The Asian Age – CAA not in violation of fundamental rights: Centre to Supreme Court

The central government, in its 129-page affidavit in response to the pleas challenging the validity of CAA, termed the legislation legal

New Delhi – India, 17 March 2020. The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 does not violate any fundamental right.

The central government, in its 129-page affidavit in response to the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of CAA, termed the legislation legal and asserted that there was no question of it violating constitutional morality.

It also said CAA does not confer any arbitrary and unguided powers on the executive as the citizenship to the persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh would be granted in a manner as specified under the law governing grant of citizenship.

The affidavit has been filed by B C Joshi, Director in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Supreme Court on 18 December last year had decided to examine the constitutional validity of the CAA but had refused to stay its operation.

The newly amended law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), one of the petitioners out of over 100 pleas which has challenged the CAA, has said in its plea that it violates the fundamental Right to Equality and intends to grant citizenship to a section of illegal immigrants by making an exclusion on the basis of religion. – Despite Coronavirus Scare, Pakistan Government to keep border open for Sikh pilgrims during Vaisakhi

Sikh24 Editors

Nankana Sahib – Panjab – Pakistan, 16 March 2020. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan has released the route plan for the pilgrims wishing to visit Pakistan Gurdwaras on the occasion of Vaisakhi. As per the issued plan, Sikh pilgrims from West Punjab and India will be granted 10 days visas.

Pakistan Government is monitoring the situation around the spread of Coronavirus and will issue updates as necessary.

On 12 April, pilgrims will depart for Wagah on foot through Joint Check Post Attari by road and from there they will be taken to Hassan Abdal directly. On April 13, pilgrims will go to pay obeisance at the shrine of Vali Kandhari and on 14 April, Bhog of Sri Akhand Path Sahib will culminate at Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib on the occasion of Vaisakhi.

On 15 April, they will depart for Sri Nankana Sahib by bus in the afternoon.

On 16 April, after visiting Gurdwara Sri Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib and other local Gurdwaras, Sangat will go to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sacha Sauda situated at Farrukhabad.

On 17 April, Sangat will depart for Lahore by bus. After reaching Lahore, Sangat will go to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, situated at Narowal.

On 20 April, pilgrims will visit Gurdwara Rori Sahib, Gurdwara Chakki Sahib and Khuhi Bhai Lalo situated at Eminabad town of Gujranwala and on 21 April, Sangat will be departing to return back to India after staying in Lahore.

Special security arrangements have been made by the Pakistan Government.

It is noteworthy here that the Indian government has already suspended all types of passenger movement through land check posts with its other neighboring countries Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Despite Coronavirus Scare, Pakistan Government to Keep Border Open for Sikh Pilgrims During Vaisakhi

Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
12 February

Spring is in the air !

Nature is slowly coming back to life


Entering the area where during the summer cattle grazes

Water, water everywhere

Hamlet belonging to Heusden,
on the other side of the Schelde

The overflow area that was dry during 2018/19

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Express & Star – Colourful martial arts display brought by Sikh Holla Mohalla festival

A colourful display of Sikh martial arts helped to raise community spirits in Smethwick

James Vukmirovic

Sandwell – West Midlands – UK, 18 March 2020. The Holla Mohalla festival is a major part of the Sikh calendar which allows Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles, promoting physical and mental well-being.

The festival marks the ‘Chardi kala’ or positive state of the Khalsa and started in 1701 after the 10th Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji held the first Holla at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.

The Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick hosted its first celebration of the festival, welcoming more than 500 members of the community to events along Smethwick High Street in spite of poor weather.

The Gurdwara, which is the largest in western Europe, also ensured provisions were made with the current coronavirus pandemic in mind, with hand sanitisers in place and crowds kept to a minimum around the events.

Many in attendance also paid deferential respect at the Gurdwara, taking part in religious diwans before the festival started and taking refreshment in the Langar.

The procession to begin the event started on the beating of the Nagara (war drum) and Ardas (prayer) by the Granthi (minister to the Guru). The Gatka teams then led the Mohalla (religious procession), filling the high street with a range of coloured flares as they paraded to the Gurdwara.

They then engaged in competitive Gatka matches, amazing the crowds present with their skills at the Sikh martial art which involves fighting with wooden sticks used to simulate swords.

Gatka was the main focus of the day, with a tournament taking place, while there also demonstrations of wrestling, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises and turban tying.

Ryan Singh, events lead at the Gurdwara, said the celebration was all about giving a small taste of the larger celebrations in India.

He said: “The event was a full celebration of a big part of our calendar. We also wanted to help lift community spirits and give reassurance to everyone that the Gurdwara is here to support people during this uncertain time.

Everyone needs to have some happiness and despite the greyness of this time, we hope the event added some colour to the day of those who attended.”

To also see the beautiful photo’s click on the link below: – Coronavirus: 10 questions for the government on how India is testing and tracking cases

Transparency is the key to fighting the disease.

