The Indian Express – Allegations against Punjab minister: J S Narang panel submits report to Captain Amarinder Singh

The Chief Minister had constituted the commission on May 29 after allotment of sand mines in Nawanshahar were alleged to be linked to two former employees of the minister.

Chandigarh, 11 August 2017. More than two months after the Punjab government set up the Justice J S Narang (retd) commission to probe allegations of irregularities in auction of sand mines involving Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, the one-man commission submitted its report to the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Thursday.

After going through the recommendations of the commission, the Chief Minister has forwarded the report to Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh. Justice Narang, who prepared the 92-page report in 72 days, met Amarinder at the latter’s official residence and handed over the report.

The Chief Minister had constituted the commission on May 29 after allotment of sand mines in Nawanshahar were alleged to be linked to two former employees of the minister.

The inquiry commission was mandated to find out whether the sand mining auction linked with minister’s ex-employees had caused any loss to the state exchequer, whether there was any pressure from the minister on the department to allot the mines to his ex-employees and whether any rules were bent by the government.

The commission had questioned officials of the sand mining department and Rana’s employees.

Justice Narang told The Indian Express that he would not say anything about the report as it was confidential. “I will speak only after the Chief Secretary gives his remarks on the action recommended by me.”

However, sources in the government said the commission, after questioning officials of the sand mining department and Rana’s ex-employees, is learnt to have reached a conclusion that no pressure was exerted, no rules were bent and the state exchequer did not face any loss.

The commission, set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, was also asked to inquire whether the minister received any undue financial benefit or gain from the award of such two mines to the bidders and if there has been any loss to the state’s revenue by the award of such two mines to the bidders at the price in question.

Allegations against Punjab minister: J S Narang panel submits report to Captain Amarinder Singh


Human Rights Without Frontiers – Christians in shock after pastor shot dead in ‘safe’ Punjab

World Watch Monitor, 17 July 2017. The Christian community in Ludhiana, the largest city in India’s north-western state of Punjab, is in shock after a pastor was shot dead outside his Pentecostal church on Saturday evening (15 July).

Sultan Masih, 47, who also ran a school for the poor, was gunned down by two people on a motorbike, who shot him at close range outside the Temple of God Church, where he was senior pastor. He suffered multiple wounds to his body and head.

Hundreds of Christians took to the streets on Sunday (16 July), blocking off a major national highway (the road to Jalandhar) for three hours, and only ceasing once they had received assurances from the police that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

“Pastor Sultan Masih was my neighbour and my friend,” fellow pastor Paul Tamizharasan told World Watch Monitor following the funeral today (17 July).

“Family members are grieving and we hope the government will catch the accused. We demand answers and have gone to the Punjab government, but they couldn’t find who did this.

“The state of Punjab is very safe in India for Christians. There are Sikhs living here, they are also a religious minority in India. We are also a minority, but never before have we had any threats. But unfortunately this has happened and we are all shocked about how this is possible. Nobody knows how this can happen.

“Two people came by bike. Every Saturday, the pastor, after finishing his Sunday-service preparations, at 8.30 pm he will come out. As usual, he had been talking with people outside, very casually. Then at 8.45, two people came very near, about 2-3 feet, and they shot his leg, and his face and his chest.”

CCTV cameras recorded footage of the attack, but a police spokesman said it was too dark to make out the attackers’ faces.

Masih had been pastor of the church for 20 years and also ran a school for the poor from inside the church. He is survived by his wife, Sarabjit, and sons, Elisha, 26, and Hanok, 18.

According to The Tribune, the Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has promised 500,000 rupees (around $8,000) for Masih’s widow and a guaranteed job with the police for one of Masih’s sons. He also promised that the killers would be brought to justice.

Some reports say that Masih had received threats before his death. The police denied this but refused to rule out “terror” as a possible motive.

Meanwhile the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee said the attackers were trying to “disturb the peace” and called on the Christian community to “maintain the peace”.

View this newsletter:

DNA India – Martyrs’ gallery at Golden Temple would foment trouble: Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, 5 July 2017. With construction of a Martyrs’ Gallery in memory of those killed in Operation Blue Star set to begin at Golden Temple in Amritsar on July 6, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder raised concerns that it could disrupt the communal harmony of the state.

Highlighting that he was against the project since beginning, the CM blamed the previous SAD-led government for fomenting trouble in the otherwise peaceful state.

“I want to ask Parkash Singh Badal (former CM), on what is the logic behind whipping up religious emotions through such steps when out of power. It would serve as an unnecessary provocation,” he said, during his first major media interaction after being elected to power.

Hitting out at the previous government, he said, “Why the work on this proposed gallery was not undertaken during Badal’s decade-long tenure as CM?”

