The Asian Age – Nation is facing difficult times, bring peace: Supreme Court

The government has expressed the fear that different high courts may pronounce conflicting judgments.

New Delhi – India, 10 January 2020. The Supreme Court on Thursday said efforts should be made to douse frayed tampers in the wake of the agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and to normalise the situation.

“As it is the country is going through difficult times. The object should be to bring about peace. Such petitions don’t help that. There is a presumption of the constitutionality of law”, said Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, who was heading a three-judge bench which comprised Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant.

The strong observation from the bench came in the course of the hearing of a petition by one Puneet Kaur Dhanda seeking a declaration that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was not constitutional.

“We have never heard of a petition like this, to declare an act as constitutional,” the Chief Justice said, adding: “The job of the court is to determine the validity of a law, not declare it constitutional.” The CJI then permitted the petitioner to withdraw the plea, with the liberty to intervene in a similar matter which the court is seized with.

On Friday, the Supreme Court is likely to hear the Centre’s plea seeking the transfer of all cases which are the challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act pending before high courts across the country.

The Centre has sought the transfer of cases contending that the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter as 60 petitioners have challenged the law that has led to protests across the country. The government has expressed the fear that different high courts may pronounce conflicting judgments.

The Supreme Court had on 18 December 18 sought a response from the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amended citizenship law that provides for the grant of Indian citizenship to illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi religions, barring Muslims.

The court will hold a further hearing on 22 January, when it will also consider the plea for a stay of the law which has been described by one of the petitioners as contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. – Sikh businessman, who had opposed Mangu Mutt’s demolition, brutally thrashed in Odisha

Sikh24 Editors

Bhubaneshwar – Odisha – India, 16 January 2020. On 14 January several Hindu goons brutally thrashed a Sikh businessman named Parvinder Pal Singh in Laxmisagar area of Bhubaneshwar in Odisha following an argument over parking of vehicle in front of his house.

The video of this incident is getting viral over social media and it is being said that these goons intentionally preyed upon Parvinder Pal Singh as he had openly opposed the demolition of Mangu Mutt in Jagannath Puri.

In the video, it could be seen that around 5 goons mercilessly thrashed Parvinder Pal Singh after removing his turban. A goon could also be observed hitting on Parvinder Pal Singh’s head with a brick while two police cops standing there were behaving like mute spectators.

Speaking to media, victim Sikh Parvinder Pal Singh informed that he had an argument over illegal parking of vehicle in front his home with these goons following which they started misbehaving with him.

“I immediately called the police but the PCR van reached on spot after 20 minutes and the goons started thrashing me brutally in the meantime,” he said while adding that the cops were also present when he was being thrashed but police remained a mute spectator.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that only three goons namely Deepak Jena, Sankar Rout and Deepak Mohanty were arrested yesterday but were released on bail immediately as the police didn’t impose section 307 of IPC despite the homicidal nature of this attack.

“We demand CM Naveen Patnaik to take strict action against the main accused Deepak Jena who attacked Veer Parvinder Pal Singh in Odisha. This attack was done because Parvinder Ji was a frontrunner in opposing demolition of Mangu Mutt. DSGMC stands in solidarity with Parvinder Veer Ji and we would not allow anyone to touch the Turban of a righteous Sikh,” tweeted DSGMC president Manjinder Singh Sirsa.

VIDEO: Sikh businessman, who had opposed Mangu Mutt’s demolition, brutally thrashed in Odisha

Den Haag (NL) – Station Holland Spoor – Herman Costerstraat/Hobbemaplein – Scheeperstraat

Den Haag NL
Station Holland Spoor
25 December 2019

Tram 1 Scheveningen – Den Haag HS – Delft

Den Haag NL
Herman Costerstraat/Hobbemaplein
26 December 2019

Herman Costerstraat

Pakistan Kashmir Travel Agency
Pakistan Welfare Agency
Kashmir Peace Council Netherlands


Den Haag NL
26 December 2019

Gurdwara Singh Sabha
Nishan Sahib – Sikh flag

Gurdwara Singh Sabha
Scheepersstraat 54
2572 AL Den Haag

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

AlJazeera – Recipe for solidarity: How Indian protesters are being fed

Individuals and groups come forward to arrange for food and beverages as protests enter second month.

New Delhi – India, 16 January 2020. A group of Sikh farmers from the northern state of Punjab arrived at New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, picked a spot under a pedestrian bridge, and began to unpack its wares, a gas stove, huge utensils, and provisions and fired up a community kitchen, or “langar”.

Shaheen Bagh is the epicentre of ongoing protests, led by Muslim women, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), an amendment to Indian citizenship law 1955 that is seen as anti-Muslim.

The Sikhs, helped by the protesting women who rolled “chapati” (bread) for them while continuing their sit-in, prepared breakfast and lunch for more than a 1,000 people, including children, protesting against the CAA, which was passed last month.

The new law aims to grant Indian citizenship to “persecuted” minorities from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan while blocking naturalisation for Muslims.

