The Tribune – More protests against FIR, UIDAI officials under fire

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 8 January 2018. Upping the ante against the Centre for the FIR against The Tribune over the Aadhaar data breach story, the media fraternity, farmer unions and political parties today demanded that action should be taken against the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) officials who had failed to protect private data.

Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Khaira said this act of the Narendra Modi government had reminded him of the Emergency, when every voice of dissent was muzzled.

Calling the registration of a cheating case against The Tribune, its Jalandhar-based reporter Rachna Khaira and others as an attack on the freedom of the Press, members of the Chandigarh Press Club and others from the media fraternity held a protest here.

Kuljit Bains, The Tribune’s Chief of Bureau (Panjab), told the gathering how the investigation was carried out responsibly in public interest by the newspaper. He said there had been several attempts to intimidate The Tribune in the past, but the organisation had a long history of fighting back.

“This (FIR) is an attempt to browbeat a journalist who has done a report in great public interest,” said Chandigarh Press Club president Jaswant Rana. Later, a memorandum was submitted to Governor V P Singh Badnore, seeking the withdrawal of the FIR.

In a press release, the Chandigarh unit of the CPI-ML (Liberation) said The Tribune had done a great service to society by telling the common man that the information being given to government agencies was not secure.

The Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) said government agencies had failed to protect sensitive information. It said the UIDAI, on the directions of the Union Government, had tried to make The Tribune the scapegoat in this undemocratic action.

Calling it an eye-opening investigative story, The Tribune Trust Employees’ Union, Chandigarh, stated that instead of appreciating a genuine effort by a fearless and truth-seeking journalist, the Centre was trying to suppress such efforts.

After a meeting of its executive committee, The Tribune Employees’ Union announced to hold a protest in Sector 17 here tomorrow.

The Press Clubs of Rupnagar, Phagwara, Goraya and Phillaur, too, condemned the registration of the FIR. Journalists staged a protest at Rajiv Gandhi Chowk in Nangal town. With their mouths “gagged” by black strips of cloth, they demanded immediate cancellation of the criminal case against the journalist.

Journalists of Nakodar, Nurmahal and Bilga staged a dharna in front of the SDM’s office at Nakodar. Later, they submitted a memorandum to SDM Amrit Singh.

Vinod Kohli, president of the Chandigarh Punjab Union of Journalists, gave a call for a united struggle by various media organisations.

Scribes’ memorandum to PM

Jalandhar: Journalists took out a march from the Punjab Press Club to the Deputy Commissioner’s office, where they submitted a memorandum addressed to PM Narendra Modi. They demanded the immediate quashing of the FIR against the journalist and initiation of action against UIDAI officials responsible for the data breach.

Punjab Press Club president Lakhvinder Singh Johal demanded an independent inquiry by the Centre against the erring officials. Standing by her report, Rachna Khaira said she would extend cooperation to the government in the investigation on the matter. TNS


The Indian Express – Will not allow Amarinder Singh’s smooth participation in Harvard conference: SFJ

“Amarinder’s government is following in the footsteps of the Badals whose government also filed frivolous criminal charges against SFJ campaigners in 2016. The Punjab CM will not have a smooth participation in Harvard conference, we can assure that,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Advisor of SFJ.

Man Aman Singh Chhina

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 5 January 2018. Hardliner group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has announced that it is gearing up to mount a legal challenge against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who will be visiting the United States of America in February to participate in Harvard University’s annual India conference.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Advisor of SFJ, said that the organisation will hold protests on February 10 and 11 when Amarinder comes to the Harvard University to take part in the conference.
“Captain Amarinder’s government is responsible for torture and persecution of Sikh nationalists who are campaigning for referendum in the state of Punjab,” he said.

Pannun said that SFJ will campaign in the coming days to portray Captain Amarinder as “Hitler of Punjab” and will initiate a letter writing campaign to Harvard University faculty to apprise them about the Punjab government’s action against those who are campaigning for referendum.

