The News – Seven killed as terrorists hit London again

Fifty hurt; assailants crush people with hired van, stab revellers; British PM says terrorists use evil ideology; Pakistan strongly condemns attack

London, 5 June 2017. The United Kingdom’s capital once again came under terrorist attack on Sunday as three men riding a hired van and wearing fake suicide vests went on a rampage and rammed the passersby around London Bridge and then attacked the people with knives, killing seven and injuring at least 50 of them.

The assailants were wearing fake suicide vests in a bid to increase the sense of panic as they lunged seemingly at random at the crowd gathered around the London Bridge and Borough Market, which is full of restaurants and bars.

An eyewitness, Gerard Vowls, 47, said he saw a woman repeatedly stabbed, and threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them. “They kept coming to try to stab me… they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told The Guardian newspaper.

Holly Jones, a BBC reporter, saw a white van speeding into crowds of people walking along the pavement on London Bridge, saying it hit about five or six people. Another witness called Eric told the BBC, he had seen three men getting out and thought they were going to help.

Instead, they “started kicking them, punching them and took out knives. It was a rampage really,” he said, adding that he heard a shout of: “This is for Allah”. An Australian and four French nationals were among those hospitalised, their governments said, while a Spaniard was slightly wounded.

Several people said they were ordered by the police to stay inside pubs and restaurants as the terror raged outside. Alex Shellum at the Mudlark pub said a woman had come into the bar “bleeding heavily from the neck”, telling the BBC: “It appeared that her throat had been cut”.

Italian photographer Gabriele Sciotto, who was watching the football at the Wheatsheaf pub in Borough Market, said he saw three men shot just outside the pub. In a picture he took, a man wearing combat trousers, with a shaved head and what looked like a belt with canisters attached to it could be seen on the ground with two more bodies behind him.

“In two or five seconds, they shot all the three men down,” Sciotto told the BBC.

Britain’s counter-terrorism police chief said that eight police officers fired an unprecedented number of bullets to stop three attackers in London who appeared to be suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, “Eight police firearms officers discharged their weapons.

Our initial assessment is in the region of 50 rounds, in the region of 50 bullets were fired by those eight officers. The three attackers were shot dead,” Mark Rowley said.

A member of the public received non-critical gunshot wounds during the incident. Rowley said police were making significant progress in identifying the three attackers, but gave no details.

British Prime Minister Theresa May blamed “evil” ideology for an attack by knife-wielding men who mowed down and stabbed revelers in London, killing seven, as police said they had arrested 12 suspects.

Saturday night´s rampage at the popular nightlife hub around London Bridge, by three men arriving in a van and wearing fake suicide vests, was the third deadly terror attack in Britain in three months and came only days before snap elections.

National campaigning for Thursday´s general election was suspended for the day out of respect for the victims, who included 48 people treated in hospital, some of them in life-threatening conditions.

No details have been released about the suspects, who were shot dead within minutes by police, and detectives are still investigating whether they acted alone. The 12 arrests were made in the ethnically diverse east London suburb of Barking, with Sky News reporting that a property raided by police belonged to one of the killers.

May said the attack was driven by the same “evil ideology of Islamist extremism” behind last week´s Manchester suicide bombing that left 22 people dead, and the Westminster attack in March, which killed five.

“The recent attacks are not connected but we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face,” she said after chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee. She warned that perpetrators are inspired to attack “by copying one another”.

Britain was already on high alert following the attack on a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, northwest England, in which seven children were among the dead.

Grande, who will headline a benefit concert in Manchester later Sunday alongside stars including Pharrell Williams and Justin Bieber, tweeted that she was “Praying for London.”

May also warned there was “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”, promising to review counter-terrorism efforts, including possibly increasing the jail terms handed out in terror cases.

The ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour party suspended national campaign events for the day, although local campaigning will continue.

“But violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process, so those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow and the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday,” the prime minister said.

US President Donald Trump offered his help, tweeting “We are with you. God bless !” and highlighting his thwarted ban on travelers from six mainly Muslim countries.

Reuters adds: Prime Minister May said, “It is time to say enough is enough.” The Conservative leader said in a televised statement outside her Downing Street office, where flags a flew at half-mast.

“We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are,” May said, calling for a beefed-up counter-terrorism strategy that could include longer jail sentences for some offences and new cyberspace regulations.

APP adds: Pakistan on Sunday strongly condemned a terrorist attack in United Kingdom, which resulted in killing of seven people and injuries to dozen others.

