BBC News – India court releases army veteran detained as foreigner

Guwahati – Assam – India, 07 June 2019. A high court in India has ordered the release of a decorated Indian army veteran who was hauled off to a detention camp after being declared a “foreigner” under a controversial measure. BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare reports on how the man’s arrest has outraged India.

It was the evening of 27 May and Mohamed Sanaullah, 52, had just reached his home in Guwahati in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, when he got a call from the local police superintendent’s office.

The man on the other end of the line told Mr Sanaullah that the state’s foreigners tribunal had declared him a “foreigner” four days ago and asked him to report there.

“He knew what lay ahead,” Mr Sanaullah’s lawyer and son-in-law, Shahidul Islam, who was with him in Guwahati at the time of his arrest, told the BBC.

He spent the night in police custody.

On Friday, the high court in Assam granted Mr Sanaullah bail. But his lawyer told the Indian Express newspaper that his appeal challenging his detention in the first place is still pending.

Mr Sanaullah is one of four million people who was left off the latest draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published last year.

The NRC was first created in 1951 to determine who was born in India and who might be a migrant from neighbouring, Muslim-majority East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh.

The census, conducted only in the north-eastern state of Assam, counts as citizens those who can prove that they were residents of India before midnight on 24 March 1971, a day before Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan.

An army veteran with 30 years of service, Mr Sanaullah was working as an officer with the border police, GuwahatiGuwahatia unit of the state police service – when the call came.

Ironically, one of its main jobs is to stem illegal migration from Bangladesh.

Mr Sanaullah was dispatched to a detention centre the next day, where he has been ever since. There are hundreds of people, also declared foreigners, who are in six detention centres around the state.

Even though the most recent version of the NRC was only published in 2018, Assam has a history of trying people suspected to be foreigners. For decades, it did so under a 1983 law, until it was repealed in 2005. The detention centres were set up in 2009 because of fears that those declared “foreigners” would try and escape.

Many have been languishing there for years.

But Mr Sanaullah was luckier than most. His story caught the attention of national media, which began flashing headlines that a “war hero” in the state had been declared a foreigner.

Outrage quickly followed.

A leader from India’s main opposition Congress party said Mr Sanaullah’s detention was an “insult” to India’s armed forces, adding that it demonstrated that the NRC had been compiled in a “high-handed and flawed” manner.

Others asked if the purpose of the NRC was to identify illegal migrants or label all Muslims as illegal immigrants.

Officials are quick to point out that tens of thousands of Hindus were also left off the list. But critics cite the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

In fact the bill was shelved after people in Assam vehemently protested against it fearing that Hindu migrants who were not included in the NRC would still get citizenship to stay on.

As news of Mr Sanaullah’s detention spread, the country’s top court also got involved, expressing its “serious concern”. It summoned the state’s co-ordinator of the NRC and asked him to ensure that the process by which people were deemed foreigners or not was carried out properly.

Mr Sanaullah’s case documents revealed that the case against him was built on the basis of “witness statements” questioning his nationality. These statements were made in 2008 and 2009 by three people in his home village.

The documents also contain an alleged “confession” where Mr Sanaullah reportedly said that he is actually from a village near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

But these are all being questioned now.

For one, all three “witnesses” are flatly denying making any statement against Mr Sanaullah to the investigating officer, who has been identified as Chandramal Das.

“Sanaullah was like family to us. Why would I give a statement against him? I never met Chandramal Das or even heard his name until now,” Sobahan Ali told the BBC.

Another, Quran Ali, said he was mystified to learn his name was given as that of a witness because he had not even been living in the village at the time that he was supposed to have made this statement.

They say their names have been misused and their signatures forged on the document.

Mr Sanaullah’s family also deny he ever made any “confession” about his birthplace to anyone.

These revelations have now prompted police to register a case against Mr Das.

Mr Das, who retired last year, told the NDTV news channel that the entire thing was a “mix-up of reports”, and that he had meant to investigate another man whose name was Sanaulla (both names would be spelled the same in the local language).

