The News – ‘Partition is not over’ : Pakistani Hindus find little refuge in India

Jodhpur-Rajastan-India, 31 July 2017. For decades, Jogdas dreamed of moving to India to escape the persecution he suffered as a Hindu in Pakistan. But the reality of life over the border is a far cry from those dreams.

Seventy years after partition unleashed the largest mass migration in human history, Hindus are still moving from Pakistan to India, where tens of thousands languish in makeshift camps near the border with no legal right to work.

Many have no choice but to toil illegally in the stone quarries near where they live because their movements are strictly controlled by the authorities, suspicious of anyone from across the border.

It is not the welcome most of them expected in Hindu-majority India.

“No job, no house, no money, no food. There, we were working in the fields, we were farmers. But here people like us are forced to break rocks to earn a living,” said 81-year-old Jogdas, who goes by just one name.

“For us the partition is still not over. Hindus are still trying to come back to their country. And when they come here, they have nothing,” he told AFP from the camp on the outskirts of the western city of Jodhpur where he lives.

More than 15 million people were uprooted following India´s independence from Britain in 1947, which triggered months of violence in which at least a million people were killed for their faith.

Amid the bloody chaos, Hindus and Sikhs fled the newly formed Pakistan, as Muslims moved in the opposite direction.

Despite the exodus, Hindus remain one of Pakistan´s largest religious minorities. Estimates vary, but they are believed to account for around 1.6 percent of the population of roughly 200 million.

Many say they face discrimination and even risk abduction, rape and forced marriage.

“Soon after partition, the harassment started,” said Jogdas, whose family had only moved to what is now Pakistan a few months before partition to escape a devastating drought.

“There was not even a single day when we could live in peace. I wanted to come back to live with my Hindu brothers.”

We are alone

Most of the migrants to India come from Pakistan´s Sindh province, taking a four-hour train journey through the Thar desert to Jodhpur in the arid western state of Rajasthan.

That they share the culture, food and language of Rajasthan should make it easy for them to assimilate in their adopted homeland.

In reality, they live in isolated camps, far from local communities and are treated with suspicion by authorities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s Hindu nationalist government has said it wants to make it easier for persecuted adherents of the faith to find refuge in India.

Last year it changed the rules to allow immigrants to apply for citizenship in the state where they live, rather than having to go through the central government.

Hindus from Pakistan qualify for a fast track to citizenship after seven years in the country.

But bureaucratic delays have meant the process of getting it can take longer to complete.

Khanaramji, 64, became an Indian citizen in 2005 after fleeing Pakistan in 1997.

He said many others had given up and returned to Pakistan, disillusioned by life in India.

“There is no assistance from the government. We are just like cattle with no owners. We are just surviving on our own,” he said.

Life becomes hell

Worse even than the poverty is the suspicion from authorities.

“Those who do not have citizenship are harassed by (intelligence) agencies. They are always treated like suspects and agents of Pakistan,” said Khanaramji, who goes by only one name.

“They spend most of what they earn on going to police stations and agency offices.”

Hindu Singh Sodha, who runs a charity in Jodhpur for Pakistani Hindus seeking to settle in India, said they had high hopes of Modi when he came to office in 2014, but had been disappointed.

The migrants still come under increased scrutiny whenever tensions flare between India and Pakistan, a frequent occurrence under the Modi government.

“Their life becomes hell,” he said.

“Because everything is affected. Their shelter, healthcare, access to education, their livelihood.”

But some feel even that is worth tolerating.

Horoji fled to India with his two adult sons two years ago after receiving death threats from the family´s Muslim neighbours in Pakistan.

“To save our lives, we had to run to India,” said 65-year-old Horoji, whose grandparents were originally from present-day India but found themselves on the wrong side of the border at partition.

“My grandfather had gone to the other side for work. But he had told us to move to India when the right time comes as he had sensed times would not be safe for Hindus in future.”


