The Asian Age – Samajwadi Party crisis: UP CM loses aide, meets ‘rebels’

Amita Verma

Lucknow, 23 October 2016. The divide in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family worsened with Samajwadi Party national chief Mulayam Singh Yadav deciding to speak to ministers, MPs and legislators on Monday, a day after his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav is set to hold a similar meeting.

On Saturday, the party expelled MLC Udaiveer Singh who wanted the SP supremo to step down and make way for the CM to lead the party nationally. The CM met youth leaders expelled for supporting him and speaking against his father. Senior party leaders met the father-son duo separately.

The party first looked divided between the CM and his uncle Shivpal Yadav. Mulayam Singh Yadav has since backed Shivpal Yadav over his CM son.

The CM did not attend the state executive meeting of the party on Saturday. In fact, he has not visited the party office since September 13 when Shivpal Yadav replaced him as the SP’s UP chief.

Shivpal Yadav convened on Friday a meeting of SP district and city unit presidents, which was given a miss by the CM. The BJP said on Saturday that the much-publicised rift in the Yadav family was being fuelled by the Samajwadi Party itself to cover the failures of CM Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh.

“This high-voltage drama has been strategically designed so that Akhilesh Yadav’s failures are given a cover. In UP everything from law and order to farming is in shambles,” BJP leader Srikant Sharma told ANI.

A damaging power struggle in the Yadav clan came out in the open last month when Akhilesh Yadav stripped Shivpal Yadav of key portfolios hours after Mulayam Singh Yadav replaced the CM with his brother as the SP’s UP chief.

The CM has “unilaterally” decided to kickstart the Samajwadi Party’s poll campaign next month, a move that may also make him skip the party’s silver jubilee celebrations in Lucknow.

Though the patriarch managed to broker a truce between the two power centers, pulling the party from the brink of a potential split, tensions remain, which threaten to derail the Yadav clan’s bid to retain power in the elections due early next year. – Two arrested over missing Sikh woman in London

Anthony Joseph, MailOnline

London, UK, 21 October 2016. Two men have been arrested over the disappearance of a hotel housekeeper who hasn’t been seen since the weekend. Pardeep Kaur, 30, was last seen in Harlington High Street in London at 4pm on Sunday.

The married woman has not turned up for work at a hotel near Heathrow and her disappearance was described as ‘out of character’. Pardeep Kaur, 30, was last seen in Harlington High Street in London at 4pm on Sunday. Her disappearance was reported to the Hillingdon missing persons unit by a relative on Monday evening.

Yesterday, murder squad detectives from the Metropolitan Police arrested two men, aged 30 and 31. The investigation is now being probed by the Homicide and Major Crime Command. The two men who were arrested are being questioned in custody at a west London police station.

Ms Kaur is of Indian origin, approximately 5ft 4ins, of slim build and has very long dark hair. At the time of her last sighting she was wearing a grey hooded jumper and blue jeans.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lawson said: “Our inquiries have led us to make these two arrests. But until we have evidence to the contrary, we continue to treat Mrs Kaur as a missing person. We are extremely concerned for her welfare as her disappearance is completely out of character.”

“If you think you have seen Pardeep since her disappearance on Sunday, or have any information about her whereabouts, please get in touch with police as soon as possible. Her disappearance is extremely out of character.”

If anyone has seen Mrs Kaur or has any information, they are asked to contact police on 020 8358 0200 or via 101.

Two Arrested Over Missing Sikh Woman in London

To Rotterdam (NL) and back

Dordrecht NS Station
1 August 2016


Arriva – MerwedeLingelijn

Beurs RET Metro station
1 August 2016


Beurs, Metro line D and E


From Rotterdam CS to Beurs
From Beurs to Capelsebrug


RET Metro Capelsebrug


RET Metro Capelsebrug
Westbound train


RET Metro Capelsebrug
Man & Cycle

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian and Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Movie review: ’31st October’ is a cathartic experience

“31st October”; Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil; Cast: Soha Ali Khan, Vir Das, Lakhwinder Lakha, Deepaj Rana, Vineet Sharma, Nagesh Bhonsle, Daya Shankar, Maneet Vaghadia; Rating: **1/2

New Delhi – Film, 2 October 2016. This film pays tribute to the Sikhs killed after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 and those Hindus who helped some Sikhs survive the aftermath of the fanatics’ wrath.

With over 8,000 Sikhs reported killed after the assassination, this film is an indirect plea to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings.

The dramatized narrative, based on a true story of a family who experienced the nightmare, follows the lives of Davinder Singh (Vir Das) and his family which consist of his wife and three children, on that fateful day.

Narrated in a linear format, the screenplay is simple and effective with hourly updates, beginning from 6.30 am right till the assassination, giving glimpses of the various localities, inhabited by Sikhs in Delhi. How the tension and horror unfurls, forms the crux of the tale.

With a beard and a turban, actor Vir as the do-gooder, Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking employee with a low blood-pressure problem is sincere in his portrayal of Davinder Singh. But at times, his sincerity sticks out as an over-the-top act.

Actress Soha Ali Khan as Davinder’s wife Tejinder looks natural, performs ably and matches Vir in her histrionics. But she fails to be consistent in her accent.

Lakhwinder Lakha, Deepaj Rana and Vineet Sharma as their family friends – Yogesh, Pal and Tilak seem genuine and honest. Nagesh Bhonsle as Inspector Dahiya in a two scene role is impressive.

The script written by Producer Harry Sachdeva is blatantly straightforward and basic. It effectively shows the organised massacre along with plight and helplessness of the Sikhs. And it is astutely mounted with moderate production values.

On the technical front, Nandita Pandey’s costumes, Harish Kumara’s art direction with some, old film posters, radio and old television sets, replicate the period to the hilt.

The sepia tone frames add to the charm. But the visuals begin on a shaky note. Ramani Ranjan Das’ un-steady camera work is disconcerting, but nevertheless captures the setting and the tragedy with all sincerity.

The background score and the songs are soulfully rendered and add to the pathos of the narrative.

Overall, the film despite its earnestness, leaves much to be desired but for the makers it sure is a cathartic experience and the last scene says it all.

Published in: on October 23, 2016 at 4:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dawn – Brand management

Irfan Husain

Op/Ed, 22 October 2016. Military power is relatively easy to measure by counting the number of soldiers, tanks, planes, ships, etc. Economic might is quantified by readily available data on exchange rate, GDP, productivity, and so on.

But how do we measure soft power? This is a state’s influence abroad through the sum total of its cultural, scientific and sporting achievements, among many other factors.

The image a nation acquires in the eyes of outsiders is a nebulous thing, and can be as easily destroyed as a car manufacturer can damage its brand, as Volkswagen did recently by falsifying its emissions data.

Due to its intangible nature, our military and civilian rulers have never really understood the importance of soft power. The recent flare-up in civilian-military ties over the publication of a leaked report on a security meeting highlights this lack of sophistication.

Our image is tarnished, our soft power nonexistent.

Firstly, the security establishment publicly expressed its fury over the leak, and then the government showed its ire by placing the Dawn reporter on the Exit Control List. Neither understood that both reactions sent the wrong signals abroad as the event was widely reported in the international media.

Thus, a purely internal spat was needlessly transformed into a big story about the divisions between the military and civilian leadership.

The backdrop here is the declared Indian intention to isolate Pakistan internationally. But Prime Minister Modi is pushing against an open door as we have already succeeded in making brand Pakistan toxic in foreign eyes.

For years now, Pakistan has been seen as the epicentre of the global jihad, with foreign Muslim radicals coming to our shores for training and brainwashing.

This is what was apparently discussed in the Islamabad meeting that caused the recent rumpus. According to the Dawn report, the military was asked by civilian leaders to rein in the jihadis that enjoyed its support.

The foreign secretary explained that whenever our diplomats raised the Kashmir issue abroad, they had to listen to lectures about harbouring and supporting terrorists.

And this is something the military mind does not grasp: our use of jihadi gangs in Afghanistan and India-held Kashmir is simply not accepted in the world. Politicians, pundits and informed public opinion everywhere no longer believe our empty denials.

So when we repeat the mantra that we are the biggest victims of terrorism, we are told to do something about it. And although the ongoing military operation in the tribal areas has pushed back some of these terrorists, suspicion about our support for groups like the Haqqani network persist.

We should not be surprised by this scepticism. After all, militant leaders like Hafiz Saeed openly address public rallies despite the widely held perception that they are responsible for many acts of terrorism. The trial of those strongly suspected of being behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008 drags on.

But beyond the long charge sheet of supporting terrorism, we also have an unsavoury image for intolerance towards those with different beliefs and lifestyles. Our vile treatment of our minorities and women is regularly reported abroad, and men of Pakistani origin in the West often appear in headlines because of their criminal conduct.

