The Asian Age – India seeks ‘strongest’ US action in Kansas shooting

Venkaiah Naidu meets family of slain engineer, assures all assistance.

Hyderabad, 27 February 2017. India demanded the “strongest action” from the US government Sunday after Hyderabad’s engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and his colleague from Warangal wounded in an apparent hate crime in Kansas City.

“USA should respond to this incident. American President and people of America should come out openly to condemn such actions… and then take the strongest action,” Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said. He and his Cabinet colleague Bandaru Dattatreya met the slain engineer’s family in Hyderabad Sunday.

“Such incidents involving racial discrimination are shameful,” Mr Naidu said. “They will dent the image of USA. So the US President, administration and civil societies should unequivocally respond and condemn such incidents.”

Kuchibhotla’s body will arrive at his home on Monday evening, a state minister in Telangana said.

“It is shocking that Kuchibhotla was shot dead in an alleged (case of) racial discrimination. It caused mental agony to all Indians. I express my sympathies to the bereaved family,” he said.

Alok Madasani who was injured in the shooting has now been released from hospital. His parents were due to leave for the US late Sunday. His father Jagan Mohan Reddy, a chief engineer with the Telangana government, told AFP they would spend at least a week in the US before “taking stock of what to do (next)”.

“They lost a dear friend (Kuchibhotla) in the attack but somehow, by God’s grace, my son survived,” Mr Reddy said.

According to reports, the shooter who has been arrested, yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire on 32-year-old Kuchibhotla and his Indian colleague Wednesday night. An American who tried to intervene also received injuries in the firing in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe in Kansas City in the US state of Missouri.

Meanwhile, former Rajya Sabha member V. Hanumantha Rao wrote separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj requesting them to send an all-party delegation to talk to the Trump administration and instill confidence among Indians about their safety. – 1984 Sikh Genocide: Arms dealer Abhishek Verma expresses conditional consent for Lie Detection Test

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi, 25 February 2017. Following the Court’s direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct ‘Lie Detection Test’ on Jagdish Tytler and Abhishek Verma on March 16 in a case of killing three Sikhs during 1984 Sikh genocide, the arms dealer Abhishek Verma has expressed conditional consent to undergo the test.

He has said that he was ready for a lie-detection test if Congress leader Jagdish Tytler also agrees to it.

Verma, who apprehends threat to his life and to his family, told the Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Shivali Sharma on February 23 that he had no objection in undergoing the polygraph test if he would be provided adequate security and the process will be shot visually.

“If Tytler agrees for the test, I have no objection on it. But if I am going for the test, adequate security should be provided to me and my family as I am under threat. Asking me for the lie-detection test is more of pointing fingers at me rather than the accused. I am a witness and I am coming forward to help the prosecution,” Verma submitted.

Advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for Verma, said he had been made a witness by the CBI in the case and it would be proper if the agency records his statement before a magistrate under Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as he would not be able to retract from it.

It is pertinent to note here that the case pertains to killing of three innocent Sikhs near a Gurdwara Sahib in Pulbangash area of Northern Delhi in which Jagdish Tytler was accused of inciting Hindu mobs.

Although the probing agency CBI had acquitted Jagdish Tytler thrice in this case but later the arms dealer Abhishek Verma had deposed before the Court that Tytler had bribed the chief witness in this case by remitting Rupees 50 million on his son’s name to Canada.

Verma had told the Court that initially the remitted amount was freezed by the Canadian government but later he had helped them in defreezing the remitted ransom.

India Today – Delhi SGPC poll underway, AAP backed party in fray: All you need to know

Polling is underway for the election of members on the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. The DSGPC (?) manages nine places of worship, 18 schools and six colleges in Delhi and is considered a powerful Sikh body in the national capital.

New Delhi, 26 February 2017. About 3.75 lakh Sikh voters are voting today to elect new members of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGPC)(?).

The DSGPC(?) manages nine places of worship, 18 schools and six colleges in Delhi and is considered a powerful Sikh body in the national capital.

A keen contest is expected between Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi (SADD) and Shiromani Akali Dal Badal (SADB) in the election. SADD president Paramjit Singh Sarna and SADB chief Manjinder Singh Sirsa are in direct contest at West Punjabi Bagh seat.

Manjinder Singh Sirsa is the general secretary of the outgoing management committee.

Delhi SGMC(!): Things to know :

– The DSGPC(?) represents roughly eight lakh Sikhs living in New Delhi. The committee is headquartered at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in New Delhi.

