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Removal of Bhindrawale’s poster: Sikh protesters clash with police in Jammu, one killed

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Jammu: A protester was killed and over a dozen others injured on Thursday in a clash between security forces and a group of Sikhs who blocked roads here against removal of a poster with a picture of late militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The incident sparked off more protests in the city and authorities called in the army to carry out a flag march.

The protester, identified as Jagjit Singh, son of Narveer Singh, resident of Chohala in RS Pura, was killed when police opened fire in Gadigarh (Satwari) area as protesters indulged in violence injuring three policemen, police said. The condition of the three has been described as critical by doctors, police said here.

Sikh protesters had blocked the Jammu-RS Pura road at Gadigarh by erecting road blocks and burning old tyres on the highway. They were agitating against the removal of Bhindranwale posters in the area by police on Wednesday.

An angry protester had attacked police assistant sub-inspector Arun Kumar with a knife in Satwari area of Jammu city on Wednesday, following which tension mounted among the Sikh community here.

Senior police and civil administration officials, including the district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police, reached the spot.

Reinforcements of police and the Central Reserve Police Force have been sent to the area to prevent further violence.

After the news of the protester’s death spread, Sikh protesters blocked the Jammu-Pathankote national highway in Raj Bagh area in Kathua district. They also took to the streets in Sikh-dominated Nanak Nagar, Digiana and Golgujral areas of Jammu city.

The army carried out a flag march in Satwari area Thursday evening after the civil administration requested assistance.

“Army carried out a flag march on the road from R.S. Pura to Satwari due to the prevailing internal security situation. The district administration had requisitioned the army to instil confidence in the people,” an army statement said.

Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has condoled the death of the protester and appealed to all sections of the society to maintain calm and communal harmony in the city. (IANS)

 

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Sikh Awareness Campaign to Inform Americans About Sikhism is being Received Well

The National Sikh Campaign launched the "We are Sikhs" ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi to raise awareness about their religion

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National Sikh Campaign launched the "We are Sikhs" ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi. Pixabay
  • According to reports, the Sikh awareness campaign to spread awareness about Sikhism among the Americans has led to a rise in positive perception about their religion 
  • Non-profit organization, National Sikh Campaign launched the “We are Sikhs” ad campaign 
  • The survey took place in Fresno, California, where violence towards the American Sikhs has been occurring repeatedly 

Washington, September 4, 2017: A recent survey has noted that the Sikh awareness campaign to inform Americans about Sikhism has led to a rise in the positive perception about their religion.

The non-profit organisation, National Sikh Campaign launched the “We are Sikhs” ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi, which is considered a holy day by the community.

The survey took place in Fresno, California, where a number of Sikhs live and where violence towards Sikhs has been increasing since the past few years. Two people were killed in Fresno, in the recent months.

Television ads, grassroots events, digital ads and significant news coverage, all form parts of the Fresno effort.

The campaign has been actively engaged since April, in airing ads, conducting grassroots events in Gurudwaras across the United States and portraying Sikhs as good neighbors, proud Americans on popular news channels like the CNN and Fox News nationwide.

We are Sikhs campaign to inform people about Sikhism
‘We are Sikhs’ campaign. Twitter

The ultimate objective of the $1.3 million campaign was to spread awareness regarding the Sikh community, their identity, their belief in equality, their values and ethics like respect for women and every religion, and important information like the religion being the fifth largest in the world.

59 per cent of Fresno residents, which apparently makes the majority, say they are acquainted with at least some knowledge about Sikhs who live in America, according to a survey, as mentioned in the Times of India.

Sixty-eight per cent considered Sikhs as good neighbors and 64 per cent saw them as generous and kind.

Also read: Sikhism in Pakistan: Recalling the Forgotten Treasures of Sikh Heritage

The division of residents who had seen the ads are twice as likely to claim that they have at least some idea about the Sikhs living in America (78 percent) than the ones who haven’t seen the ads (40 percent), the survey noted.

According to the survey results, People who are likely to identify a bearded man wearing a turban with Sikhism, makes 57 percent of those who saw the ads, while those who believe that Sikhs believe in equality and respect for all people, makes 67 percent of the residents who have had seen the ad.

And 60 per cent of Fresno residents that happened to have seen the Sikhs ad believe they have American values.

“Despite tense race relations and an extremely polarized political environment, the We Are Sikhs campaign has been able to make headway in creating awareness of Sikh Americans, who can commonly be identified by their turbans and beards,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates.

“This effort is a testament to the Sikh community’s commitment to reaching out to people of all faiths to help them recognize that we all have shared values, and that is a ray of hope that proves that understanding can bring people of all walks of life together,” he added.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Sikhs remained to be a softer target in cases involving profiling, backlash and bigotry, than the average American.

In July, two separate incidents killed two Sikh Americans in one week in California.

In March, A partially masked gunman shot a 39-year-old Sikh man in the arm, outside his home in Kent, Washington. The gunman reportedly shouted, “go back to your own country.”

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Seven Decades after Partition: Sikhs in Pakistan Struggle amid Bombings and Violence

Sikhs in Pakistan have been looking to leave Pakistan as their homeland has begun to turn toward radical Islam

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Types of 51st Sikhs (Frontier Force), now 3 Frontier Force, Pakistan Army. ca. 1905. Wikimedia Commons
  • In today’s period, Sikhs in Pakistan are among the smallest minorities
  • Pakistan today uses blasphemy as a weapon against minorities and fellow Muslims alike, which is a crime that carries an involuntary death penalty
  • Mr. Singh heads a council representing the Sikhs in Pakistan

Aug 15, 2017: At the age of 11, Radesh Singh’s grandfather left his village in India’s Punjab province to move to Peshawar, which is bordered by Afghanistan in the far northwest of the country.

Pakistan wasn’t even a glint in the eye of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the year 1901 when the British ruled the Indian subcontinent and Peshawar held the promise of work and adventure.

It has been 70 years since the partition of India, which divided the subcontinent into majority Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan and led to one of the largest migrations in modern history.

Singh’s family have been waging a secessionist uprising in India ever since, demanding unmitigated sovereignty for India’s Punjab state where they command. Singh’s family is neither Hindu nor Muslim but Sikh, a religious minority in both countries. Feeling increasingly less at home on either side of the border, they have been victims of local Taliban violence in the recent years in Muslim Pakistan.

Singh’s grandfather would never return to his village, not even in 1947. Singh stated that poverty kept his grandfather in Peshawar, which was controlled by fiercely independent ethnic Pashtun tribesmen. He said, “It’s not easy to start over at zero when you have very little,” mentioned BBG Direct.

ALSO READ: 10,000 members of Sikh community in Pakistan lack Education and Health: Sikh Leader 

According to Singh, the enmity in the immediate aftermath of 1947 was slightly lower in the northwest. It was followed by decades of peace. The decision to stay in Pakistan appeared like a reliable option at the time.

The Sikhs had lived harmoniously for centuries alongside their Pashtun Muslim countrymen. Singh explains, Sikhs had a glorious history in the northwest. In the 18th century, they oversaw a dynasty headed by a Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh, whose capital was Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore. He rebuilt Peshawar’s infamous Bala Hisar Fort, an imposing walled fortress that some historians assume is as old as the city itself.

In today’s period, easily identifiable because of the colorful turbans and the surname Singh, Sikhs in Pakistan are among the smallest minorities. As indicated by the CIA Factbook, 3.6 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people are non-Muslims which include Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus.

Singh asserted until 1984 Pakistan’s Hindus and Sikhs lived unitedly in northwest Pakistan. Their children married and worshipped together. But after the tragic assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, the entire scene changed consequently.

“They (Hindus) cut all relations with us. They said Pakistani Sikhs are like all Sikhs everywhere. No difference. They said, ‘From now on, we will be separate from you”, Singh recalled.

Today Sikhs in Pakistan are contending with the government for possession of dozens of Sikh temples (Gurdwaras); however, they have succeeded to restore some of the buildings. The Pakistan government took over the buildings after 1947 and allowed the squatters to remain.

Once a vibrant Gurdwara attended by hundreds of Sikhs, it no longer resembled a house of worship but rather a sweeping courtyard. However, it was until now that two families called it the home, said Singh.

Singh who heads a council representing the Sikhs in Pakistan, said young Sikhs have been looking to leave as the homeland has begun to turn toward radical Islam.

“They want to go to another country, not to India or Pakistan. But every country eyes them with suspicion.,” he said.

He adds, “Even Indians see his Pakistani passport and question his intentions, suggesting he wants to agitate for Sikh secessionism, the battle that resulted in Indira Gandhi’s death and a dream still held by many Sikhs on both sides of the border.”

According to Singh, Pakistan’s slide into intolerance began when Pakistan’s military dictator Zia-ul Haq set the country on the course of Islamic radicalization in the late 1970s with the former Soviet Union’s invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. Jihad became a rallying cry to defeat the communists in Afghanistan.

Extremism aggravated after the 2001 intrusion of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led coalition, he proclaimed.

The tribal areas were steadily caught by Taliban and in 2013 several Sikhs were killed, their limbs cut. Singh said the brutality of the killings and the threats sent thousands abandoning Pakistan.

Pakistan today uses blasphemy as a weapon against minorities and fellow Muslims alike, which is a crime that carries an involuntary death penalty.

“That is why we have a fear in our hearts, that this law can be used against us,” he told.

“In the last nearly 40 years we have been facing the boom, boom (mimicking the sound of explosions) in every city of Pakistan,” said Singh. “In a long time we have not heard any sweet sounds in our Peshawar, but still we love our city.”


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Khalsa Aid: This Sikh Relief Organisation is Restoring Faith in Humanity Since 1999

‘Khalsa Aid’ has also been assisting Yazidi women, escaped from the clutches of terrorist organization ISIS recently, by providing monthly food rations to 250 women

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‘Khalsa Aid’, an international humanitarian aid organization being run by Sikhs, Source: Khalsaaid.org

New Delhi, August 10, 2017: Prevailing scenario across the globe suggests that the cruelty has almost wiped out the humanity and the disheartening greed of human beings has made everyone egocentric. Increasing crime rate, conflicts, corruption, and negligence, are all symbol of this transition.

Despite the widespread selfishness, a Sikh relief organization is fighting hard to preserve the soul of humanity and keeping the hope alive. ‘Khalsa Aid’ is an international humanitarian aid organization run by people of Sikh community and it is setting a perfect example of peace and compassion among people.

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This organization works for providing humanitarian aid to the people affected by disasters or are in conflict areas. Started in 1999 in the United Kingdom with UK Charities Commission, ‘Khalsa Aid’ has volunteers all over America and Asia. They have provided relief aid to most part of the Middle East where the conflicts are much serious. They have led their activities in countries like Lebanon, Haiti, Bosnia, Nepal, and Serbia.

In Lebanon and Serbia, the ‘Khalsa Aid’ has been providing food, medical and educational assistance to the refugees there. It also had supplied food aid to famine and drought struck areas of northern Kenya.

Back in 2015, the organization also rushed to Nepal after severe earthquakes hit the country and arranged food and temporary shelters for the affected citizens. It also helped in conducting missions in rubble clearance and building temporary shelters for 250 families there.

Meanwhile, at the time of Kashmir floods (2014) in India, ‘Khalsa Aid’ had actively taken part in relief measures in flood-devastated parts.

 Similar was its role during Uttarakhand floods and the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.

Khalsa Aid helping women in need

‘Khalsa Aid’ has also been assisting Yazidi women, escaped from the clutches of terrorist organization ISIS recently, by providing monthly food rations to 250 women.

Ravinder Singh, founder of ‘Khalsa Aid’ was awarded ‘The Sikh of the Year 2014’ for doing humanitarian works all over the world. His first mission was in Albania border where Khalsa Aid provided assistance to the victims of civil war and genocide.

Though there are only a few people working for the welfare of humanity, yet there is a hope and these people are the flag bearer for the same.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_balodi