– Let’s celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birthday together, Modi appeals all Indians

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 25 June 2018. Addressing the Indian masses in the 45th episode of his radio program named ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on June 24, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highly praised the lessons taught by first Sikh master Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

He said that Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught the society to end caste or religion based discrimination and identify the whole human race as one.

Narendra Modi further said that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji said that helping the poor and needy people is the true ‘sewa’ (volunteer service) of the Almighty Lord.

He added that Guru Nanak Dev Ji made every possible effort for initiating social welfare tasks and brought the concept of ‘langar’ (free community kitchen) to end discrimination on the basis of caste or religion.

Appealing all the Indian communities to jointly make efforts for celebrating 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Modi said that we should chalk out a strategy to make this day an inspiration day at International level.

He requested the people to come up with suggestions for grand celebrations of the 550th birthday celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

It is pertinent to note here that such activities of RSS backed outfits like BJP are always underlined by the active Sikh intellectuals as the RSS has a bad record of making attempts to sledgehammer Sikh history facts under the garb of celebrations. The RSS always keeps in attempt to term Sikhism as a part of Hinduism.

The embrace of Sikhi by the RSS will suffocate the true Sikhi spirit
The RSS values are totally opposed to the ideas of One God – One Humanity
Man in Blue


The Hindustan Times – India, Netherlands discuss cooperation across various sectors

India and The Netherlands on Thursday explored cooperation across multiple sectors at a CEOs Round Table attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

New Delhi – India, 24 May 2018. “Netherlands is the fourth largest investor in India in diverse sectors,” Kumar said in an earlier tweet.

The CEOs Round Table was preceded by a bilateral meeting between Modi and Rutte at Hyderabad House here.

Rutte arrived here on Thursday morning on a two-day visit to India that will also see him going to Bengaluru.

This is his second visit to India since June 2015, but the first after being re-elected as Prime Minister in 2017.

The Dutch leader’s visit comes within a year of Modi’s visit to The Netherlands last June.

According to figures released by the External Affairs Ministry, India and The Netherlands have a bilateral trade of $7.621 billion (April 2017-Feb 2018).

The Netherlands is also home to a 235,000-strong Indian diaspora, the largest in mainland Europe.

Rutte’s visit is expected to boost the economic and political cooperation between India and The Netherlands.

In the not too distant past stage democracy was important to the governments of the Netherlands. Now they are only to pleased to sit down with elected dictator Modi.
The Man in Blue

BBC News – Protest over detention of Scots Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal

Supporters of a Scottish man detained in India on suspicion of murder have staged a protest in London.

London – UK, 18 April 2018. Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested in Punjab last November.

Campaigners said the 31-year-old Sikh has been held without charge and tortured. Indian authorities said he is being investigated over seven counts of aiding and abetting of murder.

The protest coincided with the arrival in the UK of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He is in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May raised Mr Johal’s case with Prime Minister Modi when they met on Wednesday morning.

Mr Johal’s brother, Gurpreet Singh, is among those who travelled from Glasgow to take part in the protest in Parliament Square.

His family have said Mr Johal was a peaceful activist who had contributed to a website remembering the 1984 massacre at the Golden Temple at Amritsar but was not a militant.

He was arrested in Punjab on 4 November, just over a fortnight after his wedding.

His supporters claim he has had limited access to his family and to a lawyer, and they have also said reports of torture have been ignored.

Charandeep Singh, from Glasgow Gurdwara, who was among those protesting in London, told BBC Scotland: “What we are asking and urging the government of India and the authorities to do is to actually present the evidence and actually outline what the official charge is.

“If we understand what the official charge is, if there is one, then we are able to present a case, and he can actually rightfully defend himself.”

The Indian High Commission has previously said each of the cases against Mr Johal was proceeding “strictly as per due process of Indian law, as in any mature democratic set-up”.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister raised Mr Johal’s case with Prime Minister Modi this morning and the government will continue to make representations on his behalf until our concerns are addressed.

“Our High Commission staff in India have visited Mr Johal 10 times since his detention, most recently on 22 March, and the Foreign Office are in regular contact with his family.”

Business Standard – UK to raise concern over British Sikh held in Indian jail at senior levels

London – UK, 14 March 2018. The UK government said today that it will raise concerns around the case of a British Sikh being held in a maximum-security jail in Punjab at “senior levels” in India.

The case of Jagtar Singh Johal, a 30-year-old British Sikh from Dunbarton in Scotland who is currently being held in Nabha Central Jail on murder and conspiracy to murder charges, was raised as part of a debate in the UK Parliament’s Westminster Hall today.

British Sikh MPs Preet Kaur Gill and Tan Dhesi along with Johal’s local MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, asked the UK government to raise the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the UK for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) meeting next month.

Mark Field, Minister of state in charge of Asia and the Pacific in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), said he would “try” to see that happens, adding that he would “continue to raise this case at senior levels with Indian authorities”.

He revealed that the UK government had handled nearly 5,000 detentions involving British nationals abroad in the last year alone with”comprehensive, responsive” consular service and stressed that it is important that the legal systems of other countries are respected.”

India as a partner in the Commonwealth and also as a partner in many other ways has a strong democratic framework which is designed to guarantee human rights.

However, it also faces numerous challenges related to the size of development and when it comes to enforcing fundamental rights enshrined in its Constitution,” Field said in his response to the debate entitled ‘British Nationals Imprisoned Abroad’.

Gill, as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, had organised the debate in order to raise Johal’s case.She laid out the background to the case since Johal was arrested in Punjab in November last year, claiming that he had faced severe torture while in custody.

“Indian authorities have prevented Jagtar having private access to British consular staff,” she said, adding that his case has become a “farcical trial by media”. Dhesi added: “It is incumbent on all us to stand for the human rights of all British citizens.

The UK government’s failure to condemn the series of abuses [against Johal] has left all British citizens travelling abroad vulnerable”. During the debate it emerged that Johal’s MP, Docherty-Hughes, had spoken to the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, and received an update on the case this week.

The Indian government maintains that “due process” is being followed in the case, which was last raised at a ministerial level during the UK visit of Indian minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju in January.

The Print – Ahead of Macron’s visit, Sikhs write to Modi & Swaraj against ‘unjust’ French law

The law in question bars Sikhs from wearing turbans on every official ID, and was discussed with ex-President Sarkozy on his visit to India too.

Sanya Dhingra

New Delhi – India, 9 March, 2018. As French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in India for a three-day visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj have received letters from the Sikh community to address an “unjust law” hurting the Sikh diaspora’s identity in France.

In a letter written to PM Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, general secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, has sought to draw their attention to the “unjustified law for mandatory removal of dastaar (turban) of Sikhs living in France on every official ID”.

Arguing that the turban and the Sikhi kakaars – five items that Guru Gobind Singh commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times – are not “fashionable items for Sikhs”, and are instead an “inseparable part of Sikh culture and the Sikhi way of living”, Sirsa has requested the Prime Minister to discuss the issue with the French President during the visit.

“The issue was taken up earlier during (former French President Nicolas) Sarkozy’s visit to India as well, but nothing was done. Even earlier, we have conveyed to the French government to not see our issues as those of other religions,” said Sirsa, the MLA for Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, representing the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance.

In his letter to Swaraj, Sirsa has raised the issues of wearing turbans and other Sikh symbols in schools and workplaces as well. “Even Sikh children are not being allowed to wear dastaar and other Sikhi kakaars in French schools. Furthermore, there are no jobs for Sikhs wearing dastaar in France,” the letter states.

However, the issue of removing turbans for official IDs is the “most important”, Sirsa told ThePrint. “Even if I say we won’t send our kids to French schools, for example, we can’t not have ID proofs,” he said.

In 2016, the French embassy in New Delhi clarified that there was no ban on wearing turbans in public spaces. Even then, a charge was made by a Sikh organisation that the community had been fighting for its right to wear religious symbols in France. – Panjabis snub Modi and Captain by giving Justin Trudeau a grand welcome

Rajeev Khanna

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 21 February 2018. Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reportedly accorded a cold reception by the Centre and authorities in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh but Punjabis made up for that by giving him a red carpet welcome at Amritsar on Wednesday.

The manner in which ordinary Punjabis welcomed him is actually a slap on the face of those who tried to spread fear by raising the bogey of Khalistan on the eve of his arrival. This includes sections of the media who have been known to play mischief on different occasions.

Trudeau and the Canadian authorities have consistently been saying that they do not support the idea of Khalistan.
Moreover, the issue itself is a dead horse. On Tuesday he had reportedly said that Canada is strongly committed to ‘one united India’ and is serious about cracking down on extremism.

“Canada has been unequivocal – myself, all my ministers and our government – on a policy of one united India. We have, we have been very strong on that and we’ll continue to be,” he said.

He reportedly said that Canada will never support any separatist movement in India or anywhere else in the world.

The warm reception given by Punjabis is also a strong political statement to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who seems to have consciously given cold treatment to Trudeau by not receiving him at the airport or accompanying him to Gujarat.

This is in sharp contrast to the manner in which Modi sat on the swing with Xi Jinping of China and took Japan’s Shinzo Abe for a roadshow in Gujarat.

The welcome by the people of Punjab is also a message for Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who is seen to be making a complete ‘U’ turn with regards to the present ruling dispensation in Canada.

It needs to be recalled that he had refused to meet Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan last year and had gone to the extent of calling him a ‘Khalistan sympathiser’.

This time a meeting between him and Trudeau was finalised at the eleventh hour as there were doubts that Trudeau may not opt for a tit for tat approach and not meet him which would have caused a lot of embarrassment. As a result, Captain ended up meeting not just Trudeau but also Sajjan, whom he had refused to meet last year.

Observers say that it is a fact that there are elements in Canada and elsewhere who have been supporting the cause of Khalistan and some Canadian politicians do attend events organized by them.

But the question being raised is that why the bogey of Khalistan is raised only in connection with Trudeau and his party who are liberal, and not the others.

Observers also feel that by including visits to prominent places of different faiths in his itinerary, Trudeau has himself sent across a strong message on secularism to India and its politicians. In fact people are also comparing how democracy functions and how minorities are treated in India and Canada.

Wednesday had seen Punjabis taking to the social media in a big way posting messages welcoming Trudeau. There were even advertisements in the local publications by various individuals welcoming him and his family who are on a week-long visit to India.

In common Punjabi parlance, the people these days talk of three Punjabs in the world, the Punjab in Pakistan, the Punjab in India and the Punjab that has come up in Canada. These Punjabs may be divided by political boundaries but there is still much common in terms of ethos.

Trudeau and his family offered prayers at Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar on Wednesday. Clad in Punjabi outfits, Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and two of their three children also performed Sewa.

Earlier they were received at the Amritsar airport by Punjab’s culture and tourism minister Navjot Sidhu and union minister of state for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, who is also a former diplomat.

He was also welcomed by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal and Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal.

After the Harmandar Sahib visit, Amarinder met Trudeau and six other members of his team including Sajjan.

The manner in which attempts were made to cold shoulder the Canadian leader’s visit came in for criticism from various corners. The most vocal has been the hardline Dal Khalsa whose spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said that by cold-shouldering Trudeau, India is undermining its image in the eyes of the world community.

He said diplomacy is a two way street and the Ministry of External Affairs has managed to convince Trudeau to meet Amarinder to save the latter’s face as he has been toeing the line of the Modi dispensation.

Expressing the apprehension of Sikhs, he said they are worried about the under-currents as Trudeau’s visit has been used by the Modi govt to pit majority community against minority.

Another party leader H S Dhami said that Sikhs as a people have political aspirations of nationhood based on their distinct identity, history and legacy.

Exercising their rights in a forceful way does not make it similar to extremism or as some would even label it terrorism. “We expect that Canadian government would continue to honour this distinction,” he remarked.

The Aam Aadmi Party also criticised the Centre for how it has treated Trudeau. Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira said that Punjabis and Sikhs feel deeply hurt at the lack of respect shown by Modi towards Trudeau.

The Asian Age – Make Ram Temple, people didn’t vote you for triple talaq laws: VHP chief

Pravin Togadia also said the Government should pass a law for construction of Ram Mandir without the mosque adjacent to it.

Aurangabad-Maharashtra-India, 10 February 2018. In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) international working president Pravin Togadia on Friday said that people voted the NDA to power for building Ram temple in Ayodhya, and not for making laws on triple talaq.

He also said the government should pass a legislation to pave the way for construction of the temple.

“People have voted you to power not for making laws on triple talaq, but for the construction of Ram mandir in Ayodhya,” Togadia told reporters at Aurangabad on Friday.

Togadia, who is on a two-day tour of Aurangabad and Parbhani, arrived in the city on Thursday evening.

“A law should be passed for the construction of Ram temple, so that it is built soon. Whether to make a law on triple talaq or not is up to the government, but they should make a law for Ram temple,” he added.

“We have faith in the judiciary, but since the temple has not been built, a law should be passed in this regard so that it can be constructed without the mosque adjacent to it,” he said.

He said the apex court once again adjourned the hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Friday said it would hear the appeals in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute on 14 March 2018.

“Since long, the Hindu community has been waiting for the temple, hence it should be built,” Togadia said.

In view of the VHP leader’s visit, the city police have put in place tight security arrangements.

“Seven hundred policemen, including two DCPs, five ACPs and 17 police inspectors, have been deployed to provide security,” he said.

The Asian Age – Kashmiri students assaulted in Haryana; Mehbooba Mufti urges demands probe

Irked Mehbooba said, ‘Shocked and disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana.’

New Delhi-India, 3 February 2018. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has urged the Haryana government to take stringent action against the perpetrators for assaulting Kashmiri students and demanded a probe into the case.

Mehbooba made the statement on Friday, hours after reports of the Kashmiri students of the Haryana Central University being assaulted surfaced.

The victims were beaten up while returning to the campus after offering congregational Friday prayers in Mahendragarh town.

Irked Mehbooba took to Twitter and said, “Shocked and disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet and said that the incident goes against the spirit of his outreach for Kashmiris.

“This is terrible and goes against the spirit of what @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji said from the ramparts of the Red Fort. I hope the authorities in Haryana act quickly against this violence.”

The reason behind the attack is yet not known.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid has been coordinating with his Haryana counterpart to ensure the safety of the Kashmiri youths.

The Statesman – Government, opposition hold talks to resolve impasse over PM’s remarks against Manmohan Singh

New Delhi-India, 20 December 2017. The government and the opposition on Tuesday held meetings to resolve the impasse in Rajya Sabha over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark against his predecessor Manmohan Singh during the Gujarat poll campaign, but the stalemate on the issue continued.

Opposition leaders met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and his deputy Vijay Goel in Parliament and sought a resolution of the issue.

They demanded that the prime minister should clarify his remarks in the Rajya Sabha.

The half-an-hour meeting in Jaitley’s chamber was attended by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, besides opposition leaders Ramgopal Yadav, Satish Misra, D Raja and others.

After the meeting, Jaitley separately met Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Azad in the latter’s chamber.

Earlier, before the House commenced, the Congress leaders had also met Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for the resolution of the issue with the Vice President suggesting that the matter be resolved between the opposition and the government sitting across the table.

Azad also raised the issue in the House after which Naidu suggested that the two sides sit together and resolve the issue. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley agreed to do so and the two meetings with the opposition followed.

“The meeting has been held. Opposition leaders have given their proposition to the government,” Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters.

“We are still waiting whether the justifiable demand of the opposition is acceptable to the prime minister so that we can bring a closure to the controversy which was painful, which was of his creation and was entirely avoidable,” he said.

Sharma said the prime minister has said something which in their view is a constitutional transgression because he holds the office of the prime minister.

“To say anything that casts aspersions which are insidious on the former prime minister who held his office with distinction for 10 years, former vice president, former Army chief and distinguished diplomats, they all are deeply anguished and they cannot speak for themselves,” he said.

Sharma said the opposition has been asking the government and the prime minister to clarify and restore the dignity of both his office and of the political narrative of the country.

“We can request him, we can demand, but it is up to him whether to redeem what he should believe or not…,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha, however, functioned today after the Chairman said the issue would be resolved.

Opposition members raised slogans and sought an apology.