Small wonder, then, that our image abroad is so tarnished, and our soft power nonexistent. Pakistan is now widely seen as a major problem, and not part of the solution. Some years ago, Madeline Albright, the then US secretary of state, called Pakistan “an international migraine”.

None of this is pleasant reading for Pakistanis; I am certainly not enjoying writing this column. But before we can solve a problem, we have to accept it exists. After the recent furore over the Cyril Almeida story, I heard a well-known TV anchor speculate aloud over “who was orchestrating the foreign coverage of the story”.

If a TV anchor is unaware of how the foreign media works, I suppose we can excuse our generals and politicians. The reality is that journalists, specially those working for English-language newspapers, get to know their foreign counterparts based in, or visiting, Islamabad.

Thus when Cyril Almeida was targeted for doing his job, he had many sympathetic colleagues in and out of Pakistan. So there was no conspiracy as the TV anchor seemed to suggest.

Over the years, I have heard many politicians complaining that our diplomats are unsuccessful in projecting Pakistan’s image abroad. Our generals are equally contemptuous of our foreign service. But they neglect the fact that our overseas missions are no match for India’s soft power.

Indian music, movies, food and fashions are now an integral part of many Western cities. Restaurants owned by Pakistanis are often labelled ‘Indian’ to appeal to a public that might be put off by their true identity.

And despite its treatment of its non-Hindu and Dalit population, India is still viewed by many as the land of Gandhian non-violence.

So unless we somehow change how Pakistan is perceived abroad, we will continue to struggle to get our message across.

The Hindustan Times – India-Pak tensions could cast shadow on meet on Afghanistan in Amritsar

Jayanth Jacob,

New Delhi, 21 October 2016. The chill in India-Pakistan ties is likely to throw a wrench in another regional meet, the Heart of Asia ministerial on Afghanistan, scheduled for December.

To be held in Amritsar on December 3 and 4, the conference will discuss terrorism and connectivity and other issues.

Coinciding with it, India plans to host a meeting of Islamic Sufi scholars from neighbouring countries to showcase the common religious thread running through the region.

Sources said there is no intimation from Pakistan yet on the level of its participation at the meeting, which will be attended by Afghanistan president, Ashraf Ghani.

The last two Heart of Asia meets, December 2015 in Islamabad and April 2016 in New Delhi, had foreign ministers and foreign secretaries of both India and Pakistan holding discussions on the sidelines.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistan counterpart Sartaj Aziz had agreed on a road-map for talks this December. But a terrorist attack on the airbase in Pathankot in January 2016 led to the postponement of the talks between the two foreign secretaries.

However, the foreign secretaries did meet during the April 2016 conference, at least keeping channels of communication open.

But yet another attack on an Uri army camp in September intensified hostilities, with India blaming Pakistan for sheltering the militants who carried out the offensive.

New Delhi embarked on a mission to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, efforts which led to the SAARC summit being indefinitely held off. Islamabad was to host the 19th summit in November.

“We don’t know who is representing Pakistan. India had sent its foreign minister to the ministerial in Islamabad last December. We will be focusing on the issues of security, connectivity and greater regional integration at the meet,” an Indian official said.

India will talk about how terrorism comes in the way of regional integration as the Heart of Asia grouping seeks cooperation for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, as well as a secure and prosperous region.

The countries in the grouping include Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, Turkey and Central Asian neighbours of Afghanistan.

The issue of connectivity and Afghanistan getting access to regional markets will be a key area for discussion. The India-Pakistan tussle ensured Afghanistan doesn’t get transit through Pakistan to send its goods to India.

The Sufi scholars meet will further be an opportunity for India to showcase the “common Islamic influence in the region”, which promotes peace and prosperity.

The Tribune – Sikh community raises USD 1.35 lakh for awareness campaign in California

Washington, 21 October 2016. The Sikh community in Yuba City in California has raised USD 135,000 as part of a national campaign to educate Americans about Sikhs and Sikhism.

Yuba City is home to many gurdwaras in the Northern California region and is also known for its Sikh farming community which owns large farms of almond, peach and raisins.

The National Sikh Campaign has been raising funds across the country to support media initiative to educate Americans about Sikhs and Sikhism.

The move comes in the wake of the increasing instances of hate crimes and violence against the minority community since 9/11.

In the recent weeks, two Sikhs have faced violence and hate-filled rhetoric in California.

Balmeet Singh of Bakersfield had alcohol put on his face and turban and another Sikh Maan Singh Khalsa, an IT official, was attacked in Richmond, CA, and his attackers cut his hair and finger and also caused damage to his eye.

