The Telegraph – Regret not enough on Jallianwala massacre, say Indians in UK

“Anything that is not a statement at the despatch box in the House of Commons is not an apology,” wrote Meghnad Desai and fellow peer Raj Loomba to the British PM

Amit Roy

London – UK, 08 April 2019. A British government minister is to use the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on April 13 to express “deep regret” but whether this will amount to a formal apology may be a matter of debate.

On April 13, 1919, between 379 (official figure) and 1,000 (unofficial) people were shot dead in Amritsar on the orders of Brigadier Gen. Reginald Dyer.

“I am sorry to be so hard but anything that is not a statement at the despatch box in the House of Commons is not an apology,” said Meghnad Desai who, with fellow peer Raj Loomba, wrote to British Prime Minister Theresa May on February 14, arguing the case for an apology.

It has been announced that “a Westminster Hall debate on the ‘Jallianwala Bagh massacre’ has been scheduled for Tuesday from 2.30pm to 4pm. The debate has been initiated by Bob Blackman MP”. Blackman is the long-serving Tory MP for Harrow East, a constituency in North-West London with a large Indian population.

The Sunday Times, London, reported that “Mark Field, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for Asia, will respond on behalf of the government”.

Field told the paper: “There is increasingly strong recognition that a formal acknowledgement of deep regret is important in helping frame the modern bilateral relationship, which increasingly thrives in a wide range of globally significant areas of mutual interest where Indian and UK values align.”

The newspaper added: “Although Field’s response on Tuesday will fall short of an apology, a source said it could pave the way for the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, officially to say sorry on a trip to India this year.”

Debates and other events do take place in Westminster Hall but this is separate from the chamber of the House of Commons.

On Sunday, Desai told The Telegraph that he understood why the British government was reluctant to offer a full apology: “A formal apology may lead to demands for compensation from the descendants of the people killed.”

He said that his wife, Kishwar Desai, author of the recently published, Jallianwala Bagh, 1919, The Real Story, “has found out many more people died than were originally thought. She found a complete list which had been forgotten and that comes to 547. Maybe 1,000 people died — who knows”?

From India, Kishwar told The Telegraph: “I do believe that the time has now come for the British government to recognise the true nature of the relationship between India and UK, it is now, finally, one of equals.

It must recognise that the massacre remains a grievous wound, and the time has also come to call out these deeply racist acts. I have found the narrative still resonates with the people.

I doubt if the incident will ever receive closure, but a sincere apology will ensure that the message is communicated that the Britain of today is very different to that of 100 years ago.

“Today’s Britain and their leaders value their relationship with India, and that Brigadier Generak Reginald Dyer, the Lieutenant Governor Sir Michael O’Dwyer and others like them belong firmly to the past.”

There is a precedent for an apology for army action. On June 15, 2010, David Cameron, then Prime Minister, offered a full apology for “Bloody Sunday”, a reference to events in Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972, when soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, shot 28 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment. Fourteen people died. – Day 13: Mass support to Karam Singh Bhoians’s peaceful struggle intensifies

Sikh24 Editors

Tarn Taran Sahib – Panjab – India, 13 April 219. The peaceful sit-in-strike of Sikh leader S. Karam Singh Bhoian seeking action against the demolishers of historic Darshani Deodi of Gurdwara Sri Tarn Taran Sahib today completed 13 days.

Although the mass support to his struggle is intensifying day by day, but the Administration has still not depicted any positive sign to indict the SGPC officials and the Kaar Sewa sect men.

Speaking to Sikh24, Karam Singh Bhoian said that the administration is not depicting any positive attitude towards the demand of Sikh masses to indict the demolishers of the historic Darshani Deodi (Entrance gate) of Gurdwara Sri Tarn Taran Sahib.

“I shall continue my peaceful struggle until all the SGPC officials and the Kaar Sewa sect men indulged in demolishing this historic Darshani Deodi are not booked under criminal charges,” he added.

Mukhtar Singh, Sukhraj Singh, Harkirat Singh, Bibi Harinder Kaur Khalsa, Resham Singh Tarn Taran, Amrik Singh Nangal, Rajan Singh Chhina, Rajinder Singh Fauji, Amarjit Singh Kadeempur, Jagdeep Singh Hyderabad, Daljit Singh Jainpur, Suba Singh, Balwinder Singh, Mohinder Singh, Ranjit Singh Thind, Harpreet Singh Gill, Jagroop Singh Gill etc. were present on this occasion.

