World Sikh News – Release Prisoner of Conscience 76-year-old Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom

Published 2 weeks ago – Jagmohan Singh

Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, 76-year-old Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association President is in prison since 5 August when India decided to take control of Kash­mir. Incarcerated earlier in Central Jail Agra and now in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, this veteran lawyer has dealt with 15,000 habeas corpus petitions, making him perhaps the only lawyer in South Asia to do so.

His steadfast stance on the right to self-determination for Kashmir has rattled the Indian government and he is being harassed for his views, making him a Prisoner of conscience. The Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK) in an online petition to the United Nations seeks his release. WSN urges you to vote and share.

Mian Abdul Qayoom is a name every home in Kashmir is familiar with. Virtually, every home has had a brush with the state machinery and has had the need to take the services of this veteran advocate, who has been the president of the High Court Bar of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for as many as 21 times.

The Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK) urges political activists who support the right to self-determination, conscientious individuals, civil society and human rights defenders to endorse the on­line petition seeking his release.

The petition addressed to the United Nations is a sincere effort to raise the voice for a leading counsel whose detention has not invoked the attention of the Bar Associations throughout India to stand up for him and denounce his detention.

While Indian civil liberties or lawyer bodies have not expressed concern over Qayoom’s detention so far, in November last year, Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales and Schona Jolly SC, Chair of the BHRC wrote to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the arrest of Qayoom.

The rationale given by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court while dismissing a plea for Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom’s release is noteworthy. Presiding judge Justice Tashi Rabstan described personal liberty as the most cherished freedoms guaran­teed under the Indian Constitution in Article 22, but with a caveat.

He cited observations made by the Supreme Court in ‘The Secretary to the Government, Public (law and order-F) and another vs Nabila and another (2015)’ case, which said, “Where individual liberty comes into conflict with the interest of the security of the state or maintenance of public order, then the liberty of the individual must give way to the larger interest of the nation.”

“We urge political activists who support the right to self-determination, concientious individuals, civil society and human rights defend­ers to endorse the online petition seeking release of Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom’s” release.”

The Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK)

Not only this, the court said, “the detention of the person is not to punish him for what he has done but to intercept and prevent him from doing it.” For how long? Is his health and life of any concern? Can the court order the shuffling of a 76-year-old prisoner from one prison to another even after a heart attack? Is the Indian administration, executive and judiciary following the norms of criminal jurisprudence and India’s obligations under various UN treaties and conventions in this case or in such other political detentions?

Qayoom is known for his political views and has been a staunch critic of the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A.

LFOVK in the petition says, “Since the insurgency in 1990, he has been arrested and incarcerated in different Indian prisons. In 1995, he was shot at by an unknown gunman resulting in serious spinal injuries leading to nine surgeries through which he recovered but with a limp. With one of his kidneys also removed, he survives on one.”

He is sick suffering from multiple ailments: diabetes, arthritis, hypertension and prostate issues and thus needs urgent medical attention and regular care.

The petition has added that on 29 January, while in detention in the Central Jail Agra, he suffered a major heart attack and was rushed to S.N. Medical College Agra.

Subsequently, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed that he be shifted to Tihar Jail in Delhi. He has now been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act of 1978 which gives arbitrary powers to Indian administrators to detain individuals with­out any judicial process or trial for up to 2 years.

Recently this law has been clamped on two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir: Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. It has also been used to mistreat, abuse, victimize and suppress activists, journalists, political, human rights, lawyers and common people of Kashmir. Since 05 August, a few thousand Kashmiri nationalists have been detained under this Act.

India’s National Inestigation Agency, NIA, has harassed him in terror-funding cases but all allegations have proved base­less.

“A senior advocate is behind bars and the silence of the lawyer fraternity is not a good omen for respect for human rights. Lawyers and activists will do well to remember what Martin Niemöller said.”

