The Hindustan Times – BJP governments trying to impose RSS ideology on varsities: Akhilesh Yadav

Akhilesh Yadav said ever since the BJP government has come to power at the Centre, the atmosphere in educational institutions has been spoiled.

Lucknow-UP-India, 29 September 2017. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Friday alleged that the BJP governments, in the states and at the Centre, were trying to impose RSS ideology in universities which he said, was resulting in students’ unrest and anarchy on the campuses.

Interacting with student leaders from various varsities, including the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Delhi University and the Allahabad University here, he said that ever since the BJP government has come to power at the Centre, the atmosphere in educational institutions has been spoiled”.

“The reputation of universities has also been harmed”, the former chief minister was quoted as saying during his interaction with the students’ leaders.

Alleging that there was a conspiracy to crush the morale of students by curbing the voice of dissent, Yadav said that the youth has always brought a change in the system.

“A chance to bring a change will come in 2019 and there was a need to start preparations from today. Students need to pay attention on their studies and at the same time also raise their voice against injustice.

“The students and youth will have to remain prepared for playing a double role”, the SP chief said.

Advertisements – British Airways refused water to turbaned Sikh lady on flight

Sikh24 Editors

London-UK, 29 September 2017. A young turbaned Sikh woman has alleged discrimination on a British Airways flight while traveling to Delhi, from Vancouver via London.

She posted her complaints on her Facebook page, highlighting that she was first not served water and later not served food, when other passengers were being served.

She then had to make specific requests after being ignored, before she was served. She lodged a complaint with British airways, once landed and shared her experience online.

Harsharn Kaur hails from Mohali, Chandigarh, and is a deputy producer at ABP Sanjha, a prominent Punjabi media channel.

She later shared, “While the flight from Heathrow to New Delhi was very comfortable and there were no issues but quite a few Punjabi passengers shared their similar past experiences with me”.

Upon arriving in New Delhi, she was then interviewed by Indian news channels, where she shared her feelings and experiences during the flight. She is yet to receive a reply from British Airways.

Leuven NMBS station – Gentbrugge Stelplaats

Leuven NMBS station
20 September 2017

Platform 1 being resurfaced
S2 all station train at bay-platform B

Intercity to Knokke and Blankenberge via Gent

Platform 1 being resurfaced
De Lijn bus station on the left

One train arriving – One train departing

The train to take me back to Gent

Gentbrugge Stelplaats
21 September 2017

Tram 2 to Zwijnaarde

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

NBC News – Officials say Sikh student’s soccer ban was miscommunication

Chris Fuchs

Philadelphia-Pennsylvania-USA, 29 September 2017. A ninth grader in Pennsylvania wearing a Sikh head covering was barred from playing in a boys soccer match Tuesday, a decision that the state’s athletic association said resulted from a miscommunication.

The unidentified student who attends Marple Newtown High School, not far from Philadelphia, was to participate in a match with his team against Conestoga High School, the law firm of DiOrio & Sereni, which represents the Marple Newtown School District, told NBC News in an email.

But the student, who had on religious headgear that he and his family said was worn in observance of his Sikh faith, was not permitted to compete, according to the school district.

Through its attorney, the school district said it had no information to believe the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) referee’s decision was motivated by religious discrimination.

“Our District was surprised to learn that, according to a PIAA soccer referee’s decision, the PIAA apparently does not have a rule that reasonably accommodates the wearing of religious headwear by our student athletes who play soccer,” Mark A. Sereni, the school district’s solicitor, added in a statement.

“Our District is investigating this ruling and has advocated and will continue to advocate for the rights of our student athletes to appropriately wear religious headwear,” he said.

But Robert A. Lombardi, PIAA’s executive director, told NBC News that the incident was a miscommunication between the school and PIAA, not a rules issue.

He wrote in an email that the school had not properly requested a modification to a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rule to allow headgear for religious purposes. The association approves them on a case-by-case basis, according to Lombardi.

He said it was corrected Thursday after the school submitted a request.

