The Asian Age – Rahul calls Priyanka’s arrest ‘disturbing’ while she continues dharna

Section 144 has been imposed in the area because of which she was stopped and sat in dharna

Varanasi – UP – India, 19 July 2019. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East) and party workers sat on a dharna for the second time at Chunar Guest House in Mirzapur, UP on Friday.

She was taken there by the UP police who detained her earlier in the day.

“I will go to Sonbhadra and meet the victims. I will not move from here till I meet victims and deceased kins,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

She arrived in Sonbhadra earlier today and sat on a dharna which was against the state government for not allowing her to meet the kin of those killed in firing over a land dispute on 17 July.

Police detained her citing violation of Section 144, which was imposed in the area. The section prohibits assembly of more than 4 people in an area.

Reacting on her arrest, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for the “illegal arrest” of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Sonbhadra, saying this “arbitrary application of power” to stop her from meeting those injured in a clash that reveals the BJP dispensation’s increasing insecurity in the state.

“Yes, we still won’t be cowed down. We were only going peacefully to meet victim families. I don’t know where they are taking me, we are ready to go anywhere,” she told ANI on being asked if she was arrested.

Priyanka was detained from Varanasi and was not allowed to move ahead to Mirzapur.

“Just want to go and meet families of victims (Sonbhadra firing case), I even assured that I will take only four people with me. Yet the administration is not letting us go there. They should tell us why we are being stopped. We will continue to sit here peacefully,” Priyanka said while speaking to media persons here.

“Officers told me that they have received an order from higher authorities, I want them to show me such notice,” she added.

She was escorted amidst heavy police security.

According to police, nine people were killed in the firing.

On the day of the incident, Priyanka had criticised the state government over the law and order situation.

Taking to Twitter, she had said, “In the BJP ruled state, the confidence of criminals is so high that broad day-light killings are continuously happening. The killing of 9 Gond tribesmen, including 3 women, by the land mafia in Umbha village of Sonbhadra is heart-wrenching.

Administration and Chief Minister are all sleeping. Is this how the state will be crime-free?”

The incident took place in Ubbha village of Ghorawal where the village head went to take possession of his land purchased two years ago. However, he met with opposition from the villagers which triggered the firing allegedly by his aides leading to the deaths.

“Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took cognisance of the incident and expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased. He directed the district magistrate of Sonbhadra to provide immediate medical attention to the injured,” a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office had stated.

Besides asking the Director General of Police (DGP) to personally monitor the case, Adityanath had told the officer to ensure effective action to catch the culprits.

Five people were arrested on July 18 in connection with the case.

https://www.asianage.com/india/politics/190719/ready-to-go-anywhere-priyanka-detained-in-narayanpur-by-up-police.html

Dawn – ICJ rejects India’s plea for Jadhav’s return, grants consular access

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday announced its verdict on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”.

Den Haag – Zuidholland – The Netherlands, 17 July 2019. The ICJ, however, rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistan from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav’s release and ordering his return to India.

Accompanied by Queen’s counsel Barrister Khawar Qureshi, a 13-member Pakistani delegation, led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor along with the Foreign Office’s Director General South Asia Dr Mohammad Faisal and comprising officials of the ministries of law and foreign affairs, was present in the courtroom.

The ICJ said that even though it had found Pakistan in violation of Article 36 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), “it is not the conviction and sentence of Mr. Jadhav which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”

The most the ICJ said it could do was to order Pakistan to cease violation of Article 36 and review the case in light of how that violation may have affected the case’s outcome.

“The Court notes that Pakistan acknowledges that the appropriate remedy in the present case would be effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence,” it observed.

To this end, Pakistan was directed to immediately inform Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, grant India consular access, and then review the case while considering, under the laws of Pakistan, how not doing so earlier may have impacted the case’s outcome.

Pakistan had argued that Article 36 is not applicable to persons believed to be involved in espionage.

