The News – Nation mourns Lahore suicide attack victims

Lahore, 14 February 2017. Pakistanis Tuesday mourned the victims of a Taliban-claimed suicide bomb in Lahore, as the death toll rose to 15 and the city´s residents railed at the government for failing to protect them.

The chief minister of Punjab state Shahbaz Sharif declared a day of mourning after Monday´s blast on Lahore´s Mall Road, one of the city´s main arteries, at rush hour during a busy protest.

At least 15 people were killed, emergency official Ahmad Raza told AFP, including six police officers, while up to 87 were injured.

The toll could have been much higher, Raza said, but for two vehicles, a TV news van and a minivan belonging to the protesters, which absorbed much of the impact of the blast.

The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the assault, which came three days after it announced it would carry out a series of attacks on government installations around the country.

A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that Monday´s bomb was “just the start”.

The attack underscored the challenges faced by Pakistan in its push to stamp out militancy, even as security dramatically improved in 2015 and 2016.

Local groups like the umbrella Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) retain the ability to carry out spectacular attacks, despite a military-led crackdown on extremism.

Lahore residents vented their fury at the militants and the government at the blast site early Tuesday.

“They (the militants) have no link with Islam nor do they believe in any religion, the only thing they know is killing people, this is utterly an act of terrorism,” Tariq Saleem told AFP.

Nadeem Akhter called on the government to do more to bring the situation under control. “Our children and people are being killed in these attacks,” he said.

Both British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew and US ambassador David Hale branded the attack “cowardly” in separate statements, expressing support for the victims.

Lahore, the country´s cultural capital, suffered one of Pakistan´s deadliest attacks during 2016, a Jamaat-ul-Ahrar suicide bomb in a park last Easter that killed more than 70 including many children.

But such incidents have been rare in the city in recent years.

Shortly after Monday´s attack two members of a bomb disposal team were killed in Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province, while trying to defuse a device.

It was not clear if the Quetta bomb was linked to the Lahore attack.

Funeral prayers

The funeral prayers of the policemen killed in the attack were offered today. Punjab Governor Muhammad Rafique Rajwana, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and other senior officials attended the funeral prayers.


The Tribune – Sikh bodies seek support for Samajwadi Party-Congress

Tribune News Service

Lucknow, 13 February 2017. About 25 Sikh organisations have appealed to the community to vote for the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

“In a first, the SP government appointed a Sikh, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, as a Cabinet-rank minister. He is accessible and has resolved many issues of the community,” states the resolution signed by the presidents of 25 gurdwaras and Sikh-controlled institutions. It was handed over to the minister this evening.

“The Sikhs in Canada showed political wisdom in 2015 by voting for the Liberal Party. Of the 16 Sikh MPs there, four became Cabinet ministers. Learning from that experience, we appeal to the Sikhs in UP to vote for the alliance so that the community can uphold its distinct identity and stake a claim to political power,” the resolution said.

According to Ramoowalia, about 35 of the 67 constituencies going to the polls in the second phase on February 15 have a sizeable Sikh population.

Leuven – Arashdeep Kaur

14 January 2017


The Dijle, in between Sluisstraat and Vaartstraat

Arashdeep Kaur
Birthday cake
14 January 2017


The cake was tasty too and ….. No eggs !


Simran Kaur – Arashdeep Kaur


Arashdeep Kaur – Simran Kaur


Seven years old !


Simran Kaur, Arashdeep Kaur and their friend Laiba

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Telesur – Sikh Temples [Gurdwaras] offer shelter to Oroville Dam evacuees

At least seven Sikh temples [Gurdwaras] opened their doors to evacuees

Published 13 February 2017

“Do not travel north toward Oroville,” was the message the Yuba County Office of Emergency Services blasted on its Twitter account Sunday.

It was the warning issued to the nearly 200,000 people in Northern California who were told to evacuate that day due to erosion of the emergency spillway in the nation’s tallest dam, the Lake Oroville Dam.

In the wake of the evacuation order, several Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, in the area opened their doors to residents, providing blankets, shelter and meals.

Thousands of people from the counties of Yuba, Butte and Sutter scrambled from their homes Sunday night. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted that people in the Yuba county area could seek shelter in at least seven local Sikh houses of worship in the area.

“We’re well-prepared,” Dr. Gurtej S. Cheema of Sacramento’s Capital Sikh Center told The Huffington Post. “We have meals, shelter. We can accommodate at least 50 people here.”

Amid the wake of the evacuations, Cheema’s gurdwara delivered enough bedding for 50 people to sleep at the temple and prepared hot tea and meals for them when they arrived.

Early Monday, authorities reported the risk from the dam was not as severe as initially warned, but residents remained evacuated, as a more thorough evaluation of the situation is underway.

The dam started to overflow after winter storms brought heavy waters to the area parched by drought for four years. But another major cause is the dam’s aging infrastructure.

“A 50-year-old person isn’t as robust as a 16-year,” Bob Bea, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of California Berkeley told Mercury News. “And neither is a 50-year-old dam”.

