The Indian Express – Crowd outside Mulayam Singh Yadav’s house: ‘Netaji hosh me aao, Shivpal murdabad’

Supporters raise slogans, Lucknow’s night and political temperature

Ramendra Singh

Lucknow, 31 December 2016. Within minutes of Mulayam Singh Yadav announcing the expulsion of Akhilesh Yadav from the party, supporters of the Chief Minister gathered outside the SP chief’s 5-Vikramaditya Marg residence here and started shouting slogans.

The protest continued late into the night. “Gali gali me shor hai, Shivpal Yadav chor hai, Shivpal Yadav murdabad, Netaji hosh me aao,” they chanted. They also demanded the expulsion of SP leader Amar Singh, who they blamed for the rift in the Yadav family, and burnt Shivpal’s posters.

Among the protesters was Kusum Prajapati, a member of the state women’s commission. She said, “We are with Akhilesh. We respect Netaji but if he is not with Akhilesh, we will not support him.”

Aneesur Rehman, state secretary of the SP’s minority wing, said: “Shivpal and Amar Singh were conspiring for a long time. They must be expelled. We are with Akhilesh. Shivpal is known to be corrupt. If I seek votes for Akhilesh, no one will object. He is against the mafia and goons.”

A youth, Ankit Yadav, said, “Akhilesh has a clean image. There is no question of supporting Shivpal. He favours goons.”

Maulana Irfanul Haq Qadri of Kannauj said the rift, coming as it does just before the elections, could hurt the party’s prospects. “But we will go with Akhilesh if there are two factions. People go where there is a future,” he said.

Just yards away, outside Shivpal’s residence, a handful of his supporters shouted slogans in his favour. Some of them expressed hope that Shivpal would become CM. “No one can question Netaji’s decision. People in the villages support SP. For them, Netaji is the only leader.

They will vote for the bicycle (SP’s poll symbol),” said Jitendra Yadav, Varanasi district president of SP’s youth wing.

Some claimed that Akhilesh rewarded only sycophants in Lucknow and ignored ground-level party workers. “Whenever Ramgopal Yadav comes to Lucknow, he causes problems like this.

The CM is concerned about sycophants, while he does not even recognise people like us, who work in districts,” said Abhishek Pratap Singh, another party worker from Varanasi.

MLC and SP spokesperson Ambika Chaudhary, who met Shivpal at his residence, said those raising slogans against Mulayam cannot call themselves “Samajwadi”.

Another set of supporters thronged the CM’s official residence: 5-Kalidas Marg. Two youth workers even attempted self-immolation. Meanwhile, senior ministers and MLAs started arriving.

DGP Javed Ahmed, ADG Daljeet Chaudhary, DIG Pravin Kumar and other senior officers of the administration also came. PAC was deployed in the area and ATS commandos were called in.

Around 9 pm, the CM’s fleet tried to leave, but a crowd of supporters blocked the way. Akhilesh stepped out of the car, waved at the crowd and got back in the vehicle.

As the crowd refused to budge, an announcement was made on loudspeaker, appealing supporters to let Akhilesh leave. The gathering was told that Akhilesh would meet them at noon on Saturday.

Minutes later, Akhilesh and his fleet exited from another gate and left for his 4-Vikramaditya Marg residence. A large police contingent was deployed outside the bungalow.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh’s supporters continued to shout slogans outside Mulayam’s residence. One of them, Prabhat Pathak, a member of the party’s student wing, Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha, said that although most SP workers would support Akhilesh, not everyone would desert Mulayam.

“It is not possible that all will leave Mulayam and join Akhilesh. If there are two parties, then this election will only be a preparation for the next election,” he said.

Ashok Gupta, a worker of Samajwadi Lohia Vahini from Lucknow, said, “Expulsion of the CM has been done under pressure of people who do not want the SP to come back to power.”


