Christian Today – Justin Welby warns against ‘misuse of power’ in visit to site of Indian massacre

Staff writer

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 September 2019. The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of his shame and sorrow over the horrific massacre of men, women and children at Jallianwala Bagh, India, a hundred years ago.

The tragedy, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919, when British forces opened fire on the unarmed crowds, killing at least 400 people, including 41 children.

In a moving visit to the site of the massacre, Justin Welby lay face down at a memorial remembering the victims.

Speaking to reporters at the site, he said: “The souls of those who were killed and wounded, of the bereaved, cry out to us from these stones and warn us about power and the misuse of power.”

He continued: “This is a place of both sin and redemption beause you have remembered what they have done and their names will live, their memory will live before God.

“And I am so ashamed and sorry for the impact of this, for this crime committed here.”

The massacre has remained a sore point in UK-India relations. While the British Government has in the past spoken of its “deep regret” over the incident, it has never offered a formal apology.

The Archbishop stressed that he was speaking in his capacity as a religious leader and not on behalf of the British Government.

He also took time to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a major pilgrimage site for the world’s Sikhs.

“It’s been a real honour to visit the Golden Temple in #Amritsar, the holiest site for the Sikh faith,” the Archbishop said.

“I’m constantly inspired by the commitment of Sikhs to serving others, the amazing langar kitchen here serves free meals around the clock to 50,000 people a day.”

https://www.christiantoday.com/church/justin-welby-warns-against-misuse-of-power-in-visit-to-site-of-indian-massacre/133195.htm

The Asian Age – Indian Mission in Italy alerted about death of 4 Sikh men: S Jaishankar

According to British media reports, investigators suspect that the four were choked to death by carbon dioxide fumes from cow manure.

New Delhi – India, 14 September 2019. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday that the Indian Mission in Italy have been alerted to extend all help in the case of four Sikh men from Punjab who died after drowning in a slurry tank at a dairy farm near the northern Italian town of Pavia.

“We have alerted our Embassy @IndiainItaly to extend all help,” the External Affairs Minister wrote on Twitter while retweeting a post of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the same issue.

“Saddened to hear about the death of 4 Punjabi men drown in a farm manure tank near Pavia, Italy. Request @DrSJaishankar to instruct the Indian Mission in Italy to help get the mortal remains back to India,” Amarinder Singh had tweeted on Friday.

According to British media reports, investigators suspect that the four were choked to death by carbon dioxide fumes from cow manure. They believe that three died after jumping in the tank to rescue a worker who had been emptying it.

The four were identified as 48-year-old Prem Singh, 45-year-old Tarsem Singh, 29-year-old Arminder Singh and 28-year-old Majinder Singh. While brothers Prem and Tarsem Singh owned the farm, the other two were employees.

Prem Singh and Tarsem Singh had registered their farm in 2017.

The victims’ wives raised the alarm when the men failed to turn up for lunch on Thursday. They went to the scene and spotted one body in the sewage. The wives then called in firefighters who donned masks and emptied the tank to recover all the bodies.

Pavia is located about 45 kilometres from Milan.

Meanwhile, the Italian media reported that the farm at Arena Po, producing milk and veal cattle, is one of the biggest in the Pavia region.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/140919/indian-mission-in-italy-alerted-about-death-of-4-sikh-men-s-jaishankar.html

The Tribune – Archbishop’s apology incomplete: Greater Kailash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 11 September 2019. Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, former chairman of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee (DSGMC), today termed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as incomplete. Welby had apologised for the incident during his visit to Amritsar on Tuesday.

GK said whatever happened on April 13, 1919, at Jallianwala Bagh was on the orders of General Reginald Dyer, on the basis of ideology followed by the British monarchy. He said the British monarchy and government were equally guilty for the incident.

“If Welby is really ashamed of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, will he also apologise for the death sentence given to Udham Singh on July 31, 1940, at Pentonville Jail after killing Micheal O’ Dwyer,” he said.

He further questioned whether Welby would apologise for the conspiracy by the British government to end the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or for the conversion of Duleep Singh to Christianity or for theft of Kohinoor diamond.

