CBS Sacramento- Sacramento Sikhs share concerns of discrimination in India with Congressman

Sacramento-California-USA, 20 April 2017. Sacramento-area Sikhs may call America home, but they are looking for help from Washington to fight discrimination overseas.

Local Sikh leaders met with Representative Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) on Thursday evening to raise concerns over alleged discrimination and persecution against Sikhs, and other minorities, in India.

“We are always being targeted,” said Balbir Dhillon, president of the Sacramento Sikh Temple [Gurdwara].

He says American Sikhs continue to struggle with violent attacks against their community, whose turbans and long beards make them easy targets. But Thursday night, the focus was on India.

The group addressed the current conditions of minorities in India, including Muslims and Christians, who they say continue to be blacklisted under India’s new right-wing government. They believe, given McClintock’s record, he can be their voice in Washington.

“He has championed the cause of minorities heavily persecuted in India,” explained Bhajan Singh Pinder, the founder of the Organization For Minorities of India.

“It’s a just cause. I can’t put it any more simply than that,” said McClintock.

He says, given the growing role of India in international politics, holding their government accountable is crucial, adding that first-hand testimony from local groups about issues abroad can be valuable in helping to shape and prioritize US foreign policy.

As for issues Sikhs face in his district, McClintock says more education about American Sikhs, who are often confused with Muslims, can help stop the growing hate crimes against their community.

“I think we need to educate our fellow Americans on the commonality of the Sikh religion and the American founding principles,” said McClintock.

And despite McClintock’s often tough stance on illegal immigration and his demands that minorities do more to assimilate into American society, many Sikh leaders, many who are immigrants themselves, still believe they have a strong partner in their congressman.

“We feel Tom is with us. Anytime we call him, he is there,” said Dhillon.

While the topic was human rights violation in India, McClintock didn’t miss the opportunity to speak on the economy, talking about the need for tax reform and deregulation.

Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple West Sacramento
2301 Evergreen Ave, West Sacramento, CA 95691

Sacramento Sikhs Share Concerns Of Discrimination In India With Congressman

 

The Hindu – India, EU likely to resume talks

Federica Mogherini may discuss stalled trade pact; visit likely to open up ties with Italy

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi, 20 April 2017. The talks between India and the EU that were stalled in the backdrop of the Italian marines crisis are likely to kick-start during the April 21-23 visit of a high official of the European Union.

The Ministry of External Affairs announced that the High Representative of EU, Federica Mogherini, will hold discussions with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday.

Announcing the visit, Ms Mogherini said in her blog that she would hold talks with Ms Swaraj after arriving from China where she has co-chaired the EU-China Strategic Dialogue. “We will prepare for the 14th EU-India summit, to be held in New Delhi this year,” she said about her meeting in Delhi.

The visit of Ms Mogherini, a senior Italian politician now with the EU, is significant as she is known to have adopted a hard position on the Italian marines case which turned into a difficult legal and diplomatic issue between India and Italy.

Sources revealed that though Ms Mogherini is likely to discuss the stalled trade pact between India and EU, the visit is also likely to open up India-Italy ties.

“Senior politician Ivan Scalfarotto will be in Delhi during April 26-28 with a 200-strong business delegation. A high-level Indian delegation will be in Italy on May 10-12 for the joint economic commission meeting,” said a diplomatic source, confirming that the joint economic commission had not met during the past five years because of the marines issue.

Joint working groups

He also indicated that both sides had also revived joint working groups on defence, and science and technology. The joint working group on terrorism also met in January this year. The visit of Ms. Mogherini is likely to open up long pending issues in EU-India ties.

However, though bilateral India-Italy ties are expected to get a boost from her visit, India-EU ties would still have a long negotiation over the free trade agreement between both sides, reports suggest.

Market access

The main issues are over duties and market access but additional points of disagreement have reportedly emerged over new clauses that would not allow international companies to rush to international arbitration without completing cases in Indian legal system.

Following the cooling down of the marines issue, India had sent Ms. Swaraj to Rome last year where she had met her counterpart Paolo Gentiloni in the first high-level outreach since the marines crisis began in 2012.

Human Rights issues should also be discussed, both the right to manifest one’s religion or belief through the wearing of religious symbols in EU member states and the rights of religious minorities in India.
Man in Blue

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-eu-likely-to-resume-talks/article18161848.ece

Sikh24.com – French racist politician wants to ban Sikh turbans if wins elections

Sikh24 Editors

Paris-France, 19 April 2017. With the looming French election in less than a month, comments from one of the contenders, leave Sikhs stunned as she passively dismisses their existence.