These terrorist attacks are against human values and deserve utmost condemnation in every possible way, said a Foreign Office statement. It said, “The government and the people of the Islamic Republic Pakistan express their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the government and the people of United Kingdom.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks, we pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and we stand in solidarity with them in their hour of grief”, it added. It said, “Terrorism is a global menace and as a common challenge that it needs to be tackled with collective effort and cooperation”.


The Tribune – Amarinder lauds K P S Gill’s role in tackling terrorism in Punjab

I am a lot less enthusiastic about K P S Gill, probably because I am not an Indian nationalist …
Man in Blue

Ravi S Singh, Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 3 June 2017. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday lauded the role of former state DGP K P S Gill in tackling terrorism in the state.

Speaking at Gill’s bhog ceremony here, Amarinder said Gill’s example should be emulated by the current and next generation of police officers in Punjab. Ģill provided leadership to the police force of Punjab during the dark days of terrorism, he said.

“Shops and other business establishments used to down shutters at sunset. There was utter demoralisation among the police force with their relatives being killed by militants. The state officers used to avoid meeting the public after sunset,” he said.

Describing Gill as his friend, the Chief Minister said Punjab and India had lost a great nationalist. Those who did not see the dark days of militancy in the state would not be able to appreciate the contributions of Gill.

“The only way we can pay our respects and tribute to the great soul is by maintaining peace and tranquillity in the state for which he fought,” Captain Singh said.

“Gill had given everything for the country and the state. If young officers emulate Gill, Punjab and the country would not look back,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab BJP leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla hailed Gill as a nationalist and lauded his role in bringing normalcy to the state.

She said only nationalists who had the unity and integrity of the country at heart would be able to appreciate the contributions of Gill. “Gill was a true general,” she said.

Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also attended the ceremony. “He was a personal friend, a nationalist and a great leader who inspired many,” Hooda said.

Among others, Congress MP K T S Tulsi and BSP national spokesperson S Bhadoria were present on the occasion. A large number of retired ex-servicemen were also present to pay their respects to Gill.

All India Anti-Terrorist Front president M S Bitta was also present.

Akali leaders were conspicuous by their absence.

Liège – Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan and Gare de Liège Palais

Liège Gurdwara – Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan
30 April 2017

Place des Déportés – Sangat
Foodstalls and Gatka demonstration

Place des Déportés – Sangat

My friend and his family

Belgian mama – Panjabi papa

Gare de Liège Palais
30 April 2017

Gare de Liège Palais

Gare de Liège Palais – waiting for the train to Guillemins

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Faith Matters – Today we remember fellow Londoners murdered on our streets; Tomorrow we redouble our efforts against extremism and terrorism

London 4 June 2017

Manchester, Westminster and now London Bridge. Many lives, families and communities deeply affected by the actions of Islamist terrorists who have tried to attack the peace of our country. The list sadly continues on as six people are reported to have been murdered last night by what looks like another Islamist terrorist attack.

It is clear that Islamic State has influenced some of the actions of terrorists through calls to disrupt and harm people and communities by the use of vehicles and knives. This fits into the modus operandi of the terrorists who attacked London yesterday.

At this time, we ask that people reflect and think about those who have died and who have been injured. There will be lots of commentary in the coming days about extremism and terrorism, though at this time, we need to remember the many who have been murdered on our streets because of such attacks.

London will remain strong and resilient. This does not mean that we are weak or complacent as a City. What it means is that it redoubles our joint efforts to tackle the extremist rhetoric that fuels terrorism, as well as working closely with law enforcement agencies.

We will be issuing a further statement in the coming days.

Notes :

1) Faith Matters is a not-for-profit organisation that works on building positive community relations between and within faith groups nationally. It also works on countering extremism, monitoring hate crimes and integration projects.
2) Faith Matters runs the national anti-Muslim hate crime project, Tell MAMA. Tell MAMA records both anti-Muslim and intra-Muslim hatred in the UK.
3) Faith Matters has been working on these issues since 2005, when the organisation was founded by Fiyaz Mughal.

With Best Wishes,

Fiyaz Mughal OBE
Founder and Director – Faith Matters
Faith Matters
Unit 34, 4 Montpellier Street
Knightsbridge SW7 1EE
Twitter: @FaithMattersUK

Dawn – Takht-e-Babri, the first Mughal construction in the subcontinent, is grand only in name

Haroon Khalid

Panjab-Pakistan, 5 June 2017. A blue board pointed towards a small trail heading into the jungle. In front of me was a majestic lake, the lifeline of Kallar Kahar.

This small town lies on the banks of the river Jhelum, within the embrace of the salt range. It has been a tourist destination for a long time but its popularity has increased immensely since the construction of the motorway.

