NRI: Kirpan not allowed in Canadian court

Kirpan not allowed in Canadian court

Toronto: The kirpan issue is back in the news in Canada. In a country where courts have allowed Sikhs to wear kirpan in schools, police forces and public offices, and where an MP carries it inside Parliament, a Sikh man was not allowed to appear in court because of his kirpan. 

     Tejinder Sidhu, 25, who Monday went to a Calgary court to testify in a car accident case, was turned back by security guards because he was wearing a kirpan, a small dagger that Sikhs are mandated to carry by their religion.  

     Sidhu said: “I was asked by the court to testify in a fatal car accident case which I had witnessed. I had helped the victims out and called the police. So I was summoned by the court by subpoena to testify.” 

     He said before he entered the courthouse through a metal detector, he informed the security guard that he was wearing a kirpan. “He said I cannot enter the court with the kirpan. Either I have to remove it or go back. I was taken aback. I told him that Sikhs in Canada can carry the kirpan anywhere. But he didn’t budge,” he said. Sidhu said he tried to convince him that the Canadian Supreme Court had cleared all legal hurdles for Sikhs to carry the kirpan. “But it was all wasted on him. It was the most humiliating experience of my life,” he said. 

     After failing to convince the security guard, Sidhu wanted to have a word with his seniors.  “But he didn’t listen. Finally, I decided not to appear in the court. I told the guard to inform the judge that I was here, but you (guard) turned me back because of my kirpan,” Sidhu said. 

     Before leaving, Sidhu also warned him that there could be legal consequences for him for violating the court subpoena. 

     Sidhu said: “Why do Sikhs have to go through it again and again?

     The Supreme Court ruled in our favour in 2006. An MP wears a kirpan inside the House of Commons. The nation’s Parliament has recognized five Sikh symbols. So where is the problem?” Sidhu said he was determined to take the issue to the highest levels. 

     The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which moved a motion in the Canadian Parliament seven years ago for recognition of five Sikh symbols, criticised the security guard for not allowing Sidhu in the courthouse. 

     “Sikhs have been in Canada for over 100 years. Their kirpan is recognized and allowed inside the Supreme Court of Canada and even in the House of Commons. I don’t see why a public courthouse cannot be as understanding,” said Wayne Marston, an NDP MP and human rights critic. 

     He said the kirpan is one of five religious symbols, mandated to be worn at all times for baptized orthodox Sikh men and women. “If kirpans are not allowed in a courtroom, are we indirectly limiting practising Sikhs from being lawyers or judges?

     This type of discrimination must be stopped immediately,” the NDP leader said.

10 NRIs among 12 killed in Goa road crash

10 NRIs among 12 killed in Goa road crash

NRI and wife die on honeymoon with family

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Mumbai: It was a short holiday to one of the most beautiful holiday destinations – Goa. But it ended in tragedy for a newly wed couple. Nikunj Patel, a non-resident Indian (NRI) IT professional from Australia, had married Jeevangna Patel on January 10.  

     The Patel clan from the US, Paris and Australia had arrived for Nikunj-Jeevangna’s marriage at Mota Vaghchipa, a prosperous village in Pardi taluka, 25 km from Valsad. Thereafter, the family and the newly married couple had chartered a luxury bus for a brief holiday to Goa before returning to their respective adopted countries Jan 24, a weeping Pradeep Patel, one of the bereaved relatives, told IANS over phone from Mota Vaghchipa Thursday.

      The couple, who planned to settle in the US after marriage, was among the total of 13 victims, including nine expatriate Indians, two Gujaratis and two drivers in the Goa bus-tanker-truck collision, Wednesday. 

     The other deceased are: Neelam Patel, Anand Patel, Dhruv Patel (minor, US citizen), Nidhi Patel (minor, US citizen), Falguni Patel, Mamta Patel (all from Florida, US), Nilesh Patel (Paris) and Nikunj Patel (Australia). Mamta Patel and Shivam Patel were from Mota Vaghchippa village accompanying their visiting relatives. 

     “Neelam and Anand Patel were engaged in running a franchise of the well-known Subway fast food eatery in Florida. Nilesh Patel was engaged in running a family business in Paris,” Pradeep Patel said. He added that the relatives of the victims are expected to reach with the bodies late Thursday and the last rites shall be conducted in the village itself. 

     Eleven other members of the Patel clan sustained injuries, mainly burn injuries and fractures. They are recuperating in the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at Bambolim, 15 kms away from the Maharashtra-Goa border. 

     GMCH dean Dr. V. N. Jindal said that the autopsy was conducted on 11 victims’ bodies. Incidentally, the 1200-bed GMCH is the only major one on the 1000 km National Highway-17 between Mumbai-Manipal (Karnataka) equipped to handle big tragedies. 

      Jindal asserted that all the injured are now out of danger but since they have suffered fractures, may require varying period of hospitalization. The Goa police Thursday registered a case against the driver of the tanker carrying acid that was involved in the gruesome accident.

      The tanker bears Maharashtra registration No. MH-04 CA-1907. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Goa, G. P. Mhapne said that efforts are on to contact the tanker owners in Mumbai for further investigations. 

     The tragic accident, involving three large, fast-moving vehicles, occurred in the Western Ghats.

Andher Nagari: Women Unsafe in India

     Women Unsafe in India  Crime, especially against women, is getting worse     

      Over 32,000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7,500 dowry deaths and 36,500 molestation cases.

      These are the number of violent crimes reported in the country in 2006. Reported is the operative word here as it is very likely that many instances of crime — especially against women — go unreported in India. These are figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently. While Madhya Pradesh is worst off among the states, the national capital continues to hold on to its reputation of being the most unsafe city in India. Delhi takes the top slot for crimes ranging from murders and rapes to dowry deaths and abductions.

   It is a telling comment on a country’s law and order situation when its capital is a cauldron of crime. Instead of leading the way in tackling crime, Delhi only seems to do worse year after year. For instance, while the national crime rate (number of crimes per one lakh population) declined negligibly by .02 per cent in 2006, Delhi’s rate grew to 357.2, more than double the national average of 167.7.

   The most worrisome fact the report reflects is that rape is the fastest growing crime in the country today and as many as 18 women are assaulted in some form or the other every hour across India. Over the last few days, cases of rape and assault have made it to the headlines with alarming frequency. Mumbai watched as an ugly mob attacked women on new year’s eve. In Latur, a 14-year-old was raped and killed by four young men. In Konark, four men were charged with dragging a woman out of a bus and gangraping her.

   Equally horrific are news reports of foreign tourists being sexually assaulted. Recently, an American was molested in Pushkar, a British journalist raped in Goa, Canadian girls attacked in Kumarakom to list a few instances. Cut it whichever way you will, the fact is we in India simply do not know how to treat our women as human beings who have a right to dignity and safety. We love mouthing ‘atithi devo bhava’ but the many cases of crimes against foreign nationals hardly inspire the tourist. This could eventually hurt the prospects of foreign business in India. It is all very well for us to gloat over our economy’s growth rate and dream of achieving superpower status. But economic progress minus a secure law and order environment is not going to take us very far. An unsafe India will hurt us deeply in both the social and economic spheres.

TOI: Editorials and Articles.

      It was interesting to read the TOI justifying its publication of certain articles. You may call it the ‘editorial policy’

 “Where We Stand  

This newspaper champions liberalism in thought and practice  Gautam Adhikari            There’s a power point presentation circulating on the web. It expresses the fury of some readers at the Times of India for publishing in these columns an article by Ashis Nandy (January 8) that is severely critical of Narendra Modi and Gujaratis. It lampoons the Times, ridicules our journalists and ends by calling us a “banana newspaper”. I thought this might be a good opportunity to clarify to readers what this newspaper stands for and believes in, so that you know where we come from.

