The Hindustan Times – A little-known story of Nepal’s Sikh connection

The story of Sikh transporters is legendary in Nepal. In the early 1950s, hailing from the Jammu region, many of them personally navigated the newly laid tracks of the Tribhuvan Highway, and crossed rivers to haul their trucks to Kathmandu.  They also started the first public bus service in the country, and have been active in the setting up of modern schools in the country.

Manjeev Singh Puri

Kathmandu metropolitan – Nepal, 20 July 2019. Nepal has a small but a vibrant Sikh community that is best known for its role as transporters, who opened Nepal to the modern world. Not many, though, know that Nepal’s Sikh heritage dates to Guru Nanak Dev, who travelled through Nepal during his third udasi.

Marking his sojourn in Kathmandu is Nanak Math, which has a peepul tree marking the exact spot where Guru Saheb meditated. The math, like a few other shrines in Kathmandu, is linked to the Udasi tradition and has a mahant presiding over it.

The shrine is not well-known and remains neglected; this prompted author Desmond Doig to call it the “forgotten shrine of the Sikhs”. Nepal also boasts several handwritten copies of the Guru Granth Sahib, including a couple in the Pashupatinath Temple complex.

The Sikh connection with Nepal developed during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when the armies of the Sikh and Gorkha courts fought inconclusively in the Kangra region. The valour of the Gorkhas led the Lahore Court to recruit them. Even today, Nepalese serving in the Indian Army are colloquially referred to as “Lahureys”.

Later, when Maharani Jind Kaur escaped from the British, she came to Nepal and lived in the country for several years. Accompanying her was a large body of Sikhs. When she left Nepal, many of them settled down in the area around Nepalgunj, bordering Uttar Pradesh.
Retaining their Sikh identity, including wearing unshorn hair and maintaining gurdwaras in the villages of their concentration, they are a community largely missing in the annals of the Sikh diaspora.

In modern times, Sikhs have played pioneering roles in Nepal not only as transporters but also as engineers, doctors, police officers, teachers, educationists, pilots, and even as fashion designers.

Indeed, the person credited with laying the first drinking water pipes in Kathmandu was a Sikh, Manohar Singh. And, of course, by setting up the first restaurants, they paved the way for popularising Punjabi cuisine in Nepal.

The story of Sikh transporters is legendary in Nepal. In the early 1950s, hailing from the Jammu region, many of them personally navigated the newly laid tracks of the Tribhuvan Highway, and crossed rivers to haul their trucks to Kathmandu. They also started the first public bus service in the country, and have been active in the setting up of modern schools in the country.

The Sikh community in Nepal in the 1980s totaled more than a few thousand and built a grand gurdwara in Kathmandu’s Kupondole neighbourhood, apart from smaller gurdwaras in Birgunj, Nepalgunj and Krishnanagar. It is further enriched by Nepalis like Sardar Gurbaksh Singh embracing Sikhism.

India’s diplomatic ties with Nepal also have a strong Sikh connection with Sardar Surjit Singh Majithia being the first ambassador and establishing the embassy in 1947. His arrival and departure, by air, saw the first uses of the landing strip that is now the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport.

As we celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikh connection of Nepal will be further strengthened as Nepal has started minting three commemorative coins, two in silver with denomination of Nepali Rupees 2,500 and 1,000 and a cupronickel coin with a face value of Nepali Rupees 100, to be launched on this auspicious occasion. Nepal is one of few countries issuing legal tender featuring a Sikh connection.

Manjeev Singh Puri is India’s ambassador to Nepal and is a former ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxemburg

https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/a-little-known-story-of-nepal-s-sikh-connection/story-hXrsxFKoF28H2VzaDJnCTK.html

Sikh24.com – Administration promises handicapped Sikh farmer for demarcation and return of his agriculture land which is under illegal possession of Dera Beas

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 20 July 2019. The Revenue and sub-revenue officers of Baba Bakala gave a written assurance to the handicapped Sikh farmer Rajinder Singh Dhilwan for the demarcation of his land which is currently under illegal possession of Dera Beas.

Notably, Rajinder Singh Dhilwan had started a hunger strike on July 14 in protest of no action against Dera Beas despite repeated complaints against the Dera Beas.

In this written assurance given by the administration by taking the Dera Beas into confidence, the victim Sikh farmer has been asked to give an application to the Revenue Officer of Kapurthala for the demarcation of his arable land.

The concerned department will do demarcation within a week and if the victim farmer’s land is found to be under illegal possession of Dera Beas then the land would be given back to him.

DSP Baba Bakala and the incharge of lands owned by Dera Beas were also present on this occasion.

Administration promises handicapped Sikh farmer for demarcation and return of his agriculture land which is under illegal possession of Dera Beas

Biervlietstraat – Wondelgem – Evergem

Biervlietstraat – Wondelgem – Evergem
10 July 2019


Gaardeniersbrug
Bridge meant for trams going to their new depot


On the left cycle path
On the right bridge for trams with no rails


Verbindingskanaal

Wondelgem
10 July 2019


Theater de WAANzin – Madness theatre
I think that this is the site where the tram depot was to be


Gaardenierspad
More than enough space for a sizable depot


The mansion of the factory owner ?

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation UK – British Sikh group begins legal action over UK census

After what it says is a “disappointing final reply”, the group has decided to proceed with its legal action in the UK High Court.

Posted to Sikh News Discussion by Sikh Federation <sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk>

London – UK, 19 July 2019. A British Sikh group lobbying for Sikhism to be added as a separate ethnicity tick box in the next UK census in 2021 said it has begun its legal action against the UK government over its rejection of such a categorisation.

