The Statesman – Muslims perform last rites of Hindu neighbour setting example of humanity, communal harmony

Ramesh Mathur passed away on Tuesday after a prolonged illness at the age of 65 in ‘Kayasth Dharamshala’ of Shahpeer Gate area where he resided with his younger son Chandramauli Mathur. Ramesh was the caretaker of this Dharmshala.

Swati Sharma

Meerut – UP – India, 29 April 2020. In a touching gesture of humanity and display of communal harmony, Muslim neighbours of 65-year-old Ramesh Mathur came out and carried out his funeral procession in Shahpeer Gate area of the city as his relatives and elder son could not come out in view of the lockdown due to Coronavirus.

Ramesh Mathur passed away on Tuesday after a prolonged illness at the age of 65 in ‘Kayasth Dharamshala’ of Shahpeer Gate area where he resided with his younger son Chandramauli Mathur.

Ramesh was the caretaker of this Dharmshala. At the time of his death, only his younger son Chandramauli was with him while the elder son Komal Mathur, who works in Delhi, could not make it at that time because of the ongoing lockdown.

Chandramauli, who was all alone, however, got the much-needed company and support of the neighbours who are all Muslims. Shahpeer Gate area where the father and son lived is Muslim dominated. In spite of the ongoing month of Ramazan, they came out displaying a perfect example of humanity and communal harmony.

Muslims perform last rites of Hindu neighbour setting example of humanity, communal harmony

The Tribune – Centre allows inter-state movement of stranded migrant workers, students

Asks states/UTs to appoint nodal officers to ensure risk-free transportation in buses

Mukesh Ranjan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 29 April 2020. The government today issued an order allowing movement of migrant workers, tourists, pilgrims, students and others stranded at various places across the country amid the Covid-19 lockdown to reach their respective native places.

In the order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Centre has asked state governments to appoint nodal officers to facilitate the movement of people within the state and between states. The order says all seeking to return should be screened first and allowed to return only if they are found to be asymptomatic.

During the chief ministers interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had raised the issue claiming that the state government would not facilitate return of students from Kota, Rajasthan, till the Centre allowed movement of all, including stranded migrant labourers.

In the order, the MHA has asked all state governments and Union Territory (UT) administrations to make necessary arrangements for return of its residents only through buses. Sources in the MHA added that there was no plan to start special trains for the initiative and only travel by road had been allowed.

The lockdown has left a huge number of students and migrant labourers stranded in various parts of the country. Over the past few days, there have been individual efforts by some states to bring standed residents home.

According to reports, the Jammu & Kashmir administration in the past four days has made arrangements to bring back over 6,000 labourers and students of the Union Territory, who were stranded in various parts of the country. With this, the total count of those brought back to the UT reached to over 17,700 people, it is said.

Punjab, on Monday, had written to the Delhi government to grant permission to bring back 220 people stranded in the national capital’s gurdwara Majnu Ka Tilla.

It was also reported that the Centre had helped in arranging over 65 buses to ferry more than 3,800 stranded fishermen from Gujarat to Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, the Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh governments also arranged 70 and 300 buses, respectively, to bring back thousands of students belonging to their states stuck in Kota.

Even Madhya Pradesh, on Sunday, had begun the process of bringing back stranded students and migrant workers back to the state.

MHA guidelines for movement of stranded persons

  • States/UTs to appoint nodal authorities and develop standard protocol for receiving and sending persons
  • All stranded persons are to be registered with the sending and receiving states
  • In case of inter-state movement of such persons, consult each other and mutually agree to the movement by road
  • Only those who are found to be asymptomatic will be allowed to proceed
  • Buses shall be used for transport, vehicles will be sanitised and travellers would follow social distancing norms in seating
  • States/UTs falling on the transit route will allow the passage of such persons to the receiving states/UTs
  • On arrival to the destination states/UTs, such person should kept in home quarantine, and if required, in institutional quarantine
  • Such persons may be encouraged to use “Arogya Setu” app through which their health status can be monitored/tracked

Bourgoyen/Ossemeersen – Bridge across the Ringvaart – Watersportbaan

Bourgoyen – Ossemeersen
City of Ghent Nature Reserve
19 March 2020

Bunderweg – entry/exit of the nature reserve

Bridge across the Ringvaart
19 Maart 2020

The Ringvaart and the roads on both sides of it

I did not want to go to any of these destinations

A freight barge on the canal

The continuation of the Leie towards Deinze

This is more interesting

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The National – Sikh Foodbank serves up 20,000 meals during Covid-19 lockdown

Kirsteen Paterson

When it launched one month ago, it was giving out 100 food parcels a week across four Scottish cities.