“Annually, all schools are informed of this information at the pre-season rules meetings held in their area,” Lombardi said. “The oversight by the school should not cause this overreaction”.

A voicemail left Thursday with the NFHS, which establishes rules for a number of sports, including soccer, was not immediately returned. On Twitter, the organization said it has “no ban on religious headwear in soccer”.

Sports associations have gradually been relaxing regulations that once prohibited religious headgear from being worn during competitions.

The International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, unanimously approved such a rule in May that is expected to take effect on 1 October. The change will affect players of a number of religious faiths, including Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs.

Dawn – Centre restrained from deporting Turkish nationals

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Lahore, 29 September 2017. The Lahore High Court on Thursday restrained the federal government from deporting former vice president of Pakistan-Turkish Schools and his family till next hearing of a petition questioning alleged kidnapping of the Turkish nationals.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza passed the order hearing a petition moved by Mr Orhan Uygun, a colleague of Mr Mesut Kacmaz, who was allegedly kidnapped the other day from Wapda Town residence along with his wife and two daughters.

Senior lawyer Asma Jahangir appeared on behalf of the petitioner and stated that the government through the attorney general had undertaken before the court last year that the Turkish employees of the Pakistan-Turkish Schools would not be deported till 24 November 2017.

However, she said Mr Kacmaz and his family were kidnapped by unidentified persons from their house and there was a likelihood that they would soon be deported in violation of the court’s order.

She said the petitioner filed an application with the police station concerned for the registration of a kidnap case, however, the police were reluctant to take any action.

Ms Jahangir asked the court to stop the interior ministry from deporting the Turkish family.

Justice Mirza directed a deputy attorney general to submit reply of the government on the issue by 6 October and ensure that the alleged detainees shall not be deported from Pakistan till the next hearing.

Talking to media persons, Ms Jahangir said blatant violation of the high court’s order had been committed in the Turkish national’s case. She said the authorities involved in the alleged abduction and possible deportation of the Turkish family had taken law in their hands.

She said police did not cooperate with the teachers of Pakistan-Turkish Schools and failed to lodge an FIR of the incident.

A Turkish teacher said they had been under UNHCR protection as asylum seekers in Pakistan since November 2016. He said the Turkish educationists had been serving the people of Pakistan for 22 years and never involved in any illegal activity.

He said the Turkish teachers had serious concerns about their safety and wanted the authorities to ensure recovery of the kidnapped colleagues and bring the perpetrators to book.

Apparently the Pakistan Turkish schools are part of the Gülen movement, and as such all of its staff are criminals in the eyes of President Erdogan

The Indian Express – Pehlu Khan lynching case: All held in the case are out on bail

Pehlu Khan and four others were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar’s Behror on April 1, the mob accused them to be cattle smugglers, beat them up. Pehlu died two days later.

Hamza Khan

Jaipur, 29 September 2017. The Rajasthan High Court has granted bail to the last two persons held in the Pehlu Khan lynching case.

Earlier, three people were granted bail by the high court and two by a juvenile court. Two other accused are untraceable.

Bail was granted to Dayanand, 47, and Yogesh Kumar, 30, on September 18 “on the ground that their case was similar to others who were granted bail before them. It was no different. The high court accepted our plea and granted them bail,” said Harendra Singh, the advocate for the accused.

Pehlu and four others, among them his two sons, were returning from a cattle fair on Jaipur’s outskirts on April 1 and were headed to their homes in Haryana when they were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar’s Behror.

The mob, accusing them to be cattle smugglers, beat them up. Pehlu died two days later.

The first among the accused to be granted bail was Ravindra, on July 12, followed by Kaluram on August 9 and Vipin on August 31.

Arguing for Ravindra, former Bar Council of India Chairman Biri Singh Sinsinwar had said the petitioner wasn’t named in the FIR and he was seen at Jagwas crossing in a similar incident involving cow vigilantes an hour before Pehlu was lynched at Shaheed Ramkumar crossing, 1 km from Jagwas crossing.

Moreover, no incriminating recovery was made from Ravindra, his counsel said. Ravindra’s bail set the stage for the bail of Kaluram.

While senior advocate V R Bajwa, along with Amir Aziz and the public prosecutor had argued against Ravindra’s bail plea, Kaluram’s plea was opposed by Aziz and the public prosecutor.

Curiously, when it came to Vipin’s bail plea, no private lawyer could be roped in by Pehlu’s family. “When Vipin’s hearing was listed, I informed them (Pehlu family) about the case but they could not take it up through a lawyer”, Aziz said. “This made the bail process easier for petitioners”.

In the court, the petitioners argued that Vipin’s case was similar to Ravindra and Kaluram’s and he was given bail, but Aziz said the counsel for petitioner misled the court.

“Even if we assume that Ravindra and Kaluram were not on the spot, how can Vipin’s case be similar to them when a stick allegedly used in the assault was found with him,” Aziz said.

According to the chargesheet filed by Behror SHO Ramesh Sinsinwar, the police found a wooden stick in Vipin’s home that was hidden below a bed.

“The entire investigation has been botched by the police. Those who were named in the FIR were given a clean chit while those arrested are now being let out on bail as they are not named in the FIR,” Aziz said.

Pehlu Khan lynching case: All held in the case are out on bail

The Tribune – Centre alerts state over decline in water table

Suggests micro-irrigation, crop diversification

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 28 September 2017. The Union Government has red-flagged a sharp decline in the groundwater level in Punjab. As per a study conducted in May, 94 per cent of the state has shown a decline in the water level when compared to the average level from 2007-16.

Despite that, the Punjab Government is adamant on keeping the “politically sensitive” free power to agriculture consumers going, a major reason for excessive tubewell connections that drain the groundwater. There is also no action plan to wean away farmers from water guzzling paddy crop.

The results of the study, which the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, had commissioned to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), and now shared with the state government, have shown a decline in water in 89 per cent of the observation wells. These cover 94 per cent area of the state.

The findings of the study that mapped aquifers (up to 300 metres) has shown an alarming fall of over 4 metres in 10 per cent of the observation wells (a total of 704 wells were studied), covering 8 per cent of the state’s area.

It also reveals that 26 per cent area in the state has seen its water table fell by 2-4 metres, while 60 per cent of the area has seen a fall of up to 2 metres. This, however, may still not deter the government to restrict the use of subsoil water, as three-fourth of the state is dependent on sub-soil water for irrigation.

Though the Centre has asked Punjab to invest in strengthening ground water monitoring; implement a water security plan; promote micro-irrigation and crop diversification, besides having separate feeder lines for agriculture and non-agricultural uses, it remains to be seen if the state will have any affirmative action plan soon.

Unfit for drinking: Study

The study has also brought to light another major concern, higher value of electrical conductivity (reflection of chemical constituents in groundwater which may have deleterious effect on human health).

The study has brought to light much higher levels of fluoride, arsenic, and nitrate (beyond permissible limits), while asking the Punjab Government to act immediately to ensure safe drinking water is provided to all. The higher levels of these chemicals are related to the growing incidence of cancer.

State of affairs

26% of the area has seen its water table fall by 2-4 m
60% of the area has seen a fall of up to 2 m

Leuven Vaartkom – Leuven De Lijn and NMBS stations

Leuven Vaartkom
20 September 2017

De Lijn bus 601

Vaartkom and Abdijberg

De Lijn bus 600 one stop before terminus

Leuven De Lijn and NMBS stations
20 September 2017

De Lijn bus 601 Binnenringbus

Leuven Rail Station
Works at platforms A, B, C and 1, 2, 3

Platform 1 resurfacing

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – How Canadian Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh has successfully battled racism with love

Jagmeet Singh is considered the frontrunner for the New Democratic Party leadership. If this happens, it would bring an unprecedented diversity to the role.

