Sikh24.com – CBI books Amnesty International India for violating FCRA; Amnesty terms it as India’s revenge for exposing excesses in Kashmir

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 15 November 2019. About half-a-dozen sleuths of CBI today conducted a raid at Amnesty International’s offices in Delhi and Bengaluru during the morning hours and carried out searches till evening hours. After this, the CBI booked Amnesty International for violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Reacting to the CBI’s action, the Amnesty International India has said that it is being targeted for speaking out against human rights violations in the country.

“Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India” reads a statement by Amnesty International India.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent,” it added.

Amnesty International India is accused of bypassing the FCRA by floating a commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd, which received Rupees 360 million in foreign funds.

CBI books Amnesty International India for violating FCRA; Amnesty terms it as India’s revenge for exposing excesses in Kashmir  

Sputnik – Pakistan moves to embrace its minorities by opening the doors of Hindu Mandirs

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. India and Pakistan have opened the Kartarpur Corridor, allowing Indian pilgrims to worship throughout the year at a Sikh shrine in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Pakistan has historically been uneasy with its Hindu heritage but things seem to be changing under the ruling Imran Khan government.

Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s spokesperson Ahman Jawad has announced plans to restore Hindu places of worship.

The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 resulted in the closure Hindu and Sikh shrines in the country.

A survey by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement earlier this year revealed that at the time of partition, 428 Hindu mandirs existed in Pakistan but only 20 remain operational.

In April this year, the Pakistan government announced plans to re-open 400 of the 428 mandirs. It also cleared a plan to allow Indian tourists to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu religious and cultural site in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Taking another positive step towards the minority Hindus, Jagannath Mandir in Pakistan’s Sialkot city was reopened in July after 72 years.

The changes are not just at the bureaucratic level, but also at the judicial level, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan making judgements in favour of Hindus.

Similarly, in September 2019, Muslims escorted Hindus to a mandir in Ghotki district after riots broke out in the area over an alleged blasphemy committed by a Hindu teacher.

Pakistan also plans to begin the renovation of two to three historic and heritage mandirs every year. The restoration process will begin with two historic mandirs, the 1,000-year old Shivalaya Teja Singh Temple in Sialkot and Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201911181077341024-pakistan-moves-to-embrace-its-minorities-by-opening-the-doors-of-hindu-temples-/

The Print – Modi’s new citizenship law will rip open the wounds of Partition

Muhammad Ali Jinnah would be proud of Narendra Modi.

Shivam Vij

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. Political language,” said George Orwell, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” That would be a fine description of how the Narendra Modi establishment sells its disastrous policies.

It is certainly the case with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, likely to be a law in a few weeks. According to Prime Minister Modi, “There are many children of Maa Bharti who have faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. We will stand with those who were part of India at one time, but got separated from us.”

The claim is that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) will somehow finish the unfinished business of Partition. On the contrary, it will only rip open the wounds of Partition.

Maa Bharti’s disowned children

Partition became necessary because there were two different visions of what India should be like after independence. One vision was based on the two-nation theory, the idea that Hindus and Muslims are two separate “nations”. (Wonder why the two-nation theory never saw the Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Bahai as separate “nations”. The logical end should be an eight-nation theory, if not more).

The other vision was that nationhood is not a religious construct. It is geographical. From Peshawar to Puducherry, we were one people united by shared geography and history. We were united in our diversity.

It was this difference of opinion that led to Partition. Pakistan saw itself as a Muslim nation. It didn’t matter that west and east Pakistanis would be separated by nearly 1,700 kilometres of Indian land mass. India saw itself as a secular country that respected all faiths equally. And the country itself did not have a state religion, unlike Pakistan.

This is why Mahatma Gandhi was busy stopping Hindu-Muslim riots that were meant to drive out Muslims into Pakistan on either side. The father of the nation, as also the government of India, was committed to ensuring that Muslims can stay peacefully as equal citizens.

