The Tribune – Marathon runner Fauja Singh’s biography Turbaned Tornado is all set to become a biopic

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 January 2021. A story that necessitated the collaboration of three creative powerhouses, namely Omung Kumar B, Raaj Shaandilyaa and Kunal Shivdasani, is now all set to see the light of day.

Pooling their individual sensibilities together, the three filmmakers announced the film Fauja, which is based on the book titled Turbaned Tornado written by Khushwant Singh on the 109-year-old Fauja Singh (better known as the Sikh Superman), who stunned the world with his age-defying energy and shattered world records as a marathon runner.

Directed by Omung Kumar B, the biopic chronicles the life of Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathon runner whose rollercoaster journey is an inspiring one.

Author’s take

Chandigarh-based author Khushwant Singh shares his joy as his biography Turbaned Tornado is now being made into a movie. “I am feeling honoured and humbled at the same time.

I am happy that my efforts to bring recognition to the Punjabi community are paying off. Another novel of mine, Maharaja in Denims, is picked up for a Bollywood motion film by producer Guneet Monga.”

The author, who belongs to Hoshiarpur, conveys that there’s no city small or big for artistes to grow if one believes in the creative power of their mind and express it through the medium of their choice.

Recalling the time he met Fauja Singh, he adds, “There was never a dull moment with him. He is high on humour and energy. Rest assured, the audience will come face to face with the spirit of life with this movie and learn the value of fitness and never giving up.”

The Tribune – Two British Sikhs in UK charged with street fight with swords and knives

Sukhvir Singh 22 and Lakha Singh 29 – both residents of Southall here, appear at the Willesden Magistrates’ Court charged with affray and threatening a person with a blade/sharply pointed article in a public place.

London – UK, 20 January 2021. Two British Sikh men have been charged following what Scotland Yard described as a large altercation involving swords and knives in Southall, west London.

Sukwir Singh, 22, and Lakha Singh, 29, both residents of Southall here, appeared at the Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with affray and threatening a person with a blade/sharply pointed article in a public place.

“Police were called at around 00:20 hrs on Sunday, 17 January, to reports of a large group of around 30 men fighting with various weapons – including knives and swords, in the area of King Street,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

“Officers attended and arrested two males, both aged in their 20s, on suspicion of violent disorder and affray. There were no reported injuries,” the statement added.

The two men have been remanded in custody and will appear at the Isleworth Crown Court on 15 February.

The Met Police is appealing to witnesses to come forward as their enquiries in the case continue. – Ruttie: This biography reveals what we did not know about the woman who married Jinnah

An excerpt from ‘The Woman Who Stood Defiant: Ruttie Jinnah’

Saad S Khan & Sara S Khan

Book Excerpt, 20 January 2021. As Jinnah’s political lieutenant, Ruttie’s decision to marry Jinnah owed a lot to his politics, which is what had mesmerised her in the first place.

Hence her participation in Jinnah’s political activities began from Lucknow, well before their marriage.

Despite her father’s opposition, the young Ruttie attended the joint annual sessions of the Congress and the Muslim League, held in the city in December 1916.

Jinnah had joined the All India Muslim League in 1913, reportedly on Gokhale’s insistence, to bring Muslims into the fold of the mainstream nationalist struggle.

Within three years, he had become important enough to be elected as the All India Muslim League president for the Lucknow session. It was in this capacity that he signed the Lucknow Pact with his friend and Congress president Tilak.

It was to witness this glory that Ruttie had come down to Lucknow from Bombay.

By early 1918, she was Jinnah’s wife. Within a year of their marriage, Mrs Jinnah proudly saw the elevation of Jinnah as the overall president of the Muslim League in 1919.

Her husband’s new position meant that she would be seated with him on stage during public meetings of the Muslim League, just like she had been beside him in the Congress meetings.

Her Westernised attire would sometimes provoke the mullahs or the conservative Muslims. At the 1924 Muslim League annual session at the Globe Cinema, Bombay, for instance, some people asked the organisers who the woman was.

Jinnah’s political secretary, M C Chagla, had to tell the objectors that she was the Muslim League’s president’s wife, so they would be better off keeping their observations to themselves.

The incident is indicative of the fact that Mrs Jinnah was not just a passive companion cheering from the fence, but would share the limelight as well.

A contrast can also be drawn with the Congress meetings, where her dress would raise eyebrows, the Nagpur session four years earlier had shown that the Congress’s mindset was not as liberal as the Muslim League’s, at least when it came to women.

But more on the Nagpur session in the following chapters.

