The Telegraph – This is a Kashmiri & an Indian speaking

Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami, the first detained Kashmiri politician to address a media conference, said people in his state were ‘suffocating’ in the lockdown

Pheroze L Vincent

New Delhi – India, 18 September 2019. Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami, the first detained Kashmiri politician to address a media conference in New Delhi in more than a month, on Tuesday made an impassioned appeal to fellow citizens in the rest of India to speak up for the right to life in Kashmir.

“This is a Kashmiri, an Indian speaking. We must also get the chance to live,” said Tarigami, a CPM central committee member who was allowed to travel to Delhi for medical treatment after party general secretary Sitaram Yechury approached the Supreme Court.

“We only ask you to take us along. An average Kashmiri asks for nothing, we don’t ask for the stars, we don’t ask for the heavens. We just want the chance to merge with you,” Tarigami, a four-time MLA, told reporters in the national capital.

He had been detained at his Srinagar residence since 05 August, although no case has been filed against him. Tarigami has been under police guard in hospital with restrictions on meeting journalists. Discharged last week, he is staying at the Jammu and Kashmir Guest House here. On Monday, the court said he was free to return to Srinagar.

Speaking to reporters at the A K Gopalan Bhavan office of the CPM central committee, Tarigami said people in his state were “suffocating” in the lockdown.

“Please listen to us. You have listened to one version. Please listen to the version of the people of Kashmir as well. We don’t have to be killed. Farooq Abdullah and all others (in detention) are not terrorists. Tarigami has not turned to be an alien element for my country. I am not a foreigner.

“Today it has been over 40 days of the clampdown, and we are told this is normality. Try it in Delhi or any other city. If your Internet and telephone do not work for a week, what will be your condition, how will businesses function, what will be the plight of children, of newspapers, the media?”

Referring to Kashmir, he added: “Today, are shops open? No. Are schools open? No. How many beneficiaries have availed themselves of the national health insurance scheme since 05 August 5? None at all. Yet, they say everything is normal.”

Seated beside Yechury, Tarigami said: “All they say is that no one is dying. People are dying slowly. There is suffocation. And that’s why I appeal, not to the rulers to whom my voice may not reach, but to the common public and the poor that we also want to live.

This is a Kashmiri, an Indian speaking. We must also get the chance to live.”

Tarigami expressed concern over a possible fallout. “What has happened on 05 August, how the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been humiliated that does not create confidence, that reduces whatever little was available here and that can only oblige those who want to further destabilise Kashmir, who want more alienation in Kashmir, who want more turmoil in Kashmir, provide fodder to the forces who want to encourage violence in Kashmir,” he said.

Tarigami said that he felt more disturbed now than when his relatives were assassinated by separatists. “Taaliyan baj rahi hain sarhad paar se, ‘Marhaba, Dilli waalon, jo hum na kar paye wo aap kar rahe hain (there is clapping across the border, ‘Greetings Delhiites, you are doing what we could not)’.”

Yechury told reporters that Tarigami would also be filing a writ petition challenging the removal of the state’s special status and its bifurcation without the changes being brought before the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

The Tribune – Supreme Court to hear on Monday pleas against abrogation of Article 370 provisions, curbs in J&K

New Delhi – India, 15 September 2019. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday pleas challenging abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, validity of imposition of President’s rule and the related restrictions imposed in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer will be also hearing a bunch fresh petitions, including the one filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking permission to visit his family members and relatives.

Azad, who had tried to visit the state twice after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in Jammu and Kashmir but was sent back from the airport by the authorities, has sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members.

Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference party led by Sajjad Lone has also challenged the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the validity of the state Re-organisation Bill.

Child right activists Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha have also filed a plea against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir since the revocation of special status.

A plea of Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK founder Vaiko is also listed for hearing, in which he has sought a direction to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir to produce former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, allegedly under detention following abrogation of Article 370, before the court.

In his plea, Vaiko has said authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a “peaceful and democratic” annual conference, being organised in Chennai on September 15, on the occasion of birthday of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai.

