BBC News – Assam register: Four million risk losing India citizenship

India has published a list which effectively strips about four million people in the north-eastern state of Assam of their citizenship

Guwahati – Assam – India, 30 July 2018. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh declared independence.

India says the process is needed to identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

But it has sparked fears of a witch hunt against Assam’s ethnic minorities.

Fearing violence, officials say that no-one will face immediate deportation.

They say that a lengthy appeal process will be available to all, even if it means millions of families will live in limbo until they get a final decision on their legal status.

Who is affected?

Millions of people fled to neighbouring India after Bangladesh declared itself an independent country from Pakistan on 26 March 1971, sparking a bitter war. Many of the refugees settled in Assam.

Under the Assam Accord, an agreement signed by then PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, all those who cannot prove that they came to the north-eastern state before 24 March 1971 will be deleted from electoral rolls and expelled as they are not considered legitimate citizens.

More than 32 million people submitted documents to the NRC to prove they were citizens, but four million of them have been excluded from the published list.

Many Bengalis, a linguistic minority in Assam, are worried they will be deported en masse.

Hasitun Nissa, who spoke to the BBC’s Joe Miller days before the list was published, said she had never known a home outside the state’s floodplains.

It is where the 47-year-old schoolteacher spent her childhood, where she studied, where she got married and where she had her four children.

She said her family arrived in India before 1971 but she expected to be stripped of her Indian citizenship and feared her land rights, voting rights and freedom would be in peril.

Are Bengalis being targeted?

Activists say the NRC is now being used as a pretext for a two-pronged attack,by Hindu nationalists and Assamese hardliners, on the state’s Bengali community, a large portion of whom are Muslims.

Like Hasitun, many Bengalis live in the wetlands dotted along the Bramaputra river, moving around when water levels rise. Their paperwork, if it exists, is often inaccurate.

Officials claim illegal Bangladeshis are enmeshed in the Bengali population, often hiding in plain sight with forged papers, and a thorough examination of all documents is the only way to find them.

But Bengali campaigner Nazrul Ali Ahmed is adamant that the NRC is serving another agenda entirely.

“It is nothing but a conspiracy to commit atrocities,” he told the BBC.

“They are openly threatening to get rid of Muslims, and what happened to the Rohingya in Myanmar, could happen to us here.”

Such alarming comparisons are dismissed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which emphasises that the NRC is an apolitical task, overseen by the country’s secular Supreme Court.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-45002549

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Sikh24.com – Rulda Singh murder case: Bhai Tara and Bhai Goldy presented before Patiala Court

By Sikh24 Editors

Patiala – Panjab – India, 28 July 2018. In a case pertaining to the murder of former RSS’ State President Rulda “Singh”, the political Sikh prisoners Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara and Bhai Ramandeep Singh Goldy were presented before the Court of Additional District & Session Judge Dharminder Paul Singla in Patiala on July 26.

Notably, the duo Sikh youths are being tried in this case after deporting them from Malaysia and Thailand.

During the case proceedings, the statements of prosecution witnesses DSP Gurdev Singh Dhaliwal and DSP Rajesh Chhibar were recorded. However, the Court couldn’t record the statement of the wife of deceased Rulda “Singh” due to her ill physique. The statements of two other witnesses were recorded by the Court in this case.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Court has deferred next hearing in the case onto August 16.

Rulda “Singh” was the state chief of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) in Punjab. He was shot at outside his home on 28 July 2009 immediately after his return from England. He was rushed to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER) where he succumbed on August 18, 2009.

http://www.sikh24.com/2018/07/28/rulda-murder-case-bhai-tara-and-bhai-goldy-presented-before-patiala-court/#.W18zTbh9jIU

Gent: Gentbrugge Schooldreef – Zonnestraat – Ketelvaart – De Krook

Gentbrugge Schooldreef
24 June 2018


Schooldreef – Tram 2 to Zwijnaarde
New Tram Platform

Zonnestraat
25 June 2018


PCC on special duty

Ketelvaart
25 June 2018


Palace of Justice


Bridge connecting Koophandelsplein with Nederkouter


Tram 1 to/from Sint-Pieters and Flanders Expo

De Krook
25 June 2018


New De Krook Bridge

To see all my pictures:

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

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

CBS News – Radio hosts suspended for calling state official “turban man”

New York – State of New York – USA, 28 July 2018. The hosts of a popular New Jersey radio show were suspended for 10 days Thursday for calling the nation’s first Sikh attorney general “turban man” – the latest slur against a career prosecutor who says he faces countless “small indignities and humiliations” no matter how far he rises or how important his position.

