Tolo News – All victims of classroom attack were under the age of 20

Most victims were from poor families and were only trying to get an education that would prepare them for university

Anisa Shaheed

Kabul – Afghanistan, 16 August 2018. All the victims who were killed in Wednesday’s suicide bombing in a classroom at an education center in Kabul were under the age of 20, some as young as 14.

In addition the majority of victims were from poor families, many from farming families. The victims had all been attending classes in preparation for the university entrance exam.

Eyewitnesses meanwhile described the explosion and said it ripped through the classroom tearing bodies apart.

Several students who survived the attack have said that they have no faith in the government leaders and the security officials.

In a new development however it appears the attacker could have been a registered student at the Mawoud Academy, survivors said.

Survivors however described their ordeal and said they were lucky to be alive.

“I came out with the other girls, my hands were covered in blood, then I realized that I even was not hurt and I was alive,” said one student Zeenats

“Their (students) crime is that they are trying to get an education, they are learning to become doctors, to become engineers and build their future and then others do not tolerate this,” said Fahim, a relative of one of the victims.

Sayed Ali and Faraidoon who survived the attack are from Ghazni province.

“My father is a farmer in Jaghori, I came here to study,” said student Sayed Ali.

But Rahman and Ezzatullah who came to Kabul ten days ago did not survive and were buried today in Kabul along with their dreams.

Kawsar, 14, is another victim who was in Grade 9 but was attending classes at the academy in the hope of eventually going to Kabul Medical University.

“I took Kawsar to the taxi with the help of one of our classmates, I thought she was unconscious. On the way the driver said check if she is breathing, when I checked, she was not breathing,” said Kawsar’s brother Yasir.

This year over 160 students from the academy were accepted by to top medical universities. Last year’s top scorer also came from the same academy.

Meanwhile, the devastated families of students killed in the deadly classroom bombing on Thursday laid their loved ones to rest.

Health officials on Wednesday night confirmed at least 48 had been killed in the explosion. Eyewitnesses said however the death toll was more likely around 60.

However, on Thursday morning the health department revised down the death toll from 48 to 34 – citing only that some bodies had been “double-counted”.

The Tribune – Sikh leaders push for clemency to Rajoana

Akali Dal delegation seeks day-to-day trial of 1984 riot cases

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 14 August 2018. A SAD delegation led by its president Sukhbir Singh Badal met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Tuesday. The delegation’s meeting with the Home Minister lasted for about an hour in his North Block office.

The Home Minister assured the delegation that the government was examining issues raised before it by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

They include constituting a special court for day-to-day trial of 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases and commuting death sentence of terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana to life sentence. He has been convicted in former Punjab CM Beant Singh assassination case.

The delegation comprised of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, DSGMC chief Manjit Singh (GK), MPs Naresh Gujral and Balwinder Singh Bhunder, and former MP Tarlochan Singh.

The meeting is a follow up to earlier two meetings of SAD delegation with Singh in the past one month. The Home Minister had assured to hold a joint meeting of Sikh leaders and Home Ministry officials around Independence Day with regard to issues pertaining the community.

The delegation batted for grant of citizenship to all Hindus and Sikhs who were forced to leave Afghanistan since 1989. It drew a distinction between illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam and those from Afghanistan who were forced to leave on ground of religious persecution.

Also, they sought free passage for devotees from Dera Baba Nanak located on the Indian side to the historical Gurdwara Kartarpur in Pakistan in view of the upcoming 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

It sought Centre’s intervention for granting minority status to Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir. It also demanded rescinding of the amendment by the Chandigarh administration, which has made it mandatory even for Sikh women wearing turban or headgear to use helmets while riding a two-wheeler and ensuring security of Sikhs in Sikkim.

Duinbergen/De Haan – West-Vlaanderen

Duinbergen – West-Vlaanderen
14 July 2018

Duinbergen Watertoren

Duinbergen Watertoren

De Lijn Line 0 to Knokke

De Haan – West-Vlaanderen
14 July 2018

De Haan Zwarte Kiezel
Due to works we had to change to a bus

Tram-stop and shuttle buses

Back on a tram to De Panne

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Catch News – Why the ‘dead’ idea of Khalistan is being resurrected

Rajeev Khanna

Chandigarh – Panjab – India. 16 August 2018. Although it is almost a dead idea in Punjab, the idea of a sovereign Sikh homeland and the right to self determination continue to dot the political narrative in the state as well as among the Sikh diaspora.

