The Economic Times – Sikh, Hindu refugees from Afghanistan torn between identity and livelihood

New Delhi – India, 13 January 2019. Every couple of months Surveer Singh, who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, is torn between identity and livelihood.

And his dilemma between fulfilling requirements for citizenship of his “natural homeland”, India, and holding on to a stable job refuses to end even after 27 years.

The 33-year-old, who, along with his family of four, lives in Amritsar, says he is struggling to stay afloat as every other month he has to visit government offices and cut through red tape to continue living in his “natural homeland”.

Surveer Singh’s family had been living in Afghanistan’s restive Nangarhar province before his parents decided to move to India in 1992, when a wave of Hindus and Sikhs left Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the USSR and the arrival of Mujahideens.

Being the sole bread-winner of the family, Surveer Singh, who earns his livelihood doing odd jobs, says though his family migrated to India at the same time, every person in his family has their visas and refugee certificates issued on different dates.

As their citizenship application is caught in a bureaucratic maze, they need to visit government offices on a regular basis to maintain their papers. They have pleaded with several political leaders for getting the Indian citizenship but all they have got is assurances, he says.

“Since the papers expire every 12 months, I have to visit New Delhi once in two or three months along with one of my family members for renewals,” Surveer Singh said, adding that he is sick of his shaky status in India.

It is already very difficult to find a job as no one wants to employ refugees. Even if one secures a job, often low-paying ones, the need to visit New Delhi every other month frustrates employers who then look for staffers who need leave less, he said.

The plight of immigrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan seeking to renew long-term visas and refugee certificates does not end here. They also have to find two Indian citizens who are ready to become their guarantors.

“After hearing that we are from Afghanistan, no one readies to become our guarantor. We continue to be nowhere people,” he says.

However, the Narendra Modi government’s push for the Citizenship Amendment Bill has rekindled hopes of Surveer Singh and thousands of other refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The proposed legislation seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to people from minority communities, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they don’t possess any proper document.

Like him, Saran Singh said he wants a dignified life.

The 50-year-old, who left his properties worth crores of rupees in Pakistan and reached Punjab in 1999 along with his family, says they were treated as “second-class citizens” in Pakistan.

He lived in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency where militancy and religious persecution are rampant.

He said militants would often coerce him and his family to convert to Islam if they want to be alive. So many women were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam.

“No one wants to marry our daughters and sons as people become suspicious once they get to know that we are from Pakistan. People say since you do not have the Indian citizenship, what would happen if the government decides to deport you? What would happen to the marriage?” said Saran.

“We escaped religious persecution in Pakistan and reached India, our natural homeland, but here we are entangled in red tape and bureaucratic hurdle. Sometimes officials ask us to renew our Pakistani passports for which we have to risk our lives to visit Pakistan and get the papers issued,” Saran said.

“When we were living in Pakistan, locals would say you are not Pakistanis as you are Hindus and Sikhs, and you must go to your country. While living in India, people say you are from Pakistan,” Saran said.

He requested the government to give them citizenship as soon as possible as the pain of living in India as refugees has been taking a huge toll on their lives.

“We have been facing a lot of hardships in our daily lives as one needs Aadhaar and voter identity cards for any work,” Saran said.

In the absence of papers, many refugees are even unable to educate their children, he claimed.

The condition of refugees living in Punjab is worse as compared to those living in New Delhi as every time they apply for citizenship, their file gets stuck on the way and never reaches the capital.

One of the biggest hurdles for the Pakistani refugees seeking the Indian citizenship is lack of paperwork. The government asks them to establish that their grandparents or parents were born in undivided India, Saran said.

“Finding proof that our grandparents or parents lived in undivided India is like finding a needle in haystack,” he said.

From a vibrant population of 2.20 lakh in Afghanistan, the number of Hindus and Sikhs have now come down to 5,000 now, according to estimates of India security agencies.

The refugees have now pinned their hope on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, whose approval in pending in Rajya Sabha. They say the opposition parties should not protest against the bill and ensure its safe passage on humanitarian grounds.

