The Hindustan Times – Man hacked to death, set ablaze in Rajasthan: Nephew says Afrazul didn’t wrong anyone

Afrazul’s family says he was harmless and worked to help others from his village in Malda find employment in Rajsamand.

Salik Ahmad

Rajsamand-Rajastan-India, 8 December 2017. Migrant labourer Afrazul who was brutally hacked and burnt by a fanatical unemployed man on Wednesday, lived with 24 labourers who shared four rooms in a rented single storey house in Rajsamand’s Dhoinda, about 300 km south of Jaipur.

Fifty-year-old Afrazul also worked as a labour contractor facilitating fellow villagers from Malda’s Sayadpur village in West Bengal find work here. They earlier lived in Kakoli, another area of the district and had moved into this house just over a month ago.

The father of three apparently had no vice.

“The only vice, he had was that he used to smoke bidis,” says Inaul Sheikh, Afrazul’s nephew who stays in the same accommodation.

He says Afrazul did not wrong anyone.

“Go to the labour market at Jhal Chakki and ask the people there who have seen him for the past 12-13 years. They will tell you what kind of a person he was,” he adds.

The man seen killing him in a video, Shambhu Lal Regar who was arrested on Thursday told police he killed Afrazul to save a woman from ‘love jihad’, a term used by right-wing Hindu groups to describe inter-faith marriages which they claim is an Islamist conspiracy to convert Hindu women through marriage or coercion.

But Inaul says he had nothing to do with it.

“If five or six years ago, some person from Malda took a girl from here what does it have to do with my uncle?” he asks.

Afrazul’s son-in-law Mosharaff Khan, another tenant in the same building, says his father-in-law had left for the labour market at around nine in the morning on Wednesday.

“There was a drizzle. We were watching television when he had tea and left. At 11:30am, he called to say that some labourers need to transfer money back home and needed his help,” he said.

At 3 pm, Inaul got a call informing him that the owner of the bike whose registration number ended with 786 had met an ‘accident’. When Inaul reached the spot, police had cordoned off the area where the charred body of his uncle was lying. Afrazul was not very religious and occasionally offered the juma (Friday congregation) prayer.

Mosharaff says Afrazul gave Rs 12000 to him on his marriage. “Garib majdoor aadmi kitna dega (how much can a poor labourer give?)”quips Afrazul’s fellow worker Samiul Sheikh who has been living in Rajsamand on and off for the past 18 years and knew the deceased for a long time.

The labourers keep their families at home. They keep coming at regular intervals depending on employment.

Afrazul’s wife and three daughters live in Malda. The elder two daughters are married, while the youngest (16) is yet to be married.

Advertisements – Controversial SGPC president undergoes secret meeting with Giani Gurbachan Singh

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 6 December 2017.  Newly appointed SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal, who has been entangled in controversies since his first day of election, today silently paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum Sri Harmandr Sahib.

Despite of being his primary visit to the holiest Sikh shrine after becoming SGPC President, media was kept apart from this visit by the SGPC.

Sources have informed that the newly elected SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal underwent a secret meeting with the SGPC appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh after paying obeisance inside sanctum sanctorum. It has come to fore that senior SGPC officials were not allowed to enter the room during the meeting.

As per a press note shared by the SGPC with Sikh24, it has been informed that during his visit Gobind Singh Longowal got information about the on-going tasks inside Sikh shrines by meeting the senior SGPC officials in its head office.

SGPC Chief Secretary Dr Roop Singh apprised Gobind Singh Longowal with all the senior SGPC officials and promised him of full support during his tenure.

The press note does not make any mention of the meeting with Giani Gurbachan Singh.

Brussel Koningstraat and Madou – Gent De Lijn Trams

Koningstraat MIVB Trams and Madou MIVB Metro
8 November 2017

Tram 93 to Stadion

Madou: Metro 2 to Simonis,  6 to Koning Boudewijn,  2 Blocked vehicle (sounds bad),
and 5 and 2 to Elizabeth

Madou: Metro 2 and 6

Gent De Lijn Trams
9 November 2017

Ledebergplein: Tram 4 to Moscou

Ledebergstraat: Tram 4 to Moscou

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pakistan Today – Minorities demand elections, not selections

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 8 December 2016. Members of the minority communities including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis and others on Thursday demanded the government and political parties that they want elections, not selections.

They regretted that Pakistan still refuses to integrate minorities in its politics despite the passage of 70 years. They said that members of minorities had rendered sacrifices during the Pakistan Movement but they are still deprived of their fundamental rights and are facing discriminatory laws.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, members of Minorities Coverage Foundation including Emanuel Gulzar, Pastor Chaman, Sardar Mohn Singh, Lal Bhagat Khokhar, Tariq Masih Mughal, Rizwan Masih Khokhar, Dr Amjad, Donald Joseph and others demanded that non-Muslims should be awarded the dual franchise.

They lamented that under the current system, seats reserved for minorities become a tool for victorious parties to pick ‘yes-men’ who are not their true representatives. The current system also does not allow minorities to contest for the right to represent minorities, they said.

“There is a no link between those who occupy those seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies and those who are active members of the community and have real roots among the minorities in the country,” said Emanuel Gulzar.

Gulzar demanded that they want a joint electorate, where minorities are allowed to vote for Member National Assembly (MNA) and Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) that will represent their physical constituency, and a system where the occupying the reserved seats are directly elected by the country’s non-Muslims.

He urged the government to bring an end to discriminatory laws to encourage the minorities in mainstream politics and give them level-playing filed at par with their Muslim candidates.

Emanuel Gulzar said that members of minorities communities are loyal to Pakistan through the core of their heart and they should not be neglected.

He cited references from speeches of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad for giving due rights to minorities for the progress and prosperity of the country. He hoped that the government will review the existing discriminatory law to encourage minorities.

The Hindu – The Hindu – ‘Unforgivable’: Editorial on 7 December 1992, on the Babri Masjid demolition

Op/Ed, 6 December 2017. It was religious fanaticism at its ugliest in Ayodhya yesterday, with the country’s worst fears coming true in the nightmarish spectacle of the brutal destruction of the 450 year old Babri Masjid by thousands of frenzied kar sevaks.

The disputed mosque was razed to the ground with a barbaric savagery reminiscent of the crude traditions of settling scores in medieval history. The demolition of the Masjid has delivered a lethal blow to the image of a secular and democratic India.

Yesterday’s catastrophe underlines the validity of the misgivings that a permissive attitude to the kar seva would have disastrous consequences. Sunday was a dark day for India. The Hindu shares the nation’s sense of deep anguish at this painful moment.

The BJP Government in Uttar Pradesh has forfeited its right to rule in the State by its brazen and shameless abdication of its constitutional responsibility.

Its assurances to the Centre that it would not violate the court order and that it would discharge its constitutional obligations proved insincere as it appeared to actively collude with the savage and destructive attitude of the kar sevaks surging forward to capture the disputed structure.

The State police, completely outnumbered by crowds of trishul-wielding kar sevaks, withdrew from the site as the unruly mob charged into the complex.

For the better part of the day, the inaction of the State police force coupled with the refusal of the district magistrate to permit the Central forces to act implied that the State Government endorsed the mosque’s wanton destruction.

The Central forces had to fight their way in, even as they were prevented by the State troops from bursting teargas shells to disperse the crowd.

The barricades that the State authorities had put up to guard the disputed structure were hopelessly inadequate, making a mockery of the State Government’s claim that it would take all steps to protect the disputed structure.

The resignation of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Kalyan Singh does not absolve his Government or the BJP of culpability for the kar seva’s sordid conclusion.

The BJP and its militant allies, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal stand exposed as having brought on this horrific denouement even as the essentially destructive and fascist nature of its strategy and tactics cannot be in doubt any more. The BJP’s claim to be a defender of the national interest lies in shreds today.

Much as Mr L K Advani and his colleagues would like to disown the savagery of Sunday, they cannot escape the responsibility for having whipped up passions to the extent that it reflected in the blind mob hysteria which culminated in the attack on the Babri Masjid.

The shrill tenor of the Hindutva campaign, the continual jibes at “pseudo secular policies”, the inflammatory propaganda that minorities are being appeased all served to present a dangerous and false picture of Indian social reality to the public, breeding the sort of ugly fanaticism that surfaced in Ayodhya yesterday.

The Narasimha Rao administration will face the criticism that it did not adequately forestall Sunday’s development. In retrospect, it was a mistake to have put any faith in the sincerity of the Uttar Pradesh Government’s assurances that it would uphold the rule of law.

Thereby, the Centre had jeopardised the safety of the Babri Masjid. The Government should not have taken this risk, given that the disputed mosque had come to be a symbol of the fate of India’s commitment to secularism.

