The Indian Express – With 11,650 stubble fires in 2019, Punjab breaks 2018 record

“Last year, we recorded fire incidents till May 26 and the figure was 11,468. This year were are recording till May-end as the harvesting of wheat was delayed due to untimely rains,” said Anil Sood, head of the ACM Division, PRSC, Ludhiana.

Anju Agnihotri Chaba

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 30 May 2019. Stubble burning incidents in Punjab have crossed the 2018 figure despite the efforts of the state government to stop farmers of burning their fields post harvest.

Till May 29 this year, Punjab Remote Sensing Centre ( PRSC), Ludhiana, has recorded 11,650 cases of stubble burning against 11,468 last year. In 2017, Punjab had recorded 14,822 fire incidents.

“Last year, we recorded fire incidents till May 26 and the figure was 11,468. This year were are recording till May-end as the harvesting of wheat was delayed due to untimely rains,” said Anil Sood, head of the ACM Division, PRSC, Ludhiana. Sood said that the fire incidents had gone down in the past few days as the harvest season is almost over.

In 2019, Ludhiana district has recorded highest fire incidents till date at 1027 fires. Amritsar, which was on top last week, is now placed second with 1017 fire incidents. Sangrur and Tarn Taran are at third spot and forth place with 896 and 867 fire incidents till date, respectively.

Rup Nagar, which recorded 88 fires, and SAS Nagar, which saw 93 fires, are only two districts in Punjab which have recorded less than 100 fires in 2019. SAS Nagar’s total 88 fire incidents are almost three times more than last year’s 28 cases.

Bathinda and Ferozpur Districts too have recorded high number of fires incidents at 796 and 789 fires, respectively.

According to data sourced from PRSC for the past three years, eight districts are the big violators in past three years with Amritsar topping the chart with 3573 fires in past three years. Tarn Taran (3506), Ferozepur (3066), Moga (2724), Ludhiana (2694), Sangrur (2657), Gurdaspur (2562), and Bathinda (2533) are other big violators in the three-year list.

This year on a single day, 1595 fire incidents were recorded on May 20, the day after polling in Punjab. – Sacrilege incidents were pre-planned by Sukhbir Badal, Sumedh Saini and Gurmeet Ram Rahim, reveals SIT

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 30 May 2019. In the chargesheet filed in Kotkapura firing case, the Special Investigation Team has termed the sacrilege and firing incidents as a pre-planned handiwork of the Ex-Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, Ex-DGP Sumedh Saini and the Sirsa cult.

Notably, the SIT had filed this chargesheet in the court of judicial magistrate Ekta Uppal on May 28 i.e. a few hours after the reinstatement of IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh as SIT member.

The SIT has said in the chargesheet that the then DGP (Intelligence) Hardeep Singh Dhillon was replaced with a much junior officer of DIG rank, R K Jaiswal, on October 10, 2015. After this, the first incident of sacrilege came to fore in Bargari on October 12.

“There were three senior officers of ADGP/DGP rank, who were eligible and available for this posting. Jaiswal was also given directions to report to Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini,” says the chargesheet.

The SIT further said in the chargesheet that Sukhbir Badal, when questioned by the SIT members, couldn’t lodge any satisfactory answer for replacing a senior police officer like Hardeep Singh Dhillon from the post of intelligence chief by a DIG rank officer R K Jaiswal.

“Similarly, when we sought an explanation from the Ex-DGP Sumedh Saini in this concern, he also couldn’t lodge any answer and asked to question Sukhbir Badal,” says the chargesheet while adding that Sukhbir Badal and Sumedh Saini hold each other responsible for this.

The SIT claims that the complicity of the transfer of intelligence chief by posting a much junior officer in his place and the incidents of sacrilege soon after, suggest in unequivocal terms that it was a pre-planned handiwork of Sukhbir, Saini and members of Dera Sacha Sauda, including its head.

Meanwhile, Sukhbir Badal has refuted the charges leveled against him by the Special Investigation Team. Terming the move as a gesture of vendetta politics, he has said that the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh was setting a bad trend for the future governments.

In the chargesheet, the SIT has also said that the Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar had arranged the meeting between Sukhbir Badal and Gurmeet Ram Rahim in September-2015 at Mumbai.

“Sukhbir Badal was in Mumbai at that time to attend a meeting with the investors,” said the SIT in chargesheet while enclosing certain details obtained from the office, Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion, Chandigarh.

“Akshay Kumar became an intermediary between them because he had to get clearance for his own movie ‘Singh is Bling’ which was under questions at that time and was later released on October 2, 2015 after SGPC’s nod,” reveals the chargesheet.

IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh writes “FIRST DAY, FIRST SHOW” on Social Media

IG Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh’s unexpected posts with title “FIRST DAY, FIRST SHOW” from his social media accounts also attracted media attention on May 29. In this post, he also posted an Urdu poetry couplet “Ibadat-e-Ishq hai rota hai kya, aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya” which means that why are you crying as it’s a start of love, just see what happens next.

Although, he later deleted these posts from his social media accounts but the screenshots of these posts are still circulating over social media.

It is being speculated that Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh has posted this couplet for the Akali leaders who had lodged a complaint against him to the Election Commission following which he was removed from the SIT.

Sacrilege incidents were pre-planned by Sukhbir Badal, Sumedh Saini and Gurmeet Ram Rahim, reveals SIT

Gentbrugge Schooldreef – Dag van de Arbeid: Hand in Hand

Gentbrugge Schooldreef
30 April 2019

Junction Brusselsesteenweg/Schooldreef
Bus 28 to Gent-Sint-Pieters

Junction Brusselsesteenweg/Schooldreef
Tram 2 to Zwijnaarde

Dag van de Arbeid
01 May 2019

I suppose that this ‘tram’ is for those that can’t march the distance

Trade Union members

Hand-in-Hand – Support people with and without permit to stay
Chris (on the right) and I carried the banner

Hand-in-Hand supporters

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Human Rights Without Frontiers – Vet charged with blasphemy over medicine ‘wrapped in religious text’

A Hindu veterinary doctor in south-east Pakistan has been charged under the country’s strict blasphemy laws after allegedly selling medicine wrapped in paper bearing Islamic religious text.

BBC News, 28 May 2019 – An angry crowd set fire to his clinic near Mirpur Khas, Sindh province, and other Hindu-owned shops were looted.

The vet said his use of the paper, apparently torn from an Islamic studies school textbook, was a mistake.

If he is convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry harsh penalties for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say they target a disproportionate number of people from religious minorities.

According to reports, the vet had used pages from the school textbook to wrap up medicines for a customer with sick livestock. But the customer saw Islamic religious content on the pages and went to a local cleric who informed police.

Maulana Hafeez-ur-Rehman, a local leader of the religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami, told BBC Urdu that the doctor had done it deliberately.

According to police, the vet has insisted that his use of the paper was a mistake.

He has since been charged with insulting religious beliefs and defiling the Koran and faces life in prison.

Islam is Pakistan’s national religion and public support for the strict blasphemy laws is strong.

Correspondents say hardline politicians have often backed severe punishments, partly as a way of shoring up their support base.

Hundreds of Pakistani citizens have been charged with blasphemy over the past few decades and some cases have triggered an international outcry.

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours.

She spent years on death row until her conviction was overturned in 2018 by the Supreme Court. She has since left the country.

The Hindu – Kargil war veteran declared a foreigner

Lt. (retd.) Mohammed Sanaullah’s family approaches the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was sent to a detention centre for foreigners or illegal migrants.

Rahul Karmakar

Itanagar – Assam – India, 29 May 2019. The family of a retired soldier, who fought in the Kargil war two decades ago, approached the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was sent to a detention centre for foreigners or illegal migrants.

Mohammed Sanaullah, who retired as an honorary Lieutenant in the Army, was arrested soon after he was summoned by the Assam Police Border Organisation, or the Border Police, in Guwahati on Tuesday.

The arrest followed the order of a Foreigners’ Tribunal that adjudged him a non-citizen.

Lt. Sanaullah, 52, was serving as an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in the Border Police that is tasked with identifying, detaining and deporting doubtful citizens and illegal migrants. This unit of the State police often employs retired defence and paramilitary personnel.

Exactly 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam hear and dispose of cases of people deemed foreigners by the Border Police.

Last year, a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Boko served notice on Mr. Sanaullah and he appeared before it five times. At least six other retired personnel of the Army and paramilitary forces have been served such notices.

Heartbreaking, says cousin

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than an ex-Serviceman being treated like this,” said his cousin Mohammed Ajmal Hoque from Boko, about 60 km west of Guwahati. “Is this his reward for giving 30 years of his life to the Army defending the country, including fighting in the Kargil War?”

Hoque, who retired as a junior Commissioned Officer in the Army, was also served notice by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. The case was disposed of and the Border Police apologised to him after finding out it had served the notice on the “wrong Ajmal Hoque.”

“Sanaullah joined the Army in 1987, 20 years after his birth in Assam. He joined the Border Police after retiring from the Army in 2017. He had, at one of the hearings, mistakenly mentioned the year of his joining the Army as 1978. Based on this mistake, the tribunal declared him a foreigner, arguing that nobody can join the Army at the age of 11,” Hoque said.