In other words, all the people of this land were the children of “Maa Bharti”, no matter what religion they followed. But Narendra Modi now wants to separate some of “Maa Bharti’s” children from her: Muslims.

If you are a Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian in present-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, you will soon be able to walk into India illegally, or overstay your visa, and become an Indian citizen in six years.

To exclude Muslims from this privilege, just because they are the “majority” community in these countries, is to say that Muslims are not the children of “Maa Bharti”.

What about Ahmadis whom Pakistan considers part of a separate sect and who are possibly far more persecuted than Christians and Hindus? Given that the founding place of the Ahmadiyya sect is in Indian Punjab, Ahmadis make a good case to be included in CAB.

Making Jinnah proud

Defenders of the CAB say it does not make India a Hindu state, because it also welcomes Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. Yet, it does exclude the religion of the majority in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. PM Modi must explain why Muslims in these countries are not the children of “Maa Bharti”.

In practice, the new idea of religion-based citizenship will encourage large-scale migration of people from these three countries into India, reminding us of the wounds of Partition. Since the largest religious minority in Pakistan and Bangladesh are Hindus, most beneficiaries of the CAB will be Hindus.

Simultaneously, the so-called, pan-India National Register of Citizens will target Muslims who are unable to prove their grandfathers were Indian. They will be stripped off their citizenship and put in detention camps. This is worse than the two-nation theory. This is a systematic legal design for the persecution of just one religious minority in India, Muslims.

Hindus come in, Muslims get out. That is the message of CAB and pan-India NRC, when seen together.

After all the Orwellian trickery, CAB and NRC are basically a way of accepting the two-nation theory. The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is the perfect time to do this. Muhammad Ali Jinnah would be proud of Narendra Modi. It is as if the Partition is still taking place.

Some more Orwellian trickery

Incidentally, the text of the proposed CAB does not say anything about Partition, persecution, leave alone “Maa Bharti”.

If the idea is that someone should be given citizenship because they are facing religious persecution, then they should be asked to prove they were facing persecution. That is how, often with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, western countries grant citizenship to refugees.

For instance, after CAB becomes law, the Bhandara family in Pakistan, who happen to be Parsis, could walk into India and become Indian citizens. Are they “persecuted” in Pakistan? Not at all. They are part of the Pakistani high society, owners of the Murree Brewery.

Wouldn’t they love it if one of their family members could become an Indian citizen and start Murree Brewery’s operations in India?

So, the idea that CAB is for “persecuted” religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is media spin meant to fool us. The text of the law says no such thing, because the real intention is perhaps not to help persecuted minorities in the three countries. The real intention is to import lakhs of Hindus so that the BJP may play vote-bank politics with them.

On another note, can anyone explain what Afghanistan has to do with Partition? It was not a part of India in 1947. It was never a part of British India. We have always been told that Partition divided India into two countries, India and Pakistan, and a part of Pakistan later became a third country, Bangladesh. So, if CAB is about Partition, what is Afghanistan doing here?

And if Afghanistan can randomly qualify, why not Myanmar? Myanmar (then Burma) was a part of British Indian Empire until 1937. How about giving Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities in Myanmar?

Over 7 lakh Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to Bangladesh due to ethnic and religious persecution. If an Afghan-Christian from Herat is the offspring of “Maa Bharti”, why is a Rohingya Muslim from Arakan not a child of “Maa Bharti”?

If Afghanistan is included because of the RSS’ idea of Akhand Bharat, why not Sri Lanka? Just because Tamil-speaking Hindus from Sri Lanka aren’t really going to help the BJP win elections in Tamil Nadu?

There are other issues with CAB. Does India really need more people, given it is already one of the world’s most populous countries? And what about security issues? CAB offers a very convenient route for agencies to send spies to India and get them Indian citizenship in just six years.

