The New Indian Express – Sikhs in Kashmir agree to demolition of gurdwara to make way for national highway

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 12 December 2019. In an exemplary act, the Sikh community in Kashmir on Thursday agreed to the demolition of a 72-year-old gurdwara to make way for a national highway connecting Srinagar with Baramulla which had been stuck for over a decade, an official said.

According to a settlement reached between the Sikh community and the Srinagar district administration, a new gurdwara will be built at an alternative site nearby.

Established in 1947, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib mainly served migrant families from Pakistan.

It organised langars and undertook many social service initiatives such as flood rescue.

The gurdwara was one of four bottlenecks in the road project, most parts of which were completed in 2013.

Further, a litigation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had kept the matter related to the relocation of the gurdwara lingering for years.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary swung into action to break the deadlock and personally intervened in the discussion process. He reached out to the Sikh community to devise an amicable solution to the issue.

Choudhary held a series of meetings over the past week to examine a range of options to resolve the issue.

“Finally, today in the presence of the deputy commissioner and the gurdwara management, the demolition of Gurdwara Damdama Saheb was started. The gurdwara will function from a makeshift space till a new one is constructed at the agreed location.

The state public works department (PWD) has been entrusted with the construction of the gurdwara as per the design provided by the Sikh community,” the official said.

Giving details, he said that the government of India started construction of the national highway from Srinagar to Baramulla in 2006.

Later, the project was funded under the Prime Minister’s Development Plan.

The stretch of the road where the gurudwara stood was executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), while the Anantnag-Srinagar section was constructed by the National Highways Authority of India.

The road was completed in 2013, but the four bottlenecks remained.

In 2014, the owner of the site proposed for relocation of the gurdwara objected to it and obtained a stay from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Besides the gurdwara, the three other bottlenecks were a power line, a petrol pump and water supply lines.

The official said the work on the demolition of the petrol pump and shifting of power lines and water supply lines has also started.

The work is likely to be completed in the next 10 days, he said.

“BRO will start construction of the road stretch this month. The administrative outreach of DC Srinagar to resolve this 13 years long pending complex issue is an example of a proactive approach for an efficient resolution aimed at public welfare,” he said.

“The act and gesture of the Sikh community here have created a history in Kashmir and will be remembered for ever,” Deputy Commissioner Choudhary said.

Noisy and polluting tin cans on wheels are still worshiped In India

The Tribune – Unconstitutional, divisive CAB will not be implemented in Punjab: Amarinder

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. Terming the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as a direct assault on India’s secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.

Asserting his commitment to the protection of the Constitutional ethos of the country, Captain Amarinder said the Congress, which has a majority in the State Assembly, would block the unconstitutional Bill in the House.

His government, on its part, would not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity, said the Chief Minister a day after the controversial Bill was also passed in the Rajya Sabha.

The Parliament had no authority to pass a law that defiled the Constitution and violated its basic principles and fundamental rights of the people of India, said the Chief Minister, declaring CAB to be ‘null and void’ on account of the fact that it was against the tenets and values contained in the Constitution.

Pointing to the divisive nature of the law, Captain Amarinder said any legislation that seeks to divide the people of the country on religious lines was illegal and unethical, and could not be allowed to sustain.

It was the duty of an elected government to safeguard the cherished values ingrained in the Constitution and not destroy them, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that he would not let such a Constitutional violation take place under his regime.

“How can you leave out a large section of the Indian population from the protection they have been getting since we declared India a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty…”, asked Captain Amarinder, pointing out that by linking citizenship with religion, CAB would hit out at the very foundation of the nation.

“What if other countries, where Indians are settled in large numbers and have acquired their citizenship, decide to bring in similar legislations? What will happen to those Indians if the countries of their stay decide to withdraw their citizenship on account of their religious beliefs,” asked the Chief Minister.

The move, Amarinder said, was retrograde and regressive, and sought to take India back from the progressive charter mandated by its Constitution.

Instead of using brute majority in Parliament to push the Bill through, the central government should have discussed the matter with all parties and tried to evolve a consensus, if at all it felt the legislation was in the interest of India and its people, he added.

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Auderghem: Chaussee de Wavre – MIVB Metro Demey

29   November 2019

Track 11 – IC to Brussel and Brussel Airport

Auderghem – Chaussee de Wavre
30 November 2019

Every Sunday Gurdwara in this hall

A special divan from Friday till Sunday

Listening to a lecture


MIVB Metro Demey
30 November 2019

On my way to Brussel Zuid/Midi
On Saturday I gave up due to lack of sleep,
lack of nourishing food and too much Vahiguru

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Birmingham Mail – Sikhs lose High Court battle to be included as ethnic group in UK census

Sikhs are said to be experiencing “significant disadvantage” in employment, housing, health and education, but the High Court refused a move to recognise them as an ethnic group on the census

David Bentley

Birmingham – West Midlands – UK, 12 December 2019. A bid for Sikhs to be included as an ethnic group in the UK census has been rejected by a High Court judge.

The Sikh Federation UK argued at a hearing in November that it would be “unlawful” for the 2021 Census not to include a “tick-box” option for people to record themselves as being of Sikh ethnicity.

It asked for a declaration that a draft census, which does not contain a Sikh ethnicity tick box, will be unlawful in the event it is approved by Parliament.

But, dismissing the case in a ruling on Thursday, Mrs Justice Lang said it was “premature”.

The judge said if she had made the declaration sought by the federation, Parliament would be prevented from scrutinising any regulations put forward.

Lawyers for the federation told the court in November that not everyone who identifies as an ethnic Sikh would also identify as being Sikh by religion.

They said the Government recognised, during the consultation process for the forthcoming census, that there is evidence to suggest that Sikhs are experiencing “significant disadvantage” in terms of employment, housing, health and education, and that having data on the ethnically Sikh population would help public bodies to “better meet the needs of the Sikh population”.

The federation, which has been campaigning on the issue for 15 years, said it brought the legal action against the Cabinet Office, with the support of more than 150 gurdwaras and Sikh organisations across the UK.

In a statement following the launch of the case earlier this year, the federation’s chairman, Bhai Amrik Singh, said: “Without public bodies monitoring Sikhs as a distinct ethnic group, they cannot be aware of the barriers Sikhs face as a religio-ethnic community.

“As a result, decisions are taken by local authorities and central government, on the basis of inaccurate data, that overlook the specific needs of this community.”

The 2011 UK Census recorded about 430,000 Sikhs based on a question about religion, which it was not compulsory to answer.

However, the Sikh Federation estimates there are approximately 700,000 to 800,000 ethnic Sikhs living in the UK.

In Birmingham, according to the 2011 census, just over 3 per cent of the population (about 32,000 people) identify as Sikh by religion, higher than the national and regional average.

But events such as Vaisakhi attract more than 100,000 people, with two processions taking place, one from Hockley and one from Smethwick.

The processions head to the site of a huge free festival in Handsworth Park every year. – December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate

Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 12 December 2019. Today, UK goes to the polls in the most important election for a generation. Brexit, NHS, education, and immigration are major issues for the electorate. However, it’s also notable that this election has seen interference in UK Sikh affairs by BJP run groups. This has included targeting Sikh MPs and gurdwaras.

In relation to the elections, leading UK Sikh activists from the Sikh Assembly have released a report for the Sangat’s consideration.

“Election time presents British Sikhs with the opportunity to not only express the kind of society they want to live in but to participate in that society and affirm their status as responsible citizens,” the report states.

The report covers major topics related to the election, including BREXIT, Poverty, Climate Change, Education, Healthcare & Social Welfare and Crime. The report further states that hate crimes, religious discrimination, freedom of identity, political representation, faith schools, and Sikh heritage are the key issues that concern the UK Sikhs.

The report adds, “There is a need for better understanding and awareness of Sikh virtues of tolerance, equality, sharing and hard work, as well as their contribution to British society.”

The newly formed Sikh Assembly is a large organization of professional Sikhs from a wide range of backgrounds, working for the benefit of Sikhs in the UK and Europe.

The electoral brief issued by the Sikh Assembly further encourages the British Sikh Community to participate in the upcoming democratic elections and also lays out some of its projects and aspirations for the future.

December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate

The Tribune – Sikh activists barred from entering Kashmir

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 09 December 2019. Citing law and order, activists of the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were today barred from entering Jammu and Kashmir. They were scheduled to go to Srinagar to hold a peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk to observe Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Acting upon the orders of the Kathua magistrate, the police intercepted them at the Madhopur-Kathua interstate border.

The protesters were carrying placards to convey their message and sought release of political prisoners in Kashmir and Punjab.

Dal Khalsa leader H D Dhami said when Home Minister Amit Shah had announced that everything was normal in Kashmir, why were they not allowed to go there? “This prompts us to say that there is no normalcy in Kashmir and Union Government has been telling lies to hoodwink the world,” he said.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, while speaking at the sit-in at the border, said, “It is ironical that even on the occasion of Human Rights Day, we were not allowed to talk and uphold human rights.”

The agitating Sikh leaders said it would be brought to the notice of the United Nations Human Rights Council how Kashmiri people had been reeling under state repression since the August 5 lockdown.

Hindustan Times – Sikh Uber driver racially abused, strangulated by passenger in US

Bellingham – Washington – USA, 10 December 2019. A Sikh Uber driver in the US was racially abused and strangulated by a passenger, a media report said.

The incident took place in the coastal city of Bellingham, Washington, on 05 December when the Sikh driver picked up Grifin Levi Sayers, The American Bazaar reported on Monday citing The Bellingham Herald as saying in a report.

The same day, the Bellingham Police received a 911 call from the driver that he had been attacked by his passenger.

The police arrested and booked 22-year-old Sayers on suspicion of second-degree assault and a failure-to-appear warrant for fourth-degree assault. According to police records, he was released on $13,000 bail the next day.

The driver told the police that Sayers took the cab to make some purchases and then returned to the pick-up location. It was at this point that the passenger became abusive and grabbed the driver by his throat and squeezed it violently.

He also made racial comments about the driver’s ethnicity.

The driver somehow managed to get out of the cab and made a 911 call. When the police arrived, they were able to locate Sayers nearby and arrested him.

Hate crimes against Sikhs in the US have always been on the radar for civil rights and minority groups, The American Bazaar said.

A report released just last month, identified Sikhs as the third largest most targeted groups in the country after Jews and Muslims.

Anti-Sikh hate crimes rose by a whopping 200% since 2017, according to an FBI report.

Even as Sikh groups and minority organisations continue to make attempts to educate Americans on Sikhism and the tenets of its faith, Sikhs are often mistakenly targeted because of their turbans. – UK Sikh couple who were told they cannot adopt a white child win case against racial discrimination

The court awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages.

Steve Evans

A Sikh couple living in the United Kingdom won a landmark court battle against a local council that refused to let them adopt a child because of their Indian heritage. The court ruled that it was discriminatory and awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages, The Guardian reported.

Sandeep Mander and Reena Mander were not allowed to join a list of approved adopters in 2016 because of their heritage. Adoption agency Adopt Berkshire told them “not to bother applying” and to try to adopt from the Indian subcontinent.

The agency had said that only white pre-school children were available for adoption. The couple, who are in their 30s and live in Maidenhead in Berkshire, eventually adopted a child from the US.

They tried to get the decision overturned and got the support of their then MP Theresa May as well as the Equality and Human Rights Commission. With the panel’s support, the Manders sued the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council for discrimination.

Judge Melissa Clarke of the Oxford County Court ruled that the “defendants directly discriminated against Mr and Mrs Mander on the grounds of race”. She awarded them general damages of £29,000 each and special damages of £60,000.

“I consider that there is clear evidence that Mr and Mrs Mander, who I have found expressed willingness to consider a child of any ethnicity, received less favourable treatment than would a comparable couple of a different ethnicity,” the judgement said.

“All of this discloses, in my judgment, what the unknown social worker stated in the very first phone call with Mr Mander, namely that Adopt Berkshire operated a policy of placing adoptive children with parents who come from the ‘same background’ namely race,” Clarke wrote in her judgement.

“I am satisfied that race was the criterion by which the unknown social worker decided not to book an initial visit with Mr and Mrs Mander, because the defendants have not satisfied me that there was any other criterion applied by that unknown social worker.”

The evidence shows that Adopt Berkshire refused to progress the Manders “on the assumption that it would not be in a putative child’s best interest to be matched with prospective adopters” of a different race, the judge said.

“This assumption was a stereotype which gave race a disproportionate importance as a factor regarding the welfare of children.”

The couple and their lawyers were elated and called it a landmark law. “This decision ensures that no matter what race, religion or colour you are, you should be treated equally and assessed for adoption in the same way as any other prospective adopter,” Sandeep Mander said.

His wife Reena Mander called the judgement a relief and said that they can now move on “knowing we have changed something for the better”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said it was disappointed by the judgement. “We have reviewed our policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and are confident that we do not exclude prospective adopters on the grounds of ethnicity,” a spokesperson said.

“Finally, we always put the best interests of the children at the heart of any adoption decisions and are committed to best practice in our provision of adoption services.” – SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 December 2019. The apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has sought passports from the Sikhs aspirant of celebrating next year’s Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib (Pakistan). Notably, the Sikh jatha from India will depart from India to celebrate Vaisakhi in April-2020.

Sharing the development with media, SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Bath informed that the aspirant Sikh devotees can submit their passports at SGPC’s headquarters in Amritsar Sahib by 30 December. “A proof of identity, either Aadhar Card or Voter Card, passport size fresh photographs along with a recommendation letter from the concerned SGPC constituency will also be required,” he added.

SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

The Tribune – SAD’s Naresh Gujral differs from party, backs Manmohan Singh on 1984 remark

Aditi Tandon, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 05 December 2019. Senior Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral today backed Congress veteran Manmohan Singh for his remarks that the 1984 Sikh massacre could have been averted had then Home Minister P V Narasimha Rao heeded late Prime Minister I K Gujral’s advice to call in the Army immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

While the BJP and Akali Dal attacked Singh for the statement made on Wednesday saying he was trying to absolve Rajiv Gandhi of his role in the massacre, MP Gujral hailed the former PM for “speaking the truth”.

Gujral also said there was a “mystery around the level at which the conspiracy to kill the Sikhs was hatched in the Congress”.

“I compliment Dr Manmohan Singh for honestly accepting the truth that then Home Minister Rao and the Congress government of the day were at fault and that the tragedy of 1984 carnage could have been averted had I K Gujral’s advice been heeded.

Rao shirked his responsibility as Home Minister. Otherwise the 1984 Sikh killings would have been 100 per cent averted. Eventually, the killings stopped only after the Army was called in,” Naresh Gujral, son of late PM I K Gujral, said today.

The Rajya Sabha MP said his father accompanied by late Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh and late Kuldip Nayar went to meet President Giani Zail Singh on 31 October 1984, soon after the violence against Sikhs broke out in the capital and urged the President to call in the Army.

“The President told them that he was unable to reach then PM Rajiv Gandhi. Thereafter, Mr Gujral and others drove to the residence of then Home Minister Rao and told him that the violence could escalate unless the Army was called in.

Rao assured them of action, but when no orders were passed until 3 pm that day, Mr Gujral and others again went to see Rao, who was sleeping. They got him to wake up, but he remained non-committal. By then things had gone out of control,” said Gujral.

Terming 1984 killings a “carnage and not a riot”, Gujral said top Congress leaders were involved in mass killings. He, however, added that he didn’t know the level at which the conspiracy to kill the Sikhs was hatched in the Congress.

Gujral’s remarks came when the BJP and Akali Dal directly attacked late PM Rajiv Gandhi for not letting the Army come in to stop the Sikh killings.

“There is a mystery around the level at which the 1984 carnage conspiracy was hatched. It is difficult for me to say. Of course, then Home Minister must have been under orders from someone.

There was a game plan to massacre the Sikhs and play the Sikh card to win elections and the Congress succeeded in that,” Gujral said even as SAD spokesperson Manjinder Singh Sirsa alleged, “Rao deliberately ignored IK Gujral’s advice because he had orders from Rajiv Gandhi to ensure maximum killings of Sikhs.”

Naresh Gujral also said today that the Sikhs were edgy even after Rajiv’s assassination. “Even when Rajiv was assassinated, my father got calls from anxious Sikhs who were wary of the repercussions because nothing was known of the late PM’s killers till then. Mr Gujral immediately spoke to then PM Chandrashekhar who called in the paramilitary and stationed the forces across the capital to avert potential violence,” Gujral said.

He lamented that 35 years after the carnage, victims had not had closure.

It seems simple to me : Narasimha Rao was under orders not to act to protect the Sikhs and although I do not know this, I think that only Rajiv Gandhi was in the position to give such orders.
Man in Blue