“It is our last hope of leading a dignified life,” one of them says.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is wrong because it is based on the religious or ethnic background of refugees. Hazaras from Balochistan and Afghanistan and Rohingiyas from Myanmar are genuine refugees, just like Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Man in Blue

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sikh-hindu-refugees-from-afghanistan-torn-between-identity-and-livelihood/articleshow/67512034.cms

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The Hindustan Times – 1984 anti-Sikh riots survivors deface Delhi’s Rajiv Chowk signboard, demand its renaming

The protesters demanded renaming Rajiv Chowk, previously known as Connaught Place, after revolutionary leader Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The incident comes a day after a statue of the late prime minister was vandalised in Ludhiana in Punjab by Akali Dal leaders.

New Delhi – India, 26 December 2018. A group of survivors of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on Wednesday allegedly defaced a “Rajiv Chowk” signboard in Central Delhi and demanded renaming of the area, previously known as Connaught Place, after revolutionary leader Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Raising slogans against former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the protesters garlanded the signboard with shoes and slippers and sprayed black paint on it.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) approached the police in this regard.

“A case for defacement of public property has been registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the NDMC,” DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said.

The incident comes a day after a statue of the late prime minister was vandalised in Ludhiana in Punjab by Akali Dal leaders.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/1984-anti-sikh-riots-survivors-deface-delhi-s-rajiv-chowk-signboard-demand-its-renaming/story-sS7qu8ULEryWEwmowyFNPJ.html

LiveMint – A landmark verdict for ‘84 riots, and also for mob violence cases: Harviner Singh Phoolka

Phoolka also spoke about the charges against Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, and how the judgement is going to have an effect on future cases of mob violence

New Delhi – India, 24 December 2018. The Delhi high court sentenced former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life imprisonment for conspiring to commit murder, promoting enmity and for acts against communal harmony during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Even as Kumar approached the Supreme Court challenging the order, senior counsel H S Phoolka, who has been representing riot victims for over three decades, said that justice has finally been delivered.

In an interview with Mint, Phoolka also spoke about the charges against Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, and how the judgement is going to have an effect on future cases of mob violence. Edited excerpts:

What are your thoughts on the judgement?

It is a very good judgement and we are very satisfied with it. The court has come out very firmly on this trend of mass violence and killing of innocents. When the court talks about attacks on minorities, it does not only mean religious minorities. It does not have to be a particular group. It can be a caste minority.

If an otherwise majority group (by religion or caste), which is in a minority in a particular place, is attacked, it will also be considered a minority group. That is what the court means.

This is what has been happening in our country and it is on the rise. The court was pained to see this situation, and that clearly comes out in the judgement. And, there is a clear message that the country will not accept it.

Why do you see this as a landmark judgement?

The court has called for the legal system to be strengthened. It has said that we should not leave any loopholes for the police (to not act), because under political pressure, the police may not take up cases of mob violence. They may not take action.

It should be made so tight that the police has to act as per the law and not as per the politicians. In that sense, it is a landmark judgement not just for the 1984 riots, but for all other cases of mob violence in the country. This will be taken forward in all other cases as well.

You have questioned the appointment of Kamal Nath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Is there any clarity on his involvement in the 1984 riots?

The person is so powerful that he does not allow the wheels of justice to move. He has been scuttling the process till now. He was the first politician whose name appeared in the media.

On 2 November 1984, there were news reports that Kamal Nath was leading the mob where two Sikhs were burnt alive and a gurdwara was burnt. The police, in its report, had mentioned that Kamal Nath was present there, but still there no case against Kamal Nath was registered.

Before the Nanavati Commission also there was evidence given that Kamal Nath was seen instigating the mob. On the basis of this evidence, he must admit that he was there, but he said that he was trying to stop the people from getting violent. If you were trying to stop people, then how were two people burnt alive?

They were there for two hours, but why were they not taken to the hospital. There was firing. In his presence, the gurdwara was burn. What does it mean?

