The Statesman – Jammu University bars professor from teaching for calling Bhagat Singh a terrorist

The Jammu University (JU) on Friday barred Professor Mohammad Tajuddin from teaching work till further orders after he referred to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as a terrorist.

Jammu – J&K – India, 30 November 2018. he Jammu University (JU) on Friday barred Professor Mohammad Tajuddin from teaching work till further orders after he referred to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as a terrorist.

A top JU functionary said that Professor Mohammad Tajuddin, head of the political science department, has been “disassociated” from teaching work till further orders.

A six-member team has been constituted to look into the matter as the teacher claimed that he did not intend to hurt feelings of anyone.

The incident came to light after a video-clip of the episode recorded by a student when the professor was taking the class went viral on social media.

Students came out in large numbers on the campus raising slogans against the professor and demanded his termination from JU.

Sensing the mood of the students, the Vice-Chancellor, Manoj Dhar, disassociated him from teaching job till further orders. Students were demanding that he should be suspended for making “derogatory” remarks against the great freedom fighter.

Another group of students came out in support of the teacher.

Tajuddin, in a post on social media, tried to clarify the matter by claiming, “I also consider Bhagat Singh a revolutionary. He is one of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom of the country”.

He said that he was teaching Lenin (Russian revolutionary) and made the comment in that context. He said that the state calls any violence against it “terrorism”. – 1984 Sikh Genocide: Delhi High Court Upholds Punishment of 70 Genocide Culprits

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 29 November 2018. Terming the 1984 Sikh genocide as a dark chapter in the history of independent India, the Delhi High Court on November 28 upheld the conviction of 70 out of the total 89 genocide culprits indulged in killing innocent Sikhs, burning their houses and violating curfew in the East Delhi’s Trilokpuri area during the 1984 Sikh genocide.

The Court remarked in its verdict that the police as well as civil administration didn’t do anything to avert the circumstances.

Notably, the trial court had awarded five year sentence to 89 genocide culprits in this case. 16 out of the total 89 had died during the trial of the case while 3 others had absconded.

“The fact that these cases have continued to linger on in courts at the stage of trial or appeals is itself an indicator of the reality that the response of the law has been tardy, ineffective and highly unsatisfactory,” remarked Justice R K Gauba in his 79-page verdict.

The Court also remarked that the police did not promptly register the crimes and collect evidence and the other agencies, including the prosecution and the trial court, failed to rise to the occasion.

Justice Gauba noted that 95 bodies were recovered after the “rioting”, 22 of which remained unidentified and it was likely that no prosecution was initiated against anyone in respect of these deaths.

“This court directs the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to have the material and evidence re-examined for further action. The large-scale “rioting”, mob violence, arson, plunder, genocide and looting has been duly proved and established, the judgment of the trial court must be upheld,” he added.

Dismissing the appeals of the convicts and cancelling their bail bonds, the court noted that after each communal “riot”, there were allegations of political influences being the root cause and therefore, there could be a need to “inject” a “sense of neutrality” in the investigative and prosecution process.

Ieper Armistice Day

Ieper Armistice Day
11 November 1918 – 11 November 2018

Going back to the Grote Markt through the Menen Gate

Sikhs and Sikh flags

The drummers
A nice echo underneath the gate !

French Gatka Akhara

French Gatka Akhara

Carrying nila – pila and kesri Sikh flags

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Hindu – UK amends new weapons bill to allow status quo on possession of kirpans

London – UK, 30 November 2018. The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The United Kingdom government has confirmed an amendment to a new weapons bill going through Parliament to ensure that it would not impact the right of the British Sikh community to possess and supply kirpans or religious swords.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 completed its various readings in the House of Commons this week and has now moved to the House of Lords for approval.

It involves a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons in public and places new restrictions on the online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products in attempt to crackdown on rising knife and acid-related attacks in the country.

“We have engaged closely with the Sikh community on the issue of kirpans. As a result, we have amended the Bill to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue,” a UK Home Office spokesperson said on Thursday.

Delegation to Home Office

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs led a delegation to the UK Home Office in recent weeks to ensure that the kirpan remains exempt when the new bill becomes law.

“I am pleased to see the government amendment and look forward to seeing an accompanying set of documentation, which reflects the importance of not criminalising the Sikh community for the sale or possession of large kirpans,” said Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.

Ms. Gill, the first female Sikh MP in the House of Commons, was accompanied by APPG vice-chairs Pat McFadden and Dominic Grieve at a meeting with UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Office minister Victoria Atkins to discuss changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which would maintain status quo in continuing to legally safeguard the sale, possession and use of large kirpans.

Her fellow Sikh MP, Tan Dhesi, also made an intervention during the Offensive Weapons Bill debate in the Commons to seek “assurances about the kirpan, given the Sikh community’s serious concerns”.

