The Tribune – Coronavirus: NRIs visiting Punjab stay put, as do those planning to come

Deepkamal Kaur

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, It was supposed to be a spring vacation for travel freak couple Amit Taneja and Monika Taneja and their children as they were to head to New York on March 3.

As the kids’ school session had just got over, the Jalandhar-based Tanejas had planned to take them to a host of tourist sites and catch up with their extended family settled in the USA during the 15-day break. But the entire plan went haywire in the wake of panic over the spread of corona-virus.

“I feel it was a wise decision. There is no point travelling amid so much scare,” says Amit. All his NRI relatives, too, have shelved their plans to come to India, “My Surrey-based uncle, who had his flight booked for 26 March, has got it cancelled.

My Vancouver-based cousin, who was to be here for a wedding, is skipping it. Another friend, who was in Kapurthala and was to leave after construction of his house, advanced his tickets to New York by 22 days.”

More than the Indian tourists, it is the NRIs who are affected. Currently at their native places in Doaba region of Punjab, there are many who have chosen to extend their stay here.

Though most of them hail from the US, UK and Canada, they said they were avoiding travel as they were scared of catching the respiratory infection from other tourists at the airport.

Tara Singh Gosal, a Calgary-based NRI, said, “As many as 15 persons from my family are at our native home in Nawanshahr. We were to return on 02 March but we cancelled our flights as everyone advised us to take precaution. Everyone’s work is getting affected, but we have no choice. We will leave only after the virus threat subsides.”

Kulwant Singh Mahal and wife Bhagwinder Kaur, who are currently at their native Kot Fatuhi village of Mahilpur (Hoshiarpur) and were to go back to Milpitas city in California, have deferred their plans to return. “We will now go only after the Covid-19 threat goes off.”

Now that they are stuck here, NRIs are staying away from crowded places and gatherings in Punjab too. Most elderly NRIs have especially chosen to put off their travel for a longer period because they have been warned that aged people with a chronic history of diabetes, heart problems, high BP and compromised immunity are more prone to the infection.

They are also sceptical about quarantine policies upon arrival, which could lead to their isolation and confinement for 14 days at hospitals. There are monetary issues involved as well, as some of them have got refunds from airlines upon cancellation but many have been denied. Also, all direct flights have become very expensive.

Academicians put brakes

Several international conferences are being postponed. Professor Lakhwinder Pal Singh from Dr B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, said he had been invited to Dubai for a conference where he was to receive an award, besides presenting a paper and chairing a session.

But he received a communication that the conference had been cancelled and it would now be held on virtual mode. “They sent me the award by mail asking me to send soft copies of Power Point presentations which would be shown in an e-conference.”

Another professor from the same institute who was to go to Bangkok for a conference on chemical engineering too received a cancellation notice. Director, Public Relations from Lovely Professional University, Aman Mittal said he cancelled his Europe trip last week.

Slump in tourism

For tourism and airlines companies, there has been a complete slump. Amir Hussain, director of sales and marketing, Dream Fly Vacation, said, “Our business has fallen badly with most customers either cancelling or postponing their travel plans. Our company was taking two big corporate trips, one of 195 persons to Dubai and another of 90 members to Sri Lanka.

Both have been cancelled. We had made advance payments for hotel bookings and cannot refund the money. Even though April, May and June are peak travel months, there are no fresh queries for advance bookings. People are on a wait-and-watch mode.”

Trade affected, prices up

Traders who had been importing material from China are looking for other possible sources. Amit Sehgal, president of the Phagwara Gate Electrical Goods Market Association, said, “Some dealers would earlier go to China to buy new stuff but no one is now even thinking of travelling.

Supplies from China have been curtailed. There is a spurt in the prices of electrical items as a result. The prices of LED bulbs have already shot up by 10 per cent. The prices of spare parts like pumps used in coolers and fan bearings have gone up by 20-25 per cent.” – SAD (Taksali) leaders to meet Amit Shah seeking immediate SGPC polls

Sikh24 Editors

Jalandhar – Panjab India, 29 January 2020. Interacting with media after core committee’s meeting in Jalandhar on January 29, the SAD (Taksali) leaders informed that they have decided to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking SGPC elections at the earliest.

Party president Ranjit Singh Brahmpura informed that they have adopted seven resolutions out of which one is about raising voice for SGPC elections.

Accusing the SAD (Badal) of misusing SGPC’s funds, Brahmpura said that his party would pressurize the Indian government to setup a separate Gurdwara Election Commission to oversee the timely conduct of the SGPC polls as the serving general house is already over.

Dubbing the CAA as anti-constitutional, Brahmpura said that the BJP has committed sledgehammered the democratic spirit of Indian constitution by not keeping any provision for Muslim refugees of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in CAA.

SAD (Taksali) leaders to meet Amit Shah seeking immediate SGPC polls

The Hindustan Times – Family of 21-yr-old Sikh woman killed in Canada’s Surrey clueless on why she was shot dead

Jatinder Mahal

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 25 November 2019. Gurdyal Singh Matharoo, the father of Prabhleen Kaur 21, from Jalandhar who was shot dead in Canada’s Surrey where she was working after studying management, is clueless on why she was targeted and is headed to see her body one last time.

“The Canadian police have refused to share anything with us over the phone and with our relatives there. They have asked me to come to get details.

I’m hopeful of getting the go-ahead from the Canadian embassy by Tuesday morning and will be taking a flight at the earliest,” said an inconsolable Matharoo, 64, of Chitti village near Lambra in Jalandhar, where he runs a photo studio.

He freelanced as a photographer for a Punjabi daily for 15 years.

Prabhleen had gone to Canada on a student visa on November 14, 2016, and studied business management from Langara College in Vancouver. She was working at a store and lived on rent with friends in Surrey. Police suspect she was shot dead on 21 November.

