Monday December 17, 2018
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SC to take up plea asking ban on websites with jokes on Sikhs

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would give a “serious” consideration to the plea seeking a ban on websites carrying jokes on Sikhs and projecting the community in dim light.

“We may have to look into the issue seriously. We thought you alone have come. If your community too feels bad about it….” a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.K.Sikri, and Justice R. Banumathi told PIL petitioner, lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury.

On being asked if there was a “collective response” to the issue by the Sikh community and if they stood by her, she told the court that even Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had moved the court on the issue.

As she addressed the court on the issue, the court asked her: “Who will determine that a joke against a Sardar is to show him a stupid way.”

When the court sought the views of Additional Solicitor General P.S.Patwalia on the issue, Chowdhury said his father (retired apex court judge) Justice Kuldip Singh had done a lot of work in the field which he (Patwalia) does not even know as he was very young.

Addressing the court, Patwalia said that the petitioner was “over-excited” and sought to dispel her apprehension on the issue being given serious consideration.

“We have taken it very seriously. My friend (Chowdhury) should not have any apprehensions,” he said, assuring her that the issue being agitated by her would be given serious consideration.

Seeking the issues of Vishaka like guidelines which the apex court had issued in 1997 to deal with the cases of sexual harassment of women at work place, Chowdhury told the court that Sikh children were being subjected to bullying and ridicule and their human rights should be protected.

Referring to the international covenants, she said that there should be human right courts to uphold the human rights of the Sikh community, and claimed that more than 15,000 suicides have been committed across the globe on account of such mocking.

Trying to impress upon the court the seriousness of the issue being raised by her, she told the court that she had put in 30 years of research during which she undertook studies in a 100 societies, the court expressed its wonder, saying: “You have worked on the project for 30 years.”

She has urged the court to direct the government to clamp down on the more than 5,000 websites like JokesDuniya.com, as they were “criticizing one community and it should stop”

Naming a number of websites carrying Sikh-centric jokes, Chowdhury has sought directions to the telecom department to install filters to weed out jokes relating to the community and that such websites created public nuisance under Section 268 of Indian Penal Code and it was a crime under the cyber laws.

Adjourning the matter for further hearing, the court said that it would hear the pleas of Harvinder Chowdhury and DSGMC together. (IANS)

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Pakistan And India To Construct a ‘Peace Corridor’

Indian pilgrims currently must seek visas to enter Pakistan and travel more than 200 kilometers to visit the Kartarpur shrine.

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India Pakistan, Sikh
Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, third left, stands for the national anthem during the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the planned road corridor to the Pakistan border, at Dera Baba Nanak,. VOA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone Wednesday for what is dubbed as a cross-border “corridor of peace” to allow religious devotees from India’s minority Sikh community to make free visits to one of their holiest gurdwaras, or temples, on the Pakistani side after more than seven decades.

The temple, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is considered to be the first temple ever built and the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the Sikhism founder.

Indian leaders, on behalf of the Sikh community, have long been demanding Islamabad provide unrestricted access to the holy site in Kartarpur, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

India’s and Pakistan’s independence from Britain in 1947 divided the Punjab province, where Sikhism was born.

Imran Khan, Sikh
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China. VOA

Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu performed the groundbreaking Monday on his side of the corridor at a ceremony just two kilometers from the Pakistani border.

The mutually agreed-to project is rare between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals. Historically strained ties have deteriorated in recent years and bilateral official talks remain suspended.

The fenced corridor of about five kilometers aims to connect the Kartarpur temple to the Sikh holy shrine at Dara Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. Officials say the corridor will be in place for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth in November 2019.

Khan’s government has invited, among others, Indian officials and journalists for Wednesday’s groundbreaking in Kartarpur, three kilometers from the border with India. An Indian ministerial-level delegation is expected to attend the ceremony as special envoys of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sikh
A Delhi-based Sikh organization Urges UN to Support Turbans as Religious Symbol. Pixabay

“Pakistan calls this a corridor of peace. I call it the corridor of infinite possibilities of peace,” Indian Punjab provincial minister Navjot Singh Sidhu told reporters shortly after arriving in Pakistan for the ceremony. He crossed the border by foot at the Wagah crossing near the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore to attend the event at the invitation of his friend, Prime Minister Khan.

Members of the Sikh community on both sides have welcomed the construction of the cross-border corridor linking the two holy sites.

Indian pilgrims currently must seek visas to enter Pakistan and travel more than 200 kilometers to visit the Kartarpur shrine. The temple is visible on clear days from a viewing stage on the Indian side, where religious devotees gather every day to have a glimpse of it.

Also Read: Vow To Hold Peace Talks With India: Pakistan’s Prime Minster Imran Khan

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and mutual tensions often hamper pilgrims’ plans to get timely visas to visit the shrine. Two of those wars have been over the disputed Kashmir region, which remains at the center of tensions. (VOA)