Lt. Sanaullah voted in the last parliamentary election.

A member of Lt. Sanaullah’s extended family said they hoped the High Court would hand them justice.

The retired soldier lives with his wife, two daughters and a son.

Doubtful voters

Assam’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had tabled a report in the Assembly a few months ago. The report said the State had 125,333 D-voters (doubtful voters, marked by the Election Commission of India) and that 131,034 of the 244,144 cases sent to Foreigners’ Tribunals have been disposed of.

Meanwhile, State Coordinator for National Register of Citizens (NRC) Prateek Hajela said in a notification that an applicant marked ‘D’ in the voters’ list would be considered for inclusion in the updated register if he or she could produce the copy of a court order declaring him or her an Indian.

Last year, the Supreme Court advised exclusion of D-voters and members of their families from the updated NRC to be readied by July.

The Hindustan Times – Sikh shrine destroyed in Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asks PM Modi to seek probe

Punjab CM put pressure to undertake a thorough probe into the destruction of the centuries-old Guru Nanak Palace in Narowal.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 May 2019. Panjab CM Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pressurise Pakistan to undertake a thorough probe into the destruction of the centuries-old Guru Nanak Palace in Narowal.

He has also offered his government’s help to get the property in Pakistan’s Punjab rebuilt, if the Centre could secure Islamabad’s permission for the same.

Amarinder Singh wrote to Modi requesting him to take up the matter with the government of Pakistan asking for “a probe in the wanton destruction of the property in question and to bring to justice all the guilty persons associated with this unfortunate act”.

Calling for urgent steps to restore the remaining structure through scientific conservation and restoration, the Chief Minister also sought to impress upon the government of Pakistan the need to preserve all such monuments that have an association with Sikh heritage in an institutionalised manner so that such incidents do not recur in future.

“If the government of India arranges permission from the Pakistan government, the Panjab government (India) would rebuild the historic property,” he said in a press statement.

Amarinder Singh strongly condemned the shocking incident, which he said hurt the sentiments of Sikhs around the world.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, he wrote: “The building, which some media reports cite to be around four centuries old and has been visited by a large number of Sikh pilgrims, has been rapaciously pillaged and destroyed.”

He said the incident had caused great consternation in his state and it was almost ironic that it had happened at a time when the two countries were poised to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru.

The Tribune – Ex-MLA, five Punjab senior cops charged

Probe against Badals underway: SIT

Balwant Garg, Tribune News Service

Faridkot – Panjab – India, 28 May 2019. A special investigation team probing the October 2015 police firing cases in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura has filed an about 2,000-page chargesheet against a former Akali MLA and five senior police officers in the court of judicial magistrate here.

Those chargesheeted are Kotkapura ex-MLA Mantar Singh Brar, then Ludhiana IGP Paramraj Umranangal, former SSP Charanjit Singh Sharma, ADCP Paramjit Singh Pannu, DSP Baljit Singh and SHO Gurdeep Singh Pander. A case against them was registered under IPC Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) and under the Arms Act.

The SIT claimed in the chargesheet that investigation was also underway against former CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, former DIG Amar Singh Chahal and others. A supplementary chargesheet would be filed after the completion of the probe, said the SIT.

Several persons were injured in the police firing in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura on October 14, 2015, to quell gatherings protesting sacrilege incidents.

Enclosing digital evidence and mobile phone call details of the accused, the SIT claimed that in order to execute its plan of using force to disperse the protesters, Umranangal called his subordinate from Ludhiana, ADCP Pannu, and Moga SSP Charanjit Singh to Kotkapura.

A tear gas squad from Ludhiana had reached too and weapons to be used against the protesters were kept in hiding, alleged the chargesheet.

The SIT accused the Rohtak DC and the Jail Superintendent (at Rohtak) of not complying with the judicial magistrate’s order to allow the questioning of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the firing cases. On March 19 this year, the SIT had sought the court’s permission to interrogate the dera chief, who is lodged in Rohtak jail.

“Declining the dera chief’s questioning was a deliberate act on the part of Rohtak DC and the jail authorities in violation of the court orders. We will further act on it as per the law,” reads the chargesheet.

Describing the dera chief as a “suspect”, the SIT claimed several witnesses had named him for his role in the police firing.

About the involvement of actor Akshay Kumar in the “negotiation” between the dera chief and Sukhbir in Mumbai, the SIT submitted details of the SAD chief’s visit to Mumbai.