None of this means India should not give citizenship to refugees. What we need is a comprehensive refugee law that determines how many refugees India can absorb as citizens every year, and the basis for such citizenship should not be religion or nationality. It should be humanity, in keeping with the spirit of the Indian Constitution.

Modi’s new citizenship law will rip open the wounds of Partition

Tolo News – Government criticized for ‘silence’ on China’s Uighurs

Lawmakers said Afghan politicians and the government should not remain silent on such issues.

Massoud Ansar

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 17 November Some members of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council on Sunday criticized the Afghan government and politicians for “silence” on “injustice” against the Muslim community in China.

On Saturday, The New York Times in a report about “organized mass detention of Muslims in China.”

The Times said there are more than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents providing an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The report says that the leaked documents provide an inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, where the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

“Unfortunately, in the Muslim world, we do not have a united institution which will represent all Muslims and treat such issues from a powerful position,” said Ghairat Bahir, a Senator and member of Hizb-e-Islami party.

The report says that China’s president Xi Jinping laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31.

It adds that Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

“Injustice against Muslims in any part of the world should not be ignored,” said Attaullah Ludin, a member of Afghanistan Ulema Council.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on this report despite repeated attempts.

MPs said that some Muslim countries, including the Afghan government, and individual politicians, are silent to protect their own interests.

“We call on the government and the international community to raise their voice against injustice towards Muslims in China,” said Keramuddin Rezazada, a lawmaker.

“There are some issues, including love for position and power, that shuts their voices,” said Abdullah Qarluq, a Senator.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/govt-criticized-%E2%80%98silence%E2%80%99-china%E2%80%99s-uighurs

The Tribune – Jammu & Kashmir administration shifts 34 political prisoners from hotel to MLA hostel

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 17 November 2019. As Srinagar reeled under harsh winter conditions, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday shifted all 34 political prisoners, lodged at the Centaur Hotel since 05 August, to the MLA Hostel as the facility lacked proper heating arrangements, officials said.

The winter chill took a toll on the health of the detenues, National Conference, PDP and People’s Conference leaders and prominent social activists, and the security personnel guarding them.

They were lodged at the hotel on the bank of the scenic Dal Lake on 05 August when the central government announced its decision to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union territories.

Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar City, was reeling under winter chill and witnessed the season’s first snowfall earlier this month.
The seat of administration in the newly created Union territory has moved from Srinagar to Jammu for the winter months.

The administration carried out required modification of rooms in the MLA Hostel on Maulana Azad Road in the heart of the city to accommodate the political prisoners. It has been declared as a subsidiary jail by an order of the J-K home department.

Among the political prisoners are Sajjad Lone of People’s Conference (PC), Ali Mohammad Sagar of National Conference (NC), Naeem Akhtar of the PDP and former IAS officer Shah Faesal.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was on Friday shifted to a government accommodation in the city from a tourist hut located at the foothills of Zaberwan range, officials said here.

The move was necessitated as the approaching winters and frequent power cuts made it difficult to stay in the hut which was converted into a jail after she was detained on 05 August this year.

According to the officials privy to the development, Centaur Hotel, owned by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), has submitted a bill of nearly Rs 3 crore to the home department for over 100 days of boarding and lodging of the detenues.

The administration has, however, rejected the claims of Centaur Hotel and argued that the facility was converted into a subsidiary jail on 05 August and therefore, government rates would be paid.

The rates sanctioned by the administration would be around Rs 800 per day as against Rs 5,000 charged by the hotel, the officials said.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/j-k-admn-shifts-34-political-prisoners-from-hotel-to-mla-hostel/862164.html

The Wire – Why Sikhs don’t see Khalistan terror through Kartarpur Corridor as a serious threat

For Sikhs rejoicing at the fulfilment of a long-awaited desire, it is painful to suggest that they will fall for Pakistani sponsored propaganda.

