– British Army delegation pays obeisance at Sri Harmandr Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. On December 11, a delegation of British Army comprising Brigadier Jen Harvey, Colonel John Candle, Captain Krez Bikertan, Captain Jagjit Singh and Warrant Officer Ashok Chauhan paid obeisance at sanctum sanctorum Sri Harmandr Sahib.

Notably, these delegation members had come to India for attending a seminar organized at Khalsa College in the memory of Saragarhi martyrs by the Saragarhi Foundation (New York).

These delegation members also met the officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh at Akal Takht secretariat where they were honored with Siropas (robes of honor).

They also paid obeisance at Gurdwara Saragarhi Sahib situated on the way leading to Sri Harmandr Sahib.

SGPC’s executive member Jagsir Singh Mangeana, Chief Secretary Dr Roop Singh, Secretary Avtar Singh Sainpla, Sri Harmandir Sahib’s Manager Jaswinder Singh Deenpur, Chairman of Saragarhi Foundation Gurinderpal Singh Josan, President Kuldeep Singh Kahlon, Taranbir Singh Benipal, Bibi Kamaljit Kaur Pannu, Additional Managers Sukhraj Singh and Iqbal Singh Mukhi, Jaspal Singh, SGPC’s Information Officer Amritpal Singh etc. were also present on this occasion.

British Army delegation pays obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib

The Tribune – ‘Any history of SAD has to be critical of Badals’

Jupinderjit Singh

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 15 December 2019. From a mass movement of the Sikhs having representatives from all parts of Punjab and even abroad, the Shiromani Akali Dal is now a party controlled by one family only, says historian G S Dhillon, echoing the viewpoint of a number of distinguished members of the community who have watched and commented on the party from close quarters for long.

As the Akali Dal enters its centenary year, Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University and an eminent historian, terms the year-long anniversary celebrations “mere means to divert attention of the Sikhs from the real issues confronting the Panth”.

‘Compromises made to stay in power’

Parkash Singh Badal was the first political careerist in the party. When it becomes a career, many compromises are made to stay in power. A party which was against Mahants and deras supported these very groups to get votes. The result is before us. This has resulted in mushrooming of many Akali Dals.

Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur, former Pro-VC, GNDU

“The party has for the last several years focussed on rituals, but failed to rise to the challenge when incidents of sacrilege happened, or when the controversial pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief was planned. Most recently, it failed to counter effectively when the verdict on Ayodhya mentioned Sikhism as a cult of Hindus,” he says.

Akali Dal “may not survive the way it is now, but there will always be a group representing the interest of the Sikh community, especially in the present condition in the country where a group like the Akali Dal can prevent the ongoing onslaught on minorities in the country”, he adds.

Party is face of the Sikh to the world’

Shiromani Akali Dal represents the face of the Sikh to the world. The grit of the Sikhs to revolt against any form of injustice, during ‘lehars’(movements), led to the formation of the Akali Dal. Despite conceding to the Indian form of democracy, the Akali Dal has always stood for getting a greater share of power to the states. The party has always argued for a federal structure of government.

Jagmeet Brar, former MP

Veteran journalist and author Jagtar Singh Sandhu says the party has had many high points of contribution, only to reach a dismal low now. “The journey is aptly described as from Golden Temple to Chandigarh. The party came into being because of Sikh religion but when it closed its office in Golden Temple and shifted base to Chandigarh, it reflected the change away from the core Sikh issues.”

People used to own Akali Dal as their own, recalls Sandhu. “All morchas began from their office in Amritsar and yet it was done away with.”

The party Constitution, he points out, says its topmost agenda is protection of Sikh religion and objectives of the community. “The SAD came into being as a youth wing of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for fighting for control of Sikh places of worship, which in 1920 were controlled by Mahants. Today, the SAD controls the SGPC and even the Jathedars.”

The worst turn, he adds, came when “party patriarch Parkash Singh Badal summoned three Jathedars to his house for the pardon to the Sirsa Dera chief, a move that triggered the biggest crisis for the party, from which it is yet to come out”.