These were obtained from the Punjab Bureau of Investment and Promotion, Udyog Bhawan, Chandigarh. The details showed Sukhbir was in Mumbai on September 15, 2015, corroborated by a post shared by him on his Facebook page, the chargesheet said.

Gent Interfaith Yatra from Sint-Amandsberg to Oostakker

Interfaith yatra from Afghan Masjid (Dendermondsesteenweg) via Campo Santo to Oostakker-Lourdes

Some brave ones walked the distance, others went by car

Lourdes Oostakker
28 April 2019

The shop was open for those that wanted to buy candles

The Grotto

Explaining the meaning of Oostakker Lourdes

It did rain a bit ….
The rain did not stop our spirits to be moved

Lourdes Oostakker
28 April 2019

Our Muslim and Christian panel members

We got full support from the Roman Catholic Church for our interfaith pilgrimage

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation – Sikhs challenge ministers over plans for next census

Ministers face a legal challenge over a proposal not to include Sikhs in the ethnic groups listed in the 2021 census.

London – UK, 29 May 2019. Lawyers have sent a letter before action on behalf of the Sikh Federation, with the support of more than 120 gurdwaras and Sikh organisations.

The legal letter warns the Cabinet Office that it would be unlawful not to include a Sikh ethnicity tickbox on the form, as was recommended by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last year. The federation claims that the process that preceded the recommendation was unlawful.

In 2011, the UK-wide census recorded about 430,000 Sikhs based on a non-mandatory question about religion. Not all people who would identify as ethnically Sikh identify as religiously Sikh. The Sikh Federation estimates that there are 700,000 to 800,000 ethnic Sikhs in the UK.

The ONS says that the results from a census provide “information that government needs to develop policies, plan and run public services, and allocate funding” and the federation argues it is vital that the ethnic Sikh population is properly accounted for.

Rosa Curling, a solicitor at the London law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for the Sikhs, said: “Our clients have identified a number of flaws within the process for determining whether to include a Sikh ethnicity category in the 2021 Census.

“They believe it is crucial that individuals are able to identify as ethnically Sikh in the next census to ensure a more accurate picture of the community is taken. This will ensure public bodies are fulfilling their duties under the Equality Act when making decisions about the allocation of vital public services.”

A spokesperson for the ONS said: “No group will be missed out in the digital-first 2021 Census. The ONS recommendations follow extensive research and consultation with groups and individuals and everyone who wishes to identify as Sikh will be able to do so.

The religion question will have a specific Sikh tickbox response option and everyone who wishes to identify as Sikh in response to the ethnicity question will be able to do so through a write-in option.. We believe these proposals will enable public bodies to work with the Sikh community in shaping public services to meet their needs.”

The census order, setting out the questions that will be asked in 2021, will be introduced to parliament in the autumn.

Dawn – Defusing tensions

Days after the alarming incident between the army and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement protesters at a security check post in North Waziristan, the persisting lack of clarity surrounding the episode remains deeply troubling.

Op/Ed, 29 May 2019. Though it is uncertain how the clash was initiated, two aspects are clear. First, the protesters were raising provocative slogans around soldiers guarding their post in a sensitive area. The PTM’s leadership must be mindful of this singular aspect of their style of protest that many had warned would be counterproductive to their cause.

Second, the fact that several soldiers also received injuries points to armed individuals being present at the scene. This is a departure for the PTM, which had maintained a non-violent stance for well over a year.

It would be an unfortunate though not implausible development, given the risks of even the most peaceful of movements resorting to violent means in the face of repeated, heavy-handed use of force to quell them.

As leaders of the opposition parties in parliament and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have pointed out, denying the PTM its right to peaceful protest and arresting its activists en masse is ultimately detrimental to the state and its citizens.

Indeed, this country needs no reminder of the potential for catastrophic consequences when citizens making rights-based demands are summarily dismissed instead of engaged with.

But all is not lost, provided that recalcitrance is set aside, and courage and clarity of purpose guide the way. Two immediate actions are required to defuse tensions and prevent further escalation. First, it is essential to dispel intensifying mistrust on all sides by constituting a parliamentary fact-finding body to get to the truth of what transpired on Sunday.

Moreover, the authorities and the PTM must immediately come to the table to reiterate their common goals of lasting peace and rule of law, and use that as the basis on which to conduct honest, productive talks.

For any lasting resolution, it must be acknowledged that an entire generation has grown up in the historically disenfranchised region of erstwhile Fata against a backdrop of seemingly unending conflict.

The grievances of these disaffected tribal youth, who have experienced more than their fair share of death, displacement and despair, require a politically brokered solution. Pakistan needs a long-term, multi-stakeholder process to address the issues that the PTM, and, indeed, human rights groups, have long been raising.