Times of India – Sikh intellectuals object to Khattar’s remarks on Banda Bahadur

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 14 June 2018. Sikh thinkers and intellectuals on Wednesday criticized Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for misrepresenting Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur as ‘Banda Bahadur Bairagi’ and naming Lohgarh-Shahabad road after him with an apparent motive of ‘placating Hindutva forces’.

“Such move is blatant distortion of history being done to appropriate the Sikh hero into the Sangh Parivar fold,” they said in a joint statement. A delegation of Sikh historians issued the statement after holding a meeting at a gurdwara in Sector 28, Chandigarh.

In a joint statement issued by Khushhal Singh, general secretary Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, said, “We appreciate Khattar’s desire to honour Banda Singh Bahadur, who had created an indigenous republic, was laudable but he should not insult the great Khalsa general, saint and statesman by posthumously converting him to the Bairagi sect of the Hindu faith”.

The statement further added, “There was no dearth of Bairagis in that world but not a single Bairagi joined Banda Singh’s struggle. Five thousand Muslims did join in his effort to establish the only indigenous ‘People’s Republic led by the Khalsa’ after centuries of political slavery”.

It has also been stated that any attempt to misappropriate icons of the Sikhs and minorities by the Hindutva forces is pathetic and deplorable. Glory cannot be gained with retrospective effect by an administrative action now.

The act of stealing icons rather becomes a painful reminder of the shocking cultural barrenness of the contemporary society during slavery. Painfully as it is, the deficiency cannot be covered up by renaming monuments, historical persons and by rewriting history to suit the cover-up.

The joint statement signed among others by retired IAS officer Gurtej Singh, Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Sukhdev Singh, Jaspal Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet Singh, spokesperson of Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Chandigarh.



Sikh24.com – Takht Jathedars announce to hold conference at Talwandi Sabo on Vaisakhi

Sikh24 Editors

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 06 April 2018. Sarbat Khalsa appointed Takht Jathedars Bhai Dhian Singh Mand and Bhai Baljit Singh Daduwal have called upon a conference at Talwandi Sabo on the eve of Vaisakhi celebrations.

The Takht Jathedars underwent meeting with the leaders of Shromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Sikh Sadbhavna Dal, Panthik Sewa Lehar, Sutantar Akali Dal, Satkar Committees on April 5 in this concern.

After meeting leaders of several Sikh bodies, interim Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Dhian Singh Mand and Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Bhai Baljit Singh Daduwal informed that all the religious and political outfits except the SAD (Badal) have been invited in this conference to chalk out strategy for tackling emerging challenges before the Sikh community.

They added that the Shromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee have been also invited attend this conference.

Replying to a query about screening of controversial movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, the Takht Jathedars clarified that they won’t let the movie hit screens at any cost.

SAD (Amritsar) president S Simranjit Singh Mann, HSGPC president S Jagdish Singh Jhinda, Baba Baljit Singh Burj Naklia, Baba Ajit Singh Dialpura, S Paramjit Singh, Baba Nacchhattar Singh Kallar Bhaini, S Balwinder Singh Boparai, S Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singh Wala, Professor Mohinderpal Singh, S Karnail Singh, S Gurjant Singh Kattu, S Harbhajan Singh Kashmiri, S Rajinder Singh Fauji, S Nirmal Singh Toor etc. were present on this occasion.


The Statesman – Iraq deaths: Signs of Sikhism helped identify Indians in mass grave

Ranjeet Jamwal

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 2 April 2018. Locating the mortal remains of 39 Indians killed in Iraq by the Islamic State terrorists was a Herculean task as staying in Mosul, which remained an ISIS stronghold for long, was still a risky affair due to explosives planted even inside the houses by the terrorist organisation (ISIS).

The city was declared free of ISIS only in December 2017.

Addressing a press conference in Amritsar after bringing the mortal remains of 38 men from Iraq through a special plane at Amritsar, the minister of state for external affairs, General (retired) VK Singh said after the Iraq Army re-captured several ISIS strongholds last year, he first went to the country in search of these 39 men in July 2017. But as the security situation was still not good there, he returned and went to Iraq in October again.

Stepping up the efforts to find out the missing Indians, General Singh then located the private company that had employed all 39 missing Indians. A man who used to provide food to these Indians was also located. A campaign was also launched through local TV and radio for getting information from the public about the missing Indians.

Based on the information received from various sources, Indian government found information about a mass grave in Badush, a village northwest of Mosul in Iraq. “We went to Badush with the Iraqi army and found a big heap of soil there. Anyone could make out that it was far from a natural formation.

