– Bhai Gurdeep Singh Khera’s Transfer to Punjab Jail from Karnataka One Step Closer

Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare

Amritsar Sahib, Punjab, 20 November 2014. Bhai Gurdeep Singh is one of the imprisoned Singhs whose release was sought by Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa last year during the Amb Sahib morcha. Although at that time, he could not be released or transferred to Punjab, his transfer seems more likely at this point.

R P Singh and Parminder Singh from Sikh Relief and Professor Mehar Singh Malhi, met the DIG of Punjab’s prisons – Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar.

The subject matter of the meeting was the transfer and long overdue release of Gurdeep Singh Khera, currently lodged in Gulbarga Jail in Karnataka and who has been languishing in India’s jails for 24 years.

According to Karnataka State officials, the necessary paperwork to transfer Gurdeep Singh to a prison in Punjab and therefore, take one step closer to his eventual freedom, has been ready and prepared for sometime and is awaiting final approval from Punjab’s Home Ministry.

DIG Jakhar is the same man who was inspector of Patiala Jail, when the order to hang Balwant Singh Rajoana was issued in 2012 and he was the only one who took a stand against the order by refusing to allow his execution.

Mr Jakhar assured our team that he would get the Principal Secretary of Prisons to pass Gurdeep Singh’s paperwork through to completion and that by next week we could expect a positive outcome on his transfer to a Punjabi prison and, more importantly, the first step to his long awaited journey home.

The Tribune – Akal Takht, SGPC pass the buck on calendar row; Pakistan gurdwara panel willing to take initiative for resolving the controversy

Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20. Though the SGPC and Akal Takht today said in unison that the confusion caused by Nanakshahi calendar row should end, they appeared to be passing the buck on initiating corrective measures. However, both of them didn’t rule out the possibility of further amendments to the Nanakshahi calendar.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “We would certainly like this confusion to end so that we don’t have to change Gurpurb dates in future. We have also kept a provision for making further amendments.”

He, however, said they had received no suggestions till now. He also made it clear that the two-member panel comprising SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, which was constituted for making amendments to the calendar a few years ago, would have to take the initiative, if any changes were to be made.

Makkar threw the ball in Akal Takht’s court saying “whatever Akal Takht decides on the issue will be acceptable to us. We have always acknowledged the supremacy of Akal Takht.”

On the other hand, the newly constituted team of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) is contemplating to hold a “World Sikh Convention” at Nankana Sahib to deliberate on the issue.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from Pakistan, PSGPC member Gopal Singh said they were to hold the convention alongside Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations early this month, but could not do so because some key Sikh leaders from Indian and Germany could not reach Pakistan due to visa issues.

He said they would soon announce a fresh date for the convention.

The Sikh leaders in Pakistan plan to extend an invitation to the Jathedars of all five Takhts, besides key Sikh organisations like the SGPC and the DSGMC for the convention.

Former PSGPC president Bishen Singh said, “We may be having our differences with the SGPC over the calendar issue, but we would welcome them to air their views.

We will also be sending invites to Sikh leaders in countries like the USA, the UK, Canada and even Afghanistan. We wish to bridge the divide in the community and work for the unity of Sikhs across the globe.”

The PSGPC follows the original Nanakshahi calendar, while the SGPC follows its amended version.

In the past, the SGPC and the PSGPC had been at loggerheads over the Nanakshahi calendar row.

Giani Gurbachan Singh, Akal takht jathedar”We will like this confusion to end so that we don’t have to change Gurpurb dates in future. We have also kept a provision for making further amendments.”

Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC president “Whatever Akal Takht decides will be acceptable to us. We have always acknowledged the supremacy of Akal Takht.”

The Hindu – The ‘missing’ scientific temper

‘Politicians encourage godmen as they will lose influential vote banks if they act against them’

Pheroze L. Vincent

New Delhi, 21 November 2014. An absence of scientific temper in government has facilitated the mushrooming of opportunistic preachers who have attained cult-like status among the lower castes and the poor, say India’s leading rationalists.

The fanatical resistance put up by the “commandos” of self-styled godman Rampal in Hisar is a symptom of the malaise encouraged by politicians for electoral gains, they explained.

“He [Rampal] has used pseudo intellectualism to impress the lower castes looking for dignity and importance.

There are others like the Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda and the Radha Soami Satsang in Punjab and Haryana who have found success by these methods,” said Mangalore-based Narendra Nayak, the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations.

Using poet Kabir’s legacy that appeals to both Hindus and Muslims, Rampal was able to gather a number of followers, Jaipur-based B.L. Yadav, the president of The Rationalist Society, said.

“Kabirpanthis, who are spread all over north and central India, have been influenced by Rampal’s teachings and many are convinced that he is the reincarnation of Kabir. Politicians encourage these godmen as they will lose influential vote banks if they act against them,” he said.

He said the state was guilty of dereliction of the fundamental duty of promoting scientific temper.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about Ganesha in Mumbai last month saying, ‘There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.’ Scientific temper does not exist in the government,” Mr. Yadav added.

Prabir Ghosh, the general secretary of the Science and Rationalists Association of India, advocated direct action. “We challenge godmen to do a miracle. If we can’t prove that it is a mere trick and not a miracle, then we offer Rs. 25 lakh to the godman,” he told The Hindu.

Hounslow West – Earls Court – Wimbledon – Farringdon – Ealing Broadway – Southall – 11 October 2014

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The Tribune – Will consult Kashmiri separatists before talks with India: Sharif

Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has blamed India for adopting inflexible approach towards the Kashmir issue. Ignoring India’s opposition, Sharif today said Pakistan would hold dialogue with Kashmiri separatists to take them into confidence before engaging in peace talks with India.

Speaking at a meeting of Kashmir Council in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Thursday, Sharif said he would consult Hurriyat leaders prior to entering negotiations with India.

“It is our fundamental belief that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue. My government started dialogue with India but it cancelled the scheduled talks between the foreign secretaries,” he said.

New Delhi called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan scheduled to be held on August 25 after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri separatists.

Sharif’s comments came ahead of the SAARC summit next week in Nepal which will be attended by him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In September, Sharif raised the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly session invoking indirect response from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. The Indian External Affairs Minister gave a more pointed reply reiterating Indian position that “Kashmir is an integral part of India”.

Calling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in the Muzaffarabad meeting, Sharif said all issues should be resolved through negotiations and without the use of force.

“Many civilians and security personnel were injured during the recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control. We don’t want to use power,” said Sharif.

He also expressed concern over the silence of the UN and international community on the issue and urged them to take initiative for the resolution of the dispute according to UN Security Council’s resolutions and the aspiration of Kashmiri people.

“Pakistan has always kept Kashmir issue at the forefront in all world peace forums,” Sharif said.

Shunning India’s accusations related to Pakistan harbouring militants, Sharif said: “Pakistan is not providing sanctuaries to anti-India elements.

India has propaganda against us that we are harbouring terrorists in order to cover up their wrongdoings in Kashmir,” he said. Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism and is doing everything to eliminate it, he said. (With agency inputs)

BBC News – India: Parents held for ‘honour killing’ of Delhi woman

Thursday, 20 November 2014. Police in the Indian capital, Delhi, have arrested the parents of a woman who they say was killed for marrying a man against her family’s wishes.

Bhawna Yadav was allegedly strangled and later cremated without her family informing the police.

The woman’s parents are yet to comment, but police say they have confessed.

The case has shocked many because even though “honour crimes” are common in India, they rarely involve middle-class educated families in big cities.

Bhawna Yadav, 21, was allegedly killed by her parents in their apartment in Delhi early on Monday, and then cremated at the family’s native village in Alwar in Rajasthan, police said.

Last week, she married Abhishek Seth, 24, against her parent’s wishes, police said.

Mr Seth works as a computer programmer at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House), while she was a university student.

They belonged to different castes and met at a party, reports say.

Mr Seth’s mother told The Indian Express newspaper that the two families met on 14 November after her son came home with his newly married bride.

Bharati Seth said Ms Yadav’s parents were angry and that she tried to “reason with them that the couple had got their marriage registered in court”.

“Since both were adults, they had a right to do so,” she added.

Reports said Ms Yadav’s parents requested that she should be sent back home so they could organise a wedding with “proper ceremonies”, and told Mr Seth to take back his bride on 16 November.

Police said when Ms Yadav returned home, her parents allegedly told her that they had got her “engaged” to another man.

Next morning, Mr Seth’s family received a call from a relative of Ms Yadav informing them that she had died.

“There was a fight between the parents and the daughter after which they strangled her. They initially told us that their daughter’s death was caused by a snake bite, but when we probed further, they confessed to the crime,” senior Delhi police official Suman Goyal told BBC Hindi.

There are no statistics on the number of “honour” killings but, according to one study, hundreds of people are killed each year for falling in love or marrying against their families’ wishes in a country where many still prefer arranged marriages within their own caste.

