Akash Soni, Zee Media Correspondent from Nairobi
Monday, September 30, 2013
Akash Soni, Zee Media Correspondent from Nairobi
The man who saved 40 lives talks to Zee Media in Nairobi
He saved 40 lives in the Nairobi mall. When you give him the credit he cutely smiles and points his finger upwards saying it is Him who did it, not him. He tries to give credit to others but the survivors, 40 of them, say – if he had not been there, perhaps Al Shabaab militants would have butchered them as well.
37 year old Satpal Singh is a Sikh - a Kenyan of Indian origin. He shared his experience with Zee Media. No amount of words can describe his humility, bravery beyond ordinary, a shining example of unflinching faith in the face of cowardly butchery by the terrorists.
As booby traps, bombs and blood are cleaned from the Westgate Mall here in Nairobi, Satpal Singh narrates to Zee Media the ordeal of more than 1000 people who were trapped inside the mall on the fateful four days.
Normal human reaction would have been to escape as grenades exploded and men, women and children fell to sprays of bullets. But Satpal tells Zee Media he never thought about running because Sikh religion does not teach you to run. I hold an incredulous expression; I cannot believe my ears as he says even his first reaction was not to run. So, Sikh teachings overcame the primeval survivor instinct to flee even in the face of danger? Intellectualise if you will, is his reply in a few words, but for him it is like this. “He will take care of me. He does his work, I do mine. It is His job to save me, then why should I be worried.”He was face to face with a terrorist who shot twice at him but Satpal cheated death, the bullets barely missed him.
I met many survivors - many refused to talk on camera; we understood it was a trauma they would rather avoid. What does Satpal feel when he looks back at the terrorist attack that claimed 67 lives? "I feel I could have done more," he says. So, is there no feeling of accomplishment? "No, we could have saved so many more lives and anyways there was an ex-British officer who was there. He said - you are a Sikh, a warrior, let`s join forces and get people out. We did what we could but still many lives were lost!"
No hatred for terrorists. No big words. No ego.
There is so much to learn from Satpal Singh. I have interviewed many people as we journalists do, but I have never felt so small, so inferior as a man as I did standing and clicking a photo with Satpal. And Satpal thanks - you have given many of us journalists and Indians and Kenyans a reason to believe that faith can indeed move mountains.
A man who lives the teachings of his Guru "Chidiyon se mein Baaz Ladaoon, Gidran to mein Sher Banoon, Sava Lakh se ek Ladaun, Tabhi Gobind Singh Naam Kahaoon."
with thanks : Zee News : LINK
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Thursday, September 26, 2013
"People keep asking me what it feels like to have been assaulted in a hate crime. Honestly, I can't come up with a better response than simply "gratitude."I'm thankful for a few reasons. If they had attacked me any more violently, I may not be awake right now to tell my story. If they had attacked me even half an hour earlier, they would have harmed my wife and one-year-old son. And if they had attacked me anywhere else, I may not have had bystanders there to save me. I recall my assailants shouting slurs like "Osama" and "terrorist" before grabbing my beard. My most vivid and unexpected memory actually occurred after I was punched and thrown to the ground. I remember lying on the ground,waiting for their kicks and punches to stop”.
“Even more important to me than my attackers being caught is that they are taught. My tradition teaches me to value justice and accountability, and it also teaches me love, compassion and understanding. It's a tough situation. I care about the people in my local community. I want the streets to be safe for my young son, but at the same time, I am not comfortable with the idea of putting more young teenagers from my neighborhood on the fast track to incarceration. This incident, while unfortunate, can help initiate a local conversation to create greater understanding within the community”.
“So today, my response is gratitude. Tomorrow my response will be gratitude, as well. To the nurse, to the elderly man and to the other good Samaritans who came to my aid; to my Harlem community, my Columbia community and my Sikh community; and for my role as husband, father, doctor, American, teacher, advocate and neighbor. This gratitude enables my wife and I to remain optimistic that our son will never have to go through what I just experienced”
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
United Sikhs has initiated a petition drive and plans to initiate a boycott with the aim of getting the owners of a Hollywood, Calif., restaurant – Pikey Café and Bar – to remove portraits of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh from the establishment’s walls.
“Our religion is very against drinking. Hanging pictures of our guru where people are drinking is very disrespectful,” Karam Grewal, who alerted this publication to the issue, told India-West. “Images of Guru Gobind Singh are only found in gurdwaras or in private homes,” the Indian American said, adding that Pikey has tried to create an Indo-British feel to its Maharaja room, where portraits of maharajahs hang alongside pictures of Sikh saints.
Grewal said that in the past week, she has contacted the bar multiple times. On the first occasion, she spoke to Noam – he only gave Grewal his first name – who said the portraits would be taken down. On subsequent occasions, Grewal was told to contact the Pikey parent company, Committed, Inc., founded by New York hotelier Sean MacPherson.
“They’re being passive aggressive. They have said they will take them down, but have not told us when. They realize that they have hurt a lot of people, but they’re not doing anything about it,” she said, adding that Pikey’s managers should close that part of the restaurant or at least cover the portraits until the matter is settled.
Committed, Inc. owns eight restaurants in Southern California, including two branches of the Swingers’ Diner, Bar Lubitsch, Jones Hollywood, El Carmen, and the Roger Room. MacPherson is also owner of the Bowery Hotel and the Jane Hotel, and recently opened the Marlton, all in New York. His estimated net worth is $800 million.
MacPherson was unreachable for comment at the Committed, Inc.’s West Hollywood headquarters. Abraham Beltran, controller at Committed, Inc., had not returned several calls or an e-mail for comment by press time.
Manmeet Singh, legal director for United Sikhs, told India-West that his organization would initiate a boycott of MacPherson’s vast empire if the portraits are not removed within the week.
“In the teachings of Sikh religion, all intoxicants are banned,” he said. “To put up pictures of Guru Gobind Singh, and other Sikh gurus, in an environment that promotes alcohol is utterly disrespectful,” Singh stated.
with thanks : IndiaWest : LINK : for detailed news.
A Jalandhar resident, who texted offensive jokes on Sikhs to a member of the community, found himself in a legal tangle.
CHANDIGARH: Next time you crack a joke on Sikhs, think twice. A Jalandhar resident, who texted offensive jokes on Sikhs to a member of the community, found himself in a legal tangle and had to spend two weeks in jail.
Complainant Narinder Singh, who heads a Sikh organisation in Jalandhar, accused Atul Kumar of hurting his religious sentiments “by sending jokes that downgraded Sikhs”. “ Kumar had texted offensive jokes to Narinder several times. Though Narinder remained silent initially, he decided to meet Kumar when the latter texted him 15 jokes together.
He even told Kumar that the messages were hurting him. But an unfazed Kumar didn’t stop sending such jokes to him. A disappointed Narinder filed a police complaint when Kumar sent him an objectionable picture of Asaram Bapu with girls,” Ravinderpal S. Sandhu, assistant commissioner of police, Jalandhar ( west), told M AIL TODAY . The police arrested Kumar on September 5 under section 295 ( A) and IT Act. He was released on bail two days ago.
“ I was forced to complain against Kumar. He continued to text offensive jokes to me though I requested him not to do so. One day I received 15 jokes that were in bad taste and hurt my religious sentiments,” Narinder said.
Sikh organisations have termed the incident “ an eye opener” to others and warned that cases will be registered against those crack jokes on Sikhs.
with thanks : Yahoo News : LINK
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
France's Sikh community is ramping up a campaign for the turban to be allowed in state-funded schools amid moves to reinforce a 2004 law banning pupils from wearing religious symbols.
The contentious issue pits the cherished French principle of secularity in public life and institutions against the essence of the Sikh religion, which requires followers to keep long hair as a mark of their faith and piety and a turban to cover the tresses, worn as a bun on the top of the head.
France's Education Minister Vincent Peillon has unveiled a new charter on secularity which must be displayed in government-funded schools explaining in child-friendly language why the Jewish skullcap and the Star of David, the Sikh turban, crucifixes and the Islamic veil are taboo.
But the 30,000-strong Sikh community in France argue that they are the victims of ignorance.
They see the recent official emphasis on secularism as being primarily the result of opposition to the Islamic veil and broader tensions with the largest Muslim community in Europe, and say they have been caught in the crossfire.
"We are currently in talks with (Interior Minister) Manuel Valls to explain our unique situation and to be exempted from this law," said Kashmir Singh, a member of the management committee of the largest gurdwara or Sikh temple in France, located in the Paris suburb of Bobigny.
"We have also met Manmohan Singh asking him to put pressure on France for justice to be done," he said, referring to the Indian prime minister who is also Sikh.
Singh added: "Our children are dropping out from school or being expelled for keeping the faith. The cross, the veil and the kippa are not mandatory and are symbols. But the kesh (long hair) and the pagri (turban) are non-negotiable. They are not symbols but a sacred, inherent and intrinsic part of our religion."
with thanks : expatica : LINK : for detailed news.
New York, Sep 24: A Sikh professor who was attacked over the weekend by a large group of teenagers shouting "get Osama" and "terrorist" wants to show core American and Sikh values are the same.
"It's clear that the associations between beards and turbans and terrorism are devastating for an entire community," said Prabhjot Singh, assistant professor at Columbia University, who was attacked Saturday evening in Harlem, New York City.
The teenagers surrounded him on bicycles, pulling his beard and punching him. Shortly after the incident a Muslim woman was attacked a few blocks away.
"So I want to continue working to show that core American values are core Sikh values as well," said Singh. "Most importantly, I want it so that my one-year-old has nothing to fear in this neighbourhood."
State and federal law enforcement authorities in New York City are investigating the attack as an alleged hate crime, according to two community organisations, the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF) and the Sikh Coalition.
An ambulance rushed Singh to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he also works as a resident physician, SALDEF said.
Singh was hospitalised with displaced teeth, severe bruising and swelling, a small puncture in his elbow, and a possible fracture in his lower jaw. By Sunday evening, Singh was resting after surgery.
with thanks : IANS : LINK : for detailed news.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Akal Takht, the primary seat of Sikh religious authority, has banned the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in houses having liquor bars or where substances like tobacco, other intoxicants and halal meat are consumed.
This decision was taken at a meeting of the Sikh clergy at the Akal Takht secretariat in Amritsar on Tuesday.
Giving details about the decision, Akal Takht Jathedar (high priest) Giani Gurbachan Singh said keeping the Guru Granth Sahib in houses of Sikhs who had made liquor bars in their drawing rooms was tantamount to showing utter disrespect to the holy book, which is considered a living embodiment of Sikh gurus.
Besides liquor bars, the Sikh families using substances that are against the basic tenets of the religion have also been cautioned against keeping the holy book in their homes.
“Sikh families who consume ‘halal’ meat, smoke hookah, charas (hashish) and tobacco also can’t have the holy book in their homes. We also advise Sikhs to abstain from such practices. Else, religious action would be taken against them on receiving any such complaint or violation,” said Gurbachan.
The Takht has also banned placing Guru Granth Sahib or holding its prayers at samadhs or places which worship the dead. The Takht also banned printing of Guru Granth Sahib by anyone else but the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). In another decision, Sikh high priests on Wednesday declared SGPC member from Doda, Navtej Singh Kauni, as ‘Tankhayia’ (religious atonement).
with thanks : New Indian Express : LINK : for detailed news.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
The yatra to Hemkunt Sahib, a Sikh shrine in Uttarakhand, will resume on September 21 after the state government gave its nod to it, an official said on Friday.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today approved the yatra, state Minorities Commission Narinderjit Singh Bindra told PTI here.
The 19-km-trek-route has been repaired from Govind Ghat to Shri Hemkunt Sahib and three temporary bridges have been built for this year’s yatra, he said.
Meanwhile, Madan Singh, chairman of Shri Hemkunt Sahib Management Trust said, after consultations with other trustees, the first ‘Ardas’ (prayer) will be held on September 22 at Shri Hemkunt Sahib and the yatra will continue till October 10.
with thanks : TheHindu : LINK
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Another Victory for the Turban: Judge Apologizes to Sikh New Religious Attire and Headwear Policy Goes Into Effect in Michigan Courtrooms
Kalamazoo County, Michigan- UNITED SIKHS is humbled to announce another civil rights policy advocacy victory resulting in the modification of court procedures in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, to recognize the Sikh religious practices.
This has resulted from an incident involving Mr. Hardeep Singh (pictured), a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, who was accompanying his friend to the latter’s court hearing in the Kalamazoo County Probate Court on October 16, 2012. Suddenly, while seated in the courtroom the judge requested Mr Singh to remove his “hat”. All attempts to explain that it wasn’t a hat but a Sikh turban, an inseparable part of his Sikh identity were halted by the judge. Another couple’s effort to defend Mr Singh failed too.The judge asked Mr.Singh to either remove his “hat” or leave the courtroom. As any devout Sikh would have done, Mr. Singh chose to leave the courtroom.
UNITED SIKHS legal team filed a Civil Rights Complaint with the Department of Justice. After persistent advocacy, positive results have been achieved.
UNITED SIKHS would like to thank the DOJ Civil Rights Division, especially Attorney Michael Mule’ and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Michigan for handling this matter.
Mr.Hardeep Singh stated graciously, “I would like to thank UNITED SIKHS from the bottom of my heart. They stood up for my dignity and for the dignity of all Sikhs. My blessings and good wishes will always be with them.”
UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh said, “The Sikh community has been living in and is an integral part of Kalamazoo County for a long time. They believed that by now, their fellow citizens were already educated about who Sikhs were and the importance of their dastaar (Sikh turban). This incident came as a rude shock and Sikhs were appalled at the treatment meted out to one of their own by a giver of justice. The apology letter, the new nondiscrimination policy related to religious attire and headwear, the new complaint form and training for court staff are all steps in the right direction. The new policy and complaint form will benefit not only Sikhs, but also Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths who wear some sort of head covering or religious attire.”
Staff Attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Staff Attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Two Indian-Americans running a grocery store in the US state of Indiana have been shot dead by masked men during a robbery attempt, sending shock waves among the Sikh community in the country.
The victims have been identified as 55-year-old Jagtar Singh Bhatti from Preet Nagar in Jalandhar and 20-year-old Pawan Preet Singh from Munnan village in Hoshiarpur, according to the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA).
Two masked men shot and killed store owner Jagtar Singh, and his employee Pawan Preet at Middlebury Street in the northern Indiana city of Elkhart Thursday, NAPA executive director Satnam Singh Chahal said citing information received from the victims' families in India.
Jagtar Singh was running his grocery shop for the last seven years and was living with Palwinder Singh Bhatti.
According to another store employee Bill Sinclair, he was in the store's kitchen when he heard a noise like the pop of a firecracker.
Two girls standing outside told him that two men in masks ran from the store, and when he went inside, he saw Jagtar Singh and Pawan Preet had been shot.
Condemning the deadly attack, Chahal said due to the growing killings, the Sikh community is living under the shadow of fear and insecurity.
NAPA in a statement urged the US government to leave no stone unturned to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and property of NRIs.
with thanks : Hindustan Times : LINK
Friday, September 6, 2013
Patiala: The yatra of Hemkunt Sahib, a Sikh religious place in Uttarakhand, is likely to resume by later this month if the situation improves at the ground.
"The Shri Hemkunt Sahib Management Trust (SHSMT) and the Uttarakhand government have been contemplating to resume the yatra for a limited period of 10 to 15 days," vice-chairman of the trust Narinderjit Singh Bindra told a news agency over phone today.
Claiming that incessant rains have been delaying restoration work, Bindra said he would accompany Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to the spot next week to take stock of the situation and take a final call on the yatra.
Private helicopters could be pressed into service for the yatra so that pilgrims could pay their obeisance, he said, adding the temporary bridge over the Alaknanda river at Gobind Ghat had been constructed and the trek route thereon re-levelled for pedestrians.
The yatra was stopped in June after flash floods created havoc in the hilly areas of the state.
Hemkunt Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh meditated before his incarnation as the 10th Sikh guru, is one of the most revered places in the religion.
Every year, the doors of Hemkunt Sahib open for pilgrims from June 1 to October 5.
The Gurdwara located at an altitude of 4,632.96 metres (15,200.0 ft) remains closed during winter as environmental conditions are not suitable for pilgrimage.
with thanks : Zee News : LINK
New Delhi, Sep 5 (PTI) In the backdrop of a US Federal Court issuing summons to Sonia Gandhi over the 1984 anti-sikh riots issue, Congress MP from Punjab Jagmeet Brar today said the party president had never shielded anybody involved in the riots.
"Sonia Gandhi never ever shielded party leaders allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
with thanks : PTI : LINK
Gandhinagar, Sept 6: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will raise the issue of Sikh farmers in Kutch with his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi during his visit here on September 9. Badal will take part in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agricultural Summit where he has been invited as one of the premier guests.
Sources in Chandigarh said the two chief ministers will discuss the issue at length. Badal's Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government in Punjab had an issue with the Gujarat government's pursuing the farmers' case in the Supreme Court and wanted to settle it politically. The agitated farmers were of the opinion that the Gujarat government should not have appealed in the apex court against the high court's verdict given in their favour. They are now looking forward to the Badal-Modi talks.
with thanks : OneIndia : LINK : for detailed news.
A US federal court has issued summons against Congress party president Sonia Gandhi for shielding Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar and other party leaders allegedly involved in inciting attacks on Sikhs in November 1984.
The summons were issued after a complaint was lodged against Sonia Gandhi by a Sikh group.
The suit under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) accuses Gandhi of shielding and protecting Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and other Congress party leaders from being prosecuted for their alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
Almost 29 years after over 3,000 Sikhs were massacred in the Capital in the aftermath of the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, justice continues to elude the victims.
with thanks : sahara Samay : LINK : for detailed news.