Saturday 19 October

Tomorrow I will not upload any news items or pictures due to the fact that I will be in Brussels from early till late.

On Sunday normal service will resume,

Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Gentbrugse Meersen


Published in: on October 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Statesman – 36-member J-K legislative council formally abolished

The formal order of dissolution of the upper house of the legislature has been issued by the General Administration Department (GAD).

S P Sharma

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 17 October 2019. The Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday formally abolished the 36-member legislative council (upper house of the legislature) in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir becoming a Union Territory on 31 October.

The formal order of dissolution of the upper house of the legislature has been issued by the General Administration Department (GAD).

Jammu and Kashmir was among the very few states of the country that had two houses of the legislature.

It has been ordered that the total staff of 116, including an additional secretary and three deputy secretaries, of the legislative council shall report to the GAD by 22 October.

The order said that all vehicles purchased by the legislative council from time to time shall be handed over to the Director of the state motor garages, the building, furniture and electronic gadgets to the Director of Estates and the official record to the department of law and justice.

The Legislative Council, that was established 62 years ago in 1957, was abolished in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 introduced in Rajya Sabha on 5 August 2019 and subsequently passed by both houses of the parliament after the Modi government abrogated the Article 370 providing special status to the state and split the state into two Union Territories.

Demand for the abolition of the legislative council was raised from time to time as it had become a virtual white elephant that was used to rehabilitate favourites of the ruling political parties and their defeated MLAs.

36-member J-K legislative council formally abolished

The Tribune – Pilgrim fee issue unresolved

Sandeep Dikshit, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 17 October 2019. The government will be attempting to steal the march over Pakistan in a subtle tussle unfolding over celebrations of the 550th Gurpurb by organising the visit of 90 ambassadors to the Golden Temple On October 22, less than three weeks before the opening of Kartarpur corridor.

India and Pakistan are poised to sign a pact on the corridor. Islamabad has remained unmoved on the Indian request to scrap the $20 fee to be charged from each pilgrim.

The Ministry of External Affairs, resigned to this inevitability, said: “After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we have reached an agreement on all other issues, except the matter of service fee. Pakistan insists on charging Rs 1,420 from each pilgrim. We’ve urged Pakistan not to do so. We hope the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event.”

Pakistan has almost agreed to allow an Indian consular officer to be posted during the time of the pilgrimage and to permit 10,000 pilgrims on special days.

Antwerpen: VOEM Erfgoed – Gent: Gurdwara

Vredescentrum van de Provincie en Stad Antwerpen
VOEM Erfgoed
26 September 2019

Panel discussion with Tina De Gendt

Gent Gurdwara
28 September 2019

Granthi Maninder Singh teaches waja (Harmonium)

Pyar Kaur and her friend – Tabla students

Gent Gurdwara
29 September 2019

Brussel family having cha pakore

Granthi Singh reciting Sukhmani Sahib

The women reciting Sukhmani Sahib

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Times – Thought for the day

The BBC needs to stop being so paranoid about causing offence

Times Editorial, 04 October 2019. No sooner has the dust begun to settle on the fiasco concerning the presenter Naga Munchetty than the BBC finds itself embroiled in another row rooted in the organisation’s tortured attitude to multiculturalism.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, respected as a leading spokesman for Britain’s Sikh population, has said that after 35 years he no longer wishes to contribute to the Today programme’s Thought for the Day slot. He is tired of being told by managers that his homilies in celebration of Sikhism might offend Muslims.

On one occasion programme controllers tried to stop him broadcasting remarks commemorating Guru Tegh Bahadur’s execution for speaking out against the forced conversion of Hindus to Islam in Kashmir in the seventeenth century. The story of the Guru’s martyrdom is both an expression and a key text of Sikh theology and identity.

It demonstrates the Sikh tolerance of other beliefs, a tolerance Lord Singh has done much to promote in a distinguished life dedicated to advancing interfaith understanding. His broadcast was not critical of Islam unless you count the implicit lamentation for persecution which took place 350 years ago. Nor were any complaints about the broadcast received after Lord Singh persuaded the Corporation to let him make it.

Lord Singh says that being pressured to alter his script was not an isolated incident. In the run-up to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, he was told to abandon a proposed celebration of Guru Nanak and talk about the forthcoming royal nuptials instead. Reluctantly, he agreed.

On other occasions he was pursued by executives to make changes to scripts even as he went into the studio to broadcast. He eventually took his catalogue of concerns to James Purnell, the former culture secretary who is now the BBC’s director of radio. Mr Purnell’s inquiry rejected Lord Singh’s complaints, a rejection upheld by Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the corporation’s director-general. This is what led to Lord Singh’s resignation.

