The Hindustan Times – Bride among 4 killed in Punjab road accident, groom critical

The accident occurred after their Mahindra Bolero crashed into a stationary combine machine, which is used for harvesting crops, on the highway.

HT Correspondent

Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 29 April 2019. A 22-year-old bride was among four people killed in a highway accident in Punjab’s Ludhiana on Monday, hours after her wedding, police said.

The dead include Heena Ansari, the bride from Krishan Vihar in Ludhiana, her sisters-in-law Husna Bano, 30, Zarina Khatun, 27, and another relative Jamshed Ansari, 27, who was driving the vehicle they were travelling in. The groom Anjum Ansari, 23, and Heena’s twin sister Ruksana, 22, were seriously injured in the accident at around 7am.

The accident occurred after their Mahindra Bolero crashed into a stationary combine machine, which is used for harvesting crops, on the highway. The assistant of the driver of the combine machine has also suffered injuries.

The family was returning from Yamunanagar after the wedding. – No clean chit to Akali leaders in Behbal Klan firing case, clarifies SIT

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 April 2019. In an immediate reaction to media reports claiming clean chit to Akali leaders, the Special Investigation Team has clarified that it didn’t give clean chit to anyone in Behbal Klan firing case.

The SIT has said that it has filed charge-sheet against only one accused Ex-SSP Moga Charanjit Sharma and the investigation of some aspects was still underway against him.

Interacting with media, a spokesperson of Punjab police said that how the SIT could give clean chit to anyone when the investigation in this case was still underway.

He clarified that the 792 page charge-sheet was filed against Ex-SSP Charanjit Sharma only and solid evidences have been presented in the charge-sheet. “The SIT will file a supplementary charge-sheet against anyone found guilty in this firing incident,” he added.

He further said that if there is not any illustration about someone in the charge-sheet it doesn’t mean that he has been given a clean chit until unless the investigation concludes.

Meanwhile, Sikh24 has learnt that the SIT filed charge-sheet against the Ex-SSP Moga Charanjit Sharma in a hurry because if the SIT won’t have filed it then Charanjit Sharma might have become eligible for bail.

Charanjit Sharma was arrested on January 27 this year and it is mandatory for Police to file charge-sheet against the accused within 90 days of his arrest in cases under-trial of Sessions Court.

No clean chit to Akali leaders in Behbal Klan firing case, clarifies SIT

Bosnia – Sarajevo – Gazi-Husrev-Bey-Masjid

Walkabout in Sarajevo
10 April 2019

The clocktower


The Masjid’s dress code

Prayer time
Women on the left of the main entrance
Man on the right of the main entrance

The men at prayer

The masjid’s courtyard

More Bosnian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Birmingham Live – Mayor Andy Street in TV gaffe after calling Sikh gurdwara a mosque during Vaisakhi

West Midlands Mayor later apologised for ‘muddling my words’

Ashley Preece

Smethwick – West Midlands – UK, 29 April 2019. The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has issued a public apology, after stating a Sikh gurdwara was a mosque on live TV.

The embarrassing gaffe was aired during an interview with Akaal, a Sikh TV channel, as vibrant Vaisakhi celebrations unfolded at the huge Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick on Sunday.

When interviewed about Vaisakhi, Mr Street said: “It’s brilliant to be able to join the nagar kirtan here from the Guru Nanak Mosque in Smethwick, which is my opportunity to say a huge thank you to the Sikh community for their brilliant contribution across the West Midlands.”

The religious blunder was uploaded onto social media – and the 55-year-old was criticised for calling a gurdwara a mosque

Jay Singh-Sohal, though, defended the Mayor, saying: “Can we afford to not forgive those who’s mistakes are genuine?”

Following the live broadcast, Mr Street apologised for what he described as muddling his words.

He said: “Vaisakhi in Birmingham and Smethwick was yet again an amazing experience.

“All places of worship and festivals of all religions should be respected.

“I’m sorry I muddled my words.

“I hope no offence was caused, particularly as the Guru Nanak Gurdwara has always offered me a characteristic warm welcome.”

Mr Street’s gaffe comes in the week of heightened tension between the Sikh and Muslim communities after an event to celebrate Vaisakhi at Birmingham’s central mosque had to be cancelled.

The Vasaakhi at the Mosque event, a first for the UK, had been arranged for April 24 by anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate.

The event was cancelled due to concerns over the safety of attendees.

Dawn – Well ‘discovery’ at Guru Nanak’s enclosure

Abid Mehmood

Narowal – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 April 2019. The caretakers of Gurdwara Baba Guru Nanak at Kartarpur, Shakargarh tehsil, claim that a 550-year-old well has been discovered while digging the enclosure of the sacred place.

The well is considered a boon for the Sikh pilgrims who flock to the place from far and wide for Baisakhi and on other occasions.

