BBC News – Citizenship Amendment Bill: Are India’s claims about minorities in other countries true?

Reality Check team BBC News

New Delhi – India, 12 December 2019. The Indian government has introduced a controversial bill offering citizenship to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries if they belong to non-Muslim minority groups.

Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have entered India illegally can apply for citizenship if they can prove they originate from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.

The government argues that minorities in those countries are dwindling, and that they face persecution on the grounds of their faith.

The legislation has been criticised as discriminatory in India because it excludes Muslims seeking citizenship as well.

So what is the situation facing non-Muslims in those three neighbouring states?

How many non-Muslims?

Amit Shah, India’s Home Minister, says Pakistan’s non-Muslim population has dwindled dramatically since 1951. This follows the mass exodus of non-Muslims from Pakistan after partition in 1947 and the flight of Muslims from India to Pakistan.

Mr Shah cited a remaining minority population in Pakistan of 23% in 1951, and he says this has shrunk over the decades due to persecution.

But Mr Shah’s figures need to be challenged as he appears to have combined the data for what is now the state of Pakistan (formerly west Pakistan) with what is now Bangladesh (formerly east Pakistan).

Census data for 1998 shows that the Hindu population of Pakistan (which was formerly west Pakistan) had not really changed significantly from its 1951 level of around 1.5 to 2%.

But the data also suggests that the Hindu population of Bangladesh did fall, from around 22% or 23% in 1951 to around 8% in 2011.

There are other non-Muslim religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, such as Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Parsis. And in Pakistan, there are also Ahmadis, who were declared non-Muslim by the government in the 1970s, and are estimated to be around four million strong, making them the largest religious minority in the country.

In Afghanistan, non-Muslim groups include Hindus, Sikhs, Bahais and Christians, and make up less than 0.3% of the population. In 2018, there were just 700 Sikhs and Hindus left in Afghanistan as families had been leaving because of the conflict there, according to a report for the US State Department.

What’s the official status of non-Muslims?

The Indian government’s citizenship bill states: “The constitutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide for a specific state religion. As a result, many persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities have faced persecution on grounds of religion in those countries”.

It’s true that the state religion of Pakistan is Islam. Afghanistan is also an Islamic state.

In Bangladesh the situation is more complicated. The country came into being in 1971 with a secular constitution, but in 1988 Islam was made the official state religion.

A lengthy legal battle to get that reversed ended in 2016 when Bangladesh’s top court ruled that Islam should remain the state religion.

However, all these countries have constitutional provisions stating that non-Muslims have rights and are free to practise their faith. And individual Hindus have risen to prominent positions in both Pakistan and Bangladesh, notably as chief justices in the two countries.

Do the minorities face discrimination?

In practice, non-Muslim minorities do face discrimination and persecution.

What are Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

Human rights group Amnesty International has pointed to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which it says “are vaguely formulated and arbitrarily enforced by the police and judiciary in a way which amounts to harassment and persecution of religious minorities”.

Pakistani Hindus who moved to India in recent years told the BBC they face social and religious discrimination, with a particular issue being the targeting of Hindu girls in Sindh province.

But it’s also true that Ahmadis, who are not covered by India’s citizenship bill, face discrimination for their beliefs as they are regarded as heretical by the Muslim majority.

And the majority of blasphemy cases up to 2018 had been filed against other Muslims and Ahmadis, not against Christians or Hindus.

In Bangladesh, there are various reasons for the decline in the proportion of Hindus over the years. The better-off Hindu population have had their homes and businesses targeted, sometimes in attempts to get them to leave so their land or assets can be taken over. Hindus have also been the targets of attacks by religious militants.

The Bangladesh government has rejected India’s claims about minorities being targeted. Foreign Minister Abdul Monem told the BBC: “We don’t have examples of minorities being persecuted in this country.”

According to UN data, the number of refugees in India went up by 17% between 2016-19. As of August this year, the biggest numbers registered with the UN were actually from Tibet and Sri Lanka. – Akal Takht panel invites Dhadrianwala for discussion on his controversial utterances

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. The five member committee constituted by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has sent an invitation to Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala to get his viewpoints about some of his controversial utterances. This invitation has been sent by Dr Chamkaur Singh, who coordinates this five member committee.