Marine Le Pen, a French lawyer and politician, and most notably, head of the National Front, an ultra-right-wing party, was questioned about the Sikh turban by an American news channel interviewer, she responded that Sikhs would certainly not be allowed to wear the turban in public.

The interview by the CBS channel’s 60 Minutes show, revolved around Le Pen’s alarmingly prejudiced stances against the Muslim community in France.

She was asked directly if she would allow Sikhs to wear the turban, to which she delivered her unapologetic reply.

When asked if she would allow Muslim people to wear headscarves, Le Pen states, “No, I am opposed to wearing headscarves in public, that’s not France”.

In response to Anderson Cooper’s question if a Sikh person be allowed to wear a turban, Le Pen states, “No, not in public. We don’t have a lot of Sikh people in France. We don’t really hear much from them, or about them, which is good news”.

France is a country that has already banned the wearing of the dastar (turban) in all government buildings and schools since 2004. The Sikh community in France has faced a huge struggle as they campaigned to overturn the ban, with no international support.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/04/19/french-racist-politician-wants-to-ban-sikh-turbans-if-wins-elections/#.WPemPqIlHIU

The Asian Age – J&K: FIR against Army for tying man to jeep, using him as ‘human shield’

The video went viral on the social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike

Srinagar, 17 April 2017. A FIR has been registered in connection with a video of a young man who was tied to the front of an army vehicle and paraded in a village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, as a sign of warning of same consequence for stone-pelters.

FIR No. 38/17 U/S 342/149/506 & 367 RPC was registered in the Beerwah Police Station on 13 April.

The video went viral on social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike.

Former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted the video on Friday saying, “Here’s the video as well. A warning can be heard saying stone-pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry & follow up NOW!!”

A number of videos appeared on the social media in wake of the by-polls in Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9, when as low as 7.14 voter turnout was registered.

The re-poll at 38 polling stations on April 13 recorded 2 percent voting.

Internet services were also shut down on the night before elections on April 9 and were resumed completely on April 13.

Another video that was widely circulated on the social media and TV channels was of an armed CRPF personnel exercising immense restraint even when he was being attacked by few protestors.

The Jammu and Kashmir police, on complaint of the CRPF, later registered a case to investigate the matter.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/170417/jk-fir-against-army-for-tying-man-to-jeep-using-him-as-human-shield.html

Press release – Global Sikh Council hails ‘1984 Sikh Genocide motion’ Ontario, Canada

10 April 2017

Global Sikh Council thanks the Lawmakers of Ontario Province, Canada for the legislation passed in the Assembly recognizing the 1984 Sikh Riots in India as “Sikh Genocide”. This is something the successive Indian Governments have been trying to keep hidden for years.

Lady Dr. Mrs. Kanwaljit Kaur-Singh President of the Global Sikh Council (GSC) lauded the Liberal MPP Mrs. Harinder Kaur Mahli of Brampton Springdale for bringing this motion No. 46 which was passed by 34 to 5 in Legislative assembly of Ontario.

Canada India Foundation tried to block the motion. In a strongly worded letter written to the Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne, the foundation warned of serious implications if this motion is passed.

GSC is surprised, to the reaction of Ministry External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay who said “We reject this misguided motion which is based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, rule of law and the judicial process”.

In fact the MEA spokesman’s statement is opposite to the actions of his Master and those made by senior Indian Ministers of the present Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Government in power.

The present Home Affairs minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, publicly pronounced November 1984 of massacre of Sikhs as “genocide” at a function while distributing cheques of compensation in Tilak Vihar, on December 2014 where many of the victims of the massacres continue to reside.

On January 28, 2014 BJP Spokesperson Mr. Prakash Javdekar had admitted that “1984 was genocide and pre-planned, it was executed by the then ruling government”.

Javdekar is now the union minister for Human Resources Development.

Despite aforesaid confessions by Mr. Rajnath Singh, one of the most senior cabinet minister and Prakash Javedekar erstwhile spokesperson India’s ruling party (BJP), the Indian state does not admit the fact of Sikh Genocide 1984 and as usual indulged into its regular “denial” tactics.

It is worth mentioning, that in year 2013, Sushma Swaraj, now minister of External Affairs and Rajnath Singh attended the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the “November 1984 Sikh Genocide Memorial” at Gurdawara Rakab Ganj in Delhi.