The Tribune – Death in Turkey: Kin allege hate crime

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 30 July 2017. Family members of teenager Lovepreet Singh, whose body was brought here today from Turkey, alleged that he became a victim of racial abuse. His mortal remains were consigned to the flames today.

Balwinder Singh, deceased’s maternal uncle, said talks with his acquaintances in Turkey revealed that Lovepreet was shunted out of job twice for his being a turbaned Sikh. They shared that Lovepreet was objected for wearing turban, he added.

He had gone on a study visa to Lithuania, but somehow got stuck in Turkey, considered a gateway to the European countries.

The 19-year-old had flown to Istanbul on September 21 last year after his parents took Rs 8-lakh loan to send their son abroad and a sum of Rs 5.5 lakh was paid to the travel agent.

His family members were thankful to the district administration and the External Affairs Ministry in extending support to bring the body from overseas.

The Turkish authorities had claimed that his body was fished out of the sea on June 26. On the basis of Aadhaar card and his belongings, the Turkish authorities had approached the Amritsar DC.

Den Haag: Scheveningen strand and Meijendel

Scheveningen strand (beach)
10 July 2017

Beach and dunes north of Scheveningen

Beach pavillions

The dunes, the beach and the North Sea

Scheveningen Meijendel
The Dunes
10 July 2017

Welcome to Meijendel !



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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Ieper klaar voor grootse herdenking bloedige Slag bij Passendale

In Ieper is alles in gereedheid gebracht voor de grootschalige herdenking van de Slag bij Passendale, een van de bloedigste veldslagen van WO I. De organisatie is een initiatief van de Britse overheid. Vanavond komen de Britse prins William en zijn echtgenote Catherine langs. Ook koning Filip en koningin Mathilde zijn te gast.

Op 31 juli is het precies 100 jaar geleden dat de Derde Slag bij Ieper, beter bekend als de Slag bij Passendale, begon. Met het offensief hoopte het Britse leger de Duitse vijand de genadeslag toe te brengen, vergeefs.

Toen de veldslag dik 3 maanden later was afgelopen, had die liefst 450.000 soldaten dood, gewond of verminkt achtergelaten. Het front zelf was nauwelijks opgeschoven. De Slag bij Passendale geldt hierdoor als hét voorbeeld van een zinloze aanval en staat symbool voor de uitzichtloosheid van WO I.

Vanavond (30/07) en morgen (31/07) staat Ieper uitgebreid stil bij de 100e verjaardag van de Slag bij Passendale. Op de Grote Markt vindt een groots herdenkingsprogramma plaats met muziek, woord en een indrukwekkende projectie op de Lakenhallen. Onder meer Helen Mirren en Geike Arnaert zullen optreden.

Hoge gasten

Ook de Britse prins William en zijn echtgenote Catherine maken straks hun opwachting, net als koning Filip en koningin Mathilde. Daarnaast zullen naar schatting 10.000 tot 15.0000 toeschouwers naar Ieper afzakken. 500 agenten leiden alles in goede banen en voeren veiligheidscontroles uit.

De BBC is in groten getale neergestreken en zendt het spektakel rechtstreeks uit. Ook Eén doet dat, vanaf 21.20u. U kan alles ook rechtstreeks volgen via een livestream op

The Hindu – Process of electing interim PM begins in Pakistan

The election will take place on Tuesday and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will likely serve in the post in the interregnum of 45 days

Mubashir Zaidi

Karachi, 30 July 2017. Following the ouster of Nawaz Sharif from the post of Pakistan Prime Minister, the process of elect the interim Prime Minister began on Sunday as the office of the National Assembly issued nomination papers for the election of a new leader of the House. The election of the interim Prime Minister will take place on Tuesday.

The nominated interim Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and opposition’s candidate Sheikh Rashid got their nomination forms which would be submitted by Monday afternoon.

