The Deccan Chronicle – Sushma Swaraj to raise Kartarpur Sahib issue with Pakistan foreign minister: MEA

Swaraj will have a meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

New Delhi – India, 20 September 2018. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will raise the issue of allowing access to Indian pilgrims to the Sikh holy shrine of Kartarpur Sahib during her meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York, officials said.

Swaraj will have a meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the issue of Kartarpur Sahib will be raised by Swaraj during the meeting.

He said India has been taking up the issue with Pakistan on inclusion of the Sikh holy shrine in the protocol between India and Pakistan on visit to religious shrines.

“The matter has been taken up with the Pakistani side several times in the past,” he said. However, Kumar said, Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s request.

“Even now, we have not received any official communication that the Pakistani Government is willing to consider this matter. The External Affairs Minister will, therefore, raise this issue in her meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the sidelines of UNGA,” he said.

After his visit to Pakistan last month, cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu had claimed that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa told him that Islamabad was working for opening Kartarpur Sahib corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian state of Punjab.

Sidhu, a minister in the Punjab government, on Monday met Swaraj and urged her to help initiate dialogue with Pakistan on the opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is situated in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The gurdwara is nearly four kilometers from the international border and is visible on a clear day from Dera Baba Nanak in India. Devotees who are not able to visit Pakistan converge at the international border at Dera Baba Nanak and offer their prayers.

Kumar said that during the visit of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in 1999, the issue was raised to consider a visa-free visit to the shrine but there was no response from the Pakistani side.


The Statesman – SAD slams Navjot Sidhu after Sushma Swaraj’s clarification on Kartarpur Sahib

A major controversy involving Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu erupted on Tuesday after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj clarified that Pakistan had made no communication whatsoever regarding the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

New Delhi – India, 18 September 2018. A major controversy involving Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu erupted on Tuesday after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj clarified that Pakistan had made no communication whatsoever regarding the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.

In a sharp attack on Sidhu, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal called him a “Pakistani agent” and “a puppet dancing to their tune”.

“I think he is a new agent that Pakistan has found and they are using him as a puppet and he is dancing to their tune. Let him dance and deliver to our people,” Badal, who is also the Union Minister Minister of Food Processing, said at a press conference.

Badal questioned Sidhu’s “friendship” with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stating that “out of the entire cricket team only Navjot Sidhu was invited”.

“Let him produce a letter from the PM granting this (corridor to Kartarpur). The moment that letter is produced, within 24 hrs, I’ll have the corridor put up by my GoI,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.

On Monday, Sidhu had a meeting with Swaraj during which the External Affairs Minister reportedly “reprimanded” the Punjab minister for “misusing” his visit to Pakistan.

“External Affairs Minister (Swaraj) reprimanded Sidhu for messing up Kartarpur Sahib corridor dialogue and misusing political clearance granted for private visit by hugging military chief responsible for killing our soldiers,” Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted on Monday.

In the press conference on Tuesday, Badal also produced the letter that Swaraj wrote to her.

In the letter, Swaraj said that New Delhi has been taking up the matter of opening a passage to the Gurudwara located in Pakistan but Islamabad “has so far neither agreed to include visits to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib by the Indian pilgrims…nor has it sent any official communication for establishing a corridor”.

Sidhu had on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak claimed that Pakistan will open the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib. His party, too, had hailed it as a goodwill gesture. But Swaraj’s letter punctured Sidhu’s claim.

“Kartarpur corridor is an emotional issue for Sikhs. We pray each day to be able to have open darshan of the Gurdwara which remains across the fence. Several of us, including me, have been pursuing with the government to have this corridor opened,” Badal wrote while sharing the letter on Twitter.

Sikh Federation UK – Khalistan Administration declared with follow up event at the United Nations

London – UK, 17 September 2018. Yesterday was a historic day when the Administration for running Khalistan was declared in principle at the 35th Annual International Sikh Convention with Sikh representatives from over 15 countries present.

The Convention organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party, attracted in excess of 10,000 Sikhs at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Willenhall in the West Midlands.

Sikhs from the UK came from over 100 towns and cities with over 200 UK Gurdwaras represented. Alongside a number of resolutions relating to Punjab was the in principle announcement of the Khalistan Administration with the sole aim of freedom and re-establishing a Sikh homeland.

The timing of the announcement of the Khalistan Administration is critical given expected developments in the Indian sub-continent. It follows numerous meetings over a number of years with different governments where Sikhs live and those in positions of influence at the United Nations.

At meetings at the UN earlier this year it was suggested only when the Khalistan Administration was in place could serious negotiations begin with other nations to gain backing for a Sikh homeland.

Sikh representatives have been told many countries are extremely worried with both the Hindutva direction of travel in India and the rise of the Islamic State. It is believed to only be a matter of time before there is a serious clash that could ultimately result in the break up of India and Pakistan as we know them now.

A Sikh homeland would then definitely be in the equation and the Khalistan Administration and a negotiating team therefore needed to be in place. Details relating to the Khalistan Administration will be provided at an event in three to four months time to be held at the United Nations.

