Sint-Truiden: Halmaal Gurdwara – NMBS Station; Gent: Citadelpark

Halmaal: Sangat Sahib Gurdwara
Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan
27 October 2019

The building that I used to live in when in Sint-Truiden

The Nagar Kirtan turns right into Stapelstraat

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20B
3800 Sint-Truiden – Limburg

Sint-Truiden NMBS Station
27 October 2019

Waiting for the train to Blankenberge via Gent

IC Train to coastal resort Blankenberge
via Gent

Gent Citadel Park
29 October 2019

Tree roots on the path

Tree roots on the path

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Ayodhya Verdict: No, the Supreme Court did not uphold the claim that Babri Masjid was built by demolishing a temple

The Archaeological Survey of India’s report on the site did not provide evidence for this, the judges concluded.

Shoaib Daniyal

Ayodhya Verdict, 11 November 2019. Two intertwined contentions drove the Ramjanmabhoomi movement three decades ago.

The first was religious: supporters claimed that the central dome of the Babri Masjid in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya marked the exact spot where the Hindu god Ram had been born.

The mosque was built on the Ramjanmabhoomi or birthplace of Ram in Hindi, they insisted, a point closely examined in both the Allahabad High Court in 2010 as well as Saturday’s Supreme Court judgment in the Ayodhya case.

The second involved history, culture and nationalism. It was claimed that the Babri Masjid had been constructed by officials of Mughal Emperor Babur after demolishing a Hindu temple at the site.

At the time, many leaders associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement claimed that their efforts would not stop till all temples that had allegedly been demolished and replaced with mosques during the medieval period had been reclaimed by Hindus.

Hindu nationalists view the medieval age and its Muslim rulers as a period of subjugation so removing symbols of the Mughals is an anti-colonial act for them.

Right after the Supreme Court verdict on Saturday, for example, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Madhav proceeded to compare the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid to the erasure of British road names and imperial statues after Independence.

Seen from within a Hindu nationalist framework, demolishing a Mughal mosque that had been built after demolishing a temple was not an act of vandalism, it was a righteous deed.

The basic problem with this argument was that there is simply no historical evidence that the Babri Masjid was built by demolishing a temple.

Problematic ASI report

To bolster their claim, Hindutva supporters often cite a 2003 report released by the Union government’s Archaeological Survey of India.

The report claimed that there was evidence of a temple under the (now-demolished) Babri Masjid. When it was released, the report was controversial. Two archaeologists, Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon, claimed that the report actually contained no evidence of a temple at all.

Though an abrupt claim is made in the conclusion that “there was a temple underneath the Babri Masjid”, Varma and Menon explained this by arguing that “the ASI was working with a preconceived notion”.

In an interview to the Huffington Post, Varma claimed, “underneath the Babri Masjid, there are actually older mosques”.

The Supreme Court judgment on Saturday did not take Varma and Menon’s criticism of the ASI report into account. Still, the court rejects the contention that the Babri Masjid was after a temple had been demolished.

No evidence of temple demolition

The judgment notes that the temple identified by the ASI dates back to the 12th century, about four centuries before the first Mughal emperor Babur came to India from Central Asia. “No evidence is available to explain what transpired in the course of the intervening period of nearly four centuries,” writes the Supreme Court.

Moreover, there is no evidence to show that this 12th-century structure has anything to do with the mosque itself. “The ASI report does not conclude that the remnants of the pre-existing structure were used for the purpose of constructing the mosque,” holds the court.

The court sums up why archeological evidence does not back up the Hindutva argument that the Babri Masjid was constructed after demolishing a temple.

“The ASI report has left unanswered a critical part of the remit which was made to it, namely, a determination of whether a Hindu temple had been demolished to pave way for the construction of the mosque.”

As a result, medieval history actually played little part in the Supreme Court’s judgment. “A finding of title cannot be based in law on the archaeological findings which have been arrived at by ASI,” ruled the court.

Instead, “title to the land must be decided on settled legal principles and applying evidentiary standards which govern a civil trial.” Eventually, the court decided the case not by relying on whether a temple was demolished but which side had possession of the Babri Masjid.