“The Court considers that the violation of the rights set forth in Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention, and its implications for the principles of a fair trial, should be fully examined and properly addressed during the review and reconsideration process,” the court directed.

“In particular, any potential prejudice and the implications for the evidence and the right of defence of the accused should receive close scrutiny during the review and reconsideration,” it said.

“The Court notes that the obligation to provide effective review and reconsideration can be carried out in various ways. The choice of means is left to Pakistan,” it added. However, it stressed that, “Pakistan shall take all measures to provide for effective review and reconsideration, including, if necessary, by enacting appropriate legislation.” While that matter is decided, Pakistan has been directed to suspend the execution of the death penalty awarded to Jadhav.

Looking at it from the Pakistani side the ICJ ruling does not really look like a victory for India. I had hoped that the ICJ would have disallowed the military court and that it would have been critical about the death sentence.
Man in Blue

https://www.dawn.com/news/1494604/icj-rejects-indias-plea-for-jadhavs-return-grants-consular-access

The Hindu – Takeaways from the Kulbhushan Jadhav case ruling

India’s more successful legal journey to the ICJ must now reshape New Delhi’s approach to potentially difficult situations

Arjun Subramaniam

New Delhi – India, 18 July 2019. Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer, who was allegedly abducted by Pakistani intelligence from Iran and sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism by a farcical military court in Pakistan, has been given a glimmer of hope by the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Responding to a petition by India that sought an annulment of his death sentence because Pakistan had violated numerous international treaties and extracted irregular confessions under coercion, the ICJ, on July 17, 2019, ruled with a decisive vote (15-1) that Mr. Jadhav cannot be executed by Pakistan, and that he must be given adequate consular access and a fair trial.

The ruling also urged Pakistan to review his conviction. This constitutes a major diplomatic and legal victory for India, with Pakistan accusing India of ‘ambushing’ it at The Hague.

Focussed strategy

Given its rather lukewarm record in the past of securing the release of Indian detainees in Pakistan through bilateral negotiations, India’s strategy in this case has been to exploit increasing international acceptance that Pakistan was an emerging ‘rogue’ state.

Laying stress on Pakistan’s scant regard for Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, it deals with the arrest, detention and trial of a foreign citizen, India’s counsel, Harish Salve, highlighted two compelling arguments. First was the arrest process, which was not accompanied by an immediate notification to Indian consular officials in Islamabad.

There was a delay of over three weeks before India was informed, and it was during this period, according to reliable sources from within Pakistan, that Mr Jadhav was subjected to all means of coercion and forced to sign a ‘confession taken under custody’ without adequate legal representation.

Second was the two-way denial of access and communication by any means between Mr. Jadhav and consular officials and a failure to inform him of the rights he enjoyed under the convention.

The legitimacy of military courts has always been controversial within the international legal system that emerged in the post-World War II era as a fast-track system of delivering skewed justice by authoritarian regimes and military dictatorships.

Purportedly set up in Pakistan in 2015 as a counter-terrorist and anti-corruption initiative, Mr Jadhav’s sentencing in April 2017 was based on confessions taken in captivity and is part of several arbitrary sentences by Pakistan’s Military Court.

Violation of rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognises the right to an effective defence against criminal charges, and to a fair and impartial trial, in which the accused is represented by a lawyer of his choice.

By denying consular access, Pakistan has stood in gross violation of both the Vienna Convention and the ICCPR. Had due process been followed, and then had Mr. Jadhav been charged with espionage, India may not have had the necessary room to take the matter to the ICJ.

By attempting to circumvent the ‘due diligence’ process, Pakistan has exposed serious chinks in its legal environment and jeopardised its standing in the comity of nations. The Jadhav case has also revealed Pakistan’s desperation in its search for ‘proxies’ as drivers of the internal unrest in Balochistan.

Reliable sources within India’s intelligence agencies hint at the possibility of Mr Jadhav having been abducted by armed groups operating on the border between Iran and Balochistan.

Pakistan is known to have used proxy Sunni groups such as the Jaish al-Adl against Iran, and Iranian officials have often spoken to their Indian counterparts about Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorist activities along the Iran-Pakistan border.

A testimony to the growing menace of this group is its recent designation as a front of Jundullah, which is a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’.

India has shown both intent and resilience in attempting to secure the release of Mr. Jadhav despite the many hiccups along the way. Following a synergised approach steered by the National Security Adviser and the External Affairs Minister, India fought the kidnapping of Mr. Jadhav, an Indian national who was legitimately residing in Iran after retirement from the Indian Navy.

Realising, in 2017, following his death sentence that the overall deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan had closed the door on any bilateral way of securing his release, India rightly chose to go the ‘international way’ by fielding a formidable legal team led by the jurist, Harish Salve.

Sparing no efforts on the human aspects of the case too, India managed to get Mr Jadhav to meet his mother and wife after the death sentence was pronounced. The first success achieved by the Indian legal team was on May 9, 2017 when the ICJ sent an urgent message to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, urging him to stay the execution till India’s case was heard fully and the ICJ arrived at a verdict.

Moving slowly but surely through the legal battle for over two years, India, has been demonstrating significant synergy between various stakeholders in the case.

The final verdict will, hopefully, galvanise the Indian establishment to step on the pedal and exert pressure on Pakistan to rescind the death sentence and allow Mr Jadhav consular access and legitimate legal platform to mount his defence.

While it would be wishful thinking to assume that Mr Jadhav would return to India soon, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon that the Indian strategic establishment would do well to exploit.

Having deftly navigated the legal and diplomatic channels and restrained the Pakistan military by securing manoeuvring space following the ICJ verdict, a leading power such as India must demonstrate its intent and capacity to extract desirable outcomes out of potentially difficult, or seemingly impossible situations. Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case is one such challenge.

Arjun Subramaniam is a strategic commentator and Visiting Professor at Ashoka University

This is an Indian reaction to the ruling of the International Court of Justice
I will look today for an article that reflects the Pakistani view
Man in Blue

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/takeaways-from-the-kulbhushan-jadhav-case-ruling/article28524139.ece?homepage=true

The Hindustan Times – UN court verdict today on Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by Pakistan court

The verdict on Kulbhushan Jadhav by the UN court will be delivered on Wednesday after India challenged the death sentence given to the former naval officer.

Ashok Bagriya and Rezaul H Laskar

New Delhi – India, 17 July 2019. The top court of the UN will on Wednesday announce its verdict on India’s petition challenging the death sentence given to former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court for alleged involvement in spying.

Almost five months ago, The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) reserved its verdict in the matter after hearing oral arguments by India and Pakistan. ICJ president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will read the court’s decision in a sitting at 3pm (6.30pm IST) on Wednesday (17/07).

Jadhav was arrested by Pakistani authorities on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan on charges of espionage and involvement in subversive activities. India was informed about the arrest on March 25, 2016 and Islamabad has not offered any explanation for this delay. Jadhav was sentenced to death in April 2017 after a secret trial by a military court.

After being petitioned by India in May 2017, the ICJ directed Pakistan to “take all measures at its disposal” to ensure Jadhav was not executed pending the court’s final judgment.

India has argued Pakistan acted in an irresponsible manner and violated several international treaties and obligations, including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by refusing to grant consular access to Jadhav.

Indian officials have described Jadhav’s trial by a Pakistani military court as “farcical” and said he was denied the right to defence by a counsel of his choice. His conviction and death sentence were based on alleged “confessions” made in captivity.

They have said Jadhav was a civilian when he was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan and used as a scapegoat to blame India for Pakistan’s problems in the restive province of Balochistan.

During hearings at the ICJ last year, India sought Jadhav’s release and the quashing of his death sentence. It also asked for Jadhav’s custody to be declared illegal.

Jurisprudence on human rights, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, recognises the importance of due process, including the right to effective defence and an impartial trial. Jadhav’s trial by a military court violated due process standards, officials said.

Pakistan has not yet made the charges or the judgment delivered against Jadhav public, and he is unlikely to get justice, the officials added.

India also raised the Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troops in February this year to highlight Pakistan’s role in sponsoring terror activities.

In its arguments, Pakistan said India’s claim for relief should be dismissed or declared inadmissible. It also relied on a 2008 bilateral treaty on consular relations, which it argued overrides any obligations under the Vienna Convention. It also contended espionage and terrorism are exceptions to the Vienna Convention.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/un-court-ruling-on-kulbhushan-jadhav-likely-today/story-awICgAyMxeqy1cRMWVvqEN.html

Sikh24.com – Nationwide USA immigration raids planned to begin on Sunday

Sikh24 Editors

Washington DC – USA, 13 July 2019. Nationwide Raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin. The final details of this rapidly changing operation, backed by President Donald Trump, have not been released according to two current and one former homeland security officials.

This operation was previously delayed for two weeks, partly because of resistance among officials at Trump’s immigration agency. However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Ken Cuccinelli said Wednesday that the ICE raids are “absolutely going to happen.”

According to officials, the raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will span over multiple days. The deportations will be “collateral,” meaning “authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.”

Also, ICE agents will be targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered to be deported and will be carrying out this operation in at least 10 major cities.

According to local sources, an Indian restaurant in Washington DC was raided by ICE last week during which several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland.

Given the prospect of more immigration raids in the DC area, Saldef and Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC) are calling for volunteers to join them for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th. If you or someone you know needs more information regarding this issue please email us at info@saldef.org.

As always, we’re on the frontlines. We are making sure that our community’s concerns and needs are being addressed. Whether it’s training and recruiting new volunteers, passing legislation to condemn hate crimes, or holding events such as Know Your Rights forums, we exist to serve you.

Saldef and Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC) Contact Info:
1050 Connecticut Ave. NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
United States of America
202-393-2700

Nationwide U.S Immigration Raids planned to begin on Sunday

The Telegraph – National Register of Citizens (NRC): A major storm is brewing

Even pro-BJP groups recognize that the registration exercise could end up condemning Indians to an appalling fate

Sanjoy Hazarika

Kolkata – West Bengal – India, 15 July 2019. The National Register of Citizens process in Assam ploughs relentlessly on. At the end of this month a full list is to be published, ostensibly of all Indians identified in the state. That is when the scale of misery and jubilation may be gauged. Yet that’s not the end of this long, complex journey.

A few days back, another list was published of one lakh persons who are to be left out of the list because they could not produce convincing documentation; this followed scattershot complaints by unidentified persons against some who were already on the NRC.

For those who do not make the cut on July 31, there is a longer battle in store, they will have to spend time, funds (invest in lawyers) and appear before quasi-judicial processes, the foreigners tribunals, to prove their nationality.

These courts, manned by lawyers without extensive judicial experience or deep knowledge of jurisprudence, are the first point of appeal followed by the state high court and finally the Supreme Court.

The Assam government had said it would add 400 FTs more to the current 100 (it later promised 1,000), but has it made the clear determination of whether the person is fully qualified for that office and can take a decision without fear or favour?

Many of us who have followed the long and tortuous journey of the NRC, and the earlier struggle between the 1970s-1980s by student groups and others for detection of foreign nationals (that is, the ubiquitous ‘Bangladeshi’), had pinned faith in a process that would create a list which would be clean, clear and correct.

Knowing the complexities of Assam, a simple land with deep divisions, this was perhaps a naive hope.

The ‘foreigners issue’, as the question of informal migration (largely from Bangladesh) is defined in popular terms in Assam, is a challenge that goes back to the time of Independence. However, critical perceptions about in-migration and demographic change precede that.

Assam now appears to be entering an uncertain period with little clarity on a fundamental question: will the list competently identify ‘foreigners’? Arguably some 29 million persons had made the cut last July but all hell broke loose with the announcement that nearly four million had not.

Of the latter, 3.2 million persons have petitioned for their inclusion and the issue has figured at international and national forums. Some of the stories which have emerged over the past year are worth repeating, for they cut across religious, ethnic and language divisions and point to major inaccuracies.

In case after case, a pattern has emerged showing a combination of poor judgment, problematic data, arbitrariness or just indifference that has harmed Indians.

A Kargil veteran who was marched into a detention camp and then released; a policeman who cannot vote since he has been proclaimed a foreigner; a 92-year-old man who has had to be carried into court to face trial; a woman who ended up in a detention camp when the police could not find the person they were looking for and just picked her up; prominent Gorkhas including a Sahitya Akademi winner find themselves in the excluded list.

In many cases, a mismatch of a letter in a name connecting them to either parent or grandparent was enough to bar them.

Most of the cases cited above, barring the Gorkhas, were people of Bengali origin, both Hindu and Muslim. It is not just about religion. The poor and vulnerable who cannot afford lawyers find themselves in this situation.

The NRC impact is spreading: other states are arming themselves with similar plans. Nagaland has started a 60-day exercise aimed at identifying the indigenous people (read members of 16 Naga tribes whose homes are in the state) and one anti-immigrant group has declared that the “indigenous” are those who are “Naga by blood”.

Does the definition of the indigenous in Nagaland includes mainland Indians, be they Assamese, Bengali (Hindus and Muslim), Marwari, Bihari or from other parts of this country?

It does not take a tarot card reader to see that a major storm is brewing. Many may not have predicted this when the NRC was given wings in 2016, after the Bharatiya Janata Party gained power in Assam. What has unfortunately happened is that the exercise in Nagaland and in parts of Assam could end up condemning Indians to an appalling fate.

Even pro-BJP groups recognize this. One said recently that it had procured 2.8 million signatures of people in Assam demanding an “error-free NRC”. It pointed out that the Supreme Court itself had suggested a pilot sample reverification of 10 per cent of the total number on the NRC but not issued orders for this. Its concern was that many Hindus of Bangla origin would be left out.

A recent citizen’s group which travelled across three districts in Assam found that many women, both Hindu and Muslim, have been declared foreigners because they did not have the documents to link them to their father, the crucial “legacy data” or family tree link in the NRC.

Prateek Hajela, the NRC state coordinator, has said that “inability to provide linkage documents appears to be the biggest reason why applicants couldn’t substantiate their claims”.

Indeed, from its very start, the NRC exercise has struggled with technical hurdles.

For one, the key base document for the NRC is its predecessor: the first and only NRC of 1951. Yet enumerators found that copies of this NRC were not available in three districts: Sivasagar, Cachar and Karbi Anglong.

So new data based on 16 parameters were developed for these district populations, 67 to 68 years after this initial exercise, based on electoral rolls and census data. Two separate systems of checks and cross checks have had to be created, quite different from each other. Is it surprising that there should be confusion?

The exercise is officially over on July 31. But there is no clarity on what happens to those out of the lists, will they stay at their homes and fight trials, will they have to move elsewhere, will those found as foreigners by FTs be sent to detention camps after a 120-period when appeals can be heard?

A Union minister of state for home affairs has told Parliament that a new manual for detention camps was being prepared with the following proposed facilities: “electricity, drinking water, hygiene, accommodation with beds, sufficient toilets with running water, communication facilities, provision for kitchen”.

The draft manual has been sent to all state governments raising questions about how long the Centre proposes to keep people at such sites.

This is aimed obviously at blunting criticism by some who have been released from detention camps in Assam after their Indian-ness was upheld. They describe conditions are appalling with scores packed into a single room and sharing a single toilet.

Exacerbating the issue is the fact that even those detected as Bangladeshis cannot be deported unless Bangladesh acknowledges them as its own, which it steadfastly refuses to do.

Governments are required to uphold Constitutional obligations, especially Article 21 of the Constitution, which proclaims that no one may be deprived of his life and liberty except by due process. In addition, there are India’s international commitments to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which does not recognize statelessness.

The author is international director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/nrc-a-major-storm-is-brewing/cid/1694479?ref=top-stories_home-template

BBC News – Jai Shri Ram: The Hindu chant that became a murder cry

In many parts of India, Hindus often invoke the popular god Ram’s name as a greeting. But in recent years, Hindu lynch mobs have turned Ram’s name into a murder cry, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi.

New Delhi – India, 10 July 2019. Last month, a video that went viral on social media showed a terrified Muslim man tied to a pole being assaulted by a lynch mob made up of Hindu men in the eastern state of Jharkhand. In the video, 24-year old Tabrez Ansari is seen pleading for his life, blood and tears streaming down his face.

His attackers force him to repeatedly chant “Jai Shri Ram”, which translates from Hindi to “hail Lord Ram” or “victory to Lord Ram”. Mr Ansari does as told, and when the mob is finished with him, he is handed over to the police.

The police lock him up and his family is not allowed to see him. He dies four days later from injuries sustained during the attack.

Mr Ansari is not the only one to have been singled out in this manner. June was a particularly bloody month for Indian Muslims, who were targeted in several such attacks.

In Barpeta district in the north-eastern state of Assam, a group of young Muslim men were assaulted and then made to chant slogans like “Jai Shri Ram”, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (long live Mother India) and “Pakistan murdabad” (death to Pakistan).

In the commercial capital Mumbai, a 25-year-old Muslim taxi driver was abused, beaten up and told to chant “Jai Shri Ram” by a group of men. Faizal Usman Khan said he was attacked when his taxi broke down and he was trying to fix it. His attackers fled after a passenger called the police.

And in the eastern city of Kolkata, Hafeez Mohd Sahrukh Haldar, a 26-year-old Muslim teacher at a madrassa (religious seminary), was heckled while travelling on a train by a group of men chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.

He told reporters that they made fun of his clothes and beard, and then insisted that he also chant the slogans. When he refused, they pushed him out of the moving train. Mr Haldar was injured, but lived to tell the tale.

The slogan-shouting and heckling is no longer restricted to the mob and the streets. Worryingly, it has also entered parliament. When the newly-elected lower house convened for the first time on 17 June, Muslim and opposition MPs were heckled by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when they stood up to take the oath.

The attacks on the minorities have been condemned by opposition politicians. Rahul Gandhi, before he resigned as leader of the main opposition Congress party, described the mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari as a “blot on humanity”.

Many critics, including cartoonist Satish Acharya, have also expressed alarm over the rising number of such incidents.

In villages across north India, devout Hindus have traditionally used “Ram Ram”, “Jai Siya Ram” (goddess Siya or Sita is Ram’s consort) or “Jai Ram Ji Ki” as a greeting.

And many feel a sense of unease that these attacks and killings are being carried out in the name of a god revered by millions for his sense of justice and benevolence. But “Jai Shri Ram” has now been turned into a cry of attack, meant to intimidate and threaten those who worship differently.

The invocation was first used as a political chant in the late 1980s by the BJP to mobilise the Hindu masses during the movement to construct a Ram temple at a disputed site at Ayodhya. The party’s then president L K Advani launched a march supporting the construction of the temple and in December 1992 mobs chanting “Jai Shri Ram” marched upon the northern town and tore down the 16th Century Babri mosque.

The BJP believes the mosque was built after the destruction of a temple to Ram that once stood there.

The campaign galvanised Hindu voters in favour of the BJP and helped turn Ram from personal to political. Since then, the party has consistently invoked the deity during elections and the 2019 polls were no exception.

Critics say those who heckle minorities, inside parliament and outside it, see the BJP’s sweeping victory in the April/May elections as sanctioning their behaviour. The party won more than 300 seats in the 543-member lower house, propelling Mr Modi to a second term.

Mr Modi’s first term in power was marked by violence against minorities. There were numerous incidents of Muslims being attacked by so-called “cow vigilantes” over rumours that they had eaten beef, or that they were trying to smuggle cows, an animal many Hindus consider holy, for slaughter.

The prime minister did not condone such attacks, but has been criticised for not condemning them quickly or strongly enough either.

But right after the BJP’s stunning victory in May, Mr Modi expanded his earlier slogan of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (development for all) to include “sabka vishwas” (to win the trust of everyone), giving rise to hopes that this term would be different.

A few days after Tabrez Ansari’s death, he told parliament that he was “pained” by the incident and that “the guilty must be severely punished”. But many Indians doubt that any serious action will be taken against those who carry out such attacks.

Several dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured since 2014 in mob attacks, but there have been convictions in only a handful of cases. In others, the accused remain free, often due to a lack of evidence, and some have been seen being feted by Mr Modi’s party’s colleagues.

BJP leaders often downplay such incidents, calling them “minor” and accusing the press of “maligning the image of the government”.

One BJP MP recently told a news website that the popularity of the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” was a sort of protest by Hindus “against a certain bias and tilt of the polity towards minorities”.

“They are also asserting that we are Hindus and we count as Hindus,” he said.

But critics say that there are other, better, ways of doing that.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48882053

Sikh24.com – SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

Sikh24 Editors

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 11 July 2019. The US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ has lodged a defamation case against the Indian government for leveling allegations on SFJ of being a supporter of terrorism and working on the directions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The move has come in a quick reaction to the India’s step of banning the ‘Sikhs for Justice’.

The SFJ has also sued a mainstream media outlet in this case and has demanded one million dollar penalty charge.

This lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of Justice, situated in the Toronto city of Canada’s Ontario province. A firm of lawyers named ‘Stockwoods LLP Barristers’ will represent the SFJ in the Court.

Attorney Nadir R Hassan has said that the Indian government’s statements against the SFJ were extremely defamatory as the SFJ is a respectable human rights body.

On July 10, the Indian government had imposed ban on the US based pro-freedom Sikh outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ) which has been campaigning for a referendum in Punjab in 2020. The Twitter account of SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannu has been also suspended on the request of Indian government.

SFJ lodges defamation case against Indian government in Canada’s Superior Court of Justice

Daily Times – Giving ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’ back to the religious minorities

Maria Malik

Op/Ed, 12 July 2019. Pakistan has an overwhelmingly Muslim community, which accounts for 90 per cent of its 142 million inhabitants. The Muslim population however belongs to several doctrinal groups. Sunnis are in the majority amongst Muslims, with Shia Muslims and Zikris facing discrimination.

In 1974, the National Assembly of Pakistan has declared Ahmadis (also called Qadianis) a non-Muslim minority. There are several Christian denominations, Bahais, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Kalasha, Parsis and Sikhs who are identified as non-Muslim Pakistanis.

The policy of Islamization in the 1970s and 1980’s, the subsequent rise of Taliban insurgency and the patronage of extremists groups by different political and religious groups in Pakistan have contributed to the intolerance and acts of violence against the religious and sectarian minorities of Pakistan.

The vague terminology of the current legislation has in fact allowed for the misuse of Sections 295-298 PPC, and has resulted in the persecution of minorities and the poor by providing the dishonest complainant with a mechanism for settling personal vendettas through the flawed system of justice.

The law that is designed to protect people has actually become a tool for promoting intolerance. Although a majority of those charged under this law are Muslims, yet the law has made the non-Muslims even more vulnerable.

In addition to this, the manner in which the religious groups in Pakistan propagate the flawed laws has resulted in vigilantism and mob violence. The state has consistently failed to intervene and protect its people against violence by maliciously motivated elements and the certainty of impunity has encouraged them to commit lawlessness.