The Tribune – Namdhari sect head calls for togetherness

Mohit Khanna, Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, 30 December 2016. Delivering his first speech in the city after the “assassination” of Mata Chand Kaur, wife of former Satguru Jagjit Singh, the present head of the Namdhari sect, Thakur Uday Singh, echoed the sentiment of togetherness. The sect was divided into two faction followings the killing of Mata Chand Kaur.

Satguru Uday Singh, who was the chief guest at Satguru Ram Singh Shatabdi seminar at Punjab Bhawan, said, “Religion not only teachers spirituality, but it also teaches the lesson of togetherness.”

Taking a different stand from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Namdhari sect head praised the contribution of Sehajdhari Sikhs.

He said Sehajdaris were following the tenets of Sikh religion since the time of Gurus.

He expressed concern over the declining trend of using Punjabi. He offered support to the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, Delhi, for reviving the language.

He said a true Sikh was the one who followed the path shown by Gurbani.

Fissures had appeared in the Namdhari sect in 2013 after business tycoon Thakur Uday Singh was made the head of the sect following the death of Satguru Jagjit Singh.

Head of the rival faction Thakur Dalip Singh and his supporters had opposed the move.

Things turned ugly after Mata Chand Kaur was shot dead in April this year.

In September, the case was handed over to the CBI after the police failed to zero in on the accused. There has been no headway in the case so far.

Ieper 11 November 2016

Ieper Commemoration
11 November 2016


Poppy Parade
Belgian Scots band


Poppy Parade
Belgian Scots band


Poppy Parade
Fire brigade veterans


UK Sikh delegation


UK Sikh delegation


UK Sikh delegation
and Jaswal Singh Gent & sons

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Vice Com – Cautious optimism, The NYPD will allow officers to have beards and turbans but barriers remain

Angad Singh

New York, 30 December 2016. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill announced Wednesday that his office had taken steps toward eliminating barriers that police officers of different faiths often face.

By creating accommodations for religious headgear and beards as part of police uniforms, O’Neill said the NYPD was making sure “everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work in the greatest Police Department in the nation” can.

The news evoked particular excitement throughout Sikh and Muslim communities, whose religious practices often run up against the NYPD’s strict dress code.

Sikh and Muslim officers and civilians alike celebrated the news that the country’s largest police force was reducing employment barriers that often specifically affect their communities but remained cautiously optimistic, unsure whether the new policy will adequately accommodate their religious requirements.

Sikh and Muslim Americans are often forced to choose between the western-centric dress norms their professions require and their right to freely practicing their religion.

That includes physical demonstrations of faith like keeping turbans and facial hair uncut for Sikhs and beards for Muslim men. The struggle is especially true in public and government jobs, where uniform policies were not made with religious minorities in mind, said Harsimran Kaur, the legal director of the Sikh Coalition.

Before the NYPD’s policy change, Sikhs were required to remove their turbans for a police cap. Additionally, the restrictions on beards made many Sikh, along with Muslim and Jewish, candidates ineligible for the job.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Corey Saylor said it was a “good move to not put people in the position to choose between public service and religion.”

“I don’t doubt that allowing officers to maintain a beard will open the door for Muslim-Americans who want to keep their sincerely held religious beliefs and serve the public,” Saylor added.

With the policy changes, NYPD officers will be allowed to wear a navy blue turban and grow up to a half-inch long beard so long as they apply for and receive religious accommodation from the Deputy Commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunity, according to Commissioner O’Neill’s statements on Wednesday.

But for some Sikh-American community leaders, the assurances Commissioner O’Neill made fell short of the ideal of religious freedom.

“The devil is in the details, and we hope the NYPD recognizes that any trimming of the Sikh beard is in direct violation of the Sikh faith and would continue a policy that forces officers to make the false choice between their religion and service to our great city,” Kaur said.

Another cause for concern among the Sikh community is that the policy makes applying for the right to practice their religion on the job an individual’s prerogative, decided on a case-by-case basis, a model which has caused Sikh-Americans who sought accommodations in the Army months of wait time and long legal battles.

“These policies were created consistent with the western ideal of what it means to look like an officer or a professional,” Kaur said. “This leaves the burden to request accommodation on minorities. Any policy change should limit this burden so that religious minorities are not discouraged from serving.”

Multiple Sikh-American officers have also sued the department, claiming religious discrimination because they refused to remove their turbans or shave.

But the steps the NYPD has taken are certainly in the right direction in Kaur’s eyes, as she praised the recently appointed commissioners statements on Wednesday.

“If the NYPD’s new policy indeed allows for Sikhs to maintain unshorn beards and turbans, then that sends a powerful message to the rest of America that religious minorities are an important part of our nation’s fabric.”

The Hindu – Plea against appointment of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar as Chief Justice of India dismissed

We do not find any merit in the petition and the same is dismissed, the bench observed

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 30 December 2016. The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition by a lawyers’ group challenging the appointment of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India.

A Vacation Bench of Justices R.K. Agrawal and D.Y. Chandrachud refused to entertain the plea by the National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms that since Justice Khehar had headed the Constitution Bench which scrapped the government’s NJAC law in October 2015, he should refuse the appointment.

Through that judgment, Justice Khehar’s five-judge Bench had revived the Collegium system and declared the NJAC unconstitutional for ending the judiciary’s primacy over judicial appointments. The NJAC law had given the government an equal say in the appointment process.

The lawyers’ group, represented by advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara, argued that the appointment of Justice Khehar under seniority convention gave an impression that he had benefited from invalidating the NJAC law.

But the Bench asserted that there was “no question” of Justice Khehar being considered ineligible for the post. Justice Khehar is expected to be sworn in on January 4.

The court chose to highlight portions in the petition where Justice Khehar’s quality as a judge were praised. “Since the petitioners have praised the quality of Justice Khehar, there is no question of his being considered ineligible for being appointed as the Chief Justice of India,” it remarked.

The Bench said the decisions were made in the Collegium not just by the Chief Justice but was a joint call made in consonance with the four other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. “We do not find any merit in the petition and the same is dismissed,” the Bench concluded.

Advocate Nedumpara argued that the issue of appointment of judges was important and could not be reduced to the “exclusive domain of some persons.” “This court has to listen to the critics. Democracy is all about criticism,” he said.

The Statesman – Farooq bats for resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue

Jammu, 28 December 2016. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday urged the Centre to resume dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all pending disputes “amicably”.

He appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a process for addressing the internal and external dimensions of problems in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that dialogue is the only option to steer the state away from the present morass.

“Peace and cooperation forms core of neighbourly relations and therefore India and Pakistan must resume dialogue,” he said while addressing party workers in Kathua.

The former chief minister invoked the Vajpayee doctrine and said: “If neighbours cannot be changed, what stops the two countries to talk to each other and resolve their problems amicably.”

Farooq hoped hostilities will give way to better understanding between the two nations, saying peace is imperative for prosperity in the subcontinent and bringing relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have been the the victims of animosity.

He made a mention of border skirmishes over decades and said that these were detrimental for both India and Pakistan, as any full-fledged conflict between the nuclear states will lead to devastation and destruction in the entire region.

The National Conference chief also urged New Delhi to address the political issue of Kashmir by talking to all shades of public opinion on priority “as further delay will only worsen the situation”.

He said that everyone needs to be talked to, be it Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, if end goal is to herald peace in the state.

On PDP holding National Conference responsible for the Kashmir unrest, he said: “Those blaming us are conveniently forgetting the historical role of National Conference in upholding the unity of the state and safeguarding interests of its people.”

Farooq said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti “must shun petty politics for concealing the failures of her government”.

He cautioned against the machinations of divisive forces, who, he said, were trying to divide people on one or the other pretext.

“Unity and amity are the strongest tools to isolate such elements, whose politics is based on whipping up passions by exploiting public sentiment,” he said.

The former CM said the PDP-BJP coalition cannot hide its failures by indulging in blame games.

“They will have to account for mis-governance and the mess created across the state by non-performance during past over one-and-a-half year,” he said. – Over ten Sikh bodies unite to create Panthik Front to contest Punjab elections

Sikh24 Editors

Aamritsar – Panjab, 29 December 2016. According to internal, multiple Panthik bodies have united together to contest the upcoming assembly polls of Punjab in 2017. The organisations have formed a party named Panthik Front, in which more than ten like-minded Panthik bodies have become allied.

The Panthik Front is likely to announce its first list of 40 candidates later today.

It is learnt that the Simranjit Singh Mann led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Bhai Mohkam Singh led United Akali Dal are prominent in this newly formed party. The group is expected to raise the issues of state-wide desecration incidents and failure of Punjab government in booking culprits to polarize the Sikh vote bank.

Gent De Lijn Trams

Gent De Lijn Trams
Reconstruction of bridges
25 October 2016

New bridge over and tourist boats on the Leie


Hoofdbrug across the Lieve
This bridge is used by Tram 1 only


Hoofdbrug across the Lieve


North of the Hoofdbrug


Houses along the Lieve


The Lieve south of the Hoofdbrug

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

TOLO News – Unknown gunmen kill head of Sikh community in Kunduz

The shooting sparked an outcry on social media on Thursday with hundreds of people condemning the incident and sending condolences to his family.

Faridullah Hussainkhail

Kunduz, 30 December 2016. Lala Del Souz, the head of the Sikh community in Kunduz city, was killed by unknown gunmen Thursday morning, officials confirmed.

Del Souz, a naturopath, was gunned down at about 9am in the Haji Gulistan Kochi Haman area of the city.

He had reportedly been on his way to his shop when the shooting occurred.

According to relatives of the deceased, he had been shot five years ago but survived the attack.

Kunduz security chief Masoum Stanikzai confirmed the incident and said police have arrested three suspects. Investigations will however continue, he said.

The head of Kunduz regional hospital, Naeem Mangal, also confirmed the death of Del Souz and said he died from his injuries while being taken to hospital.

Del Souz’s uncle, Prem, said the deceased had been well liked and had no enemies.

The shooting meanwhile, sparked an outcry on social media on Thursday with hundreds of people condemning the incident and sending condolences to his family.

Prem, however called on government to thoroughly investigate the incident and make sure those responsible are brought to justice. He said if this does not happen, the few remaining Sikhs will sell up and leave the province.

Following the collapse of Kunduz, on two occasions in just over a year, many Sikhs left the province. Currently only three families are still there.

Sikhs have lived in Kunduz for over thirty years and at one time there were as many as 40 families in the area.

After the collapse of Kunduz city last year, Del Souz apparently moved his family to India. He stayed on in Kunduz and lived with his uncle, Prem, in their Dharamsal (a Sikh’s temple).

Close to 99 percent of Hindu and Sikh in Afghanistan have left the country over the past three decades.

An investigation by TOLOnews in June found that the Sikh and Hindu population numbered 220,000 in the 1980’s.

That number dropped sharply to 15,000 when the mujahideen was in power during the 1990’s and remained at that level during the Taliban regime. It is now estimated that only 1,350 Hindus and Sikhs remain in the country.

The survey also found that where Hindus and Sikhs were once very active in the business sector within the country, they are now faced with increasing poverty.

Hindus and Sikhs suffered huge setbacks after the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001. This forced a large number of them to leave rural areas and move to Kabul in order to make a living.

Dawn – Islam’s ‘golden age’

Ateeb Gul

Op/Ed, 30 December 2016. In discussions on history, philosophy, and even policymaking, one often comes across references to Islam’s ‘golden age’, a period that saw groundbreaking progress in rationalist disciplines including logic, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, etc, emanating from the Islamic world.

The popular narrative about this period assumes that it came to an end around the 12th-13th century. However, it is wrong to assume that what we call Islam’s ‘golden age’, a category that is itself problematic to begin with, ended around that time.

Recent scholarship has shown that while different disciplines enjoyed varying careers at different times, on the whole, a serious and prolific rationalist enterprise in the Islamic world survived well into the 16th and 17th centuries; in some cases well into the 19th and 20th centuries.

It survived not just through independent works but also through commentaries and glosses, two sources that have started to receive proper attention relatively recently.

The works of Asad Q. Ahmed are instrumental in this regard.

A recent issue of the prestigious journal Oriens, which Ahmed co-edits and to which he also contributed, featured articles by Robert Wisnovsky, Walid Saleh, Jon McGinnis, Nahyan Fancy and other historians on the role of commentaries and glosses in Islam’s intellectual history.

Efforts like these have now laid to rest the myth that no worthwhile progress was made in rationalist disciplines in the Islamic world after the 13th century. And the evidence against the myth is compelling.

For instance, in 1396, Ibn Ilyas published his Tashrih-i Mansuri, a Persian text famous for its coloured anatomical illustrations.

Its other merits aside, just the illustrative characteristic of the work compelled historian Lawrence Conrad to claim in The Western Medical Tradition that since “one of the greatest problems in mediaeval surgery was the rather rudimentary knowledge of the internal systems of the human body”, the “emergence of anatomical illustration on such a scale is in itself a development of great importance”.

While it is true that within the field of medicine different sub-disciplines like ophthalmology or anatomy experienced different trajectories, the picture that emerges from the works of Emilie-Savage Smith, Syed Nomanul Haq, Nahyan Fancy, Andrew Newman and others attests to the fact that the study of medicine flourished even after the 13th century.

The case of astronomy, too, presents us with a similar picture. The works of George Saliba, David King, F. Jamil Ragep, Ahmad Dallal, Robert Morrison and others have made available mountains of evidence demonstrating this.

Astronomical works by Ibn al-Shatir, al-Shirazi, al-Qushji, al-Khafri etc, all appearing after the 13th century, proved of vital importance to the study of astronomy in the subsequent centuries.

Ibn al-Shatir, whom historian David King calls “the most distinguished Muslim astronomer of the 14th century”, is someone whose astronomical model is believed by historians to have been taken over by none other than Copernicus.

Arguably, the best evidence against the ‘decline’ narrative comes from the history of logic, a field that has lately benefited from the works of Tony Street, Asad Q. Ahmed and Khaled El-Rouayheb among others.

In his Relational Syllogisms and the History of Arabic Logic 900-1900, the latter writes that the idea of the decline of the study of logic in the Islamic world “seems to be rooted, not in a careful study of logical works written in Arabic after 1300 (or 1550), but in a number of a priori assumptions, for example, that Islamic civilisation declined in general after the 13th century”.

At one place he claims that while one may speak of Arabic logic as a coherent tradition before the 17th century, a close reading of Arabic logical texts renders it “appropriate to speak of distinct traditions of Arabic logic after around 1600: the North African, the Ottoman Turkish, the Iranian, and the Indo-Muslim”.

It makes no sense, then, to claim that the study of logic suffered a major blow around the 13th century when entire sub-traditions of the field started to appear only in the 17th century, in some cases continuing into the 20th century as in the case of the Khayrabadi school of logic in pre-Partition India.

These and other data compel El-Rouayheb to conclude: “the history of Arabic logic did not come to an end in the 13th, 14th, or 16th century”. And the same is true, by and large, for the study of rationalist disciplines in the Islamic world in general.

Far from being just an exercise in historical pedantry, an accurate portrayal of this historical period has real ramifications for the Islamic world today.

Actual recommendations are made by educationists and policymakers based on the now-rejected myth of post-13th century decline. If we are to learn from history, as the old adage goes, we need to first get it right.

The writer is senior editor at the Lums Case Research Centre