The Express Tribune – The Sikh factor and siege of Delhi

Modi has bulldozed major liberal and pro-minority movements in the recent past

Adeela Naureen/Umar Waqar

New Delhi – India, 14 December 2020. As the farmers’ siege of Delhi has brought the Indian capital to a standstill, there is debate in international media about Modi’s fascist policies and how Indian Sikhs are being marginalised through RSS’s lawful war.

The Sikh diaspora across Europe and North America came out in droves to condemn Hindutva’s fascist agenda.

Calls of “Bharat Bandh” are resonating across India as farmers from Indian Punjab – Haryana – Himachal – UP – Madhya Pradesh and even South India are rising in protest against crony capitalism and the chokehold of the Adanis and Ambanis on the peasantry that feeds 1.3 billion people.

What is in the bill? It amends the Essential Commodities Act to deregulate prices and quantity sold of certain commodities deemed essential.

It allows and facilitates contract farming and allows private markets to be set up outside the physical boundaries of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) mandis.

Indian farmers have agitated because of the fear that once the prevailing system of the APMC collapses, private operators/traders/commission agents will dictate price. Farmers and their leaders fear that once private markets are set up outside APMC, the APMC will have fewer buyers.

The new legislation tilts the balance in favour of private markets set up by traders. “It is not a level playing field,” says social scientist and politician Yogendra Yadav, a leader of farmer movements in the last few years.

Despite the passage of almost three months, the Modi government remained unnerved and thought it could deflect attention from these protests. It paid no attention to farmers and their spouses sitting on railway tracks, bazars and roads, blocking Punjab.

An article titled “Three Agri Bills of Modi Government: Profit for Adani-Ambani, Destruction of Lives and Livelihoods of Millions of Farmers” considers that these three bills have the capacity to jeopardise India’s self-reliance in food grain production.

Given the rapidly expanding unemployment, and counter migration to the rural areas caused by the pandemic, this triad of bills would only aggravate the economic deadlock.

How does this bill facilitate crony capitalism in India? The article elaborates it as following:

These bills will hand over the entire food chain (including farming, purchase, transport, storage and sale) to big corporate companies.

Modi, from his first day in office, has been working really hard to serve his electoral sponsors. It is known that the BJP has surpassed all records of electoral expenses. The corporate houses, those funding BJP, have their plans.

Both, Ambani’s Reliance Industries, and the Adani Group owned by Gautam Adani have been investing heavily into their agricultural and food processing franchises.

These three bills are going to benefit both business houses, along with a handful of agro MNCs at the cost of the livelihoods of millions of farmers and the food security of the country’s 1.30 billion citizens.

Why has the Sikh factor become so prominent in the current protests and what are the ramifications for the Indian polity?

Modi has bulldozed major liberal and pro-minority movements in the recent past, e.g the sanctioning of CAA, NRC and abrogation of articles 370 and 35(A) in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K).

The Shaheen Bagh protest by Muslim women was dealt by incentives of talks and coercion through state machinery and taking help from Indian courts, which are already compromised by RSS insiders.

Some top analysts like Shekhar Gupta are calling Modi’s current confrontation with Sikh farmers a “Thatcher moment”, suggesting that Modi should not budge from his reformist policies. After all, what can 2% of the Sikh population do to Modi?

Gupta actually projected Modi’s macho image by quoting how he has confronted China and Pakistan in Ladakh and Balakot episodes. One wonders as to how Modi’s strongman persona is imagined in India when he got slapped from both Pakistan and China in 2019 and 2020.

That’s how post-truth politics in India project the fake façade of leadership of RSS head honchos.

Meanwhile the Sikh community is the most vibrant minority with a disproportionate share in agriculture and defence forces.

The 1980s anti-Sikh pogrom and massacre of thousands of Sikhs by the Indian Army, RSS thugs and police is still ingrained in the mind of the second generation born after 1990.

No wonder, Sikh folklore and music recalls the brave stance of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and General Shabeg Singh, who fought for Sikh rights in the battle of Akal Takht.

Similarly, the horse-riding Nihang Sikhs, who appeared in Delhi’s siege, have maintained the glorious traditions of Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th Sikh Guru, and is known for being a spiritual master, military captain, strategist, poet and a philosopher.

Nihang Sikhs are known for their chivalry and simple life and have a tradition of not surrendering when it comes to principles.