Now the Sikh Foodbank has served up as many as 20,000 meals as more and more people seek help during the coronavirus crisis.

One quarter of these go to Muslim households as the project’s reach continues to grow. As well as grocery deliveries, the scheme also provides cooked meals and is now providing a volunteer shopping service for those self-isolating during the pandemic.

Co-founder Charandeep Singh said: “We knew it was going to be big but this has surpassed all our expectations.”

Serving people in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, the project builds on the Sikh values of service and charity and provides culturally-specific supplies not normally found in foodbank parcels.

Users can request must-have items like specialist flours and cooking oils. In one example, a woman who lost her job during lockdown had been “surviving on basically lettuce and tea for a week” before taking delivery of Chinese noodles and cooking oil from the project.

Last month Singh told the Sunday National it was “here to help anybody in need” and would not “discriminate” on religious or ethnic lines, stating: “We are here to act as extended family in the time that you need it most.”

While some individuals seek support themselves, other referrals are coming in through established charities and agencies already supporting people with housing, mental health, language, welfare and other needs.

So far Singh and co-volunteers have dished up curry to help Sikhs through Vaisakhi and given out chocolate eggs to mark Easter. They are now working with Glasgow Central Mosque to deliver cooked meals to that city’s Muslim community during Ramadan.

Help has come from and been given to people all backgrounds, with members of the Armed Forces recently joining deliveries in their uniforms.

That response, Singh said, has been “nothing short of outstanding”. “People have been very generous and very kind”.

“Going by the feedback we’re getting, demand is only going to grow. That’s testament to the quality service we’re providing.

“We’re seeing a lot of South Asian families requesting specialist meals for cultural or religious reasons. We’ll provide them with things like flour and herbs, but we won’t give out a 500g bag of flour that won’t last them, we’ll give them a 5kg bag of chapati flour so it will see them through for longer. We’re trying to be smart about how we do things.

“We’re seeing a lot of people with elderly parents who don’t live near them asking us to help them. We’ve launched a shopping service where we’ll go and pick up what they need, and they’ll give us the money to do that, that’s the only thing we charge for, we don’t ask for donations from users because we know they are already struggling.”

However, Singh, who is the deputy chief executive of business network Scottish Chambers of Commerce, admits providing so much for so many is costing “a fair figure”.

An appeal for volunteers and financial support is live on, the community charity Singh also leads. He told The National: “We are taking donations and people have been very good with that. We’ve had bigger donations including one from Mactaggart and Mickel which took us through a couple of weeks, and we’re seeing a lot of smaller donations, with people donating £10 a week.

We’ve had a lot of help.”

To donate, volunteer or seek help, visit

Kirsteen Paterson @kapaterson Journalist

The Print – The USA is India’s enemy when it calls out our treatment of minorities, friend when Trump hugs Modi

Recently, USCIRF slammed India for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities, designating it as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’.

Bismee Taskin

New Delhi – India, 29 April 2020. India doesn’t care what the US Commission on International Religious Freedom says about how we treat our minorities. But don’t just blame Narendra Modi or the BJP for it. India has never cared much about this report in the past either.

Of late, Western institutions, scholars and media have criticised India over Article 370 dilution and clampdown in Kashmir, and over NRC and CAA. But India hasn’t been deterred. Instead, it has fed into the political narrative of ‘the West is biased against India’ and the ‘West is colluding with Indian liberals and anti-nationals’.

As long as Western leaders like Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron continued heaping praise on Modi and hugging him, it didn’t quite matter that the institutions in those countries thought otherwise.

Calling India out

Recently, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) slammed India in its report over the treatment of Muslims and other minorities, designating it as a “Country of Particular Concern” for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations.”

“We are seeing impunity for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities (in India),” USCIRF chair Tony Perkins said.

The USCIRF put India on the list of 15 nations, which includes Pakistan, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia among others, for the first time since 2004. But New Delhi has rejected the report, calling it “biased”, “tendentious” and “misrepresentation at new levels”.

New Delhi had similarly rejected the USCIRF report in 2015 highlighting the forcible “reconversion” of Christian minorities by Hindu groups, saying “the report appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its Constitution and its society”.

“We take no cognisance of the report,” then-foreign ministry spokesperson had said. Over the years, the Indian government, including under the Congress party, has dismissed the USCIRF’s report. The Manmohan Singh government in 2009 had termed the US panel’s move to place India under the ‘watch list’ as “regrettable”.

But this international criticism has its roots in the 2002 Gujarat riots and in the accusations against Modi for his “reluctance” in taking action against the perpetrators, since the USCIRF had first listed India among the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ in 2004.
The group had also criticised India’s treatment of Christian missionaries, and included the 1999 murder of Graham Staines and his two children by Hindu extremists in Orissa (now Odisha).

The 2020 report highlights the fall in India’s religious tolerance after the BJP returned to power in May 2019, calls out Home Minister Amit Shah’s reference to Muslim migrants as ‘termites’, Yogi Adityanath’s comment that the anti-CAA-NRC protesters in Shaheen Bagh must be fed bullets and not biryani, and the failure of the Delhi Police to protect Muslim citizens when their neighbourhoods were set ablaze in February 2020.

The USCIRF accused the BJP of having “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship” and engaging in hate speeches that incite violence.

US is India’s enemy when it calls out treatment of minorities, friend when Trump hugs Modi

The News – PM Imran says in ‘seeking total lockdown’, nation showed ‘elite-centric’ response to pandemic

Prime Minister Imran Khan late Friday, while wishing Ramadan to the nation, has said that the nation has largely been “elite-centric” in its response to the corona-virus pandemic, with no thought for daily wage earners “as we sought a total lockdown”.

PM Imran, in a tweet, said: “Ramazan Mubarak to Muslims across the world. We in Pakistan must use this holy month to ask Allah for forgiveness for neglecting the poor & vulnerable in our society.”

“We as a nation have been elite-centric in our policies, with no thought for these people, including in the pandemic, when we sought a total lockdown without thinking about the consequences for the daily wage earners, the street vendors, the labourers, all of whom face poverty & hunger for themselves & their families,” he said.

Pakistan will observe the first of Ramadan on Saturday, with obligatory and taraweeh prayers observed in mosques under the guidelines and SOPs issued by the ulema and the provincial governments.

“May Allah forgive us our sin of neglecting our dispossessed & poor citizens,” PM Imran lamented.

The premier reiterated that the people of Pakistan must strive to make the country into a welfare state, such as “Riyasat-i-Madina”.

“Let us also resolve as a nation, in this holy month of Ramazan, to lift our marginalised citizens out of poverty & mainstream them as our Prophet PBUH did in the world’s first welfare state – Riyasat-i-Madina, and as China has done in lifting 700 m people out of poverty,” he said. – Take action against Shiv Sena activists who spread corona-virus in Rajpura by misusing curfew passes

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 26 April 2020. The Sikh Vichar Manch has sought strict action against the Shiv Sena activists who spread coronavirus by organizing Hukka party in Rajpura after procuring curfew passes under the garb of organizing langar for needy people. Besides organizing Hukka party, these Hindus also carried out business activities misusing these curfew passes.

It is pertinent to note here that around two dozen Hindus have been found positive for corona-virus after this Hukka party in Rajpura. Due to this, Rajpura has been declared buffer zone by the Deputy Commissioner. It has come to fore that these Hindus also paid visits to other nearby areas like Dera Bassi and Zirakpur.