“My father only heard of the probe in 2018 when his name didn’t figure in the NRC draft list,” Mr Sanaullah’s daughter Shehnaz Akhar told the BBC.

“It was only when he went to the NRC office that he found out that there was a 10-year-old case against him.”

Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhary, a senior lawyer at the Guwahati high court in Assam, says that this case is hardly unique and that there are hundreds of people like Mr Sanaullah who are languishing in detention camps.

“It’s happening because of lapses on the part of the agencies. Police officials lack knowledge and sometimes act in a biased manner. And the Foreigners Tribunals are manned by members who give verdicts but have little experience. The minimum experience to be a member is seven years.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48523963

The Tribune – Sidhu being victimised in Congress, welcome to join us: Khaira

Three regional parties of Punjab Democratic Alliance to merge

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 08 June 2019. Stating that Navjot Singh Sidhu was being victimised by the Congress for telling the truth, Punjabi Ekta Party founder Sukhpal Khaira on Saturday welcomed the Punjab minister to join the alliance.

Khaira said the three regional parties of the Punjab Democratic Alliance shall be merged in the coming days. Khaira also sought the stopping of release of Punjab waters to Pakistan.

Addressing the media here, Khaira said in the coming two days, a unity committee would be formed under which all three regional parties of the PDA: Nava Punjab Party, Lok Insaaf Party and Punjbai Ekta Party, shall be merged and will have a common symbol.

Speaking on Sidhu, Khaira said, “He is being victimised by the Congress. He spoke the truth. But due to political understanding between Captain Amarinder Singh and the Badals, he is being targeted.

The Congress tried to insult him. While portfolios of ministers who lost haven’t been changed, Sidhu’s portfolio was changed. We appeal to him to still stick to the truth.

If he bids goodbye to the Congress, he is welcome to join us. We will respect him.”

Before Khaira, the Taksali Akali Dal had also extended invitation to Sidhu a few days ago.

Speaking on unity of PDA’s Punjab parties, Khaira said, “Post elections it is a common request that Punjab’s three regional forces, which are fighting on truth, should get together under one banner. So our call is for ‘Ik nishan, ik vidhan, ik pardhaan’ (one symbol, one principle, one leader).

It has been unanimously decided that a unity committee shall be formed and will decide on the issue. While respective leaders will hold talks in the first phase, we also welcome others to join in.”

Khaira said, “We are also willing to talk to Taksali Akali Dal to expand the alliance.” He said in the larger fight against the Congress and BJP he was also willing to talk to the AAP.

‘Stop release of water to Pakistan’

Sukhpal Khaira said his party and the PDA shall be adopting the Buddha Nullah and starting a cleanliness campaign in the coming days. He also called for the suspending the release of “15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of Punjab waters per day” to Pakistan even as the state reels under a crisis.

He said, “The PDA with the help of various organisations shall be adopting the toxic Buddha Nullah which is leaving a trail of cancer.

We will be carrying out a campaign, wherein research about the industries would be carried out and information regarding polluting industries shall be revealed. He said the campaign shall be expanded to include the river waters of the state which are currently facing a huge crisis.”

Khaira also called for the Congress and Akali Dal to seek pending dues from Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi for sharing waters with them. He said the government had failed to honour the resolution passed in the Vidhan Sabha on November 16, 2016.

“While state’s canals were empty, 15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of water is being shared with Pakistan. This should stopped immediately,” he added.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sidhu-being-victimised-in-cong-welcome-to-join-us-khaira/785073.html

Gent: De Koer Iftar

De Koer – Iftar
Meibloemstraat
18 May 2019


Evi shakes hands with the wooden person


Now the other hand


Sudanese Sufi singers


Table is set for the iftar


One Belgian instrumentalist


Isfried and Sophie

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Indian Express – Global Sikh Council: Sikh body to spread Guru Nanak’s peace philosophy through Geneva meet

To commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak (1469), the first guru of the Sikhs, World Council of Churches, Geneva, in collaboration with the GSC will organise a Christian-Sikh dialogue in Geneva on July 5, with the dialogue focusing on the theme ‘Pursuing Peace in a Pluralistic World’.

