The Indian Express – Tarn Taran Blast Case: NIA court dismisses bail plea of accused

The court observed that evidence pointed to the accused was active member of pro-Khalistan terrorist gang. The court said it was of the opinion that there was sufficient ground for believing that accusation against the applicant/accused is prima facie true.

A special NIA court has dismissed the bail application of one of the accused in Tarn Taran blast case. The accused Malkit Singh alias Shera had applied for the bail on health grounds. His plea was rejected Monday.

While the defence said that he was falsely implicated, it also added that the applicant was a patient of diabetes.

The Public Prosecutor appearing on behalf of the NIA submitted that there was more than sufficient evidence against the accused.

He submitted that during the course of investigation incriminating role of accused had emerged and he was highly radicalised towards Khalistan movement. The prosecution added that the accused was part of gang that had planned terrorist activities.

The court observed that evidence pointed to the accused was active member of pro-Khalistan terrorist gang. The court said it was of the opinion that there was sufficient ground for believing that accusation against the applicant/accused is prima facie true.

Shera is one of the accused in a bomb blast case which had taken place on the outskirts of Pandori Gola village in Tarn Taran district on September 4 last year.

The Tribune – Dalit women break shackles, seek share in reserved land

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 02 June 2020. Having stayed behind the veil for many years, local Dalit women have finally begun to stand up for their rights.

They have been leading protests against upper castes and the Panchayat Department, demanding 33 per cent reserved village common land on annual lease.

“It’s a fight for our self-respect. Five to six years back, in a majority of villages, upper castes, who had taken the land in the name of their Dalit servants, would cultivate the reserved land.

The Dalits would have to face humiliation whenever they went even to a roadside to get fodder for animals. But now we do not wish to remain landless,” said Nikki Kaur from Kulara village.

Parmjit Kaur, zonal secretary, Zameen Prapti Sangharash Committee, said they had been fighting for the reserved land for Dalits in about 50 villages of the district.

“This year, women have come in large numbers and with their support, we have succeeded in getting the reserved land for Dalits in 33 villages,” she said.

“In many villages, we have proved through joint farming that reserved land can help Dalits,” said a protester.

Bimal Kaur, district cashier, Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, said they were working in 40 villages of the district and had got the land allotted to Dalits in 33 villages. – Akal Takht directs SGPC to install Bhai Waryam Singh’s portrait in Central Sikh Museum

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 01 June 2020. In a press note shared with Sikh24, the SGPC appointed officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has informed that the portrait of political Sikh prisoner Bhai Waryam Singh will be installed in the Central Sikh Museum.

Giani Harpreet Singh has made this announcement a day before Bhai Waryam Singh’s Antim Ardas to be held at his village in Uttar Pradesh.

“Bhai Waryam Singh spent his whole life in jail while adhering to Sikh principles. Keeping in view his sacrifice, I have directed SGPC to install Bhai Waryam Singh’s portrait in the central Sikh museum,” said Giani Harpreet Singh.

It may be recalled here that 69 years old political Sikh prisoner Bhai Waryam Singh had passed away on 24 May. Following 26 years of imprisonment, he was released in 2016 considering his good conduct during imprisonment.

Also read :Political Sikh prisoner Bhai Waryam Singh passes away [

The Tribune – Punjab’s move to withdraw free power may trigger political storm

Jupinderjit Singh – Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 May 2020. The Punjab Government’s decision to withdraw free power facility from the farmers in a phased manner is set to trigger a political clash with the Shiromani Akali Dal saying it will launch an agitation to “save farmers.”

In response to the threat, the Congress said the SAD should first quit the coalition government at the Centre as the state government was being forced to follow the diktats of the Narendra government on the issue.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the party had been playing the role of a responsible Opposition by restricting protests to the virtual world only, but on the issue of farmers, the party will hit the streets.

Party insiders said the leaders might seek the “blessings” of Akal Takht, if needed, on the issue.