The family was told about the murder at 6 am on Sunday. Her father said the Canadian police said they had locked her accommodation after the crime.

Matharoo said when Prabhleen got a full-time job this year, she started sending home money to repay the loan taken for her education. “I spent Rs 35 lakh in three years, including the Rs 15 lakh needed to send her to Canada. I borrowed the money from relatives. We still we have to repay about Rs 15 lakh,” he said.

Her mother, Manjit Kaur, had visited her twice in two years and returned in August after spending three months with her.

“She was happy and excited for she was to come home in January. The last time she came visiting was in January 2017. I would never have allowed her to go had I known she would never come back,” he said.

Prabhleen has a 10-year-old brother, Prabhjeet Singh, who studies in a Jalandhar school.

The Tribune – Politicking over sacred occasion shameful: Mann

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 06 October 2019. Condemning the politics over the events related to celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, AAP state convener and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann on Sunday said there shouldn’t be feud over stage or events concerning the auspicious occasion.

While campaigning in favour of AAP candidate Santosh Kumar Gogi across 10 villages of the Phagwara Assembly constituency, Mann said the differences between the Congress and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) over the functions were unfortunate.

He said while the Congress and the SGPC had already announced to set up parallel stages at Sultanpur Lodhi, on her recent visit to the historic town, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the Congress wanted to ruin the programmes planned by the Sikh body.

Taking a dig at both the parties today, Mann said, “It is shameful that religious and political leaders are fighting over names on foundation stones or seats on the stage and dragging such a pious occasion into petty politics.”

On the break-up of SAD-BJP alliance in Harayana, Mann said, “The Akali Dal is indulging in politics of convenience by siding with the BJP where they have hopes of winning seats even as they have fallen out with the saffron party in Haryana.”

Mann said AAP would be holding roadshows on October 13 and 14 in Phagwara. He alleged that the Congress government had failed to fulfil its promises made to the people prior to the 2017 Assembly elections.

The Tribune – No FIR against Dalit protesters: Panjab Chief Minister

Will lead Ravidasia delegation to seek PM’s intervention

Deepkamal Kaur, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 14 August 2019. Having already supported the Dalit activists who organised Punjab bandh yesterday, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today said no FIRs would be registered against them for blocking the highways for eight to 10 hours during the bandh.

Giving a leeway to the protestors, who were agitating against the demolition of Guru Ravidas Temple in Delhi, the CM, who was with minister Charanjit Singh Channi, said, “We have to look from case to case.

There has to be a basis to register a case. The Dalits were emotionally disturbed. It was their 500-year-old temple which was demolished. It could have been a church or a mosque too. It was all reactionary.”

He added, “No doubt this was a Supreme Court order and we have to accept it. But before it came to this stage, it should have been taken care of. As many as 30 per cent of Punjabis are from this community.”

On hooliganism that they indulged in, he said, “When such things happen, the youth will do whatever comes to them. Bache tan bache hi ne, chahe jinna vi samjhalo. (Kids will remain kids. However hard you may try to counsel them).”

The CM also announced to lead a delegation of the Ravidasia community to meet the Prime Minister for resolution of the crisis triggered by the demolition of their historic temple.

The CM, who met Sants and leaders of the community at Punjab Armed Police today, acceded to their request to lead them for a personal meeting with the Prime Minister to seek the latter’s intervention in the case.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister also promised to look into the demand of the leaders for withdrawal of the five cases against members of the community for the 2009 violence in Jalandhar during protests against firing at the head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan and his close associate in Vienna.

The community was represented by 25 Sants, including Shri Guru Ravidas Sadhu Sampardai Society President Sant Kulwant Ram, Vice-President Sant Gurdip Giri, Chairman Sant Mohinder Pal, General Secretary Sant Nirmal Singh as well as Dera Sachkhand Ballan Sant Lekhraj.

The Tribune – NDP’s Jagmeet kick-starts drive for Canadian federal polls ahead of rivals

Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 18 July 2019. In his bid to gain some ground in a relatively “un-chartered territory”, New Democratic Party (NDP-Canada) chief Jagmeet Singh is undertaking a quick roadshow of some ridings (seats) of Quebec, launching his campaign ahead of his rivals for the October 21 Canadian federal polls.

Jagmeet’s NDP was just holding 15 seats in Quebec. But, he was hopeful of at least increasing the numbers or at least his party’s vote share by holding his road trip.

After kick-starting his roadshow from Montreal, Jagmeet visited Sherbrooke. After this he will be trying his luck in central Quebec ridings of Berthier–Maskinongé, Trois-Rivières and Drummond. These quick road stops will be in nearly half of the 15 seats held by the NDP, but where the party support base has got “eroded” sharply as per some pre-poll surveys.

The NDP, according to a survey, was just enjoying a “meager” 9.4 per cent support in Quebec or at fifth place after Liberals who still hold 32.8 per cent share, Conservatives 23.5 per cent, Bloc Québécois 18.5 per cent and the Greens 11 per cent.

The biggest hurdle before Jagmeet is that he does not apparently have the level of “connect” with people of Quebec which top party leaders like Jack Layton had in the province even as the edge for Layton had come that no other national party was being led by a Quebecer, which won’t be the case this time around.

In Sherbrooke, the NDP had managed to stage victory by a margin of eight points in 2015, when the party had won Drummond by only four points after losing 21 percentage points since 2011. Trois-Rivières was another seat the NDP had barely managed to hold its ground in 2015, with Robert Aubin’s support eroding by18 points.

He also could face a stiff challenge from the Conservatives this time for the latter have put up long-time mayor Yves Lévesque as their candidate.