Lady Singh said we Sikhs also recognize the important work done by Jagmeet Singh NDP Deputy Leader for having raised this November 1984 Sikh Genocide in the Ontario Legislature last year in June 2016.

Although official reports record the killings of nearly 3,000 Sikhs, unofficial estimates are much higher. Here Lady Singh quoted, Barbara Crossette, a former New York Times bureau chief in New Delhi, who wrote in a report for World Policy Journal:

“Almost as many Sikhs died in a few days in India in 1984 than all the deaths and disappearances in Chile during the 17-year military rule of General Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990.”

For more than three decades the Indian media and the ruling class categorize the November 1984 Sikh Genocide by using the term as “1984 anti-Sikh Riots”.

Survivors of 1984 Genocide and the Sikhs world wide say, they got some justice not from the Indian Government but from the Lawmakers of Ontario Province, Canada who have recognized that it was “1984 Genocide”.

Global Sikh Council urges Indian Government to follow the example set by Ontario Province and formally declare the mass killings of Sikhs in 1984 as “genocide” and take appropriate action against those responsible.

Gurdeep Singh Kundan
Secretary Global Sikh Council
Tel. +41 79 352 4159
Email: gskundan1@yahoo.com

Posted to Sikh News Discussion by
Hardeep Singh <bbinfo108@yahoo.co.uk>

The Asian Age – Hindutva hijacks Modi’s vikas agenda

Those claiming to act on behalf of Hindus are, therefore, shaming the vast majority of Hindus

Pavan K Varma

Op/Ed, 9 April 2017. I am proud to be a Hindu, but I am deeply concerned at some things that are happening in the name of Hinduism. The Hinduism that I subscribe to had sages who had the courage to say millennia ago that tolerance and inclusion are the essence of the spiritual vision.

Centuries before Christ was born, at a time when people, for lack of other exposure, believed that only what they believed was right, our sages pronounced: Ekam satya bipraha bahuda vedanti, the truth is one; wise people call it by different names.

Around the same time, when most other people believed that only their world had legitimacy, our sages had the courage to say: Udar charitanam vasudhaiva kutumbukam, for the broad-minded the entire world is their family.

Those who laid the foundations of our religious worldview could confidently say, at a time when most other social groupings were insecurely insular: Aano bhadra krtavo yantu vishvatah — let noble thoughts come to me from all directions.

Unfortunately, this great religion is being hijacked today, but not by outsiders. It is being undermined by a small group of Hindus who believe that they alone know what Hinduism is. Unlike our sages who said that the one truth can be interpreted by the wise in many ways, their approach is to say that we alone have a monopoly on truth.

Unlike our founding fathers who wished to embrace the entire world as their family, these “Hindus” believe in singling out for exclusion anyone who does not agree with them. And, unlike our wise ancestors who invited noble thoughts to flow from all directions, these fanatics have a closed mind to any other opinion.

This tragic coup is unfolding before our eyes, and the majority of Hindus are watching mutely. One reason for this sorry state of affairs is that these self-anointed guardians of our religion are violent people. They do not believe in persuasion, discussion, dialogue, debate, shastrarth or argumentation.

Nor do they believe in the rule of law. They believe that they have the right to silence those who oppose them through physical violence and brute force. And, the level of their violence directly corresponds to the level of their ignorance.

What is worse is that they believe that they can get away by breaking the law because those who are supposed to be the guardians of the law are actually on their side.

The most ugly and frightening symptom of this devaluation of Hinduism is the emergence of vigilante squads consisting of lumpen groups who now roam around this ancient land beating up and killing people on the basis of mere suspicion.

They have no sanction, or remit, or locus standi or authority to do so except their own hubris and the belief that they can get away with it because the authorities will not take action against them.

This last part is a very worrisome development because it undermines not only the rule of law that is the very basis of an organised, democratic society but the Constitution and the Republic itself.

It is for this reason that the Supreme Court has issued notices on April 7 to six states seeking to know within three weeks why groups calling themselves gau rakshaks should not be banned like other outlawed outfits for taking the law into their own hands.

The six states are UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The highest court has also asked these states to explain what administrative measures they have taken to prevent such vigilantism. It is not a coincidence that of the six states five are BJP-ruled.

Many Hindus hold the cow in reverence. That sentiment should be respected. In many states there are laws banning cow slaughter. Those laws should not be infringed. But, enforcing the law is the jurisdiction of those authorised to do so.