When it was dug in the presence of Indian ambassador, human remains were found there.”

“We found long hair and karas (a steel or iron bracelet) there. From it, we could make out that those buried there could be Indians,” General Singh said. Twenty-seven of the 39 missing Indian were from Punjab and many of them were Sikhs. Articles of Sikh faith came handy to establish that they were Indians.

The minister said following this, the bodies were exhumed for DNA testing which confirmed the identity of 38 of 39 missing Indians. In one case, DNA has matched only about 70 per cent, so his body has not been brought to India.

On the cause of death, Gen Singh said forensic experts have said that some of 39 Indian died of bullet injuries. “But bullet injuries are not the same about everyone and even forensic experts are not sure about the cause of death of some others. Their bones are broken, it is difficult to say if they were slaughtered or what was the cause of their death,” he said.

Compensation not like distributing biscuits: V K Singh

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh courted a controversy by saying that “distributing compensation was not like distributing biscuits”. He was replying to a question from the Press regarding announcing compensation to the families of the victims.


The Hindustan Times – Khalsa suicide: Meeting of Punjab-based Sikh hardliners underway to decide whether to cremate body

The activist’s family members had refused to cremate his body demanding suspension of two station house officers (SHOs) and registration of FIR against them under abetment to suicide (Section 306 of IPC) charges.

Pawan Sharma and Neeraj Mohan

Chandigarh – Panjab/Kurukshetra – Haryana – India, 23 March 2018. A meeting of Sikh hardliners led by Giani Dhian Singh Mand, Akal Takht’s parallel jathedar, is underway to decide whether to cremate body of former militant Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who had died on Tuesday evening after jumping off a water tank at his native village Thaska Ali in Kurukshetra district.

Also present in the meeting that is underway at Khalsa’s house at his native village Thaska Ali is Baljit Singh Daduwal, a radical Sikh preacher and parallel head priest* of the Takht Damdama Sahib.

Both Mand and Daduwal were appointed parallel jathedars during the November 2015 Sarbat Khalsa (Sikh congregation) in Amritsar spearheaded by the Sikh radicals in the wake of state-wide protests in Punjab over the spate of sacrilege incidents of Guru Granth Sahib.

According to the reports, Mand and Daduwal along with pro-Khalistan outfits such as Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) of Simranjit Singh Mann and United Akali Dal are discussing their next course of action at village Thaska Ali where the body of Khalsa has been kept in a freezer by his family members.

Khalsa’s family members had refused to cremate his body demanding suspension of two station house officers (SHOs) and registration of FIR against them under abetment to suicide (Section 306 of IPC) charges.

Haryana police had registered an FIR under Section 302 (murder) against unknown policemen, while the family members alleged that the police deliberately registered the case under murder charges, which will be difficult to prove in the court.

Presence of Mand and Daduwal is significant and a clear indication of Sikh hardliners on the forefront of this standoff with Haryana police.

In November-December 2013, Khalsa had emerged as a rallying figure for hardliners to pressurise then Parkash Singh Badal government to get the jailed Sikh militants released.

Backed by India and foreign-based hardliners, Khalsa had volunteered to starve till death, seeking release of six Sikh convicts sentenced to life imprisonment.

Then, Khalsa’s key demand was to release six life convicts – three of them convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case.

Meanwhile, Kurukshetra deputy commissioner S S Phulia has arrived at Khalsa’s residence along with senior police officer.


The Hindu – India’s ‘unwanted’ girls: Economic Survey highlights how preference for sons is hurting daughters

K Deepalakshmi

New Delhi-India, 30 January 2018. While an average Indian family prefers to have two children, there are instances where families have more than five children if the last child is not a male.

The Economic Survey has mentioned that the desire for a male child has created 21 million “unwanted” girls in India between 0 and 25 years.

Chapter Seven of the Survey, tabled in Parliament on Monday, deals with gender equality. While India has shown improvement in several parameters related to women’s empowerment, the preference for a son has not diminished.

“In some sense, once born, the lives of women are improving but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born,” the Survey stated.

The Survey has taken note of the behavioural pattern of Indian parents who prefer to have children “until the desired number of sons are born.”

Calling this the “son meta-preference,” the Survey has found that while an average Indian family prefers to have two children, there are instances where families have more than five children if the last child is not a male.

The biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1050 males per 1000 females. After sex selection was declared illegal in India in 1994, the sex ratio at birth (SRB) began to stabilise. In 1970, the SRB was 1060 males per 1000 females. In 2014, this rose to 1108, contrary to the belief that development would mend the skewed sex ratio.