In both instances, attackers identified them either as terrorists or Taliban.

“This effort has brought a sense of togetherness within the Sikh community across the nation. Everyone feels connected to this campaign,” said Dr Rajwant Singh, co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign.

More such events are being planned in coming weeks. (PTI)

To Rotterdam (NL) and back

Leuven Station
To Rotterdam
01 August 2016


Leuven Station – Train to Mechelen


Train to Mechelen

Mechelen Station
To Rotterdam
01 August 2016


Mechelen – Thalys TGV to Rotterdam and Amsterdam


Benelux IC to Antwerpen and the Netherlands


Benelux IC to the Netherlands


Benelux IC to the Netherlands

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian and Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Times of India – “What is there to celebrate about the Punjabi Suba golden jubilee?” Sikh groups ask Punjab government

I P Singh

Jalandhar, 21 October 2016. When the SAD-BJP government is going in for big celebrations to mark golden jubilee of reorganization of Punjab, Sikh organizations Dal Khalsa, Sikh Federation UK and All India Sikh Students Federation have questioned that SAD led state government should first tell the people there is nothing to celebrate.

They have also announced to hold a parallel programme on November 1 “to present the real picture of Punjab to shame the present day rulers of both centre and state” and to tell the people of Punjab that what really has been lost in the last 50 years.

Addressing a press conference here, Dal Khalsa president Harpal Singh Cheema, former president H S Dhami said that a conference on November 1 would be organized at Pheruman (near Amritsar) village of Darshan Singh Pheruman who gave his life after remaining on fast unto death to demand transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab.

“There is nothing substantial to celebrate the day and rather the celebrations tantamount to insult of martyrs of Punjabi Suba,” they said. “Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and his government and party should tell the people that had their long pending demands been met for which agitations were launched.

They should also tell the people that what have they achieved in terms of long pending issues of the state and which were rather raised by the SAD and its leaders asked people to make sacrifices,” they said.

Cheema said that on Punjab day they would undertake a ‘freedom march’ from Pheruman to Akal Takhat to highlight the genuine concerns and real aspirations of its people. Meanwhile Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said they would bring out a booklet highlighting 50 points of discrimination and injustices that Punjab had faced in the last 50 years.

Meanwhile they said that when they raised the issue of changing demography of the state with influx of migrants they were accused by SAD and others of regional parochialism but now SAD and Congress leaders were raising issue of Punjab for Punjabis when they were facing political threat from AAP.

AISSF leader Advocate Parminder Singh Dhingra said their group would stage a protest rally on Nov 3 to observe the 32 nd anniversary of November 1984 carnage.

The Hindu – Hindutva as ‘way of life’ challenged

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 21 October 2016. Noting that India has reached the crossroads where “narrow and supremacist” interpretations of history, culture, social studies and law threaten the fundamentals of nationhood, three citizens on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to undo the “devastating consequences” of its 1996 judgment defining Hindutva as a way of life.

Anti-Godhra activist Teesta Setalvad, theatre activist and author Shamsul Islam and senior journalist Dilip Mandal appealed to a seven-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur that the interpretation given in the 1996 judgment by Justice J S Verma has led to “Hindutva becoming a mark of nationalism and citizenship.”

The Constitution Bench is considering how parties and their candidates misuse religion to swing votes and what constitutes corrupt electoral practice under Section 123 (3) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Focal points

One of the focal points before the Bench is the interpretation the Supreme Court gave to the term ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ in the Dr Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo versus Prabhakar K Kunte judgment in 1996 and the consequences that followed.

In an application seeking permission to address the Constitution Bench, Ms Setalvad and her two co-applicants said the apex court’s interpretation of Hindutva/Hinduism as a “way of life” in 1996 has today led to “demands of homogenisation and assimilation of minority communities and SC/ST in the Hindutva way of life.”

“Hindutva has become a mark of nationalism and citizenship. The interpretation has curtailed faith in secularism, which is the basic feature of the Constitution,” the application, filed through advocate Aparna Bhat, contended.

In an oblique reference to the ruling party, the applicants said how a “political dispensation” wants to stifle India’s academic pursuit and scientific temper through narrow interpretations of faith and mythology.

As triple talaq engage public debate and cow vigilantism runs amock, Ms Setalvad and her co-petitioners said justification of certain customs and practices on the ground of their being from the “Shastras or Sharia are equally worrisome and condemnable.”