The Tribune – High-stakes battle for Punjab

Captain needs to ensure big win to retain position, Sukhbir to revive SAD

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 May 2019. It’s a direct fight between the Congress and SAD-BJP in 12 of the 13 constituencies in Punjab, which go the polls on Sunday. The Congress is grappling with anti-incumbency and the Akalis sacrilege ‘taint’, even as the voter is unusually quiet.

This Lok Sabha election is a litmus test for both Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. For Captain Amarinder, an impressive tally will help him retain his position as the undisputed leader of the Punjab Congress, especially when his minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and former PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa are pointing a finger at him.

For Sukhbir, a creditable performance is necessary to revive his party that suffered an ignominious defeat in the 2017 Assembly elections. He and his wife Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal are contesting from Ferozepur and Bathinda.

Sangrur is the only seat where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in the reckoning. Here AAP state chief Bhagwant Mann is locked in a triangular fight with Congress’ Kewal Singh Dhillon and SAD’s Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Gurdaspur, Patiala, Bathinda and Ferozepur seats are expected to see a keen contest. The fight in Anandpur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib will be interesting too.

This has been a campaign high on rhetoric and optics with Congress and BJP top guns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi – holding impressive rallies in support of party candidates.

What was unique in these elections was assertive voters posing uncomfortable questions to candidates, demanding greater development and more jobs. On the back foot initially over the 2015 sacrilege incidents, especially in Malwa, the Akalis managed to bounce back by raking up the anti-Sikh riots, making it a 1984 versus Bargari contest.

Observers fear that a ‘disconnect’ between voters and candidates could mean only dedicated cadres of each party reaching the polling booths with fence-sitters choosing to abstain. – Congress and BJP are fighting over 1984 Sikh genocide just for votes, says Dal Khalsa

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 14 May 2019. Hitting out at Congress and BJP for playing dirty politics over 1984 Sikh genocide, the Dal Khalsa has said that the duo mainstream parties of India have stains of innocent blood on their sleeves.

Appealing the masses not to get carried away by deceitful talks of Modi, Gandhi and Badals as they all are chips of the same block, the Dal Khalsa has taken a clear stand to boycott parliamentary elections.

Dal Khalsa’s spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh has criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi for raking up the November 1984 carnage to gain electoral benefits out of it.

“We are concerned because Modi is harping on November 1984 issue not out of sympathy or for the sake of justice but to use it for electoral purposes,” he added while recalling the Muslim carnage of Muslim carried out in Gujarat during Modi’s rule in 2002.

The party leader slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for committing to punish guilty of 1984 genocide. “It’s almost 35 years that the Congress has been shielding and patronizing the masterminds and conspirators of 1984 killings and Rahul’s talks were nothing but poll gimmick,” he said while terming Sam Pitroda’s utterance “hua to hua” as highly derogatory.

Kanwar Pal Singh further said that while the Congress government led by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was on the fore-front to engineer the killings in Delhi and elsewhere, the “lumpen and frenzied” elements from the RSS and BJP also took part in the carnage.

Questioning the ulterior motives of the saffron leaders, he said it was the BJP that demanded military solution to Punjab’s political problem. “BJP vociferously asked the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi to storm Darbar Sahib to eliminate Sant Jarnail Singh and other Sikh fighters,” he added.

Riding piggyback on Modi’s name and fame, he blamed Badals for shrugging off the sacrilege issue. He said while Congress carries the guilt of 1984 tragic events, SAD carries the burden of 2015 sacrilege and deaths of two protesters at Behbal Kalan.

Congress and BJP are fighting over 1984 Sikh genocide just for votes, says Dal Khalsa – SGPC warmly welcomes Canadian Sikh bikers in India

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 May 2019. Six Canada based Sikh bikers, who are on pilgrimage to Sultanpur Lodhi in commemoration of the 550th birthday celebrations due this year, received a warm welcome on their entrance into India via Attari-Wagah border station on May 11.

