The Indian Express – After arrest of ‘key SFJ recruiter’, 18 more are on NIA radar

No police action was initiated against these 18 after the FIR was lodged in 2018.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 27 June 2020. Around 20 months after the Amritsar police booked Pargat Singh (23) in a sedition case for his alleged links with outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) radical outfit, the NIA’s move to arrest him has brought the focus on 18 others named in the same 2018 sedition case.

No police action was initiated against these 18 after the FIR was lodged in 2018. They are now believed to be on NIA’s radar after Pargat’s arrest, who is alleged to be the key recruiter of radical Sikh youths for SFJ.

While Punjab Police had booked 30 accused in original case, it had submitted challan only against 11 at an Amritsar court in March 2019, keeping 19, including Pargat Singh and banned outfit Sikh For Justice’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, out of it.

However, NIA told Mohali court earlier this week that Pargat Singh was one of the key conspirators and recruiter of radical Sikh youth while working under the directions of handlers located abroad to further the activities of SFJ (Sikhs For Justice) which has already been declared an unlawful association.

Pargat Singh (23), a Sikh priest [There are no Sikh priests] from village Tarmala in district Sri Muktsar Sahib, was produced before the NIA Special Court, Mohali on 23 June and was remanded to NIA custody till 29 June.

His arrest also came months after Sikh for Justice was banned in India in July 2019.

Case File

The original case was registered at Sultanwind Police Station, Amritsar (City) vide FIR No 152 dated October 19, 2018.

The case was subsequently re-registered by NIA on April 5, 2020.

According to the NIA FIR, “A module had been motivated by one Javed Khan, an ISI handler based in Pakistan for conducting subversive activities and pasting of Khalistan/Referendum-2020 posters/banners at different locations in Punjab and New Delhi.”

The agency in a recent statement added that the “case is related to series of acts of violence including acts of arson in Punjab during the year 2017-18, carrying out of propaganda activities both online and on ground, campaigns in support of Referendum 2020/SFJ including pasting of posters in Delhi and various parts of Punjab, committed by groups of radicalised youths under direction of and financial assistance from SFJ handlers located abroad.

Investigation has revealed that arrested accused persons, including Pargat Singh, had received funds from their foreign handlers.”

Intriguingly, Punjab Police, while investigating case till April 2020, had not even visited the house of Pargat Singh on single occasion after filing the FIR in October 2018.

“There is no criminal record of Pargat Singh at our police station. We were never approached by any police team to raid the house of Pargat Singh,” said SHO, Lambi, under whose jurisdiction Pargat’s village Tarmala falls.

Apart from Pargat Singh, there were total 10 accused in India, who were not interrogated by Punjab Police during last 20 months.

These include Balwant Singh from village Waring, Tarn Taran, Sandeep Singh, Harjeet Singh, Davinder Singh, Sukhbir Singh and Bhupinder Singh, all five from Srinagar, Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh all from Dera Ajnala Amritsar.

Ajnala Dera is run by Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala, who was appointed Takht Kesgarh Sahib Anandpur Sahib Jathedar during the 2015 Sarbat Khalsa at Amritsar.

“Most of the accused were students at Damdami Taksal faction being run by Amrik Singh Ajnala in Ajnala town. We never raided Ajnala Dera. Amrik Singh was also not questioned.

Four accused Sunny, Tarsem Singh, Lovepreet Singh, and Gurbhej Singh, not nominated in challan, couldn’t be arrested,” said former ACP, Amritsar, Palwinder Singh, who looked after the probe in sedition case before handing over the case to NIA. Palwinder was recently transferred as DSP Jalalabad in Fazilka.

He added: “We raided homes of all these accused, not mentioned in the challan, from time to time, but we couldn’t arrest them. However, they were not declared proclaimed offenders.”

As soon as NIA took over the case, Amrik Singh Ajnala was questioned in Amritsar on June 23. “We have handed over case to NIA because it was related to Interpol.

NIA can investigate and make efforts for arrest of foreign nationals,” said DSP Palwinder Singh. Apart from SFJ’s face Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is in the US, there are five accused from South Africa, one each from UAE and Kuwait.

Think about Jagtar Singh Dumbarton who was arrested in 2017, and until now no proof against him has been produced.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/after-arrest-of-key-sfj-recruiter-18-more-are-on-nia-radar-6478736/

The Tribune – Pursue cases of Sikh youths, SGPC told

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 30 June 2020. After raking up the issue of a separate Sikh state “Khalistan”, Akal Takht’s officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh today directed the SGPC to pursue cases of Sikh youths who were arrested by the Punjab Police recently.

