The Hindu – BJP on the way out, says Punjab CM

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 May 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said that a united Opposition would oust the BJP-led government at the Centre in the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019.

Captain Singh was talking to press persons in Shahkot during a roadshow ahead of the Assembly byelection in the constituency on Monday. He said that anti-BJP forces were coming together and would throw the BJP-led Central government out as the people were completely fed up with it.

“People want a change, they want a future, they want a government that delivers,” he said, adding that the BJP-led government would face the consequences of its ill-conceived policies.

“The economy has been destroyed, industry is fleeing, law and order has collapsed,” he said.

Advertisements – June-1984 Holocaust: Sikh activists to take out religious procession on 27 May

By Sikh24 Editors

Faridkot – Panjab – India, 24 May 2018. In commemoration of the martyred Sikhs of June-1984 holocaust, a religious procession has been scheduled to be taken out on May 27 in village Bhana and other villages situated in its vicinity.

Notably, hundreds of Sikhs had attained martyrdom while battling against Indian army’s invasion into Sri Harmandr Sahib in June-1984.

Sharing the development with media, the SYFB’s senior vice president Bhai Ranjit Singh Damdami Taksal informed that the procession will commence under the patronage of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and leadership of Panj Piares from Gurdwara Patshahi Shevin in village Bhana.

“It will conclude back at village Bhana after traversing through villages Dhuddi, Mand Wala, Dhoorkot, Bhaloor, Nathu Wala, Nathe Wala, Demru, Rode, Lande, Jioon Wala, Baggeana, Kot Sukhia, Nangal, Chameli etc.” he added.

He further informed that the writers and lyricists working for the high spirit of Punjab and Sikhism will be specially honoured on this occasion beside the Sikh freedom fighters and families of martyred Sikhs.

Sikh activists Bhai Gursewak Singh Bhana, Bhai Sarabjit Singh Ghuman, Dr Sukhpreet Singh Udoke, Manwinder Singh Giaspura, Bhai Damandeep Singh, Bhai Baljit Singh Dhuddi, Bhai Sukhchain Singh Sikhan Wala, Bhai Angrej Singh Khalsa, Bhai Sewak Singh, Bhai Arshdeep Singh Tilla etc. were also present on this occasion.

Dawn – In spite of the narrative

Asha’ar Rehman

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 25 May 2018. The question has by and large been ignored: is PML-N’s current appeal among the people in Punjab because of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s current anti-establishment narrative or in spite of it?

There is some evidence that the people are able to express their support for PML-N’s supreme leader without giving up their old love for those who were responsible for propping up Mian Sahib in the province’s, and later the country’s, politics all those years back.

Mian Sahib now wants to drum up support as an ideological politician out to cut his old masters in the establishment down to size.

He had in recent times intensified his campaign, leading some of us to believe that he was more concerned about the personal fight, over and above any desire to salvage the situation in favour of his party, which is now led by, in his own right, a very well-entrenched Shahbaz Sharif.

It will be appropriate to make two important points here. One, Punjab’s love affair with the Sharifs may be running today as a parallel to the province’s old and trusted relationship with the establishment, through those who are elected to the assemblies from here.

Two, it has very frequently been said that it is primarily the Nawaz vote bank in Punjab, and that despite his fame as an efficient administrator and development supervisor, Shahbaz does not quite command similar respect from the voters and those they elect directly. This notion can hardly stand the most rudimentary of tests in the people’s laboratory.

This is how it goes. Shahbaz has repeatedly got power in Punjab on the back of his elder brother’s success in general elections. On the other hand, Nawaz finds it easier to take his case to the people in the province on the basis of the heroics people largely believe Shahbaz has been able to perform.

This makes it rather difficult to separate the two. It would be a little premature, and should we say a wee bit unfair as well, if an analyst was to preemptively penalise Shahbaz for going for a public endorsement of his abilities and work directly instead of relying wholly or chiefly on the services of Nawaz to run the campaign for him.

Shahbaz can succeed since it is first and foremost his work that draws people to the rallies to listen to Nawaz’s narrative.

The two brothers have done it so well in tandem. Shahbaz has quite a lot of his own to flaunt and may persist with doing it for as long as he is allowed to, even if at some stage Nawaz is not too effective to do the promotion for the company.

It would be rather harsh to predict that the people will not like to hear and respond to Shahbaz coming up with tales of his exploits and would make their vote for the PML-N conditional on the presence in the field of Mian Nawaz Sharif.

Maybe Mian Sahib would not want to be reminded of it at this charged moment in his political career, but a fact check at this moment will be handy. It is true that Mian Sahib has been commanding large gatherings during his ‘mujhay kyun nikala’ or ‘why was I ousted?’ jalsas.

But what was the rallying cry here? Has it really been his call for a fight against the powers who, he says, threw him out? Or is it that the people gather to greet Mian Sahib out of respect for the work that they believe his governments have done over time?

It is likely that the people are turning up in large numbers to hail the development model that Mian Sahib and his younger brother Shahbaz have come to symbolise together.

Whereas Mian Sahib may attempt to portray the attendance at the jalsa as a vindication of his narrative, the crowd gathered in front of him may be under no compulsion to give approval to the narrative he has been desperately trying to sell.

The PML-N is no revolutionary outfit. The party consists of veteran politicians who know how it is and what it takes to be around. Shahbaz Sharif is also, it seems quite proudly, aware of the value of the brand that he has been jointly marketing under the Sharif company’s banner.

He understands that, notwithstanding the revolt taking shape inside his elder brother’s mind, his own strategy has a better chance of succeeding as realism prevails over all other isms in Pakistani power politics.

He will go on asking Mian Sahib to lower the intensity of his attacks on the establishment in favour of the Shahbaz brand, a mix of tough political talk that aims to deflate political rivals in a very personal manner backed by solid, eye-catching development activity in the street.

To those who must downplay Shahbaz’s political prowess, it can be argued that the celebrated chief minister of Punjab deserves to be heard out separately, as a more refined, more pragmatic, a more old PML-N-like voice from within the party.

He may yet be able to convince the other, shall we say the left? plank in his party to see reason and accept that a safer route to rescue Mian Nawaz Sharif would be where PML-N, under Shahbaz, is able to first make up with its old sponsors in the establishment.

Shahbaz could as yet succeed to make a fist of it, so long as he is allowed to be in the fray and does not suffer the ignominy of a summary ouster from a race which is purely political. Shahbaz can succeed since it is first and foremost his work that draws people to the rallies to listen to Nawaz’s narrative.

We have electoral proof that people like the visuals that the Shahbaz development model has thrown up. There is no guarantee on the other hand that asked to choose between their two known loves, the people will opt for Nawaz over those who painstakingly worked to turn him into Mian Sahib.

The writer is Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore

The Tribune – Need six months to set things right: Soni

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2018. Environment Minister O P Soni on Wednesday admitted that the water pollution problem in Punjab is grave. The minister, who visited the dera of environmentalist Balbir S Seechewal at Shahkot, tried to get away with any query related to the ecological disaster post discharge from Chadha Sugars.

He said: “We will narrate before the tribunal how it happened and what action has been taken by the government. We have got a report on the case from the inquiry committee.” The minister agreed that the water pollution affected villages of Shahkot and surrounding areas, which as cancer prone.

“I joined this department hardly a month back. Give me just six months to set things right. We will get all mills checked and punish the offenders”.

Soni was accompanied by PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu, who said: “We acted swiftly and issued a show-cause notice to the company. Representatives of the company will appear before the board.” He said: “Though there has been a huge loss, we have tried our level best to ensure that drinking water is not contaminated”.

Firstpost – Brahmins and Jat Sikhs lead campaign for Dalit land rights in Punjab amid milieu of deep-rooted caste prejudices

Arjun Sharma

Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 24 May 2018. Upper castes have been rightly accused of oppressing and denying the human rights of Dalits for centuries. But in Punjab, a significant section of the leadership of the campaign for Dalit land rights comes from Brahmins and Jat Sikhs, both considered high castes.

The Malwa region of Punjab is witness to a growing Dalit movement over rights to common panchayat land. Section 6(1)a of The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 stipulates that one-third of the cultivable common land proposed to be leased shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

However, Dalits complain that the law is not being followed. They say the land is used for other purposes and have been protesting this injustice for years.

Interestingly, in this cause, they have not just been joined, but led by members of communities that have traditionally been the most notorious violators of their rights, the Brahmins and Jat Sikhs.

While leaders from higher castes working for Dalit causes in Punjab downplay their caste origins, their support is deeply appreciated by the Dalit leaders.

Laws rarely implemented

Mahi Pal, a prominent Brahmin leader of the landless peasants’ movement from Bathinda district, started working for Dalit causes in 1980. Pal who is the finance secretary of the Dihati Mazdoor Sabha said that caste has never come in the way of his work for Dalits, and that he tries to keep his caste a personal affair.

“After entering the movement for Dalits and landless labourers, I was shocked to see that people from this section of society are being discriminated against only because they are born in a specific caste,” Pal says.

He stressed that despite the many laws for uplifting Dalits, little has been done as they are rarely implemented.
“While the law demands renting out of one third or 33 percent of the panchayat land to Dalits, a village in Bathinda, Jai Singh Wala, has allotted the entire panchayat land for construction of a gurudwara. Now how will the Dalits in the village get their share of land?” questions Pal.

No land for Dalits

Dalits in villages of Punjab are mostly landless labourers who work on the agricultural lands of Jat Sikhs. After widespread mechanisation of agricultural processes in recent decades, most of them have lost their jobs and been forced to do menial work.

A Dalit rights activist, Mukesh Sharma Malaudh, from Sangrur district was recently declared a proclaimed offender (PO) in a case going back to June 2014. Sharma, along with other protesters, had then clashed with police over their demand for the lease of panchayat land to Dalits at a nominal price.

Sharma, who is the president of Zameen Prapti Sangarsh Committee (ZPSC), is fighting for the one-third share of Dalits on panchayat land as well as on Nazool land, which is un-irrigated, barren land located outside municipal limits and escheated to the state government.

The Nazool Land Cooperative Societies were established under the Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956. As per the rules, there is a provision that Nazool land may be allotted to landless Dalits.

Sharma says that the state government increases the rent on panchayat land for Dalits every year. “If the government is serious about improving the status of the Dalits in the state, there is a need to overhaul a few things and implement all laws created for the welfare of Dalits,” says Sharma.

The problem of casteism is deep-rooted in Punjab, where separate cremation grounds and gurudwaras for Dalits still exist in most of the villages. While the law regarding renting out of one-third of panchayat land could be applicable in large villages, it becomes difficult to implement in case of smaller villages.

According to the 2011 census, Punjab has the highest percentage of Scheduled Caste population among all the states of the country.

The Scheduled Caste population in Punjab numbers 88.60 lakh, or 31.94 percent of a total population of 277.43 lakh.

As per the 2011 census, the vast majority of the Scheduled Castes (73.33 percent) live in rural areas, while 26.67 percent reside in Punjab’s urban centres. The majority of Scheduled Caste labourers work in the agricultural sector or are engaged in low-wage and arduous occupations in the cities.

Communist movement in Malwa

S R Darapuri, a retired IPS officer and Uttar Pradesh-based Dalit thinker whose family belongs to Doaba region of Punjab, says that the spread of the communist ideology in the Malwa region has led to many intellectuals and social activists, irrespective of their caste, to join the Dalit movement.

“It is a classic case where Brahmins and Jat Sikhs are steering a movement of people who were suppressed by these very castes. The success of the communists in the Malwa region of Punjab is the main cause why leaders have forgotten their castes for the cause of Dalits,” says Darapuri.

A case in point is the All India Kisan Sabha, the mass organisation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Ruldu Singh, president of the Punjab Kisan Union says that despite being from the Jat community, he has been supporting the cause of poor farmers and Dalits in the area for a long time. “I was also arrested during a protest for Dalits in year 2009 in Mansa district,” he says.

Singh says the Jat community, for the most part, rarely concerns itself with issues other than the mounting problems of agriculture in Punjab. “But I will continue to work for poor and Dalits in our state as successive governments use Dalits only as their vote bank and never see them as humans,” Singh says.

Arjun Sharma is a Ludhiana-based freelance writer and a member of, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters

The Indian Express – To scan movies on Sikhism, Akal Takht Jathedar forms 21-member ‘censor board’

This announcement to form the censor board came after a huge controversy that had erupted last month over the release of movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, based on life of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2018. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has formed a 21-member ‘censor board’ to scrutinise movies related to Sikhism. Akal Takht Jathedar has also asked movie makers to take approval for movies related to Sikhism.

However, there is no name on the board which is directly related to filed of making movies.

Prominent members include Giani Harpreet Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, Partap Singh, representative Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, some Sikh scholars including Balkar Singh, Professor Amarjit Singh, Dr Gurmeet Singh Sidhu, Professor Sarabjit Singh, Dr Sarabjinder Singh and Dr Harpal Singh Pannu.

Religious bodies Damdami Taksal, Tarna Dal and Budha Dal have also secured seats on the panel. This announcement to form the censor board came after a huge controversy that had erupted last month over the release of movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, based on life of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

Though initially the SGPC had cleared the movie produced by Harinder Sikka for screening in theatres, the body revoked its approval at the last moment sparking controversy.

Sikka was excommunicated after he declined to accept last minute order of SGPC and Akal Takht to remove the movie from theaters that released on April 14.

To settle the issues related to release of such movies made on Sikhism, Akal Takht Jathedar said: “We have formed the censor board due to repeated controversy erupting over movies made on Sikhism. This censor board will assure that every side is heard properly.”

He added: “It would be a must for the movie makers to get approval from censor board for any movie related to Sikhism.”

Censor board will not be the final authority on such matters and it will submit its reports to Akal Takht Jathedar for a final decision.

While this censor board will have no legal authority, however Akal Takht Jathedar has issued directions for the movie makers saying it would be mandatory for them to seek permission of Akal Takht whenever they make any movie on Sikhism.

When I first was taught about Sikhism I understood that we stood for freedom of expression
An advisory board would be acceptable, a censor board should be anathema to Sikhs

Man in Blue – GST on ‘Langar’ likely to get lifted during next days

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 20 May 1981. Reliable sources have revealed that the Union government of India is all set to lift centre’s share in GST being imposed on ‘langar’. Notification in this concern might be issued any time in coming days.

Sources have informed that the Union Cabinet had already given nod to this move, but the issuing of notification in this concern was delayed due to engagement of the entire Indian cabinet in Karnataka’s state polls. It is learnt that Union minister Piyush Goyal is working on it in the absence of Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Sikh24 has learnt that the new amendment in GST imposition will not only exempt ‘langar’ being served by the religious bodies instead all the organizations serving free food daily to minimum 1000 persons from the last five years will also be availed this benefit.

If this notification gets released, then GST on ‘langar’ of Sri Harmandr Sahib will automatically get ended as the state government of Punjab had already waived off its share.

The Tribune – Dalit youth beaten to death for opposing liquor sale

Our Correspondent

Abohar – Panjab – India, 21 May 2018. A Dalit youth was allegedly beaten to death and his hands crushed on Sunday night for opposing open sale of liquor in Mirzewala Mer village near Hanumangarh.

Jan Kranti Morcha convener Pooja Chhabra said she had informed Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria about the incident. “Kataria has assured suitable action against the accused. I will meet him on Tuesday,” she said.

Security has been beefed up with the Station House Officers from six police stations and around 100 other police personnel camping in the area.

In the FIR lodged at 3 am on Monday, Hakim Nayak, brother of the deceased, alleged that a dozen jeep-borne persons had barged into the house of Mohinder Nayak, 33, at 8 pm on Sunday and started beating him up as he had opposed the sale of liquor on the village streets. When his wife Suman intervened, she was also reportedly attacked.

The miscreants had allegedly dragged Mohinder out of the house and thrashed him to death. Before leaving, they allegedly ran the vehicle over his hands. Some of the accused were identified as Dholu Bhadoo, his brother Naresh Bhadoo, Bhim Jakhar and Sonu.

Villagers alleged that they carried lathis, iron rods and a pistol. Mohinder’s relatives and other villagers sat around his body and refused a post-mortem till the accused were arrested.

Zila Parishad ex-vice chairperson Shabnam Godara, BJP Mahila Morcha district president Gulab Sinwar, CPM leader Jagjit Jaggi, Dalip Birat of the Bahujan Samaj Party and some other senior activists reached the village to express solidarity with Mohinder’s family. – Punjab government annuls FIR registered against Sarbat Khalsa organizers

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 20 May 2018. On the recommendation of Justice Ranjit Singh led Investigation Commission, the Congress led Punjab government has annulled the FIR registered against organizers of ‘Sarbat Khalsa-2015’.

Notably, the Amritsar police had registered an FIR against around 20 Sikh leaders indicting all of them under sedition charges on November 10, 2015.

The District Police of Amritsar has submitted a detailed report in Court about cancelling this FIR against Sikh leaders.

Warmly welcoming the move, the SAD (Amritsar) president Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann has conferred the credit of this FIR cancellation to Justice Ranjit Singh.

The Sikh congregation named ‘Sarbat Khalsa-2015’ organized at village Chabba (situated on the outskirts of Amritsar Sahib) on November 10, 2015 had witnessed a record gathering of Sikhs. This Sikh congregation had annulled the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars while appointing Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara as new Akal Takht Jathedar.

Dawn – Road to Jati Umra: Nawaz Sharif skips NAB hearing

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 21 May 2018. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday did not appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, in “illegal” construction of a road leading to his residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.

Earlier, the bureau had sent the PML-N supreme leader a notice asking him to appear before its combined investigation team on April 21, but he could not appear before it as he was in London to inquire after his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz.

“The NAB had issued Nawaz Sharif a notice to appear on May 20 (Sunday) for his own convenience as he usually has to appear before an accountability court in Islamabad during working days”, a source told Dawn. He said Mr Sharif neither appeared before the NAB at Thokar Niaz Baig office nor sent his legal counsel.

In the notice to Sharif, NAB said: “Investigation has revealed that you (Nawaz Sharif) being then prime minister illegally convened a meeting on March 15, 1998 regarding construction of the road from Adda Plot to Sundar Mull by utilising funds of Zila Council Lahore for your personal benefit”.

It asked him to explain his position regarding his “illegal direction” to the authorities concerned to enhance the width of the road from 20 feet to 24 feet for his “personal benefit” which resulted in cost escalation.

“It has also been revealed that you exercised the authority which was not vested with you by passing illegal directions on the project funded by the Zila Council Lahore”.

The notice further says: “Being then prime minister you misused your authority by way of initiating the project for your personal benefit in connivance with your brother Shahbaz Sharif who was then the chief minister of Punjab.

Because of your illegal direction the Zila Council Lahore had to drop various other projects of public welfare at the cost of the said project in connivance with Shahbaz Sharif”.

The source further said the NAB would decide whether to issue another notice to Mr Sharif or file a reference in this case in the accountability court.

Earlier, the NAB executive board had approved the filing a reference against Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and others involved in this road project case.

Mr Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar are already facing trial in three corruption references filed against them by NAB.