BJP may have expelled Sunita Gaur, but it has always rewarded communal violence

Perhaps the simple truth is that she lacked the social capital necessary to receive the party’s protection, even reward,  for what she did.

Forwarded to the Man in Blue blog by Pieter Friedrich

Sunita Singh Gaur of Ramkola, Uttar Pradesh, India secured for herself a place in history when she soared to international infamy after an explicit social media summons for “Hindu brothers” to gangrape Muslim “mothers and sisters”.

The jaw-dropping demand might have attracted little attention if it were not for Gaur’s role as head of the Ramkola chapter of the Mahila Morcha of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Even then, it likely would have been dismissed as an aberration, the freakish ramblings of some bigoted crackpot who managed to slip unvetted into a party leadership role, if it were not remarkably consistent with the actions of some of the most notorious members of her party and the Hindutva ideology upon which it was founded.

“It was a religious duty of every Muslim to kidnap, and force into their own religion, non-Muslim women,” alleged V D Savarkar in the 1960s.

Decades after he articulated Hindutva as a religious nationalist political ideology, one which undergirds the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, Savarkar penned a history of the Indian subcontinent which was posthumously published in English as Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History.

The voluminous work of questionable historical accuracy claims that Muslims (both as invaders and as rulers) systematically raped “millions” of Hindu women as part of a deliberate plan for “increasing the Muslim population with special regard to the unavoidable laws of nature”.

Mixing his telling of history with scathing criticism of the Hindu leaders of past ages, he accuses them of embracing “perverted religious ideas about chivalry to women” which restrained them from paying “the Muslim fair sex in the same coin”.

It was, as journalist Ajaz Ashraf noted, a call to employ rape as a political weapon. Survivors of rape who speak about their experiences invariably talk about how they wish that no one else ever has to go through such suffering. Savarkar, however, put his own words into the mouths of imagined victims.

Envisioning the “plaintive screams and pitiful lamentations of the millions of molested Hindu women which reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the country,” he speculated that their souls might say: “Let those Sultans and their peers take a fright that in the event of a Hindu victory our molestation and detestable lot shall be avenged on the Muslim women.

Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension, that the Muslim women, too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women.”

While employing distinctly unvarnished rhetoric in contrast to Savarkar’s flowery language, Sunita Singh Gaur proposed an identical policy. “To protect India,” she said in her Facebook post (which came to light in late June 2019), “Hindu brothers must barge into every Muslim home by making a group of 10 to 20, and gang-rape their women.”

The defilement, she insisted, must be done “openly on the streets,” after which the victims should be hung “in the middle of [the] bazaar for others to see.”

Gaur’s post prompted swift and extensive outrage as it was first shared across social media platforms and then widely reported by mainstream media. On June 29, Mahila Morcha national president Vijaya Rahatkar posted on Twitter: “The lady in question has been expelled.” Rahatkar offered words of assurance. “BJP Mahila Morcha will not tolerate any hateful comments whatsoever.

Yet, while the expulsion was necessary action, other recent statements, and actions, by higher-profile BJP leaders suggest that Gaur’s dismissal merely means that the party is washing its hands off a low-ranking member who became a liability.

Yogi Adityanath remains one of the most prominent and egregious examples of the BJP not only turning a blind eye to poisonous rhetoric but actually promoting those who employ it.

Few are more notorious, or prolific, when it comes to producing hate speech. When he was appointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Amnesty International India took the exceptional step of issuing a statement directly denouncing a single politician. He must, said Amnesty, “publicly withdraw his previous inflammatory statements against Muslims and other religious minorities.”

A former MP, the volatile Adityanath founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini in 2002 to, ostensibly, “promote the harmonious development of society.” Allegations against the HYV include conversions, targeted killings, incitement of riots and burning of trains. “If I ask for blood, they will give me blood,” said Adityanath in 2009. “When I ask them to rise and protect our Hindu culture, they obey.”

Adityanath’s idea of how to “protect Hindu culture” closely resembles Sunita Singh Gaur’s idea of how to “protect India.” At one rally in the mid-2000s, he argued that a religious war is imminent because Muslim and Hindu cultures cannot co-exist, then sat and listened as another speaker called on the audience to dig up Muslim women from their graves and rape them.

At another rally, Adityanath dwelled on the supposed problem of Hindu girls eloping with Muslim men. In a call and response with the crowd of 1,000 or more, he declared, “If they take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we kill.”