The SGPC officials and the Khadoor Sahib based Kaar Sewa sect head Baba Sewa Singh honored them with Siropaos (robe of honor) and flower bouquets.

Later, all of them went to the holiest Sikh shrine Sri Harmandr Sahib and paid obeisance there. After this, they were honored with ‘Siropaos’ (robe of honor), a portrait of Sri Harmandr Sahib and a set of religious books at the Information Office of Sri Harmandr Sahib.

Sharing their experiences about this pilgrimage, they said that they received warm welcome and honor across different countries of the world during this journey. “Peoples of various nationalities gave a positive response to the valuable teachings taught by Guru Nanak Sahib,” they added.

SGPC’s chief secretary Dr. Roop Singh said that these Sikh youths have made a positive effort to create awareness about the Sikh heritage, Sikh identity and the welfare tasks being carried out by the Sikhs across the world.

In commemoration of the 550th birthday celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, these Sikh bikers had started their pilgrimage from Surrey (Canada) to Gurdwara Sri Ber Sahib (Sultanpur Lodhi) on April 3.

They also stopped at the Gent and Sint-Truiden Gurdwaras in Belgium
Man in Blue

SGPC Warmly Welcomes Canadian Sikh Bikers in India

The Tribune – Punjab well on the way towards being a desert state in 25 years

Central draft report says groundwater resources till depth of 300 metres in state set to end, sounds alarm

Sanjeev Singh Bariana,Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 May 2019. Punjab will be rendered a desert within 25 years if the exploitation of its underground water resources continues at the current rate, a draft report of the Central Ground Water Board (North-Western region) has warned.

“At the current rate of extraction, all available groundwater resources till the depth of 300 metres in the state will end in 20-25 years,” it says, adding that all available groundwater resources at a depth of 100 metres will end within 10 years.

Confirming the noting in the draft report, prepared every four years, Punjab’s Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu said the “latest reports on the declining water level in Punjab, including by the Central Ground Water Board, are alarming.

It looks as if we are staring at the end of our world. Simply put, it is a red alert period and the hooter for saving water is blaring out of concern.”

Eminent agriculture economist Dr S S Johl said, “The main culprit of the falling water levels is the rice crop. Farmers got free water and wastage was rampant. Water should be priced. At the same time, no agriculture can survive without subsidy under existing circumstances.

But, it should not be on water. The subsidy amount should be increased to Rs 20,000 crore from the existing Rs 8,000 crore. It should be distributed equally even to farmers who have no tubewells.”

As per a Punjab Agricultural University study regarding groundwater fluctuations over the span of 28 years (1988-2016), there has been an average fall of 51 cm annually.

Separate reports by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, and Indian Institute of technology (IIT) Kharagpur, at different points of time have highlighted the concern over non-renewable loss in ground water volume.

PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Baldev Dhillon said, “Farmers need to be compensated for not planting paddy. There is good reason in the demand for de-notifying long-duration paddy varieties. Our university is promoting early maturing varieties.”

Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “Farmers don’t have a way out than using the underground water under existing conditions. Why is the state water being given to other non-riparian states? Unless Punjab was given its share of water or the government facilitates alternative crops by assuring a fixed price, Punjab will be doomed.”

Extraction figure up substantially

The extraction of underground water as per the Central Ground Water Board Report of 2013 was 149 per cent. The latest report puts the figure at 165 per cent. Much of it by the 14.31 lakh tubewells in the state.

Underground water recharging was 21.58 billion cubic metres annually, while the gross water withdrawal was 35.78 BCM.

The Hindu – Guilty in anti-Sikh riots will be punished: Rahul Gandhi

‘Sam Pitroda should publicly apologise’

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 May 2019. Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said those found guilty in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases should and will be punished.

He said his party leader Sam Pitroda’s hua to hua remark on the tragic anti-Sikh riots was shameful.

“Pitroda should be ashamed of his remark on the 1984 riots and should publicly apologise for it,” said Mr. Gandhi, at his rallies in Hoshiarpur and Khanna in Punjab.