The plea of CPI(M) Sitaram Yechury who had moved the apex court seeking to see his ailing party colleague Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami is also among the batch of petitions listed for hearing.

The top court had allowed him to pay a visit to Tarigami but with certain conditions and had granted him liberty to file a report on his return.

The plea of Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin seeking removal of media restrictions imposed in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 will also be taken up along with some other petitions.

OFMI – Democratic Party’s “Silence” on Tulsi Gabbard’s RSS links condemned

Over 120 Indian academics and journalists call
US Congresswoman to denounce RSS

New Delhi – India, 14 September 2019, Over 120 Indian academics and journalists have issued a statement denouncing US Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s “sullied association” with the RSS, an Indian paramilitary, and demanding that the Democratic Party “cut all ties with her” unless she denounces it.

“We, the undersigned, condemn the immoral silence of the Democratic Party and its members on Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s association with the Hindu-militant organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and its American affiliates,” says the statement.

Signatories include Ashok Swain (Professor, Uppsala University), Richa Nagar (Professor, University of Minnesota), Chaman Lal (Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Ram Puniyani (Retired Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay), Umar Khalid (United Against Hate), John Dayal (Spokesperson, United Christian Forum), and Shabnam Hashmi (social activist).

“The rise in the world of politics for Gabbard, who projects herself as a progressive espousing ‘American liberal values’, was made possible by a network which unapologetically professes an ideology of hate-and-divide which is enshrined in their supremacist beliefs,” continues the statement.

Citing a recent profile of Gabbard published by India’s Caravan magazine, it explains, “Since the beginning of her political career, Gabbard has been funded by members of groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Overseas Friends of the BJP, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and Ekal Foundation, which have direct links with the RSS.”

Noting that Gabbard “benefited from her close association with BJP-RSS and their affiliates,” the statement argues, “It would be a moral failure of members of the Democratic Party to have within their ranks a person like Gabbard who has supported and is backed by a network under whose rule India has witnessed increasing violence against Christians, Muslims and Dalits, disenfranchising of minority groups, illegal detention and clampdown on human rights of Kashmiris, and crushing of rational and progressive voices.”

The statement concludes: “We demand that unless Gabbard unequivocally and publicly denounces the hate politics of RSS, the Democratic Party leaders hold her accountable for being hand-in-glove with forces of hate and cut all ties with her.”

“We welcome this broad coalition of voices from India speaking out against Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s extensive ties to the RSS,” comments Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India. “The RSS has led pogroms against minorities in India on multiple occasions and is responsible for the gruesome massacre of Christians and Muslims.

It has a vast network within the United States which has worked closely with Gabbard to whitewash its crimes in India. The Democratic Party must speak out against her association with these supremacist groups.”

Gabbard, who is also known for her close association with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will join Modi in Houston, Texas on September 22 for a pep rally organized by various US affiliates of the RSS.

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

Visit for more information.

The Asian Age – Indian Mission in Italy alerted about death of 4 Sikh men: S Jaishankar

According to British media reports, investigators suspect that the four were choked to death by carbon dioxide fumes from cow manure.

New Delhi – India, 14 September 2019. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday that the Indian Mission in Italy have been alerted to extend all help in the case of four Sikh men from Punjab who died after drowning in a slurry tank at a dairy farm near the northern Italian town of Pavia.

“We have alerted our Embassy @IndiainItaly to extend all help,” the External Affairs Minister wrote on Twitter while retweeting a post of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the same issue.

“Saddened to hear about the death of 4 Punjabi men drown in a farm manure tank near Pavia, Italy. Request @DrSJaishankar to instruct the Indian Mission in Italy to help get the mortal remains back to India,” Amarinder Singh had tweeted on Friday.

According to British media reports, investigators suspect that the four were choked to death by carbon dioxide fumes from cow manure. They believe that three died after jumping in the tank to rescue a worker who had been emptying it.

