The Indian Express – Independence of judiciary is in danger, says Congress

“Indian judiciary is in danger. And if our judiciary is not united to protect its independence then democracy is in danger…. they want to pack High Courts with their won people,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.

New Delhi – India, 26 April 2018. The Congress on Thursday said that the independence of the judiciary “is in danger” and asked if it would now speak in one voice to state “enough is enough”.

Congress’s sharp reaction came after the government returned to the Supreme Court collegium its recommendation to elevate Justice K M Joseph to the apex court and asked it to reconsider it.

“Indian judiciary is in danger. And if our judiciary is not united to protect its independence then democracy is in danger…. they want to pack High Courts with their won people,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told reporters at New Delhi.

Sibal said that there are 410 vacancies of judges across the country out of the total approved strength of 1079 judges.

“We want to know as to who will stand for judicial independence. Will the judiciary speak in one voice that enough is enough,” he said.

Kapil Sibal is right, but somebody should remind him of the record of Congress, particularly during the reign of Indira (Durga) Gandhi ?
Man in Blue

Independence of judiciary is in danger, says Congress

The Tribune – Indian doctors in UK hailed for their contribution to NHS

London – UK, 26 April 2018. Indian doctors in the UK who have worked for decades in Britain’s National Health Service were on Thursday hailed for their contribution and building up the country’s healthcare system.

Britain’s Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) launched a new exhibition to pay tribute to the Indian doctors who were the very “lifeblood” of the National Health Service (NHS) and were amongst its “architects”.

‘Migrants Who Made the NHS’ is a celebration of thousands of doctors who came from South Asia to keep the UK’s state-funded NHS afloat by working as general practitioners in some of the most deprived and far-flung areas of the country between the 1940s and 1980s.

“General practice in the UK would not be what it is today without the hard work, innovation, and courage of our predecessors, and their dedication to delivering high-quality patient care. Indeed, without them, our profession and the NHS might not even exist at all,” said Professor Mayur Lakhani, President of the RCGP.

“Not only were they doctors, but they became highly-valued members of the communities in which they practised. Whilst many faced incredible challenges, our exhibition also documents the overwhelmingly positive and lifelong relationships they forged with their patients,” he said.

The exhibition, at the headquarters of the college in central London, marks the 70th anniversary year of the NHS and comes at a time when there is growing debate around its future staffing and funding needs.

Based on the book ‘Migrant architects of the NHS: South Asian doctors and the reinvention of British general practice (1940s-1980s)’ by Dr Julian M Simpson, the new exhibition draws on archival research, photographs and oral history interviews with 40 general practitioners who moved to Britain from South Asia during that period, including some who are still practising today.

“It’s important to also remember that the National Health Service was established to make healthcare accessible to those who could not afford it. And for millions of people, particularly in working-class communities across Britain, accessing that care meant going to see a GP from the Indian subcontinent,” said Simpson.

“Doctors from the Indian sub-continent were therefore not just contributing to the NHS, they were its very lifeblood. We should acknowledge they were amongst the architects of the NHS,” he notes.

By the 1980s, around 16 per cent of general practitioners working in the NHS had been born in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. They were responsible for delivering patient care to around a sixth of the British population. In some areas they made up more than half of the general practitioners population.

“The NHS evolved during its first four decades into a system based around general practice and primary care. By becoming family doctors, South Asian doctors prevented a general practitioners recruitment crisis. Through their work, they shaped the field as it transformed itself into the cornerstone of the British healthcare system,” Simpson explains.

The new exhibition is aimed at demonstrating how doctors from the Indian sub-continent kept the family doctor service thriving in the UK, particularly for patients in working-class and inner-city areas.

The South Asian doctors filled the void largely created by UK doctors choosing to work overseas, and before general practice gained belated recognition as a medical specialty on par with hospital medicine.

Britain was a popular choice for South Asian doctors to practise medicine during the 1940s-80s, given the well-established links built during the British Empire. Medical training in the Indian subcontinent remained heavily under British influence after independence.

The lack of UK-trained doctors wanting to work as general practitioners meant that it was an area of medicine where South Asian doctors could build good careers, the RCGP notes.

This was particularly the case in poor, industrial areas where patient demand was high but general practitioners recruitment was difficult, and as a result, the presence of overseas general practitioners became very concentrated.

There was also a wider impact and influence of migration from the Indian subcontinent on British medicine. There are today 1,724 doctors with the common Indian surname Patel on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) list of registered medical practitioners, only slightly fewer than doctors with the common British surname of Smith (1,750).

South Asian doctors often faced discrimination, racial and sexual, when applying for jobs and the exhibition also looks at the adversity they came up against.

The Royal College of General Practitioners is Britain’s professional membership body with a network of more than 52,000 family doctors. (PTI)

Gent: Koningin Astrid Park – Herberg Macharius – Kazematten Moskee

Koningin Astrid Park
27 February 2018


Ferdinand Lousbergskaai

Many crocuses

Herberg Macharius – Kazematten Moskee
27 February 2018

Herberg Macharius – Coyendanspark

Eyüp Sultan Moskee – Kazemattenstraat

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – History revisited: Why was Kamal Nath with a mob that burnt two Sikhs alive at a gurudwara in 1984?