Navkiran Singh, General Secretary, Lawyers for Human Rights International

Spearheading the campaign for the release of political prisoners, LFOVK, an independent organisation that advocates nationally and internationally the Right of Self-Determination and respect for human rights in Occupied Kashmir through legal research, documentation and capacity-building to address, under international law, the violations of individual and collective rights of Kashmiris.

To protect and assist the victims of conflict, LFOVK seeks to ensure compliance with the obligations of International Human Rights Laws and International Humanitarian Laws during coflicts.

Lawyers for Human Rights International general secretary Advocate Navkiran Singh of the Panjab and Haryana High Court, who has been urging advocates and activists to sign the on­line petiion seeking Qayoom’s release says, “A senior advocate is behind bars and the silence of the lawyer fraternity is not a good omen for respect for human rights. Lawyers and activists will do well to remember what Martin Niemöller said.”

Sign the petition at !

Release Prisoner of Conscience 76-year-old Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom

World Sikh News – Aam Aadmi Party electrocutes the biggest and richest BJP in Delhi polls

Published 3 days ago – Gurmeet Singh

India’s wait for Delhi Legislative Assembly results to see the victory of people’s issues against the divisive politics of hate and fascism is over. AAP has trounced BJP and it is down to single digits again.

WSN Desk team­mate Gurmeet Singh, who keeps a keen eye on political developments in the country, congratulates the Aam Aadmi Party for its stellar performance and predicts doom for the Bharatiya Janata Party, even before the 2024 general elections.

Delhi has defeated fascism which was spreading its tentacles. Pride hath its fall.

Delhi defeated the Union cabinet of India in India’s de jure capital New Delhi and the de facto capital at Nagpur.

BJP had their stalwarts, their social, economic, political and bureaucratic powers on roads, where the likes of Amit Shah, J P Nadda, Smriti Irani, were seen distributing pamphlets.

This is not normal for an arrogant party which is too egoistic of their rule and don’t care about others. They wanted to win back Delhi after 21 years, however, they will have to wait for God alone knows how many more years.

The dreams of the hate merchants have been crushed. This dynamic win both in terms of seats and vote share will be a bench­mark for other state governments to follow, just as Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren is already attempting to imitate AAP’s model of education and health reform in Delhi.

Jamia, JNU, Shaheen Bagh and Gargi have defeated the peddlers of bullets and the Saffron ideology. Even the blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct while declaring the formation of the Ayodhya Temple Trust could not help the BJP.

The Delhi voter has slapped the goondas in uniform and the lumpens in plain­clothes without it also to beat young students within college libraries, on the streets and with­in campuses.

Delhi has pro­claimed loud and clear that those who are anti-CAA are not anti-nationals as show­cased by the BJP, but are true citizens and the people have comprehensively endorsed the right to disent.

The current of Shaheen Bagh was stronger than the hullaballoo of Amit Shah. The Indian Home Minister must eat humble pie, which he already is doing, as he is not on any TV screen and the new incumbent president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, J P Nadda is bearing the brunt of the defeat.

Manoj Tiwari is waiting to relish the Biryani of Shaheen Bagh to see if that can help to tide away from the hurt caused by this massive electoral loss. Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the blue-eyed boy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is perhaps planning to join the Air Force to learn how to conduct surgical strikes, this time not at Shaheen Bagh but on the con­duct of his party.

The idea of Shaheen Bagh has won over the idea of a relgious divide of the BJP. The count­down to India’s freedom from fascism has begun.

The BJP campaigned for the protection of Hindus, an anti-Muslim agenda, rhetoric against Pakistan, false propaganda against AAP and other parties. AAP focused its work in the fields of education, health and facilities for the common man of Delhi.

Jarnail Singh from Tilak Nagar and Prahlad Singh Sawhney from Chandni Chowk are the two AAP candidates who have won giving some hold to the Sikhs of Delhi to fall back upon in the face of the totally anti-Sikh stance of Manjinder Singh Sirsa and Manjit Singh GK, who did not contest any seat but gave support to the BJP on a platter, with no political give and take.