Once a militant organisation, the Dal Khalsa is now resorting to democratic means. It has chosen the occasion of its 40th anniversary on Monday to announce the continuation of the struggle for ‘Sikh sovereignty to the formation of a secular and liberal Sikh state, through peaceful and democratic means’.

The announcement came at the ‘Azaadi Sankalp Divas’ congregation at Chandigarh from where the demand for Khalistan had first been aired four decades ago.

This announcement to take the movement forward through peaceful and democratic means comes a day after the London rally organised on Sunday by separatist Sikhs living abroad who are playing up the proposed ‘Referendum 2020’ for self-determination.

After its requests to Britain to ban the event failed, the Indian establishment worked behind the scenes to get the Indian origin Britons to hold counter demonstrations to send home the message that the rally by the Sikhs had fizzled out. The Indian media played to the ‘nationalist’ tune and did the rest.

Political parties in Punjab, particularly the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government has gone hammer and tongs to denounce the attempts by separatist elements abroad for a cause that is nowhere to be seen on the ground.

But the story for Dal Khalsa remains different as it is trying its best to keep at least the idea of Khalistan alive among the people. This was evident at the Chandigarh event where one of the speakers, human rights activist Jagmohan Singh, said:

“Referendums don’t happen in thin air. They follow either a determined armed resistance struggle in the homeland to protect genuine and legitimate rights of a people through United Nations intervention or where there are mature democracies like United Kingdom and Canada which allow full play of democratic self-determination to those who desire.”

He called for a ‘Lok Lehar’ (people’s movement) to take the idea of self determination forward pointing that the movement has to be not only in the political domain but in the social and cultural ones as well, something that has been missing in Punjab.

Underlining that achieving the goal through democratic means is very difficult but not impossible, he told those present, “The first struggle is to convince the Indian establishment that ours is a political issue and not that of law and order. We have to ask ourselves whether we are ready for a limited referendum.

Are we ready to understand it. This is to be followed by garnering support from friends both in India as well outside.” He asked those present to start engaging with the Indian state specifically on self-determination. He underlined that this is the only path available.

In his speech he gave interesting insights into the Sikh struggle over the last 40 years stating that the points being raised by those organizing Referendum 2020 had all been raised by the Sikhs in India in a memorandum handed over to former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali during his visit to India in the last decade of the last century.

Earlier opening the conference Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, “We have revived our movement on political lines in 1998 for the right to self-determination and through it, to rekindle the spirit of freedom of the Sikhs. We launched our youth wing, the Sikh Youth of Punjab with the clear objective of rejuvenating the Khalsa and passing on the buck to the next generation.”

Senior party Harcharanjit Singh Dhami while referring to Sunday’s London Declaration rally said, “Our doubts regarding the feasibility and possibility of the referendum remain. Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and its leader has not offered anything new in the London Declaration, except fixing the time of November 2020.

Unless the misgivings are addressed 2020 will be a fiasco and will hurt the freedom movement of the Sikhs.”

It is being said that as it has come about, the SFJ call is nothing but an opinion poll whose results the organisers propose to take to the United Nations. Sadly, at the Trafalgar Square meet, absence of any Sikh activist from homeland Punjab showing a clear disconnect between Punjab and the body which claims to campaign for freedom of Punjab.

Dal Khalsa president Harpal Singh Cheema said, “We will launch a new phase of consistent democratic engagement with the government of India and the United Nations, urging them to set up a mechanism to allow the people of Punjab to exercise the right to self determination.”

A message was read from All India Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who said, “My dear partners in freedom struggle, the minorities, in the vast ocean of majority populace of India have been subjected to the worst treatment”.

The event was also attended by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann who said that a ‘buffer’ state of Khalistan is required between ‘Islamic’ Pakistan, ‘Hindu’ India and ‘Communist’ China. “The fact that all these are nuclear powers cannot be ignored and a balance of power has to be struck to ensure peace in South Asia,” he said.

Meanwhile Amarinder has debunked the London rally saying it has exposed the total lack of ground support for the Referendum 2020 even outside India. He has dismissed it as a futile exercise by a sham organization to create trouble in India, particularly Punjab.

He said the SJF are just a group of fringe elements playing into the hands of Pakistan’s ISI to divide India, but they have failed, and will continue to fail in their nefarious designs. He added that the presence of Pakistani politicians at the rally confirms that it was out and out an ISI plot.