Narrative over facts

However, this part of the judgment got swept away. The fact that the court had finally decided in favour of building a temple was seen largely as a vindication of those who have argued that the Babri Masjid was a result of a temple being demolished in the 16th century.

K K Mohammed, a former member of the Archaeological Survey of India and a long-time supporter of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement argued that the Supreme Court “came to [the] conclusion that there was a huge magnificent temple earlier and we should build a new temple once more”.

Writing in News18 a day after the judgment, analyst Shantanu Gupta argued that with the court ordering a temple, a “500-year-old wrong was set right” since “around 500 years ago, Babar’s commanders destroyed the temple in Ayodhya and built a mosque”.

After the verdict, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, one of the main driver of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, spoke of moving on to other mosques that it claims have been built after demolishing temples.

“About Kashi and Mathura, I must make it clear that Supreme Court judgement is not the end of the story, it is the beginning,” VHP working president Alok Kumar said at a press conference a few hours after the judgment was released.

The Ramjanmabhoomi movement had, 30 years ago, successfully whipped up nationwide hysteria claiming that the Babri Masjid had been built after a temple had been destroyed. So successful was the movement that, even as the claim has been dismissed by the Supreme Court large numbers of Indians continue to believe it to be true.

The Indian Express – Women raagis hold the stage in Sultanpur Lodhi

Anju Agnihotri Chaba

Sultanpur Lodhi – Panjab – India, 11 November 2019. At government stage, Dr Inderpreet Kaur recited kirtan, and several school girls, including Paramjit Kaur and group from Singh Sabha Girls School, Abohar (district Fazilka), performed gurmat sangeet.

While Sikh women are not allowed to perform kirtan inside the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib], women jathas have been holding devotees spellbound with their kirtan and kavishari on religious stages set up both by the SGPC and the Punjab government in the holy town of Sultanpur Lodhi to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Last Thursday, the state Assembly had passed a resolution demanding for the first time that women be allowed to perform kirtan at the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib]. The final decision on the matter now rests with the SGPC.

Former SGPC president Jagir Kaur, who is incharge of Sultanur Lodhi programmes for the Sikh body, said: “At our pandal majority of shabad kirtan, gurmat sangeet samagam, kirtan darbar and kavishari and other religious programmes are being performed by the women folk.” She added that the Gurus had always given equal opportunities and respect to women.

At government stage too, Dr Inderpreet Kaur recited kirtan, and several school girls, including Parmjit Kaur and as group from Singh Sabha Girls School, Abohar (district Fazilka), performed gurmat sangeet.

Also, around a dozen raagi jathas of women, including Dr Jasmeet Kaur from Jammu, Bibi Simran Kaur from Ludhiana, Bibi Jasleen Kaur from Delhi and Dr Gurinder Kaur from Delhi, have so far connected the audience with gurbani’s message at the government pandal.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that several women had played unparalleled roles in Sikh history, adding that Guru Nanak’s message was “so kyun manda aakhiye jit jamme rajan”.

“Guru Nanak Dev ji’s elder sister, Bebe Nanaki, was the first disciple of guru when he got enlightened and also she looked after their parents, and the Guru’s family in his absence when the Guru moved from place to place to spread Sikh religion.

She is also remembered as first Gur Sikh woman who had also played an important role in the spread of religion.

Because of her contribution, among the seven historical gurdwaras of Sultanpur Lodhi, one is dedicated to her called Bebe Nanki Gurdwara which shows the equality in Sikh religion at that time,” said former SAD minister Upinderjit Kaur from Sultanpur Lodhi.

She added: “Even in the battlefield Sikh women got an equal chance and Mai Bhago is a great example of that. A woman saint-soldier who led Sikh soldiers against Mughals at the time of tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh.

There is a Bunga (war tower) at Nanded Sahib and a Gurudwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago in Karnataka.”

On the resolution by the government, she said that she is against any discrimination against women but this matter should be decided by the Akal Takht and the SGPC.

Meanwhile, a 600-strong Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, dressed in white, also joined the celebrations at Sultanpur Lodhi. Many professionals, doctors, engineers, and professors of this group from Canada, USA and Kenya are serving langar at Gurdwara Sant Ghat.

Women raagis hold the stage in Sultanpur Lodhi