Yesterday the proposed structure was however shared with a 101-member Khalistan Advisory Board of recognised Khalistani activists across the globe. Those making up the Board will be made known at the UN event and will be the public face of the Khalistan Administration..

An essential component that will maintain the heartbeat of the Khalistan Administration will be a 51-member Executive Team that will draw up detailed plans for all aspects of the administration, including the legislature (Khalistan Parliament-in-Exile); judiciary (Supreme Court, Chief Justice, Court of Appeal) and departments that will run the sovereign Khalistan state. Names of the 51-member Executive Team will largely remain anonymous.

The third element will be a 21-member negotiating team drawn from the 101-member Khalistan Advisory Board and 51-member Executive Team to represent the Khalistan Administration in negotiations with member states and with those at the United Nations.

A working group is being established to make all arrangements and preparations for the event at the United Nations in three or four months’ time.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Sikh representatives from different countries that discussed the Khalistan Administration proposal at the Convention believe it the single biggest practical step in the formation of a Sikh homeland in the last 25 years on the political stage.”

“In April 1992 the Sikh leadership in Punjab prepared and signed a submission to the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali demanding UN intervention and an independent State for the Sikhs and a year later came the Amritsar Declaration.”

“Different governments where the Sikh diaspora are active and those at the UN have advised there now needs to be a Khalistan Administration and a negotiating team in place as soon as possible.”

“Following the in principle declaration of the Khalistan Administration yesterday we aim to get all structures in place within three months so our negotiating team is ready to begin discussions on all aspects of a Sikh homeland.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation UK – 31 year old Scot being treated as second class citizen as his SNP MP snubbed by new Foreign Secretary and British Deputy High Commissioner from Punjab

Sikh Convention to demand UK Government take ‘extreme action’ promised against Indian authorities to secure release of 31 year old Scot

London – UK, 14 September 2018. A three day Sikh convention expected to attract in excess of 10,000 Sikhs begins today at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Willenhall in the West Midlands.

The 35th Annual International Sikh Convention is organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party.

On Sunday, the final day of the Convention, those present will hear from Sikh representatives from over 15 countries on a range of issues.

Over 200 UK Gurdwaras will be represented on Sunday when five resolutions are expected to be unanimously passed and three major announcements made.

One of the resolutions relates to the UK Government taking all steps necessary to secure the immediate release of Jagtar Singh Johal.

On 4 November it will mark a year since a sack was put over Jagtar’s head while he was out shopping with his newly wed wife and he was bundled into a van.

Three days of third degree torture immediately followed resulting in him being unable to walk and as police officers threatened to pour kerosene over him and burn him alive or execute him in a fake encounter.

Within days of his abduction the UK Government promised in Parliament that extreme action would be taken against the Indian authorities for the mistreatment of the Scot from Dumbarton who was simply in India to get married.

Jagtar has now been in prison for over 300 days on trumped up charges with no evidence yet presented in court despite over 50 appearances.

The resolution at the Convention will urge the UK Government to take all necessary steps working with other governments and those at the United Nations to secure Jagtar’s immediate release so he can be reunited with his family in Dumbarton.

The British Deputy High Commissioner, Andrew Ayre was asked to meet Sikh representatives on 25 September when he visits the UK where Jagtar’s case along with other issues relevant to Sikhs and the Punjab will be discussed.

Andrew Ayre has also been pressured by the Sikh Federation (UK) so he has now agreed to meet with Jagtar’s elder brother Gurpreet Singh Johal during his visit to the UK.

The two local MPs – Eddie Hughes, the Conservative MP for Walsall North who met the Foreign Secretary about Jagtar’s case and Valerie Vaz, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons will also be speaking about the widespread support of MPs for Jagtar being reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Jagtar’s family has been patiently waiting for the UK Government to take the extreme action against India promised in Parliament. No country should be allowed to treat British citizens in this way.”

“The Punjab authorities appear to have no evidence against Jagtar and he must be released without delay. Our fear is British pressure is falling on deaf ears and Jagtar could be in prison for 2-3 wasted years despite being innocent.”

“We were however shocked to hear this morning that the British Deputy High Commissioner from Chandigarh who will be visiting the UK later this month has not arranged to meet Jagtar’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes who we spoke to earlier today.”

“We are amazed the UK diplomat is happy to meet Indian politicians and officials to discuss Jagtar’s case, but he has failed to reach out to his MP when he visits the UK.”

“Boris Johnson after repeated challenge eventually agreed in Parliamentary debate to meet Martin Docherty-Hughes. However, since his resignation Jeremey Hunt the new Foreign Secretary has to date failed to honour this commitment or meet the family.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

London Trafalgar Square

London Trafalgar Square
2020 Referendum
12 August 2018

National Gallery

Nelson and Khalistan

Numbers of demonstrators kept increasing

Young and old

Mostly male, with a good few females in the mix

Free Panjab – End Indian occupation

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Guardian – Impact Hub: ‘You were raised to be embarrassed to be from Birmingham’

Nosheen Iqbal

Birmingham – West Midlands – UK, 16 September 2018. Immy Kaur, a proud Brummie Sikh, had no idea of the impact of the brain drain on her home city, until she came back to it.