No wonder the appearance of Nihang Sikhs on the gates of Delhi drew a sharp response from Godi media, who termed them as terrorists and Khalistanis.

The Sikh diaspora in North America, Europe, Australia, South East Asia and even Africa has become an enterprising lot and has expanded its political space by joining top leadership positions in Canada, USA and even UK.

Recent statement by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in support of Sikh farmers is a result of Sikh political power in Canada. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, shamelessly, reacted to a very basic question of human rights raised by the Canadian PM.

It’s interesting to note that Godi media and some RSS stalwarts tried to link Pakistan and China with Sikh farmers with a view to dent the farmers’ movement.

Godi media and RSS cabal should reflect that its Modi’s fascist policies that are driving the minorities away from the Indian Union. Blaming Pakistan or China would make India a laughing stock.

To put the Sikh question into proper perspective, we thought of reminding the Pakistani public and Godi media about the historical context of the issue by taking a few leaves from our article in an English daily some years ago:

The movement led by Bhindranwale was started by his stance on Anandpur Sahib Resolution. He called for a return to what the “pure” roots of Sikhism.

He strongly condemned the Indian Constitution’s Article 25 declaring minorities such as Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as part of Hinduism.

In August 1982, Bhindranwale and the Akali Dal launched the Dharam Yudh Morcha (battle for righteousness), with its stated aims being the fulfilment of a list of demands based on the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.

Thousands joined the movement in hopes of acquiring a larger share of irrigation water and the return of Chandigarh to Punjab. Since his martyrdom, Bhindranwale has remained a legend in Sikh history.

Godi media should know that Khalistan is an issue the Sikh community regards as a legitimate struggle.

From grandeur of Sikh rule in the Subcontinent to the bitter memories of Operation Blue Star and desecration of Akal Takht, Khalistan has remained a dream for Indian Sikhs and the diaspora.

The emergence of the Sikh factor in the farmers’ protests is a reality that Modi and his cronies in corporate India cannot deflect. This siege of Delhi by valiant Sikh farmers will dictate whether India becomes a Hindutva Republic or retains some semblance of a secular polity, the battle goes on.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2020.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2275952/the-sikh-factor-and-siege-of-delhi

www.Orfonline – National sovereignty and international law

Manoj Joshi

New Delhi – India, 8 December 2020. You would say that Trudeau was ‘playing politics’ and that his remarks are really addressed to the Sikh community of Canada. So what’s the problem?

After all, did not our Prime Minister undertake major political rallies in the USA? In the Houston ‘Howdy Modi’ rally last year, US President Donald Trump himself participated, uncharacteristically playing second fiddle, all because he, like all democratic politicians, likes votes.

South Block seems to have got its knickers in a twist over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comment that “Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests and human rights.”

In the post-World War II period, for a state to claim absolute sovereignty and that such statements are an unwarranted interference in its internal affairs “and will seriously damage ties”, is archaic.

In a myriad of ways, all states, big and small, have shed some sovereignty.

They must answer to the international law, which in our era is defined by the United Nations Charter, which is binding, and pacts like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPR) to which India is a signatory (and China has yet to ratify).

Article 21 of the ICPR is categorical that “the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognised”.

You will legitimately argue that the UN and the international covenants are strictly for the birds, in other words, who cares about them. You would say that Trudeau was ‘playing politics’ and that his remarks are really addressed to the Sikh community of Canada. So what’s the problem?

After all, did not our Prime Minister undertake two major political rallies in the US? In 2014, in the wake of his election, the massive Madison Square Garden was more of a political rally aimed at signalling to the Obama Administration the importance of the Indian-American community in the US, as well as Modi’s hold on them.

The Houston ‘Howdy Modi’ rally in 2019 was only a confirmation of this. US President Donald Trump himself participated, uncharacteristically playing second fiddle, all because he, like all democratic politicians, likes votes.

In my view, there was nothing wrong in what Modi did. Close relations with the US have been a key element of India’s foreign policy, especially since the gap in the comprehensive national power of India and China has been widening.

Playing the NRI card was a shrewd move in view of the fact that India had a few other equities with which to get the US attention.

It is always easy to rally opinion in a country in defence of national sovereignty, but under the international law, this cannot be used as an excuse to abuse the rights of citizens, or cause injury to the global commons.

