Hoepertingen Gurdwara – Leuven Station – Gent Brabantdam

Hoepertingen Gurdwara
21 January 2017


The full contact details of the Gurdwara

Leuven Station
21 January 2017


Leuven Station – Waiting for delayed train
From Hoepertingen I went to Leuven
and from there back to Gent

Leuven Station – Waiting for delayed train


Leuven Station
The 5 minutes delay became 10 minutes
but I got home not too late

Gent Brabantdam
24 January 2017


Brabantdam – rubber mats on the new tracks


Brabantdam – rubber mats on the new tracks

To see all my pictures:


More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Published in: on February 25, 2017 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  

The Indian Express – Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun”

Chennai, 24 February 2017. J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa launched a new political forum while rival factions in ruling AIADMK provided welfare assistance across Tamil Nadu on her 69th birth anniversary on Friday in an escalating fight for her legacy.

As a war of words broke out, the state government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, his predecessor and dissident leader O Panneerselvam and AIADMK observed the birth anniversary of the late chief minister in different ways including holding of medical camps and planting of saplings.

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun” and also unveiled a flag depicting the images of Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran which she said was only a flag of the Forum named as ‘MGR AMMA Deepa Forum’.

Responding to a query, Deepa said the people desired that she contest from R K Nagar constituency that fell vacant following the demise of the late AIADMK supremo.

Deepa said she has been receiving several requests to enter politics and today’s announcement was to respect their wishes. Deepa, who will be the treasurer of the Forum, said her next course of action would be decided in due course and she would reveal it at the “appropriate time”.

In a veiled attack on Panneerselvam, AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, who is lodged in a Bengaluru prison, said, “When enemies and traitors wanted to defeat the party and the government, Amma’s soul guided us and has put up the AIADMK government in the seat of power”.

“Let us vow to protect the party, and work for the people,” she said in her letter published in Friday’s edition of party mouthpiece “Dr Namadhu MGR” Panneerselvam hit out at Sasikala and her family without naming her for trying to take over the party against Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) wishes.

“Dharma Yudham will continue (to retrieve the party and government),” he said and reiterated his demand for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa.

Paying floral tributes to Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam gave away welfare assistance to the people at Tondiarpet in North Chennai.

Palaniswamy planted a sapling at the Omandurar Government Estate here marking the launch of a drive to plant 69-lakh saplings and a greening project in areas hit by last year’s Vardah cyclone commemorating Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary.

AIADMK presidium chairman K A Sengottaiyan led the birth anniversary celebrations at party headquarters here in which the chief minister and other senior leaders took part.

Once a supporter of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak Jayakumar has now said her attempt to become the chief minister was “unacceptable” to the people of Tamil Nadu, while claiming that the late AIADMK chief had left behind her properties to him and his sister.

He claimed that the former chief minister had bequeathed her properties, including her Veda Nilayam bungalow in Poes Garden here, to his sister Deepa and him, by leaving behind a will.

Sasikala was set to become chief minister succeeding Pannerselvam but the Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case dashed her hopes. Deepa earlier said the Sasikala camp does not deserve to be in “Amma’s place” (Jayalalithaa) at all.

“Certainly not good for the people because this kind of takeover(by Sasikala camp), this kind of hijacking the party is absolutely not acceptable for anyone, especially the cadre of AIADMK because their wishes have been totally ignored.”

Deepak said party members did not favour TTV Dinakaran’s appointment as AIADMK’s deputy general secretary. While speaking to TV news channels on Thursday, Jayakumar questioned reinduction of Dinakaran, who is nephew of Sasikala, and S Venkatesh into the party.

While Deepa can aspire for positions in the AIADMK, Venkatesh and Dinakaran could not, he said apparently referring to the removal of the two by Jayalalithaa in 2011. “They are trying to bring family rule.. probably they both forced Sasikala to hand over the party to them,” he alleged, adding, “Even the party cadres will not accept this”.

Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

Sikh24.com – Satkar Singh Sidhu Latest To Be Gunned Down In Abbotsford’s Violent Townline Conflict

Desi Buzz BC

Abbotsford-BC-Canada, 24 February 2017. Another young Indian-Canadian man has been gunned down in the ongoing gang conflict in Abbotsford’s Townline area.

Satkar Singh Sidhu, 23, has been identified as the man killed Monday in Abbotsford..

While RCMP said Sidhu did not have a criminal record but was known to police, it is believed the murder was targeted and is linked to other gang violence that has happened in the area.

In a statement, Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said it’s fortunate no one else was injured in the shooting, which happened in a residential neighbourhood.

“Having association to or involvement with the gang life comes with many risks,” she said. “There are people who have information about what happened, and they need to step forward.”

She said it is still early in the investigation, and IHIT is trying to determine what, if any, involvement the three males taken into custody had in the homicide. They have since been released from custody, and are not facing any criminal charges.

