Tolo News – Women’s Rights our red line in peace process: Ashraf Ghani

President Ghani says he is committed to improving women’s role in Afghan society.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 12 April 2019. President Ashraf Ghani, who met a group of women in Faryab province on Thursday, said that women’s rights remain the Afghan government’s red line in the peace process, which has seen some developments in recent months following efforts by the Afghan government and its international allies.

The inclusion of women in the peace process and defending from their rights in future talks with the Taliban has been a much-debated topic in recent days.

The Afghan government will send a delegation to Qatar meeting scheduled for April 19 where Afghan politicians will exchange views with the Taliban about the peace process.

Critics say major issues in the peace talks is how to preserve the achievements of the past 18 years, including women’s rights.

“It is a moment of pride that Faryab women raising their thoughtful demands. Women’s rights are our red line in the peace process and we will never go back,” Ghani reiterated.

Ghani said women’s role in Afghan society is not symbolic and that he is committed to improving their role in different sectors.

He called on women to raise their demands and share their thoughts “independently”.

“The participation of women at the national level is great and it is increasing at the local level. Presence of women in leadership posts is a need,” he added.

This comes as government has been under criticism by rights activists for not giving the required role for women in the peace process. The proposed lists of the Reconciliation Leadership Council and the negotiating team show that each of the two bodies has two women members.

A US Senator Jeanne Shaheen has said in a tweet that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s refusal to commit to including Afghan women in US-led negotiations with the Taliban “is a moral and foreign policy failure for this administration”.

She says that “Afghan women should be able to shape their country and the laws they live under”.

“The Secretary’s assertion that it is somehow up to Afghan women to let themselves into a negotiation controlled by the US and the Taliban is nonsensical and ignorant of the extreme abuses that Afghan women once suffered under Taliban rule,” she said in a tweet on April 11.

The Tribune – Ex-SSP given bail, but will stay in jail

Tribune News Service

Faridkot – Panjab, 11 April 2019. District and Sessions Court on Thursday granted bail to former Moga SSP Charanjit Singh Sharma in an attempt to murder case.

Languishing in Patiala Central Jail for over 70 days, Sharma has been granted bail in the Kotkapura police firing case in which he was nominated as an accused last month. He has been given bail subject to furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000.

Sharma will, however, continue to be lodged in the jail as he has been denied bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Behbal Kalan police firing case in which two persons were killed.

In Kotkapura case, Sharma is facing attempt-to-murder charge, but in Behbal Kalan case, he has been booked for murder.

Gent – Brussel Airport – Vienna – Bosnia: Sarajevo

07 April 2019

07:01 train to Brussel Airport

Sarajevo Aerodrom
07 April 2019

Brussel – Vienna / Vienna – Sarajevo

Our group members getting off the plane

Veerle organising her bags

Miljacka River
Pictures taken from  hotel room
07 April 2019

Miljacka River
The river that runs through Sarajevo from east to west

Miljacka River

More Bosnian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Guardian – Amritsar, 100 years on, remains an atrocity Britain cannot be allowed to forget

Hundreds of civilians were massacred by a British general who was later treated as a hero. There has still been no apology

Mihir Bose

12 Aprl 2019. Today marks the centenary of a British general gunning down unarmed Indians who had gathered peacefully in a park in Amritsar. In India you only have to mention the name of the park, Jallianwala Bagh, for everyone to know what you are talking about.

Yet hardly anybody in the UK has heard about Jallianwala Bagh, let alone knows why the event was one of the worst atrocities of British rule in India. Nor do they appreciate why its legacy still lingers, and colours relations between the UK and India to this day.

The Amritsar massacre fundamentally changed how the Indians saw the Raj (the era of British rule, which ran from 1757 to 1947). It led Mahatma Gandhi, who during the first world war had forsaken his pacifism to help recruit soldiers to preserve the empire, to see British rule as satanic.

Indians, having contributed massively to the war victory both in men and money, were confident that the British would reward them with the sort of dominion status they had already given the white people of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. I

Indians’ hopes were raised when in 1917 the Balfour declaration promised Jews a homeland in Palestine. What they did not know was that the same year the war cabinet had secretly come to the conclusion that it would take Indians 500 years to learn to rule themselves.

Then, after the war ended, instead of liberty the British responded with draconian powers of search and arrest without warrant, and detention without trial.

The Indians called it na dalil, na vakil, na appeal – no argument, no lawyer, no appeal. Tensions escalated, leading to British troops killing about 15 Indians; in retaliation five British civilians were killed, and telegraph wires connecting Amritsar to the outside world were cut. On 13 April 1919, General Reginald Dyer marched in.

