Sint-Pietersplein – Climate Manifestation

Climate Manifestation
24 February 2019

These looks like scouts

From all four roads leading to the square
demonstrators kept arriving !

It is at this stage that I decided not to join the demo !

Look at the Earth and its Worth

More and more people in the square

Some breathing space on this side

I went home, away from the crowd

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Limerick Post – The Limerick man at the centre of Sikhism

Alan Jacques

Newcastle West – County Limerick – Éire, 15 March 2019. A county Limerick man renowned for his translation of Sikh scripture and history into English is set to be commemorated in his native West Limerick this year.

The work of Michael Macauliffe has influenced the growth of a religion that has an estimated 27 million followers but his prolific achievements are relatively unknown in his native county.

Also known as Max Arthur Macauliffe, he was born in Newcastle West in September 1841, the eldest of seven sisters and four brothers. His parents, John and Julia Macauliffe, moved their family to the national school in Templeglantine when he was eight as his father took up the post as master of the school.

After completing his college education at Queen’s College in Galway, Macauliffe was selected in 1862 for Indian Civil Service with assignment to the State of Punjab in 1864.

He was promoted to deputy commissioner of the district of Ferozpur in 1882 and became a divisional judge two years later. He then retired from the Indian Civil Service in 1893 to undertake writing on Sikhism.

Max Macauliffe went on to complete the classic translation into English of major parts of the Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs. In 1909 Oxford University Press published the first edition of his celebrated masterpiece, ‘The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors’, in six volumes and running to almost 2,500 pages.

It has never since been out of print.

His deep understanding and sympathy for the people of Punjab and their religious traditions made him a popular civil servant with the people of Punjab, but it also brought him into conflict with the English community in India. He converted to Sikhism in the 1860s and died in his London home on March 15, 1913.

Councillors in Newcastle West Municipal District, last week heard plans to commemorate Macauliffe in his native West Limerick.

Anne Rizzo of the Council’s Social Development Directorate spoke of plans to install a commemorative plaque on the grounds of Templeglantine National School where Macauliffe spent his formative years.

Other plans to honour this County Limerickman include a one-day seminar on his life and works and an exhibition of Sikhism will also be included in the celebrations.

Local representatives were also informed of the launch of a book by Professor Tadhg Foley on the life of Max Arthur Macauliffe.

“I support this project. I would just ask that as much of the commemorations as possible take place here in Newcastle West or in Templeglantine,” said Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin.

“It is a fascinating story. I would also support calls to keep the commemoration in the locality,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Collins.

Sinn Féin councillor Seamus Browne considered the project as an “important” one for the Newcastle West Municipal District. “The man is from here and people might not be aware of that. It is important the commemorations are kept local,” he told the council executive.

Dawn – Forty-nine murdered in terror attack on two New Zealand mosques, Four Pakistanis among injured

Naveed Siddiqui

Christchurch – South Island – New Zealand, 15 March 2019. A “right-wing extremist” armed with semi-automatic weapons rampaged through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch during afternoon prayers on Friday, killing 49 worshippers and wounding dozens more.

The attack, thought to be the deadliest against Muslims in the West in modern times, was immediately dubbed terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as she guided a shocked nation on one of its “darkest days”.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad said four Pakistanis were injured in the attack, and another five Pakistanis are “missing”.

FO spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said all four injured Pakistanis received bullet injuries, but their condition wasn’t immediately known. The Pakistan High Commission in New Zealand is making efforts to locate the missing nationals, the FO spokesperson said.

Asim Mukhtar, the secretary of the Pakistan Association of New Zealand, told via telephone that one of the injured was identified as Naeem Rashid, who has been operated on and is in rehabilitation.

Arshad was identified by a relative from the video live-streamed by the attacker. He reportedly attempted to stop the assailant as he gunned victims down in the mosque. Rashid’s son, Talha Naeem, is listed among those missing.

A second Pakistani victim was identified as Muhammad Amin, 60, who was visiting Christchurch. He received gunshot injuries and is receiving medical help.

The attacker live-streamed footage of him going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.

He allegedly published a racist “manifesto” on social media before the attack, featuring conspiracy theories about Europeans being displaced, and details of two years of preparation and radicalisation leading up to the shootings.

A 28-year-old Australian-born man has been arrested and charged with murder. He is set to appear at the Christchurch District Court early Saturday. Two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” said Ardern. “From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned.” Two IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were found in a car and neutralised by the military, police said.