Muslims see their exclusion from the law that makes religion the basis of citizenship as yet another attempt by the Narendra Modi government to “marginalise” them.

Coupled with a proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), the community fears the moves are intended to strip millions of Indian Muslims of their citizenship. Poeple from other disadvantaged caste and gender identities, as well as women, are vulnerable before NRC.

Since December 11 when the law was passed, millions of citizens across India have rallied against the CAA despite prohibitory orders and a brutal police crackdown, in which at least 28 people have been killed.

An act of kindness

Marching alongside the protesters, with no pomp or waving banners, is an army of people providing them with food and beverages.

At New Delhi’s India Gate, the iconic World War I memorial, on a windy December evening, the mercury dropped to a chilly 13 degrees Celsius. But that did not deter 44-year-old Mohammad Fuaad from leaning on a yellow police barricade and calling out to passers-by, holding out a rectangular packet.

“Biryani le leejiye, Sir, veg biryani (Please have biryani, Sir, it’s vegetarian biryani),” he called out, assuring people that the rice had been cooked with potatoes instead of meat, to avoid any trouble at a time when meat and the eating of it has become deeply polarised in light of rising Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Fuaad was not trying to sell his biryani, he was offering it for free. In a space barricaded before the British-era monument, thousands of protesters were reading the preamble to the Indian constitution on a loop.

Sikh community people are preparing kheer for the Shaheen Bagh protesters.[centre/italics]

“You know, a dark law has been brought in to threaten India’s unity and integrity, and students from across the universities are standing up against it,” said Kamran Khan, Fuaad’s colleague from Khidmat Foundation, a social welfare collective.

“We have come here to support them in this mission,” Khan, who lived in the older part of the Indian capital, told Al Jazeera.

At approximately 8 pm, when police asked the protesters to wrap up, Khidmat’s 80 kilogrammes (176 pounds) of biryani were almost finished. Its fiery aroma lingered and met that of a winter comfort few metres away: “Chai langar” or tea offering by members of Khalsa Aid, a Sikh charity organisation.

“At a protest like this where people are there regardless [of their identities], I saw this as an act of kindness,” said 26-year-old Manpreet Kaur, who works as a travel agent.

Community bonds

Amarpreet Singh, Khalsa Aid’s managing director in the Asia Pacific region, told Al Jazeera it was the brutal police violence at two predominantly Muslim institutions, New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university (JMI) and Uttar Pradesh state’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), that caused them to step in.

In near-simultaneous attacks on the evening of 15 December police stormed the two campuses 130km (80 miles) apart, firing tear gas and live ammunition, attacking students with batons, and vandalising property. More than 100 students were wounded in the attacks, one losing an eye and another a limb. Students at both universities had been protesting against CAA.

Ishita Dey, food anthropologist and assistant professor of sociology at New Delhi’s South Asian University, told Al Jazeera that food is one of the oldest forms showing solidarity across communities.

“From natural disasters to conflict situations, the first thing you distribute is food,” she said.

In India, Dey said there is “resistance to partaking of food” between different communities because of the “rules of inter-dining, specifically prohibitions around exchange of water and cooked food”.

But the anti-CAA protesters are subverting such ideas, thereby challenging the divisive rhetoric of Prime Minister Modi.

Protest is a tiring thing

Ghazala Meer is a 26-year-old woman from the Ladakh region (it was carved out of Indian-administered Kashmir in August) participating in protests across New Delhi.

“To go to a protest is a very tiring thing, it’s not something you would do for fun. You identify with a certain set of ideas and go stand for them,” she told Al Jazeera.

Meer said the availability of food at such protests brings a sense of comfort and togetherness. “It isn’t just for a certain group of people, but for everybody,” said Meer.

Activist Umar Khalid, who is frequently seen demonstrating, said it is not unusual for people to offer food to protesters, but the scale of support in the ongoing protests is unprecedented.

“Because the attack is on the very citizenship of every citizen of this country, everyone wants to contribute,” he told Al Jazeera.

At Shaheen Bagh, hundreds of female protesters are shaking up India’s traditional domestic makeup as they brave New Delhi’s coldest winter in a century, standing at the front of resistance while men support from the sidelines, cooking and caring for them.

A dozen men in their early 20s are watching over a huge pot bubbling with “secular chai (tea)”. A banner hangs over their spot: ‘Secular Chai – Made in India’.

Ajaz Ahmad, 23, said their branding of the tea is a protest against Modi, who had based his 2014 election campaign on the claim that he worked as a tea-seller in his childhood.

“Chaiwaley, teri chai unsecular hai (Tea-seller, your tea is unsecular),” Ahmad said.

Hesitant to claim credit

However, many of those offering food and beverages are hesitant to claim credit.

Khidmat’s Kamran Khan said about his support: “It would be like getting a finger sliced and being counted as a martyr,” suggesting that his was a modest contribution to the movement.

On December 19 at New Delhi’s iconic protest site, Jantar Mantar, 28-year-old artist Daamini K was offered bottled water and bananas by a man in his 30s.

“I asked who is it by and he said, ‘it is by all of us’,” she told Al Jazeera.