Parul

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 10 June 2019. “Sikh is the thought and Guru is the knowledge, which it has to imbibe,” believes Gurpreet Singh, president, Global Sikh Council (GSC), an organisation that is ‘The Voice of Sikhs Around The World’.

A global Sikh body formed to address various issues of Sikhs around the world, promote art, culture, language and initiate dialogues and discussions on various concerns of the Sikhs, this year GSC’s forthcoming convention and annual general meeting from July 4 to 7 in Langenthal\Geneva is dedicated to Guru Nanak’s philosophy of peace and concept of universal brotherhood.

To commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak (1469), the first guru of the Sikhs, World Council of Churches, Geneva, in collaboration with the GSC will organise a Christian-Sikh dialogue in Geneva on July 5, with the dialogue focusing on the theme ‘Pursuing Peace in a Pluralistic World’.

The theme of peace, explains Chandigarh-based Singh, is intrinsic to the Christian and Sikh faith traditions and the conference will adopt a holistic understanding of peace which is intrinsic to the Christian and Sikh faith traditions, bearing in mind that peace without justice is incomplete.

The relevance of focusing on the theme of peace in a time such as this cannot be understated in a turbulent time such as this.

The growth of xenophobia fuelled by religious fundamentalism, the mixing of politics and religious bigotry and the increasing atrocities on religious minorities continue to remind people of faith of the need to redouble our efforts towards peace making.

This encounter, hopes Singh, will be a modest effort to foster a new partnership that can effectively decipher the signs of the times and offer responses which are courageous and committed.

This will be the first time that the World Council of Churches will be engaging in a formal bilateral dialogue with the Sikhs and the hope is that this will be the first step in a long process of walking and working together towards justice and peace.

The programme will include speakers sharing their views on peaceful co-existence in post-modern contexts, challenges for peaceful co-existence, peace building through service beyond borders, using arts and social media for promoting peace and challenges for Christians and Sikhs to pursue peace in a pluralistic world.

“The city council will also organise an inter-faith meeting in Zurich, with each faith projecting their philosophy and as part of it, we will tie turbans on five young Sikhs. All faiths have the same message to give.”

The Annual General Meeting of GSC (July 4 to 7) will begin at Gurdwara Sahib Langenthal, Bern, with speakers from various faiths coming together on a common platform to talk of Guru Nanak’s various philosophies.

This will be followed by invitees speaking on the role of Sikh women and their contributions in the world, legacy of Guru Nanak, ecological concerns, issues of importance to the Global Sikh Community and GSC. “We will be approaching the UN to name this year as year of Universal Brotherhood and this effort should initiate many conversations.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/global-sikh-council-sikh-body-to-spread-guru-nanaks-peace-philosophy-through-geneva-meet-5772926/

Dawn – Zardari arrested by NAB team after Islamabad High Court rejects bail plea; Bilawal appeals for calm

A 15-member team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), accompanied by police personnel, arrested PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari from his residence in Islamabad on Monday.

Nadir Guramani – Inamullah Khattak – Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Teritory – Pakistan, 10 June 2019. A number of party workers and Zardari’s children Bilawal and Aseefa saw him off as the former president was driven away in a black Landcruiser. He is being taken to the NAB Rawalpindi office.

The arrest comes hours after the Islamabad High Court rejected an application seeking extension in the pre-arrest bails of Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the fake accounts case.

Police personnel, including female officials, had entered the former president’s house after the court decision. All roads leading to the residence were blocked by police.

A two-member bench that had earlier reserved its verdict on their application announced the verbal order. Both Zardari and Talpur had left the court building before the verdict was announced.

The warrants for Zardari were apparently issued yesterday. No warrants have been issued for Talpur as yet, however.

The accountability watchdog had constituted two teams for the arrest of the former president, DawnNewsTV reported citing officials. One team was dispatched to Parliament House and another to Zardari House in Islamabad, officials said.

According to Geo News, NAB had informed the National Assembly through a letter that it was going to execute the warrants against Zardari issued by the NAB chairman.

Zardari and Talpur have the option of appealing the IHC judgment in the Supreme Court.

