The Asian Age – Kulbhushan Jadhav case: India in touch with Pakistan on implementation of ICJ verdict

The world court had upheld India’s claim that Pakistan has committed an egregious violation of Vienna Convention on several counts

New Delhi – India, 06 May 2020. India is in contact with Pakistan through diplomatic channels on implementation of International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision in Kulbhushan Jadhav case, sources said.

“Last year the ICJ gave a decision in favor of India. We are in touch with Pakistan through diplomatic channels on implementation of ICJ decision,” sources said.

On 02 September last year, India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav in Islamabad after Islamabad had granted consular access to the former naval officer.

In July, the ICJ, by a vote of 15-1, had upheld India’s claim that Pakistan has committed an egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations on several counts.

The world court had ordered Islamabad to carry out an effective “review and reconsideration” of his conviction.

Jadhav was purportedly “arrested” from Balochistan by Pakistani security forces on 03 March 2016, after he allegedly entered the country from Iran as claimed by Islamabad.

India has rejected Pakistan’s allegations about Jadhav’s involvement in spying and subversive activities and said he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar where he was running a business. – United Sikhs provides much needed relief in Assam as death toll rises

Sikh24 Editors

Assam, India, 02 August 2019. As the death toll mounts to 86 this monsoon season, United Sikhs continues to offer humanitarian relief for flood survivors, including a free medical camp, which the organization established today. In coordination with the Army’s Sikh Regiment, United Sikhs’ volunteers are providing free physician check-ups and medicine.

“The steady rain, receding waters and contaminated wells and drinking sources present the perfect storm for potential outbreaks,” said Dr. Bhupender Kaur, United Sikhs’ volunteer. “It is important to provide both preventative care and medicine to the flood survivors to help combat the spread of deadly diseases. We look forward to working with the Sikh Regiment to offer medical care free of charge to those in need.”

“Humanitarian work is crucial to save lives and must be carried out to all survivors in need, regardless of race, religion and ethnicity,” said United Sikhs CEO Jagdeep Singh. “Service to all without discrimination is the ultimate manifestation of spiritual teachings and this is required today more than ever in the world.”

The medical camp joins United Sikhs efforts already taking place on the ground, as the non-profit has been serving daily nutritious vegetarian meals, including rice, dal and vegetables, and providing shelter at their humanitarian relief camp at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha. To date, volunteers have served fresh daily meals to more than 2,000 flood survivors every day since the disaster struck.

“It has been an honor to serve these communities in their time of need and demonstrate the impact of seva (selfless service),” said Mohinderjit Singh, United Sikhs Director. “Through our commitment to uplift humanity in times of disaster, we are blessed to be able to work for the community and Gurdwara leadership to provide free medical care, food, shelter and clothing. This humanitarian crisis must be addressed on all fronts to help survivors in their long-term recovery.”

In addition to medical services and daily Langar (community meal service), United Sikhs volunteers have launched a clothing drive, providing enough garments for 300 families. As personal belongings along with entire homes have been swept away with receding waters, the need for non-food relief items also remains paramount, including apparel, tarpaulin, bed sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, ropes and sleeping mats.

According to a bulletin released Monday evening by the Assam State Disaster Management authority (ASDMA), 12.24 lakh people are currently affected by floods. The highest number of victims is in Barpeta (8.19 lakh), Morigaon (2.01 lakh) and Goalpara (over 1 lakh) districts. A total of 1113 villages have been hit by floods.

Local drinking water sources, including open wells and hand pumps, have been contaminated and are unusable. Government officials reported that more than 1.7 million people in Assam have lost their homes. Nearly 2 million people have been displaced in nearby Bihar.

Assam has been facing dire floods since around July 10, when heavy monsoon rainfall caused the Brahmaputra River and many of its tributaries to flood, as reported by The Weather Channel. The rising waters inundated thousands of villages and displaced lakhs of people. Approximately 220 animals are reported dead at Kaziranga National Park.