The Survey pointed out the missing link by analysing the sex ratio of last child (SRLC). The SRLC in India is biased against females and is lower by 9.5 percentage points in 2015-16 in comparison with other countries.

The sex ratio among families with one child stood at 1.82 i.e., 1820 males per 1000 females. This drops to 1.55 for families with two children and rises to 1.65 for three, and drops to 1.51 and 1.45 for four and five children, respectively.

Comparing it with the sex ratio of families where the last child is not a male, it stands at 1.07, 0.86, 0.85, 0.84, 0.88 respectively. This shows the Indian families tend to “stop” having children after a son is born.

The Survey pointed out several reasons behind preferring a male child such as compulsion of a woman to move to her husband’s house post marriage, inheritance of property, rituals performed by sons, and dowry, among others.

Male child preference lowest in Meghalaya

The male child preference is highest in Punjab and Haryana and lowest in Meghalaya. More than 2 million women go missing across age groups every year either due to sex-selective abortion, disease, neglect, or inadequate nutrition, according to the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS).

While more women are educated, employed and earning than 10 years ago, they still do not have control over their earnings and childbirth. Quoting the NFHS, the Survey pointed out that more women tend to quit their employment after marriage or childbirth.

The Survey recommended that the nation must confront the societal preference for male offspring.

Noting that schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, enhanced maternity leave and mandatory creches in workplaces are steps in the right direction, the Survey called for a stronger commitment on the gender front similar to the government’s push for Ease of Doing Business.


The Hindu – Attack on couples by ‘Khap Panchayats’ illegal, says Supreme Court

New Delhi-India, 16 January 2018. The Supreme Court on Tuesday termed as “absolutely illegal” any attack by ‘Khap Panchayats’ or associations against an adult man and woman opting for inter-caste marriage.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D y Chandrachud asked the Centre to give its reponse on suggestions earlier given by amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran on ways to prevent harassment and killing of young couples in the name of family honour for marrying inter-caste or intra-clan (gotra).

“Whatever the amicus curiae says about khap, we are not concerned with that. What we are concerned is that if an adult girl or boy gets into marriage, no khap, no individual or no society can question them,” the Bench said.

The Bench told the Centre that would contemplate passing an order based on the amicus’ suggestion.

“Whenever there is any kind of collective attack on a boy or girl who are adult, it is absolutely illegal,” the Bench said and listed the matter for February 5 for further hearing.

The court had earlier sought suggestions from an NGO ‘Shakti Vahini’, amicus curiae on the issue.

Khaps are caste or community organisations in villages which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on regressive and age-old customs and traditions.

The NGO had moved the top court in 2010 seeking directions to the central and State governments to prevent and control ‘honour’ crimes by taking a number of measures.

Earlier, the apex court had invited ‘Khap Panchayats’ to hear their views before issuing any order to stop them from harassing and killing couples and women in the name of honour.

The Centre had pleaded with the apex court to put in place a mechanism to monitor crimes against women by ‘Khap Panchayats’, as the police was not able to protect women facing ordeal at their hands.

The top court had also said that as a pilot project, it would examine the situation in three districts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where ‘Khap Panchayats’ were active.

It had summoned the Superintendents of Police of Rohtak and Jind districts of Haryana and that of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh to apprise the court of the situation there.


Sikh24.com – Hondh Chillad Massacre: DSGMC asked to inscribe names of victims on ‘Sach Di Kandh’

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi-India, 12 January 2018. Manwinder Singh Giaspura and Bhai Darshan Singh Gholia, leaders of the Hondh Chillad Taalmel Committee, told Sikh24 that they have asked DSGMC President Manjit Singh GK to share details of ongoing petition in Punjab & Haryana Court against four senior officials.

“We met with President Manjit Singh GK to inquire about the progress in the case. We also submitted a memorandum to demand inscription of names of the victims of Hondh Chillad massacre on ‘Sach Di Kandh’ along with a brief history about this barbaric carnage,” they said.

‘Sach Di Kandh’ is a project initiated by the Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee to inscribe names of 1984 anti-Sikh massacres victims. The walls has names of victims who fell victim to the massacres in November 1984.

It has details of victims from Delhi area and other parts of India, however, it doesn’t include information of those who were killed in Hondh Chillad.

“Manjit Singh GK hailed our efforts and said that the DSGMC had tried its best to include the names of India-wide victims of Sikh genocide. He added that the names of left victims will also be inscribed within short time,” Manwinder Singh told Sikh24.