– The DSGPC(?) manages nine historical Gurudwaras in Delhi including those at Rakab Ganj Sahib, Bangla Sahib and Sis Ganj Sahib. The DSGPC(?) has an annual budget of over Rs 100 crore to manage the institutions including colleges and schools.

– The elections are being held to elect 46 of the 51 committee members. The rest five are nominated by different bodies.

– One member is nominated by the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee- the umbrella body(?). Two others are co-opted and the rest two are nominated by Singh Sabhas of Delhi.

– The elections are conducted and managed by the Directorate of Gurdwara Elections, which functions under the direction of the Delhi government as the provisions of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971.

– The elected members remain in their office for four years before fresh polls are held.

– Only those Sikhs, who have not cut their hair and follow the religious code of conduct in disciplined manner including observance to the five tenets, are eligible to vote in the DSGPC election.

– Till now, the elections were bipolar with SADD and SADB engaging in direct fight. But, this time the AAP supported Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) is also in the fray and is expected to have a bearing on the election. The PSD was formed by AAP MLA Avtar Singh last year.

– The candidate contesting the DSGPC election must have completed 25 years of age, be an amritdhari (one who does not cut hair) Sikh, not take alcoholic drinks and be able to read and write Gurmukhi script.

– A total of 335 candidates including 184 independents are standing in the DSGPC election. About 560 polling booths have been created for casting votes.

Note: As far as I know the Delhi Gurdwara body is called Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC)
Note: An Amritdhari Sikh is a Sikh initiated into the Khalsa and committed to wear the turban and the 5 Ks, and to following the Sikh way of life as taught in the Guru Granth Sahib
Note: The SGPC is the body that manages the Gurdwaras in those parts of pre-partition Panjab that are now part of the Union of India. It is not an umbrella body and has no authority in New or Old Delhi !

The Hindustan Times – ‘Not afraid of ABVP’: DU student whose father died in Kargil war writes on FB

New Delhi, 25 February 2017. Days after Delhi University’s Ramjas College witnessed violent clashes, a lady Sri Ram College student who is the daughter of an officer who died in the Kargil war started a social media campaign ‘I am not afraid of ABVP that has garnered widespread support.

Gurmehar Kaur, daughter of Kargil martyr Captain Mandeep Singh, changed her Facebook profile picture holding a placard which read “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me. #StudentsAgainstABVP”.

“The brutal attack on innocent students by ABVP is very disturbing and should be stopped. It was not an attack on protesters, but an attack on every notion of democracy that is held dear in every Indian’s heart. It is an attack on ideals, morals, freedom and rights of every person born to this nation,” she said in a Facebook status.

“The stones that you pelt hit our bodies, but fail to bruise our ideas. This profile picture is my way of protesting against the tyranny of fear,” she added.

The literature student’s classmates and peers started sharing the post, prompting students from various universities across the country to change their profile pictures with the same placard, as the initiative went viral.

Kaur’s Facebook post so far has 2,100 reactions, 3,456 shares and 542 comments.

Ramjas College had on Wednesday witnessed large-scale violence between members of AISA and ABVP workers.

ABVP supporters had protested against an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on ‘Culture of Protests’, which led to violence after a counter demonstration by students over not allowing a peaceful discussion.

The Tribune – Cops avert clash as Sikh activists stop ‘premis’ from attending event

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur-District Ferozepur-Panjab, 25 February 2017.  The police today averted a clash between activists of several radical Sikh outfits and followers of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda over the holding of “naam charcha” in Mallanwala block of the district.

The situation turned tense after certain unidentified youths pelted stones and damaged a vehicle belonging to a dera follower. The vehicle was reportedly carrying sticks, baseball bats and red chilli powder.

Earlier, the administration had deployed the police force in Ward No. 6 of Mallanwala where “naam charcha” was to take place at the residence of a dera follower.

In the meantime, hundreds of persons owing allegiance to Sikh outfits gathered in a nearby gurdwara.

When the ceremony began, the Sikh activists started raising slogans against the dera and the administration. The “premis” were prevented from attending the event which triggered panic.

The traders shut their shops anticipating violence. Two youths threw red chilli powder in the eyes of Sikh activists that affected two policemen also.

Dilbagh Singh of Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj said they would not allow any “naam charcha” in Makhu and Mallanwala. The police have registered a case against Dilbagh Singh and 35-40 unidentified persons.

The Hindu – Tragedy strikes Indians in Kansas

The hero who tried to stop Kansas shooter

Houston, 25 February 2017. ‘We’re all humans, so I just did what was right to do and I didn’t want him to potentially go after somebody else’

A 24-year-old American, who is being hailed as a hero for trying to stop a shooter who killed an Indian in Kansas City, said it was “actually the right thing to do”.

Hid behind a table

Ian Grillot hid behind a table when the 51-year-old gunman, Adam Purinton, started shooting, while hurling racial slurs following an altercation at Austins Bar and Grill, killing an Indian techie and critically injuring another.

He counted the gunshots and when he thought the shooter was out of bullets, he jumped up to stop him but Purinton still had one round left, which he used to shoot him. The bullet went through Mr. Grillot’s hand and into his chest.

“I guess I miscounted,” Mr. Grillot said in an interview from his hospital room, in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System.

“I got up and proceeded to chase him down, try to subdue him… I got behind him and he turned around and fired a round at me,” he said.

“I was doing what I should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he [victim] was from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans, so I just did what was right to do and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else,” Mr. Grillot said.

Alok’s wife pregnant

Mr Grillot said he had learnt that the wife of Alok Madasani, the other Indian is five months pregnant and that he considers the engineer his new best friend, according to a Kansas City Star report.

“He came in here today and it was the greatest thing. I can’t even describe it, coming to find his wife is five months pregnant. Something was guiding me to do what I did.

Somebody was watching over me. I’m just very grateful that one of the gentlemen is fine and alive. It’s terrible what happened to his friend. But I think he was watching over us last night,” Mr. Grillot said.

Happy to see him

He said he hopes the two can spend some time together when he gets out of hospital. “I don’t think it’s going to be at the bar, though,” he said.

“It just put the biggest smile on my face,” Mr. Grillot said when he saw Mr. Madasani earlier in the day.

The Indian Express – Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun”

Chennai, 24 February 2017. J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa launched a new political forum while rival factions in ruling AIADMK provided welfare assistance across Tamil Nadu on her 69th birth anniversary on Friday in an escalating fight for her legacy.

As a war of words broke out, the state government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, his predecessor and dissident leader O Panneerselvam and AIADMK observed the birth anniversary of the late chief minister in different ways including holding of medical camps and planting of saplings.

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun” and also unveiled a flag depicting the images of Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran which she said was only a flag of the Forum named as ‘MGR AMMA Deepa Forum’.

Responding to a query, Deepa said the people desired that she contest from R K Nagar constituency that fell vacant following the demise of the late AIADMK supremo.

Deepa said she has been receiving several requests to enter politics and today’s announcement was to respect their wishes. Deepa, who will be the treasurer of the Forum, said her next course of action would be decided in due course and she would reveal it at the “appropriate time”.

In a veiled attack on Panneerselvam, AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, who is lodged in a Bengaluru prison, said, “When enemies and traitors wanted to defeat the party and the government, Amma’s soul guided us and has put up the AIADMK government in the seat of power”.

“Let us vow to protect the party, and work for the people,” she said in her letter published in Friday’s edition of party mouthpiece “Dr Namadhu MGR” Panneerselvam hit out at Sasikala and her family without naming her for trying to take over the party against Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) wishes.

“Dharma Yudham will continue (to retrieve the party and government),” he said and reiterated his demand for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa.

Paying floral tributes to Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam gave away welfare assistance to the people at Tondiarpet in North Chennai.

Palaniswamy planted a sapling at the Omandurar Government Estate here marking the launch of a drive to plant 69-lakh saplings and a greening project in areas hit by last year’s Vardah cyclone commemorating Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary.

AIADMK presidium chairman K A Sengottaiyan led the birth anniversary celebrations at party headquarters here in which the chief minister and other senior leaders took part.

Once a supporter of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak Jayakumar has now said her attempt to become the chief minister was “unacceptable” to the people of Tamil Nadu, while claiming that the late AIADMK chief had left behind her properties to him and his sister.

He claimed that the former chief minister had bequeathed her properties, including her Veda Nilayam bungalow in Poes Garden here, to his sister Deepa and him, by leaving behind a will.

Sasikala was set to become chief minister succeeding Pannerselvam but the Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case dashed her hopes. Deepa earlier said the Sasikala camp does not deserve to be in “Amma’s place” (Jayalalithaa) at all.

“Certainly not good for the people because this kind of takeover(by Sasikala camp), this kind of hijacking the party is absolutely not acceptable for anyone, especially the cadre of AIADMK because their wishes have been totally ignored.”

Deepak said party members did not favour TTV Dinakaran’s appointment as AIADMK’s deputy general secretary. While speaking to TV news channels on Thursday, Jayakumar questioned reinduction of Dinakaran, who is nephew of Sasikala, and S Venkatesh into the party.

While Deepa can aspire for positions in the AIADMK, Venkatesh and Dinakaran could not, he said apparently referring to the removal of the two by Jayalalithaa in 2011. “They are trying to bring family rule.. probably they both forced Sasikala to hand over the party to them,” he alleged, adding, “Even the party cadres will not accept this”.

Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

The Statesman – Modi’s hate-mongering won’t work in UP: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, 23 February 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is spreading hatred in Uttar Pradesh but the voters of the state will elect the Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday.

“Modi ji has lost the elections (UP), he can spread hatred as much as he wants but UP won’t pay heed. Congress and SP will form the government here,” Rahul Gandhi said while the addressing the voters of his Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi.

The Gandhi scion went on to quote a few lines of a famous Hindi film song: “I have a message for those spreading hatred, you will neither become a Hindu nor a Muslim, you are a human being’s child and you will become a human being”.

Polling is on for 53 assembly constituencies spread over 12 districts, including the backward Bundelkhand region in the fourth phase of polling in UP.

Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency are among the seats where the electoral exercise is taking place. However, in a first since 1998, Gandhi gave campaigning a miss in her constituency.

Elections for UP legislative assembly are being held in seven phases, with three more on February 27, March 4 and 8 to follow after today’s polling. Election results will be out on March 11.

The Tribune – Sutlej Yamuna Link Stir : How the day unfolded, Police’s forceful display foils breach bid

Jupinderjit Singh, Tribune News Service

Shambu-Patiala district-Panjab, 23 Februray 2017. The manual and technical expertise of the Punjab Police was on full display at the Punjab-Haryana border today to prevent INLD activists from reaching the SYL canal.

In contrast, the Haryana Police had far less men. They also fared poorly on the modern equipment front.

The Punjab Police deployment was supervised by a DGP-rank officer, while a DSP-level officer was the in-charge on the Haryana side. INLD activists easily breached the Haryana security rings, but could not cross the Punjab Police barricades.

The specially trained anti-riot police, equipped with body suits that guard against fire, acid and stone missiles; head gear; pellet bullets; and chilli spray, was prepared for any eventuality.

Multi-barrel launchers mounted on Vajra vehicles, drones and a helicopter were used to ensure peace and foil any attempt to breach the barricades.

The helicopter and drones caught the fancy of the media and residents alike as these were used for the first time.

The Punjab Police had drawn flak in the past for not having proper weaponry, modern equipment and permission to use the chopper in several pressing circumstances. Most of the modern equipment was bought after the police faced challenges such as the terror attack at Dinanagar and Pathankot Air Force station.

Learning from the past, the government provided its helicopter to the police for the third day consecutive today. Senior officials used it to survey the border.

On several occasions, the drones were flown over the Ghaggar bridge, from where INLD activists marched towards Punjab. Besides drones, CCTV cameras installed at key points recorded the INLD’s march and police arrangements.

The anti-riot contingent was the first line of defence. It was earlier deployed in Bargari village, where clashes took place over sacrilege incidents. These men have been undergone a minimum 45-day training to handle a riotous mob. They are the “wall” of the police defence.

More than 5,000 men and women drawn from six police districts, besides 10 battalions of the paramilitary force and personnel of reserve battalions were deployed along the border, specially at the Shambu bridge and entry points to Sarala and Kapoori villages.

Under the command of DGP (Law and Order) HS Dhillon, eight commandants of reserve battalions, five SSPs and two IGs remained on their toes the entire day.

Punjab DGP Suresh Arora supervised the entire operation from the headquarters.

BBC News – Can Akhilesh Yadav win back 222 million Indian voters?

Op/Ed, 17 February 2017. Five years after Akhilesh Yadav led his regional Samajwadi Party to a spectacular win in the politically crucial Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, he is seeking an encore in the ongoing assembly elections in the country’s most populous state.

The BBC’s Geeta Pandey recently spent a day travelling with him in his helicopter, as he hopped from one rally to another.

As our helicopter circles over the packed rally ground in a dusty village in western Uttar Pradesh, Mr Yadav is visibly pleased. “Look at that crowd, it’s a good turnout,” he tells me.

His political journey, however, has been far from smooth, especially in the past few weeks when he fought a very public battle with his father, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

As his diminutive figure emerges from the helicopter, waving and smiling, frenzied supporters cheer him lustily, shouting “Akhilesh bhaiya zindabad [long live brother Akhilesh]”.

