BBC News – Uttar Pradesh: Campaigning takes communal tone in crucial India state

The battle for UP gets ugly

What happened?

Today is the last day for political parties to hand in their nominations for the first phase of voting that will begin on 11 April. And campaigning has started in earnest, warts and all.

In the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister, firebrand Hindu monk Yogi Adityanath, referred to one of the opposition Congress party candidates – a Muslim named Imran Masood – as the “son-in-law” of militant Masood Azhar.

Azhar is the Pakistani-based founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which in February carried out a suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 40 troops and sparked tit-for-tat strikes between India and Pakistan.

Why does this matter?

Mr Adityanath’s comments indicate what tone the campaigning is going to take in the days leading up to voting in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the most number of MPs to parliament.

However, Imran Masood is also a controversial figure. He was arrested in 2014 after a speech in which he threatened Mr Modi, saying he would “cut him into pieces”.

“Saharanpur [constituency] also has the son-in-law of Azhar Masood, who speaks in his language. You have to decide whether you will elect a person who speaks in Azhar Masood’s language or Modi-ji’s lieutenant in Raghav Lakhanpal, who will ensure development for all,” Yogi Adityanath said at a rally on Sunday.

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of which Mr Adityanath is a member, swept Uttar Pradesh with what political commentators described as a clever mix of communal division and promises of development.

Mr Adityanath seems to be following a similar formula this time around.

In the wake of the Kashmir suicide attack a tough stance on Pakistan has become a major theme of the BJP’s campaign. On Sunday India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had a Twitter spat with Pakistan’s information minister over a news report that two Hindu girls had been abducted and forcibly married off in Pakistan.

The Tribune – SAD ex-chief Tur’s grandson joins PEP

Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran – Panjab – India, 23 March 2019. The election campaign of Paramjit Kaur Khalra, candidate of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) from Khadur Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, got a shot in the arm today when Shamsher Singh Tur, grandson of late Mohan Singh Tur who was a former SAD president, joined Sukhpal Singh Khaira-led Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP).

On the occasion, Tur village sarpanch Dail Singh and a majority of the members of the gram panchayat too joined PEP.

An event in this regard was organised in Tur village, 20 km from Tarn Taran today, in which workers of the RMPI, BSP too participated.

On the occasion, Khaira sharply condemned the Congress, SAD and the BJP, besides AAP, for not protecting the interests of Sikhs and the state.

Paramjit Kaur’s husband Jaswant Singh Khalra was an activist who was killed by policemen more than 30 years back for raising his voice against the alleged disappearance of Sikh youths and their fake encounter by the police during the militancy period in the state.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Khaira urged the voters that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections were crucial and their mandate would show that either they acknowledged the sacrifice of Jaswant Singh Khalra (human rights activist and Paramjit Kaur’s husband) or accepted the “anti-people policies” of the successive state governments.

He told the people that it was important to protect the interests of the state. Other speakers too urged the people to come forward to vote and support Paramjit Kaur.

Gent Gurdwara – Gent-Sint-Pieters-Brussel Centraal – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
10 March 2019

The three women reciting the ninth Guru slok

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

Gent-Sint Pieters – Brussel Centraal
12 March 2019

 To Brussel at 08:54

And back to Gent at 10:00
What a waste of money and time

13 March 2019

Track 10 A: IC to Aalst – Brussel and Brussel Airport

After the Airport this train continues to Leuven and Landen

This is the train I was waiting for

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Kashi House – Eyewitnes at Amritsar – Parmjit Singh & Amandeep Singh

London – UK, 24 March 2019. Twenty years ago Parmjit Singh & I published Warrior Saints. With the support of the worldwide Sikh community Its archive images & quotes have reverberated around the world changing the perception of Sikh martial history.

This year we launch ‘Eyewitness at Amritsar: A Visual History of the 1919 Kashi House – Eyewitnes at Amritsar – Parmjit Singh & Amandeep Singh Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.’ The new book packed with phenomenal, never before seen pictures & quotes from victims, witnesses and perpetrators telling the story in their own words. It’s a must buy book in a year that will see the world turn its attention to the centenary of the Amritsar massacre.

Can I please urge my friends and our supporters to please order via the Kashi House website where 100% of profits are ploughed back into new books on Sikh and Punjab arts, heritage, history and culture. I know it’s tempting to buy on Amazon, but it leaves virtually nothing for us to plough back into the bigger publishing mission.

Nikah Khwan among 7 arrested over alleged forced conversion, underage marriages of Ghotki sisters

Shams Bhutto

Ghotki – Sindh – Pakistan, 25 March 2019. Police have detained at least seven people, including a Nikah Khwan (marriage officiator), suspected of involvement in the alleged abductions, forced conversions from Hindusim to Islam, and underage marriages of two minor sisters reported in Ghotki.

On Saturday, the government took notice of the incident after two separate videos started doing rounds on social media. The father and brother of the girls in videos circulating on social media said that the two sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion from Hinduism to Islam.

However, a separate video of the girls went viral, in which they said that they accepted Islam of their own free will.

In the video, a cleric can be seen next to the girls and two men who they were married to. The cleric said the girls were inspired by Islam and alleged that their family was spreading “false propaganda” and threatening their lives.

On March 20, the girls’ family lodged a First Information Report against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

Deputy Commissioner Saleemullah Odho and Superintendent Police Farrukh Lanjhar paid a visit to the girls’ father on Sunday night and assured him of the government and police’s full cooperation in the case.

Police on Sunday said they had conducted several raids in Punjab’s Rahim Yar Khan district, where it was believed the girls were taken from Ghotki, and arrested the Nikah Khwan who solemnised their marriages, a leader of the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek, and some relatives of the two men who had married the two girls. The detained suspects were handed over to Sindh police.

SP Lanjhar said that action was being taken on all available information to recover the girls. He was confident that the girls would be recovered soon.

Provincial minister Syed Owais Shah also visited Hari Lal, the father of the two girls. He said that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had contacted his counterpart in Punjab over the issue. He also expressed his hope that the two would be recovered soon.

However, Shiv Lal, a Manghwal community leader, described the assurances as lip service. He said that if the girls had embraced Islam, they should be produced before a court of law. He said that their alleged forced conversion and marriages would be challenged in the court, as both the girls are under 18 years of age.