The Tribune – Assembly session called to scuttle Insaaf March: Simarjit Singh Bains

Book Badals for sacrilege incidents, demands Sukhpal Singh Khaira

Sukhmeet Bhasin, Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo – Panjab – India, 08 December 2018. Rebel Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira and his group of MLAs, Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjit Singh Bains and MP Dharamvira Gandhi along with the support of religious and social organisations started Insaaf March from Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo on Saturday.

The march will conclude at Patiala on 16 December after passing through various villages in Bathinda, Sangrur and Patiala districts.

Addressing the gathering, Bains alleged that the state government had deliberately called the three-day Vidhan Sabha session to sabotage the march led by 10 MLAs.

He added that all 10 MLAs would not attend the Assembly session, instead would go to people’s session.

He claimed that earlier during the Bargari march, both Congress and SAD had organised rallies at Lambi and Patiala, respectively, to sabotage their march, but still people turned out in large numbers.

Khaira said the Akal Takht Jathedar should take away the Faqr-e-Quam title from Parkash Singh Badal and case should be registered against the Badal family over sacrilege incidents.

Besides, the Jathedar should call Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to the Akal Takht for taking a “false vow” and claiming that he would end drugs in the state after assuming power.

Further lashing out at SAD and Congress, Khaira said in the past 70 years these two parties had not been able to resolve the stray cattle menace, despite taking cow cess from the people. He alleged that both SAD and Congress looted Punjab.

Dr Gandhi said, “Punjab is facing economic, religious and political crisis. The condition is such that a large number of people are going abroad in search of employment.”

They claimed that they were holding this march to mobilise people on various issues concerning the state, including betterment of farmers and youth.

Meanwhile, the United Akali Dal and Dal Khalsa announced support to Khaira for the march. UAD president Mokham Singh took part in the march.


The Hindu – Kartarpur game plan of ISI, says Amarinder Singh

‘The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI’

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 December 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the fact that Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa had broken news of the opening of the “’Kartarpur corridor” to Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their Prime Minister, was indicative of “a bigger conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan Army.”

An official statement, citing an interview of Captain Amarinder Singh to a TV channel, said, “The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI. A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by the Pakistan Army against India.

Since Partition

Captain Amarinder said the demand for the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor had been pending since Partition as several holy Sikh shrines (Sri Nankana Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib) had been left in Pakistan.

Even former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue. He said he himself had raised this issue with his Pakistan Punjab counterpart Parvez Elahi, and with the then President, Pervez Musharraf, during his previous tenure as the chief minister.

“The Sidhu affair was being unnecessarily hyped, and those raising it had clearly failed to see the ISI’s game plan,” he added.

Captain Amarinder said Imran Khan was undoubtedly making efforts to bring peace and harmony to India, but at the same time, he should also prevail upon the top brass of Pakistani Army, “to ensure that killing of our soldiers at the borders is stopped immediately.” – Punjab government approves Rs 1.59 billion to develop and beautify Dera Baba Nanak area

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 December 2018. Highly hailing the initiative of India and Pakistan on Kartarpur corridor, the Punjab government has termed the move as a historic step.

A resolution in this concern was passed by the Punjab cabinet on December 3 announcing constitution of a Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the development and beautification of the area in and around Dera Baba Nanak ahead of the 550th birthday celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

It is noteworthy here that the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has already announced a slew of development projects for upgrading the infrastructure and facilities for the millions of pilgrims expected to visit the area during the historic occasion, for which the year-long celebrations were kicked off by the state government on November 23 this year.

“The cabinet, at its meeting here, said with the laying of the foundation stone for the corridor, a long-pending demand of the Sikhs had been fulfilled, thus paving the way for opening the way for devotees to visit the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara, close to the Line of Control” reads a press release from the Chief Minister’s Office.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sanctioned Rupees 1.59 billion for the beautification of Dera Baba Nanak town.

Sikh24 has learnt that these funds will be used for developing the road running through the main market of Dera Baba Nanak on the lines of the Amritsar heritage street. The project work is expected to begin later this week.

“A sum of Rupees 90 million has been earmarked for improving facilities, including the installation of street lights, within the Municipal Committee limits of the town” informed the local legislator Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

He added that Rupees 610 million have been reserved for implementing a project to draw water from the Uppar Bari Doab Canal for supplying the water to 40 villages of the constituency facing water scarcity.

