The Indian Express – Former Navy chief Ramdas files plea in Supreme Court for independent probe into judge Loya’s death

The apex court had on January 22 restrained other high courts from entertaining any petition relating to Loya’s death and transferred to itself the petitions pending before Bombay HC. The matter is scheduled to come up for hearing in SC on February 2.

New Delhi-India, 31 January 2018. Former Navy chief Admiral (retd) L Ramdas has filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking an independent inquiry by a panel of retired apex court judges and former police officers into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya.

Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. Some members of Loya’s family had alleged foul play in his death.

BJP chief Amit Shah was one of the accused in the Sheikh encounter case in which he was later discharged. The application, filed by Ramdas, has also sought a direction to the Centre to cooperate with the inquiry committee and provide the necessary documents.

He has sought an independent probe, saying the statements made by Loya’s family members “have led to allegations of foul play coming to the surface” regarding the events that had transpired on the night he died. “It is therefore just and necessary that an independent probe be directed to be made,” the plea said.

It further said that “the silence of individuals who were present during the final hours of Loya’s life coupled with institutional inaction to probe the circumstances of his death when it occurred in 2014 threatens these cherished ideals of independence of judiciary and the rule of law.”

The plea said “a judicial probe” was needed in the case in order to uphold the image of judiciary and deliver justice to Loya’s family.

It claimed that the death of a sitting judge hearing a sensitive case in an “unnatural manner” raises questions about the rule of law and requires to be properly probed by an independent agency.

The petition also sought permission that anyone who had evidence to establish the circumstances of Loya’s death be allowed to appear before the multi-member panel and provide relevant information.

The plea has also raked up the issue of transfer of CBI Judge J T Utpat, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case before Loya was transferred to that court. It has sought direction to the committee to probe into the reasons for the the “arbitrary transfer” of Utpat and submit a report to the court.

The issue of Loya’s death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding it. But Loya’s son had on January 14 this year said in Mumbai that his father died of natural causes.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is hearing the petitions which have sought probe into Loya’s death. The apex court had on January 22 restrained other high courts from entertaining any petition relating to Loya’s death and transferred to itself the petitions pending before the Bombay High Court.

The matter is scheduled to come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on February 2.

Former Navy chief Ramdas files plea in Supreme Court for independent probe into judge Loya’s death

Advertisements – Inspector Bikram Brar refutes allegation of backstabbing Vicky Gounder; family demands investigation

Sikh24 Editors

Malot-Panjab-India, 30 January 2018. Inspector Bikram Brar, who was accused by the maternal uncle of gangster Vicky Gounder of betraying his nephew, has refuted the allegations. He has said that neither he studied along with Vicky Gounder in Sports College of Jalandhar nor he had any relation with him.

It may be recalled here that gangster Harjinder Singh alias Vicky Gounder was shot dead on January 26 in an ‘encounter’ claimed by the Punjab police.

On January 28, Vicky’s maternal uncle Gurbhej Singh Sandhu informed that his nephew Vicky had called him over WhatsApp two hours before his ‘encounter’ by the Punjab police and talked to him for about 20 minutes.

Gurbhej Singh Sandhu told Sikh24 that Vicky Gounder had informed him that he was trying to surrender before the police through one of his old friends and Punjab police Inspector Bikram Brar.

Reacting to Inspector Bikram Brar’s statement, Vicky’s maternal uncle Gurbhej Singh Sandhu has sought thorough investigation of Bikram Brar’s call detail.

He has also claimed that Vicky Gounder was also in touch with Bikram Brar during Nabha jailbreak episode and all these facts will come to fore with the investigation of Bikram Brar’s call detail.

Den Haag: Den Haag CS Hoog – RandstadRail Metro

 Den Haag CS Hoog
24 December 2017

HTM Avenio tram 2 to Leidschendam/Leidsenhage

Den Haag CS
RandstadRail Metro
24 December 2017

The Randstad Rail Metro Platforms seen from the high level tram stops

RET RandstadRail Metro to Slinge

RET Metro network

Escalator, elevator and stairs to the Metro platforms

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Evening Standard – Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn back campaign for London memorial to Sikh soldiers

Robin De Peyer

Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn have joined forces to call for a memorial in London commemorating the contribution of Sikh soldiers during the two world wars.

The London Mayor said the memorial should take “pride of place” in the capital as it was announced that £375,000 has been raised for the project so far.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of a campaign for a National Sikh War Memorial in central London, he said: “Britain and the world owe a huge debt to the Sikh service men and women who fought alongside British troops during the First and Second World Wars.

“The heroic Sikh soldiers who laid down their lives for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today should get the recognition they deserve.”

More than 80,000 turban-wearing Sikh soldiers are estimated to have died fighting for Britain during the two world wars, with 100,000 more injured.

The campaign for a memorial to their efforts to be built in London has won the support of more than 27,000 people in an online petition.

It also gained cross-party backing from the likes of Labour leader Mr Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, and communities secretary Sajid Javid.

Labour’s Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who last year became the first turban-wearing Sikh to enter Parliament as an MP hosted the campaign launch on Tuesday evening.

“Memorials already exist in London for Soldiers from the Commonwealth, British India, Poland, African-Caribbean nations, and for the Gurkhas but none of a turbaned Sikh Soldier,” he said.

“Hopefully with the active support of the Government, the Mayor of London and the local authorities, we will in the very near future have a permanent national monument in a fitting central London location.”

Dawn – Afghan war turns bloodier

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 31 January 2018. The latest wave of terror attacks in Kabul that has claimed dozens of civilian lives marks the bloodiest phase of the so far 16-year war with the insurgents getting more audacious.

The escalation in fighting raises questions about the new US-Afghan strategy. Not that the Afghan capital has not witnessed such high-profile terrorist attacks before, but the ferocity and the frequency of assaults is alarming.

Three attacks in a week in high-security zones indicate the increasing capacity and the organisation of the insurgents despite massive escalation in the US air strikes.

While the Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for two of the first two attacks, the militant Islamic State (IS) group reportedly carried out the third one. The insurgents have taken the war into the nation’s capital. The rising toll of civilian casualties is disturbing.

It signals a shift in insurgent strategy, from gaining territorial control to focusing more on the capital to test the mettle of the Afghan security forces. It seems that the Afghan Taliban and IS are competing when it comes to carnage in the besieged capital and other towns and cities in Afghanistan.

The chaos resulting from the violence serves the objective of these militant groups, to undermine the confidence of the Kabul administration.

It seems that the Afghan Taliban and IS are in a race to massacre the most people

Indeed, the Afghan National Army has improved its performance greatly over time, but it is still not capable of dealing with such organised terrorist attacks on its own. The frequent breach of security by the insurgents has further exposed the incapacity of the Afghan security agencies.

While the Taliban control vast swathes of territory, the increasing presence of IS in Afghanistan is extremely worrisome. The terrorist group that is fighting both Kabul and the Taliban has been responsible for several high-profile attacks in the capital over the last few months.

The terrorist group has made some inroads in eastern and northern Afghanistan. The rise of IS has brought greater devastation and caused a spike in the number of civilian casualties.

The latest surge in militant attacks has come as the relentless US air strikes have forced the Taliban to retreat from some of their strongholds in western Afghanistan. But the US military offensive has failed to contain the insurgency that has now spread to vast areas.

There has not been any cessation in the fighting, not even in the winter months. The situation is likely to get worse with the approach of the fighting season. The weakening writ of the Afghan government in the hinterland has given further impetus to the insurgents.

Predictably, the violence has evoked a strong reaction from Washington. There are clear indications that the Trump administration will intensify military action in Afghanistan. Addressing the UN Security Council members in the aftermath of the Kabul attacks, President Trump vowed to take the battle to the finish.

“What nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it,” the US president declared.

Notwithstanding Trump’s tough tenor, such promises have also been made by previous US administrations in the past decade. It is hard to believe that the massive use of air strikes alone could bring this festering war to an end.

Trump has ruled out negotiations with the Taliban, at least for now. So the US administration is still pursuing an elusive military victory that it has failed to achieve in the past 16 years with more than 150,000 troops on the ground.

Some reports suggest that more American troops could be deployed after the recent insurgent attacks. That may only get the US mired deeper in Afghanistan. Even the closest of America’s Western allies are sceptical of Trump’s militaristic approach.

Not surprisingly, the surge in militant violence inside Afghanistan has increased pressure on Islamabad. Both Kabul and Washington have once again accused Pakistan of providing safe havens to militants.

They have also blamed Pakistani security agencies for facilitating those responsible for the carnage. More alarming is the growing Afghan-Indian nexus demanding tougher US action against Pakistan.

There are clear indications that the Trump administration is getting ready to tighten the screws on Pakistan further and intensify air strikes on alleged Taliban sanctuaries inside this country’s tribal region.

The recent attack on reportedly an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency that has allegedly been used as a sanctuary for the Haqqani network is ominous. There is also a strong possibility of the US slapping economic and military sanctions on Pakistan and using its influence to persuade multilateral financial institutions to squeeze assistance.

Washington has already suspended military assistance to Pakistan. There could also be a move to get the country declared as a terrorist haven.

Surely such radical moves cannot succeed. Still, they would put greater diplomatic pressure on Islamabad to crack down on suspected militant sanctuaries and take action against the Taliban leadership allegedly operating from Pakistan.

It certainly presents a very serious challenge to the Pakistani leadership, almost comparable to what it had faced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

That raises questions about Pakistan’s options and how our political and military leadership can deal with this serious situation. The prevailing political instability and absence of a chain of command has complicated our predicament.

It may be true that Pakistan is being used as a scapegoat for America’s failure to wind up the war, the longest it has ever fought. Yet the allegations of some Afghan insurgent groups taking sanctuary in our border areas cannot be refuted.

The fact that so many proscribed militant groups are operating with such impunity has weakened our case and made us extremely vulnerable to growing international pressure. We cannot hide behind a sense of victimhood.

It is not just about US pressure. It is imperative for us to clean up our home in our own national security interest.
The surge in militant violence and growing instability in Afghanistan threaten our security too. Indeed, America’s continuing reliance on the military solution and an ineffective, fragmented administration in Kabul has been the major cause of the deepening Afghan crisis.

Yet it is in our own interest that we continue to cooperate with Afghanistan and the international community to contain violence in the strife-torn country.

The writer is an author and journalist.