The Telegraph – Tears that drowned temple thugs

Camerapeson Shajila Ali Fathima recounts how a BJP mob threatened to kill her if her video footage was shown

K M Rakesh in Bangalore

Bangalore – Karnataka – India, 05 January 2019. Shajila Ali Fathima, the cameraperson whose tears of agony on being attacked by Sabarimala vandals and resolve to complete her assignment in the face of a murderous BJP mob has moved the nation, vividly recalls several male voices baying for her blood if the visuals were broadcast.

“Like the other camerapersons, I was busy filming BJP workers ripping (possibly CPM) banners when they turned on us,” the 34-year-old Shajila who works for the popular news channel Kairali TV, told The Telegraph while recounting the horror in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.

The BJP workers had gathered outside the secretariat to enforce the shutdown organised by a Sangh parivar outfit to protest the entry of two women of childbearing age into the Sabarimala temple.

“I could hear several voices screaming at me, that I would be killed if the footage I had captured went on air. But I continued to film what was happening in front of me. Then several men began attacking every cameraperson around,” Shajila said over phone.

Shajila was among the many journalists who had rushed to the BJP protest site outside the state secretariat when they got information about an oncoming protest march of the party.

“I have been a cameraperson for almost five years, but I had never witnessed what I saw in the next 30 minutes,” she said.

“It’s as if they had pre-planned the attack on journalists since there were six to eight men around each one of us. When someone tried to snatch my camera, I held on with all my strength, but in the process sprained my neck,” Shajila said.

Then the camera stopped working. “That was when emotion overtook my resolve. I restarted the camera with some difficulty and began shooting again. By then I was crying,” she said.

That was when a photographer of a Malayalam newspaper clicked the picture of a teary-eyed Shajila holding her video camera to her eye and capturing the violence. The picture has since been shared widely on social media.

“I did feel a bit ashamed that I was crying while on duty. But somehow I couldn’t control my tears,” she said.

Advised to wear a cervical collar and rest for five days, Shajila wants to get back to work at the earliest.

The journalists at the spot have filed a joint complaint with police, who are yet to make an arrest.

Sangh parivar activists had assaulted about 100 media personnel over Wednesday and Thursday.

The Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram district units of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists had boycotted media conferences of BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai and general secretary K Surendran on Thursday.

The boycott has since been lifted after the duo apologised. – Pakistan speeds up construction work of Kartarpur Corridor; No sign of construction work on Indian side

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 01 January 2019. The Federal government of Pakistan has prepared a plan to complete the project of constructing a road from Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib to Indo-Pak border at Dera Baba Nanak within the next six months.

Notably, the Pakistan government had earlier fixed October-2019 as the deadline for completing this project.

Sikh24 has learnt that the Frontier Works Association, which is constructing the corridor road, has increased the number of laborers and engineers at the construction site along with JCB machines, Road rollers and coal-tar melting machines.

Beside it, the steel, sand, gravels, cement and coal-tar suppliers have been asked to keep the supply continuous.

It has come to fore that the Pakistani side of Kartarpur corridor will be completed in two phases.

In the first phase, the road will be constructed initially and the work of constructing bridge on the Ravi river will be commenced in April month.

Similarly, the construction work for building the waiting hall, gallery, immigration and health center will be commenced in March.

In the second phase, hotels and rest houses for the Sikh pilgrims will be built besides constructing a boundary wall around the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

On the other hand, the Indian government has still not begin the construction work for building the Indian side of the corridor despite laying the foundation stone of the corridor two days before the Pakistan.

Singh Sabha Holland

Singh Sabha Holland
Capelle a/d IJssel

Nanak Singh Preet’s Kirtan Jatha
Local Singh playing tabla

Sunday Divan – Guru Granth Sahib in Prakash

Langar hall

Langar hall – small sevadar

This new Gurdwara is getting too small already

Enjoying the langar

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation UK – UK authorities exposed for targeting Sikh activists and assisting Indian regime in continued imprisonment of the 31-year old Scot

Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, the lawyer acting for Jagtar Singh Johal, the 31-year old Scot from Dumbarton who was abducted by Indian police on 4 November 2017 and subject to third degree torture has just finished a 10-day visit to the UK.