“Amarinder’s government is following in the footsteps of the Badals whose government also filed frivolous criminal charges against SFJ campaigners in 2016. The Punjab CM will not have a smooth participation in Harvard conference, we can assure that,” said Pannun.

Pannun said SFJ will also look into the ways and means of serving a Canadian court’s summons on Amarinder over a defamation case which has been filed by SFJ against him.

Will not allow Amarinder Singh’s smooth participation in Harvard conference: SFJ

The Hindu – Panjab Police have no clue on trafficking of minors to France

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 31 December 2017. Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered an FIR against three travel agents for the alleged trafficking of 25 minors from Punjab to France using forged documents, the State police have no clue about the case.

The police said on Sunday that they had come to know about the case through the media and a preliminary inquiry by them indicated that no such incident had been reported in their region.

“We don’t have any information regarding students going missing. We even inquired about it, but as of now, nothing has come to the fore. We have neither received complaint from any school nor from parents regarding this,” Jagjit Singh, Superintendent of Police (Investigation), Kapurthala, told The Hindu.

Mr Singh said the police were waiting for intimation from the CBI. “Till now, the CBI has not contacted us. If they do get in touch, we will offer all support,” he said.

Mr Singh did not rule out the apprehension that the school addresses that had appeared during the CBI investigation could be fake.

He, however, said “it’s a matter of investigation and a further probe by CBI would only unravel the occurrence of case.”

The Hindustan Times – Pakistan authorities humiliated us like they did Jadhav’s family: Sarabjit Singh’s sister

Dalbir Kaur said their ordeal was similar to what Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family endured in Islamabad recently

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 28 December 2017. The family members of Sarabjit Singh were humiliated when they went to meet him with Pakistani authorities even wiping off the ‘sindoor’ from his wife’s forehead, his sister Dalbir Kaur said on Thursday amid outrage over the treatment meted out to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife.

Dalbir Kaur said that Singh’s family had gone to meet him in a Lahore jail in 2008.

“We had no clue of the shocking things that were to unfold before our meeting with Sarabjit,” Dalbir Kaur, who hails from Amritsar district, told PTI over the phone.

Singh’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, his teenaged daughters Swapandeep and Poonam, besides Dalbir Kaur went to Lahore to meet the Indian national for the first time in 18 years.

The ordeal was similar to what Jadhav’s family endured in Islamabad recently, according to Dalbir Kaur.

Jadhav’s mother and wife were stripped of their bindis, bangles and ‘mangalsutra’, made to change into different clothes and wear slippers by discarding their shoes.

“Even before the meeting was to take place, the behaviour of Pakistani authorities was bad. A female cop took out a handkerchief and wiped out the ‘sindoor’ from Sukhpreet’s forehead. Both Sukhpreet and I were asked to take out hair pins as well.

Sarabjit’s teenaged daughters were also mistreated, and authorities were rude even after I raised objections. We were even asked to take out our ‘kadas’ (bracelets),” Dalbir Kaur said.

She recalled that as Singh loved “bharwan karela”, a bitter gourd dish, the family cooked it at their home in Amritsar and brought it for him.

“However, again the Pakistan authorities were rude. They opened the container and forcibly stuffed it into our mouths asking us to taste it first,” she said.

That was not the end of the ordeal, she said.

“Before proceeding to meet Sarabjit in jail, a manager at a Lahore Gurudwara asked us to keep our passports there.

When we were to leave after the meeting, we were told to show our passports. When reminded that we had been asked to deposit these at the Gurudwara, the Pakistan authorities delayed our departure telling us that the documents were not traceable,” she said.

Dalbir Kaur said that in 2011 too she met Singh in jail.

“I was the only one to be granted a visa. But this time too their treatment was no different. They took my ‘kirpan’ forcibly and when I asked them to at least keep it safely, they flung it in some corner showing disrespect which deeply hurt my religious sentiments,” she said.

“When I met Sarabjit, he cried a lot, asking me to help prove his innocence,” she recalled.

The Indian Express – Punjab government mobilises Congress cadre to make Anandpur Sahib function a success

Noted Punjabi singer Gurdass Mann has been engaged by the government to sing at the function so attract people

Kanchan Vasdev

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 23 December 2017. Not taking any chances to ensure a decent gathering at 350th anniversary celebration function of tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, being organised in Anandpur Sahib, the state government is taking help from Congress party organisation to gather crowds.

The fact that the day of function, 24 December, coincides with the historic Shaheedi Jor mela organised annually at Gurdwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib, is giving anxious moments to the government. Hence, Congress leaders in Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Anandpur Sahib, including Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, have been asked to mobilise crowds.

Besides, noted Punjabi singer Gurdass Mann has been engaged by the government to sing at the function so attract people. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has been invited by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for the function.

“People from these districts go to the Shaheedi Jor mela every year. The historic mela is a very emotive function for the people of Punjab as it is commemorated to pay tributes to two sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh who were martyred. We wonder if people would come to our function without our pushing them,” said a party leader.

Moreover, the last week of December is associated with grief by Sikhs due to the martyrdom of sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh. And as per Nanakshahi calendar, Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary is celebrated on January 5. But as per Bikrami calendar, his birthday falls on December 24.

Sikhs are divided on the issue of celebration of his birthday as a number of them feel last week of December cannot be associated with any happy occasion.

“With all this in mind, we are not taking any chances and mobilising our people. I am arranging buses,” said a Congress leader.

Punjab govt mobilises Congress cadre to make Anandpur Sahib function a success

The Hindu – Sushma to take up ‘forced conversion’ of Sikhs with Pakistan

Vikas Vasudeva

Chandigarh-Panjab-India , 19 December 2017. India said on Tuesday that it would take up with Pakistan’s government allegations that the Sikhs were being “forced to convert to Islam” in Hangu district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“We will take this up at the highest level with the Government of Pakistan,” Minister for External Affairs Sushma Sawraj tweeted, after Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh urged her to broach the issue with Pakistan.

Captain Amarinder said the Indian government was duty-bound to ensure that Sikhs worldwide were not victimised or coerced in any manner.

“The Sikh community, living in the area for more than a century, has been reported to have filed an official complaint with the district deputy commissioner… It is a serious issue, given that the forced conversions were allegedly being spearheaded by a government official,” he said.

The Chief Minister said the Ministry of External Affairs should pursue the matter with Pakistan so as to bring this “religious torture” to an immediate end. “Religious freedom is the right of every human being and should be upheld by all countries in the larger interest of humanity. We are duty-bound to protect the identity of Sikhs, wherever they may be living,” he said. – Hondh Chillad Massacre: Sikh activist finally hopeful for justice as Haryana government files report

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 14 December 2017. In recent developments in the Hondh Chillad anti-Sikh massacres, Engineer Manwinder Singh Giaspura told Sikh24 that the Haryana Government has filed a 15 page report accepting that the murders were targeted and communal.

Engineer Manwinder Singh is a Sikh activist who researched the killings of Sikhs at Hondh Chillad in 1984 and brought these cases to light.

This is an important development as this is the first time the Haryana Government has officially accepted that Sikhs were murdered here during the 1984 Sikh genocide, which was also carried out in other parts of the country.

BJP led Haryana Government submitted its report in response to a petition filed by Engineer Giaspura. The court will hold a hearing on this case in March 2018. Giaspura posted that he hopes after the court concludes its hearing, cases can be filed upon Haryana police and Government officials who added mobs during these massacres.

“The Punjab & Haryana High Court bench has taken on record the reply lodged by Haryana state government and has deferred next hearing on to March 20,” Giaspura told Sikh24.

The Hondh-Chillad massacre refers to the killings of at least 32 Sikhs on 2 November 1984 in a village in the Rewari district of Haryana, by the Hindu mobs during the 1984 Sikh Genocide. The local police did not intervene in the massacre or pursue a First information Report (FIR) filed by survivors or help resettle the survivors.