Multiple 911 calls were reported Monday about shots fired on Steelhead Court shortly before 10 am.

Officers arrived to find Sidhu suffering from gunshot wounds. Ambulances were dispatched to the scene but he died off his injuries before he could be taken to hospital.

The neighbourhood is close to Townline Hill, an area that has been subject to recent gang turf wars.

The region has been subject to recent multiple warnings from police agencies, saying people connected to the conflict may be in danger.

Constable Ian MacDonald said one of the force’s officers saw the suspect vehicle speeding off. He gave chase, trying to pull it over on Highway 11, “and eventually into Mission”.

The vehicle only stopped after officers from Abbotsford and Mission RCMP threw down a spike belt. Three men were taken into custody, although it’s still unclear what, if any, role they have in the murder.

The vehicle was towed away from Lougheed Highway near Stave Lake Road and several of the windows were shattered.

Back at the scene, a large area of the road was taped off and investigators set up a white tent on a lawn.

Members of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have taken over the probe into the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

IHIT says its investigation is still in its infancy and “more updates will be provided tomorrow unless they can be provided earlier.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Stars & Stripes – More bearded, turbaned Sikhs join Army as Pentagon reviews religious articles ban

Corey Dickstein

Washington DC, 24 February 2017. Eight Sikh Army recruits have received waivers this year allowing them to maintain their religiously mandated beards and turbans in uniform, nearly doubling the number of observant Sikhs in the Army despite a decades-old policy barring visual symbols of faith.

The most recent religious appearance accommodations were granted in January and February, according to records reviewed by Stars and Stripes, just weeks after then-Army Secretary Eric Fanning simplified the process observant Sikhs and Muslims must follow to receive a waiver.

This could signal a relaxing of the Pentagon’s ban instituted in 1981 on outward symbols of faith in uniform, which is being reviewed by the Defense Department and each of the military services, three defense officials said.

The Army has approved at least 17 exemptions for Sikh soldiers to maintain their unshorn beards and turban-covered hair since 2009, when it granted the first such request to Kamal Kalsi, a medical doctor who is now a lieutenant colonel.

Kalsi, who has partnered with the Sikh Coalition and other groups to advocate for Sikhs, said military service is a natural fit for many religious Sikhs.

For Kalsi, a native of India who grew up in New Jersey, the military is also a family tradition. His father and grandfather served in the Indian air force and his great-grandfather served in the Royal British Army.

“Military service and service in general is such a big part of the Sikh community,” Kalsi said in a recent interview. “In taking my oath as an officer in the Army, the things that I swore an oath to are the same things that I was taught as a Sikh growing up, honesty, integrity, courage.

These things are all part and parcel of being a Sikh and of being a good soldier in the USA Army”.

For many service members, the process to receive a policy exemption to wear a simple symbol of their faith, such as a yarmulke for Jewish service members, can be approved by their direct commanding officers, but for observant Sikhs, and for some devout Muslims who must wear beards or hijabs, the longstanding Pentagon policy requires a formal waiver to the military appearance standards.

Until recently, those exemptions were rarely granted.

That appears to have changed, at least in the Army.

The eight accommodations approved by the Army this year follow six exemptions that the service granted to recruits in 2016, according to the non-profit Sikh Coalition.

Army Lt. Colonel Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman for the service, said she could not confirm the number of soldiers or recruits who have received a religious appearance exemption because the process has been “decentralized” and records are maintained at various installations.

Before last year, only three Sikh soldiers had been granted similar accommodations since 1981, according to the coalition. Sikh Coalition spokespersons said they were unaware of any observant Sikhs serving in the other military branches.

Spokespersons for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps said they were not aware of any Sikhs serving in those branches with an accommodation to wear an unshorn beard and turban in uniform.

The policy change

On 4 January just days before he left office with the President Barack Obama administration, Fanning issued a memorandum that mandated brigade commanders grant accommodations to soldiers or recruits seeking to wear religiously required beards or headwear in uniform with only a few exceptions.

Previously, such decisions were made by the secretary. They remain decisions relegated to senior officials in the other military branches.

Fanning’s order instructed commanders to deny requested religious exemptions only if they are “not based on a sincerely held religious belief” or they would cause “a specific, concrete hazard … that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures.”

The Sikh Coalition, which brought lawsuits last year against the Army backing four Sikhs in their pursuits of religious accommodations, welcomed Fanning’s decision. But the group has not finished its fight, said Harsimran Kaur, the coalition’s legal director.

Ultimately, she said, the coalition wants to see an end to “all religious discrimination” and seeks a Pentagon-wide policy change to allow persons of any religion to maintain their visual articles of faith in uniform without requiring an accommodation.

“The USA is the strongest democracy in the world, and it has the strongest military in the world,” Kaur said. “For the United States to take in people from different religions and different backgrounds that’s only going to strengthen that democracy and that military.”

The Pentagon has long pointed to two primary reasons for retaining its ban on visible religious articles, the need for uniform appearance to maintain good order and discipline and the potential impact such articles could have on servicemembers’ safety equipment.

Beards, especially, Pentagon officials have said, can interfere with the effectiveness of protective masks.

Kalsi rejects both arguments. He and other bearded Sikhs have been able to properly seal Army-issued protective masks to their face and pass standard gas chamber testing, he said.

Furthermore, Kalsi said he has never had issues with other servicemembers because of his visible tenets of faith.

“They have always sort of found it fascinating, or found it really cool,” he said. “The military always argues that the turban and beard may affect espirit de corps or unit cohesion. My experience and the experience of other Sikh soldiers who have deployed has always been the same – that we’ve never had any problems getting along with our units.”


Dawn – Situationer: when fear takes over

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 24 February 2017. Around noon on Thursday a mother received a call from her daughter’s school in Gulberg. The caller informed her that the school was letting parents collect their daughters early in view of the blast in DHA an hour ago.

As she rushed to the school, a friend texted her a message that one news channel was airing ‘unconfirmed’ reports of an explosion at an American fast food chain’s Gulberg outlet, which is perilously close to the school.

“It was like I had already died. The message numbed my mind and body, totally. Don’t know how I pulled up the car and started calling the school. But the call wouldn’t connect,” she later told the mother of one of her daughter’s classmates, her eyes swollen and her voice choking because of crying.

After failing to reach the school administration by telephone she pulled herself together and drove “madly” to get to the school only to run into a security picket.

The Rangers and the police had thrown a cordon around the Gulberg Main Boulevard outlet of the international chain. A policeman told her to take an alternative route.

“When I asked him about what was going on there and if the Rangers were searching only the food outlet or all the buildings, including the school, in that block, he refused to confirm or refute. He just kept asking me to move on and away,” the mother of two boys and a girl told Dawn.

She wasn’t the only mother to have suffered the trauma. Other parents too had similar experiences. Many made a dash to the school as soon as they heard of the Defence blast. Others were asked by a text message or call from the school administration or from their daughters.

Outside the school you could see many parents crying. Inside the school the children waited to be picked up as soon as possible.

“It was during the short break that the cell phones of our teachers started ringing incessantly. Everyone suddenly started talking about the Defence explosion and then ‘news’ of another blast in Gulberg,” an A-Level student said.
“We were asked by our school administrator to call home so that our parents could pick us up early. Every child was frightened, not knowing what was actually happening outside the school walls.”

‘Close to our homes’

Lahore is no stranger to terrorist attacks. Over the last decade the people of the city have seen hundreds of deaths in suicide bombings and sectarian attacks at public places and shrines like the rest of the country.

Parents remember refusing to send their children to school for days or taking them to public places. Some had even made their peace with their fear of death.

But the recent string of militant attacks in the country that began with a suicide attack on a protest at Charing Cross on the Mall in front of the Punjab Assembly earlier this month seems to have triggered a fresh wave of fear across the country. Thursday’s explosion has intensified these fears.

“The recent bombings have shaken everyone. This new wave looks dangerous. This is different from before. They (militants) seem to be closer… they’re hitting very close to (our) homes this time,” said an executive of a company who didn’t want to be named.

Unlike the past, traders too appear quite mindful of the threat and voluntarily shut down the markets. Restaurants that otherwise are usually filled with guests gave a deserted look.

“No one feels safe now. Everyone is advising everyone to avoid shopping malls, markets and restaurants. People are scared,” a trader told Dawn.

Many blame the electronic media and the government for the current environment of fear.

“If some media outlets are responsible for airing rumours as confirmed news, the (Punjab) government hasn’t done itself any good either by persistently trying to pass off the bomb explosion in Defence as an accident,” argued a LUMS professor. “Indeed, these government denials didn’t help”.

The ministers and officials have only added to the confusion, and public fears, just because it doesn’t want to look inefficient and weak. Such an outlook could boost demands for giving the Rangers more powers.”

The LUMS professor agreed that the management of the General Hospital had taken a good decision in disallowing the media from entering the premises for ‘live’ coverage.

“The media persons don’t realise how dangerous this can be for everyone, besides obstructing the effort to help the wounded.

The loss of 100 lives in a Quetta hospital in August last year and in Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital should be enough to make media refrain from following the wounded to hospitals and creating chaos for militants to do their work.”

Yet TV did spread rumours and panic with the news of Gulberg blast. “It is a tough call: do we inform our viewers and readers or do we play it down along with the likes of Rana Sanaullah,” said a journalist.