Giani Hapreet Singh condemned the police for allegedly implicating Sikh youths on the false pretext of supporting Khalistan.

“If Sikh youths are arrested on frivolous charges in the name of Khalistan, it is condemnable. The SGPC should pursue cases of innocent Sikh youths,” he said.

On 06 June, during the anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Giani Harpreet Singh had triggered a controversy by stating that every Sikh wanted a separate state and “if the government offers us Khalistan, what else do we need? We will accept it.” Later, he clarified that Sikhs can never be defined by the idea of Khalistan.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/pursue-cases-of-sikh-youths-sgpc-told-106780

The Nation – Plea against temple’s construction in Sector H-9 rejected

Islamabad – Pakistan, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday rejected a plea seeking a stay order against the construction of a temple for Hindu community in Sector H-9 and sought comments from Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the matter.

Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing on the petition moved by Tanvir Akhter Advocate.

The court said minorities’ rights were protected in the Constitution and it must be cared. The court, however, directed the civic body to explain that whether the temple in Sector H-9 was part of the CDA’s master plan or not.

At the outset of hearing, the petitioner adopted the stance that there was already a temple existed in Saidpur Village and it could be renovated further.

He pleaded the court that the land allocated for temple in Sector H-9 was a violation of CDA’s master plan, adding there was no Hindu community residing around this sector.

https://nation.com.pk/01-Jul-2020/plea-against-temple-s-construction-in-sector-h-9-rejected

The Hindu – India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s ‘missing females’, says UN report

The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years – from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

New York – United Nations, 30 June 2020. India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s 142.6 million “missing females” over the past 50 years, a report by the United Nations said on Tuesday, noting that the country along with China form the majority of such women globally.

The State of World Population 2020 report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world organisation’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said that the number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

Of this global figure, India accounted for 45.8 million missing females as of 2020 and China accounted for 72.3 million.

Missing females are women missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past, the agency said.

Girls ‘missing’ in India at birth

Between 2013 and 2017, about 460,000 girls in India were ‘missing’ at birth each year.

According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two-thirds of the total missing girls, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about one-third, the report said.

Citing data by experts, it said that China and India together account for about 90-95 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide due to gender-biased (prenatal) sex selection.

The two countries also account for the largest number of births each year, it said.

The report cites data by Alkema, Leontine and others, 2014 ‘National, Regional, and Global Sex Ratios of Infant, Child, and under-5 Mortality and Identification of Countries with Outlying Ratios: A Systematic Assessment’ from The Lancet Global Health.

Highest rate of excess female deaths

According to their analysis, India has the highest rate of excess female deaths, 13.5 per 1,000 female births, which suggests that an estimated one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 may be attributed to postnatal sex selection.

The report notes that governments have also taken action to address the root causes of sex selection.

India and Vietnam have included campaigns that target gender stereotypes to change attitudes and open the door to new norms and behaviours.

They spotlight the importance of daughters and highlight how girls and women have changed society for the better.

Campaigns that celebrate women’s progress and achievements may resonate more where daughter-only families can be shown to be prospering, it said.

The report said that successful education-related interventions include the provision of cash transfers conditional on school attendance; or support to cover the costs of school fees, books, uniforms and supplies, taking note of successful cash-transfer initiatives such as ‘Apni Beti Apna Dhan’ in India.

It said that preference for a male child manifested in sex selection has led to dramatic, long-term shifts in the proportions of women and men in the populations of some countries.

Demographic imbalance

This demographic imbalance will have an inevitable impact on marriage systems. In countries where marriage is nearly universal, many men may need to delay or forego marriage because they will be unable to find a spouse, the report said.

This so-called “marriage squeeze”, where prospective grooms outnumber prospective brides, has already been observed in some countries and affects mostly young men from lower economic strata.

“At the same time, the marriage squeeze could result in more child marriages, the report said citing experts.

Some studies suggest that the marriage squeeze will peak in India in 2055. The proportion of men who are still single at the age of 50 is forecast to rise after 2050 in India to 10 per cent, it said.

The UN report said that every year, millions of girls globally are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities.

At least 19 harmful practices, ranging from breast ironing to virginity testing, are considered human rights violations, according to the UNFPA report, which focuses on the three most prevalent ones: female genital mutilation, child marriage, and extreme bias against daughters in favour of sons.

Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential, says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Female genital mutilations

This year, an estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation.

Today, 33,000 girls under age 18 will be forced into marriages, usually to much older men and an extreme preference for sons over daughters in some countries has fuelled gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect that leads to their death as children, resulting in the 140 million missing females.

