Gent: Coyendans Park – Stadshal – Korenmarkt

Coyendans Park
21 September 2019


You cannot make out which ball is nearest to the cochonnet

Stadshal, Botermarkt
21 September 2019

The horse gets food and drink

Korenmarkt, Silence for Peace
21 September 2019

Silence is the missing voice in conflict and debate

Sitting on rubber mats on the Korenmarkt

Stadshal, Botermarkt
21 September 2019

The Stadhall and the restaurant underneath it

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Leicester Mercury – A touring exhibition marking the birthday of Sikh founder Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji has opened at De Montfort University in Leicester.

The exhibition was opened this week by the Minister of Coordination of the High Commission of India in London, Shri Manmeet Singh Narang, and the consul for community affairs of India in Birmingham, Happy Guptan.

They were joined by local Sikh dignitaries, representatives of other faiths and members of the armed forces.

Leicester – England – UK, 09 October 2019. Resham Singh Sandhu MBE, the former High Sheriff of Leicestershire and chairman of the Sikh Welfare and Cultural Society, was involved in organising the event.

Resham Singh opened the speeches at the the exhibition opening marking the 550th Anniversary of the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji at DMU.

In his welcome speech, he said: “We regularly celebrate our Gurus in Gurdwaras but we do not always get the opportunity to talk to people from other religions,so this is a fantastic opportunity to share the message of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji with a wider community.

“His message encourages a universal brotherhood, it encourages honesty, righteousness, equality,sharing with people and showing compassion. His message can help us all with the challenges we face in everyday life.”

Bishop of Leicester the Right Reverend Martyn Snow said: “What could be more important in our society right now than deepening out understanding of the faiths of others.”

Members of the armed forces were amongst the guests at the opening night of the exhibition.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 AD in village of Rai Bhoe Tawandi. He was the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus and the recognised founder of Sikhism.

His birth is celebrated worldwide and this exhibition aims to spread his message throughout the UK.

The exhibition features a series of images illustrating the life and history of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Sikhism.

It has already toured selected cities in the UK and has now been chosen to be showcased at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels on 15 October.

Ms Happy Guptan, Consul (community affairs) of India in Birmingham presented DMU’s Interim Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr Simon Oldroyd with a gift for hosting the exhibition.

Key principles of Sikhism are explained through accompanying words, with an emphasis on the importance of inclusivity and community cohesion.

Chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations Abdulkarim Gheewala also gave a speech.

“In this time of conflict I believe Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings are a ray of hope that we need,” he said.

The exhibition will be open to the public between 10.30am and 3.30pm at Trinity House Chapel at DMU, until Friday, 11 October.

The Hindu – Congress to boycott J&K Block Development Council (BDC) polls

The Hindu Net Desk

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 October 2019. The Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress on Wednesday decided to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections, citing “indifferent” attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley.

BDC polls will be held in Jammu and Kashmir on 24 October. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on 05 August.

“Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” state Congress president G A Mir told reporters in Jammu.

The Asian Age – ‘Are you Pakistanis’? BJP’s Tik Tok star to those who can’t say ‘bharat mata ki jai’

Phogat said at a rally held in Balsamand village in Adampur in Hisar district.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 October 2019. BJP’s Adampur candidate and TikTok sensation Sonali Phogat on Tuesday asked a group of people if they were from Pakistan when they did not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at her rally in the constituency.

“Pakistan se aaye ho kya? Pakistani ho kya? Agar Hindustan se aaye ho to Bharat Mata ki Jai bolo. (Have you come from Pakistan? Are you Pakistanis? If you are from India chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’),” she told a few people in the crowd at the rally who remained silent after she asked the audience to raise the slogan.

The rally was held in Balsamand village in Adampur in Hisar district.

Phogat (40) then repeated her chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

Turning to that section in the crowd again, on her right, she said, “I feel ashamed that people like you too are Indians, who would not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ for petty politics.” In a video of Phogat’s purported outburst, which went viral on social media, she is seen further telling them, “Those who cannot say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, their vote has no value”.

“Shame on those who cannot chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai.” However, later during her speech, she promised to build a college in the area, which drew loud cheers and chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ from the audience.

Phogat, who is pitted against sitting Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, said she will defeat him like Smriti Irani ousted Rahul Gandhi from his stronghold Amethi.

Later in the evening, the BJP candidate clarified her remarks, saying she did not dub the group of people in the crowd as “Pakistanis”. “I asked them ‘have you come from Pakistan’,” she told the media in Adampur.