The couple was never underdressed, something they believed Gandhi had introduced in the public space. Both Jinnah and his wife staunchly opposed Gandhi’s antics of equating nationalism with minimal clothing of locally made cloth.

Mrs Jinnah was frank enough about her thoughts on this, leading Kanji Dwarkadas to quote another letter that Mrs Jinnah had written to him.

“I feel you had no business to be born in this world with ‘Dhoti’,” she wrote to him, adding that the “correct setting for nature of such fine sensibilities is a Sari, or a skirt, as the case may geographically require”.

One of the reasons the Muslims stood taller, politically speaking, in their interactions with the British was the dress sense the first couple had inculcated in them.

For decades to come, in any meeting between the three main political powerhouses, the Congress, the Muslim League and the British government, the latter two had their fine dressing to back them up in their arguments, while the Congress representatives made political statements in homespun clothing.

In almost all formal contact with the British government, Mrs Jinnah would be with her husband as long as she lived.

The visit of the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII, who had to abdicate his throne in 1936 over the Mrs Simpson affair) in late 1921 provides an interesting illustration of this.

His first royal tour to India was boycotted by the Congress, which the Jinnahs considered an unwise decision.

Greater still was their opposition to the Congress’s resorting to protests that put its supporters in harm’s way.

By 17 November 1921, the clashes with the police had left fifty-three Congress sympathisers dead and more than five hundred injured.

In contract, the Jinnahs’ commitment to always adhere to the law, engage in constructive dialogue with the government and discourage anything that might instigate violence, was very different from those of the apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi.

Mrs Jinnah strongly shared her husband’s disavowal of Congress politics.

She wanted home rule but could not countenance unconstitutional means. Mr and Mrs Jinnah find honourable mention in accounts of royal historians covering the tour.

As per British civil servant and historian Rushbrook Williams, “Mr Jinnah and his beautiful wife, Ruttie, met the prince on many occasions. I am sure that the prince learnt much from them.”

Mrs Jinnah used to be part of Jinnah’s contingent at political activities outside the purview of the Muslim League as well.

One such incident recounted by a top Khilafat leader, Adeel Abbasi, refers to a meeting of the Khilafat Movement, where Jinnah was also invited.

As the Jinnahs arrived at the venue, Mrs Jinnah might have alighted from the car first and walked towards the entrance. The volunteer at the gate asked to see her entry pass. In the meantime, Jinnah also arrived.

She said to him in English, “Jay, they are not letting me in, they want the entry pass.” Without a murmur, Jinnah gave his entry pass to her and she went in. Jinnah was left outside.

When this came to the notice of the prominent Khilafat leader Hakeem Ajmal Khan, he came out, apologised and brought Jinnah in.

The presence of women in politics was so rare then that organisers had not foreseen that a leader would come accompanied by his wife.

It also shows how important Mrs Jinnah’s participation in political activities was for her husband, who, when the situation arose, deferred to his wife being admitted first.

The Woman Who Stood Defiant: Ruttie Jinnah

Excerpted with permission from The Woman Who Stood Defiant: Ruttie Jinnah, Saad S Khan with Sara S Khan, Penguin India. – Family of blogger detained in India fear for his life

The family of a Scottish Sikh blogger detained in India fear for his life. This comes after fresh accusations emerged.

Blogger Jagtar Singh Johal has been detained in India since 2017 without trial, over allegations of his involvement in a conspiracy linked to the drive for a separate Sikh state.

Shortly after his wedding in India, he was arrested and no evidence against him has been presented.

Now his family in Dumbarton, Scotland, fear for his life, after he was taken from his high-security prison over a fatal shooting that happened hundreds of miles away from his cell.

Jagtar, aged 33, was in a Delhi prison when a former anti-insurgency leader was shot by two men in October 2020.

His family understood that another of those detained over the death of anti-insurgency figure Balwinder Singh Sandhu has implicated Jagtar.

Jagtar has not been allowed direct communication with his family in months and his contact with legal representatives and UK officials is limited.

The family, including Jagtar’s solicitor brother Gurpreet, said he is innocent.

After Jagtar provided written testimony of electrocution, death threats and other torture during his initial period of interrogation, his family fear for his safety and well-being.

Gurpreet told The National: “He was tortured. Even if it’s not physical this time, the mental torture is going to be worse.

“We are concerned that the tactics are going to be to mentally drain him.

BBC News – Gravesend gurdwara volunteers feeding NHS workers

Volunteers at a Kent Sikh Gurdwara have been cooking thousands of hot meals for NHS staff.

Three days a week volunteers at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend start cooking at 04:00 GMT for staff at the Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford.

For the rest of the week the gurdwara’s kitchen is busy with people cooking food for vulnerable people in the Gravesend area.

The gurdwara is the largest in Europe and has hundreds of volunteers.

“If you go to any gurdwara you will always get food,” says Jagdev Singh Virdee, of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara.

“We have a community kitchen where everybody cooks together and eats together.”

‘Complex operation’

The gurdwara, in Saddington Street in Gravesend has hundreds of volunteers to call on, Mr Virdee said.

They are divided into small teams to ensure social distancing measures are followed.

“One team will cook, another will pack the food, the other will deliver it. It’s a complex operation,” Mr Virdee said.

It is an operation the volunteers are used to, he said.

At the peak of the first lockdown the volunteers at the gurdwara were providing 1,000 meals a day to key workers and vulnerable people.

They also made thousands of hot meals for lorry drivers stranded on the M20 over Christmas, as well as bags of mince pies.

Mr Virdee says: “We are trying to keep the NHS and vulnerable people served with our food for as long as we can.”

He said 80 meals had been delivered to people in their homes on Sunday, with 150 meals going to Darent Valley Hospital staff on Monday.

“We’ve just had a request from another hospital and a nursing home, so numbers will be going up over the coming weeks,” Mr Virdee said. – UK Sikh all set to be framed in new cases in India, lawyer dubs it ‘conspiracy to prolong his custody’

Sikh24 Punjab Bureau

New Delhi – India, 09 January 2021. United Kingdom (UK) national Jagtar Singh (Jaggi Johal) is all set to be framed in two new cases related to narco terror activities and killing of Shaurya Chakra awardee Comrade Balwinder Singh Sandhu.

Delhi Police Special Cell has secured a remand of Johal from Patiala House court here connected with these cases.

Even as Johal is in jail for the last three years and locked up in the high security zone of Tihar Jail under strict surveillance of jail personnel and CCTV cameras, the Special Cell linked him to the recent crime incidents thereby getting him on 14-day remand.

The new theory cited by the Special Cell claims that Sukhmeet Pal Singh alias Bhikhariwala who was arrested by Delhi Police in case of narco terrorism on 07 December on his deportation from Dubai and is alleged mastermind of Sandhu murder case, was in contact with Johal and other pro-Khalistan functionaries who asked him to eliminate Sandhu considering him “threat” to the Khalistan movement.

Content of the remand order issued by the court of Dr Pankaj Sharma, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) is given below:

“ACP Lalit Mohan has moved a request for 14 days police custody remand of accused Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi Johal submitting that source information was received that ISI is planning to execute targeting killing of Hindu leaders in Delhi and neighbouring states through Khalistani terrorists by use of high grade weapons and in this connection on 31.12.2020 accused Sukhmeet Pal Singh @ Sukh Bhikharwala @ Kamaljeet Singh was apprehended from T-3 IGI Airport, New Delhi and he was remanded to 8 days Police custody wherein he disclosed that 5/6 months ago he came in contact with the accused Jagtar Singh Johal @ Jaggi Johal, Khalistani leader through Lakhbir Singh @Rode who is the leader of Khalistan Zindabad Force and one Sunny who is operative of ISI in Toronto and Jagtar Singh Johal @Jaggi Johal knew each other from the past and they both instructed Sukhmeet Pal Singh to execute killing of Shaurya Chakra Awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu @ Comrade considering him as a threat to Khalistan movement. It is submitted that police custody remand is required to unearth the whole conspiracy of the whole network of narco Terrorism as he has to be confronted with other other accused persons Sukhmeet Pal Singh @ Sukh Bhikhariwala and to analyze different chat accounts of Sukh Bhikhariwala and to identify his other associates in Delhi and other places”.

Considering the grounds of Police just and reasonable, the court allowed the Special Cell to take Jaggi Johal on 14-day remand.

After Delhi Police secured remand of Jaggi Johal, Punjab Police that have not found any terror angle in Sandhu murder case, are bound to bring him on remand, said the sources.

‘Is it possible for anyone outside the jail to have been in touch with Johal in such a condition?’

Framed in “false” cases of terror activities and arrested in 2017, Jaggi Johal was recently granted regular bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case of target killing on 07 November last year. Eight cases are still pending against him, said Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, his legal counsel.

Manjhpur said, under sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), six cases are pending against him in Patiala House court, while two in National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court, Mohali.

“The Indian agencies have no proof of Johal’s involvement in any of the terror activities. So, the cases registered against him cannot stand for more time. This is the reason he is being granted bails gradually in the cases pending against him.

