The Statesman – Opposition to meet on Thursday, Meira Kumar likely to be candidate

New Delhi, 21 June 2017. Unfazed by JD-U’s decision to back NDA’s Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, major opposition parties will meet here on Thursday amid indications that former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar could be their nominee for the presidential election.

Meira Kumar met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday. Though there was no official word about the meeting, it is widely believed that Meira Kumar could be the opposition’s choice against Kovind.

Like Kovind, Meira Kumar belongs to the Dalit community. She was the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha and also has been a Union Minister.

Ahead of meeting of opposition parties, Communist Party of India leader D Raja said that JD-U was one of the opposition parties which had come together to field a common candidate in the presidential polls and its parting ways will not have any bearing on the stance of other parties.

“It is one party. We are 17 parties who came together on the issue. (Bihar Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar has taken such a position, it is for him. It does not mean all others follow Nitish Kumar,” Raja told IANS.

Gandhi had taken the initiative to talk to opposition parties to evolve a consensus candidate in the presidential election. Nitish Kumar was among the leaders who met her and JD-U leaders took part in all meetings of the grouping.

JD-U leader Sharad Yadav was also a member of the sub-committee formed by opposition parties to decide the presidential candidate.

The Left parties are keen to put up a candidate against Kovind in what they call an “ideological battle”.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Wednesday that there would be a “strong candidate” against Kovind.

“The question is of a political battle, whether the basics of our Constitution would be protected or RSS would convert the country into a Hindu Rashtra (nation),” Yechury said.

It remains to be seen if BSP, which has also said that it cannot oppose a Dalit candidate unless the opposition has a more popular Dalit nominee, attends the opposition meeting.

For the record, the Congress said the question whether they would be putting up a candidate against Kovind will be known only after Thursday’s meeting.

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, whose father Mulayam Singh Yadav is toeing a different line, said that his party would go with the opposition led by Congress.

“There should be no talk about whether a Dalit should be there (be a President), caste or religion. Whoever would be the protector of the Constitution should be above caste and religion,” he said adding that his party would attend the opposition’s meeting on Thursday.

The other name doing the rounds as possible opposition candidates is of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who also belong to the Dalit community.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/opposition-to-meet-on-thursday-meira-kumar-likely-to-be-candidate-1498064898.html

Sikh24.com – Government Intervention in Bhai Roopa Land Issue

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 20 June 2017. Following no response from the Punjab police in regards to illegal occupation of SGPC land, Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar has once again brought up the issue.

In his second letter addressed to Captain Amarinder Singh, SGPC President Professor Badungar has asked for SGPC’s land to be freed from illegal possession of the local Bhai Roopa village committee. Professor Badungar had earlier written to the Punjab Chief Minister on May 25.

Speaking to Sikh24, Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar said that the Punjab government had mentioned of directing the Director General of Punjab Police to sort out the issue in reply to the earlier letter. He further said that the Police have taken no action in this regard.

Taking on the Congress led Punjab government, Professor Badungar said that the illegal possession over land of sacred Sikh shrines was highly condemnable and the Punjab government ought to take suitable measures to prevent such cases from happening.

Professor Badungar alleged that more than 100 acres land of a historical Sikh shrine in village Bhai Roopa (Rampura Phool) has been taken over by Congress affiliated elements after the formation of Congress government in Punjab.

Background

In May 2014, the clash between the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and residents of Bhai Roopa village over 161 acres of land came to the fore as a violent clash took place between village residents and SGPC Task Force. Villagers blamed the SGPC for forcefully occupying empty land belonging to their village Gurdwara.

SGPC officials claim that the land in question was always theirs and Bhai Roopa langar committee had forcefully occupied the land.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/06/20/sgpc-president-again-seeks-government-intervention-in-bhai-roopa-land-issue/#.WUtaSOlLfIU

Gent: Sint-Antoniuskaai – Rabot

Sint-Antoniuskaai
28 May 2017

OCMW (social services) Gent
Cultuurkapel Sint-Vincent

Sint-Antoniuskaai – Interesting statues

Sint-Antoniuskaai – Interesting statues

Sint-Antoniuskaai
You can just about see the Rabot

Sint-Antoniuskaai – Rabot

Sint-Antoniuskaai

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Times of India – Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee drops plan of sending ‘jatha’ to Pakistan

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 22 June 2017. After the Union government’s refusal to guarantee safety of Sikh devotees in Pakistan, the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has cancelled its scheduled ‘jatha’ (group of pilgrims), which was to leave for the neighbouring country to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28.

