The Tribune – Captain speaks to MP CM on gurdwara row

Other reports suggest that the Indore Gurdwara was completely destroyed
Man in Blue

Chandigarh, 25 April 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has requested his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Chauhan to look into the matter of the alleged damage to a gurdwara in Indore during a recent demolition drive and take steps to assuage the sentiments of the Sikh community, which had been hurt by the reported excessive action of the police and municipal authorities.

Captain spoke to Shivraj Chauhan following reports in a section of the media that Gurdwara Kartar Kiran in Indore district had been damaged during the demolition drive.

He requested the CM to ascertain the veracity of the reports and take action. Chauhan assured him that he would personally look into the matter and ensure welfare of the Sikh community. (TNS)

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/community/capt-speaks-to-mp-cm-on-gurdwara-row/397223.html

The Hindu – Sukhois join frontline squadron in Punjab

Major force accretion as the ‘Valiants’ are near the border

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 24 April 2017. The Halwara-based 221 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, “Valiants”, has inducted the frontline Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. The squadron used to fly MiG-23s till they were phased out in 2009.

This is a major force accretion as the squadron is based in Punjab facing Pakistan. The Su-30MKI is the most modern multi-role fighter in the Indian Air Force.

The aircraft were formally inducted by Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, on Monday during which he handed over the official documents of the squadron to Wing Commander H.S. Luthra, Commanding Officer of the Squadron, the IAF said in a statement.

The “Valiants” were formed as an offensive fighter squadron on February 14, 1963 at Barrackpore and was equipped with the Vampires, Spitfire, Hurricane and Su-7 aircraft. The “Valiants” were the first to carry out strikes during the Kargil war.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sukhois-join-frontline-squadron-in-punjab/article18201383.ece

The Tribune – ‘Was removed arbitrarily’

Non-committal on taking up new assignment in Jind

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 22 April 2017. While Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has maintained a studied silence, Takht Damdama Sahib’s acting Jathedar Bhai Gurmukh Singh termed his unceremonious removal ‘an arbitrary decision taken by the SGPC to please the Badals.’

Committee chief Kirpal Singh Badungar at a meeting at Fatehgarh Sahib had yesterday removed Singh for violating ‘maryada’ by issuing controversial statements.

Meanwhile, Bhai Gurmukh Singh went to perform prayers at Akal Takht this morning but before he received any official communication of his removal, the SGPC withdrew his official vehicle.

He refrained from commenting if he would be joining his new assignment as head priest* of Gurdwara Nauwin Patshahi Dhamtan Sahib in Haryana’s Jind district. “I still expect a positive response from the SGPC chief to give me fair chance to present my point of view,” he said.

He emphasised that the decision to remove him was solely at the behest of political bosses (referring to the Badals).

“I was not mentally prepared for this. It was principally wrong on the part of the SGPC to announce my unceremonious removal unilaterally. Had there been any violation of ‘maryada,’ the committee chief should have formed a panel to scrutinise it before coming to any conclusion.

Anyway, the issue is now beyond our reach and will only aggravate the crisis in the Sikh community”, he added

After the Panj Pyaras fiasco, Bhai Gurumukh Singh became another casualty for raising his voice against the flip- flop decision of exonerating controversial Dera Sirsa head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the 2007 blasphemous act.

*There are no Sikh head priests, nor ordinary Sikh priests !

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/-was-removed-arbitrarily/396129.html

The Indian Express – Panel formed by SGPC in 2015 to remove, appoint jathedars nowhere in sight

Only one meeting of this panel was conducted, shortly after formation at Anandpur Sahib

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar, 23 April 2017. An expert panel was formed by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to set the rules and regulations for the appointment and removal of jathedars at Sikh Takhts, immediately after the controversial unceremonious removal of then Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Balwant Singh Nagar in 2015.

However, this expert panel was nowhere in picture when Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh was removed and replaced by Harjeet Singh on Friday.

The expert panel was formed by the SGPC executive committee on January 21, 2015, to lay down rules and regulations for the appointment and removal of the jathedars. Only one meeting of this panel was conducted, shortly after formation at Anandpur Sahib. Since then, no meeting of the panel has been held.

The then SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh was coordinator of panel. “I had called first meeting of the panel after the formation. Only one member, Balkar Singh from Patiala, attended it. I had asked all the panelists to give their suggestions via e-mail on appointment and removal of jathedars.

I retired a month after this meeting and since then I have no information about any development.”

The incumbent SGPC Secretary Rup Singh said he was not aware of the panel.

Balkar Singh, a historian, said, “Yes, I had attended that meeting. But it was the only meeting that was conducted and I never got an invitation for any meeting after that. There has been no communication with SGPC on this issue since that meeting”.

“I have so many suggestions. But two most important things are that there should be no political interference in the appointment and removal of the jathedars.

Second, there should be a panel of names to select a jathedar. But again as they did yesterday, they adopted a pick-and-chose formula. I am not questioning calibre of the new jathedar, but the name should had come out of a panel of candidates.”

Gurmukh Singh is not the first jathedar to be removed unceremoniously. Eight others have been similarly removed and appointed in the absence of any regulations since 1988.

Panel formed by SGPC in 2015 to remove, appoint jathedars nowhere in sight

The Hindu – Punjab wants 5 more BSF companies for security

Requires funding of Rs 206-crore for infrastructure, capacity building

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh, 23 April 2017. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday sought five additional Border Security Force (BSF) companies from the Centre to strengthen the India-Pakistan border along the State.

In a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Captain Amarinder pointed out that the BSF deployment in the State needs to be strengthened along the lines of Jammu and Kashmir. At present, the State has one BSF battalion deployed for about 32 kilometres.

“Raising and strengthening second line of defence was necessitated by the fact that the Punjab border becomes vulnerable to terrorist attacks and smuggling of arms, ammunition and drugs from across the border in view of the heavy security at the J&K border,” said Captain Amarinder, as quoted by an official spokesperson.

“Raising the second line of defence would require immediate funding of about Rs 206 crore in infrastructure, capacity building and manpower,” said Captain Amarinder, seeking the Home Minister’s support in financing the same in national interest.

Captain Amarinder also raised the issue related to security at the high-profile Punjab jails, which have recently witnessed a spate of untoward incidents, including the Nabha jailbreak and several cases of gang war.

Security for prisons

Pointing out that that many terrorists lodged in various Punjab jails have nexus with gangsters lodged in the prisons, the Chief Minister urged Mr Rajnath Singh to provide additional security forces to secure the high-profile prisons in the State.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-wants-5-more-bsf-companies-for-security/article18191938.ece

Sikh24.com – Giani Gurmukh Singh dismissed by SGPC

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 21 April 2017. A day after Giani Gurmukh Singh exposed Sukhbir Badal’s role in granting pardon to Sirsa cult chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the SGPC today dismissed him from his services.

Notably, Giani Gurmukh Singh had unearthed the whole chapter of pardon granted to Sirsa cult chief before the media on 19 April.

Sikh24 has learnt that the head Granthi of Sri Muktsar Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh has been appointed in place of Giani Gurmukh Singh.

It is worth mentioning here that Giani Gurmukh Singh had earlier refused to participate in meeting of SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars at Sri Akal Takht Sahib. He had also raised objections over the closed door meetings of SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars.

He was learnt to be upset over the allegations of acting as a middleman to facilitate pardon to Sirsa cult Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim for which he had sought constitution of a ‘Maryada Committee’ to probe the entire episode of granting pardon to Sirsa cult chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim by the Takht Jathedars on 24 September 2015.

Giani Gurmukh Singh had accused the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars of always taking decisions under political influence.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/04/21/breaking-giani-gurmukh-singh-dismissed-by-sgpc/#.WPrtnMYlHIU

The Tribune – Sukhbir mum on Jathedar’s charges

Archit Watts, Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), 20 April 2017. Akali Dal chief and former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal today refused to comment on Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh’s allegations that the SAD and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) top brass had put “undue pressure on him for political gains”.

In a video, Giani Gurmukh Singh had said that SAD leaders had repeatedly asked him not to speak against the SAD over seeking support from Dera Sacha Sauda in the recent Assembly elections.

Talking to mediapersons at Tarmala village, Sukhbir said, “This is an SGPC matter. All Sikh religious issues are handled by the SGPC”.

The former Deputy CM visited the village to attend the bhog ceremony of SAD worker Gurdev Singh, who died recently during a police raid. He presented a turban to the deceased’s son.

On the Congress government’s decision to scrap university status accorded to Amritsar’s Khalsa College, he said, “The new government is resorting to vendetta. The university status was given after due deliberations. When other universities can come into existence, why not this one?”

He accused the government of targeting SAD workers. Sukhbir assured the cadre that the party leadership would stand by them in their toughest times.

“We have formed panels of advocates in districts and the state capital to deal with cases of political vendetta,” he added.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sukhbir-mum-on-jathedar-s-charges/395092.html

New Indian Express – Khalsa University Act scrapped by Punjab government to save historic Khalsa College

Harpreet Bajwa

Chandigarh, 19 April 2017. The Punjab government on Wednesday decided to scrap the Khalsa University Act 2016, to save the historic 125-year-old Khalsa College from losing its heritage status by becoming prey to privatisation. A decision to this effect was taken by the State cabinet in a meeting here om Wednesday.

Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had earlier promised to protect the glorious legacy of Khalsa College, Amritsar, which is one of oldest educational institutions with a heritage status in the country.

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that the move will not jeopardise the future of the 300 students who had already taken admission in Khalsa University. They would either be shifted to the existing Khalsa College or accommodated in some other college at par, after taking their choice into consideration, he added.

The cabinet termed as appalling the move by the Khalsa College Society to destroy its rich heritage status by converting the prestigious institution into a university.

The Khalsa University, Amritsar was established by the Khalsa University Act, 2016 by the previous SAD-BJP alliance government, despite huge criticism from not only the residents of Amritsar, but also from the alumni of the college and intellectuals of the State, the cabinet noted.

The cabinet decided that there was no point in establishing an additional university in Amritsar, which already has several reputed institutions of higher learning.

While the Guru Nanak Dev University has won wide acclaim and recognition at the national level, the Guru Ram Dass University of Health Sciences and the Indian Institute of Management, Amritsar, were also amongst institutions of national repute.

The cabinet also noted that taking away a chunk of land from Khalsa College to make a university would adversely affect its existence and diminish the unique identity of its building.

The council of ministers expressed a firm view that in order to maintain the identity of Khalsa College, all the properties attached to it should be kept intact, thus also preserving its architectural grandeur and marvel.

Meanwhile Khalsa College Governing Council (KCGC) called the decision by the State government to scrap Khalsa University as most ‘unfortunate’.

The top functionaries of the varsity said they are seeking legal opinion to ‘save’ the university, which has already registered over 300 students in various classes from PhD to post-graduate and graduate courses following the government’s nod in August 2016.

KU Chancellor Satayjit Singh Majithia and Pro-Chancellor Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina, said petty vendetta politics is being played to kill the educational project which is a boon for the education sector in the border region.

They said false propaganda is being unleashed that Khalsa University threatens the historic Khalsa College. “There is not even an iota of truth in the argument that the varsity hampers the heritage building. The College is functioning as an autonomous institution and the university is coming up as a separate building,’’ said Majithia.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/apr/19/khalsa-university-act-scrapped-by-punjab-government-to-save-historic-khalsa-college-1595450–1.html

The Times of India – Punjab sets up panel to work out debt waiver details

Chandigarh, 16 April 2017. Taking a first step towards fulfilment of promise made in Congress election manifesto, chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced the setting up of an expert group to explore ways for waiver of “all farm debts”.

The panel, which would assess the quantum of agricultural debt besides suggesting ways and means for its waiver, will be led by former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) T Haque.

Other members of the panel include Pramod Kumar Joshi, director (South Asia), International Food Policy Research Institute, South Asia Regional Office and B S Dhillon, vice-chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana. The group will submits its report within a month.

An official notification issued by additional chief secretary (development) said the group would be assisted by the state government officers, including additional chief secretary-cum-financial commissioner (development) and principal secretary (finance).

In a letter to the Prime Minister on March 22, Amarinder had sought special package for one-time loan waiver. He said the total farm debt in Punjab amounted to more than Rs 80,000 crore, including crop loans in the cooperative sector amounting to about Rs 12,500 crore.

The average debt per farm household in Punjab works out to be Rs 8 lakh (including crop loan), while the state’s per hectare debt of small and marginal farmers was the highest in India.

Balwinder Singh Sidhu, commissioner and director of agriculture, Punjab, would assist the group as convener. He would convene the meetings of the group, which may associate officers from the banking sector, including chief general manager, NABARD, Chandigarh, and convener, state level bankers’ committee, Chandigarh.

Besides assessing the total amount of credit including institutional and non-institutional credit availed by different categories of farmers, the group will assess the quantum of bad loans or debt and suggest the methodology for remission of debt.

It will also suggest ways and means to raise resources for the debt waiver, according to the notification.

The expert group may co-opt any other member, if so required, to achieve its objectives, in order to facilitate the state government’s efforts to ameliorate the sufferings of the farmers.

The Punjab Mandi Board would provide both secretariat assistance and financial support including payment of allowance to the non-official members for effective and proper functioning of the group, as per the notification.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/punjab-sets-up-panel-to-work-out-debt-waiver-details/articleshow/58200730.cms

DNA India – Punjab CM faces defamation suit

Canada-based Sikh group announces $10,000 reward for serving summons to Punjab CM in defamation suit; Sikh groups in Punjab criticise CM for one-sided attack on Harjit Singh Sajjan.

Chandigarh, 19 April 2017. Sikh Human rights Advocacy group has filed a defamation suit against the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for alleging ISI links to the group.

Captain Amarinder had recently sparked a controversy after he refused to meet Canada Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan alleging that he was among the five “Khalistani sympathisers” in the Canadian government.

The Congress leader came under attack from various Sikh extremist groups over his statement. The groups alleged that the CM was addressing his personal grouse against Sajjan for stalling his visit to Canada last year.

Hours after Harjit Singh Sajjan reached Delhi, a Canada-based Sikh Human Rights Advocacy group, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) announced a reward of $10,000 to anyone who would serve the summon to CM.

Claiming damage of $1 million, the defamation suit was filed in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice against Captain Amarinder who had alleged that the Sikh human rights group had links with the ISI in Pakistan.

The group issued a statement that CM’s remarks had caused reputational damage to SFJ’s status as a non-profit organisation and hindered its ability to address issues of Sikh community in Canada.

SFJ had earlier got the summon issued for Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi for shielding leaders allegedly involved in instigating 1984 riots. However, various efforts by the group to legally implicate senior leaders in the past have been largely unsuccessful as the summons need to be personally served to initiate any legal action.

Several Sikh extremist groups condemned the CM’s remarks and rebuffed him for a one-sided attack and insinuating an unwarranted controversy. Dal Khalsa Chief H S Cheema alleged that it was an attempt on CM’s part to please the Hindu vote bank which voted for him in the elections.

The Canadian Minister is slated to visit the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] in Amritsar and meet his family members in Hoshiarpur.

It is Sajjan’s first visit to Punjab after being elected as the Minister of Defence, Canada. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is the highest temporal body for Sikhs, has announced to honour the Canadian Minister. Other Sikh groups, including Dal Khalsa, also expressed interest in honoring the leader.

Sajjan is also slated to inaugurate the Canadian’s Consulate General’s new office in Chandigarh on April 21.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-punjab-cm-faces-defamation-suit-2407300