Nawaz Sharif has appointed his brother Shahbaz Sharif as his successor. Since Mr. Shahbaz Sharif is currently serving as Chief Minister of Punjab province, he will have to be elected on a National Assembly seat to get the slot of Prime Minister.

For the interim period of 45 days, Mr Abbasi will likely fill in his slot. Mr Shahbaz’s son Hamza Shahbaz is tipped to be the new Chief Minister of Punjab.

Lawyers of Sharif are finalising the review petition, which is likely to be filed before the end of next week. The Constitution allows 30 days for filing of the appeal.

Nation hasn’t accepted it: Abbasi

Meanwhile, Mr. Abbasi told newsmen in Islamabad the party may have given in, but history will not accept this decision to disqualify Mr Nawaz Sharif. “The nation has not accepted this decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sharif left the Prime Minister’s House with family to leave for his residence in the tourist resort of Murree, which is 50 kilometers from the capital.

In Lahore, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique held a press conference in which he again said that the judgment of the Supreme Court would be questioned for years to come.

“Nawaz Sharif was ousted for not what was demanded by the opposition [alleging that that he had earned billions of rupees through corruption] but for not receiving a salary from his son’s company. This is really disturbing,” he said but vowed that Sharif would now be more active in politics than before.

Meanwhile the Tehrik-i-Insaf opposition party of charismatic cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan observed a thanksgiving day in Islamabad.

The Asian Age – BJP greedy for power, has put democracy at risk: Mayawati

The BSP chief said the central government had misused its power in a very blatant manner in Gujarat

Lucknow, 29 July 2017. Lashing out at the BJP for its”greed for power”, BSP supremo Mayawati on Saturday said the recent developments in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have put “democracy at risk”.

“The political developments in Goa, Manipur, Bihar and now in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are proof enough that the Modi government has put democracy at risk,” she said in a statement here.

“BJP’s greed for power has turned into lust for power.. the manner in which the official machinery and power is being misused is most condemnable,” she said.

The BSP chief said the central government had misused its power in a very blatant manner in Gujarat following which MLAs have been forced to leave their state and move to a safer place.

After forming its government in Goa and Manipur by “crushing democracy”, whatever is happening in Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh is an example of misuse of official machinery like ED, CBI, income tax etc against opposition leaders, she said.

All this is being done to divert attention from the wrong policies and works of the BJP government, she said.

“The governments in Odisha and West Bengal are also facing ‘official’ terror,” she alleged.

On the resignation by three MLCs, two from Samajwadi Party and one of BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said rather than bowing before the BJP, they should have faced the challenge.

Sikh – Youth Focused Gurmat and Gatka Centre Opens in Sri Amritsar

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 26 July 2017. Amid echoes of ovation, the pro-freedom outfit Sikh Youth Federation Bhindranwala, on July 25 opened a new ‘Gatka’ training centre as well as a ‘Gurmat’ training centre in New Gurnam Nagar of Amritsar.

The initiative is being portrayed as an attempt to inspire common masses towards the Sikh religion.

The ‘Gatka’ trainer Jathedar Hari Singh was handed over the weapons & equipment and was formally assigned the incharge of training centre by SYFB’s Vice-President Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal.

On the other hand, SYFB’s activist Giani Simranjit Singh was formally appointed as the incharge of ‘Gurmat’ training centre by honouring him with ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour). Giani Simranjit Singh was a student of Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal before joining SYFB.

Interacting with media on this occasion, SYFB’s Vice-President Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal said that the SYFB was committed to make efforts to preach Sikhism across the state.

He informed that the SYFB has chalked out a plan to open such ‘Gatka’ training centres in other cities and towns of Punjab to put control over rising apostasy and drug menace in Punjab.

Bhai Ajit Singh Nihang (Chief of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Sewa Mission), Bhai Didar Singh Nihang (Dal Baba Bidhi Chand), Bhai Paras Singh, Bhai Malkit Singh Khalsa, Bhai Jaswant Singh, Bhai Partap Singh, Bhai Gagandeep Singh, Bhai Lakhwinder Singh Granthi, Bhai Sandeep Singh etc. were also present on this occasion.