However, other Sikh bodies are sending their representatives, stating it was the Pakistan government’s duty to provide security cover to the visiting pilgrims.

Talking to TOI on Tuesday, SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar said, “It’s the duty of the Indian government to ensure the safety of Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. Our government should have taken up the issue with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. It appears as if Sikh lives are not important for the central government.”

Badungar said SGPC had written letters to both the Prime Minister and the Union external affairs minister, but to no avail. He said the Centre had conveyed that the ‘jatha’ could go at its own risk.

Sources informed that following the estranged relations between the two nations, intelligence agencies had suggested that the Centre curtail the visit of Indians to Pakistan for security reasons.

According to a programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), after the arrival of Indian ‘jathas’ on June 28, the bhog of Akhand Path would be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras before returning on July 7.

The president of Bhai Mardana Yadgar Kirtan Darbar Society Harpal Singh Bhullar said the security of Indian devotees had never been an issue in Pakistan.

Stating that providing security to the Indian ‘jatha’ was the responsibility of the Pakistan government, and even during the worst of relations between the two nations, the neighbouring country had been providing a high standard of security to pilgrims from India. “It’s also a matter of Pakistan’s reputation at the international level,” he said.

Agreeing with Harpal, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha president Swaran Singh Gill said there should not be any doubt on security in Pakistan. “For a ‘jatha’ of 3,000 pilgrims, there are over 10,000 security personnel at every gurdwara, and on the route taken by the visiting groups,” he said.

Both of them opined that the SGPC should send the Sikh ‘jatha’, keeping in view the sentiments of pilgrims.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/sgpc-drops-plan-of-sending-jatha-to-pak/articleshow/59260382.cms

Dawn – Pakistan, Afghan envoys in US trade barbs at Washington moot

Anwar Iqbal

Washington, 21 June 2017. Afghanistan cannot blame Pakistan for all its ills, as terrorist attacks happening there originate in that country, says Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Islamabad’s envoy in Washington.

His Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib argues that Afghanistan is not alone in blaming Pakistan; other neighbours, including Iran, also accuse it of interfering in their internal affairs. “Only the fish (of the Arabian Sea) do not because fish do not complain”.

The two ambassadors met on Monday afternoon in a dialogue on ‘Pakistan & Afghanistan relations, diplomacy & security challenges’, organised by a Washington-based think-tank, Indus, at Carnegie Endowment.

While Ambassador Chaudhry stressed the need for a dialogue, reviving the quadrilateral peace process and seeking a political solution to the Afghan conflict, Mr Mohib was not in a reconciliatory mood.

He not only accused Pakistan of stirring troubles in Afghanistan but also asked other nations, like China and the United States, not to give weapons to it. “One day, those weapons will be used against you,” he warned.

He was obviously emboldened by media reports that the Trump administration was ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on militants who use their alleged hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas for launching attacks into Afghanistan.

Washington’s options

One report claimed that National Security Adviser General H R McMaster had told Pakistani officials that the US could attack targets inside Pakistan if American hostages held by the Afghan Haqqani militants were killed.

Reports in the US media claimed that the Trump administration was considering various options, which included expanding drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid and eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally.

But there are elements within the US administration that oppose taking such tough measures against Pakistan.

They argue that America’s close ties with India are already pushing Pakistan away and such harsh measures would further reduce Washington’s influence in Islamabad.

Whether motivated by these reports or other factors, the Afghan ambassador minced no words in attacking Pakistan in the dialogue.

“Military grade explosive were used in last month’s truck-bomb attack in Kabul” that killed more than 90 people, he said. “Those are not produced in ungoverned spaces of Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Mohib said that there were several “real issues” in working with Pakistan.

“We must work with Pakistan, yes. Which Pakistan? The one occupied by the military or the civil government?” he asked.

“Policies are made by the military. We are talking about today’s military that has a liberal mindset and uses extremism as tool for foreign policy. This new generation trained by Dawa institutes of Zia. We are seriously concerned about that generation.”