Large kirpans, with blades over 50-cm, are used by the community during religious ceremonies in gurdwaras as well as for ceremonies involving the traditional Sikh Gatka martial art. They would have fallen foul of the new bill on the possession of large blades without the amendment, which has now been agreed.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The Bill will give new laws to ban the sale of corrosive substances to anyone under the age of 18, to target people carrying acid, to make it more difficult for anyone under the age of 18 to buy knives online and to ban certain types of firearms.

Dawn – Corridors and other peace openings

“Dekha to phir vaheen thay chalay thay jahan se hum – Kashti kay saath saath kinaray chalay gaye”

(We found ourselves to be where we had begun our journey. The coast moved as did the boat.)

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 30 November 2018. The above is a couplet by Saifuddin Saif. Many of you will be familiar with his name as a poet of exceptional talent who carved a prominent place for himself among the progressive giants of his time.

He traversed a familiar course, via Amritsar and Lahore, that brought enlightenment and fame to him and many of his contemporaries.

Saif was also a filmmaker with a message, and his name flashed in the mind just as a group of Pakistanis and Indians gathered together on the front lines to mark the opening of a corridor that will facilitate Indian visitors to Gurdwara Kartarpur in Narowal.

Saifuddin Saif directed, and wrote and produced, Kartar Singh in the late 1950s, which has to be one of the more discussed feature films made in Pakistan.

In recent years, the film has been screened for selective viewing and a very watchable version of it is available on the internet. It is invaluable material for those who want to get a hang of what makes Pakistan and India and their relationship what it is.

Saif’s is a complex story of human bonding and conflicts, culminating in a born-again good-doer Kartar Singh’s accidental but perfectly explicable killing just when he is about to bring the people on this side of the border their missing son from the land beyond.

It is a lesson in just how fast things go out of control and get messy and ugly even for a group of people who have a common legacy born of a life together over centuries.

Those who agree with the idea of peace in Pakistan and India have spent the last seven decades waiting for the right combination.

Saif as a socialist, or was he a communist, must never have wanted it that way but the progress on Kartar Singh’s theme has been slow and sluggish. The fact that we have been unable to remake ‘Kartar Singhs’ with the frequency that the urgency of the topic demanded is reflective of just how tough it has been.

We, meaning those who agree with the idea of peace in Pakistan and India, have spent the last seven decades waiting for the right combination. The right setup on our side and a corresponding viable equation on the other side to provide us with real hope for a peace dialogue.

It has been observed that as popular contributions go, we had a slightly better chance of helping develop the right combination on our side.

The hope always was that sober people on the other side, with whom we have shared a common heritage, would simultaneously find and establish their own ‘right’ combo for the two countries to engage in a, what is the word, ‘meaningful’ search for solutions.

There has been a clearance sale of formulas. Formulas that can bring about a miraculous friendship between people who cohabited a country before a partition, an inevitable event in the end, separated them and placed some new real or imagined constraints upon them.

The simplest of them all was the one which found expression in General Pervez Musharraf’s peace expedition to India in 2001, the Agra near-miracle as it is remembered with some sense of loss.

Some of his admirers believe to this day that Gen Musharraf possessed some secret charms that he could work on those he met.

In a long series of shortcut answers, he epitomised the one-man squad from Pakistan, who almost succeeded, with his disarming personality, to steal some kind of a permanent solution from right under the noses of prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his associates.

But right then, Indian democracy intervened to thwart Musharraf’s heist.

It is considered by so many in the country to have been a close miss. Since we in Pakistan often consider consensus to be as undesirable a byproduct of democracy as democracy itself, it was thought by many here that Musharraf’s effort was in vain.

We will have to wait for another general with the required dare and dash to try and conquer India for us again, unless, we from the beginning have believed in the alternative solution.

The alternative solution was actually the real answer. It was the original answer. Maybe more so in recent decades but perhaps even before that, we in Pakistan have been told that there will be some definite signs indicating real and irreversible positive movement on India.

We have been fed the notion that there will have to be total agreement between an elected government led by a politician from a federally dominant Punjab and the country’s military chief for any hope of headway in ties with India.

This was one reason why those steeped in old logic would be so eager to keep an eye on what kind of relationship Nawaz Sharif, three-time prime minister of Pakistan, had with his army chief.

In time, the monitors realised that Mian Sahib possessed an uncanny ability to distance his army chief from the avowed ideals, peace with India included, which the PML-N chief held dear as prime minister.

The dream was shattered for those swearing by the theory, to find later another manifestation of their ideal combination in the Imran Khan-Gen Qamar Bajwa pairing.

The new expectations and dreams are linked to the overtures the jadoo ki japphi or the miraculous healing influence that General Bajwa’s greeting of Indian ex-cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in Islamabad in August signified.

The Kartarpur opening which was inaugurated on Wednesday is a most welcome restart that will hopefully not be allowed to turn into a wasted opportunity and not be allowed to act as some kind of a gloss-over event to eclipse serious disputed areas, not least of them Kashmir, that must be sensibly embraced and talked through.

The writer is Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore.