Hindustan Times – Takht Jathedar seeks probe into Delhi violence

He made the statement immediately after his return from Pakistan. The Jathedar, along with 12 other Sikhs, had gone to Pakistan to take part in a function to observe the anniversary of the Nankana Sahib massacre on 21 February.

HT Correspondent

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 25 February 2020. The acting Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh on Tuesday sought probe into the ongoing Delhi violence that has coincided with the visit of US President Donald Trump. At least 10 people have been killed in the national capital in the violence over the past two days.

He made the statement immediately after his return from Pakistan. The Jathedar, along with 12 other Sikhs, had gone to Pakistan to take part in a function to observe the anniversary of the Nankana Sahib massacre on February 21.

“See, when Bill Clinton (the then US president) had come to India in 2000, 36 Sikhs were killed in Jammu and Kashmir, and, now, when Trump is around, Delhi is burning. It should be probed why India sees violence whenever a US president is around?” he said.

The Jathedar said, “We talked to the Pakistan government and they agreed to open two gurdwaras, named after Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh and Bhai Money Singh (both Sikh martyers). The shrines will be opened after renovation.”

On being asked if he was satisfied with the apology of director general of police (DGP) for his Kartarpur remark, he said, “His mistake is very big and he should step down on moral ground.

The statement has hurt the sentiments of Sikh community,” adding, “I have spent five days in Pakistan and I have not become a terrorist. How can a person become a terrorist spending some hours there?”

On minorities’ condition in Pakistan, he said, “Minorities in Pakistan, especially the Sikh community, are safe and at peace. We met several Sikhs and no one complained of any type of persecution.”

Earlier, the Jathedar had said that Pakistan was a safe country and maximum Sikhs from India should visit all historic gurdwaras there.

The Jathedar had also met the family of a Sikh girl of Nankana Sahib who was allegedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim youth in Pakistan. “They informed me that the girl is under some pressure,” he said.

On the row over Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale’s interpretation of Gurbani and Sikh history, the Jathedar reiterated that he should appear before the five-member committee.


Hindustan Times – Pakistan is safe, maximum Sikhs from India should visit gurdwaras there: Akal Takht Jathedar

People of both India and Pakistan don’t need to fear visiting each other’s country. Pakistanis are loved by people in India, says the Jathedar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 24 February 2020. Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has said that Pakistan is a safe country and maximum Sikhs from India should visit all historic gurdwaras there.

In a video shared by Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Satwant Singh, the jathedar can be heard saying: “Historic gurdwaras hold big importance for SIkhs. ‘Darshan-didar’ of these gurdwaras has given me immense pleasure and peace of mind.

I have no word to recognise the love shown by Pakistan’s sangat and common people towards me. Not only me, locals also share warm vibes with every person coming from India here.”

“People of both India and Pakistan don’t need to fear visiting each other’s country. Pakistanis are loved by people in India,” Giani Harpreet Singh said.

He further said, “I would like to give a message to Sikhs living across India that they should come here in maximum numbers to have ‘darshan’ of historic gurdwaras.

By doing so, they will not only get the blessings of the Guru, but also get rid of illusions about the atmosphere in Pakistan. They will come to know that peace prevails in this country. So, Indian Sikhs should visit here.”

“We want historic gurdwaras, many of which are in a state of neglect, to be reopened. Footfall of Sikhs at these gurdwaras will help them getting restored,” said the jathedar.

Speaking on low footfall at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, which was the last resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak, the jathedar said, “Complicated procedure of getting permission for the pilgrimage and condition of passport are the main hurdles. Governments of both the countries should sit together to find out a solution.”

He appreciated the PSGPC’s efforts for the betterment of the gurdwaras and welfare of the Sikhs living in Pakistan.


The Tribune – Will meet HM to push for SGPC polls: Rebel Akalis

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 20 February 2020. A day prior to holding a rally at Tarn Taran, Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa along with SAD (Taksali) secretary general Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sikh Federation leader Manjit Singh Bhoma on Thursday visited Bhupinder Singh Khalsa at his residence here.

Bhupinder had recently resigned from the post of SAD (NRI wing) general secretary based at the US while revolting against the top Akali leadership.

The leaders emphasised that in the present scenario, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president as well as Takht Jathedars were left as ‘rubber stamps’ whereas the Badals-led Akali leadership had been misutilising them for political gains.

“We want to free the SGPC from the Badals. Before occupying any political platform, our first move will be to prepare the candidates for the SGPC polls,” Dhindsa said.

He said a delegation would soon meet the Union Home Minister, demanding to hold the SGPC polls that were long overdue. He claimed that a set of people had shown solidarity with their vision of the revival of sanctity of Akal Takht and the SGPC.


The Indian Express – Feeling of insecurity among minorities: Akal Takht Jathedar

The Jathedar assured the delegation that Sikhs were with Muslims in efforts to maintain communal harmony in the country.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 14 February 2020. A delegation led by chairman of the Delhi Minority Commission, Zafarul Islam Khan, met Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh at his office in Amritsar on Thursday to seek the support of the Sikh community against the alleged attempts to divide the country on religious lines.

The Jathedar assured the delegation that Sikhs were with Muslims in efforts to maintain communal harmony in the country.

“Muslim leaders have come to Akal Takht Sahib today and they have discussed the state of affairs in country. They have described how there is sentiment of fear among the minorities in country.

I too told them that indeed there is a feeling of insecurity among minorities. If Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists have same duties towards the country, then they must have equal rights also.

It cannot be that everyone has to follow the duties and when it comes to rights then one community has it, but others don’t,” said Akal Takht Jathedar who had earlier welcomed Citizenship Amendment Act with a rider that Muslims must be included in it.

He added that while he appreciated the efforts of the Muslim delegation to meet Sikh leaders, but at the same time, they should also “meet Hindu leaders and discuss the issues in same way as they discussed with me”.

“There are many factions among Hindus who don’t like what is going in country just like Sikhs, Muslims, Jains and tribals. We can hope that all will come on one stage to discuss the problem to maintain the communal harmony and peace in India,” the Jathedar said.

On the support sought by the delegation, the Jathedar said, “Sikhs are bound by their principles to stand for the victim. Sikhs have always stood against the injustice. So, we as Sikhs are with them.

A Muslim group had come to Akal Takht earlier too with request that all communities should come on same stage to tackle the current situation and sentiment of fear and insecurity among minorities as it is not good for country.”

Khan, who heads the Delhi Minority Commission, said, “We have come here to gain their support against the attempt of making India a one-religion nation. We have been told by Akal Takht Jathedar that Sikhs have always stood with the victims. They have given us hope.”

Bhindranwale a Sikh martyr

Reacting to a statement by Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu that Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a terrorist, Akal Takht Jathedar said, “It does not matter what one person is saying about Bhindranwale. He is great Sikh martyr of the 20th century and will always remain so.”


Hindustan Times – Medical students of Amritsar college sell tea, fruits to mark protest against ‘meagre’ stipend

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 February 2020. Perturbed over meagre stipend, students and interns of Government Medical College (GMC), Amritsar, on Tuesday sold tea, sweets and fruits outside Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (GNDH) here as a mark of protest.

Over 250 GMC students, supported by para-medical staff, gathered outside the hospital at 11 am and raised slogans against the state government. The students also suspended their hospital duties to show their dismay.

While addressing the protest, president of Medical Student Association Dr Vaibhav Chawla said, “The interns of Punjab government medical colleges are paid Rs 9,000 during their internship.

For the last 10 years, state government has not increased the monthly stipend, which is one of the lowest in the country. The government, however, has increased the fee of the students twice in four years.”

“The minimum daily wage of a worker in Punjab is Rs 325 but we earn mere Rs 300. We decided to sell fruits, tea and sweets for a day to show government that a medical student can earn more than Rs 300.”

The students said former medical education minister O P Soni had promised to increase the stipend but nothing has come out.


The Indian Express – 194 kg heroin haul in Punjab: After ‘Akali man’, son of Congress leader under scanner

The father and son run a hotel in the city and STF suspect that the hotel was used for drug smuggling and knowingly accommodating the accused, said sources.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 02 February 2020. A day after Punjab Police seized nearly 200 kg heroin in Amritsar district and arrested seven people, including a member of the Subordinate Services Board (SSB) appointed by the previous SAD-BJP government, the son of a Congress councillor has come under the scanner.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), STF-border range, Kaustubh Sharma, said the role of Sahil Sharma, son of Congress municipal councillor from ward no. 51 Pardeep Sharma, is being probed. Sources said Sharma had been nominated in the case registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act at SAS Nagar STF police station on Thursday.

“We have been probing Sahil Sharma’s role. I can’t say more than this,” said the IGP. Pardeep Sharma, “My son has nothing to do with this case. All this is to spoil my political career. My son is innocent.” The father and son run a hotel in the city and STF suspect that the hotel was used for drug smuggling and knowingly accommodating the accused, said sources.

On Friday, ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu had said that an STF team (led by him) had recovered 194 kg heroin, which was under processing at an illegal lab set up at a house in Sultanwind village of Amritsar district. An Afghan national and a 24-year-old woman was also arrested as part of the raid.

Later in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had at a press conference announced “Akali leader” Masih’s arrest, adding that the house from which police seized the contraband belonged to Masih. The STF hasn’t said a word on the same yet.

Masih had told media that he had already signed a deal to sell the house. He had claimed that house was still in his possession and vacant. An STF team had raided Masih’s house in Mohali on Saturday and also searched one of his cars. An Amritsar court sent all accused to 10 days’ police remand Saturday.

