The Indian Express – Lingayats flex muscle at Bidar rally, want status of independent religion

Sikhs might also end up being considered a ‘caste’ or ‘jaati’ within the Hindu fold, just as happened to the Lingayats. The Lingayats seem to be on the right path, although I cannot understand how an anti-caste movement can support the BJP.
The Man in Blue

The “apolitical” rally, attended by Lingayats from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other states, was organised as part of efforts to take forward a philosophy proposed by Lingayat intellectuals like writer-researcher M M Kalburgi.

T A Johnson

Bengaluru, 21 July 2017. More than 50,000 people from the Lingayat community, a dominant caste in northern Karnataka, gathered in Bidar on Wednesday to demand that Lingayatism be classified as a separate religion rather than a caste in Hinduism.

The “apolitical” rally, attended by Lingayats from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other states, was organised as part of efforts to take forward a philosophy proposed by Lingayat intellectuals like writer-researcher M M Kalburgi, who was killed on August 30, 2015 by unidentified assassins.

The rally called for Lingayats to dissociate themselves from being identified as Hindus and Veerashaivas. They also submitted a memorandum addressed to the CM to take up their demand for a separate religion with the Centre.

During a visit to Dharwad region on Thursday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he would recommend classification of Lingayats as a religion to the Centre if the demand from the community is unanimous.

“Lingayatism is an independent religion founded by Basaveshwara in the 12th century. It has never been part of Hinduism. It has fought Hinduism,” Shivalinga Shivacharya, Lingayat seer from Maharashtra, said at the rally in Bidar.

“We want the status of an independent religion. The CM should a recommend this,” said Panchamasali Jagadguru of Koodalasangama Mutt.

“We have demanded constitutional recognition as a religion. We meet all the requirements. This has been a demand for long and it has been delayed due to lack of political will,” said Basavaraj Dhannur, one of the organisers of the rally.

According to retired professor Mahadevappa, a Lingayat scholar, “There is a misconception that Lingayatism is a sub-sect of Shaivism, which is a sect of Hinduism, and that Lingayats are Shudras. But the truth, based on textual evidence and reasoning, is that Lingayatism is not a sect or sub-sect of Hinduism but an independent religion.’’

“The Lingayats are strict monotheists. They enjoin the worship of only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva). The word ‘Linga’ here does not mean Linga established in temples, but universal consciousness qualified by the universal energy (Shakti),’’ he wrote in a paper that extensively references the writings of Kalburgi on Lingayats.

The Lingayats are known commonly as a Hindu Shaivite community. They are followers of Basavanna, who fought the Hindu caste system and sought equality in society. Lingayats make up 17 per cent of the 6 crore population in Karnataka — the single largest community in the state and are known to be firm supporters of the BJP.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lingayats-flex-muscle-at-bidar-rally-want-status-of-independent-religion-4760320/

The Tribune – 1981 plane hijack: Captain orders legal aid for duo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 20 July 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today directed the state’s legal aid team to extend help to the two Sikhs who were facing double jeopardy, prosecution or punishment of a person twice for the same offence, for hijacking a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane and taking it to Lahore in 1981.

The Chief Minister said Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, after completing their sentence in Pakistan, were now facing trial in India on sedition charges, which their counsel described as a “classic example of double jeopardy”.

He said the duo’s life would be spent facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

While the hijacking was condemnable, any attempt to prosecute the two who had already served life term in Pakistan for the crime would amount to a serious travesty of justice, the Chief Minister has said in a statement.

Damdami Taksal opposes fresh trial

Amritsar: Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal on Thursday slammed the Delhi Police for filing a supplementary challan in a court to initiate a fresh trial against Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh.

Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Khalsa asked the Chief Justice of India to intervene in the matter.

Khalsa cited the case of Bholanath Pandey and Devendar Nath Pandey, who had hijacked a plane in 1978 to seek the release of then opposition leader Indira Gandhi and the withdrawal of all cases against her son Sanjay Gandhi.