NDTV – “Hope India Will Respond Positively To Kartarpur Corridor”: Pakistan PM

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army on Thursday hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On 28 November Mr Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on 26 November Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Addressing the Cabinet, Mr Khan said: “Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur (border opening) a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage… This is not true. We did it because it is part of (the ruling) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” he said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” Mr Khan said, without explaining.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

“It is to them (Sikhs) what Medina is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” the Prime Minister said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

Mr Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Mr Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year, the highest in history.

The Statesman – Military Literature Festival 2018 begins with tribute to Indian soldiers of WWI

Open for all, the three-day MLF is being attended by military historians from India and abroad, authors, and serving as well as retired military personnel.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 December 2018. The second edition of Military Literature Festival kicked started on Friday with sessions by noted military historians, experts, and defence strategists during various panel discussions on topical subjects related to military history and literature.

Open for all, the three-day MLF is being attended by military historians from India and abroad, authors, and serving as well as retired military personnel.

The Festival is a joint initiative of distinguished military historian and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, with full support extended by the Western Command, Indian Army.

Besides panel discussions and shows related to various wars and military, the MLF will also include martial dances, weapons display, medallion gallery, artists’ corner, cultural activities and exhibitions, food and cuisine, book fair, children’s Saragarhi Samvadh.

Inaugurating the MLF at the Lake Club Chandigarh, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore dedicated it to the valour of the over 74,000 Indians who had laid their lives in the First World War.

He termed the MLF as a befitting tribute to the unknown martyrs, to mark centenary year of the Great War.

Recalling the unparalleled sacrifice of the Indian soldiers in the two World Wars, the Governor said, “This year also marks the centenary of the Great War of 1914-1918, a time for remembrance of the 74,000 Indians who fell and 67, 000 others who were severely wounded, many of whom never recovered, and they lie in, or their ashes are interred in foreign fields”.

Badnore said that it was a matter of great pride for the country that sent 1.3 million soldiers in these expeditions. The Indian soldiers proved their mettle in these missions by winning 11 Victoria Crosses and significantly six more were won by British officers leading Indian troops, he added.

The Governor expressed satisfaction that during the festival, many important speakers would also focus on the known and unknown facets of these wars to make the younger generation aware of the unique role of Indian soldiers in these expeditions.

He appreciated the fact that the MLF was not confined to the World Wars but will also focus on the heroism and unparalleled courage of the great Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, and many other such warriors who have always been a great source of inspiration.

The MLF is also going to have deliberations on Mahabharata, the world’s longest epic, which was set in this very region, he noted.

Describing Punjab as the Sword Arm of the nation and the Tricity of Chandigarh as the retirement hub of military stalwarts, the Governor said that on assuming charge of Administrator UT, he found that approximately 90 Lieutenant Generals and 133 Major Generals were living in the City Beautiful after retirement.

“I found that no other city that I know of can boast of so many senior and distinguished retired and serving officers staying in one city,” he said.

Outlook India – Amritsar Train Tragedy: Magisterial report on probe gives clean chit to Navjot Kaur Sidhu

Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the chief guest at the Ravana effigy burning event where the incident took place and had said earlier that she came to know about the accident as soon as she left the site.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 06 December 2018. A report of the magisterial probe into the Amritsar train tragedy that killed around 60 people and left several injured has apparently given a “clean-chit” to Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu, was the chief guest at the Ravana effigy burning event where the incident took place. Earlier she had said that she came to know about the accident as soon as she left the site.

Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner B Purushartha, appointed the special executive magistrate by the government to probe the accident, indicted the son of a Congress councillor, who organised the event as well as officials of Amritsar district administration, municipal corporation, railways and local police, official sources said.

The crowd watching the burning of a Ravana effigy near Joda Phatak on October 19 were mowed down by a passing train.

A 300-page report of magisterial probe into the accident stressed that Saurabh Mithu Madan, son of the Congress councillor and a close aide of the Sidhus, should have ensured safety of people at the venue, official sources said.

The report submitted to the Punjab Home Secretary last month also blamed Amritsar administration and municipality officials over safety measures and permission given for holding the event.

The role of railways also came under the scanner for giving the green signal to a fast train despite the presence of a huge crowd on the tracks.

The Home department has put up the file pertaining to the report before Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for further action.

Notably, an inquiry conducted by the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety into this incident had blamed “negligence” of people, standing on the railway track, for the tragic incident.

Meanwhile, Additional Director General of Police (Railways) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota is conducting a separate inquiry into the accident to fix responsibility.

The statements of over 150 people including railway officials and Navjot Kaur Sidhu were recorded by Purushartha, while Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had questioned the Railways for giving clean chit to loco-pilot of the train, had submitted his statement in writing.

Opposition Akali Dal had earlier rejected the institution of the magisterial probe and sought registration of case against Navjot Kaur Sidhu and the event organiser, claiming that she allegedly left the venue without bothering about the victims.

Earlier, Sidhu had urged all political parties to avoid indulging in mudslinging. Sidhu, who visited the civil hospital to meet the bereaved families, said the accident was an outcome of negligence and that it was not motivated. – Safety of Punjab’s future lies in seeking and obtaining right to self-determination: Dal Khalsa to Khaira, Gandhi

Sikh24 Editors

Hoshiarpur – Panjab – India, 03 December 2018. In the backdrop of AAP’s rebel leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Patiala MP Dr Dharamvir Singh Gandhi pitching for ‘political autonomy’ for Punjab, the Dal Khalsa has reasserted that the future of Punjab lies in seeking and obtaining the right to self-determination.

Party spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said devolution could not take place within a state (India) that was apparently intent on the opposite, with increasing centralization of power.

He said various Akali Dals have been demanding devolution of power within India since 1970-80’s, but met with state’s brute resistance. “After years of struggle for federalism, facing hardships and sacrificing so many lives, the Akali Dal has completely abandoned the cause,” he rued.

He said ever since Badals have rests all levers of power within Akali Dal, the party has been functioning as tools in the hands of the forces determined to dilute the Sikh identity and the concept of Sikh Nationhood.

“[Indian state] is not going to devolve power as sought by earlier Akali Dal and now AAP’s rebel leaders. The state is centralizing more and more power, and it is becoming more and more Hindu in character.

If you look at since the time the British left this region, constitutionally this process has been taking place, as well as administratively it’s been taking place, said he.

So the direction, in which the current Indian state under Narendra Modi is transforming, is towards more centralization. That is the only transforming project that is taking place today.”

“In that context to ask for devolution, in our view, means learning nothing from history”.

On Khaira not supporting the concept of Khalistan, Kanwar Pal said, he is entitled to hold independent political belief. “However, Khaira must keep in mind that numerous sacrifices have been made in Punjab in the name of Khalistan and that one should not dare to ignore it”.

The Hindu – Two Punjabs, one South Asia

India-Pakistan rapprochement and the South Asian future require sub-national engagement, starting with Punjab

Kanak Mani Dixit

Op/Ed, 04 December 2018. For a flickering moment in the last week of November, it seemed as if Congress provocateur and Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu might set the geopolitical agenda, when he unabashedly spoke of the need for India and Pakistan to mend fences.

He was in Lahore on the occasion of the start of work on the Kartarpur Corridor, meant to ease the travel of Sikh pilgrims to the resting place of Guru Nanak.

Unfazed by ridicule on Indian television, the cricketer-turned-politician spoke of peace, trade and people-to-people contact, all of them lost causes of the ‘track two’ dialogues of past decades.

His confidence seemed to emanate from being a Sikh and Punjabi reaching out to Pakistani Punjab, and in his wordy sermons one actually detected the formula for India-Pakistan cohabitation, which would also catalyse cooperation in the larger South Asian region.

Ultra-nationalist fog

Peace in the Subcontinent presupposes amity between India and Pakistan, and more than 40 years of efforts at regionalism has been held hostage by hostility of the two, with the other countries watching askance.

The abuse hurled by the state establishments of each side is a populist political tool that distracts the public from pressing matters of growth, equity, democracy and accountability. That the cost of maintaining massive militaries in each country drags down efforts at social justice is lost in the fog of ultra-nationalism.

India, as the more stable democracy, should inculcate empathy for the neighbour, but the New Delhi commentariat tends not to recognise the difference between the Pakistani state and its people, the latter struggling against extremism, military supremacy and state-centralism all at one go.

