The Statesman – Panjab Women Commission seeks action against NRI grooms

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 July 2018. Punjab State Women Commission on Friday urged Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to take action against non-resident Indian (NRI) grooms abandoning their wives in India.

In a meeting with Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, Commission chairperson Manisha Gulati urged the Union minister to take appropriate action and to make stringent laws to deal with the menace.

She said such action was required in view of the plight Indian women suffer due to betrayals and exploitations by NRI grooms who abandon their newly-wed brides and escape abroad within days or months after marriage in some cases.

Gulati said the present and previous governments have passed many laws to protect the women being exploited by NRIs but somehow the menace of exploitation hasn’t been curtailed. She said that more than 30000 legal cases are pending in Punjab alone, in which NRIs have presumably abandoning their wives.

These exploited women need help immediately, Gulati said. She said that if preliminary inquiry in India reveals that the concerned NRI is in the ambit of conviction then his extradition process should be initiated immediately and his passport confiscated till he compensates the aggrieved wife.

This bold decision saves many lives in India particularly in Punjab and alert other NRIs who wants to twist the law for their vested interests without fearing its consequences. She said that the minister assured the appropriate action in this matter.


News 18 – Chandigarh makes helmet compulsory for women riding two-wheelers, exemption for women wearing turban

Chandigarh has made an amendment in rule 193 of the Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules 1990.

Anuradha Shukla

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 06 July 2018. The Chandigarh Administration has issued a notification making wearing helmets mandatory for women two-wheeler riders. Only Sikh women who wear turbans have been exempted.

The move comes after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Chandigarh administration to control accidents involving two-wheeler women riders.

Chandigarh has made an amendment in rule 193 of the Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules 1990.

The new rule makes wearing of helmet compulsory for all women except “Sikh woman wearing a turban”.

The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, made headgear compulsory for all riding a two-wheeler, except turbaned Sikhs. The act however grants permission to state governments to make relaxation to other categories.

Punjab and Haryana exempted turbaned Sikhs and Sikh women while Chandigarh exempted all women.

The Tribune – Cabinet sets up panel on groundwater crisis

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 June 2018. Taking cognisance of reports on Punjab heading for a groundwater crisis by 2025, the state Cabinet on Wednesday constituted a sub-committee to suggest an action plan for water conservation and recharging.

In a Page-1 report published on Wednesday, The Tribune had highlighted that groundwater in large tracts of Punjab had become unsuitable for irrigation purposes, particularly in Malwa.

The five-member sub-committee has been mandated to assess the groundwater situation and interact with agriculturists, environmentalists, NGOs and groundwater experts before finalising its proposal within the next 45 days. The panel report is expected to help the state government formulate a water policy.

The sub-committee will share its report with the Centre to work out ways for crop diversification to minimise groundwater utilisation.

Flagging the issue at the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh suggested that the sub-committee, comprising Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Education and Environment Minister O P Soni, should visit Israel to study water conservation methods.

Various departments of the state government have been asked to launch major awareness plans on water conservation.

The groundwater crisis came up for discussion when Mission Director, Directorate of Groundwater Management, Arunjit Singh Miglani, made a presentation to the Cabinet.

It was pointed out that 90 per cent of the blocks in the state had been declared dark, highest in the country, and 60 per cent of the state would be affected by a water crisis by 2025. The state would have no water left after 15 years, unless immediate steps were taken to control the situation.

The Indian Express – North-east floods: Sikh volunteers lend a helping hand in flood-hit Assam

Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Gurpreet Singh said, “Karimganj is the worst-hit district in Assam. We have selected those villages which are still under water and inaccessible by roads.”

Divya Goyal

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 22 June 2018. Sikh volunteers from Punjab have started relief operation in the remote villages of Assam worst-hit by floods in the north-east.

The operation first started in the south Assam districts- Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi, where volunteers distributed basic grocery packets and water-cleaning tablets. Government relief is yet to reach the villages which are still under water.