If citizens believe that they can, in the name of religious belief, take the law into their own hands, we are looking at a state of anarchy. Enough has already happened to justify the SC’s directive.

Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in UP on the suspicion of eating beef; dalits were flogged in public in Gujarat on the suspicion that they were cattle thieves; Majloom Ansari and Inayatullah Khan, who were on their way to a cattle fair, were hung from a tree in Jharkhand; Zaid Ahmed Bhat was burnt alive on a highway in Udhampur in Jammu & Kashmir on the suspicion that he was smuggling cattle; a 25-year-old was thrashed to death by cow vigilantes in Ahmedabad; another 29-year-old was lynched by a mob in Udupi for ferrying cattle in a van; and now, we have the latest incident of Pehlu Khan beaten to death by gau rakshaks in Rajasthan.

This manner of taking the law into one’s own hands presents a very strange version of the slogan “Sabka saath, sabka vikas”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the majority of those masquerading as gau rakshaks were just “anti-social” elements.

But that view does not seem to be shared by those implementing the law in the states in which his party is in power.

The deeply worrisome thing is that one act of hijacking the law emboldens the next. We now hear of Yuva Hindu Vahini workers halting church services in Gorakhpur. Some days ago members of the Karni Rajput Sena attacked filmmaker Bhansali and vandalised the sets of his film on Padmavati at the Jaigarh Fort in Rajasthan.

We also hear reports of excesses being committed against couples and boys and girls by vigilantes acting under the sanction of “anti-Romeo” squads.

Hinduism does not sanction this kind of violence. Nor can Hinduism, that upholds dharma, countenance this kind of willful abrogation of the law of the land.

Those claiming to act on behalf of Hindus are, therefore, shaming the vast majority of Hindus. All those who live the genuine Hindu experience must work together to stop them.

Pavan K Varma, an author and former diplomat, is a member of the JD(U).

http://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/090417/hindutva-hijacks-modis-vikas-agenda.html

Human Rights Without Frontiers – Pakistan: Jailed Christians forced to convert to Islam, a disgrace on the justice system says Pakistani Church

Kamran Chaudhry

AsiaNews, 30 March 2017. Religious leaders and Christian activists are calling for action against a prosecutor who confessed to pushing Christian prisoners to give up their faith to embrace Islam.

This comes after Pakistani media reported that Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah told 42 Christian prisoners before an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, Punjab, that he could “guarantee their acquittal” if they converted to Islam.

Contacted by a British newspaper, Shah first denied the allegation then conceded that he had offered them a choice.

The Christians involved in the case are all from Youhanabad, Lahore. They were arrested in connection with the lynching of two suspected Muslim terrorists shortly after the Taliban attacked two churches on 15 March 2015.

“It is really bad to lead people astray,” said Reverend Arshad Ashknaz of Christ Church, from one of the churches attacked in Youhanabad, speaking to AsiaNews. “This,” he added, “will give a bad image to the court and the whole legal fraternity.

In his view, “The public prosecutor can be sued for this prejudiced action. We plan to meet him soon. The government should reject this. Fear of death can force anyone to change religion”.

This has not happened in isolation. Forced conversions are a hot topic in the country. Pakistani human rights organisations note that each year about a thousand Hindu and Christian women are forced to convert to marry Muslim men.

According to the latest Report on religious minorities in Pakistan by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, five Christians converted to Islam in 2014, including three teenager girls who were abducted and forced into marriage.

Against the backdrop, Sindh last year became the first Pakistani province to pass a law against forced religious conversions. However, the provincial government was forced to go back on its decision to protect minorities after opposition from some religious scholars.

For Reverend Ashknaz, “There is no religious freedom. The whole system supports Christian women who marry their Muslim spouses, but it is a torment for Christian men who do the same. Their families suffer and their houses are burnt”.

According to Nadeem Anthony, a Christian lawyer, Asia Bibi, the Christian mother on death row for the past seven years charged with blaspheming the Prophet Mohammad, was made a similar offer.

However, “My faith is alive and I will never convert”, she told him when they met at the Sheikhupura District Jail in 2010.

“This is a common practice. Even my Muslim friends asked me to do the same. Such impositions are expected in cases of religious persecution”, said the lawyer, who is also a human rights activist.

