The Times of India – Row over civil surgeon’s circular

Bharat Khanna

Patiala, 22 August 2017. The Patiala civil surgeon’s circular asking the medical officers (MOs) in the district to remain prepared for a quick emergency response in anticipation of clashes between Sikhs and the dera followers after the August 25 CBI verdict in the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has drawn severe criticism on social media where it got circulated.

“It is completely a matter of rule of law. Sikhs are not in the picture then how can anyone blame the community for any probable clash?

It is not a matter related to the Sikhs. It is a conspiracy of the government to pollute the matter and make it an issue between the Sikhs and the dera followers. We have always raised our voice for peace,” said Gurdeep Singh, United Akali Dal general secretary.

However, Patiala civil surgeon Dr Balwinder Singh said that he had just forwarded the letter as received from the office of the deputy commissioner. “I had cited the letter issued from the DC office on August 16.” Patiala DC Kumar Amit could not be contacted for comments.

The Tribune – Writer Sangat Singh of ‘Sikhs in History’ fame dead

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 20 August 2017. Writer Sangat Singh who acquired fame for his books on the history of the Sikh community passed award here. He was cremated on Sunday.

Singh, who retired as an officer in the Ministry of External Affairs wrote “Sikhs in History” and also on events around the 1984 riots.

Former chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh recalled that Sangat Singh wrote extensively on the happenings of 1984 and brought new facts in his book which became very popular in Sikh diaspora.

He travelled a lot for lectures on Sikh history.

The bhog ceremony will be on August 26 in Gurdwara Greater Kailash, Part-2, New Delhi, he said.

New Socialist – Fascism without Borders: Britain and the BJP


21 August 2017

In May 2015, as campaigning for the general election in Britain was underway, a flyer surfaced online urging “Dharmic voters” (a catch-all term intended to encompass Hindus, and those who the Hindu Right sees as part of its religious “family”, including Sikhs and Jains) to vote for the Conservative party.

The document accused Labour and the Liberal Democrats of branding every “Dharmic” person “today and forever as being born casteist”, and exhorted members of those religious communities to vote Conservative,the only party willing to not pursue the matter of including caste as an axis of discrimination in the Equality Act 2010.

This ought not to be too surprising, given that in 2015 the Conservative government was already voicing discontent with anti-discrimination legislation they were mandated to enact under European law (a prelude to the Brexit that was to come), and that the most vocal opposition to anti-caste legislation has often come from the demographic of wealthy or middle-class upper-caste British-Indian votes they have sought to woo.

In 2015, British-Indians were a key voting bloc for the Conservative Party, with an estimated 615,000 migrant Indian voters in the UK, and 1.4 million people of Indian origin living in the UK.

This group has historically voted Labour, but the Tories have made significant inroads over the years, and by the election in 2017, a post-election survey showed that the Tories enjoyed an 8% advantage over Labour among British Hindus and Sikhs.

It is easy to see why, for one, Corbyn’s social democratic offer alienated aspirational middle-class Indians; Theresa May has repeatedly emphasised the importance of India as a trading partner; and Corbyn has long been a supporter of the Dalit rights movement in the UK, and serves as honorary chairperson of the Dalit Solidarity movement.

Further, Corbyn supported a motion in the House of Commons that called on the Secretary of State to reinstate a ban on the then-Gujarat Chief Minister (now India’s Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s travel to the UK, given his alleged role in and failure to prevent the communal massacres of 2002 that claimed the lives of over a thousand Muslims in the state of Gujarat (including British nationals) and displaced thousands more.

Still, the British-Indian love affair with the Conservatives was by no means inevitable. Despite the ploys made by the Tories to scupper anti-caste legislation, including Bob Blackman’s manifesto pledge to keep it out of the Equality Act in the 2017 election campaign, the major draw that Labour has held for middle-class Indians has been their comparatively progressive policies on both race and immigration, areas normally key to a migrant community’s vote.

Several Labour Party members have also extended a warm hand to Narendra Modi, chief among them is Barry Gardiner, a man whose star has risen among Corbyn supporters after his performance during the election, who invited Modi to address the House of Commons, describing it as a “culmination of several years of engagement between senior representatives of the Labour Party and Modi”.

Gardiner, in his role as Chairman of Labour Friends of India, has been one of Nahrenda Modi’s most vociferous champions and in an interview with the Times of India he revealed a warm admiration for the man himself, describing him as ‘a secular leader who has the overwhelming support of all communities in Gujarat…proven time and time again in state elections”.

He added, “I have met politicians from across the world and I rank him on the pinnacle of all political leaders I have known. His competence to govern is unbelievable.”

During Modi’s state visit to Britain in 2015, several other senior Labour MPs (Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Seema Malhotra, and Steve Pound) pledged to donate their pay raises to the dazzling event held at Wembley Stadium with David Cameron, which was highly attended by the British-Indian community.

The three-day state visit resulted in more than £9 billion in signed business deals, and David Cameron heralding a “new and dynamic partnership” between Britain and India, one that was no longer “imprisoned by the past”.

The visit certainly did mark a change from the days when the US had repeatedly denied Modi a visa to enter, and the UK government had a working policy to have no contact with the Gujarat state government, over concerns regarding the bloodshed in Gujarat in 2002.

The death toll was estimated to be over 1,000 persons (over 2,000 by some other estimates), largely perpetrated by organised groups of Hindus targeting Muslims, often with the tacit or explicit support of state forces.

Mass rape, the burning alive of people, homes and small businesses, and the widespread destruction of mosques raged across the state for several weeks.

Modi has been widely held responsible by civil rights groups for the Gujarat government’s failure to act swiftly to respond to the violence, and the National Human Rights Commission reported numerous incidents of state collusion and a refusal to pursue justice against the perpetrators of violence.

The state government steadfastly refused to pay compensation to victims, or provide anything but the most basic of relief to those displaced by the violence (of whom there were over 200,000), many of whom have not returned to their villages or towns to this day.

Narendra Modi has neither personally apologised for the violence nor expressed any regret, and went on to appoint key figures accused of instigating the violence to high-level government positions.

When the United States government under George W Bush denied Modi a visa, citing the National Human Rights Commission report on the 2002 violence, Modi and his party reacted with outrage, variously labelling it an act of “racism”, an “insult to the entire nation”, an “insult to the Constitution”, and claiming it did not need “lessons in religious freedom from anyone in the world”.

There are strong reasons to reconsider the reversal of this approach, even if Modi is now the Prime Minister of the country, and even if he was elected to that position.

Since the ascendancy of Narendra Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to power there has been a growing climate of hate and fear that targets marginalised groups, silences those that dissent from the government’s enforced jingoism by branding them as “anti-national”, and further emboldens the militant Hindu fundamentalist elements within the party and their ferociously anti-Muslim politics.

To those who have know the origins of the BJP and its ideology, this will seem an almost natural outcome of their politics, they are linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist group whose founders consider Indian national identity to be narrowly identified with Hindu culture and beliefs: religious minorities must pay allegiance to the Hindu nation and refrain from practicing their faith in the public sphere.

Not much has changed for the contemporary avatars of Hindu nationalism. It remains a project committed to reducing religious minorities to second-class citizens, consolidating a muscular iteration of what it sees to be “Hinduism” (often a distillation of upper-caste practices and beliefs) through a cultural and electoral absorption of castes and tribes that have historically been excluded from Hinduism.

The results of this are visible nearly everywhere across the country today, mob lynchings of Dalits and Muslims are on the rise, often accompanied by allegations that the victims were are carrying beef or transporting cattle for slaughter (as the cow is considered by some Hindus to be a sacred animal); the state gives credence to spurious claims that inter-religious marriages are a plot by Muslim men to “steal” Hindu women and there have been numerous attacks on non-governmental organisations and universities that criticise the government.

In January 2015, Priya Pillai from Greenpeace India was scheduled to travel to London to testify on the effects of Essar Energy’s mining before she was deplaned.

The Indian government claimed that she was not allowed to travel as her testimony would project a “negative” image of the government at an international level, never mind that the abuses of the UK-registered coal mining company were being inflicted on its own indigenous citizens.