Excerpts from a book that questions the role played by the newly-appointed chief of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee in leading a mob in the 1984 carnage., 26 April 2018. Rakab Ganj Gurudwara, despite being across the street from Parliament House, was subjected to a prolonged siege in which its periphery was damaged, and two Sikhs were roasted alive.

The attack on Rakab Ganj Gurudwara was also remarkable for the fact that it was probably the first, and so far, the only instance in the history of mass violence in India, where a political leader admitted to being on the spot. And such an instance ironically occurred in the immediate vicinity of India’s parliament.

The leader in question was Kamal Nath, who was at the time of the 1984 carnage, an up and coming Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh, and is now a cabinet minister holding a key economic portfolio in the Manmohan Singh government. In a siege that lasted over five hours, Kamal Nath is said to have been there for over two hours.

Given the strategic location of Rakab Ganj Gurudwara, Kamal Nath’s presence there was confirmed by two of the senior-most officers, Commissioner Subhash Tandan, and Additional Commissioner Guatam Kaul, as also by an independent source, The Indian Express reporter, Sanjay Suri.

This is more than could be said about any of the Congress MPs from Delhi, whether HKL Bhagat, Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar or Dharam Dass Shastri, as the charge of their complicity was based entirely on the testimony of victims…

That he [Nath] was there at all, for whatever reason, was extraordinary, given that the other Congress leaders were discreet enough not to hobnob with mobs in places where they were liable to be noticed by journalists…

Since Kamal Nath spent two hours in front of Rakab Ganj Gurudwara on November 1, The Indian Express reported the next day that he had led the mob. The inference of his complicity was no reflex action, as made clear by journalist, Sanjay Suri, in his report as also in his affidavit before the Misra Commission, and oral deposition before the Nanavati Commission.

Suri found that Kamal Nath was “controlling the crowd” which he said was “looking to him for directions.” Though he could not vouch for what exactly Kamal Nath had told the crowd, Suri said that “some mobs had charged at the gurdwara” in the Congress leader’s presence.

Equally significant, he testified that while all that drama was going on, the bodies of those Sikhs were “still burning on the roadside.”

Thus, the Rakab Ganj Gurdwara episode provided the first and perhaps the only contemporaneous report of a Congress leader’s involvement in the carnage. A day later, on November 3, The Statesman referred to Kamal Nath’s presence at Rakab Ganj while analysing the carnage: “Policemen criticised the role of politicians too.

Several councillors, they alleged, interceded on behalf of violent mobs when policemen tried to stop arson. Officers wondered what Mr Kamal Nath was doing at Rakab Ganj.”

Such public exposure of Kamal Nath ensured that Tandan and Kaul had no option but to admit his presence at Rakab Ganj, in their reports, which were placed before the two judicial inquiries. Incidentally, Kaul disclosed that Kamal Nath had turned up at Rakab Ganj saying that he had been sent by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

And when Kamal Nath himself was served a notice by the Nanavati Commission almost two decades later, by when he had become commerce minister in the Manmohan Singh government, he too acknowledged his presence at the scene of crime.

But Kamal Nath, of course, denied the allegations of journalist Sanjay Suri; and victim, Mukhtiar Singh, that he had led the mob or had any control over it.

The Nanavati Commission on its part held that Kamal Nath’s reply was “vague”. The Congress MP was unable to explain why he was in front of the gurdwara for about two hours, which, as the commission said, was “quite a long time”.

The commission also found it “a little strange that he left the place abruptly without even contacting the police officers who had come there.” If he still escaped indictment, and the Manmohan Singh government averted a major embarrassment, they should consider themselves lucky.

Reversing a principle of accountability, the commission chose to limit the blame for the entire Rakab Ganj episode to the junior-most police officer on the spot, Sub-Inspector Hoshiar Singh, and his constables.

The commission did not deign to explain how the buck stopped with the lowly sub-inspector, when the two senior-most officers of Delhi Police, Tandan and Kaul, were directly involved in an operation in which the siege went on for five hours, the gurdwara was damaged, and two Sikhs were killed, and yet, no action was taken against any member of the mob.

But then, had it extended the responsibility to those senior officers, as was logically expected of it, the commission could not possibly have spared Kamal Nath either.

To be fair, the commission did not quite exonerate Kamal Nath. “In (the) absence of better evidence,” it said, “it is not possible for the commission to say that he had in any manner instigated the mob or that he was involved in the attack on the gurdwara.” In other words, it only gave him the benefit of the doubt. And it did so mainly on two grounds.

Since he was called upon to explain his conduct at Rakab Ganj Gurdwara after a gap of about twenty years, the commission felt that “probably for that reason he was not able to give more details as regards when and how he went there and what he did”.