Speaking in Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the gunman as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.

His two targets were the Masjid al Noor, where 41 people died, and a second, smaller mosque in the suburb of Linwood, where seven more died. The remaining victim succumbed in hospital.

The dead were said to include women and children. Around 48 people were treated for gunshot wounds at Christchurch Hospital, including young children, with injuries ranging from critical to minor.

The survivors included 17 members of Bangladesh’s cricket team, whose game against New Zealand on Saturday has been postponed, and a Palestinian man who fled for his life after seeing someone being shot in the head.

“I heard three quick shots, then after about 10 seconds it started again. It must have been an automatic, no one could pull a trigger that quick,” the man who did not wish to be named, told AFP.

“Then people started running out. Some were covered in blood,” he said.

New Zealand police described the footage shot by the gunman as “extremely distressing” and warned web users that they could be liable for up to 10 years in jail for sharing such “objectionable content”.

In addition to the footage, a number of pictures were posted to a social media account showing a semi-automatic weapon covered in the names of historical figures, many of whom were involved in the killing of Muslims.

The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.

Police, who initially imposed a city-wide lockdown, sent armed officers to a number of scenes and the threat level in the nation was raised from “low” to “high”.

In Auckland, 1,000 kilometres away, two unattended bags left near a railway station were detonated by military explosives experts.

Police also attended a property in Dunedin which they believe is linked to the attack and evacuated nearby residents. The southeastern city was named in the suspect’s manifesto as the original target for his attack.

Police warned Muslims all over the country not to visit mosques “anywhere in New Zealand” in the wake of the Christchurch attacks. Friday is Islam’s holy day.

Christchurch city council offered a helpline for parents looking for kids attending a mass climate change rally near the shooting.

Bodies all over

The attack has shocked the local Muslim population, many of whom had come to New Zealand as refugees. The Ardern government has been vocal in its support for opening the doors to those suffering from wars in Syria, Afghanistan and beyond.

One witness told he was praying when he heard shooting, and then saw his wife lying dead on the footpath outside when he fled.

Another man said he saw children being shot. “There were bodies all over,” he said.

The Bangladesh cricket team, which had been in Christchurch for a Test match and was about to go into the mosque when the attack happened, all escaped without injury.

“They are safe. But they are mentally shocked. We have asked the team to stay confined in the hotel,” an official told AFP.

The attacks sparked horror and revulsion around the world.

US President Donald Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” in which “innocent people have so senselessly died”.

Mass shootings are very rare in New Zealand, which tightened its gun laws to restrict access to semi-automatic rifles in 1992, two years after a mentally ill man shot dead 13 people in the South Island town of Aramoana.

However, anyone over 16 can apply for a standard firearms licence after doing a safety course, which allows them to purchase and use a shotgun unsupervised.

Christchurch, a relatively small city on New Zealand’s south island, hit global headlines in 2011 when it was struck by a deadly earthquake, killing more than 180 people.

What we know about the attacker

The main suspect, identified as Brenton Tarrant, is an Australian national who resided in the city of Grafton in the Australian state of New South Wales.

He is suspected to have entered two mosques in Christchurch and shot dead 41 people at Masjid Al Noor at 1:40pm local time, and seven more at the Linwood Masjid a short distance away.

He was identified after having livestreamed the massacre to social media with the help of a camera attached to his gear.

According to Australian media reports, he had in the past worked as a gym instructor and personal trainer and was obsessed with fitness.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), “Tarrant described himself as ‘a regular white man, from a regular family’ who was born in Australia to a ‘working class, low-income family’.”

According to the The Sydney Morning Herald, he “was dedicated to fitness and ran free athletic programs for children”.

“He left the small town in 2012 to ‘travel’ before settling in New Zealand,” the Herald reported.

Tarrant’s beliefs, outlined in a 74-page manifesto uploaded online, revealed a disturbing obsession with racial purity and white supremacy.

“He also wrote that he began planning the attack ‘roughly two years in advance’, and chose the final location three months prior to the attack,” wrote the Herald.

“The 74-page document, called The Great Replacement, consists of a rant about white genocide and lists various aims, including the creation of “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims,” reported The Guardian.

