The Hindustan Times – Protests escalate in northeast against citizenship bill, army called out, internet suspended

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday.

Sadiq Naqvi and Priyanka Deb Barman

Guwahati / Agartala / New Delhi – India, 12 December 2019. A curfew was enforced in Guwahati, the principal city in Assam, where the army was called in on Wednesday night after tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, clashing with the police and paramilitary troopers, as protests raged in the northeast.

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday. An army spokesperson said the army had deployed two columns in Tripura, one column consisting of 70 personnel.

“Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati. We have also called in the army,” Assam’s additional director general of police Mukesh Agarwal said, as in New Delhi the Rajya Sabha debated the legislation that seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship for members of persecuted minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday.

An army spokesperson in Guwahati said two columns of the Army had been deployed in the city and will be performing a flag march. Earlier in the day, the spokesperson said three Army columns, two for Tripura and one for Assam, had been requisitioned.

The Centre on Wednesday also airlifted over 5,000 paramilitary personnel to northeastern states, including Assam, in the wake of the violent protests against CAB, a senior home ministry official said.

The curfew was clamped in Guwahati after protests of a scale reminiscent of those that took place during the six-year movement against illegal immigrants in the state that ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.

Post-noon, as the contentious bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha, the roads of Guwahati started filling up with protestors. Hundreds of protestors including students marched to Janata Bhawan, the Assam secretariat, chanting slogans against CAB and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hundreds gathered spontaneously at several other places in the city and blocked roads with burning tyres.

Protesters fought pitched battles with security forces across Assam, including in front of the secretariat. By the evening, the government announced that it was suspending mobile internet services in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup districts for 24 hours till 7 pm Thursday.

A similar shutdown was ordered in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Protesters pulled down barricades on the arterial Guwahati-Shillong Road, prompting the police to burst tear-gas shells and take recourse to a baton-charge. Protesters burned tyres and blocked highways and rail lines.

Anti-CAB protesters also clashed with police in Dibrugarh, where security forces fired rubber bullets and tear-gas shells to disperse the demonstrators.

Protests also rocked Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, Sonitpur and many other districts. In view of the protests, the Northeast Frontier Railway cancelled many trains and rescheduled some that originate from the state.

At least 14 trains have either been cancelled, shortened or diverted anticipating “disruptions in train movement,” NF Railway chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda said.

A motorcycle rally was organised against the CAB in chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s hometown, Chabua. Gauhati University, Cotton University and Dibrugarh University had to postpone examinations scheduled for Wednesday.

Student organizations, civil society groups and opposition parties in Assam have been at the forefront of the protests against the CAB, saying it would lead to an influx of religious minorities from Bangladesh and hurt the interests of indigenous communities.

A large section opposing the bill, which proposes a cutoff date of December 31, 2014, also says it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants in the state irrespective of religion.

The protesters organized an 11-hour shutdown in the northeast on Tuesday saying they oppose the bill out of concern that more migrants who came to the country illegally will move to the border region and dilute the culture and political sway of indigenous tribal people.

“The people are determined and we are determined against CAB. The CAB must go,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief advisor of All Assam Students Union, said.

“People of Assam are against CAB, yet they {Centre} are imposing it on us. Whatever happened is government’s fault. Top government ministers have provoked people. The chief minister has totally failed in maintaining law and order,” said R Konwar, Assam Congress spokesperson.

“People who talk about democracy are engaging in vandalism. Is this democracy? Organisations who are leading this agitation did not appeal for peace. They should go to the Supreme Court,” said Rupam Goswami, a spokesperson for the BJP.

Meanwhile, in Tripura the internet shutdown continued amid clashes between anti-CAB protesters and security forces.

Additional director general of police Rajiv Singh said skirmishes took place in Ambassa, Kamalpur of Dhalai, and Teliamura of Khowai, among other places. Singh said the situation was under control. Chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb appealed to all parties to maintain peace. – December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate

Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 12 December 2019. Today, UK goes to the polls in the most important election for a generation. Brexit, NHS, education, and immigration are major issues for the electorate. However, it’s also notable that this election has seen interference in UK Sikh affairs by BJP run groups. This has included targeting Sikh MPs and gurdwaras.

In relation to the elections, leading UK Sikh activists from the Sikh Assembly have released a report for the Sangat’s consideration.

“Election time presents British Sikhs with the opportunity to not only express the kind of society they want to live in but to participate in that society and affirm their status as responsible citizens,” the report states.

The report covers major topics related to the election, including BREXIT, Poverty, Climate Change, Education, Healthcare & Social Welfare and Crime. The report further states that hate crimes, religious discrimination, freedom of identity, political representation, faith schools, and Sikh heritage are the key issues that concern the UK Sikhs.

The report adds, “There is a need for better understanding and awareness of Sikh virtues of tolerance, equality, sharing and hard work, as well as their contribution to British society.”

The newly formed Sikh Assembly is a large organization of professional Sikhs from a wide range of backgrounds, working for the benefit of Sikhs in the UK and Europe.

The electoral brief issued by the Sikh Assembly further encourages the British Sikh Community to participate in the upcoming democratic elections and also lays out some of its projects and aspirations for the future.