The four were identified as 48-year-old Prem Singh, 45-year-old Tarsem Singh, 29-year-old Arminder Singh and 28-year-old Majinder Singh. While brothers Prem and Tarsem Singh owned the farm, the other two were employees.

Prem Singh and Tarsem Singh had registered their farm in 2017.

The victims’ wives raised the alarm when the men failed to turn up for lunch on Thursday. They went to the scene and spotted one body in the sewage. The wives then called in firefighters who donned masks and emptied the tank to recover all the bodies.

Pavia is located about 45 kilometres from Milan.

Meanwhile, the Italian media reported that the farm at Arena Po, producing milk and veal cattle, is one of the biggest in the Pavia region.

The Tribune – Archbishop’s apology incomplete: Greater Kailash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 11 September 2019. Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, former chairman of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee (DSGMC), today termed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as incomplete. Welby had apologised for the incident during his visit to Amritsar on Tuesday.

GK said whatever happened on April 13, 1919, at Jallianwala Bagh was on the orders of General Reginald Dyer, on the basis of ideology followed by the British monarchy. He said the British monarchy and government were equally guilty for the incident.

“If Welby is really ashamed of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, will he also apologise for the death sentence given to Udham Singh on July 31, 1940, at Pentonville Jail after killing Micheal O’ Dwyer,” he said.

He further questioned whether Welby would apologise for the conspiracy by the British government to end the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or for the conversion of Duleep Singh to Christianity or for theft of Kohinoor diamond.

British Government must follow suit: Sukhbir

Chandigarh – SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday demanded a formal apology from the UK government for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which led to the killing of more than 400 people. Appreciating the apology offered by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his visit to Amritsar, Sukhbir said it was high time the British government apologised too.

The Hindu – On Muslim man who wed a Hindu woman, Supreme Court observes he should be ‘a loyal husband’

New Delhi – India, 11 September 2019. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed that the man should be a “loyal husband” and a “great lover”.

A controversial case of an interfaith marriage from Chhattisgarh was taken up for hearing in the Supreme Court on September 11.

A Hindu woman had married a Muslim man who admitted that he converted to Hinduism in order to be accepted by the woman’s family. The woman’s family has disputed the man’s conversion to Hinduism, calling it a sham.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said: “We are only concerned only about her future. We are not against inter-religious or inter-caste marriage.”

The court observed that the man should be a “loyal husband” and a “great lover”.

The counsel for the woman’s father insisted that it was a racket to trap girls. The apex court has asked the man to file an affidavit and show bona fide.

The court queried the man on whether he had changed his name after the marriage in an Arya Samaj temple and taken proper legal steps to change his name.

The court observed that it is not averse to interfaith and inter-caste marriages. “We only want the future of the girl should be secured.” The counsel for the woman’s father said that the woman does not need any protection.

The top court sought a reply from the State government and allowed the intervention application of the girl.

India Today – Sikh man denied entry at posh Delhi restaurant over religious attire

New Delhi – India, 10 September 2019. A Sikh fashion designer Param Sahib took to photo-messaging app Instagram and accused a Delhi restaurant staff of misbehaving with him and his friend because of their religious attire.

A Sikh man from Delhi alleged he was denied entry to Delhi’s We Qutub restaurant due to his religion and the attire he wore.

Param Sahib, a Sikh, took to photo-messaging app Instagram and accused restaurant staff of misbehaving with him and his friend on Saturday night.

He wrote in the Instagram post: HI @wequtub, today later in the evening, I along with my friends was not allowed inside the premises on the grounds of being a Sardar and having an untrimmed beard, with a reason saying that I am not cool enough as per the other Hindu gentry.”

He alleged that his “female friends were spoken badly to with a crass attitude from the guy at the counter” of the restaurant.

The Statesman – Shiromani Akali Dal targets Kamal Nath as MHA is to reopen 1984 riot cases against him

The Union Home Ministry has cleared a proposal to reopen 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases against alleged involvement of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath by a special investigation team.