The lawyer spent much of his time reassuring Jagtar’s family in Scotland on his physical and mental well-being and providing a first-hand account of his continued ordeal.

He also met with Martin Docherty-Hughes their SNP MP and Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs to update them on the latest legal position in India and raised questions on whether the UK Government were doing enough for their citizen.

They agreed to work with the family and keep up pressure on the UK Government to exert appropriate political influence to secure Jagtar’s release.

Jagtar’s case has involved one gaffe after the other. The first mistake was the police abducted, tortured and threatened to kill a UK national and the second was the controversial Chief Minister of Punjab and the Director General of Police (DGP) politicised the case from the outset by holding a press conference and pre-empted court proceedings.

Within 3 days of Jagtar’s abduction, torture and police threats of being burnt alive or shot dead at point blank range they made a fundamental error of holding a press conference.

Sitting side by side they claimed that they had “solved” a series of high-profile “targeted killings” over the previous two years for which there was pressure on them from those in Delhi to secure arrests.

The Chief Minister named Jagtar Singh Johal (or Jaggi) as one of those who was in police custody and would be charged. However, it took the police six months to file the 1,000+ page charge sheet after Jagtar’s abduction and torture. Given all the publicity the 1,000+ pages remarkably only had 12 lines that relate to Jagtar that his lawyer has clarified during his UK visit are inadmissible in court.

The next major blunder came a month after Jagtar’s abduction. Indian police were so worried by the #FreeJaggiNow international campaign, strong political lobbying in the UK with over 250 MPs contacted and tough words of ‘extreme action’ by UK Foreign Office Minister, Rory Stewart on the floor of the House of Commons that they resorted to continue the trial by media.

The Punjab police no doubt under pressure from their political masters released so-called police video confession tapes of Jagtar exclusively to an Indian TV station to try and ‘demonise’ and show him in a negative light knowing this could never be evidence that would be admissible in court.

The 12 lines in the charge sheet that came five months later provided nothing more than what was shown to tens of millions on Indian TV and widely reported in the Indian press.

The legal process in India is extremely slow at the best of times and more than 425 days after Jagtar’s imprisonment the courts have yet to examine the charge sheet and the information collected by the police to decide whether there is substantial material to start a trial against Jagtar.

Only if the court is satisfied that the material is enough to start the trial will it frame charges and issue a summons order to start proceedings.

We arranged for Jaspal Singh Manjhpur before leaving for India to meet Gareth Peirce, a high-profile solicitor and human rights activist at her London offices and exchanged notes that make interesting reading.

He told her based on what has been presented so far in court in over 70 hearings all cases against Jagtar should be dismissed and he should be immediately released and returned home to Scotland to be with loved ones.

Gareth Peirce, who represented the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, the family of Jean Charles do Menezes and Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazam Begg is acting for five Sikh activists linked to the #FreeJaggiNow campaign who have had their family homes raided by British anti-terror police in September 2018 as part of the Indian investigation, but not been arrested, let alone charged suggesting this was nothing more than a ‘fishing exercise’ for the Indian police.

To date much of the focus has been on corrupt Indian politicians and police. However, the UK authorities will be worried that Gareth Peirce who has a formidable reputation is poised to expose the role of British police and intelligence agencies in British courts.

This will include how the UK (and Canadian) authorities provided photographic information to the Indian police of Sikh activists and their families in the UK (and Canada) to use during police interrogations when Jagtar was being tortured.

The lawyers have concluded the photographs shown to Jagtar could only have come from British (and Canadian) police or intelligence.

Both lawyers also agreed the raids by anti-terror police in the UK on the family homes of five Sikh activists in the UK have been poorly handled and were conducted to appease the Indian authorities. The Indian regime has become desperate to find anything to try and incriminate Jagtar and exert further pressure on him.

The disclosure of personal details and photographs of the UK Sikh activists in Indian newspapers has uncovered further gaffes by British police for which there will be consequences.