Insertion of section 298A into the PPC during the process of Islamization is considered as a threat for the religious and sectarian minorities in Pakistan. Although the Blasphemy Laws apply to all Pakistanis alike, whether Muslims or Non-Muslims, however the religious minorities are more prone when it comes to the ‘misuse’ of this law.

According to various national and international human rights organizations article 298B and 298C of PPC, coupled with the Blasphemy laws, has further institutionalized the marginalization of the Ahmedia Community in Pakistan.

The abstruse legislation and the lack of procedural safeguards has made these laws open for widespread abuse and have reportedly been used to harass and target religious minorities, as well as to settle personal scores or carry out personal vendettas.

By taking certain measures the misuse of this law can be curtailed to a certain extent. For example, the minorities have very limited representation in the Parliament so there is a dire need to increase the reserved seats for the religious minorities.

Moreover, the Parliament must have representation of all the religious minorities including Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis etcetera and each shall be allotted seats according to their population ratio.

The quota for religious minorities in civil and military services of Pakistan shall be fixed and/or increased. The system of separate electorate should also be re-instated in order to secure fair representation for the minorities.

Secondly, at the social front, the state should take measures to revise the curriculum and to make sure that is free of hate speech and intolerance towards religious minorities and reflects pluralism, and co-existence which is the true spirit of Islam.

Thirdly, the state should take all necessary measures to make sure that it abides by the international treaties that Pakistan has ratified (ICCPR ratified in 2010) and also make serious efforts to implement the fundamental rights in letter and spirit to safeguard the status of minorities.

The composition of our criminal justice system includes Police, Prosecution and Courts among others. A criminal case is first registered as an FIR with the Police; the Prosecution carries out investigation upon it, the Courts then check whether the investigation carried-out was impartial and concerns of both the aggrieved parties are addressed adequately.

Legal and executive/administrative lapse happens, usually, at the first two stages i.e. the Investigation of Police and the duty of the Prosecution to determine the impartiality of that investigation.

There’s no check whatsoever on either the former or the later which makes it difficult for the Courts to determine whether or not there were some executive shortcomings in the investigation. To improve the system, a judicial officer shall supervise the investigation carried out by police.

Section 298B and 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code shall be amended and made objective in nature along with ensuring an independent and accessible judicial system that can dispense justice timely.

Lastly and most importantly, Parliament of Pakistan must make an amendment to make article 36 ‘Protection of Minorities’ a part of Fundamental Rights. Article 36 is presently part of the ‘Principles of Policy’, which states that the principles under this chapter shall be regarded as being subject to the ‘availability of resources’.

The Constitution of Pakistan does not include as to what pertains to the availability of resources and do not provide any kind of timeline as by when these principles will be implemented effectively by the state. So article 36, which is meant to secure the status of religious minorities, is a part of non-operational part of the constitution.

In fact it renders all other fundamental rights of the minorities useless by linking the implementation of article 36 with availability of resources. Until and unless the religious minorities are given proper constitutional safeguards, we cannot expect Pakistan to be a pluralist society.

The writer is the author of Baluchistan Conundrum – The Real Perspective. She is a PhD scholar at Quaid-e-Azam University.

Giving ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’ back to the Religious Minorities

The Tribune – India to raise SFJ issue with Canada, UK

New Delhi – India, 11 July 2019. The government has expressed its resolve to curb the banned Sikh separatist organisation, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), by taking up the matter strongly with countries where it is active, especially with the Canadian government, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar told mediapersons at a press conference here today.

The other countries which will be sounded out are the UK and US where SFJ plans to step up its activities.

While the vast majority of Sikhs in Canada share warm relations with India, Ravish Kumar said this fringe group had supported violent extremism in India. The Home Ministry had pointed out that while the SFJ had over 2 lakh online supporters, it was a group of only eight to 10 people and the government had been successful in getting the Twitter handle of its legal adviser Gurpatwant Pannu.

Links on Facebook had also been brought down on India’s request.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/india-to-raise-sfj-issue-with-canada-uk/800610.html