Chander Suta Dogra

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 16 November 2019. Just as Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular, the world over, were celebrating the opening of the Kartarpur corridor and it was being hailed as the strongest peace move thus far in India-Pakistan relations, fears have been raised in India about the possibility of Pakistan misusing the open access corridor to revive the separatist Khalistan movement in Punjab.

If there are those who see in the Kartarpur corridor a similarity with the ‘fall of the Berlin wall’, an equal number, especially from the strategic circles, say that ‘India has fallen into Pakistan’s trap’.

They say the Pakistan army, which pushed for the opening of the long-standing demand of a corridor, and completed the project in double-quick time because it wants to re-ignite the fires of terrorism in Punjab with the help of expatriate radical Sikhs.

That may well be true. But it would be unrealistic to assume that Punjab will soon be inundated with Sikhs who return from Kartarpur with subversive intent.

This part of the story does not take into account the deep aversion to Khalistan and terrorist violence that has taken root in the hearts and minds of Sikhs after the unrest which ravaged Punjab in the 80s and 90s.

Consider this: As pilgrims began filing into the historic Kartarpur Gurudwara when it opened for the Sikhs of India, their attention was drawn to a glass-encased bomb – a remnant from the 1971 India-Pakistan war – placed strategically on a pillar. A plaque on it stated:

“Indian Air Force dropped this Bomb during 1971 at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Sri Kartarpur Sahib with the aim to destroy it. However, this evil design could not be materialised due to blessing of Waheguru Ji (Almighty Allah). The said bomb landed into Sri Khoo Sahib (Sacred Well) and this Darbar Sahib remained unheart (sic). It is pertinent to mention that this is the same sacred well from where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji used to get water to irrigate his fields.”

Some stopped to read the words. But Indian journalists reported that most devotees did not take kindly to what they saw as blatant anti-India political propaganda. Devotees from across the globe seemed unanimous in the thought that there should be no ‘dirty politics’ in the name of the Guru.

Some even wanted the offending bomb display to be removed. There were also reports of posters of prominent Sikh separatists such as Bhindranwale and General Shubeg Singh being put up near the shrine in the days preceding the opening of the corridor. These were removed when India protested.

For millions of Sikhs worldwide, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor is the fulfilment of a long-awaited desire to pay respects at the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev. Just four kilometres from the border and visible on clear days, the historic shrine was taken away from India in 1947 when a line was drawn to partition the country.

For almost seven decades, devotees on the Indian side peered longingly through binoculars at the shimmering gurdwara. To be able to pray and feel the ambience at the holy place is therefore a deeply emotional and reverential experience for all those who are making the pilgrimage today.

So when it is suggested that opening the corridor could pave the way for the return of dark days, most not only scoff at the predictions, but feel the suggestion that Indian Sikhs will fall for Pakistani sponsored propaganda is painful.

The average Punjabi is acutely conscious of the political games being played in the name of the Kartarpur corridor and is wary of being drawn into a quagmire that could potentially disturb the route.

Professor Balkar Singh is a respected Sikh scholar and the director of the World Punjabi Centre in Punjabi University, Patiala. He was among the first to walk across the corridor and pay obeisance at Kartarpur.

Says he, “It is quite obvious that political entities in India and Pakistan, the Pakistani Army included, are all playing politics in the name of the Kartarpur corridor. The security establishment in Delhi is raising the bogey of Khalistan, and some elements in Pakistan may actually try to foment trouble in ham-handed ways.”

He added that the bottom line is that the community is not in any danger of being misled now. “We have suffered huge losses of life and property in the past. Khalistan has no present and no future, so why will anyone permit those bad days to return?”

This is also why recent attempts by expatriate radical Sikh organisations like Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), allegedly sponsored by Pakistan’s deep state, to hold a ‘Referendum 2020‘ on seceding from India has not had an impact. SFJ’s posters on a referendum, seen on the Pakistani side for a while, were largely ignored by Indian Sikhs.

The separatist Khalistan ideology has few takers in Punjab today. The few fringe organisations who claim to be its proponents are finding it hard to survive in an atmosphere where the very word has become anathema for the majority.

As Gurpreet Singh, president of the Kendri Singh Sabha, points out, “Residual fragments of Khalistanis are not even 1% of the population now. Even at the height of militancy, only about 5% of Sikhs subscribed to the ideology.

The talk of reviving the movement is just a bogey drummed up by those who wish to exploit Sikh sentiments for their own politics. To even imagine that patriotic Sikhs will fall for the blatant propaganda being conducted by a section of the Pakistani establishment is hurtful.”

If anything, the desire to keep it going is reason enough for Sikhs to desist from falling for Pakistani propaganda. The fear in Sikh circles today is that the beauty of the gesture from both countries that has come at a rather difficult time in India-Pakistan relations could be marred by the politics over Khalistan.

The Sikh world would rather see the shadow of Khalistan far removed from their holy shrines and many are decidedly uncomfortable that pilgrims to other gurdwaras in Pakistan like Nankana Sahib gurdwara and Panja Sahib have been subjected to anti-India propaganda in the past.

“Kartarpur gurdwara should not be allowed to be used as a platform for Khalistani forces because that is not the purpose of this corridor,” said Gurpreet Singh.

Voices like his are growing. The use of Sikh religious holy places like the Golden Temple in Amritsar for separatist politics in the past brings up bitter memories of its destruction during Operation Bluestar. Memories that the community has put behind.

In July, India shared with Pakistan its concerns about pro-Khalistan elements promoting anti-India activities in a detailed dossier which listed events between 2016 and 2019 that were orchestrated by Khalistani elements.

India pointed out that the four annual Indian Sikh Jathas who visit important gurdwaras in Pakistan every year under a bilateral protocol to visit religious shrines have been regularly subjected to anti-India propaganda during their visit.

Former Pakistan army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg was quoted as having said, “Pakistan army and the government should create trouble for India through Khalistan movement, it is the only way to teach India a lesson.”

But if elements in Pakistan are seeing an opportunity to foment trouble in Indian Punjab through the Kartarpur corridor, Indian politicians are not averse to using it to play with Sikh politics.

One of the first to oppose the Kartarpur corridor is Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, heading a Congress government. At the opening ceremony in Dera Baba Nanak, he warned Pakistan against misusing the corridor to “destabilise Punjab“.

Many see his opposition to the corridor as an attempt to hold the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) responsible for exposing Punjab to trouble.

The political acrimony between the two sides, and its potential implications are being watched with growing unease by the Sikhs. It is well known that one-upmanship between the two parties was one of the reasons for the birth of the terrorist phase in the past and a repeat in any new avatar will be strongly resisted by the community.

Sikh politics is largely that of a minority versus the majority, always a tempting trope for ambitious parties. With the benefit of hindsight, community leaders now want Sikhism to be left alone.

Away from the machinations of unscrupulous politicians on both sides of the border. This only means that the onus of maintaining the sanctity of the Kartarpur corridor and allowing the initiative to thrive and grow in a conducive atmosphere lies with responsible elements in both India and Pakistan.

Chander Suta Dogra is a journalist and author.

This article is utter nonsense: 1) There is no Khalistan terror threat, but there is a strong pro Khalistan movement amongst diaspora Sikhs, who want to campaign in a peaceful manner for Khalistan. The supporters of this movement love India as much as I do, but they are fed up with subsequent Indian governments who have shown no respect for minorities. 2) When I lived in Panjab I met many Sikhs who would prefer greater autonomy or independence of Panjab. 3) The government and its agents keep saying that the Khalistan movement is minuscule, but they seem to be afraid of this minuscule movement. 4) Pakistan propaganda would have no effect on Sikhs if basic demands of the Sikhs like the rewriting of article 25 of the constitution were implemented.
Man in Blue

https://thewire.in/rights/sikhs-khalistan-threat-kartarpur

Dawn – Supreme Court asks government to explain legality of internment centres

Nasir Iqbal

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 16 November 2019. The Supreme Court questioned the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the functioning of internment centres without authorisation for three months last year during the hearing of a petition on Friday against the KP-Action in Aid of Civil Power Ordinance.