She claimed that many of them were youths. They later met her and were apologetic for not chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

Haryana goes to polls on October 21.

Gent: Coyendans Park

Coyendans Park
21 September 2019

The Hand in Hand team

The Wijkkar

Behind the Wijkkar – tasty rolls and fresh coffee
Fund raising for refugee support

The geese are marching (in ganzemars) to the
Sint-Baafs Abbey

The climbing wall

The geese are marching on !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Talks about cooperation in organising the celebrations of Guru Nanak Sahib’s 550th birthday again fail between SGPC and Punjab government

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 06 October 2019. The Panjab government and the SGPC officials had a meeting on 05 October for collaboratively celebrating the 550th birth anniversary’s main program in Sultanpur Lodhi on November 12. Unfortunately, the two sides couldn’t break the impasse in this meeting held at the SGPC’s headquarters.

Tourism and cultural affairs minister of Punjab Charanjit Singh Channi was representing the Punjab government while the Akali leaders Tota Singh, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Baba Naurang Singh etc. were heading the SGPC in this meeting.

Cooperation and jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa didn’t attend this meeting as he was annoyed with the SGPC for ignoring the Punjab government, while extending invitations to dignitaries like the Prime Minister and the President.

He had even written a letter to the Akal Takht’s acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh while strongly objecting to this move of SGPC.

Commenting on this letter written by Randhawa to the Akal Takht against the SGPC, Longowal said Randhawa sees everything through the prism of politics. “The Gurpurb is a religious matter. If anybody goes to the President to extend an invitation for the celebrations, one should not mind it,” he added.

Interacting with media, Charanjit Singh Channi said that nothing has been finalised for the main function yet and the dialogue on this was still on.

“The meeting was held in a cordial manner. We hope the efforts to celebrate the Gurpurb jointly will yield results. Some modalities have been finalized and the rest will be worked out soon. We will try to hold the next meeting in the presence of Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in order to take a final decision,” he added.

He said the issues regarding the venue and allied arrangements were discussed in detail, but it fell short of any decision. “After discussing it with the CM, we will give our viewpoint,” he said.

It is noteworthy here that the SGPC has rented the Guru Nanak Stadium to hold the main event and arrangements are underway where state government has pumped in at least Rs 500 million to erect a stage at the back of Gurdwara Ber Sahib for the event in addition to the tents to accommodate a huge number of devotees.

The stalemate between the two sides was to decide upon the stage for joint event which would be graced by the President, the PM, CMs of various states and dignitaries from various countries.

Talk for collaborate celebrations of Guru Nanak Sahib’s 550th birthday again fails between SGPC and Punjab government

OFMI – US Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard justifies 2002 Gujarat Pogrom

Rights group accuses Gabbard of “victim-blaming” for asking “who instigated it?”

Londonderry – New Hampshire – USA, 05 October 2019. Answering a question at a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, US Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard appeared to justify the 2002 pogrom against Indian Muslims in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is accused of complicity.

“Modi, of course, back in 2002, was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and many consider him to be complicit in the deadly ’02 Gujarat riots,” an audience member said to Gabbard during an 01 October town hall meeting in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Gabbard responded, “Do you know what instigated those riots?”

“Congresswoman Gabbard’s justification of the 2002 Gujarat Pogrom is the most abominable form of victim-blaming,” remarks Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India. “With cold and emotionless calculation, she excuses the worst state-sponsored atrocity in modern Indian history by suggesting the thousands who died somehow deserved it.

Gabbard’s response trumps the sociopathic attitude of Modi, who says the only sorrow he feels for victims is same as if a puppy were run over by a car.”

In 2013, when asked if he regretted the incidents of 2002, Modi notoriously responded, “[If] someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is…. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”

Although the violence lasted for several months, the most intense period was a three-day pogrom from February 28 to 02 March 2002. At least 12 Gujarati cities suffered large-scale attacks. In April 2002, Human Rights Watch stated, “What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims.

The attacks were planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.”

HRW further reported, “The attacks on Muslims are part of a concerted campaign of Hindu nationalist organizations to promote and exploit communal tensions to further the BJP’s political rule, a movement that is supported at the local level by militant groups that operate with impunity and under the patronage of the state.

The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS).”

According to Amnesty International, “Some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed and many others were injured.” The death count is corroborated by many other organizations. Dr Christophe Jaffrelot, a specialist in South Asian history and politics, states, “According to reliable NGOs, more than 2,000 people died.”

Attackers included BJP leaders and elected officials such as Member of the Legislative Assembly Maya Kodnani.