In a press note shared with Sikh24, the Sikh Vichar Manch has said that the government officials intentionally suppressed this issue, unlike Tablighi Jamaat of Muslims.

“The mainstream media has adopted policy of remaining silent on this issue as it is affiliated to persons belonging to the Hindu religion. However, the same media played all the foul tactics to defame Muslims all over the country as well as Sikh NRIs by highlighting Tablighi Jamaat and Baldev Singh respectively,” they added.

The Sikh Vichar Manch has sought an unbiased probe into the recent coronavirus cases of Rajpura/Patiala while seeking action against those who spread this virus in Punjab by misusing curfew passes.

Released by Dr Khushhal Singh, the Sikh Vichar Manch’s press note contains names of Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra, Gurtej Singh IAS, Advocate Rajwinder Singh Bains, Dr Kuldeep Singh Patiala, Gurpreet Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Rajwinder Singh Raahi, Surinder Singh Kishanpura, Bhai Narayan Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Manjit Singh, Jaspal Singh Sidhu, Karamjit Singh and Sukhdev Singh Sidhu.

Take action against Shiv Sena activists who spread coronavirus in Rajpura by misusing curfew passes

Bourgoyen – Ossemeersen

Bourgoyen – Ossemeersen
City of Ghent Nature Reserve
19 March 2020

We call these ‘elvenbanken’
In English : Fairy Bench

This picture clearly illustrates why wetlands are called wetlands

Not fully in leave yet

Nice fresh spring green

This where the Leie meets the Ringvaart and the roads on both sides of it.

Map of the nature reserve

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Globe Newswire – Atrocities against Sikhs in Afghanistan must stop now.

Immediate Action is needed from the USA and allies

United Sikhs – New York – USA, 27 April 2020. After the terrorist attacks on 25 March 2020 in Har Rai Sahib Kabul Gurdwara, the Sikh Diaspora moved swiftly to condemn the persons, organizations and governments responsible. United Sikhs immediately asked the United States to take action and protect religious freedoms.

Within moments of the cowardly attacks against women and children; United Sikhs rallied support from the international community, the USA Administration, Afghanistan authorities and Sikh Afghans on the ground to ensure that these attacks do not happen again.

ISIS has taken responsibility for multi-day terrorist shootings that left more than 50 people dead. On 28 March, after back to back days of terrorist attacks directed at the Sikh community; ISIS Khorasan immediately issued by decree a 10-day ultimatum for Sikhs to leave the country.

The choices given were to convert, flee the country or face further attacks until all Sikhs are dead or gone. These threats are being taken seriously by United Sikhs and have deemed the decree or fatwa as an affront to the Sikh Nation.

United Sikhs strongly asserts that the Islamic state attacks that took place in retaliation to the February 2020 US/NATO/Coalition – Taliban agreement, the March military withdrawal and the withholding of aid to Afghanistan contributed to this violent and deadly outburst.

United Sikhs started their campaign in the USA with the State Department and the American Sikh Caucus Committee to bring the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to a safe haven. Wanda Sanchez, Chief Legal Counsel and Acting Legal Director said, “President Trump’s commitment and resolve to protect religious freedoms around the world is at this moment being tested.

Sikhs, Hindus and other ethno-religious and religious groups, who during the past 18 years were protected by the United States’, NATO’s military and Coalition forces. That presence of stability has now come under terrorist attacks in the area after the February 2020 agreement with the Taliban.

The agreement should now rightfully include protections for these minorities who were supporters during the occupation. Those protections should include granting refugee status and political asylum. The protections should also not be undermined by the administration’s internal, protective, immigration agenda.”

The day after the first attack, United Sikhs began working on obtaining security and safety for Sikhs in Afghanistan. United Sikhs has partnered with the American Sikh Caucus Committee to move the issue of their safety and their migration forward.

Harpreet Singh Sandhu, Executive Director, American Sikh Caucus said, “United Sikhs was the first organization to reach out after the incident and we immediately reached out to the members of the Sikh Caucus.

Our team quickly made contact with Congressmen John Garamendi, Jim Acosta, Eliot Engel, House Foreign Affair, Senator Dick Durban and several international bodies of governance.” Sandhu also added, “We are thankful to Congressman Jim Acosta and others we have personally asked to assist with this urgent issue.