The case pertains to suspicious transactions worth Rs 4.4 billion allegedly carried out through a fictitious bank account. According to the prosecution, the account titled M/s A One International was fake and it received a sum of Rs 4.4bn out of which Rs 30m was paid to the Zardari Group at two different times.

PPP’s reaction

Soon after the verdict, the PPP called a consultative meeting to discuss the future legal options of Zardari and Talpur. According to sources, Zardari had called his legal team to the meeting to deliberate on whether to challenge the IHC judgement in the SC.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari urged party workers to remain calm. “The people have never accepted controversial court verdicts,” he was quoted as saying.

“The PPP believes in the rule of law despite biased court decisions.”

The PPP Karachi division asked party leaders and workers to show up at the Karachi Press Club in the evening to protest what it called the “oppressive machinations of this selected incapable government”. It termed the court decision a part of the government’s alleged policy of “political victimisation in the name of accountability”.

Bail proceedings

Earlier, when Zardari arrived at the court for the hearing, he was accompanied by his daughter Aseefa. Security measures around the court were tightened prior to the former president’s arrival.

Additional Prosecutor for National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Jahanzeb Bharwana assisted the two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani.

“Let a bail hearing remain just that, do not turn it into a trial hearing,” Justice Farooq said while telling the NAB lawyer to only mention any details missed during arguments rather than recapping the whole case.

The NAB prosecutor argued that as per the standards set by the Supreme Court, bail cannot be granted in this case.

PPP workers gathered close to the court as prisoner vans were also brought to the site.

PPP workers in Punjab have already planned a protest in case Zardari is arrested. The party planned blockade of all major roads of the Punjab capital by arranging workers’ protests there in case of arrest of the party’s co-chairman.

A PPP worker, Azizur Rehman Chan, said that the protest would be “vigorous” as committees had been formed and duties assigned for each protest point.

Faisal Mir, another PPP leader, said that if Prime Minister Imran Khan managed to get Zardari arrested through the NAB, he would be laying the foundation for the removal of his government.

A NAB officer investigating the fake bank accounts case had informed an IHC division bench last month that the investigation team of the case had sought approval from the NAB chairman for the arrest of Zardari and his sister.

The fake accounts saga

In 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had launched a probe into fake accounts and fictitious transactions conducted through 29 ‘benami’ accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and UBL on the basis of a tip-off.

Initially, seven individuals, including Zardari and his Talpur, were said to be involved in using those accounts for suspicious transactions. The accounts were allegedly used to channel funds received through kickbacks.

Later, the apex court took a suo motu notice on the delay in the FIA probe into the case. The SC also constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the matter.

The JIT during the course of investigation uncovered 33 more suspicious accounts linked to the case, while nearly 170 individuals linked to the case were put on the no-fly list.

According to a report submitted in the court, 210 companies were also found to have alleged links to the case. As many as 47 of these companies and 334 people were associated with the Omni Group, owned by a close aide of Zardari. At one stage, the top court had frozen all assets and accounts of the group.

The accountability watchdog and the FIA allege that an account titled M/s A One International was fake and it received a sum of Rs4.4 billion out of which Rs30 million were paid to the Zardari Group at two different times.

The FIA had filed the case before a banking court in Karachi which had issued an arrest warrant for Zardari. Subsequently, the PPP leader had obtained protective/transitory bail from the IHC on August 18, 2018. Later, the case was shifted from the accountability in Karachi to an accountability court in Islamabad as the investigators accused the PPP of influencing the case.

During the course of the investigation, on April 8, two accused in the case, Kiran Aman and Noreen Sultan, became approvers against Zardari and Talpur.

Several close friends of Zardari had been arrested in the case, while the PPP chief and his sister Faryal Talpur were on an interim bail which was extended multiple times before being rejected on Monday. Both Zardari and Talpur are on bail in at least seven other cases of corruption and malpractice.

With additional reporting by Imtiaz Mugheri in Karachi and Umer Farooq in Lahore.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1487308/zardari-arrested-by-nab-team-after-ihc-rejects-bail-plea-bilawal-appeals-for-calm