In this bitterly fought election, though the Election Commission of India did ban the likes of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and BJP Member of Parliament Parvesh Verma for a few days, its weak­ness became apparent for not initiating legal proceedings against their sickening, rabidly communal diatribes.

As for the BJP, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

Aam Aadmi Party’s success deserves praise. Their work for the common man has won over the hate politics of the right-wing BJP. They have, however yet to evolve a serious political platform in the face of mega-crises, be it Kashmir or even Shaheen Bagh.

As for the BJP, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put Humpty-Dumpty to­gether again.

Aam Aadmi Party electrocutes the biggest and richest BJP in Delhi polls

World Sikh News – Davinder Singh, Agent-provacateur? State operative? Double-agent?

Published 3 weeks ago – WSN Punjab Desk

The arrest of Deputy Superintendent of Police of Jammu and Kashmir Davinder Singh while travelling with two Kashmiri militants in South Kashmir, on way to Delhi, is not going to be digested easily by those who have been following the deeds of the police officer and his deputies in the last decade.

Punjab political party Dal Khalsa, which keeps an eye on Kashmir has questioned the role of the police officer, once decorated by the President of India.

The whole episode is fishy and justice seeking people in In­dia and the world monitoring developments in Kashmir need to know the truth, commented Dal Khalsa chief Harpal Singh Cheema, in the party’s official reaction to the detention of Jammu and Kashmir police officer Davinder Singh.

Dal Khalsa president Harpal Singh Cheema, in a statement issued here today, said that his party believed that the arrest of DSP Davinder Singh, former counter-insurgency officer of J&K police alongside two “militants”, one of whom was involved in the killing of migrant labourers last October has opened a Pandora’s box which the Jammu&Kashmir police and administration will find it difficult to put the lid on.

“Was Davinder Singh a double agent minting money from both sides? Was he a mole in the police working for a third agency? Was he a hero of the state that used him for overt and covert operations?

Who were his senior handlers and why they haven’t protected him at the time of his arrest? What was the reality behind Afzal’s pointing fin­ger towards him?”

In the last 72 hours since his arrest, while the social media remained abuzz about the role of Davinder Singh, skeletons from the past started pouring out. He is the same police officer about whom Afzal Guru’s counsel had apprised the court through a letter before being sent to the gallows, but the court had not taken cognizance of the said letter.

The letter talked about how Afzal Guru was forced to take a person to Delhi and also how Davinder Singh and his deputy Shanty Singh had tortured him in police custody.

In an interview to Parvaiz Bhukari, quoted by Arundhati Roy in her 13 questions for December 13, Davinder Singh proudly says, “I did interrogate and torture him [Afzal] at my camp for several days. And we never recorded his arrest in the books anywhere. His description of torture at my camp is true.

That was the procedure those days and we did pour petrol in his ass and gave him electric shocks. But I could not break him. He did not reveal anything to me despite our hardest possible interrogation. We tortured him enough for Ghazi Baba but he did not break.

He looked like a “bhondu” those days, what you call a “chootya” type. And I had a reputation for torture, interrogation, and breaking suspects. If anybody came out of my inerrogation clean, nobody would ever touch him again. He would be considered clean for good by the whole department.”

Expressing strong apprehensions about the sinister motive of the controversial cop escorting miliants, the party leader asked, “Was it part of yet another covert operation?” The sudden arrest of Davinder Singh raises more questions than answers.

“Was he a double agent minting money from both sides? Was he a mole in the police working for a third agency? Was he a hero of the state that used him for overt and covert operations? Who were his senior handlers and why they haven’t protected him at the time of his arrest?

What was the reality behind Afzal’s pointing finger towards him?”

Justice loving people around the world who are monitoring developments in Kashmir and the people of India need to know answers to all such puzzling questions, said Harpal Singh Cheema and demanded an impartial and transparent probe into the entire role of Davinder Singh as an officer in charge of counter-insurgency operations.

Barely a few days back, he was part of a photo-op at the Srinagar airport receiving envoys of 18 foreign missions on a state-guided tour of the valley. Can there be a bigger compromise than this on the security of diplomats?