        But, first, some confusion needs to be cleared. One angry e-mailer calls Nandy’s article an “editorial”. It’s not. The slot you are now reading is reserved for those writing under their names, mostly outside contributors and occasionally members of our staff. Our “leader articles” or “editorials” are written for the double column to the left, and they are always unsigned. They represent the views of this newspaper and are written by a team of editorial writers who deliberate daily in an editorial conference to determine the paper’s position on a variety of issues and events that might be worth the paper’s comment. In other words, what people write under their names is their business; as long as a particular piece is worth offering to you, in our considered judgment, as a viewpoint, we publish it. That viewpoint may not coincide with our position on a subject but we print it regardless.

        We take this stance because we are a ‘liberal’ newspaper in the classical sense of the term. Our job is to offer you a wide variety of opinions to help you reflect and form your own views. When we want to express opinions as a newspaper, we do so in our editorials. Thus, we chose to publish Nandy’s and Praful Bidwai’s (January 2) critical views of Modi for much the same reason we carried columns favourable to Modi written by Swapan Dasgupta (December 30) and Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar (January 6). Our own take on the Gujarat elections we elaborated in a long editorial published on December 24.
   Modi is an important politician. That importance has if anything increased after the recent state elections in which he scored a resounding victory. Therefore, his style of politics deserves comment from persons who we think are important commentators or public intellectuals. Each one of the writers mentioned above is a renowned public intellectual; that’s why their views ought to be shared with you in all their variety. The trouble is that extremists, of the right and the left, prefer to zero in on only those views that go against their own to tar an
entire newspaper as biased or, worse, motivated.
   Yes, we have a motive. It’s to stick openly and steadfastly to liberalism. Unfortunately, the political landscape in India leaves little room these days for the play of liberalism as we understand it. Our liberalism compels us to be socially tolerant and economically as well as politically ‘free to choose’. That’s why we are neither socialists nor extreme nationalists. And that’s why we support market forces, which are all about choice, while continuing to believe in an effective role for the state as regulator, facilitator and provider of security for life and property so that, with good governance, we can lead peaceful and prosperous lives in an interconnected world.
   Strangely, in an age when you might presume it’s improbable in a modern democracy, it’s actually difficult to belong to our bandwidth in the Indian political spectrum. It isn’t only because the extremes of a fiercely Hindu nationalist right and an obtusely Neanderthal left, with the Congress party being a muddle in the middle, leave little space for reasoned debate along classically liberal lines. In fact, a party professing market-oriented liberalism can even be termed unconstitutional. As we have argued in an editorial next to this article, you cannot under the Constitution register a party that debunks socialism or, for that matter, secularism.
   A typical example of our kind of liberalism happened in 1977 in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. A neo-Nazi group wanted to parade through the town centre arousing the wrath of others, especially members of the Jewish community, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. The Nazis claimed the right of free speech guaranteed by the US Constitution. And in their defence sprang the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the initiative being taken by David Goldberger, an ACLU attorney who happened to be a Jew. The ACLU won the case on behalf of the Nazis.
   All that Goldberger wanted to emphasise was that freedom of speech must be defended, even when the beneficiaries of such defence were not the kind of individuals we would associate with out of choice. And that’s the kind of liberalism we in the Times subscribe to. So, we defend the right of Taslima Nasreen to write what she likes, perhaps angering Muslim fundamentalists, as well as M F Husain to depict Saraswati as he wants, infuriating Hindu bigots, while impressing upon the state not to interfere by banning expressions of art, which are viewpoints. If people don’t like what they hear or read or see, they have the option not to. Simply don’t buy the book or visit the exhibition where any expression offensive to your taste is being depicted.
   Similarly, angry e-mailer sir, you don’t have to buy the Times of India if you find it a repulsive banana newspaper, whatever that means. Just don’t try to intimidate us by ridicule or threats, though we shall defend your right to do so till we cease publishing.”