The Telegraph – Child dies after 110 hours in borewell

Doctors at the hospital said the child was brought dead

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 12 June 2019. A two-year-old child who was stuck in a 150 ft-deep unused borewell here was pulled out on Tuesday morning after almost 110 hours, but could not survive, officials and doctors said.

Fatehveer Singh was brought out around 4:45am by National Disaster Response Force personnel. He was taken to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, 130 km away, in an ambulance, Sangrur deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said.

Doctors at the hospital said the child was brought dead.

The autopsy report said Fatehveer died due to hypoxia “a few days back”.

The body was then flown back to the village in a helicopter arranged by the Punjab government. Fatehveer, who turned two on Monday, had been stuck in the shaft of the seven-inch-wide borewell at a depth of 125 ft. Rescue workers had dug along the shaft to reach the boy.

Opposition parties in Congress-ruled Punjab have accused the state government of “negligence”, while residents of the village where Fatehveer lived have alleged delay in rescue efforts.

The only child of his parents, Fatehveer fell into the borewell in a field while playing at Bhagwanpura village around 4 pm on Thursday. The borewell was covered with a cloth and the boy accidentally stepped on it. His mother tried to rescue him, but failed, the officials said.

A massive rescue operation was launched to bring the child out. Officials managed to supply oxygen but no food or water could be provided to him. “They didn’t use the proper technique to rescue him early on. Trial and error methods were adopted for days,” a relative said.

Villagers alleged that ultimately Fatehveer was pulled out of the borewell with clamps fastened to his hands. “If they had to use this method, they could have done it much before,” said a villager.

The Tribune – Ensure safety of Sikhs in Shillong: SGPC to Centre

The SGPC has appealed to the Union Home Ministry for ensuring the safety of the Sikhs in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 June 2019. Following the threat by the banned organisation Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Sikh body Harijan Panchayat Committee in Shillong has also approached Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma for the safety of the Sikh families who have been residing there for the past two centuries.

Ironically, the Shillong Municipal Board has also served a notice on the Sikh residents of Harijan Colony to establish their ownership rights or vacate the place. A few days back, HNLC activists had threatened the colony residents to face consequences if they dare to contest the municipal board’s notice in the court.

Gurdwara Bara Bazar management committee chief Gurjeet Singh said after the threat, tension had prevailed among the Sikh families as they were attacked earlier too.

The SGPC has decided to send a delegation to Shillong.

Gobind Singh Longowal, SGPC president, said an appeal had been made to Home Minister Amit Shah and the Home Secretary too. “The delegation will also meet Meghalaya CM.”

Gent: Iftar Sint-Baafshuis – Gent-Sint-Pieters – Leuven NMBS – Gentbrugge Stelplaats

Interconvictional Dialogue and Iftar
21 May 2019

The five women representing their traditions
Buddhism – Islam – Protestant (VPK) – Roman Catholic – Humanist

22 May 2019

IC to Eupen via Brussel and Leuven

Track 10 IC 12:23 to Eupen

Leuven NMBS
22 May 2019

On the left the all station train to ‘s Gravenbrakel via Brussel
On the right the train to Gent via Brussel Airport and Aalst

Me in mirror image
All station train to ‘s Gravenbrakel via Brussel

The blue museum tram from the days before ‘De Lijn’ took over all local buses and trams in Dutch speaking Belgium

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Nation – Tragedy of Operation Blue Star

Adeela Naureen

12 June 2019. Asian News Agency(ANI) is one of the major Indian News agencies, this year ANI tried to rub salt on wounds of Sikh community by terming the 35th anniversary of Operation Blue Star as a celebration.

The ANI report on this somber occasion stated that locals have celebrated 35th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star in Punjab’s Amritsar. This was totally opposite to the situation on ground as thousands of Khalistani activists raised the slogans of Khalistan Zinda Baad and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale Zinda Baad at Akal Takht, demanding a separate homeland for Sikh community.

Sikh diaspora has lambasted this blatant assault on their feelings and emotions and demanded the Indian government to refrain from such efforts to defame great freedom fighters of Sikh cause. Is it a sign of an arrogant Hindutva Republic as Modi 2.0 began its next tenure of five years to make sure minorities in India are kept oppressed?

In the age of information empowerment of the masses, India cannot hide her shame of Operation Blue Star. Taking help from my previous articles on Sikh resistance, I thought of refreshing the memories of great sacrifices by the Sikh community and pay homage to those who laid their lives for Khalistan.