On Monday, the Central Water Commission said the Brahmaputra River was flowing above the danger level at Neamatighat in Jorhat and Dhubri. The Dhansiri River was also above the danger mark at Numaligarh, the Jia Bharali in Sonitpur, and the Kushiyara at Karimganj.

As moderate rain and thundershowers is forecast over Assam and other parts of the northeast for the coming days, United Sikhs is urging for public support and making a call for donations to aid humanitarian relief efforts. All contributions go directly to the organization’s Sikh Aid program.

“We can only do this life-saving work through the generous contributions of our supporters,” said Gurvinder Singh, United Sikhs Global Sikh Aid Director. “We are grateful for all donations, however large or small. Flood survivors have lost everything — every little bit goes extremely far in uplifting them on their road to recovery in the wake of such a large-scale disaster.”

United Sikhs Provides Much Needed Relief In Assam as Death Toll Rises

530. The Man in Blue – Panj Ab = Five Waters

I wrote this article after hearing a lecture at the KU (Catholic University) of Leuven, Belgium, by Christophe Masson, India Desk Officer at the European Commission. He mentioned a water related project in Rajastan, which made me think of the Indira Gandhi Canal, and from there of the ever lower groundwater level in Panjab. Man in Blue

The historical Panjab, from the river Indus in the west to the river Yamuna in the east, was called the Panj-Áb, the five waters after the five rivers that flow from the Himalayas to the Indus.

Panjab is not as dry as Rajasthan, but without the five rivers most of its territory would be a dry steppe, fit for grazing but no good for arable land.

Since the green revolution the standard crop pattern in the Indian Panjab and in Haryana is wheat – rice. Wheat is the early crop and after its harvest most of the arable land is converted to paddy fields. Panjab became the rice provider of India.

Due to the paddy fields the farmers were using more water than the rivers could supply and they started to pump-up ground water to irrigate their fields. This costs money, as hand pumps are not adequate for the job. The Panjab state government decided to supply the farmers with free electricity for their tube-wells.

As the state government has the habit of either not paying or late paying the state electricity provider, one semi-state company has already given up the ghost, and its successor is struggling. Somebody has to foot the bill !

But the most alarming result of this scheme is that the groundwater table is going down fast, the tubes are getting longer and with that the energy use goes up too.

At Harike, in the south-west of the Indian Panjab starts the Indira Gandhi canal, which takes vast amounts of river water to Rajasthan. This water is obviously no longer available for either the Pakistan or the Indian Panjab. How much of this water evaporates before it gets to the Jaisalmer area I do not know.

Whether it is useful to infiltrate this water in a desert area I do not know either. I have heard reports of salinization of the irrigated fields, which does not surprise me at all.

But my main issue is with the madness of having paddy fields in a dry area like Panjab. After independence it made some sense as the rice eating states were not able to grow enough rice for their needs. Now these states have become self-sufficient and it is high time for a new green revolution in the Panjab.

The farmers are reluctant to change, but if the Panjab is to survive as at least the main provider of wheat, the paddy fields have to go. Alternative crops, dairy farming, market gardening (growing of vegetables) are the answer.

On the rich clay soils of Panjab many crops will thrive. With temperatures ranging from a minimum of near 0 degrees in December/January to a maximum of 50 degrees in May/June both crops that we know in Western Europe and subtropical to tropical ones can be grown.

In view of the above and the diminishing flow of water from the Himalayan glaciers, continuing with the present practice just is not an option.

526.The Man in Blue – Afghan Sikhs in Belgium

Last year we had a scare both in the Netherlands and Belgium when Afghan Sikh refugees were ordered to return to their country. There is now no more talk about returning to Afghanistan, but that does not mean that there are no more problems.

We have a growing Afghan Sikh community in Belgium and many of them live in the Antwerpen area. In the ‘ethnic minority’ neighbourhoods of Antwerpen you find more and more shops run by Afghan Sikhs.

But there are Afghan Sikhs who’s application for asylum have been rejected, who get no or little government support, and whose future is uncertain. I have studied a few of the files, and although I am not a lawyer I think that I understand what is ‘wrong’ with these families from the legal point of view.

Many Afghan refugees do not travel directly from Afghanistan to Europe, but often go via Pakistan, India or Russia. In India there is little risk of being sent back to Afghanistan, but the Afghan Sikhs usually do not get any kind of resident status.

Thus frustrated by the lack of progress in their case and their lack of opportunity to start a business or to get a real job, they decide to go to Europe, North America or even to Australia or New Zealand.

Many European countries use any excuse to reject refugee status applications, the refugees know that their case has been weakened by a stay in Pakistan, India or Russia and think to improve their chances by making up stories.

The authorities in charge of refugees do not have detailed knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan. The position of religious minorities (Christians, Hindus, Shia Muslims, Sikhs) and of women in that country is not improving.

The security situation is not good either, not even in the Kabul area. It is far from easy for Afghan Sikhs to go back to their traditional shops in the bazárs of Afghan cities like Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez, Ghazni or Kandahar.

Many of the Sikhs in Kabul and in other Afghan cities live on the Gurdwara premises due to lack of housing, many rely on irregular handouts from various sources.

This is the situation: I think I understand why European governments refuse refugee status to some of the Afghan Sikhs. But I also understand that sending members of religious minorities back to Afghanistan is not an option.

Sending people to Pakistan, India or even Russia is not a valid option either. The Russians usually send the refugees straight back to where they came from, and in Pakistan and India most Afghan refugees will not get any secure status, and therefore will not be able to build a future for themselves and their children.

Please Belgian and other European governments, show compassion !

523. The Man in Blue – Lieutenant General (retired) Kuldip Singh Brar

As I am now in the Amsterdam Guru Nanak Gurdwara and am not rushing from one meeting to the other, I have time to write a Man in Blue Column about the ‘assault’ on Lieutenant General (retired) Kuldip Singh Brar.

In writing this I have put myself in the position of one of the accused and assumed that this person was both guilty and intelligent.

“I stand here accused of assaulting lieutenant general (retired) Kuldip Singh Brar and I admit that I am guilty and should undergo the appropriate punishment.

This statement explains why I assaulted an old man on holiday in the UK. It is not a plea for clemency, which would be unworthy for a Sikh.

In June 1984 the general was ordered by the Indira Gandhi government to attack the Harmandr Sahib complex. I do not know the specifics of his order but the explanation given at the time was that there were about 50 terrorists in the complex. Whether his orders were to eliminate these terrorists, or whether he had to try and arrest them and bring them to justice I do not know.

The known fact is that the Harmandr Sahib complex was attacked on the day when many Sikhs went there from the early morning to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan on the 30th of May 1606. The result was that at least 1000 people were killed and not just the 50 alleged terrorists.

I am willing to concede that there were not 50 but maybe up to 100 alleged terrorists in the Harmandr Sahib complex. I also understand that during an operation on this scale some civilians are bound to find themselves in the line of fire, and become what are sometimes called collateral victims.

But the general and his men killed at least one thousand people during the operation, and he was never held responsible for killing 900 innocent visitors to Harmandr Sahib on the 6th of June 1984.

The general said that he acted on orders, but if you carry out criminal orders you are a criminal yourself, as the post World War II Nurnberg trials made clear.

The general is guilty of ‘war crimes’, but he never appeared in court. The Indira Gandhi government ordered the general to commit ‘war crimes’ and did not appear in court either.

Those that were responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs at the end of October and beginning of November 1984 are still walking free, and some of these are even part of the present Indian government, which has a Sikh prime minister.

But I will be tried and receive my due punishment, as I should.

A statement like this would make headlines. But will these assaulters of the retired lieutenant general be mice or men ? Will they be ruled by anger or by wisdom ?

475.Man in Blue – The Mughal & Habsburg Empire

I have written in previous articles about similarities between Phillips II, the second Habsburg King of Spain and ruler of a huge European and South and Middle American Empire, and the last Great Mughal, Aurangzeb.

Phillips II was a bigoted Roman Catholic who because he could not allow any form of accommodation with the Protestant rebels of the Netherlands, did enormous damage to his empire. The Kings who ruled after him inherited a debt-ridden country and Spain never recovered its former strength.

Aurangzeb was not willing to accommodate the defeated Hindu rulers of the south of India, and was therefore forced to fight the same battles again and again as the southern royal families kept producing able commanders to lead

rebellions. This also gave an opportunity to rebels in the north (not just the Sikhs). Aurangzeb exhausted the resources of his mighty empire and after him it went all the way down until its inglorious end during the 1857 mutiny.

In the five columns that precede this one I have given the readers who are interested in matters not directly related to Panjab or the Sikhs a fuller account of the rebellion in the Netherlands and the reaction of Phillips to it.

One thing that struck me was the ‘apology’ that Willem van Oranje wrote for the rebellion. Willem’s reasoning, simplified, is that there is a contract between the ruler and the ruled. That contract is partly formal; various groups within the 17 semi-independent states that made up the Netherlands had formal rights, which that the ruler promised to respect at his swearing-in.

But there is also an underlying idea that the ruler has to be a just ruler. What made a just ruler during the 17th century in Europe is not what we would now expect, but this reasoning contradicts both the concept that the lands ruled by the high noblemen are their personal property, to dispose of at will, and the idea that the rulers have absolute power granted by God.

I do not know whether such an idea of a compact between ruler and ruled existed in Central Asia, where India’s Mughal rulers had their origin. But within the Hindu Dharm there are notions of just rulers. Again I must emphasise that these notions would not lead to the sort of government that would be acceptable in 2011.

I think that most of the Great Mughals had a notion of being just rulers, but that Aurangzeb, because he thought that he had unlimited absolute powers, did not show any care for the vast majority of the people in his empire.

One final note: in Muslim countries religious minorities were often better respected than in Christian countries. Aurangzeb was not the only intolerant Muslim ruler, but Akbar was most definitely not the only tolerant one. Too many people’s view on Islam is distorted by Osama bin Laden, but he was not a Muslim.

457.The Man in Blue – Anand Karaj in India

I went to New Delhi to attend the wedding of Dildeep Singh, son of Amrik Singh (Heathrow) with Jaspreet Kaur of Moti Nagar. The wedding took place on 16 January and I did not leave till the early morning of the 22nd and therefore I noticed how much time and money goes into registering the marriage.

The first step was to get a certificate from the Gurdwara stating that the marriage took place. Instead of having to go back to the Gurdwara the next day it would have been helpful if a witnessed certificate was made up on the day. 

The next step was to get a ‘no objection certificate’ from the British High Commission. Without this certificate you cannot register the marriage between a UK and an Indian citizen. The High Commission issues these certificates without checking if the UK citizen is already married. The text on the certificate says, in a polite way, that it is meaningless, but you are charged Rs 3500 regardless.   

Step three was a day excursion to Tis Hazare. Tis Hazare is both a notorious jail and a court complex surrounded by lawyer’s offices. These lawyers might do your work for a modest fee or for a fee that for ordinary Indians is astronomical, and the quality of their work is not necessarily related to the amount you pay.

Via local contacts Amrik Singh and family managed to find somebody who did the work for a fairly reasonable amount. And what is the result ? Dildeep Singh and Jaspreet Kaur are now registered as man and wife under the Hindu marriage act !

After all this effort and expenditure you get what you do not really want … 

UK Gurdwaré and other places of worship can conduct a marriage according to their own tradition and at the same time act as a registry office. Under the British Raj the Anand Karaj was recognised as a legal form of marriage and even Pakistan has now recognised the Sikh marriage ceremony.

