The Indian Express – Rahul Gandhi alleges RSS is getting into judiciary, media, army; BJP says unworthy of reply

Gandhi said, “The RSS knows that its ideology cannot win elections in India. Hence, people of the RSS are installing their people one by one in every institution. Be it the Press, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, people of RSS ideology are being put in every institution.”

Anand Mishra

New Delhi, 18 August 2017. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sparked a political storm Thursday by alleging at a gathering of Opposition leaders that the RSS was installing people of its ideology in institutions like the Army, the judiciary and the media.

Reacting sharply to the charge, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described Gandhi’s remarks as “ochchi baat (cheap talk)” and said that they were “demeaning” and “do not even deserve a reply”.

Prasad also said that it was Gandhi’s grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi who had spoken about a “committed judiciary” during the Emergency.

Addressing Opposition leaders from over a dozen parties, invited by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav to gather under the theme of “Saajha Virasat Bachao (Save Composite Culture)”, Gandhi said, “The RSS knows that its ideology cannot win elections in India. Hence, people of the RSS are installing their people one by one in every institution.

Be it the Press, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, people of RSS ideology are being put in every institution.”

The Congress leader alleged that the ultimate aim of RSS was to eliminate the right to vote “because they know that as long as the one-person-one-vote system remains in the country, they will not be able to do this”.

“The day when they will be able to install people from RSS in the Army, in the bureaucracy, in the media, the county will be theirs. Then they will tell you, tell us that the country does not belong to you, it belongs to us,” he said.

Praising Yadav’s efforts to bring together all Opposition leaders on one platform, Gandhi said, “On the one hand are those people who say the country belongs to them. On the other hand are those who say that they belong to the country. On the one hand are those persons who want to loot this country. On the other hand are those people who want to give something to the nation.”

Taking aim at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi claimed that the Government’s flagship Make in India programme had “totally failed” and that the country was swamped by Chinese products.

“Modiji says we need Swachh Bharat (Clean India), we say we need Sach Bharat (Truthful India),” said Gandhi, while also referring to unemployment and farmers’ suicides.

Reacting to Gandhi’s comments, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad said, ”The most objectionable thing he said was that BJP is packing the judiciary and the media with its own people and will change the Constitution. But then, it is not unexpected from Rahul Gandhi.

His grandmother had talked about a committed judiciary during the Emergency. Many a place, judges were superseded. The political training of Rahul Gandhi and the political heritage of Rajiv Gandhi has been very unclear as far the independence of the judiciary is concerned. I condemn this utterly irresponsible statement of Rahul Gandhi.”

Rahul Gandhi alleges RSS is getting into judiciary, media, Army; BJP says unworthy of reply

The Indian Express – A day in the life of Golden Temple Langar: Free for all

Around 80,000 devotees, 65 quintals of flour, 16 quintals of pulses, 14 quintals of rice, 7 quintals of ghee daily. What lies behind SGPC’s claim that GST is pinching its Rs 1,106-crore budget

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar, 13 August 2017. It’s 5 am, and the langar at Golden Temple in Amritsar is ready to serve its first meal of the day, tea and snacks. Devotees sleeping on the premises are stirring awake and making their way to the two spartan halls at the Guru Ramdas Community Kitchen building.

The community kitchen, having taken a break for 30 minutes, from 4.30 am to 5 am, its only break in a 24X7 operation, is now ready to serve an estimated 50,000 cups of tea and biscuits or bread, over the next two and a half hours.

On a regular day, at least 50,000-80,000 eat at the kitchen, which was started by the fourth Sikh saint, Guru Ramdas, in 1577. This rises to above a lakh on weekends. The idea behind the langar, as per the Sikh faith, is for people of all castes and religions to eat together before visiting the Guru.

Since its inception, the langar at the Golden Temple has only been interrupted when the then Sikh Confederacy lost Amritsar to a host of invaders in the 18th century, and during Operation Blue Star in 1984.

These days, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which runs the community kitchen, has more contemporary issues to contend with.

After the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, the SGPC expects the budget to run its three prominent community kitchens, at Golden Temple, the Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur and the Takht Damdama Sahib Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda, to go up by Rs 10 crore.

The committee spends Rs 30 crore every year on running the langar at Golden Temple from its annual budget, which was Rs 1,106 crore in 2017-18.

“Our purchases were out of the tax system before the GST. We want this back,” says SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar.

Over at the langar halls, the sewadars (working in the kitchen) are catering to people sitting in rows along the floor, from a steel container that is pushed along on wheels. They open a spigot at the bottom of the container to let out the tea into steel bowls.

At the kitchen, stock-taking is on, to ensure there is enough material for the day, as cooking must begin immediately. Nearly a quarter of the material is given as offering by devotees; the rest is bought in bulk, for which Golden Temple has a manager and a team.

The material is transported to the kitchen on trolleys and mini-trucks, from trucks that halt outside the Walled City, as the lanes leading to Golden Temple are narrow. The vehicles move almost constantly.

A total of 495 SGPC employees work at the kitchen in three shifts, apart from 150 sewadars and 250 volunteers at a time. Volunteers are allowed to perform all the tasks except cooking, for which there are 13 cooks, four of whom are working today.

The menu for the day is dal, lauki (bottle-gourd), rice and kheer, along with chappatis. It changes every day and sometimes has to be changed at the last minute if a devotee offers, for example, a lot of vegetables, or for a certain dish to be served.

The first meal has to be ready by 8 am when the devotees start streaming in. “The langar is cooked in three spells. We cook in advance so as to avoid any mess,” says Bhupinder Singh, who has been a ground manager with the kitchen for 17 years.

When he first joined the Golden Temple community kitchen in 2001, Singh says, 30-35 quintals of flour would be consumed for chappatis daily. “Now we consume around 65 quintals daily.”

The kitchen also uses up around 16 quintals of pulses, 16 quintals of vegetables and 14 quintals of rice on a routine basis. Kheer takes up at least 7.50 quintals of dry milk powder in a day.

“The per day budget of running the community kitchen is around Rs 11 lakh, going up to Rs 16 lakh on weekends and special occasions. We have dal, a vegetable, rice, salad, a sweet dish and chappatis. There may be extra items on special occasions such as Gurupurab and Diwali,” Singh says.

The kitchen, spread across an acre, has three machines to make chappatis, each churning out around 4,000 an hour. Besides, women volunteers make chappatis, around 2,000 an hour. Each chappati gets a dab of desi ghee, applied with a cloth tied to a stick.

The ghee, in fact, is one of the commodities that will cost the SGPC dear after the GST, inviting a tax of 12 per cent. The Temple uses around 7 quintals daily and expects an increase of Rs 50,000 on its daily budget of Rs 4 lakh for ghee.

Wazir Singh, also a ‘ground manager’, says there is no alternative. “Desi ghee is also the identity of Punjab. It makes food more healthy and tasty.”

Bhupinder Singh says Guru Amardas, who formalised the idea of the langar, would have been happy at the diversity of those eating together at the community kitchen now. “Earlier mostly Sikhs would come. Now people come from across the world.”

Sandeep Singh Teja, a government teacher and volunteer, says the GST on the langar is unfair. “The SGPC is caught up in a lot of politics. I also condemn it. But this is not about the SGPC alone. You will find Hindus and even Muslims serving as volunteers. Such a service should be above any kind of tax,” he says.

Says Wazir Singh, “We try to make the food tasty, but it is not our cooks but God Himself who makes this food.”

A day in the life of Golden Temple Langar: Free for all

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

The Indian Express – Sushma Swaraj: Doklam not only issue, solution will emerge through dialogue

With some members saying that the country should be ready for war, Sushma Swaraj reminded them that a standing army was there for such situations.

Shubhajit Roy & Anand Mishra

New Delhi, 4 August 2017. Underlining that China has been contributing to India’s growing economic might, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Thursday said dialogue is the only way out of the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the trijunction with Bhutan.

This should be seen in the context of the “entire bilateral relationship”. She ruled out war as an option, saying a solution can only be reached through dialogue.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, where she was replying to a discussion on India’s foreign policy, Swaraj said: “Hamari jo aarthik kshamta badh rahi hai, usme China ka yogdaan hai… unka yahan bahut zyada risk, stake hai… kitne zyada contract unhe diye huye hain (China has contributed to our growing economic strength. For them, there’s a lot at stake, risk here. They have been awarded many contracts).”

Pointing out that BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra had said that the government should negotiate with China not just on Doklam, but the entire relationship, she said, “We are not negotiating only on Doklam, we are talking about bilateral relations in entirety. And a solution will also emerge from it.”

“As far as economic strength is concerned, China is one of the leading countries among major contributors and economic partners. That’s why Doklam is not the lone issue. So, a solution will definitely emerge if we engage in dialogue on bilateral relations.”

With some members saying that the country should be ready for war, Swaraj reminded them that a standing army was there for such situations. But even after a war, she said, a solution can only be arrived at through dialogue. She called for “patience” and “restraint” in dealing with the situation, and also the need for “restraint in statements”.

On Thursday, Chinese diplomats again said that patience was running thin in the Chinese establishment. They warned of consequences if Indian troops did not vacate what they call “Chinese territory”. A senior Chinese diplomat said there were 48 Indian soldiers at Doklam, Indian officials said 350 Indian soldiers were present there.

During her reply in the House, Swaraj also took a swipe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. She said he had met the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi but had not bothered to first get the Indian government’s position on the Doklam issue.

“He should have first heard the Indian government’s view, and then should have confronted the Chinese envoy with facts. Instead, he met the Chinese ambassador to get facts on Doklam,” she said, remarks that were objected to by Anand Sharma of the Congress.

Later, reading from a prepared statement, Swaraj referred to a 15-page statement of the Chinese government. “The Chinese side, in their recent document published on the website of their Foreign Ministry, had expressed commitment to maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas.

India always believes that peace and tranquility in the India-China border is an important pre-requisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations.”

“We will continue to engage with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels to find a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of the Astana Consensus between our leaders.

I note the sense of the House is supportive in this regard. In keeping the traditional friendship with Bhutan, we will also continue to maintain close consultation and coordination with the Royal Government of Bhutan.”

She said that both these aspects of trijunction points and India-China boundary alignment in the Sikkim sector had earlier been addressed in a written common understanding reached between the Special Representatives of India and China on the boundary question in December 2012.

“Point 13 of the common understanding states that ‘The trijunction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries. Since 2012, we have not held any discussion on the trijunction with Bhutan. The Chinese action in the Doklam area is therefore of concern,” she said.

Swaraj also said: “We have noted that the Chinese side has selectively quoted parts of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letter of 22nd March, 1959 pertaining to the India-China boundary in the Sikkim sector.

A full and accurate account of that letter would have also brought out Prime Minister Nehru’s assertion that was clearly based on the boundary alignment as shown in our Indian published maps,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj: Doklam not only issue, solution will emerge through dialogue

The Indian Express – No space for Islamic State, al Qaeda, says Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin

Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin on Thursday warned “defeatist elements”, who want to “launch Daesh (IS) like organisation in Jammu and Kashmir”. He said there is no space for any international organisation “like Daesh (IS) and al Qaeda” in the state.

Bashaarat Masood

Srinagar, 28 July 2017. Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin on Thursday warned “defeatist elements”, who want to “launch Daesh (IS) like organisation in Jammu and Kashmir”.

He said there is no space for any international organisation “like Daesh (IS) and al Qaeda” in the state. “…some of our people, playing into the hands of our enemy, are trying to disrupt unity between people and the leadership and are trying to harm (our movement).

We want to make it clear to them that they will not gain anything,” he said in a video statement in an apparent reference to Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s statement naming former Hizbul Commander Zakir Musa as its leader.

“I, for the last time, appeal to these elements, who are trying to start this new game that they should stay away from this confusing, disuniting and damaging effort,’’ he said without naming anyone. “The elements, whom we know, are intentionally or unintentionally playing into the hands of the enemy and trying to create confusion and rift.”

He added that “freedom loving people are misguided and confusion is created among them” in the name of shariah and martyrdom. “This is like serving the interests of the enemy,’’ he said.

Salahuddin said they have “credible reports that that Indian imperialist power is trying its last weapon’’. He claimed that they want to launch a Daesh like organisation in J&K with the help of paid agents.

“They want to spill blood and break mujahideen the way this so-called organisation (IS) spilled blood of Muslims in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Turkey and Afghanistan. Wherever you look, they (IS) have spilled blood of Muslims; they have served the interests of the imperialists.”

Salahuddin insisted that their movement is fully indigenous and has no global agenda. “Neither there is need nor space for any international organisation whether it is Daesh, al Qaeda or any other outfit,’’ he said. He asked the people to remain vigilant and to support militants fighting the “Indian rule”.

“I appeal the people of my nation, especially the youths, that they should remain vigilant of the conspiracies of India and keep their relations intact with organisation fighting against the Indian army. (They should) not become part of any global agenda,” he said.

Salahuddin said that they want to make is clear that their movement stands on three pillars: Islam, unity and freedom.

Separately, police sources said that they cannot authenticate veracity of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s statement circulated through WhatsApp that claimed Musa to be its leader.

They added many of slain militant Burhan Wani’s associates have been killed while those alive are part of Hizbul Mujahideen except Musa, who enjoys support of around 10 militants in South Kashmir.

No space for Islamic State, al Qaeda, says Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin

The Indian Express – Lingayats flex muscle at Bidar rally, want status of independent religion

Sikhs might also end up being considered a ‘caste’ or ‘jaati’ within the Hindu fold, just as happened to the Lingayats. The Lingayats seem to be on the right path, although I cannot understand how an anti-caste movement can support the BJP.
The Man in Blue

The “apolitical” rally, attended by Lingayats from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other states, was organised as part of efforts to take forward a philosophy proposed by Lingayat intellectuals like writer-researcher M M Kalburgi.

T A Johnson

Bengaluru, 21 July 2017. More than 50,000 people from the Lingayat community, a dominant caste in northern Karnataka, gathered in Bidar on Wednesday to demand that Lingayatism be classified as a separate religion rather than a caste in Hinduism.

The “apolitical” rally, attended by Lingayats from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other states, was organised as part of efforts to take forward a philosophy proposed by Lingayat intellectuals like writer-researcher M M Kalburgi, who was killed on August 30, 2015 by unidentified assassins.

The rally called for Lingayats to dissociate themselves from being identified as Hindus and Veerashaivas. They also submitted a memorandum addressed to the CM to take up their demand for a separate religion with the Centre.

During a visit to Dharwad region on Thursday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he would recommend classification of Lingayats as a religion to the Centre if the demand from the community is unanimous.

“Lingayatism is an independent religion founded by Basaveshwara in the 12th century. It has never been part of Hinduism. It has fought Hinduism,” Shivalinga Shivacharya, Lingayat seer from Maharashtra, said at the rally in Bidar.

“We want the status of an independent religion. The CM should a recommend this,” said Panchamasali Jagadguru of Koodalasangama Mutt.

“We have demanded constitutional recognition as a religion. We meet all the requirements. This has been a demand for long and it has been delayed due to lack of political will,” said Basavaraj Dhannur, one of the organisers of the rally.

According to retired professor Mahadevappa, a Lingayat scholar, “There is a misconception that Lingayatism is a sub-sect of Shaivism, which is a sect of Hinduism, and that Lingayats are Shudras. But the truth, based on textual evidence and reasoning, is that Lingayatism is not a sect or sub-sect of Hinduism but an independent religion.’’

“The Lingayats are strict monotheists. They enjoin the worship of only one God, namely, Linga (Shiva). The word ‘Linga’ here does not mean Linga established in temples, but universal consciousness qualified by the universal energy (Shakti),’’ he wrote in a paper that extensively references the writings of Kalburgi on Lingayats.

The Lingayats are known commonly as a Hindu Shaivite community. They are followers of Basavanna, who fought the Hindu caste system and sought equality in society. Lingayats make up 17 per cent of the 6 crore population in Karnataka — the single largest community in the state and are known to be firm supporters of the BJP.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lingayats-flex-muscle-at-bidar-rally-want-status-of-independent-religion-4760320/

The Indian Express – Police informant’s killing 2 months ago may hold key to attack on Amarnath yatris

War within Lashkar-e-Taiba may have led its ‘commanders’ to hit Amarnath Yatra

Praveen Swami

New Delhi, 14 July 2017. Muhammad Yusuf Dar was buried on the third Friday of May, at his ancestral graveyard in the village of Gadoora, as a few dozen local residents stood by shouting slogans in support of Kashmir’s independence.

His body had been found lying in the fields the previous day, ripped apart by bullets, killed by the men he had risked his life to serve.

Now, as J&K Police and intelligence services investigate Monday’s Amarnath Yatra attack, in which seven pilgrims were killed, one question has emerged as key: what led jihad commanders to raise the stakes by executing the first strike on religious pilgrims since 2006?

The answer could lie in the story of that man buried in Gadoora, a committed jihadist, and at the same time, a police spy.

For years now, jihadists have described the Yatra as part of a Hindutva plot to displace Muslims from the Valley, although such messages were rarely acted on.

But an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed that a grim war within Lashkar-e-Taiba, which claimed Dar’s life, may have led its commanders to finally target the pilgrimage in a bid to establish their ideological legitimacy before their followers.

A committed political Islamist, Dar was known to police for providing shelter and assistance to jihadist groups operating in and around his village. His relationship with Pakistani national Abdul Rehman, the LeT commander code-named Abu Qasim who took charge of South Kashmir in 2010-2011, was said to be intimate.

In 2013, sources familiar with the case say, police found their way in, when Syed Abdul Shabir, Station House Officer of Chadoora, was killed by three gunmen at a hardware store in the local bazaar.

Police detained Dar, sources say, and threatened to prosecute him for murder, even though evidence of his involvement was not compelling. “He flatly refused to cooperate,” said an officer.

But the pressure finally worked: police in Pulwama cut a deal, sources say, through which Dar began to give them information on imminent LeT attacks, in return for protection against raids and harassment.

“There was, let us say, an arrangement, that Abu Qasim would be left alone as the price for cooperation. Either Qasim didn’t know, which isn’t likely, or he was willing to pay this price for his own safety,” said a senior officer involved in running Dar.

Following an attack at Srinagar’s Hyderpora bypass, which claimed the life of eight soldiers, what had been a local deal became a key intelligence operation. Information from Dar, intelligence and police sources say, helped terminate at least six fidayeen operations, with LeT operatives being eliminated before attacks could begin.

Police informant’s killing 2 months ago may hold key to attack on Amarnath yatris

The Indian Express – Nearly 20,000 Sikhs gather at religious congregation in J&K’s Poonch, pray for peace

The crowd gathered despite heavy mortar shelling and automatic weapons fire by Pakistani troops on Saturday which led to the death of a Territorial Army (TA) jawan along with his wife and injuries to three minor girls.

Arun Sharma

Jammu, 9 July 2017. Nearly 20,000 Sikhs, including women and children, gathered at Chakkan Da Bagh, Khari Dharamsal village in Poonch sector, Jammu and Kashmir, and prayed for peace and transquilty in the area on Sunday.

The crowd gathered despite heavy mortar shelling and automatic weapons fire by Pakistani troops on Saturday which led to the death of a Territorial Army (TA) jawan along with his wife and injuries to three minor girls.

The people came from different parts of J&K to join the concluding function of Akhand Path, a 42-day long religious congregation going on in the village, hardly 30 kms from the barbed wire fence along the LoC.

They also conveyed their sympathies to the bereaved families whose members had died in Pakistani shelling in the past and prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls. Karmara village, which falls less than 200 meters from the site of the congregation, has witnessed indiscriminate mortar shelling by Pakistan.

There had been small arms fire by Pakistani troops on the Indian side in the area on Saturday night also and the gun shots were audible to people attending the Akhand Path at Khari Dharamsal.

The unsuccessful BAT action by Pakistani troops last month, in which two Indian soldiers and two intruders were killed in exchange of fire between two sides, too had taken place in Khari Karmara area, nearly 200 mts from the place congregation had been in progress.

“It was our faith that prevailed upon the scare of cross border mortar shelling and small arms fire, otherwise there had been nearly a dozen incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in the area since May 28 last,” said Jagpreet Singh, an employee of the revenue department.

There had been community kitchen (langer) also round the clock, as also medical camp for local people, he said.

The practice of holding annual congregation along the LoC had started in 1995 in the name of Sant Bhai Bahadur Singh Ji who came to to Khari Dharamsal in the 18th century and established his Dera there.

As many a local people and devotees used to visit him to participate in daily satsang and listen to his sermons, he got a dharamsal constructed at the present place for brief stay on the people passing through the area.

Nearly 20,000 Sikhs gather at religious congregation in J&K’s Poonch, pray for peace

The Indian Express – 1984 anti-sikh riots: Will face lie-detector test if given security, says arms dealer Abhishek Verma

Abhishek Verma also told the court that while Tytler had Z-plus security, he was getting protection only on days of court hearing.

New Delhi, 7 July 2017. Arms dealer Abhishek Verma, a witness in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case allegedly involving Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, informed a city court that he was ready to undergo a lie-detector test if he and his family are provided “round-the-clock” security.

Verma, who had deposed against Tytler, told the court that he had serious threat to his and his family members’ lives. Verma also told the court that while Tytler had Z-plus security, he was getting protection only on days of court hearing.

Verma, however, agreed to the suggestion given by the counsel for the victims in the court that he should be provided 24-hour security till he undergoes the polygraph test. “Here is a witness who is willing to depose against Tytler. Witness protection is very important.

Till the time his statement is recorded or lie-detection test is conducted on him, he be given security round-the-clock so that he has no apprehension of grave danger to his life. After conducting the test, the threat perception could be reassessed,” advocate Kamna Vohra and Prabhsahay Kaur, who are representing riot victims, said in the court.

ACMM Shivali Sharma said she wanted to know the stand of the CBI’s investigating officer (IO) on the issue and listed the matter for July 18 as he was not present Thursday. CBI prosecutor told the court that the IO has gone for a training session and would be available after two weeks.

The court also asked Verma to give it in writing (affidavit) that he was willing to undergo the test if round-the-clock security is provided to him till the test. CBI had also sought Tytler’s consent to undergo lie-detection test, which he has refused.

1984 anti-sikh riots: Will face lie-detector test if given security, says arms dealer Abhishek Verma

The Indian Express – Third time in over a month, Sikh jathas not allowed to cross over to Pakistan

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar, 29 June 2017. It was for the third time in last one-and-half month on Wednesday that Sikh jathas were not allowed to cross over to Pakistan from Attari railway station to pay a visit to gurdwaras across the border.

Around 300 Sikh pilgrims were forced to return back home from Attari railways station after authorities didn’t allow them to cross despite having all valid documents.

Most of the pilgrims had come from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to visit Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Harpal Bhullar, president Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, said, “We have been told by Indian Railways officials that they don’t have permission to allow us to go. Pakistan had arranged a special train for us and that train was standing at the Wagah border the whole day on Wednesday. But it was not allowed to reach Attari.”

Jathas planned by different Sikh bodies, including SGPC, go to Pakistan under Shimla Agreement on four occasions in one year , birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Baisakhi festival, to observe martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

It is rare for entire jathas of Sikhs to be denied permission to visit Pakistan without giving any clear reason.

On 19 May, the SGPC cancelled a jatha after it claimed that it had been asked to take responsibility of the security of jathas during stay in Pakistan. The Sikh body had said that the condition was communicated to it by the Ministry of External Affair (MEA), and it had declined to take any such responsibility.

Several other Sikh bodies, however, said that they were ready to take responsibility for their jathas visiting Pakistan. On Wednesday, jathas had been sent to Attari by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managment Committee and Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi.

“SGPC was not allowed to send its jatha on 21 May. Then our jatha of 68 pilgrims was returned back from Attari on June 8. But 14 pilgrims had visa by road and they went to observe martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in Pakistan from June 8 to June 17.

No security issue was faced by these 14 pilgrims. We were also ready to take responsibility of our security, but were not allowed to go to Pakistan,” said Bhullar.

Harbhajan Singh Sethi, a leader of Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi, said, “On one side India is unhappy about China for stopping pilgrims from visiting Kailash Mansarovar. On other side, Indian government itself is stopping Sikhs from visiting gurdwaras in Pakistan.

It is ironic. Sikhs are deeply attached to the legacy of Sikh history in Pakistan and stopping them from visiting Pakistan in peace time is violation of human rights.”

Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who recently won the Rajouri Garden bypoll in Delhi on a BJP ticket, said: “I will definitely raise this issue with Sushma Swaraj. MEA cannot ask SGPC to take responsibility of security of Sikhs in Pakistan. Asking for it is itself a joke.

It is not possible. DSGMC had also sent a jatha to Pakistan and I have received many calls since morning from pilgrims. They all had to return back. We are hopeful that Indian government will find a solution to this situation.”

Interestingly, SGPC hasn’t reacted on the issue. When contacted, SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh said, “I am not aware of it that the jathas were not allowed to go to Pakistan. I am only hearing it from you.” Sources said that SGPC is avoiding taking on the Centre as SAD is part of the Union government.

Third time in over a month, Sikh jathas not allowed to cross over to Pakistan