The report said that ending child marriage and female genital mutilation worldwide is possible within 10 years by scaling up efforts to keep girls in school longer and teach them life skills and to engage men and boys in social change.

Investments totalling USD 3.4 billion a year through 2030 would end these two harmful practices and end the suffering of an estimated 84 million girls, it said.

A recent analysis revealed that if services and programmes remain shuttered for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 13 million girls may be forced into marriage and 2 million more girls may be subjected to female genital mutilation between now and 2030.

The pandemic both makes our job harder and more urgent as so many more girls are now at risk, Kanem said.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-accounts-for-458-million-of-the-worlds-missing-females-says-un-report/article31951401.ece

Scroll.in – ‘China’s historical memories of subjugation have fuelled its obsession with territory’: Rana Mitter

An interview with the China expert at the University of Oxford

Arunoday Majumder

Oxford – Oxfordshire – UK, 29 June 2020. China is dominating news cycles globally, beginning with the corona-virus outbreak in Wuhan early this year and Donald Trump’s accusation that it has “total control over the World Health Organisation”.

Earlier this month, military tensions with India along the Line of Actual Control in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh escalated after the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

There is now growing anti-Chinese rhetoric in India amid calls to boycott Chinese goods. China also recently engaged in territorial disputes with Nepal and Japan.

This interview with Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, explores China’s social, political and economic history to help determine a global response to the country’s recent actions.

Mitter describes China’s evolution from “command socialism to market-driven socialism”, its rise as the driver of a global consumerist economy, and how the “century of humiliation” continues to be the dominant narrative of its nation building.

Excerpts

These days the focus is almost entirely on the Chinese state and its diplomatic, military and trade arms. Do you think that the responses to China will be far more fruitful if the world tries to know a little more about the society in which the Chinese state operates?

That’s a very shrewd question and I think it gets to the heart of something very important. Within the last 30 or 40 years, China has turned from command socialism to market-driven socialism.

I think if you look at the society as a whole, there are a lot of phenomena that do not immediately seem to be obvious results of that kind of one-party system.

One thing is that economic freedom has grown very considerably in the last 30 or 40 years.

There has been a sort of bargain, unspoken but real, particularly after the Tiananmen Square killing incident in 1989, that the party-state is ordering its people not to get involved in politics. But it is promising a sort of economic harvest.

Like an economic growth that will emerge as a result of their policies. So that means a very great deal of most exciting part of Chinese life on the ground is in the small and medium enterprise sector.

It’s a country which has generally been very amenable to starting up and doing business and that has been one of the reasons behind its huge economic growth in the last 30-40 years.

Particularly in the manufacturing sector?

Traditionally in the manufacturing sector. I think that’s moving and changing very much into a whole variety of areas considered to be more high value.

A lot of manufacturing these days, meaning within the last five to 10 years, is moving off-shore from China to places like Vietnam and Cambodia.

China is now developing hugely profitable and productive domestic services. Companies like Alibaba, Tencent are taking advantage of the fact that one quarter of the earth’s population is in China.

That means China has also driven a very powerful, sort of, consumerist economy that I think isn’t often appreciated.

So the Chinese are opening the economy and at the same time not allowing people the freedom that Western democracies or even India or other postcolonial nations have experienced. How does the Chinese state maintain that?

It’s a very interesting question which is asked frequently. But the answer I shall give is that you are starting from what many Chinese would regard is the wrong premise in the first place.

If your point of comparison is why China could develop one of the world’s most innovative and powerful consumer-driven economies while having very heavy censorship and authoritarian party-state, arbitrary arrest of many academics and lawyers; ask the question differently.

Ask it this way: 50 years ago in the early 1970s, China was in the middle of the Cultural Revolution, one of the most destructive periods. Even the Chinese themselves, the Chinese Communist Party, rejected it as a massive, destructive era.

And 50 years after that, which in historical terms is not really a very long time, they have the second biggest economy in the world and a country with geopolitical influence.

Now that doesn’t happen by accident. Many Chinese, the ordinary Chinese, the middle-class Chinese, are very proud of what their country has managed to achieve.

So their point of comparison is not saying whether we necessarily have everything the liberal society has but rather how does China look now compared to what their parents had or what their grandparents had. That would be their logic.

So what you are then saying is that their comparison is not with their contemporaries. It’s not a horizontal comparison in time that they are making but their comparison and sense of satisfaction grows from a vertical comparison through time, that is to go back in history?

Broadly speaking, yes. I mean today even the middle-class Chinese, particularly ones living in big cities like Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing, travel overseas very frequently and it’s actually quite normal.

The fact that they can go on quite expensive holidays is also regarded by them as sign of their developing middle class lifestyles that their parents could never afford. But they also go to these places and see clearly what it is like having uncensored TV.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they come to China and say, “We have it so much worse.” In some cases they do.

But in other cases, they come back and say, “Well that’s just one of the differences, but what we’ve been living with actually does show year on year, decade on decade improvement in terms of our industrial lifestyle compared to what we were used to.”

There’s a lot of focus about China being primarily an authoritarian, communist political culture.

But I am also interested to know whether China is only a communist, political culture which looks up to Mao very favourably or is it that it is equally nationalistic and we are forgetting about the influence of Chiang Kai Shek?

You have to dig a little bit into modern Chinese history to understand some of what you have implied.

But essentially up till 1949, China was ruled by a succession of nationalist leaders like Chiang Kai Shek, who you mentioned, and probably the most prominent till 1927 and 1949; particularly during the period of WWII in China.

After that Chairman Mao came to power and the Chinese Communist Party has been in power ever since.

But one of the phenomena that’s most notable in the last 25 to 30 years is that as China has moved from a socialist top-down command economy as it was under Mao, to being a country that is authoritarian but has a certain amount of leeway for non-state organisations, more under previous presidents than under Xi Jinping, many people have looked back at the earlier period and said in some senses that it looks more similar to the kind of nationalist governments of pre-communist era than Mao period.

The major difference was that Mao’s China was dedicated to revolutionary social change.

One thing that is very clear is that Xi’s government does not want any kind of revolutionary social change. It wants evolution and not revolution in terms of economy and in terms of social welfare.

So to that extent, I suspect that that the mindset would have been much more familiar to Chiang kai Shek than it would have been to Chairman Mao.

There seems to be almost an obsession with territory as far as China and the Chinese state is concerned. Is there any historical ambition which they think is unfulfilled and which they now wish to fulfill?

I think history is very important. You are right. The Chinese still talk today and they talk extensively about the early 20th century, about what they call the “century of humiliation” lasting from “the opium wars” of 1840s to the World War II in the 1940s.

And this is the idea very much understood by all educated Chinese that China had been previously invaded and occupied by Western powers.

In fact, they look at India under the British as an example of how a nation could become completely occupied and lose its national status because of the actions of outside imperialists.

The “century of humiliation” still lives very strongly in the historical memories of the Chinese and it has created this huge, as you have implied, sensitivity about territory because they still have memories of imperial powers essentially deciding what China’s borders were going to be.

And having regained their autonomy from 1945 to 1949, they are determined that one thing one they are unwilling to make any sort of compromise is the question of borders.

That’s one of the reasons, I think, why it has become such a strong and in many ways, obstinate obsession on the part of the Chinese state.

There seems to be some sort of sympathy towards both Mao and Stalin in academic circles. I study in a university which had Mao and Stalin on its library walls even a few months back. Why is that?

Not the academic circles in which I move, I can tell you that. I think anyone would have to say that it’s an objective fact that Stalin and Mao were responsible for millions of deaths and that they operated totalitarian systems of government which created immense suffering amongst their people. I think that that’s something which is historically demonstrable.

Arunoday Majumder is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University and an assistant professor of sociology at the School of Law, NMIMS Bengaluru.

Waliya Hasan has helped transcribe the interview.

https://scroll.in/article/965645/chinas-historical-memories-of-subjugation-have-fuelled-its-obsession-with-territory-rana-mitter

Times of India – UK Sikhs fighting for ethnic tick-box in census claim victory in Scotland

London – UK, 29 June 2020. The Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) is celebrating a “victory” in its campaign to get a Sikh ethnic tick-box added to the 2021 UK census after Scottish ministers agreed to put a prompt for Sikhs in the “other” part of the ethnicity response options.

They also assured to “monitor Sikhs as an ethnic group as well as religion” going forwards.

The SFUK, which claims to have the backing of more than 150 gurdwaras and Sikh organisations, has withdrawn its legal case in Scotland but is still battling ahead with a second judicial review against the Cabinet Office over the lack of a Sikh ethnic tick-box in the proposed census for England and Wales.

On 07 May, the Census (Scotland) Regulation 2020 was laid in the Scottish Parliament which included a prompt for Sikhs and Jews in the “Other” response option to the question “What is your ethnic group?”.

“At the top there is a choice of White, Mixed, Asian, African, Caribbean and Other. Sikhs is not within Asian, it is coming under Other,” said Dabinderjit Singh OBE, principal adviser to the SFUK.

The Federation’s tick-box campaign got a further boost in a letter dated June 24 from Scotland’s economy secretary Fiona Hyslop.