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who heads a five-judge Supreme Court bench, cautioned Attorney General Anwar Mansoor a number of times that he must satisfy the court about the legality of the matter. Otherwise, he warned, it would cause problems to the government.

And in a lighter vein the chief justice told the AG that he needed to “do more”.

The Attorney General retorted that “in Pakistan we always have to do more”.

The joint challenge to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ordinance, brought by PPP stalwart Farhatullah Babar, rights activists Afrasiab Khattak, Bushra Gohar and Rubina Saigol, seeks scrapping of the ordinance since it “impinges upon fundamental rights”.

In addition to the petition, the larger bench is also seized with the federal government’s appeal against the 17 October 2018, Peshawar High Court (PHC) decision holding the ordinance as ultra vires. The verdict also held as illegal the provincial government’s decisions to continue with laws in the erstwhile Pata and Fata.

The issue cropped up when it came to the notice of the court that the 25th Constitution Amendment came into effect on May 31 last year after removal of Article 247 (7) from the Constitution and merger of both the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) with KP.

Prior to the 25th Amendment, the tribal areas were administered under Article 247 of the Constitution, authorising the president to make regulations for peace and good governance in Fata and Pata.

Later the KP Assembly adopted the Action in Aid of Civil Powers Regulations giving protection to internment centres and other actions taken by the armed forces to deal with terrorism.

The law had also mentioned Fata even though the 25th Amendment had merged both Pata and Fata in KP.

Realising the mistake, the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa promulgated the KP-Action In Aid of Civil Power Ordinance on 04 January this year by giving a retrospective effect to the law from September 2018 and by removing other deficiencies like mentioning of Fata in the earlier regulations.

But the Supreme Court was concerned why the ordinance ignored the period from 31 May 2018, when the 25th Amendment came into effect and provided protection only from September.

During the hearing, Justice Gulzar Ahmed regretted that the federal government granted some rights to the people of Fata and Pata through the 25th Amendment, but the provincial government took away those rights.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that the amendment had done much more than merging Fata and Pata with KP since it had introduced democracy in the erstwhile tribal areas by giving them representation in the assemblies.

The chief justice asked whether the constitution makers provided any transition clause in subsequent laws because after the 25th Amendment the legislature knew well about the mechanism and arrangements under which the internment centres function and that all these systems have to be taken care of by the provinces. Otherwise, the arrangement will be rendered unconstitutional.

The attorney general read out the regulation to establish facilities afforded to interned persons, e.g. visits by family members, letters after 15 days, clothing, imparting skills and rehabilitation.

Anwar Mansoor said he would produce a video at the next hearing to show how internment centres functioned and how international organisations like Unicef were working with them.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked whether the government had evidence that the people being interned were non-state actors.

“No country in the world accepts them any longer since they have no allegiance to any country, except the organisation for which they are working,” Justice Ahmed observed.

The AG said that there were certain things which he cannot disclose.

But the chief justice wondered whether the list of missing persons had been shared with the commission on enforced disappearances. He explained to the AG that the court was not seized with the performance of internment centres, but with the legal status of the arrangement.

Attorney General Mansoor replied that the state had to be protected by taking extraordinary steps and “we have saved the country from miscreants”.

“I will try to convince the court that internment centres are not unconstitutional,” the AG said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1517012/sc-asks-govt-to-explain-legality-of-internment-centres

The Statesman – Foreign Funds case: Supreme Court asks Indira Jaising, Anand Grover to reply

New Delhi – India, 14 November 2019. The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from NGO Lawyers Collective and its founding members Anand Grover and Indira Jaising on a plea by the CBI challenging the Bombay High Court order granting protection from coercive action against them in an alleged Foreign Contribution Act violation case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari issued notice to the senior lawyers and the NGO. The top court also refused to stay the Bombay High Court order.