“The document, which suggests an obsession with violent uprisings against Islam, claims that the suspect had ‘brief contact’ with the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik and that Breivik gave a ‘blessing’ for the attack,” The Guardian said, adding that Tarrant described himself as “an ethnonationalist and fascist”.

He also expressed support for US president Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”, but stated that he did not admire him as a “policy maker and leader”, The Independent reported.

“The suspect wanted to send a message that ‘nowhere in the world is safe’,” The Guardian reported. “The choice of weapon, firearms, was designed to gain maximum publicity.”

“‘I chose firearms for the effect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the effect it could have on the politics of United States and thereby the political situation of the world,'” The Guardian quoted from the manifesto.

‘Unprecedented act of violence’

Prime Minister Ardern described the incident as an “unprecedented act of violence”.

“I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence. An act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are,” she said in a press conference.

“I can tell you now this is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Ardern confirmed that one person had been taken under custody. She alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive, saying that while many people affected by the shootings may be migrants or refugees “they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home.

They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not”.

The Telegraph – ‘The RSS- BJP combine has little idea of the Northeast’

It is poll season and Congress MP Sushmita Dev is neck deep in homework

Prasun Chaudhuri

Tarapur – Silchar Tehsil – Assam – India, 10 March 2019. She was hailed a giant-killer five years ago, when in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections Sushmita Dev defeated Kabindra Purkayastha, a BJP stalwart in the Northeast and a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

It was a big surprise even for political pundits when the 41-year-old ousted the 85-year-old incumbent MP who was known to have a firm grip over the Hindu voters of Silchar in southern Assam.

It was also sweet revenge for Sushmita; she had been able wrest the constituency her deceased father Santosh Mohan Dev, a veteran Congress leader and one of Rajiv Gandhi’s most trusted ministers, had lost to Purkayastha in 2009.

Sushmita is the youngest of four daughters. In the past few years, she has carved a niche for herself in national politics. She has raised as many as 317 questions in Parliament since 2014 and actively participated in 85 debates ranging from women’s safety to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), from road connectivity in the Northeast to flood management in Assam.

After being handed over charge of the All India Mahila Congress in 2017, she’s been vociferous against the Triple Talaq Bill and has sent a strong note of dissent against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, or CAB, as member of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).

I meet Sushmita at her palatial ancestral house in Tarapur, in the heart of Silchar, on a windy evening in February. The house is located on a road named after her grandfather, Satindramohan Dev, who was a freedom fighter and a close acquaintance of Jawaharlal Nehru. Sushmita has just come back from a whirlwind tour of her constituency and is enjoying a cup of black tea with some party workers.

She has already started campaigning for the 2019 polls. “Please give me a few minutes, these people have been waiting for me for hours,” she tells me with a warm smile. She orders a cup of black coffee for me and goes back to chatting with them in chaste Sylheti, a dialect used by Bengalis living in the Barak Valley.

It is obvious she’s trying to strengthen booth-level efficiency across her constituency.

Ever since Sushmita took over as the president of the All India Mahila Congress, she has been spending a lot of time in New Delhi. That is a major grouse a section of local party workers have against her.

She has travelled extensively across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh during by-elections, often in the company of the Congress president Rahul Gandhi. A political observer in the city says she is sure to get a key ministry if Congress wins the 2019 elections.

We are sitting in a spacious hall. On the walls there are photographs aplenty, of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, herself in graduation cape, herself with Rahul Gandhi inside an aircraft.

There is a monochrome portrait of her father, “My niece clicked it,” she tells me later. There is also a photograph of Swami Pranabananda, the founder of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a Hindu charitable organisation, and a miniature Durga idol on a low table.

“The last time you seemed to have helped the rival BJP candidate win,” Sushmita barks at a party worker. She is dressed in an indigo salwar-kurta, the dupatta wrapped around her like a shawl. Despite the thick framed spectacles and hair bundled in a no-nonsense bun, she looks younger than her 46 years.

But she comes across as hard as steel. She continues, “I am not happy with your block president, he is a useless fellow. He doesn’t meet people, may shift to the other side.” Two men start to argue about whether that man is actually a bad apple.

Then they discuss the BJP candidate who may be pitted against her. It is surprising that the BJP hasn’t decided on anyone till now. They discuss a few names and the pros and cons of each.

It is evident from the discussion and also from the Silchar grapevine that this contest will be tougher than the last one. Things have changed dramatically in the state after the draft NRC was published in Assam, followed by the draft CAB. Once most of the party workers leave, Sushmita turns to me.