The letter, which TOI has seen, states she will now “work with the Sikh Federation (UK) to ensure public bodies in Scotland monitor Sikhs as an ethnic group, as well as a religion”.

In the past public bodies have only followed the Census categories for ethnic data collection. “The only reason we wanted a Sikh ethnic tick-box box was to force Scotland to monitor Sikhs,” explained Singh.

“We feel we have won the war in Scotland and do not feel there is any point in continuing legal action in the court of session.”

The Federation has also withdrawn its appeal against a 12 December 2019, judgment handed down in a first judicial review the SFUK brought against the Cabinet Office over the England and Wales census after the government objected to there being two cases running simultaneously over the same issue.

On 11 June, SFUK submitted an application for a second judicial review to the high court seeking to quash the Census (England and Wales) Order 2020 on the grounds it was unlawful after Mrs Justice Lang ruled the first legal challenge was premature.

Bringing the first case cost the Federation just over £1,00,000 in ‘capped’ legal costs for both sides.

If the second judicial review is allowed, the legal costs may not be capped and if the Federation win the case, the UK-wide census scheduled for 21 March 2021, could be delayed.

On 16 June, the High Court ruled the second judicial review would be “expedited” and put before a high court judge on or before 03 July to make a decision as to whether it can be allowed.

Lord Singh, director, Network of Sikh Organisations, said: “The Sikh Federation UK has already racked up £100,000 in legal costs and continues legal action in the high court in London.

They need to be held to account for this, and ordinary members of Britain’s Sikh community, who the evidence suggests are satisfied in being recorded under religion in the census, must inform politicians here and in Scotland that this action is not in our name.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Anyone who chooses to identify as being of Sikh ethnicity in this census will be able to by using the write-in option and the search-as-you type function online.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-sikhs-fighting-for-ethnic-tick-box-in-census-claim-victory-in-scotland/articleshow/76679670.cms

Note: Lord Singh at the meeting at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Hounslow in December 2017 told Iain Bell the Deputy National Statistician that the Sikh Federation’(UK) were making empty threats about legal action.

He went on further to state he would take the matter to court to reverse the situation if Sikhs were recognised as an ethnic group (arguing Sikhs should be happy ticking Indian).

When the Sikh Federation (UK) got directly involved with the issue in Scotland in January 2020 Lord Singh’s NSO briefed Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to ignore the Sikh Federation (UK) as we also campaign for self determination and a sovereign Sikh homeland.

What the NSO completely failed to appreciate is that most MSPs belong to the Scottish National Party (SNP) and they form the Scottish Government.

The Census (Scotland) Regulation 2020 that came not effect on 16 June 2020 legally recognises Sikhs as an ethnic group.

Put up or shut up!

In recent months we have not wasted our time to respond to Lord Singh’s continuous and sometimes offensive postings on discussion groups as our work to secure Sikh rights speaks for itself.

Will Lord Singh now remain true to his word and take the Scottish Government to court as he promised at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Hounslow?

If we are successful with High Court action in England and Wales Lord Singh should also prepare to take the Cabinet Office to the High Court or Court of Appeal in the coming 3 months to reverse the rights secured for Sikhs.

He wants Sikhs to only be officially recognised as “Indians” rather than “Sikhs” arguing this is better for “visible” Sikhs.

Lord Singh under oath argued in court Sikhs were an ethnic group in the Mandla v Dowell-Lee case in 1983. He has not remained true to his word spoken in court.

He can now prove he will (with the support of his so-called 130 paper-based Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations) remain true to his promise at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Hounslow to take the UK & Scottish governments to court to argue Sikhs are Indians and this protects visible Sikhs.

The 14-year old Sikh school girl (Sarika) won her Kara case in South Wales in the High Court in 2008 due to her Sikh ethnicity. Lord Singh would have argued with his logic Sarika is not a visible Sikh and denied her right to wear the Kara to school. 99% of Sikhs are visible Sikhs for simply wearing the Kara!

Posted to Sikh News Discussion by
SFUK sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk

New Report: India’s BJP Scrutinized Over Afghan Sikh Massacre

Kite Fights is likely to raise many eyebrows in New Delhi

Pieter Friedrich – 28 June 2020. There’s more than meets the eye at first glance when one scrutinizes the motive for the massacre of 25 Sikhs at a Kabul, Afghanistan Gurdwara in March 2020, and considers the geo-political realities of neighboring countries with vested ideological and territorial interests in the so-called “graveyard of empires.”

“Kite Fights is likely to raise many eyebrows in New Delhi,” writes Canadian Sikh journalist Gurpreet Singh about the new report co-authored by myself and Bhajan Singh, a humanitarian and businessman known as an activist for minority rights.

“Those who are really concerned with what is happening in South Asia need to take out time to read Kite Fights thoroughly and with an open mind.

One may agree or disagree with interpretation of certain facts, but their authenticity cannot be challenged.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) not only claimed credit for the massacre of Afghan Sikhs but also insisted it was an act of revenge for India’s actions in Kashmir.

Such actions, over the past year, have included scrapping Kashmir’s constitutionally-guaranteed semi-autonomy, stripping it of statehood, mass-arresting the entire civil society, imposing an ongoing lock-down, and deploying tens of thousands of new troops to join the hundreds of thousands already occupying the region.

Terrorism is typically in pursuit of a political goal. The struggle over Kashmir, and who will control it, has certainly provoked much terrorism over the decades.

Yet how did any of the parties involved in the dispute over Kashmir benefit from the slaughter of Sikhs in Afghanistan?

Indian establishment commentators are now declaring the attack was part of a nefarious Pakistani strategy to thwart Indian interests in Afghanistan, a region which is increasingly viewed as a second front and a new battleground in India’s war to thwart Pakistan.

Shishir Gupta, executive editor of the The Hindustan Times, insists the killings were “ordered” by the Taliban “at the behest of Pakistani deep state with the larger motive of driving out India from Afghanistan.”

Gupta claims, “The play is much deeper with Pakistan setting sights on forcing India out of Afghanistan post withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.”

Yet researchers indicate that ISIS is at war with both the Taliban and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, long accused, sometimes correctly, of sponsoring cross-border terrorism against Indian interests, has, in recent years, openly acknowledged that, regretted and denounced it, and pledged a complete reversal of course.

Elements affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, are known for not only sponsoring pogroms of minorities but also staging terrorist attacks used to frame Muslims.

“The report points out that the incident came as the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in India was facing international criticism for mistreating religious minorities, particularly Muslims,” writes Gurpreet Singh.

“In all probabilities, the attack was like a god-sent opportunity for the Indian establishment for reasons well explained by Friedrich and Singh.”

War is the health of the state. “Relations between the two countries have never been stable,” says Gurpreet Singh about India and Pakistan. Are there incentives to prevent peace?

Hostile relations with Pakistan, fueled by raging Islamophobia, has always been not so much a policy position as a raison d’être for the BJP.

“Our fight for independence can be deemed to have come to a successful close only when we liberate all those areas now under enemy occupation,” said M S Golwalkar.

The chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the fascist paramilitary that birthed the BJP, Golwalkar called for “the hoisting of our flag in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan.”

Golwalkar’s ideological forerunner, V D Savarkar, laid the mosaic floor in the RSS/BJP’s temple of hate.

In 1938, calling Muslims “dangerous to our Hindu nation” and saying they should be watched “with the greatest distrust possible,” he threatened, “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslims, will have to play the part of German Jews.”

Meanwhile, Nazi Germany staged Kristallnacht, the first pogrom against German Jews, thus laying the foundations for the Holocaust.

Savarkar, who articulated “Hindutva” as a religious nationalist political ideology, insisted that the entire Indian subcontinent was “not only a fatherland but a holy land” for Hindus.

“The only geographical limits of Hindutva are the limits of our earth,” he declared.

Golwalkar also presented an “expansive image of our motherland” that stretched from Iran to Singapore and as far south as Sri Lanka, and absolutely included Afghanistan.

Lal Har Dayal, another foundational Hindu nationalist ideologue, insisted that “the future of the Hindu race” required the conquest and conversion of “Afghanistan and the Frontiers.”

He wrote: “Afghanistan and the hilly regions of the frontier were formerly part of India, but are at present under the domination of Islam.

Just as there is Hindu religion in Nepal, so there must be Hindu institutions in Afghanistan and the frontier territory; otherwise it is useless to win Swaraj.

If Hindus want to protect themselves, they must conquer Afghanistan and the frontiers and convert all the mountain tribes.”

For decades, The Republic of India has had a deep footprint in Afghanistan. Today, India views Afghanistan as a “second front” and an “emerging new battleground” in its rivalry with Pakistan.

That foreign policy outlook takes on far more sinister dimensions when New Delhi is dominated by the expansionist and supremacist RSS/BJP.

Meanwhile, the stated motive for the Kabul massacre bursts into flames when exposed to the light of day.

Why would Sikhs be targeted in revenge for India’s acts in Kashmir when they have grown famous for their self-sacrifice for the Kashmiris? As Gurpreet Singh writes:

“Notably, when 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers had died during a suicide attack blamed on Kashmiri insurgents seeking freedom from India in February 2019, BJP goons started targeting innocent Kashmiri Muslims all over India.

This polarization helped the BJP government win its second term, riding on a Hindu nationalist campaign.

“As if this were not enough, the BJP government passed a highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that only allows non-Muslim refugees to enter the country from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

“Sikhs have stood up for Muslims both in the wake of the February 2019 suicide attack and against the CAA.

They helped Kashmiri Muslims stranded in other parts of India to safely reach their homes and were in the forefront of the protests against CAA.

“The Sikh diaspora also came out to show its solidarity with Kashmiri Muslims during demonstrations held in the USA and Canada.

This has not gone down well with the BJP, which has an agenda to assimilate Sikhs into the Hindu fold.

“It is therefore logical to ask that why would Islamic extremists be targeting Sikhs in Afghanistan?”

So why then were those 25 Sikhs slaughtered in Kabul? There is no satisfactory answer to that question.

The only response is that the incident must be probed by a patient, full, and transparent investigation that treats official accounts with the greatest of skepticism and questions, with the utmost suspicion, those who stand to benefit the most.

Official narratives, ideologies, and authorities must all pass interrogation to be deemed trustworthy and true.

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.

Discover more by him at
www.pieterfriedrich.net

Hindustan Times – 20 US senators seek emergency refugee protection for Afghan Sikhs, Hindus

Senators called on the state department to prioritise resettlement opportunities under the US Refugee Admissions Programme allocation ceilings for Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 June 2020. As many as 20 US senators have urged the Trump administration to grant emergency refugee protection to Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan facing persecution as religious minorities.

In a bipartisan letter addressed to secretary of state Mike Pompeo, the senators called on the state department to prioritise resettlement opportunities under the US Refugee Admissions Programme allocation ceilings for Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities.

The population of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan has plummeted markedly due to years of persecution by the Taliban and more recent terrorist actions perpetrated by ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K), they said.

“This administration has repeatedly highlighted protecting religious freedom as a top foreign policy priority,” the senators wrote.

‘Existential threat to Hindus and Sikhs’

“Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan face an existential threat from ISIS-K because of their religion. To protect religious freedom, we urgently ask that you take these essential steps to defend these threatened religious minorities,” they said in the letter.

The letter also calls on Pompeo to offer additional support to members of the Sikh and Hindu communities that choose to remain in Afghanistan, and to ensure that Afghan religious minorities benefit from the USD 20.6 million in American aid already provided to address Covid-19.

“Ensuring that religious minorities receive US Covid-19 assistance should be a priority in all countries where protection of religious minorities is a challenge,” the senators added.

The letter was written by senator Robert Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, and senators Thom Tillis, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Kaine, Kamala Harris, Bob Casey, Chris Van Hollen, Bernie Sanders, Patty Murray, Chris Coons, Ed Markey, Tammy Duckworth, Jack Reed, Mark Warner, Ben Cardin, and James Lankford.

“ISIS-K targets religious minorities in Afghanistan and poses an existential threat to Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu communities in particular,” the letter said.

The Sikh and Hindu communities once numbered around 2,50,000 people but now have fewer than 1,000 individuals due to decades of persecution, they added.

The communities continue to face discrimination in access to housing and employment, and the Taliban has previously mandated that Sikhs and Hindus wear yellow armbands or patches as a marker of their religious status, the senators wrote.

In recent years, a new threat to Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu communities has emerged: terrorist attacks from ISIS-Khorasan.

In March, ISIS-Khorasan launched an attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul that killed 25 worshippers, and later carried out an explosion during a funeral service for those victims.

“As ISIS-Khorasan continues to attack civilians and international troops draw down in Afghanistan, Sikhs and Hindus are likely to face more violence,” they wrote.

I of course completely agree with the above, but I am disappointed that the Shia Hazaras are again left out. They have been and still are, just like Hindus and Sikhs, repeatedly targeted by ISIS-Khorasan . They are both a visible ethnic minority and Shias which puts them in the same despised category as Hindus and Sikhs.
Man-in-Blue

https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/20-us-senators-seek-emergency-refugee-protection-for-afghan-sikhs-hindus/story-rSeMi1Hyybm1eQMWcMZfzH.html

Dawn – PTM says ready for talks but calls for confidence-building measures

Iftikhar A Khan

Islamabad – Pakistan, 27 June 2020. The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) announced on Friday that the group accepted the government’s offer for talks but stressed that the authorities should first take confidence-building measures (CBMs) to demonstrate their sincerity.

Speaking at a press conference here, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen said the government must take steps to bridge the trust deficit, adding that it was customary for parties to take CBMs before entering into talks.

