Remembrance March & Freedom Rally – London UK, 3 June 2018

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The Indian Express – To scan movies on Sikhism, Akal Takht Jathedar forms 21-member ‘censor board’

This announcement to form the censor board came after a huge controversy that had erupted last month over the release of movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, based on life of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2018. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has formed a 21-member ‘censor board’ to scrutinise movies related to Sikhism. Akal Takht Jathedar has also asked movie makers to take approval for movies related to Sikhism.

However, there is no name on the board which is directly related to filed of making movies.

Prominent members include Giani Harpreet Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, Partap Singh, representative Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, some Sikh scholars including Balkar Singh, Professor Amarjit Singh, Dr Gurmeet Singh Sidhu, Professor Sarabjit Singh, Dr Sarabjinder Singh and Dr Harpal Singh Pannu.

Religious bodies Damdami Taksal, Tarna Dal and Budha Dal have also secured seats on the panel. This announcement to form the censor board came after a huge controversy that had erupted last month over the release of movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, based on life of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

Though initially the SGPC had cleared the movie produced by Harinder Sikka for screening in theatres, the body revoked its approval at the last moment sparking controversy.

Sikka was excommunicated after he declined to accept last minute order of SGPC and Akal Takht to remove the movie from theaters that released on April 14.

To settle the issues related to release of such movies made on Sikhism, Akal Takht Jathedar said: “We have formed the censor board due to repeated controversy erupting over movies made on Sikhism. This censor board will assure that every side is heard properly.”

He added: “It would be a must for the movie makers to get approval from censor board for any movie related to Sikhism.”

Censor board will not be the final authority on such matters and it will submit its reports to Akal Takht Jathedar for a final decision.

While this censor board will have no legal authority, however Akal Takht Jathedar has issued directions for the movie makers saying it would be mandatory for them to seek permission of Akal Takht whenever they make any movie on Sikhism.

When I first was taught about Sikhism I understood that we stood for freedom of expression
An advisory board would be acceptable, a censor board should be anathema to Sikhs

Man in Blue

http://www.sikh24.com/2018/05/20/gst-on-langar-likely-to-get-lifted-during-next-days/#.WwWlqCC-nIU

Sikh24.com – GST on ‘Langar’ likely to get lifted during next days

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 20 May 1981. Reliable sources have revealed that the Union government of India is all set to lift centre’s share in GST being imposed on ‘langar’. Notification in this concern might be issued any time in coming days.

Sources have informed that the Union Cabinet had already given nod to this move, but the issuing of notification in this concern was delayed due to engagement of the entire Indian cabinet in Karnataka’s state polls. It is learnt that Union minister Piyush Goyal is working on it in the absence of Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Sikh24 has learnt that the new amendment in GST imposition will not only exempt ‘langar’ being served by the religious bodies instead all the organizations serving free food daily to minimum 1000 persons from the last five years will also be availed this benefit.

If this notification gets released, then GST on ‘langar’ of Sri Harmandr Sahib will automatically get ended as the state government of Punjab had already waived off its share.

http://www.sikh24.com/2018/05/20/gst-on-langar-likely-to-get-lifted-during-next-days/#.WwWlqCC-nIU

Leuven NMBS – From Gent to Zelzate and Sas van Gent (NL)

Leuven NMBS
09 April 2018


Inside the double-decker train


Siemens egine 1802 pulling double-decker carriages
16:04 IC train to Kortrijk

To Zelzate and Sas van Gent (NL)
Vijfwindgatenstraat
12 April 2018


Gent – Vijfwindgatenstraat
Waiting for bus 55 to Zelzate


Tram 4 to Muide


Three of the 21 buses that serve this stop

Zelzate Klein Rusland
12 April 2018


Zelzate – Klein Rusland
Connexxion bus 6 to Terneuzen (NL)
De Lijn buses 55 and 56

To see all my pictures:

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

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Barficulture.tv – Winter is coming: Why Sikhs need to prepare for the imminent storm

Sikhs in the diaspora need to get ready

Sunny Hundal

London – UK, 20 May 2018. Winter is coming, Jon Snow frequently warned in Game of Thrones. I feel a bit like that sometimes.

Sikhs are a small global community, closely connected to each other through blood, tradition, history and, of course, the internet. And so I want to say that ‘winter is coming’.

The global Sikh community is about to face new challenges and we need to prepare for them.

A few weeks ago I was invited by the World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada to speak with others on how we could challenge the negative media coverage Canadian Sikhs had been receiving. But the challenges that Sikhs now face are global, not just in Canada.

I don’t look like a Sikh, nor do I claim to be an expert on Sikhi.