This administration had in fact been fortified by support from the non-BJP opposition parties which had promised to endorse any strong action in defence of the integrity of the disputed structure. Yet the Narasimha Rao Government hesitated in seizing the initiative in ensuring the mosque’s safety.

The wisdom of this Government’s strategic approach to the Ayodhya issue will be sharply questioned in the days to come, within the ruling party and outside.

But what is vital is to recognise that this is a defining moment in India’s history, a moment at which the country can be plunged into a dark abyss of primitive emotions threatening to erase four decades of a successful track record of a progressive secular democracy.

All the secular political forces must rally to the defence of the country and pull it back from the brink. A first step would be to rebuild the destroyed Babri Masjid as a gesture towards the minority community and as a reaffirmation of an unwavering commitment to the vision of a democratic India, free of any kind of bigotry.

This Editorial has been republished on the occasion of the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition on 6 December 2017. The original Editorial was published by The Hindu on 7 December 1992.

The Statesman – Mandir will be built when Lord Rama wants it, PM Modi will not build it: Sibal

New Delhi, 7 December 2017. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Ram Mandir will be built “when Lord Rama wants it and Modi will not build the temple”.

“As far as Ram Mandir is concerned (Modiji), it will be built when Lord Ram wants it to be built,” said Sibal.

“We believe in the Lord, we don’t believe in you (Modiji). You are not going to build that temple..If you think that you are, then you are mistaken…

“It’s when God wants it. When Lord Ram wants it the temple will be built wherever, whenever. And that the court will decide,” Sibal added.

Sibal had in the apex court said that the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute should be heard after the 2019 general elections, which triggered a major political storm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Congress and congratulated the Sunni Waqf Board for distancing itself from Sibal’s plea.

However, Sibal clarified that he did not represent the Sunni Waqf Board, but one of the individuals in the case.

“Our PM comments without knowing things sometimes. Amit Shah and the Prime Minister said I represented Sunni Waqf Board. I was never a Sunni Waqf Board lawyer. I can understand your President (Shah) saying such a thing because I don’t expect anything better from him.

“The PM did not check the fact that actually I never represented the Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court and yet he thanked them. I request the PM to be a little more careful before making such public comments. It doesn’t behove the status of a Prime Minister.”

The Tribune – Rein in illegal travel agents: HC to states

Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 5 December 2017. Taking cognisance of advertisements by travel agents to lure susceptible people for sending them abroad even for studies, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the DGPs of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to find out whether the advertisers were registered.

The order by Justice A B Chaudhari came more than four months after Punjab and Haryana were held culpable for not warning people against contacting unregistered or unlicensed agents while seeking greener pastures abroad.

Justice Chaudhari has already asked Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to initiate suitable action against TV channels and advertisers in case broadcast ads were not by registered agents.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, Justice Chaudhari observed that the compliance report on the previous order was not there. He added that advertisements were visible at the rear of auto-rickshaws and at several places for attracting gullible people.

Issuing directions to the DGPs, Justice Chaudhari also called for details of action taken in case the agents advertising were not registered. For the purpose of compliance, Justice Chaudhari fixed the case for third week of December, while making it clear that further adjournment would not be granted.

Justice Chaudhari, on a previous date of hearing, had directed the states to issue immediate instructions to district magistrates in each district to publish “a list of registered agents and to warn the citizens against unauthorised agents”.

The list was required to be made public on a regular basis through TV, radio, newspapers and any other modes of communication.

Justice Chaudhari had observed that agents, not registered or licensed by the government, were taking money and sending people abroad, and gullible citizens were falling in their trap.

He had asserted: “In my opinion, one of the reasons appears to be the failure on the part of Punjab and Haryana in not warning the people at large not to contact any unregistered or unlicensed person/agent and not to give any amount to them.”

Oostende NMBS station – Brussel Sint-Goedele and Koningstraat

Oostende NMBS station
7 November 2017

The west (Oostende) east (Eupen) connection
Visiting all four components of the Belgian Federation

Brussel Sint-Goedele
8 November 2017

Sint-Goedele Cathedral
Near Brussel Centraal

Koningstraat MIVB Trams
8 November 2017

MIVB Tram 93 to Legrand

MIVB Tram 93 to Legrand

MIVB Tram 93 to Stadion

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

CBS Sacramento – Yuba City swears in first female Sikh mayor

Kelly Ryan

Yuba City-California-USA, 6 December 2017. A local city is celebrating and making history with the swearing-in of its new mayor.

A Sacramento State graduate and former vice mayor, Preet Didbal is being elevated to a top position, one that’s making history.