“The diametrically opposite approach in the two cases reveals double standards. The Congress gave the party ticket to the Pandeys, who went on to win the Assembly elections. In both incidents, the hijackers neither possessed weapons nor harmed passengers. They wanted to register a protest and seek the release of their respective leaders,” he added.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/1981-plane-hijack-capt-orders-legal-aid-for-duo/439826.html

Sikh Federation UK – Sikhs from across Europe meet in the European Parliament to agree a 2-year strategy for measures to safeguard the Sikh identity before the UK exits the European Union

London, 19 July 2017. Sikh representatives from across Europe met at the European Parliament yesterday and agreed a number of actions aimed at safeguarding the Sikh identity in Europe.

The conference also specifically touched upon the Kirpan issue in Italy, developments of the World Sikh Parliament and the political campaign for establishing a Sikh homeland.

With the UK setting in motion negotiations to exit the European Union the Sikh Federation (UK) convened an urgent meeting of Sikh representatives from across Europe to start developing a strategy in relation to defending the Sikh identity.

It was agreed that similar Europe-wide conferences should be organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) to take place at least every 6 months for the next two years. To aid discussions and develop a strategy countries across Europe were divided into four categories:

* Countries with well established Sikh communities where Sikh identity issues are reasonably well understood by respective governments, but individual cases of discrimination remain e.g. UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

* Countries with secular policies where Sikhs have been experiencing significant difficulties with respect to the Sikh identity in schools and the workplace e.g. France and Belgium.

* Countries with Sikh communities that are growing and been establishing themselves in more recent times and where the majority faith has a important role and stories often emerge of restrictions and fines eg Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

* Countries with governments that have right wing policies and practices where Sikhs need to remain vigilant e.g. Austria and Switzerland.

Using the above groupings the challenges faced with regards to the Sikh identity were explained by representatives from each country. It was clear the challenges faced by Sikhs in each country were different and required a variety of interventions.

This led to an agreed action that named individuals in around a dozen countries will produce by the end of September the first draft of a standard position paper on the situation in each country to discuss and agree at the national level.

These position papers should set out:

– The specific challenges faced with respect to the Sikh identity and the impact;
– The situation as regards hate crime, including the impact of 9/11 and more recent terrorist attacks and mistaken identity;
– Best practice on what an individual Sikh and the local community should do when faced with a specific challenge; and
– Relevant public organisations at the local, national and European level involved in such matters where relationships need to be developed and those that need to be lobbied.

The dozen or so agreed national position papers would then be consolidated into a Europe-wide report that can be used at the national and European level to highlight best practice.

This report would be the basis for the next Europe-wide conference that would look to invite non-Sikh representatives from relevant organisations and political representatives to agree on a sensible way forward at the national and European level.

Sikhs from Italy representing the National Dharam Parchar Committee gave an historic perspective on the Kirpan issue and the more recent controversial developments.

They provided useful evidence on the lack of iron content of the Kirpan that has been proposed compared to existing Kirpans that made it absolutely clear that Giani Gurbachan Singh should never have even entertained the current proposal.

They also indicated the extremely contentious nature of the individual who has made the proposal for personal gain that Sikhs should shun. It was made clear that no Sikh has the authority to compromise the Gurus gift of the Kirpan and unnecessary restrictions imposed on the Kirpan by any government would always be opposed by Sikhs.

Sikh representatives from the UK, Punjab, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands in turn spoke to unanimously condemn the controversial Kirpan proposal from Italy.

Any Gurdwara or Sikh organisation in Europe that had not yet contacted Giani Gurbachan Singh and the President of the SGPC to condemn the proposal were asked to do so as a matter of urgency.

It was also agreed organisations like the Sikh Federation (UK) should explain to the Italian authorities the inappropriateness of individuals like the one with the Italian proposal who are closely associated with the Indian authorities.

Harpal Singh Cheema, the President of Dal Khalsa, then spoke about the political situation in Punjab and touched upon the much needed and exciting development of the World Sikh Parliament.

