– Arrested Arms Supplier in RSS Leader Murder Case Hails from Hindutva Stronghold City in Uttar Pradesh

Sikh24 Editors

Mohali-Panjab-India, 16 February 2018. The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) team, which is probing murders of Hindu leaders in Punjab, has arrested a Uttar Pradesh resident named Parvez alias Farru, resident of Kotwali Meerut, for supplying weapons that were allegedly used in multiple murder cases.

Specifically, in its official correspondence released yesterday, the NIA alleged that Parvez had provided weapon that was used by Hardeep Singh “Shera” in the Ravinder Gosain murder case in October 2017. Parvez is the 11th person to be arrested in cases pertaining to murders of Hindu leaders in Punjab.

In a statement shared with media, the NIA alleged that the weapons supplied by Parvez were used in several of the eight incidents committed as part of the conspiracy.

Parvez was produced before the NIA’s Special Court in Mohali on February 14 in relation to Ravinder Gosain’s murder case, where he was sent on one day custody with NIA for interrogation.

Meanwhile, it has come to fore that the NIA will bring Khalistan Liberation Force chief Bhai Harminder Singh Mintu on production warrants to interrogate him about training Hardeep Singh Shera in Italy.

Parvez Farru hails from stronghold city of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Hailing from Meerut, Parvez had been absconding after getting traced in these cases by the NIA. He was nabbed by the NIA from Meerut in a joint operation carried out with the help of UP police.

Meerut is a stronghold of the RSS, where many senior RSS leaders hail from. RSS is further planning its “biggest meet ever” in Meerut on February 25. This event will be attended by top RSS leaders, including Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.


CBS News – Harjit Singh Sajjan asks Justin Trudeau to meet Indian politician who accused Canada of Sikh separatist sympathies

Harjit Singh Sajjan was snubbed by Punjab CM Amarinder Singh when he visited India last April

Ottawa-Ontario-Canada, 18 February 2018. The Canadian government is now seeking a meeting with the Indian politician who publicly accused members of Trudeau’s cabinet of being connected to the Sikh separatist movement.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family spent much of their first full day in India touring the Taj Mahal and visiting an elephant rescue sanctuary, behind the scenes efforts were being made to extend an olive branch to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

At the request of Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, who was snubbed by Singh when Sajjan visited India last April, Canada’s high commissioner was dispatched to set up a meeting with Singh, Trudeau and Sajjan later this week.

Trudeau is scheduled to be in Punjab Wednesday for a visit to the Golden Temple, the holiest site in Sikhism. Three days ago, Trudeau’s officials denied Indian media reports that Singh, the head of that province’s government, was to serve as Trudeau’s tour guide at the temple, and said no meeting was planned.

On Sunday afternoon however, those same officials said a meeting is now being sought. Indian media are also reporting Singh has asked the Indian external affairs ministry to help him secure a meeting with Trudeau.

Singh has accused multiple Trudeau cabinet ministers of being Khalistani sympathizers and has been the most vocal with allegations that Canada’s Sikh communities are a hotbed of Sikh separatists, giving oxygen to extremist elements of the cause.

Khalistan is the name of the independent Sikh state sought by some members of the Sikh community.

Ministers deny cause for concern

Trudeau’s appearances at events where it was believed Sikh separatist leaders were also present ruffled feathers in Delhi over the last two years, and the issue has been raised in private conversations between Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trudeau is scheduled to meet with Modi in New Delhi on Friday.

A motion in the Ontario legislature last year to label anti-Sikh riots at the Golden Temple in 1984 as a genocide, and recent decisions by more than a dozen Canadian gurdwaras to ban entry to Indian diplomats in their official government capacity, have added fuel to India’s concerns about a growing Khalistani effort coming out of Canada.

Trudeau’s India mission mixes global business with local politics

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers, including Sajjan, have loudly denied there is any reason for concern. On 7 February Sajjan called Singh’s accusations “offensive” and “ridiculous.”

The Khalistan issue has threatened to cloud Trudeau’s trip but Canadian officials in India tried to downplay it Sunday, saying the relationship couldn’t be sidetracked by a single concern.

They pointed to the 30 per cent growth in trade between Canada and India over the last few years, as well as growth in the number of Canadian companies doing business there. The number of Indian students studying in Canada has also tripled in the last three years to 124,000 in 2017.

Trudeau is expected to make a statement during this trip reiterating Canada’s policy in favour of a united India, but stressing Canada will not crack down on Sikhs in Canada expressing peacefully their desire for an independent state.

A difference of opinion on freedom of speech has been cited by some Indian policy experts as a reason for the dispute between Canada and India over the Khalistan movement, as Delhi would prefer Trudeau do more to quiet any calls among Indian Canadians.

The right to freedom of expression was one of many rights issues raised with Trudeau at a meeting with non-governmental organizations Sunday evening.

Some were so afraid of reprisals for speaking with him the Canadian government cancelled a planned photo op and refused to release the names of the individuals or even their organizations.

Trip a form of ‘work-life balance

Earlier in the day Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children, Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, flew to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. Trudeau said he had first been there 35 years ago on a prime ministerial trip with his father, but Pierre Elliott Trudeau had to work and couldn’t join him.

“For me to be able to be here on an official trip while bringing my kids with me to share this is really special,” he said. “It sort of shows for me how work-life balance has evolved a bit.”

Grégoire Trudeau laughed a little at the latter statement, saying “we’re trying.”

Later they drove north of Agra to the SOS Sanctuary and Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, where they fed fruits and vegetables to a 23-year-old rescued elephant named Laxmi.

Dawn – A living legacy: Asma Jahangir

Zarrar Khuhro

Op/Ed, 19 February 2018. In 1666, the Great Fire of London devastated that city for four days, destroying two thirds of the metropolis in a massive conflagration. There was anger, fear and despair, and many wondered if the city would ever rise again from the literal ashes it had been reduced to.

But it did, and a great deal of the credit for this goes to Sir Christopher Wren, who drew up the plans for rebuilding London, essentially transforming the city from a warren of thatched huts and cobblestone series into the first draft of the modern metropolis it is today.

Along with dozens of churches, Wren also rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral where he himself was laid to rest. His tomb is a simple, Spartan affair where Wren lies resting under a slab of black marble. Above, a latin inscription reads: “si monumentum requiris, circumspice”.

There are meaningful ways of honouring the dead

Translated this reads, ‘if you seek his monument, look around you’. Look around and see the cathedral he build, the cathedral he designed. It is a legacy that does not require a ticker tape parade or an annual holiday. It is a legacy of vision given form, of dedication and devotion.

It is that same dedication and devotion that we saw at the funeral of the late, great Asma Jahangir. It wasn’t a state funeral, of course, but that was fitting for a woman who was never the advocate for the state, who never desired such honours and would have likely scoffed at them.

Had the state honoured her it would only have honoured itself. But that is of little import, because if she stood for anyone she stood for the people, and it was the people who laid her to rest, who said their farewells, who buried a giant in a small grave.

They came in all their shades and colours, people who would never otherwise stand in the same ranks: Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Hindu, rich and poor, from society elite to the forgotten tenants of the Okara farms.

From those who knew her well to those who only knew of her; these were all of those whose lives she had touched, transformed and inspired.

It’s difficult to add to the countless heartfelt tributes that have poured in from all corners. It seems pointless to relate personal stories about her when so many, far more meaningful tales have already been related so the only question that I shall ask is this: how do we honour such a legacy?

The usual approach, one that is being advocated in this case as well, is to change place names to honour her. Given that her funeral prayers took place in Gaddafi Stadium, the first demand was to rename this landmark ‘Asma Jahangir stadium’.

Certainly there’s no harm in this, or in naming roads, schools and more after her. As years pass and memory fades, perhaps some child will ask why this place bears her name and we will relate the story of her life and struggle. Perhaps.

Or perhaps there are more meaningful ways to not just remember her but to actually carry forth her life’s mission. There is, in my opinion, an intrinsic problem with simply changing names, a cosmetic measure at best, because it runs the risk of the person’s legacy instead being subverted or even disgraced.

Take this for example: there have been calls to rename Abdul Wali Khan University, where Mashal Khan was brutally murdered by a mob of his college mates, to honour the slain student.

Let’s say that happens and yet those who killed him, or cheered as he lay dying, continue to study there? What if, as is likely, the university administration that abetted this crime remains in place? What if in a renamed university the mindset that killed Mashal continues to flourish? That would indeed be the greatest dishonour possible.

One would not like to see the same happen with Asma Jahangir’s name so any honour cannot simply stop there: There is a proposal to rename the law department of Punjab university after her, but that would only be truly meaningful if the cases she fought would be studied there, if a fellowship was created in her name or a scholarship programme put in place allowing deserving students without means to follow in her footsteps.

Let there be free legal aid centres that carry on her work, even if they do not bear her name. The hardest part of carrying on her legacy falls to us, though, in our limited personal capacities. It falls to us to speak truth to power where and when we can, even knowing that we could never match her raw courage, one that bordered on madness.

She was the true giant of our times, towering over the moral pygmies that infest us. And while we know that we can never stand so tall, perhaps we can stand on her shoulders.

The writer is a journalist

The News – Sedition charges filed against Mani Shankar after his KLF session

Karachi-Sindh-Pakistan, 17 Feberuary 2018. Former Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has been indicted with sedition and defamation by a BJP leader after he reportedly praised Pakistan and insulted India.

At the ninth Karachi Literature Festival held last week, Indian diplomat Mani Shankar had stated during a session placed around India-Pakistan relationship that he values Pakistan’s policy of seeking to reconcile through dialogue, an approach that he believed India had not yet espoused.

The statement has caused enormous backlash in Shankar’s home country, with one BJP leader going as far as filing a case of sedition and offense against the eliminated leader.

The case filed by BJP’s head of Kota district OBC wing, Ashok Choudhary, has been admitted by the additional chief judicial magistrate court in Kota, with the hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

The case has been filed under sections 124(A), 500 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code, with Shankar’s statements described as an expression of love for Pakistan and pride for Islamabad not instigating talks with New Delhi.

In the petition filed against Shankar, Chaudhary states, “the statements in favor of Pakistan have deeply hurt my patriotism and passionate sentiments for my country.”

The Tribune – Can’t meddle in gurdwara affairs: Australian envoy

Neeraj Bagga, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 17 February 2018. Replying to a query on some gurdwaras in Australia restricting the entry of Indian government officials, Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said the (Australian) government could not intervene as it was the prerogative of the gurdwara management.

Talking to mediapersons during her visit to the Golden Temple today, Harinder said that there was only one gurdwara in her country which did so.

Responding to another query about racial attacks on Punjabis in her country, she said such incidents were reported some 10 years ago and the Australian Government swiftly swung into action. Thereafter, no incident was reported, she claimed.

She said the people of Punjabi origin and the Punjabi language were growing at a fast pace in Australia. “My government wants to work in close cooperation with Punjab in agriculture and dairy farming,” she said.

She said she would work to consolidate bilateral relations between Australia and India in different spheres.

On her visit to the Golden Temple, she remarked: “I feel honoured and deeply pleased over my first official visit to the holiest Sikh shrine. Since I was raised in a Sikh family, I am familiar with its tenets and importance of the shrine”.

SGPC officials, led by its chief secretary Dr Roop Singh, felicitated the Australian High Commissioner with a siropa, a model of the Golden Temple and a set of religious books.

On her four-day visit to the state, she would visit the Partition museum here tomorrow. She is also scheduled to visit Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana.

The Times of India – Behbal Kalan firing probe shifted to Ferozepur police from Faridkot

Neel Kamal

Bathinda-Panjab-India, 18 February 2018. The Punjab Police have handed over the investigations into the killing of two Sikhs in police firing on October 14, 2015, at Behbal Kalan village in Faridkot to Ferozepur senior superintendent of police (SSP). The duo were part of the protest held against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.

Ferozepur police would reinvestigate the incident after forming a special investigation team (SIT). Bathinda zone inspector general (IG) M S Chhina confirmed the shifting of investigations to Ferozepur from Faridkot.

Sources said the Faridkot police had failed to solve the case even after 28 months of the incident. The Ferozepur police have now sought the relevant record from registration of the FIR to investigation report from their Faridkot counterpart.

Sources also said bullets fired from police weapons had been kept for many days at the Bajkakhana police station before these were provided to the central forensic science laboratory (CFSL) at Chandigarh.

Torn pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found scattered outside the gurdwara at Bargari village on October 12, 2015. Nearly 200 persons were holding protest at Behbal Kalan when police had fired on them on October 14, in which Sarawan resident Gurjit Singh and Niamia Wala resident Krishan Bhagwan Singh had died and others had sustained injuries.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had formed a commission led by Punjab and Haryana high court former judge Justice Ranjit Singh (retired) to look into the incidents of sacrilege in the state and the Behbal Kalan incident. The commission has sought time from the CM to hand over its probe report.

The investigations into the case till now were being conducted by Faridkot police through an SIT under superintendent of police (investigations).

IG Chhina told TOI, “The bureau of investigations has handed over the probe into Behbal firing to Ferozepur police, which will investigate the matter by forming an SIT.” He declined to give reasons behind shifting of the investigations to police of another district.

When contacted, Faridkot SSP Nanak Singh said, “An SP-level officer of Faridkot was investigating the case. Now, it has been shifted to Ferozepur police. We have no idea of handing over the probe to another district. It is the prerogative of the DGP.”

Ferozepur SSP Pritam Singh said, “I have not received the formal orders yet to investigate the matter. Anything could be said about the matter after getting the orders.”

The Hindu – Shutdown call by separatists affects life, restrictions imposed in Srinagar

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 17 February 2018. Life in Srinagar was affected due to a strike called by separatists to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to stay an FIR against Army personnel in the Shopian firing, while restrictions were imposed in parts of the city to maintain law and order.

According to a police official, strict restrictions under CrPC Section 144 have been imposed in Nowhatta, Rainawari, Khanyar, Safakadal and M R Gunj police station areas of the city, while partial restrictions were in force in Maisuma and Kralkhud areas.

Restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the strike called by separatists, he said.

Life was affected elsewhere in the city as most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations were shut, while public transport was off the roads, the official said.

However, private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in many areas of the city where there were no restrictions, he said, adding similar reports were received from other district headquarters of the Valley.

Separatist groups on Thursday had called for a complete shutdown in Kashmir on February 17 to protest against the apex court’s decision.

The Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammed Yasin Malik, had issued a statement criticising the apex court for restraining the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any coercive steps against Army officers accused in the Shopian firing case.

Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian on January 27, prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry into the incident.

The FIR was registered against personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Aditya Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.

The father of Major Kumar, the officer named in the FIR, had approached the Supreme Court seeking the FIR be quashed.

The Supreme Court on February 12 restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any “coercive steps” against Army officers and asked the State government to file a response within two weeks.

The Asian Age – No restrictions imposed on pilgrims travelling to Pakistan, India clarifies

New Delhi-India, 17 February 2018.India on Friday said it has not imposed any restrictions on pilgrims travelling to Pakistan amid heightened tensions between the two nations following a string of terror attacks in the Kashmir Valley.

“Of course not,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said when asked if India had imposed any restriction on pilgrims.

The clarification comes after Pakistan reportedly blamed India for withdrawing visa applications of pilgrims from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. – Court rejects NIA’s plea seeking transfer of Jagtar Singh Johal to Tihar jail

Sikh24 Editors

Mohali-Panjab-India, 16 February 2018. Mohali based Special NIA Court of Additional Session Judge Ms Anshul Berry has rejected the NIA’s plea seeking transfer of arrested Sikh youths namely Hardeep Singh Shera, Ramandeep Singh, Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi) and Taljit Singh Jimmy to the Tihar jail of Delhi.

Notably, quartet of them are currently being detained in the Maximum Security Jail of Nabha.

Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, who is acting as a defence counsel for these Sikh youths, informed that the NIA Court of Judge Ms Anshul Berry has entertained this plea on February 15 and had kept its verdict reserved for today.

He added that the court today pronounced its decision of quashing NIA’s plea as there was no provision in the law to transfer an under-trial accused to another state.

Advocate Manjhpur informed that he had apprised the Court about Supreme Court’s ruling depriving government and trial courts from the authority of transferring an under-trial accused to another state. “The prosecution lawyer couldn’t cite any legal provision backing NIA’s claim,” he said.

Sikh Federation UK – Trudeau’s visit to Sikh homeland eagerly anticipated

Focus will be on what he says about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India and their campaign for greater rights

London-UK, 16 February 2018. Sikhs in Canada and other parts of the globe have been in private communications directly and indirectly with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and some of the Sikh Ministers and Liberal MPs accompanying him before his week-long trip to India that begins tomorrow on 17 February.

Trudeau will be accompanied by his four Sikh Ministers, Harjit Singh Sajjan (defence), Navdeep Singh Bains (innovation, science and economic development), Amarjit Singh Sohi (infrastructure and communities) and Bardish Kaur Chagger (small business and tourism), who is also the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and a number of other Sikh MPs.

As far as the worldwide Sikh community is concerned the peak of Trudeau’s visit to India is when he is in Punjab and the Sri Harmandr Sahib Complex on 21 February with his 35-member media delegation from Canada.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh who last year accused all Sikh Ministers in Trudeau’s Cabinet of being Khalistani sympathisers and refused to meet Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan will face a major dilemma by being seen to make a U-turn.

Every word Trudeau speaks about the experience of the minority Sikh community in India when he visits the Sikh homeland will be closely watched and dissected by Sikhs not only in Canada, but other parts of the globe.

Privately and publicly there is no doubt the Indian authorities and media will challenge Trudeau on his perceived backing or otherwise for those campaigning for a separate Sikh homeland, Khalistan.

They will also try and get his views on the recent restrictions imposed by Gurdwara management committees in Canada on Indian government officials where he will no doubt have a carefully prepared response.

How Trudeau responds to questions about Sikhs in Canada could determine his political future as he will be conscious that his Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper in his November 2012 visit to India pushed back strongly when challenged by the Indian media.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper said merely advocating for a Khalistan homeland was not a crime and should not be confused with the right of Canadians to hold and promote their political views. He added that “we can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression.”

It will also not be lost on India that Canada, alongside Italy and Pakistan are leading a counter-proposal at the UN to have more non-permanent members that in essence is designed to stop India and others becoming permanent members of the UN Security Council.

There is no doubt Trudeau will need to walk a fine line during his India visit given the media hype of him being a close ally of the Sikhs. The fact that economic trade between Canada and India is relatively small will help Trudeau stand up to pressure from New Delhi during his visit given the line taken by his Conservative predecessor.

Trudeau also knows next year he will be up against Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), who will have most to gain if Trudeau fails to at least go as far as Stephen Harper in defending the rights of Sikhs in Canada to be able to highlight the atrocities by the Indian authorities i.e. the failure to release Sikh political prisoners who have served their terms and have the freedom to advocate for Khalistan.

Another human rights case that is certain to come up is the case of Jagtar Singh Johal where Liberal MPs have been vocal and the Canadian government has also officially raised concerns.

Trudeau is certain to face questions about the Sikh Genocide motion passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament last year that was led by politicians belonging to his Liberal Party who have subsequently been promoted.

He will come across as weak on a crucial human rights issue if he chooses to distance the Liberal Party at the federal level from those of his party at the provincial level.

Trudeau should address this challenge head on and point out the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in late December 2014 referred to what happened to the Sikhs in November 1984 as ‘Genocide’.

He continued that ‘justice would be meted out to the victims only when the perpetrators of the crime are punished’ and ‘that until these persons are punished, victims will not get relief’.

It would also be an opportune moment for Trudeau to ask what the BJP government is doing to address the recent revelation of the sting operation that has exposed Congress politician Jagdish Tyler.

He has now been heard confessing to the killing of over 100 Sikhs and separately implicated Rajiv Gandhi by disclosing the two toured the streets of Delhi during the peak of the Sikh Genocide..

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK) <>