British Government must follow suit: Sukhbir

Chandigarh – SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday demanded a formal apology from the UK government for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which led to the killing of more than 400 people. Appreciating the apology offered by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his visit to Amritsar, Sukhbir said it was high time the British government apologised too.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/archbishop-s-apology-incomplete-gk/831215.html

The Asian Image – Sikh Federation (UK) granted permission for judicial review hearing on census ethnic tick box option

London – UK, 11 September 2019. A High Court judge has granted permission to the Sikh Federation (UK) for a judicial review hearing to decide whether the decision not to include a Sikh ethnic tick box option for Census 2021 was unlawful

A High Court judge had considered the written submissions by the Sikh Federation (UK) and the counter arguments of the Cabinet Office and has granted permission for a judicial review hearing.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said, “This decision by Mrs Justice Thornton sends a clear message to the Cabinet Office that our claim has legal merit.”

“Obtaining permission to proceed and a hearing date should focus the mind of those at the Cabinet Office on the need to intervene.”

“The Cabinet Office must now review the evidence available surrounding the decision-making process, including the new evidence we uncovered in the 6-month period between the White Paper and launching the legal challenge.”

“The Cabinet Office will also want to look at how the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has retrospectively tried to justify its decision by raising certain matters and arguments in the legal exchanges that were non-existent in the 5-year period leading up to the Census White Paper proposals.”

“We are extremely confident our claim will succeed in court and it would be better all round for the Cabinet Office to concede on the need for a Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census 2021.”

The organisation had argued that it would be unlawful to exclude a Sikh ethnic group tick box from the 2021 Census, on the basis of the reasoning in the White Paper, which is procedurally flawed.

Rosa Curling, of Leigh Day solicitors said, “Our clients are delighted the court has confirmed their legal challenge needs to be considered. The allocation of public funds is determined, in part, by census information. Our clients believe their community has been unfairly neglected as a result.

Ensuring a Sikh ethnic tick box is included in the next census is crucial to addressing this ongoing discrimination.”

Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs reacting to news of the High Court Order said: “The ONS left the Sikh community no option but to take the Cabinet Office to the High Court with a judicial review claim to ensure it is fairly treated and bring an end to institutional racism by public bodies as a direct result of ONS decisions with respect to the census.”

“MPs are very clear from direct interactions with the former National Statistician who has now retired, his Deputy and senior ONS officials over the last two years, including since the Census White Paper was issued last December that ONS to keep its reputation intact must ensure there is the option of a Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census Order to be presented to Parliament.”

“This is not just about the legal recognition of Sikhs as an ethnic group since the landmark ruling in the House of Lords in 1983 but also the wide-ranging evidence ONS has collected that has now come to light.”

https://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/17893770.sikh-federation-uk-granted-permission-judicial-review-hearing-census-ethnic-tick-box-option/

BBC News – How Britain’s opium trade impoverished Indians

Soutik Biswas India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 5 September 2019. In Amitav Ghosh’s acclaimed novel, Sea of Poppies, a village woman from an opium-producing region in India has a vivid encounter with a poppy seed.

“She looked at the seed as if she has never seen one before, and suddenly she knew that it was not the planet above that governed her life; it was this miniscule orb, at once beautiful and all devouring, merciful and destructive, sustaining and vengeful.”

At the time when the novel is set, poppy was harvested by some 1.3 million peasant households in northern India. The cash crop occupied between a quarter and half of a peasant’s holding. By the end of the 19th Century poppy farming had an impact on the lives of some 10 million people in what is now the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

A few thousand workers, in two opium factories located on the Ganges river, dried and mixed the milky fluid from the seed, made it into cakes and packed the opium balls in wooden chests.

The trade was run by the East India Company, the powerful multinational corporation established for trading with a royal charter that granted it a monopoly over business with Asia. This state-run trade was achieved largely through two wars, which forced China to open its doors to British Indian opium.

Historian William Dalrymple, author of The Anarchy, a new book on the East India Company, says it “ferried opium to China, fighting the opium wars in order to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics”.

Some historians have argued that the opium business bolstered India’s rural economy and kept the farmers happy. That was not the case, as new research by Rolf Bauer, a professor of economic and social history at the University of Vienna, has found. For years Dr Bauer trawled through archival documents looking at the costs of producing opium and paying money to farmers.

He also examined an exhaustive history of the trade, the 1895 Report of the Royal Commission of Opium, which ran into seven volumes and 2,500 pages.

It contained 28,000 questions and hundreds of witness reports on the use and consumption of opium in India, and studied how the colonial government regulated its production and consumption.

The result of the research is published in Dr Bauer’s new study of the trade, The Peasant Production of Opium in Nineteenth-Century India. His conclusion: the opium business was hugely exploitative and ended up impoverishing Indian peasants. “Poppy was cultivated against a substantial loss. These peasants would have been much better without it,” Dr Bauer told me.

This is how the East Indian Company ran the trade. Some 2,500 clerks working in 100 offices of a powerful colonial institution called the Opium Agency monitored poppy farmers, enforced contracts and quality with police-like authority. Indians workers were given commissions on every seer, a traditional unit of mass and volume used in large parts of Asia, of opium delivered on their beat.

In the thriving, state-run global trade, exports increased from 4,000 chests per year at the beginning of the 19th Century to more than 60,000 chests by the 1880s. Opium, says Dr Bauer, was for the large part of the 19th Century, the second-most important source of revenue for the colonial state. It was only outmatched by land taxes. (India remains the world’s biggest producer of legal opium for the global pharmaceutical market.)

“The government’s opium industry was one of the largest enterprises on the subcontinent, producing a few thousand tons of the drug every year a similar output to Afghanistan’s notorious opium industry today, which supplies the global market for heroin,” Dr Bauer says. More importantly, the crop, he adds, had a “lasting negative impact on the lives of millions”.

Interest-free advance payments were offered to poppy farmers who could not access easy credit. By itself, this was not a bad thing for those producing for the global market. What made it bad for them, according to Dr Bauer, was what they paid for rent, manure, irrigation and hired workers was higher than the income from the sale of raw opium.

In other words, the price peasants received for their opium did not even cover the cost of growing it. And they were soon trapped in a “web of contractual obligations from which it was difficult to escape”.

Stiff production targets fixed by the Opium Agency also meant farmers, the typical poppy cultivator was a small peasant, could not decide whether or not to produce opium. They were “forced to submit part of their land and labour to the colonial government’s export strategy”.

Local landowners forced their landless tenants to grow poppy; and peasants were also kidnapped, arrested and threatened with destruction of crops, criminal prosecution and jail if they refused to grow the crop. “It was a highly coercive system,” Dr Bauer says.

By 1915 the opium trade with China, the biggest market, had ended. However, the British Indian monopoly on opium continued until India won independence in 1947. What confounds Dr Bauer is “how a few thousand opium clerks controlled millions of peasants, forcing them to produce a crop that actually harms them”.

It’s a good question

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49404024

BBC News – Kashmir: A priority for British [South] Asians?

Hazel Shearing & Francesca Gillett

Among the thousands of people gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday, a woman stood with tears in her eyes as she joined in the chants: “What do we want? Freedom.”

London – UK, 20 August 2019. Part of the city was brought to a standstill as crowds of anti-Indian government demonstrators flooded the road, protesting against the country’s decision to place part of Kashmir under lock down.

Police had to keep them apart from a separate group who had gathered to celebrate India’s Independence Day.

But for the protesters, passing around black strips of cloth which they tied to their arms and waving photographs from Kashmir, it was a “black day”.

The protest came as Indian PM Narendra Modi said his decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status, which gave it significant autonomy from the rest of India, would restore the region to its “past glory”.

But how much of a priority is the issue for British South Asians?

Riz Ali, 34, travelled for about three hours from Peterborough to be at the protest. He calls what is happening in Kashmir, the birthplace of his grandparents, “disgusting”.

“It’s another version of what Hitler did,” he says.

However, the tensions don’t affect his everyday social life, or relations with British Asians of Indian descent. “We’re Muslim and our religion teaches us to show peace,” he says.

Razaq Raj, a lecturer from Leeds, whose parents are from the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, says the political crisis is not divisive in his daily life, but is adamant that he will not buy Indian products.

“We are all Asian, our heritage is Asian,” he says. “Indians are as good as anybody to me. It’s not the Indian people, it’s the Indian government.”

‘They’ve got other concerns’

But away from the protests, South Asian activists in the charity sector tell BBC News that combating social injustices unite communities regardless of their faith or ethnicity, and suggest that younger generations are more likely to be divided over tensions between India and Pakistan.

Neelam Heera, 30, from Huddersfield, is of Indian Sikh descent. She says her family’s ethnicity never comes up in conversation – except on social media “where people find it easy to argue with each other”.

She founded Cysters, a charity that combats misconceptions around reproductive health, and works extensively with women from a range of South Asian communities.

“These health conditions and medical conditions don’t discriminate, so why should we?” she asks.

She says that tensions between Pakistan and India have never been raised in the meetings or online communities.

“For these women there are far bigger things to think about. They’re living in chronic pain, so dealing with Kashmir, and which side you’re on, isn’t something that is going to come across [their minds]. It’s not their priority, they’ve got other concerns,” she adds.

‘Really inclusive’

Like Heera, Khakan Qureshi, an LGBT activist from Birmingham, says common goals unite people from all faiths and nationalities.

Mr Qureshi, 49, also works with people from a broad range of backgrounds as part of BirminghamAsianLGBT, a voluntary-led organisation for LGBT South Asians in the UK.

“Everybody tries to be really inclusive of one another, that’s what makes us bond together and connect. If I connect with somebody I don’t really consider their faith or religion, it’s their personality,” he says.

But he is concerned that is not always the case for younger generations.

“Now people are trying to be much more specific when it comes to identity, when it comes to identity politics.” he says.

“Myself and all my peers we’re trying to support commonality, in that we’re looking at building bridges, friendships, regardless of whether we identify as Pakistani, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Indian.

“I feel that the younger generation are looking at identity and are wanting to be much more separated, in some cases, not always.”

‘More divided’

Pragna Patel founded Southall Sisters, a secular organisation made up of black and minority women which challenges gender-based violence. She says she has fostered an ethos that aims to unite people against inequality.

“But outside of our centre, of course the currents are swimming against us,” she says.

“People are divided more and more, it’s harder to forge solidarity among South Asians, let alone among all minority groups. That is because religion has become too politicised as an identity.”

She says younger people are more likely to “think of themselves in opposition to others” because they have no memory of Partition – in which up to 1 million people died and millions more were displaced when British-ruled India became the two new nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, and have grown up amid increasingly polarised politics.

What is going on in Kashmir?

Kashmir was plunged into an unprecedented lock-down this month, following the revocation of Article 370, the constitutional provision which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir special dispensation to make its own laws on everything apart from matters of foreign affairs, defence and communications.

Telecommunications were cut off and local leaders were detained as tens of thousands of troops were deployed to patrol the streets.

The UN said the restrictions are deeply concerning and “will exacerbate the human rights situation”.

Last week the BBC witnessed police opening fire and using tear gas to disperse thousands of people who took to the streets to protest. The Indian government denied the protest took place.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but they each control only parts of it.

There is a long-running separatist insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to thousands of deaths over three decades. India accuses Pakistan of supporting insurgents but its neighbour denies this, saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who want self-determination.

Mr Modi defended his highly controversial decision to remove the special status accorded to Kashmir, calling it a “new era” for the Indian-administered part of the region, while large numbers of Indians celebrated the move.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49361717

The Asian Age – Protest to United Kingdom over anti-India violence

New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

New Delhi – India, 20 August 2019. India has “conveyed its concerns” to Britain on the compromising of the security of the Indian High Commission in London by violent Pakistani demonstrators outside India House on Independence Day, sources said Monday.

Sources said New Delhi has also noted that Britain seems to have been backing China in pushing for the issue of a statement after the closed-door UN Security Council meet to discuss the Kashmir issue on Friday. However, this issue has not been raised with the British.

