BBC News – Why are Indian women wearing cow masks?

Geeta Pandey

New Delhi, 28 June 2017. A photography project which shows women wearing a cow mask and asks the politically explosive question, whether women are less important than cattle in India, has gone viral in the country and earned its 23-year-old photographer the ire of Hindu nationalist trolls.

“I am perturbed by the fact that in my country, cows are considered more important than a woman, that it takes much longer for a woman who is raped or assaulted to get justice than for a cow which many Hindus consider a sacred animal,” Delhi-based photographer Sujatro Ghosh told the BBC.

India is often in the news for crimes against women and, according to government statistics, a rape is reported every 15 minutes.

“These cases go on for years in the courts before the guilty are punished, whereas when a cow is slaughtered, Hindu extremist groups immediately go and kill or beat up whoever they suspect of slaughter.”

The project, he says, is “his way of protesting” against the growing influence of the vigilante cow protection groups that have become emboldened since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power in the summer of 2014.

“I’ve been concerned over the Dadri lynching [when a Muslim man was killed by a Hindu mob over rumours that he consumed and stored beef] and other similar religious attacks on Muslims by cow vigilantes,” Ghosh said.

In recent months, the humble cow has become India’s most polarising animal.

The BJP insists that the animal is holy and should be protected. Cow slaughter is banned in several states, stringent punishment has been introduced for offenders and parliament is considering a bill to bring in the death penalty for the crime.

But beef is a staple for Muslims, Christians and millions of low-caste Dalits (formerly untouchables) who have been at the receiving end of the violence perpetrated by the cow vigilante groups.

Nearly a dozen people have been killed in the past two years in the name of the cow. Targets are often picked based on unsubstantiated rumours and Muslims have been attacked for even transporting cows for milk.

Ghosh, who is from the eastern city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), says he became aware of “this dangerous mix of religion and politics” only after he moved to Delhi a few years ago and that “this project is a silent form of protest that I think can make an impact”.

So earlier this month, during a visit to New York, he bought the cow mask from a party shop and, on his return, began shooting for the series, taking pictures of women in front of tourist hotspots and government buildings, on the streets and in the privacy of their homes, on a boat and in a train, because “women are vulnerable everywhere”.

“I photographed women from every part of society. I started the project from Delhi since the capital city is the hub of everything – politics, religion, even most debates start here.

“I took the first photo in front of the iconic India Gate, one of the most visited tourist places in India. Then I photographed a model in front of the presidential palace, another on a boat in the Hooghly river in Kolkata with the Howrah bridge as the backdrop.”

His models have so far been friends and acquaintances because, he says, “it’s such a sensitive topic, it would have been difficult to approach strangers”.

Two weeks ago when he launched the project on Instagram, the response was “all positive. It went viral within the first week, my well wishers and even people I didn’t know appreciated it.”

But after the Indian press covered it and put out their stories on Facebook and Twitter, the backlash began.

“Some wrote comments threatening me. On Twitter people started trolling me, some said I, along with my models, should be taken to Delhi’s Jama Masjid [mosque] and slaughtered, and that our meat should be fed to a woman journalist and a woman writer the nationalists despise. They said they wanted to see my mother weep over my body.”

Some people also contacted the Delhi police, “accusing me of trying to instigate riots and asking them to arrest me”.

Ghosh is not surprised by the vitriol and admits that his work is an “indirect comment” on the BJP.

“I’m making a political statement because it’s a political topic, but if we go deeper into the things, then we see that Hindu supremacy was always there, it has just come out in the open with this government in the past two years.”

The threats, however, have failed to scare him. “I’m not afraid because I’m working for the greater good,” he says.

A positive fallout of the project going viral has been that he’s got loads of messages from women from across the globe saying they too want to be a part of this campaign.

So the cow, he says, will keep travelling.

To see the pictures :

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40404102

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Sikh24.com – Sikh Community Protests Outside Indian PM Modi’s Business Event in USA

Don’t invest in Modi
chants and placards as business event takes places in Virginia USA

Sikh24 Editors

Washington DC-USA, 26 June 2017. While the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a select gathering at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner earlier today, hundreds of Sikh rights activists were present displaying placards reading “Don’t Invest in India”, outside the hotel.

The rally focused on the atrocities of the Modi administration, whose practices have killed Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and other minorities living in India.

“Since religious freedom functions at the core of American values, we have asked the members of the Congress to stand against the persecution of Sikhs under Modi regime,” said attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ.

“Sikhs in India are targeted for campaigning to restore their separate religious identity and their inalienable rights to self-determination.”

Further awareness rallies will take place, particularly today, when Modi meets POTUS Trump at a summit at the White House.

Last week, SFJ representatives met with dozens of U.S. Congressmen, Senators and their staffs in an effort to urge the establishment of a Congressional delegation visit to Punjab to assess, report and apprise the U.S. Congress of the recent spate of human rights violations against the Sikh community.

In support of efforts to establish such a delegation, SFJ issued a full memorandum to every member of Congress.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/06/26/hundreds-of-sikhs-protest-at-indian-pm-modis-event-in-washington-dc/#.WVMvEulLfIU

Sint-Truiden – Halmaal Gurdwara

Sint-Truiden Halmaalweg
31 May 2017

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg

Halmaal-Dorp

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib

OKAN students visiting the Gurdwara

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

Rawstory.com – High school denounces student’s offensive tweets about Sikh man on flight

Benjamin Fearnow

Posted with permission from International Business Times

USA, 27 June 2017. A public school in the Indianapolis area has denounced the “offensive, racially insensitive” Snapchat posts a student sent about a Sikh passenger aboard a flight to Indianapolis.

The student at Eastern Hancock High School posted a Snapchat that circled the Sikh man wearing a turban and read, “Never mind I might not make it to Indy.” The post began gaining traction online after Simran Jeet Singh, a religion professor at San Antonio’s Trinity University, began sharing the post on Twitter and ridiculing the student.

An additional post from the student read, “Please god just let the man sleep,” as it showed the Sikh man resting his head. Another read, “Update I’m still alive J” and yet another post showing the man in a turban read, “Ok he just walk to the back of the Plane then to front then to his seat” before showing several shocked emojis.

The tweets received thousands of replies – the majority of which criticized the captions.

“As a Sikh who flies frequently, I’m no stranger to the uncomfortable stares and misguided fears people have of me,” read Singh’s first reply. “I try to live my life by the Sikh maxim, ‘Fear none, frighten none.’ I think about this teaching often when I travel,” he later tweeted.

According to the Sikh Coalition, there were more than 300 cases of violence and discrimination against Sikhs in the United States in the first month after the 11 September 2011 terrorist attacks.

The group says cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash are still commonplace in everyday American life. In 2012, an Army veteran shot and killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple.

And in May, a 32-year-old Sikh man, Jagjeet Singh, was killed outside a California grocery store, allegedly his refusal to sell cigarettes to men without identification.

The school posted the following message on its Facebook page on Saturday:

“Eastern Hancock School officials have become aware of offensive, racially insensitive posts on social media recently made by one of our students.

Eastern Hancock administrators and staff do not condone, nor can we justify this type of behavior for any reason,” Eastern Hancock County Community School Corp. posted Thursday on Facebook. “As an educational institution, our priority is to prepare students to become successful members of a diverse world community.”

The school, which is about 35 miles east of Indianapolis, added that it is “seeking legal advice for avenues to address the student’s unacceptable behavior in accordance with national and state law, and local policy.”

Although posts on Twitter and Facebook must be deleted manually, Snapchat posts automatically disappear unless they are screen-grabbed and shared by recipients, as was the case in this incident, school officials said.

The screenshots had thousands of retweets on Twitter within just hours of the Thursday incident. It prompted the #FlyingWhileBrown hashtag, which pointed out Americans’ difficulty in understanding the difference between Muslims and Sikhs while also criticizing the overtly racist commentary.

“Once information is out in cyberspace it cannot be called back, nor contained,” Eastern Hancock Schools said. “Unfortunately, this incident, which may have been intended to be amusing, is not only deeply offensive, it has done considerable damage to many individuals.”

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/high-school-denounces-students-offensive-tweets-about-sikh-man-on-flight/

Dawn – ‘Trump-Modi nexus’ could spell disaster for regional peace: AJK president

Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad, 27 June 2017. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan in a statement on Tuesday warned that a “Trump-Modi nexus” could spell disaster to regional peace.

The statement follows a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the run-up to which the US State Department had designated Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist and slapped sanctions on him, a move slammed by the Foreign Office today as ‘completely unjustified’.

Both leaders had called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, a statement from the White House said.

Sardar Khan, who retired from the foreign service of Pakistan as a career diplomat, claimed that the US had always deceived Pakistan and its latest decision was yet another example of it.

“The US has never acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices despite the latter’s being a frontline state in the war against terrorism,” he said.

Khan questioned the justification of the US decision, claiming that the Hizbul Mujahideen had been struggling solely for freedom of India-held Kashmir (IHK), and was neither linked to any terrorist group nor had resorted to any action outside IHK.

“In fact, it’s the Indian army committing terrorism in occupied Kashmir. Ignoring the genocide of Kashmiris by Indian army and declaring freedom fighters as terrorists is a criminal departure from international humanitarian and democratic norms by the US,” he claimed.

Kashmiris protest US move

Hundreds of people from different walks of life staged a rally in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to condemn the US administration’s decision of designating Salahuddin a terrorist.

Demonstrators started the rally from Muzaffarabad’s famous Burhan Wani Chowk, named after a Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed by Indian forces in IHK last year.

Just in front of them, a large Indian tricolour flag was also placed on the ground with two young children standing on it.

Amid loud anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, it was later torched by the demonstrators.

Representatives of separatist groups and political parties took strong exception to the decision which they termed a reprehensible attempt by the Trump administration to please India.

Speaking at the rally, Khawaja Farooq Ahmed, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and a former AJK minister, claimed it was the weak foreign policy of the PML-N led government in Islamabad that had encouraged the Trump administration to take this step during Modi’s visit.

“If you are serious in your avowals of extending diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris, then you should show some strength and as a first step summon the US and Indian envoys in the Foreign Office to lodge a protest over this unfair decision,” he said, addressing the federal government.

Ahmed also asked the AJK government to give a strike call on both sides of disputed Kashmir, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given for February 28, 1974, to express rejection of the US decision.

“All political parties and mujahideen groups should be taken on board to make this strike a historic one,” he said.

PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir and several others also spoke on the occasion.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1341927/trump-modi-nexus-could-spell-disaster-for-regional-peace-ajk-president