The Asian Age – Raje must act against beating of Sikhs, says Amarinder Singh

Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needs to fix culpability and ensure that the culprits are punished

Chandigarh, 28 May 2017. After the reported assault on four Sikh men in Ajmer, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday spoke to his Rajasthan counterpart, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, to seek her personal intervention in ensuring a thorough probe into the incident of mob violence and stringent action against the constable alleged to have abetted the crowd.

Captain Amarinder also urged Ms Raje to direct the police to take immediate steps to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Captain Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needed to fix culpability and ensure the culprits were punished.

The chief minister expressed concern over the fact that the incident, which reportedly took place in April, was being given a communal hue in media reports.

He expressed surprise that the incident did not come to the notice of the local police till a video surfaced on social media showing the mob drag the four Sikhs out of a Bolera SUV and thrash them.

The Tribune – Canadian court to hear plea against retired CRPF officer

Tribune News Service

Moga, 27 May 2017. A Canadian court has accepted an application accusing former CRPF IG Tejinder Singh Dhillon of extra-judicial torture of Sikh youths during militancy in Punjab.

The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi had initially refused visa to him, but after a protest by the Indian Government, the former not only granted it but also gave a complimentary ticket to the retired IG to visit the country.

Jatinder Singh Grewal of the Sikhs for Justice, a human rights group, today appeared before the Justice of Peace in Toronto and levelled the allegations of torture on the basis of a victim’s affidavit. The court has fixed May 29 as the date of hearing.

Dhillon is in Toronto to attend a wedding. – Case Surrounding Killing of 7 Sikhs in UP Prison in 1994 Ongoing

Sikh24 Editors

Allahabad-Uttar Pradesh-India, 25 May 2017. In a case pertaining to the murder of 7 Sikh prisoners in Pilibhit Jail, the Allahabad High Court bench, comprising Justices Ramesh Sinha and Umesh Chandra Srivastva, has issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a reply by July 7.

Sikh24 has learnt that 24 out of a total 41 jail officials have received notice from the Allahabad Court in this case. The Allahabad High Court has fixed July 14 for the next hearing on case.

On the intervening night of November 8 & 9, Pilibhit Jail officials led by Jail Superintendent Vidhianchal Singh brutally thrashed 7 Sikh prisoners who succumbed to death in 1994.

In 2007, the District Court of Pilibhit had accepted an application moved by the Mulayam Singh Yadav led UP government for the withdrawal of the case against the jail officials.

Originally, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had sought the indictment of all 41 jail officials deployed in the jail at that time.

Later, the DSGMC moved a plea in the Supreme Court of India seeking justice for the victims. The Supreme Court had then directed the DSGMC to lodge case in Allahabad High Court.

The Indian Express – No mention of Bhim Army in UP government report

The report also sequences the events of May 9 and 23 that triggered clashes, with Rajputs allegedly stopping Dalits from installing a statue of B R Ambedkar inside the Ravidas temple at Shabbirpur village.

New Delhi, 26 May 2017. The UP government’s report on the recent violence in Saharanpur does not mention the Bhim Army, a group that has been spearheading the Dalit agitation in the area and has been accused of instigating violence.

The report, which was received by the Home Ministry on Thursday, says that on 5 May 5, BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal tried to take out a procession of Rajputs through a Dalit area to garland a bust of Maharana Pratap, stoking the violence.

The report also sequences the events of May 9 and 23 that triggered clashes, with Rajputs allegedly stopping Dalits from installing a statue of B R Ambedkar inside the Ravidas temple at Shabbirpur village.

MHA officials said that 400 Rapid Action Force personnel had been sent to Saharanpur to help the state government restore peace in the area. The UP government had requested the forces.

The Tribune – Four Sikhs thrashed in Ajmer, panel seeks report

Our Correspondent

Jaipur, 25 May 2017. The Rajasthan State Commission for Minorities today summoned the state police after a video showing four Sikh men beaten up by local residents of Chainpura in Ajmer district on April 24 has gone viral.

The 51-second shows the four men being abused and thrashed by a mob as people witnessing the incident filmed the entire episode, the police said.

After reviewing the video on WhatsApp and other links, commission chairman Jasbir Singh issued letters seeking personal appearance of the four victims, Nasirabad police, and people who lodged a complaint against the Sikhs in the next 10 days before the commission.

“The location is unidentified. In fact, I got a vehicle number traced and found that the incident happened somewhere in Ajmer. A factual report has been sought within 10 days,” Jasbir Singh said.

Additional Director General of Police (law and order) N Ravindra Kumar Reddy said the incident had occurred nearly a month-and-a-half ago in Chainpura village falling under Nasirabad Sadar police station of Ajmer district.

He said three-four sewadars (Sikh members) of a gurdwara from Alwar district had visited the village to collect donation. Some local residents had then beaten them up alleging that they molested their women. They were arrested and released on bail.

However, according to the police, the Sikh men were not found involved in molestation and were asked to file a cross FIR against those who thrashed them but they did not lodge any complaint.

Laxman Ram, SHO, Nasirabad Sadar, said the sarpanch of Chainpura had lodged a complaint following which four accused were arrested. They were released on bail.

The Statesman – Centre appoints 5 members to minorities panel

New Delhi, 24 May 2017. Facing flak from opposition over vacancies in the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the Centre has appointed five members to the panel.

The NCM, which has the responsibility of protecting interests of the minority communities, was left with no member in March this year.

All its seven members, appointed by previous Congress-led UPA-II government, had retired between September 9, 2015 and March 9 this year.

According to sources in the Union Minority Affairs Ministry, social activist from Uttar Pradesh Gayarul Hasan will be the chairperson of the Commission.

Activist and BJP leader from from Kerala George Kurian, former Maharashtra minister Sulekha Kumbhare, Jain representative from Gujarat Sunil Singhi and Vada Dasturji Khurshed, chief priest of Udvada Athornan Anjuman, are the other members of the panel.

The process to appoint two more members of the panel, which is expected to be functional in a day or two, “is on”, the sources added.

This is for the first time that a Jain member will be part of the panel after the community was notified as ‘minority’ in January 2014.

“So far the tradition was that the Commission had a retired judge or bureaucrat as its chairperson or member.

“It is perhaps for the first time that all the members are social activists who know the ground realities,” the sources said.

When asked, Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed the development.

“These are very capable people. We hope they will do justice to the issues relating to minorities,” Naqvi added.

The alleged delay in filling the vacancies in the Commission was raised by the opposition to attack the government during the last Parliament session.

The NCM was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious communities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis).

The panel has seven members, including its chairperson and vice chairperson.

Besides NCM, 15 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam, which are home to sizeable minority populace, have set up commissions at their respective levels.

Aggrieved persons belonging to these communities may approach the state minorities commissions concerned for redressal of their grievances or send their representations to the NCM after exhausting all avenues of remedies available.

The functions of the state commissions, inter-alia, are to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures. – Canada puts human rights first and deports former Indian police inspector

Sikh24 Editors

Vancouver-BC-Canada, 23 May 2017. The government of India has had it’s feathers ruffled as a former Inspector General of the CPRF (Central Reserve Police Force) was forced to return to India, reportedly due to having a served a government “that engages in “terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide”.

The bold and forthright move was made after the senior Indian officer was questioned upon landing at Vancouver airport and following an overnight reprieve at his friend’s house, was asked to return to continue questioning. A short time later he was refused entry into Canada and sent back to India.

The CPRF and other law enforcement agencies of the Indian government have a notorious reputation for conducting excessive torture and extra-judicial killings. Throughout India’s troubled zones (Kashmir, Punjab, Assam etc), the CPRF and other agencies have inflicted horrendous torture on suspects and their extended families.

Countries such as the USA and the UK have often been lobbied to take heed at the atrocities committed by India on it’s own people. This has rarely been taken up on an official level due to the aforementioned countries keeping business and political ties first, and human rights issues are paid only lip service.

Canada’s bold stand has been welcomed by many human rights activists who have not seen such open condemnation of the Indian government’s dismal reputation coming often from the western leadership.