She had left in 2004 to go to university in Cardiff before moving to London to work in international development. Kaur came home soon after, then only one of a handful from her school year still living in the city.

“At that time, you were raised to believe Birmingham was a bit shit and you were embarrassed to be from there,” she says, “but I wanted to explore what it would look like to build something in my own city.”

And so she got stuck in. It’s difficult to overestimate Kaur’s energy and ambition: Impact Hub, which she co-founded, is part futurist think-space and part community centre.

The idea was to create a place where entrepreneurs, artists, urban designers, scientists and activists would work together to make Birmingham a more equal and happier place to live.

The reality is testament to the power of that civic spirit: #radicalchildcare and creative resistance, for instance, are actively improving the lives of locals, one by redesigning the support system for working families, the other by giving citizens a voice.

“We brought together people from a wide range of backgrounds who care about social justice,” says Kaur, “and we have been experimenting. It was never about co-working, we’re not a corporate space, this is about the town hall for the 21st century.”

Perhaps the most impressive element of Impact’s Mission Birmingham is DemoDev, the plan for “more inclusive, democratic and citizen-centred housing across the city” that has seen Impact Hub’s members physically designing and building new homes. Kaur is casually, brilliantly, unfazed.

“We are now in conversation about building really high-quality, large-scale citizen housing developments, working with WikiHouse on 3,000 homes’ worth of land owned by the council,” she explains.

If the idea of open-source house-building where homes for everyone can literally be built by everyone seems mind-boggling to most, Kaur takes it in her stride.

“Why can’t everyone have beautiful things? Things that they can be proud of? We have really high-quality design and our building is open to everyone and really well looked after.”

Kaur won’t accept a culture of low aspiration. “There are loads of things like [Impact Hub] in London but we want to make sure it’s not just for those who can afford it.”

London Trafalgar Square

London Trafalgar Square
2020 Referendum
12 August 2018

It was not really raining, just a bit of drizzle every now and then

Panjab Referendum 2020

All peoples have the right of self-determination

Some people of Indian extraction did not agree

On the doorsteps of the National Gallery

Slowly more demonstrators gathered

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More Belgian and UK pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Leuven NMBS – London Trafalgar Square

Leuven NMBS
03 August 2018

Waiting for the delayed 16:19 from Genk

London Trafalgar Square
2020 Referendum

12 August 2018

The stage in front of Nelson’s pillar

My excuses for beheading Admiral Nelson !

Jasbir Singh involved in a conversation

Declaration of 2020 Referendum

Canadian Sikh – Jasbir Singh Gent  – Balraj Singh Gingelom

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More Belgian and UK pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Express Tribune – Religious harmony: Kurram’s gurdwara to be restored

Shabqadar – Kurram – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 14 September 2018. A historical gurdwara in the Kurram tribal district will be rebuilt in a sign of interreligious harmony in the militancy-hit area. The gurdwara, a place of worship for the Sikhs, is located in the Ibrahim Zai area of the Kurram tribal district.

Sardar Malik Gorphal Singh, the first Malik of Sikhs in the tribal district, told The Express Tribune via telephone that work on building a three-kilometre road to the facility, a hall and three rooms of the gurdwara had been kicked off by GOC 9 Infantry Division commander Major-General Nauman Zakaria and the Kurram Militia’s chief Wing Commander Maqsood Anjum earlier in the week.

Hamza Akram Qawwal requests Indian government to relax visa laws

Singh further stated that the officials have promised to build a monument on Malana Road on the site of the historical gurdwara which was demolished a few years ago while widening the Kurram agency road.

The Sikh leader said that there were four historical gurdwaras in the area which spanned the tribal areas on both sides of the Durand Line.

PTI’s Sikh lawmaker a breath of fresh air in Punjab Assembly

One of these was in Khost province of Afghanistan and three were in Kurram, collectively they are known as the Gurdawara Thala Sahib. According to Sikh traditions, Baba Guru Nanak is believed to have stayed at these locations while travelling to and from Afghanistan during his journeys (Udasis) in the early 16th century.

The Tribune – SGPC extends aid to Sikhs in Shillong

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 12 September 2018. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has extended aid to Sikhs living in Shillong who were subjected to harassment by a section of local community there.

Several indigenous Khasi civil society groups were pressuring the Meghalaya Government to relocate Sikh residents living in Thom Metor since British times, claiming most of them as “illegal settlers”.

Similarly, Punjabi Colony, where around 300 Dalit Sikhs were living, was also attacked by a mob in May.

SGPC secretary Diljit Singh said a delegation was sent to assess the ground situation at Shillong and on the basis of the report, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal had announced Rs 10 lakh for Gurdwara Bara Bazaar, Rs 2 lakh each to victims Saroop Singh and Ansh Shergill, whose houses were torched, and Rs 50,000 to Bitu Singh.

Besides, Rs 21,000 each has been given to five girls as honorarium for showing guts to oppose the mob.