Ambassador Chaudhry began politely, expressing Pakistan’s desire to stay engaged with Afghanistan. “Time and history has shown that when Afghanistan was unstable, instability came to Pakistan as well,” he said.

“We have a genuine interest in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Mr Chaudhry said the Pakistani economy had stabilised and the country did not want to jeopardise that by seeking instability in Afghanistan.

He said that after the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan, militants came to the northern parts of Pakistan, but it had eliminated them from those areas at a huge cost, as 6,000 Pakistani soldiers had laid down their lives in those operations.

“Now peace has been restored and the economy is getting better. Investments are coming. These gains are at risk if Afghanistan does not become stable,” he said.

Kabul government control

Ambassador Chaudhry pointed out that the government in Kabul did not have control over the entire country and militants were using those areas for carrying out their activities, such as the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Nangarhar, which was a matter of concern for Pakistan.

“We are ready to contribute to peace in Afghanistan in whatever way possible,” he said.

“Glad to see the Pakistani economy picking up. So is the Afghan economy,” said Ambassador Mohib, but alleged that the global heroin trade was a third of the Pakistan economy and human trafficking and smuggling also contributed to it.

“We are at threat from these criminals who are threatening to take over,” he said. “No dialogue will succeed unless we are candid. We know what our objectives are. We don’t know what are Pakistan’s objectives.”

Mr Mohib said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had “invested huge political capital” in ties with Pakistan but now he stated that Pakistan was engaged in an undeclared war.

“Nothing new, we have heard this mantra for the last few years,” Ambassador Chaudhry responded. “But we decided not to engage in blame game. It will not help any country.”

He told his Afghan counterpart that it’s “too simplistic to say Pakistan is responsible for all ills of Afghanistan,” and while doing so, the accusers ignored their own problems such as weak governance, corruption, drug trade and economic stress.

“Academically speaking, if the Pak-Afghan border is sealed completely, will it fix Afghanistan?” he asked. “We should show a friendly spirit, which was shown in Astana recently between President Ghani and PM Nawaz Sharif.”

He urged both countries to devise a mechanism to coordinate efforts to defeat terrorism.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1340855/pakistan-afghan-envoys-in-us-trade-barbs-at-washington-moot

BBC News – India arrests 15 for cheering Pakistan in Champions Trophy

Madhya Pradesh, 20 June 2017. Fifteen Muslim men have been arrested in India for allegedly shouting “anti-India and pro-Pakistan” slogans during the Champions Trophy cricket final.

The men were denied bail in Madhya Pradesh state after appearing in court where they were charged with sedition.

They were arrested after their Hindu neighbours complained that they had burst firecrackers and shouted “pro-Pakistan” slogans during the game.

Pakistan won the final, defeating India by 180 runs.

Sedition is one of the most serious charges under the Indian penal code.

People charged with sedition have to surrender their passports, are not eligible for government jobs, must appear in court as and when required, and spend money on legal fees.

The India Today website quoted police as saying that the men were charged because of the anti-India slogans and not because they were cheering for Pakistan.

Why India needs to get rid of its sedition law

This is not the first time Indian Muslims have got into trouble for cheering for the Pakistan cricket team.

In 2014, 66 Muslim students from Indian-administered Kashmir were kicked out of their university in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and charged with disturbing communal harmony.

And in 2016, police were sent into a university in Indian-administered Kashmir after clashes between students from the state and other parts of the country.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40341891

The Tribune – SGPC for more security to Giani Gurmukh Singh

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 20 June 2017. The SGPC has approached the DGP to ensure the security of former acting Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Gurmukh Singh.

Giani Gurmukh Singh, who is now serving as head priest [There are no Sikh priests] of Gurdwara Nauwin Patshahi, Dhamtan Sahib in Jind had received a anonymous threatening letter, allegedly from controversial Dera Sirsa supporters, at his ancestral place in Arif Ke village in Ferozepur.

Committee chief KS Badungar said that “I have also written to DGP Suresh Arora that the matter should be thoroughly probed and the guilty brought to book,” he said.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh too has echoed similar views.

Meanwhile, SGPC general secretary A S Chawla said that such an instance has raised a question mark on the law and order situation in the state. “Some disgruntled elements want to vitiate peace in the state. It is the liability of the government to nab the culprits”, he said.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sgpc-for-more-security-to-giani-gurmukh-singh/425204.html

Gent: Academiestraat – Augustijnenkaai – Sint-Antoniuskaai

Academiestraat
28 May 2017

Academiestraat – Academie Gent

Augustijnenkaai
28 May 2017

Augustijnenkaai

Sint-Antoniuskaai
28 May 2017

Sint-Antoniuskaai

Nice old house

Huis van de Mens – Humanists
They are going to move to the Geuzenhuis, Kantienberg

Through the main door to the Cultuurkapel

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Times of India – Parallel jathedars mull ‘gurdwara reform’ move

I P Singh

Jalandhar, 20 June 2017. The informal Sarbat Khalsa-appointed jathedars have announced to launch a ‘gurdwara management reform movement’. The parallel priests have also said that they would work to get due representation to Dalits in the gurdwara management.

On Monday, parallel jathedar of Akal Takht Dhian Singh Mand, Damdama Sahib unofficial jathedar Baljit Singh Daduwal and Kesgarh Sahib informal jathedar Amrik Singh Ajnala addressed a press conference in Jalandhar. Mand said they were constrained to start the movement as there was no end to incidents of sacrilege and Sikh community was anguished.

“Earlier the Parkash Singh Badal government did not make any attempt to deliver justice in the Bargari sacrilege incident. Now, the Captain Amarinder Singh government has also failed to give any results in the last three months,” he said.

Stating that there were serious issues in the management of gurdwaras, Mand said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the official jathedars had failed to do anything to improve the situation.

Mand announced that in the first leg of the programmme, they would hold district-wise meetings with the granthis and pathis (those engaged in recitation of Guru Granth Sahib). The programme would start on Thursday from Ferozepur and culminate on at Nawanshahr on August 1. He said they would also meet with preachers, ragis, dhadis and kavishars.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/parallel-jathedars-mull-gurdwara-reform-move/articleshow/59229925.cms

The Hindu – Suspect in Belgium train station blast confirmed dead

Brussel, 21 June 2017. The Latest on the explosion at a train station in Brussels:

4 a.m. (IST)

A spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office says the suspect in the explosion at a train station in the Belgian capital has died.

Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said early Wednesday the man had been lying still since soldiers shot him on Tuesday night. She says medics were unable to attend to him for several hours out of fear he could be carrying explosives.

Van Wymersch says authorities only could confirm his death once a bomb squad had finished its work.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt says soldiers “neutralized” a suspect at the Central Station immediately after a small explosion there.

2.55 a.m. (IST)

Belgian authorities say they foiled a “terror attack” when they shot a suspect at one of the nation’s main train stations.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers “neutralised” a suspect at the Central Station immediately after a small explosion there on Tuesday night and “we do not know if the man is still alive or that he is dead”.

Van der Sypt added that “this incident is considered as a terrorist attack”.

Belgium’s Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, says based on initial information it doesn’t see a need to raise the terror threat in the country to the highest level.

1.45 a.m. (IST)

Belgian authorities say soldiers “neutralised” a person at a main Brussels train station amid media reports of explosion-like noises there.

Belgium’s Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, said via Twitter that “soldiers had to neutralise an individual” at the Central station on Tuesday.

Brussels prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch tells VRT network there was a small explosion at the station, one of the nation’s busiest, but the damage was limited.

Van Wymersch said authorities were on the scene quickly and a person was shot. She says at first sight no one else appears to have been wounded.

Photos posted on social media showed a small fire in the station, which was evacuated along with the main Brussels square.

1 a.m. (IST)

Belgian media are reporting that explosion-like noises have been heard at a Brussels train station, prompting the evacuation of a main square.

Broadcaster RTL quoted Fires Services spokesman Pierre Meys confirming that some kind of an explosion had happened in the city’s Central station on Tuesday. Meys could not say what had caused the blast.

Brussels police said via Twitter that there was “an incident with an individual at the station. The situation is under control.”

They asked the public to follow police instructions.

The Belgian capital’s Grand Place, a major tourist site, was evacuated along with the station about 200 meters (656 feet) away.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and at an airport in March 2016.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/suspect-in-belgium-train-station-blast-confirmed-dead/article19113451.ece?homepage=true