The Times of India – Sikh mayor in US faces death threats

I P Singh

Jalandhar-Panjab-India, 19 February 2018. Indian American lawyer Ravinder Singh Bhalla, who was elected first Sikh mayor of Hoboken city in New Jersey some three months ago, has acknowledged he and his family are facing death threats after an unidentified man left a bag in his office in his office.

Days before his election, Bhalla was linked with “terrorism” in a slanderous flyer. Hoboken police department said it has taken the incident with incredible seriousness and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has also evaluated the City Hall.

A statement on the official website of the Hoboken City Council revealed that the police department was investigating the incident which occurred on Thursday night and this also quoted Bhalla disclosing death threats to him and his family.

“A male individual entered City Hall through the Newark Street entrance just before 8 pm on Thursday, February 15, 2018. The person went through metal detectors and told security officers that he was going to use the restroom. At the time, the only person in the mayor’s office was deputy chief of staff Jason Freeman.

Mayor Bhalla was on his way to the office following a community meeting. From his office, Mr Freeman observed that a bag with an object had been thrown in the direction of the administrative assistant’s desk and made eye contact with the individual.

The individual then ran out of the mayor’s office. Mr Freeman called the police, which are currently investigating the incident,” added the statement.

“This incident, along with death threats to me and my family, is an unfortunate reminder that we need to take security seriously,” said Bhalla.

“The Joint Terrorism Task Force has evaluated City Hall, and we have been working to implement their recommendations for physical and procedural changes to improve security for all employees in the building,” he added.

“We take incidents like these incredibly seriously and will continue working to ensure the security of the mayor and everyone who visits City Hall,” said Hoboken police chief Kenneth Ferrante.

Bhalla, an attorney and civil rights activist, had earlier served serving as a councilman on the city council.

However, during the run-up to the election, slanderous flyers were spotted on the car windshields on which “Don’t let terrorism take over our town” was printed above Bhalla’s photograph. “A potential conflict of interest that could cost Hoboken taxpayers millions” was printed along with the photograph, leading to a major controversy.

Advertisements – Arrested Arms Supplier in RSS Leader Murder Case Hails from Hindutva Stronghold City in Uttar Pradesh

Sikh24 Editors

Mohali-Panjab-India, 16 February 2018. The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) team, which is probing murders of Hindu leaders in Punjab, has arrested a Uttar Pradesh resident named Parvez alias Farru, resident of Kotwali Meerut, for supplying weapons that were allegedly used in multiple murder cases.

Specifically, in its official correspondence released yesterday, the NIA alleged that Parvez had provided weapon that was used by Hardeep Singh “Shera” in the Ravinder Gosain murder case in October 2017. Parvez is the 11th person to be arrested in cases pertaining to murders of Hindu leaders in Punjab.

In a statement shared with media, the NIA alleged that the weapons supplied by Parvez were used in several of the eight incidents committed as part of the conspiracy.

Parvez was produced before the NIA’s Special Court in Mohali on February 14 in relation to Ravinder Gosain’s murder case, where he was sent on one day custody with NIA for interrogation.

Meanwhile, it has come to fore that the NIA will bring Khalistan Liberation Force chief Bhai Harminder Singh Mintu on production warrants to interrogate him about training Hardeep Singh Shera in Italy.

Parvez Farru hails from stronghold city of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Hailing from Meerut, Parvez had been absconding after getting traced in these cases by the NIA. He was nabbed by the NIA from Meerut in a joint operation carried out with the help of UP police.

