The Asian Age – Farooq Abdullah’s daughter, sister detained during protest in Srinagar

Protestors also demanded immediate release of detainees and demilitarization of rural and urban areas.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir. 15 October 2019. The police on Tuesday detained half a dozen women activists including the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah during a march to protest against abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, officials said.

Abdullah’s sister Suraiya and his daughter Safiya, who were leading a group of women activists, were detained by the police.

Wearing black arm bands and holding placards, the women protestors were not allowed by the police personnel to assemble and were asked to disperse peacefully.

However, the protestors refused to disperse and tried to stage a sit-in.

The women CRPF personnel rounded the protestors into police vehicles.

The police also tried to stop the protesting women from distributing a statement to the the media covering the protest.

“We the women of Kashmir disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the government of India to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said.

Demanding restoration of civil liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens, the women said they feel “betrayed, humiliated and violated as people”.

They also demanded immediate release of detainees and demilitarization of rural and urban areas.

“We express our outrage against the national media for their false/misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir,” the statement added.

The Tribune – Only 50% work completed, Kartarpur Corridor to breach deadline

Will be inaugurated with makeshift arrangements as scheduled

Ravi Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak – Panjab – India, 14 October 2019. Putting to rest speculation whether the Kartarpur corridor project will be completed before the October 31 deadline, the consensus that emerged at a high-level meeting held between various stakeholders at the zero-line today was that the venture might not see the light of day by then and that it will be an incomplete corridor that will be thrown open to the public with makeshift facilities.

The corridor comprises of two parts, the road and the ICP. The 4.6 km stretch of road being built by a Ludhiana-based firm contracted by the NHAI is almost complete. However, what is rankling officials is the construction of the multi-storyed ICP.

The Land Ports Authority of India, tasked with its construction, has contracted Mumbai-based Shapoorji Pallonji Group for the job.

Despite the fact that 2,000 labourers are working in three shifts, the ICP is just halfway mark. The project has been delayed after land acquisition took a long time. Later, the supply of sand and gravel was disrupted, bringing construction to a halt.

The state government was represented by Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, CM’s Chief Principal Secretary and Special Principal Secretary, Suresh Kumar and Gurkeerat Kirpal Singh, Secretary (PWD) Hussan Lal and DGP Dinkar Gupta.

The Union Government was represented by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, LPAI Chairman and Director Govind Mohan and Raman Sharma respectively, Member (planning and development) Akhil Saxena and vice president of Ceigall India Ltd Jeetendra Singh.

Sources said Govind Mohan and Bhalla, after visiting the site, admitted that going by the tardy pace of work the corridor could not meet its deadline.

Gent: Blaisant Kerk-Week of Peace/Vredesweek – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Blaisant Kerk
25 September 2019

John Malith Mabor
A peacemaker from South Sudan

Two ministers of the Protestant Church (VPK)
and John Malith Mabor

Farnoosh Khodadadeh and her daf

26 September 2019

Waiting for the train to Antwerpen

On the other side of the platform the Diesel train to Eeklo

26 September 2019

Frankrijklei – The works are making some progress

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Caravan – The Akal Takht’s call to ban RSS reiterates Sikhism’s long resistance to a Hindu Rashtra

Hartosh Singh Bal

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 15 October 2019. On 14 October, Giani Harpreet Singh, the chief of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, called for a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, during an interaction with journalists in Amritsar.

Singh’s remark came in the backdrop of a statement by Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, during an annual Sangh event the previous week, stating that “Bharat is Hindustan, a Hindu Rashtra” and that “all Bharatiyas are Hindus.” In response, Singh noted, “The remarks by RSS leaders are not in the interest of the nation. It would hurt and draw a new line of division in the country and destroy it.”

Historically, the RSS’s vision for a Hindu Rashtra has been in conflict with the Sikh faith and the Akal Takht. In 1985, the RSS had floated a Sikh wing called the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat.

In the following excerpt, from an April 2018 piece on the RSS’s position on a separate religion for the Lingayats, Hartosh Singh Bal, the political editor at The Caravan, traced the backlash that the Sangat faced in Punjab when it began to advocate its ideology, the inseparability of Sikhs and Hindus.

Bal wrote, “In Punjab, where the mix of religion and politics is often combustible, the Sangat’s activities remain one of the biggest sources of mobilisation for Sikh hardliners.”

The RSS’s ideologue and second chief, MS Golwalkar’s view of the Sikhs as “communalists” who are “tearing asunder” the golden thread of Hinduism has been the basis for much of the RSS’s activities among the Sikhs in Punjab.

In 1985, at the height of the crisis in Punjab, the RSS floated a body called the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. Initially, the Sangat was supposed to focus on spreading the message of a shared Sikh and Hindu heritage but in truth its aims were to propagate what Golwalkar had articulated: the inseparability of Sikhs and Hindus.

The journalist Dhirendra Jha, in his book Shadow Armies, devotes a chapter to the Sangat (much of the work of the Sangat noted here relies on Jha’s exposition). Jha writes:

Rashtriya Sikh Sangat: An introduction, a booklet in Punjabi published by the Sangat’s office in Ludhiana after the completion of its first decade, explains the “conspiracy” of the British government and Macauliffe (historian of the Sikhs) to “artificially” create an independent identity for Sikhs.

It further claims that during “the Muslim period”, the Sikhs “considered themselves Hindus” and their Gurus never thought of forming a separate religion. “Now it is our responsibility,” the booklet says, “to understand the root cause of the problem and to make people aware of the truth.

As the militancy in Punjab came to an end and a Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in the state in a 1997 alliance with the Akalis, the Sangat more overtly followed its goals.

At one of its meets, a resolution was passed, demanding “that a magnificent temple of Shri Ram should be made.” It was a move that had no resonance among the Sikhs, but was reflective of the ideology that the Sangat was advocating.

The Sangat organised a march of 300 sadhus to Amritsar during the tercentenary celebration of the Khalsa, established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 by instituting a baptism ceremony that required his followers to don the five symbols, including uncut hair, that are now identified with Sikhism.

A pamphlet distributed by the Sangat at the time claimed, “The followers of Lord Rama, Krishna and Guru Sahiban are not different but they are part of one society and that is the Hindu society.” Resentment began building up within Sikh institutions even though they were largely under the control of the Akalis.

In December 2002, the Sangat planned a programme of the recitation of the Granth Sahib in Hindu temples in Punjab. Stating that the Granth could not be recited in the presence of idols, Sikh institutions strongly criticised the move. The Sangat was forced to cancel its plans, but now the backlash from Sikh bodies could not be contained.

The jathedar, or head, of Akal Takht—Sikhism’s most important temporal institution—declared, “In its outlook the RSS is like Aurangzeb. The latter wanted to convert everyone to Islam, either by sword or otherwise. Similarly, the RSS also wants to convert everybody to Hinduism. Its ideology is dangerous not only for the Sikhs but for all other religions.”

When the Sangat planned a nationwide march in 2004 to commemorate the four-hundredth year anniversary of the compilation of the manuscript of the Granth Sahib, Jha reports that “the Akal Takht issued a directive, naming the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat an ‘anti-Panth’ organisation which was trying to ‘mislead’ Sikhs in order to obtain their support for its ‘anti-Panthic activities.’

The directive asked the community and its religious bodies not to extend any support to the Sikh wing of the RSS.”

Over the next few years, the Sangat scaled back its activities to a considerable degree, even as its leaders alleged that the Sikh clergy was acting at the behest of Sikh hardliners abroad. In 2009, the Sangat chief Rulda Singh was shot dead in Patiala, in all likelihood by hardliners opposed to its activities in Punjab.

It was the most visible act of terror in Punjab since 1993. After lying low for the next five years, the coming to power of Modi has seen the Sangat once again trying to revive its activities. Mohan Bhagwat has taken a direct interest, and this has once again invited a warning from the Akal Takht.

In Punjab, where the mix of religion and politics is often combustible, the Sangat’s activities remain one of the biggest sources of mobilisation for Sikh hardliners. Well over a century after the question of Sikh identity was fully settled, the RSS continues to resist the reality of what has unfolded.

In doing so, it constantly threatens to unsettle the fragile balance of peace in the state, and at the same time it continues to provide encouragement for Sikh hardliners who would otherwise have little traction in the community.

This is an edited excerpt from Hartosh Singh Bal’s April 2018 piece, “In Bad Faith.”

The Hindu – Government against “thinkers”, fosters atmosphere which destroys critical thinking: Sitaram Yechury

Tagging his comment with a cartoon on Twitter, Mr Yechury said the government was against the spirit of inquiry

New Delhi – India, 15 October 2019. The government was against “thinkers” and fosters an atmosphere which “destroys” critical thinking, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said, a day after Indian-American and JNU alumni Abhijit Banerjee was awarded the Nobel Prize along with two others in Economics.

Tagging his comment with a cartoon on Twitter, which showed Nobel laureates from West Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore and Amartya Sen asking Mr Banerjee to join “the club” and to keep his award safe as well as thoughts to himself, Mr Yechury said the government was against the spirit of inquiry.

“RSS/BJP government believes in FIRs against thinkers and attacks on Universities. They foster a climate that works to destroy critical thinking, reason and the spirit of inquiry. Our Constitution speaks of a commitment to scientific temper but that would threaten the RSS/BJP government,” he said.

Mr Yechury said the government should focus on feeding the poor and building a robust public distribution system.

“First feed our poor. Increase subsidised food allocation through public distribution system. But the Modi govt is busy in destroying our social fabric, and in PR and tamashas. The facts on India’s Hunger problem are stark. The Economy crashing is not just numbers. It is about lives, but the Modi govt does not care,” he tweeted.