The Hindu – India upset at Canadian visa denial

Ex-CRPF IG was refused entry on grounds of human rights abuse

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 23 May 2017. Adding to the growing number of bilateral issues, India on Tuesday objected to Canada’s denial of entry to a former police official. The official response came days after Tejinder Singh was denied entry into Canada on grounds of human rights abuse.

“We have seen the news report regarding denial of entry by Canadian authorities to a senior retired Indian police officer. Such a characterisation of a reputed force like the CRPF is completely unacceptable. We have taken up the matter with the Government of Canada,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay.

According to news reports, Canadian authorities alleged that he was in service of a government “that engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity.”

Mr Singh, who retired as Inspector-General of CRPF in 2010, was denied entry under a subsection of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The criticism of the Government of India was removed in the final document given to him but he was nevertheless denied entry.

After 7 years

Canada has used the allegation of human rights in the latest case, after seven years. In 2010, Canada had denied visa to a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, three serving Brigadiers, a retired Lt General and a former senior official of the Intelligence Bureau on the ground that their organisations had violated human rights.

However, in a late evening press release on Tuesday, the High Commissioner of Canada regretted inconveniences caused to Mr Singh and his family. “We regret any inconvenience that may have been experienced by this individual and their family. Canada’s privacy laws prevent me from commenting further,” said Nadir Patel, the High Commissioner, in the press release.

The News – Anti-state content: Government launches crack-down on social media activists

Islamabad, 21 May 2017. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Sunday that 41 suspects were being investigated for uploading anti-state content on social media.

A senior official said that some two dozen suspects were in FIA custody.

He said out of the two dozen suspects eight belonged to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday visited his party activists being detained at the FIA headquarters, Geo News reported.

Speaking to media, Qureshi said his party stands by the workers and added that they had not been nominated in any specific case.

Dawn – ‘Pakistan didn’t fail’: 5 things you should know about ICJ’s decision on Jadhav

Taimur Malik

Karachi, 19 May 2017. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced its decision in relation to India’s Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures in connection with Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case (the “decision”) on May 18, 2017.

The 15 page decision has been met with strong reactions in both countries. Unfortunately, the debate on electronic media has been led by journalists, lawyers and politicians unfamiliar with the concepts of international law and the actual decision itself.

Therefore, it is important to highlight some key points:

India didn’t win, Pakistan didn’t fail

India didn’t win the case. Pakistan didn’t fail. The decision only relates to India’s request for provisional measures (which, by the way, doesn’t even include a request for granting consular access to Jadhav).

At this stage, it was easier and more likely for the ICJ to favour the Indian request as the threshold for assuming jurisdiction was not very high. Please see below paragraph 15 of the decision:

“15. The Court may indicate provisional measures only if the provisions relied on by the Applicant appear, prima facie, to afford a basis on which its jurisdiction could be founded, but need not satisfy itself in a definitive manner that it has jurisdiction as regards the merits of the case (see, for example, Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), Provisional Measures, Order of 19 April 2017, para. 17).”

Jadhav’s spy status will come under discussion

Pakistan hasn’t failed to convince the ICJ that Jadhav is a spy/terrorist as this is something that will be considered only at the merits stage of the case.

At this stage, ICJ wasn’t even looking to confirm whether the rights sought to be protected by India exist (i.e. consular access to an Indian citizen convicted of activities subversive to the national security of Pakistan).

In fact, it only had to decide whether such rights are plausible enough to be adjudicated upon at the merits stage of the case. Please see below paragraph 42 of the decision:

“42. At this stage of the proceedings, the Court is not called upon to determine definitively whether the rights which India wishes to see protected exist; it need only decide whether these rights are plausible (see above paragraph 35 and Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), Provisional Measures, Order of 19 April 2017, para. 64).”

ICJ yet to decide on consular access for Jadhav

ICJ has not determined as yet whether consular access must be granted to someone in Jadhav’s position. Pakistan has not even had the opportunity to plead the arguments in this respect and again this is something to be debated at the merits stage of the case. Please see below paragraph 43 of the decision:

“43. The rights to consular notification and access between a State and its nationals, as well as the obligations of the detaining State to inform without delay the person concerned of his rights with regard to consular assistance and to allow their exercise, are recognized in Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention.

Regarding Pakistan’s arguments that, first, Article 36 of the Vienna Convention does not apply to persons suspected of espionage or terrorism, and that, second, the rules applicable to the case at hand are provided in the 2008 Agreement, the Court considers that at this stage of the proceedings, where no legal analysis on these questions has been advanced by the Parties, these arguments do not provide a sufficient basis to exclude the plausibility of the rights claimed by India, for the same reasons provided above (see paragraphs 32-33).”

No decision on the death penalty

There has been no decision by the ICJ regarding Jadhav’s death penalty by the Pakistani Court. In fact, this point is not even under consideration and does not fall within the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

The dispute relates to whether consular access should have been granted by Pakistan and not whether the death penalty is lawful. Please see below paragraph 56 of the decision:

“56. The Court notes that the issues brought before it in this case do not concern the question whether a State is entitled to resort to the death penalty. As it has observed in the past, “the function of this Court is to resolve international legal disputes between States, inter alia when they arise out of the interpretation or application of international conventions, and not to act as a court of criminal appeal” (LaGrand (Germany v. United States of America), Provisional Measures, Order of 3 March 1999, I.C.J. Reports 1999 (I), p. 15, para. 25; Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), Provisional Measures, Order of 5 February 2003, I.C.J. Reports 2003, p. 89, para. 48).”

Pakistan can still argue on jurisdiction

The decision in no way affects the rights of Pakistan to submit arguments in respect of the jurisdiction of the ICJ to deal with this case and in relation to the merits of the case itself.

Pakistan will be given ample opportunity to present its arguments in the next round. Please see below paragraph 60 of the decision:

“60. The decision given in the present proceedings in no way prejudges the question of the jurisdiction of the Court to deal with the merits of the case or any questions relating to the admissibility of the Application or to the merits themselves. It leaves unaffected the right of the Governments of India and Pakistan to submit arguments in respect of those questions.”

The legal team representing Pakistan in this case has also come under scrutiny in the media and an impression has been given that the lead counsel did not have relevant experience.

This is misleading. Khawar Qureshi QC is a leading member of the Bar of England and Wales who, 24 years ago, in 1993, was the youngest advocate to appear before the ICJ (representing Bosnia) and has taught Public International Law at King’s College London.

The junior counsel, Asad Rahim Khan, is an accomplished young lawyer currently working with the Attorney General’s Office who was called to the Bar of England and Wales, writes regularly for a prominent English newspaper and co-hosts a talk show on DawnNews.

They, and others supporting them, did not have the benefit of time available to the Indian team while preparing their arguments and performed well under a tight deadline.

One can expect to see a much stronger Pakistani legal team at the merits stage of the case.

It is also important to consider that the reasoning put forward by the ICJ potentially opens the doors for Pakistan to bring cases against India resulting from breaches of other international treaties.

Finally, it should be noted that Pakistan now has a right to appoint an Ad Hoc Judge of the ICJ for this specific case.

Media pundits have shown concern regarding the presence of an Indian Judge at the ICJ and the appointment of an Ad Hoc Judge by Pakistan should put to rest any concerns of the ICJ being influenced by one of its members.

However, Pakistan will have to select its nominee wisely. Possible options could include a retired Chief Justice of Pakistan (e.g. Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani), Pakistan’s leading international law expert, Ahmer Bilal Soofi (who is also an elected member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee), or an international candidate such as Judge Bruno Simma (former Judge of the ICJ) who was appointed as an arbitrator by Pakistan in the Indus Water Kishenganga Arbitration.

Indeed, each potential nominee will have his areas of expertise and strength and the decision makers will need to consider carefully the skills that Pakistan would most value in its nominee for the position of the Ad Hoc Judge of the ICJ.

The case has just started and the best legal minds on both sides will be working hard to strengthen their country’s arguments in the next round. Neither side can claim a victory at this early stage.

The ICJ is the world’s most prestigious dispute resolution forum and we can expect important jurisprudence to result from the final outcome of this case.

The author is an international lawyer and former Executive Director of the Research Society of International Law (RSIL) Pakistan