The Times of India – Doklam row: China removes road-building equipment from face-off site

Indrani Bagchi

New Delhi, 29 August 2017. In a diplomatic victory, India and China have agreed to “disengage” from the stand-off in Doklam on Bhutanese territory.

After almost 10 weeks of sustained negotiations between top-level Indian and Chinese officials, the MEA on Monday said “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going.”

By the end of the day, as Indian troops withdrew from their post at Doka La, Chinese troops and their road-building equipment too were removed from the face-off site.

The standoff has been on since June 16 when Indian troops physically stopped the PLA from building a road on Doklam plateau. In a second statement at the end of the day, MEA confirmed that both sides had moved out “under verification.”

The negotiations were conducted at various levels, first, during the visit by NSA Ajit Doval to China in July, where he held discussions with his counterpart Yang Jiechi.

Next, foreign secretary S Jaishankar led the diplomatic talks with the Chinese side, helped by India’s ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale, who worked ceaselessly with the Chinese government over the last couple of months to achieve an outcome that would be acceptable to both sides.

The MEA spokesperson said that in numerous meetings between the Indian and Chinese officials in the past couple of months, India has been successful in conveying its “concerns and interests.”

“In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam. During these communications, we were able to express our views and convey our concerns and interests.”

Post-disengagement, China will continue to patrol the region as it had done earlier, but there will be no road construction activity. The resolution comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China for the BRICS summit.

It also comes before a crucial 19th party congress in China where Xi Jinping expects to be “cleared” for another five years and he will choose the core group of leaders who will rule China for the next five years.

The Indians went in with some demands:

– That China should not change the ground realities unilaterally.
– That China should respect the the 2012 understanding on tri-junctions.

This was detailed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in parliament where she said, “Point 13 of the common understanding states that “The tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries.”

Since 2012, we have not held any discussion on the tri-junction with Bhutan. The Chinese action in the Doklam area is therefore of concern.”

While China was breathing fire in the public domain, during the negotiations, sources said, India held the line that bilateral relations would be affected if China did not ensure “peace and tranquillity” on the border.

This could happen only if there was a reversal to the status quo. The two sides only came to an understanding after continued conversations and a realisation in China that India would not move from the ground until they withdrew.

In addition, India also provided China with a face-saving exit. China’s initial response on Monday morning was to confine itself to saying that only Indian troops had withdrawn from the site, and that they would continue to “maintain sovereignty”on the Doklam plateau.

India did not contest this publicly until in the afternoon, when a second Indian statement clarified that both sides had withdrawn “under verification.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/doklam-row-china-removes-road-building-equipment-from-face-off-site/articleshow/60262735.cms

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Sikh24.com – UK police harasses Sikh family by raiding home at gunpoint

Sikh24 Editors

London-UK, 28 August 2017. A Sikh family from London faced serious mistreatment two days ago, when the UK police stormed into their home at gunpoint and searched their entire home. The Police confirmed that they performed this operation in haste and based on misinformation from a passerby, and later apologized to the Sikh family.

Speaking to Sikh24, Sukhi Ryat said that the UK police on August 26 entered into their home at gunpoint and handcuffed him along with his son Harkirat Singh Ryat.

“Police then performed a search in our home along with dozens of well trained dogs but found nothing objectionable”, he added.

Sukhi Ryat told Sikh24 that someone had misinformed the Police of having heard the sound of gunfire, acting on which the Police mobilzed and set upon the family.

Sukhi Ryat informed that actually that sound was not of gunfire instead it was the sound of a bursting tire from his car.

The family has duly expressed the distress they faced and are not satisfied with the apology and are to file a formal complaint.

“We are hurt, but more importantly we are angry. We feel as though we are living in a society with institutions that are uneducated, and ignorant towards understanding culture, race and religion.

We feel as though this whole operation is an example of racial profiling. The chief constable of north Hertfordshire has said sorry, but quite frankly, sorry is not enough”, he said.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/08/28/uk-police-harasses-sikh-family-by-raiding-home-at-gunpoint/#.WaT3EdFLfIU

Evi goes to Paris – Gent Gurdwara: Anand Karaj

Evi goes to Paris
31 July 2017

Gentbrugge – Braemkasteel
Waiting for bus 3 to Dampoort

Evi’s water filter

Gent – Kasteellaan
Manjinder Singh who will take Evi and others to Paris

Gent Gurdwara
Anand Karaj
05 August 2017

Harpreet Singh Tabla and Granthi Singh

Master Ranjit Singh – Chaur Seva

Anand Karaj – Sikh marriage
The groom and family

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Scroll.in – Partition love story: A Muslim woman finds love with a Sikh man, but there is no happy ending

The tale of Buta Singh and Zainab embodies the tragedy of 1947, and is calling for a Bollywood producer

Zainab and Buta Singh married in 1947 in circumstances about which there is no unanimity. It is said they, nevertheless, grew to love each other. After they sired two children, the couple was forcibly separated.

Their story is emblematic of Partition because their relationship was simultaneously warped, and redemptive, and tragic. Like Partition, it has several versions, of which two will be recounted here.