WKXW-FM hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco issued a written apology to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Sikh and East Asian communities, writing they were “deeply sorry” for the pain they caused.

The station also apologized and suspended the pair without pay until 06 August 3018.

This is not the first indignity I’ve faced and it probably won’t be the last. Sometimes, I endure it alone. Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance. It’s an issue I addressed at @APAICS conference this May: pic.twitter.com/XnxJp53cxv
— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018

Grewal addressed the “indignity” in a pair of tweets shortly after it emerged, noting that it was not the first time he’d been subjected to racism and wouldn’t likely be the last.

He thanked other officials from the state for having “my back – and the backs of all New Jerseyans,” and posted a clip of a speech he gave earlier in the year in which he specifically addressed the need to end “small-minded intolerance.”

Thank you to @GovMurphy, @NJSenatePres, @CoryBooker, @RaviBhalla & so many others for your support last night. You’ve got my back – and the backs of all New Jerseyans.

Others have faced far worse. We rise above this. Now let’s get back to business. pic.twitter.com/f2TqL4vzB5
— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/djs-dennis-malloy-judi-franco-suspended-new-jersey-attorney-general-gurbir-grewal-turban-man/

Dawn – PTI claims it has numbers to form government at Centre and in Punjab

Fahad Chaudhry

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 30 July 2018. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has claimed that it has the support of a sufficient number of lawmakers to form governments in both the Centre and Punjab.

Party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, while addressing the media on Monday evening, claimed that the party had secured the backing of 168 out of the nearly 328-330 lawmakers returned to the National Assembly in the July 25 election (after counting the allocation of reserved seats).

Fawad Chaudhry claims PTI has the numbers to form the Federal and the Punjab governments.

Out of the house of 342, Chaudhry noted that around 10 seats would be vacated by candidates successful from more than one constituency, and that the remaining two seats had had their elections postponed.

The numbers are to be secured with the help of independents (seven seats), MQM-Pakistan (six seats), PML-Q (four seats), the Balochistan Awami Party (two seats) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (two seats).

The PML-Q has declared its support after settling on a “formula” with PTI, under which it will be given ministries in the center and Punjab. Talks with MQM-Pakistan are still ongoing, Chaudhry said. Jahangir Tareen is headed to Karachi to negotiate terms.

Punjab

The PTI has also claimed it has the numbers to form the Punjab government, and that the chief minister will be from the PTI.

For a simple majority, one needs the support of at least 149 directly elected MPAs out of 297 general members to form government in the largest province of the country in terms of population.

The breakdown of the party’s lead in Punjab is not clear as yet, but the party claims the support of 180 lawmakers, including reserved seats.

Earlier, in a meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan, MPAs-elect Saeed Akbar Niwani from PP-90 Bhakkar, Ameer Muhammad Khan from PP-89 Bhakkar and Fida Wattoo from Bahawalnagar had announced they would lend their support for the PTI, a press release by the party’s Central Media Department said.

Abdul Hai Dasti from PP-270 Muzaffargarh, who had announced his support for PTI on Sunday also met Khan.

After the July 25 vote, the PML-N has emerged as the single-largest party in the Punjab Assembly with 129 seats, while the PTI has a tally of 123. The PML-Q has eight MPAs after the joining of an independent member, while the PPP has six. There are 28 independents in all.

The PML-N claims support of nine independent candidates, but has not made their names public. Its efforts to woo the PPP and PML-Q are proving futile. It had assigned National Assembly former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq the task of persuading the ‘Q’ leadership to support ‘N’ in the race for the chief minister’s office.

The PTI leadership claims it is closing in on its goal of 149 seats in the Punjab Assembly. It has so far mustered the support of 13 independents, taking its tally to 136 — seven more than the PML-N’s total. Four independents joined the party on Saturday and six others on Sunday.