Day 13: Mass Support to Karam Singh Bhoians’s Peaceful Struggle Intensifies

Bosnia – Sarajevo

City Hall – Library
07 April 2019

We tried to visit but it was not possible

The east wing of the building

Miljacka River
07 April 2019

Bridge and Masjid
There are many bridges and many Masjids in Sarajevo

The river runs west in ‘steps’

Bent Basa
07 April 2019

Bent Basa

Sarajevo tram

More Bosnian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Province – Terror report could trigger seismic shift in Sikh political leanings, impact next election

Tom Blackwell

Vancouver – British Columbia – Canada, 12 April 2019. A December Public Safety Canada report contained, for the first time, a small section on the alleged threat of Sikh extremism. Liberal MPs face blacklisting as a result

It’s touted as the largest celebration of its kind outside India, drawing almost 500,000 people to mark the Sikh religion’s new year.

For politicians eager to tap into an electorally powerful ethnic group, the huge version of Khalsa Day in Surrey, BC, is a veritable gold mine.

But barring a significant change of tune by the federal government over the next week, this year’s edition will impose an unprecedented policy. Unless certain demands are met, Liberal MPs will be barred from speaking from its stages on April 20, says organizer Mohinder Singh.

“We’ve never had to take steps like this,” said the BC Gurdwara Council spokesman. “But we can’t be giving platforms where half a million people are out walking around, when we don’t see a genuine relationship being formed with the community.”

The threatened ban was over an issue causing growing consternation in the Sikh community: an annual Public Safety Canada report on terrorism that for the first time this December contained a small section on the alleged threat of Sikh extremism.

Community activists insist that violent support for the independence of Sikh-dominated Punjab state from India ended in the years after the 1985 Air India bombing, Canada’s worst-ever terror act, and call the report a smear job.

Critics see the hidden hand of India, allegedly manipulating Canada to malign a diaspora fixated on Punjab separation. The government says that’s hogwash, while others warn against politicians meddling in a report penned by independent security agencies.

Regardless, community activists say the issue could have major implications for Canadian politics, setting off a potentially seismic shift in a minority group with wildly disproportionate political muscle.

At stake are nine Sikh-dominated ridings, in the Toronto-area suburbs, Calgary and lower-mainland BC, all of which went Liberal in the 2015 election, many flipping from the Conservatives.

Another eight, mostly Liberal seats across the country could be decided by the Sikh vote if the races are “competitive,” says Jaskaran Singh Sandhu, executive director of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), while 18 more are susceptible to Sikh influence if particularly close.

“Nine seats make or break their (Liberal) majority,” said Sandhu. “Sikhs can decide that.”

There are already signs of trouble for the party: a slate of candidates tied to the fathers of two Liberal MPs was roundly defeated in a recent election for the board of North America’s largest Sikh temple. The winners contend Ottawa’s terror report was a factor; the losers say it was just about religion.

About 400 people crowded into a round-table meeting on the issue in Brampton, Ontario, Sunday, grilling the lone Liberal MP, Ruby Sahota, who attended.

And more Khalsa Day parades and gurdwaras, are considering bans of their own on Liberal politicians speaking if the report is not changed, said BC’s Singh.

Other Sikhs, though, question whether there is a movement afoot, or just some very vocal leaders concerned about a niche matter.

“My sense is that it is a dead issue,“ says Ujjal Dosanjh, a former Liberal cabinet minister who has long crossed swords with the Punjabi separatist, or Khalistani movement.

Shinder Purewal, both a political scientist at B.C.’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University and now a Conservative federal candidate, believes the south Asian community generally is souring on the Liberals, and shares others’ misgivings about the terror report. But he doesn’t expect it to play a big role in the 21 October election.

“I don’t think that is one of the burning issues,” Purewal said. “People have the impression that immigrant communities have a separate agenda from other Canadians. They don’t. They care about the same issues.”

No one can question, though, that the Sikh community has some considerable political weight to throw around.

Recent elections have produced 18 Sikh MPs, including four cabinet ministers and a party leader. All from a minority community of 500,000, barely one per cent of Canada’s population.

Canadians of Hindu Indian descent actually outnumber them, but Hindus and other south-Asian subgroups have not had the same influence politically.

That out-sized activism and clout stems partly from Sikh Canadians’ concentration in a relatively few ridings. But there may be another, more philosophical explanation, too. The religion melds the spiritual and secular in a way that encourages political service as an extension of the community-giving expected of followers, argues Sandhu.

Purewal says such an intersection of godly and earthly is common in many religions, and suggests that Sikh history, — including a need to repulse a succession of invaders who targeted the Punjab, may be a better explanation for high levels of political engagement.

Whatever their reasons for getting involved, Sikhs have traditionally voted Liberal, the party they see as generally more friendly to immigrants and immigration, said Singh, though he adds they are becoming more discriminating.
Purewal says the wave of Sikh support for Liberals in 2015 was largely a reaction to the Conservatives’ legislation stripping citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism.

Regardless, the terror report in December was, for some Sikh leaders at least, a rude awakening after a spate of political victories.

“We thought we’d finally arrived,” Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization, told Sunday’s town hall. “(But) what we’ve seen in the last year has been a wound to the Sikh community we haven’t seen in decades.”

The complaints centre around the document’s reference to “Sikh (Khalistani) extremism” seen as defaming an entire, peaceful community rather than singling out a specific entity, and the lack of any evidence to support the claim of present danger.

The report mentions the Air India bombing 33 years ago and two terror groups critics say have long been inactive.

Singh believes the passage stems from a counter-terrorism co-operation agreement signed between Canadian and Indian national-security czars last year, as well as the government’s desire to improve fractured relations with New Delhi.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suggested the report is having a “massive” effect on Sikh politics, and warned it could spark hate crimes.

“This is the type of report by the government … that is going to result in people saying, ‘Well, if Sikhs are terrorists, then maybe we should take action,’ ” he told the town hall. “That is deeply offensive.”

Conservative Garnett Genuis, though an MP from Alberta, also attended the Brampton meeting and earned generous applause when he defended the right to peacefully advocate for Punjab independence.

Sahota voiced her own concerns about the report’s language, and the lack of clarity on why Khalistanis were suddenly included after years of silence. But in a spirited defence of her government, she stressed the document was the product of independent security services, not the party.

“We can’t take it to a point where we are politically interfering with our intelligence agencies,” the Brampton North MP said. “This didn’t wind up in there by accident … Obviously there is a reason.”

Goodale has said future iterations would not reference Sikh extremism but only “extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India.” He has not, though, disavowed the issue’s inclusion in the report.

Asked about the lack of backup evidence, a spokesman for the minister said: “Intelligence can precede criminal charges or other law enforcement action that would result in further public disclosure.”

Meanwhile, Dosanjh says he’s appalled by the Liberal MPs of Sikh background who publicly talk down the report’s Khalistani section.

“It’s horrifying to see,” he said. “Politicians have to rise above pandering and look to the national interest.”

Organizers of the Surrey Khalsa view things rather differently. They say the government must commit to re-issuing December’s report without the mention of Sikhs as a menace, or forget about politicking at the April 20 parade.

This being 2019, opponents of the report have made their demand clear, in a Twitter slogan: #ProveitorRemoveit .

(With a file from Doug Quan)

Dawn – Twenty killed, forty-eight injured in attack targeting Hazara community in Quetta

Syed Ali Shah

Quetta – Balochistan – Pakistan, 12 April 2019. At least 20 people were killed and 48 injured in a blast believed to be targeting members of the Hazara community in Quetta’s Hazarganji market on Friday morning.

The attack claimed the lives of nine Hazara and one Frontier Corps (FC) soldier who was deputed for the community’s security, said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema. The 10 others who lost their lives included shopkeepers, businessmen and citizens working or residing in the area.

Four FC soldiers were among the injured.

DIG Cheema, who was present at the site of the attack, said the blast targeted the Hazara ethnic community.

“The attack took place in a [green grocer’s] shop. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted in a gunny sack filled with potatoes. Whether it was timed or remote-controlled, our experts will tell. Right now they are investigating,” DIG Cheema told reporters at the site of the attack.

“We are giving our attention to the wounded at this time,” he said. The injured have been shifted to hospitals, where an emergency has been imposed, for treatment.

“We have arranged transportation back [home] for Hazaras who remained unhurt in the attack,” he added.

However, Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, who held a press conference later in the day, said that the blast was not targeting “a specific community”.

“Our guess is that no specific community was targeted. Many Baloch and FC personnel were among those killed as well. The numbers of the Hazara community were just greater,” Langove said.

He also described the blast as a suicide attack.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned “the terrorist attack” and sought “an immediate inquiry and increased security for the [targeted] people”.

Hazaras demand more security

Qadir Nayil, a Hazara community leader, asked the government for provision of better protection.

“Once again our people were the target and once again we will have to bury our dear ones,” he said.

“We demand more security from the government and all those involved in today’s act of terrorism should be found and punished.”

Balochistan government decides to install CCTV cameras, boost security measures

Following the blast, a high-level meeting took place under Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal’s stewardship to review and reinforce security measures.

It was decided in the meeting that the affected families will be given immediate financial assistance and that the provincial government will bear the treatment cost of those injured.

Furthermore, it was decided that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be immediately installed at the Hazarganji market and other public places. Action on terrorists’ hideouts and against their leaders will also be boosted, the caucus affirmed.

Hazarganji a repeat target

The Hazarganji area in Quetta has been witness to similar attacks in the past. Hazara shopkeepers are known to stock vegetables and fruits from the Hazarganji bazaar to sell at their own shops. They are provided a security escort to and from Hazarganji since they are constantly under threat of attack.

DIG Cheema, speaking to DawnNewsTV, explained that “people from the Hazara community come here daily in a convoy from Hazara Town to buy vegetables. They are escorted by police and FC, and then they return there. It was the same today,” he said.

“There were 11 cars and 55 people. Police and FC were in front of them and behind them. They [the security] brought them to Hazarganji. When they entered the sabzi mandi, the police expanded their perimeter to the gates so that no one would enter, while the FC took their positions,” he continued.

“Around 7:30am, they [the shoppers] were loading [produce] at a shop when the blast happened.”

“The security forces are here, police are here. What more can we do? We secure them [the community] and travel back and forth with them. If something is hidden in a shop, then the shopkeepers will need to be probed,” he said.

He explained that the last time there had been an attack in the area, he had written to the administration and asked them to keep the area clean so that there were no hiding places for bombs.

He also regretted that the Safe City project for Quetta had run into delays, and that there was a shortage of CCTV cameras in the area.

The attack came after a lull of at least a year in attacks against Hazaras, though there have been isolated shootings.

Political leaders issue condemnations

Chief Minister Kamal strongly condemned the attack. He assured that the elements involved in the attack and those leading them would be proceeded against, and directed the provision of the best medical treatment to the wounded.

“People who have an extremist mindset are a menace to society,” the chief minister asserted. “We must foil the conspiracy to disrupt peace.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb also condemned the attack.

Violence against Hazaras

Hazaras are disproportionately targeted by sectarian violence as they are easily identifiable due to their distinctive physical appearance. Nearly half a million Hazaras have settled here since fleeing Afghanistan to escape violence in their homeland during the past four decades.

A report released by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last year stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta from January 2012 to Dec 2017.

NCHR official Fazeela Alyani had earlier said that all these lives were lost in Quetta. According to the NCHR, targeted killings, suicide attacks, and bomb blasts have inflicted harm to daily life, education, and business activities of ethnic Hazara community members in Balochistan’s largest city.

Alyani had also explained that the fear and intimidation forced Hazaras to migrate to foreign countries, while target killings forced Hazara students to abandon their studies.

Balochistan has seen at least three others blasts in different areas over the last month, with varying targets.

Four policemen were targeted in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Quetta, while an IED blast targeting a passenger train in Balochistan’s Dera Murad Jamali killed four people.

At least two people were killed and 11 others injured in a bomb blast in a Panjgur bazaar.

Additional reporting by Javed Hussain and Nadir Guramani in Islamabad, and The Associated Press.