It later emerged that the Central Government had also had a hand in events at Hyderabad Central University where a Dalit student who was involved in student politics, Rohith Vemula, was stripped of his scholarship and subjected to institutional persecution until he committed suicide in January 2016.

The then-Minister for Human and Resource Development had received a letter accusing the student group of engaging in “anti-Hindu” activities and it was this that led to the suspensions.

Subsequent events at Jawaharlal Nehru University in February 2016 advanced this assault on students, after student groups held protests to mark the hanging of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who the state claims had a hand in a 2001 Parliament attack though this has been widely disputed, three students were later arrested and charged with sedition for allegedly shouting ‘anti-national’ slogans.

For those who believed that Modi’s affiliation with the RSS, which began in his boyhood, would be tempered by high office, that the moderate elements in his party would win out, or even that the trend to authoritarian religious nationalism would be a price worth paying for economic progress and development, none of these promises have been borne out.

The debacle that was “demonetisation” (an overnight move taken by the Government that rendered 86% of currency notes invalid) has had lingering financial effects; surveys have indicated that unemployment is at a 5 year high; whilst investment in improving social welfare and government employment schemes has so far been negligible.

For all the bluster of the government, their constant unveiling of new plans and slogans, there is only so much that can distract from the ground reality of economic pressures, religious polarisation and jingoism can only carry them so far electorally.

And yet, this is precisely the strategy they are employing. In a move that stunned many, Yogi Adityanath was made Chief Minister of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, in March 2017.

Adityanath is a man widely seen as representative of the most violent elements of the BJP, having been involved in drives to mass “convert” religious minorities to Hinduism, engaging in murderous anti-Muslim rhetoric, and calling on the Indian government to adopt a ban similar to Trump’s ban on citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries from entering the country.

Under ordinary circumstances this should be more than enough to give pause for thought, but not in the post-Brexit era. Britain is desperate for allies outside Europe for the uncertain years that lie ahead, as was made clear when Theresa May made her first trade mission visit to India in November 2016.

In many ways, the Conservative Party has made its own compromises with the far Right in the United Kingdom, adopting its racist and xenophobic line on migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, and British governments have hardly minded turning a blind eye to the actions of its friends in the past.

But the sanitisation of Hindutva (as Hindu nationalism is called by its adherents) in British politics marks a dangerous turn, far from being uneasy bedfellows, it marks a willingness to completely disregard all prior apprehensions about Narendra Modi’s record to leap into trade arrangements and business deals.

The controversy around the inclusion of caste in the Equality Act also demonstrates that Hindutva has a role to play in British politics too: in consolidating an identity around Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, and in opposing mechanisms of justice being made available to Dalit and Bahujan diaspora by calling caste a product of colonialism and arguing that legislating it would entrench it.

Besides, Hindutva groups are active in the British-Indian community beyond lobbying against anti-caste legislation – the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is the overseas wing of the RSS and is a UK-registered charity, and the Hindu Student Council has a similar ideological outlook.

The HSS was investigated for hate speech by the Charity Commission after a speaker engaged in anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rhetoric at a camp, and has been told to distance itself from the RSS.

Meanwhile, Priti Patel has openly expressed her admiration for the RSS and Narendra Modi’s “vision”, whilst Bob Blackman has publicly attended HSS events where the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, was in attendance.

The international wings of the RSS actively fundraise and funnel their money into their activities, fuelling their campaigns of religious communalism including military training for their recruits in camps that teach them to fight for the “Hindu nation”.

The untrammelled rise of Modi to power has meant that he has received little international scrutiny for either his actions or those committed and enabled by his government, party, and groups affiliated to it. If Corbyn’s Labour party is serious about furthering transnational solidarities based on social and economic justice, they must refuse to engage in the cynical electoral and economic ploys of the Conservative Party.

Opposing Modi’s government, questioning his human rights record, and continuing to support the struggle to enact anti-caste legislation must form part of a singular strategy to combat a government that enables and intensifies the persecution of minorities, this is the internationalism needed in this era to counter fascism.

