Thursday, July 31, 2008

Advani meets PM, focus on blasts, Amarnath protests

New Delhi: Leader of Opposition L K Advani on Thursday discussed the internal security situation in the country with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the aftermath of the multiple blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore. The Prime Minister had called Advani for the meeting wherein the latter is learnt to have questioned the Union Government's "soft approach" in curbing terror attacks in the country.BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said the internal security issue in the country and the Jammu unrest figured in the talks between the two leaders. While the PM was assisted by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Advani was accompanied by BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley during the one-and-half-hour meeting. "Jammu is on the boil and the issue figured in the talks. Advaniji stressed that the land transfer order had been issued only after the High Court's nod and the unanimous approval of the state Cabinet. Yet the Congress-led state Government succumbed to separatists' pressure. Advaniji said the land be restored to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board," said Javdekar. In a related move, the BJP has planned a three-day protest on the issue in all state capitals, beginning August 11. "All state units will stage dharna in front of respective Raj Bhavans on August 11, 12 and 13 and protest the revocation of the land transfer order," said senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu here on Thursday. "We want the decision to revoke the land transfer to be scrapped immediately. We want that the land should be given back to the Amarnath Shrine Board." "It appears that the fundamentalists and extremists have prevailed in the revocation of the land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board. The land was to be transferred to the Board to provide facilities to pilgrims going to the shrine," he said. A three-member panel was sent by party president Rajnath Singh to Jammu to assess the situation. Keeping up the party's attack on the Government on the issue of Ram Sethu, Venkaiah said the Centre was "targeting the religious and cultural beliefs of Hindus". "The Ram Sethu is one example where the Government had not only hurt the religious sentiments but also denied the very existence of Lord Rama in the court," he added.

Two children die in two days in Asaram\'s ashram in MP

CHHINDWARA (MP): A five-year-old boy died on Thursday under mysterious circumstances in the premises of Asaram Bapu\'s Ashram School here, a day after another boy was found dead under similar condition. The boy identified as Vedant was found in the hostel bathroom in a condition similar to Ramkrishna Yadav, whose body was found yesterday, by other school children after they returned from the playground. He was rushed to the district hospital where he was declared brought dead by doctor Subhash Bhagat. School doctor Lokesh Sharma told reporters that Vedant had probably gone early to wash his hands and legs and in the process fell down. He said Vedant\'s head was in a bucket full of water leading to suspicion about the cause of the death. Vedant was found around 1815 hours in a bathroom next to the toilet from where Yadav\'s body was found, he said. Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Chandrashekhar Neelkanth has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Sharma suspect an \"evil spirit\" (devil) has entered into the premises resulting in such incidents. This is the third incident of its kind in the Ashram- run school after the mysterious death of two minor cousins in Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, the father of the deceased Lal Krishna Malpande belonging to Haveli village in Pune district of Maharashtra has been informed of the incident.

Rajnikant apologises, Kuselan to be released

Bangalore:Megastar Rajnikanth has apologised to his angry fans in Karnataka. Protesters had threatened to block his new film Kuselan over his vocal support to the Hogennakal dam project in Tamil Nadu. But the iconic star seems to have backed down with an apology just ahead of the release of his new film tomorrow.After that apology, the protesters have called off their agitation and said they will allow Kuselan to be released on Friday.

UN reauthorizes Darfur peacekeeping

United Nations: The UN Security Council has approved another year of peacekeeping in Sudan\'s Darfur region despite sharp divisions over genocide charges against the Sudanese President. The United States supports the mission but abstained from the council\'s 14-0 vote Thursday night. It objects to language in the resolution that notes that the African Union wants the council to freeze the International Criminal Court\'s prosecution of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. US spokesman Richard Grenell says that language sends the wrong signal to a man who presided over genocide. The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force took over duties in Darfur in January.