Gurvinder Singh, International Humanitarian Aid Director said, ” Numerous discussions have taken place in which multiple options were discussed with the State Department by United Sikhs . Sam Brownback, Ambassador on Religious Freedoms has been key in having a direct dialogue with India and Pakistan.

We now call upon President Trump, to order an executive action to provide safe harbor to Sikh Afghans in the USA immediately.

United Sikhs is thankful to Ambassador Sam Brownback and the Afghanistan government in enhancing their immediate security. We hope the USA can keep the minority community safe from further attacks.”

The future for Afghan Sikhs is dim and changing daily. The wishes of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus is towards India as a first choice because of extended families residing in India. If India cannot accommodate them, then Pakistan as an interim country to apply as refugees to Canada, UK and the United States.

United Sikhs, Executive Director Jagdeep Singh, reported, “ Humanitarian crises such as the one recently endured by Afghan Sikhs should not be mistaken as someone else’s problem. Left unchecked in any country, these types of massacres manifest themselves in other parts of the world.”

United Sikhs will continue to work with the United Nations, and other world governments and Sikhs in Afghanistan by providing necessary advocacy and humanitarian needs towards their resettlement in other countries.

About United Sikhs: United Sikhs is a UNO affiliated, international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization, aimed at empowering those in need, especially disadvantaged and minority communities across the world.

United Sikhs is registered: as a non-profit tax exempt organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in the USA; as a Registered Charity in England and Wales under the Charities Act 1993, Charity Number 111 2055; registered in Australia as a not for profit NGO (ABN 24 317 847 103); and is a registered NGO in Belgium; as a non-profit organization in Canada; under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in Panjab and as a tax exempt organisation under section 80G of the Income Tax Act 1961; under the French Association Law 1901; under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan; as a registered society under the Registrar of Societies in Malaysia (registered as UNITED SIKHS Malaysia Humanitarian Aid Organisation- Regn No: PPM-015-14-06042015); and an NGO pending registration in the Rep of Ireland.

Under the principle of ‘sarbat da bhalla’ we should not forget the Shia Hazaras who are a despised minority in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and whose places of worship have been at the receiving end of murderous attacks many times.
Man in Blue

Sandra Levy
United Sikhs

Dawn – Opposition vows to protect 18th Amendment

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 28 April 2020. Expressing their concern over controversial remarks by some federal ministers about the 18th Amendment, the opposition parties on Monday vowed to protect the provincial autonomy granted under the historic amendment and warned the government against any move to reverse or repeal it.

The pledge from the opposition parties came a day after federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said during a TV talk show that the 18th Amendment had some defects and called for reviewing it.

And on Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to reporters though announced, that the government had no plan to repeal the 18th Amendment, but at the same time declared that the provinces must sit with the federal government to discuss the issue of its implementation.

He said there was a need to review it so that the provinces did not look towards the Centre.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman talked to Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and leaders of some other opposition parties to discuss the situation in the aftermath of the ministers’ statements and the crisis caused by the spread of Covid-19.

According to an official handout issued by the PPP media centre, Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman pledged to protect the 18th Amendment.

The PPP chairman said the democratic forces of Pakistan would never compromise on the 18th Amendment. He said democratic parties had restored the Constitution to its original form and shape through the 18th Amendment.

He made it “loud and clear” that any attempt to reverse or repeal the 18th Amendment would not be tolerated and democratic forces would resist any such attempt with full force.

The PPP chairman also spoke about the serious situation in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak. He said the federal government should help the provinces instead of trying to tamper with the Constitution in this crucial time.

Earlier in the day, in an interview to BBC, Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged that the federal government, instead of working with provincial governments, was trying to sabotage the good work done by the Sindh government.

The PPP chairman said the federal government could not absolve itself from responsibility of chalking out a strategy by wrongly explaining the 18th Amendment.

He said it was a responsibility of the leadership to take difficult decisions in times of national crisis, but the federation and the prime minister had shown no empathy with the provinces.