The Statesman – Tampering with history not good for nation: Sharad Yadav

New Delhi, 9 August 2017. Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav on Wednesday said the ongoing episodes involving tampering with the history will not be in the interest of the nation.

“Truth of history builds the base for future journey. If you tamper even with a brick of that base, the building on it will collapse. We can see lots of incidents of tampering with history nowadays,” Yadav said in the Rajya Sabha during the special session to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement.

“It is known that if a nation or community tries to tamper with the history, they will be in trouble,” Yadav said.

The JD-U leader said diverse views were part of the democracy.

“How would you call it democracy if there are no diverse views? Mahatma Gandhi said that democracy works on dialogues and not bullets,” he said.

Opposition parties have accused the BJP-led central government of tampering with the history of freedom movement and of rewriting history textbooks, the recent one involving removal of a chapter on Mughals by the Maharashtra Education Board.


The Tribune – SGPC forms panel to probe non-veg served in university

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 9 August 2017. The SGPC today constituted a four-member committee to look into the serving of non-vegetarian food in its Sri Guru Ram Das University of Health Sciences here.

Mandeep Singh Manna, former spokesperson for Congress, yesterday submitted a complaint to Akal Takht in this connection.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has assured that the matter would be taken up in the next meeting of five high priests*.

The committee comprises SGPC executive members Surjit Singh Bhittewad and Harjap Singh Sultanwind, secretary Roop Singh, and additional secretary Harbhajan Singh Manawa.

Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC president, said the panel would submit its report to Akal Takht in 15 days.

A restaurant, “Café Green”, on the university campus was allegedly serving non-veg dishes. “The cafe is jointly owned by a SGPC member, a SAD leader and a publisher of Sikh religious books.

It is objectionable to prepare and serve non-veg food at a place owned by an SGPC member and on land belonging to the SGPC. A gurdwara is located nearby,” Manna said.

* There are no Sikh priests ! The paper should have written: the ‘five jathedars without jathas’.

Den Haag: Scheepersstraat Gurdwara – Kempstraat – Brouwersgracht

Scheepersstraat Gurdwara
13 Juli 2017

Gurdwara Singh Sabha

Divan Hall

Gurdwara Singh Sabha
Scheepersstraat 54
Den Haag

13 Juli 2017

Mevlana = Rumi

Once a church

Now a restaurant

14 Juli 2017

Tram 6 to Leidschendam Noord

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

New Indian Express – 195 years on, Assamese Sikhs continue to help flood displaced with ‘langars’

Aishik Chanda

Hojai-Assam-India, 10 August 2017. Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Sikh kingdom might have never imagined that descendants of 500 Sikh soldiers whom he had sent to Assam to fight Burmese invaders in 1822 would mitigate recurring annual floods 195 years later with Sikhism’s essential free kitchen or ‘langar’ at Barkola village in central Assam’s Nagaon district.

“Barkola village is situated a bit upland because of which it becomes an island every year during floods. When neighbouring villages get inundated, residents come in boats to seek shelter in the four gurdwaras and schools of Barkola.

We provide free food to the victims in the langars of the four gurdwaras of the village. As government relief comes late and in scant amount, we villagers ourselves share whatever food we have. We survive because of this cooperation,” said Kartara Singh, president of Nanak Sahi gurdwara in the village.

Located some 15 km south of Nagaon town, Barkola boasts 10,000 residents out of which 2,000 are Sikhs, mostly Dalit Mazhabis. Tiwa and Koch tribals, Assamese Dalit communities such as Hiras and Kaibartyas and OBC Nath Jugis make up rest of the population.

Prolonged isolation from Punjab has made the Sikhs closer to Assamese communities that with other Sikhs.

“We speak Assamese, call ourselves Assamese Sikhs and intermarry with Assamese Hindus. The then Punjab chief minister Giani Jail Singh along with Surjit Singh Barnala had visited Assam in 1975 to meet us.

Learning that we can’t speak Punjabi, he had requisitioned Siromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) of Amritsar and sent one Giani Bhajan Singh of Anandpur Sahib to teach us Gurumukhi script in 1979.

He married a local Assamese Sikh woman, lived with us for 30 years and died recently after retirement,” Kartara Singh added. However, since then the SGPC has not assisted the Assamese Sikhs in the maintenance of gurdwaras or development of the community kitchens.

Narrating the history of the Assamese Sikhs, Assamese Sikh Association general secretary and principal of the lone higher secondary school in Barkola, Pratap Singh said: “Ahom king Swargadeo Chandrakanta Singha requested help from Maharaja Ranjit Singh to fight Burmese invaders in Assam.

Some 500 Sikh soldiers fought the Burmese in Hadirasokhi in Goalpara out of which only a dozen survived. They sailed across Brahmaputra in a boat through its tributary Kopili to Chaparmukh in Nagaon district.

Of the survivors, one Subedar Ram Singh left Chaparmukh for Barkola, married a local Assamese woman and established our roots. From Barkola, few families established communities in Helem in Sonitpur district, Hathipara in Nagaon district and Lanka in Hojai district.”

Over the years, the Assamese Sikhs have assimilated into the Assamese identity so much so that till 1980s, they used to call the gurdwaras as ‘naamghar’ or traditional Assamese temple. The village also has its share into Assamese nationalism.

“Three sons of Barkola, Chandan Singh, Karam Singh and Banindra Mazumdar laid down their lives during 1983 Assam agitation. All of us took out silent marches during that period. The men were all geared up to fight against illegal immigration of Bangladeshis. They were all agitated. We spent sleepless nights,” Harbansh Kaur added.

However, the village still feels neglected despite contributing top police officials, army officers and Assamese language literatures.

“We have been demanding construction of embankment along the Kopili river as permanent solution to provide relief to us from recurring floods. Work began but has remained incomplete for the past 30 years,” Pratap Singh added.

Facing inundation of agricultural fields every year, the village has lost its expertise in making the famous ‘Barkola jaggery’.

“Sugarcane cultivation has massively reduced due to recurring floods. Our jaggery was famous throughout Northeast. Now, most people are indulged only in rice and vegetable cultivation. Some 80% of Barkola residents are cultivators and the remaining 20% have government jobs,” said Dakhinpat Gaon panchayat president Tutumoni Saikia Laskar.

Though the Assamese Sikhs have been included in the minority board and get some benefit of government schemes, their demand for Assamese Sikh Development Council for the past 20 years has been ignored.

“We are too scattered and too divided politically to matter as an electorate,” Pratap Singh added.

The Hindu – Kashmir is a political problem: Hamid Ansari

The fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought

New Delhi, 10 August 2017. Outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari spoke to television anchor Karan Thapar on a range of issues. The interview will be aired on Rajya Sabha television on Thursday. Excerpts:

Question: One of the things that attracted enormous attention was in 2015 when senior BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted criticising your behaviour as Vice-President. I know Mr. Madhav apologised and deleted the tweets but never before has the general secretary of a ruling party publicly questioned, leave aside criticise, the Vice-President. Were you surprised and taken aback by that?

Answer: Surprised, yes, because the facts were well known and very clear and there were my colleagues in office who put the public wise to it very quickly. There was no ambiguity, there was no confusion.

Q. Hardly a day goes by without us reading about cow vigilante attacks. Earlier, we read about lynchings, we have read about beef bans. People who refuse to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ have been told they should leave the country. There have been accusations of Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi campaigns and even killings of rationalists. How do you view all of this?

A. Breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and overall the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.

Q. Today, there are many who believe we are becoming an intolerant country. Do you fear that yourself ?

A. Yes, because I interact with fellow citizens and there are great many people from different walks of life who come and talk about it.

Q. The Supreme Court has ruled that ‘Jana Gana Mana’ must be played before every film screening. More recently, the Madras High Court ruled that ‘Vande Mataram’ must be sung at least once a week in Tamil Nadu schools and colleges and at least once a month in government offices and private establishments. Once again, these two rulings have divided public opinion. How do you view them?

A. The courts are a part of society. So what the courts tend to say sometimes is reflective of what the prevailing atmosphere in society is. I call that a sense of insecurity… this propensity to be able to assert your nationalism day in and day out is unnecessary. I am an Indian and that is it.

Q. An issue that dominated the news in recent months concerning the Muslim community is this debate about triple talaq. I want to ask where you as a Muslim stand on it?

A. Firstly, it is a social aberration, it is not a religious requirement. The religious requirement is crystal clear, emphatic, there are no two views about it but patriarchy, social customs have all crept into it to create a situation which is highly undesirable.

Q. Should the court step in?

You don’t have to, the reform has to come from within the community.

Q, Speaking in Bengaluru on Sunday you said and I am quoting “the political immobility in relation to J&K is disconcerting.” Are you suggesting that the governments in Srinagar and Delhi ought to be taking more initiatives and are not. Is that the immobility that you are talking about?

A. Yes. Yes. The problem is and has always been primarily a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically.

Q. And politicians today are ducking it?

A. That’s my impression. And I’m not the only one in the country…Well when young boys and girls come out on to the streets and throw stones day after day, week after week, month after month, it’s something to worry about because they are our children, they are our citizens. Something is obviously going wrong. What exactly, I am not the final word on it, but I think there are enough people in the country who are worried about it. Eminent people belonging to different political persuasions and their worry must be taken on board.

Q. Another issue that is problematic today is the India-China standoff at Doklam. Just 48 hours ago or so, Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, quoted a Chinese expert who said that a small scale military operation is possible may be even likely in two weeks. Are you apprehensive about this situation?

A. Not really. I think we have had these periods of standoffs with China. And there is enough knowledge, enough wisdom still available to be able to retrieve situations.