In 2007, attackers were filmed fingering Modi as architect of the violence. “He had given us three days to do whatever we could,” said BJP MLA Haresh Bhatt. Another attacker, Babu Bajrangi of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist group labeled by the CIA as a “religious militant organization”, stated, “Nobody can do what Narendra-bhai has done in Gujarat.

The police was standing right in front of us, seeing all that was happening, but they had shut their eyes and mouths.” Bajrangi concluded, “It was [Modi’s] hand all the way.”

The pogrom was preceded by the February 27 burning of several train-coaches in Godhra, Gujarat. Fifty-nine Hindus, including 37 women and children, died. Modi announced the fire was a “preplanned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism.” Jaffrelot states, “Modi thus used Godhra as an opportunity to unleash violence that he hoped to capitalize on during early elections.”

Modi’s role in the 2002 pogrom prompted the US State Department to deny him a visa to enter the country. In 2005, then US Ambassador to India David Mulford said the decision was “based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions.”

Mulford cited reports from the US Government and India’s National Human Rights Commission which alleged a “comprehensive failure” of Modi’s government in Gujarat to stop the “persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.”

Gabbard’s perceived justification of the pogrom has sparked a harsh response across social media.

Dr Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict research, commented, “Tulsi Gabbard, in order to defend Modi, shamelessly justifies killing of 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat riot under Modi’s watch!”

“Tulsi Gabbard whitewashes Modi’s complicity in independent India’s worst anti-Muslim violence,” remarked Saif Khalid, a journalist with Al Jazeera English.

Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs who has written about Gabbard’s connections to Hindu nationalist groups, enquired, “Can you imagine someone saying that about Kristallnacht, the first Nazi pogrom against the Jews?” His question referenced the 1938 assassination of a German diplomat by a Jewish teenager, which was used as a pretext for Kristallnacht.

“Tulsi Gabbard is blaming Muslims for instigating the 2002 Gujarat riots,” noted Dr Alf Gunvald Nilsen, a professor of sociology.

“She suggests there’s a justifiable reason for why Hindu extremists murdered upwards of 2,000 Muslims and raped thousands more in 2002,” claimed writer C J Werleman. He added, “Tulsi Gabbard’s hatred of Muslims is literally hiding in plain sight.”

Werleman recently reported on leaked audio recordings of Gabbard’s guru, Chris Butler, “describing Muslims in the most viciously racist ways.”

Butler, who founded the Science of Identity Foundation in which Gabbard was raised, reportedly states, “I’m not in a mood to be tolerant towards so-called Muslims.” He describes Muslims as “demons” and “invaders,” stating, “Everyone is afraid of them.”

Gabbard has faced strong criticism for her association with Butler as well as her alleged support for Modi. Last month, OFMI reported that an anonymous source in her campaign confirmed that the US congresswoman had refused an invitation to join Modi’s September 22 pep rally in Houston, Texas.

Reacting to OFMI’s report, Gabbard called it “misinformed” and claimed she only dropped out of the “Howdy Modi” event due to a scheduling conflict.

On 27 September she met Modi in New York City, where she says they discussed issues such as “the situation in Kashmir” and “civil rights.” In a statement after the meeting, she said, “There is no place for hate, bigotry, ignorance and prejudice.”

“What about the money that you get from the RSS,” asked the anonymous audience member at Gabbard’s New Hampshire town hall. “Back it up,” responded Gabbard. “If you’re going to make these arguments and make these claims, you better have the evidence to back it up.”

“Evidence for claims regarding RSS support for Congresswoman Gabbard was provided in a lengthy article in August issue of Caravan magazine,“ concludes OFMI’s Valmuci. “Gabbard must clarify her position on the RSS. Does she support the RSS’s agenda of ethnic cleansing and turning India into a Hindu nation?

If she is against hate and bigotry, how can she be for the RSS?” He adds, “The young woman who posed these questions at Gabbard’s recent town hall has not been identified. We ask her to reach out to us. We would like to interview her to learn about her background and her interest in these issues. Who is she?”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit for more information.

US Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard Justifies 2002 Gujarat Pogrom

Dawn – Mortal fear of intellectuals

Jawed Naqvi

New Delhi – India, 08 October 2019.  Aamartya Sen’s interview in The New Yorker and Sudheendra Kulkarni’s debunking of Hindutva’s anti-Nehru chants on Kashmir, published on NDTV’s website last week, should help TV addicts see a more encouraging reality than what the idiot box gives them ad nauseam.

The fact that 49 intellectuals, including public-minded academics and filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen were booked for sedition because they wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticising lynch mobs, is one more pointer that the knowers of a truer reality scare the ruling establishment.

