NDTV – 5000 Pilgrims a day, no restrictions on faith: India to Pakistan on Kartarpur

India is already constructing a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur Corridor to provide all-weather connectivity

Reported by Mohammed Ghazali, Neeta Sharma, Edited by Debanish Achom

New Delhi – India, 14 July 2019. Pakistan today agreed in principle to build a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur Corridor to provide all-weather connectivity, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement after a two-hour meeting to iron out issues in the second round of talks over the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims.

India is already constructing a bridge on the zero line; Pakistan, however, had been insisting on constructing a causeway, which India believes, would act as a barrier, directing more flood water towards India.

“Pakistan side agreed, in principle, to build a bridge at the earliest.

Pending the construction of a bridge over the old Ravi creek by Pakistan on their territory, India offered to make interim arrangements for making the corridor operational in November 2019, given the historic importance of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

Both countries agreed to allow visa-free travel for Indians and those who have Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards, the statement said.

“Throughout the year, 5000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara per day, Pakistan highlighted the infrastructural constraints on their side and conveyed that they may be able to accommodate many of the Indian proposals in a phased manner,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“There should be no restrictions on the pilgrims in terms of their faith,” it said.

The second round of talks comes a day after Pakistan removed pro-Khalistan leader Gopal Singh Chawla from its committee that is involved in talks with India.

The Indian delegation for the talks today was led by the Home Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Internal Security) SCL Das and the Foreign Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) Deepak Mittal, while the 20-member Pakistani delegation was led by Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.

“Pakistan is fully committed and cooperating to operationalise Kartarpur Corridor,” said Mr Faisal this morning.

The Kartarpur corridor will be vulnerable to flooding as it is being built near the flood plains of the Ravi river. In 2013, when the area was flooded, it had caused great damage to people living in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.

Once built, the corridor will connect the Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims. The pilgrims will require just a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, an important Sikh shrine established in 1522 by the faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The first level of talks were held on March 14 and second round, which were to take place on April 2, were called off pending clarifications by Islamabad on New Delhi’s security concerns. In May, India had raised concerns that Pakistan is promoting the interest of Khalistani groups under the garb of the Kartarpur corridor.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pilgrims-safety-infrastructure-to-top-india-pakistan-kartarpur-corridor-talks-today-2069165

NDTV – Supreme Court issues notice to Delhi Police in 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots case

The Supreme Court bench set July 23 as the next date of hearing, stating they would hear the matter in a detailed manner on that day.

New Delhi – India, 05 July 2019. The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Delhi Police on a batch of pleas filed by convicts in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The matter was heard by a three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

The pleas had been filed by various convicts who were indicted by the Delhi High Court.

The Supreme Court bench set July 23 as the next date of hearing, stating they would hear the matter in a detailed manner on that day.

After a span of 22 years, the Delhi High Court on November 28 last year had upheld the Karkardooma trial court’s order convicting 88 people in a case relating to anti-Sikh riots that took place in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri area in 1984.

In 1996, the Sessions Court of Karkardooma had convicted 88 of the total arrested accused. The convicts had later filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the trial court”s order.

More than 100 people were arrested in November 1984 for allegedly rioting, burning houses and violating curfew imposed in the Trilokpuri area of Delhi.

Massive riots had erupted across the country after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards. As per the official records, around 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India, including 2100 in Delhi alone, during the violence.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/1984-anti-sikh-riots-supreme-court-issues-notice-to-delhi-police-2064669

NDTV – 463 Indians to get Pakistan visa for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

The visas issued by the High Commission in New Delhi are in addition to the ones given to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from different parts of the world.

New Delhi – India, 25 June 2019. Pakistan on Monday issued visas to 463 Indian Sikh pilgrims who are going there to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has also accommodated Sikh “Yatrees” who were granted visas for observing the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjun Dev Ji from June 14-23, but could not go to Pakistan, the country’s mission in New Delhi said.

The visas issued by the High Commission in New Delhi are in addition to the ones given to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from different parts of the world, it said.

The 463 Indian Sikh pilgrims will visit Pakistan to observe Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary from June 27-July 6.

Within the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, thousands of pilgrims from India visit Pakistan every year to observe various religious festivals and occasions.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pakistan-gives-visas-to-463-indians-for-maharaja-ranjit-singhs-death-anniversary-2058652

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