Youth held for sending email threat to Japanese embassy

New Delhi: The email threatening bomb blasts in the national capital yesterday has finally turned out be a \"prank\" played by a 32-year-old mentally unstable man residing in neighbouring Gurgaon. After tracing the e-mail which was sent to Japanese Embassy yesterday, Delhi Police picked up the unemployed youth, who is undergoing treatment for mental disorder, from Gurgaon and was questioned. \"He is undergoing treatment for mental disorders. We detained him. After questioning him and verifying his antecedents, we released him,\" Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said. The embassy received the e-mail yesterday in which it was stated that after the blasts in Jaipur and Ahmedabad, there will be bomb blasts in Delhi. In the mail, Sarojini Nagar area was identified as one of the targets. Sarojini Nagar market was targeted by terrorists in October 2005. As a result of the e-mail threat, the Japanese embassy and its cultural centre have been temporarily closed.

Gautami Express catches fire; 8 dead

Hyderabad: Eight passengers, including two women, were killed and 40 others were injured when a fire broke out in Kakinada bound Gautami express in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh early on Friday morning. \"The fire broke in one of the sleeper coaches of the Secunderabad-Kakinada Gautami express near Mehboobabad early this morning,\" railway officials said. The fire soon spread to three other coaches, he added. The causes of the fire are yet to be ascertained, however, initial report indicates towards a possible short-circuit. The train was running between Secunderanad and Kakinada town when four coaches of the train were damaged. Following the incident, several other trains passing through the route were delayed for 2-4 hours. A major disaster, however, averted due to the alertness of the railway staff. The train staff swung into action as soon as they discovered the fire and stopped the train. They soon unloaded the passengers. However, of the two women, who were killed, one was pregnant and the other was disabled – possibly the reason why they could not get out of their bogies in time.

PM expresses shock over Ishmeet Singh\'\'s tragic death

Posted July 30th, 2008 by Sahil NagpalManmohan Singh India News New Delhi New Delhi, July 30: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today expressed shock over the tragic death of \'\'Voice of India\'\' contest winner Ishmeet Singh, who was considered as a promising singer for the Bollywood.

The Prime Minister was saddened after hearing about the tragic death of Ishmeet Singh, a PMO official said.

Dr. Singh shares the grief of Ishmeet\'\'s parents and other family members, the official said.

The 19-year-old singer was drowned on Tuesday in a swimming pool at a beach resort in the Maldives. He had gone to perform for the \"Star Voice of Maldives\" contest to be held on August 1.

A second year Bachelor of Commerce student of MNC College in Mumbai, Ishmeet haled from a middle-class family in Ludhiana. (ANI)

First Sikh Doc in Pak History Vows to Treat Patients Without Discrimination

Dr Mimpal Singh, the first Sikh doctor in the history of Pakistan, has vowed to treat his patients without any discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed or gender.
A registrar with the prestigious Mayo Hospital, he has topped the Diploma in Child Health exam of Services Institute of Medical Sciences. Singh became the first Pakistani Sikh to pass the DCH. Singh said that the Sikh community did not have access to such professional institutes because of a lack of quota system.

\"I am the first Sikh MBBS doctor in the country\'s history and want to serve my country. My Muslim patients like me a lot. I do not discriminate against my patients on the bases of caste, colour, creed or gender,\" said Dr Mimpal Singh on Sunday.

The Sikh doctor was born in Nankana Sahib.

He said he had set up a clinic \"Sardar Ji Health Clinic\" at Shadbagh. Singh and was also running a non-government organisation Guru Nanak Mission. \"Literacy rate among Pakistani Sikhs is low. There is only one Sikh officer in Pakistan Army and one is serving as a traffic warden in Lahore,\" the Daily Times quoted him as saying.

He said the government should review its policy regarding minorities\' rights. Poor but talented Sikh youth should be admitted to government and non-government educational institutes to help them get higher education, said the doctor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fourteen-year-old Sikh girl wins High Court battle to wear religious bangle at school

A Sikh teenager who was barred from school for wearing a religious bangle regarded as a 'handcuff to God' was discriminated against and should be allowed to return to classes, a judge has ruled.

