets to protest. Once again, the BJP leaders from Punjab are nowhere to be seen.”

“Being a member of this party, I worked very hard and served it tirelessly. But today I think that it would be a sin to walk even inch with the party which is not concerned with Punjab. So, I decided to resign from the basic membership of this party,” he added.

Maini is also a member of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, a legendary Sikh organization. He remained the right hand of the former BJP Minister Anil Joshi.

He was active in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts. His resignation was expected as he was voicing against the fresh moves of the BJP government for the last many days.

Gentbrugge – Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
16 May 2020

Can anybody name these yellow flowers ?

My kind of path !

Not at all one of these concreted paths

More yellow flowers

Interesting grasses

Even now in May the pools are shrinking – not enough rain !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

India Today – Akali Dal quits BJP-led NDA over farm bills

Dissident Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Sunday said the Shiromani Akali Dal quit BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) “out of compulsion” as farmers were “upset” with it over farm bills.

New Delhi – India, 27 September 2020. Dissident Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Sunday said the Shiromani Akali Dal quit BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) “out of compulsion” as farmers were “upset” with the party over farm bills.

“They (SAD) have done it out of compulsion as farmers are upset with them,” Dhindsa was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The Shiromani Akali Dal on Saturday quit the NDA over the three farm bills issue, the third major party to walk out of the BJP-led coalition in the last couple of years.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said the Akali Dal have lost support on the ground-level in the state. He said the Akali Dal initially supported the bills with even party stalwart Parkash Singh Badal speaking in their favour.

“They then took a U-turn, saying it is not in the interest of farmers. Were these bills not bad for farmers earlier? They have lost support at the ground level in the state,” Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said.

Dhindsa, who had formed the SAD (Democratic) party, said his political outfit has been supporting farmers from the beginning over the issue.

“From the day one, we have been supporting farmers and standing with them. Our party wants the issue to be resolved at the earliest,” Dhindsa told PTI.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, along with his son and former state finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, was expelled from the SAD in February this year over “anti-party” activities.

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has termed the Akali Dal’s decision to quit the NDA as a case of “political compulsion” for the Badals, who were left with no other option after the BJP’s public criticism of the SAD over the farm bills.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday had announced the decision to snap ties with the NDA, amid stepped up agitation by farmers in Punjab over the three legislations which were recently passed by Parliament amid opposition protests.

Badal”s wife and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had on 17 September quit the Union Cabinet after he strongly opposed the bills in Lok Sabha, claiming these legislations will “destroy” the agriculture sector in Punjab.

Parliament had recently passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill; Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. The three farm-related bills are yet to get the assent of the president.

(With inputs from PTI)

Dawn – Stage set for final round?

Abbas Nasir

27 September 2020. Controlling the narrative and sowing confusion and discord in the ranks of the adversary are among the major objectives of information warfare, which, therefore, must be a carefully calibrated exercise. Otherwise, the risk of something backfiring becomes very real.

Social media users will know that whatever your political or ideological persuasion, there will be individuals who will readily agree and those who will not.

And then there will be a third type, a troll army in huge numbers. This will inevitably represent the interests of an institution or political party.

Those in the last category are difficult to engage with.

Their self-righteous adherence to an agenda is such that anyone expressing a sentiment contrary to their worldview is deemed worthy of contempt, of being called all sorts of names and being overwhelmed into silence.

Those who orchestrate such campaigns, deploying such tools routinely, must get lulled into a sense of superiority, as their numerical strength on social media is considered enough to overpower anybody expressing dissent.

This would open up room for miscalculations.

To be honest, not just the drivers of such handles and content but even seasoned analysts get thrown off the scent of the story they are following.

For example, look at the leak this week of the meeting between the PML-N’s Mohammad Zubair and the army chief.

Nawaz Sharif’s address and his daughter’s public statements marked the end of the PML-N’s appeasement policy.

I can’t be sure if the leak was prompted by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif’s on-point virtual address to the multiparty conference (MPC) or Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s statement, following the news of the Gilgit-Baltistan briefing, for key opposition leaders at the ISI Mess, Islamabad.

After learning of the meeting, she lashed out at politicians meeting military leaders clandestinely and said if there were issues of national security, parliament was the right forum for a briefing rather than the mess of a security agency.

She also said her party was banning such contacts as per the PML-N constitution.

Therefore, when the leak came in the shape of a TV interview by the military spokesman, a number of analysts termed it a serious setback to the PML-N, with some of them saying it marked the collapse of the party’s narrative.

Added weight to their stance was lent by the statement of the spokesman when he said the second meeting between the PML-N leader and army chief also included the DG ISI and that the cases against Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were also discussed.

According to the spokesman, the chief told the PML-N leader it was up to the courts to decide that issue as his institution had nothing to with it.

For his part, Mr Zubair denied seeking any concessions. Then, Maulana Ghafoor Haidery appeared in a TV talk show with his own leak about a meeting with the army chief.

The JUI-F leader said during his party’s ‘azadi march’ last year, they were invited by the army chief for a meeting in which the latter told them to stay away from whatever ‘we are doing to Nawaz Sharif’ as the matter did not concern them.

This is where I got the sense that the spin machine was losing its grasp over the narrative as a leak which seemed aimed at discrediting a major opposition leader was boomeranging and shifting the focus on to the spin doctors actively involved in politics.

The leak also opened the doors to considerable discussion in the media. At least for a few hours all controls had been ignored and participants said whatever they wanted to about the appropriateness and desirability of such meetings and their implications.

That may well turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan moment.

What appears clear, however, is that Nawaz Sharif’s address and his daughter’s public statements marked the end of the PML-N’s appeasement policy.

The ‘dealophiles’ had been given months and months to deliver some space to the party to operate in but failed.

A handful of hawks around the father and daughter have convinced them that defiance is what the rank and file in Punjab want, as was evident in the reaction on the ground to Nawaz Sharif’s MPC address, and that any other option will risk losing support.

A source close to the PML-N duo insists that they have decided whatever the consequences they will follow the new strategy:

“They are determined that the authorities can tear up and burn Maryam’s passport and jail her, they won’t be allowed to use that as leverage with the father.” Brave words.

Nonetheless, there are question marks over a number of issues. The foremost, of course, is whether the PML-N has sufficiently motivated cadres to transform its formidable electoral support into street power?

Or will any planned protests, marches and rallies solely have to rely on Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F?

And if that is indeed the case, will the cleric and his committed followers pack enough punch on their own to pressurise the government backers to rethink their support to the incumbents?

The state of the economy is a major factor. If the opposition’s planned protests gain momentum, there will inevitably be concerns regarding the impact of a long-drawn-out tussle around the country on economic growth that has already been hit by the pandemic.

Can this force a change in thinking?

On the other hand, if the parties in the main opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, are unable to establish a meaningful physical presence on the ground, then the MPC speeches and pledges will amount to no more than bluster.

In such an eventuality, will our liberties, including whatever little media freedom there is today, take a serious hit?

Will the human rights situation worsen and the existing quantum of provincial autonomy become a thing of the past?

Among questions galore, what is becoming increasingly clear is that Nawaz Sharif and his political heir are not willing to let the status quo stand and will do all in their power to alter it.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

The Indian Express – It is silly to link the anti-CAA protests to the subsequent riots of February

Salman Khurshid

Op/Ed, 26 September 2020. As anti-CAA movement is sought to be projected as precursor of the riots, damage that will be done to a generation of young Indians will be bad enough, but damage done to police could take generations to repair.

The protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia, not to mention the protests inspired by them across the country against the CAA-NRC-NPR, were a remarkable break from the past and a repudiation of stereotypes.

Virtually leaderless masses of students and women took to the streets to register their presence and participation in Indian democracy.

Of course, the usual suspects, activists and would-be leaders from fringe movements, tried to muscle in whilst others put up barriers for the leaders and parties, with whom they had real or imagined scores to settle.

The crowds had Jamaat-e-Islami supporters who kept secularists away, ultra-left Marxists who queried the invites to former ministers of the Congress, new-age Dalit cause converts who did not wish to cede space to established parties, local musclemen and land grabbers who wanted to use the movement to create safe havens, genteel social activists constantly wary of the potential for confrontation and local politicians trying to elbow each other out.

With the filing of the charge-sheets, there is apprehension that fifth columnists had infiltrated the unique movement from the beginning. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

When I tried to persuade the organisers at Jamia to invite some former ministers, I was told that it had been difficult enough to accept my presence.

It was COVID-19 and the responsible response to the administration’s requests that brought the protests to a pause, hopefully not to an end.

It certainly was not the police and government’s strong-arm tactics that made the 24×7 protests fold up.

It is silly to link the protests to the subsequent riots of February, which cannot be de-linked from the divisive politics pursued by the ruling establishment at the Centre.

What might be made of the ambivalent and slippery politics of the AAP, who gathered the reluctant vote of the protesters, is a million-dollar question.

Interestingly, the 17,500-page charge-sheet filed in FIR 59/2020 has S161 (not admissible) and S164 statements mentioning the names of several speakers, including mine.

The statements indicate that the speakers used “provocative language and motivated people to join the protests”.

Putting diverse people together in a statement as though they had a collective or corporate personality and to bind all with one statement is an interesting sleight of hand.

Or perhaps it is just plain laziness in an investigation. But the larger issue is that the protests are sought to be perceived as the precursors of the unfortunate riots.

We know that riots happen for a variety of local reasons and the prevailing atmosphere has a great deal to do with it. The riots that took place in northeast Delhi have left many questions unanswered.

It is not surprising that former Supreme Court judges and a celebrated former police chief have expressed their disquiet about the investigation.

The Mumbai Police blotted its copybook during the 1992-93 riots in the city and the Delhi Police has followed suit in 2020.

Assiduously built relationships between the local police and the populace, without which policing is impossible, have been fed to the vultures who feed upon the carcass of a divided society.

The damage that will be done to a generation of young Indians will be bad enough, but the police will not escape the damage that could take generations to repair.

There is much history to take lessons from. When the curtains come down on this era of discontent, the downstream perpetrators of injustice will not even be remembered as villains, a sobriquet reserved for the high and mighty who fall from grace.

The right to protest peacefully will be illusory if every such gathering is declared unlawful as a matter of routine.

Harsh words against a government that more than deserves them being labelled as sedition will virtually negate Article 19 and free speech.

Curiously, many persons who support the action against CAA protestors are lining up to bemoan the Supreme Court showing prima facie concern about the content of the Sudarshan TV tapes on the UPSC selection of candidates coached by Jamia and other organisations. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

While the government may be congratulating itself for destroying the spontaneous voice of the people (according to them, only some people), there are two explanations for its position: It is either fear of vox populi or a perverse ideological posture on equality. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

But from the point of view of democracy, one wonders what happens to spontaneous movements like the outburst of young people in the heart of Delhi after the December 2012 rape and murder and then the Shaheen Baghs across India?

Are they destined to plant the flag of protest, leave their footprints on the sands of time, and move on for another generation to consolidate?

The government will soon discover if the CAA protests were designed and executed by the conspirators mentioned in the charge-sheets, in which case the streets and barricades will not be occupied again.

On the other hand, if they were organic and spontaneous, they will spring up again. The movement would have learnt costly lessons, but one wonders if the government did so too.

From the contents of the charge-sheet, it appears that far from learning, the government continues to celebrate ignorance, persecution and falsehood.

This article first appeared in the print edition on September 26, 2020 under the title ‘The criminalisation of protest’. The writer is a senior Congress leader and a former Union minister.

The Tribune – Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] langar gets big donation from Canada India Foundation

CIF chairman Satish Thakkar thanked India for fulfilling the Indo-Canadian diaspora’s demand to make direct donations to the langar at the Golden Temple

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 25 September 2020. The Canada India Foundation (CIF) has announced to donate C$21,000 to the langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar where over 100,000 people eat free meals each day.

The Foundation, which also honours a prominent Indian from anywhere in the world with the Global Indian Award each year, is donating to the langar after the amended Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act granted registration to the Golden Temple to receive direct foreign donations.

“We were very excited to hear the news that people from all over the world can now directly donate to the Golden Temple langar seva. We at the CIF want to be among the first to show our appreciation,” CIF chairman Satish Thakkar said.

Thakkar thanked India for fulfilling the long-pending demand of the Indo-Canadian diaspora to make direct donations to the world’s biggest langar at the Golden Temple.

“Thousands of devotees from Canada were prevented from sending money to the langar seva because of the stringent provisions of the FCRA. The Indo-Canadian community has reacted favourably to the Indian announcement,” added Foundation convenor Ritesh Malik.

Toronto Sikh Bhupinder Singh Khalsa, founder member of the Foundation, said: “I feel blessed that now sitting in Canada I can send my humble contribution to the langar. Though Canada has always given us every opportunity to stay connected to our roots, culture and religion, this is a great step by India to help us to stay connected to the source of our faith.”

Set up in 2007, the CIF is an advocacy group aimed at promoting India-Canada relations.

The Foundation’s C$50,000 Global Indian Award also honours a prominent Indian each year.

The late President APJ Abdul Kalam, industrialist Ratan Tata, Congress leader Sam Pitroda and noted economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia are among the past recipients of this award.

Hindustan Times – ‘Fitting’ mask controversy: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau criticises police for discriminating against Sikh personnel

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) instituted a policy that mandates front line officers wear “fitting” respirators that has apparently resulted in many Sikhs in the force being assigned desk jobs as their beards prevent wearing such masks

Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 26 September 2020. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has criticised the country’s premier law enforcement agency for a policy on wearing medical-grade respirator masks that appears to discriminate against Sikh personnel, who have been pulled off the frontlines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) instituted a policy that mandates frontline officers wear “fitting” respirators that has apparently resulted in many Sikhs in the force being assigned desk jobs as their beards prevent wearing such masks.

Hitting out at the policy during a media interaction, PM Trudeau said, “It is something that I certainly hope the RCMP rectifies quickly and it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

He said he was “very disappointed” over the issue as “many other police forces and other organisations have figured out ways of upholding health and safety standards without needing to create discrimination against certain individuals because of their religion”.

In March, the RCMP issued a directive regarding these masks, and, according to the agency Canadian Press, it noted that “one of the most common causes of a breached seal is facial hair”.

The issue was flagged by the World Sikh Organisation (WSO), which said that due to this policy, nearly 30 Sikhs officers had been reassigned since 31 March. It said it was contacted by some officers in April and they “reported that they had been re-assigned to administrative duties, which many find less than meaningful”.

The RCMP has argued that it has to operate under federal regulations unlike police forces in cities like Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, where similar norms have not been implemented.

It said it doesn’t have the authority to change the rules regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), as per a CBC News report.

In a statement, WSO president Tejinder Singh Sidhu said, “The RCMP are the only police force in Canada that refuse to accommodate bearded Sikh officers.

Sikh RCMP officers have patiently waited for almost six months to be returned to active duty. However, there has been no desire on the RCMP’s part to address this situation.

There is no reason that the RCMP should require a higher standard of PPE protection than any other police force in Canada or even medical frontline workers. Sikh officers continue to serve in every other police force in Canada.”

The stand appears to also have the support of Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety and emergency preparedness minister.

CBC News quoted an emailed response from his office, which stated it is “essential for the RCMP to provide necessary PPE in a timely manner for Sikh officers. We have raised this matter with the RCMP, and expect that this be rectified as quickly as possible”.

FirstPost – Hyderabad man kidnapped, killed by in-laws over caste; 14 people, including wife’s parents, arrested

According to police, the woman’s relatives kidnapped the couple, who got married against the wishes of her family three months ago, and then strangled the 28-year-old man.

Hyderabad – Andhra Pradesh/Telangana – India, 26 September 2020. A 28-year-old man was allegedly kidnapped and killed by his wife’s family members who belong to another caste, with the help of hired goons, police said on Friday.

The Cyberabad police arrested 14 people, including the parents of the woman, in connection with the crime and are on the lookout for four more people.

According to Cyberabad Police, relatives of C Avanthi Reddy kidnapped her and her husband Y Hemanth Kumar, who got married against the wishes of her family (about three months ago), on Thursday and killed the man by strangulation the same night.

The couple got suspicious when the car took a different direction and they managed to alight from the vehicle.

However, Hemanth was taken away in another vehicle and killed at the outskirts of Kistaigudem village, in neighbouring Sangareddy district, the police said in a press release.

The press release added that en route Avanthi got down and escaped, whereas Hemanth was taken by Guduru Yugender Reddy and three others and was strangled to death at about 7.30 pm, the release said.

“We received a complaint at around 6.30 pm from the man’s father on Thursday and immediately alerted all check posts and toll gates…,” a police official said in the morning dismissing reports that they acted slow after they received the information about the abduction.

“My cousins and my uncle took me and my husband forcibly in a vehicle and I managed to escape from the vehicle. I immediately alerted my in-laws and police,” she told reporters.

According to police, Hemanths father after receiving the information that his son was kidnapped informed the police.

Avanthi said she and Hemanth were in love for the past several years and got married in June. Earlier the couple and the parents were counselled by Chandanagar Police.