Anyone arguing that would end up justifying the Chinese policy of repression in Xinjiang, or for that matter, the US which despite being a major global polluter, has walked out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Likewise, there is a need to understand that while the rights of national sovereignty are an important element in international relations, in the ultimate analysis, they must stem from the ‘sovereignty’ of the individual rights of citizens, the right to life, the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, due process and fair trial.

An argument that the rights of national sovereignty trump individual rights is a slippery path to an authoritarian state of the Nazi or Marxist-Leninist variety.

The Trudeau statement must also be seen in a context where political protest is being vilified in India. The Shaheen Bagh protests, peaceful as they were, are being sought to be linked with the riots that took place in February in New Delhi.

The farmers’ protest is being described as backed by extremists, and some social media commentary has raised questions about its funding, motives and purpose. In these circumstances, making a categorical statement on the right to peaceful protest holds a certain value.

In the Islamophobic climate of the country, it was easy and politically advantageous to vilify India’s biggest minority as being ‘anti-national’ in February, but notwithstanding the ‘Khalistani’ allegation, the trick is not working in the case of the Punjabi farmers who have landed at the gates of Delhi and have now received widespread support for their massive, but peaceful protest, both in India and abroad.

New Delhi has become uncommonly sensitive to protests. There is a whole theory spun out by the people who advise the Union Home Ministry, that all collective protests must be organised by some person or party.

People by themselves are incapable of mounting a mass protest. There has to be an organisation, someone must be providing transportation, food and facilities and so on. All that is true, but from there to assume that those who are doing so are ‘anti-national’, is a big leap.

The farmers’ protest should actually be a salutary experience. It’s quite open. The Intelligence Bureau, no doubt, has its agents scouring the gatherings, looking for conspiracies. Those organising the logistics, food and medical care for the protesters are known, they have appeared in the pages of newspapers and on TV.

Try as it might, the government has been unable to join the dots to claim that this is some kind of a conspiracy, funded from abroad, as it is attempting to do in the case of the anti-CAA protests.

No doubt, Trudeau is looking for votes in the fairly innocuous stand he is taking. All he has done is to stand for the right of peaceful protests. The Punjabis are a significant minority in Canada, evidenced by the fact that their Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan is a Sikh.

In the UK, the Home and Finance Ministers are both of Indian origin, and so it is not surprising that a number of MPs have called on their government to take up the issue with New Delhi on the farm laws.

At least Canada and the UK are sensitive to their minorities, unlike India which is seeing a systematic effort to marginalise and demonise its largest minority, the Muslims.

This commentary originally appeared in The Tribune.

https://www.orfonline.org/research/national-sovereignty-and-international-law/?amp

The Nation – Corruption – narcotics are cancer of society: PM Imran Khan

Imran Khan says narcotics act like a ‘silent killer’ due to its damage inflicted upon addicts and society./ Inaugurates new building of ANF headquarters in Rawalpindi./ Says Opposition wants confrontation but would not provide them an opportunity

Islamabad – Pakistan, 09 December 2020. Terming the corruption and narcotics as societal cancer, Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday said that the government will devise a strategy to check drug abuse among youth and save the future generations from this menace.

Addressing an event at the Anti-Narcotics Force Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the prime minister said that relevant ministries including education and health would be taken onboard to chalk out the policy in view of the growing trend of drug abuse at educational institutes.

The prime minister said that he would call a meeting next we ek to discuss ways to address the challenge of narcotics on an urgent basis. “The government will run an anti-drug campaign across the country and the entire nation will fight this menace as a united force,” he said.

He stressed the need for raising awareness among masses, particularly youth, about the negative impacts of drugs in personal and social lives.

“We have to save our next generations from the shackles of drug abuse,” said Khan, expressing concern over the high number of cases of drug addicts reported at schools and universities.

He said as informed by Inspector General of Police, the situation of the use of synthetic drug ‘ice’ by schoolchildren besides university students was alarming as it could leave a disastrous impact on their education and health.

Imran Khan said that narcotics acted like a “silent killer” due to its damage inflicted upon the addicts and the society. He said that seven million drug addicts in the country in fact meant suffering and misery of the same number of families.

No compromise on accountability even if my government is sent packing

He said that society had a significant role in the promotion of negative trends by accepting earning of money through illegal ways and corruption.

The prime minister assured to enhance the flow of required resources to counter the menace of drug abuse in the country.