Dyer led a small party of soldiers to Jallianwala Bagh, an open area of six or seven acres surrounded by high walls in the heart of Amritsar. There 15,000 to 20,000 had gathered, including women and children, some to discuss politics but most to celebrate Baisakhi, the great Sikh festival.

Without any warning, and just 30 seconds after he entered the park, Dyer ordered his soldiers to fire. They fired for 10 minutes and stopped only because they had run out of ammunition. By then 337 men, 41 women and a baby of seven weeks had been killed, with another 1,500 injured (the Indians claimed more than 1,000 were killed.)

And the carnage could have been even worse. The alley that led to the Bagh was too narrow for Dyer’s armoured cars, otherwise he would have taken them in and used their machine guns.

He also had Indians whipped for not saluting him. But his most novel punishment was reserved for the street where a female British missionary had been assaulted. Any Indian crossing the street between 6am and 8pm had, he said, to “go through on all fours”. The order, enforced by British solders, meant Indians could only proceed “lying flat on their bellies and crawling exactly like reptiles”.

Despite this, the British in India saw Dyer as the saviour of the Raj. Although Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, privately said Dyer’s action was murder or at least manslaughter, the cabinet committee felt he could not be criminally charged and, while he was forced to leave the army on half-pay, his friends in Britain presented him as a victim of injustice.

His admirers ranged from Ulster politicians such as Edward Carson to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called him a “brave, public-spirited, patriotic soldier”.

More astonishing was the reaction of the House of Commons. With Edwin Montagu, the secretary of state for India, portrayed as anti-Dyer, the House debated a motion to reduce Montagu’s salary, a severe form of parliamentary censure.

Among Tories at the time it was not what Dyer had done, but Montagu’s Jewishness that became the central issue.
Austen Chamberlain, then chancellor of the exchequer, wrote, “On this occasion all their English and racial feeling was stirred to a passionate display. A Jew rounding on an Englishman and throwing him to the wolves, that was the feeling.”

The Morning Post started a Dyer fund which gave him £26,000 (£1.15m in today’s money). By contrast, each dependent of an Indian killed by Dyer received 500 rupees (£176 today) per body. When he died in 1927, Dyer was given an unofficial state funeral with his coffin borne on a gun carriage through Admiralty Arch.

In the century since then, the British and Indians have grown further apart when recalling this atrocity. In 1997 the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the site of the massacre, but did not apologise: she merely signed the visitors’ book at the memorial.

Prince Philip, seeing the memorial which spoke of 2,000 being martyred, suggested Indians had doctored history: “That’s wrong. I was in the navy with Dyer’s son”.

In 2013, David Cameron became the first British prime minister to pay his respects at the memorial. But while admitting it was a “deeply shameful event” he felt you could not “reach back into history” to apologise.

Today, Indians are indeed reaching back into history and demanding an apology. Though in the years after independence, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, stamped on efforts to mark the event, now Indian politicians such as Shashi Tharoor want the British to apologise for the empire and even pay reparations.

It is comforting for the British political class to talk of the Commonwealth as a unique family with many shared memories. The fact is there never was such a family. The British empire was at best a real-life Downton Abbey, the black and brown people occupying the downstairs, while the whites had the upstairs.

For Indians, Jallianwala Bagh is a reminder of what they call Angresso ki Ghulami, the slavery of the British. The word slavery will make many British bristle, but they need to understand why the Indians feel this way. For Indians, Jallianwala Bagh challenges the myth that British rule was benevolent.

Both Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP party and the opposition Congress, fighting the Indian elections until mid-May, are united on this issue. And, with Brexit on the cards, a Britain that seeks to boost its trade with India needs to learn quickly that the legacy of Amritsar has to be addressed and not ignored, or, worse still, forgotten.

Mihir Bose is the author of From Midnight to Glorious Morning? India Since Independence

The Hindu – Jallianwala Bagh: Kerala MPs had sought Britain’s apology

They wanted Parliament to pass a resolution in February

Sobhana K Nair

New Delhi – India, 11 April 2019. It took two Parliamentarians from Kerala, Congress’s Shashi Tharoor and CPI(M)’s M B Rajesh, to demand in the Lok Sabha in February this year that Parliament must pass a resolution demanding unequivocal apology from the British for Jallianwala Bagh.

British Prime Minister Teresa May on Wednesday described the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919 as a “shameful scar” on British Indian history, but stopped short of a formal apology.

“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” she said.

On February 13 this year, the last day of the 16th Lok Sabha, the House debated Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust (Amendment) Bill. Mr Rajesh demanded that the House adopt a unanimous resolution seeking apology from British for the massacre.

His Kerala compatriot Mr Tharoor also called for one.

Calling Jallianwala Bagh tragedy a “cold blooded imposition of colonial will,” Mr. Tharoor said, “This was a great national tragedy and the fact is, it reflected a number of betrayals, the betrayal of the support given by India to the British during the First World War, the betrayal of the promises made of Dominion Status to our country, the betrayal also of the moral compact that binds those who rule and those who are ruled.”

The Asian Age – We will scrap Article 370, introduce NRC across country: Amit Shah

Shah accused Mamata Banerjee of questioning air strikes to ‘appease’ her minority vote bank

Kalimpong – West Bengal – India, 11 April 2019. The BJP will scrap Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and introduce National Register for Citizens across the country if voted to power again, BJP chief Amit Shah said Thursday, raking up the two hugely disputed issues.

On the campaign trail in West Bengal, he also accused TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee of questioning the air strikes to “appease” her minority vote bank, and demanded that she clarify whether she too favoured a separate prime minister for Jammu and Kashmir like her ally National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.

We will remove Article 370 from Kashmir after forming the next BJP government at the Centre,” Shah told an election rally here in Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency where the party has fielded industrialist Raju Singh Bisht.

Shah alleged that Banerjee, who is vehemently opposed to the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is currently restricted to Assam, was “misleading” people, and vowed to introduce it in every state after winning the polls.

“It is our commitment to bring in NRC across the country to chuck out each and every infiltrator. Unlike Mamata Banerjee, we don’t treat infiltrators as our vote bank. For us national security is supreme. We would ensure that each and every Hindu and Buddhist refugee gets citizenship of this country,” he said.

Banerjee has repeatedly claimed the NRC, which seeks to weed out illegal migrants from Assam, will turn even bonafide Indian citizens into refugees.

The NRC got mired in a massive controversy after the names of around 40 lakh people, living in Assam for decades, were omitted from the complete draft that was released last year.

He also took on the West Bengal chief minister for “questioning the veracity” of the Indian Air Force’s strike in Pakistan’s Balakot to avenge the killing of 40 CRPF troopers in Kashmir, saying the IAF’s assault was mourned in only two places, Pakistan and Mamata Banerjee’s office.

“We came to know that Mamata Banerjee was mourning the air strikes. It is quite obvious that the air strikes will be mourned in Pakistan. But why is Mamata Banerjee mourning? She is mourning in order to appease her minority vote bank. This is a shame,” Shah said, attacking the West Bengal leader.

Mocking the grand opposition alliance proposed by Banerjee, Shah wondered why the Congress and CPI(M) were criticising the TMC if they were her allies.

“I wonder what kind of grand alliance Banerjee is proposing. She is saying vote for the grand alliance. Why are the Congress and CPI(M) criticising her TMC if they are allies at the Centre. The fact is no one is willing to stand with Banerjee. This alliance neither has a leader nor a policy,” he said.

Seeking to reach out to tea garden workers, who constitute a sizeable section of the electorate, the BJP chief said his party’s manifesto has promised to provide a pension of Rs 3,000 to them after the age of 60.

In Assam, where the BJP is in power, the government has twice transferred Rs 2,500 directly to their bank accounts, he said, claiming the TMC government in West Bengal neglected tea garden workers.

Shah said the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal were about “restoring democracy” in the TMC-ruled state.

The BJP is making a determined bid to expand its influence in West Bengal where the support base of the Congress and the Left has shrunk over the years.

Shah has set a somewhat ambitious target of winning 23 of the state’s 42 seats. The BJP had won only two seats in the state in 2014. – CBI describes Sajjan Kumar as kingpin of 1984 Sikh genocide; Opposes his bail plea in Supreme Court

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 09 April 2019. While describing Sajjan Kumar as a kingpin of the 1984 Sikh genocide, the Central Bureau of Investigation strongly opposed the bail plea of Sajjan Kumar in the Supreme Court on 08 April.

The CBI’s counsel Tushar Mehta told the Court that a decision to grant bail to Sajjan Kumar would be a travesty of justice as he is also facing trial in another 1984 Sikh genocide case at the Patiala House district court.

Mehta further told the Supreme Court bench of Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer that the CBI was currently recording prosecution evidence and that a direction from the Supreme Court to the trial court could expedite the case.

Deferring the next hearing of the case onto April 15, the SC bench asked the agency to apprise it of the status in the ongoing trial.

It may be recalled here that Sajjan Kumar was imprisoned for life by the Delhi High Court on December 17 in a case pertaining to brutal killing of five members of a Sikh family in the Raj Nagar of Delhi’s cantonment area on November 1, 1984.

He had challenged the Delhi High Court’s verdict of convicting him till death on December 23 last year. The prosecution lawyer Advocate HS Phoolka was informed about the Sajjan Kumar’s petition by the Supreme Court via registered post.

Later, Sajjan Kumar had to surrender before a Delhi trial court on December 31 last year to serve life sentence awarded to him by the Delhi High Court as his plea couldn’t be taken up for hearing by the Supreme Court of India.

CBI describes Sajjan Kumar as kingpin of 1984 Sikh genocide; Opposes his bail plea in Supreme Court

Gent: De Leie – Gent-Sint-Pieters – Mechelen NMBS

Gent De Leie
03 April 2019

Tourist boat with tourists

Frituur – chip shop

04 April 2019

All stations to Mechelen

Mechelen NMBS
04 April 2019

1835 – First Belgian railway from Mechelen to Brussel

All stations train to Halle

IC to Gent-Sint-Pieters

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

NewsX – Social media cracks jokes on BJP tweet saying NRC will eliminate every infiltrator barring Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs

The social media users on Thursday made fun of the ruling BJP for its tweet. The users criticised the BJP for its tweet and threatening the minorities.

Social Media – India, 11 April 2019. Social media cracks jokes on BJP tweet saying NRC will eliminate every infiltrator barring Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs. The BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday said that the party would ensure the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the entire country.

Shah asserted that the BJP government would eliminate every single infiltrator from the country, barring Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs. However, the party’s official Twitter handle took it as Buddha instead of Buddhists. The party faced humiliation on social media with the users criticising the BJP for its tweet and threatening the minorities.

Several netizens pointed out the word Buddha which should have been Buddhists. A Twitter user said that he did not know Buddha was an infiltrator who is now being exempted from deportation under NRC. Mocking at the ruling national party, another user questioned that would BJP spare only Buddha and not Buddhists.

He accused Mamata of spreading lies about the NR and added that Gorkhas do not have a fear as it’s going to target the infiltrators only and not the genuine citizens of India.

About the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Shah went on to say that while the nation was celebrating the Indian Air Force’s attack on terrorist hotbeds, Mamata Didi and Congress were mourning on the action taken.

He said that it was because of the appeasement politics they did not support Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led govt’s action against Pakistan.

Shah alleged that Trinamool Congress goons have killed more than 60 BJP Karyakartas. Saying that Didi cannot suppress the voice of Bengal by unleashing violence, BJP boss said that it’s in the nature of BJP Karyakartas to fight injustice till the end.

Social media cracks jokes on BJP tweet saying NRC will eliminate every infiltrator barring Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs

Dawn – Fawad Chaudhry endorses demand for full apology from British government over empire’s role in Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Islamabad Capital Teritory – Pakistan, 11 April 2019. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday endorsed the demand that the British government apologise for the empire’s role in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the famine of Bengal in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the massacre.

“Fully endorse the demand that the British empire must apologise to the nations of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh on Jallianwala massacre and Bengal famine. These tragedies are a scar on the face of Britain,” he tweeted.

The 13 April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, in which British troops opened fire on thousands of unarmed protesters, remains an enduring scar from British colonial rule in India.

Colonial-era records show about 400 people died in the northern city of Amritsar when soldiers opened fire on men, women and children in an enclosed area, but Indian figures put the toll at closer to 1,000.

Former British prime minister David Cameron described it as “deeply shameful” during a visit in 2013 but also stopped short of an apology.

A ceremony will take place at the site of the massacre on Saturday.

Decades later, some four million Bengalis starved to death in the 1943 famine. Then British prime minister Wintston Churchill had ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles in Greece and elsewhere.

When reminded of the suffering of his Indian victims, his response was that the famine was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits”.

“Also the Koh-i-Noor must be returned to the Lahore museum where it belongs,” Chaudhry added, referring to the 108-carat gem which was once the largest known diamond in the world and is now part of the British royal family’s collection.

The diamond, which historians say was probably first discovered in India during the Mughal dynasty, is on public display in the Tower of London as part of the late queen’s crown. The Koh-i-Noor was presented to Queen Victoria in 1852. Its ownership is disputed and claimed by multiple countries, including India, Iran and Afghanistan.

Chaudhry’s tweet comes a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May expressed regret for the Jallianwala massacre, but stopped short of a full apology.

“We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused,” May told the British parliament on Wednesday. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, called for “a full, clear and unequivocal apology”.

UK Foreign Office minister Mark Field, during a debate on the massacre, said: “I have slightly orthodox views on Britain’s colonial past. I feel little reluctant to make apologies for things that have happened in the past,” according to a report by The Wire.

He added that “There are also concerns that any government department has, to make about any apology, given that there may well be financial implications to making an apology.”

In 2015, Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor’s argument in support of an Oxford Union debate motion, ‘This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies’, went viral and, according to the BBC, has found favour among Indians.