In fact my knowledge of Sikhi is terrible. But I am a keen observer of politics. So I’m offering my views as neither a ‘Sikh leader’ nor with aspirations to be one. I am offering these warnings, suggestions and ideas for debate.

The first storm: tensions between Sikhs and the Indian government will grow again

India’s BJP government knows the power of the diaspora.

They knew it in 2002 when UK groups were exposed as sending money to fund hate. They learned more in 2003 when American charities helping the BJP were investigated.

They saw its power when the diaspora lobbied to ban Narendra Modi from entering the UK and USA. They knew its power when they tapped British and American Gujaratis for money and for the 2014 elections.

So Narendra Modi knows that a clash with Sikhs abroad is inevitable.

The Sikh diaspora, unafraid of the Indian government, will keep demanding justice for 1984 and highlight human rights violations. To neutralise such accusations the PM of India has repeatedly accused Sikhs of funding terrorism without proof (in 2015 and 2018, in UK and Canada).

This clash won’t just continue but is likely to grow as the Sikh diaspora matures and becomes more powerful (as I wrote a few months ago).

Modi also knows a clash with Sikhs in India is inevitable.

The party has already whipped up hate against Muslims (in UP, Bihar, Karnataka), and Dalits and Christians for elections.

Why should they spare Sikhs? They want to win elections in Punjab too.

I know it sounds a little bit paranoid, except their script is already playing out in public: The BJP line is that Khalistani terrorists are targeting Hindus and being funded by Pakistan and Sikhs abroad.

The evidence doesn’t exist. But the narrative splits Sikhs and makes Hindus rally to the party. The Congress reaction in Punjab has been to look tougher by promising a bigger crackdown on Khalistanis. The over-blown case around Jagtar Singh Johal looks like a prime example of this strategy.

While the British media largely ignored India’s silly claims, but the Canadian media did not. This effort by the Indian government is only going to intensify, and its aim will be to split the Sikh community.

Why is this suddenly a bigger issue now? Because Modi’s right-wing government is ruthless and its RSS arm has long wanted to absorb Sikhi in its fold.

And because Canadian and British Sikhs have been thrust into the political limelight since 2015.

The second storm: More hostility and tension in the west

Canadian Sikhs are also facing increasing hostility (example 1, example 2) because of this new limelight.

Sikhs are a much larger proportion of the Canadian population (500k out of 30 million) than in the UK (500k out of 65m) or the United States (700k out of 325m). And they are concentrated in certain cities in Canada, so they are more influential during elections.

Every minority group including Catholics and Jews has faced similar treatment in the past, so Sikhs are not alone in that. American Muslims are going through those pains right now. So we have to be prepared for it.

But there are added complications for Sikhs, just like Muslims face.

First, Some leftists and liberals think Sikhs threaten secularism because they are visibly religious (unlike Catholics and Jews). This is a European attitude prominent in France and Quebec.

It’s also why Jagmeet Singh faced some hostility in Quebec. Its an attitude Britain could also develop over time as most people drift away from religion.

Secondly, the British and Canadian media have an inbuilt aversion to any political movement that talks about ‘separatism’ (because of Scotland and Quebec), which is what Khalistan sounds like to them. If they equate Sikh political activism with demanding Khalistan they will naturally be hostile to it.

Think I’m exaggerating? The recent Canadian media coverage has led to protests like this below. Expect these people to grow.

So how should Sikhs respond? Here are some of my suggestions, in brief.

1. Sikhs need infrastructure

Canadian Sikhs are not complacent. They have faced a suspicious media for years so they have advocacy groups such as the World Sikh Organization. The WSO talks the language of human rights and they have been building strong links with other communities for years. The Sikh Coalition in the US has been doing the same.

In contrast, British Sikh groups aren’t as well mobilised, connected or resourced. The Sikh Press Association is one attempt at changing that (which I support), but British Sikhs are nowhere near ready for what is coming.

Sikhs don’t need more Gurdwaras, they need think-tanks, advocacy groups, research organisations. They need Political Action Committees. The coming challenges we face cannot be overcome with guns or praying, but through our brains.

We need to build an infrastructure that is democratic, transparent and accountable. We need to build institutions that can last, institutions that are representative of the gender and cultural diversity of our communities.

We need organisations that will create the leaders of tomorrow. Every other significantly-sized minority community in Britain has such organisations. Except Sikhs. This has to change.

2. Sikhs need to get much better at internal disagreement

I understand why many Sikhs worry about the Indian government. But this has also had a destructive impact on internal debate.

A community that cannot have a vigorous and healthy disagreement becomes oppressive. It becomes stale and decayed. Sikhs cannot go down that path.

A Sikh community that allows disagreement is more unified than one where different views are suppressed. It sounds paradoxical but its true. We are a global community spread out all over the world and we come into contact with different ideas, cultures and people.