Den Haag: Scheveningen strand

Scheveningen strand (beach)
10 July 2017

Shells and crabs

Shells and crabs

Shells and crabs


Schevening Pier – Ferris wheel

Gathering of gulls

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Man in Blue

Firstpost – Operation Bluestar: UK MP seeks inquiry to probe Margaret Thatcher government’s role in army raid

Chandigarh, 29 July 2017. A British member of parliament (MP) on Saturday pitched for an independent inquiry into the role of the UK government in Operation Bluestar, an Indian Army action in 1984 to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple.

The UK’s first turban-wearing MP Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi is in Chandigarh on a private visit to India.

“As far as 1984 Operation Bluestar is concerned, you know that all felt pain. But we never knew that there was any role of the UK government in it. We always thought it was an action taken by the Indian government,” Dhesi said addressing media in Chandigarh.

He claimed that some journalists in the UK while analysing secret documents found “involvement of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.”

“Whether the role was in advisory capacity or something more but when we learnt about it, we were sad because we never thought our government would have any role in it,” the British MP said.

“That is why we are demanding that a independent inquiry should be held to establish the extent of then Thatcher government’s involvement in 1984 Operation Bluestar,” the Labour Party MP said.

Dhesi said the Conservative Party-led government had earlier ordered an inquiry in this regard. But it was “an eyewash”.

“Neither anything came out of that inquiry nor any document was released. That is why the demand for an independent inquiry is growing to put pressure on the UK government,” he said.

The onus for ordering inquiry is entirely on the present UK government, Dhesi said, adding “If the UK government makes any delay in ordering independent inquiry then it will be called as justice delayed, justice denied.”

Dhesi, known as Tan, won his Slough seat to become the UK’s first turban-wearing MP last month.

On the issue of ‘Kirpan’ and Sikhs not being allowed to wear turbans in some counties, the British MP said that he would continue to raise such issues at appropriate platforms.

“It is a matter of great sadness that people cannot practice their faith as they cannot freely wear ‘kirpan’ or turban. In France, more than 80,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers laid down their lives in order to liberate that very country. And now that very county does not allow turbans. Sikh students cannot go to schools with a turban,” he rued.

On being asked about students from Punjab now preferring other countries over the UK, Dhesi criticised the Conservative party led-UK government for being “too harsh” as far as immigration rules were concerned and said immigration rules should be “balanced”.

“We are in favour of having immigration rules which benefit Britain and which are fair. At the moment, the Conservative party is being too harsh as we are actually losing out the potential of so many intelligent students (who want to come to the UK). … the Conservative party has harmed our economy,” he said.

Asked about ‘Khalistan’ sympathisers in the UK, Dhesi said “It is not a question of supporting any particular ideology.”

He said like in India, people get a chance to express their views and follow any ideology in the UK also, “there is freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”

“Each party, like Congress, SAD, AAP has support base in the UK. It is not correct that people living in UK follow only one ideology,” he stressed.

Dawn – End of Sharif dynasty?

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 29 July 2017. The inglorious exit of Nawaz Sharif may have come as a serious blow to the country’s most powerful political dynasty.

The devastating ruling by the five-member Supreme Court bench has not only seen the former prime minister disqualified for life but has also indicted almost all the Sharifs who have dominated the country’s political scene for more than three decades, whether in or out of power.

But one is not sure if it marks the end of the family’s political legacy. It is evident that the baton of leadership will now be passed on to Shahbaz Sharif, thus maintaining the dynastic hold over power at least for now.

Indeed, the unprecedented judicial action against a sitting prime minister is a watershed moment for the country’s democratic evaluation and has been described as a step forward in efforts towards establishing the rule of law.

Notwithstanding the scepticism over the judgement perceived as radical, the action came from within the system and not outside the constitutional framework. It also signifies a milestone in the development of an independent judiciary not subservient to the executive, though the perceived harshness of the ruling can rightly be disputed.

For sure, the ruling appears to have generated an upheaval and a period of political uncertainty, that is bound to happen when any entrenched political dynastic order is shaken.

It also appears that the ruling has further deepened political polarisation in the country. But it certainly does not threaten the democratic political process as speculated by Sharif’s supporters.

In fact, it is a serious blow to dynastic politics that has been the biggest impediment to the development of democratic institutions and values in the country.

The Panama ruling has also broken the widespread perception that Sharif being a Punjabi leader was untouchable while leaders from Sindh and the other smaller provinces could easily be dispensed with.

So this hue and cry over the fall from grace of Sharif and describing the events as a setback to democracy is beyond comprehension. The case against Sharif went through a whole legal process and cannot be described as part of a conspiracy or a judicial coup.

It became quite apparent that the prime minister was in deep trouble after the JIT report came out with a damning indictment of him and his family.

It went beyond the family’s failure to provide a money trail for the London properties and included charges of perjury and non-disclosure of some foreign financial assets. But such extreme action against the entire family and a consensus ruling came as a shock not only to the government but also to those outside.

Indeed, indictment of other family members and sending corruption cases against them to NAB has disrupted the dynasty’s succession plan.

While the court ruling against Maryam Sharif was expected after the allegation of forged documents, the inclusion of Shahbaz Sharif in the list was unexpected. That has exacerbated the PML-N’s leadership predicament.

But many in the party appear confident that the junior Sharif can still lead them despite facing charges in NAB. There is a move by the PML-N to play the victimhood card and project the ousted prime minister as a ‘political martyr’.

But one is not sure that will work in the present situation. Sharif’s influence over the party has become limited with his moral and political position weakened.

A child of the establishment Nawaz Sharif was politically baptised by Gen Zia’s military government in the early 1980s as part of the plan to prop up an alternative leader to challenge Benazir Bhutto.

His trajectory from Punjab chief minister to prime minister in the 1990s owed to the backing of the military and the powerful civil establishment of Punjab.

That political power also saw a massive rise in the family’s business fortunes. That financial scandal continued to dog him throughout his political career particularly after his ascent to the country’s top position. It finally caught up with him after the Panama Papers named his family, and caused his downfall.

With his rise to the pinnacle of political power, Nawaz Sharif tried to break away from the influence of the military establishment that also brought him down in his previous terms.

The former protégé turned into the nemesis of the military establishment. It is not surprising that he remained locked in perpetual conflict with the military leadership throughout his third term in office.

Although the Muslim League has historically remained close to the military establishment, Nawaz Sharif tried to transform it into a mass populist party, though he may not have been fully successful in his endeavour.

Still, over the years, despite ups and downs, Sharif developed a popular mass base that elected him to a record third term in office. The backing of the powerful Punjabi civil establishment, including the bureaucracy and sections of the judiciary, also appeared to have helped his family’s stranglehold over Punjab.

A big question is whether a disgraced Nawaz Sharif will be able to keep the party united. More importantly, will the Punjab establishment continue to back the PML-N under the younger Sharif’s leadership after the damning indictment of the family?

Previously, cracks showed up in adverse situations. The biggest example was the formation of the PML-Q after Musharraf’s coup. Interestingly, many defectors returned to the ranks with a sizeable number on the treasury benches, even in the cabinet.

That will be the most serious challenge to the Sharif family. Party unity will also depend on the ability of the PPP and PTI to make inroads in the PML-N stronghold in Punjab that remains the main political battlefield. The other provinces are not affected by Nawaz Sharif’s downfall.

There doesn’t seem much chance of his return to power, but one is not sure if the family rule is over.

The writer is an author and journalist