The party has called a meeting of its core committee on 30 May to chalk out the strategy on the matter. Notably, the farming community forms a major chunk of the Akali vote bank. The move to withdraw free power might give political fodder to it to reclaim much-needed support in the state.

“The Akalis should first resign from the coalition government at the Centre which is forcing the states to withdraw free power from farmers to get loans or funds from the Centre.

They should leave the coalition government and then talk about farmers,” said Sunil Jakhar, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

The Cabinet had on Wednesday decided that free power from farmers will be withdrawn in phases. The Cabinet said this was being done as the Centre had refused to help the state economically, arguing it had enough money to bail out the farmers.

The government said it would not burden the farmers and reimburse the power bills.

Free power leads to deeper and deeper bore-wells and further depletion of the goundwater level.
This will have catastrophic effect on Panjab, but neither SAD nor Congress have the guts to speak out for the long term interest of the state.

The Tribune – UK gurdwara vandalised, Takht wants action

Akal Takht and the SGPC have condemned the vandalism of Guru Arjan Dev Jee Gurdwara in Derby, UK, on Monday a day before the martyrdom day of the Guru.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 26 May 2020. The UK police have arrested a man believed to be a Pakistani. It has been learnt that the man had posted a message seeking support on the Kashmir issue and caused damage worth thousands of pounds.

Akal Takht officiating Jathedar Giani Hapreet Singh demanded the UK Government to ensure the safety of gurdwaras and Sikh citizens. “Like other gurdwaras across the world, the one in Derby is providing the needy with langar and other relief material in times of the Covid pandemic.

It is beyond my understanding why Sikhs are being targeted,” he said.

The Tribune – Labour crunch may push farmers to diversification

Ruchika M Khanna – Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 May 2020. For three decades, Punjab has been talking about diversification in agriculture, but to no avail. With specialised labour for paddy transplantation unavailable, the situation seems ripe for a change in the crop cycle.

The area under the water-guzzling non-basmati paddy is set to be reduced by almost 3 lakh hectares, as farmers will find it difficult to either buy new machinery for direct seeding or labour to transplant the crop. This clearly means that more and more farmers will opt for basmati or other cash crops like cotton and maize.

Official data shows that area under paddy, including basmati, is expected to be reduced from 29.30 lakh hectares in the last kharif marketing season to 26.30 lakh hectares now. Of 26.30 lakh hectares under paddy, 7 lakh hectares will be under basmati varieties. “With Vietnam stopping the export of basmati, a huge opportunity lies ahead for Indian farmers and exporters,” says M S Sidhu, an agro-economist.

“The area under basmati will increase from 6 lakh hectares last year to 7 lakh hectares this year, especially as exports look promising after we banned nine pesticides to make it export-compliant,” says Vishwajit Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary, Development.

Other than basmati, it is cotton which is expected to get a major push with an expected increase of 1 lakh hectares, from 4 lakh hectares last year to 5 lakh hectares this year. Khanna says a lot of mechanised interventions (vacuum pluckers for cotton and drilling of maize seeds) are being made in the cultivation of alternative crops, which is expected to help farmers wean away from paddy.

“The largest shift, however, will be in area under maize. Traditionally, maize was grown in Doaba and the kandi belt, but last year, we made concerted efforts to bring 8,000 hectares under maize in Malwa. This year, the target is to increase the area from 1.6 lakh hectares last year to 3 lakh hectares, mainly in the Malwa belt,” says Sutantar Kumar Airi, Director, Agriculture.

Many farmers, however, feel that they will grow maize only if its MSP is assured. Last year, the cotton growers had suffered losses as they were forced to sell their produce at prices below the MSP.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, BKU (Rajewal), says the price of last year’s maize crop has dropped drastically and the farmers are resorting to distress sale. “In such a scenario, the government will have to assure the farmers a good return for the programme to be successful,” he says.