While India and Pakistan kept a lot of the colonial legislation, neither country kept the Anand Karaj Act on the statute book. India adopted article 25 of the constitution which treats Buddhist, Jains and Sikhs as Hindus. Seen from article 25 it is ‘logical’ that followers of these three Dharmic traditions come under the Hindu marriage act. Whether the Anand Karaj Act was taken off the statute book immediately in 1947 or only after the adoption of the constitution I do not know.

Maybe stimulated by the activities of the Dal Khalsa and non-Indian Sikh organisations the SGPC is actively lobbying Pardhan Mantri Manmohan Singh on the issue. But will Madam Sonia allow him to recognise the Anand Karaj ? If Badal & son were to support the Anand Karaj would that damage their pact with the BJP ?

If Maharaja Amarinder Singh, the leader of the Panjabi Congress, came out in support of a new Anand Karaj Act without waiting for permission from Madam, that would be very helpful. Whatever happens, any change in India will take time.

455.The Man in Blue – Dillí

On 13 January I am flying to the capital of the Indian Union, which since the HQ of the British Raj moved there from Calcutta is known as New Delhi. I will be leaving from Brussel airport at 10.05 and should/might arrive at 22.30. I will stay in Delhi till 03.05 on 22 January, and after that will be unlikely to go travelling till June.

For many Sikhs the main concern after landing at ING Airport is how to get to Panjab. I am staying in Delhi and my concern is how to get to New Moti Nagar where Amrik Singh (airport) and his family are staying. Their son Dildíp Singh is to marry Jaspreet Kaur, who is from that part of Delhi.

I am supposed to be picked up from the airport, but in case that goes wrong my ‘plan b’ is to take the airport bus to New Delhi station and find a room in one of the many hotels in Pahar Ganj.     

The wedding is on the 16th of January, which means that I have time before and after the wedding to visit the main Gurdwaré of the city, like Rakáb Ganj, Bangla Sáhib and Sís Ganj. Those that know me and my funny ways will not be surprised to hear that I also plan to travel around on the new metro system of the city.

Wandering about in old Dillí is another of my priorities, as I love the old cities of the subcontinent. In their narrow, overcrowded and often dirty streets I feel most at home. Even in Peshawar and Lahore I was perfectly safe walking around on my own in the old bazaars. Lahore and Peshawar are very interesting and wonderfully diverse cities, where the people were surprised to see an ‘Angrezí’ Sikh. This did not stop them from making me feel very welcome.

If you read the first few chapters of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim you get a glimpse of how cosmopolitan Lahore was in those days. Lahore, Delhi and Amritsar all suffered because of the bloody exchange of populations in 1947. In areas like Tilak Nagar in Delhi, which was badly hit by the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984, lived many Sikhs who had to leave their homes and land behind after partition.

The independence of countries like Turkmenistan, Kirgizstan and Uzbekistan brought back visitors from those parts of the world to both halves of Panjab. Let’s hope that there will be no new Moghul conquerors amongst them. The interaction between the sub-continental and the Moghul cultures enriched India, but present-day Muslim rulers would probably be more like Aurangzeb than like Akbar !

India is entering the 21st century, although even in the booming southern cities many people seem still not to have reached the 20th one.  Old man and amateur historian that I am, I love the old fashioned ways, the narrow streets, the donkeys, cows and buffaloes, the open sewers, the tiny shops and the streets jam-packed with rickshaws, autos and pedestrians. I love to be part of the colourful crowds of India, provided that ‘loose motion’ does not get me down.

Published in: on January 10, 2011 at 9:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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428.Man in Blue – Honour Killings

jaisá bálak bhái subháí lakh aparádh kamávai |
A child, who out of a desire to please makes hundreds of thousands of mistakes,

kar upadés jhirraké bahu bhátí bahurr pithá gal lávai |
its father does teach and scold it in many ways, but will still embrace it.

pichhalé augun bakhas lé prabh ágai márag pávai |2|
Forgive my past misdeeds God, and in future keep me on Your path ||2||
Sorath, M 5, 2nd pauri, pana 624

My British readers will remember the case of Surjit Kaur, who was taken to Panjab and murdered by her in-laws. Recently here in Belgium a young woman wanted to marry somebody her parents did not like. This young man was from a ‘lower’ caste, had no job and allegedly used drugs. She was taken to Panjab and died shortly after arrival in Amritsar.