New Delhi – India, 18 March 2020. As the experience of countries around the world shows, transparency is the best way to fight the corona virus outbreak.

While the Indian government has published several advisories for the public, it has not released enough granular information for journalists, researchers and the larger health community to assess the effectiveness of its strategy to test, detect and track cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Public knowledge is essential to contain the spread of the disease.

Here are 10 questions the government must answer:

1. How many coronavirus tests have been done in India?

The government must give detailed information on the number of Covid-19 tests done in every state, at every lab, both in aggregate and day-wise.

The government must give information on how many samples tested were of people with travel history to coronavirus-affected countries and how many of those who came in contact with them, the two categories which are currently being tested for symptomatic cases.

This information will enable public health experts to draw up a clearer picture of whether India is testing more for “imported cases” or for “local transmission”, and whether this pattern has changed over the last few days.

At the moment, even information on the travel and contact history of all positive cases has not been made publicly available by the government – let alone on all those who have been tested.

2. Are patients who meet the ‘suspect case’ definition but have no travel or contact history being tested? If not, why?

India’s official “suspect case” definition also includes people who don’t have travel or contact history but who have severe acute respiratory illnesses that require hospitalisation and cannot be explained by any other cause.

But the Indian Council of Medical Research has claimed testing is limited to those with travel and contact history, which means such patients are not being tested. There is no official explanation for why such “suspect cases” have been excluded. The government must explain this contradiction.

At the state level, are authorities strictly adhering to this criteria laid down by ICMR or have some states expanded tests to include such “suspect cases” without travel and contact history?

3. How are random samples being collected for community transmission testing?

While the ICMR does not allow “suspect cases” without travel and contact history to get themselves tested, it has said 51 labs are testing 20 random samples each of people reporting severe acute respiratory illnesses every week.

It claims this process will help detect “community transmission”, that is, cases that have spread beyond those with travel and contact history.

However, it is not clear how those samples have been sourced: are they coming from a single government hospital? Experts fear this could be the case, which means the sample won’t be representative. The ICMR must give more information on its sampling methods.

4. When coronavirus testing is opened up to private labs, would they stick to the same testing criteria as the government?

The ICMR has announced that 51 private labs with accreditation could soon be allowed to do coronavirus tests. In a statement issued on Tuesday, it appealed to the private labs to offer the tests for free.

Laying down guidelines, it has said: “Laboratory test should be only offered when prescribed by a qualified physician as per ICMR guidance for testing.”

But public health activists have expressed concerns over whether the private labs would be allowed to offer tests to people who can pay even if they don’t meet the same strict testing criteria being followed by government labs. This could make for an unequal system. The health ministry must clarify its stance on the matter.

5. What is the government’s plan to ensure India has enough testing kits?

The ICMR has said India has 1.5 lakh testing kits and one million kits have been ordered. But it must offer more information: how many testing reagents and probes does India have? How many stocks have been ordered, from where, and when will they arrive?

What is the budget allocated for such purchases? Does the government have any budgetary constraints that stop the country from stocking up further? Can India manufacture the reagents and probes domestically?

6. How is the government distributing the kits among states?

The ICMR is monitoring the testing process and supplying kits to state government-run labs spread across the country. What is the criteria being used to determine the allocation of kits? At least one state government, Chhattisgarh, has criticised the Centre’s testing criteria and expressed an apprehension of shortage of kits, if it were to test more widely. How is the Centre responding to the concerns of states?

7. How many people have been placed under quarantine?

The government has been releasing data regularly on the number of people being screened at airports, sea ports and border check-posts.

However, it must also regularly release state- and city-wise data on the number of people being kept in isolation wards and quarantine facilities. Mapping such data could reveal insights into the changing patterns of vulnerability.

8. Does the government have enough facilities to quarantine more people?

Many people who have stayed in government hospital wards while getting tested for coronavirus have complained of poor and unhygienic conditions. However, the lack of hygiene might not be the only problem confronting the government.

As the number of people getting tested for coronavirus expands, the government will have to ensure health workers testing them and attending to them have personal protection equipment. What is the government’s strategy to beef up such arrangements?

9. How is the government tracking people who were asymptomatic at the time of arrival in India?

The rules for how to deal with passengers disembarking at airports from coronavirus-affected countries are very specific and exacting. Yet cases have turned up of asymptomatic passengers, who later test positive, travelling on trains and other modes of transport to other parts of the country, exposing more people to the virus.

Is there a process to follow-up with those who passed the thermal screening but have been asked to do home quarantine?

10. Is the government keeping a track of other ailments that might indicate as yet undetected community transmission?

Multiple officials have made it clear that India’s population is simply too large to carry out a huge amount of testing. The danger of low levels of testing, however, mean that community transmission may go undetected.

One way of addressing this is by carefully tracking cases and deaths attributed to severe acute respiratory illnesses, pneumonia and other ailments that might be coronavirus infections that went undetected.

Will the Centre keep track of these numbers and publish them? If it taking any steps to better ensure hospitals are registering deaths appropriately?