Tuesday evening started with the first-ever Girl Scout color guard, part of a night of firsts.

There was standing room only inside, with an overflowing crowd outside, as the new mayor of Yuba City was sworn in.

“Thank you for letting me be mayor. I am grateful, absolutely grateful to represent our city,” Dibal said.

Earlier in the day, Didball spoke about how she was feeling before her historic swearing-in ceremony.

“I’m still blown away by what’s happening,” Didbal said.

She says she’s honored to be the first Sikh woman elected mayor of a USA city. But this isn’t new territory for her. She was the first Sikh woman elected to a USA city council here in 2014.

“I’m paving the way, but there are women in front of me who paved the way as well,” Didbal said.

Yuba City has one of the largest Sikh populations in the country. Founded in India’s Panjab region, Didbal says that “service” is an important part of the Sikh religion. Her parents came to Yuba City from India working as farm laborers. She was born here in a local hospital.

“That was the whole point to emigrate from India to here to have a better life,” Didbal said.

She says this new position goes along with her continued effort to give back to a community which has given her and her family that better life.

“If you look around our society, there’s crazy stuff going on, so I want to reflect the positivity, the hand of kindness, and get rid of hate.”

Yuba City Swears In First Female Sikh Mayor

Dawn – Mayor of London brings peace tidings from India to Pakistan

Intikhab Hanif

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 7 December 2017. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan arrived in Lahore via the Wagah border on an official visit on Wednesday, with the message that many Indians wanted good relations with Pakistan.

This is the first time a mayor of London has visited Lahore. Mr Khan is on a six-day mission to India and Pakistan to strengthen cultural and economic ties with the British capital. He had earlier stayed in India for three days where he met politicians and other important personages in Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar.

Accompanied by a delegation of investors and officials, London’s mayor was received warmly at the Wagah border by Mayor of Lahore retired Colonel Mubashar Javed and senior officials of the Punjab government.

Earlier in the day, while visiting the Golden Temple at Amritsar in India, Mr Khan called on the British government on Wednesday to make a formal apology for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which nearly 400 people were shot dead by British Indian army soldiers.

He called the massacre one of the most horrific events in Indian history. “It is wrong that successive British governments have fallen short of delivering a formal apology to the families of those who were killed,” he said.

Mr Khan later called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif at the latter’s Model Town residence and attended a luncheon there. British High Commissioner Thomas Drew was also present on the occasion.

The delegation included London’s Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal, Turkish Consul General Serder Deniz and US Consul General Elizabeth Kennedy.

Prior to Mr Khan’s arrival in the city, CM Sharif had tweeted: “We welcome Mayor Sadiq Khan from the historic city of London to the historic city of Lahore.” Mr Khan had a one-on-one meeting with the chief minister and later visited the Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort, before attending a dialogue at Alhamra.

According to a spokesperson for the Punjab government, Mr Sharif said that Pakistan accorded great importance to its relations with the UK.

A large number of Pakistanis were settled in London, playing an important role in enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries, he said, adding that promoting cordial relations between the UK and Panjab was the need of the hour.

The chief minister was quoted as saying that Pakistan had achieved great success in its war on terrorism, and would win it by introducing various socio-economic reforms. The government, in collaboration with the Department for International Development of the UK, had already introduced far-reaching reforms in education, healthcare and skills development sectors. “We appreciate the cooperation of British people,” he said.

Earlier while meeting CM Sharif, the delegation of British investors had expressed interest in investing in projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The chief minister said that the CPEC had opened new avenues of foreign investment in Pakistan and British investors should fully avail the opportunity.

Mr Khan said that the cities of London and Lahore enjoyed good relations and expressed the desire to enhance cooperation and investment with Lahore in various sectors.

Speaking at a dinner reception given by the mayor of Lahore, Mr Khan said he was impressed by the hospitality of the people of Lahore. He was happy to note that Pakistan and its society were progressing.

“I am happy to know that Pakistan’s economy is growing,” he said, while thanking the mayor for according him a warm welcome. “I found Lahore as I had heard of it. It is the heart of Pakistan and is certainly the hub of Pakistani culture,” he said.

Lahore’s mayor thanked Mr Khan for visiting and shared that he wished to strengthen social and cultural ties with London.

Gifts were exchanged, owner of Peshawar Zalmi Javaid Afridi presented Mr Khan Shahid Afridi’s cricket bat, cap and shirt. Mr Khan was scheduled to leave for Islamabad after the reception, and to later visit Karachi.