On India’s Independence Day on August 15, Indians celebrating the event outside the high commission were attacked by violent Pakistanis who, according to global news reports, pelted eggs and water bottles at them. Stones were also allegedly hurled at the Indian high commission.

“India’s concerns have been conveyed to Britain,” a source said, adding that the Indian high commission’s security was compromised by the violence unleashed by the Pakistani demonstrators. But apparently no formal protest has been lodged yet.

Britain is a member of the P-5, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It may be recalled that on Friday, the UNSC held closed-door deliberations in New York on the latest developments in Kashmir after China called for the meeting at the behest of Pakistan.

India had recently bifurcated J&K state and revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, that gave a special status to J&K within India. New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

Britain apparently was in favour of adopting a formal resolution after the meeting, which China had mooted, sources said, but others did not think it was necessary. Eyebrows were raised since this indicates Britain did not fully support India on the matter.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/200819/protest-to-united-kingdom-over-anti-india-violence.html

Dawn – Spirited crowd lambastes India’s Kashmir action at London rally

Atika Rehman

London – UK, 16 August 2019. Thousands of protesters carrying placards gathered outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday, demanding an end to the Indian government’s brutalities in occupied Kashmir and lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to revoke the disputed territory’s special status.

Although the event was largely peaceful, a police spokesperson said that four arrests were made with connection to the protest and that one person was injured. The identities of those arrested and the injured individual were not ascertained till the filing of this report.

However, police said the arrests were made due to possession of an offensive weapon, obstruction of police and a public order offence.

Despite considerable presence of police officials, which the Metropolitan Police described as “appropriate measures” for an event of this nature, anti-Modi protesters from different cities assembled outside the Indian mission and managed to halt traffic for a few blocks on the street across from the Aldwych theatre.

At the corner of the street, a counter-demonstration was being staged by pro-Modi activists with police officials standing resolutely between the rival demonstrators to ensure calm.

An overwhelming majority of the anti-India protesters was of Pakistani origin, with many linked to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and occupied Kashmir.

Also present in significant numbers were members of the Sikh community, who shared the mike with Pakistani and Kashmiri activists in calling out the Indian government’s dictatorial tactics in the disputed region and raised their voices for an independence referendum in 2020 for a sovereign Sikh state they call Khalistan.

Sikh participants of demo call for referendum on Khalistan

Manpreet Singh, a member of the World Sikh Parliament, termed the revocation of Article 370 “bizarre” and said it had serious implications for Khalistan.

“The people of Kashmir and Punjab should be given a fair chance to decide their future. Modi is an avatar of RSS, whose mission is to create a Hindu nationalist state. Their dream has no place for Sikhs, Dalits and Muslims,” he said.

Several activists from local Kashmir councils and groups made speeches at an informal podium, expressing solidarity with the Kashmiris and calling for an end to Indian aggression in the occupied region.

Pakistan’s cricket mascot ‘Chacha cricket’, too, was among the participants. “I love everyone but I hate Narendra Modi,” he said.

Other notable attendees were cricketer Mohammad Hafeez, singer Attaullah Esakhelvi, former British MP George Galloway, serving Labour MP Shabana Mahmood, MP Liam Byrne and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfi Bukhari.

Mr Bukhari joined the demonstration after it had gained momentum. “All those countries and people who are silent over the Kashmir atrocities, wake up,” he said. “What are we supposed to do with brotherly counties who cannot even take a stance on this?”

He said: “I am asked by young people how to handle our relations with Indian friends and neighbours. I tell them: we can stand with them if they speak up for Kashmir. We have nothing against the people of India. We are only against the fascist regime of Modi.”

Lubna Ali, a resident of East London, said she was saddened by the Indian government’s recent decision to abolish Article 370. “I am here today because I cannot just sit home and watch as my Kashmiri brothers and sisters suffer,” she said.

While many in the crowd were livestreaming the event on their social media pages, one gentleman was spotted on a video call with an elderly family member, who was unable to make it to the protest but wished to be there virtually.

Naureen Ahmed from Surrey said after Modi’s recent move to isolate Kashmir, she had started to actively challenge her Indian friends on Whatsapp groups. “My Indian friends ask me ‘why are you stressed about Kashmir’. I then show them the true face of the Indian regime through videos coming out of Kashmir, where people are living under oppression.”