The Hindu – Open-ended USA presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan on notice, bigger role for India: Trump’s South Asia policy

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” Mr Trump said.

Varghese K George

Washington, 22 August 2017. Unveiling a new strategy for South Asia on Monday that has many elements of continuity from the past, President Donald Trump said the USA troops would stay in Afghanistan for an open-ended period of time and America would no longer tolerate Pakistan’s policy of harbouring terrorists.

Mr Trump said America’s strategic partnership with India will deepen in South Asia and the Indo-Pacfic and demanded that India make more financial contribution for the stabilisation of Afghanistan. The President linked this demand to India’s trade surplus with America saying, India makes “billions and billions of dollars” in trade.

In agreeing to continue with American engagement in Afghanistan, Mr. Trump deferred to the advise of conventional military planners in his administration. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” the President said, adding that once he studied the Afghanistan situation, he changed his mind.

He did not announce any increase in troops, but said the military will have more operational autonomy to pursue terrorists, and commanders have been given authority to attack whenever they chose to.

“…we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.

These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American arms,” the President said, indicating willingness for a new wave of American offensive against Islamist groups in South Asia. – French national Pal Singh granted full release from Punjab jail

Sikh24 Editors

Patiala-Panjab-India, 19 August 2017. Prisoner welfare organization, Sikh Relief, have announced that Bhai Pal Singh, a French national, has been granted a full release after being incarcerated for seven years in jail, where he endured much physical and mental pain.

Bhai Pal Singh was arrested when he was conducting humanitarian work in villages across Punjab, trying to raise awareness against drugs and promoting Sikh principles.

With Bhai Pal Singh’s dedicated and determined work, many of Punjab’s youth that he came in contact with gave up drugs. He was dedicated to helping a new generation of Sikhs in Punjab. This reportedly upset the Punjab Government and led to the unwarranted arrest and detainment of Bhai Pal Singh.

The Sikh Relief organization (formerly SOPW – Sikh Organization for Prisoner Welfare), were instrumental in funding Pal Singh’s defense attorneys and fighting his case through court. They made the announcement regarding his release on bail earlier today.

In a press release from Sikh Relief, chairman Balbir Singh Bains said, “It has taken years for the justice system to acknowledge the right to liberty of those who are demonstrably innocent, even if only granting bail, pending an appeal.

The Indian justice system would benefit society greatly if it worked with an organisations like ours and helped heal the mistrust of the Sikh community that feels oppressed by the judiciary and political classes.”

Eurasiareview – Remembering 1947 Partition: where do India and Pakistan stand now? – Analysis

Vincent Lofaso

21 August 2017. Seventy years ago, India and Pakistan were divided into two separate nations by the British, which led to one of the world’s largest migrations of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in history. The violence has killed and separated millions.

Hindus were afraid they wouldn’t be welcomed in Pakistan while Muslims were afraid they wouldn’t be welcomed in India. Seventy years since separation, three wars have been fought between the subcontinent countries, and they eventually became nuclear powers.

The bitter tensions still remain, but it is vitally important for both India and Pakistan to move forward towards normalization.

Are India and Pakistan Still Living in the Past?

The British announced that India would be divided based on religious majority areas as well as considering the opinions of Princely States that were ruled by the Maharajas.

The Maharajas decided whether to be a part of India or become a part of the Muslim majority country of Pakistan, but the problem was that the Muslim majority areas were both in the west and the east of the subcontinent. Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of the British Raj, was the officer who oversaw the partition.

The 1947 partition of India and Pakistan changed the dynamic of history, but Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs who felt like minorities in certain areas decided to move and this resulted in around a million casualties during the migration, and around 14 million fled their homes on both sides of the border.

Shortly after partition, India and Pakistan went to war in 1948, and in 1971, another war broke out in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Ever since the 1971 war, Kashmir has been divided by the Line of Control (LOC).

When Cyril Radcliffe drew out the international borders of the two new nations, he did not finish the project, and after the Punjab was divided in half, Kashmir’s fate was unclear after partition.