“Most of our infrastructure dates back to this time period. It’s now in its old age, the geriatrics phase, and we are still using a reactive approach to manage these systems,” he continued. “We wait until we have a big problem. It is much more cost-effective and safe to be proactive than waiting to fix something after an infrastructure disaster.”

While environmental activists had pushed the federal government to cover the dam’s emergency spillway with concrete in 2005, the agency responsible for it, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, had refused to do so after the state Department of Water Resources and the State Water Contractors, a group of 27 water agencies, cited high costs.

“It’s a damn good idea to have an emergency spillway,” said Ron Stork, policy director with Friends of the River, a Sacramento environmental group. “But it’s cheaper to not pour concrete there”.

“It would be like if a few of the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge broke”, David Freyberg, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, added. “The bridge is designed for that, but you don’t want it sitting there broken, and it is going to take a while to fix it. I don’t think it is catastrophic. But they are going to have to watch it very closely”.

The Hindu – Sasikala convicted in Disproportionate Assets case; can’t contest elections for 10 years

Sasikala and her co-accused, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran, to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 14 February 2017. The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala’s acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case and “restored in full” the trial court conviction of September 2014.

A Bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy also set aside the acquittal of her two co-accused J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran and restored their conviction in the case. The SC said the appeals filed by Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K Anbazhagan, against the former Chief Minister has abated after her death on December 5, 2016.

The Supreme Court ordered Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran to surrender forthwith before the trial court concerned.

Even after Sasikala comes out after serving her four-year sentence, she would be disqualified to contest elections for the next six years as per the Supreme Court judgment in Lily Thomas versus Union of India of July 2013.

The voluminous main judgment authored by Justice Ghose held that the trial court conviction of the three accused, A2 to A4, on 27 September 2014 has been restored in full along with the consequent directions, including payment of fine and attachment of properties.

Fine of Rs 10 crore

The trial court had sentenced Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran under Section 109 IPC read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, abetment of criminal misconduct of a public servant, to simple imprisonment for a period of four years each and pay a fine of Rs. 10 crore each.

In case of default, they would have to further suffer imprisonment for another year.

For the offence of criminal conspiracy leading to criminal misconduct of a public servant (Section 120 (B) IPC read with Section 13 (2)) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, all three were sentenced to simple imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each.

Special Judge John Michael Cunha had ordered the attachment properties held by Indo-Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Signora Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Meadow Agro Farms, Riverway Agro Products.

The prosecution had alleged that these companies were operating “for and on behalf of Ms. Jayalalithaa.” The prosecution had submitted that, in essence, these companies were used as receptacles of ill-gotten cash for which no explanation was given during investigation nor during the trial.

In his separate but concurring judgment, Justice Roy said in the open court that he had expressed the court’s “deep concern about escalating corruption in the society.”

The judgment has come seven months since the Supreme Court reserved the appeal for judgment on June 7, 2016 after 20 days of hearing arguments. The hearing had started on February 23 last year.

The Bench had issued notice in July 2015 on the appeals. In its arguments, the State government had argued that the bare fact that it was neither considered nor ignored as the “sole prosecuting agency” in the corruption case would by itself vitiate the High Court judgment.

The State wanted the Supreme Court to address on what would be the effect of not repairing this omission throughout the appeal hearings in the High Court till they were disposed off.

The State’s document filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle and settled by senior advocate B V Acharya, had contended that its appeals were not vitiated as the duly appointed Public Prosecutor was “never given the opportunity” of an oral hearing.

His role was reduced to just handing over written submission, that too on the orders of the Supreme Court, at the fag end of the appeals in the High Court.

The State government pointed out that the acquittal can be set aside by just correcting the “totalling mistake” to show that the disproportionate assets of the accused comes to Rs 16.32 crore, that is 76.7% of the income as against the 8.12% arrived at by the High Court.

“Consequently, the judgment of acquittal is liable to be converted into one of conviction even as per the purported principle in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case,” the State government contended.

The 1977 case law, quoted by the High Court, had held that an offence was not made out if disproportionate assets was found to be less than 10% of the income. It said the logic does not apply in this case in which the disproportionate assets run to crores.

‘No authority to interfere in TN’s affairs’

The defence counsel had argued that Karnataka had no authority to “interfere in the internal affairs of Tamil Nadu” and a violation of the federal scheme enshrined in the Constitution. They had invoked Article 162 of the Constitution, which prescribed that the executive power of the State Executive is co-extensive with that of the State Legislature.

The defence had argued that only Tamil Nadu had the “exclusive jurisdiction” to file the special leave petition or appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment of acquittal on May 11, 2015 as Ms. Jayalalithaa was a “public servant of the State of Tamil Nadu.”

The defence had asked whether Karnataka was entitled to maintain the petition against the High Court’s judgment setting aside the confiscation of assets of five companies which the prosecution alleged were owned by the accused persons. That too when there was no charge levelled under the Benami Prohibition Act.