The month of June reminds us that Sikh resistance against Indian oppression is not only alive and kicking but also entering a new paradigm. In 2017, Indian high Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador Ajay Basaria was confronted by Sikh activists at Panja Sahib Hasan Abdal.

The Sikh community feels that the Indian government and her agencies were involved in production of a film, which amounted to desecration of Sikh culture and religion.

In April 2015, the Sikh community in UK was displeased at release of a film Nanak Shah Faqir, as it personified the revered Sikh Guru, Baba Guru Nanak Sahib, something disallowed in Sikh religion. Indian government who claims to follow secular principles has failed its diverse communities at various occasions and Sikhs are no exception.

Whether it be the physical attack on Akal Takht and massacre of Sikhs in droves in the eighties, the sponsorship of dubious characters like Ram Rahim Singh or the question of separate Sikh identity in the Indian constitution, Sikh community has been gradually pushed to the wall.

Operation Blue Star cannot be discussed without the mention of the Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a great leader who dedicated his life for Sikh freedom. He called for Sikh community to return to roots of Sikhism, fighting against the consumption of liquor, drugs and laxness in religious practices, such as the cutting of hair by Sikh youth.

Launching the Dharam Yudh Morcha in August 1982, Bhindranwale aimed at the fulfillment of a list of demands based on the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement in the hopes of acquiring a larger share of irrigation water and the return of Chandigarh to Punjab.

Operation Blue Star with heavy support of Armour and artillery was launched in Jun 1984 to assassinate Bhindranwale and his valiant soldiers including former Sikh Major General Shabeg Singh. Bhindranwale was martyred by Indian Army on 6th June, creating ripples across India and paving way for permanent fissures between Sikhs and Hindu community.

From grandeur of Sikh rule in the subcontinent to bitter memories of Operation Blue Star and desecration of Akal Takht in 1984 (which resulted into a mutiny in Indian Military), Khalistan has remained a dream for the Sikhs of India as well as their strong Diaspora around the entire globe.

In Canada, US, UK, Europe, South East Asia and Australia, Khalistan 2020 is becoming a major movement. The Sikh Federation UK had already presented their manifesto with three major objectives:

  • Independent inquiry into the actions of the UK government in the lead up to and after the June and November 1984 Sikh genocide.
  • Call for the UK government to recognise the events of June and November 1984 as a Sikh genocide
  • Call for the UK government to recognise and support the application for self-determination to the Sikhs for an Independent Khalistan.

Sikh diaspora across the world and especially those living in Europe and North America has found a new spirit to contest Indian hegemonic attitudes and browbeating of the proud Sikh community. The Hasan Abdal episode had highlighted that Sikhs would not allow Indian government and its head honchos in the Rajpath to bluff the world by posing as a secular republic.

Many Gurdwaras across the west have put serious restrictions on Indian diplomats to visit or offer supplications as they believe that Indian façade of secularism has outlived its shelf life and India cannot bluff the international community.

Sikh community strongly feels that there has been sustained and graduated efforts to kill their identity and culture through a majoritarian philosophy of the Hindutva flag bearers since Independence of India in 1947. Even the constitution was subverted to make sure that Sikhs gradually lose their identity and culture.

Unfortunately, the Indian response to legitimate aspirations of minority communities like Sikhs and Muslims has been coercive and deceitful; Indian Punjab is likely to become the new battleground between the Sikh community and the Hindutvadi Nazis.

Pakistan, as the favorite whipping boy of the Indian security establishment, will have to remain in the eye of the storm blowing across the River Ravi and should expect more false flag operations like Pathankot and Balakot.

Sikh community in North America and Europe has been very active in support of Khalistan 2020 campaign. Over 5000 Khalistani protestors along with their Kashmiri brothers staged a demonstration in Trafalgar Square in Aug 2018 asking for a free Punjab and separate homeland for Sikh community.

Similarly burning Tiranga(Indian flag) movement has gained lot of currency in Sikh youth, this year in a large Sikh protest in Washington DC, Tiranga was burnt and pro-Khalistan activists raised slogans against India.

To conclude, Khalistan 2020 campaign will pick up momentum in coming years as the Sikh youth becomes aware of the brutalities of Operation Blue Star, the killing of thousands of Sikhs after assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1985 and rise of Saffron terror in India.

Dawn – Back in the dock

Asif Ali Zardari is back in prison that he has called his ‘second home’. The noose had been tightening around him for long and it was just a matter of time before he would be nabbed. He has been there before but the circumstances of his latest ordeal are markedly different. The spectacle of an old man walking with support was in sharp contrast to the bravado he had exhibited during detention in the past.

Op/Ed, 12 June 2019. For a man who spent 11 years of his political life in prison it would not be like ‘home’ this time around; both politics and age are against him. It is not that the charges Zardari faced in the past were less serious, but the time and situation appear less favourable for the crafty politician.

Although Zardari had never been convicted in the past, it seems harder for him to come out unscathed from the multiple graft cases against him this time. He is in hot water yet again with a damning charge against him in a money-laundering case. There are several other cases of corruption under investigation against him and his family.

He has been accused of running dubious financial and business networks worth billions of rupees through front men. Zardari’s alleged corruption has been under discussion for years, but now, given the incriminating evidence produced against him by investigators, it will not be easy to fight conviction, especially with the axe falling on other political leaders too.

Asif Ali Zardari epitomises the perpetual ironies of Pakistani politics.

Perhaps most troubling for the PPP is the fact that it is not only the fate of its co-chairman that hangs in the balance but of its other leaders as well, including one of Zardari’s sisters who faces similar charges. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is preparing to take over command of the party, has also been under investigation.

Indeed, some allegations against Zardari for accumulating wealth through dubious means seem hard to defend. But the credibility of the ongoing accountability process itself is questionable and exposes the National Accountability Bureau to criticism that it is carrying out a witch-hunt as well as an exercise in selective accountability. The prime minister’s threat to put the opposition leaders behind bars has reinforced this perception.

Zardari epitomises the perpetual ironies of Pakistani politics. For the past three decades, he alternated between prison and power. Arguably the most maligned politician in Pakistan, he even managed to reach the highest pedestal of power.

He spent three years in prison facing trial on a litany of corruption charges after the overthrow of Benazir Bhutto’s first government in what is described as a ‘military-backed constitutional coup’ in 1990. He was elected as a member of the National Assembly from prison.

It was an unforgettable moment in Pakistan’s political history when Zardari was released from prison and sworn in as a federal minister in the interim government formed after the ouster of Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1993 by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan who was also responsible for his imprisonment.

Zardari was a prominent member of his wife’s second government. But, after the fall of the PPP government, he was back in prison in 1996 on similar corruption charges.

This time he spent almost eight years in prison before being released in 2004 as the Musharraf government sought reconciliation with the PPP. Interestingly, all the graft cases against Zardari were filed under Nawaz Sharif’s two governments in the 1990s.

Senior military officials remained in contact with him in prison trying to make a deal that could have paved the way for the PPP to join the government. But the negotiations went nowhere. The cases against him dragged on without him getting convicted.

All the cases against Zardari were later withdrawn under an agreement, also known as the NRO, between the Musharraf government and the PPP in 2007. The Supreme Court, however, later annulled the ordinance and restored all cases.

In the years following his release in 2004, he got himself elected as the country’s president. An accidental leader as a result of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, not only did Zardari become the first democratically elected president in the country to have completed his full term, he also left office with a guard of honour.

He is also rightly credited for the enactment of the 18th Constitutional Amendment that granted greater autonomy to the provinces.

But that may not be the reason alone for which Zardari will be remembered. There is indeed a ring of truth to the widespread perception of his government being one of the most incompetent and corrupt in Pakistan’s recent history.

As a result, the PPP was dealt a humiliating defeat in the 2013 elections, limiting to Sindh the writ of the once most powerful political force in the country.

Will history repeat itself yet again for the country’s most controversial leader? The charges against Zardari are indeed serious; yet, given the unpredictability of Pakistani politics nothing is impossible.

But whether or not Zardari is convicted, the possibility of his return to the political centre stage remains limited. He had already taken a back seat in the party leadership, allowing Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to take charge.

Slowly but surely, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is making his presence felt on the national political scene. He has infused new life into the PPP that many thought was on the ventilator. He has certainly inherited the charisma and the mass appeal of the Bhuttos that had been missing from the party since the assassination of his mother.

But there is still a long way to go before he can take the party out of his father’s shadow and away from past baggage. He remains trapped between two conflicting legacies, one inherited from his grandfather and mother, the other from his wily father.

It will require much more than mere rhetoric for the party to reclaim its lost position. The current crisis that the party is going through also provides an opportunity for the leadership to clear some unpleasant baggage.

The writer is an author and a journalist.