The entire region is a treasure trove for archaeologists and students of ancient history. Not far from here is the ancient Shiva temple of Katas Raj. A little further east is the fort of Nandana.

North of Katas Raj, located on top of a mound, is the complex of Tilla Jogian, a vast area with a pool at the centre and several smadhs around it. Since time immemorial, this has been the most important religious pilgrimage for Jogis in Punjab, abandoned at the time of Partition.

I walked on the small trail, following the board, climbing the gentle slope of the mountain. Then, almost abruptly, the trail ended and the Takht-e-Babri was in front of us. A small black monument made of rocks, it was an unimpressive structure, a staircase culminating in a small platform.

A board next to it read that Babar, the founder of the Mughal Empire, had constructed a garden here that he called Bagh-i-Safa, and in the middle of the garden this throne was constructed. Standing on it, Babur addressed his forces, the board mentioned. The garden had been taken over by the jungle.

Perhaps my disappointment at looking at the monument came from my heightened expectations. Babar, in his wonderful autobiography, wrote about the Takht-e-Babri. It was the first Mughal construction in India.

Having grown up in Lahore, I had always been just a few kilometres away from splendid Mughal architecture.

Architectural masterpieces

As children, we had returned to the iconic Badshahi Masjid several times for our school trips.

Standing on the edge of the walled city, overlooking the Lahore Fort, the smadh of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Minar-e-Pakistan, the mosque, summoned by Emperor Aurangzeb and constructed on the model of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, has become a symbol of the city.

Its marble dome and its sandstone tiles shine in the night as it is lit up for tourists visiting Food Street, which runs parallel to it. The sombre and graceful exterior of the mosque is in sharp contrast with the elaborate geometrical patterns on the inside, where flowers and other floral patterns sculpted on the wall hang precariously.

The mosque gracefully embraces both designs, the external sobriety and the mesmerising patterns on the inside.

About a kilometre from here, deep inside the Delhi Darwaza of the walled city of Lahore, is the Wazir Khan Mosque, one of the most beautiful specimens of Mughal architecture in all of South Asia.

Constructed during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan and summoned by his governor of Punjab, Wazir Khan, this mosque has a spectacular splatter of colour all over it.

It is overwhelming, assaulting the aesthetic sensibilities of an unwary tourist. All of these colours, blue, red, yellow and green, stand distinctly, retaining their individual identity, yet they also blend together, giving the mosque its own distinct flavour.

At the entrance of the mosque, on the roof, are honey-combed structures called muqarnas. Distinct to Islamic architecture, these structures are a product of complex mathematical formulas, highlighting how scientific progress goes hand in hand with artistic development.

Perhaps not as famous as the Badshahi Masjid, the mosque has recently come on the radar of tourists searching for cultural Lahore deep within its intertwining streets. It is impossible not to fall in love with this monument..

Right at the entrance of Delhi Darwaza is the newly revamped Shahi Hammam, another monument constructed by Wazir Khan. Fairies and djinns dance on the walls of this royal bath as they play heavenly instruments.

Floral and geometrical patterns merge into each other in a beautiful union of mathematics and art. The frescoes on the domes spiral, hypnotising the onlooker. The thick walls of the structure with smartly designed windows make the hammam breezy even on a hot summer day.

Humble beginnings

Unconsciously, I had expected the Takht-e-Babri to be a grand structure at par with these magnificent buildings I had grown up visiting and falling in love with. This was the throne of Babar, the first Mughal king, the founder of the Mughal Empire.

There would not have been a Badshahi Mosque or a Shahi Hammam if there was no Babar. The structure should have reflected the symbolic significance of the empire. It was to be the foundational stone of one of the world’s richest empires.

But it was nothing like what I had expected it to be. The first Mughal structure in India was just a small platform with a grand name.

It was the construction of a king on the run, in search of an empire, not an emperor whose family had been at the pinnacle of power for generations, controlling the destiny of millions, with unlimited wealth. The monument was an embarrassment to the splendid tradition of Mughal architectural that was to follow.

Yet, perhaps more than any of the structures mentioned above, it has the greatest symbolic value. It represented the arrival of the Mughals in India. It was a stamp of their authority.

It was to be the throne of Babar, the pauper prince who laid the foundation of one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen.

This article was originally published on Scroll and has been reproduced with permission.

Haroon Khalid has an academic background in Anthropology from LUMS. He has been traveling extensively around Pakistan, documenting historical and cultural heritage.

He is the author of Walking with Nanak, In Search of Shiva: A study of folk religious practices in Pakistan, and A White Trail: A journey into the heart of Pakistan’s religious minorities.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

To see the full article including the beautiful pictures :