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.

DNA India – 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms: SAD takes out protest march in Delhi to seek justice for victims

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday took out a protest march to seek justice for the families of those killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms.

New Delhi – India, 03 November 2018. The march, led by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, started from Gurdwara Pratapganj and ended outside the Parliament Street police station.

Protesters raised slogans against the Congress party and its leaders, and demanded justice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms in which a large number of Sikhs were killed in the national capital and in other parts of the country in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards.

The SAD president, who led the march, addressed the protesters from atop an open truck. Other leaders of SAD including Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Delhi Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Manjinder Singh Sirsa walked along with the protesters.

Expressing her angst over the alleged injustice, Harsimrat Kaur Badal told ANI: “It has been 34 years since our community is demanding justice. Thousands of Sikhs were killed, a lot of women were raped and a lot of people lost their homes.

Such atrocity is a stain on the history of India. Roads of Delhi became red with the blood of Sikhs but even till today no-one has got justice. Why doesn’t judiciary take suo-moto action?”

MLA Sirsa said, “We are going to surround Sonia Gandhi’s house. Congress has been defending its leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, and we demand that they should stop doing so.

It has been 34 years and Rahul Gandhi says that Congress had no role it. We allege that Congress is trying to save its leader because they only masterminded this massacre”.

A suspicious drone was also confiscated by the police after it was seen hovering over the SAD leaders while they were addressing the protesters on the road. The person, who was operating the drone, was also detained by the police.

The Delhi Police later detained the protesters after they tried to break the cordon. Shiromani Akali Dal protesters also burnt effigies during their protest in Delhi.

According to official records, about 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India, including 2,100 in Delhi, during the violence that broke out after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

I have changed ‘anti-Sikh riots’ into ‘anti-Sikh pogroms’
Riots suggest spontaneous occurrences, pogroms are organised or at least condoned by the authorities
Man in Blue

The Tribune – Gave up international debut for faith, Sikh wrestler has no regrets

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 08 August 2018. A Tarn Taran-based wrestler, Jaskawarbir Singh Gill, could not represent India in an international men’s freestyle wrestling tournament as he didn’t agree to remove his ‘patka’ (a small piece of cloth worn by Sikhs, especially sportspersons).

It was Gill’s debut in the international arena as he was part of the India team for the Yasar Dogu Memorial Tournament, organised under the umbrella of United World Wrestling (UWW), in Istanbul, Turkey, between July 27 and 29, when this incident happened.

The Ministry of External Affairs has taken cognisance of the instance and a report has been sought from the Indian Ambassador to Turkey.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed this while replying to the tweet of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday.

According to international wrestling rules, the players are allowed to wear only that headgear which doesn’t harm opponent during the bout.

It was probably for the first time that a Sikh wrestler supporting fully grown hair was taking part in an international wrestling tournament.

Recipient of a gold medal in the all-India inter-varsity tournament and bronze in the National Games, Gill is employed with the Punjab Armed Police. He is a son of Salwinder Singh, alias Shinda Pehalwan, an Asian gold medallist in wrestling.

Born on 15 July, 1993, Gill was to compete against a Ukranian wrestler under the 125-kg category when the organisers objected to his wearing the ‘patka’.

Besides Gill, the other Indian team delegates made lots of requests to the organisers to allow him compete while wearing a ‘patka’, which was his religious bindings, but in vain.

“The organisers asked me to remove my ‘patka’ and tie my long hair as the women competitors do, but I chose to reject this offensive proposal and quit the tournament. I can sacrifice scores of such tournaments for my religious sentiments. I have participated in various national tournaments and faced no problems,” he said.

Chief wrestling coach of India Jagminder Singh, who accompanied the team, said it had been an unfortunate and a lone instance that came across in his career since 1973.

He also recalled an instance in Canada where a Sikh with fully grown hair was allowed to compete in a tournament a few years ago, but it failed to convince the organisers in Turkey and they didn’t deviate from the prescribed norms of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Under the rules, there have been no guidelines for men having long hair.

“We have Sikh wrestlers in our teams, but all are with shorn hair and clean shaven. With exception to girls who are allowed to tie their hair with a rubber band that could not harm the opponent, norms are silent about the men supporting long hair.

The organisers insisted him to tie his hair as the girls do, but he chose not to compete,” he said.

However, Jagminder Singh said since it was a first case, the Wrestling Federation of India should take up the matter with the WWF for amending the rules to avoid such an embarrassment in future.

Sushma’s reply to Sukhbir’s tweet

“Sukhbir ji – I have asked for a report from our Ambassador in Turkey” was the reply by Sushma Swaraj to Sukhbir Badal’s tweet: “I just came to know that the United World Wrestling association has not received any complaint from the Indian government about the discrimination faced by Jaskawar Gill in #Istanbul. I urge @SushmaSwaraj ji & Indian Wrestling Federation to take up the issue with the Turkish govt.”