But then, by that logic, the commission could well have let off other leaders too, which it did not. The likes of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar cannot be blamed if they felt that the commerce minister got preferential treatment although the evidence against him was stronger.

The other major ground cited by the Nanavati Commission to let him off was, ironically, the very testimony that damned him the most: namely, the evidence adduced by journalist Sanjay Suri. The independent witness who corroborated the allegation of victims that Kamal Nath had led the mob at Rakabganj was also found to have said a thing or two in his favour.

The commission held that it would “not be proper” to come to any conclusion against the MP since “Shri Suri has said that Shri Kamal Nath had tried to persuade the mob to disperse and the mob had retreated for some time.” That was, however, a selective reading of Suri’s evidence.

He did say in his affidavit of 1985 that he had seen Kamal Nath keeping some of the members of the crowd “under some control” when they made “weak attempts” to enter the gurdwara. But the same affidavit disclosed that what he had seen outside the gurdwara was “a crowd of about 4,000 men led by Congress-I leader Kamal Nath.”

Further, when he deposed orally in 2001 before the Nanavati Commission, Suri said that Kamal Nath “was controlling the crowd and the crowd was looking to him for directions” and that even in the leader’s presence “some mobs had charged at the gurdwara”.

On balance, there was enough evidence before the commission to recommend a CBI probe into his role.

Having spent two hours with the mob in front of Rakabganj Gurdwara, having done nothing to help the two Sikhs lying in a critical condition, having allowed the mob and the police to carry on with their hostilities against the targeted community, Kamal Nath was clearly part of the problem, not the solution.

The unanswered questions about his role in the Rakabganj Gurdwara episode might well hold the key to uncovering the high-level conspiracy behind the 1984 carnage.

Dawn – PTM, tribal jirga agree to continue dialogue process

Ibrahim Shinwari

Landi Kotal – Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) – Pakistan, 26 April 2018. Representatives of the Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and members of a tribal and political jirga resolved on Wednesday to continue the process of dialogue.

This was the outcome of the latest round of talks between the PTM and the jirga at the Jamrud residence of Haji Shahji Gul, the MNA from Khyber tribal region. The session’s date and venue were decided between the two sides during their first round of talks on April 18 in Peshawar.

The PTM was represented by its leaders Manzoor Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar and Bilal Mehsud while the jirga comprised all parliamentarians from tribal areas, two tribal elders from every tribal agency (most of them pro-government), some elders from the frontier regions and provincial minister Shah Farman and PML-N MNA Dr Ebad, representing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments, respectively.

In next stage, jirga will meet representatives of state institutions and convey to them PTM demands

The jirga was constituted at the last week’s meeting of the Apex Committee presided over by KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and attended by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Corps Commander of Peshawar Lt General Nazir Ahmad Butt and civil and military officials.

The jirga operates under the supervision of Governor Jhagra and has the support of the military leadership to engage with the PTM and help resolve the issues raised by the organisation.

The talks continued for over two hours during which almost all demands of the PTM were discussed.

Later talking to reporters at the conclusion of the talks, Shahji Gul said that the jirga members found all demands of the PTM legitimate and constitutional.

“We thank the PTM team for their readiness to hold talks with the tribal jirga in accordance with the Constitution and supreme law of the land,” Shahji Gul said, adding that the three-member PTM team had sought some time for consultation with their comrades to decide about the date and venue of next round of the talks.

In the next stage of the consultation, he said, the jirga would meet representatives of state institutions concerned and convey to them the PTM demands and any progress made in the dialogue till then.

The MNA said that “state institutions” had given them an assurance that they would extend all possible cooperation in sorting out all thorny issues and address legitimate demands of the PTM.

“We believe that their grievances are justified. Our doors are open for engagement,” a security official said.

PTM leader Dawar said that they would resume the dialogue process once they took consent of their comrades who could not attend Wednesday’s jirga session.

He said that his organisation would tell the jirga about the next round of talks after they got approval from the PTM cadre.

“We will also give our opinion to the jirga about the state representatives with whom talks should be held and the procedure to be adopted for these negotiations,” Mr Dawar said.

However, he expressed his dissatisfaction over the attitude of the government with PTM workers and urged the jirga members to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence.

He also reiterated the PTM stance on holding public gatherings in Swat, Karachi and other cities of the country.

Earlier on his arrival at the venue of jirga, PTM top leader Manzoor Pashteen once again made it clear that he or his comrades had never demanded unconditional recovery and release of all missing persons.

He said that presenting the missing persons in a court of law was a constitutional obligation to which the state institutions must agree.

About implementation of reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, he said that before introduction of any reforms in the region, the government should constitute a ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ to investigate excesses committed with the Pakhtun people in the name of military operations.

Officials say that this was not the first meeting of its kind between the PTM and civil and military officials. A senior security official said the PTM leaders had earlier met the general officer commanding of 9 Division followed by another meeting with the district and provincial administration officials in Peshawar.