The Punjab chief minister said that as expected, it turned out to be a damp squib, participated by a handful of elements. He, however, felt the UK government should have put its foot down and not allowed its soil to be used to propagate anti-India campaign.

Further castigating the UK government, Amarinder said that by allowing the protestors to use Trafalgar Square, instead of the usual Hyde Park that’s generally used for such purposes, it had shown its total complacency in the issue.

He also said that some of Kashmiris were forced to wear turbans to make them look like Sikhs at the event.

Describing the SFJ fringe elements as mere ‘social media tigers’ trying to create a hype even when they have no support, both in India and abroad, Amarinder said the Sikhs are a patriotic community who have always stood for the unity and integrity of the country.

He pointed that as many as 90,000 Sikhs are serving in the Indian army, defending the country’s borders.

There were many Khalistanis on the square and only a handful of counter demonstrators
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Obituary: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a storied career with poetic flourishes

Nistula Hebbar

New Delhi – India 16 August 2018. The former Prime Minister’s legacy is now in the domain of history writers.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who held the post for three non-consecutive terms in 1996, 1998-99, and from 1999-2004, passed away on Thursday. He was 93.

Mr Vajpayee’s long career in public life was no doubt crowned by his being elected Prime Minister, but the course of it was peppered with long years as a parliamentarian, and with struggles to establish the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and later the BJP, in national politics.

Born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, Mr Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States (the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh), and was twice a Member of the Rajya Sabha in a storied career.

He got an early start in public life when he got involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942 and was arrested for it. He was already a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) since 1939, and after finishing Masters in Political Science from Kanpur, he began to work full-time for the RSS.

One of the founding members of the Jan Sangh in 1951, Mr. Vajpayee became its president in 1968 upon the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya. As his parliamentary career flourished, Mr Vajpayee made a name for himself as an orator and for his poetic flourishes.

His poetry, collated in his book Meri Ekyaavan Kavitayein (My 51 Poems) reflects it.

The movement against the Emergency declared in 1975 saw Mr Vajpayee and the Jan Sangh join forces with the Janata Party, and in the 1977 polls, be elected to the Lok Sabha and appointed as Minister for External Affairs.

The peak of that moment contrasted with the trough of the 1984 polls, where the newly founded BJP (after the dissolution of the Jan Sangh) clocked only two seats. Mr Vajpayee took that electoral rout in a philosophical mien, and as the BJP threw its weight behind the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1995, he emerged as the prime ministerial candidate on behalf of the BJP.

He led a 13-day government in 1996, as the head of the single largest party, but could not get enough numbers to stay in power. After an interval of two years, with a United Front government having fallen after the Congress withdrew support, he was again sworn in as Prime Minister with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in place after the 1998 polls.

Within a month of this, Mr. Vajpayee oversaw the Pokhran nuclear test and the subsequent international sanctions that went with it. The term was also marked by his initiatives for peace with Pakistan and the Lahore declaration. His 13-month government, however, could not withstand the rather fragile coalition that he had put together, and with the AIADMK withdrawing support, his government fell.

During his term as caretaker Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee dealt with the Kargil war, a conflict with neighbouring Pakistan, something that tested the country and his own mettle. The following elections in 1999 saw the NDA ensconced with a comfortable majority and a government that lasted a full term till 2004, the first non-Congress government to do so.

Mr. Vajpayee undertook many reform measures with regard to the economy, keeping it on the liberalisation track despite resistance from the RSS. His efforts at a solution for issues affecting Kashmir are still the most accepted template for political dialogue.

With a poetic bent, and at the head of a coalition of political parties that were ideologically disparate whom he dealt with deftly, Mr Vajpayee has been termed the “right man in the wrong party.” As a staunch member of the RSS, however, this referred to his appeal across party lines and the many friendships that he cultivated through his years in Parliament.

After he lost power in 2004, he still attended Lok Sabha but gradually withdrew from public life. A stroke in 2009 saw him withdraw completely. Known as much for his meaningful pauses as for his poetic oratory, Mr Vajpayee’s legacy is now in the domain of history writers.

What he says of himself and his long career in India’s public life is probably best encapsulated by some lines from his poem: “Kaal ke kapaal par likhta mitaata hoon, geet naya gaata hoon (I write and erase lines on the forehead of time, I sing a new song)”.