Maintaining cohesion in coming generations won’t be easy. It can only be done by accepting different views rather than trying to drive them out. (I’m not arguing for allowing alcohol and meat at Gurdwaras!).

What do I mean by this?

I mean theological differences should not lead to someone’s turban being knocked off at a Gurdwara. It should not mean that inter-faith marriages get disrupted by threats.

I also mean we should tolerate views we may disagree with or find offensive… Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life for the right of Hindus to practise their faith even if the Mughal emperor found them offensive.

The ninth Guru stood up for free speech and freedom of religion, why can’t we? Yet Sikhs protested a positive movie about Guru Nanak!

Sikhs really need to develop a thicker skin.. Barfi Culture was criticised just for publishing this story on how a disabled Sikh felt let down by Slough Gurdwara. Since then I’ve heard many more similar stories from other disabled Sikhs. Should their voices be silenced? Sikhs cannot have an healthy internal debate without a free exchange of views.

3. Sikhs have to better communicate with the outside world

It’s worth emphasising again how little the outside world knows about Sikhs. Changing this had become my brother Jagraj Singh’s mission. He made videos in Spanish, Chinese and other languages so people would hear what Sikhi was about in their language.

Sikhs have to do the same with English. And we have to get better at communicating that through the media. That doesn’t mean issuing more press releases, it means talking to people in a language they understand.

Politically, this means our language has to become universal: human rights not just Sikh rights. We have to stand with other minority groups when they are attacked. Build solidarity.

We also have to stop being hostile towards the western media and see it as a necessary channel of communication, even if we cannot control it. Some of the bad coverage Sikhs get could be improved merely through better media communication and less hostility.

Lastly

I have no intention of becoming a media spokesperson for the Sikh community, I genuinely don’t. I’m a firm believer that lots of Sikh voices should be represented in the mainstream, even if they disagree with each other.

But I do support Sikh politicisation. Our community has become too obsessed with money and success, rather than wielding our power and using our brains and knowledge for the good of the world.

Just before he fell deeply ill, Jagraj Singh said something important: “Guru Sahib has told us, where ever we are, take hold of power and change!

For whom? Change not for our benefit but, working for the benefit of everyone. Giving food, giving justice to everyone. Sikhs are the ones who are willing to put their lives on the line to give other people freedom.”

I believe its time we paid more attention to that goal.

http://barficulture.tv/politics/223

Dawn – Mother convicted in UK of tricking daughter into forced marriage in Pakistan

London – UK, 23 May 2018. A mother was convicted in a British court on Tuesday of deceiving her teenage daughter into travelling to Pakistan to enter into a forced marriage, in the first successful prosecution of its kind.

The woman, who cannot be named without uncovering the identity of her daughter, was found guilty following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court where a jury heard how the girl had sobbed as she was wedded to a male relative 16 years her senior, the same man who had sex with her and left her pregnant on an earlier trip.

The then 13-year-old had to undergo an abortion on returning from Pakistan to Britain, but concerns over the girl’s welfare were allayed by her mother who said the pregnancy was a result of “two teenagers who had sneakily had sex”, prosecutors said.

Jurors heard how as the girl approached her 18th birthday she was tricked by her mother into returning to Pakistan on what she was told would be a family holiday.

The couple were then married in September 2016 despite objections from the girl, before she was returned to Britain with the assistance of the Home Office and her mother was arrested in January 2017.

The mother was convicted on a charge of deceiving the victim into travelling abroad to enter into a forced marriage, the first conviction of its kind, as well as for the forced marriage itself and for perjury, after she lied about the incident in the High Court, where she was summoned when concerns were raised by authorities.

As the verdicts were read the defendant appeared shocked and was remanded in custody for sentencing on Wednesday, as her daughter watched from the public gallery.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC told the jury the adjournment was appropriate as the case was “entirely novel”, with no other relevant case law to rely upon.

“Forcing someone into marriage against their wishes is a criminal offence, and a breach of their human rights,” said Elaine Radway of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“It is thanks to the brave testimony of the victim that this serious offending was uncovered and that there was sufficient evidence to secure the conviction today.” The new offence of forced marriage came into effect in June 2014, but prosecutions have been rare.

However the Forced Marriage Unit, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office team, provided support to about 1,200 potential cases in 2017, a government spokesman said, making Britain a “world leader” in tackling the problem.

Sikh parents better beware ! Do not play such foul tricks on your children.
Arranged marriages are fine as long as the young couple has the final say in the matter.
Man in Blue

https://www.dawn.com/news/1409400/mother-convicted-in-uk-of-tricking-daughter-into-forced-marriage-in-pakistan