Now that separation turned into a reality, why can’t India and Pakistan live together? There is a Hindu majority in India and a Muslim majority in Pakistan, but it remains unrealistic that the trajectory of India-Pakistan relations will change because of competitive nationalism.

For example, on the Kashmir issue, many Pakistanis want this issue to be resolved first before any more dialogue between India and Pakistan can be facilitated. However, many Indian elites wanted a peaceful resolution than the Pakistani elites because the Pakistani elites were dominated by the military, and wanted to continue the conflict.

In 2017, we still see a hardening of tensions on both sides of the border, and there is a lack of appetite for a rapprochement or engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad. The rise of nationalism is still a significant reason why many Indians and Pakistanis are living in the past.

Normalization is the Only Way: For Better or Worse

The wounds of 1947, which India and Pakistan thought they had dealt with in their own ways, have reopened. An area that both sides have a huge disagreement on is on the terrorism issue.

India blaming Pakistan for smuggling terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba across the border in Kashmir, and Pakistan accusing India of supporting separatist movements in Baluchistan.

On this issue, both countries need to start dialogue from which both New Delhi and Islamabad are running away, and both countries are being run by hawks that are only building on competitive nationalism and negative attitudes that only make relations worse.

For the time being, there is no real solution to any normalization of creating an atmosphere for dialogue where India and Pakistan can discuss serious global issues.

At this moment, India-Pakistan relations do not look very hopeful, but relations cannot get any worse than what we are seeing right now. For seventy years, both countries have failed to talk to each other because they play the blame game at each other instead of using peaceful dialogue to resolve regional and global issues.

In addition, India and Pakistan need to invest in each other, and they are two of the world’s bigger countries that never trade with each other.

In fact, South Asia is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world when it comes to trade, so the trade issue remains to be an unexplored area for New Delhi and Islamabad, but it can be a good start to accelerate a normalization process.

The example that inspires Pakistanis to think about better trade relations is India’s trade relationship with China because even though there have been some disagreements on border disputes between India and China, they hold strong trade relations that have produced growth in their respective countries.

There could possibly be a good appetite for Pakistani goods and services in India while there can be a need for Indian products and services in Pakistan.

Beyond trade, India and Pakistan should think about new ideas, and intellectual engagement.

For example, urbanization is a serious problem in both countries because both countries are going to have dozens upon dozens of cities with population zones of larger than five million people, and some of these places like Lahore are not built to hold so many people.

Urbanization has been a topic that is ignored in the entire region and Indians and Pakistanis need to sit down to talk through these serious issues.

India granted Pakistan ‘most favored nation status’ when it comes to trade, but this is still a two-way street.
Despite being offered ‘most favored nation status’, there are still a wide range of non-trade and non-tariff barriers that prevent Pakistani goods and services from reaching India and the hawks from Pakistan see these barriers as an argument against opening up trade with India.

Trade can solve a lot of problems, but there is also no real opposition in India to a more open trade relationship with Pakistan.

There is still a tremendous outburst of nationalism on both sides of the border, but a big concern that is not mentioned much is building cultural links.

People being able to share cultural links like Bollywood actors and writers is a new thing that is trending in the relationship, but what we have never had in the past seventy years, even in a hostile political climate, an easy intercourse of Indians negotiating with Pakistanis and meeting each other.

Both peoples do recognize that there are commonalities, but there are worries that cultural links can shut down for example, Pakistanis not being able to act on Bollywood, and it is these kinds of trends that are concerning about shutting down these commonalities.

There are many reasons for this. One is the idea of Hindu nationalists abandoning all things that are Pakistani and they fail to distinguish problems between the military and intelligence wings with the vast majority of Pakistanis. For example, Hindu nationalists take the terrorism issue and use this issue as a target to all aspects of the India-Pakistan relationship.

Plowing Through Resistance

If we look at the current hostilities between India and Pakistan, India has strengthened its relationship with the United States, especially on the security side, and Pakistan is a part of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

However, the more India gets closer to the United States, China does not feel comfortable about it, and the more China invests in Pakistan, the more concerned Washington feels about this.

New Delhi is not necessarily concerned about the One Belt, One Road Initiative, but it is concerned about the transfer of nuclear technology from China to Pakistan.

However, on one hand, India should not be concerned about Pakistan’s economic relations with China because the OBOR and CPEC can bring some much-needed foreign direct investment to Pakistan and these projects can also develop Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure.

Many international experts believed that Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi could have turned out to be transformational leaders and at every stage in which they made some efforts towards bringing the countries together, they also gave into resistances domestically and internationally.

One of the lessons from the Modi-Sharif era is that moral leadership, which can plow through domestic opposition, is incredibly important and every time the two leaders tried to make an effort for normalization, the environment for dialogue seemed to change.

Whilst Sharif and Modi failed in the normalization process and gave into their domestic constituencies, future leaders in India and Pakistan can stilt make a difference on moral leadership for a better future.

The Tribune – No grant, SGPC-run college won’t take Dalit students

Kulwinder Sandhu, Tribune News Service

Moga, 19 August 2017. At least 27 Dalit students have been denied admission in BA (final year) course by the SGPC-run Guru Nanak College here.

These students have failed to deposit their annual tuition fee because the state government has not transferred the post-matric scholarship amount into their accounts.

Moga SDM Charandeep Singh, who is inquiring into the complaint of the students, said a compromise was reached between the college authorities and the students in his presence on August 4, according to which the students would pay the fee in instalments of Rs 5,000 each.

However, the college has backed out, asking the students to pay the entire amount to seek admission.

Backed by the Punjab Students’ Union (PSU), the affected students have launched an agitation against the SGPC and the college.

District Magistrate Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia had asked the SDM to sort out the issue, but the college authorities were adamant and not willing to cooperate with the administration.

Mohan Singh Aulakh, district convener of the PSU, alleged the government had not released the scholarship to the affected students for the past over two years.

The students alleged that the college was demanding Rs 22,000 from them as annual tuition fee even though they were eligible under the post-matric scholarship scheme. “We belong to poor families and our parents can’t afford to pay the fee,” they said.

The SDM has asked the social welfare officer to look into the matter.

The Times of India – Doklam standoff: Chinese clip mocks Sikhs, called racist

I P Singh

Jalandhar, 19 August 2017. Amid the Doklam stand-off on the Bhutanese border, the state owned Chinese news agency Xinhua has put out a three-minute video in which an actor mocks India by dressing up as a Sikh soldier.

The actor in a Sikh turban and a shabby beard clowns around on screen while the anchor attacks India in the clip titled “7 sins of India”.

The video has been uploaded on Xinhua’s site and Twitter handle at a time when India has posted burly Sikh and Jat soldiers at the Doklam tri-junction in a bid to intimidate Chinese soldiers.

The anchor in the clip starts by saying that it has been two months since Indian troops illegally crossed into China.
“The whole world is trying to wake India up but China has realized that it is impossible to awaken a guy who is pretending to be asleep,” she says and shows a man with the ill-fitting turban saying in a mock Indian accent: “Nobody’s blaming me because I’m asleep.” He then snores amid canned laughter.

UK-based Sikh Press Association called the clip, “blatant mockery of the Sikh identity”. UK-based Sikh Press Association said, “It is sad to see just how low Chinese media have stooped in using the Sikh identity as a pawn in their state propaganda against India.

Sikhs make up less than 2% of India’s population, so to use a mocked-up image of a Sikh as the face of propaganda targeted against India shows just how ill-informed Xinhua is.” Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh said, “It is racist and reflects poorly on the Chinese state-owned media. Despite the stand-off India should raise the issue with China.”

The anchor in the clip also calls Doklam undisputed Chinese territory and alleges that India is trampling on international law. She mockingly asks, “Didn’t your mama tell you never break the law?”

The clown also says, “He is building a path in his garden, I am in danger,” which is followed by another bout of laughter.The clip claims that India is holding a small neighbour like Bhutan to ransom in the name of protecting it.