The judgement of the Delhi high court by Justice Gabba, which convicted 88 people, clearly questions those people who were a part of the unlawful assembly. (It asked), why were they there? He (Kamal Nath) was there for two hours. What was he doing for two hours?

Do you think there was enough evidence against him?

100%. There was very strong evidence against him.

Do you think the recent judgement strengthens the case against Kamal Nath?

That’s true. This will strengthen the case against Kamal Nath. It will definitely boost the other cases. Not just cases of the 1984 riots, but also other cases of mass violence.

Are you planning to take up the case against Kamal Nath?

The gurdwara committee is looking into the complaint. I only do the legal work. I have asked them to file a complaint and I will help legally.

What is the way forward?

Sajjan Kumar has to be in jail now. It is a big lesson for all of those who have committed such crimes under the influence of power.

It is a big warning, There is a clear message that one day law will catch up with them, and they will have to spend their old age in jails. They need to think about the steps they are taking for small political gains. It is a very big message.

The court made a comment on genocide. It said that genocide should be included in our laws. How do you see this?

The court is right. It should be included.

Soon after the judgement both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress raised allegations against each other. Do you think political parties are misusing the issue?

This is very unfortunate. The only debate is that who killed whom. Both need to be punished, 1984 riots and 2002 riots. The only way forward is through Tihar Jail.

There have been delaying tactics by Sajjan Kumar and his lawyers. Do you think they will be successful in this?

That is the legal procedure. We never wanted him to be punished at a crossing and shot. We wanted the law (to act). He is entitled to go to the Supreme Court, but we will ask the SC to not entertain his petition.

He is used to scuttling the process. But we will not let him get away with it. Now the whole country is there with us. We are not alone. Those days are gone when I was alone. Now crores are with me.

This judgement has come after three decades. How do you see this delay?

They were protected by the entire system. If you see the judgement and my arguments, which have been accepted by the court, there was a whole system which was there to shield him. It was the duty of the government and the administration to bring the guilty to book. Rather than that, the total system was working to shield them.

There have been various incidents of mass violence. Do you see such incidents ending?

If the guilty of 1984 had been punished, then Mumbai would not have seen what it did. We would not have seen Gujarat, and what we are seeing today. They are being rewarded. So this trend of killing minorities, winning elections and getting rewarded. This started from 1984.

If they were punished then it would act as a deterrent. That is applicable even today. It is not that we are brooding over the past or it is only revenge we are talking about. We want punishment to act as a deterrent for the future.

This will be applicable for all kinds of mass violence incidents. That’s right. It could be a model for future cases.

You have tried your hand in politics, but subsequently you resigned from the Punjab assembly as an Aam Aadmi Party member of legislative assembly (MLA) to focus on the 1984 riots. However, your resignation has not been accepted yet. What are your plans?

The speaker has not accepted my resignation. I have taken a step back from politics. I didn’t join politics for a long time thinking that it was not meant for people like me. I was a link between all the parties in the 1984 riots and it was my focus.

https://www.livemint.com/Politics/zZtn21ayw4Y7FVBZ8lRanJ/A-landmark-verdict-for-84-riots-and-also-for-mob-violence.html

The Times of India – Akal Takht jathedar appeals to maintain peace on June 6

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 02 June 2018. Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has appealed to the Sikh masses to peacefully observe ‘Ghallughara Diwas’ on June 6. While talking to newspersons here on Friday, the jathedar said no one would be allowed to create nuisance or disturb the scheduled programme at the Akal Takht.

He said the sangat (community) should come to Akal Takht in large numbers and listen to gurbani on the occasion. The jathedar also asked the Amritsar district administration to make arrangements to maintain law and order in the city.

“If any untoward incident happens, the district administration will be responsible for it,” he said, adding that no one would be allowed to violate maryada (religious code).

Gurbachan Singh also directed the sangat to not raise any slogans in presence of Guru Granth Sahib. In reply to a question about Narain Das, who had allegedly made objectionable utterings against Sikh gurus, the jathedar said Narain couldn’t be pardoned.

He asked the Sikh bodies to send suggestions to prevent such incidents in future. The jathedar said that the Akal Takht secretariat had only received an e-mail from Narain seeking apology.

Meanwhile, informal Sarbat Khalsa-appointed jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Baljit Singh Daduwal, said that the parallel jathedar of Akal Takht, Dhian Singh Mand, could give message to the Panth from Bargari where they had laid a ‘morcha’ against the persons responsible for desecration and theft of saroop of Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala respectively.

In wake of any untoward incident during the ‘Ghallughara week,’ the Amritsar deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha has invoked Section 144 (banning assmebly of five or more persons) of CrPC in the district. He has directed people not to carry any licenced weapons, explosive, sharp-edged weapons. The directions would remain in force from June 1 till further orders.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amritsar/akal-takht-jathedar-appeals-to-maintain-peace-on-june-6/articleshow/64421464.cms?

The Tribune – Two young victims of ‘honour killing’

Tarn Taran – Panjab – India, 14 May 2018. In a suspected case of honour killing, a young couple, both in their 20s and in a relationship for the past one month, were allegedly killed by the girl’s family members in Khemkaran area of Tarn Taran early on Monday morning.

The victims have been identified as Husanpreet Singh and Ramandeep Kaur. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem.

Tarn Taran police chief Darshan Singh Mann said eight members of Ramandeep’s family have been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 364 (kidnapping in order to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the IPC.

He said Ramandeep’s father Jassa Singh, mother Manjit Kaur, paternal uncle Harpal Singh and his wife Manpreet Kaur had been arrested and those on the run were Sher Singh, Akash, Ghulla and Rana.

Husanpreet had allegedly gone to Ramandeep’s house around midnight. However, around 3.30 am, Ramandeep’s family woke up and allegedly attacked the duo with sharp-edged weapons, killing them on the spot.

Later, they disposed of Husanpreet’s body in a sewerage chamber. When Husanpreet did not return home, his family approached Ramandeep’s family, who did not allow them to enter their house. They got suspicious and informed the police.

Mann said the duty magistrate was called on the spot and the bodies were recovered in his presence. Ramandeep’s body was wrapped in a quilt and hidden in a box, whereas Husanpreet’s body was recovered from a sewerage chamber outside the house.

The people involved might be of Sikh background, but they are not Sikhs, as they do not practice Guru’s teachings.
Man in Blue

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/2-young-victims-of-honour-killing/589605.html

The News – IHC rules US diplomat Colonel Hall doesn’t have ‘absolute immunity’

Islamabad – Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 11 May 2018. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed the interior ministry to decide on placing the name of US diplomat Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, Defense and Air Attache, on Exit Control List (ECL) within two weeks.

Justice Amir Farooq of IHC court issued this order on a petition filed by father of victim Ateeq Baig, who was killed after US diplomat’s car hit his motorcycle in federal capital on April 07.

The IHC ruled that US diplomat Colonel Joseph Emmanuel Hall, who was involved in the traffic accident that led to the death of Ateeq does not have ‘absolute diplomatic immunity’.

The court had reserved the verdict on Monday.

The CCTV footage of the incident indicates that the white Land Cruiser jumped the red light and hit the motorbike being driven by Muhammad Ateeq while Raheel Ahmed was on the back seat.

The accident resulted in Ateeq’s death on the spot while Raheel Ahmed sustained serious injuries.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/315467-ihc-rules-us-diplomat-col-joseph-doesnt-have-absolute-immunity

Dawn – Asma Jahangir: The street fighter

Saroop Ijaz

The Contrarion

Op/Ed, 11 February 2018. Immediately after the horrific Quetta terror attack on August 8, 2016, Dr Danish, a television anchorperson, tweeted pictures of Asma Jahangir with a caption in Urdu which translates as: “When lawyers were being killed in Quetta, the so-called leader of the lawyers was enjoying herself in the northern areas.”

The post was enthusiastically retweeted, shared on Facebook and distributed through WhatsApp groups.

Asma Jahangir was not “enjoying herself in the northern areas”. She was in Gilgit-Baltistan on a human rights fact-finding mission when the attack happened. There was no way she could travel to Quetta the same day.

She took to Twitter and responded to the anchorperson: “Shame on you for exploiting facts even when people [are] in grief … Ask [your] spy friends not to stoop to the lowest levels of viciousness.”

A picture of her from a March 2008 meeting with Bal Thackeray, the now deceased leader of Mumbai’s Hindu chauvinist Shiv Sena party, created a similar furore. Nationalist websites and media persons wrote thousands of words to denounce her for sharing the same space with one of Pakistan’s most vicious detractors.

It did not matter that she had met Thackeray in her capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, investigating violence against Muslims in India.

Indeed, many people go ballistic every time her name is mentioned. Haroon Rashid, an Urdu-language columnist with a large fan following, wrote in 2013, “warning” that he would lead a march on to Islamabad if Asma Jahangir was appointed caretaker prime minister. She had said earlier that she had no intention to accept the post.

Asma Jahangir’s earliest recollections of activism are from her time in school at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, a church-run school in Lahore.

If anything, these examples suggest a pattern: often wild, unsubstantiated allegations are levelled against her. Often she, too, responds to her detractors in a no-holds-barred manner.

In 2012, in typical Asma Jahangir style, she accused intelligence and security agencies of trying to eliminate her. National and international concern and outrage poured in with such vehemence that the plan, if there was any, had to be dropped.

It seems Asma Jahangir seeks controversy, her critics attribute it to a search for glory. The Lebanese-American writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb has a word for it: “antifragile”, that is, things and people that benefit from volatility, shock, disorder, risk and uncertainty.

Asma Jahangir does not agree. She argues that she does whatever she does in order to adhere to her core principles, not to seek glory, not to benefit from adversity.

In September 2015, the Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to black out the coverage of Altaf Hussain, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) supremo.

Very few, if any, lawyers in Lahore were willing to represent him due to his alleged involvement in acts of violence in Karachi and his volatile speeches and media statements.

Asma Jahangir was perhaps the unlikeliest lawyer he would get: the two had never found themselves on the same side of the political divide.

In May 2007, MQM had called Asma Jahangir a “chauvinist lady” who should form her own “chauvinist party”. An MQM statement had also accused her of having a secret affiliation with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

But she agreed to represent him.

Her opponents took to the streets. A small group of lawyers in Lahore brought out a demonstration, demanding the cancellation of her licence to practice law.

Her supporters in bar rooms were also uncomfortable with the idea but they knew she could not be swayed against fighting for someone’s freedom of speech, no matter if the person concerned was a serial abuser of that freedom. “Well, that is how she is,” says one of her supporters, shrugging their shoulders.

When Asma Jahangir decided to contest the election for the Supreme Court Bar Association’s president in 2009-2010, she faced stiff opposition from many sections of the society, including newspapers and television channels.

The media campaign against her was led by the Jang Group’s senior reporter Ansar Abbasi and it focused on projecting her as anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam. Six years later, the same media group engaged her as a counsel to represent it before the Supreme Court.

To read the full article on Asma Jahangir, fearless defender of human rights, click on the link below.

https://herald.dawn.com/news/1153540

The Asian Age – Kashmiri students assaulted in Haryana; Mehbooba Mufti urges demands probe

Irked Mehbooba said, ‘Shocked and disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana.’

New Delhi-India, 3 February 2018. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has urged the Haryana government to take stringent action against the perpetrators for assaulting Kashmiri students and demanded a probe into the case.

Mehbooba made the statement on Friday, hours after reports of the Kashmiri students of the Haryana Central University being assaulted surfaced.

The victims were beaten up while returning to the campus after offering congregational Friday prayers in Mahendragarh town.

Irked Mehbooba took to Twitter and said, “Shocked and disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet and said that the incident goes against the spirit of his outreach for Kashmiris.

“This is terrible and goes against the spirit of what @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji said from the ramparts of the Red Fort. I hope the authorities in Haryana act quickly against this violence.”

The reason behind the attack is yet not known.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid has been coordinating with his Haryana counterpart to ensure the safety of the Kashmiri youths.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/030218/kashmiri-students-assaulted-in-haryana-mehbooba-mufti-urges-demands-probe.html

Scroll.in – Has Supreme Court censured Modi government by reopening the 1984 Sikh massacre cases its SIT closed?

It has, says the senior lawyer Harinder Singh Phoolka, who has fought for justice on behalf of many victims of the anti-Sikh pogroms

New Delhi-India, 16 January 2017. In June 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Army to storm the Golden Temple to flush out armed Sikh separatists who had turned it into a fortress. Apparently angered by the assault on this holiest of Sikh shrines in Amritsar, Punjab, Gandhi’s two Sikh bodyguards shot her dead four months later.

The assassination set off a pogrom against Sikhs, especially in Delhi. Nearly 3,000 Sikh men, women and children were killed in what is widely seen as a state-sponsored massacre, with the police colluding with murderous mobs. Yet, 34 years later, there has been little justice for the victims.

New investigation

Last week, however, the Supreme Court ordered a new investigation into the massacre. It decided to set up a three-member Special Investigation Team to look afresh at 186 cases that have been closed by another three-member SIT appointed by the Narendra Modi government in 2015.

The government’s SIT was to examine the evidence in criminal cases relating to the 1984 carnage and, if needed, reopen cases that the Delhi police had not investigated or had closed for lack of evidence. It looked at 293 cases and decided to seek trial in 12. As many as 241 cases were closed, reportedly without investigation.

In August last year, the Supreme Court appointed a supervisory committee to examine whether the SIT’s decision to close the 241 cases “was correct or not”.

“We have perused the report of the supervisory committee,” the court said in its order last week. “On perusal of the same, we find that the SIT has not done further investigation in respect of 186 cases. Regard being had to the nature of the case, we think it appropriate that a fresh SIT should be constituted for carrying on the further investigation.”

This raises the question: how effectively has the government’s SIT done its job?

H S Phoolka, a senior lawyer who has represented many victims of the 1984 carnage, argues that the Supreme Court’s intervention was necessary. “The government’s SIT did not do its work properly,” he alleged, speaking to Scroll.in in his chambers at the Delhi High Court.

“It was originally set up for six months. It has been three years but they have concluded the investigation in only 12 cases. In only 12 cases, the SIT has held that there is sufficient evidence to go for trial.”

It was because of the SIT’s low success rate, Phoolka said, that the matter went to the Supreme Court. “The SIT itself told the court that out of 293 cases, they have closed 241 and 12 will go for trial,” he said. “Hence, the court appointed a supervisory panel of two retired Supreme Court judges.

They went through the SIT records and submitted a report in which they mention that 186 cases have not been investigated by the SIT. The court decided that they will not send these cases back to the SIT since they had not done anything…[and] decided to appoint its own SIT.”

What does the Supreme Court’s intervention mean? “This is an expression of no confidence in the Union government’s SIT by the Supreme Court,” Phoolka said. “The SIT was not interested in the case. One of the judges [on the SIT] was also the president of a district consumer forum at the time [of the carnage]. They took the matter lightly.”

Lack of evidence

The SIT, however, dismissed the allegation that it has not done its work competently. “It is not that the cases were summarily closed,” said Rakesh Kapoor, a retired district and sessions judge who is one of the SIT’s members.

“These cases were investigated. The SIT scrutinised them and came to the conclusion that further investigation was not warranted because of lack of evidence.”

Phoolka rejected the contention that cases cannot be prosecuted because of an apparent lack of evidence. He pointed to cases reopened in 2005 that resulted in the conviction of five people in 2013, including a former legislator.
“That conviction was why there was a demand, since evidence is available, that the other 1984 cases should be reopened too,” said Phoolka. “It is for this purpose that the Union government formed the SIT in 2015.”

As to the argument that the Supreme Court has shown a lack of confidence in his team, Kapoor said, “The SC order, in fact, says the SIT is functioning very well. The new SIT is not a reflection on the working of the earlier SIT.”

Phoolka, meanwhile, is confident about the new SIT making progress where the old one did not. “The head of this new SIT, Justice Dhingra, had sent Congressman H K L Bhagat to jail,” Phoolka said.

Shiv Narayan Dhingra, as an additional sessions judge in Delhi in the 1990s, had conducted trials in several cases relating to the 1984. He is said to have been so tough with the accused, The Times of India reported that Bhagat, a former Union minister, asked for his case to be transferred from Dhingra’s court.

We welcome your comments at
letters@scroll.in.

https://scroll.in/article/865068/has-supreme-court-censured-modi-government-by-reopening-the-1984-sikh-massacre-cases-its-sit-closed

The Indian Express – Chief of Sikh charitable body in ‘objectionable’ viral video, he files FIR

President of 115-year-old prominent Sikh body debunks purported video as fake and an attempt to blackmail him

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 27 December 2017. The President of Chief Khalsa Diwan Charitable Society (CKDCS), Charanjit Singh Chadha (81), found himself at the middle of a major controversy after a purported video showing him in a compromising position with a woman went viral on social media.

Chadda claimed that video was fake and made to extort money from him. Jalandhar police has now registered an FIR on the complaint of Chadha alleging blackmail.

Founded in 1903, CKDCS is one of the biggest institutions of the Sikh community that works all over the world in the field of education.

Also a member of Khalsa College Governing Council, Chadha is considered a close aide of the Badal and the Majithia families. A picture of Chadha with former CM Parkash Singh Badal was seen hanging on wall in the alleged video.

Earlier, former SAD Cabinet minister Sucha Singh Langah was excommunicated by Akal Takht after his purported video with a woman had gone viral. In his case, the woman was also a complainant. In Chadha’s case, the woman in the alleged video has not come forward so far.

The video that vent viral on social network was allegedly captured in the office of a hotel owned by Chadha, and was reportedly recorded by an employee of Chadda.

Former CKDCS member and Khalsa College Governing Council president Bhag Singh Anakhi and incumbent CKDCS member Professor Hari Singh has demanded Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to excommunicate Chadda from the community as was done in case of Sucha Singh Langah.

Meanwhile, Chadha released a statement on the letter pad of Chief Khalsa Diwan Charitable Society claiming that video was false.

He said, “It has come to my notice that certain fake video is being made to go viral on social media by certain mischievous elements. It is brought to notice of all concerned that a false video with an intent to extract money from me was made in connivance with certain political opponents of mine.”

“I was threatened by conspirators while sitting in my office at Jalandhar on 20 September 2017. Immediately, FIR number 120 was registered by me. After investigation by police, four persons have already been arrested till now. Today morning, another key person Gursewak Singh has been arrested by Jalandhar police”, said Chadha.

He added, “The video was made viral as the conspirators know that they will be exposed and arrested. The video is totally false and has been made viral to spoil my image because I refused to pay ransom to the blackmailers.”

Anakhi, however, said, “It is a big embarrassment for the historical organisation like Chief Khalsa Diwan. He should be sacked from the body immediately and all members should protest against him. Akal Takht should excommunicate him from community,”

“I demand Akal Takht to excommunicate Chadha from community as he has committed a huge violation of Sikh code of ethics,” said Prof Hari Singh.

Chadha is president of CKDCS since 2004. It was during Chadha’s tenure that Chief Khalsa Diwan Society was converted into Charitable Society.

Chadha was instrumental in setting up of three Adarsh Schools of the Punjab government on the behalf of CKDCS, a brain child of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

According to CKDCS website, “Charnjit Singh Chadha introduced numerous innovations in transport which was his family profession and also diversified into allied branches like real estate, financing, import-export, hospitality industry, malls, multiplex and so many other areas, and whatever he touched, it became gold, thanks to his penetrative understanding, futuristic outlook and hard work.”

Although I do not trust associates of the Badals and Majithias very much, I hope that a proper unbiased investigation will be undertaken
Man in Blue

Chief of Sikh charitable body in ‘objectionable’ viral video, he files FIR