New Delhi – India, 09 September 2019. The Union Home Ministry has cleared a proposal to reopen 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases against alleged involvement of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath by a special investigation team. Delhi’s Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said on Monday.

Sirsa tweeted, “A big victory for Akali Dal. SIT Opens case against @OfficeOfKNath for his alleged involvement in 1984 Sikh genocide. Notification issued by MHA upon my submission last year, Case number 601/84 to reopen and consider fresh Evidence against Kamal Nath,” he said in a tweet.

Talking to media on the issue, Sirsa said that two witnesses were ready to depose against the Congress leader. “I request the people who were an eyewitness to Kamal Nath killing Sikhs to come forward and become a witness, there is no need to be scared.”

Shiromani Akali Dal targets Kamal Nath as MHA to reopen 1984 riot cases against him

Hindustan Times – Row over Sarna, DSGMC nagar kirtans: PSGPC gives nod to Sarna-led nagar kirtan in Pakistan, ‘ignores’ DSGMC

Anil Sharma

New Delhi – India, 08 September 2019. The Pakistan government has given permission to former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Manage Committee (DSGMC), Paramjit Singh Sarna, to hold nagar kirtan (Sikh religious procession) from Wagah border to Nankana Sahib, birth place of Guru Nanak, in Pakistan.

The procession will be accorded warm welcome, said Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) chief Satwant Singh in a video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday.

Sarna has planned the procession from Gurdwara Nanak Piao in New Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on October 28. Similarly, DSGMC’s president and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Rajouri Garden, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, has also planned a separate nagar kirtan from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi to Nankana Sahib on 13 October.

This has been the point of contention for the two separate groups of the Sikh community in the national capital.

“Pakistan government had already given permission to Sarna for holding the procession. The procession will reach Nankana Sahib through Wagah border on October 31.

A meeting of PSGPC and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) was held with the government of Punjab on August 27. It was decided in the meeting that PSGPC, Sikh sangat and Pakistan government will welcome the procession. Pakistan government will also provide all kind of facility to the sangat of the procession,” said the PSGPC chief.

He also appealed in the video to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), jathedars of five Takhts (five temporal seats of Sikhs), and DSGMC to join the Sarna-led procession.

Satwant Singh, however, did not mention a word about the procession being organised by the DSGMC though it is scheduled on 13 October, much earlier than the procession led by Sarna.

On Saturday, Sarna was in Amritsar. He showed a copy of permission from Pakistan government and said, “Only we have permission from Pakistan government to hold the procession while Sirsa has been fooling the Sikh sangat.

I will complain to the jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, for taking action against Sirsa, who has not received any nod from Pakistan government regarding his procession.”

Earlier, during the SGPC’s nagar kirtan, which was taken out from Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on August 31, a confusion had erupted on 30 August in the neighbouring country over the procession’s permission when ETPB feigned ignorance about Sikh institutions, SGPC and DSGPC, saying they had no official communication about the procession.

However, on 31 August, the Pakistan government gave permission for the procession but not before heated arguments ensued between officials of the ETPB and heads of the SGPC and DSGMC.

Taking to HT, Sirsa said, “Sarna is playing into the hands of Pakistan just to defame Indian government. He has not followed the proper procedure and had not sought permission from Indian government. We are the one following the rules and regulations. We have applied through our government and we are expected to get the permission within next few days.”

“When Sarna was president of DSGMC, it had applied to Union home ministry for taking out a similar procession in 2005. We have followed the same rules. When we had taken out the procession from Nankana Sahib on August 31, the same procedure was followed,” he added.

He said, “Sarna has not taken permission from Indian government and he might face obstacle in taking out the procession to Pakistan. And it may give Sarna a chance to defame Indian government.”

BBC News – How Britain’s opium trade impoverished Indians

Soutik Biswas India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 5 September 2019. In Amitav Ghosh’s acclaimed novel, Sea of Poppies, a village woman from an opium-producing region in India has a vivid encounter with a poppy seed.