December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate

Antwerpen Prémetro Astrid – Antwerpen VOEM – Gentbrugge Braemstraat

Antwerpen Premetro Astrid
27 November 2019

Tram 10 to P+R Schoonselhof via Broedermin

Platform for trams to Wijnegem

There is my tram !

Tram 10 to P+R Schoonselhof

Antwerpen VOEM
27 November 2019

VOEM offices in Antwerpen

Gentbrugge Braemstraat
28 November 2019

Another Evi special : Homegrown Mushrooms !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Indian Express – Panjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pakistan traders say they won’t participate

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. Discouraged by their visas being rejected for the last two years, Pakistani traders have not sent any names for participation in the Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX), 2019, which is set to begin in Amritsar on Thursday.

“In the past we had participation of more than 150 traders in this annual international trade festival. We organise PITEX in Amritsar to encourage trade between East and West Punjab. But our efforts are falling apart since the last two years as the Ministry of External Affairs does not give visa to Pakistani traders,” R S Sachdeva, mentor, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, told The Indian Express.

The 14th edition of PITEX is being organised here by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

“This year too we had sent an invitation to Pakistan traders. But they replied that they will not apply for visa as they might be rejected again. They were discouraged as MEA didn’t approve any visa for last two years. It is the first time they have decided not to apply due to expected response of MEA,” said Sachdeva.

He further said, “On one side the Kartarpur Corridor has been opened and Pakistan government has set-up a market alongside gurdwara where devotees love to shop. But the same traders cannot sell their goods by crossing the border.

We have asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to send a fresh note to the Union government to allow Punjab trade with Pakistan in a changed scenario after the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. Punjab has great trading opportunities with Pakistan. Punjab and Indian government must think about exploring these.”

However, Pakistani products will also be on display and for sale during the event. Five traders have been attending the event as they have SAARC visas.

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Sachdeva said, “PITEX will be inaugurated on December 12 by Punjab Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora. Apart from leading corporates, PITEX will see participation from PSIEC, GMADA, Punjab Agro Industry Corporation, PEDA, Milkfed, Markfed, amongst others. A number of central government departments are also participating.”

Karan Gilhotra, chairman, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, said there will be a session on ‘Tourism: Fuelling growth and goodwill’ which will be attended by the tour, travel and hospitality industry. Over 400 stalls have been set up in over 20,000 sq mts. Organisers said that there were around 3 lakh visitors last year and this year number is expected to cross 3.5 lakh.

Punjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pak traders say they won’t participate – Beware, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi’s ‘normalcy’ could be coming for you next

Internet shutdowns, curfews, army deployment, an economic slowdown: Welcome to the New India.

The Daily Fix: 12 December 2019. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected with a huge mandate in May 2019, he promised to usher in a “new India” by 2022, when the republic will be 75 years old.

On Thursday, we got a glimpse of what that new normal is supposed to look like: An internet shutdown across significant portions of two states and a third that has been turned into a Union Territory, administered by New Delhi.

Angry protests and a curfew in place across an entire region in opposition to a law that would fundamentally alter the country as it was being hurried through Parliament.

The army and paramilitary moved from one zone where Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have lit a legal fire, Jammu and Kashmir, to the North East, where it is sparking new conflicts just as peace had begun to take root.

A Prime Minister who continues to claim that all those opposing his moves could not possibly have the country’s best interests at heart and are, instead, speaking in the same voice as Pakistan.

All this while the government ought to have been pouring all of its efforts into solving the most worrisome economic slowdown India has faced in decades, one that is steadily dimming the futures of millions in a country that remains distressingly poor.

This is Modi and Shah’s new India, one where “normalcy” is a byword for New Delhi doing as it wishes and claiming that the people are on-board, no matter what the situation on the ground is.

India is not alone here. The last half decade has seen countries around the world choosing to be led by right-wing demagogues whose political platforms were built on a combination of social division, manufactured fears about immigrants and attempts to entrench and encourage right-wing bigotry.

From America’s Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orban to Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, this is the age of the democratic despot and the majoritarian tyrant.

But it is in India that the potential to do damage might be the largest, if only because the country represents one-fifth of humanity.

Every year without economic growth and without new jobs makes the path out of poverty harder for millions. Every new policy that rests on further division of people, every move that seeks to belittle the millions who count themselves among India’s minorities, every attempt to suppress dissent is only sowing the seeds of future disaster.

The BJP’s national mandate may not be in question, but democracy doesn’t begin and end at the ballot box. Moreover, results in state elections have proven that the country is not unequivocally behind the right-wing Hindutva project that the BJP draws its ideas from.

It is worth asking the BJP and the millions who voted for it: Is this socially divisive agenda, with nothing in the way of development gains, really the priority of the moment (if at all)? Is this how the BJP ought to use its post-elections political capital, instead of making tougher decisions about the economy?

Are the short-term political victories of these battles worth the danger they pose to India in the long-run? Is there any semblance of a plan to put the economy in order, which doesn’t involve fudged numbers or further distractions? Does the BJP really think that the people of Kashmir, the activists of the North East or the Muslims of this country will eventually come around to their way of thinking?

One question that may have come up in the aftermath of the democratically atrocious move to alter Article 370 earlier this year has been answered: This is indeed the new normal. And you should be worried: Normalcy could be coming for you next.

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