At the press conference, he was flanked by PTM-backed members of the National Assembly Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.

Mr Pashteen mentioned in particular the FIRs that had been registered against PTM activists, many of whom, he claimed, had been put behind bars.

PTM chief – two MNAs address press conference

He said the PTM was ready to describe in detail to the authorities in “black and white” all the problems being faced by the Pashtun from Chaman to Swat.

He said that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were constitutional rights which could not be taken away. “If there are excesses, there will be a protest,” he remarked.

In response to a question, he said Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had approached the PTM to formally offer a dialogue.

Speaking on the occasion, MNA Dawar claimed that the state had failed “to protect the people and provide them with fundamental human rights”.

He said there were “curbs even on freedom of association and assembly”. “FIRs with terrorism charges are registered when we hold a public meeting.”

Mr Dawar criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for calling the slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a “martyr” and asked the government to explain its priorities.

He said a shift in the state’s policy was a sine qua non (prerequisite) for peace and development. The country’s economy was “collapsing”, he claimed and said peace was essential for putting the economy back on track.

The parliamentarian asked the government to take all the stakeholders on board. Mr Wazir was of the view that the Baloch and Pushtun had always been deceived in the name of talks.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had recently extended an invitation to leaders of the PTM to come to the negotiating table and discuss all the contentious issues with the government.

“We Pakhtun belong to the same province; therefore, we should collectively work for the development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the minister said in a statement.

Mr Khattak said the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) had been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in order to bring the tribal people into the national mainstream.

He said the people belonging to the tribal districts were lagging behind others in terms of education, healthcare and communication infrastructure, adding that it was high time for the leaders to work for their uplift rather than indulge in any confrontation.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1565424/ptm-says-ready-for-talks-but-calls-for-confidence-building-measures

The Statesman – Joe Biden seeks restoration of peoples’ rights in Kashmir; disappointed with CAA, NRC

Some Hindu Americans have reached out to the Biden campaign expressing their displeasure over the language used against India and have urged them to reconsider their views.

New Delhi – India, 26 June 2020. The United State’s Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president Joe Biden has expressed disappointment over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the implementation of the NRC in Assam and wants India to take necessary steps to restore rights of all Kashmiris.

“These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy,” according to the policy paper, ‘Joe Biden’s agenda for Muslim American community’ posted recently on his campaign website.

Some Hindu Americans have reached out to the Biden campaign expressing their displeasure over the language used against India and have urged them to reconsider their views. This group has also sought a similar policy paper on Hindu Americans.

The Biden campaign didn’t reply to questions in this regard.

The policy paper clubbed together Kashmir and Assam in India with the forced detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims in western China, and discrimination and atrocities against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority, observing that Biden understands the pain Muslim-Americans feel towards what is happening in Muslim-majority countries and countries with significant Muslim populations.

“In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights of all the people of Kashmir.

Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weakens democracy,” said the policy paper.

“Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act into law,” it said.

Biden as United States Senator for decades and as vice president under President Barack Obama for eight years has been known as one of the best friends of India and Indian-Americans, reads the policy paper.

Highlighting Biden’s role in India-US ties, the policy paper says that he played a key role in the passage of the India-US civilian nuclear deal, and as vice president, he advocated increasing the bilateral trade to USD 500 billion per annum.

Well connected with the Indian Americans, Biden regularly hosted Diwali at his vice-presidential residence, it said.

“Biden understands the issues impacting India, issues of cross border terrorism, influx of terrorism across borders in Kashmir, issue of Hindu minorities sufferings in Kashmir, issues in Indo Pacific region with China, and the rising role of India as stronger US ally in all areas including economic growth, counter-terrorism, fight for human rights, climate change and global security,” Biden supporter Ajay Jain Bhutoria was quoted by PTI as saying.

“There are groups within various elected officials groups in US pushing language and agenda’s highlighting misinformation and damaging facts on how India handled its own internal matter on Kashmir, Ladakh or immigration reforms related to NRC,” rued Bhutoria, who is also on the National Finance Committee for Biden.

Bhutoria said US recently updated its immigration policy to block the H-1B and other visas for rest of the year to safeguard its own workers, which is completely questionable and will hurt the economy.

India too has a right to define its own Immigration policy to support its population and economy, he said.

“I grew up in Assam, Guwahati and I have seen the influx of people across the border and taking away important jobs, resources from local people in northeastern states,”said Bhutoria.

“The immigration reforms and NRC are welcome steps. Execution of these reforms and strategies need to be improved and India needs to do better in change management and rolling out of reforms,”he added.

The 2020 US presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday 03 November.