An ideological fight

Mr Gandhi termed the ongoing parliamentary polls an ideological fight between false promises and realistic commitments.

“Modi and his BJP had cheated the people of India with their lies and false propaganda, while the Congress has always remained true to its promises,” said Mr Gandhi.

“People will not forgive Modi for standing as a mute spectator when Dalits and minorities were being attacked, youth were being deprived of jobs and scholarships, farmers were committing suicide or were being thrown behind bars and the money of the people was being stolen from them”, he said.

Mr Gandhi said, “The Prime Minister destroyed the common people, through his ill-conceived demonetisation and GST (Gabbar Singh Tax) and he is now running from even debating with him on issues of corruption and the Rafale deal as he had no answers to his questions.”

He said the Congress party’s NYAY scheme will not only ensure Rs 72,000 for 5 crore families a year, for the next five years, but will also ensure employment to youth and improved business for shopkeepers as well as small and medium-sized traders by increasing the purchasing power of the people.

“NYAY will give employment to those who were rendered jobless by the demonetisation,” he added. – SAD (Taksali) announces to support Dr Dharamvir Gandhi

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 May 2019. Keeping in view the pro-Punjab approach of Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) has announced to extend support to him in these parliamentary polls. SAD (Taksali) leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan made this announcement while interacting with media in Patiala on 10 May.

However, the SAD (Taksali) distanced itself from Dr Dharamvir Gandhi’s opinion of legalizing opium and poppy husk in Punjab by saying that it was his personal opinion.

“We have decided to support those candidates who are working for the rights of people as we have imbibed the constitution drafted at the time of the formation of the Akali Dal in 1920. We will extend support to contestants of political parties other than the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal wherever we feel like,” said Sewa Singh Sekhwan.

Dr Dharamvir Gandhi said on this occasion that the support of SAD (Taksali) will help him in attaining victory in these polls. “During the last five years, I kept on raising the issues of my constituents so they are supporting me with full enthusiasm,” he said while claiming that the SAD and Congress were scared of rising mass support for his election campaign.

The Tribune – 1984 riots issue revived, Congress wary

Congress in ‘damage control’ mode – SAD-BJP tries to cash in on Pitroda row

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 May 2019. The issue of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, one of the most emotive issues in Punjab, has once again came to the fore ahead of the elections, thanks to a callous statement by Congress leader Sam Pitroda. The remark could not have come at a more opportune time for the SAD-BJP.

The stage was however, set to make this an election issue by the alliance partners earlier this year, although its foundation was laid four years ago, when the BJP-led NDA government had formed an SIT to probe riot cases.

Though it was initially meant to woo the Sikh voters in Delhi (as it was formed just before the Delhi Assembly elections), it is only after two men were sentenced by a Delhi court in the case in November last year and the subsequent conviction of Sajjan Kumar in December, that the saffron party and its ally tried to cash in on the Sikh sentiments against the Congress.

The alliance was not able to use the issue successfully till now. Their effort to give ticket to Jagdish Kaur, a key witness in the case that saw Sajjan Kumar being held guilty, too did not materialise.

The SAD had tried to field her from Khadoor Sahib, but she had reportedly refused because of her old age and failing health. While this plan fizzled out, the Congress narrative against the alliance for trying to save those guilty of sacrilege grew only shriller.

But just one week for the election in the state and the political narrative has been changed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first election rally in Punjab by using this one statement of a Congress leader believed to be close to the Gandhi family.

“Jo hua so hua” (what he said about the riots) statement by Pitroda has queered the pitch for the Congress, which is now struggling hard to wriggle out, while SAD-BJP leaders are using it as the main arsenal against the Congress. From a position of offence, the Congress has been put on the defensive.

Yesterday, CM Captain Amarinder Singh was the first to react, saying it was shocking. He said it (riots) was a big tragedy and justice had yet not been meted out to the victims. – Building of Historic Gurdwara Mao Sahib Demolished; Another case of Kar Sewa?

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 10 May 2019. Some residents of village Mao Sahib (near Phillaur) today paid a visit to Gurdwara Sri Tarn Taran Sahib to extend support to Karam Singh Bhoian’s peaceful struggle seeking indictment of the demolishers of historic Darshani Deodi.

Interacting with Sikh24 there, they made a shocking revelation that the building of historic Gurdwara Sahib of their village has been also demolished under the pretext of “Kar Sewa”.

Gurdwara Sri Mao Sahib is situated in village Mao Sahib near Phillaur in District Jalandhar. This place was house of Mata Ganga Ji. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji had come here for marriage with Mata Ganga Ji. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji reached here along with Barat from Sri Goindwal Sahib.

Along with Guru Sahib and baratis were Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Manjh Ji, Bhai Shalo Ji, Mian Mir Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Sang Ji and other Sadhus. Their marriage took place at place where Gurdwara Sri Vivah Asthan is situated. An old well also situated in this Gurdwara Sahib.

Building of Historic Gurdwara Mao Sahib Demolished; Is it another Kaar Sewa?

The Hindu – Panthic issues rule Bathinda campaign

It’s a tough test for Harsimrat Kaur

Vikas Vasudeva

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 02 May 2019. The campaign for the Lok Sabha election has gained pace in Punjab’s Bathinda, the stronghold of the Badal family of the Shiromani Akali Dal, with “Panthic” (Sikh) issues dominating the discourse.

The ruling Congress is attacking the Akali Dal by raising the pardon granted to the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a blasphemy case and the Kotkapura-Behbal Kalan police firing in 2015, which followed the Bargari sacrilege.

The sitting MP and Union Minister, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, of the Akali Dal is raking up the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

At Bathinda recently, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh raised the issue of “sacrilege” when the Akali Dal and the BJP ruled the State.

People would punish Ms Badal for her “arrogance” and the cases of “sacrilege”, he said.

“People have not forgotten Bargari or Kotkapura, which were a brazen attempt by the Badals to create communal tensions,” he said.

For Ms Badal, the two-time MP, the election is a litmus test. She highlights her work for the State and the Sikh community, and the “anti-incumbency” factor against the ruling Congress. “I have taken up issues of Punjab as well as the Sikh community.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always reacted positively to my demands,” she said after filing her nomination earlier this week. Ms Badal said Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had delayed the AIIMS and Ladhowal mega food park projects.

Ms Badal accused the Congress of weakening the case of the Sikh community by defending the accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. On the other hand, she said, the NDA government had established a SIT to probe the cases and had reopened some cases to deliver justice.

The Congress has fielded Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, the MLA for Gidderbaha. – No clean chit to Akali leaders in Behbal Klan firing case, clarifies SIT

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 April 2019. In an immediate reaction to media reports claiming clean chit to Akali leaders, the Special Investigation Team has clarified that it didn’t give clean chit to anyone in Behbal Klan firing case.

The SIT has said that it has filed charge-sheet against only one accused Ex-SSP Moga Charanjit Sharma and the investigation of some aspects was still underway against him.

Interacting with media, a spokesperson of Punjab police said that how the SIT could give clean chit to anyone when the investigation in this case was still underway.

He clarified that the 792 page charge-sheet was filed against Ex-SSP Charanjit Sharma only and solid evidences have been presented in the charge-sheet. “The SIT will file a supplementary charge-sheet against anyone found guilty in this firing incident,” he added.

He further said that if there is not any illustration about someone in the charge-sheet it doesn’t mean that he has been given a clean chit until unless the investigation concludes.

Meanwhile, Sikh24 has learnt that the SIT filed charge-sheet against the Ex-SSP Moga Charanjit Sharma in a hurry because if the SIT won’t have filed it then Charanjit Sharma might have become eligible for bail.

Charanjit Sharma was arrested on January 27 this year and it is mandatory for Police to file charge-sheet against the accused within 90 days of his arrest in cases under-trial of Sessions Court.

No clean chit to Akali leaders in Behbal Klan firing case, clarifies SIT