The Tribune – Akal Takht extends help to violence-hit people in Delhi

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 26 February 2020. Coming to extend helping hand to violence-hit people of the national capital, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Wednesday asked the Gurdwaras in Delhi to extend all kind of possible help to the victims.

Flaying the violence in Delhi, he said, in a statement, that “the principle of Sikhism is to take care of any victim who comes for help”.

“Violence in Delhi is condemnable. There are reports of deaths and injuries to people. It is principle of Sikhism to take care of any victim who comes for help. The situation in Delhi is serious and so the managements of all Gurdwaras in Delhi should help the victims of violence in this time of grief irrespective of their religion,” he added.

Hindustan Times – Takht Jathedar seeks probe into Delhi violence

He made the statement immediately after his return from Pakistan. The Jathedar, along with 12 other Sikhs, had gone to Pakistan to take part in a function to observe the anniversary of the Nankana Sahib massacre on 21 February.

HT Correspondent

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 25 February 2020. The acting Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh on Tuesday sought probe into the ongoing Delhi violence that has coincided with the visit of US President Donald Trump. At least 10 people have been killed in the national capital in the violence over the past two days.

He made the statement immediately after his return from Pakistan. The Jathedar, along with 12 other Sikhs, had gone to Pakistan to take part in a function to observe the anniversary of the Nankana Sahib massacre on February 21.

“See, when Bill Clinton (the then US president) had come to India in 2000, 36 Sikhs were killed in Jammu and Kashmir, and, now, when Trump is around, Delhi is burning. It should be probed why India sees violence whenever a US president is around?” he said.

The Jathedar said, “We talked to the Pakistan government and they agreed to open two gurdwaras, named after Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh and Bhai Money Singh (both Sikh martyers). The shrines will be opened after renovation.”

On being asked if he was satisfied with the apology of director general of police (DGP) for his Kartarpur remark, he said, “His mistake is very big and he should step down on moral ground.

The statement has hurt the sentiments of Sikh community,” adding, “I have spent five days in Pakistan and I have not become a terrorist. How can a person become a terrorist spending some hours there?”

On minorities’ condition in Pakistan, he said, “Minorities in Pakistan, especially the Sikh community, are safe and at peace. We met several Sikhs and no one complained of any type of persecution.”

Earlier, the Jathedar had said that Pakistan was a safe country and maximum Sikhs from India should visit all historic gurdwaras there.

The Jathedar had also met the family of a Sikh girl of Nankana Sahib who was allegedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim youth in Pakistan. “They informed me that the girl is under some pressure,” he said.

On the row over Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale’s interpretation of Gurbani and Sikh history, the Jathedar reiterated that he should appear before the five-member committee.

The Tribune – Malerkotla woman’s death brings communities together

Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus organise bhog ceremony after no one from kin came forward

Parvesh Sharma – Tribune News Service

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 23 February 2020. Muslims, with the help of Sikhs and Hindus, organised the “bhog” ceremony of a Sikh woman, Rani (55), in Malerkotla on Sunday. She passed away in her rented accommodation on 15 February. She was a divorcee and worked as a maid. After none turned up for the last rites, Muslims pooled in money cremated the body as per Sikh tenets.

“Rani got divorced 15 years ago. Since then, she had been staying at a colony in Malerkotla in a rented room owned by a Muslim family. With the help of our Sikh and Hindu brothers, we organised the ‘bhog’ and performed the ‘antim ardas’ at Gurdwara Sahib Baba Namdev in Malerkotla as per Sikh rituals,” said Aslam Kala, a Malerkotla resident.

After her death, the landlord, in whose house she was putting up, informed members of her family, but they refused to attend the cremation.

Sapinder Singh, a retired government employee, said: “Our Muslim brothers have made us proud and proved that we are united. But the attitude of Rani’s family has been shocking as they refused to perform her last rites. Her daughter had expressed her desire to come, but her husband did not allow her.”

“Aslam has followed Sikh rituals and we offered him support,” said Karnail Singh, another resident.

Hindustan Times – Pakistan is safe, maximum Sikhs from India should visit gurdwaras there: Akal Takht Jathedar

People of both India and Pakistan don’t need to fear visiting each other’s country. Pakistanis are loved by people in India, says the Jathedar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 24 February 2020. Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has said that Pakistan is a safe country and maximum Sikhs from India should visit all historic gurdwaras there.

In a video shared by Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Satwant Singh, the jathedar can be heard saying: “Historic gurdwaras hold big importance for SIkhs. ‘Darshan-didar’ of these gurdwaras has given me immense pleasure and peace of mind.

I have no word to recognise the love shown by Pakistan’s sangat and common people towards me. Not only me, locals also share warm vibes with every person coming from India here.”

“People of both India and Pakistan don’t need to fear visiting each other’s country. Pakistanis are loved by people in India,” Giani Harpreet Singh said.

He further said, “I would like to give a message to Sikhs living across India that they should come here in maximum numbers to have ‘darshan’ of historic gurdwaras.

By doing so, they will not only get the blessings of the Guru, but also get rid of illusions about the atmosphere in Pakistan. They will come to know that peace prevails in this country. So, Indian Sikhs should visit here.”

“We want historic gurdwaras, many of which are in a state of neglect, to be reopened. Footfall of Sikhs at these gurdwaras will help them getting restored,” said the jathedar.

Speaking on low footfall at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, which was the last resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak, the jathedar said, “Complicated procedure of getting permission for the pilgrimage and condition of passport are the main hurdles. Governments of both the countries should sit together to find out a solution.”

He appreciated the PSGPC’s efforts for the betterment of the gurdwaras and welfare of the Sikhs living in Pakistan. – Terrorists are trained in Nagpur, not Kartarpur

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 February 2020. Strongly reacting to Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta’s statement about Kartarpur, the Sikh Youth Federation Bhindranwala has said that the terrorists are trained at RSS’ headquarters in Nagpur, not at Kartarpur Sahib.

The SYFB has cited names of notorious Hindutva terrorists like Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya who are being shielded by the Indian state machinery despite committing heinous crimes.

Speaking to Sikh24, SYFB’s senior vice president Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal said that DGP Gupta has ultimately depicted the hate he is having towards Sikhs in his mind due to which the sacred Sikh shrine Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib also seems a center of terrorism to him.

“If paying obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib makes someone ‘terrorist’ then millions of Sikhs are going to become ‘terrorists’ proudly,” he said while adding that dubbing Sikhs and Muslims as terrorists was not a new thing in India.

Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal has posed a question to Dinkar Gupta that does he also feel same about the Hindu pilgrims who return after having a glimpse of Maan Sarovar in China.

Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal has sought immediate indictment of DGP Dinkar Gupta.

Terrorists are trained in Nagpur, not Kartarpur

The Tribune – Cartiers & Patiala necklace: On trail of a lost marvel

23 years after it wowed the West, ‘the Patiala Necklace’ went missing, only to be rediscovered in bits and pieces

Francesca Cartier Brickell

In the summer of 1925, the head Cartier Paris salesman was summoned to the elegant Hotel Claridge on the Champs-Élysées by a very distinguished client. One of the richest men in the world, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala didn’t do things by halves.

With five wives and a world-renowned appetite for every conceivable type of luxury, from Rolls-Royces to aircraft to diamonds, he personified Eastern splendour. When Jacques had visited him in India fourteen years earlier, the Maharaja had been more interested in selling gems than buying them, but now he had decided to update his heirlooms into a collection that would put his fellow Indian rulers in the shade.

Knowing from experience that the Indian ruler didn’t like to be kept waiting, M Muffat had made his way briskly from 13 Rue de la Paix toward Claridge. On arrival at the enormous royal suite, the salesman was shown through to the sitting room and asked to take a seat at a table by the window.

As he waited for his esteemed client to appear, a large wooden box was carried over and placed in front of him. Several minutes later, the imposing thirty-four-year-old ruler entered the room and gave instructions for the box to be opened.

Muffat peered inside. It was filled with what seemed to be hundreds of crumpled pages of newspaper. As he glanced up, confused, the Maharaja urged him to look closer. Muffat carefully opened one of the sheets of paper, and a large Burmese ruby fell onto the table.

As the ruler nodded his approval, Muffat kept going. The next paper enclosed a diamond as large as his thumbnail. And then another. And another.

There were white diamonds, yellow diamonds, brown diamonds, diamonds with a greenish tint, others with a hint of pink. There were deep red rubies and vivid green emeralds.

There were bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Muffat, a connoisseur of gemstones who had worked at Cartier for more than twenty years, tried hard to hide his awe and assume a professional expression.

The Maharaja of Patiala told Muffat that he was looking for his gems to be reset in a more modern style. He wanted, he explained, to have jewels worthy of a king. Muffat nodded respectfully and took out his notebook and silver pen. “What are you doing?” the Maharaja asked.