The 20-foot well (made of small bricks) is said to be built during the life of Baba Guru Nanak. The water used to be sweet and clear and the Sikh pilgrims used it in the belief that it’s the gift of the founding leader and could rid them of ailments.

The news of the discovery, “a marvel of Baba Guru Nanak”, has brought elation to the pilgrims. It is being cleared and used after its repair and decoration.

Giani Sahib Sardar Gobind Singh said: “This well was in fact discovered three years ago on the basis of information and the pilgrims visiting the holy place consider its water amrit jal (sacred water). They have a firm belief that the water has the healing quality.”

The gurdwara administration says further information is being gathered about the well.

The News – Ijaz Shah – the right man for Afghan peace process

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 28 April 2019. Pakistani officials have said the newly-appointed Interior Minister Ijaz Shah is an expert on Afghanistan as he had worked on the issue when the US war on terrorism was at its peak in early 21st century.

Elected MNA from Nankana Sahib, Ijaz Shah is a former spy chief and close ally of Pervez Musharraf who has long been accused of deep ties to militant groups.

The appointment of retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah has been heavily criticised by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), whose slain former leader Benazir Bhutto regarded him as a deadly enemy.

Some analysts said it suggested Pakistan’s military continued to wield heavy influence over the civilian administration, a persistent allegation since Khan took office eight months ago that both his government and the generals deny, a foreign wire service reported.

In an interview with the BBC after his appointment, Shah said he had left his institution a long time ago.

“I am a civilian and have participated in elections.” The prime minister’s office and the information ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Shah was among four persons named by Bhutto in a letter written to then President Pervez Musharraf months before her assassination as suspects who should be investigated if she was killed.

“Are you trying to send a message to the world that we have terrorists and the abettors of terrorists in our cabinet?” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto told the National Assembly this week, referring to Shah’s appointment. “This cannot happen.”

Shah’s office did not respond to a request for an interview or a list of questions sent by Reuters, but earlier this month then Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told local newspaper Dawn that “he is a clean man” and had been cleared of all allegations against him in a government inquiry.

The sweeping cabinet reshuffle comes as Pakistan is trying to attract foreign investment and present itself as a reformed country. But critics say the inclusion of an “old school” figure such as Shah in the government shows little has changed.

Under Musharraf, who as army chief seized power in a 1999 coup and ruled until 2008, Shah served as head of the military’s leading spy agency in the Punjab province, and was later appointed the head of the civilian Intelligence Bureau.

He oversaw the surrender of wanted militant Omar Saeed Shaikh, who masterminded the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in 2002.

That contributed to allegations he had been close to Islamist groups based along lawless border with Afghanistan.

“The biggest controversy is his links with the Afghan jihad and figures like Omar Saeed Sheikh,” author and analyst Ayesha Siddiqa told Reuters. Allegations leveled by the United States, Afghanistan and others regarding sheltering militants has based along its borders.

When The News reporter tried to contact high officials late at Saturday night, they were not available; however authorities said that Ijaz Shah has done a lot on Afghan front and he knows people and problems related to that issue, and his appointment will help the US in its initiative to have peace in Afghanistan as Pakistan is a major stakeholder in Afghan peace process.

Talks between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban have been stalled for now but its expected that they will restart soon. The Taliban have also announced fresh spring offensive which has been criticised widely.

They said that it is a sincere effort from Pakistan civilian government that they want a peaceful neighbor on the western front. Prime Minister Imran Khan the other day had resolved that Pakistan will not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.

“Afghanistan conflict has brought great suffering for both Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last 40 years.

Now, after a long wait, the Afghanistan peace process presents a historic opportunity for peace in the region and Pakistan is fully supporting the process including the next logical step of Intra-Afghan Dialogue wherein Afghans will themselves decide the future of their country”, Prime Minister Khan had said in a statement.

The officials said that it was a positive thinking on part of the prime minister to resolve decades old Afghan imbroglio that he chose a person who knows how the things should go.

The officials said that had Ijaz Shah was involved in assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the last PPP government would have unearthed this. After a complete investigation would have been carried out to prove his involvement. They said that all were mere allegations.

On the other hand ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf officials said that the party wants to strengthen it self in the province of Punjab and Ijaz Shah has defeated a prominent PML-N leader Dr Shizra Mansab in the elections. They said that earlier Nankana Sahib was a stronghold of the PML-N.

Under Khan’s government, Islamabad has been trying to convince the outside world that it will not tolerate militants operating from inside Pakistan.

Pakistan currently finds itself on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list” for inadequately dealing with money laundering and terrorism financing, a designation that makes it harder for the country to access international markets at a time when its economy is stumbling.

Convincing the FATF that it is making sufficient efforts to crack down on militancy will be harder with a controversial figure such as Shah in the cabinet, said PPP Senator Mustafa Khokhar.

