The News – Pakistan to file rejoinder on Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case in ICJ

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 15 July 2018. Pakistan will file its reply in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on July 17 regarding convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

India had gone to the ICJ to halt the execution of Jadhav in Pakistan.

Commander Jadhav, an on-duty Indian navy officer working for Indian covert agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan, after he entered into Pakistan from Iran.

Jadhav was tried in a military court which sentenced him to death for espionage and subversive activities.

Geo quoted diplomatic sources saying the reply will be submitted by Foreign Office Director India Dr Fareha Bugti, who is in the The Hague for the purpose. Dr Bugti had also submitted Pakistan’s counter-pleading in December last year.

Sources said Pakistan’s response contains detailed replies to India’s submissions to the international court.

Pakistan’s 400-page reply, a rejoinder to India’s last reply, has been prepared by a team of experts led by the attorney general, sources informed further.

On April 17 this year, India had submitted its reply to the ICJ after the world court, on January 23, directed India to do so.

India had submitted its pleadings to the ICJ on September 13, 2017. The Indian stance was dismissed by Pakistan in its counter-pleadings, which were submitted on December 13 that year.

In its counter-memorial, Pakistan had stated that Jadhav is not an ordinary person as he had entered the country with the intent of spying and carrying out sabotage activities.

The reply also stated that Jadhav, who was a serving officer of the Indian Navy, does not fall under the purview of the Vienna Convention.

The Tribune – Akali Dal, SGPC to take up Rajoana’s case with Centre

Death row convict firm on starting indefinite fast today

Aman Sood, Tribune News Service

Patiala – Panjab – India, 15 July 2018. A day before the start of the indefinite fast announced by Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict on death row for the assassination of then Chief Minister Beant Singh, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) assured him that they would take up his case with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

However, Rajoana, who is lodged in the Central Jail here, is adamant on going ahead with the fast.

“I appeal to Rajoana not to sit on a hunger strike as we will meet Rajnath Singh on July 18 and take up his mercy petition,” said SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra. “We will appeal to the Home Minister to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment,” he added.

On Saturday, Rajoana had flayed the SGPC and the SAD for not following up on the mercy petition moved on his behalf before the President in 2012.

As per sources, Rajoana said he could not trust the SGPC and the SAD as they had promised to take up his case with the Home Minister two years ago, but had later forgotten about the matter.

Talking to The Tribune, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said he had spoken to Rajoana and assured him that the Sikh body would leave no stone unturned to highlight his case before the Centre.

In 2012, the Centre had stayed his hanging two days before the schedule date of March 31 after the President referred the matter to the Union Home Ministry following an Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee petition. Rajoana had refused to file a mercy petition himself.

Talking tough

On Saturday, Rajoana had flayed the SGPC and the SAD for not following up on the mercy petition moved on his behalf before the President in 2012. As per sources, Rajoana said he could not trust the SGPC and the SAD as they had promised to take up his case with the Home Minister two years ago, but had later forgotten about the matter.

Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
12 June 2018

Cows in the Meersen

The cows prevent the whole are turning into woodland

Good looking lady



To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s legacy was never fully recognised. That is changing now

An exhibition in London showcases Singh as more than just a brave warrior – he was a global statesman, administrator and diplomat.

London – UK, 16 July 2018. The howitzer is huge: an ornately-wrought artillery weapon, clad in dark wood and embossed with gilt effigies of Sikh warriors, it immediately attracts attention.

Built with a combination of French engineering skills and Sikh ingenuity, the howitzer was deployed during the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-’46), and is the first thing that greets visitors at a new exhibition on the Sikh Empire in London.

Empire of the Sikhs, which is running at the School of Oriental and African Studies’ Brunei Gallery until September 23, seeks to highlight an overlooked aspect of the history of the Sikh Empire and its charismatic ruler, Ranjit Singh, by telling his story from a global context.

Going beyond his much-vaunted role as the king who posed the last challenge to the British, Empire of the Sikhs focuses on Singh as a world leader and his international relations. And it does so through 130 objects from the period of the short-lived empire, which fell to infighting and treachery after Singh’s death from a stroke in 1839.

With the majority of the objects coming from the collections of private collectors, and accompanied by detailed explanations by experts from the UK Punjab Heritage Association, the exhibition is eclectic and compelling in the story it tells of the Sikhs’ challenge to the British, and their eventual downfall and consolidation into the Empire.