Muffat replied that he was simply writing down each piece of jewellery and every individual gemstone in the box so there would be a record of all the jewels that the ruler was depositing with Cartier. “I don’t need that!” the ruler responded quickly, never doubting for a second that Cartier was to be trusted. “Please just take them!”

It would take Cartier three years to turn the Maharaja’s gems into a collection of jewels that would go down in jewellery history.

There would be head ornaments, anklets, armlets, and traditional Indian jewels from a hathpul (worn on the back of the hand, linking bracelet and finger rings) to a diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire nath (nose ring).

More than two hundred pearls were drilled to make a single bracelet. But the piece de résistance was a necklace of such brilliance that it outshone everything else. Containing a staggering 2,930 diamonds and weighing over a thousand carats, it was mounted in platinum and enhanced by Burmese rubies.

And at its center was the yellow 234.6-carat De Beers diamond, the size of a golf ball and the seventh-largest diamond in the world.

For all its splendour and importance, the Patiala commission didn’t actually end up being financially that attractive for Cartier, primarily because the Maharaja supplied most of his own gemstones.

But it did do wonders for Cartier’s image in the West, where Indian rulers were the personification of untouchable magnificence. When Cartier displayed the Maharaja’s gems in an exhibition on 13 Rue de la Paix, visitors flocked from all over the world to see them.

J P Morgan of The New York Times reported, “was heard to say he had never seen anything like it.” “We are transported into the world of the One Thousand and One Nights,” the French magazine L’Illustration exclaimed. “This is a dream world, the incarnation of a fugitive Oriental dream!

The beauty and significance of this collection surpass the imagination.” If there had been any doubt as to Cartier’s prominence in the jewellery world, this made it crystal clear.

“In America, where we are fond of naming Kings, Cartier would be the King of Precious Stones. If it has not formally received the title, still it exercises its sovereignty. On two sides of the ocean, in the old continent as well as the new, Cartier is the uncontested master of gems.”

The Patiala necklace sparkled under the light of the Indian sun for two generations, a symbol of power, wealth, and exquisite European taste, but in 1948 it sparked controversy when it was reported missing from the Patiala royal treasury.

Nothing was heard of it for a further thirty-four years, at which point the De Beers diamond mysteriously reappeared, without the necklace, at a 1982 Sotheby’s auction (valued at $3 million).

Sixteen years after that, part of the necklace appeared in a small antiques shop in London. Obviously, the De Beers stone was missing, but so were all the other big diamonds.

It was bought by Cartier, who replaced the missing stones with replicas. It is said that if the necklace were in its original form today, complete with all the diamonds, it would be worth at least $30 million.

Excerpted with permission from the publisher

How did the Maharajas amass all this wealth ? Who really paid for it ?
Man in Blue

The Print – AAP & Akali Dal condemn Punjab DGP’s statement on Kartarpur, seek clarification from Punjab CM

Akali Dal leader Majithia alleged that DGP Gupta said Kartarpur corridor ‘offers a potential’ of people leaving as ‘ordinary chaps’ and coming back as ‘trained terrorists’.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 February 2020. The opposition SAD and AAP on Saturday slammed Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta’s for his purported statement on the Kartarpur corridor and sought clarification from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh within 24 hours.

Senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia warned, “If a clarification is not issued, the party will stall proceedings of the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha on 24 February.”

The Aam Aadmi Party too lashed out at the DGP, terming the statement condemnable and seeking the removal of the top cop.

Responding to the criticism over the statement he made at an event organised by a national daily on 20 February, the DGP said he was being “misunderstood or wilfully misconstrued” as his remarks strictly pertained the security and safety of Punjab and India.

SAD senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia said DGP Gupta had told a national daily that “Kartarpur offers a potential that you send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by evening he comes back as trained terrorist actually. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an IED”.

The DGP also reportedly said some elements based in the neighbouring country were “trying to woo the pilgrims and making overtures to them”.

“I condemn the statement in the strongest possible words. I do not think it is the statement given by the Punjab DGP, I see this coming from the Congress headquarters because this DGP was handpicked by overlooking several senior officers,” alleged Majithia.

Majithia dubbed the statement a “deep-rooted conspiracy” of the Congress to paint every Sikh pilgrim a “terrorist”.

“As many as 52,098 pilgrims have so far paid obeisance at the Kartarpur gurdwara. Please check and see which one of them became terrorist,” asked Majithia, alleging that they (Congress) were trying to get the corridor shut.

AAP MLA and the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, sought the DGP’s removal.

“The statement poses a threat to the country’s unity and integrity. The CM should lodge an FIR against him (DGP), put him behind bars and remove him from his post,” said Cheema.

Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gobind Singh Longowal also condemned the DGP’s statement and said the corridor gave a message of peace.

“With the DGP’s statement, sentiments of Sikhs have been hurt. So far, 50,000 devotees have offered prayers at the Kartarpur gurdwara and no such instance like what the DGP has said has come to the fore yet,” said Longowal in a statement.

Later in the day, DGP Dinkar Gupta said there was absolutely no reference to any religion or community in his remarks.

“I only red-flagged the obvious potential for the misuse by elements notorious for their hostility towards India and their efforts to exploit every opportunity, even the most pious one, to disturb peace and communal harmony,” said Gupta in a statement here.

Therefore, we need to be vigilant to such potential dangers in the interest of peace and security of the people of the state, who, he said, had already suffered a lot in the past at the hands of terrorism promoted by the hostile neighbour.

Gupta said as the DGP of the state, which is faced with continuing battle against violent extremism funded and supported from across the border, he cannot over emphasise the need to remain vigilant.

Clarifying his position, Gupta said he was “rejoiced” at the opening of the Kartarpur corridor which fulfilled the decades-old aspirations of millions of devotees.

The state government and all its agencies, including the Punjab Police, worked with great devotion and commitment to successfully observe the historic event (opening of Kartarpur corridor), he said.

“As the state DGP, I assure that we will continue to strive to work towards facilitating trouble-free access to the holy shrine of Kartarpur,” he said.

Earlier, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too had repeatedly warned that Pakistan had “nefarious designs” behind the opening of the Kartarpur corridor and had also maintained that while he was extremely happy as a Sikh at its opening, “the threat it posed to India could not be ignored”.

The Kartarpur corridor, which was opened on November 9 last year, links the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan–the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev–with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur of Indian Punjab.

AAP & Akali Dal condemn Punjab DGP’s statement on Kartarpur, seek clarification from Punjab CM – Dhadrianwala invites Akal Takht Jathedar for questioning him over TV channel

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 21 February 2020. Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala has invited officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh for questioning him on a TV channel. A short video of Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala in this regard has been posted by Facebook Page named “Parmeshar Dwar Gurmat Parchar Sewa Mission”.

In this video, Dhadrianwala has asked Akal Takht Jathedar to take the first 40 minutes of an hour long session to question him while demanding another 20 minutes for him.

“They have not delivered justice to anyone till date nor do I have any such hope from them,” Dhadrianwala could be listened in more than one long short video.

As per the information updated by FB Page, Dhadrianwala’s full video will be released today in which he is going to make a challenge to Damdami Taksal’s Amrik Singh Ajnala.

Dhadrianwala invites Akal Takht Jathedar for questioning him over TV channel

The Tribune – Will meet HM to push for SGPC polls: Rebel Akalis

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 20 February 2020. A day prior to holding a rally at Tarn Taran, Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa along with SAD (Taksali) secretary general Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sikh Federation leader Manjit Singh Bhoma on Thursday visited Bhupinder Singh Khalsa at his residence here.

Bhupinder had recently resigned from the post of SAD (NRI wing) general secretary based at the US while revolting against the top Akali leadership.

The leaders emphasised that in the present scenario, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president as well as Takht Jathedars were left as ‘rubber stamps’ whereas the Badals-led Akali leadership had been misutilising them for political gains.

“We want to free the SGPC from the Badals. Before occupying any political platform, our first move will be to prepare the candidates for the SGPC polls,” Dhindsa said.

He said a delegation would soon meet the Union Home Minister, demanding to hold the SGPC polls that were long overdue. He claimed that a set of people had shown solidarity with their vision of the revival of sanctity of Akal Takht and the SGPC. – UN chief pays obeisance, partakes langar at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Lahore – Panjab – India, 18 February 2020. Mr Antonio Guterres, the chief of United Nations, today paid obeisance at the historic Sikh Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak Sahib spent almost the last two decades of his life.

He also partook langar after traversing various parts of Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib complex during the afternoon hours.

Highly hailing Pakistan government for opening the Kartarpur corridor, Antonio Guterres said that the Kartarpur Corridor is a practical example of Pakistan’s desire for peace and inter-faith harmony.

Interacting with the media, he said the opening of the corridor is a good step and it will promote tolerance and interfaith harmony. He also appreciated the facilities being provided to Sikh pilgrims at the complex.

He was honored by the PSGPC officials and other Sikh representatives of Pakistan as per Sikh traditions.

UN chief pays obeisance, partakes langar at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib