The Asian Age – 129 MLAs should be released from resort, allowed to meet people: Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam

On a query as to how confident he was about forming the government, he said, ‘When the Assembly convenes, I will prove my majority there.’

Chennai, 13 February 2017. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday said the 129 MLAs, staying in a private resort near Chennai, should be released and they should meet people in their respective constituencies to get a sense of the public mood.

He said the legislators should be released from the resort and allowed to meet the people in their respective constituencies.

Panneerselvam also alleged that by shedding crocodile tears, Sasikala kept the MLAs on her side.

“Let her release them…so that they can go to their respective consitutencies and meet the people and take a good decision,” he told reporters in Chennai.

Stressing that the Tamil people were well aware of the current political scenario, he said, “Not only in India, people across the globe are monitoring the situation.”

Noting that he was working as per his conscience, Panneerselvam said he did not invite any of his Cabinet colleagues when he had gone to meditate at Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) memorial last week after which he said he was forced to quit from the Chief Minister’s post.

Asserting that he was always a staunch loyalist of Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam said, “In the last 20 years not even once has Amma criticised me.”

On whether the administration had come to a standstill due to the ongoing crisis, he said it was not true as he has been meeting government officials everyday.

“Every day I am in touch with the officials. Day before yesterday, the Chief Secretary and DGP met me and we discussed several issues. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Secretariat,” he said.

He said Deepak and Deepa, the niece of late leader J Jayalalithaa, were the only blood relations of Jayalalithaa.

“When Amma’s mortal remains were in the hospital on the night of December 5, she was not allowed to pay her respects even at that time,” he alleged.

To a query on the assets of Jayalalithaa, he recalled it was her wish that all her assets go to the party.

On a query as to how confident he was about forming the government, he said, “When the Assembly convenes, I will prove my majority there.”

On the press conference addressed by AIADMK chief Sasikala, he asked why she did not meet the press when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised and why was she speaking to reporters now.

Meanwhile, another AIADMK MP extended his support to Panneerselvam, taking the total number of Parliamentarians in his favour to 11.

AIADMK MP R Parthiban representing Theni district called on O Panneerselvam at his residence in Greenways Road, Chennai later this evening and offered his support to him.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/130217/release-129-mlas-from-resort-allow-them-to-meet-people-tn-cm-panneerselvam.html

Sikh24.com – DSGMC elections: HSGPC to support Sarna led Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) candidates

Sikh24 Editors

Kurukshetra, Haryana, India, 11 February 2017. The Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has announced to support candidates fielded by Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) led by Paramjit Singh Sarna. The HSGPC was carved out of SGPC in July 2014 and has been a strong opponent of the Akali Dal (Badal).

Speaking to Sikh24 on February 10, General Secretary of HSGPC S Joga Singh clarified that the HSGPC would openly work for the winning of candidates fielded by Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) led by Paramjit Singh Sarna.

Ruling out any possibility of supporting candidates led by former Akal Takht Jathedar Ranjit Singh or AAP backed Avtar Singh Kalka, S Joga Singh said that their sole mission was to oust Badal affiliated candidates from DSGMC and only Sarna led candidates were having ground base there.

The Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was constituted by the Bhupinder Singh Huda led Congress government of Haryana on July 11, 2014.

The constitution of a separate Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee was challenged by a Kurukshetra based SGPC member in the Supreme Court. The case is under consideration of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India led by Justice J S Khehar. The Apex Court is expected to address its verdict in coming months.

Meanwhile, just few weeks ahead of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) president Paramjit Sarna has raised serious allegations on Shiromani Akali Dal’s patriarch Parkash Badal.

He has said that Parkash Badal has sent armed police men with AK-47 riffles to provide security to Akali Dal (Badal)’s leaders in Delhi and to threaten the Sikh voters.

Sarna said that Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Badal has provided security cover of Punjab police cops equipped with border-range AK-47 rifles to DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, DSGMC’s general secretary Manjinder Sirsa and Avtar Hit.

He said that it was against the norms of Punjab police and territorial law to provide security cover by state government of Punjab to non-categorical Delhi based leaders.

Sarna alleged that the only motive of sending armed Punjab police cops to Delhi was to threaten the Sikh voters in DSGMC elections.

He further said that he will raise the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and will ask them that if these leaders really need security cover then the state government of Delhi should provide them security.

Sarna said that even the Delhi police was not aware of the amount of arms & ammunition carried by these Punjab police cops to Delhi. He appealed the voters not to get scared of these cheap tactics of Badal affiliated leaders and dare to vote them out of sacred Sikh shrines of Delhi.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/02/11/dsgmc-elections-hsgpc-to-support-sarna-led-shiromani-akali-dal-delhi-candidates/#.WKFJh3_RHY8

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Leuven

Gent-Sint-Pieters
14 January 2017

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Tram 21 to Zwijnaarde

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Tram 21 to Zwijnaarde

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Tram 4 to UZ

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Platform 2 IC train to Brussel/Eupen via Leuven

Leuven
14 January 2017

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Sint-Geertruikerk

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Dijle in between Sluisstraat and Vaartstraat

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 – When religion rules social life

Individuals can practise religions but societies must practise tolerance and coexistence

Sarfaraz Hamid

Sunday, 12 February 2017. The expressions of communal harmony such as Muslims distributing water and eatables to Hindus during the Ramanavami procession to the kawariyas in Sawan, or Hindus giving sweets to Muslims during Eid Milad-un-Nabi and Muharram juloos, or Sikhs organising langars (free food distribution) for the poor are, today, rare occurrences in our communally-charged society.

We cherish such instances of communal harmony, but the truth is that the secular fabric of our country is in grave danger. We must not forget to realise how the politics of religion has transformed after Indian independence. The idea of ‘coexistence’ has to be looked at historically, with respect to pre-colonial and colonial India.

Mughal Emperor Akbar ruled on the basis of Sufi doctrines of Mohabbat-i Kul (Love for God) and Sulh-i Kul (Tolerance for All). These gave Akbar an ideological basis to rule, where there was room for debate on religious matters based on reason, scepticism, and questioning: abolition of Sharia, prohibition of cow slaughter, checks on sati are just some instances.

These doctrines provided a non-discriminatory and non-sectarian foundation to the Mughal ‘state’ during the late sixteenth century. Today, however, the very notion of ‘religious tolerance’ and ‘coexistence’ has eroded.

In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, rationalists, who criticise or ridicule religious leaders in an attempt to advocate rationalism and scientific temper, are facing persecution and are even murdered.

Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi, who propagated rational ideas, were killed by Hindu fanatics, Avijit Roy in Bangladesh was killed by Islamic fundamentalists because he did not conform to their religious teachings and doctrines.

In contrast, during Akbar’s regime, when a Brahmin in Mathura was executed for his ‘blasphemous’ crime of allegedly insulting a prophet, Akbar was appalled and immediately intervened to abolish Sharia.

It is also interesting to analyse the thoughts of Abul Fazl on prophets, which were radical as well as ‘blasphemous’ in nature. He says, “Prophets have pretended that they can be rulers of the world by virtue of their religious character.

They are tricksters.” Abul Fazl also says, “What kind of society are we living in where anger is quick to break out over supremacy of one religion over another, and there are clashes among people.”

In colonial India, the British resorted to ‘divide and rule’ to further their imperial agenda. During the British period, communal clashes were widespread. Can the killings of millions during the Partition be attributed to the British policies towards religious communities? Probably.

On the other hand, there were several cross-cultural traditions which planted roots in Indian society. Phoolwalon ki sair was one such tradition started in 1811 by Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Akbar II, for the safe return of her son, Mirza Jahangir, who was exiled by the British.

She commissioned the flower sellers of the city and organised a procession from the dargah of Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki to the temple of goddess Jog Maya. This practice is continued even today with great pomp. The festival of Basant Panchami too continues to be celebrated in Nizamuddin Dargah.

We live in a society which showcases not merely diversity in culture, traditions, and rituals, but most importantly, differences in ideologies, opinions, and thought. Paradoxically, while we are progressing towards an era of bullet trains and 5G spectrum, we have stagnated ourselves with our rites and rituals, which are devoid of scientific validation and rational thinking.

Recently, a Jain girl died after fasting for 40 days, as part of a religious practice. ‘Triple talaq’ is still prevalent in the Muslim community; women are falsely accused of witchcraft and even burnt to death. Today, it is very easy to identify Muslim and Hindu localities with flags on their rooftops.

We must rethink secularism. If we really want a peaceful, harmonious, and secular society, the State must do away with religion in the public space. The society should be built on an intellectual basis, for justice and welfare, peace and harmony, and promotion of knowledge and rationalism. Religion is a matter of personal faith and therefore belongs in the private sphere.

Religions should be practised on a daily basis, living the teachings of compassion and respect that can be found in all traditions. Secularism the French way, as the author seems to propagate in the last paragraph, is not neutral, it is just another form of fundamentalism.
Man in Blue

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http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-when-religion-rules-social-life-2320085

Dawn – TTP provides core fighting group for IS: US general

Anwar Iqbal

Washington, 13 February 2017. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan provides the core fighting group for the militant Islamic State (IS) group as TTP militants in Orakzai tribal agency en masse joined the relatively new terrorist group, says a top US general.

General John Nicholson Jr, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, also agreed with a lawmaker that Pakistan’s strong relationship with China and its growing ties with Russia were a cause of concern for the United States.

The general, who commands over 13,000 international troops, 8,400 of them American, appeared before the US Senate Armed Services Committee this week to brief American lawmakers on the current situation in Afghanistan.

He told the panel that the IS, which in Afghanistan was called the Islam State Khorasan Province, comprised fighters mainly from existing militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Primarily, their membership had come from the TTP, which was a Pakistan-based opponent of the Pakistan regime, he said.

The general said TTP militants in Orakzai tribal agency had, en masse, joined the IS-K and formed the initial group of fighters who then moved into Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, spreading out to about 11 districts initially.

“So, the majority of the fighters in the IS right now came from the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban, and joined the banner of the IS,” he added.

General Nicholson agreed with Senator Angus King, a Maine Democrat, that the Pakistan-Afghan region was a fertile ground for terrorism.

“The conditions in this region also lend themselves to the growth of these organisations. These 20 groups sit on top of a population, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, of over 200 million people, 70 per cent of them are under the age of 30. You know, employment is low, there is radical form of Islam,” he said.

“It’s like a Petri dish… into which you drop the 20 strands of DNA of these terrorist groups. And then what we see happening is convergence and growth in connections develop these.”

General Nicholson noted that of the 98 US-designated terrorist groups across the globe, 20 operated in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, along with three violent extremist organisations.

“This is the highest concentration of terrorist groups anywhere in the world, which underscores the importance of our counter-terrorism platform in the Central Asia-South Asia region which protects our homeland,” he said.

General Nicholson told the committee that the war in Afghanistan had come to a “stalemate” but could be won by providing better training and equipment to Afghan national forces.

To do so, he asked for “a few thousands” more troops and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for Afghan air force, which he said was a vital component to breaking the stalemate between Afghan and Taliban forces.

The US government is already considering a proposal to replace Afghanistan’s current fleet of Russian Mi-17s with modified UH-60 Blackhawks, designed to handle the region’s formidable mountainous terrain.

Throughout the hours-long hearing, General Nicholson, as well as some senators, insisted that the war in Afghanistan could not be won without Pakistan’s support, but the general emphasised the need to work with Pakistan to eliminate alleged militant safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, instead of antagonising it by cutting off US economic and military assistance.

Senator John McCain, who chairs the committee, set the tone of the discussion in his opening statement that “succeeding in Afghanistan will also require a candid evaluation of America’s relationship with Pakistan”.

General Nicholson said he was also concerned about the influence in Afghanistan of certain external actors, particularly Pakistan, Russia and Iran, who “continue to legitimise and support the Taliban”.

These external actors were also undermining the Afghan government’s efforts to create a stable Afghanistan, he added. Yet, he warned against a knee-jerk reaction in this situation, particularly against Pakistan. “Our complex relationship with Pakistan is best assessed through a holistic review,” he said.

The general noted that the Pakistani leadership had articulated its support for the US objective of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, “but thus far we have not seen this translate into any change in terms of behaviour”.

This lack of support was also visible in the freedom of action given to Taliban or the Haqqani Network to operate from sanctuaries in Pakistan, he said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1314507/ttp-provides-core-fighting-group-for-is-us-general