He lauded the efforts of ANF in eradicating drug abuse. He, however, said the efforts of an institution alone could not produce results unless the efforts put in by society itself as the biggest deterrent.

The prime minister also inaugurated the new building of the ANF Headquarters and laid a wreath on the memorial of martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

Federal Minister for Narcotics Control and senior officials of ANF attended the event.

Earlier, Director General ANF Major General Muhammad Arif Malik briefed the prime minister on the operations of ANF for control of smuggling of narcotics across the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said that he would not compromise on the ongoing accountability process even at the cost of his government.

“They (the opposition) don’t know me. I will not compromise on the accountability process even if my government is sent packing,” PM was quoted as saying this while addressing a meeting of the ruling party’s spokespersons and senior leaders.

The remarks of PM came at a time when Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party alliance of opposition parties, has announced its 13 December rally in Lahore.

The event is being dubbed by opposition as the “final nail in the government’s coffin.” The opposition is also considering the option of tendering en masse resignations to destabilise the government.

Prime Minister Imran Khan came down hard on the PDM for holding public rallies at a time when there are rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country. “The opposition is putting lives of masses in danger only to save its corruption,” PM said.

He berated the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family by saying that the whole family was sitting in self-exile abroad while it was using masses here in the country for vested interests.

“The government is least bothered even if they hold as many rallies at the Minar-e-Pakistan,” PM Imran Khan said while referring to 13 December.

He made it clear that his government would not create hurdles in holding political rallies including the one in Lahore but cases would be registered against those who are providing services to these rallies. This is because we care for the people, he added.

“We would not obstruct their rallies while the opposition wants from the government to do so,” PM said adding that the opposition wants confrontation with the government but the latter would not provide the former such an opportunity.

He said that the hypocrisy of opposition continues to be exposed every day. The opposition had been demanding imposing lockdown in the first wave but it is now bent on violating all standard operating procedures (SOPs).

He said that Lahore rally would provide a potential hotspot for spreading coronavirus because opposition parties had given calls to their workers throughout the country to gather in the provincial capital.

PM Imran Khan further said that the opposition should make it clear that “against whom the government would register cases if more people died due to deadly virus as a result of these political rallies.”

He said that the government was facing no threat of political rallies and the ruling party would not be get blackmailed by the opposition.

The opposition wants an underhand deal like infamous NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) but it would fail to get it, he asserted. During the meeting, PM also appreciated Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and said that she had become active in Punjab.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) needed people having such a passion, he said while referring to SACM.

PM for improvement in power sector

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday stressing for all necessary measures to bring about further improvement in power sector directed that all the stakeholders should fulfill their responsibilities within the stipulated time.

He further directed for the formulation of a system under which the subsidy was available only for the poor and deserving people. The Prime Minister was presiding over a review meeting regarding power sector reforms.

Federal Ministers Hammad Azhar, Senator Shibli Faraz, Asad Umar, Umar Ayub Khan, Advisors Abdul Razzak Dawood, Hafeez Sheikh, Special Assistants Nadeem Babar, Tabish Gohar and senior officers were in attendance.

The meeting was briefed in detail about the administrative matters relating to power sector, cost of power generation and distribution system.

https://nation.com.pk/08-Dec-2020/corruption-narcotics-are-cancer-of-society-pm

The Hindustan Times – China’s geopolitical strategy cannot be countered by PR-driven media strategy: Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi also tagged a report by NDTV that suggested a renewed threat from China in Doklam by accessing new satellite images

Edited by Zara Khan

New Delhi – India, 23 November 2020. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked the government following reports of renewed threat from China in Doklam.

“China’s geopolitical strategy cannot be countered by a PR driven media strategy. This simple fact seems to elude the minds of those running GOI [Government of India],” he tweeted.

Gandhi continues to attack the government over the border stand-off with China, despite rumblings in the Congress following the setback in the Bihar assembly elections and bypolls to 58 seats in 11 states.

Gandhi also tagged a report by NDTV that suggested a renewed threat from China in Doklam by accessing new satellite images.

On Sunday, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked his party over the “five-star culture”.

“Elections are not won by adopting a five-star culture and party office-bearers should be elected,” said Azad, one of the 23 leaders who had signed a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding major changes in the party’s functioning.

He also said the general impression is that there is no president of the party.

Senior leader Salman Khurshid, though, rejected any perception of a leadership crisis in the Congress and said all-round support for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is “apparent to anyone who is not blind”.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-s-geopolitical-strategy-cannot-be-countered-by-pr-driven-media-strategy-rahul-gandhi/story-lTXIfFHIgiBjqE5M8IyrML.html

The Statesman – Ensure safety of minorities: India to Pakistan

“Over a period of time, we have seen the space for people from the minority community to practice their religion shrink continuously. Besides, their condition remains deplorable,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

Statesman News Service

New Delhi – India, 13 November 2020. India today expressed outrage over the reported killing of an 82-year-old Ahmadi man by some gunmen at Peshawar in Pakistan apparently because of his faith, saying this was a sad reflection of the state of minorities in the neighbouring country.

“Over a period of time, we have seen the space for people from the minority community to practice their religion shrink continuously. Besides, their condition remains deplorable,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

He said India has been consistently raising the issue of the safety, security and wellbeing of minority communities with the Pakistan Government.

The spokesperson also referred to media reports in Pakistan about Pakistan’s Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) releasing an updated “Book on Most Wanted / High Profile Terrorists” listing several Pakistani nationals involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

“While the list includes a select few members of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a UN designated terror entity based in Pakistan, including the crew members of the boats used to execute the 26/11 attacks, it glaringly omits the mastermind and key conspirators,” he said.

He said, it was a fact that the 26/11 terror attacks were planned – executed and launched from Pakistan’s territory. The list made it clear that Pakistan possessed all the necessary information and evidence on the conspirators and facilitators of the Mumbai terror attacks, he said.

A minor laptop crises

Dear friends,

I have not been able to upload my usual two articles and one pictorial yesterday, and I also will not be able to do that today.

The laptop that I normally use to create new pages from has gone on strike and now I am working from a new laptop that does not have the pictures that I use on it. I am also still trying to find my way on it.

I will upload at least some articles tomorrow and from then on we will get back to normal.

Gurfateh,
Kind Regards,
Man in Blue

Published in: on October 17, 2020 at 4:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Gent-Sint-Pieters

Gent-Sint-Pieters
24 May 2020

Northbound Tram 1 to Evergem

Southbound Tram 1 to Flanders Expo

Bus 77 to Deinze in 28 minutes, I better take some pictures ….

Building on the Maria Hendrikaplein in front of the station

Covid-19 instructions for bus and tram users

Low level garden in front of the station

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue



Published in: on October 11, 2020 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Justice News – From Hathras To Delhi, A Land Without Justice

Ramachandra Guha

Posted on 08 October 2020

In a lecture delivered in 2000, the economist T N Srinivasan observed that “if one is poor in India’, then ‘one is more likely to live in rural areas, more likely to be a member of the Scheduled Caste or Tribe or other socially discriminated groups, more likely to be malnourished, sick and in poor health, more likely to be illiterate or poorly educated and with low skills, more likely to live in certain states (such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and also Orissa) than in others.”

Professor Srinivasan was speaking of the variations in economic prospects across India. Twenty years later, and in light of recent events in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, especially, I’d like to offer a complementary thesis on variations on access to justice in India.

Thus, if “one hopes for fair treatment from the police, the administration, and the courts in India”, then “one is less likely to get it if one is a woman, a Dalit, an Adivasi, or a Muslim, lives far away from cities, is poorly educated, and does not speak English”.

That there exists a deep class, caste, and religious bias in how justice is administered in India has long been known. But even by our always abysmally low standards, the recent behaviour of the police and the state administration in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh has been unprecedented.

The lies and fabrications in the charge-sheets issued with regards to the riots in the capital in February-March 2020 have constituted, as it were, a continuing series of experiments in untruth.

These chargesheets have sought to demonize and stigmatize students and Muslims who preached and practiced non-violence, while ignoring altogether the provocative calls to violence by many right-wing Hindus associated with the ruling party.

If the Delhi Police has revealed itself to be partisan and communal, the UP Police has been partisan, patriarchal, casteist, and communal.

Thus, the data of the government’s own National Crime Bureau shows that registered crimes against Dalits grew 47% in recent years in Uttar Pradesh, while the state, although having some 16% of the country’s population, accounted for more than 25% of crimes against women and girls. And these are almost certainly under-estimates.

In the past, the Uttar Pradesh Police Department has not (to put it politely) enjoyed a stellar reputation, but after Adityanath took over as Chief Minister in March 2020, the police has subordinated itself to the political class as never before in its chequered history.

As an article on the excellent website Article 14 notes, the choice of this particular politician to run India’s most populous state “marked a significant watershed moment in the advance of the BJP in the Indian republic, as it signaled an endorsement of a model of governance that openly and un-apologetically targeted Muslim citizens and political dissidents as public enemies.”

Of Aditynanath’s methods since, the same article continues: ‘From his first days in office, the chief minister [of Uttar Pradesh] has not hesitated to use the instruments of governance to create and consolidate a state that draws on the concerns of vigilante groups and puts Hindus, especially the advantaged “upper” castes, first, and uses the law and the police to target, punish, defame, imprison and in some cases even kill Muslims and dissenters, as we chronicle.”

The Adityanath administration’s anti-Muslim bias was on naked display in its persecution of Dr Kafeel Khan, and the harassment and intimidation of those who protested peacefully against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Its casteist and patriarchal bias has been strikingly evident in its handling of the recent incident in Hathras. Of this incident, the Financial Times, arguably the most respected newspaper in the world, has written: “Caste-based gender violence has a long, ignoble history in India.

It remains an emotive issue that can fuel political mobilisation. What is new is for authorities to brazenly array state powers against the murder victim’s grieving family, and deploy the high-tech tools of a surveillance state to intimidate those who are championing their cause.”

Before the pundits of ‘whataboutery’ jump in, let me say straightaway that in other states of the Union, the police likewise answers largely or even entirely to politicians in power. The police in West Bengal is as much an instrument of Mamata Banerjee and her party as the police in UP is with regard to Adityanath and his party.

In Congress-run states, too, the police often acts in a partisan fashion. Everywhere, the police tends to discriminate against women, low castes and minorities. But the savagery which has discriminated UP is probably unprecedented, and so has been the state’s suppression of dissent and of the media.

The large demonstrations in Congress-ruled Delhi in 2012 demanding justice for victims of rape would be inconceivable in any town or city in UP today.

In a properly functioning democracy, if the police or the administration abuses or misuses the provisions of the law, then other public institutions act as a corrective.

However, in these matters our country is not even remotely a functioning democracy any more.

As Justice A P Shah has recently observed “In India today, every institution, mechanism or tool that is designed to hold the executive accountable, is being systematically destroyed.

This destruction began in 2014 when the BJP government came into power. There is a temptation to compare this with the blatant destruction that the Indira Gandhi government indulged in the past, but comparisons are odious.

What we are witnessing today is a force in action strategically intending to render the Indian democratic [system] practically comatose, with all the power entrusted with the executive.”

Justice Shah continues: “The National Human Rights Commission is dormant. Investigation agencies are misused at the slightest opportunity. The Election Commission of India appears to have been suspiciously compromised. The Information Commission is almost non-functional.”

In such a situation, where the institutions meant to keep the state accountable and in check have collapsed, one would hope that the judiciary would at least stand up to be counted.

Tragically, the Supreme Court and the High Courts have largely failed us too. Their unwillingness to hear important constitutional cases such as those pertaining to the abrogation of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act has been depressing.

That cases of celebrities are heard with alacrity while cases pertaining to the poorest and most vulnerable of Indians are postponed does the Supreme Court no credit.

That the court has not yet restored 4G internet in all of Kashmir is a tragic acknowledgement of its own vulnerabilities.

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh claims that the protests over the assault on a young Dalit woman and its mishandling by his administration are part of an ‘international conspiracy’ to defame him and his government.

Truth be told, the Indian state has never required any foreign aid in this regard. It has been ready and willing to defame itself.

This has long been a land where justice was always hard to access if one is a woman, or poor, or Muslim, or Dalit. Under the current regime, it has become even harder than before.

Courtesy : NDTV

Published in: on October 9, 2020 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  

The Tribune – Missing Saroops, Sikh bodies file complaint, protest on

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 16 September 2020. Protesting Sikh bodies today filed a police complaint demanding criminal proceedings against the SGPC officials who were held accountable for misappropriation of 328 “saroops” of Guru Granth Sahib.

The sit-in site was shifted a few yards away from the SGPC headquarters main entrance gate. The protest will continue till September 18 when the SGPC has called up its executive body meeting.

Accompanied by lawyer Simranjit Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee members led by Balbir Singh Muchchal visited the Police Commissioner’s office to file a criminal complaint against 16 SGPC officials who were pointed out by Akal Takht-constituted probe panel.

Muchchal said, “We had asked the SGPC to review its earlier decision of taking criminal action against the culprits in its next executive body meeting and file a complaint with the police. In the meantime, we got the complaint registered with the police,” he said.

He said the SGPC had been asked to make available the record and data related to “saroops”. As the “morcha” continued for the third day, the Sikh activists objected to barricading as it hindered the movement of devotees.

Three sides leading to the Golden Temple, Guru Ram Dass Langar Hall, Gurdwara Baba Atal Rai Sahib and Jodha Ghar, were blocked.

Activist Sukhjit Singh Khosa said a nine-point demand charter was discussed with the SGPC representatives.

“They admit that our demands are justified, but they are hesitant to implement these. Our protest will continue till the FIR is registered against the guilty.”

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/missing-saroops-sikh-bodies-file-plaint-protest-on-142266

The Tribune – Golden Temple Mail completes 92 yrs of historic run

Then British Indian govt had projected it as its achievement for being longest train link in Indian subcontinent

Neeraj Bagga – Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 01 September 2020. The Golden Temple Mail, earlier known as the Frontier Mail, completed 92 years of its run as it chugged out of the Amritsar railway station on Tuesday.

The then British Indian government had projected it as its glorious achievement for being the longest train link in the Indian subcontinent as it had its inaugural run on this day in 1928.

Train was well known for Its punctuality

The punctuality of the Frontier Mail was of such crucial importance to the fastidious British bosses that when on one occasion, in August 1929, exactly 11 months after its inauguration, the train arrived 15 minutes late, there was a big uproar among railway circles, with the driver being asked to explain the reasons for this ‘inexcusable’ delay.

Earlier, the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway Company in conjunction with the North Western Railway Company had introduced the Frontier Mail from Bombay to Peshawar via Delhi and Lahore on October 7, 1927.

The Frontier Mail was formally renamed as the Golden Temple Mail in September 1996. The Frontier Mail is a mere shadow of its former glory today. Nonetheless, the train has an appeal and charisma that will live on in the hearts of its faithful passengers for a long time to come.

SP Singh Bhatia, Heritage Officer of the Ferozepur Division, said initially the train was routed via Bathinda, Ferozepur and Lahore to Peshawar, now in Pakistan. But from 01 March 1930, it was routed through Saharanpur, Ambala and Amritsar. Since then this train has been running on the same route. After the Partition, the destination of this train was cut short and now the train terminates at Amritsar.

“That was the time when the Frontier Mail could lay claim to being India’s fastest long-distance train, a fact that was highlighted in The Times in London in 1930, when it described the Frontier Mail as ‘one of the most famous express trains under the British Empire’.”

The Frontier Mail’s punctuality too was something to reckon with. It was generally believed that your Rolex watch might let you down, but not the Frontier Mail.

The punctuality of the Frontier Mail was of such crucial importance to the fastidious British bosses that when on one occasion, in August 1929, exactly 11 months after its inauguration, the train arrived 15 minutes late, there was a big uproar among railway circles, with the driver being asked to explain the reasons for this ‘inexcusable’ delay.

A blemish indeed on the jewel in the BB & CIR crown. In fact, people used to set their watches with the arrival of this train at the station, said Bhatia.

The train’s dining car was cooled by ceiling fans, white damask on the tables coupled with white napkins brought fineness in dining. Silver cutlery and exquisite crockery with crystal fruit platters were placed on each table, along with salt and pepper shakers. The table settings had to be perfect, with different forks and knives for each course.

The Frontier Mail was one of the first trains in India to get an air-conditioned car running from 1934. However, he added, the air-conditioning system was basic, nothing like the thermostat-controlled power plants we see today.

Elaborating on the air-conditioning system in those days, Bhatia said it used ice blocks, carried in sealed receptacles built beneath the car floor.

These were replenished at several halts along the line. A battery-operated blower constantly blew air into these receptacles, and the cold air entered the insulated cars through vents.

Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur Division, Rajesh Aggarwal said efforts were being made to maintain the high standards of boarding and lodging in the train with the pantry cars serving an array of delicious dishes from the hygienic environment.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/golden-temple-mail-completes-92-yrs-of-historic-run-135130