Within the space of a few moments, Jagmeet Singh became one of Canada’s most admired politicians. His cool-under-pressure reaction to being confronted by an angry heckler is just one of the reasons Singh is considered to be the favourite contender for leadership of the federal New Democratic Party.

A video of the September 6 incident at Singh’s campaign event in Brampton, Ontario, went viral and has been viewed millions of times in Canada and around the world.

Moments into the event, an angry white woman interrupted Singh and shouted Islamophobic and vitriolic statements at him, and physically gesticulated, demonstrating her feeling of entitlement, to space, voice and position, in relation to others at the event.

Singh seemed undeterred by the outburst. His response to her rant was to rally his audience to help him relay his campaign message. He asked his guests to chant: “Love and courage”.

What is the nature of Singh’s call for love?

His political slogan is based on a message of universal love and courage. Singh’s message, and chant that evening, is uniquely situated among the slogans of the three other candidates: Charlie Angus “Got your back”, Niki Ashton “Building a movement, together”, and Guy Caron, “Let’s Build a Progressive and Sustainable Economy”.

The dramatic events at the September 6 meeting demonstrates something about Singh, as a person and as a candidate. It also points to new undercurrents of religion and spirituality and its role, not only in Canadian politics, but also in the leadership race for the New Democratic Party.

Singh’s campaign and potential leadership arrives in a climate of increasing hatred, fear and division. His call for universal love is coherent with Sikhism, which challenges the division between daily life and a devotional love that guides all thought and action.

How does the language of love and courage relate to a New Democratic Party trying to find its way in a shifting political landscape?

Singh’s outward appearance solicits questions from some Canadians, as in the case of the heckler, regarding his secular position: To what degree does Singh’s religion relate to his policy ideas or conduct?

Canada: Judeo-Christian values?

Canadian political institutions and traditions are imbued with Judeo-Christian values and symbols. Yet the separation of church and state maintains religion does not dictate the making of policy and law.

However, in the game of politics, courting ethno-racial, national and religious identified voters has become a central art of party campaign strategists.

Political parties of all persuasions have had to navigate this division in a variety of ways.

In Canada, the left social democratic tradition, represented now by the New Democratic Party, has had less experience with faith-based movements and the religious identity of its leaders than their Right-Wing counterparts and left-leaning parties elsewhere in the world. Singh’s leadership challenge will likely change that.

While Singh is positioned as a secular politician, his ethos, sense of justice and formation of his identity is connected to a Sikh practice.

The very essence of the message of universal love and courage is embedded in a Sikh devotion, rather than a secular idea of loving all humankind. Practising Sikhism defines a way of life – one that is contemplative, meditative and committed to spiritualism and positive actions.

The clash of civilisations

To understand the contemporary role of religion in politics, we need to look at one of our turning points: 9/11. The attacks on New York City and the Pentagon served as a marker of the time foreign and domestic policy in North America was called upon to name Islamic terrorism as a universal enemy.

Once North America and other western governments embraced the rhetoric of a civilisation divide, the psyche of liberal democratic nations split apart. The already tenuous divide between the religious and secular began to rupture further.

This reinforced a binary division and emboldened a powerful discourse of racism and Islamophobia. The basic premise is that Islam represents something universally distinct from Christian belief systems.

This discourse of racism and difference has gained strength and societal control through the election of conservative governments with moral platforms that build on fears and anxieties of susceptible citizens.

Sixteen years of corrosive discourses since 9/11 has led to: Us vs. Them, the Clash of Civilisations and racism.

We are now at the point of the normalisation of white supremacy. It is no longer an oddity or a left-wing conspiracy theory to discuss the presence of fascism and neo-Nazis, these are events widely circulated in our social media feeds and featured during the evening news.

Religious discrimination in Canada

Islamophobia and racism are often understood to be twinned structures of oppression. In many ways they are, but there are complex differences between them. They disseminate and exist in different political, cultural and social taxonomies.

Islamophobia operates through systems of stereotypes, often misunderstanding or misrepresenting the traditions, religious practices and customs of highly diverse ethno-national and racial communities.