The Hindustan Times – Meet Chandigarh’s langar baba, who has been feeding the poor for decades

The man lost his childhood to the Partition, but worked hard to build a business worth crores so that he can give back to society. He has been feeding the underprivileged in Chandigarh for over three decades.

Tanbir Dhaliwal

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 15 December 2017. “Don’t ask me about my childhood. I won’t be able to narrate that time,” said 83-year-old Jagdish Lal Ahuja, in a voice choked with emotion.

In 1947, a 12-year-old boy born in Peshawar, Pakistan, came over to this side during the Partition. The event not only took away his birthplace from him, but his childhood too.

It is this lost childhood that Ahuja, popularly known as PGI’s ‘langar baba’, is searching among hundreds of poor kids whom he feeds daily. Over three decades have passed since he started organising langars across Chandigarh in 1981.

In 2001, he started a daily langar outside Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). He has been at it without a break.

Sold property worth crores

In 2015, he sold his seventh property worth Rs 1.6 crore to arrange money for his noble initiative. Ahuja has sold six other such properties worth crores to ensure that the poor do not go to bed on an empty stomach.

Sitting on an easy chair, strategically placed near the heater, he said, “ Puttar, we will share a cold drink and have tea too. Don’t say no.” He offered a chair next to him and took out a brand new tablet from his table and handed it over.

“It has recordings of all the work I have done. My daughter gave it to me a while back, but I find it hard to operate,” he said, struggling with the gadget. Ahuja has a wife, a daughter and two sons. The kids have their own business and are well settled.

The tablet had six to seven videos, showing a man in his 70s, serving langar, handing out woollens, biscuits and fruits at various colonies such as Maloya, Sector 24, Industrial Area, an old age home Snehalaya, outside PGIMER, Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, and other places.

Hard Times

“Now, tell me what you want to know?” asked Ahuja in an authoritative tone. However, questions about his childhood left him distressed.

He started after a long pause. “I was 12 when I left Peshawar. We arrived at the Patiala base camp from where we were sent to camps in Amritsar. I stayed there for some months and shifted back to Patiala,” he said.

Ahuja was the only breadwinner of the family as his father did not work and his mother was a homemaker. “Everyday, I walked three miles barefoot to buy namkeen dal for Rs 1 and sold it for Rs 1 and 2 aane at stations. I made two such rounds daily and earned Rs 2 and 2 aane.

By the time I got home, my feet and hand would be full of blisters, but I still had to earn or else I would go hungry for days,” he said, his voice choking up.

He never went to school in Peshawar even though he could afford to do so. He said, “My father beat me up if I studied and teachers beat me up in school because I would not have done my homework. So, yes, I could not study; my childhood was horrifying.”

From selling namkeen dal at the stations in Amritsar to selling toffees, jaggery, and fruits on the streets of Patiala, Ahuja continued working and fought hard when faced with hardships.

Now that baba is growing old and is fighting cancer, he only comes for a visit towards the end of the langar. That is when he distributes balloons, toffees and snacks to children.

Starting from scratch

At 21, he moved to Chandigarh after a fight with his family. Here, he started buying and selling fruits. His journey in the new city that started from the purchase of a cart of oranges for Rs 15 turned into an enterprise worth crores.

He bought his first property, a house in Sector 22, in 1965-66 for Rs 4,000. He recently sold this property to fund the langar. Since he had a business of selling bananas, he was often known as the “banana king”. Soon, he was became popular as ‘langar wale baba’.

Talking about how he began this initiative, Ahuja said, “It was my son’s eighth birthday and I wanted to celebrate it by giving to the society. So, I decided to organise a langar for children.”

“We cooked food for 150 children and served it in the market in Sector 26. The moment I saw the joy on the faces of the children, it reminded me of my childhood. I then announced that this langar will be held daily,” he added.