It is learnt that this five member committee has invited Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala at Gurdwara Sri Dukh Niwaran Sahib on December 22 at 12 pm.

However, it is being speculated that Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala will not meet these committee members because he had been repeatedly giving such indications in his religious programs.

Notably, this five member committee comprising of Dr Paramvir Singh, Principal Prabhjot Kaur, Gurmeet Singh, Dr Amarjit Singh and Dr Inderjit Singh was constituted by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh following several complaints against Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala.

Does not everybody have the right to utter ‘utterances’, controversial or not ?
The most the committee can do is say: Ranjit Singh’s ‘utterances’ do not agree with Gurmat !
Man in Blue

Auderghem: MIVB Metro Demey – Gent Zuid – Leuven: Heilige Drievuldigheidscollege

Auderghem: MIVB Metro Demey
30 December 2019

MIVB Metro Line 5
Hermann Debroux to Erasmus

Gent Zuid Tram 2 and 4
01 December 2019

Tram 2 to Zwijndrecht and Tram 4 to UZ

On Tram 1 and 4 you’ll often find these extra long vehicles

Heilige Drievuldigheidscollege
Oude Markt, Leuven
Both my potia go to school here
03 December 2019

Sint Nicholas visits the school !

The one in the white trousers is our Arashdeep Kaur

Jumping up and down on a bad photo

They should not move while dancing !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The New Indian Express – Sikhs in Kashmir agree to demolition of gurdwara to make way for national highway

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 12 December 2019. In an exemplary act, the Sikh community in Kashmir on Thursday agreed to the demolition of a 72-year-old gurdwara to make way for a national highway connecting Srinagar with Baramulla which had been stuck for over a decade, an official said.

According to a settlement reached between the Sikh community and the Srinagar district administration, a new gurdwara will be built at an alternative site nearby.

Established in 1947, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib mainly served migrant families from Pakistan.

It organised langars and undertook many social service initiatives such as flood rescue.

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Further, a litigation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had kept the matter related to the relocation of the gurdwara lingering for years.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary swung into action to break the deadlock and personally intervened in the discussion process. He reached out to the Sikh community to devise an amicable solution to the issue.

Choudhary held a series of meetings over the past week to examine a range of options to resolve the issue.

“Finally, today in the presence of the deputy commissioner and the gurdwara management, the demolition of Gurdwara Damdama Saheb was started. The gurdwara will function from a makeshift space till a new one is constructed at the agreed location.

The state public works department (PWD) has been entrusted with the construction of the gurdwara as per the design provided by the Sikh community,” the official said.

Giving details, he said that the government of India started construction of the national highway from Srinagar to Baramulla in 2006.

Later, the project was funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Plan.

The stretch of the road where the gurudwara stood was executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), while the Anantnag-Srinagar section was constructed by the National Highways Authority of India.

The road was completed in 2013, but the four bottlenecks remained.

In 2014, the owner of the site proposed for relocation of the gurdwara objected to it and obtained a stay from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Besides the gurdwara, the three other bottlenecks were a power line, a petrol pump and water supply lines.

The official said the work on the demolition of the petrol pump and shifting of power lines and water supply lines has also started.

The work is likely to be completed in the next 10 days, he said.

“BRO will start construction of the road stretch this month. The administrative outreach of DC Srinagar to resolve this 13 years long pending complex issue is an example of a proactive approach for an efficient resolution aimed at public welfare,” he said.

“The act and gesture of the Sikh community here have created a history in Kashmir and will be remembered for ever,” Deputy Commissioner Choudhary said.

Noisy and polluting tin cans on wheels are still worshiped In India

The Print – Two die in Guwahati after police open fire on anti-citizenship bill protesters

One person was ‘brought dead’ while another succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment, said an official of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

Guwahati – Assam – India, 12 December 2019. At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on Thursday after police opened fire on protesters in Assam’s Guwahati, officials said.

An official of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital told PTI that one person was “brought dead” and another succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.

The official, however, could not give their names, saying that “they were brought unidentified”.

The state has been on edge as thousands of angry protesters came out on streets defying curfew, thumbing their nose at Army contingents staging flag marches, and clashing with police across cities.

2 die in Guwahati after police open fire on anti-citizenship bill protesters