The Indian Express – Devotees use four entrances at Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib], Health Department says aware of only one

After the lifting of the curfew, devotees have been thronging to the holy shrine again. While social distancing is advised, it is not strictly imposed and further it is not common practice among devotees to cover their faces with masks inside.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2020. While four entrances are open for all devotees to enter the premises of the Golden Temple, the state Health Department has been screening devotees only at one. In fact, the Health department has even claimed that it is not aware that devotees have been using any other entrance except the one manned by it.

Nodel Officer for Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] and SMO, Mannawala, Dr Nirmal Singh said: “It is not in my knowledge that four entrances are open for the devotees. SGPC hasn’t informed me about it. Our team has been screening devotees at the Plaza entrance.

Sometimes we single out suspected persons who are weak for proper investigation. We have not kept count of number of devotees screened since the corona-virus outbreak.” He added that a 10-member Health Department team is deployed at Harmandr Sahib.

However, SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh said, “Our responsibility is inside the Harmandr Sahib. How the devotees enter the premises and from where they should enter, it is all related to administration and Health Department.”

He added: “We had made it very clear that we cannot stop devotees. We cannot close entrance to the Harmandr Sahib in any way. It is not possible. Administration had imposed curfew in the city. When curfew was imposed strictly, then very few devotees were coming because roads leading to Harmandr Sahib were closed.

We have been taking all the precautions inside the Golden Temple. It is for the administration to decide which path they have to open for the devotees to reach the Golden Temple. Roads belong to administration and they can decide which road to open and which one to close. Devotees will obviously use any open road to reach Harmandr Sahib.”

The Health Department has setup a canopy at the Plaza entrance, however, very small number of devotees have been entering from this side.

Most of the devotees have been entering from the community kitchen [langar] entrance, Akal Takht secretariat entrance and from Darshan Deori just opposite the Akal Takht secretariat entrance.

At all four entrances, SGPC employees are deployed to make devotees sanitise their hands.

At the community kitchen entrance, a “donated” sanitisation tunnel has been placed and SGPC workers along police personnel man this side.

“We try to control the devotees. Sometimes we ask people in queue to wait so that devotees already inside premises can leave and make space for them. We make attempt to control the number of devotees inside the premises,” said an SGPC official.

After the lifting of the curfew, devotees have been thronging to the holy shrine again. While social distancing is advised, it is not strictly imposed and further it is not common practice among devotees to cover their faces with masks inside.

SMO Nirmal Singh added: “Devotees are not in the habit of wearing masks inside the premises. I have observed that many devotees have an issue with wearing masks after entering inside. Maybe, it has to do something with devotion. We don’t know. We haven’t discussed this issue at any meeting.”

An SGPC official added: “We ask all devotees to maintain social distancing and cover their faces with masks. But you cannot force a devotee to do a particular thing inside the Harmandr Sahib premises.

Even outside the Harmandr Sahib, people have been in roaming without masks in the main markets of city. Government should make people strictly wear masks everywhere and then its impact will also be there inside Golden Temple.”

On devotees not wearing masks inside Harmandr Sahib premises, Roop Singh said: “Our employees repeatedly ask people to cover their faces and most of the devotees do cover their faces.”

Amritsar Civil Surgeon Jugal Kishore didn’t respond to repeated calls. Amritsar Deputy commissioner also could not be reached over the issue. – Punjab police cops brutally thrash Sikh journalist Major Singh

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 22 May 2020. Unnecessary glorification of Punjab police cops by the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has made them so much fearless that they have now started physically assaulting the media persons.

Although, the India-wide police cops keep on crushing the freedom of speech and expression, but now they have also started brutally thrashing journalists by illegally taking them to Police station.

Such an incident has come to fore in Mohali where two police cops namely ASI Om Parkash and Amar Nath forcibly took a Sikh journalist Major Singh to Phase-1 police station of Mohali and brutally thrashed him.

Major Singh works as a correspondent for Rozana Pehredar from Mohali and Chandigarh. He is renowned for his work on Sikh issues.

Available information reveals that Major Singh was seeking Police’s version about the video of a person arrested in relation to a Gurdwara dispute.