Some might argue that this is a storm in an egg-cup, that Thought for the Day is an anachronism in an increasingly secular society. The recently retired Today presenter John Humphrys takes this view, arguing that as an atheist, his views on spiritual matters goes unrepresented. Other listeners treat the three-minute slot as their cue to visit the bath-room, safe in the knowledge they will not miss any actual news, but rather a series of platitudes.

Yet censoring contributors for fear of a backlash will only lead to greater banality. It is an abused and overused term, yet when references to events several centuries ago come under threat of excision owing to their imagined offence, it seems in this case that political correctness really has gone mad.

The BBC has done much in recent years to redress a longstanding lack of women, disabled and ethnic minority broadcasters on TV and radio. The idea behind this policy, surely, is not merely to tick boxes but for the corporation’s look, feel and voice to more accurately reflect its audience’s backgrounds and experiences.

Yet when Ms Munchetty quite reasonably pointed out that telling a member of an ethnic minority to “go home” is “embedded in racism” a complaint against her was partially upheld, only to be then reversed by Lord Hall. At the risk of looking serially indecisive, he needs to similarly think again about the shabby treatment of his fellow peer. – The Daily Fix: Through lockdown, BJP wants to un-democratically remote control politics in Kashmir

Imagine if Modi announced demonetisation and then jailed all Opposition leaders and even his allies to prevent criticism.

The Daily Fix – 18 October 2019. More than 70 days after New Delhi decided to unilaterally alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Republic, willfully ignoring the voices of citizens and their representatives, civil liberties remain severely restricted in the erstwhile state.

The Centre has deigned to open up cell phone access for a portion of the population, although many continue to find it difficult to communicate. Prepaid phone connections are still down and no access to the internet.

This came even as Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was saying that the right to the internet is “non-negotiable”, just days after his own home minister, Amit Shah, said that cutting all phone connections did not amount to trampling on human rights.

New Delhi also continues to prevent any sort of political mobilisation in the Kashmir valley. All of the mainstream political leaders remain under arrest, including politicians who have previously been allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Earlier this week, women protesting the political arrests in the centre of Srinagar were thrown into jail and released only afterthey signed bonds prohibiting them from making any public statements.

The Home Minister has hinted that some political leaders, including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, will be detained indefinitely under the draconian Public Safety Act. Meanwhile, the Centre has given the go-ahead for Block Development Council elections to take place on 24 October, even as political leaders from all over Kashmir remain behind bars.

Shah explained why all of Kashmir was under lockdown after the Centre decided to unilaterally alter Article 370 and the status of the state within the Indian Union: he did not want any criticism from people who had not wanted the change to happen.

“He asserted that some bold decisions are necessary for people’s benefit, without getting bogged down by the fear of a backlash,” said the Home Ministry.

Politics, not security

If the significance of all of the BJP-run Centre’s actions are not clear, it is worth spelling out: the lockdown in Kashmir is a political manoeuvre, and not based on security considerations.

Of course, there is no doubt that militancy is a danger in the state, in fact, the change to Article 370 will likely drive even more of the youth towards the insurgency. But the Centre has done nothing to explain how it is justified in detaining mainstream politicians, including its own former allies.

The BJP is blatantly attempting to reshape politics in the Valley, but wants to do so without the fear of people actually disagreeing with them.

Even if you accept that there were security imperatives in the initial weeks after the Article 370 change, which itself was done without the consent of the people or their representatives, the continued restrictions on the public and detention of political leaders is nothing more than an attempt at political remote control. This is not democratic.

It is as if after announcing demonetisation or amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had jailed all Opposition leaders, and even some of his own allies, just to ensure that there was no criticism of his move.

Reports have repeatedly declared that the BJP wants to use this moment to create a new political class in Kashmir. Modi has literally spoken of building a “Naya Kashmir”. New Delhi wants to decide who comes to power in the Valley, since otherwise it has no chance of winning power there. Anyhow, by turning it into a Union Territory, it can control policy regardless.

The Centre has made no attempt to justify its trampling of civil liberties against an estimation of the security concerns. Simply pointing to Pakistan will not do. Is there any evidence that it has made an effort to consider balancing those rights?

The courts, which are supposed to do this when the government does not, have abdicated their role as well, putting off challenges for later dates.

It is clear that the government does not care for rights and liberties when it comes to Kashmiris, and by extension just about anyone who disagrees with it. It should also drop the pretence that its efforts in the Valley have anything to do with security.

The BJP wants to decide who comes to power in Kashmir and doesn’t care if the people have other thoughts about this. If any politician in the country thinks that the BJP successfully pulling this off in Kashmir means it will stop there, they should think again.