The Sikh Federation UK claims to have the support of 150 gurdwaras and Sikh organisations and had issued a “letter before action” to the UK Cabinet Office in May, demanding a review of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) decision to reject the need for such an additional tick box.

After what it says is a “disappointing final reply”, the group has decided to proceed with its legal action in the UK High Court.

It said Leigh Day Solicitors, acting on its behalf, have submitted papers this week to seek the court’s permission to move to a full hearing.

“Given the wider public interest and need to move quickly with the census, we are hopeful the High Court will agree to an early full hearing. We note many cases are ‘settled’ following the decision of the High Court to grant permission,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation UK.

“The Sikh Federation UK has been campaigning and advocating for the inclusion of a Sikh ethnicity tick-box in the UK census for more than 15 years and believe the Sikh community are close to securing a massive victory that will help address institutional racism and discrimination against Sikhs by public bodies,” he said.

The organisation believes that it would be “unlawful” for the Cabinet Office to lay before Parliament, later this year, a Census Order based on the proposals set out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in their December 2018 White Paper.

Sikhi is recognised as a separate religion in the optional religious question introduced in the 2001 Census. The UK’s Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 placed an obligatory duty on the country’s public authorities to monitor and positively promote race equality in the provision of public services.

According to some British Sikh groups, public bodies tend to only reference the ethnic groups used in the census and demand a separate Sikh ethnic tick box to ensure Sikhs have fair access to all public services.

The issue, however, has divided the British Sikh community, with the Network of Sikh Organisations among those who have been against such a separate tick box a “misuse of the word ethnicity”.

The ONS, which had consulted over the issue while preparing its White Paper to be tabled in the UK Parliament, has maintained that the country’s first digital census in 2021 will ensure that all groups are covered.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on any legal action. However, no group will be missed out in the digital-first 2021 Census,” an ONS spokesperson said.

“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 tick box 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.”

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/british-sikh-group-begins-legal-action-over-uk-census/articleshow/70296323.cms?fbclid=IwAR3-ufzEIuI6YAE3Qs7SttMGQq7kV-rksgyXDYQYff78VCOUtiTa9aNAezo

Dawn – Tribals see KP Assembly elections as ‘beginning of a new life’

Zulfiqar Ali

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 21 July 2019.

Yaka Ghund – Mohmand District: For 60-year-old Abdul Jalil, July 20 is a day of joy and celebration like over five million other residents of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

“I feel that we (tribal people) spent 72 years in the hell and today is the beginning of a new life,” said Jalil, a resident of Yakaghund area in Mohmand tribal district.

He was sitting under a large canopy pitched outside a polling station, waiting for his turn to cast vote in the first-ever provincial assembly elections in his area.

“Today is the most important day for the people of tribal districts. There are many reasons for them to celebrate the occasion because they will have representation in the provincial assembly and will get rid of the corrupt administration, and there will be more development,” he told Dawn.

For 60-year-old Abdul Jalil, July 20 is a day of joy and celebration like over five million other residents of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The scene outside the polling station was full of excitement.

The candidates placed large-size canopies to protect voters from the scorching sun.

Workers decorated the venue with flags of their parties and posters of candidates, while vendors sold ice cream, mobile phone SIM cards, and food items.

The polling began at 8am on Saturday. Elaborate security arrangements were seen inside and outside polling stations. Candidates arranged transport vehicles to provide pick and drop to voters.

After decades of neglect, the people of tribal districts got the historic opportunity to elect 16 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on general seats. Tribal people already have representation in upper and lower houses of Parliament.

Abdul Jalil gave the youths of former Fata credit for raising voice for their constitutional rights at every forum.

“We got representation in the provincial assembly because of the youths’ struggle,” he said.

The decision to bring millions of people of former Fata to the mainstream took over seven decades, while tribal people paid a heavy price for it. The reforms process began in tribal districts during Field Martial Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracy in 1959.

The populist prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, initiated the development of infrastructure to fulfil basic needs of the people. He paid extensive visits to the area and launched projects through the defunct Fata Development Corporation.

President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari and caretaker prime minister Malik Meraj Khalid took one step forward by introducing adult franchise system in Fata in 1996. Before that, only selected Maliks were allowed to elect members of Parliament.

President Asif Ali Zardari has the credit to extend the Political Parties Act to the region in 2010 allowing political parties to carry out activities, while the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got 25th amendment to the Constitution passed in parliament.

The 80-page report of the six-member Committee on Fata Reforms, 2016, headed by Sartaj Aziz paved the way for the merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July 2018 and the subsequent representation of the region in the provincial assembly despite the opposition of vested interests in political circles and establishment.

The PTI can be credited for fulfilling the dream by holding elections in merged tribal districts for the KP Assembly.

The eras of military regimes led by Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf proved dark periods for the tribal people. The region experienced militancy, brutalities, drug trafficking, proxy wars, displacement and poverty.

The provincial assembly elections have made the residents of merged districts very optimistic about the future.

They hope that the polls will pave the way for good governance, provision of quality education to their children, improvement of health delivery system, and employment of youths. The post-merger era is a big challenge for the PTI government and state institutions.

“Former Fata was a grazing filed for the government officials because there was no audit of funds and accountability. Officers serving in the erstwhile tribal agencies were not answerable to anybody,” said Hassan Wali, former conservator (forest), who had served in tribal area for many years.

“This is a big achievement of the merger is that the Annual Development Programme for tribal districts has been increased from Rs 21 billion to Rs 83 billion and it will get Rs 100 billion per annum from the National Finance Commission Award at the rate of three per cent,” he said, adding that the people’s destiny would change if development funds were utilised judiciously.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1495286/tribals-see-kp-assembly-elections-as-beginning-of-a-new-life