The police cops thrashed Major Singh so brutally that he had to admit in a hospital situated in Phase-6 of Mohali.

Meanwhile, Dal Khalsa has strongly condemned the attack on Sikh journalist Major Singh.

Last month, the Punjab police had arrested scores of Sikh youths including a Sikh journalist Bhupinder Singh just for dissenting over Punjab police’s theory on Patiala incident.

Punjab police cops brutally thrash Sikh journalist Major Singh

Hindustan Times – Devotees offer more wheat to Golden Temple (Harmandr Sahib) langar

The community kitchen [langar], serving meals to the needy, receives double quantity of wheat offering this year as compared to last year

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2020. “We have never received such a large quantity of wheat crop earlier from the villagers during the rabi season at Sri Guru Ram Das Langar (community kitchen of Harmandr Sahib) which is witnessing huge heaps of wheat bags offered by the sangat (community) from various parts of Punjab, with the grace of Guru Sahib”.

This was observation of one of the regular volunteers who serves the devotees in the langar, considered as the largest community kitchen in the world offering free food round-the-clock daily to the needy people.

Amid Covid-19 pandemic when many people have become jobless due to the lock-down, the Harmandr Sahib langar has been feeding a large number of people, including stranded migrant workers.

On the other hand, collection of money offered by devotees has witnessed a drastic dip due to lock-down when very few devotees are able to pay obeisance at the holiest Sikh shrine.

The dip in collection had worried the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) as a sizeable portion of it is spent on serving langar (free food). However, the unprecedented response given by the devotees in the form of wheat and other grocery items have lessened the SGPC’s worries.

“Ever since the harvesting season has ended, tractor-trailers, trucks and other vehicles, loaded with langar items, including wheat, are reaching the kitchen daily from the villages in large numbers,” said Sukhbir Singh, manager of the community kitchen.

“Wheat is the most consumed food item in the langar. Last year, around 34,000 quintal wheat flour was consumed in the langar and quantity of wheat grains offered by the sangat during the harvesting season last year was 13,000 quintals. However, nearly 26,000 quintal wheat has been offered by sangat so far this season. And the arrival is going on yet,” said SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh.

“Guru Ka Langar is run with the cooperation of sangat. As community kitchens of all gurdwaras are feeding the needy during the lockdown, the sangat is very enthusiastic to contribute to the service of humanity,” he added.

Kulbir Singh, granthi of a gurdwara in Dhadiala village of Hoshiarpur, who along with villagers came with 33 quintal wheat, said “In my living memory, residents of my village never brought so much wheat to the Harmandr Sahib. Actually, some youths of my village asked all farmers to devote at least one wheat bag in view of the pandemic”.

Captain Tarlok Singh (retd) of village Firoz Singh Wala in Kapurthala district and residents of Chak Allah Baksh village of Mukerian sub-division of Hoshiarpur also said that they have brought wheat and other grocery items for the first time. Jaswinder Singh of Chak Allah Baksh said they brought 500 quintal wheat from their village in the past few days.

Notably, after the record dip in money collection, SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal had appealed to the community to contribute to the kitchen to keep it running without any hassle.

The Tribune – Reveal ‘truth’ about lunch diplomacy outcome: MLA

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 22 May 2020. Qadian MLA Fateh Jang Bajwa today dared senior party leaders to reveal the truth about the outcome of their luncheon meeting with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh at latter’s residence on Wednesday.

Four party leaders, PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa, Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and MLA Pargat Singh, had been invited for the luncheon by the Chief Minister amid face-off between the ministers and Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh.

“The leaders had been asking for the removal of the Chief Secretary. If the leaders had put their strong point of view before the Chief Minister, the latter must have given his reply to them and must have convinced them that the Chief Secretary was a good officer who is about to retire. They should tell the truth to the people,” Bajwa said.

Stating that one can understand CM’s point of view that removing the top bureaucrat will give a wrong message to the bureaucracy, he said the political class also had to show its face to the public.