– 1984 Sikh Genocide: Arms dealer Abhishek Verma expresses conditional consent for Lie Detection Test

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi, 25 February 2017. Following the Court’s direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct ‘Lie Detection Test’ on Jagdish Tytler and Abhishek Verma on March 16 in a case of killing three Sikhs during 1984 Sikh genocide, the arms dealer Abhishek Verma has expressed conditional consent to undergo the test.

He has said that he was ready for a lie-detection test if Congress leader Jagdish Tytler also agrees to it.

Verma, who apprehends threat to his life and to his family, told the Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Shivali Sharma on February 23 that he had no objection in undergoing the polygraph test if he would be provided adequate security and the process will be shot visually.

“If Tytler agrees for the test, I have no objection on it. But if I am going for the test, adequate security should be provided to me and my family as I am under threat. Asking me for the lie-detection test is more of pointing fingers at me rather than the accused. I am a witness and I am coming forward to help the prosecution,” Verma submitted.

Advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for Verma, said he had been made a witness by the CBI in the case and it would be proper if the agency records his statement before a magistrate under Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as he would not be able to retract from it.

It is pertinent to note here that the case pertains to killing of three innocent Sikhs near a Gurdwara Sahib in Pulbangash area of Northern Delhi in which Jagdish Tytler was accused of inciting Hindu mobs.

Although the probing agency CBI had acquitted Jagdish Tytler thrice in this case but later the arms dealer Abhishek Verma had deposed before the Court that Tytler had bribed the chief witness in this case by remitting Rupees 50 million on his son’s name to Canada.

Verma had told the Court that initially the remitted amount was freezed by the Canadian government but later he had helped them in defreezing the remitted ransom.

India Today – Delhi SGPC poll underway, AAP backed party in fray: All you need to know

Polling is underway for the election of members on the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. The DSGPC (?) manages nine places of worship, 18 schools and six colleges in Delhi and is considered a powerful Sikh body in the national capital.

New Delhi, 26 February 2017. About 3.75 lakh Sikh voters are voting today to elect new members of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGPC)(?).

The DSGPC(?) manages nine places of worship, 18 schools and six colleges in Delhi and is considered a powerful Sikh body in the national capital.

A keen contest is expected between Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi (SADD) and Shiromani Akali Dal Badal (SADB) in the election. SADD president Paramjit Singh Sarna and SADB chief Manjinder Singh Sirsa are in direct contest at West Punjabi Bagh seat.

Manjinder Singh Sirsa is the general secretary of the outgoing management committee.

Delhi SGMC(!): Things to know :

– The DSGPC(?) represents roughly eight lakh Sikhs living in New Delhi. The committee is headquartered at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in New Delhi.

– The DSGPC(?) manages nine historical Gurudwaras in Delhi including those at Rakab Ganj Sahib, Bangla Sahib and Sis Ganj Sahib. The DSGPC(?) has an annual budget of over Rs 100 crore to manage the institutions including colleges and schools.

– The elections are being held to elect 46 of the 51 committee members. The rest five are nominated by different bodies.

– One member is nominated by the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee- the umbrella body(?). Two others are co-opted and the rest two are nominated by Singh Sabhas of Delhi.

– The elections are conducted and managed by the Directorate of Gurdwara Elections, which functions under the direction of the Delhi government as the provisions of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971.

– The elected members remain in their office for four years before fresh polls are held.

– Only those Sikhs, who have not cut their hair and follow the religious code of conduct in disciplined manner including observance to the five tenets, are eligible to vote in the DSGPC election.

– Till now, the elections were bipolar with SADD and SADB engaging in direct fight. But, this time the AAP supported Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) is also in the fray and is expected to have a bearing on the election. The PSD was formed by AAP MLA Avtar Singh last year.

– The candidate contesting the DSGPC election must have completed 25 years of age, be an amritdhari (one who does not cut hair) Sikh, not take alcoholic drinks and be able to read and write Gurmukhi script.

– A total of 335 candidates including 184 independents are standing in the DSGPC election. About 560 polling booths have been created for casting votes.

Note: As far as I know the Delhi Gurdwara body is called Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC)
Note: An Amritdhari Sikh is a Sikh initiated into the Khalsa and committed to wear the turban and the 5 Ks, and to following the Sikh way of life as taught in the Guru Granth Sahib
Note: The SGPC is the body that manages the Gurdwaras in those parts of pre-partition Panjab that are now part of the Union of India. It is not an umbrella body and has no authority in New or Old Delhi !

Dawn – Asfandyar Wali Khan deplores racial profiling of Pakhtuns

Faiz Muhammad

Charsadda-Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 27 February 2017. Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan has warned of ‘forcible eviction of Punjab people’ from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if what he called unjust treatment meted out to Pakhtuns in Punjab is not immediately stopped.

He was speaking at a meeting in Wali Bagh on Sunday. A former union council nazim and others announced their decision to join the ANP.

The ANP chief said his party would boycott meetings convened by the government until harassment of Pakhtuns in Punjab came to an end. He warned that racial profiling of Pakhtuns could create a dangerous situation, recalling the circumstances that led to the country’s dismemberment.

Mr Khan said that his party would take part in a sit-in on March 12 to call for merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with KP. “We will accept only one Pakhtunkhwa after Fata’s merger with it. There will be no northern and southern Pakhtunkhwa,” he declared.

He called for implementation of the merger plan and allocation of five per cent of national resources and a share in the National Financial Commission award to Fata to bring it at par with other provinces.

The ANP president said strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan had benefited their enemies.

The Hindustan Times – ‘Not afraid of ABVP’: DU student whose father died in Kargil war writes on FB

New Delhi, 25 February 2017. Days after Delhi University’s Ramjas College witnessed violent clashes, a lady Sri Ram College student who is the daughter of an officer who died in the Kargil war started a social media campaign ‘I am not afraid of ABVP that has garnered widespread support.

Gurmehar Kaur, daughter of Kargil martyr Captain Mandeep Singh, changed her Facebook profile picture holding a placard which read “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me. #StudentsAgainstABVP”.

“The brutal attack on innocent students by ABVP is very disturbing and should be stopped. It was not an attack on protesters, but an attack on every notion of democracy that is held dear in every Indian’s heart. It is an attack on ideals, morals, freedom and rights of every person born to this nation,” she said in a Facebook status.

“The stones that you pelt hit our bodies, but fail to bruise our ideas. This profile picture is my way of protesting against the tyranny of fear,” she added.

The literature student’s classmates and peers started sharing the post, prompting students from various universities across the country to change their profile pictures with the same placard, as the initiative went viral.

Kaur’s Facebook post so far has 2,100 reactions, 3,456 shares and 542 comments.

Ramjas College had on Wednesday witnessed large-scale violence between members of AISA and ABVP workers.

ABVP supporters had protested against an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on ‘Culture of Protests’, which led to violence after a counter demonstration by students over not allowing a peaceful discussion.

The Tribune – Cops avert clash as Sikh activists stop ‘premis’ from attending event

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur-District Ferozepur-Panjab, 25 February 2017.  The police today averted a clash between activists of several radical Sikh outfits and followers of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda over the holding of “naam charcha” in Mallanwala block of the district.

The situation turned tense after certain unidentified youths pelted stones and damaged a vehicle belonging to a dera follower. The vehicle was reportedly carrying sticks, baseball bats and red chilli powder.

Earlier, the administration had deployed the police force in Ward No. 6 of Mallanwala where “naam charcha” was to take place at the residence of a dera follower.

In the meantime, hundreds of persons owing allegiance to Sikh outfits gathered in a nearby gurdwara.

When the ceremony began, the Sikh activists started raising slogans against the dera and the administration. The “premis” were prevented from attending the event which triggered panic.

The traders shut their shops anticipating violence. Two youths threw red chilli powder in the eyes of Sikh activists that affected two policemen also.

Dilbagh Singh of Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj said they would not allow any “naam charcha” in Makhu and Mallanwala. The police have registered a case against Dilbagh Singh and 35-40 unidentified persons.

Sikh Free Press – Why Yogi Bhajan followers practice Hindu rituals

Antion Vikram Singh, originally named Vic Briggs, was the musical arranger and lead guitarist for the 1960s rock band, The Animals.

He became a Sikh and kirtanyaa in 1971, and has subsequently recited kirtan in gurdwaras in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India. In 1979, he became the first non-South Asian Sikh to sing Gurbani Kirtan at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.

He also is the author of the forthcoming book: “From Rock Star to Ragi, Volume 2 – The 3HO Years.”

Why Yogi Bhajan followers practice Hindu rituals

Antion Vikram Singh, New Zealand

When I look at Punjabi Sikhs discussing Bhajanism, as it so often happens these days, it’s obvious that they cannot comprehend how anyone who seems to have become a Sikh could possibly be interested in things Hindu.

I suspect this is because, for them, having been born a Sikh, the abhorrence of Hindu practices has been taught to them since birth. It’s second nature. That is not true for the Westerners who turn to Bhajanism.

In 1969, I was looking to live a more spiritual lifestyle and had been experimenting with psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, for more than two years. Then, I decided I had had enough.

The ecstatic states of mind I had originally experienced through these chemicals had long since faded, and I was looking for a way of recreating these feelings through a healthy, spiritually-oriented lifestyle.

I came across a book, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda, a Hindu yogi who came to the US in the early 1920’s and founded a spiritual organization, part Hindu, part Christian, that still thrives today.

The book was first published in 1948 and is more popular today than ever. It has been translated into dozens of languages and is considered a hugely inspiring book.

I read it again and again. This book had a very powerful effect on me, making me determined to live a spiritual lifestyle, in some kind of Hindu way. I just had no idea where to start.

Just before Christmas of that same year I went to hear a man called Baba Ram Dass. His birth name was Richard Alpert. He had been famous a few years earlier as one of the cohorts of LSD-guru, Timothy Leary. He also had been an active promoter, and user, of LSD and other psychedelic drugs.

Alpert, like myself, had grown tired of the bad effects of these drugs. Looking for enlightenment, he went to India where he found a Hindu guru in the foothills of the Himalayas, known as Neem Karoli Baba. He became his guru, and gave Alpert a new name, Baba Ram Dass. He told him to go back to the U.S. and spread his teachings and inspire people.

Baba Ram Dass was inspiring, and funny. He was an excellent speaker. He presented his guru’s very Hindu teachings in a way that made them attainable, logical and practical.

I had finally found the key to change my own lifestyle. I became a vegetarian and gave up alcohol. I had already given up drugs. I also tried to meditate, and made a commitment to myself to live a spiritual lifestyle.

Less than a month later, I began attending Yogi Bhajan’s yoga classes and totally committed myself to practicing and sharing his yogic teachings.

Yogananda died in 1951. Baba Ram Dass, who is now known as Ram Dass, is in his 80’s, somewhat incapacitated because of a stroke, and rarely appears in public. These men are gone from the public eye, but their teachings still have a tremendous effect.

Why do I mention these names? What do these essentially Hindu teachers have to do with Bhajanism?


After I joined 3HO, I talked to my fellow Bhajanists and I discovered that – almost without exception – they had read and been inspired by “Autobiography of a Yogi.” They all knew who Baba Ram Dass was and had either heard him speak or read his very popular book, “Be Here Now.” That was true in 1970 and I suspect it is still true today.

Most of Yogi Bhajan’s students came to his teachings after being inspired by Hindu teachers, just like I was. I was looking for a Hindu practice. Instead, I happened upon Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga which, while it was not wholly Hindu, it was close enough.

Initially, I could not tell the difference. Although, being aware and well read, I soon figured it out. Many Bhajanists never do. And why should they? If they understood that the yoga they were practicing was intended to lead them into a cult, they would run a mile in the opposite direction.

Back in the early 70’s, Yogi Bhajan would invite Hindu swamis to his Los Angeles ashram to speak. I also remember him having a Vedic astrologer there to perform a Hom, a Hindu fire ceremony. There was no formal kirtan in those days, just a lot of songs that people made up and sang.

If someone’s song included names of Hindu gods and goddesses, there was no sense of disapproval from Yogi Bhajan. The idea of Adi Shakti, worshipping the primal female power, was a big part of his teachings – as it still is. Perhaps his teachings of that time could best be described as quasi-Hindu, with various Sikh topics mentioned here and there.

That is how Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO started. It was NOT in any way started as a Sikh organization.

Recently I saw a quote on Facebook that I want to share here to help Sikhs of Punjabi origin understand just how prevalent Hindu ideas are amongst Westerners who aspire to embrace a spiritual lifestyle.

I have often said in Internet discussions that there is a strong tendency towards Hinduism and its practices amongst the “New Age” people, the kind of people who make up the majority of 3HO yoga students. Perhaps this quote will help people understand just how strong it is:

“I lean towards Hinduism. Reincarnation, karma, celebrations, Bikram yoga, chanting, devotional singing, conscious sexuality, vegetarianism, meditation, flowers, incense, dance, slowing down, reconnecting, love, light, laughter and leisure. All good, good things, and even better because there are millions of kind, open loving souls who lean in too. Hare Krishna.”

Notice how many of the things that seem to inspire her are either not found in Sikhi or are frowned upon.

I know the lady who wrote this. She is a good and well-meaning person. She is typical of millions of Westerners who find no satisfaction in their religions of birth, mostly Christianity and Judaism, and are looking for another spiritual path.

She is NOT a Bhajanist. In fact, she may never have even heard of 3HO. But her attitude and feelings are typical of the type of people who start taking Kundalini Yoga classes and eventually get involved with Bhajanism. That is why I used her words.

I believe this turning towards Hindu practices in Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO/Sikh-Dharma-International is happening because most of the people who come into his organizations, then and now, are oriented towards Hinduism and are looking for a Hindu lifestyle. Plus, since Yogi Bhajan’s death, there is no one with the authority to keep a lid on this kind of behavior.

These innocents don’t see anything wrong with Hindu practices because no one has given them any education about Sikhi, particularly about Sikh history. No one has told them about the many brave souls who sacrificed so much to maintain Sikhi as a separate entity from Hindutva.

Yogi Bhajan operated on a “bait-and-switch” principle, which is a term used in retail sales. It means: To offer goods at an impossibly low price and then, when the subject shows up, to switch them to buying something much more expensive.

Yogi Bhajan used his intoxicating and trance-like form of yoga to pull young people in, and then coerced them into his Sikhi-ness. Many, many of his students rebelled at that point and left the organization. During my time in 3HO, the turnover rate was very high.

In my case, in 1970, less than a year after studying Kundalini Yoga, I went to London to teach yoga. I wanted to learn Gurbani Kirtan and so began to study with a giani in Southall. As soon as I did, Sikhi took me over. I found that I loved it. Kundalini Yoga faded from my life, although I still taught it for income, and practiced it to keep fit and for health reasons.

In 1972, I returned to the USA, a very committed Sikh. Yogi Bhajan was not happy with me. He told me I had come too far, too fast. He was only just beginning to introduce Sikh practices into his teachings. I didn’t care. I wanted Sikhi. That was enough for me.

I also encountered negativity from many of my fellow Bhajanists who felt threatened by my reciting Gurbani and singing Gurbani Kirtan. It was very obvious that they were there for the yoga, and yoga alone.

In 1979 Antion Vikram Singh became the first non-South Asian Sikh to sing Gurbani Kirtan at Darbar Sahib.

When Yoga Bhajan was alive, he would make sure that the organization sufficiently appeared to be oriented towards Sikhi to keep the Punjabis happy, or at least in the dark. Now that he is gone, there is no need for anyone to suppress their Hindu leanings. And we are seeing the results.

For me, the situation is tragic. Yes, Kundalini Yoga is expanding rapidly across the world. And within that movement there are some who are taking to Bhajan’s version of Sikhi, known as Bhajanism.

But remember though, the Bhajanism movement has always been wide but not deep. Out of the perhaps 5,000 Westerners who embraced Bhajanism over the last 45 years, the number who turned to Sikhi after leaving Bhajanism can be counted on the fingers of two hands.

Even the number committed to Bhajanism within the organization is hardly overwhelming, by some estimates 2,000 to 3,000 followers.

When Yogi Bhajan was alive, most of those who became Sikh-like did so because he told them to. When they became disenchanted with him, which a huge percentage did, they dropped his Sikhi-ness as fast as they could. For many, his Sikhi-ness was an awkward and uncomfortable fit, a burden on their lifestyle.

A great opportunity had been lost: To spread Sikhism amongst Westerners.

Unfortunately, Bhajanist Sikhi-ness still has to be taught today, by legal definition, according to the “teachings of Yogi Bhajan.” The settlement for the recent bitterly fought court cases in Oregon contained the following as part of the instructions for those who were to administer the settlement:

“(They shall be) working in the best interest of the entity and in service of such related entity’s mission to support and advance the practice of the Sikh Religion or the technology of Kundalini Yoga, as both were taught, by the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, aka Yogi Bhajan.”

What about Sikhi according to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Kakkars and Amarit Sanchaar of Guru Gobind Singh ji, and the Sikh Rehit Maryada?

We now have an organization that is essentially schizophrenic. Are they Sikhs or are they Hindus? Do they want to embrace ideas such as naked yoga, gay yoga or yoga as an aid to sexuality? These ideas have all recently appeared on the Internet. They were promoted by people who are apparently part of 3HO, some even wearing turbans.

All this has come to pass since Yogi Bhajan’s death. It would have been unthinkable when he was alive. He would have put a stop to these perverted forms of his yoga, instantly.

But now the cat is out of the bag. And no one is in charge. It is for this reason that the ever-present under current of Hinduism has now come to the surface and is being allowed to proliferate.

Article posted to Sikh News Discussion by Kamalla Rose Kaur

The Indian Express – Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun”

Chennai, 24 February 2017. J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa launched a new political forum while rival factions in ruling AIADMK provided welfare assistance across Tamil Nadu on her 69th birth anniversary on Friday in an escalating fight for her legacy.

As a war of words broke out, the state government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, his predecessor and dissident leader O Panneerselvam and AIADMK observed the birth anniversary of the late chief minister in different ways including holding of medical camps and planting of saplings.

Addressing a crowded press conference at her home, Deepa said her political journey had “begun” and also unveiled a flag depicting the images of Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran which she said was only a flag of the Forum named as ‘MGR AMMA Deepa Forum’.

Responding to a query, Deepa said the people desired that she contest from R K Nagar constituency that fell vacant following the demise of the late AIADMK supremo.

Deepa said she has been receiving several requests to enter politics and today’s announcement was to respect their wishes. Deepa, who will be the treasurer of the Forum, said her next course of action would be decided in due course and she would reveal it at the “appropriate time”.

In a veiled attack on Panneerselvam, AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, who is lodged in a Bengaluru prison, said, “When enemies and traitors wanted to defeat the party and the government, Amma’s soul guided us and has put up the AIADMK government in the seat of power”.

“Let us vow to protect the party, and work for the people,” she said in her letter published in Friday’s edition of party mouthpiece “Dr Namadhu MGR” Panneerselvam hit out at Sasikala and her family without naming her for trying to take over the party against Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) wishes.

“Dharma Yudham will continue (to retrieve the party and government),” he said and reiterated his demand for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa.

Paying floral tributes to Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam gave away welfare assistance to the people at Tondiarpet in North Chennai.

Palaniswamy planted a sapling at the Omandurar Government Estate here marking the launch of a drive to plant 69-lakh saplings and a greening project in areas hit by last year’s Vardah cyclone commemorating Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary.

AIADMK presidium chairman K A Sengottaiyan led the birth anniversary celebrations at party headquarters here in which the chief minister and other senior leaders took part.

Once a supporter of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak Jayakumar has now said her attempt to become the chief minister was “unacceptable” to the people of Tamil Nadu, while claiming that the late AIADMK chief had left behind her properties to him and his sister.

He claimed that the former chief minister had bequeathed her properties, including her Veda Nilayam bungalow in Poes Garden here, to his sister Deepa and him, by leaving behind a will.

Sasikala was set to become chief minister succeeding Pannerselvam but the Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case dashed her hopes. Deepa earlier said the Sasikala camp does not deserve to be in “Amma’s place” (Jayalalithaa) at all.

“Certainly not good for the people because this kind of takeover(by Sasikala camp), this kind of hijacking the party is absolutely not acceptable for anyone, especially the cadre of AIADMK because their wishes have been totally ignored.”

Deepak said party members did not favour TTV Dinakaran’s appointment as AIADMK’s deputy general secretary. While speaking to TV news channels on Thursday, Jayakumar questioned reinduction of Dinakaran, who is nephew of Sasikala, and S Venkatesh into the party.

While Deepa can aspire for positions in the AIADMK, Venkatesh and Dinakaran could not, he said apparently referring to the removal of the two by Jayalalithaa in 2011. “They are trying to bring family rule.. probably they both forced Sasikala to hand over the party to them,” he alleged, adding, “Even the party cadres will not accept this”.

Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar launches political forum

Dawn – Situationer: when fear takes over

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 24 February 2017. Around noon on Thursday a mother received a call from her daughter’s school in Gulberg. The caller informed her that the school was letting parents collect their daughters early in view of the blast in DHA an hour ago.

As she rushed to the school, a friend texted her a message that one news channel was airing ‘unconfirmed’ reports of an explosion at an American fast food chain’s Gulberg outlet, which is perilously close to the school.

“It was like I had already died. The message numbed my mind and body, totally. Don’t know how I pulled up the car and started calling the school. But the call wouldn’t connect,” she later told the mother of one of her daughter’s classmates, her eyes swollen and her voice choking because of crying.

After failing to reach the school administration by telephone she pulled herself together and drove “madly” to get to the school only to run into a security picket.

The Rangers and the police had thrown a cordon around the Gulberg Main Boulevard outlet of the international chain. A policeman told her to take an alternative route.

“When I asked him about what was going on there and if the Rangers were searching only the food outlet or all the buildings, including the school, in that block, he refused to confirm or refute. He just kept asking me to move on and away,” the mother of two boys and a girl told Dawn.

She wasn’t the only mother to have suffered the trauma. Other parents too had similar experiences. Many made a dash to the school as soon as they heard of the Defence blast. Others were asked by a text message or call from the school administration or from their daughters.

Outside the school you could see many parents crying. Inside the school the children waited to be picked up as soon as possible.

“It was during the short break that the cell phones of our teachers started ringing incessantly. Everyone suddenly started talking about the Defence explosion and then ‘news’ of another blast in Gulberg,” an A-Level student said.
“We were asked by our school administrator to call home so that our parents could pick us up early. Every child was frightened, not knowing what was actually happening outside the school walls.”

‘Close to our homes’

Lahore is no stranger to terrorist attacks. Over the last decade the people of the city have seen hundreds of deaths in suicide bombings and sectarian attacks at public places and shrines like the rest of the country.

Parents remember refusing to send their children to school for days or taking them to public places. Some had even made their peace with their fear of death.

But the recent string of militant attacks in the country that began with a suicide attack on a protest at Charing Cross on the Mall in front of the Punjab Assembly earlier this month seems to have triggered a fresh wave of fear across the country. Thursday’s explosion has intensified these fears.

“The recent bombings have shaken everyone. This new wave looks dangerous. This is different from before. They (militants) seem to be closer… they’re hitting very close to (our) homes this time,” said an executive of a company who didn’t want to be named.

Unlike the past, traders too appear quite mindful of the threat and voluntarily shut down the markets. Restaurants that otherwise are usually filled with guests gave a deserted look.

“No one feels safe now. Everyone is advising everyone to avoid shopping malls, markets and restaurants. People are scared,” a trader told Dawn.

Many blame the electronic media and the government for the current environment of fear.

“If some media outlets are responsible for airing rumours as confirmed news, the (Punjab) government hasn’t done itself any good either by persistently trying to pass off the bomb explosion in Defence as an accident,” argued a LUMS professor. “Indeed, these government denials didn’t help”.

The ministers and officials have only added to the confusion, and public fears, just because it doesn’t want to look inefficient and weak. Such an outlook could boost demands for giving the Rangers more powers.”

The LUMS professor agreed that the management of the General Hospital had taken a good decision in disallowing the media from entering the premises for ‘live’ coverage.

“The media persons don’t realise how dangerous this can be for everyone, besides obstructing the effort to help the wounded.

The loss of 100 lives in a Quetta hospital in August last year and in Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital should be enough to make media refrain from following the wounded to hospitals and creating chaos for militants to do their work.”

Yet TV did spread rumours and panic with the news of Gulberg blast. “It is a tough call: do we inform our viewers and readers or do we play it down along with the likes of Rana Sanaullah,” said a journalist.

The Statesman – Modi’s hate-mongering won’t work in UP: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, 23 February 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is spreading hatred in Uttar Pradesh but the voters of the state will elect the Congress-Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday.

“Modi ji has lost the elections (UP), he can spread hatred as much as he wants but UP won’t pay heed. Congress and SP will form the government here,” Rahul Gandhi said while the addressing the voters of his Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi.

The Gandhi scion went on to quote a few lines of a famous Hindi film song: “I have a message for those spreading hatred, you will neither become a Hindu nor a Muslim, you are a human being’s child and you will become a human being”.

Polling is on for 53 assembly constituencies spread over 12 districts, including the backward Bundelkhand region in the fourth phase of polling in UP.

Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency are among the seats where the electoral exercise is taking place. However, in a first since 1998, Gandhi gave campaigning a miss in her constituency.

Elections for UP legislative assembly are being held in seven phases, with three more on February 27, March 4 and 8 to follow after today’s polling. Election results will be out on March 11.

The Tribune – Sutlej Yamuna Link Stir : How the day unfolded, Police’s forceful display foils breach bid

Jupinderjit Singh, Tribune News Service

Shambu-Patiala district-Panjab, 23 Februray 2017. The manual and technical expertise of the Punjab Police was on full display at the Punjab-Haryana border today to prevent INLD activists from reaching the SYL canal.

In contrast, the Haryana Police had far less men. They also fared poorly on the modern equipment front.

The Punjab Police deployment was supervised by a DGP-rank officer, while a DSP-level officer was the in-charge on the Haryana side. INLD activists easily breached the Haryana security rings, but could not cross the Punjab Police barricades.

The specially trained anti-riot police, equipped with body suits that guard against fire, acid and stone missiles; head gear; pellet bullets; and chilli spray, was prepared for any eventuality.

Multi-barrel launchers mounted on Vajra vehicles, drones and a helicopter were used to ensure peace and foil any attempt to breach the barricades.

The helicopter and drones caught the fancy of the media and residents alike as these were used for the first time.

The Punjab Police had drawn flak in the past for not having proper weaponry, modern equipment and permission to use the chopper in several pressing circumstances. Most of the modern equipment was bought after the police faced challenges such as the terror attack at Dinanagar and Pathankot Air Force station.

Learning from the past, the government provided its helicopter to the police for the third day consecutive today. Senior officials used it to survey the border.

On several occasions, the drones were flown over the Ghaggar bridge, from where INLD activists marched towards Punjab. Besides drones, CCTV cameras installed at key points recorded the INLD’s march and police arrangements.

The anti-riot contingent was the first line of defence. It was earlier deployed in Bargari village, where clashes took place over sacrilege incidents. These men have been undergone a minimum 45-day training to handle a riotous mob. They are the “wall” of the police defence.

More than 5,000 men and women drawn from six police districts, besides 10 battalions of the paramilitary force and personnel of reserve battalions were deployed along the border, specially at the Shambu bridge and entry points to Sarala and Kapoori villages.

Under the command of DGP (Law and Order) HS Dhillon, eight commandants of reserve battalions, five SSPs and two IGs remained on their toes the entire day.

Punjab DGP Suresh Arora supervised the entire operation from the headquarters.