And when I bring up the socio-political situation of the Northeast, she erupts with anger. “The region is in turmoil. The RSS-BJP combine has a complete lack of understanding of the Northeast.

They’ve got it all wrong here and destroyed the equilibrium; failed to understand the enormous diversity of the region; polarised people, fanned the fire of xenophobia; pitted tribals against non-tribals, Bengalis against Assamese, Hindus against Muslims.

Even though these communities have co-existed more or less peacefully for quite some time, now there is an atmosphere of suspicion, fear and anxiety.”

According to Sushmita, her father did not want to restrict her to politics; he wanted her to practice law. She says, “He used to say that becoming a career politician is a tough job. You’ll find both good and evil, but you have to draw a line when the balance tilts towards evil. You must know then that it’s time to quit.”

But nowadays, she says, there are too many politicians who are willing to do anything to win elections. “They invoke anger and insecurity. Hate mongering, cow vigilantism and mob lynching are the order of the day. For the first time in Indian history, it’s pure Machiavellianism all around.”

After Sushmita completed her higher education in the UK, she expressed her wish to join the United Nations. But her father thought otherwise; he told her she should get into a profession such as law that could help her be financially independent and become a good policy-maker.

“My father used to say in politics there is no guarantee that you’ll succeed.”

That she has been able to make full use of her legal education is evident from the dissent note she wrote earlier this year in the JPC report on the CAB. She had consistently maintained during JPC meetings that she is in favour of offering “unconditional citizenship for all persons of Indian origin who entered the Indian Territory up to December 31, 2014”, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

She also stated that people who migrated to Assam and had their names in the electoral rolls of the state in 2014 must never be considered illegal foreigners. But despite her repeated appeals to amend the bill, her suggestions were ignored.

“The bill clashes with Article 14 of the Constitution of India [that has to do with the Right to Equality] and Clause 5 of the Assam Accord [which says foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 1971 shall be expelled],” Sushmita says.

She insists that the bill is not legally valid, that it is unconstitutional. She elaborates, “It’s ridiculous. You allow them to vote, you win a majority, and now you want to throw them out.”

Some people, including a section of the state unit of her party, have thoroughly misinterpreted her stand. “They are under the impression that I have unequivocally supported CAB as a JPC member.

They are either unaware of my dissent note and repeated appeals for amendments, or they are deliberately glossing over the fact.” Some even burnt her effigy and demonstrated with black flags when she started campaigning in Silchar in January.

Joydeep Biswas, a political scientist with Assam University in Silchar, says, “Sushmita Dev’s stand on CAB is thoroughly democratic, secular and liberal. On the contrary, the BJP-led state government simply wants to consolidate Hindu votes across linguistic divides and ethnic identities.

It is simply catering to the Sangh parivar’s long-running agenda of making India a Hindu state and eventually turning this country into the natural home of Hindus all over the world.” Sushmita believes such social engineering is damaging the pluralist tradition of India. She adds, “It will take several decades to undo the damage they are doing.”

She, in the meantime, has dared to take on the BJP-led government on the Triple Talaq Bill. She says, “The focus of the bill was not to empower Muslim women; it’s a pretext to harass and penalise Muslim men. We respect the Supreme Court’s decision but we will scrap the bill if we come to power in 2019.”

She adds that triple talaq is against Islam and three crore women had protested against the bill because of criminalisation [of Muslim men]. “Actually, BJP is an anti-women party. Women ministers in the Union Cabinet are part of their tokenism,” she says.

Sushmita points out that her party leader, Rahul Gandhi, on the contrary, knows how to empower women. She says, “If Congress comes to power with a majority, we will push through the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill. Rahulji is like [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, he wants 50 per cent reservation for women.” – Five member panel constituted for appointing new jathedar of Takht Sri Patna Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 March 2019. In a meeting of Five Singh Sahibans held at Sri Akal Takht Sahib today, the SGPC appointed acting Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has constituted a five member panel for the appointment of Jathedar of Takht Sri Patna Sahib. Details of the members nominated in this panel by the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh are as follow:

President of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
President of Chief Khalsa Diwan
President of Takht Sri Patna Sahib Management Board
Any member of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Management Board

This five member committee will endorse two names to the Singh Sahibans following which the new Jathedar of Takht Sri Patna Sahib will be appointed.