However, the government of Indian does not want him to be freed and to keep him behind bars, its agencies have hatched new conspiracy by linking his name to the nexus of narco terror elements and Sandhu murder case”, he said further.

He said, “I am surprised over the ground made by Delhi Police Special Cell in the remand application.
It claimed that Bhikhariwal in Dubai remained in contact with Johal who is in jail under tight vigil and surveillance.

Is it possible for anyone outside the jail to have been in touch with Johal in such a condition? Even the judge did not question the counsel of Delhi Police as to how it is possible. This is quite ironic”. ‘It may be new tactic to pressurize Johal to be witness in extradition case of 3 UK Sikhs’

Sharing his apprehension, Manjhpur said, “During his remand, Johal was once pressurized by the NIA to help it in ensuring extradition of three Sikh men in the UK, who are nominated in RSS leader Rulda Singh murder case and also kept wanted in the cases registered against him.

He was offered to be released for helping it, because the case of extradition is weak. It is my apprehension that the Indian agencies might again be pressuring Johal to help them in this matter by linking his name in new cases”.

The three, all UK nationals, were identified as Gursharanbir Singh Wahiwal, Amritbir Singh Wahiwal and Pyara Singh. They are accused in the murder case in which the police had moved for their extradition in August 2019.

The Punjab Police are upbeat at their arrest following India’s extradition request in the 2009 murder case.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing a series of targeted killings in Punjab in 2016-17, had also submitted a chargesheet against Gursharanbir.

It is pertinent to mention here that there is widespread resentment among the Sikh community across the world against the Johal’s prolonged custody that is being termed as an act of depriving him of his human rights.

The Sikhs in the UK have taken up this issue with their government but to no avail.

Daily Times – British MP tells Johnson to raise torture on Indian farmers with Modi

London – UK, 10 January 2021. As Indian police continues to torture protesting farmers, a British parliamentarian has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to raise the issue with Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit, urging him to resolve the deadlock and allow the people to use their democratic right of protest.

In a letter to British prime minister, Labour Member of Parliament for Slough Tan Dhesi said, “many constituents, especially those emanating from the Punjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see footage of water cannon, tear gas and brute force being used against hundreds of thousands of peacefully protesting farmers.”

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi was elected as the MP for Slough, winning in the 2017 General Election with a 17,000 majority and later re-elected in 2019, thereby becoming the first ever turbaned Sikh in any European Parliament.

He said the issue had so galvanised the Indian diaspora community, especially those of a Punjabi or Sikh background, and others who have land or links to farming in India, that tens of thousands engaged in global protests, including in towns and cities across Jammu and Kashmir.

He said a cross-party letter, signed by over hundred MPs and Lords, was sent to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to raise this matter with his Indian counterpart who had assured that it was raised with the Indian Foreign Minister, but he did not do so with the Indian Prime Minister during his December Delhi meeting.

Referring to a question raised to PM Johnson during the Prime Minister’s Questions on 09 December the MP said he had misunderstood the question as he made a reference to Pakistan and the need for “those two Governments to settle” these matters.

“The issue of course has nothing to do with Pakistan, but is regarding farmers from across India protesting and expressing their concerns of major corporates moving into the sector, as a result of new agriculture laws,” he clarified.

He urged the prime minister, who was scheduled to meet Indian counterpart in near future in New Delhi, to convey to the Indian Prime Minister “the heart-felt anxieties of our constituents, our hopes for a speedy resolution to the current deadlock and also for the democratic human right of citizens to peacefully protest.”

British MP tells Johnson to raise torture on Indian farmers with Modi

The Tribune – 100 UK MPs write to Johnson over stir

Panjabi Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi urges Johnson to raise issue with Modi

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 09 January 2021. More than 100 MPs, cutting across party lines, in the United Kingdom are signatories to a letter written by Punjabi MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi to Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing concerns over Indian farmers’ protest against the central farm laws.

Dhesi has urged Johnson to raise the issue with his Indian counterpart, expressing hopes of speedy resolution to the current deadlock.

In the letter, Dhesi has stated that many constituents, especially those belonging to Panjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see water cannon, tear gas and brute force used against protesting farmers.

The issue has so galvanised the Indian diaspora community, especially those of Panjabi or Sikh origin, and others who have land or links to farming in India, that thousands of people were engaged in global protests, including in cities across the UK.

He has further stated that a cross-party letter was sent to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to raise the matter with his Indian counterpart.

The letter also states: “You were asked about this issue during the Prime Minister’s questions on 09 December 2020. It seems you misunderstood the question since you made a reference to Pakistan and the need of two governments to settle these matters.

The issue has nothing to do with Pakistan, but is regarding farmers from across India expressing their concern of major corporate houses moving into the agriculture sector, as a result of new laws. Could you please respond to clarify your understanding of this important issue?”

Further, he has claimed: “We believe your January India visit has now been cancelled, but you intend to meet your Indian counterpart soon.

Given the urgency of this matter, could you please confirm that you will definitely convey to Indian PM the heartfelt anxieties of our constituents, our hope for speedy resolution to the current deadlock and also for the democratic human rights of citizens to peacefully protest?”

Other Indian UK MPs Seema Malhotra and Virender Sharma have also signed this letter.

The Mail on Sunday – Keir Starmer blocks bid to make leading Sikh independence supporter a peer in ‘extremism row’

Senior public official Dabinderjit Singh Sidhu is denied peerage by Labour leader
Mr Singh is a long-standing campaigner for a sovereign Sikh state in the Punjab
On the day of the announcement he was told Sir Keir withdrew his nomination

Brendan Carlin – The Mail On Sunday

London – UK, 10 January 2021. Sir Keir Starmer ditched plans to give a peerage to a leading Sikh independence supporter amid concerns over his alleged ‘extremist’ links, it was claimed last night.

But the Labour leader is facing calls to explain his decision after friends of senior public official Dabinderjit Singh Sidhu insisted it was ‘complete nonsense’ to say he was a fanatic.

Sir Keir is also being urged to say whether he had bowed to warnings that the Indian government would be furious to see Mr Singh receive the honour.

Sources have suggested the timing of the peerage, ahead of a planned visit by Boris Johnson later this month, would have made it especially sensitive.

Mr Singh, a long-standing campaigner for the creation of a sovereign Sikh state in the Punjab in India, was due to be one of six new Labour peers announced just before Christmas.

But The Mail on Sunday understands that on the day of the announcement, he was told Sir Keir had withdrawn his nomination. The move came even though the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which vets peerages on security service advice, had approved the nomination.

Labour sources would only say yesterday that they had received new information about the ‘background’ of Mr Singh, who is a senior official at the National Audit Office.

Mr Singh, 55, faced reports in 2008 that he had been a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) which was banned in the UK in 2001 amid Home Office warnings its members were a threat to national security.

The Evening Standard reported that in June of 2007, he had spoken at a rally in Trafalgar Square at which another speaker praised terrorism and at which the banners of a separate banned Sikh terror group – Babbar Khalsa – were on open display.

That group was implicated in the bombing of an Air India plane off the coast of Ireland with the death of all 329 crew and passengers.

Last night, friends of Mr Singh, awarded the OBE in 2000 for services to the NAO, equal opportunities and the Sikh community, denied he had been a member of the Sikh youth organisation and said he had always campaigned peacefully for a ‘Khalistan’ independent Sikh state.

They also insisted the ISYF should never have been outlawed and that the ban was lifted by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2016.

One Labour MP who knows Mr Singh yesterday called on Sir Keir to ‘sort this out’, suggesting inexperience in his office had led to the confusion.

Last month, ITV political editor Robert Peston tweeted he was ‘a controversial figure in India’. Mr Peston added that a leading figure in the Hindu community in the UK had told him the peerage would ‘outrage’ the government of India.

The Sikh Federation UK condemned what they called a ‘hate campaign’ against Mr Singh.

The Prime Minister had been due to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January but he cancelled the visit amid the worsening pandemic crisis here. The Labour Party and Mr Singh declined to comment.

But a party source said the decision to withdraw the nomination was taken ‘when we were made aware of new information about Mr Singh’s background’.

The Asian Age – Boris cancels trip for R-Day due to Covid spike in UK

Sridhar Krishnaswami

New Delhi – India, 06 January 2021. British PM Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned India visit later this month to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations due to the grim Covid-19 situation in Britain and the “speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading” that led to a fresh national lockdown, the British government said Tuesday, adding Mr Johnson had already spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to express his regret”.

Mr Johnson hopes to visit India by June this year.

India is now expected to invite another foreign leader as chief guest for the January 26 parade.

New Delhi said Tuesday evening that in a phone conversation with Mr Modi, Mr Johnson “regretted his inability to attend in view of the changed Covid-19 context prevailing in UK”, but said he was keen to “visit India in the near future”.

New Delhi said “Prime Minister (Modi) expressed his understanding of the exceptional situation in the UK, and conveyed his best wishes for the quick control of the pandemic spread”, adding “he looked forward to receiving Prime Minister Johnson in India at the earliest opportunity after normalisation of the situation”.

The invitation to Mr Johnson was announced during British foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s visit to New Delhi last month.