Gurpreet Singh, 24, from Patiala and Japneet Singh, 29, from Ludhiana in Punjab are leading the Khalsa Aid International team in Karimganj district along the India-Bangladesh border.

Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Gurpreet Singh said, “Karimganj is the worst-hit district in Assam. We have selected those villages which are still under water and inaccessible by roads. We have hired boats from locals here and have started distributing ration packets in these villages.

In some villages, there is still at least 11-feet water. Initially, we provided them with bottled water to drink. Now, we are distributing water-cleaning tablets and masks so that dirty water does not lead to bacterial infections and other water-borne diseases.”

Singh added that a team of at least nine volunteers from Khalsa Aid is working in Assam and travelling to the affected areas, using boats. Basic grocery items, sanitation kit and water-cleaning tablets are being distributed in remote villages, including Tukurgram, Kalain and Badarpur.

“We were informed about a peripheral village Tukurgram, located along the border of Karimganj and Cachar. It is still completely under water and no aid had reached there. We reached there by boats and distributed relief kits,” he said.

The relief teams are hiring boats from locals to reach the concerned areas and fields that have been completely washed away in flood waters. “We are mapping more villages in need with the help of local administration.

We are trying our best to help those places where government relief is yet to reach. The locals are cooperating with us and giving us their boats. Their kutcha homes and crops have been completely washed away,” Gurpreet said.

“The team also visited Unakoti district in Tripura but the situation proved to be better with flood waters receding,” he added.

“We are not providing cooked food (langar) here yet because people are more in need of grocery and sanitation kits. Also, with areas still submerged in water, it is difficult to distribute cooked food through boats,” he said.

North-east floods: Sikh volunteers lend a helping hand in flood-hit Assam

The Tribune – Referendum issue: Khaira finds NRI support but Delhi leadership remains miffed

Jupinderjit Singh, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 20 June 2018. As Aam Aadmi Party’s NRI supporters rally behind Punjab Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira, the remainder of his party remains upset with him over his remarks on ‘Referendum 2020’, with the party’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal refusing to meet him on Wednesday.

Beleagured Khaira, currently in Delhi to meet senior AAP leaders, later approached Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the person in-charge of the Punjab unit’s affairs. Party leaders who wanted to remain unnamed said Sisodia wanted him to come clean.

“Sisodia lashed out at Khaira while telling him that AAP has nothing to do with his referendum thoughts. He was also asked by Sisodia, to explain his stand through the Punjab unit president of the party,” said a party leader.

Delhi leaders are believed seething at Khaira. Sources in the party said that the party might take a decision once they receive his written response.

Khaira, however, found support among the party’s NRI base, which wrote an open letter to Sisodia.

The letter, signed by 36 NRIs from USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, among other countries, said Khaira’s demand for justice for Sikhs was justified, and demanded Balbir Singh be immediately removed for issuing media statements without getting Khaira’s version of story. They also cited the party’s Shahpur bypoll defeat as reason for sacking him.

Balbir said in a tweet on Monday that his calls to Khaira to ask for his side of the story went unanswered.

Last week, Khaira is reported to have “supported” ‘Referendum 2020’ a secessionist movement for a separate Sikh homeland. News reports quoted him as saying: “”I support the Sikh referendum 2020 movement as Sikhs have the right to demand justice against atrocities suffered by them”.

Khaira later clarified that he was misquoted, and that he had only said that Sikhs had the right to demand justice.

Khaira’s statement provided another weapon to rival parties, who immediately demanded his dismissal.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned Khaira for “backing secessionism”, prompting Khaira to respond with a tweet: “”I am surprised a leader of your level is tweeting against me without checking the facts, I am not a votary of 2020 but I don’t hesitate to point out a consistent policy of discrimination against Sikhs by Central governments! Be it attack on Darbar Sahib (or), genocide of Sikhs leading to 2020″.

Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a union minister, demanded that AAP should immediately sack him.

The timing of the controversy has caught the AAP’s Delhi leadership, which was busy until recently with Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal’s sit-in at the Lt Governor’s office over its tussle with the bureaucracy, off guard.

The problem with these stupid politicians who claim to be democrats is that they do not know what ‘democracy’ entails. In countries like Spain and India people who are peacefully campaigning for independence of a part of the country are considered to be criminals. Amarinder Singh, Kejriwal cs should not blame Khaira, they should blame the governments at the centre (Congress and BJP) for not dealing with the just demands of the Sikhs.

News 18 – Centre to withdraw petition against compensation to Sikhs arrested during Operation Blue Star

The compensation was to be borne by the Centre and the Punjab government in equal measure, but the central government has been opposing this for long.

Ramlal Kondal

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 19 June 2018. Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday said that the Centre will withdraw its petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against a decision taken by an Amritsar court last year to provide compensation to 40 Sikhs arrested from the Golden Temple complex following Operation Blue Star.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “In 1984, when the Congress attacked the Darbar Sahib, there were many pilgrims who had come to pay obeisance, but the then government arrested them and put them behind bars for five long years. They moved the court, which directed the government to compensate them”.

The compensation was to be borne by the Centre and the Punjab government in equal measure, but the central government has been opposing this for long.

She added, “Now, Rajnath Singh has assured us that the appeal filed against this verdict will be withdrawn and the compensation will be provided to the detenues”.

Claiming that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had hatched a conspiracy to attack the Golden Temple, Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “The de-classified documents regarding Operation Bluestar in the UK reveal that Indira Gandhi was planning to carry out an attack on the Golden Temple for two years.

She had also written a letter to then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Congress had stooped too low to win an election by attacking the Darbar Sahib.”

“We have asked the Union Home Minster to procure those declassified documents from Britain and make them public here in India,” she added.

Times of India – Sikh intellectuals object to Khattar’s remarks on Banda Bahadur

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 14 June 2018. Sikh thinkers and intellectuals on Wednesday criticized Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for misrepresenting Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur as ‘Banda Bahadur Bairagi’ and naming Lohgarh-Shahabad road after him with an apparent motive of ‘placating Hindutva forces’.

“Such move is blatant distortion of history being done to appropriate the Sikh hero into the Sangh Parivar fold,” they said in a joint statement. A delegation of Sikh historians issued the statement after holding a meeting at a gurdwara in Sector 28, Chandigarh.

In a joint statement issued by Khushhal Singh, general secretary Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, said, “We appreciate Khattar’s desire to honour Banda Singh Bahadur, who had created an indigenous republic, was laudable but he should not insult the great Khalsa general, saint and statesman by posthumously converting him to the Bairagi sect of the Hindu faith”.

The statement further added, “There was no dearth of Bairagis in that world but not a single Bairagi joined Banda Singh’s struggle. Five thousand Muslims did join in his effort to establish the only indigenous ‘People’s Republic led by the Khalsa’ after centuries of political slavery”.

It has also been stated that any attempt to misappropriate icons of the Sikhs and minorities by the Hindutva forces is pathetic and deplorable. Glory cannot be gained with retrospective effect by an administrative action now.

The act of stealing icons rather becomes a painful reminder of the shocking cultural barrenness of the contemporary society during slavery. Painfully as it is, the deficiency cannot be covered up by renaming monuments, historical persons and by rewriting history to suit the cover-up.

The joint statement signed among others by retired IAS officer Gurtej Singh, Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Sukhdev Singh, Jaspal Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet Singh, spokesperson of Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Chandigarh.

The Asian Age – Congress bags Shahkot seat and two-thirds majority in Punjab Assembly

With this resounding victory, the Congress’s strength in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha will reach 78, a two-thirds majority.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 31 May 2018. The ruling Congress on Thursday wrested the Shahkot Assembly seat by handing out a crushing defeat to the Shiromani Akali Dal with party candidate Hardev Singh Ladi trouncing rival SAD’s Naib Singh Kohar by 38,802 votes.

With this resounding victory, the Congress’s strength in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha will reach 78, a two-thirds majority. Ladi got 82,747 votes to Akali candidate Naib Singh Kohar’s 43,945, an official spokesman of the election office said.

Shahkot was considered an Akali Dal pocket-borough from where late Ajit Singh Kohar was elected five-times in a row. The performance of the main opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Shahkot bypoll was dismal as its candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan secured just 1,900 votes.

The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Ajit Singh Kohar, Naib Singh Kohar’s father, in February this year. The contest was being seen as a test of the popularity of the 14-month-old Congress government in the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the victory as a “vindication of the government’s people-centric policies”.

“People of #Shahkot have given a massive thumbs up to @INCPunjab govt’s development policies. @Akali_Dal_ never worked for Shahkot even though the people gave them many opportunities. @AAPPunjab decimation will be complete with this humiliating defeat (sic),” Amarinder Singh tweeted.

With Congress wresting the Akali bastion, the party’s winning momentum after putting up a stellar performance in the 2017 Punjab assembly elections and Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll continues.

Congress had stormed to power in March this year by winning 77 seats of the 117-assembly seats-on the back of poll promises like farm debt waiver and free smartphones.

Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said people had again reposed faith in the Congress government under the leadership of Amarinder Singh.

The Gurdaspur MP also raised questions over the leadership of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. “Akali Dal has been winning the Shahkot Assembly Constituency for the last 20 years. Now, a question arises that Akali Dal will have to see whether they will accept the leadership of Sukhbir Badal.

Akali Dal has faced humiliating defeats consistently, be it Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, today’s Shahkot bypoll and civic polls,” said Jakhar.

The people of Shahkot have answered the arrogance of Akali Dal and its leadership, he claimed. Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu took a dig at Sukhbir Badal and his brother-in-law and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, saying the defeat of Akali Dal was imminent wherever the two were present.

They should retire and sit at home, Sidhu said taking a swipe.

Celebrations broke out at Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh while in Jalandhar party leaders and workers were distributing sweets and performing ‘Bhangra’ to drumbeats.

Akali candidate Naib Singh Kohar alleged EVMs were rigged. “EVMs were tampered. Even as counting took place before me, but machines were not fine, then what counting will do? There was not even a single booth from where I gained. Therefore, machines were rigged,” he alleged.

A visibly upset Naib Singh Kohar had left the counting place midway. The defeat for Akali Dal in its bastion came as a “setback” as SAD chief Sukhbir Badal had taken charge of the poll campaign and held several meetings before the bypoll.

The bypoll was also being seen as a barometer for the popularity of the 14-month-old Congress government of Amarinder Singh. A total 1,32,385 valid votes were polled in the bypoll, including 1,268 for the None of the Above (NOTA) option.

Six votes were rejected, said the spokesman of the election office. As many as 76.60 per cent of 1,72,676 voters exercised their franchise for the Shahkot Assembly bypoll on May 28. Ladi maintained the lead from the start of the counting process.

The Congress had won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha during 2017 Assembly polls while the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance managed to win 18 seats. The AAP won 20 seats while Lok Insaf Party had bagged two seats.

The Hindu – BJP on the way out, says Punjab CM

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 May 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said that a united Opposition would oust the BJP-led government at the Centre in the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019.

Captain Singh was talking to press persons in Shahkot during a roadshow ahead of the Assembly byelection in the constituency on Monday. He said that anti-BJP forces were coming together and would throw the BJP-led Central government out as the people were completely fed up with it.

“People want a change, they want a future, they want a government that delivers,” he said, adding that the BJP-led government would face the consequences of its ill-conceived policies.

“The economy has been destroyed, industry is fleeing, law and order has collapsed,” he said.