It may be recalled here that on the directions of Giani Harpreet Singh, the Management Board of Takht Sri Patna Sahib had removed Giani Iqbal Singh as Jathedar of Takht Sri Patna Sahib on 05 March. Takht Sri Patna Sahib’s granthi Giani Rajinder Singh was temporarily appointed in place of Giani Iqbal Singh.

Sint-Pietersplein – Climate Manifestation

Climate Manifestation
24 February 2019

Stand up for the climate as otherwise it will be too late

The cardboard was cut !

Leave us a flower and grass that is still green

More and cheaper public transport

A primary school also joined

Seven weeks of manifestations
ministers open your eyes

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The News – Khalistan Movement unnerves Indian government

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 14 March 2019. The Khalistan Movement and the Sikh struggle for a separate homeland has unnerved the Indian government badly. New Delhi official sources claimed that India will take up the question of Sikh’s conduct in availing Kartarpur Corridor and promoting case of their separate homeland when the two countries will enter into dialogue today (Thursday) at Attari.

The sources hinted that New Delhi will ask Pakistan to insulate Sikh pilgrims visiting the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor from Khalistan separatist propaganda.

Pakistan has already discarded the impression and it is expected that Pakistan’s delegation leader for Attari talks Dr. Muhammad Fasial Chaudhary wouldn’t entertain Indian position and impress upon his Indian interlocutors to refrain from politicking the occasion since Pakistan doesn’t want to harm the reverence of the event.

According to Indian media reports India will raise the issue during the first meeting with Pakistan to finalise the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor on Thursday. The meeting will take place on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, they said.

Last year in November, India had lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the alleged harassment of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad and the denial of access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the country.

India had also expressed “grave concern” over reports of attempts during the pilgrims’ visit to “incite” communal disharmony and “promote secessionist tendencies” with an aim to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There were reports that pro-Khalistan banners were shown to the Indian pilgrims while they were on their way to the two Sikh shrines. In the meanwhile sources told The News that Sikhs came across the world had availed the occasion to highlight their just struggle.

The Hindu – Kartarpur talks: India will urge Pakistan to not utilise shrine for Khalistan propaganda

Visa related issues will be discussed.

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 13 March 2019. India will urge Pakistan to not utilise the holy Kartarpur shrine for propaganda about the Khalistan issue, sources said here on Wednesday.

The issue is part of the security concerns that is being considered by the Indian side as paramount for the bilateral talks that will be held in Attari on Thursday.

“We would like to see that Pakistan doesn’t use the presence of pilgrims from India in Kartarpur shrine for propaganda purposes on the Khalistan issue,” said a source aware of India’s plans for Thursday’s talks that will finalise the details of the religious corridor project on the ground.

The talks that will focus on the essential features of the draft agreement on the religious corridor project has already created a controversy after Pakistan alleged that India did not grant visas for Pakistani journalists for the meeting.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman took to social media to argue that Pakistan had granted visas to more than 30 Indian journalists who covered the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony in Pakistan last year.

Sources said Thursday’s event will not a public event and therefore India had decided to keep it limited to official level.

Facilities for pilgrims

The project will include a vast facility for the pilgrims on the Indian side which will be ready to host at least 5,000 pilgrims on any given day. It was learnt that India will also prepare for “surge” in pilgrims flow during special, festive seasons. Accordingly facilities will be created for at least 10,000 more pilgrims on the facilities on the Indian side.

India has acquired 50 acres of land for the facility for the pilgrims to be built in Khanda style which represents oneness of the humanity. The infrastructure would be built in two phases and the first phase will spread over 15 acres of land. The Passenger Terminal Building will be the main structure around which the rest of the land will be developed.

Prefabricated structure

The prefabricated structure is expected to be ready by the time 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak is celebrated in November this year.

The talks between Indian and Pakistani delegations on Wednesday will deliberate upon the passport and visa related issues. The Indian position, sources said is one of making the holy shrine available to “optimal” number of people.
“We are looking for visa-free travel facilities for 5,000 Indian pilgrims in the first phase itself,” said a source elaborating on the Indian position for the talks.

The talks will also include discussion over mismatch between the alignment of Indian and Pakistan designs. The facility that India will build on the Indian side of the project will include 54 immigration counters for processing the paper works necessary for the visit to the gurdwara which is one of the holiest shrines associated with Sikh religion.