Davinder Singh – Agent-provacateur? State operative? Double-agent?

World Sikh News – Aam Aadmi Party denies wholesome representation to Sikhs in Delhi

Published 2 weeks ago – WSN Delhi Desk

Aam Aadmi Party denies representation to Sikh residents of Delhi by giving them negligible representation constituency-wise and to Sikh leaders who have served the people of Delhi and also stood by the party.

Denying nominations to sitting Sikh of the Delhi Legislature, except Jarnail Singh from the Tilak Nagar constituency, in the 70 candidates list announced today by the party, the Aam Aadmi Party has started on the wrong foot in displeasing the Sikh residents in many constituencies of

Avtar Singh Kalkaji has been denied nomination

As per the list released today by the Political Affairs Committee of the party, Avtar Singh Kalkaji from the Kalkaji constituency and Jagdeep Singh from the Hari Nagar constituency have been left out of the list. The new Sikh entrant on the list is Prahlad Singh Sawhney from the Chandni Chowk constituency, who is actually a Congress party veteran, who left his party to join AAP.

Former journalist Jarnail Singh was not in the reckoning and Harjeet Singh who lost

Jagdeep Singh has been denied nomination from Rajouri Garden to Manjinder Singh Sirsa was also not considered.

There are as many as 15 constituencies in Delhi which have an overwhelming Sikh presence and it would be interesting to see on which side the Sikh voters turn to. A young Sikh voter told WSN, “No candidate can win in West Delhi without the support of the Sikh community.”

Jarnail Singh, the lone Sikh candidate renominated from Tilak Nagar

World Sikh News learns that Sikh residents are upset with the development and strongly feel that like the BJP and the Congress Party, the AAP has also ditched them.

A young Sikh language expert, speaking on condition of anonymity said, “AAP has not taken up the issue of Punjabi language teachers in Delhi and similarly the work of rehabilitation of the 84 carnage victims has been a day­dream.”

Gurmeet Singh, a religious and soial activist from Delhi, while speaking to WSN said, “Sikhs of Delhi will have to make a choice on the basis of candidates and not of political parties.”

Undoubtedly, generally speaking, AAP has delivered on the education and health front and the population of Delhi is happy on these fronts, but the political philosophy and stance of the Aam Aadmi Party have been way­ward, which many a time has left the minorities worried.

Aam Aadmi Party denies wholesome representation to Sikhs in Delhi

World Sikh News – Individual madness blown out of proportion at Nankana Sahib – Dal Khalsa

Published 1 week ago

In a fit of anger, one individual in a personal retaliatory mood cannot become a hindrance or reason for disturbing Sikh-Muslim brotherhood in Pakistan or elsewhere. Unquestionably, what has been done by the rabidly hateful mob at Nankana Sahib was unacceptable and intolerable, yet the Sikh community needs to be wise enough to make a distinction between the act of a government and a fanatic.

We understand that the root cause of the problem at Nankana Sahib is the enmity between two families, one Muslim and one Sikh, over the question of the marriage of a Muslim boy with a Sikh girl. Notwithstanding the current status of the case, each side must vent their anger and agony against each other rather than make it a Sikh-Muslim issue.

The per­son who threw stones should have restricted his reaction towards the family concerned and not against an entire community and faith,” read the Dal Khalsa statement issued in Amritsar.

Taking cognisance of the developments in Nankana Sahib, Dal Khalsa in a statement has called it unfortunate, cautioned the Sikh leadership and sought immediate intervention from the Pakistan government.

“While we condemn the hooliganism at Nankana Sahib, we urge Pakistan Prime Minister to beef up security at the Gurdwara Sahibs in Pakistan and ensure that such incidents do not mar the great work that your government has done and even unwittingly no hurt is caused to followers of Guru Nanak”, said Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh.

