Sint-Lievenspoort – Gentbrugge E17 viaduct (Viadukaduk)

24 February 2019

Daffodils & Crocuses


Sint-Lievenspoort Bus and Tramstop
Tram 4 to Gentbrugge Stelplaats

Tram 4 to Muide

Tram 4 to Muide

E17 viaduct
24 February 2019

Gentbrugge Park & Ride Tram stop
Tram 4 to Muide

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Scoop Independent News – New Zealand Sikh Council statement on killings in Christchurch

Press Release: Sikh Council of New Zealand – Statement on killings in Christchurch

Christchurch – South Island – New Zealand, 15 March 2019. Sikh Council of New Zealand strongly condemns the killing of innocent people in two mosques of Christchurch by unhinged individuals.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all those who believe in and work for a more harmonious world where people live like a family regardless of any social, religious, racial or other differences.

As Sikhs we live by and work for the principle of sarbat da bhala, well-being of all. We are committed to provide all moral and material support that we can to the suffering families.

To break the cycle of vengeful acts, let’s all show brotherly/sisterly love and affection to those we come in contact with in our day-to-day living.

May Waheguru grant eternal peace to those who lost their lives today and strength to the families who have directly or indirectly borne the brunt of today’s trage

Dawn – People of Hazara urge women to learn gatka, a traditional martial art, for self defence

In the absence of formal training clubs, the skill of gatka is transferred to young players by their seniors.

Muhammad Sadaqat

Hazara – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 17 March 2019. Gatka, the traditional martial art skill of stick-fighting between two players simulating sword fight, is one of the popular cultural sports of self-defence in Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The skill is practiced by players from different age groups during wedding ceremonies and cultural festivals in parts of Hazara division, especially lower and upper Tanawal, plains of Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Ghazi and Chach areas besides Taxila, Hasanabdal and neighbouring areas up to Panjab.

In the absence of formal training clubs, the skill and expertise of gatka is transferred to young players by their seniors, mostly the family members.

The origin of the word and sport of gatka, played with wooden sticks, is still obscured when and who exactly started using this word or introduced the stick-fighting.

Sikhs claim that they introduced the art of gatka in the sub-continent during 19th century while Muslims believe it was started during the early days of Islam, saying gatka stick was then made of a branch of date tree.

According to Shaukat Sultan, a former gatka player from Pandak village, the Mughals introduced and promoted gatka in the sub-continent, which proved that it was the art actually invented by the Muslims.

However, historians claim that Hindko, Punjabi and Urdu languages had borrowed the word gatka, also known as Indian martial art or form of jiujutsu, from Sanskrit, one of the three ancient languages of sub-continent.

According to Safdar Hussain, a local journalist who has deep study of the Sikh era and their traits in Hazara, gatka was further developed and became popular among youths during Sikh era in Hazara from 1818 to 1846.

He believes that owing to frequent wars between the Sikhs and local tribes when one-on-one combat was in vogue the local tribes directed their energies to getting their youth trained on the use of sword for which skills of gatka used to be very important.

He said that since then gatka was practiced in Hazara and during the last few years it was getting popular as more and more youth were attracted to this traditional sport.

Gatka, a local name of stick made of Kaoo wood, is usually 3 to 3.5 feet long and half an inch thick with a leather fitted hilt and decorated with multi-colour artificial threads and flowers. The hilt is usually 6 to 7 inches long with leather fitted helping the player to gain strong grip of the gatka.

The other weaponry used in gatka sport is phari or shield. Phari is made of dry leather and round shaped measuring 9×9 inches. It is covered by leather and filled with either cotton or dry grass protecting the hand of the player from full contact hit of the opponent.

The pair of gatka and phari cost Rs1,500 to 2,000 which is affordable compared to other sports.

Usually, two players irrespective of their weight and age carry gatka of equal size in the right hand and phari (shield) in left hand. As per rules of the game, each of the players first perform paintra twice empty-handed and then twice with gatka and phari.

Paintra, according to Shaukat Sultan, 62, is all about walking in a zigzag order within the distance of 7 to 8 feet resembling the kata performed by Karate players. Paintra which looks like a mere forward and back steps, is of great importance that determines the expertise of a player.

After empty-handed paintra, he said, the players pick up their gatkas and pharis and perform the same paintra with their weapons. Some players pray before start of the empty-handed paintra while others offer dua at the time of picking up their pairs for fight.

After that both the players perform salami holding gatka in the right hand and phari in left hand by briskly moving the gatka in attacking order and finally lifting it skyward straight as if hitting his opponent. But all this is done in the air.

With the final stroke of moving stick skyward both the players bow their heads before each other as a gesture of goodwill. Then the second last step of gatka fight starts when each of the players strikes five times on each other’s gatka.

It (five directional attack) starts from head and goes down to ankles and fifth attack ends in reverse on the stomach or chest of the opponent which both the players perform the same time against each other and their gatkas produce a musical sound of tuck, tuck and tick, tick.

The players then move towards mostly last phase of the fight comprising 13-directional attack wherein the player aims at striking body organs of the opponent, including head, neck, shoulders, arms, forearms, ribs, legs, knees, ankles, chest and naval.

This phase of one-on-one stick fight, also starts from right side and goes in up and down sequence targeting the body parts.

Size of the stick has to be equal to opponent’s gatka as even a half of an inch longer stick could give an edge to the wielder which is considered foul play in the game.

Gatka is supervised by two judges on the sides of 15x15ft ring, also known as akhara, who watch closely the movement of sticks during the fight time spanning over 7 to 8 minutes when the players exhibit their fighting skills for winning the contest.

The players show mental agility in a way that even the tip of the opponent’s gatka should not slightly touch his clothes leave aside the full or semi-contact hit on the body parts as slight touching of cloth is a winning point for the triumph or defeat of a player.

During the 13-strike fight mostly the game ends when one of the players either lose grip of gatka or phari after getting direct hit or falling of gatka or phari.

Malik Gulfraz 45, a resident of Dheri Sikandarpur who inherited the art from his late father Malik Abdul Rafique said he started learning gatka from his childhood and it took him six to seven years to get mastery over the art of self-defence and forward attack.

He said that Haripur, Ghazi, Chach, lower and upper Tanawal and some areas of Punjab were the main hubs where the pupils of his late father were performing gatka and transferring the skill to hundreds of their students.

“A trained gatka player could easily fight against 10 persons at a time,” he said. He lamented that the government had ignored the traditional sports bringing them to the point of vanishing.

About the future of gatka, Gulfraz who has his own 50 pupils in different parts of Hazara, said that owing to lack of support from government the centuries old game was vanishing, but a few years ago the youth had once again started evincing interest in it, which was a good omen for the future of this game.

He urged the youth especially girls to learn gatka not only for keeping themselves mentally and physically fit, but also for self-defence.

Not quite the same as the Sikh version !
Man in Blue

The Hindustan Times – Uphold life term for Sajjan Kumar: CBI to Supreme Court

The CBI made this submission in an affidavit, which the agency filed in response to Kumar’s appeal questioning his conviction and sentence. Kumar has also asked for bail until his appeal is decided.

New Delhi – India, 15 March 2019. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Delhi High Court’s order of a life sentence for former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The CBI also opposed his plea for bail, saying he has been using his “large political clout” to derail the trial and influence witnesses.

The CBI made this submission in an affidavit in response to Kumar’s appeal questioning his conviction and sentence. Kumar also asked for bail until his appeal is decided. A bench led by Justice SA Bobde took the affidavit on record and fixed March 25 to hear Kumar’s application for bail.

Kumar, 73, was held guilty by the high court on 17 December 2018, and sentenced to jail for life in a case related to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-1 area of southwest Delhi on the intervening night of November 1 and 2.

Kumar surrendered before a trial court here on December 31, 2018, to serve the sentence in pursuance of the high court’s judgment awarding him life imprisonment for the “remainder of his natural life”. He resigned from the Congress after his conviction in the case.

The CBI argued against Kumar’s release and said he is capable of “influencing” and “terrorising” witnesses.

A fair trial would not be possible in the other cases pending against him, if he is granted bail, the agency said, adding that Kumar’s conduct in using his political clout to derail trial and influence witnesses should be a ground to deny him bail.

The murders witnessed during the 1984 riots fell under the category of “crime against humanity on parity with well-known genocides worldwide like large scale killing of Armenians by Kurds and Turks, mass extermination of Jews by Nazis, mass killing of Bangladeshi citizens by the sympathisers of Pakistani Army and mass killing during various ethnic riots within India also,” the CBI argued.

The minority community was targeted by “spearheaded attacks of dominant political actors like the applicant/convict (Kumar) and duly facilitated by law enforcement agencies,” CBI said. “It took 34 valuable years of legal battle and courage shown by fearless witnesses/victims, which has resulted in his conviction and no leniency, therefore, on the ground of age should be granted,” read the CBI affidavit. – Manjinder Singh Sirsa elected as new DSGMC President

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 16 March 2019. In an election held for the DSGMC’s 15 member executive committee at Guru Gobind Singh Bhawan of Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib on March 15, BJP legislator Manjinder Singh Sirsa was elected as a president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee.

DSGMC’s acting president Harmeet Singh Kalka has been elected as general secretary while Kulwant Singh Bath as vice-president. Similarly, Ranjit Kaur senior vice-president and Harwinder Singh KP joint secretary of the DSGMC. The names of the other executive members are as follow:

Harinder Pal Singh
Mahinder Pal Singh Chaddha
Paramjit Singh Chandhok
Paramjit Singh Rana
Kuldeep Singh Sahni
Jagdeep Singh Kahlo
Bhupinder Singh Bhullar
Vikram Singh Rohini
Malkinder Singh
Jitender Singh Sahni

This 15 member executive committee of the DSGMC has been elected for two years i.e. till 2021.

It may be recalled here that the former DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK had resigned from the presidency on December 6 last year when the SAD (Delhi) president Paramjit Singh Sarna had leveled allegations of corruption against him.
Later, the SAD president Sukhbir Badal had dissolved the DSGMC’s executive committee by directing all the DSGMC members to resign from their posts.

Interacting with media after getting elected as a new president of the DSGMC, Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that he will continue to work for the DSGMC with the utmost dedication. He also thanked the DSGMC members for depicting trust in him to head the second largest Sikh body DSGMC.

Kramersplein – Climate Manifestation – Kantienberg – Sint-Lievenspoort

Climate Manifestation
24 February 2019

Eating less meat is an improvement on present practice

I am a Kaaskop from the Netherlands
I eat no meat, but not eating cheese is a step too far !

There are Muslim vegans in Gent

24 February 2019

Real chips, not French Fries like thingies
And vegetarian burgers !

Fresh pommes frites

24 February 2019

Spring is in the air ! Nice crocuses

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Huffington Post – Jews, Christians, Sikhs and others mourn with Muslims after New Zealand attack

Interfaith allies are pledging to stand with Muslims in words and actions after the Christchurch massacre.

Carol Kuruvilla

Interfaith allies expressed grief and solidarity with Muslims on Friday in response to a deadly terror attack at two New Zealand mosques.

The shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, which occurred during traditional Friday prayer services, left at least 49 people dead and injured dozens more.

Local authorities have arrested and charged one man with murder and are holding at least two other suspects in custody in relation to the attacks, the Associated Press reports.

One of the alleged gunmen posted a 74-page manifesto identifying himself as a white nationalist, according to The New York Times. He also live-streamed video of the carnage online.

Leaders from New Zealand’s various religious traditions condemned the attack and expressed outrage that houses of worship were violated in this way.

Synagogues across New Zealand canceled Shabbat services in the wake of the shooting over concerns about the safety of their own communities, the Forward reported. The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand said it was devastated that people were attacked “in a place of worship and peace.”

“It is our responsibility to care for, respect and protect everyone and we all have the right to feel as safe in a place of worship as we do in our own homes,” the center’s CEO Chris Harris said in a statement.

Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen Auckland, a Sikh volunteer organization, said in a Facebook post that it has no words to describe the brutality of killing innocent people on their sacred day and in a sacred place. The group is asking its members to volunteer to provide food and funeral assistance to Christchurch’s Muslim community.

An ecumenical group of Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic and other Christian denominations in Christchurch issued a statement extending their love and support to the Muslim community.

“As members of two faith traditions, born out of a shared Abrahamic inheritance, we stand in solidarity with you,” the pastors wrote in their letter. “Looking, and crying, to God, the source of all.”

In the U.S., Shoulder to Shoulder, a national coalition of 35 religious denominations and faith-based organizations committed to standing against Islamophobia, called on people of faith to show solidarity with Muslims.

“We call on all people of faith and goodwill to listen to those impacted by anti-Muslim bigotry, get educated on the issues, contact your local mosque or Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or South Asian organization and show your solidarity through word and action,” the organization said in a statement.

The Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy group, pointed out on Twitter that American houses of worship have also been targeted by racist shootings in recent years, including Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue; Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church; and Oak Creek’s Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

“No community or faith should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship,” the coalition said in a tweet.

Bend the Arc Jewish Action encouraged its followers to reject and condemn white nationalism and stand with American Muslims.

“After the Pittsburgh shooting, Muslim communities showed up for us, protecting us at vigils, actions, and Shabbat prayers,” the advocacy group said in a statement. “We must do the same for them.”

Sadhana, a progressive Hindu organization, encouraged its members to think more deeply about how to combat rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the USA, India and all over the world. It urged people to speak out against Islamophobia in their own communities, participate in interfaith events and donate to New Zealand’s victims.

“We must all work together [to] eradicate the root causes of such violence: hatred, racism, nationalism, and religious exclusivism,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post.

In New York City, allies gathered near the Islamic Center of New York University with signs and words of support.

Other interfaith vigils and gatherings were being planned in cities across the USA for Friday and throughout the weekend.

Maggie M. Siddiqi, a faith director for the Center for American Progress, noted that if non-Muslims are planning to join a Friday prayer service or another memorial event at a mosque, it is important to call the worship center’s leaders to confirm that it’s OK to attend.

Mosques are often overcrowded to begin with, Siddiqi said, and extra attendees could present another burden for those who are already trying to care for the emotional and security needs of their communities. In addition, some worshippers may not feel safe having to face a sudden influx of unannounced strangers this weekend.

“Ask the organizers what would be most helpful for you to do, and don’t rely on them to organize anything FOR you. This is what allyship looks like,” Siddiqi wrote on Twitter.

The Hindu – Analysis: The trouble with playing politics with foreign policy

Varghese K George

New Delhi – India, 14 March 2019. The current domestic hostilities over foreign policy questions, and public litigation of those make mature policy-making an uphill task for India.

“On some issues, there has always been a consensus in this country. And foreign policy is one of those. As far as foreign policy is concerned nothing has changed,” Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first BJP Prime Minister, told Lok Sabha in 1999.

In the years that followed, the conduct of foreign policy has increasingly become a contentious topic in Indian politics. Hyperactive TV anchors and social media explosion have played their roles in this heightened frenzy over foreign policy questions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a muscular foreign policy approach a part of his politics from the 2002 Gujarat State election campaign onwards.

Rahul Gandhi has taken a leaf out of Mr. Modi’s book. “Weak Modi is scared of Xi [Xi Jinping, Chinese President]. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India.

NoMo’s China diplomacy: 1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat. 2. Hug Xi in Delhi. 3. Bow to Xi in China,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter, after China blocked, for the fourth time, a move in the U.N. Security Council to list JeM chief Mazhood Azhar as a global terrorist.

He is trying to question Mr. Modi’s claims of a strident policy towards its hostile neighbours, Pakistan and China. JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terrorist strike that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers on February 14.

“With China having blocked our bid to designate Masood Azhar a global terrorist, the question on every Indian’s mind is, what was the use of all the swinging with Modi and President Xi,” the Congress said on its official Twitter handle. “A terrorist responsible for such bloody murders is let off the hook again by the BJP,” it claimed.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and former Union Minister Manish Tewari also targeted Mr. Modi on China.

Mr. Modi had targeted his predecessor Manmohan Singh for alleged weaknesses on the international front before he became Prime Minister.

Though Pakistan has been a constant trope in his politics, Mr. Modi also used incidents such as the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by the United States to argue it was all happening because of Mr. Singh’s “weak leadership.”

Mr. Singh also had to deal with pressure from partners such as the Trinamool Congress, the DMK and the CPI (M) on key foreign policy issues, some he won, some he lost.

Once he became Prime Minister, Mr. Modi’s results have been mixed. His China policy vacillated, from bonhomie with Mr. Xi to military escalation in Doklam to reset of friendship.

With surgical strikes and cross-border raids in Pakistan, Mr. Modi has been successful in protecting his image on the western front, but with China, things have been complicated.

Under Donald Trump, the USA’s Asia policy is also less than reassuring for India. Mr. Trump has clubbed India and China in the same category of protectionist states on several occasions.

His management of China challenges Mr. Modi’s strongman claims. Mr. Gandhi wants to bring that to the front-burner, and question Mr. Modi’s triumphant claims with regard to Pakistan.

It is not that there were never disagreements in India on foreign policy in the earlier periods. But they were muted and discussed politely. The current domestic hostilities over foreign policy questions, and public litigation of those make mature policy-making an uphill task for India and could hamper the country’s international standing.