In the debate in England about Surjit Kaur some kept arguing that she was not a Gursikh and behaved badly. This I suppose made the crime understandable or excusable. In the recent Belgian case the father of the victim has been arrested, but has not yet been tried. We have no proof that he is guilty, but all known facts fit in with it being an honour killing.

Some people in the Belgian sangat argue that because the girl was disobedient to her parents they could understand why she was killed.

Obedience can never be unquestioning and respect has to be earned. If parents do not follow Guru’s teachings what should a child do ? If the parents want to marry you off according to caste, and Guru and the Rahit Maryada tell you that this is wrong, what should a child do ?

And even if your daughter has been wilful and disobedient for no good reason, even if the man she wants to marry is a lazy layabout, a drunk, a druggie or whatever, should you then kill her ?

This is where Gurmat comes in. We are taught that God is Father and Mother to us all. A Father and Mother who in spite of our mistakes or misdeeds, will hug us and receive us in Her/His house of which the doors are always open. Just read the shabad above the column.

Should we not try and follow this Godly example ? Or should we justify premeditated murder as punishment for disobedience ? The girls were taken to Panjab under some pretext and killed there. Surjit Kaur’s killers were finally convicted in the UK, due to a brave and persevering brother.

If the Belgian case is indeed an honour killing, I sincerely hope that the murderer(s) will receive their well deserved punishment. Let it be a warning to all that honour killings are not acceptable in India either !

419.The Man in Blue – Guru Arjan

While the debate on Khalsa, Khalas, Khalis and Khalisa is hotting up on the Sikh News Discussion and Man in Blue group, I am writing the second of the articles based on my reading of ‘The Mughal Empire’ by John F Richards.

On page 96 Richards writes ‘During Khusrau’s [Jahangir’s Son] ill fated coup in 1605, the rebel prince had a brief encounter with Arjun, the fifth Sikh Guru. At Goindwal … Arjun made the mistake of offering his blessing to Khusrau. Jahangir seems to have been consistently hostile to popularly venerated religious figures. In the emperor’s memoir he comments :

In Goindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captivated many of the simple-hearted Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations they had kept this shop warm. Many times it had occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.
Jahangir, Tuzuk, 1, 72     

The writer then refers to the saffron mark made on Khusrau’s forehead by Guru Arjan. From previous pages in which Khusrau’s revolt is described it is clear that Jahangir treated very severely with anybody who had in any way supported Khusrau, and on page 97 Richards writes ‘Simply by making a finger-mark of saffron on Khusrau’s brow as an auspicious sign, Arjan suffered a fate similar to most of Khusrau’s followers’.

The quote from Jahangir’s diary is very interesting. I do not know if the diary also refers to Khusrau’s ‘tilak’. Mostly the tilak story and Hindu in Goindwal story are presented as two different or rival explanations of Guru Arjan’s martyrdom, but according to one website both stories are part of Jahangir’s ‘Tuzuk’.

Richards throws new light on this part of our history where he points to Jahangir’s hostility to popularly venerated religious figures, and the fact that even minor supporters of Khusrau were treated very severely.

On page 98 Richards tells us of Jahangir’s relationship with the widely venerated Vaishnava ascetic Gosain Jadrup. It proves the point that the Emperor was not against ‘Hindus’ as such, but was very weary of people like Guru Arjan, who did not live in a hut or a grotto somewhere far away, but  lived a full life in society.

From our point of view Jahangir would have done much better to follow Guru Arjan instead of the ascetic Gosain Jadrup !

Stop use of violence !

All Sikhs, Sikh organisations and Gurdwaré should undertake never again to use violence as a means to settle differences of opinion. There is no precedent from Guru’s days for this bad practice, the Guru taught us to stand up against injustice, not against opinions that we do not agree with.