The Hindustan Times – The Indian army, which has matched the Chinese PLA in terms of manpower and resources at the standoff points, has prepped for a long haul and inducted more troops in the theatre.

Shishir Gupta

New Delhi – India – 28 May 2020. There has been no change in the ground situation or lowering of guard by either sides at the four standoff points between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh sector’s Galwan valley and Pangong Tso areas.

Both sides are holding firm and it is not possible to indicate at this time when the status quo ante will be restored, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times on Thursday.

Yesterday, the Chinese foreign ministry had played down the tense standoff along the Line of Actual Control, insisting that the situation was stable and controllable and the two sides were in touch with each other at different levels.

The seemingly conciliatory approach articulated by the Chinese side has not reflected in the ground situation.

Three of the standoff points are located around the Galwan valley and the fourth, near Pangong lake.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had moved soldiers to close to these four standoff points that are seen to be an effort to stop India from upgrading its border infrastructure, particularly 60-metre long bridge across the Galwan rivulet or nallah and an observation post near the Pangong lake.

The Indian army has deployed reinforcements at the four standoff points without halting work on the border infrastructure work including the concrete Galwan bridge being built as part of a 255-km road to access Daulat Beg Oldie, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass.

“Nobody can question India’s right to build roads, bridges or airfields in its own territory. The infrastructure upgrade is continuing and will not be paused in eastern Ladakh,” an Indian official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reviewed the situation along the LAC at a high-level meeting this week.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Chief of Defence Services General Bipin Rawat are overseeing the Indian efforts at multiple levels. On their radar is also the activity on the western border with Islamabad after reports that the Pakistan army had moved troops in the neighbouring Gilgit Baltistan region that it illegally occupies.

The Indian army, which has matched the Chinese PLA in terms of manpower and resources at the standoff points, has prepped for a long haul and inducted more troops in the theatre. Another set of soldiers are undergoing the acclimatization process to give the soldiers posted at the standoff sites a break before returning.

Officials said China on the other hand, has also beefed up its defences in Aksai Chin area, both to handle ground and aerial adversaries.

It has upgraded its dual-use military and civil airfield at Ngari Günsa airport about 60 km from the LAC as part of this exercise where the PLA’s air force has been flying J 11 jets, widely considered to be China’s version of the Russian Sukhoi 27 fighters.

The other airfields in the vicinity of LAC are Yarkand 320 km from the LAC, Hotan is 240 km, Kashgar is 450 km while Korla is 600 km from the LAC. – Hurriyat Conference strongly condemns attack on Derby Gurdwara

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 May 2020. Strongly condemning the recent attack on Gurdwara Guru Arjan Dev in Derby (UK), the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has expressed solidarity with the Sikh community. The APHC asked the British government to take stern action against the attacker so that no one could dare to commit such a heinous act in the future.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organizations formed on 9 March 1993, as a united political front to raise the cause of Kashmir.

In a press note shared with Sikh24, All Parties Hurriyat Conference’s spokesperson Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai has said that this attack was extremely painful as Sikhs have always stood for the cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Smelling Indian agencies’ hand behind this attack, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai said that Sikhs have always supported the Kashmiris.

“When the innocent Kashmiris were being assaulted by Hindu extremists in all parts of India in August last year, the Sikhs opened the doors of their Gurdwaras for the oppressed Kashmiri Muslims and provided them food and shelter,” Sehrai said while adding that the Kashmiris can’t even think of attacking Gurdwara.

He expressed hope that the Indian agencies will not succeed in its nefarious design focused on creating discord between Muslims and the Sikhs.

Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai’s son Junaid Sehrai was an active Kashmiri militant who recently lost his life in an encounter with the Indian forces in Srinagar’s Nawakadal area on May 19.

On 25 May a Muslim man of Pakistani origin named Mohammed Ibrar had attacked Gurdwara Guru Arjan Dev in Derby. He smashed the Gurdwara property causing damage worth thousands of pounds.

After the attack, he had left a written note in Gurdwara Sahib in which he had tried to depict that he launched this attack out of anger against the Indian government for oppressing Kashmiris.

Gentbrugge – Dampoort

Gentbrugge – Dampoort
31 March 2020

Louis Van Houtte

Recumbent bike – ligfiets

Recumbent bike – ligfiets

August Van Ooststraat


Cycle routes

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Huffington Post – Sikh front-line workers make enough sacrifices. Their beards shouldn’t be one.

Religiously worn beards have been subtly framed as an obstacle to the safety of COVID-19 patients.

Harman Singh

Op/Ed, 27 May 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the Sikh community did what we always do. We mobilized. We served free communal meals in the tradition of langar, we provided aid, we even offered up our own spaces for the benefit of public health.

This is the practice of “Sikh seva, or selfless service,” in action. Canada is familiar with this type of mobilization from its Sikh community. It is widely recognized and respected, perhaps even expected.

This history of Sikhs serving our nation makes it even harder to watch Canadians praise the erasure of an important facet of the Sikh faith. The Sikh religious practice of keeping kesh means that hair or beards must be kept uncut.

It has long been suggested that masks required for medical staff, including the popular N95 model, do not fit bearded individuals. This has been repeated in news coverage of the pandemic, subtly framing the Sikh religious practice of keeping kesh (unshorn hair and beards) as an obstacle to saving lives.

One such example is the story of a Sikh doctor in Montreal who made the personal choice to shave his beard, which must be kept uncut in accordance with his Sikh faith, to wear a face mask required for work with COVID-19 patients.

While the Sikh community decried this as an example of the state failing to provide front-line workers with appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), media paraded Dr Sanjeet Singh Saluja’s choice as a “sacrifice.”

But he never should have had to make the choice between keeping his faith and serving fellow Canadians.

Focusing on beards as a problem forces a spotlight on Sikh health-care workers. Praising the shaving of Sikh beards draws on the “model minority” label to pressure Sikhs into conforming to Western ideals of what is deemed normal. The discrimination in this should not be understated.

This harmful perception overlooks the fact that there are Sikh health-care workers who have passed “fit tests” wearing masks with beards, and ignores that other factors can determine the fit of a mask, such as the shape of one’s face.

Nevertheless, if a beard is an issue when it comes to medical masks, technology provides answers. Our own Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan has led changes in this area, having invented a gas mask compatible with beards.

I myself benefited from this innovation over three years of service with the Canadian Armed Reserve Forces as a combat engineer.

In the medical world, any bearded doctors that have issues with masks are usually directed towards using a powered air-purifying respirator, which is readily available online.

Why his employer was unable to help Dr Saluja acquire one, I do not know, especially when groups like the World Sikh Organization of Canada have been helping Sikh doctors source such equipment.

Support for Sikh health-care workers like Dr Saluja is available. What I do know is that the resulting public relations campaign and YouTube videos glamorizing his decision reveal large sections of Canada are still ignorant about the Sikh faith.

Educating Canadians about kesh

When non-Sikhs ask us about our faith, their questions most commonly concern Dastaar (Sikh turbans) and our unshorn beards. Some of our most recognized names have even gone out of their way to educate Canadians on the subject.

It is important for all Canadians to remember that it is not the job of every Sikh to explain why kesh is so important in our faith, however, as an educator of the Sikh faith, it literally is mine. So let me try.

Kesh is the insignia of the Sikh. Sure, not everyone that identifies as Sikh maintains unshorn hair. However, it should be understood by all that at some point on the path of Sikhi, keeping kesh is mandatory.

For a Sikh, refraining from cutting hair is submission to our most natural state of being, a connection to the divinity of creation. Kesh is the most visible part of the Sikh uniform, which bestows upon us an inescapable responsibility to live up to Sikh ideals.

That is part of what drives the community into the incredible acts of seva we see across the world. I cannot stand by and allow such a key aspect of the Sikh faith to be reduced to some aesthetic decision.

Kesh is so important in the faith that there are countless stories of Sikhs choosing death before having hair removed. The tale of Bhai Taru Singh comes to mind.

This revered Sikh figure was serving langar to his community at a time when it was outlawed by the tyrannical Mughal in charge at the time. He was caught and sentenced to having his hair cut off. Bhai Taru Singh prayed that he would not be separated from his kesh.

As the story goes, the punisher found it impossible to cut his hair, and had to scalp Bhai Taru Singh instead, a fate he readily chose before losing his sacred kesh.

My emphasis on the importance of kesh is not to judge Dr Saluja’s decision. But as an educator on the Sikh faith, I cannot stand by and allow such a key aspect of the Sikh faith to be reduced to some aesthetic decision playing second fiddle to selfless service.

It is an insult to the faith to suggest that Dr. Saluja’s actions fit with Sikhi’s deep-rooted teachings around social reform, especially whilst Canadian health-care workers of all backgrounds are being forced to risk their lives due to a lack of investment in PPE.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji showed the importance of challenging governments that discriminate against minorities, rather than asking minorities to conform to avoid problems. This trend was carried on by all the Sikh Gurus, because they recognized that, just like the process of growing a beard, equality requires long-term discipline and cultivation.

Despite inferences to the opposite, the Sikh spirit of seva is not separate from the physical identity of a Sikh. It is this identity which means that a Sikh cannot hide from also standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, or Canada’s indigenous community, or any marginalized people, just like Canadian Sikhs will now support health-care workers’ rights in obtaining appropriate PPE.

It is this spirit of justice and service that will benefit Canada more than any short-term “sacrifice” which covers up bigger issues of governance. Canada must embrace the Sikh faith, hairs and all.

Dawn – Provisional investigation report on PIA plane crash to be made public by 22 June – Ghulam Sarwar

Islamabad – Pakistan, 28 May 2020. Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said that a provisional investigation report on last week’s plane crash, as well as previous crashes, will be made public by June 22 during the upcoming parliamentary sessions.

He made these remarks during a press conference in Islamabad, where he revealed that the prime minister met the inquiry board and directed them to conduct a thorough inquiry into the causes of the air crash.

A PIA plane, Airbus A-320, carrying 99 people on board, had crashed into a residential area near Karachi airport last week, resulting in 97 casualties.

“There have been 12 plane crashes in our recent history, including the one last week. And when I briefed the prime minister on these accidents, he inquired as to why their investigative reports never come out on time,” said Sarwar, adding that Prime Minister Imran’s “main concern” right now is to ascertain the causes of these delays.

“As the aviation minister, I will, therefore, try my best to release a provisional investigation report during the parliamentary sessions by 22 June,” Sarwar said.

He added that the said report will reveal not just the reasons for the recent crash in Karachi but will also “briefly” touch upon the reasons for the delay in the reports of previous air crashes.

He added that the forthcoming report will be “a free and fair” one because the members of the inquiry board were answerable to Allah.

The aviation minister also revealed that an 11-member team, comprising experts from Airbus and representatives from the French government and the engine manufacturers, had reached Karachi on 26 May.

“They [the members of the team] are currently investigating the causes of the air crash. And they will share their findings with our inquiry board,” Sarwar said.

DNA identification

Sarwar said that 51 dead bodies have been identified and handed over to the families until now and that the identification process will continue until all the results from the DNA tests have been received.

“It will take some time for all the bodies to be identified. But once that process is completed, we will hand over all the remaining dead bodies to the grieving families,” he said.

Reiterating the government’s support for the grieving families and of those residents who were directly affected by the crash, Sarwar said that he understands that monetary compensation isn’t enough to recompense for the loss of the grieving families.

“We have announced that families of those who were killed would receive Rs1 million each while the two survivors would be given Rs500,000 each. But we know this isn’t enough and therefore we will not rest until we have conducted a thorough inquiry into the crash,” he said.

Sarwar said that the causes of the accident were a concern for the entire country and not just of those whose families had lost their loved ones.
“We are all deeply concerned as to why these crashes keep happening,” he said.

The federal aviation minister also said that the government would offer compensation to the residents of the area whose houses were impacted by the crash.

“I met many aggrieved people on the ground when I visited the accident site,” Sarwar said, as he announced that the government will start the rehabilitation process in the area once experts have concluded their estimates.

He paid tribute to the “passion and bravery” of the civilian volunteers who assisted the recovery operation on the day of the crash. The aviation minister also urged people not to speculate on the causes of the air crash.

“I think the entire country should wait, be patient and wait for inquiry board to release their report.”

Responding to a question on whether there was a technical fault that caused the accident, Sarwar requested TV anchors and journalists to refrain from discussing the technical aspects of the crash, saying that only the experts could answer their queries.

“Look, if there was a technical fault in the plane, it must have been recorded. In other words, we will find out one way or the other soon,” Sarwar said.

“Voice and data records have been found. I believe one was found earlier today. French authorities will take these records back to France to decode them. There are technical questions that you or I can’t answer. So we will wait for experts to tell us,” he added.

Sarwar also said that the domestic flight operation has not been impacted in the aftermath of the accident.

“No, the domestic operation continues as usual. And PIA is also repatriating stranded overseas Pakistanis. In fact, we will soon increase the number of domestic flights,” Sarwar concluded.