There is the version that writer and publisher Urvashi Butalia narrates in her magisterial work, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India. The other is narrated by eminent Hindi fiction writer Krishna Sobti to Alok Bhalla in Partition Dialogues, a collection of his conversations with writers on their experiences of the 1947 catastrophe.

In Butalia’s version, Zainab was abducted from a kafila or caravan headed to Pakistan. She was presumably passed from one man to another until she was sold to Buta Singh, a Jat Sikh from Amritsar district. Butalia does not give us the name of the village.

Buta Singh married Zainab. Despite the ignominy of being purchased, that too by a member of the community engaged in cleansing East Punjab of Muslims, Buta Singh and Zainab came to love each other. Two girls were born to them. Partition ostensibly seemed to have been symbolically overcome through their relationship.

But the ghosts of Partition had not been put to rest. On December 6, 1947, India and Pakistan signed the Inter-Dominion Treaty, which made it incumbent upon the two nation-states to recover as many abducted women as they could.

To implement the treaty, an ordinance was issued. Under it, a woman was deemed abducted if she had entered into a relationship with a man not belonging to her community after March 1, 1947. Search parties were deployed to track abducted women and return them to their families.

One of these search parties came knocking on the door of Buta Singh’s house. It is said his nephews had snitched on Zainab to the search squad. They thought that once Zainab and her children were packed off to Pakistan, their share in the family property would increase.

Such was the law that Zainab’s opinion on whether she wanted to leave Buta Singh, and India, was not required to be elicited. The entire village turned up to see Zainab off. She came out holding her younger child and a bundle of personal belongings.

On reaching the jeep, she turned to Buta Singh and, pointing to their older daughter, said, “Take care of this girl, and don’t worry. I will be back soon.”

Buta Singh was distraught. His anxiety was compounded when he received a letter from Pakistan. It asked him to hurry over to Pakistan as his wife’s family was pressuring her to marry.

Buta Singh sold his land to raise money and arrived in Delhi, where he converted to Islam and took on the name of Jamil Ahmed. He thought it would be easier for him to travel to Pakistan as a Muslim wishing to become its citizen.

He applied for a Pakistani passport. He waited and waited but his passport did not come. His frequent trips to the Pakistan embassy made him such a familiar figure among Pakistani officials that they granted him a short-term visa for Pakistan.

In Pakistan, Zainab’s life was threatening to take a course she had not anticipated. Both her parents were dead. Since the family had been granted a plot of land in Lyallpur in lieu of the property it owned in East Punjab, its legal heirs were Zainab and her sister.

Adjacent to their land was their uncle’s. Keen to keep all the land within the family, the uncle began to mount pressure on Zainab to marry his son, her cousin.

She resisted. Zainab’s cousin, too, did not wish to marry her, not least because she had been the partner of a Sikh. It was during the days Zainab was resisting this familial pressure that Buta Singh received a letter from Pakistan, written by a neighbour of hers, presumably at her behest.

When Buta Singh reached Pakistan, Zainab had been married to her uncle’s son. Perhaps she thought Buta Singh would never come for her.

In his rush to locate Zainab, Buta Singh forgot to report his arrival to the police within 24 hours of reaching Pakistan, a requirement mandatory even in 2017. He was arrested and produced in court. He narrated his story to the magistrate, who issued summons to Zainab.

Zainab came to the court, ringed by his relatives. She told the magistrate: “I am a married woman. Now I have nothing to do with this man. He can take his second child whom I have brought from his house…”

Hours later, in the night, Buta Singh threw himself before a running train. His body was taken for autopsy to Lahore, where a large crowd of people, some weeping, gathered to witness the man who had defied Partition, and overcome his own warped conception of women, to love – and die.

A suicide note was recovered from his body. It said he wished to be buried in Zainab’s village.

But her relatives did not allow the police to execute Buta Singh’s last wish and he was buried in Lahore. Of their love, Butalia writes:

“It was said that Zainab and Buta Singh were happy, that they were even in love. Yet, the man actually bought her, purchased her like chattel: how then could she have loved him?”

Two versions

Butalia created their story through a piecing together of newspaper accounts, documents and an unpublished memoir. Butalia could not get a glimpse into Zainab’s feelings about the two men she married.

Given the stigma associated with abduction and rape, did Zainab overcome Buta Singh’s warped notion of love because of the hope he held out to her for rebuilding her life? Was her love for Buta Singh a strategy of survival? Or was it both?

These questions are rendered redundant in the version that Krishna Sobti narrated to Alok Bhalla. Sobti did not claim to have researched the story. Her version was presumably based on hearsay. Yet, it provides a peep into the politics of remembering Partition.

In Sobti’s version, Zainab does not have a name. She is “the Muslim girl”, plain and simple. It was while fleeing a riotous mob that the Muslim girl ran into Buta Singh’s house and hid under a haystack in the courtyard.

In the evening, Buta Singh, a bachelor, returned home and noticed a chunni sticking out of the haystack. He assured the girl, to quote Sobti, “Don’t be afraid, you are safe here. Stay indoors till the riots are over.” The girl came out and began to stay at his house. Though Buta Singh cooked for her for days, they did not speak to each other.

A few days later, a child chanced upon the Muslim girl in Buta Singh’s house. The word was out. In the evening, Buta Singh returned to a clamorous crowd outside his house.

Sobti tells Bhalla:

“He defended her with great courage and warned his neighbours not to harm her. His honesty and courage touched the girl. She continued to stay with him. Soon they fell in love with each other. In any case… she didn’t have many choices.”

The villagers suggested to Buta Singh that he marry the Muslim girl, who, according to Sobti, thought he was “handsome and decent”. They married, but did not have children at the time the search party arrived at their door. We are not told how the search party sniffed her out.

In the search party were her brothers. They insisted on taking the Muslim girl back to Pakistan. Buta Singh beseeched the authorities to allow her to stay with him as she was legally married to him, of her own free will. But it was to no avail.

In Sobti’s version, too, Buta Singh followed her to Pakistan. The matter of their marriage went to court. The Muslim girl was asked whether she had indeed married Buta Singh. But she refused to speak, not even when he told her that he would die without her.

Of her silence, Sobti explains to Bhalla, “Her brothers had obviously threatened her. It wasn’t difficult to imagine her psychological condition. The court decided against him. Buta Singh was so shattered that he committed suicide.”

Politics of remembering Partition

Oral stories from the past often undergo dramatic changes as these are passed from person to person. By the time it reached Sobti, the love story of Zainab and Buta Singh had morphed into a tale extolling the ideas of Sikh valour and honour.

That Buta Singh had purchased Zainab was elided from Sobti’s version. Instead, she is said to have strayed into the house of Buta Singh the bachelor who could have done anything to her but did not. Because of his impeccable conduct, the Muslim girl fell in love with him, his handsomeness a bonus.

Their love was torn asunder because of her brothers, who shifted from India to Pakistan and returned to take their sister away, unmindful of the suffering they inflicted all around. The story of Zainab and Buta Singh in its retelling indicts the Muslims of India for partitioning the country.

This love story of the Partition era is crying out for a Bollywood producer. Though Butalia’s version is undeniably more layered and captures the heartlessness that Partition was, it is very likely that Bollywood will opt for Sobti’s version in these times of Hindutva domination.

No touch of love jihad there. No depiction of Indians being overtaken by their baser passions – rather, they are always honourable in their conduct, for which they almost always pay a heavy price. A Hindu-Muslim love relationship in 1947 had to countenance the partitioning of the country. A Hindu-Muslim love biopic must be conscious of political sensitivities.

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https://scroll.in/article/847568/partition-love-story-a-muslim-woman-finds-love-with-a-sikh-man-but-there-is-no-happy-ending

Dawn – Indian court sentences controversial guru to 20 years in prison on rape charges

Rohtak-Haryana-India, 28 August 2017. An Indian court on Monday sentenced the controversial and hugely popular spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to two consecutive 10-year terms in prison for the rape of two women followers.

The sentence was pronounced amid intense security at a prison in the northern town of Rohtak, where the guru, who calls himself Dr Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, has been in a prison since his conviction on Friday.

Tens of thousands of his supporters set fire to cars and clashed with security forces, that left 38 dead, in the northern state of Haryana just minutes after Singh was found guilty of raping two of his followers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence but his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which is also in power in Haryana, was criticised for failing to anticipate the riots.

More than 100 of Singh’s senior loyalists have been placed in detention as a precautionary measure, said Rohtak police chief Navdeep Singh Virk.

He said his officers would use “whatever force is required” to resist the guru’s devotees should they again resort to violence.

“If the situation so arises that (we) need to use firearms, my officers have complete authority,” the police chief told broadcaster NDTV.

A judge was flown by helicopter to sentence the 50-year-old spiritual leader known as the “guru in bling” for his penchant for bejewelled costumes.

The rape case was brought against him after an anonymous letter was sent to then-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 accusing Singh of repeatedly raping the sender and several other women in the sect.

A judge asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to look into the accusations, but it took years to trace the alleged victims and it was not until 2007 that two women came forward and filed charges.

An estimated 200,000 members of Singh’s Dera Sacha Sauda movement had gathered in the city of Panchkula in a show of support a day before his guilty verdict.

Violent protests followed across his power base in Haryana which borders New Delhi, with police deploying tear gas and water cannon.

Modi said on Sunday it was “natural to be worried” as the violence even briefly reached the capital New Delhi.

“Violence is not acceptable in the nation, in any form,” Modi said in his monthly radio address.

“Those who take law in their hands or take to violence will not be spared, whoever they are.” Followers of the self-styled “godman” continue to insist upon his innocence.

India has been rocked by numerous scandals involving popular ascetics claiming to possess mystical powers.

Singh’s Dera Sacha Sauda sect describes itself as a social welfare and spiritual organisation but he is no stranger to controversy.

In 2015 he was accused of encouraging 400 followers to undergo castration at his ashram so they could get closer to god.

He also stood trial for conspiracy over the murder of a journalist in 2002.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1354485/indian-court-sentences-controversial-guru-to-20-years-in-prison-on-rape-charges