The emphasis is on Singh’s territory, how the Sher-e-Punjab (Lion of Punjab) expanded his fledgling empire to encompass the majority of the northwestern Indian subcontinent, and protected that part from external invasions.

For instance, Firangis of the Kingdom, the title of a major section in the exhibition, focuses on the French and other Western mercenaries and military officers that Singh recruited to help modernise his army, giving his Sikh warriors a fighting chance against the East India Company.

Singh’s journey to the throne

Born in 1780, the one-eyed Ranjit Singh rose to fame after repelling several invasions from Afghanistan, declaring himself the Maharajah of Punjab at the age of 21.

His military prowess, and ambition, led him to expand his empire across much of what is now northwestern India and Pakistan after taking advantage of the disunited Sikh misls, or confederacies, that had dominated Punjab from the beginning of the 18th century after the decline of Mughal power in the area.

Taking Lahore as his capital, the Sikh king would sponsor many great civic and religious works across his domain, including the gilding of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, which he captured in 1802.

A shrewd diplomat as well as a capable warrior, Singh would safeguard the borders of his kingdom by signing a treaty with the British in 1806 which guaranteed that neither party would cross the Sutlej river. His victory over a succession of Afghan warlords culminated in a march past Kabul in 1838.

This story is told throughout the exhibition via objects which range from weapons and armour, including a gilt shield belonging to Singh’s most trusted general, Hari Singh Nalwa, to Kashmiri shawls, contemporary paintings by European artists fascinated with the legend of the one-eyed king, and exquisitely crafted jewellery belonging to the maharajah and his wives.

A selection of coins bearing the names of the Gurus shows Singh the statesman, and illustrations of how municipalities in his territory developed during his reign show his emphasis on civic works.

“We wanted to show how Ranjit Singh was more than an Indian maharajah fighting the British,” said Harbaksh Grewal, one of the exhibition’s curators. “He was a shrewd and canny world leader well aware that military might alone would not be enough to safeguard his kingdom.

They posed the last challenge to the English certainly, but the empire was more than that – its strategic position along the Silk Road meant it was the true gateway to India, and we wanted to highlight its diverse population as well.”

The syncretic and cosmopolitan nature of the Empire is of no surprise to anyone familiar with the nature of the subcontinent’s past: as contemporary art, drawn from private collections of Sikh, British and French artists on display, emphasises.

Of particular interest is a selection of illustrations by a Punjabi artist, Sani. Called Peoples of Punjab, it highlights how the kingdom’s diversity came from its strategic position along the Silk Road, with trade routes into central Asia.

These illustrations are reminiscent of the Peoples of India, an Orientalist ethnographic project commissioned by Lord Canning to document the Company’s Indian subjects. Sani’s drawings are interesting because they provide an insight into how members of the Sikh kingdom viewed each other, not how the Western eye did.

French Connection

War, unsurprisingly, plays a significant role, both in the story of Singh, and in his kingdom’s eye on international affairs. After observing a regiment of the East India Company on patrol in 1805, Singh realised that he would need to rapidly modernise his army if he was to pose any challenge to the British.

Singh’s army was a traditional medieval army, which eschewed infantry regiments in favour of heavy cavalry. The maharaja reached out for foreign military advisers – and, in a stroke of luck, hired four European commanders formerly under the employ of a certain Napoleon back in Europe.

Allard, Ventura, Court and Avitabile: these men, along with around 60 other mercenaries, adventurers and former military officers were responsible for modernising the Sikh army, and issuing manuals both in French and Persian instructing the Sikh Khalsa Army in how to fight in 1822, examples of which are part of the exhibition.

Elite regiments like the Fauj-i-Khas were raised and trained by Bonaparte’s former military officers, and inventors like Lehna Singh Majithia found a new role in developing artillery in French-built foundries, producing arms that out-rivalled the British.

“The Sikhs adapted existing weapons, marrying their expertise with that of the French,” said Parmjit Singh, a lead curator behind Empire of the Sikhs. “The French at the time were the best in the world when it came to manufacturing artillery, so Singh made full use of their talents.”

By employing French soldiers, Singh not only found able military commanders and, later, governors, but also diplomatic allies. An 1835 letter from King Louis-Phillipe reveals the gratitude that the French felt for the patronage of their officers: “We…strive with Your Majesty to preserve his lustre in the bond of our friendship.”

After Singh’s death

Singh died in 1839, but left behind a military that clashed several times with the British, inflicting major casualties in the First Anglo-Sikh War, before treachery and infighting between Singh’s “official” wife Jind Kaur and his Sikh generals led to their defeat in the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-’49).

The British regarded them as worthy opponents, or as worthy as the rapacious Company allowed them to be. Hugh Gough, the British commander in the First Anglo-Sikh War, remarked in a letter to Prime Minister Robert Peel that “policy precluded me publicly recording my sentiments on the splendid gallantry of our fallen foe…”

The defeat meant the renewal of Western intervention into the lands beyond the Khyber Pass that persists to this day.
It also led to the fabulous wealth and art of the Lion of Punjab being seized by the British, and the eventual gift of the Kohinoor, the diamond which has passed, often violently, from one owner to another for 5,000 years, to Queen Victoria.

The story of the Sikhs does not end in their defeat: recognised for their valour, they were incorporated into the Raj’s fighting ranks on the same footing as other designated martial races like the Gurkhas.

Singh’s line ended with his son Duleep being kidnapped at the age of five and raised in England, and his granddaughter, Sophie, becoming a prominent suffragette.

The Sikh forces would go on to fight as part of the British Indian Army, playing a key role in both World Wars, a contribution that has only recently been acknowledged by Britain.

Near the entrance to the exhibition is a timeline which concisely places the events of the Sikh Empire parallel to that of the rest of the world.

If history is largely a matter of interpreting the past to tell a certain story, the London exhibition’s narrative of the Sikhs, positioned as a gateway kingdom into India, proves to be a compelling and thought-provoking one.

Aditya Iyer is an independent journalist based in London.

To see the article and the wonderful illustrations :

The Hindu – With suspect retracting confession, a spy case goes cold

Ramesh Singh is accused of the helping the ISI bug the laptop and tablet of an Indian diplomat in Islamabad

Vijaita Singh

New Delhi – India, 16 July 2018. A suspected ISI agent who was arrested in May for allegedly working for the Pakistani agency while employed as a “cook” in an Indian diplomat’s house in Islamabad has retracted his confessional statement to the police.

The suspect, identified as Ramesh Singh, who was posted in Pakistan from 2015 to 2017, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad. The police said Singh had confessed to helping bug the laptop and tablet of the diplomat.

Singh’s confession, accessed by The Hindu, says he came into contact with a Pakistani staffer, “Masih”, at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Singh was posted as a domestic help in the house of the diplomat and gave access to the ISI agents at least on four occasions. “He said that on three occasions, he gave the diplomat’s laptop and tablet to some men waiting in a car outside the house,” a senior police officer said.

The officer said Singh disowned his statement when he was produced before a Lucknow court on July 10 and this would pose difficulty in proving the conspiracy hatched by the ISI.

Aseem Arun, Inspector-General, ATS, confirmed that Singh had denied his statement.

“Masih” got in touch with Singh and initially supplied him pornographic CDs. “He also visited some brothels. He was threatened by the ISI that if he didn’t act on its orders, it would inform the Indian agencies about his acts. The Pakistan agency lured him into a trap and then blackmailed him to do its bidding,” the officer said.

Singh, a resident of Pithoragarh in Uttarkhand, got the job at the diplomat’s house through the reference of a relative who is in the Army.

“The ISI tapped him when he was in Pakistan. He continued to work for it even when he returned to India in September 2017,” the officer said.

An officer said the diplomat was unaware of the espionage activities of Singh till he was arrested. “He never found out that the devices were bugged or that strangers had visited his house,” the officer said.

The police said Singh was found in possession of a list which had the names of officers who were due for promotion and were to be posted in Pakistan.

“Singh was asked to come back to Pakistan as domestic help with any of these officials,” said the officer.
Only evidence

The officer said the list was the only credible evidence found so far from his possession that could link him with the ISI.

“We recovered a Pakistani mobile phone from his house in Uttarakhand but were not able to extract any data from it. The device has been sent to experts to get more details,” the officer said.

The police said Singh’s name surfaced while investigating another espionage racket they busted in May 2017. A Faizabad resident, Aftab Ali, was arrested by the UP police on the basis of information provided by the Military Intelligence. The police said there were common links in both the cases.

“As per our investigation, Singh had conducted reconnaissance of the Air Force Base in Saharanpur and Bareilly. These were smaller tasks given to Singh to check his motivation level. He confessed to the crime within 10 minutes of his arrest,” the officer said.