Indian media by and large is not bothered by the travails of Pakistanis, as right-wing trolls rule the airwaves and social media. Similar to how dissent is sought to be silenced with the ‘Urban Naxal’ tag, since long those seeking India-Pakistan amity and South Asian regionalism are rejected as romantic peaceniks lighting meaningless candles at Wagah-Atari.

The trolling and abuse on all matters related to Pakistan can be expected to peak as India’s general election of 2019 draws near, which will only help Islamabad’s military-intelligence complex tighten its grip on the society. It is high time to try once again for a plan for South Asian regionalism.

Opportunity costs

The potential of South Asia for sustained high growth has been blocked by the tightened national borders, with India playing its part by building barbed wire fences on the Pakistan and Bangladesh frontiers.

In all of seven decades, the economic history of the Subcontinent has been forgotten, with the ultra-nationalist narrative having us believe that this separate living is how it has always been.

Until Cyril Radcliffe drew the map of Partition, the economic synergy across the different parts of the Subcontinent was an unquestioned historical reality.

There is no one to remember or remind that this reality of sealed borders was set only in 1947 for most parts of the Subcontinent, or that the door actually slammed shut only after the India-Pakistan war of 1965.

As the historical ‘connectivity’ of the Subcontinent crumbled, it created massive dysfunction as economies of scale and production chains were disrupted.

The opportunity costs have been incalculable in terms of infrastructure, production and commerce, and the loss in livelihoods would be heart-rending if only we cared to calculate.

The present-day failure of South Asian academia is its unwillingness to theorise on the promise of economic growth and social justice that regionalism holds, through soft/open borders.

Of the Indian intelligentsia, the failure is also in seeing economic geography through the New Delhi lens rather than those of the ‘peripheral’ regions, from Rajasthan to the Northeast.

‘South Asia’ must be understood as a project for social justice, to be achieved through economic rationalisation, sub-regional interactions and reduced military budgets, and open borders such as exists between Nepal and India.


The goal of the future should be to learn to compartmentalise one’s perceptions of the ‘other’, that Pakistan is made up of its state and its people just as India too is made up of its state and its people. The mutual demonisation has to do with conflating the two, state apparatus and citizenry, as one.

While the Pakistani state is rightfully critiqued for the way the military/intelligence calls the shots, from the Kargil misadventure to cross-border militancy, to even denying Punjab province the right to import energy from India, the self-perception of India as ‘good’ and Pakistan as ‘bad’ should have been abandoned long ago.

In Pakistan, the space of the public intellectual is circumscribed by the jihadists, the army and the military intelligence. In India, a much freer country no doubt, there is the rise of pernicious ultra-populism that keeps public figures from speaking up.

In the age of Narendra Modi, proposing South Asian solidarity is frowned upon to such an extent that academics and opinion makers, not to mention bureaucracy and even international funding agencies, all think it is better to keep aloof of the concept.

Since 2016, the Prime Minister has been consistent in his refusal to attend the 19th SAARC Summit slated for Islamabad, which has rendered the regional organisation comatose. His vision of South Asian regionalism is where the neighbours dance to India’s tune.

The fear that South Asia as a concept heralds some kind of supra-sovereignty is misplaced, for there is no plan afoot for supplanting of the nation-state and associated group privileges. No, the capitals are not being asked to relinquish their powers to a Subcontinental centre.

Instead, a realistic formula for South Asian regionalism lies in allowing the federal units of the two largest countries, the provinces of Pakistan and the states of India, autonomy, which today exists only on paper. This is where the Punjab-Punjab formula comes in.

Even as television sought to lampoon Mr Sidhu, we saw what was required to push for peace in South Asia, chutzpah. The Yiddish word implies the gall or audacity of a showman, and the gift of repartee to challenge the harshest of televangelist anchors.

It does seem that ultranationalist populism can only be cut by counter-populist hyperbole.

Responding to the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s invitation to the Kartarpur Corridor ground-breaking, the Punjab Minister replied in a letter: “As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind, a journey that our people can walk together towards a future of shared peace and prosperity for India and Pakistan.”

If you read the words and not the perception some have of the gentleman, the future of Punjab-Punjab, India-Pakistan and South Asia as a whole can be found in the paragraph.


Nothing has been left untried in the effort to ease India-Pakistan tensions, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visiting Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore; Mr Modi flying in for Nawaz Sharif’s birthday; secret emissaries rushing hither and yon; and ‘track two’ and ‘track three’ events of every kind.

Nothing has worked, and we are today in suspended animation between Mr Modi’s India-centric vision of the region and the Pakistani military’s control of the geopolitical discourse in Islamabad. At such a time comes the possibility held out by the Kartarpur Corridor.

Punjab province is by far the most powerful sub-national unit of Pakistan. The Indian Punjab may not be as powerful within India in relative terms, but it is no pushover either.

The two Punjabs have one history, as the stepping stone for invaders, battlegrounds that go back millennia, the shared tragedy of Partition, and the shared culture and language of Punjabiyat.

Given that South Asian regionalism can only come from a turn towards genuine federalism in India and Pakistan, Punjab Province and Punjab State are the places to start anew. It may just be Punjabiyat is the concept which will help bring India and Pakistan closer to peace, and make South Asia a safer and more prosperous place.

Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist based in Kathmandu, is the founding editor of the magazine, ‘Himal Southasian’ – Peace between India-Pakistan directly linked to Kashmir dispute, not Kartarpur Corridor: Dal Khalsa

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 01 December 2018. The Dal Khalsa has stated that peace between India and Pakistan is directly linked to resolution of Kashmir dispute and the Kartarpur corridor can play only a limited role in facilitating the dialogue.

Spokesperson of the organization Kanwar Pal Singh in a statement said directly linking the opening of the corridor with India-Pakistan peace overtures is not only exaggeration of issue but sinister move to ensure that the project runs into rough weather.

He made it clear the setting-up of corridor by both Pakistan and India was a welcome step as it fulfills Sikh aspirations for direct access to Kartarpur Sahib that has been a long cherished dream of the Sikhs and that nothing more should be attributed to it.

Moreover, he said the peace in the region will only be restored once rights of struggling peoples, ethnic minorities and nations will be recognized and respected by New Delhi.

The Dal Khalsa was of the considered opinion that the peace between both the hostile and nuclear countries rests on finding political solution to Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of Kashmiris.

To drive his point home, he said Pakistan PM Imran Khan has categorically stated during groundbreaking ceremony that contentious issue between both the nuclear countries is Kashmir.

Referring to the statement of Indian PM Narendra Modi comparing the opening of the border through the corridor to the bringing down of the Berlin Wall and upping the ante, he said it’s the Indian leadership and the media that tried to create this perception only to downplay or ridicule later on.

Stating that fear looms amidst hope and prayer, he quoted Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu stating to the media that Kargil happened after visit by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore by bus.
“Sidhu appears apprehensive that after his visit something may happen to scuttle Kartarpur corridor project”, he said and echoed his fears.

He said this corridor is the outcome of Sikh prayers and that Imran-Bajwa-Sidhu troika has just become the medium to deliver it. He said it’s the Sikh nation’s case and that we have to be alert in our utterances and actions so that none can hinder the Kartarpur corridor becoming a reality in 2019.

He said the irresponsible media and petty politicians of all shades were playing the role of spoilsport and slammed those who had made Sidhu-Chawla meet an issue out of non-issue.

Pakistan Today – Foreign Minister Qureshi calls out Indian counterpart for ‘misrepresenting’ remarks

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 02 December 2018. Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday accused Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of “misrepresenting and misleading” by maligning his comments referring to Sikh sentiments.

“What I said was strictly with reference to bilateral interaction with the Indian government. We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments & no amount of distortions or controversies would change it,” he added.

Qureshi also added that the Kartarpur Corridor was opened in deference to “long-standing desires of Sikh brethren”. “We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith,” he added.

On Thursday, Qureshi had said that the prime minister had put India in a conundrum with the move to open the Kartarpur border corridor. PM Imran had “bowled a googly at India by opening the Kartarpur border corridor”, he had remarked.

Reacting to her Pakistani counterpart’s statement, Sushma had added, “Mr Foreign Minister of Pakistan – Your ‘googly’ remarks in a dramatic manner has exposed none but YOU. This shows that you have no respect for Sikh sentiments. You only play ‘googlies’.”

She had added that Indian ministers had only visited Pakistan to “offer prayers” in the Kartarpur gurdwara.