Nevertheless, Adityanath was sworn-in as chief minister at a grand ceremony in 2017, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

Elsewhere in India, the use of rape as a political weapon has seen instances of BJP support for the rapists. In January 2018, after the abominable gang-rape of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, it emerged, was a conspiracy to terrorise the Muslims into fleeing the region.

The conspiracy backfired as several people were arrested, including a local Hindu priest and multiple police officers, one of whom was accused of master-minding, others of destroying evidence.

Rather than disavowing the accused, sections of the BJP leapt to their defence. The party’s state secretary, Vijay Sharma, founded the Hindu Ekta Manch for their support.

When the HEM organised a February rally of more than 5,000 people, at least three BJP state legislators joined: ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga as well as MLA Rajiv Jasrotia.

“We went there on the party’s instruction,” Ganga said. In April, when the Kathua rape, and these BJP leaders’ support for the rapists, made international headlines, Ganga and Singh resigned.

Meanwhile, as the Indian diaspora organised protests to support the child victim, Modi spoke out during a mid-April visit to London. Rather than censuring the ministers, he merely noted that “rape is rape,” and instructed to not “politicise rape incidents”.

Two weeks later, Jasrotia was sworn-in as a state cabinet minister and assigned the same portfolio vacated by Singh. Explaining that the party did not want Singh and Ganga to step down, BJP spokesperson Ram Madhav stated, “They resigned because the media created an impression that they were supporting the rape accused.”

In June, Madhav described their attendance at the rally as an “indiscretion,” using the opportunity to lash out at Congress for “trying to politicise the issue.” If attending a rally to support a gang who raped a child is an “indiscretion,” what does one call participation in a full-scale massacre of a minority community?

During the 2002 Gujarat riots too, attackers implemented what was essentially Sunita Singh Gaur’s recommendation. “Women and girls were gang-raped in public view before being hacked and burned to death,” reported Human Rights Watch.

Gaur’s explicit post advised rapists to “cut them and impale their vagina”, and, as HRW reported, countless eyewitnesses reported women in 2002 were “raped and cut” while one victim even arrived at a refugee camp “unconscious and with an iron rod stuck inside her vagina.”

“I made bombs, rocket launchers, swords, and distributed them across Gujarat,” boasted Haresh Bhatt in a video secretly filmed by Tehelka. Then coordinator of Bajrang Dal, Bhatt continued, “Firearms and swords were smuggled in from other states as well.”

Speaking about Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, he said, “What he did, no chief minister has ever done, he had given us three days, after three days, he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt.” Speaking to The New York Times at the conclusion of those three days, Bhatt dubbed himself “the first enemy of Muslims.”

“We didn’t spare any of them,” local Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi told Tehelka. “They shouldn’t be allowed to breed. Whoever they are, even if they’re women or children, there’s nothing to be done with them; cut them down. Thrash them, slash them, burn the bastards.”

He bragged about his role in the attack on the Muslim majority Naroda Patiya neighbourhood. In one of the worst massacres of the three-day pogrom, over 70 of the Naroda dead (according to official figures) were women and children. “Everyone was on a killing spree,” said Bajrangi. “There were bodies everywhere.” They “dumped the corpses in a well”, except for those they set on fire.

“Hacked, burnt, set on fire, many things were done,” he said. “We believe in setting them on fire because these bastards say they don’t want to be cremated.” Praising Modi for doing what “nobody can do,” he declared, “It was his hand all the way.”

At the end of the day, he said, “I came back after I killed them them, called up the home minister, and went to sleep.” The home minister then was Gordhan Zadafia. In charge of state security forces then, he is a long-time VHP activist turned BJP politician.

“I spoke to Gordhan Zadafia,” said Bajrangi. “He told me to leave Gujarat and go into hiding.”

One of the participants who didn’t go into hiding was BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, despite partnering with Bajrangi as a key leader of the Naroda Patiya massacre. Eyewitnesses repeatedly identified both of them, testifying that they distributed weapons and urged on the attackers.

“Mayaben was moving around all day in an open jeep,” Suresh Richard, one of those attackers, told Tehelka. “She was saying, ‘Jai Shri Ram. Jai Shri Ram.’ She kept raising slogans. She said, carry on with your work.”

What was Richard’s work? “When thousands of hungry men go in, they will eat some fruit or the other,” he said. “Many Muslim girls were being killed and burnt to death anyway, some people must have helped themselves to the fruit.

The fruit was there so it had to be eaten. I also ate…. That scrap-dealer’s girl, Naseemo…. I got on top…. Then I pulped her.” Afterwards, he said, he “had to go killing again.”

Although Vijaya Rahatkar claims it has expelled Sunita Singh Gaur because the BJP Mahila Morcha “will not tolerate any hateful comments whatsoever,” participation in the wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children was not enough to convince the BJP to expel MLA Kodnani.

She was later made Minister of State for Women and Child Development. Haresh Bhatt, meanwhile, was rewarded with a seat in the state legislature. “Clearly, it was the Hindutva card that worked in our favour,” said Bhatt when he won in December 2002. “This election was fought for establishing a Hindu nation.”

Bhatt was never charged. Kodnani and Bajrangi were finally charged, however. Their trial began in 2009. In 2012, ten years after the pogrom, both were convicted and sentenced, Kodnani to 28 years and Bajrangi to life. Yet Modi, who allegedly did what “no chief minister has ever done”, never faced any legal repercussions.

In 2010, while the Supreme Court was investigating the pogrom, there was talk that Zadafia might testify against Modi. That idea died as Times of India reported that RSS executives were contacting Zadafia to “persuade him not to take this step at this juncture.”

Then, in 2012, the court’s investigating team concluded that there was not enough prosecutable evidence to charge Modi. That cleared the path for him to campaign for the prime ministership. Then in April 2018, a Gujarat court acquitted Kodnani. In March 2019, the Supreme Court determined that Bajrangi was “in bad shape” and should be granted bail.

For his loyalty and silence, Zadafia was entrusted with managing the BJP’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It was a cathartic release for a man who once was considered likely to turn state’s evidence against Modi.

It was also an affirmation of his ideological commitment. Upon announcement of his appointment, Economic Times reported, “What is, however, unquestionable is the 64-year-old leader’s Hindutva credentials as his ties with RSS and VHP always remained strong.”

Zadafia’s efforts paid off. The BJP swept the parliamentary elections in Uttar Pradesh. “Earlier it was a Modi wave,” he told The Week. “This time, it is a Modi tsunami across India.”

On May 28, just a few days after the results of that ‘tsunami’ were announced, Modi posted a video on Twitter. Set to a melodramatic musical score, the video shows him paying obeisance to a photo of Savarkar.

It was not Modi’s first time eulogising the father of Hindutva. “Savarkar ji’s personality was full of special qualities,” he said in 2014. “He was also a striking poet and a social reformer who always emphasised on goodwill and unity.”

Yet what was it that Savarkar so poetically emphasised as necessary for regeneration of the motherland? “Were a serpent (an inveterate national enemy) to come with a view to bite the motherland, he should be smashed to pieces with a surprise attack, deceit, or cunning or in any other way possible,” he wrote in Six Glorious Epochs.

Accusing Muslims of “slaughtering Hindus irrespective of their age or sex and pulling down the Hindu holy places of worship,” he declared: “Because the Hindus did not emulate the Muslims in this respect, these local Muslims who were left alive and unmolested, turned traitors, like serpents fed and fostered as pets.”

“A serpent, whether male or female, if it comes to bite must be killed,” he asserted. Arguing that “the whole of the Hindu nation” was, during times of Muslim rule, “utterly infatuated with the perverted sense of virtues,” he specified one of those virtues as “the suicidal Hindu idea of chivalry to women.”

The problem, he insisted, was that “only Muslim men, and not women, were taken prisoner” and that “even when they were taken prisoner in battles, the Muslim women, royal ladies as also the commonest slaves, were invariably sent back safe and sound to their respective families.”

He was horrified that “this act was glorified by the Hindus as their chivalry towards the enemy women and the generosity of their religion.” Such chivalry must be rejected as a vice rather than a virtue, so thought Savarkar.

Sunita Singh Gaur seems to have thought the same. Her despicable comments are inexcusable, yet she may certainly be excused for mistakenly believing that she could get away with expressing such views as a BJP leader.

Many other party leaders have succeeded in actually enacting rather than merely expressing the extent of violence Gaur recommended. Perhaps the simple truth is that she lacked the social capital necessary to receive the party’s protection, even reward, for what she did.

She lacked the political power of an Adityanath, a Kodnani, or a Modi.

One thing is certain. Expelling Gaur is not a panacea for the hatred which the BJP has not only tolerated but given safe haven, fostered, and purveyed throughout the country. The very first step on a sincere journey towards eradicating “hateful comments” – and the horrifying atrocities they produce, would be the rejection of Savarkar and his poisonous ideology of Hindutva.