This high level of co-operation between India and the UK also calls into question exactly where pressure has been successfully exerted by the Indian regime on the UK authorities. The consular and diplomatic support provided to Jagtar and his family has been far from acceptable.

There needs to be accountability why it was deemed appropriate to collude in the targeting of UK Sikh activists and supporting the continued imprisonment of an innocent UK citizen.

It is widely accepted there is sufficient evidence to conclude Jagtar has been tortured and the only reasons why the police and courts have denied any independent medical examinations is that they would have forced the UK Government to take the “extreme action” it promised in Parliament as torture of a UK citizen would have been medically proved.

Gurpreet Singh Johal, Jagtar’s elder brother said:

“The family was disgusted to hear first-hand from Jagtar’s lawyer that when Jagtar was being tortured by Indian police he was being shown photographs of Sikh activists from the UK and Canada that could only have come from intelligence agencies or police in the UK and Canada.”

“His lawyer told us in the absence of evidence they have been pressuring Jagtar to become a false state witness against Sikh activists in the UK and Canada, but he has refused as he has nothing he can tell them.”

“His lawyer is clear that the raids by anti-terror police in the UK of the family homes of Sikh activists in the UK were to try and find anything incriminating against Jagtar and exert pressure on him. All these things are designed to create a culture of fear in Sikh activists across the globe.”

Bhai Amrik Singh Gill, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Everyone Jaspal Singh Manjhpur met in the UK, politicians, lawyers, human rights activists and Sikh community representatives across the UK are totally convinced that Jagtar is innocent and there is no possibility of him being convicted and he will be released.”

“The only question is when will he be released as his ordeal has been a series of major gaffes between the UK authorities and the Indian regime and they are all now looking for a way out while maintaining face.”

“Jagtar’s case is political and continuing to damage the Indian and UK Governments reputations in the eyes of the wider public and international community. With elections in India in a few months’ time now may be the best time for those in Delhi and London to find a way to get the courts to dismiss the cases against Jagtar and get him back to Scotland.”

Jaspal Singh Manjhpur speaking on the phone on his return to India added:

“The latest twist is India’s National investigation Agency (NIA) worried about the lack of evidence and to delay matters further has appealed to the Supreme Court to transfer many of the cases to Delhi.”

“Apart from the inevitable delay this is causing they are also pushing for Jagtar to be transferred to a prison in Delhi making it difficult to regularly meet with me, his wife and her family who are based hundreds of miles away in Punjab.”

It is widely accepted the NIA will in Delhi be better able to directly influence the legal process and drag it out and well as put pressure on the judiciary.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

The Hindu – All long-distance trains to be replaced with modern coaches

Linke Hofmann Busch design coaches are being used in a phased manner

Northeast Frontier Railway
Linke Hofmann Busch coaches

New Delhi – India, 04 January 2019. The government will replace conventional coaches with modern LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) design coaches in all long-distance trains, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

He also assured the House that the government will implement “whatever announcements have been made with regard to introduction of more trains.”

“A week ago, a review meeting was held in Guwahati, where it was decided that all long-distance trains shall be replaced with LHB modern coaches,” Mr. Goyal said replying to a supplementary query during the Question Hour.

Replacement of trains operating with conventional coaches into LHB coaches was being done in a phased manner. Presently, 18 pairs of trains, owned by the Northeast Frontier Railway, are being operated with modern LHB coaches, he said separately in a written reply to the Upper House.

The Minister also mentioned that LHB coaches, which have higher carrying capacity, speed and increased codal life, are being manufactured by the Indian Railways from the year 2018-19 onwards.

To another query on complaints that modern coaches already operational are being replaced in trains running from the Northeast, he said: “I can assure you that can never be the case.”

Unmanned crossings

On unmanned railway crossings, the Minister said the government had almost eliminated all such crossings. As a result, the number of accidents had come down to three in the last nine months from 52 in 2014-15.

The government had eliminated 3,451 unmanned railway level crossings (UMLCs) up to December 2018. In the next few weeks, railways will be free from UMLCs on broad gauge track, he said.

With regard to compensation, the Minister said that wherever there was responsibility of the railways, compensation was provided to the families of the deceased. Trespassers were not given compensation.