NDTV – Congress blocked fund release to anti-Sikh riot victims: Rajnath Singh

“I ordered the release of the fund. And we have given Rs. 2 lakh to every family of the victim,” Rajnath Singh said.

Lucknow – Uttar Pradesh – India, 24 March 2019. Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday accused the Congress of blocking the release of compensatory funds meant for the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Speaking at an event in Lucknow, Mr Singh said: “When I took the office of Home Ministry in 2014, I got to know that the ministry had the extra fund of Rs. 90 crore that was meant for the victims of the anti-Sikh riots, but the Congress had not released it.”

“I ordered the release of the fund. And we have given Rs. 2 lakh to every family of the victim,” he added.

“It is the first time, that a leader of the then ruling party has been convicted for his crime during the riots. It could be possible because the BJP was at the Centre. And I had also ordered the formation of SIT to investigate the riots.”

He further criticised the Congress for questioning Balakot strike conducted by Indian Air Force. “I can assure you every action was taken after the intelligence input. I don’t understand the attack was conducted in Pakistan, why Congress is feeling pain?”

Mr Singh also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that he has emerged as the “most popular leader” of the world. Mr Singh further added that, “I am not telling you because the election is coming, but India’s Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is not only India’s favourite leader but has also emerged as the world’s most popular leader.”

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/rajnath-singh-says-congress-blocked-release-of-compensatory-funds-to-anti-sikh-riot-victims-2012170

NDTV – Amarinder Singh to raise Gurdwara body’s poll delay issue with centre

Amid protests by SAD and BJP members, the House authorised Captain Amarinder Singh to raise the issue with the central government.

Mohammad Ghazali

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 15 February 2019. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said people have the right to early polls of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, hours after he was authorised by the State Assembly to take up with the Centre the issue of delay in elections of the supreme body controlling gurdwaras.

The SGPC elections are pending since 2016.

Talking informally with the media outside the House, the chief minister said the delay in the SGPC elections as wrong and unfair for the people of Punjab.

It was the democratic right of every Punjabi to vote in SGPC elections which cannot be denied by Union Government, he earlier said in the House, while responding to the issue that was raised by AAP lawmaker H S Phoolka.

Amid protests by SAD and BJP members, the House authorised Captain Amarinder Singh to raise the issue with the central government. The chief minister assured the House that he would meet the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh soon to press for early initiation of elections.

Since the Gurdwara Act was a national legislation, it was the bounden duty of the central government to hold timely elections to the SGPC, he said, seeking the permission of the Speaker, on behalf of his government, to adopt the resolution moved by Mr Phoolka.

Amidst protests by SAD and BJP MLAs, the Speaker put the resolution to vote, as a result of which the House authorised Captain Amarinder Singh to raise the issue with Union Government immediately.

As the resolution was put to vote, the members of ruling party and AAP welcomed it with thumping of desks.

The Chief Minister later told media there was unanimity in the House on the issue as the elections were over due by three years. Only the Akalis and BJP were not in favour, he added.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/amarinder-singh-to-raise-gurdwara-bodys-poll-delay-issue-with-centre-1993887

NDTV – In 1984 riots case, Delhi court asks CBI to expedite probe

The court had earlier asked the CBI to write to the Canadian high commission in New Delhi for information regarding the case as one of the key witnesses has been residing in Canada.

New Delhi – India, 31 January 2019. A Delhi Court on Thursday directed CBI to expedite investigation into a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which Congress leader Jagdish Tytler has been given clean chit for his alleged role, saying that the matter is of sensitive nature.

CBI informed Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Arora that lie detector test of controversial businessman Abhishek Verma, who volunteered to support the case by deposing as a witness, was conducted last December but that report could not be finalised due to non-availability of scientists.

The court asked the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to expedite the process of finalising the report and granted it two weeks time and listed the matter for hearing on March 8.

Filing a regular status report, in a sealed cover, on further investigation in the case the CBI also informed the court that they had received some queries from the Canadian government to which they have replied and are not waiting for the response.

The court had earlier asked the CBI to write to the Canadian high commission in New Delhi for information regarding the case as one of the key witnesses has been residing in Canada.

Senior advocate Harinder Singh Phoolka, who has been representing the riots victim, has claimed that witnesses were influenced and there was evidence of one of the key witnesses being sent to Canada, allegedly at the behest of Tytler and they would try to bring him back.

He had told the court earlier that Tytler had sent Narinder Singh, son of witness Surinder Singh, to Canada and through him the Congress leader was putting pressure on his father to change the statement and depose in his favour.

In June 2015, Verma had deposed before the CBI that Tytler had told him in 2008 he had met the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after which he got a clean chit by the CBI over his alleged role in the riots case.

In his statement as a witness recorded by the CBI during a probe, Verma, an accused in the naval war room leak and other cases including cheating and forgery, had said Tytler had also told him that a deal was struck and a hefty amount was paid to a riots case witness, who had deposed against him.

The CBI’s move seeking permission to conduct polygraph test on Tytler and Verma had come in view of the court’s December 4, 2015 order in which it was mentioned that the lie-detection test may be conducted, if required.

Tytler had refused to undergo the polygraph test.

The case pertained to the riots at Gurdwara Pulbangash in North Delhi where three people were killed on November 1, 1984, a day after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

The victims had filed a protest petition challenging the CBI’s closure reports in the case.

The court had in December 2015 directed the CBI to further investigate the matter and said it would monitor the probe every two months to ensure that no aspect is left uninvestigated.

The agency had reinvestigated the case of killing of Badal Singh, Thakur Singh and Gurcharan Singh near the Gurdwara after a court in December 2007 refused to accept its closure report. The CBI has filed three closure reports in the case.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-1984-riots-case-delhi-court-asks-cbi-to-expedite-probe-1986377

NDTV – Controversy over Jagdish Tytler in front row at Sheila Dikshit’s takeover

Jagdish Tytler has virtually been a persistent embarrassment for the Congress, which has been pummeled by the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party and other parties over allegations of shielding its leaders accused in the anti-Sikh riots.

New Delhi – India, 16 January 2019. As Sheila Dikshit took charge as Delhi Congress chief today, the presence of 1984 riots-accused Jagdish Tytler at the event became controversial. Mr Tytler, 74, was seen in the front rows, which provoked criticism that the Congress was “again rubbing salt into the wounds of Sikhs”.

“Why should he not come, we are privileged to have him here,” Ms Dikshit said in a comment that was instantly attacked.

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, an ally of the ruling BJP, said: “Indira Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, Tytler was their right hand man. It is a clear signal to Sikhs of the country.”

Another leader of her Akali Dal, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, said the Congress deliberately had Mr Tytler in the forefront to intimidate 1984 witnesses. “The Congress wants to send a message to the witnesses that the party high command supports Tytler and nobody should even try to testify against him,” he said.

Mr Tytler, a former union minister, has been a persistent embarrassment for the Congress, which has been pummelled by the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and other parties over allegations of shielding its leaders accused in the anti-Sikh riots.

At least 3,000 people were killed in the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.

Mr Tytler argues that the charges against him have not been proved. “What can a man say when the Court has given a verdict. You also mention my name. Why? Is there an FIR? Is there a case? No? Then why do you take my name? Someone said that and you believed it,” he told reporters indignantly.

But he has been accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of inciting a mob that killed three persons. The CBI later tried to close the case but the court has not accepted it.

Mr Tytler became a minister in the Manmohan Singh government in 2004 but had to quit as the 1984 riot allegations kept dogging him.

The allegations came back to haunt the party after another riot-accused leader, Sajjan Kumar, was sentenced to life in jail in December by the Delhi High Court, which cancelled an earlier court order letting him off.

Mr Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were both accused by riot victims of leading mobs and goading them to target Sikhs in Delhi.

Kamal Nath, another Congress leader whose name has come up in witness accounts, faced protests after he was picked by party president Rahul Gandhi as Madhya Pradesh chief minister.

In April last, Mr Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were asked to leave the stage before Rahul Gandhi’s arrival for a protest fast at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat in Delhi.

They were ordered to sit below, with ordinary Congress workers.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/at-sheila-dikshits-takeover-front-row-seat-for-jagdish-tytler-sparks-row-1978467

NDTV – “Hope India Will Respond Positively To Kartarpur Corridor”: Pakistan PM

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army on Thursday hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On 28 November Mr Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on 26 November Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Addressing the Cabinet, Mr Khan said: “Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur (border opening) a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage… This is not true. We did it because it is part of (the ruling) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” he said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” Mr Khan said, without explaining.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

“It is to them (Sikhs) what Medina is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” the Prime Minister said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

Mr Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Mr Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year, the highest in history.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pak-pm-imran-khan-says-hope-india-will-respond-positively-to-kartarpur-corridor-1958903

NDTV – On kirpan, kara, Delhi High Court seeks centre’s response

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

New Delhi – India, 05 December 2018. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre, the Delhi government and Delhi Police to file a reply on a plea seeking directions to allow Sikhs to carry a ‘kirpan’ (small dagger) and wear a ‘kara’ (bracelet) in public places.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

The DSGMC has sought direction to the authorities to treat the rights of Sikhs to carry kirpan as part of their identity.

The court was told that an 18-year-old Sikh was denied entry into the Red Fort on Independence Day this year because he had a kirpan.

The plea also sought directions to sensitize the police and security agencies about the religious rights granted under the Constitution to Sikhs.

The court has listed the matter for further hearing on March 27.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/on-kripan-kara-delhi-high-court-seeks-centres-response-1957884

NDTV – Pro-Khalistan leader seen with Pakistan Army Chief at Kartarpur event

Gopal Singh Chawla, the pro-Khalistani leader, had earlier stopped Indian officials from visiting a Gurdwara in Lahore to meet Sikh pilgrims who had travelled from India.

Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 28 November 2018. As Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan talked peace and “civilized ties” with India at the Kartarpur corridor event today, the country’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was seen greeting a pro-Khalistani leader on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony.

Gopal Singh Chawla, the pro-Khalistani leader, had earlier stopped Indian officials from visiting a Gurudwara in Lahore to meet Sikh pilgrims who had travelled from India.

Chawla is reportedly the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. His name came up in investigations into a grenade attack earlier this month in Amritsar in which three were killed.

He is also believed to be close to terrorist Hafiz Saeed and has also been photographed with him.

Chawla’s presence at the ground-breaking ceremony attended by Indian ministers and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, raised questions.

Reacting to the photos of the pro-Khalistan activist with the Pakistan army chief, Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat said: “Everybody talks about giving peace a chance. You see what the government said today.

This (#KartarpurCorridor) is to be seen in isolation. It shouldn’t be linked to anything else.” He was underscoring Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement earlier today that the Kartarpur corridor between the two countries would not lead to talks unless Pakistan stopped sponsoring terror.

The Khalistan movement, which called for a separate Khalistan to be carved out of Punjab, saw large-scale violence in the 1980s until a heavy crackdown by the police.

The four-km corridor will provide a road from Gurdaspur in East Punjab to Kartarpur in West Punjab, to enable Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the famous Gurdwara across the border where Guru Nanak spent his final years.

Urging peace between the two nations at the event, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said: “We should have the determination and strength to improve our relationships and to live as good neighbours.

Today, I am saying that my party, I and my army are all standing together on one page. We want to move forward. We want a civilised relationship.”

Those who defend the right of self-determination of Jammu & Kashmir or Panjab are branded as terrorist by the Indian authorities and the Indian Media.
Man in Blue

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pro-khalistan-leader-gopal-singh-chawla-seen-with-pak-army-chief-qamar-javed-bajwa-at-kartarpur-even-1954873

NDTV – Probe Into Sajjan Kumar’s role in 1984 riots “tainted”, High Court told

New Delhi – India, 16 October 2018. The CBI on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the police investigation into the alleged role of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case was “tainted” as it had tried to favour the politician.

The submission by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was made before a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel which was also told by the agency that the police kept in “hibernation” the FIRs lodged during the riots in the hope that the affected people will reconcile and settle the matter.

Senior advocate R S Cheema, the special public prosecutor for CBI, said the probe by Delhi Police was “tainted” as “FIRs were kept in hibernation, hoping that people would reconcile and settle the matter”.

He made the submissions before the bench as he concluded arguments on behalf of the agency.

Retired naval officer Captain Bhagmal, former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar, Girdhari Lal and two others were held guilty in a case relating to the murder of five members of a family in Raj Nagar area of Delhi Cantonment on November 1, 1984, during the riots that followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Sajjan Kumar was acquitted in the case by the trial court against which both the CBI and the victims’ family have appealed in the high court. The trial court had awarded life term to Bhagmal, Khokhar and Girdhari Lal and a three-year jail term to two others, former MLA Mahender Yadav and Kishan Khokhar.

They also moved the high court challenging their conviction and the sentence awarded by the trial court in May 2013.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for the victims, also concluded his arguments in which he has contended that Kumar has always been in a “position of influence” which he has “enjoyed with impunity” to “thwart the investigation”.

In his written submissions placed before the court, Mr Phoolka has claimed that there were some charge sheets which initially named Kumar as an accused in some 1984 riots cases, but the police never filed the charge sheet and kept them in its files.

In one case where a victim/complainant had named Kumar, the police dropped his name and filed the charge sheet against the other accused, the senior advocate has said.

Mr Phoolka said that another example of Kumar’s influence was seen in how the government rejected a recommendation made in 2005 by a commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge G T Nanavati, to register an FIR against the Congress leader in connection with 1984 riots.

“Given the influence of the accused and the impunity enjoyed by him, witnesses or victims could not be reasonably expected to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones by on their own approaching the authorities till they were assured of their safety,” the lawyer said.

Arguments on behalf of Kumar would commence from October 22.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/1984-anti-sikh-riots-probe-into-sajjan-kumars-role-tainted-delhi-high-court-told-1933155

NDTV – Navjot Singh Sidhu alleges Rs 500 crore fraud in Punjab civic bodies

He said during the last 10 years of rule of the SAD-BJP alliance, these civic bodies including the municipal corporations and improvement trusts were transformed into “den of corruption where irregularities and scams were the order of the day”.

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 28 September 2018. Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said on Thursday the audit conducted by his department has detected irregularities worth Rs 500 crore in civic bodies of Amritsar and Jalandhar during 10-years of previous SAD-BJP regime.

After a surprise visit at the Jalandhar Improvement Trust, he said while irregularities worth Rs 225 crore had been detected in an audit of Amritsar civic body, discrepancies of over Rs 250 crore unearthed in Jalandhar, an official release said.

He said during the last 10 years of rule of the SAD-BJP alliance, these civic bodies including the municipal corporations and improvement trusts were transformed into “dens of corruption where irregularities and scams were the order of the day”.

Citing example, the minister said the civic bodies were still following old single entry system.

Likewise, he said that in complete violation of the norms, no daily, weekly and monthly cash books were maintained by the civic bodies.

Mr Sidhu said prime properties in these cities were either allowed to be encroached or were given on lease to benefit few people at “throwaway prices without any proper agreement”.

The minister said that the “biggest fraud” was misinterpretation of demarcation made by the state government to benefit affluent people.

The minister said this was just tip of iceberg as Rs 500 crore discrepancies pertain to only 40-50 per cent record which was available for the audit whereas the remaining record has not been provided to the audit company, which was undertaking this work.

He warned officials who were not submitting the record that stern action would be taken against them if they do not submit the record in coming days.

Mr Sidhu categorically said that no one found guilty for these discrepancies, would be spared at any cost and strict action would be taken against them.

Listing measures to be initiated by the state government in checking such discrepancies in future, the minister said that e-governance was the ultimate solution for this.

He said that complete satellite mapping of all the buildings in the state was on the cards, adding that all government properties would be computerised very soon.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/navjot-sidhu-alleges-rs-500-crore-fraud-in-punjab-civic-bodies-1923430

NDTV – Five illegal Sikh migrants released from Sheridan Federal Prison in USA

A group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, has been held at a detention centre in Oregon in May for being part of a large contingent of illegal immigrants seeking asylum.

Washington DC – USA, 23 August 2018. Five illegal Sikh migrants are among eight others asylum seekers who have been released on bond from a prison in the US state of Oregon where they were locked up for three months after getting caught in the Trump administration’s controversial “zero-tolerance” policy, immigration lawyers have said.

A group of 52 Indians, mostly Sikhs, has been held at a detention centre in Oregon in May for being part of a large contingent of illegal immigrants seeking asylum. The Indians form the largest group of detainees in the total 124 illegal immigrants being held at the facility in Sheridan.

Five migrants, all twenty-something men from India, made their first public appearance yesterday after nearly three months at the Oregon prison put them in the center of a political firestorm.

“In the beginning I had no hope,” Karandeep Singh, 24 was quoted as saying by the Oregon Live.

“Now it’s like a dream. I’m so happy. Thank you all of the people who have helped us.”

Many of the Indians are practicing Sikhs. It also presented problems inside the Sheridan prison, where they were prevented from following some basic Sikh practices, the report said.

“I don’t blame the prison officials,” Karandeep said. “They probably didn’t know how Sikhs pray”.

Those early days had been bleak, the migrants said.

“We were seriously depressed,” said Lovepreet Singh, 22, through an interpreter. We couldn’t get out of our cells at all, let alone use the phone to call our families. Even the prison officials didn’t know who we were. How were our families supposed to help us when they don’t know where we are?”

Eight asylum-seekers have been released from detention at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, and more are expected to be released in the coming days, Victoria Bejarano-Muirhead, with the Innovation Law Lab said.

The initial group of men sent to the federal prison at Sheridan came from 16 countries, which include India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

After hearings determine the asylum seekers have a credible fear of being repatriated, they are eligible for release while their asylum applications are processed. The bond amounts typically run from USD 1,500 to USD 5,000 and are usually put up by family or friends, Muirhead said.

The first of their clients to be released from the Sheridan prison walked out of the prison gates Monday evening.

“Upon leaving the building this young man got on his knees, kissed the ground and asked, ‘Is this real?'” Katy Mitchell said, also with the Innovation Law Lab.

The release comes almost two months after the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the Innovation Law Lab sued to provide pro bono legal counsel to the asylum seekers.

Immigration attorneys helped the detainees who asked for representation from the Innovation Law Lab to successfully pass their credible fear interviews, which begins the process of applying for refugee status in the US, it said.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed the men in the federal prison because the federal immigration agency ran out of space in its detention centers designed to house asylum seekers and other immigrants who have not been convicted of a crime.

Under US President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, the US prosecuted anyone trying to enter the country illegally, including asylum seekers.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents, with the adults being shipped to jails and children placed in the custody the Office of Refugee Resettlement between April 19 and May 31 of this year.

The controversial decision however has been reversed by Trump through an executive order following widespread protests against the move.

https://www.ndtv.com/indians-abroad/five-illegal-sikh-migrants-released-from-sheridan-federal-prison-in-us-1904972