Professor J S Grewal, a well-known historian and classmate of Parkash Singh Badal, has seen the party from close quarters. The party wanted him to pen a book on the SAD’s history, but never released the book. “My book was not to praise anyone, but to write the real history. For that, truth has to be told. No history of the Akalis can be written without criticism of the role of the Badals,” he says.

A former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Professor Grewal emphaises that there is no democracy in the Akali Dal now. “It is a party of one family: all powers are wrested with the Badal family.”

Dr Kapur points out that the Akali Dal was a movement for safeguarding the Sikh Panth but after the emergence of Badal, it became a party of career politicians.

Professor Grewal also feels that owing to changes in the party, many independent-minded leaders quit. “Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is the only one left,” he says.

Bir Devinder Singh, a senior leader of SAD (Taksali), feels the Sikhs are still in search of their ultimate destiny as per the ethos of the Sikh faith, but the Akali leadership has failed miserably to come to the expectation of the Sikh community as a whole, and failed and fumbled every time it was expected to resolve decisively.

As the Shiromani Akali Dal marked its 99th foundation day on Saturday, a parallel event was organised by the rebel Akalis, and their theme revolved around “an Akali Dal without the Badals”. That’s easier said than done. As patriarch Parkash Singh Badal reiterates: “We are the Shiromani Akali Dal. Period.” – Akal Takht panel invites Dhadrianwala for discussion on his controversial utterances

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. The five member committee constituted by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has sent an invitation to Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala to get his viewpoints about some of his controversial utterances. This invitation has been sent by Dr Chamkaur Singh, who coordinates this five member committee.

It is learnt that this five member committee has invited Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala at Gurdwara Sri Dukh Niwaran Sahib on December 22 at 12 pm.

However, it is being speculated that Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala will not meet these committee members because he had been repeatedly giving such indications in his religious programs.

Notably, this five member committee comprising of Dr Paramvir Singh, Principal Prabhjot Kaur, Gurmeet Singh, Dr Amarjit Singh and Dr Inderjit Singh was constituted by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh following several complaints against Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala.

Does not everybody have the right to utter ‘utterances’, controversial or not ?
The most the committee can do is say: Ranjit Singh’s ‘utterances’ do not agree with Gurmat !
Man in Blue

The Tribune – Unconstitutional, divisive CAB will not be implemented in Punjab: Amarinder

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. Terming the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as a direct assault on India’s secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.

Asserting his commitment to the protection of the Constitutional ethos of the country, Captain Amarinder said the Congress, which has a majority in the State Assembly, would block the unconstitutional Bill in the House.

His government, on its part, would not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity, said the Chief Minister a day after the controversial Bill was also passed in the Rajya Sabha.

The Parliament had no authority to pass a law that defiled the Constitution and violated its basic principles and fundamental rights of the people of India, said the Chief Minister, declaring CAB to be ‘null and void’ on account of the fact that it was against the tenets and values contained in the Constitution.

Pointing to the divisive nature of the law, Captain Amarinder said any legislation that seeks to divide the people of the country on religious lines was illegal and unethical, and could not be allowed to sustain.

It was the duty of an elected government to safeguard the cherished values ingrained in the Constitution and not destroy them, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that he would not let such a Constitutional violation take place under his regime.

“How can you leave out a large section of the Indian population from the protection they have been getting since we declared India a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty…”, asked Captain Amarinder, pointing out that by linking citizenship with religion, CAB would hit out at the very foundation of the nation.

“What if other countries, where Indians are settled in large numbers and have acquired their citizenship, decide to bring in similar legislations? What will happen to those Indians if the countries of their stay decide to withdraw their citizenship on account of their religious beliefs,” asked the Chief Minister.

The move, Amarinder said, was retrograde and regressive, and sought to take India back from the progressive charter mandated by its Constitution.

Instead of using brute majority in Parliament to push the Bill through, the central government should have discussed the matter with all parties and tried to evolve a consensus, if at all it felt the legislation was in the interest of India and its people, he added.

The Indian Express – Panjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pakistan traders say they won’t participate

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. Discouraged by their visas being rejected for the last two years, Pakistani traders have not sent any names for participation in the Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX), 2019, which is set to begin in Amritsar on Thursday.

“In the past we had participation of more than 150 traders in this annual international trade festival. We organise PITEX in Amritsar to encourage trade between East and West Punjab. But our efforts are falling apart since the last two years as the Ministry of External Affairs does not give visa to Pakistani traders,” R S Sachdeva, mentor, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, told The Indian Express.

The 14th edition of PITEX is being organised here by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

“This year too we had sent an invitation to Pakistan traders. But they replied that they will not apply for visa as they might be rejected again. They were discouraged as MEA didn’t approve any visa for last two years. It is the first time they have decided not to apply due to expected response of MEA,” said Sachdeva.

He further said, “On one side the Kartarpur Corridor has been opened and Pakistan government has set-up a market alongside gurdwara where devotees love to shop. But the same traders cannot sell their goods by crossing the border.

We have asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to send a fresh note to the Union government to allow Punjab trade with Pakistan in a changed scenario after the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. Punjab has great trading opportunities with Pakistan. Punjab and Indian government must think about exploring these.”

However, Pakistani products will also be on display and for sale during the event. Five traders have been attending the event as they have SAARC visas.

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Sachdeva said, “PITEX will be inaugurated on December 12 by Punjab Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora. Apart from leading corporates, PITEX will see participation from PSIEC, GMADA, Punjab Agro Industry Corporation, PEDA, Milkfed, Markfed, amongst others. A number of central government departments are also participating.”

Karan Gilhotra, chairman, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, said there will be a session on ‘Tourism: Fuelling growth and goodwill’ which will be attended by the tour, travel and hospitality industry. Over 400 stalls have been set up in over 20,000 sq mts. Organisers said that there were around 3 lakh visitors last year and this year number is expected to cross 3.5 lakh.

Punjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pak traders say they won’t participate

The Tribune – Sikh activists barred from entering Kashmir

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 09 December 2019. Citing law and order, activists of the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were today barred from entering Jammu and Kashmir. They were scheduled to go to Srinagar to hold a peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk to observe Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Acting upon the orders of the Kathua magistrate, the police intercepted them at the Madhopur-Kathua interstate border.

The protesters were carrying placards to convey their message and sought release of political prisoners in Kashmir and Punjab.

Dal Khalsa leader H D Dhami said when Home Minister Amit Shah had announced that everything was normal in Kashmir, why were they not allowed to go there? “This prompts us to say that there is no normalcy in Kashmir and Union Government has been telling lies to hoodwink the world,” he said.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, while speaking at the sit-in at the border, said, “It is ironical that even on the occasion of Human Rights Day, we were not allowed to talk and uphold human rights.”

The agitating Sikh leaders said it would be brought to the notice of the United Nations Human Rights Council how Kashmiri people had been reeling under state repression since the August 5 lockdown. – CBI reopens investigation into sacrilege cases of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 December 2019. Around five months after filing a closure report on sacrilege cases, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has reopened three sacrilege cases related to Burj Jawahar Singh and Bargari.

It is learnt that six CBI sleuths reached Burj Jawahar Wala on 03 December and recorded statement of six persons including Gora Singh, the granthi of the gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, cashier Pritam Kaur, one Ranjit Singh and three other villagers.

It is noteworthy here that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a closure report in sacrilege cases on 04 July in three cases pertaining to the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Later, the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has nullified the CBI’s closure report.

These three cases pertain to the theft of a holy saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from village Burj Jawahar Singh in June-2015, pasting of provocative posters in Bargari and committing sacrilege by scattering the sacred Angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Bargari.

On being approached by media, Gora Singh informed that the CBI team repeated all those questions which were asked by different investigating agencies and judicial commissions in the past four years.

While a SIT of the Punjab Police had nominated three followers of Dera Sacha Sauda: Mohinder Pal Bittu (who was killed in Nabha Jail on June 22 this year), Sukhjinder Singh and Shakti Singh, the filing of the closure report by the CBI in this case had led to a lot of political uproar.

In this political and religious upheaval over the sacrilege incidents and the filing of the closure report by the CBI, in August this year, the agency had taken a U-turn and approached the CBI Special Court in Mohali, saying it wanted to carry on the probe in these three cases.

CBI reopens investigation into sacrilege cases of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari

The Tribune – In a first, climate-sustainable agriculture on the agenda

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Mohali – Panjab – India, 06 December 2019. For the first time, climate sustainable agriculture was the focus of policy makers, agriculturists, agriculture scientists and the agro industry in Punjab, rather than just value addition or increasing farmers’ incomes.

As all stake holders in the agriculture sector got together during a session on “Agri and Food Processing: Value Addition to Agri Economy” during the second day of Progressive Punjab Investors Summit, they underlined the need to have climate sustainable agriculture as climate change crisis looms large, threatening the production of food.

The summit saw an engaging discussion by experts on traceability of seeds; use of artificial intelligence; reducing use of chemicals and switching to natural farming techniques; and increasing rotational crops.

Vishwajit Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary, Development, Punjab, said that huge ecological and environmental problems are emerging because of stubble burning of paddy and due to extensive use of water for paddy cultivation.

“We need to wean away farmers from water guzzling paddy and introduce farmers to high-value crops while the agro industry too upgrades to utilise the crops they grow,” he said.

“Because of climate change, climate resilient agriculture is the next big challenge and a big business opportunity which the industry can leverage,” said eminent agriculture scientist Prabhakar Rao. He also underlined the need to go in for indigenous seeds that would be more suitable to the states’ climate.

Neel Kingston, executive Vice-President, ITC, said that they too were approaching the climate change challenge head-on by having several interactive sessions with farmers, by showcasing and propagating the use of climate and pest-resilient crop practices.

Other panelists: Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Punjab Farmer Commission; Ingio Anton, MD, CN IIFCO; and Prashant Vatkar, CEO, Godrej Tyson; too spoke on the issue. – SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 December 2019. The apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has sought passports from the Sikhs aspirant of celebrating next year’s Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib (Pakistan). Notably, the Sikh jatha from India will depart from India to celebrate Vaisakhi in April-2020.

Sharing the development with media, SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Bath informed that the aspirant Sikh devotees can submit their passports at SGPC’s headquarters in Amritsar Sahib by 30 December. “A proof of identity, either Aadhar Card or Voter Card, passport size fresh photographs along with a recommendation letter from the concerned SGPC constituency will also be required,” he added.

SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

Hindustan Times – Kartarpur travel not allowed, US citizen creates scene at ICP

His travel documents were not complete

HT Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, A young Sikh US citizen created a scene at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) here on Friday when he was denied passage to Kartarpur Sahib as his travel documents were not complete.

According to the information, Amritpal Singh, 23, went to the immigration counter and showed the slip that he had applied online for travel to Kartarpur Sahib. When the officials asked for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) slip, he failed to produce that.

He argued with the immigration officials and created a scene after which the officials called the BSF, who took him out of the ICP.

It is also learnt that officials of the IB also questioned him and later he was handed over to Batala police.

Batala SSP Opinderjeet Singh Ghuman said they were investigating. During preliminary questioning, the police found nothing objectionable. “If the immigration officials lodge a complaint against him, action will be taken accordingly, otherwise, he will be released soon,” he said.

Amritpal has a valid passport and Oversees Citizen of India (OCI) card and after showing these cards. As per the guidelines, a foreign national is allowed to travel only if he/she has the OCI card and once the application is received online, ETA is issued, which is necessary for the pilgrimage.