“Manjit Singh GK has assigned the responsibility of inscribing names of 32 victims of Hondh Chillad massacre on ‘Sach Di Kandh’ to DSGMC Saradar Chaman Singh,” he said.


Sikh24.com – Hondh Chillad Massacre: Sikh activist finally hopeful for justice as Haryana government files report

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 14 December 2017. In recent developments in the Hondh Chillad anti-Sikh massacres, Engineer Manwinder Singh Giaspura told Sikh24 that the Haryana Government has filed a 15 page report accepting that the murders were targeted and communal.

Engineer Manwinder Singh is a Sikh activist who researched the killings of Sikhs at Hondh Chillad in 1984 and brought these cases to light.

This is an important development as this is the first time the Haryana Government has officially accepted that Sikhs were murdered here during the 1984 Sikh genocide, which was also carried out in other parts of the country.

BJP led Haryana Government submitted its report in response to a petition filed by Engineer Giaspura. The court will hold a hearing on this case in March 2018. Giaspura posted that he hopes after the court concludes its hearing, cases can be filed upon Haryana police and Government officials who added mobs during these massacres.

“The Punjab & Haryana High Court bench has taken on record the reply lodged by Haryana state government and has deferred next hearing on to March 20,” Giaspura told Sikh24.

The Hondh-Chillad massacre refers to the killings of at least 32 Sikhs on 2 November 1984 in a village in the Rewari district of Haryana, by the Hindu mobs during the 1984 Sikh Genocide. The local police did not intervene in the massacre or pursue a First information Report (FIR) filed by survivors or help resettle the survivors.


The Tribune – Rein in illegal travel agents: HC to states

Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 5 December 2017. Taking cognisance of advertisements by travel agents to lure susceptible people for sending them abroad even for studies, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the DGPs of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to find out whether the advertisers were registered.

The order by Justice A B Chaudhari came more than four months after Punjab and Haryana were held culpable for not warning people against contacting unregistered or unlicensed agents while seeking greener pastures abroad.

Justice Chaudhari has already asked Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to initiate suitable action against TV channels and advertisers in case broadcast ads were not by registered agents.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, Justice Chaudhari observed that the compliance report on the previous order was not there. He added that advertisements were visible at the rear of auto-rickshaws and at several places for attracting gullible people.

Issuing directions to the DGPs, Justice Chaudhari also called for details of action taken in case the agents advertising were not registered. For the purpose of compliance, Justice Chaudhari fixed the case for third week of December, while making it clear that further adjournment would not be granted.

Justice Chaudhari, on a previous date of hearing, had directed the states to issue immediate instructions to district magistrates in each district to publish “a list of registered agents and to warn the citizens against unauthorised agents”.

The list was required to be made public on a regular basis through TV, radio, newspapers and any other modes of communication.

Justice Chaudhari had observed that agents, not registered or licensed by the government, were taking money and sending people abroad, and gullible citizens were falling in their trap.

He had asserted: “In my opinion, one of the reasons appears to be the failure on the part of Punjab and Haryana in not warning the people at large not to contact any unregistered or unlicensed person/agent and not to give any amount to them.”


The Tribune – Members empower Sukhbir Badal to take call

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 28 November 2017. On the eve of the election of the SGPC president and executive committee members, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal held a meeting with party-backed SGPC members at  here today.

The members unanimously authorised Sukhbir to take the final call on the candidates. The meeting was anchored by SAD general secretary Daljit Singh Cheema.

During the one-hour closed-door meeting, it is learnt that incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar’s work was lauded by Sukhbir, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Cheema and others. Others present included former SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, ex-minister Tota Singh and SAD leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder.

Insiders said Badungar could be re-appointed as his tenure had remained largely free of controversy. A sealed envelope containing the new chief’s name would be opened during the general House meeting.

Sukhbir said, “As per the tradition, the members have delegated all powers to the party head. However, the presidents and the executive body will be elected by the members.”

Four members join SAD

Chandigarh: Four SGPC members, who were reportedly with the Sukhdev Singh Bhaur group, joined the SAD on Tuesday, Baba Gurmeet Singh Tirlokewala Haryana, Indermohan Singh Lakhvirwala, Surjit Singh Garhi and Nirmal Singh Johlan. The last two owed allegiance to AAP.

House composition

The SGPC General House comprises 190 members, including five Takht Jathedars (they don’t have voting rights). Of these, 170 members are elected from constituencies in Punjab, Haryana and HP. The existing body has 157 SAD-backed members.