Take historian Romila Thapar, a towering academic in the global community of social scientists. By asking her to send them her CV to review her emerita status at JNU, Modi’s handpicked vice chancellor of the university she created from scratch, is tantamount to people tearing their hair in the absence of a cogent or intelligent point.

The unprecedented imprisonment of eight million Kashmiris, without a semblance of serious discussion, reflects a wilful establishment tuned in to its own monologue, averse to a normal conversation.

These mishaps, plus the fact that Modi’s closest friends, from Israel to the Gulf rulers and his latest admirer in Washington DC, are all struggling to keep their jobs, two of them desperately trying to evade criminal prosecution and a third one buying his way out of a similar fate, is further proof that the political constellations are on the move on a trajectory that India’s TV channels would prefer not to share with the hoi polloi.

The Hindutva leader is nowhere near as popular as the benighted Nazi leader, and is not likely to be anytime soon.

For precisely this reason, however, comparing Prime Minister Modi’s second election to Adolf Hitler’s inexorable rise, as many of his desperate opponents do, seems premature. The Hindutva leader is nowhere near as popular as the benighted Nazi leader, and is not likely to be anytime soon given the economic doldrums his policies have landed the country in.

Business captains who anointed him as future prime minister when he was only a rabble-rousing chief minister of Gujarat, or perhaps for this reason only, must be kicking themselves.

Modi’s left and liberal critics, an incestuous lot when it comes to spreading real or imagined nightmares, are often affected by the craven TV channels that service the prime minister’s ego with daily lies. What could be more ironic?

Business captains who financed Modi’s election are mostly the owners of channels his opponents are addicted to, as people often are to horror films that keep them awake all night. The resultant nightmares dogging far too many of them is woven in the script.

The channels are on cue creating an atmosphere of terror by eulogising acts of terror, acts that do not, unlike Germany of the 1930s, have popular support although some of them appear to be condoned or supported by state institutions. One channel applauded the other day a paramilitary woman officer for saying that an outspoken student leader’s chest should be pierced with the national flag.

It is a gory ploy, not different to Donald Trump’s desperate attempts to put the whistleblower who exposed him at serious risk. It is fascist repression at best, but way short of fascism in its terrifying popular avatar. Modi’s sudden slide in popularity is taking shape, despite the mainstream opposition parties going on a holiday when they were most required to resist repression.

Modi’s genuine critics may be a confused lot. Some have argued the elections were rigged via the electronic voting machines. The case against the EVMs was first built by Hindutva ideologues when the Congress party scored a second consecutive and surprising victory in 2009.

If Modi’s critics believe the elections were stolen, that itself is a big challenge to their fear that he is a genuinely popular leader. He has either stolen the election or he has won handsomely. If it is the latter, he is still way short of his Gandhi-Nehru bête noire’s aggregates.

For if he has won with a proven majority without any technological help, he still struggles far behind Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in their victory margins. Yet Indira and Rajiv were defeated too. And that is what should be important to bear in mind.

What did Professor Sen say to pour cold water on claims of Modi’s popularity? His interviewer, Isaac Chotiner, recalls how Sen had often criticised Modi’s sectarianism, noting how Modi had “taken a quantum jump in the wrong direction” on poverty and healthcare.

Asked if he saw Modi’s popularity as absolute, Sen differed, and said: “It’s not clear that is the case. India is a country of more than a billion people. Two hundred million of them are Muslim. Two hundred million of them are Dalit, or what used to be called untouchables.

A hundred million are what used to be called scheduled tribes, and they get the worst deal in India, even worse than the Dalits. Then there is quite a large proportion of the Hindu population that is sceptical. Many of them have been shot. Many of them have been put in prison. In these circumstances, to say that a majority supports him would be difficult.”

Sen likens Modi’s Kashmir gambit to Margaret Thatcher’s Falklands moment after which the pseudo-nationalism she spawned faded and died an ignoble death.

As for Sudheendra Kulkarni, he has punched gaping holes in Hindutva’s propaganda on the Kashmir dispute. By putting together a range of credible sources close to Sardar Patel and Nehru, he has shown how Patel, not Nehru, was ready to forgo Kashmir in a trade-off with Pakistan.

And Kulkarni has enviable credentials as a public intellectual, belonging not to the regular left or liberal schools, but as a former aide to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Modi’s pattern of targeting public intellectuals shows one thing very clearly. They truly frighten him, not like the soothsayer of Julius Caesar, but more like the hard-nosed economists, historians and other sensible citizens who can smell the unravelling of an order.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi