The News – Azadi Train gets warm welcome in Peshawar Cantonment Railway Station

Peshawar, 13 May 2017. A large number of people warmly welcomed the Azadi Train here at the Peshawar Cantonment Railway Station on Saturday evening.

The train started its country-wide journey earlier in the day from Margalla Station, Islamabad, where it was inaugurated by Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb.

The Cantonment Station Peshawar was decorated in a befitting manner to welcome the Azadi Train, with artists performing regional dances of all the provinces.

A big firework was let off as the Azadi Train arrived at the station with the people chanting slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad”.

DS Peshawar Railway Station Hanif Gul was also present on the occasion.

The visitors took keen interest in the cultural floats of all the four provinces, including Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Social activist Reham Khan, who was also present at the station, appreciated the Ministry of Railways and other organizations for arranging such a beautiful cultural train in connection with Independence Day.

She said the train was a symbol of unity, which reminded one of the sacrifices rendered by the forefathers for the independence of the beloved country.

According to the Incharge Azadi Train, the train would cover about 4,000 kilometers long journey in 15 days which would be culminated at Karachi.

He said the train would stop at all the big stations for two to three hours where musical programmes and cultural dances by the artists would be organized by Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) for entertaining the public participating in Independence Day celebrations.

The main objectives for running the Azadi Train, he said, were to highlight the aspects of Freedom Movement, sacrifices of Armed Forces for the defence of the country, besides culture heritage of all the regions.

Later, the PNCA artists also performed at the station and entertained the audience.

The train will resume its journey after a night stay at the Cantonment Railway Station.


The Tribune – First chronicler of Partition aims to ‘fix responsibility’

On the job since 1954, Professor Kirpal Singh, 93, prepares his final works on the 1947 human tragedy

Vishav Bharti, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 11 August 2014. The first chronicler of the Partition of 1947, who started building an archive in 1954, says not one of the key figures he interviewed during the process was ready to take responsibility for the monumental human tragedy that unfolded 70 years ago.

Now 93, Prof Kirpal Singh says he aims to “fix the responsibility” for the tragedy in his final work.

His journey in Partition’s historiography started in 1953 as a young lecturer at Khalsa College, Amritsar.

Bhai Veer Singh called him, he recalls, and said that what happened in 1947 was unique. “It has never happened before, it will never happen again. I want to work on Partition but I am too old to do that. You write Partition’s history” — Bhai Veer Singh’s words still resonate for Professor Kirpal Singh, himself a victim of the tragedy.

His assistant started visiting the refugee camps to document the stories of victims and Professor Singh himself started doing the rounds of offices in Shimla and Delhi to fish out records. This continued for two years.

The turning point came in 1962, when then Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon offered to send him to the United Kingdom to collect papers related to Punjab.

Over six months, Professor Kirpal Singh got a chance to interview the leading figures connected with Partition, from Punjab Boundary Commission chairman Cyril John Radcliffe to Governor of West Punjab Sir Francis Mudie, to Prime Minister Clement Attlee to Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff Hastings Ismay.

Professor Singh met almost each architect of Partition while compiling his seminal work “Select Documents on Partition of Punjab”. After each interview, he said, he would jot down the excerpts in longhand. These documents are now part of the Punjabi University library in Patiala.

Professor Singh says Sir Francis Mudie, the Governor of West Punjab during Partition, was open to answer every question and allowed him to see his correspondence with Mountbatten, especially a letter written on July 25, 1962, in which the last Viceroy claimed that the number of deaths was exaggerated to defame him.

On the migration of people of Punjab, Mudie told him how Akali leader Giani Kartar Singh met him at Lyallpur and said that they (Sikhs) had decided to leave Pakistan.

In one interview, the then Chief Justice of India, Patrick Spens, accepted that Partition was a job done in a hurry by a man (Radcliffe) “who didn’t know the language of the people”.

Neither did he have any knowledge of geography, nor did he have any clue about the people. “Nowhere in the entire British Empire the boundaries were drawn like that,” Spens told him.

More than six decades after meeting them, Professor Singh still regrets that none of the men “behind the Partition tragedy” were ready to take responsibility and conveniently put the blame on others.

“There was a design behind the idea of Partition. You won’t find that in documents, but I found about it during the interviews,” he says. “Now I have analysed all those interviews and am going to put together the entire analysis in a book,” he adds.

Titled “Who is Responsible for Punjab Tragedy”, it would answer many unanswered questions of Partition, he says, adding that he has not spared “anybody”.

Amid the despair of Partition, he says the stories of hope are yet to be told. “People saved girls, collected dowry, also married them off. They sheltered them for years and later united them with families. Both sides saw such stories. The second part ‘Silver Lines in Dark Clouds’ comprises those stories.”

Den Haag: Spui – Kalvermarkt

Spui – Kalvermarkt
14 July 2017

Tram turning into Spui from Kavermarkt

On the left Tram 1 to Scheveningen
On the right ‘sorry not on duty’

Tram 1 to Scheveningen

Tram 17 to Wateringen

Tram 9 to Scheveningen Noorderstrand, Tram 12 to Duindorp, Tram 16 to Statenkwartier, Tram 17 to Wateringen

Tram 9 to Vrederust

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation UK – 18 July conference in EU parliament

During the conference problems around wearing turban and 5 K’s in various EU countries were discussed. Belgium and France are two countries where Sikhs face very serious challenges. Underneath a write up I produced after the conference. 

The part about Belgium is going to be the basis of a position paper on the Belgian situation, France of course has to be dealt with by the French Sikhs.

Any comments and suggestions are more than welcome !
Man in Blue

Belgium – France: Fundamentalist Secularists

I expect we will get further input from people like Ranjit Singh and Gurdial Singh. We must not forget that in France it is not just in education that Sikhs face very serious challenges, but also in the workplace, about pictures on driving licences, ID cards and passports and even when entering town halls and other public places.

In Dutch speaking Belgium the community (GO) schools have banned all religious symbols, some municipal schools allow turbans patkas, and there is a lot of hesitation and fear of the unknown in the Catholic schools in spite of its coordinating director being in favour of dialogue between Christians and people of other faith and beliefs.

Here in Gent I have been successful helping parents to find a place in some schools, but nothing is easy. The situation in Antwerp, which has a big Afghan Sikh community, is dire, as the three main networks (Community, Municipal and Catholic schools) have agreed to follow the bad example of the Community schools and ban all religious symbols.

Throughout Dutch speaking Belgium there are some Muslim schools, mainly of the Gülen movement and an independent one in Antwerpen. They would accept Sikh students, but they do not cover the full range of secondary school studies offered in this country.

Anybody with a Sikh, Muslim or other ‘exotic’ first and/or last name will have difficulty to find employment and to rent an apartment. I could only find an apartment in Sint-Truiden and Gent through Sikh house owners, not through the normal channels.

When speaking by phone with my nice Netherlands accent and presenting myself as C H S Heule the estate agents were happy to deal with me, once they saw me and my full name on my ID card there were no apartments available.

With a letter from a Gurdwara stating that you are a member of the Sikh community you are allowed to have a picture with turban/patka on your passport, driving licence and ID card.

Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Chandigarh stalking accused sent to judicial custody till August 25

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh, 12 August 2017. Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, and his friend, Ashish Kumar, both facing charges of allegedly stalking and an attempted abduction of a 29-year-old young woman, were on Saturday sent to judicial custody till August 25 by a local court.

The duo had been earlier remanded in police custody for two days till August 12. The Chandigarh police produced the accused before the duty magistrate here and sought their judicial custody. The court remanded both the accused in judicial custody.

Both the accused were re-arrested on Wednesday as they were charged with Sections 365 and 511 for attempt to abduct of the IPC in the already registered FIR against them for allegedly stalking and harassing the woman.

Vikas and Ashish were earlier been arrested on August 5 on the complaint of the victim, daughter of an IAS officer, who had accused them of chasing her car and trying to kidnap her. But they were released later on bail.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people from different walks of life participated in the ‘Bekhauf Aazaadi’ march held on Friday night here, to bring public attention to violence against women in the backdrop of the Chandigarh ‘stalking’ episode.

The march started at 10 PM from city’s Rose Garden and culminated at the government Arts College in Sector 10 at midnight.

The demands such as fair investigation in Varnika’s case, no curfews timings for girls and working women hostels, making more female cops available at night, gender sensitization of Police officials, strict and concrete action against drunk driving were raised during the march.