Sarika Watkins-Singh was excluded after insisting she be allowed to wear the Kara – a bracelet worn by many Sikhs as a symbol of faith – despite her school's ban on jewellery other than wristwatches and ear studs.

The 14-year-old, who had been a prefect at her school in South Wales, said tearfully that she was 'overwhelmed' by her High Court victory and described herself as a 'proud Welsh Punjabi Sikh girl'.

The ruling means no school can stop a Sikh pupil from wearing the Kara to classes.

The High Court has previously refused to uphold a teenager's right to wear a chastity ring at school as an expression of her Christian faith and a 13-year- old Roman Catholic girl's right to wear a crucifix on a chain.

But Mr Justice Silber said today that the Kara fell into a 'very exceptional' category of religious jewellery and that Aberdare Girls' School had discriminated against Sarika on the grounds of race and religion over her half-inch wide, plain steel bangle.

While not a requirement of her religion, he accepted the Kara was of 'exceptional importance' to Sarika's racial identity or religious belief.

The judge said there was 'no evidence' that the wearing of a crucifix was regarded in the same way as the wearing of the Kara.

'In other words the school is not justified in having any fear that granting an exemption to the claimant to allow her to wear the Kara would create any further exemptions,' he said.

However, it has been claimed that the judgment could lead to legal challenges, particularly relating to 'unobtrusive' items of religious significance.

Julia Thomas, head of legal services at the Children's Legal Centre which supported Muslim schoolgirl Shabina Begum in her unsuccessful attempt to be allowed to wear the jilbab – head to toe religious dress – at school, said she thought it would anger those who had fought to wear religious items and failed.

'There are devoted Catholics who would regard wearing a crucifix as just as important, and there was the recent case of the young lady wanting to wear a chastity ring.

'I think there could be a little bit of a problem there with the judge interpreting religion and making an assumption which is possibly not justified.'

Sarika, her 38-year-old mother Sinita and stepfather Satnam Singh, welcomed the ruling.

'I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it's marvellous to know that the long journey I've been on has finally come to an end,' said Sarika outside the court in London.

'I'm so happy to know that no one else will go through what me and my family have gone through.'

Sarika, whose Welsh father, a Christian, died when she was a baby, was the only Sikh pupil at her 600-pupil school.

She was 13 and had worn the Kara for two years when a teacher asked her to remove it in April last year because it contravened uniform policy.

She requested an exemption but was told she could not attend classes wearing the bangle and was taught in seclusion then excluded. In February she joined Mountain Ash Comprehensive, which allows her to wear the Kara.

Her mother said that although it was a good school, the education of her daughter, an A and B-grade student, suffered as a result of the move.

She added it had been Sarika's decision to fight the case.

Aberdare Girls' School has agreed to take Sarika back in September, but her mother said her daughter needed time to think about that.

'The hardest thing for me is she is going to look back at her schooldays and remember this, it will never go away,' she said.

Mr Justice Silber said the Kara – narrower than many watch straps – was regarded universally by practising Sikhs as an important part of their religious observance.

An Aberdare school governor's attitude that wearing it was roughly similar to displaying the Welsh flag in that it engendered emotion was 'seriously erroneous', the judge said.

But he stressed that the judgment was 'fact-sensitive' and that there was an 'enormous difference' between the 'unostentatious' Kara and a very noticeable garment such as the Muslim niqab or jilbab.

However, Anna Fairclough, legal officer for the human rights group Liberty who was representing Sarika, said the judgment could have an impact in potential future cases.

The governors and head of Aberdare Girls' School said: 'The decision to defend this action was taken after careful consideration by all concerned, and in good faith.

'Should Sarika wish to return to school in September, in accordance with the judgment, she will be offered help and support to reintegrate her into the normal day-today life of the school.'

Ishmeet to be cremated with full state honours

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Government has decided to give full state honour to Ishmeet Singh on his funeral at Ludhiana on July 31. This was stated here Wednesday by Harcharan Singh Bains media advisor to Chief Minsiter Parkash Singh Badal.

Punjab government is also making special arrangements at its expanse to air lift the body of Ishmeet Singh from Delhi to Ludhiana.

Parkash Singh Badal has expressed profound grief and sorrow over the tragic demise of \' Star Voice of India-2007\' Ishmeet Singh who was snatched from all of us in the prime of his youth. Sukhbir Badal president of SAD also mourned the death of Ishmeet.

During an interaction with the media persons here in his office, Badal said that in the death of Ishmeet Singh the nation has lost a gem and a void had been created in the circle of singing fraternity which was difficult to be filled.

Badal also expressed his heart felt sympathies with the members of the bereaved family and prayed to Almighty to give strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss and grant peace to the departed soul.

Meanwhile Ishmeet will be cremated on July 31 at Model Town Extension cremation ground, Ludhiana at 11 AM.

Information & Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia also expressed his condolences on the passing away of Mr Ishmeet Singh who brought laurels to Punjab through his rare of the rarest performance by winning the title of \'Voice of India-2007\'.

Rajinder Kaur Bhattal President Punjab Pradesh Congress has expressed heartfelt grief and sympathy on the most sad, sudden and untimely death of upcoming young singer Ishmeet Singh Bhattal said that Ishmeet was a bright and promising Youngman and had become heartbeat of the young Indians in a very short span of life.

Dr. Upinderjit Kaur Education Minister Punjab expressed shock and sorrow over the untimely loss of Ishmeet Singh and said that a void had been created in the circle of singing fraternity at the tragic death of Ishmeet Singh.

Manoranjan Kalia, minister for Industry said that Ishmeet would be remembered for ever and he will remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh has condoled the tragic death of the promising singer Ishmeet Singh in a tragic accident. In a statement issued from Dubai, Capt Amarinder said, it was too tragic to learn that the promising singer\'s lefe had been cut short in such a tragic way. He said, he was not just the pride of Punjab, but of the whole country.

Bir Devinder Singh Chief Spokes Person of PPCC mourned the death of Ishmeet Singh, the booming Voice of India. He said Ishmeet\'s voice which surged on the scene of melody would be silenced by the death so soon, one could never think of, even in the remotest thought.

Meanwhile, All educational , medical and other institutions under SGPC including its office remained closed today on the announcement made by SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar in condolence of the death of Ishmeet .

Pakistan will not press for vote on Indian deal at IAEA

Vienna: After firing a written salvo against the draft Indian safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Pakistan has backed off and is all set to join the consensus in favour of approving the text when the nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors meets on August 1.According to IAEA sources, Pakistan has assured the United States that it will not seek to block approval of the Indian safeguards agreement or call for amendments. Provided Islamabad sticks to its assurances, the August 1 meeting is likely to be a tame affair, though a number of countries are expected to make statements putting on record any misgivings they might have about the deal.With the smooth approval of the agreement now being taken for granted, vigorous planning is already under way for the nuclear deal's next step — the grant of a waiver to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The dates now being discussed are August 21-23, with the meeting likely to take place in Vienna itself. And on Wednesday, Department of Atomic Energy chairman Anil Kakodkar met IAEA Director-General Mohammed el-Baradei for the first round of discussions on an additional protocol to the Indian safeguards agreement.On July 18, Ambassador Shahbaz wrote a four-page letter to all members of the IAEA BoG as well as the NSG criticising the Indian agreement on a number of grounds and calling on other countries to join Pakistan in seeking amendments when the matter was brought before the Board. By July 23, however, Islamabad's tone changed as its Ambassador made it clear that his delegation did not intend to "impede" the process.During the IAEA Secretariat's July 25 briefing on the Indian safeguards agreement, say diplomats, the change in the Pakistani attitude was most visible. Though its Ambassador referred to the letter he had sent, the only question he raised was about Pakistan being able to avail itself of the precedent being set for India. The Secretariat's representative at the briefing, Vilmos Cserveny, who had in fact been the IAEA's lead negotiator with India, replied that if Pakistan were to negotiate bilateral or multilateral agreements of the kind India had, a similar umbrella safeguards agreement could be drawn up and its approval would then be up to the BoG.Though Pakistan has indicated where it will stand on August 1, China has yet to reveal its hand, the IAEA sources say. Officially, its Ambassador says he is still awaiting instructions from Beijing but the sense at the Vienna International Centre — which houses the IAEA and other U.N. agencies here — is that China will also be part of the consensus in favour of the Indian agreement.In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Schulte said his government was looking forward to "the Board approving the India safeguards agreement on Friday."He said the BoG members have had ample time to study the agreement and ask questions of India and the Secretariat. Describing the agreement as one which would "allow India to place 14 reactors under international safeguards in the next six years, plus all future civil reactors," Ambassador Schulte said the safeguarding of these facilities would be "a net gain for the world's non-proliferation regime."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ishmeet dies in Maldives

Ludhiana,Punjab: City residents who had cheered Ishmeet Singh as Voice of India today were in deep grief as the news of his tragic death in the Maldives, by drowning in the sea, reached here late evening. Ludhianvis literally wept at the untimely death of their hero.Apart from friends, relatives and fans, scores of residents rushed to his house in Model Gram to offer condolences to the parents of the 19-year-old singing sensation. People in disbelief were glued to TV sets when the channels flashed the news. His father Gurpinder Singh Sodhi and mother Amritpal Kaur were shocked. Huddled in an inner room of their house, they were inconsolable even as a stream of visitors offered their condolences. His mother and elder sister required medical assistance as they fell unconscious. His father said Ishmeet did not know swimming.All his young friends were crying in one corner or the other of the house. Visitors broke down when they tried to console them.Ishmeet had enthralled city doctors just two days ago at a function in DMC hospital. His fans, young and aged, had flocked to seek his autograph. No one had thought that it was his last performance in the city. He had said he would soon return for many functions, but destiny had other plans.

NCERT to remove objectionable portions on sex-education

New Delhi: Bowing to pressure, the NCERT is all set to roll out a watered down syllabus on sex education shifting focus from use of condoms to abstinence while informing children about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. The new revised module arrived at during a meeting of education representatives from 20 states and AIDS control societies proposes to remove \"objectionable\" skill development programmes like group activity on human anatomy and graphic pictures showing human physiology, sources in the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) said to a news agency. \"Basically all controversial material including objectionable words and pictures would be removed,\" they said, adding focus is on a syllabus which is acceptable in rural areas. It can be safely said that \"the focus in this syllabus changes from use of condoms to abstinence,\" the sources said. The syllabus would be framed in a more \"appropriate\" manner. The policy would also be flexible and states can also affect changes according to local needs. \"In fact in the revised module, Jharkhand and Bihar have prepared syllabus closest to the earlier ones,\" the sources said. The new syllabus would be finalised by the end of October after the states hold extensive consultations with teachers, NGOs and other stakeholders. If the stakeholders make any valid points, they would also be incorporated by the respective states. States like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat had raised objections to the content of the earlier syllabus.

Hindi row turns ugly in Nepal

KATHMANDU: The raging row in Nepal sparked by the vice-president taking his oath of office in Hindi last week turned into war on Tuesday with the rift between the hill people and Indian-origin plains community widening and protesters from both sides going on the rampage. Nearly three dozen vehicles were vandalised in the capital and the Terai plains, while closures were called in border towns. Ignoring lawmakers\' appeals to maintain harmony and national unity, angry crowds kept up demonstrations here as well as in southern districts, burning tyres and the effigy of vice-president Parmanand Jha for the sixth consecutive day. They are demanding either the Indian-origin official\'s resignation or a fresh oath-taking in Nepali instead of Hindi used by him last Wednesday. Eight student organisations, which had begun the protests last week They are demanding either the Indian-origin official\'s resignation or a fresh oath-taking in Nepali instead of Hindi used by him last Wednesday. Eight student organisations, which had begun the protests last week branding Jha an anti-national for taking his oath in a language identified as the national tongue of India, said they would call off their stir on Tuesday out of deference to the supreme court. But the issue snowballed with Indian-origin youngsters now taking up cudgels on embattled Jha\'s behalf. Madhesi youths began retaliatory public demonstrations, saying Jha had done nothing wrong and condemned the \"dictatorial\" demand for a fresh oath. While anti-Hindi protesters shut down transport and educational institutions in Nawalparasi district, Madhesis called a counter-closure in Parsa. The controversy reached Nepal\'s supreme court after a nationalistic lawyer, Bal Krishna Neupane, filed a writ, calling Jha\'s swearing-in unconstitutional and asking for him to be barred from office till he took the oath again in Nepali.Judge Damodar Prasad Sharma has asked Jha\'s office to explain within a week why he took the oath in Hindi. However, the judge rejected the call to bar the official from his office or to slap a similar show-cause notice on newly elected President Ram Baran Yadav.

Threats cast shadow on Olympics

BEIJING: Just over a week before the Beijing Olympics, a militant Islamic group\'s claims of responsibility for bombings in China have fueled unease about security The government has assured its people and the Olympic community that heavy security will ensure secure games. But its clampdown has smothered a broad array of groups, many with grievances against the government but without a history of violence. Among the potential troublemakers Chinese security specialists have identified are Tibetan separatists, who staged occasionally violent protests last spring; members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and unemployed workers. Stirring the latest concerns were videotaped threats purporting to be from an Islamic militant group. They surfaced last week in the name of the Turkistan Islamic Party. In it, hooded men stood in camouflage fatigues with Kalashnikovs and claimed responsibility for explosions in four cities in western China in recent months, including two bus bombings last week in Kunming city. One militant, identified by the Washington-based monitoring group IntelCenter as commander Seyfullah, warned athletes and spectators \"particularly the Muslims\" to stay away. \"Our aim is to target the most critical points related to the Olympics. We will try to attack Chinese central cities severely using the tactics that have never been employed,\" he said. Chinese police immediately played down the threat, saying the explosions in Chinese cities claimed by the group were not the work of terrorists. Still Beijing is being emptied of political critics, underground Christian organizers and ordinary Chinese who come to the capital to protest government injustices. Plainclothes security agents surprised rights campaigner Hou Wenzhuo at a cafe on May 30, putting a hood over her head and holding her in an undisclosed detention center for 17 days. \"The government is worried that this \'human rights torch\' will detract attention from China\" and the Olympics, Hou said. \"They didn\'t beat me, but there are different kinds of intimidation.\"

Welsh-Sikh teenager wins right to wear kada to school

LONDON: An Anglo Indian teenager has won a landmark victory in the British High Court upholding her right to wear the kada to school as a symbol of her Sikh faith. Tuesday\'s victory for Sarika Watkins-Singh, who is half Welsh and half-Sikh, is being seen as groundbreaking as it sets a new benchmark for religious expression in public space. The British ruling comes just four years after France banned the conspicuous display of symbols of faith such as Christian crucifixes, Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans in schools in an attempt to preserve its famously secular ethos. But the British High Court judge ruled that Singh\'s Welsh school had breached her religious and racial rights and unfairly burdened the teenager\'s freedom of religious expression. Within moments of her victory, Singh said she was delighted she could attest to "being a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl". She said, in a markedly Welsh accent, ""I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it\'s marvellous to know that the long journey I\'ve been on has finally come to an end. I\'m so happy to know that no one else will go through what my family and I have gone through". The kada judgement is expected to pave the way for similar cases in western Europe, with several British schools banning the crucifix, the hijab , and the yarmulke as overtly religious symbols of faith. Legal experts said that Singh\'s High Court triumph appeared to challenge the "confining" interpretation of secularism, more common on the European continent. Singh will now be able to return to her school in south Wales wearing the kada . The teenager was excluded from school in November 2007 for breaking its "no jewellery" rule. She is the only Sikh in the 600-strong school. During her hearing, the court was told that the bangle was as potent a symbol of faith to Singh as it was to English cricketer Monty Panesar, who is also a devout Sikh and wears the bangle for every game. The teenager had told teachers at her all-girls school that she would not take off the kada because it was a reminder to her to behave well. She was suspended after the governing body ruled she was not allowed to wear the symbol. Singh was supported in her fight for freedom of religious expression by the civil rights group Liberty, which argued her school had breached race relations, equality and human rights laws. Liberty said the school\'s decision to exclude the teenager contravened a 25-year-old decision by the Law Lords – Britain\'s highest court – to allow Sikh children to wear items representing their faith to school, including turbans school. Singh\'s lawyer, Anna Fairclough, said Tuesday\'s judgement was one of "common sense (making) clear that you must have a very good reason before you interfere with someone\'s religious freedom and ethnic identity. No such reason was forthcoming in this case". The lawyer added "It\'s a shame that each generation has to fight the same battles. This battle was already fought 25 years ago and Sarika shouldn\'t have had to go through that again. Our great British traditions of religious tolerance and race equality have been rightly upheld today. The courts made clear that schools schools should protect pupils from being bullied and not ostracise them for expressing their beliefs." Singh\'s mother, Sanita, said she was extremely proud of her daughter for standing up for her faith. Commentators said Singh\'s case had echoes of another recent fight by a Christian pupil Lydia Playfoot, who made an unsuccessful challenge in the High Court against her school\'s prohibition on chastity rings. Overtly religious symbols of faith have become a hotly-contested issue in Britain and other western European countries with large multi-religious minority communities. Germany, Belgium, France and Holland have disparate but more stringent rules on conspicuous display of religious symbols in schools and government offices. But many believe the British kada judgement may go some way towards tempering the trend towards prescribing the limits of religious expression.

Voice of India 2007 winner Ishmeet dies in Maldives

New Delhi: The winner of Star TV show Voice of India 2007 Ishmeet Singh died in Maldives on Tuesday evening.Sources say that he drowned in a swimming pool."It is very unfortunate and I came from Gajendra Singh about this incident. I am absolutely shocked," says singer Shaan.Ishmeet Singh Sodhi belonged to Ludhiana in Punjab. After he became the Voice of India, he said, "I am not a trained singer, yet I managed to reach this far. It makes me very happy. However, I never expected to win this show," says Ishmeet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama Web site removes `surge\' from Iraq problem

Obama Web site removes `surge\' from Iraq problem

Woman Army officer alleges \'harassment\' by seniors

Woman Army officer alleges \'harassment\' by seniors

Agreement will not impinge on strategic programme: PM

Agreement will not impinge on strategic programme: PM

Monday, July 14, 2008

26th batch leaves for Amarnath hill shrine

26th batch leaves for Amarnath hill shrine

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sikh as PM a non-issue: Badal

Jalandhar (PTI): Shiromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being a Sikh was a non-issue and his party would toe the NDA line during the trust vote on the nuke issue in the Lok Sabha.

\"Don\'t drag me into non-issues like the Prime Minister being a Sikh,\" he told reporters here when asked whether his party would vote against India\'s first Sikh Prime Minister during the confidence vote.

\"SAD is a constituent of the NDA and we will follow the stand taken by it,\" the Punjab Chief Minister said.

Badal remarks came amid reports that some Sikh bodies have approached the Akal Takht for a directive to community\'s MPs to support the Prime Minister during the trust vote.

It may be recalled that the party had supported former Prime Minister I K Gujral, a Punjabi, and did not field any candidate against him from Jalandhar constituency.

The SAD had also supported Gaini Zail Singh, a nominee of the Congress for the post of the President, as he was a Sikh.

Stampede in Puri again; one dead, 3 injured

Stampede in Puri again; one dead, 3 injured

4 civilians die in bus ambush by LTTE

4 civilians die in bus ambush by LTTE

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Educational TV channel eyes Punjab schools

Educational TV channel eyes Punjab schools

CBI clarifies on case against Mayawati

CBI clarifies on case against Mayawati

Kirpan-Wearing Sikh Forced to Leave Chuck E. Cheese

A Sikh wearing a visible kirpan was asked to leave Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Bakersfield, Calif., July 1, by a manager who told him children were becoming intimidated by his sword.

Daljeet Singh, who has gone to that same Chuck E. Cheese for more than 20 years with his children, told India-West he was baffled by the incident.

Akalis for N-deal, but will vote against govt

NEW DELHI: Coming to terms with political realities, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has said that there is no contradiction in its supporting the nuclear deal but opposing the UPA government during a trust vote in Parliament.

The second part of the party\'s stand - that it would oppose the government - came on Thursday, perhaps after a careful review of its earlier support to the deal, which was also construed as the party\'s eight Lok Sabha members abstaining or even voting for the government.

\"The deal is good because the country is facing an energy crisis. In Punjab, for instance, we cannot give six hours of electricity to the farmers every day. Industries in the state are getting closed,\" SAD parliamentary party leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said.

\"But that does not mean that we have forgotten what the Congress has done to the Sikhs. We will definitely vote against the government during a trust vote,\" he said, adding that a formal decision would be taken on July 15 after the meeting of the party\'s apex body. SAD, a religio-political party, draws inspiration from the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC).

The Akali leader said as an independent political party, SAD was free to have an independent view on the nuclear deal even if it was a part of NDA. He said their support for the deal had nothing to do with the Prime Minister being a Sikh. \"The PM is a Sikh but he belongs to the Congress. We can never forgive the Congress for what it has done to the Sikhs. The PM\'s apology for 1984 does not make a difference to our position,\" Dhindsa clarified.

Reminded that Shiv Sena, also a part of NDA, had favoured Pratibha Patil as President because she is a Maharashtrian, the Akali leader said that \"Maharashtirans never underwent anything like the Sikhs\" and, therefore, the two cases were different.

According to SAD, the UPA government should have \"solved\" the nuclear deal issue much earlier without letting the situation blow into \"such a massive crisis\". \"I personally feel that the communists have been consistent in their opposition to the deal while the SP has changed colours many times. We are getting to know that a lot of extraneous factors have driven the SP stand and it is not good,\" he said.

Spanish police apologises to Sikh for removing turban

Chandigarh, July 12: A London-based Sikh NRI has secured an apology from the Spanish Police after he was allegedly forced to remove his turban during security checking at an airport in that country.
Jaswant Singh Judge, who was in Chandigarh on Friday, said the incident had occurred on March 12 this year when he and his wife were returning to England after a week-long vacation in Tenerife, Spain.

\"We were placing our hand luggage on scanner belt, when we were approached by a security guard who asked me to remove my turban. I explained to him that I am a Sikh and my turban is an integral part of my faith and I am not supposed to take it off. But he called his senior who also insisted on removing the turban,\" he said.

Judge said that when all attempts to convince them failed and the flight was about to leave, he was left with no alternative other than removing the turban.

He said Lee Scott, MP from Ilford North in London, took up his case with the Spanish embassy and the Interior Ministry of Spain.

The Spanish police has finally apologised to him and issued instructions to consider religious feelings of Sikhs during security check at airports, he said.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

India rejects reports of attack on consulate in Afghanistan

India rejects reports of attack on consulate in Afghanistan

US welcomes India\'s decision to move ahead with nuke deal

US welcomes India\'s decision to move ahead with nuke deal

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