Years of service

He said, “It was on Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday that I wanted to distribute halwa and was wondering which place I should choose to set up. I was passing through PGIMER and saw a boy serving rice to the poor; that’s where I got the idea.”

Since then, baba’s langar is part of a routine at PGIMER. Between 6pm and 6.30pm, a black van stops outside gate number 2 of PGIMER and a stall is set up. In no time, people queue up for food. The langar outside GMCH-32 is organised in the afternoon.

“Not a single day has passed in the last 17 years that this langar was not organised outside PGIMER. We serve dal, chapatti, rice, halwa and banana. Apart from this, we also serve biscuits to cancer patients and kurkure, toffees, lollipops with whistles and balloons to children,” said Ahuja.

No favours from others

However, these days, shortage of money has made it difficult to run the langar but that has not stopped him. Asking for financial help from others to run the langar is against Ahuja’s principles. Instead, he has chosen to cut down the supply.

“Earlier, I made this langar for over 2,000 people daily; now it’s for 500. I have reduced the quantity after 2015,” he added.

The number of vegetable drums has reduced from 17 to seven, the carts of chapattis have reduced from six to three and only two boxes of bananas are distributed instead of six.

His motivation comes from those he feeds daily. He said, “Main apna bachpan dekhda haan, inna ch (I see my childhood in them).”

Now that baba is growing old and is fighting cancer, he only comes for a visit towards the end of the langar. That is when he distributes balloons, toffees and snacks to children.

“I have never sought a favour from anyone, but can only expect some help from the government. Kindly convey my message to the governor that I might need his help in continuing the langar in the near future,” said Ahuja. – Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara makes major revelation in Beant “Singh” assassination case

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 6 December 2017. Hearing on the pending trial against Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara in Beant Singh assassination case was conducted by a special court of additional session judge J S Sidhu in the Burail jail on December 4.

The prosecution lawyer of probing agency CBI asked Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara to answer almost 30 questions during this hearing.

Replying to question asked by the CBI lawyer, Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara revealed that he, along with Shaheed Bhai Dilawar Singh and death row convict Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana had gone to the Punjab Secretariat in a car to assassinate the then Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 30.

“But CM Beant Singh had left the Secretariat before us and we had to return from our mission. After coming back, we slept in a room of government tubewell after removing bomb belt of Shaheed Bhai Dilawar Singh”, he added.

Bhai Jagtar Singh Tara further revealed that on August 31, 1995 they again went to the Punjab secretariat. “Before departing for accomplishing our task, I fixed the wires of bomb belt on the body of Shaheed Bhai Dilawar Singh and performed prayer before the Almighty Lord.

I dropped Shaheed Bhai Dilawar Singh to Punjab Secretariat in an Ambassador car. Later, I met Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana who was following us on a scooter and moved away from the Secretariat,” he added.

Sikh24 has learned that the CBI lawyer has sought answer to 31 questions and Bhai Tara answered his first 20 question on December 4. Meanwhile, the Court has deferred next hearing onto January 16, 2018.

The Times of India – Session on Sikh history held

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 5 December 2017. Panjab University Colloquia Committee in collaboration with the department of political science organized the 43rd Colloquium Lecture on The Sikh Panth: Its History and Historiography at the Panjab University on Monday.

The lecture was presided over by Professor Arun K Grover, Vice Chancellor, PU and in his presidential address briefed everyone about the aim of PU Colloquia Lectures and conveyed thanks to all the eminent and learned speakers who showed keen interest to visit the Panjab University and interacted with the faculty and students.

The lecture delivered by Professor Gurinder Singh Mann included a brief survey of existing scholarly literature on the subject through which Professor Mann analyzed the significance of history in Sikh life. He enlightened the audience about the tradition of history writing within the Sikh Panth.

He gave an insight on how Sikh history has emerged over a period of time. He emphasized history needs to be recorded and remembered in a forward looking way. He said history is enshrined at pilgrimage centers of Sikhs.