The Sikh Federation (UK) proposed a number of actions at country level linked to support for the right to self determination and political campaign for establishing a Sikh homeland, Khalistan. These focused around developing links and collaboration with:

* Well respected and recognised nationalist movements that have credibility in respective countries, such as the Scottish National Party;
* Three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, directly in the UK and France and via respective embassies for these countries and the USA in individual countries, the next conference in six months time would elaborate on links with the other two permanent members, China and Russia that are currently being progressed by the Sikh Federation (UK); and
* Politicians and political parties on the right to Sikh self determination setting out the historic and based on experiences the current case for Sikh independence.

Once again Sikhs from across Europe were grateful for how the authorities in the European Parliament fully respected the right of large numbers of Amritdhari Sikhs to enter Parliament openly wearing their Kirpans despite increased security following several terrorist incidents across Europe, including Brussels.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

The Hindu – The lowdown on cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur

The Indian batsman blasted 171 against Australia in the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup

Kanishkaa Balachandran

Derby-UK, 20 July 2017. Harmanpreet Kaur played the innings of her life on Thursday when she blazed an unbeaten 171 off just 115 balls in the Women’s World Cup semi-final against defending champions Australia in Derby.

The right-hander hit 20 fours and seven sixes, reached her century in just 90 balls, and took just 17 deliveries to get from 100 to 150. That the next highest score of the innings was just 36 (by captain Mithali Raj), just showed how Kaur bossed the innings.

Kaur’s 171 is the second-highest score by an Indian batsman in women’s one-day internationals, behind Deepti Sharma’s 188 scored earlier this year.

In a match reduced to 42 overs a side, attack was the only way to go. Walking in at the tenth over when India lost their second wicket at 35, Kaur began patiently.

She reached her fifty off 64 balls, and India at that stage were looking to build steadily. Kaur then constructed a skyscraper in double quick time to leave the Australians deflated ahead of the chase.

That Kaur pulled off an innings like this shouldn’t surprise anyone. She was due for something big. In fact, she had had a very ordinary tournament coming into this game, with scores of 2, 3, 24, 10, 20, 0, 23 and 60. Her team-mates Raj, Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut had made hefty contributions. As for Kaur, something had to give.

What makes Harmanpreet Kaur indispensable?

A right-handed top-order batsman, Kaur is capable of hitting long sixes. Growing up in Moga, a small town in Punjab, Kaur had to travel 30km from her place to train at an academy.

She moved to Mumbai in 2014 where she worked for Western Railway. Living in a big city was a challenge for Kaur and she contemplated moving back, but former India batsman Diana Edulji convinced her not to give up easily.

Kaur made her India debut in 2009, during the World Cup in Australia. In only her eighth one-day game, she walked in with India tottering at 26 for 4 against England and went on to score 84. She scored her two one-day centuries in 2013, the first against England and the second against Bangladesh.

Kaur was appointed India’s T20 captain in November 2016, taking over from Mithali Raj. She played a starring role in a T20 against Australia in January 2016, scoring a 31-ball 46 to help India to record its highest ever T20 chase.

Her strong performances as an aggressive top-order player caught the attention of franchise scouts from Australia.

Kaur has emerged as one of the most sought-after Indian woman cricketers, with offers coming in from franchises in England and Australia. In July 2016, Kaur made history by becoming the first woman cricketer from India to sign for an overseas T20 franchise, when she joined Sydney Thunder in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

In May this year, Kaur became the first woman from India to sign for England’s domestic Twenty20 tournament, the Kia Super League. The 28-year-old signed for Surrey Stars for the upcoming season, starting August 2017.

The woman’s game in India is yet to have an Indian Premier League (IPL) style tournament, one that the players believe would do wonders for the recognition of the game in the country. Australia took the lead by starting the WBBL, with England following suit in 2016 with the Super League.

When the Board of Control for Cricket in India finally sanctioned the participation of their women players for overseas leagues, it was a breakthrough for talented players like Kaur. Soon after, her team-mate Mandhana signed for Brisbane Heat.

Kaur had offers from three teams, but settled on Sydney Thunder because she felt more opportunities would come her way since the franchise had only one other overseas player. It proved a wise choice and she impressed by scoring 296 runs in 12 matches and was named Sydney Thunder’s WBBL Player of the Tournament.

Kaur is also a part-time offspinner and she has 43 international wickets till date.

http://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/the-lowdown-on-harmanpreet-kaur/article19318657.ece?homepage=true

The Statesman – UK Defence Chief to visit India this week

Are Mrs May’s values really all that close to those of Mr Modi ?
Man in Blue

New Delhi, 19 July 2017. Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, is visiting India this week and will meet Indian ministers and military officers to further reinforce the bilateral defence and security partnership.

Under the umbrella of the 2015 Defence and International Security Partnership, Stuart will meet Indian ministers and officers, a British High Commission statement said.

His meetings will cover the growing strategic defence relationship through the recently established Capability Partnerships, the threat of terrorism and extremism faced globally, multinational cooperation, upcoming exercises and UN Peacekeeping, the statement said.

Stuart, the most senior military officer in the UK Defence Forces, last visited India in April 2015 as Britain’s Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.

Ahead of his visit, Stuart said: “I very much look forward to visiting India again.

It is not only our shared history and democratic values that bind us together; but increasingly it is the threats and challenges to these values, that we face in an ever changing global environment, that bring us closer together, making the UK and India truly strategic defence partners.

“Whether standing shoulder to shoulder in countering terrorism and violent extremism, undertaking UN Peacekeeping operations, or forging ahead on developing advanced equipment programmes, the UK-India partnership is an enviable one internationally.

“I intend to ensure that my visit demonstrates further that the UK’s commitment to India and our relationship is undisputed, now and for the future.”

Stuart will visit New Delhi and Kolkata over four days. In addition to official calls and engagements, he will pay his respects to the 74,000 Indians who served and died in the World War I by laying a wreath at India Gate.

UK’s Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon visited New Delhi in April 2017.

Stuart will also touch upon the defence industry and the UK’s support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/uk-defence-chief-to-visit-india-this-week-1500472222.html

Sikh 24.com – California sikhs join other protests against mob lynchings in India

Sikh24 Editors

San Jose-California-USA, 19 July 2017. On July 16, Sikh activists joined protests to express outrage against the lynchings of minorities in India.

The protest was organized by The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) in San Jose, as ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected, the killing of minorities via mobs have skyrocketed.

Along with Sikh Activists, several other groups joined the protests, including the Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice. A similar protest is scheduled to take place in New York on July 23.

Protesters held banners against the killings of minority communities, especially Muslims and Dalits in India.

Sandeep Singh, a Sikh activist from the Central Valley said, “Today, we have gathered in San Jose against the RSS who have carried out the killings of innocent people, including the Dalits, Muslims and Christians in India.”

“It is a need of the hour to expose the reality of India, which displays itself as a secular nation, but continues to oppress minorities,” he said.

Other protesters held signs such as “India – Hostage to Hindutva?” and “Beef Ban is Cultural Fascism”.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/07/19/california-sikhs-join-other-protests-against-mob-lynchings-in-india/#.WW_b5ulLfIU

Human Rights Without Frontiers – Christians in shock after pastor shot dead in ‘safe’ Punjab

World Watch Monitor, 17 July 2017. The Christian community in Ludhiana, the largest city in India’s north-western state of Punjab, is in shock after a pastor was shot dead outside his Pentecostal church on Saturday evening (15 July).

Sultan Masih, 47, who also ran a school for the poor, was gunned down by two people on a motorbike, who shot him at close range outside the Temple of God Church, where he was senior pastor. He suffered multiple wounds to his body and head.

Hundreds of Christians took to the streets on Sunday (16 July), blocking off a major national highway (the road to Jalandhar) for three hours, and only ceasing once they had received assurances from the police that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

“Pastor Sultan Masih was my neighbour and my friend,” fellow pastor Paul Tamizharasan told World Watch Monitor following the funeral today (17 July).

“Family members are grieving and we hope the government will catch the accused. We demand answers and have gone to the Punjab government, but they couldn’t find who did this.

“The state of Punjab is very safe in India for Christians. There are Sikhs living here, they are also a religious minority in India. We are also a minority, but never before have we had any threats. But unfortunately this has happened and we are all shocked about how this is possible. Nobody knows how this can happen.

“Two people came by bike. Every Saturday, the pastor, after finishing his Sunday-service preparations, at 8.30 pm he will come out. As usual, he had been talking with people outside, very casually. Then at 8.45, two people came very near, about 2-3 feet, and they shot his leg, and his face and his chest.”

CCTV cameras recorded footage of the attack, but a police spokesman said it was too dark to make out the attackers’ faces.

Masih had been pastor of the church for 20 years and also ran a school for the poor from inside the church. He is survived by his wife, Sarabjit, and sons, Elisha, 26, and Hanok, 18.

According to The Tribune, the Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has promised 500,000 rupees (around $8,000) for Masih’s widow and a guaranteed job with the police for one of Masih’s sons. He also promised that the killers would be brought to justice.

Some reports say that Masih had received threats before his death. The police denied this but refused to rule out “terror” as a possible motive.

Meanwhile the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee said the attackers were trying to “disturb the peace” and called on the Christian community to “maintain the peace”.

http://bit.ly/2vvig8D

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Dawn – Where did funds for properties in KSA, London, and Dubai come from: Supreme Court judges ask PM’s lawyer

Haseeb Bhatti

Updated 19 July 2017. A day after the Supreme Court (SC) pointedly inquired about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s money trail, the premier’s counsel reiterated that his client had presented details of all his assets to the joint investigation team (JIT) that was mandated to probe allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Senior counsel Khawaja Harris on Wednesday told the three-member apex bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that the prime minister had provided details of all assets and sources of income in the form of tax returns.

“We will take a decision after looking at all the evidence,” Justice Ejaz Afzal told Harris as he completed his arguments before the bench. “Bring the [money trail] record and the discussion on the documents will end.”

Ishaq Dar’s lawyer begins arguments

“Have you also brought a Qatari letter with you?” Justice Azmat Saeed asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s lawyer, Tariq Hasan, as he began his arguments before the bench.

The lawyer’s defence bore similarities to the arguments presented by Harris, as he told the court that the JIT had exceeded its mandate. An objection to the JIT’s report was included in the documents submitted to the apex court on Dar’s behalf on Monday.

“If you have so many objections, you should go to the trial court,” Justice Azmat Saeed remarked.

Hasan alleged that Dar had been “dragged” into the case by the JIT and did not actually have any direct involvement, to which Justice Ijazul Ahsan replied, “I can tell you Ishaq Dar’s connection to this case.”

The name of the finance minister’s nephew is included in the transactions relating to the Gulf Steel Mills, the judge elaborated, adding that money from the Hill Metal Establishment was transferred to the minister’s son, Ali Dar.

The judges quizzed the lawyer on his statement that the JIT had been “dishonest” in its investigations and hadn’t reviewed the submitted documents. “You had said that you did not submit any documents, yet you’re giving these statements,” said Justice Ijazul Ahsan, asking the lawyer to submit further documents at the next hearing (Thursday).

Dar’s confession in Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference

Echoing the objection by the PM’s lawyer, Hasan said that the JIT did not have the mandate to recommend reopening cases.

Referring to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, Justice Azmat Saeed pointed out that Ishaq Dar had refused to accept his confessional statement in the reference that was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore on April 25, 2000, as his own.

In the statement, Dar had reportedly admitted to money laundering of $14.86 million, and opening two bank accounts under the names of Sikandar Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi for Nawaz Sharif’s brother.

During the initial Panamagate case hearing, Dar and his lawyers had maintained that the statement was “written under duress.” Speaking to the media after his appearance before the JIT, Dar had said that the statement was not written by him.

“If the confessional statement is deemed false, than the pardon [in the case] will also be unacceptable,” said the judge.

Sharif family’s foreign properties

During his arguments on Wednesday morning, Harris said that according to the laws of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), “an individual cannot be held accountable for the properties and assets that are in the name of his wife and children.” He added that the PM’s relatives had also not concealed any assets.

In reference to the judges’ observation that the PM had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, Harris responded that the team had not inquired about any other properties, maintaining that his client had not concealed any assets, nor did he own any benami properties.

“The real question is where did the money for [the Sharif family’s] properties in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and London come from?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked. “We have not yet received an answer to this fundamental question.”

The judges told the lawyer that Chapter Four (Gulf Steel Mills/Gifts) of the JIT’s report contains “dangerous” documents and talks about the trust deed of the four Avenfield flats in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood, executed between Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz in February 2006, which was declared false by the JIT in its report over.

Harris told the bench that the PM, when asked about the trust deed by the JIT, had acknowledged that he was aware of the settlement, but did not know the details. He added that his client can only be held accountable for the properties under his name, maintaining that the PM has no connection to the London flats.

“Are there any records available with Hassan and Hussain Nawaz that can prove that the PM does not have any connection with the London flats?” asked Justice Ejaz Afzal.

If Hussain is the beneficial owner of the flats, then proof for the same should be provided, he remarked, noting that in the documents received by the court, Maryam Nawaz is shown as the beneficial owner.

“The connection between the PM and the London flats is based on speculation. There are no documents available to prove this,” the lawyer said.

“Why do you keep insisting that all the records are available?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the lawyer, directing him to show the documents relating to the agreement signed with Minerva Financial Services Limited, the holding company for Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises Limited, the owners of the four London flats, to ascertain who signed them.

Where is the money trail?

During Tuesday’s hearing, the apex bench had asked about the PM’s money trail, saying, “We’ve been waiting for it since day one.” The prime minister and his family members had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, added the judges.

The bench had reminded the PM’s lawyer that the onus of establishing a money trail after claiming ownership of the Avenfield flats was on the Sharif family, adding that the money trail of the flats “remained shrouded in mystery, even to this day.”

The apex bench had also asked the counsel point-blank whether the judges should form their own opinion over the concealment of facts by his client or refer the matter to an accountability court.

Harris had argued that the JIT had exceeded its mandate by recommending the SC to reopen 15 cases against his client. He also questioned the authenticity of the documents obtained from the UK and the UAE that were included in the JIT’s report.

The bench had resumed the Panamagate case on Monday, nearly three months after ordering the formation of a JIT to investigate the allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Presenting his statement before the bench on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lead counsel Naeem Bokhari had requested that PM Nawaz Sharif should be asked to come to the court for questioning. During his arguments, Bokhari highlighted several findings of the JIT report that he said “incriminate” the Sharif family.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1346283/where-did-funds-for-properties-in-ksa-london-and-dubai-come-from-sc-judges-ask-pms-lawyer

BBC News – Why was Mother Teresa’s uniform trademarked?

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi, 12 July 2017. For nearly half a century, Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who worked with the poor in the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta) wore a simple white sari with three blue stripes on the borders, one thicker than the rest.

Senior nuns who work for Missionaries of Charity, a 67-year-old sisterhood which has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide, continue to wear what has now become the religious uniform of this global order.

On Monday, news washed up that this “famous” sari of the Nobel laureate nun, who died in 1997, has been trademarked to prevent “unfair” use by people for commercial purposes.

India’s government quietly recognised the sari as the intellectual property of the Missionaries of Charity in September last year, when the nun was declared a saint by the Vatican, but the order had decided not to make it public.

Biswajit Sarkar, a Kolkata-based lawyer who works pro-bono for the order, says he had applied for the trademark in 2013.

“It just came to my mind that the colour-identified blue border of the sari had to be protected to prevent any future misuse for commercial purposes,” he told me. “If you want to wear or use the colour pattern in any form, you can write to us and if we are convinced that there is no commercial motive, we will allow it.”

The austere blue-trimmed white sari has long been identified with the nun and her order. The story goes that in 1948, the Albanian nun, with permission from Rome, began wearing it and a small cross across her shoulder.

According to some accounts, the nun chose the blue border as it was associated with purity. For more than three decades, the saris have been woven by leprosy patients living in a home run by the order on the outskirts of Kolkata.

Accordingly, Mr Sarkar helped the order to trademark her name two decades back. Still, nuns of the order have complained that Mother Teresa’s name was being exploited for commercial gain: a school being run in her name in Nepal where teachers complained of not receiving salaries; a priest raising funds in Romania using the order’s name; shops near the order’s headquarters in Kolkata telling customers that proceeds from memorabilia sales were donated to the order; and a cooperative bank in India curiously named after the nun.

“So we decided to do something about it,” says Mr Sarkar. “Through this we are trying to tell the world that her name and reputation should not be misused.”

Owning a trademark on a colour can be a tricky business. In 2013 Nestle won a court battle against confectionery rival Cadbury, over the latter’s attempt to trademark the purple colour, known as Pantone 2865c, of its Dairy Milk bars.

It is also not clear how this trademark on the famous blue striped sari will be enforced. Many online shopping sites already sell variations of “unisex Mother Teresa dress”, blue bordered sari, and a long sleeved blouse.

Also, the move is bound to raise the hackles of the nun’s critics, and she has her fair share of them, who have accused her of glorifying poverty, hobnobbing with dictators, running shambolic care facilities and proselytising.

“How can anybody appropriate a sari, which has been a traditional Indian dress,” one of them asked me, preferring to remain unnamed.

Designers like Anand Bhushan differ. “Some designs of the traditional Indian towel called gamcha, for example, have been trademarked. There’s nothing wrong in trademarking a distinctive and iconic design or pattern like Mother Teresa’s sari. It’s not like anybody is beginning to own the sari.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40566352

The Tribune – Thirty-six years after plane hijacking, two Sikh militants face trial

Granted two-day bail; have already served life sentence in Pakistan

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 18 July 2017. Thirty-six years after a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane with 111 passengers and six crew members was hijacked and taken to Lahore, two of the five Sikh hijackers appeared before a Delhi court to face sedition charges.

Accused Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, who have already served life term in Pakistan for the 1981 crime, appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler, who granted them two-day interim bail.

After serving their sentence, Tejinder and Satnam had moved to Canada and the US, respectively, and were deported to India in 1998 and 1999. The other hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are not in India.

Belonging to the Dal Khalsa, the hijackers had demanded the release of then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested on September 20 that year in a murder case.

Asking the investigating officer to file a report, the ACMM posted the matter for further hearing on July 20.

On behalf of the two accused, senior advocate Mohit Mathur and advocate Manisha Bhandari contended that the duo had already served life sentence and spent 35 years of their life in litigation.

Terming it a “classic example of double jeopardy”, the lawyers said the duo’s entire life would be spent in facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

Mathur said they couldn’t be tried again for the same incident under a different name, adding that the accused must be discharged.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh, who accompanied the accused, said there had been a travesty of justice in the case as the Indian Government had put them on trial after 36 years on “sedition” charges, ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offence.

However, the prosecution and the court maintained that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply as the offences for which they were tried and convicted in Pakistan were different from the ones mentioned in the present chargesheet.

The Delhi Police had filed a supplementary chargesheet in a court on September 29, 2011, under sedition charges. After taking cognisance of the chargesheet, the court had asked the accused to appear before it on July 18 for a fresh trial in connection with the crime that took place on September 29, 1981.

In May 2017, the Delhi High Court had refused to quash the supplementary chargesheet against the accused and asked them to appear before the trial court.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/36-yrs-after-plane-hijacking-two-sikh-militants-face-trial/438789.html