The CBI had registered a case against Grover and the NGO over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in the use of foreign funds received by Lawyers Collective.

The probe agency contended that the High Court had neither rendered any finding as to how the First Information Report or FIR registered against the accused parties was “unsustainable and bad in law” nor referred to any finding as to how the continuance of the investigation against the accused would be contrary to law.

Grover and Indira Jaising had approached the High Court in July seeking the FIR registered by the CBI against the NGO and them in June be set aside. The CBI registered the FIR following a complaint by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in May alleging violation of FCRA provisions.

While the FIR did not name Indira Jaising as an accused, the MHA complaint, which is part of the FIR, mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her.

The CBI alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2009 and 2015, but failed to disclose a major part of it. It said that Grover and Jaising used foreign funds for “personal benefits.”

According to the MHA complaint, during her tenure as Additional Solicitor General, Indira Jaising continued to draw remuneration from the NGO, the CBI said, adding that this came from foreign contributions received.

The petitioners also pointed out that the MHA complaint was based on an inspection report from 2016 that had pointed out a single violation of non-disclosure under the FCRA.

At the time, following the inspection report, the MHA had issued an order cancelling the registration of Lawyers Collective for receiving foreign funds.

This cancellation order was challenged in the High Court by the NGO in 2017, and is currently pending before a single judge, the petitioners said.

While granting interim relief, the division bench took note of the petitioners’ submission that the CBI’s act of filing an FIR on the basis of a two-and-a-half-year-old report, when the matter had reached the court, was questionable.

This is an attempt to stifle the voice of Human Rights lawyers, using an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Act.
Man in Blue

Foreign Funds case: SC asks Indira Jaising, Anand Grover to reply

The Hindu – House of Representatives to host second hearing on human rights in Kashmir today

Witnesses will examine the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and offer recommendations for action by Congress

Sriram Lakshman

Washington DC – USA, 14 November 2019. With a hearing on Kashmir at the USA House of Representatives scheduled for 14 November, the choppy waters on Capitol Hill that India has found itself in, at least since the October 22 hearing on human rights in South Asia, do not seem to be letting up.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan commission, will hold a hearing “to examine the human rights situation in the former State of Jammu and Kashmir in India in historical and national context,” a statement from the Commission’s website said.

“Witnesses will examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region’s history and larger patterns of rights violations in India and Pakistan, and will offer recommendations for action by Congress,” the Commission said, outlining the restrictions from the Indian side placed on Kashmir since Article 370 was abrogated by Parliament in early August.

‘Article 370 hampering development in J&K’

“The increased militarisation of the security presence in the region and the economic and social consequences of the central government’s actions, including continuing restrictions on internet and phones, have also provoked widespread concern,” the statement read.

“In addition, militants have targeted migrant workers from outside Kashmir, and have threatened businesses to maintain a protest shutdown.”

Indian diplomats have, since the legislative changes in early August, been doing the rounds of Capitol Hill as well as lobbying at the state and district level via the Consuls General, highlighting the government’s position on the changes in Kashmir issue, that Article 370 was hampering development in Jammu and Kashmir and therefore had to go, and that restrictions, which have been progressively eased, are in place for security reasons.

These arguments did not stop the criticism at the 22 October hearing. Members of Congress were focussed on continuing restrictions on mobile data and internet access in Kashmir, the numbers still in detention and foreign correspondents not being allowed access to the region.

This prompted renewed diplomatic outreach by Indian officials, including India’s USA Ambassador meeting with USA lawmakers on 29 and 30 October.

List of witnesses

The Indian side has concerns about Thursday’s hearing, including that the list of witnesses largely comprises known critics of the Indian position, The Hindu has learned.