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.

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Dawn – MNA Rana Sanaullah sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand

Rana Bilal

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 02 July 2019. A day after his arrest, PML-N Punjab president MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan was sent to jail on Tuesday on 14-day judicial remand by a district court in Lahore.

Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officials presented the PML-N leader and five other suspects, Akram, Omer Farooq, Amir Rustum, Usman Ahmed and Sibtain Khan, before judicial magistrate Ahmad Waqas.

All six suspects were sent to jail on judicial remand. Following his arrest, Sanaullah was shifted to Lahore’s Camp Jail.

PML-N workers chanted the slogan ‘lion lion’ in the courtroom.

The PML-N leader’s lawyer said that ANF had arrested Sanaullah after making a political case.

Ahead of Sanaullah’s appearance before the court, strict security arrangements were made. A large contingent of police was positioned inside and outside the court. All routes to the court were closed with containers and barbed wires.

On Monday, Sanaullah was arrested in what is said to be a narcotics case involving proscribed outfits.

The PML-N termed the government’s move to be “worst example of political victimisation” and warned that such tactics to push the opposition against the wall would backfire.

An ANF team arrested Sanaullah, a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Imran Khan, on his way to Lahore from Faisalabad on Motorway at around 3pm at Sukheyki.

Although the ANF chose to not give details of his arrest, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi had confirmed his arrest, saying “ANF has arrested Rana Sanaullah. He is my colleague but no one is above the law”.

His brother-in-law Rana Sheryar had said some 15 vehicles of the ANF and Elite Force Punjab took part in the raid to arrest Sanaullah. “The raiding team intercepted Sana­ullah’s car at Sukheyki. It took him into custody along with his driver and three guards and probably took him to the ANF Lahore Cantonment office,” he said.

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif has called a party meeting in Lahore on Tuesday (today) to discuss Sanaullah’s arrest.

Arrest on ‘authentic information’

In a video message, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the ANF had detained Sanaullah on “authentic information” that the PML-N leader’s vehicle contained drugs worth Rs 150 million to Rs 200 million, Radio Pakistan reported.

Awan was quoted as saying that no one was beyond the Constitution and law in Naya Pakistan, adding that the ANF was an “independent institution and there is no link of government interest in this detention”.

As per Radio Pakistan, the PTI leader added that the PML-N wanted to use Sanaullah’s arrest for “political point scoring”.

Additional reporting by Adnan Sheikh

How similar both sides of Panjab are, this side has a narcotics-political link and the other side has it too.
Man in Blue

World Sikh News – Ethnic Cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, a timeline of Buddhist extremism

The learned author explains why Tamils had struggled for Tamil Eelam and how Tamils who were the original inhabitants of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka, were systematically reduced to second-class citizens in the island nation. The article was first published in World Sikh News in December 2007. Social scientists need to see this as an aspect of contemporary history as a chapter of Buddhist extremism.

Suppiramaniam Makenthiran

In 1948, the very year that the British handed over the Ceylon Government to the Sinhalese majority on a platter without any safeguards for minorities, the Sinhalesedominated government passed a law rendering half the Ceylon Tamil population stateless in the land of their birth.

Under the Ceylon Citizenship Act, of the nearly two million Tamils in Ceylon, over one million Upcountry Tamils, who had lived in Cey­lon for generations, were deprived of their citizenship. To make matters worse, the Sinhalese government disenfranchised these Tamils by depriving them of their voting rights by passing the Ceylon Elections Amendment Act.

The Upcountry Tamil leaders launched a peaceful satyagraha to protest against this racist policy, but it was ignored by the government. The first Prime Minister of Ceylon, D S Senanayake, a scheming racist, set the dangerous precedent for others to follow.

Subsequently, there was massive landgrabbing, forcing planned colonization of the traditional homeland of the Tamils in the North­east by settling Sinhalese from the South. Indigenous Tamils were uprooted and Sinhalese criminals made to reside in Tamil-dominated villages. All protests by Tamils and their leaders were scrupulously ignored.

In 1956, the Sinhalese government passed the Sinhala Only Act, making Sin­hala the only official language, divesting official status of the Tamil language. The Tamil language spoken by Tamils and Muslims was the mother tongue of one-third of the people of Ceylon, but it was suppressed. This cultural attack was carried out by Prime Minister Mrs Bandaranayake.

Further­more, in 1956, Sinhalese mobs attacked and drove out Tamils from their villages in the Gal Oya Valley in the Batticaloa district. This was the commencement of Sinhala mob terrorism against unarmed Tamils. The police were ineffective and remained mute spectators.

The next step in the genocidal programme was to stop employment to Tamils. Those already in the government service were deprived of their increments unless they passed the Sinhala proficiency tests.

In 1957 Tamil leaders signed the Bandaranayake-Chelvanayagam Pact with the Sinhalese government, to devolve power to regional councils, but it was soon unilaterally and dishonestly abrogated. Again in 1965, Tamil leaders signed the Chelvanayagam-Senanayake Pact to devolve power to district councils was also abrogated.

In 1958 Sin­halese mobs and criminals unleashed terror against the Tamils all over the Sinhalese provinces. Tamils were massacred, their houses burnt, people burnt alive, women raped and tortured. Rendered defenceless, over a 100,000 Tamils fled to their tradi­tional homelands in the Northeast.

In 1970, by a scheme of standardization, Tamil students were discriminated and barred from higher education. Tamil students were required to score higher marks than the Sinhalese for admission to higher studies.

In the early sixties of the last century, Mrs Srimavo Bandaranayake indulged in the mass deportation of the stateless and disenfranchised Upcountry Tamils to India. The Indian government colluded with the Ceylon government in this move by signing the Srimavo-Sashtri Pact in 1964. Half a million Tamils were forced out of Ceylon to India.

In 1974 the Sinhala state unleashed police violence against the Tamils who had gathered to hold the Tamil Research Conference in Jaffna, killing nine and wounding many. In 1976 the Sinhalese police opened fire at a mosque killing many Tamil-speaking Muslims.

In 1977 the UNP government of Prime Minister J R Jayawardena unleashed mob violence against the Tamils particularly in the plantations, killing hundreds of innocent people. Nearly 40,000 Tamils were made refugees and destitute and many fled to India. Nearly 100 Hindu temples were destroyed with the active involvement of Sinhalese politicians.

In 1978 the Sri Lankan Parliament enacted the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act and armed forces were given a free hand to kill Tamil youth. Torture camps were set up and Tamils disappeared involuntarily in large numbers. The government unleashed the Sinhalese and Muslim homeguards to oppress Tamils.

In 1981, the Sinhalese armed forces rampaged in Jaffna, killing and setting fire to buildings including the historic Jaffna Public Library containing 94,000 invaluable books. This act of cultural genocide was carried out by two Sinhala ministers, Athulathmudali and Cyril Mathew, who were present in Jaffna at the time of the attack.

The Sin­halese government chased out Tamils from their villages in large numbers in the Northeast and replaced them with Sinhalese from the South. Plantation Tamils, who had taken refuge in North­east due to Sinhala terror, were forcibly put into buses and dumped in the Central Province.

Tamil students in the University of Peradeniya were also attacked. Tamils were arrested in large numbers and held without trial for long pe­riods. Many were tortured and many disappeared, obviously involuntarily. In the We­likade jail, many Tamil prisoners were killed in July 1983.

The devastation to the Sri Lankan Tamil people caused by the Sinhalese pogrom reduced the Tamil population to 30 per cent of what it was in 1948. It is time that the Sinhalese accused are tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

This reign of terror continued during the tenure of J R Jayawardena, Premadasa, and Chandrika Kumaratunga. The Sinhala armed forces continued a reign of state terror. Mass arrests, killings, disappearances, torture, rape, burning of houses, destruction of schools, hospitals, businesses, shops, temples and churches rendered Tamils destitute. Tamil villages were bull­dozed and the army followed a scorched-earth policy in the Tamil homeland.

S Makenthiran is a graduate of the University of Ceylon, Colombo and a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants of the UK. He has served in Sri Lanka and different countries in Africa including Zambia, Malawi and Botswana. He was a World Bank Project Finance Officer, before emigrating to Canada. In Canada he works as an accountancy, financial and tax consultant.

Ethnic Cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka -a timeline of Buddhist extremism

The Tribune – Pakistan proposes 14 July for second meeting on Kartarpur corridor

SAD seeks removal of cap on devotees

Islamabad – Islamabad Capital Territory, 2 July 2019. Pakistan on Tuesday proposed July 14 for the second meeting with India to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor and related technical issues, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

“Pakistan, today, conveyed to India that the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues will be held on 14th July 2019 at Wagah,” the FO said.

“The Indian side has been requested to convey the composition of its delegation,” it said in a brief statement.

It said Pakistan was committed to expedite progress on the matter to ensure that the corridor is operationalised in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.

Melle Leeuw – Oostende Tram Station

Melle Leeuw
Terminus of Tram 2
21 June 2019

Busstop for service 27, 28, 94 and 96
Terminus of Tram 2

Busstop for service 27, 28, 94 and 96

Terminus of Tram 2

Oostende Tram Station
22 June 2019

NMBS trains on the left – De Lijn Tram 0 on the right
Knokke – Oostende – De Panne

The new tram station

Advertising a zoo in Henegouwen (Hainaut)

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

India Today – 500-year-old gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province opens doors for Indian Sikh pilgrims

A five hundred years-old gurudwara in Sialkot has now been opened for Sikh pilgrims coming in from India. Pilgrims from the neighbouring country can now flock to perform their religious obligations at Gurdwara Babe-de-Ber.

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 01 July 2019. Earlier, Indians were not allowed to visit the Babe-de-Ber gurdwara which is situated in Sialkot city, about 140 kms from here.

Several religious sites in Punjab are frequented by Sikhs from several countries including India. Pilgrims from Pakistan, Europe, Canada and the US were allowed to visit the gurdwara.

Punjab Governor Muhammad Sarwar directed the province’s Auqaf department to include Sikh pilgrims from India to the list, so they can visit the Sialkot gurdwara, the report said.

Every year, thousands of Indian Sikh devotees visit Pakistan on the birth and death anniversaries of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus, the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Devji, the Besakhi festival and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

According to the Sikh tradition, when Guru Nanak arrived in Sialkot from Kashmir in the 16th century, he stayed under the tree of Beri. Sardar Natha Singh then built a gurdwara in his remembrance at the site, the report added.

In November 2018, India and Pakistan agreed to set up a border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.

The Kartarpur corridor is expected to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib, a small town in Narowal, four kilometers from the Pakistan-India border, where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.

Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border will be constructed by India.

The Hindu – SIT probing anti-Sikh riots to reopen cases

Centre clears fresh investigation, trial

Vijaita Singh

New Delhi – UK, 02 July 2019. The Union Home Ministry has expanded the ambit of the probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases by enabling the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reopen investigations in all the cases in which trial had been completed and the accused were discharged.

A senior official said the SIT is examining a number of such cases that will be reinvestigated and sent for trial again.

On legal opinion

“We sought legal opinion and concluded that such cases pertaining to the 1984 Sikh riots, in which the accused were discharged or acquitted, could also be investigated again. The SIT is compiling the list,” said the official.

A year after the BJP came to power in 2014, the Home Ministry announced a three-member SIT for re-investigation of the anti-Sikh riot cases, mainly in Delhi. Its mandate was to “re-investigate the appropriately serious criminal cases which were filed in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in connection with the 1984 riots and have since been closed.”

It was also asked to file fresh chargesheets if evidence was available.

The SIT secured its first conviction in November 2018, when a Delhi court awarded death sentence to one of the accused and life imprisonment to another accused for killing two Sikh men, Hardev Singh, 24, and Avtar Singh, 26, in Mahipalpur. The case had been closed by Delhi Police in 1994 for lack of evidence.

Scope widened

The MHA has since increased the scope of investigations after it received a representation from the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

“Looking at the seriousness of criminal cases relating to 1984 riots cases, the competent authority has decided that the SIT may also investigate/ further investigate/ re-investigate the appropriately serious cases, which have been closed on account of the discharge of the accused, if any, on fresh evidence/facts coming to light,” the MHA said in an order.

The term of the SIT is to end on July 31.

Kamal Nath case

General Secretary of DSGMC Manjinder Singh Sirsa claimed the notification could put senior Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath in the dock. Mr Nath was a senior Congress leader then.

“Kamal Nath’s name was never included registered in the FIR number 601/84 that was registered at Parliament Street police station. Police never investigated him. The five accused persons named in the said FIR were accommodated in the official residence of Kamal Nath then. All of them were discharged due to lack of evidence. The SIT will investigate this case also,” Mr. Sirsa claimed.

In December 2018, the Supreme Court had appointed another SIT headed by Justice (retd) S.N. Dhingra to further probe 186 cases pertaining to Sikh riots.

On January 10, the Dhingra committee sought information from the public regarding 84 cases filed in Delhi from the years 1984-1987 that had earlier been closed.