Unlike the natural route from Pakistan into Punjab via border, this consignment is suspected to have been transported to Amritsar after it landed in Gujarat around a year ago, sources said.

This is not first case of heroin being pushed into Punjab via another state. However, it is the first time that such a huge quantity has not come through the border but via Gujarat.

The recovery has also put the role of local police, security and intelligence agencies under scanner.

Sources said the heroin may have been brought into Amritsar in trucks. Masih is said to have claimed that he signed a sale deed to sell the house, but there was still time for the final payment and hence rented it out in the mean time. The consignment may have been moving from one place to another.


The Tribune – Petition in Supreme Court against term ‘Sikh cult’ in Ayodhya verdict

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 January 2020. A Sikh organisation has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to expunge the word “cult” while referring to the Sikh religion and “distorted facts” from its verdict on the Ayodhya issue.

Addressing the media, president of the Sikh Nation Organisation Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, who filed the petition, alleged that it was a false statement by a Sikh, who had RSS links and appeared as witness in the case.

Dr Randhawa, whose earlier petition challenging French law putting a ban on wearing Sikh religious symbols was accepted by the United Nations in 2005, said, “After consulting leading dictionaries, including Oxford, Cambridge, Longman, Collins, besides various Sikh scholars, I discovered that the word ‘cult’ was used in derogatory and defamatory sense.

So we want that this word be removed from the verdict, as it will result in serious damage to the Sikhs globally.”

Randhawa said there were also blasphemous references to Guru Nanak’s visit to Ayodhya as a devotee and worshipping the idol of Ram that needed to be rectified in the verdict. He claimed that their petition would be argued by senior advocates, including Kapil Sibal.


The Tribune – SGPC, TV channel told to clarify stand

Sikh body draws flak for being silent on the matter

GS Paul – Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 13 January 2020. The Akal Takht secretariat has sent a communication to the SGPC and a private TV news channel to clarify their stance within a fortnight over the “exclusive” rights over the telecast of Gurbani and Hukumnama pronounced daily from the Golden Temple.

The issue of granting rights to a particular TV channel by the SGPC was raised in the Vidhan Sabha, which had unanimously passed a resolution urging the SGPC to allow all TV and radio channels to air Gurbani from the Golden Temple.

But the matter again cropped up when the TV channel blocked the morning “Hukumnama” pronounced daily from the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple on Facebook pages of some Sikh web channels.

The TV channel, which claimed to have its exclusive rights, had sent notices to the web channels and reportedly got the content blocked through Facebook.

Sikh Siyasat editor Paramjeet Singh has approached the SGPC against the “discrimination” over telecast rights. He said the TV channel blocked the content, terming it to be its “intellectual right”.

“We pick the audio of ‘Hukumnama’ from the SGPC website on different portals which are already put in the public domain. Our designers add visual of the Golden Temple to it and broadcast it further. Now, it has been blocked. We have communicated to Facebook to unblock the content. Facebook said it would reply by January 16,” he said.

The SGPC, which is silent on the matter, has invited criticism for allegedly granting the telecast rights of “sarb sanjhi Gurbani” to a particular channel. Former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh said the Gurbani and katha kirtan could never be the personal property of anyone.

“Anyone who has faith in Sikhism has the right to propagate it further. Every mode of media should be encouraged to do it by observing the rehat maryada,” he said.


The Tribune – Nankana Sahib attack: Pakistan denies visa to SGPC team

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 January 2020. The Pakistan High Commission today denied visa to a four-member delegation of the SGPC to visit Nankana Sahib town in the aftermath of the Gurdwara Janam Asthan attack.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal regretted the decision and urged the commission to review it.

He said the Sikh delegation wanted to take stock of the situation after a group of people used anti-Sikh words against the shrine built at the birthplace of the founder of the Sikh religion.

Longowal said being a representative body of the Sikhs around the world, it was obligatory for the SGPC to visit the shrine after an incident of such a proportion.


Sikh24.com – Sher-e-Punjab’s summer palace in Amritsar likely to regain its original appearance by 31 March.

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab India, 25 December 2019. The Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board is working to restore the summer palace of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh to its original look in Amritsar Sahib besides beautifying the building face. Notably, this restoration work had begun in 2007 and it is likely to get completed by March 31 next year.

On being contacted by media, project incharge A R Mishra informed that they are carefully working to restore the interior of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s palace to its original appearance.

It is learnt that the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board is taking financial assistance of INR 107 million from the Asian Development Bank to accomplish this project.

The furniture of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s era is also being produced with the consultancy of experts and special Mannequins to be installed inside this palace are being prepared in Delhi.

Once this summer palace gets opened, it is likely to draw a huge number of tourists from all over the world.

Sher-e-Punjab’s summer palace in Amritsar likely to regain its original appearance by March 31