The same day, Mumbai-based writer-photographer Anagh Mukherjee was offered water by a middle-aged man when he was marching with tens of thousands of people.

“I was really moved by the gesture because they were doing it to keep everyone charged,” Mukherjee said.

In West Bengal state’s North 24 Parganas district, anti-CAA protesters made food their mode of protest by blocking off a section of the highway and cooking biryani on an industrial scale.

Not all gestures are that large, 36-year old researcher Anusha Pandey (name changed upon her request) carried biscuits with her to a protest, anticipating detention by police in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city. She did end up being detained, along with 200 others.

“I ate and distributed them [biscuits] among the fellow detainees, just two, three packets, nothing very large scale,” Pandey said.

The recipe for protest food

Protest food involves money; the logistics of preparing, sourcing and transporting food; and its distribution. Individuals, collectives, and strangers banding together are the spine of this protest infrastructure.

For nearly a month now, Mohamad Anas, a former student at Jamia Millia Islamia, has not gone to work at his disability rights advocacy organisation. He spends nearly 4,000 rupees daily to supply 30 litres (8 gallons) of tea at the protest outside one of the university’s gates.

Anas has a locomotor disability and utilises his specialised four-wheeled scooter to hold the large steel containers in which he fetches tea from sellers in nearby Sukhdev Vihar. His friends help too.

“I do whatever my financial condition allows to ensure that students here can protest peacefully and with ease,” Anas told Al Jazeera. He also offers tea to more than 150 police and paramilitary personnel stationed there.

Abdul Rahman, a 42-year-old baker, is funding his food drive through Nawa-e-Haque, a social welfare organisation he is part of. Neighbours contribute in kind for the protest food he prepares at his bakery.

“I come here [to the Jamia protest] around 4pm every day since I saw the kids injured and hungry at the hospitals on the night of December 15,” said Rahman, his voice cracking and tears streaming down his face. He gestured to say he could not speak any more.

His colleague’s 17-year-old son Saadiq Ghazi takes over. Ghazi has taken time off his grade 12 exam preparations to help with the protests. “Between my father’s five friends and their sons, we’re a team of 10-15 people on any day,” he said.

Others like Bushra Khan run crowdfunding efforts. A shoebox acts as a donation box, with a jagged slot cut into the cardboard; it sits on the table she serves tea and snacks from at the Jamia gate.

Back at Shaheen Bagh, where a round-the-clock protest by women has become emblematic of the anti-CAA and NRC movement, area residents have come together.

When 45-year-old Hussain Khan, who reserves his food support for specific groups, women, children, the elderly, artists, and journalists, realises that his biscuit carton has lightened, he waves to 18-year-old Amaan Saifi to go buy another carton.

“We’re both from Shaheen Bagh but I didn’t know him before these protests,” Saifi told Al Jazeera. At India Gate, as Fuaad packs off his empty biryani containers, he reveals his reason for charity and solidarity with the protesting students.

“When they are in positions of power in future, I believe they will be more involved with humanitarian causes.” – ‘Ready to hold referendum in PoK, let people of Kashmir decide what they want,’ says Pakistan PM

Imran Khan invited people from all parts of the country to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and assess the human rights situation there.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 17 January 2019. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said Islamabad is willing to hold a referendum in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to give people the right to decide whether they want to remain in the country or be independent.

“Let the people of Kashmir decide what they want,” he said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “Pakistan is ready for a referendum or a plebiscite. Let them decide whether they want to remain with Pakistan or to be independent. We are all for it.”

He said people from all parts of the country are invited to visit PoK to assess the human rights situation in the region. “Azad Kashmir holds free and fair elections and it elects its own government,” Khan said. “Like any other administration, they have their problems.

But as I said, let us invite observers from all over the world. I assure you that they can go to the Pakistan side of Kashmir but won’t be allowed on the Indian side.”

Khan lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led government and compared the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to that of the Nazis. “Just as the Nazi ideology was built on hatred for minorities, the RSS ideology is also based on hatred for Muslims and other minorities, including Christians,” he said.

The prime minister said India has been taken over by an extremist ideology known as “Hindutva” and alleged that the country is also run by extremists. “It is a tragedy for India – and for its neighbours – that the country has been taken over by the RSS, an organisation which also assassinated the great Mahatma Gandhi,” Khan claimed.

“A nuclear-armed country is being run by extremists, and Kashmir has been under siege for over five months.”

He said the situation in Kashmir received little international attention, claiming that commercial interests are more important for Western countries.

“India is a big market and that is the reason behind the lukewarm response to what is happening to some 8 million people in Kashmir, as well as to minorities in India,” he said.

Khan also spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act and said it was “blatantly against minorities”. He pointed that these matters were raised when he spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and later she issued a statement in November that the situation in Kashmir is “not sustainable”.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have ratcheted up since New Delhi abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 and divided it into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India for Kashmir since Independence, did not take the decision well. Pakistan responded by suspending trade with India, downgrading bilateral ties and sending back its envoy. It also approached several international bodies, including the United Nations.