Islamophobia has been manufactured in multiple ways in society through popular culture, media, policy and criminalizing targeting Islam and Muslims.

Racism is a larger systemic operation of power denigrating one race while validating or elevating another.

When the Harper Conservatives were in government, they attempted to map onto Canadian national values a form of social conservatism. This was articulated through a distinction between Canada and the “barbaric cultural practices” of others.

The clear lines that were being drawn between what Harper referred to as “old stock Canadians” during a 2015 federal leaders’ debate brought into discourse front and center the relationship between white supremacy and Islamophobia.

It connected the dots between a normative white Christian Canadian identity that could stand against the racialized others.

Now the Conservative Party has a leader who proudly accepts the label: “Harper with a Smile”.

Andrew Scheer has the support of social conservatives in the Conservative Party. He has steadfastly supported free speech over the condemnation of Islamophobia and was absent during the House of Commons vote for the Anti-Islamophobia Motion M-103, overwhelmingly passed in the House of Commons.

When losing your cool is not an option

Singh said his ability to remain cool under pressure was largely owed to his experience of being a brown, Sikh and turbaned man, growing up in the 1980s in Brampton, just Northwest of Toronto.

His past experiences of religious and racist intolerance helped to fortify him against racist language and assault. In the moment in which the racist woman yelled at him, she assumed he was a Muslim. Many wondered why Singh did not attempt to correct her misconceived perception; he is not a Muslim, but rather, a Sikh.

Suggesting such a distinction in the moment, he said, would only further the misunderstanding that somehow being Muslim means such treatment is considered justifiable. His reaction, he said, should not be to proclaim his religion. By not correcting this misconception, Singh was acting in solidarity against Islamophobia.

Sikhs have been affected throughout the post-9/11 discourses of Islamophobia, mainly because of this misunderstood identity. In the US, and elsewhere, there has been a rise in hate bias attacks against Sikhs, with the 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin, shooting as a visible example.

While there are those who, in the similar vein as Singh, have sought to challenge Islamophobia by standing in solidarity, there have also been many instances where Sikhs in America, the UK and Canada painstakingly distinguish themselves from Muslims.

However, in countless examples, when Islamophobia is experienced in the public sphere against properly identified Muslims, there has been a lack of outcry.

In Canada, the shooting deaths in Quebec’s Sainte-Foy’s Mosque, in which Azzedine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubakar Thabthi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, and Ibrahim Barry were killed, was unmistakably an act of terrorism.

Canadians across the country mourned this tragedy. And yet was it recognised as an act of terrorism against the citizens of this state?

The day-to-day effects of Islamophobia have led to many Muslims living with heightened experiences of fear and not knowing what they might encounter on a walk to school, a day at work or even waiting for a bus.

The left social-democrats of the New Democratic Party hold steadfastly to their conception of justice, fairness and equality in a secular world. The ways in which people are encountering the public today, however, is seemingly much murkier than these stark divisions.

The issues of racism, religious intolerance and social justice are not central issues for any federal political party. These issues, however, should no longer be viewed as separate from major policy platforms including health, welfare reform, employment, national defense, national security, aboriginal relations and education.

Perhaps a political leader such as Jagmeet Singh will be able to navigate these debates with an alacrity and style we have yet to witness in the Canadian political world.

Davina Bhandar, Adjunct Professor in School of Communication and Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.
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The Hindu – Taliban assault kills 12 police personnel

Kandahar, 28 September 2017. At least 12 Afghan police were killed and four wounded when a Humvee packed with explosives drove into their checkpoint in the southern province of Kandahar late on Wednesday, a government official said.

Abdul Bari Baryalai, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the attack took place in Maruf district, bordering Pakistan.

The attack, in one of the Taliban’s heartlands, underlines the threats faced by Afghan security forces, notably police units on the front lines of the battle against insurgents who control or contest about 40 per cent of Afghanistan.

The incident came on the same day that militants attacked Kabul airport while USA Defence Secretary Jim Mattis was visiting the Afghan capital.