In 2011, India’s Supreme Court said those involved in honour killings should face the death penalty. – Day 7: Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa Continues Hunger Strike Despite Health Issues

Sikh24 Editors

Ambala, Haryana, 20 November 2014. Having faced critical health issues last year during his hunger strike, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa has continued to raise his voice for the freedom of Sikh political prisoners, now from Gurdwara Lakhnaur Sahib in Haryana.

He is facing some health issues, but he continues to be steadfast about his demands for the release of Singhs.

A memorandum was given earlier today to the Deputy Commissioner with a list of Singhs who have completed their jail terms but have not been released. The Deputy Commissioner is expected to take the memorandum to Rajnath Singh, senior leader of the Bhartiya Janta Party and Union Home Minister for the current Government.

Earlier today, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa stated that there are some people who are trying to malign his name and associate him with non-Sikh organizations.

“My mission is only to seek the release of imprisoned Singhs, I have no association with anyone besides Guru Granth Sahib and Guru’s sangat,” said Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.

He said that to fulfill his mission, he has approved BJP senior leaders because the “Panthik” Government of Punjab has to this day not shown any interest in the well-being of imprisoned Singhs.

A picture had surfaced online today, in which Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was shown at an RSS conference. Through Gurpreet Singh (Guri Hans), Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa clarified that he had only gone there to meet with Rajnath Singh, with the intention of giving him the list of imprisoned Singhs.

Bhai Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed visited Bhai Gurbaksh Singh earlier today, along with a number of Sikhs from Punjab.

Sikh24 editors can be reached at

The Tribune – Revive Nanakshahi calendar: Sikh bodies

Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19. The Sikh clergy’s decision to change the date for celebrating Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary from December 28 to January 7 has revived the Nanakshahi calendar row. Some organisations have questioned the move while others have renewed the demand for reverting to the original Nanakshahi calendar.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, SGPC member, said it was time that the controversy was resolved once and for all. “The community must decide whether it wants to follow the Bikrami calendar or the original Nanakshahi calendar. You cannot hold deliberations every year to decide Gurpurb dates,” she said.

Bibi Kiranjot said the two-member panel comprising SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa had ignored technical aspects while amending the original Nanakshahi calendar.

Former Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said the matter should be reconsidered. He said if there were any shortcomings in the original Nanakshahi calendar, these should be removed with the help of Sikh intellectuals.

Harvinder Singh Sarna, SAD (Delhi) general secretary, said the Nanakshahi calendar came into being after intense deliberations and there was no clash of Gurpurb dates. He accused the Sikh clergy of double speak. “ When my brother Paramjit Singh Sarna used to celebrate Gurpurbs as per the original calendar, he was dubbed anti-Panthic. Where does the clergy stand now,” he asked.

American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) coordinator Pritpal Singh said the implementation of the original calendar could end the confusion. He said Akal Takht must convene a meeting of Sikh organisations to resolve the issue.

DSGMC to celebrate Gurpurb on December 28

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjeet Singh GK said though there were many discrepancies, Akal Takht was supreme and its decision should be accepted by all. He, however, said the DSGMC would celebrate Gurpurb on December 28 as it had already reserved the Lakhi Shah Vanjara Hall for the event.

The Asian Age – ‘Deal on Sir Creek was agreed in 2006’

Asian Age Correspondent

New Delhi, 19 Juli 2014. Former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri on Tuesday revealed that an agreement to resolve the Sir Creek issue between India and Pakistan was ready to be signed in 2006 but lamented that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not visit Pakistan that year.

“One regret is that (the then) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have come (to Pakistan) in 2006. (An agreement on) Sir Creek was ready to be signed,” Mr Kasuri said.

He was speaking during a discussion in the capital on Tuesday on the “current state of India-Pakistan relations and the way forward” organised by the Kolkata-based Centre for Peace and Progress. Mr Kasuri is currently a senior leader of former cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Mr Kasuri advised the current Indian government that they “need a very good back-channel negotiator”.

He said that foreign secretary talks between the two nations should not have been called off. He acknowledged that while the relations between the two countries “has visibly deteriorated… hopefully, it’s temporary”.

He described himself as an eternal optimist. “If Kashmir (issue) can be resolved between the two countries, everything can be resolved,” he said.

The former Pakistan foreign minister also hoped the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers would be able to meet at the forthcoming Saarc meet at the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

Hounslow West – Earls Court – Wimbledon – Farringdon – Ealing Broadway – Southall – 11 October 2014

Earls Court – District Line
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