“Ijaz Shah’s appointment just reinforces the perception that nothing has changed in Pakistani politics,” political analyst Aamer Ahmed Khan told the wire service.

The Tribune – Nijjar’s appointment to steer Referendum 2020 shows true colours of SFJ: Amarinder

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 April 2019. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said the appointment of a wanted Khalistani terrorist to spearhead the Khalistan Referendum 2020 campaign had exposed the true motive and intent behind the separatist movement.

He urged the Centre to press the global community to join India in cracking down on this grave threat to its peace and security.

Reacting strongly to the media reports of the roping in by Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was on the list of wanted persons he had shared with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during their meeting in Amritsar in February 2018. Amarinder expressed concern over the Canadian government’s covert and overt support to the hardliners operating from its soil.

Even as he urged Trudeau not to play with fire by allowing such elements to use Canadian territory to disrupt India’s peace and stability, the CM called upon the Indian government to take a more proactive stand in dealing with these forces trying to unleash trouble in the country, particularly Punjab.

He expressed concern over Canada’s failure to rein in such hardline elements seeking to disturb India’s peace and security. He warned that allowing such elements would be detrimental to Canada’s own safety and security in the long run.

Amarinder said Nijjar was accused by India of running a terror camp in British Columbia, besides being accused of target killings in India and conducting weapons training for anti-India terrorists in the West.

The Referendum 2020 had never been the peaceful movement it claimed to be, but by roping in Nijjar, it was clear that SFJ had given up all pretensions of steering a non-violent campaign, the CM said.

Canada does not seem to think that Hardeep Singh is a dangerous terrorist, Amarinder Singh disagrees.
Which judgement would you trust ?

Bosnia – Sarajevo – Gavrilo Princip

Walkabout in Sarajevo
Gavrilo Princip
10 April 2019


Army barracks

Pedestrian bridge across the Miljacka
The museum commemorates the killing of
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by Gavrilo Princip

The river Miljacka

The assassination on 28 June 1914 that set of a series of events
that led to the carnage of World War I

Pedestrian bridge across the Miljacka
Tram tracks

More Bosnian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Washington Monthly – Another Act of White Supremacist Terror. When will GOP Leaders say enough?

David Atkins

Washington DC – USA, 28 April 2019. Two horrific acts of terrorism were committed this weekend against non-Christians. One by an Islamophobic Christian supremacist terrorist mistakenly targeting Sikhs (again), and one by an anti-Semitic white supremacist terrorist spouting “replacement theory” smears.

In the first case, a man whose father was a pastor and who was suffering mental illness in part due to service in Iraq, drove into a family of Sikhs in Sunnyvale, California, allegedly believing they were Muslims.

A 13-year-old girl is now in a coma and fighting for her life as result. The terrorist was allegedly on his way to a Bible study group and praising Jesus when authorities caught him.

In the second, a white supremacist took credit for an arsonist attack against a mosque last month, only after gunning down several people at a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one.

He apparently wrote a anti-Semitic manifesto containing many of the same slanders against Jews found ubiquitously on conservative message boards across the internet, and that fueled the rise of Nazism in Weimar Germany: that Jews are intentionally enabling non-white populations to grow in America and Europe in order to replace the white race.

That the theory is utterly bogus doesn’t matter: large parts of the conservative movements in the Anglosphere and elsewhere believe in it, and white supremacist terrorists have increasingly begun to act on it.

These are only the latest in a series of escalating terrorist acts against non-Christians and non-whites in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascent to the Republican nomination and the presidency. Donald Trump, of course, doesn’t care: this is his base, as is obvious from even a cursory visit to any heavily pro-Trump forum on Fox News, Reddit, Voat, Gab or elsewhere.

White supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and misogynist rhetoric runs rampant across the entirety of the conservative movement, and the transformation of the Republican Party into a vehicle of violent white male grievance has rapidly accelerated its longtime trend under Trump. It’s also no surprise that the president is doing less than nothing to stop it.

After all, in the wake of neo-nazi protests in Charlottesville allegedly to protect worshipful monuments to those who turned traitors to the United States in armed defense of race-based chattel slavery, Donald Trump didn’t want to make a statement for several days and then ultimately said that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Among the chants of those very fine people? “Jews will not replace us.” The same conspiracy theory that drove the terrorist attack in Poway today. Trump doesn’t care, though.

Today is also the day when he congratulated the white player picked second in the NFL draft, while ignoring the black player picked first. This is what he does. This is who he is. He knows his base, and he doesn’t care about anyone else. Beyond personal graft, enabling them is the core rationale behind his presidency.

The Democratic Party and the nation’s liberals are almost irrelevant to this conversation.

Arguments among progressives and liberals persist as to the depth of the bigotry among the least committed portions of Trump’s voters, just how many of them may or may not be persuaded to vote against Republicans on the basis of economic appeals, and how best to energize the infrequent voters among core Democratic constituencies including women, youth and people of color.

But functionally speaking, that argument is a strategic one over perhaps a 4-5% slice of the electorate. It’s a tactically crucial question that could make the difference between a Democratic landslide and a devastating narrow loss setting progress back for over a generation. But it doesn’t change all that much when considering the broad partisan direction of 90% of the country.

The more important question now is what the rest of the Republican leadership will do, and what the conservative infotainment complex will do.

As older, whiter, more male and more socially conservative voters decline as a portion of the electorate, the Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to democracy itself.

Gerrymandering, census manipulation, poll taxes, power grabs against branches of government they don’t control, voter suppression, and legislative intimidation against voter registration can all be done with little public fanfare to help them delay the inevitable.

But violent acts of terrorism by their own base are much harder to sweep under the rug. And vague statements of general condemnation against violence won’t cut it as these despicable acts continue to increase, and as the Republican Party becomes increasingly associated with it.

Whatever remains of the mushy middle of American politics is allergic to conflict, extremism and violence–and as conservative politics are increasingly associated with violent extremism, Republican room for electoral maneuvering decreases.

Conservative infotainment on cable news and the AM radio can maintain their radicalized audiences longer than the Republican Party can sustain its position: after all, a small population can keep conservative media in business much longer than it can continue to deliver majoritarian wins for one of America’s two major political parties, even buoyed by political affirmative action for older, rural white voters.

But conservative media has its own problem: advertisers. Corporate America knows where its future customer base is, and it’s not with the Fox News audience. So ultimately even the likes of the Murdoch family, Clear Channel and Sinclair Broadcast Group will feel the hit from the abandonment of advertisers.

And that is all just tactical. Morally, how long can whatever is left of decency among Republican opinion leaders sustain the current trends as its base descends into radical violent extremism?

We certainly haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Maybe there isn’t one, but common sense dictates that at least some portions of conservative intelligentsia must have a breaking point.

At what point, either out of moral revulsion, sense of patriotic duty or sheer self-preservation, do Republican leaders start to try to put out the fire instead of fanning the flames? How many more deaths will it take?

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.

Another Act of White-Nationalist Terror. When Will GOP Leaders Say Enough?

The Hindu – Sri Lanka Easter blasts: Suspected mastermind Zahran Hashim spent time in south India, says top military source

Investigators identified Zahran Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts.

Meera Srinivasan & Suhasini Haidar

Colombo – Sri Lanka / New Delhi – India, 27 April 2019. Zahran Hashim, believed to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, spent “substantial” time in “South India,” a top Sri Lankan military source said on Friday.

Investigators identified Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday. Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions.

Two days later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. The man seen standing at the centre is believed to be Hashim. The other jihadists had covered their faces with a scarf.

Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

Indian officials would not comment that Hashim travelled to India but pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin. More than 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are being investigated, said an official, who asked not to be named.

The first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim.

The men were IS sympathisers and arrested in September 2018 in Coimbatore, on suspicion that they were plotting the assassination of certain political and religious leaders in India, the official said.

‘Hashim, a Shangri-La bomber’

Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, on Friday confirmed Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road.

He led the radical Islamist group in Kattankudy, in Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, and was known for espousing extremist religious ideas, often to the discomfort of many within the community.

Earlier this week, locals told The Hindu that Zahran had left the town two years ago after a fierce disagreement with the Moulavi (religious scholar) on the practice of Islam. He was absconding since then, community leaders said.

Heightened searches

Following Sunday’s brutal attacks, inarguably the biggest atrocity the island has seen in its post-civil war decade, police and the armed forces have arrested at least 75 persons for their alleged role in the bombings.

A list of 139 youth has been drawn up and security forces are desperate to eliminate any persistent threat, official sources said. Police on Thursday released photographs of a few suspects, including one wrong photograph for which they later regretted, and sought the help of the public to nab them.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday vowed to “meet the challenge and defeat terrorism” in the country. Investigations into war-time rights abuse allegations had weakened the country’s security apparatus and made it vulnerable to terror attacks, he said, apparently referring to military officials facing trial for alleged abduction and murder.

Speaking to local editors and Colombo-based foreign journalists, Mr. Sirisena said a major search operation, including a door-to-door check, was underway. Acknowledging a “serious lapse” in intelligence sharing, despite “a friendly country” providing a “highly descriptive warning” on April 4.

He squarely blamed the Defence Secretary and the Inspector General of Police for it. Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday, although he told Reuters “there had been no failure on his part”.

President Sirisena further said that the planned attack could have been a response to his campaign against illicit drugs. “There is a nexus between international terrorism and international drug trade,” he said.