Kanwar Pal Singh “Im­ran Khan is a sensible and an upright politician who has shown exemplary courage to fulfill the long-pending prayer of the Sikhs by building the Kartarpur Sahib corridor,” added Kanwar Pal Singh urging the Nankana Sahib administration to clear the air and nip the evil in the bud.

Dal Khalsa cautioned the Sikh leadership on both sides of the border to exercise restraint and not blow up such cases out of proportion. It is necessary to differentiate acts of state from that of a fanatic.

Kanwar Pal Singh said that the anti-Sikh lobby in the Indian government and media wasted no time to flare up the incident to create a communal divide between Sikhs and Muslims. “This will not happen, howsoever much you try,” said Kanwar Pal Singh.

Individual madness blown out of proportion at Nankana Sahib -Dal Khalsa

World Sikh News – Dal Khalsa appeals to UN to protect minorities in India

Published 5 days ago 26/12/2019

Alleging that the Indian government under Narendra Modi continues its march against minorities and nationalities, Dal Khalsa has reached out to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva narrating the volatile developments that spell an anarchic situation for religious minorities in India.

From the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir to India’s Supreme Court’s “political” verdict on Babri Masjid in the Ayodhya dispute to the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act by the Indian parliament everything is being played out in India’s march to make India a professedly Hindu country, reads the memorandum submitted to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Party secretary for human rights Pritpal Singh Switzerland met the representative of the High Commissioner at the UN­HCHR office in Geneva and apprised him of the increasingly difficult and dangerous times for all minorities and nationalities, who want to stand up for the fundamental rights of oppressed people.

Reiterating that Sikhs as geographical neighbours of Kashmir and as people who endorse the UN Charter on Human Rights, consider it their sacred duty to stand up against repression and oppression everywhere.

Pritpal Singh told the UN officials that how the government of India denied his party and other groups the right to protest against gross violations of rights of the Kashmiri people.

The Indian state barred around 200 activists associated with Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) from entering Jammu and Kashmir at the Madhopur-Kathua interstate border on 9 December on flimsy grounds. The activists were on their way to observe World Human Rights Day at Lal Chowk, Srinagar.

Complaining about the muted response of the international community and the United Nations Security Council, which has been making soft recommendations to the perpetrator state, the Dal Khalsa leader Pritpal Singh told the UN representative that the stoppage of Sikh leaders and human rights activists by the government from entering Jammu and Kashmir was a loud declaration by the Indian state that those who want to observe Human Rights Day for the people of Kashmir have no right to do so.

Urging the UN to make India answerable for this to the world community, the Dal Khalsa leader narrated the outcry of people across the spectrum on the CAA.

Unquestionably, there are double standards for the government of India vis-à-vis the majority community and the Muslims, not only in Kashmir but in the whole of India. It is apparent that the Modi government was deliberately pushing the people to a point of no return and this has dangerus portents for South Asia.

It is reliably learnt that the Sikh leader Pritpal Singh had a patient hearing in the UN office and more so the officials were seized with the developing unrest across India. Speaking to WSN, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said its time for UN intervention as the silence of the international community leadership was hurting the relevance of the UN Human Rights Charter.

Dal Khalsa appeals to UN to protect minorities in India

World Sikh News – Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak 550 birth anniversary at Australian Parliament

Published 3 weeks ago Kamaljeet Singh

As Australia opens its heart to Sikhs, amidst members of Parliament, with participation of various Sikh bodies, Sikh scholars from across the globe and activists from Australia, the Australian Federal Parliament reverberated with the Shabads of Guru Nanak sung on Sikh musical instruments and shared His universal message on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of the founder of Sikh faith, beautifully organised in Sikh style and tradition by the Australian Sikh Coun­cil in the evening of 22 October.

The first-ever investiture of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture and the eternal Guru of the Sikhs at the Australian Parliament House, with scores of Sikhs and friends of Sikhs was a historic occasion which will be remembered for years to come by the Sikh community, not only in Australia but across the Sikh world.