Expecting to rope in 10 more independents in the next two days and with the support of PML-Q’s eight seats, the PTI leaders had been tweeting “Game over for PML-N”.

Meanwhile, the PTI also managed to garner the support of two independent Members of National Assembly-elects. MNAs-elect Sanaullah Mastikhel from Bhakkar and Ghaffar Wattoo from Bahawalnagar announced joining the party after calling on Imran Khan. PTI’s senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen was present at the meeting.

According to the press release, the PTI chairman welcomed the MNAs and MPAs-elect into the party.

As per figures provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PTI has emerged as the largest political party in the country, winning 115 of the 270 National Assembly seats on which the elections were held. The party, however, is short of the 137 needed for simple majority even.

PTI leadership has now decided to reach out to other smaller groups and independents since the party has already declared that it will not join hands with the PPP and the PML-N. There are 13 independents who have won NA seats, and PTI claims to have the support of at least three of them.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1423845/pti-claims-it-has-numbers-to-form-govt-at-centre-punjab

Tolo News – Ghani invites Imran Khan to visit Kabul

Kabul – Afghanistan, 29 July 2018. The president reportedly called Pakistan’s prime minister-elect this weekend to congratulate him on his election win.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Naeemul Haque on Sunday said President Ashraf Ghani has invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan to visit Kabul, according to a Geo news report.

“The Afghan president telephoned Imran (Khan) and congratulated him over his victory in the 2018 General Elections,” Haque said while addressing the media in Islamabad.

“Ghani told Imran that Pakistan and Afghanistan have historic relations and invited him for a tour of the country,” he said.

Haque further said that the PTI chief informed the Afghan president that he will visit Kabul once he assumes power.

Further, the PTI leader urged Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Maulana Fazlur Rehman to not boycott parliament.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman should take back his decision that his elected candidates will not take the parliamentary oath in light of Imran’s vow to aid in probing opposition parties’ rigging allegations,” Haque told Geo News.

The PTI leader also said that the PTI is in talks with various political parties for support to form the government in the capital and in Punjab.

“We have the mandate to form governments in the Centre and Punjab,” he reiterated.

During his victory speech on Thursday Khan said: “We want to work in every possible way to ensure peace in Afghanistan. I would love an open border system like the EU with Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is that neighbour of ours that has seen the most human misery and damage in the name of wars. The people of Afghanistan need peace, and Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan.”

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/ghani-invites%C2%A0imran-khan-visit-kabul

The Tribune – Sydney gurdwara asked not to serve langar on tables

Amritsar, 28 July 2018. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has warned the management of Austral Gurdwara in Sydney against serving langar to the sangat on tables and chairs as it was against Sikh traditions.

In according with the “Gur-maryada”, he said, it was necessary to partake of langar in “pangat” (sitting in a line on the floor).

He said Sikh Gurus had directed their followers to partake of langar while sitting on the floor. He said it was highly objectionable that a group of Australian Sikhs were insisting on serving langar on tables and chairs, thereby changing a centuries-old tradition.

I prefer eating langar sitting on the floor, but the main principle that applies is: are all sitting together as equals ?
Many Gurdwaras now have high tables for eating standing, tables and chairs for elderly and disabled and mats on the floor for the main body of the sangat. If in this Gurdwara in New South Wales all are sitting as equals on chairs and at tables, might that not serve the Guru’s purpose better than the three tiered langar in Southall ?

Sikh Mission Centre
170 Ninth Avenue
, Austral –  New South Wales 2179
Australia

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sydney-gurdwara-asked-not-to-serve-langar-on-tables/628492.html

Gent – Kaatsspelplein – Vogelmarkt – Gentbrugge Schholdreef

Kaatsspelplein
Patershol
23 June 2018


Ladies dancing and indicating rhythm with wooden implements


I tried to get a good view of the wooden ‘thingies’
Does anybody know what these are called ?


This is the best view I managed

Politics, Food, music, dance and football !
(Belgium – Tunisia 5 – 2)

Vogelmarkt
24 June 2018


Tourists (before the heatwave)


Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

Gentbrugge Schooldreef
24 June 2018


Gentbrugge Schooldreef
Left tram 2 to Zwijnaarde
Right tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

To see all my pictures:

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

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Frontier Myanmar – Meet the Sikhs of Myitkyina

The Kachin State capital is home to a small and vibrant Sikh community that has long made an important contribution to business in the city

Emily Fishbein

Myitkyina – Kachin State – Myanmar, 28 July 2018, Sunday mornings are church time for many residents of Myitkyina. Yet, walking north along the Ayeyarwady River from the main market, it is not church hymns that passers-by can hear, but chanting, drumming and the distinctive sound of a harmonium.

Emanating from the windows of a temple’s golden-domed towers, the musical prayer forms part of the weekly gathering of the Kachin State capital’s small but vibrant Sikh community.

Comprising 43 families, 280 people all told, the Sikh community has lived in Myitkyina since it became the commercial and administrative capital of Kachin, and is actively involved in the local economy.

Daw Bhagwant Kaur believes she is 92 years old, making her the oldest Sikh in Myitkyina. She was born in Waingmaw, on the other side of the Ayeyarwady, and traces her ancestry to a soldier who served with the British army in colonial Burma before World War II.

He was posted to a town near Sadung on the border with China where he served for about 10 years before settling in Waingmaw, the region’s then capital, where he was joined by five siblings and established a business trading salt, fruit and other goods.

Many Sikhs in Myitkyina have similar stories about the arrival of their ancestors in Kachin. Hand-written records in the gurdwara show that the first Sikhs arrived in Kachin in about 1898 with the British military, after which some settled down and went into business.

The small Sikh community shared with others the hardship of World War II, including occupation by the Japanese. Baghwant Kaur said that during those six difficult years she and her family often fled to the jungle to escape the threat of violence.

Soon after World War II ended, Baghwant Kaur travelled to British India to visit relatives in the western province of Rawalpindi, which had a large Sikh population. Then came the upheaval and religious bloodshed that followed the partition of British India into the separate nations of India and Pakistan in 1947.

The Sikh population in Rawalpindi and elsewhere in Pakistan faced persecution and violence, and hundreds of thousands fled to India. Bhagwant Kaur returned to Kachin State, where she married and had six children. Many other members of the Sikh community in Myitkyina have parents or relatives who arrived from Rawalpindi in the aftermath of partition.

When Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948, the Kachin capital was shifted from Waingmaw to Myitkyina. The Sikh community was among those who moved and re-established their businesses and social roots in the new location.

After General Ne Win seized power in 1962, life became harder for members of non-indigenous communities like the Sikhs. Those of Indian descent were barred from higher education and faced other forms of discrimination as they came under pressure to emigrate.

At its peak, the Sikh community in Burma is believed to have numbered about 10,000, but has dwindled to between 2,000 and 3,000. Myitkyina has the biggest community outside Yangon and Mandalay, but there are also sizeable numbers of Sikhs in Lashio, Taunggyi, Mogok and Pyawbwe.

There are about 50 gurdwaras in Myanmar and the community adheres to the same beliefs and traditions as Sikhs everywhere. Sikhs follow the spiritual teachings of 10 consecutive gurus, or teachers, who lived from 1469 to 1708, and they consider their holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, as the final and eternal guru.

Sikhism centres on belief in one creator and the unity and equality of all humankind. Sikhs practise their faith through meditation and prayer, engaging in community service, striving for social justice, and practising honest conduct and livelihood.

According to custom, they do not cut their hair, in appreciation of the perfection of God’s creation; men are recognisable by full beards and the turban they wear to cover their hair.

The Sikh community in Myitkyina remains active and close-knit. Although many older Sikhs attend prayer services every morning and evening, the Sunday morning services throng with youth and families.

Sikhs do not have clergy and community members take turns leading the service, including singing, playing instruments, giving sermons and reading from the Guru Granth Sahib.

Among them is Ko Harmed Singh, 22, who has been interested from a young age in the baja, or harmonium, a keyboard with a hand-operated pump that is a core element of Sikh music.

Beginning in the Eighth Standard, when he was about 14, he began visiting the gurdwara each evening to take lessons from the granthi, a religious scholar who lives at the gurdwara and provides teaching and guidance to anyone who wishes to learn.

Harmed Singh, who claims to know more than 1,000 melodies by heart, is known by Sikhs throughout Myanmar for his musical talent.

After services, men and women of all generations often gather for cooking, socialising, and feasting on fragrant Indian poori, curries, sweets and hot milk tea.

These langar, or communal meals, form a central element of Sikh tradition. Gurdwaras are open to all faiths and it is not uncommon for Sikhs to invite non-Sikh friends to attend a service or join a langar.

To ensure that traditions are maintained through generations, classes are held at the gurdwara during summer holidays and many parents also teach their children at home.

However, proficiency in Punjabi, the native language of Sikhs and the language used for prayer, is in decline as each generation becomes more socially integrated and Burmese becomes the language of preference at home.

Throughout the generations, Sikhs have maintained positive business and social relations with the diverse ethnic and religious groups of Myitkyina.

Sikhs and non-Sikhs regularly get together for a meal or tea, or at tennis or football matches. Many electronics, auto-parts and indoor market shops are run by Sikhs, and their employees and customers are drawn from all communities.

The Sikhs in Myitkyina have maintained their cultural identity as a group while adapting, adjusting and, at times, assimilating with the wider community and by so doing, enriching the fabric of Kachin society.

https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/meet-the-sikhs-of-myitkyina

The Hindu – Imran Khan to be sworn in as Pakistan PM before August 14, says party

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 29 July 2018. Imran Khan will be sworn in as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister before the country’s independence day on August 14, his party has announced, even as it is trying to reach out to smaller parties and independents to form the next government.

Though the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly after the July 25 elections, the party is still short of numbers to form its government on its own.

PTI leader Naeenul Haq told media last night that consultations are on to complete the number game. “We have done our homework and he will take oath as Prime Minister before August 14,” Mr. Haq said.

According to the complete preliminary results announced by the ECP, the PTI has obtained 115 general seats — 12 short of a simple majority — while the PML-N and PPP have won 64 and 43 seats, respectively.

Pakistan’s National Assemby, the lower house of Parliament, comprises a total of 342 members, of which 272 are directly elected. A party can only form the government if it manages to secure 172 seats in total.

Meanwhile, political activities are at full swing and parties are holding open meetings and secret parleys to arrange the political chessboard.

Pakistan’s two major parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), are expected to meet in a couple of days to devise a joint strategy in a bid to give a tough time to the PTI in parliament, Dawn reported.

The Pakistani electronic media throughout the day on Saturday went through the names of possible candidates for key government offices and possible members of the federal cabinet.

The PTI leaders who have won more than one seat will have to vacate additional seats as the law allows an individual to retain only one seat. PTI chairman Khan has won five seats and he will have to vacate four seats.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan of Taxila has also won two NA seats by defeating former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and he will also have to vacate one seat.

Former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak has won both National Assembly and provincial assembly seats.

If the PTI decides to nominate him again for the office of the chief minister, he will also have to vacate the NA seat which means that the party’s seats will be reduced to 109.

It was after these calculations that the PTI leadership has now decided to reach out to other smaller groups and independents since the party has already declared that it will not join hands with the PPP and the PML-N, the daily said.

Dawn reported that Former secretary general of the PTI Jahangir Tareen had established contacts with independents and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which has won six seats. There are 13 independents who have won NA seats.

If the PTI obtains support of the GDA, MQM-P, PML-Q and the Awami Muslim League, the number of its seats will become 122 — still 15 short of the required numbers, which is more than the independents who have won the elections.

Other parties which will have representation in the NA are the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) with three members, and Jamhoori Watan Party, Awami National Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaniyat with one seat each.

Though the PPP and the PML-N have also rejected the elections results, sources in the two parties told Dawn that they would not support the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA)’s call for boycotting the oath-taking session of the National Assembly.

We have decided to play the role of an aggressive opposition in parliament, said a senior PML-N leader who had participated in the MMA-convened multiparty conference in Islamabad on Friday.

A senior leader of the PPP said so far they had not finalised any strategy for the elections of key parliamentary offices.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday formed a committee to engage with political parties to discuss the way forward in the post-poll scenario.

The sources said contact had been established between the PPP and the PML-N and the leaders of the two sides were expected to hold a meeting in a few days.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/imran-khan-to-be-sworn-in-as-pakistan-pm-before-aug-14-says-party/article24545716.ece?homepage=true