Azad said the prime minister should come to the House and clarify what he said, as his charges that his predecessor was “conspiring” with Pakistan was “a big issue”.

Azad said allegations are levelled during elections but some are not good for democracy, politics and the country.

“Such allegations are deadly for those against whom they are made,” he said, adding that Manmohan Singh’s integrity and loyalty to the country has been questioned.

“Is he the person who is conspiring against the Indian state? Is the former prime minister, former vice president not loyal to the country? These allegations are made by no less than the prime minister.

“The prime minister of India should come to the House and explain his remarks and if the former prime minister and others are proved wrong, then action should be taken against them,” he told the House amid vociferous protests by Congress members, who raised slogans of “maafi mango” (apologise).

Naidu, while talking about his morning meeting with Congress leaders, said, “My suggestion was (that) it is not good for the country to see that the House is not running properly.”

“All things can be internally discussed…and dignity of Parliament should be maintained,” he said.

Azad said, “It is a matter of privilege. It should also be to the satisfaction of Manmohan Singh.” Azad said.

Earlier, Manmohan Singh had met Naidu and expressed his concerns to him.

“I have talked to him and have understood what he meant.

I have also received a note of what exactly he said and also what was said about the prime minister by others…calling names,” Naidu said, adding that the prime minister is the prime minister of the country and that has to be kept in mind by everybody.

Sharma said, “He is the Prime Minister and we are conscious of dignity of the office of Prime Minister, which we want him to restore.”

“We are waiting in what manner the Prime Minister seeks to address because it is not in the interest of the country or Indian democracy that a serving Prime Minister casts insidious aspersions on his immediate predecessor,” he said.

The Hindu – US has failed to walk the talk on Pakistan: Hamid Karzai

Ex-Afghan President wants India to question Trump policy

Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi, 17 December 2017.  India should rethink its support to USA President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy, said former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during a visit to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“India has the right to ask the USA questions on [continuing support to Pakistan], and it must think and rethink its policy in view of changes and developments in Afghanistan,” Mr Karzai told The Hindu in an exclusive interview during the visit.

Role for India

Calling the USA and Pakistan “bedfellows,” Mr Karzai said Mr Trump, who announced his new Afghan policy for South Asia in August this year, had failed to back his tough words on Pakistan with action.

The policy, which entailed a larger role in development work for India as well as more pressure on Pakistan to act against terrorist safe havens within its borders, was welcomed by New Delhi at the time.

“We have heard these words over the past 16 years, repeatedly from USA on terror sanctuaries within Pakistan. But we also see the USA talking of Pakistan as an ally, and being protective of Pakistan…,” Mr Karzai said.

“Now too, they pointed fingers at Pakistan and then within months they gave them another 700 million dollars in appreciation of their fight against terrorism,” Mr Karzai said.

He was referring to the Defense authorisation bill that Mr Trump signed into law on Thursday, which provides for up to $700 million to be transferred to Pakistan for coalition support.

While the USA still has to certify Pakistan is acting against the Haqqani network, the USA Congress also dropped a plan to add the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, that target India, to the list of groups Pakistan must be certified on for action taken.

Mr Karzai, who has often criticised Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s government for concessions to the United States, also called for a Loya Jirga [meeting of tribal elders] to decide the future course of the USA presence in Afghanistan, where it still maintains about 10,000 troops.

“They (USA) must negotiate a new compact and terms of engagement for their presence in Afghanistan now. This is why I have been calling for the Loya Jirga to be convened, to re-legitimise the USA presence. The more the USA opposes this Jirga, the more Afghans will turn away from them,” he added.

Mr Karzai said he had discussed developments in the region including “the war against terrorism and extremism” with Prime Minister Modi, who hosted an official dinner in his honour at Hyderabad House. The dinner was attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar.

“Delighted to meet my friend [Hamid Karzai] in New Delhi,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi, after the talks on Saturday evening.

However Mr Karzai dismissed speculation that his visit and the ‘red carpet’ treatment he received entailed any special message or a change in Indian policy.

“I go around the world and meet with leaders: I was with President Rouhani in Tehran and was received by President Putin in Russia, and by the Chinese leadership. India is of course more hospitable given my old connection here,” he said.