“She looked at the seed as if she has never seen one before, and suddenly she knew that it was not the planet above that governed her life; it was this miniscule orb, at once beautiful and all devouring, merciful and destructive, sustaining and vengeful.”

At the time when the novel is set, poppy was harvested by some 1.3 million peasant households in northern India. The cash crop occupied between a quarter and half of a peasant’s holding. By the end of the 19th Century poppy farming had an impact on the lives of some 10 million people in what is now the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

A few thousand workers, in two opium factories located on the Ganges river, dried and mixed the milky fluid from the seed, made it into cakes and packed the opium balls in wooden chests.

The trade was run by the East India Company, the powerful multinational corporation established for trading with a royal charter that granted it a monopoly over business with Asia. This state-run trade was achieved largely through two wars, which forced China to open its doors to British Indian opium.

Historian William Dalrymple, author of The Anarchy, a new book on the East India Company, says it “ferried opium to China, fighting the opium wars in order to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics”.

Some historians have argued that the opium business bolstered India’s rural economy and kept the farmers happy. That was not the case, as new research by Rolf Bauer, a professor of economic and social history at the University of Vienna, has found. For years Dr Bauer trawled through archival documents looking at the costs of producing opium and paying money to farmers.

He also examined an exhaustive history of the trade, the 1895 Report of the Royal Commission of Opium, which ran into seven volumes and 2,500 pages.

It contained 28,000 questions and hundreds of witness reports on the use and consumption of opium in India, and studied how the colonial government regulated its production and consumption.

The result of the research is published in Dr Bauer’s new study of the trade, The Peasant Production of Opium in Nineteenth-Century India. His conclusion: the opium business was hugely exploitative and ended up impoverishing Indian peasants. “Poppy was cultivated against a substantial loss. These peasants would have been much better without it,” Dr Bauer told me.

This is how the East Indian Company ran the trade. Some 2,500 clerks working in 100 offices of a powerful colonial institution called the Opium Agency monitored poppy farmers, enforced contracts and quality with police-like authority. Indians workers were given commissions on every seer, a traditional unit of mass and volume used in large parts of Asia, of opium delivered on their beat.

In the thriving, state-run global trade, exports increased from 4,000 chests per year at the beginning of the 19th Century to more than 60,000 chests by the 1880s. Opium, says Dr Bauer, was for the large part of the 19th Century, the second-most important source of revenue for the colonial state. It was only outmatched by land taxes. (India remains the world’s biggest producer of legal opium for the global pharmaceutical market.)

“The government’s opium industry was one of the largest enterprises on the subcontinent, producing a few thousand tons of the drug every year a similar output to Afghanistan’s notorious opium industry today, which supplies the global market for heroin,” Dr Bauer says. More importantly, the crop, he adds, had a “lasting negative impact on the lives of millions”.

Interest-free advance payments were offered to poppy farmers who could not access easy credit. By itself, this was not a bad thing for those producing for the global market. What made it bad for them, according to Dr Bauer, was what they paid for rent, manure, irrigation and hired workers was higher than the income from the sale of raw opium.

In other words, the price peasants received for their opium did not even cover the cost of growing it. And they were soon trapped in a “web of contractual obligations from which it was difficult to escape”.

Stiff production targets fixed by the Opium Agency also meant farmers, the typical poppy cultivator was a small peasant, could not decide whether or not to produce opium. They were “forced to submit part of their land and labour to the colonial government’s export strategy”.

Local landowners forced their landless tenants to grow poppy; and peasants were also kidnapped, arrested and threatened with destruction of crops, criminal prosecution and jail if they refused to grow the crop. “It was a highly coercive system,” Dr Bauer says.

By 1915 the opium trade with China, the biggest market, had ended. However, the British Indian monopoly on opium continued until India won independence in 1947. What confounds Dr Bauer is “how a few thousand opium clerks controlled millions of peasants, forcing them to produce a crop that actually harms them”.

It’s a good question