Setting the tone for the evening, Sikh music vocalist Bimal Singh of the Gurmat Sangeet Academy Melbourne performed a beautiful melody of traditional Sikh music on classical instruments Taus and Rabab with Dayabir Singh and Himmat Singh joining him to play Shabads of Guru Nanak from Guru Granth Sahib, enthralling the audience.

Guru Nanak Sahib Parkash Purab in the Australian Parliament

Dwelling on the need for a paradigm for life as created by Guru Nanak to address the issues of political paralysis, social justice, and rising extremism, keynote speaker Harinder Singh, of US-based Sikh Research Institute said, ‘Guru Nanak proclaims the biggest weapon you can carry with you is knowledge,’ In the same vein he applauded Aus­tralia for its Numero Uno ranking in the United Na­tions Education Index and emphasized how it sets an example for Sikhs and other countries to follow.

The leader of the Labor party Anthony Albanese said that ‘Sikh values are Labor values.’ Parliamentarians Adam Bandt, Warren Entsch and Bob Katter shared personal anecdotes from their interaction with members of the Sikh community and all seemed thrilled to be in the company of Sikhs.

They were particularly impressed by the contribution of Sikhs to Australian society and were enamoured of the Sikh values of freedom, equality, compassion and hard work.

Parliamentarians AM Ben Morton, Julian Leeser, Tanya Plibersek, Chris Bowen, Julian Hill, Tim Watts, Tony Zappia, Anne Aly, Joanne Ryan, Dean Smith and others also joined the Sikhs in the celebrations.

Tracing the history and contribution of Sikhs in Australia, Tarunpreet Singh of Australian Sikh Heritage covered the 180 years of Sikh presence through his immaculate presentation.

“Guru Nanak’s revolutionary and progressive ideas of gener equality and women’s empowerment were way ahead of the times,” said Jatinder Kaur, Director of JK Diversity Consultants.

Guru Nanak Sahib Parkash Purab in the Australian Parliament

The Australian Sikh Council, which initiated this program expressed gratitude to Akalpurakh for the unprecedented public and political outreach made possible through this function and have announced its commitment to continue its Sikh advocacy work across Australia which has witnessed a huge growth of Sikh population in the last decade and is now the third destination for Sikhs, after the USA and Canada.

Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak 550 birth anniversary at Australian Parliament

World Sikh News – What will happen as RSS challenges the Idea of India

Ajaypal Singh Brar

Published 2 weeks ago: In the back­drop of the views on India by two Italian travel writers, author-commentator Ajaypal Singh Brar decries the attempts to foist majoritarianism-based unity culture by the RSS and advocates that the minorities have no choice but to fight back, tooth and nail.

In the backdrop of the views on India by two Italian travel writers, author-commentator Ajaypal Singh Brar decries the attempts to foist majoritarianism-based unity culture by the RSS and advocates that the minorities have no choice but to fight back, tooth and nail.

Once upon a time, two Italian writers go on vacation together in India, and each writes a book about his travels. One sees in India only what is different and the other only what is the same.

Once upon a time, two Italian writers go on vacation together in India, and each writes a book about his travels. One sees in India only what is different and the other only what is the same.

The one writer, Alberto Moravia, titles his book An Idea of India (Un’idea del­l’India) and tries to explain how different India is, but he is frustrated that he can grasp it only in the most abstract, meta­physical terms and through a series of tautologies.

The experience teaches him why Europeans are Europeans and Indians are Indians, but that is so hard to capture in words. The differ­ence of religion, he thinks, will help him put his finger on it.

India is the land of religion par excellence, he explains. Not only are its religions different than ours but also in India religion envelops all of life. The religious idea completely permeates the experience.

It is time the fascist forces in this land realise that the land and its people can­not be turned into a monolithic society adhering to their narrow version of Hindutva but the recognition of an open network of singularities that links together on the basis of the common they share and the common they produce can make harmonious coexistence possible, workable and enjoyable.

Indians go about their daily lives living their religions in countless strange and incomprehensible rituals. But this notion of a living religious idea, he finds, does not really capture the difference either. The difference of India is much more than that.

In fact, this extreme difficulty of expressing it proves to him that the differ­ence of India is ineffable. “My fellow Italians, I cannot describe India to you. You must go there and experience its enigma yourself. All I can say is, India is India,” he concludes.

Pier Paolo Pasolini titles his book ‘The Scent of India’ (L’odore dell’India) and tries to explain how similar India is. He walks the crowded streets at night in Bombay, and the air is filled with odours that remind him of home: the rotting vegetables left­over from the day’s market, the hot oil of a vendor cooking food on the city’s sidewalks, and the faint smell of sewage.

The writer comes upon a family conducting an elaborate ritual on the river­bank, making offerings of fruit, rice, and flowers. This is not new to him either. The peasants back home in Friuli have similar customs, ancient pagan rituals that have survived for ages. And then, of course, there are the boys. The writer talks play­fully in broken English with groups of boys who congregate on street corners.

Eventually, in Cochin (Kochi) he befriends Ravi, a poor, laughing orphan who is continually tormented and robbed by older boys. Before leaving the town the writer convinces a Catholic priest with the promise of sending money from Italy to take the boy in and protect him, just as he would have done back home.

All of these boys, the writer finds, are just like the boys in every poor neigh­bour­hood of Rome or Naples. “My fellow Italians, Indians are just the same as us,” he concludes. In his eyes, in fact, all the differ­ences of India melt away and all that remains is another Italy.

It makes you wonder if the travel companions even saw the same country. In fact, although polar opposites, their two responses fit together perfectly as a fable of the two faces of Eurocentrism: “They are utterly different from us” and “They are just the same as us.”

The truth, you might say, lies somewhere between the two, they are somewhat like us and also a little different, but really that compromise only clouds the problem.

Neither of the two Italian writ­ers can escape the need to use European identity as a universal standard, the measure of all sameness and difference. India, however, is not merely different from Europe. India (and every local reality within India) is singular, not different from any universal standard but different in itself.

If the first Italian writer Al­berto Moravia could free himself of Europe as a standard, The Scent of India he could grasp this singularity. This singularity does not mean, however, that the world is merely a collection of in­communicable localities. Once we recognize singularity, the common begins to emerge.

Singularities do communicate, and they are able to do so because of the common they share. We share bodies with two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes; we share life on this earth; we share capitalist regimes of production and exploitation; we share common dreams of a better future.

Our communication, collaboration, and cooperation, furthermore, not only are based on the common that exists but also, in turn, produce the common. We make and remake the common we share every day.

Today’s world is a paradox! While, the recently concluded elections in Canada has shown us how a nation with vast swathes of immigrants from diverse nationalities could grasp this dynamic relationship of the common, our own homegrown organizations such as the RSS, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its off­shoots advocate the turning of the entire land into one monolithic singularity in the name of Hindutva, thus destroying the garden full of myriad cultures, nationalities and religious ideologies that has been celebrated as the Idea of India or perhaps as the second Italian author Pier Paolo Pasolini puts it, the Scent of India.

It is time the fascist forces in this land realise that the land and its people cannot be turned into a monolithic society adhering to their narrow version of Hindutva but the recognition of an open network of singularities that links together on the basis of the common they share and the common they produce can make harmonious coexistence possible, workable and enjoyable.

It is not easy for those who stand for the Idea of India, which is diverse and vibrant to challenge the brute bulldozer of Hindutva forces, yet despite the attempts to crush under its momentum and weight the dynamism of diversity, challenge they must. What will happen if the Idea of India dies?

World Sikh News – Delhi Police forces family to allow autopsy of Professor S A R Geelani

Published 5 days ago – WSN News Bureau

Rubbing salt on the wounds of the family, already struggling to come to terms with the sad demise of their illustrious member Professor S A R Geelani who died of a massive heartattack, the Delhi police, apparently with ‘instructions from above’ was at their heartless best by forcing the family to give permission for an autopsy on his body before being taken to his ancestral home in Kashmir.

While it may be a technical requirement to conduct a post-mortem prior to airlifting of a dead body, the Delhi police and the Delhi administration and the hospital authorities should have shown more preparedness and sensitivity while handling the case of Professor S A R Geelani.

The trauma that the family went through on the roads, with the police pocketing the keys of the ambulance is shameful, to say the least. All pleadings by the family members did not yield anything. The police personnel kept on passing the buck from one officer to another.

When will Indian administration arrange to teach hospital and police personnel how to handle the dead with dignity?

After seeing this article on World Sikh News I decided to refresh my knowledge about Professor Geelani and found the excellent Caravan article that I have published earlier this morning
Man in Blue

Delhi Police forces family to allow autopsy of Prof S A R Geelani

World Sikh News – Will India’s Supreme Court protect Guru Nanak Mutts in Puri?

Published 3 days ago – Jagmohan Singh

Puri – Odisha – India, 17 September 2019. India’s Supreme Court will take up the case of demolition of all Mutts within a radius of 75 metres of the Jagannath Puri Temple today.

Under pressure from Sikh activists world­wide, the Naveen Patnaik government of the Indian state of Odisha has temporarily halted the demolition drive which was to demolish the Mangu Mutt and Panjabi Mutt relating to the visit of Guru Nanak Sahib, though with­out giving an official word about their intentions.

The DSGMC delegation met the Deputy Commissioner and was able to get verbal assurances only while the Orissa Sikh Pratinidhi Board Sikh leadership indulges into doubletalk and squabbles about the historicity of the places.

Thanks to the timely intervention of advocate-activist Sukhvinder Kaur and historian Anil Dhir, the uproar by Sikh Twitterati across the globe, the push provided by the tweet of Panjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Puri administration has stalled the demolishing since the last four days.

The Indian Supreme Court will take up a Public Interest petition today filed by InterContinental Association of Lawyers through its chairman Debasis Misra, seeking the quashing of the Odisha government order dated 16 August for the demolition of all structures within 75 meters of the Jagannath Puri Temple.

Though this petition was not specifically for the shrines related to Guru Nanak, all Mutts that the Odisha government proposes to demolish structures ‘for providing facilities to pilgrims’, the decision in this matter is likely to impact the Mangu Mutt and Punjabi Mutt which are so far intact.

Speaking exclusively to The World Sikh News, Sukhvinder Kaur said, “It seems that the importance of the Mutts and its history was not even known to the administration. Apparently, only after a score of media reports and social media intervention, the relevance of the Mutts came to be known to them.”

Senior BJP leader Dillip Mohanty has extensively tweeted to the Odisha government urging immediate stoppage of the demolition campaign.

Reliable sources in Puri have informed WSN that the Puri Collector Balwant Singh Rathore told the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee delegation that “the administration is now considering to preserve four rooms of the Mutt, but the remaining portion of the shrine will be de­molished.

The shrine where the images of Lord Jagannath and Shri Chand Ji, along with the Mahant’s Gadi, his per­sonal room and the Rosaghara (Kitchen) will be allowed to re­main.”

Panjabi Mutt, Puri, clearly, these are time-wasting tactics. WSN fears that the Odisha government which has so far not put out an official word on the subject is probably banking on the judiciary taking a decision which will enable them to complete the demolition.

Shockingly for the Sikhs, the Odisha Sikh Pratinidhi Board has issued a face­book post down­playing the Mango Mutt and its role. They said that the Mutt holds no relevance to the Sikh faith.

Sukhvinder Kaur speaking to WSN said, “It is sad, that while the administration has taken cognizance of the importance of the Mutt, the Pratinidhi Board is in a denial mode.”

Will the Naveen Patnaik government respect Sikh sentiments?

I do not know about these Mutts and their relevance for Sikhi but I am very much against the knocking down of historical buildings
Man in Blue

Will India’s Supreme Court protect Guru Nanak Mutts in Puri?