View this newsletter:

http://hrwf.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Pakistan2017.pdf

The Statesman – 1984 riots: Jagdish Tytler refuses to undergo lie detection test

New Delhi, 30 March 2017. Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who has been given a clean chit by the CBI in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, on Thursday told a Delhi court that he is not ready to undergo lie detection test as it amounts to cruelty.

Tytler’s counsel objected to the test, saying the CBI has not given any reason for conducting it and the agency’s plea for the test was a “gross misuse of law” and it was filed with “malafide intention”.

He also filed a list of events since the riots broke out till now to which the victims’ counsel said they would a reply to it.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Shivali Sharma listed the matter for April 18 for further arguments on the CBI’s plea for permission to conduct the test on Tytler and arms dealer Abhishek Verma for the purpose of further probe.

The move came in pursuance to the court’s December 4, 2015 order in which it was mentioned that lie detection test may be conducted, if required.

Verma, a witness in the case, also told the court that he was ready for the polygraph test if he is provided with adequate security as he apprehends threat to his life as well as to his family.

He also said he was ready to record his statement before a magistrate.

The CBI prosecutor, however, did not agree with the proposal of recording Verma’s statement and said the consent for polygraph test should be unconditional.

Advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, who represented the victims, questioned the CBI as to why it was refusing to record the statement when the witness was ready for it.

She also said that the witness should be given proper security if he apprehends threat to his life.

Meanwhile, the CBI filed a status report before the court in a sealed cover regarding its further probe in the case.

The case pertains to riots at Gurudwara Pulbangash in north Delhi where three people were killed on November 1, 1984, a day after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Tytler, who has denied any role in the riots, has been given a clean chit by the CBI thrice in the case but the probe agency has been directed by the court to further investigate the matter.

Verma has made several statements to the CBI against Tytler that he allegedly pressured the witnesses in the case.

The court had in December 2015 directed the CBI to further investigate the matter and had said it would monitor the probe every two months so that no aspect is left un-investigated.

The agency had reinvestigated the case of killing of Badal Singh, Thakur Singh and Gurcharan Singh near the gurudwara after a court in December 2007 refused to accept its closure report. The CBI has filed three closure reports in the case.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/1984-riots-jagdish-tytler-refuses-to-undergo-lie-detection-test-1490883864.html

Dawn – Cousin of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam gunned down in Nankana Sahib

Imran Gabol

Nankana Sahib-Panjab-Pakistan, 30 March 2017. A prominent local leader of the Ahmadi community and a relative of Nobel laureate Abdus Salam was gunned down in Nankana Sahib on Thursday morning in an attack claimed by the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

Advocate Malik Saleem Latif, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya in Nankana Sahib, was on his way to a local court on a motorbike along with his son, Advocate Farhan, when Latif was targeted and shot at by “unidentified attackers”.

Latif’s son informed Dawn that the attackers had fired at them from behind.

“Saleem Latif was spreading Ahmadi beliefs in the region,” the LeJ said in a statement claiming Thursday’s attack.

A district police officer (DPO) said that a suspect had been identified and police are narrowing their leads in the case. He refused to disclose further information for the time being.

“We have three teams investigating and searching for the assailants and trying to apprehend them,” DPO Shahzada Billa Umer later told Reuters.

No check on hate-mongering

The murder sparked outrage in the Ahmadi community.

Saleem Uddin, a spokesman for the community, said the incident shows that ongoing military operations Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasad are not being implemented the way they should be.

“Threats against Ahmadis are common in the area and Latif was a prominent member of the community and a well-known lawyer,” he told Reuters.

“Around 1,700 advertisements were published against the Ahmadiya community in local and national newspapers in 2016,” said Saleem. “There is no check on hate mongering and if the situation remains the same then the killing of Ahmadis will also continue,” he added.

Saleem said the community is battling discriminatory laws in the country and expressed frustration that hate mongers are enjoying the support of the government.

The killing of the lawyer today puts the spotlight back on Pakistan’s problem of Ahmadi persecution. The issue is deep-rooted and dates back to pre-Partition India.

The mistreatment of and mainstream bias against the community is one of the main reasons that Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, fled the country to reside in the United Kingdom.

Although Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently made the ‘bold gesture’ to rename Quaid-i-Azam University’s (QAU) physics department after Professor Abdus Salam, the community still greatly suffers at the hands of extremists.

Ahmadis are often subjected to humiliation and harassment in educational institutions and the workplace and in the media.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1323766/cousin-of-nobel-laureate-abdus-salam-gunned-down-in-nankana-sahib