The portrait gallery will be set up in the Operation Blue Star memorial Gurdwara on the Golden Temple premises and will have pictures of those killed in the Operation, including Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The permission to the project was given by Sikh apex body Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) after the Punjab Assembly elections, in which Congress made a clean sweep.

Responding to a question on the threat concerns raised by BJP over the posters put up by the Sikh Justice Forum (SJF) across various cities, demanding ‘Referendum 2020’, the CM said, there was nothing to worry about.

“The posters are not worthy of consideration. No such feelings (of support to separatist groups) prevailed among the people of Punjab. Everything is under control,” he said, while flaying the concerns raised by the state unit of BJP, which had appealed the government to act immediately and get the posters removed.

The posters demanding ‘Azaadi-Punjab Independence’, ‘Referendum 2020’ allegedly by Sikh For Justice (SFJ), a Canada-based Sikh organization have sprung up in Patiala, Barnala and other districts.

The Asian Age – Raje must act against beating of Sikhs, says Amarinder Singh

Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needs to fix culpability and ensure that the culprits are punished

Chandigarh, 28 May 2017. After the reported assault on four Sikh men in Ajmer, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday spoke to his Rajasthan counterpart, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, to seek her personal intervention in ensuring a thorough probe into the incident of mob violence and stringent action against the constable alleged to have abetted the crowd.

Captain Amarinder also urged Ms Raje to direct the police to take immediate steps to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Captain Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needed to fix culpability and ensure the culprits were punished.

The chief minister expressed concern over the fact that the incident, which reportedly took place in April, was being given a communal hue in media reports.

He expressed surprise that the incident did not come to the notice of the local police till a video surfaced on social media showing the mob drag the four Sikhs out of a Bolera SUV and thrash them.

Times of India – After CM’s disclosure on militants killed in encounter, Sikh bodies demand justice

Jalandhar, 21 May 2017. After Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s disclosure about the killing of 21 militants whose surrender he arranged after talks with then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, demands for full disclosure, investigation and legal action are being raised.

Rights group Khalra Mission Organization (KMO) and Sikh group Dal Khalsa, in separate statements, said if it was really a burden on his conscience, he should help the truth come out and ensure justice to the families of those killed.

Now that he admitted that 21 militants, whose surrender he facilitated himself, were subsequently eliminated in stage-managed encounters, he should follow it up with action, they said.

“This disclosure is from an incumbent CM and now he should make the names of the 21 and those of the guilty public. He should initiate legal action in the case. The Supreme Court and high court should also take cognisance of the disclosure made by the incumbent CM and initiate legal proceedings,” KMO activists, led by its patron Paramjit Kaur Khalra, Satwinder Singh Palasaur and Haramndeep Singh Sarhali said in a joint statement issued here.

“Amarinder is known for bold admissions and going by his character, he has made public how security forces and state police carried out illegal killings with impunity during the period of militancy. It is an admission that they were killed in fake encounters.

But mere regret on deaths means little to the victims and justice-seekers. Coincidentally, he is in the saddle now and in a position to entrust a probe into the unlawful killings.

If Amarinder has any burden on his conscience, doing justice to the victims can relieve him. A fair and impartial investigation is essential to bring the guilty policemen to book”, said Dal Khalsa members Kanwar Pal Singh, Satnam Singh and Ranbir Singh.

Kanwar Pal said he read the book on Amarinder Singh and there were no detailed references of 21 militants except for Anokh Singh Ubhoke, who approached Amarinder to surrender. According to the book, he was handed over to the IB director in the presence of former PM Chandra Shekhar in 1991. Ukhoke was shown to have been killed in an encounter in December 1992.

Releasing his biography in Delhi on Wednesday evening, Captain Amarinder Singh said he arranged for the surrender of 21 militants but they were killed. “I felt betrayed by then PM Chandra Shekhar after 21 Khalistani militants I arranged to surrender were killed. Never spoke to him after that,” he tweeted.

The Tribune – Captain speaks to MP CM on gurdwara row

Other reports suggest that the Indore Gurdwara was completely destroyed
Man in Blue

Chandigarh, 25 April 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has requested his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Chauhan to look into the matter of the alleged damage to a gurdwara in Indore during a recent demolition drive and take steps to assuage the sentiments of the Sikh community, which had been hurt by the reported excessive action of the police and municipal authorities.

Captain spoke to Shivraj Chauhan following reports in a section of the media that Gurdwara Kartar Kiran in Indore district had been damaged during the demolition drive.

He requested the CM to ascertain the veracity of the reports and take action. Chauhan assured him that he would personally look into the matter and ensure welfare of the Sikh community. (TNS)