The Indian Express – Third time in over a month, Sikh jathas not allowed to cross over to Pakistan

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar, 29 June 2017. It was for the third time in last one-and-half month on Wednesday that Sikh jathas were not allowed to cross over to Pakistan from Attari railway station to pay a visit to gurdwaras across the border.

Around 300 Sikh pilgrims were forced to return back home from Attari railways station after authorities didn’t allow them to cross despite having all valid documents.

Most of the pilgrims had come from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to visit Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Harpal Bhullar, president Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, said, “We have been told by Indian Railways officials that they don’t have permission to allow us to go. Pakistan had arranged a special train for us and that train was standing at the Wagah border the whole day on Wednesday. But it was not allowed to reach Attari.”

Jathas planned by different Sikh bodies, including SGPC, go to Pakistan under Shimla Agreement on four occasions in one year , birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Baisakhi festival, to observe martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

It is rare for entire jathas of Sikhs to be denied permission to visit Pakistan without giving any clear reason.

On 19 May, the SGPC cancelled a jatha after it claimed that it had been asked to take responsibility of the security of jathas during stay in Pakistan. The Sikh body had said that the condition was communicated to it by the Ministry of External Affair (MEA), and it had declined to take any such responsibility.

Several other Sikh bodies, however, said that they were ready to take responsibility for their jathas visiting Pakistan. On Wednesday, jathas had been sent to Attari by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managment Committee and Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi.

“SGPC was not allowed to send its jatha on 21 May. Then our jatha of 68 pilgrims was returned back from Attari on June 8. But 14 pilgrims had visa by road and they went to observe martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in Pakistan from June 8 to June 17.

No security issue was faced by these 14 pilgrims. We were also ready to take responsibility of our security, but were not allowed to go to Pakistan,” said Bhullar.

Harbhajan Singh Sethi, a leader of Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi, said, “On one side India is unhappy about China for stopping pilgrims from visiting Kailash Mansarovar. On other side, Indian government itself is stopping Sikhs from visiting gurdwaras in Pakistan.

It is ironic. Sikhs are deeply attached to the legacy of Sikh history in Pakistan and stopping them from visiting Pakistan in peace time is violation of human rights.”

Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who recently won the Rajouri Garden bypoll in Delhi on a BJP ticket, said: “I will definitely raise this issue with Sushma Swaraj. MEA cannot ask SGPC to take responsibility of security of Sikhs in Pakistan. Asking for it is itself a joke.

It is not possible. DSGMC had also sent a jatha to Pakistan and I have received many calls since morning from pilgrims. They all had to return back. We are hopeful that Indian government will find a solution to this situation.”

Interestingly, SGPC hasn’t reacted on the issue. When contacted, SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh said, “I am not aware of it that the jathas were not allowed to go to Pakistan. I am only hearing it from you.” Sources said that SGPC is avoiding taking on the Centre as SAD is part of the Union government.

Third time in over a month, Sikh jathas not allowed to cross over to Pakistan

Advertisements – EcoSikh celebrates 440th birthday of Amritsar Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 29 June 2017. Hundreds of people from all faiths marched at dawn on Tuesday, along with their faith leaders and representatives, in the ‘Walk for Amritsar’, organized by Eco-Amritsar under the tutelage of Washington based EcoSikh, marking the 440th anniversary of the city.

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs walked together to mark this auspicious occasion. The entire gathering raised positive slogans and carried placards for the ecological upliftment of the holy city in consonance to the vision of Guru Ramdas ji.

The two-hour procession had participation from schools, colleges, NCC, Bhagat Puran Singh Pingalwara etc.

An action packed gatka display by Chief Khalsa Diwan Orphanage, and a brilliant street play (Nukkad Natak) on irresponsible littering & defacement by the IVE school for the underprivileged, were performed at the commencement of the citizens gathering at Ram Bagh gardens.

Amritsar Sahib in 20 most polluted cities of the world

Sri Guru Ram Dass established the city as Chak Ramdaspur in 1577. It was envisioned to be a hamlet, created around the Golden Temple, in harmony with nature. The city was flush with gardens, commercial establishments and residential dwellings interwoven and in sustainable coexistence.

However, that hamlet has now expanded to a bustling city of over 1.3 million citizens, with more than 40 million visitors each year.

A lack of reliable waste management and the unchecked growth of three wheelers spewing out dangerous and poisonous gases has made Amritsar one of the 20 most polluted cities globally. Amritsar is facing severe environmental challenges.

There is only 1% of forest area left in the city and the city is loosing 3 feet of underground water every year. Eco Amritsar team has initiated projects to involve schools, colleges, businesses and Gurdwaras to take green steps like plantation drive, awareness campaigns and also promoting organic food.

The 5th annual ‘Walk For Amritsar’ was a celebration of the city’s existence as well as an introspection of the 5 year Eco Amritsar program (2013-2017).

The program for clean & green environs, for a plastic free, water saving, sensible & responsible Amritsar was adopted by scores of NGO’s & supported by the district administration, SGPC, educational institutions and social welfare organisations.

In a message from Washington DC, Dr Rajwant Singh, President, EcoSikh, said, “Guru Ram Dass Nagri is revered and loved globally by one and all. Also the entire Sikh population worldwide looks with concern the rapid fall in environmental indices of Amritsar.

While Harmandr Sahib (Golden Temple) is pristine in its grandeur, it is the Holy City which has degraded immensely, and its green cover depleted. We need a concerted effort to renew its sustainability for our future generations.”

Head of the civil authority in Amritsar, Deputy Commissioner Kamaljit Singh Sangha, in his address was deeply appreciative of the this philanthropic and proactive initiative.

He stressed upon the need to recognise the contribution of the ragpickers and the sanitary workers who work ceaselessly for maintaining a semblance of cleanliness.

He extolled the need for citizens to take responsibility and assist the civic administration to make the essential change in the city. The deputy Commissioner further pledged his complete support to the cause.

Gunbir Singh, Chairman, EcoAmritsar, said, “In all humility our initiatives for a better city have shown encouraging results. The organic food movement including organic langar at the Harmandr Sahib, plantations in the city, green Nagar Kirtan, plastic free Christmas, zero disposal parks & garbage free households are some of the positives that give us satisfaction.

The enthused NGO participation, advocacy with local & state administration as well as our tree plantation projects are ongoing initiatives today. Most gratifying is the interfaith support that we generate on occasions such as AFD2017, which encourage us to work towards an Amritsar as envisioned by the Gurus.”

Leuven – Gent Gurdwara

31 May 2017


Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
02 June 2017

Ardas at the start of the 24 hour reading of the
Guru Granth Sahib

Master Ranjit Singh with Chaur Sahib

Granthi Singh

Guru Granth Sahib
Our eternal Guru

The first page of the Guru Granth Sahib
At the top of the page the ‘mul mantr’
from Ik Ongkar till Gurprasad

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

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Published in: on June 30, 2017 at 5:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Business Recorder – Sikhs, Hindus enjoy complete religious freedom in Pakistan

Lahore, 30 June 2017. Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Muhammad Siddiqul Farooq has said that Sikh and Hindu communities living in Pakistan enjoy complete religious freedom in the country.

He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony held at Gurdwara Dera Sahib in connection with the 178th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, here on Thursday.

He said that development work on gurdwaras and temples was being carried out on regular basis.

He said that the Sikh-Muslim friendship would never end.

Pardhan of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) Sardar Tara Singh, Sardar Gopal Singh Chawala, Hindu leader Dr Munawar Chand and others also spoke on the occasion.

They strongly condemned the Indian government for not allowing Sikhs to visit Pakistan. They raised slogans of ‘Sikh-Muslim friendship Zindabad’ and also staged a protest demonstration against the Indian government.

Dawn – Parachinar families spurn PM’s compensation offer

Dawn Correspondent

Parachinar-Kurram Agency-Fata, 30 June 2017. The families of victims of Parachinar twin bomb blasts on Thursday rejected a compensation package, announced for them by the prime minister, as the sit-in against Friday’s deadly terrorist attack continued for a seventh consecutive day.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Rs 1 million as compensation for the family of each deceased, amid criticism that the government was turning a deaf ear to the demands of the victims of the twin bombings in Parachinar.

“Payment of Rs 1 million each for the martyrs and Rs 0.5 million each for [those injured in] the Parachinar blasts has been announced,” a spokesperson for the prime minister said in an official announcement, adding that the PM had also issued directions to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra in this regard.

People from different parts of Kurram continued to arrive at the Shaheed Park to join the sit-in and all markets and bazaars in Parachinar remained closed to protest the bombings.

The protesters and victims’ relatives said the compensation announced by the prime minister for victims of Parachinar did not match the amount announced for the people of other parts of the country.

The prime minister recently announced a compensation package of Rs 2 million for people who lost their lives in the Ahmedpur East oil tanker inferno on June 25.

The protesters said the people of Parachinar were citizens of the country, but the government treated them as lesser citizens, and demanded that the package announced for victims in Parachinar be brought on a par with the compensation given to victims from other areas of the country.

They said the sit-in would continue until Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan visited the area and demanded that the government arrest those behind the bombings.

Meanwhile, authorities did not allow a helicopter carrying former interior minister Rehman Malik and former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi to land at Parachinar airport. The chopper was denied permission to land and was sent back.

Authorities also prevented journalists from other areas to reach Parachinar to meet the protesters. Media teams were stopped at the Chhappari check-post in Kurram and sent back, drawing the ire of protesters who condemned the authorities for denying entry to political leaders and media teams.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also rejected the PM’s compensation package for Parachinar victims and demanded that it should be equal to that given to the victims of the oil tanker tragedy.

“The rulers must not allow the perception that a dead body in Punjab fetched Rs 2 million, in Sindh Rs 1 million, in Balochistan Rs 0.5 million but only Rs300,000 in the tribal areas,” PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.

The senator has also called for a session of the Senate to discuss the Parachinar attack and the gross mishandling of the situation by the security agencies by firing at the citizens protesting against the state’s inability to provide them security.

He demanded a judicial probe into the incident and asked that the local Kurram militia be allowed to play its role in restoring peace under the supervision of the security agencies.

Due to its location and history, Parachinar was already over-militarised, Mr Babar said, adding that it was known to have one of the largest concentrations of security check-posts and CCTV cameras with security personnel on constant patrol.

“Yet, Parachinar has witnessed repeated militant attacks over the past few months and there was no clue of where militants came from and where they went,” he said.

Mr Babar also called for reports of firing on grieving demonstrators to be probed and demanded that the trigger-happy personnel responsible for this excessive use of force be punished.

Syed Irfan Raza from Islamabad also contributed to this report

The Statesman – Man attacked, house set on fire in Jharkhand after cow found dead outside

New Delhi. 28 June 2017. A man was severely beaten up and his house was set on fire by a mob on Tuesday after a dead cow was allegedly found outside his place in Jharkhand’s Giridih district.

A frenzy mob attacked the dairy owner Usman Ansari and his house was set on fire after some people spotted a dead cow outside his house.

The police immediately rushed to the site and Ansari was taken to a nearby hospital. “Our men braved the crowd and immediately rescued Ansari and his family members.

When the police tried to take him to hospital, there was resistance from the crowd. There was heavy stone-pelting. We had to open fire in the air,” Jharkhand police spokesperson and ADG (Operations) RK Mullik said.

“About 50 policemen were also injured in the stone pelting,” Mullik added.

Heavy security has been deployed in the village, which is around 200km from Ranchi, to maintain the law and order.

The Tribune – State attempt to bypass SC liquor ban challenged

It is pleaded that the state has shown a ‘narrow pedantic approach’ for the sake of revenue

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 28 June 2017. Just about a week after Punjab came out with an amendment Bill to permit the supply of liquor at hotels, restaurants, clubs and other notified places, a Vacation Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the state on notice.

The Bench of Justice Anita Chaudhry and Justice Harminder Singh Madaan also issued notice regarding stay on the petition filed by NGO Arrive Safe Society through its president Harman Singh Sidhu.

The Bench fixed July 24 as the next date of hearing for the state and other respondents to respond to the averments raised. Sidhu contended that the Supreme Court had directed all states and union territories to forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways.

It directed: “No shop for the sale of liquor shall be visible from a national or state highway; directly accessible from a national or state highway and situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of a service lane along the highway.”

But the state brought the “impugned” amendment to the Punjab Excise Act to dodge the orders. He added that the state government, instead of recognising the Supreme Court’s concern in trying to remedy the mischief of drunken driving from the highway, has shown a “narrow pedantic approach just for the sake of revenue”.

Sidhu argued liquor vends camouflaged as a restaurant, hotel or club would be found everywhere along the highways without any consideration for public health, public morality, and public peace, if the impugned amendment was allowed to operate. It would resultantly lead to traffic chaos, health hazard and frequent road accidents.

He added that the amendment was “nothing short of a political response with an ulterior motive to dismantle the foundation of the verdict given by the Supreme Court”.

Dubbing the term “notified place” as “vague”, he submitted that the expression would definitely be misused to mean “tavern” and the Supreme Court judgment in national interest would be diluted.

Sint-Truiden – Halmaal Gurdwara – Leuven

31 May 2017

Gurdwara visit – OKAN group

Gurdwara visit – OKAN group

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

De Lijn Bus station
31 May 2017

Bus 30 to Herk de Stad – Bus 23 to Budingen

Bus 42 to Landen via Gingelom – Bus 30 to Herk de Stad
I took the bus to Tongeren and from there a bus to Leuven

31 May 2017



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Dawn – India stops over 300 Sikh pilgrims from visiting Pakistan

Lahore, 29 June 2017. The Indian government on Wednesday stopped over 300 Sikh pilgrims, who were due to attend the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, from crossing over to Pakistan, citing refusal by the External Affairs Ministry to clear their names.

The pilgrims, who had reached Atari early in the morning, a bordering railway station from where they are picked up by the Pakistan Railways, protested against the Indian government and some violence was also reported.

Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddiqul Farooq kept trying for six hours talking to the Indian embassy in Pakistan but in vain. Frustrated, he held a press conference in the afternoon to allege “fundamentalism is creeping into Indian state institutions”.

The Indian government has refused pilgrims a second time in June alone. On June 8, it disallowed over 200 visitors for Shaheedi Jor Mela, celebrations for the fifth Guru of the Sikh religion. After some hectic efforts, only 14 were allowed to cross the border on foot.

“Given the stubbornness of the Indian government, the fear now is about November when birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak are due,” says an ETPB official. That is the holiest pilgrimage for the Sikh community and a big event for Pakistan. In all probability, those celebrations were in danger, at least for the Indian Sikh community, he feared.

ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq said: “While Pakistan is routinely accused of fundamentalism, none of its state organ has acted in such a manner. By stopping the yatrees, the Indian ministry has also violated the UN charter, which forbids a decision hurting religious feeling. This visit was purely religious and should not have been hampered.”

Tara Singh, head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, was present at the press conference.

Mr Farooq said Pakistan had gone the extra mile in facilitating the visitors. “Though the agreement binds the visitors to apply for a visa at least 45 days before the visit, applications that arrived only five days before the visit were entertained.

The Pakistan High Commission issued over 300 visas and the ETPB held meetings with 34 departments to finalise arrangements for the visit. The Indian side kept us and pilgrims waiting for more than six hours. But all ended up in vain,” he regretted.

“The entire staff of the board was at the border to receive them. I myself travelled from Islamabad to Lahore to welcome the yatrees. A train from Pakistan Railways was waiting at the Zero Line to fetch the visitors.

The situation unfolded only when the pilgrims were stopped and the Pakistani side tried to find a way out. I have never travelled abroad in the last three years, but now I plan to go to India and try to convince people concerned there.

On its part, Pakistan has also inducted four Yatra promoters from the private sector to facilitate visitors from all over the world,” he concluded.

The Hindu – China may be giving a diplomatic message via tri-junction

Dinakar Peri and Josy Joseph

New Delhi, 29 June 2017. The Army chief is expected to visit Sikkim as early as Thursday to review the tense standoff between Indian and Chinese troops, even as military officers said that such standoffs were not unprecedented.

Army sources said General Bipin Rawat could visit Sikkim at the earliest to review the situation where standoff between troops of both sides is believed to be continuing.

According to reliable sources, Indian Army troops objected to the Chinese soldiers carrying out construction on a road stretch through the disputed Dolam Plateau (Donglang or Doklam), triggering the confrontation. In response, Chinese authorities denied entry to pilgrims for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via the Nathua La pass.

In a rebuff, Bhutan refutes China’s claims on Doko La road construction

Former Army chief General Shankar Roychowdhury told The Hindu that such incidents were not new and date back to 1967 when the first such clash took place at Nathu La between Indian and Chinese troops.

“This is a flashpoint. These take place from time to time,” General Roychowdhury said. However, he said the question to ask is why are such incidents taking place with such frequency.

“Is it because our Prime Minister is perceived to be too close to the USA or is it to assist its best ally Pakistan? Or is it a combination of all these factors plus history. Add to that is the fact they have turned the pilgrims away.”

Keeping India engaged

A recently retired Army officer who has served on the Sikkim border with China said he too believed that the timing of the Chinese action, not just in provoking a border standoff but to send back Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims, was a diplomatic message to coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the USA.

Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses said these incidents were a continuum of maintaining stability at a strategic level while “keeping India engaged at the tactical level through political, diplomatic and military means.” He said the standoff would take sometime but would be resolved.

‘China used bulldozer to remove Indian bunker in Sikkim section of border’

“It could be said to be Chinese manifestation of the choices India has made in the recent past,” he said in the context of the recent disputes between the two countries and the timing of the incident.

Army sources pointed out that the standoff at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction was not unprecedented. “It is almost an annual affair,” one officer who had served there said.

“The Chinese believe that the Dolam Plateau belongs to them, and have been constructing a road through the disputed area to Bhutan for a long time,” he pointed out.

And the present standoff must also be seen against recent diplomatic unease between the two sides, including India’s stand on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Border on the boil

There were repeated skirmishes on the Indo-China border ever since the 1962 war

September 1967: Chinese troops fired at Indian posts close to Nathu La and Indian Army retaliated with full force. Both sides suffered casualties with China significantly higher. A ceasefire was declared later.

June 1986: Indian Army launched exercise Chequerboard after China amassed thousands of troops in the Thandrong pasture on the banks of the Somdurong Chu (river). The situation was diffused diplomatically by August 1987.

November 2008: Chinese troops destroyed makeshift Indian army bunkers at Doko La near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.

April 2013: Chinese troops intruded in Daulat Beg Oldi in Eastern Ladakh and set up camps in Depsang valley. These came ahead of Premier Li Keqiang’s India visit.

August 2014: Chinese troops enter 25 to 30 km deep into Indian territory in Burtse area in Ladakh and pitched their tents and the standoff continued for three weeks.

September 2014: About 1,000 troops intruded 3 km inside Chumar in Eastern Ladakh. The incident lasted for a week and coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.

March 2016: A platoon of PLA soldiers came about 5.5 km inside the Indian territory near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh. Incident resolved in a few hours.

June 2017: China removed an old bunker of the Indian Army located at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan in Sikkim by using a bulldozer after the Indian side refused to accede to its request to dismantle it.

Beijing’s stance

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang touched upon a slew off issues while addressing the media in Beijing Donglang’s status

‘Donglang is part of China’s territory. This is indisputable. The Donglang area belonged to China since ancient times and it doesn’t belong to Bhutan’.

Road project

‘Chinese construction of the road project is legitimate and normal action on its territory. No other country has the right to interfere’

Kailash-Mansarovar yatra

‘The suspension of the same is an emergency response to the situation there. I want to stress that the resumption of pilgrims pass requires necessary atmosphere and conditions’

Bhutan’s sovereignty

‘If any third party, out of hidden agenda, interferes it is disrespect of the sovereignty of Bhutan. We don’t want to see this as Bhutan is a country entitled to sovereignty by the international community’.

Pakistan’s efforts

‘China thinks that the international cooperation against terrorism should be enhanced and stepped up. The international community should give full recognition and affirmation to Pakistan’s efforts in this regard’