The Hindu – No communication from Pakistan on ad-hoc judge for Jadhav case: MEA

New Delhi, 19 August 2017. The External Affairs Ministry on Friday said it has not received any communication from Pakistan about launch of a consultation process by it to nominate an ad-hoc judge for the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We have seen reports in the media about the issue. We have not been informed officially about this process by relevant authorities,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters, replying to a question on the issue.

According to a Pakistani media report, Islamabad has begun consultations over the nomination of an ad-hoc judge for the Jadhav case and that an ex-attorney general and a former Jordanian premier have emerged as the top contenders.

India had moved the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the death penalty handed down to Jadhav by a Pakistani military court. The ICJ had on May 18 restrained Pakistan from executing the death sentence.

During the tenure of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Supreme Court judge Khalilur Rehman Ramday was approached, but he declined the nomination, the report by Express Tribune said.

Sources were quoted by the daily as saying that the Attorney General for Pakistan’s (AGP) office has recommended the names of senior lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan and former Jordanian prime minister Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Khasawneh served as an ICJ judge for over a decade, while Khan, a former Attorney General who is seen as the favourite for the job, also has experience in international arbitration cases, having represented eight different countries in international courts.

The Hindustan Times – Ahead of court verdict on dera chief, police in Sirsa ready with riot gear

Alerts have already been issued by Punjab and Haryana as the dera has following concentrated in the inter-state border districts of the two states, which have sought central forces from the Union home ministry.

Bhaskar Mukherjee and Richa Sharma

Hisar/Sirsa, 19 August 2017. A day after a special CBI court in Panchkula reserved its verdict in the rape trial of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, alias MSG, for August 25, the police in Haryana’s Sirsa, where the sect has its headquarters, held a security drill at the Police Lines on Friday to deal with any untoward incident in case of a verdict against the sect head.

Alerts have already been issued by Punjab and Haryana as the dera has following concentrated in the inter-state border districts of the two states, which have sought central forces from the Union home ministry.

Police in Panchkula, Mohali and Chandigarh have cancelled leave of the staff. The case goes back 15 years, and the allegations are that the dera head sexually exploited at least two female followers.

On Friday, deputy superintendent of police (DSP), headquarters, Vijay Kumar asked a Peace Committee formed by the Sirsa district administration to hold talks with the dera authorities. Riot gear was also distributed among police personnel.

The DSP said, “We have called in eight companies of the Haryana police from adjoining districts Fatehabad, Hisar, Jind and Bhiwani. If required, we will call paramilitary forces too”.

“We have also started training our women police force accordingly,” the DSP further said, adding, “Intelligence agencies are keeping a close eye on Dera Sacha Sauda followers and giving minute-to-minute details.

Meanwhile, superintendent of police (SP) Ashwin Shenvi, who was shifted from Sonepat to Sirsa, was to join duty by Friday evening. Ambala deputy commissioner Prabhjot Singh has also been transferred to Sirsa.

After the peace panel meet held by DSP Vijay at the sadar police station, he said, “The committee comprises elders, mediapersons, officials from the administration, and teachers.

The members have assured us that they will talk to the dera authorities and ask them to maintain law and order.” Sources said a meeting of the district administration and police officials, chaired by additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Munish Nagpal, was also conducted at the mini-secretariat.

In Hisar, SP Manisha Chaudhary and DC Nikhil Gajraj also conducted a meeting with officials; and police forces carried out a drill at the police lines.

On Thursday, thousands of dera followers had gathered near the Sirsa court complex, where Gurmeet Ram Rahim was supposed to appear before a CBI court through video-conferencing.

The dera head, however, did not appear before the court citing medical grounds. While talking to HT, a follower, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The sentiments of the followers are hurt. We will not tolerate anything against our pita-ji (father), our guru-ji!

However, we are sure nothing will happen to him, and justice will prevail.” Another said, “We are sure that maharaj-ji will get justice as all the charges of murder and rape levelled against him are baseless.”

When contacted, dera spokesperson Aditya Insan said, “Not even a single person from the dera management has issued any kind of directions to the followers.”

The dera head not only has criminal cases but has also has a festering run-in with Sikh radicals for having allegedly dressed up as the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, in 2007 among other instances considered blasphemous by a section of Sikhs.