The Hindustan Times – ‘Not just economy, India slipping on democracy too’: Shiv Sena targets BJP

In an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, the party alleged there had been attempts to muzzle dissenting voices and this is one of the key reasons for India slipping in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global ranking.

Swapnil Rawal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India. 24 January 2020. The Shiv Sena on Friday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for the drop in India’s rank in the democracy index. In an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, the party alleged there had been attempts to muzzle dissenting voices and this is one of the key reasons for India slipping in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global ranking.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report earlier this week on the World Democracy Index where India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global rankings. The report, which ranked over 160 countries, cited “erosion of civil liberties” in the country as the primary cause of the slip in rank.

“Now there is a slide in [India’s] global democracy index ranking,” the editorial said. It added, “This means how India has slipped on the economic standards on a global level, the standard of democracy has also gone down.”

Citing issues like scrapping of Article 370, that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, new citizenship law CAA and the proposed NRC, measures which have witnessed protests, the paper said the country had witnessed a churning in the last one year.

“In the last one year, the country has witnessed churning over scrapping of Article 370, CAA, NRC, etc. There have been public protests, students protests. JNU-type attacks are used to muzzle the dissenting voices. This is the reason India slipped to 51st position in the Democracy Index,” the editorial said.

The editorial asked if the ruling party at the Centre and its supporters would accept the current situation.

“Even if the government rejects the [EIU] report, does the ruling party have an answer as to why the country was witnessing a slide, from economic field to democracy?” the Sena asked the BJP.

The Sena and the BJP, which had been alliance partners for decades, had broken up last year after the Maharashtra elections. Uddhav Thackeray took over as the chief minister after a brief spell of central rule in the state with two unlikely partners, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/not-just-economy-india-slipping-on-democracy-too-shiv-sena-targets-bjp/story-heUEGZwqjCcur1vokAW15I.html

The Tribune – Petition in Supreme Court against term ‘Sikh cult’ in Ayodhya verdict

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 January 2020. A Sikh organisation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to expunge the word “cult” while referring to the Sikh religion and “distorted facts” from its verdict on the Ayodhya issue.

Addressing the media, president of the Sikh Nation Organisation Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, who filed the petition, alleged that it was a false statement by a Sikh, who had RSS links and appeared as witness in the case.

Dr Randhawa, whose earlier petition challenging French law putting a ban on wearing Sikh religious symbols was accepted by the United Nations in 2005, said, “After consulting leading dictionaries, including Oxford, Cambridge, Longman, Collins, besides various Sikh scholars, I discovered that the word ‘cult’ was used in derogatory and defamatory sense.

So we want that this word be removed from the verdict, as it will result in serious damage to the Sikhs globally.”

Randhawa said there were also blasphemous references to Guru Nanak’s visit to Ayodhya as a devotee and worshipping the idol of Ram that needed to be rectified in the verdict. He claimed that their petition would be argued by senior advocates, including Kapil Sibal.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/petition-in-sc-against-term-%E2%80%98sikh-cult%E2%80%99-in-ayodhya-verdict-30652

Den Haag – Brouwersgracht – Grotemarktstraat/Kalvermarkt

Brouwersgracht
28 December 2019


Tram 2 to Kraayenstein


RandstadRail Tram 3 emerging from the tunnel


RandstadRail Tram 3 to Loosduinen


Tramstop Brouwersgracht

Grotemarktstraat/Kalvermarkt
28 December 2019


Grotemarktstraat – De Bijenkorf


Kalvermarkt – Tram 15 to Nootdorp

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Indian Express – ‘Forced conversion’ case: Sikh girl reiterates in Lahore court that she wants to return to husband, in-laws

Jagjit Kaur, who was renamed ‘Ayesha’ after she was allegedly forced to embrace Islam and marry Mohammad Hassan (19), is the daughter of a head granthi at Tambu Sahib gurdwara in Nankana Sahib.

Navjeevan Gopal

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 January 2020. A Sikh girl from Pakistan who was allegedly forced to embrace Islam and marry a Muslim man in August last year on Thursday reiterated during a hearing in the Lahore High Court that she wanted to be with him and his family. The court will hear the case again on Friday.

Jagjit Kaur, who was renamed ‘Ayesha’ after she was allegedly forced to embrace Islam and marry Mohammad Hassan (19), is the daughter of a head granthi at Tambu Sahib gurdwara in Nankana Sahib. Kaur’s brother Manmohan had said after the previous court hearing on 09 January that his sister had been “brainwashed” and was speaking out of “fear”.

Speaking on phone from Pakistan, Kaur’s counsel Sheikh Sultan said that the court had summoned the Nankana Sahib district police officer and a senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency in connection with the hearing on Friday. “She today re-iterated that she wants to be with her in-laws,” he added.

The court has also summoned the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency to look into whether a cyber crime case is made out against Hassan after Jagjit Kaur’s family alleged that Hassan was using Kaur’s mobile number and had sent a threatening message. Kaur’s brother showed the screenshot of the message in court.

In India, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa wrote to Union Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar seeking the Indian government’s intervention so that Jagjit Kaur could be “freed from the clutches of the kidnapper and allowed to reunite with her parents”.

“After a lot of hue and cry was raised, Jagjit Kaur was finally produced in a Pakistani court today. But instead of allowing her to meet her parents, she was forced to meet the kidnapper against her will. I have been continuously receiving calls from all over the world to ensure justice for Jagjit Kaur,” said Sirsa’s letter to Jaishankar.

He further wrote, “It is a very serious issue and continued violation of human rights of minorities in Pakistan. We want the Government of India to intervene in this matter immediately and seek justice for Jagjit Kaur. She should be freed from the clutches of the kidnapper and allowed to reunite with her parents.

Tomorrow Jagjit Kaur will be produced in the court in Pakistan again. I humbly request you to take up this matter with Pakistan government on priority basis for which the Sikh community shall be highly grateful to you.”

In a tweet on Thursday, Sirsa also wrote, “We are meeting the Union Home Secretary on January 28 seeking permission for sending a delegation of DSGMC & SGPC to Pakistan who would meet minority families and take first hand report of abduction and forced conversion incidents happening with their daughters.”

During the 09 January hearing, the court had while sending Jagjit back to a shelter home in Lahore issued directions allowing Kaur’s parents and family to meet her at the shelter home. However, they couldn’t meet her as her father was unwell.

According to Kaur’s counsel, the court had on January 8 hearing given her “10 working days to make up her mind after she said she wanted to go to her husband”.

On January 3, Hassan’s brother Imran Ali Chishti had led a mob that pelted stones at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak. Threatening Sikhs at Nankana Sahib, Chishti had expressed anguish at the alleged harassment of his family members by local police and civil authorities.

In a video clip, he was purportedly heard saying that no Sikh would be allowed to live in Nankana Sahib and that the name of the town would also be changed. Chishti was later arrested and booked under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

Jagjit’s family has alleged that six armed persons had barged into their house, kidnapped her, and later forced her to “embrace Islam and forcibly marry Hassan” on August 28 last year.

The ongoing hearings are in connection with an application moved by Jagjit in court seeking to be “freed” from shelter home.

Nobody on the Sikh side of the argument seems to even consider the possibility that the young woman really wants to stay with her new family.
Man in Blue

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/forced-conversion-case-sikh-girl-reiterates-in-lahore-court-that-she-wants-to-return-to-husband-in-laws-6232846/

The Hindu – Political parties should not give tickets to candidates with criminal background: ECI to SC

The top court asked the petitioner BJP leader and advocate Ashiwini Upadhyay and the poll panel to sit together and come up with suggestions which would help him in curbing criminalisation of politics.

New Delhi – India, 24 January 2020. The Election Commission of India on January 24 told the Supreme Court that its 2018 direction asking poll candidates to declare their criminal antecedents in electronic and print media has not helped curb criminalisation of politics.

The poll panel suggested that instead of asking candidates to declare criminal antecedents in the media, political parties should be asked not to give tickets to candidates with criminal background.

A Bench of Justices R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat asked the ECI to come up with a framework within one week which can help curb criminalisation of politics in nation’s interest.

The top court asked the petitioner BJP leader and advocate Ashiwini Upadhyay and the poll panel to sit together and come up with suggestions which would help him in curbing criminalisation of politics.

In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench had unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls and had called for a wider publicity, through print and electronic media about antecedents of candidates.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/political-parties-should-not-give-tickets-to-candidates-with-criminal-background-eci-to-sc/article30641893.ece