Many participants carried ‘Free Kashmir’ posters, with one calling attention to India’s brutalities in the region with a poster that read ‘India is blinding people in Kashmir, don’t let it blind you’.

Among the youngest attendees was a girl named Noor, a seventh grader from Houston, Texas, who was on holiday in London with her family. “We have come here today to send a message to Indian PM Modi that he has to end the occupation of Kashmir and stop human rights violations against Kashmiri citizens.”

The London demonstration came at the heels of protests this week in cities across Britain such as Birmingham and Manchester, as well as European cities Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Black day observed

A black day was observed across Pakistan on Thursday to coincide with India’s independence day celebrations, to condemn the Modi government’s unilateral move to stripe Occupied Kashmir of autonomy and raise voice over continued suppression of the Kashmiri people by Indian security forces.

Under the aegis of various political parties and organisations, rallies were staged in Islamabad and other cities of the country as well in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu Kashmir.

Speakers at the rallies warned India that it could not subjugate the Kashmiris through brute use of force and called on the world community, particularly the United Nations, to intervene and play its role to protect the Kashmiris from India’s state fascism.

Flags on government buildings flew at half-mast. Politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, replaced their social media pictures with black squares.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1499762/spirited-crowd-lambastes-indias-kashmir-action-at-london-rally

Pieter Friedrich – Jammu and Kashmir Loses “Special Status”

Part 3 – Kashmir: Torn by Hindu Nationalist Violence Since 1947

In 1939, as World War II dawned with the Nazi invasion of Poland, RSS leader, soon to be chief, M S Golwalkar published a manifesto.

“We, Hindus,” he writes, are “at war at once with the Moslems.” He declared that, “ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in [India], right up to the present moment the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off the despoilers.”

Praising Nazi Germany for having “boldly vindicated” the “Nation Idea,” he invoked the topic of “German Race Pride,” writing, “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews.

Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Meanwhile, Kashmiri Muslims languished in the Hindu state constructed by the Dogras.

In 1941, nearly 80 percent of the population of the princely state of J&K was Muslim. Yet, writes political scientist Sumantra Bose, “Local Muslims were barred from becoming officers in the princely state’s military forces and were almost non-existent in the civil administration.”

Bose quotes a Kashmiri Hindu activist of the time, who said, “The poverty of the Muslim masses is appalling. Dressed in rags and barefoot, a Muslim peasant presents the appearance of a starving beggar. Most are landless laborers, working as serfs for absentee landlords.”

With the conclusion of WWII, and the success of the independence movement, the Indian subcontinent finally secured its freedom from the yolk of the British Empire in 1947.

By then, the RSS had penetrated every major area of the subcontinent and boasted up to a half a million members. In J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh Dogra was left with a decision, join his state to Muslim-majority Pakistan, to Hindu-majority India, or remain independent. As he weighed his options, Golwalkar visited the Maharaja on October 17, 1947 to pressure him to join India.

In the days and weeks before Golwalkar’s visit, the Dogra’s troops and the RSS joined hands to conduct a state-sanctioned pogrom of Muslims.

In the mountains of Jammu, Muslims constituted a smaller majority than in the Kashmir Valley to the north. In September, they were targeted for ethnic cleansing. “The Dogra state troops were at the forefront of attacks on Muslims,” writes historian Ilyas Chattha.

“The state authorities were also reported to be issuing arms to local volunteer organizations such as RSS.” Chattha claims, “The Maharaja of the Dogra Hindu state was complicit in the targeted violence against Kashmiri Muslims.” According to some reports, he explains, Hari Singh Dogra was ‘in person commanding all the forces’ which were ethnically cleansing the Muslims.

“Instead of trying to prevent such killings and preserving communal peace, the Maharaja’s administration helped and even armed the communal marauders,” writes Ved Bhasin, a witness to the massacre who later became a journalist. “It was a planned genocide by the RSS activists.”