The chants continue as he walks to the stage, party leaders garland him and shower him with flower petals, supporters wave flags, and victory signs are flashed. Many in the crowd push forward to get a better look at him.

The scorching sun beating overhead doesn’t seem to bother the thousands who have been waiting for several hours to hear him.

Speakers before him describe him as “hamare dil ki dhadkan” (our heartbeat) and “hamari umeed” (our hope).

In his speech, he lists the “achievements” of his government and the work he’s done to develop the state, the road network he’s built, the free laptops that have been distributed amongst students, the pension scheme that covers 5.5 million poor women and the 16 hours of daily electricity being provided to rural areas, with a promise to extend it to 24 hours if he’s re-elected.

The mostly young audiences clap loudly when he promises free smartphones for the youth.

Critics say that his supporters are lawless and that his is a party of goons.

Mr Yadav takes these allegations head on. “We’ve addressed the issues. We’ve improved policing, we’ve introduced a helpline for women, we’ve chosen women as candidates.”

His speech is laced with humour and sarcasm as he takes on his political rivals, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the regional Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The BJP has not nominated a chief minister candidate and is banking on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is campaigning extensively in the state. The BSP is led by Dalit icon Mayawati, a four-time chief minister of the state.

The election is being seen as Mr Modi’s biggest electoral test since he swept to victory in India in the summer of 2014, it is also being seen as a referendum on his recent decision to ban high value banknotes.

It’s a topic Mr Yadav never fails to raise. “The prime minister said he would put 1.5m rupees in each of your bank accounts when he gets the black money. Did that happen,” he asks? The crowd answers with a loud “no” and a man shouts back, “We didn’t even get 15 rupees.”

He talks about the baby who was born in a bank as his mother stood in a queue to withdraw money. “No one helped her except us. I gave her 200,000 rupees,” he says, to loud applause.

A win in the election is crucial for Mr Yadav, it will help cement the 43-year-old as the undisputed leader of the Samajwadis.

Why Uttar Pradesh (UP) matters

The state is India’s most populous with more than 222 million people, if it were a separate country, it would be the fifth largest in the world, after China, India, US and Indonesia.

It sends the largest number of 80 MPs to India’s parliament.

Several of India’s prime ministers have come from here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the city of Varanasi in the state to make his parliamentary debut in the 2014 general election.

The Indian election no-one can afford to lose

It will also vindicate his decision to forge an alliance with India’s main opposition Congress party. Mr Yadav says the alliance will attract secular people, the youth and the minority Muslim community, but some senior party leaders, including his father Mulayam Singh, have questioned the rationale behind the tie-up.

The family feud has also hurt his campaign, coming so close to the polls. He tells me that he had planned to travel the entire state in a campaign bus, but had to abandon the idea since he ran out of time. Also, his father and uncle, two of the biggest party leaders, are no longer campaigning.

But it has also helped him, over the past five years, critics said Mr Yadav was just a figurehead and the real power lay with his father, uncle and other senior leaders. He has now been able to blame much of the negativity of the past five years on them.

In a presidential-style campaign, the party is projecting him as the leader working for the development of the state. His election catchphrase “Kaam bolta hai” (work speaks), his youth and his clean image are helping to keep his personal stock high, so much so that even his political opponents describe him as “well behaved and well mannered”.

At one of the rallies, I walk away from the stage to talk to his supporters.

Daily wager Bhura (who uses only one name) says he will vote for Mr Yadav since “he’s built lots of new roads”, college student Samir Khan because “I got a laptop from his government”, and farmer Shishupal Singh Yadav for introducing farmer friendly schemes, “when my wheat crop was ruined in 2015 due to unseasonal rains, the government paid me compensation.”

At dusk as he wraps up his day-long campaign, and as we head back, he tells me his big theme in the past five years has been road building.

“I believe in double the speed, triple the economy,” he says. “It’s said that America built the roads, and roads built America. I want to connect every city in the state to the capital, Lucknow, so that you can reach there within five hours from wherever you are.”

I ask him how he rates his chances in the polls? “We will win at least 300 [of the 403] seats,” he says confidently.

As we descend over Lucknow airport, I ask him what his evening plans are?

There’s official work to be done, then he has to meet party leaders and workers, there’s time to be spent with his MP wife and their three children.

“Politics is not easy, not everyone can survive here. You need hard work, and then you need luck,” he says.

He’s doing the hard work. Now all he needs is some luck.