– Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday celebrated with extreme devotion and fervor at Sri Harmandr Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 January 2019. The 352nd birthday of the tenth Sikh master Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was celebrated today with an extreme devotion and fervor at the holiest Sikh shrine Sri Harmandr Sahib.

Thousands of devotees from all over the world paid obeisance and took a holy dip in the sacred ‘sarovar’ of Sri Harmandr Sahib to receive the blessings of Guru Sahib.

A special manifestation of sacred Sikh artifacts was organized by the SGPC inside the sanctum sanctorum Sri Harmandr Sahib and Gurdwara Baba Atal Rai Ji (situated in Sri Harmandr Sahib Complex). Devotees thronging into the central Sikh shrine blessed their souls by having a glimpse of these sacred Sikh artifacts.

Beside it, the SGPC also organized a religious program to celebrate this sacred day at Diwan Hall of Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib. Sri Akhand Path Sahib, which was laid on January 11, was culminated following which the head ‘granthi’ of Sri Harmandr Sahib Giani Balwinder Singh read the sacred ‘Hukamnama’ (order of the almighty Lord).

Renowned Raagis, Dhadis, Kavishars, Poets and Preachers addressed the religious discourse to the program attendees on this occasion.

Like every year, students of various schools performed Kirtan near the supreme Sikh throne Sri Akal Takht Sahib to express their devotion for Guru Sahib.


Dawn – Sikhs celebrate Guru Gobind’s birth anniversary

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 14 January 2019. The 352nd birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated here on Sunday amid tight security and people from various minority groups participated in the event.

The celebrations in connection with the birth anniversary had commenced on Friday and concluded in Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh at Mohallah Jogan Shah Qissa Khwani, Peshawar, on Sunday.

According to a statement, the three-day event was organised by the Waqf, Religious and Minority Affairs Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to show harmony and celebrate inclusiveness.

Waqf secretary says budget allocated for religious festivals of minorities

On the first day, a procession was held which was marked by rendering of hymns by Sikh community, including men and women. Over 5,000 Sikh devotees from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took part in the procession and then other rituals followed by Langar.

Adequate measures were put in place by the police department to ensure full security for smooth celebration of the event.

The chief guests included MPAs Ravi Kumar and Wazirzada and Sikh community leader Ranjeet Singh besides some government officials. The major attraction of the procession was the display of ‘Gatka,’ a famous Sikh martial art and other sword exercises.

On this occasion, MPA Ravi Kumar paid tribute to the slain Soran Singh and said that his services as adviser to the chief minister and his personal efforts for the communities would always be remembered.

He also said that such events would build understanding of traditions and beliefs of minorities and people here had shown a sign of interfaith harmony. In response to the demand of Sikh community, he said that Shamshan Ghat would soon be set up.

In this regard, MPA Wazirzada said that celebration of minorities’ events would help spread love and peace. He maintained that the minorities were allowed to practice their religion freely.

Waqf department secretary Hidayat Jan stated that they had allocated budget for religious festivals of minorities of KP. Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th Sikh Guru, a spiritual master and philosopher.

The Tribune – Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations in USA

Washington DC – USA, 14 January 2018. Year-long celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary have kicked off in the US to spread his message of brotherhood and sharing.

The Indian Embassy and Consulates have chalked out a calendar of activities, said India’s new Ambassador Harsh V Shringla.

He was addressing people gathered to celebrate the occasion; artiste Bhai Baldeep Singh played devotional music on Saturday.

“Guru Nanak was one of greatest philosophers and social reformers. His voice was an empowering call to unshackle the human mind of centuries of religious and political tyranny,” he said.

I do not see what this has to do with the Indian Embassy. The Sikh community in the USA is well able to celebrate Guru Nanak and do not need or want help from the Indian Embassy
Man in Blue

Express and Star – Wolverhampton’s Sikh students help raise thousands during sleep-out

Daring students braved the winter chill and dozed off on the floor as they united for a commemorative sleep-out.

Annabal Bagdi

Wolverhampton – West Midlands – United Kingdom, 14 January 2018. Young people at Wolverhampton’s Khalsa Academy joined hundreds of their peers across the country for the 12-hour televised fundraiser.

More than £ 40,000 has since been raised for good causes across the country, including cash for medics treating sick children in the region.

The five-day nationwide telethon marked Saka Sirhind, which recognises the sacrifices made by the young sons and mother of the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Nick Singh Kandola, chief executive officer of Khalsa Academies Trust which manages the school, said: “This amazing event demonstrated the significance of the unique sacrifices made over 300 years ago whilst raising funds to support children’s wards in NHS hospitals and a homeless project across the country.

“One of the most important values that are taught at these schools is ‘seva’ which means to help those in need.

“We are immensely proud of all the students, parents and the wider, community and would like to thank them and the Sikh Channel who have made this amazing event possible.”

More than 500 students and their parents came, representing a total of four schools, came together during the Christmas break to take part in the fundraiser.

Each school hosted the sleep-out for one night, with the UK-based Sikh Channel broadcasting the fundraising efforts. – Harvinder Singh Phoolka constitutes Sikh Sewak Army to end politicization of SGPC

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 January 2019. Advocate HS Phoolka on January 12 announced the formation of the Sikh Sewak Army (SSA) after holding “Ardas” at Sri Akal Takht Sahib. He was accompanied by his supporters belonging to the Sikh Sewak Sangathan (SSS) constituted by him few days back.

Interacting with media, HS Phoolka informed that the Sikh Sewak Army has been constituted to give an end to the politicization of the apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee and to work against the Drug menace in Punjab.

“The Sikh Sewak Army will have two units. One having members with untrimmed hairs will work for ending political influence on the SGPC and the second will work against the Drug menace in Punjab” he added.

He further said that anyone who believes in the ideology of the Sikh Sewak Army, can become its member.

There is no separate category of Sikh with untrimmed hair
There are amritdhari and non-amritdhari Sikhs but both should be on the same path
Man in Blue

DNA India – Canadian Sikh separatist accused of terrorism appointed as gurdwara president

Surrey – British Columbia – Canada, 11 January 2019. A Canadian Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who has been accused by India of running a terror camp in British Columbia has been elected unopposed to head the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, which has one of the largest memberships in Canada.

Nijjar’s name was on the list of wanted persons that was handed over to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh during his trip to India in February 2018.

He was also briefly taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in April 2018 before being released without any charges being filed.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s appointment reflects that Khalistani extremists are taking charge of gurudwaras in Canada and running the campaign for a separate Sikh country Khalistan.

This comes a month after Canada listed Khalistani extremism among the terror threats facing the country.

A 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada has said that the country is facing threat from growing Khalistani extremism in the country.

In the reference to Khalistani extremism, the report stated, “Some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements.”

It mentioned that violent activities in support of Khalistan had “fallen since their height during the 1982-1993 period when individuals and groups conducted numerous terrorist attacks.”

People like CM Amarinder Singh are a confused lot, they reckon that everybody who is in favour of Khalistan is also a terrorist.
Man in Blue

India Today – Sikh youth killing: Thirty panch, sarpanch resign en masse in Pulwama

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – Pakistan, 10 January 2019. Following the killing of a Sikh youth by unknown gunmen in Tral, 30 panch and sarpanch have resigned in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir.

The slain youth, who was identified as Simranjeet Singh, was the brother of a newly elected sarpanch.

According to All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC), “About 30 in number, all Sikhs who recently won panch and sarpanch elections in South Kashmir, have resigned en-masse in view of security concerns, following the killing of a Sikh youth in Tral area of South Kashmir.”

The APSCC said that some people with vested interests were trying to harm the centuries-old communal harmony in the Valley.

However, the authorities have not accepted their resignations yet.

In the last panchayat election that was held in 2011, more than two dozen elected panchayat members were killed by militants following which at least 148 panchayat members resigned.

Approximately 25,000 panch and sarpanch have been elected in the recent panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, held in the end of 2018.

“It is now the responsibility of the government to provide us security as millitant outfits have already threatened those who participated in the panchayat polls,” an elected panch, on condition of anonymity, said. – Ban on photography draws flak, SGPC justifies decision

Says move aimed at maintaining sanctity of Golden Temple (Harmandr Sahib)

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 08 January 2019. The SGPC’s move to ban photography and videography on the premises of the Golden Temple has not gone down well with Sikh scholars and devotees even as the religious body justified it saying that the decision has been taken to maintain serenity and spiritual ambiance of the shrine.

The SGPC clarified that the restriction is not applicable on photojournalists who cover visits by dignitaries and other events of religious or political significance inside the premises.

Similarly, professional documentary makers, too, could be allowed to shoot films that are religious in content subject to prior permission from the SGPC.

Nonetheless, warning boards in the parikarma of the shrine, carrying the prohibitory message in three languages, have been put up. The SGPC task force has been told to keep an eye on the violators.

SGPC chief secretary Dr Roop Singh observed that selfies clicked by most of the visitors in various poses and styles with Golden Temple in the backdrop appeared derogatory.

Dr Roop Singh said: “True devotees would seldom focus on clicking pictures as they revere the shrine with utmost devotion. Others consider the shrine as a tourist spot and capture their moments in a picnic mood.

We have imposed restriction on the second category of visitors. Also, hoards of visitors gather at the entrance to click pictures with their cameras and phones, thus creating hindrance in the movement of devotees at the parikrama,” he said.

The ban has drawn criticism from various quarters. Madan Lal of Solan, who paid obeisance at the shrine today, said he was unaware of the rule and was stopped by an SGPC staffer when he tried to click pictures.

“I am a mature person and came here with my family. How could they doubt my devotion towards the shrine? People take pictures for the sake of memory and it should be allowed,” he said.

Similarly, some students from Mumbai, who visited the Golden Temple for the first time, were a dejected lot. Deepak, an engineering student, said: “It is our hard luck that the orders were implemented on our maiden visit. Instead of a blanket ban of photography, the SGPC should keep a vigil on non-serious crowd.”

Former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh said the orders should be withdrawn immediately. “Rather, the SGPC should insist on the visitors to maintain the sanctity and maryada of the shrine. The ban order will be seen as a negative step,” he said.

Sikh scholar Ashok Singh Bagrian said it was a narrow thinking on part of the SGPC to implement such dictatorial orders.

Scribes exempted

The SGPC has clarified that the restriction is not applicable on photojournalists who cover visits of dignitaries and other events of religious or political significance at the shrine.

May review decision, says Roop Singh

Amritsar: Dr Roop Singh, SGPC chief secretary, however, softened his stance when apprised of the resentment among visitors who come from far off places. “We may think of allowing the visitors to click pictures, but only under strict supervision,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Roop Singh said: “True devotees would seldom focus on clicking pictures as they revere the shrine with utmost devotion. Others consider the shrine as a tourist spot and capture their moments in a picnic mood. We have imposed restriction on the second category of visitors.

Also, hoards of visitors gather at the entrance to click pictures with their cameras and phones, thus creating hindrance in the movement of devotees at the parikrama,” he said.

Sehajdhari party asks Takht to intervene

Moga: The Sehajdhari Sikh Party has requested Akal Takht to intervene and direct the SGPC to revoke its illogical move to ban photography at the Golden Temple. Parmjeet Singh Ranu, president, alleged that it was a well-planned move initiated by the RSS through the SGPC to lower the popularity of the sacred Sikh Shrine, which is a world famous monument.

The SGPC had always followed the RSS diktats and even barred lakhs of Sehajdhari Sikhs to vote in the gurdwara elections, he alleged. Ranu alleged that the ban would ruin the image and popularity of the Sikh religion across the globe. “People create memories by clicking pictures at the revered shrine. They will see it a negative move,” he claimed.

Pakistan Today – Sikh community condemns killing of youth in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK)

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 07 January 2019. Various Sikh groups on Monday strongly condemned the killing of youth belonging to the Sikh community in the Tral area of Pulwama district of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The Sikh groups, during a meeting in Jammu, criticised the Indian authorities for not providing foolproof security to the families of the panchs and sarpanchs who contested the so-called panchayat elections, Kashmir Media Service (KMS) reported.

As per the statement, the meeting was chaired by Sardar Darbinder Singh, president, Shromani Akal Dal, and attended by representatives of Bhai Kanahyia Nishkam Sewa Society, AISSF, Sikh Naujwan Sabha, Sikh Welfare Society and other Sikh groups.

The meeting condemned the killing of a 25-year-old youth, Simranjit Singh, son of Sardar Nanak Singh of Khasi Pura, Tral, who contested the recent panchayat elections.

The Sikh groups demanded that the family of the deceased youth be given a compensation of Rs2.5 million and his murderers be arrested at the earliest.

Afghanistan Times – Editorial: Not in Doha

Pressure mounts on Taliban to join peace talks, Afghanistan optimistic over peace prospects

Editorial – 08 January 2019. In the wake of Afghan Taliban leaders reluctance to talk with US in presence of Saudi and UAE officials at Riyadh on January 13, now they (Taliban) also rejected to hold talks with the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha Qatar which was set for today January 9.

Whatever might be reasons for refusing to talk in Riyadh and Doha, one thing is very clear that Taliban leaders are under tremendous pressure to have face to face talks with the Afghan government or members of peace commission.

Soon after the refusal of Taliban to talk with the Afghan government representatives, Afghanistan’s special envoy Muhammad Omar Daudzai announced flying to Islamabad on Tuesday. Daudzai is going to talk with Pakistani officials in on ongoing peace efforts.

In particular, Daudzai is likely to remind Pakistan of its frequent promises and commitments regarding “playing a role in face to face” talks between Afghan government and Taliban leaders. Similar promises were also made by Saudi Arab and UAE.

No one can neglect Pakistan’s influence over Taliban since early mid of previous 90’s when these scattered Afghans have been made united against what it called warring war made self styled commanders on the slogans of going to bring peace.

In recent months, the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad made frequent flights to the region and held several rounds of face to face talks with Taliban leaders. On concluding of each and every round, Pakistan, Saudi Arab and UAE high ups have not made jubilation but even they claimed breakthrough to the deadlock between Afghan government and Taliban.

Taliban group willing to talk with American, Pakistan, Russian, Chinese and other foreign countries but they are reluctant to talk with the Afghan government. Taliban are not only insisting on their demands pertained to pulling US troops out of Afghanistan but even they are demanding a free zone along with crossing points with Pakistan.

Acceptance or honoring of such type of demands could be nothing else, disintegration of Afghanistan. There already exists unprecedented polarization in regional countries like India, Pakistan and Iran. And allocation of a safe zone to Afghan Taliban would definitely affect the whole South Asian Region, which might be harmful to global peace.

Instead of believing in hallow claims and commitments of certain stakeholders, Afghanistan needs to remain careful and alert at this crucial stage. Certain legacies of previous British Colonial era are bent up restoration of the Sikh Raaj in the region, which has badly affected Afghanistan couple of centuries ago.

Through one or other pretext certain visible and invisible hands are making attempts to fuel war flames in Afghanistan for meeting own and master’s nefarious designs. Militants remain loyal to foreign mentors and sponsors are holding frequent parlays along with Durand Line for discussing strategies to overcome and exploit the situation in Afghanistan.

Now at this crucial stage, responsibility rests with the Afghan politico-socio, religious leaders, tribal chieftains and law makers to be alert for saving the motherland of plunging into irreversible crises in future like of recent past happenings.

I can assure our Afghan brothers that present day Khalistanis are not likely to have designs on territories west of the Ravi, and definitely have no designs on territories west of the Indus or the Durand line.
All Sikhs do pray that Afghanistan again becomes a country where people of all religions are respected.