After the Maharaja agreed to accession on October 26, barely a week after RSS chief Golwalkar’s visit, the killings continued. “In the first week of November, the Pakistan government dispatched many buses to Jammu city to transport the refugees into Sialkot,” writes Chattha. The Dogra’s troops and RSS men “attacked the caravan and killed most of the passengers and abducted their women.”

By the end, the total number of dead was catastrophically high. Bhasin says, “There is no doubt that their number runs into several thousands.” Political scientist Christopher Snedden says, “Perhaps between 20,000 and 100,000 Muslims were killed.” A 1948 report in London’s The Times alleged that “237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated.”

However many actually died, one tragic fact stood out. “There was hardly any family in the region which escaped the horrible wrath of communal hooligans,” writes journalist Zafar Choudhary. “The events of 1947 permanently changed the way the Muslims of Jammu would live or think.

A majority of them was either massacred, or pushed to the other side of the divide; many fled to save their lives thus leaving behind a terrorized and harassed minuscule minority.”

In 1949, British civil servant William Barton, writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, warned that a “militant group” called the RSS, “whose object is to absorb Pakistan, has of late been asserting itself.” He noted the “atrocities committed” during the “wholesale expulsion of Moslems from the Jammu province.”

Barton added, “One wonders whether the Indian Government has considered the military implications of the retention of Kashmir in India. With half or more of the population hostile, it would have to maintain an army of occupation.”

India had already begun dealing with the ramifications of retaining Kashmir. On October 22, 1947, four days before the accession, India and Pakistan commenced their first of three wars over the region. Ever since, the two South Asian nations have incessantly squabbled over J&K as though it were a crown jewel.

In 1965, the second war over Kashmir claimed the lives of perhaps 7,000 troops, no one seems to have kept count of how many civilians died. The war ended in a stalemate. Yet the RSS’s Golwalkar was ecstatic.

In his 1966 manifesto, Golwalkar proclaimed, “The nation’s pulse has been quickened by an unprecedented upsurge of patriotic pride and self-respect. Verily this is the first and the foremost lesson that the war has taught us.” Analogizing the conflict to a mythological battle between the Hindu god Ram and a demon, he argued, “It is inevitable to annihilate the support, the evil persons, if we have to do away with evil.”

This, he implied, required absorbing Pakistan into India. Demanding “the hoisting of our flag in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan,” he declared, “Since times immemorial, those areas have formed integral parts of our motherland. Our fight for independence can be deemed to have come to a successful close only when we liberate all those areas now under enemy occupation.”

This long article will be published in five parts in the coming days
Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California.

He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted:
A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.

Discover more by him at:

www.pieterfriedrich.net

The Tribune – Sikh man detained for carrying kirpan in UK’s Birmingham; video viral

Tribune Web Desk

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 August 2019. A police officer of UK’s Birmingham city detained a Sikh man for carrying a kirpan in public on Thursday.

The incident took place on Bull Street in Birmingham and was shared by several people on social media. A Facebook page, ‘British by paper – Punjabi by nature’, posted the video and wrote: ‘Police arrest Sikh man for carrying a kirpan.’

In the video, the man can be heard telling the officer: “I’m a Sikh. I can carry this if I want to.”

The viral clip show the Sikh man, wearing a blue traditional dress with a kirpan strapped around his waist. The officer is seen requesting for back-up.

The officer explains the situation to other officers and the Sikh man is heard asking: “Why, why, why?”

The policeman then talks into his radio again, saying: “He’s a little bit aggro with me”.

After a few seconds, the Sikh man points at a bus driver and asks the officer: “Could you call that bus driver, he goes to my gurdwara.”

A woman is then heard saying: “They are arresting him for no reason for wearing a kirpan”.

The Sikh man then walks towards the bus driver, and the officer tries to stop him. The officer says: “Sir I need you to not wander around while I’ve got you detained.”

The officer can be seen holding onto the Sikh man’s arm as a crowd gathers around.

The video has been viewed over 30,000 times and has divided many in the comments.

In 2018, the UK government made an exemption to the 2018 Offensive Weapons Bill to allow Sikhs to carry kirpans for religious reasons.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sikh-man-detained-for-carrying-kirpan-in-uk-s-birmingham-video-viral/815446.html