Meerut is a stronghold of the RSS, where many senior RSS leaders hail from. RSS is further planning its “biggest meet ever” in Meerut on February 25. This event will be attended by top RSS leaders, including Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Den Haag Holland Spoor – Singh Sabha Gurdwara Holland

Den Haag Holland Spoor – Rotterdam Centraal – Capelle Schollevaar
31 December 2017

Den Haag HS – NS IC train to Rotterdam Centraal

NS IC train to Rotterdam Centraal

Singh Sabha Gurdwara Holland
31 December 2017

Gurdwara on 1st floor of community building

Young local Singhs doing inspirational kirtan

Ladies Sangat

Singh Sabha Holland
Stationsplein 20
2907 MJ Capelle aan den IJssel

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

CBS News – Harjit Singh Sajjan asks Justin Trudeau to meet Indian politician who accused Canada of Sikh separatist sympathies

Harjit Singh Sajjan was snubbed by Punjab CM Amarinder Singh when he visited India last April

Ottawa-Ontario-Canada, 18 February 2018. The Canadian government is now seeking a meeting with the Indian politician who publicly accused members of Trudeau’s cabinet of being connected to the Sikh separatist movement.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family spent much of their first full day in India touring the Taj Mahal and visiting an elephant rescue sanctuary, behind the scenes efforts were being made to extend an olive branch to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

At the request of Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, who was snubbed by Singh when Sajjan visited India last April, Canada’s high commissioner was dispatched to set up a meeting with Singh, Trudeau and Sajjan later this week.

Trudeau is scheduled to be in Punjab Wednesday for a visit to the Golden Temple, the holiest site in Sikhism. Three days ago, Trudeau’s officials denied Indian media reports that Singh, the head of that province’s government, was to serve as Trudeau’s tour guide at the temple, and said no meeting was planned.

On Sunday afternoon however, those same officials said a meeting is now being sought. Indian media are also reporting Singh has asked the Indian external affairs ministry to help him secure a meeting with Trudeau.

Singh has accused multiple Trudeau cabinet ministers of being Khalistani sympathizers and has been the most vocal with allegations that Canada’s Sikh communities are a hotbed of Sikh separatists, giving oxygen to extremist elements of the cause.

Khalistan is the name of the independent Sikh state sought by some members of the Sikh community.

Ministers deny cause for concern

Trudeau’s appearances at events where it was believed Sikh separatist leaders were also present ruffled feathers in Delhi over the last two years, and the issue has been raised in private conversations between Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trudeau is scheduled to meet with Modi in New Delhi on Friday.

A motion in the Ontario legislature last year to label anti-Sikh riots at the Golden Temple in 1984 as a genocide, and recent decisions by more than a dozen Canadian gurdwaras to ban entry to Indian diplomats in their official government capacity, have added fuel to India’s concerns about a growing Khalistani effort coming out of Canada.

Trudeau’s India mission mixes global business with local politics

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers, including Sajjan, have loudly denied there is any reason for concern. On 7 February Sajjan called Singh’s accusations “offensive” and “ridiculous.”

The Khalistan issue has threatened to cloud Trudeau’s trip but Canadian officials in India tried to downplay it Sunday, saying the relationship couldn’t be sidetracked by a single concern.

They pointed to the 30 per cent growth in trade between Canada and India over the last few years, as well as growth in the number of Canadian companies doing business there. The number of Indian students studying in Canada has also tripled in the last three years to 124,000 in 2017.

Trudeau is expected to make a statement during this trip reiterating Canada’s policy in favour of a united India, but stressing Canada will not crack down on Sikhs in Canada expressing peacefully their desire for an independent state.

A difference of opinion on freedom of speech has been cited by some Indian policy experts as a reason for the dispute between Canada and India over the Khalistan movement, as Delhi would prefer Trudeau do more to quiet any calls among Indian Canadians.

The right to freedom of expression was one of many rights issues raised with Trudeau at a meeting with non-governmental organizations Sunday evening.

Some were so afraid of reprisals for speaking with him the Canadian government cancelled a planned photo op and refused to release the names of the individuals or even their organizations.

Trip a form of ‘work-life balance

Earlier in the day Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children, Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, flew to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. Trudeau said he had first been there 35 years ago on a prime ministerial trip with his father, but Pierre Elliott Trudeau had to work and couldn’t join him.

“For me to be able to be here on an official trip while bringing my kids with me to share this is really special,” he said. “It sort of shows for me how work-life balance has evolved a bit.”

Grégoire Trudeau laughed a little at the latter statement, saying “we’re trying.”

Later they drove north of Agra to the SOS Sanctuary and Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, where they fed fruits and vegetables to a 23-year-old rescued elephant named Laxmi.

Dawn – A living legacy: Asma Jahangir

Zarrar Khuhro

Op/Ed, 19 February 2018. In 1666, the Great Fire of London devastated that city for four days, destroying two thirds of the metropolis in a massive conflagration. There was anger, fear and despair, and many wondered if the city would ever rise again from the literal ashes it had been reduced to.

But it did, and a great deal of the credit for this goes to Sir Christopher Wren, who drew up the plans for rebuilding London, essentially transforming the city from a warren of thatched huts and cobblestone series into the first draft of the modern metropolis it is today.

Along with dozens of churches, Wren also rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral where he himself was laid to rest. His tomb is a simple, Spartan affair where Wren lies resting under a slab of black marble. Above, a latin inscription reads: “si monumentum requiris, circumspice”.

There are meaningful ways of honouring the dead

Translated this reads, ‘if you seek his monument, look around you’. Look around and see the cathedral he build, the cathedral he designed. It is a legacy that does not require a ticker tape parade or an annual holiday. It is a legacy of vision given form, of dedication and devotion.

It is that same dedication and devotion that we saw at the funeral of the late, great Asma Jahangir. It wasn’t a state funeral, of course, but that was fitting for a woman who was never the advocate for the state, who never desired such honours and would have likely scoffed at them.

Had the state honoured her it would only have honoured itself. But that is of little import, because if she stood for anyone she stood for the people, and it was the people who laid her to rest, who said their farewells, who buried a giant in a small grave.

They came in all their shades and colours, people who would never otherwise stand in the same ranks: Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Hindu, rich and poor, from society elite to the forgotten tenants of the Okara farms.

From those who knew her well to those who only knew of her; these were all of those whose lives she had touched, transformed and inspired.

It’s difficult to add to the countless heartfelt tributes that have poured in from all corners. It seems pointless to relate personal stories about her when so many, far more meaningful tales have already been related so the only question that I shall ask is this: how do we honour such a legacy?

The usual approach, one that is being advocated in this case as well, is to change place names to honour her. Given that her funeral prayers took place in Gaddafi Stadium, the first demand was to rename this landmark ‘Asma Jahangir stadium’.

Certainly there’s no harm in this, or in naming roads, schools and more after her. As years pass and memory fades, perhaps some child will ask why this place bears her name and we will relate the story of her life and struggle. Perhaps.

Or perhaps there are more meaningful ways to not just remember her but to actually carry forth her life’s mission. There is, in my opinion, an intrinsic problem with simply changing names, a cosmetic measure at best, because it runs the risk of the person’s legacy instead being subverted or even disgraced.

Take this for example: there have been calls to rename Abdul Wali Khan University, where Mashal Khan was brutally murdered by a mob of his college mates, to honour the slain student.

Let’s say that happens and yet those who killed him, or cheered as he lay dying, continue to study there? What if, as is likely, the university administration that abetted this crime remains in place? What if in a renamed university the mindset that killed Mashal continues to flourish? That would indeed be the greatest dishonour possible.

One would not like to see the same happen with Asma Jahangir’s name so any honour cannot simply stop there: There is a proposal to rename the law department of Punjab university after her, but that would only be truly meaningful if the cases she fought would be studied there, if a fellowship was created in her name or a scholarship programme put in place allowing deserving students without means to follow in her footsteps.

Let there be free legal aid centres that carry on her work, even if they do not bear her name. The hardest part of carrying on her legacy falls to us, though, in our limited personal capacities. It falls to us to speak truth to power where and when we can, even knowing that we could never match her raw courage, one that bordered on madness.

She was the true giant of our times, towering over the moral pygmies that infest us. And while we know that we can never stand so tall, perhaps we can stand on her shoulders.

The writer is a journalist