One witness, Yousra Y Fazili, a human rights lawyer, is the niece of one of those detained in Kashmir, Mubeen Shah. The Commission website describes Ms Fazili as a “Human rights lawyer and Kashmiri-American cousin of Mubeen Shah, detained Kashmiri businessman.”

The Hindu asked a Commission representative for a response to the criticism that it was one-sided.

“The Commission’s mandate is to promote, defend and advocate for internationally recognised human rights norms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Kimberly Stanton, a spokesperson for the Commission told The Hindu.

“The ‘side’ the Commission takes on all issues is that of individuals and communities who credibly allege that their rights have been violated.”

The witness list also includes Sunanda Vashisht, who the Commission describes as a “writer, political commentator, and Kashmiri Hindu who identifies as a victim of ethnic cleansing.”

A Commissioner from the USA Commission on International Religious Freedom, Arunima Bhargava, will testify in the first of two panels at the hearing. The second panel will include human rights lawyers, a professor of anthropology and John Stifton, a director at Human Rights Watch.

Short notice around the hearing

Another issue for the Indian side has been the short notice around the hearing, which was posted on Monday, three days before the hearing itself.

“Commission hearings are posted once the description of the topic and initial witness list receive final approval. In this case, the hearing was finalised over the weekend and posted on the holiday [Monday],” Ms Stanton told The Hindu.

The panel, is headed by James P McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Chris Smith (Republican, New Jersey), and is mostly comprised of Democrats, who have, typically, been more vocal in their criticism of India’s recent actions around Kashmir.

“We are working hard to level the playing field,” India’s Ambassador to the USA Harsh Vardhan Shringla told The Hindu, about current diplomatic efforts around Thursday’s hearing, but did not elaborate on how this was being done.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/house-of-representatives-to-host-second-hearing-on-human-rights-in-kashmir-today/article29969522.ece?homepage=true

The Print – Sikhs third most targeted religious group in USA after Jews and Muslims: FBI report

In 2018, the FBI received 7,120 reports of hate crimes, of which around 835 were against Jews, 188 were against Muslims, and 60 were against Sikhs.

Washington DC – USA, 13 November 2019. Around 60 incidents of hate crimes against Sikhs were reported to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2018, making the community the third most commonly targeted religious group after Jews and Muslims in the US, according to an annual report released by the FBI on Tuesday.

A total of 7,120 hate crimes were reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies around the country last year, slightly down from 7,175 in 2017, the FBI said, adding that this involved 8,496 offenses.

The largest number of hate crimes based on religion were reported against Jews (835), followed by Muslims (188) and Sikhs (60). According to the FBI report, 91 hate crimes were reported against other religions, including 12 against Hindus and ten anti-Buddhist crimes.

Of the 4,047 hate crimes based on ethnicity, the maximum 1943 hate crime incidents were against anti-Black or African Americans, followed by anti-White (762) and anti-Hispanic or Latino (485).

The FBI reports as many as 148 hate crimes against Asians in 2018, while those against Arabs were 82, anti-American Indian or Alaska Native (194).

The Sikh Coalition in a statement said it is “disheartening” that hate crimes remain systematically “under-reported” across the United States.

According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experience an average of 250,000 hate crimes per year; this latest FBI data, by contrast, only managed to document 7,120 incidents, with less than 13 per cent of law enforcement affirmatively providing reports of hate crimes, it said.

“While hate crimes remained relatively steady nationally, reported anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by 200 percent since 2017, making Sikhs the third most commonly targeted religious group in the dataset,” it said.

At the end of the day, this data simply isn’t giving us the accurate information we need to effectively counteract hate against targeted communities, said Sim J. Singh, Sikh Coalition senior manager of Policy and Advocacy.

It’s past time for action. Congress must pass the next generation of common-sense legislation that equips law enforcement to better identify and track hate incidents,” he said.

Sikhs third most targeted religious group in US after Jews and Muslims: FBI report