The New Indian Express – Not leaving battleground, sacrificing seat for Punjab: Former Army chief J J Singh

Singh said he had told the SAD (Taksali) chief, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, that they should try to defeat the traditional parties, Congress and Akali Dal, at any cost.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 15 April 2019. A day after his candidature was withdrawn from the Khadoor Sahib seat by the SAD (Taksali), former Army chief General (retired) Joginder Jaswant Singh Monday said he is not leaving the battleground rather sacrificing the seat in the interest of Punjab and the Sikh community.

Vowing to support the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) candidate, Paramjit Kaur Khalra, from the Khadoor Sahib seat in the Lok Sabha polls, Singh said he has set an “example” by withdrawing his candidature to strengthen the third front in the state to root out the “corrupt” Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The SAD (Taksali), the breakaway faction of the SAD, had on Sunday evening announced that it was withdrawing Singh’s candidature from the Khadoor Sahib seat in favour of PDA candidate Khalra, who is the wife of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra.

“I am sacrificing my seat in the interest of Punjab and the Sikh panth (community). I do not think that I am leaving the battleground” Singh, 73, told the reporters here. “I sacrificed the seat from the position of strength, not from weakness,” the ex-Army chief asserted.

He said the “misrule” of the Congress and the Akali Dal in the state should not continue further.

“We should root out these corrupt parties from Punjab,” Singh said. “If (Paramjit Kaur) Khalra wins, I will consider my sacrifice worth of it,” he said.

Singh said he had told the SAD (Taksali) chief, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, that they should try to defeat the traditional parties, Congress and Akali Dal, at any cost.

“I told him (Brahmpura) that it is important either she (Khalra) step down or she be fielded her from another seat, otherwise I was ready to sacrifice my seat. Because we were fighting each other,” the ex-Army chief said.

He said the political landscape changed after the name of Khalra was announced by the PDA. Moreover, the talks between the SAD (Taksali), AAP and PDA also could not materialise, he added. Singh ruled out contesting the Lok Sabha polls from any other seat.

“I am not after any post. I got many positions on merit,” he said. The Akali Dal has fielded Bibi Jagir Kaur, while the Congress has given the ticket to Jasbir Singh Dimpa from the Khadoor Sahib seat. The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded party’s youth wing leader Manjinder Singh Sidhu.

The former Army chief had unsuccessfully contested the Patiala seat in 2017 assembly polls against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on a SAD ticket. He was the first Sikh to be appointed as the Army chief in 2005. He had also been the governor of Arunachal Pradesh.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/apr/15/not-leaving-battleground-sacrificing-seat-for-punjab-former-army-chief-j-j-singh-1964701.html

The New Indian Express – First India-Nepal passenger train on broad gauge likely to begin from December

The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district in Janakpur Zone of south-eastern Nepal, which is a 34 km stretch.

New Delhi – India, 04 November 2018. The first passenger train to run on broad gauge between India and Nepal is likely to run from December this year, sources in the railways have told PTI.

The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district in Janakpur Zone of south-eastern Nepal, which is a 34 km stretch.

An immigration check-post is likely to be established at Jayanagar station manned by either the Bureau of Immigration or the state government.

No visa will be required for Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the border through this stretch, a source said.

The Nepalese authorities have informed the railways that the section will be opened with four trips and will ply in eight to 16 hour shifts.

While the first train is to be a passenger train, the Nepalese have stated that they want to run both passenger and freight trains on this section.

Nepal will take rolling stock, rakes, coaches and others, on lease from India for the purpose, another source said.

The ministry of external affairs have had several inter-ministerial meetings with the railways, government of Nepal and other stakeholders on this.

More meetings to finalise logistics are likely to take place.

The move is being seen as part of efforts to counter China’s plans to forge rail links with Nepal.

After Beijing decided to extend its railway network up to Kathmandu, New Delhi proposed the construction of new railway links during Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s recent visit to India.

Nepal and India have plans for four cross-border railway links, including one to link Raxaul to Kathmandu.

The Jayanagar-Kurtha rail line was originally built during the British Raj to transport logs from forests at Mahottari to India.

At that time, the line from Jayanagar in Bihar to Bijulpura in Mahottari was 52 km long.

More than 15 years ago, floods swept away the Bighi bridge, disrupting railway services on the 29-km stretch from Janakpur to Jayanagar.

The Rs 5.5-billion (Nepalese Rs 8.8 billion) project is divided into three phases.

The first includes construction of a 34-km segment between Jayanagar and Kurtha, the second comprises construction of an 18-km segment from Kurtha to Bhangaha in Mahottari district, and the third comprises construction of a 17-km segment from Bhangaha to Bardibas.

Of the total length, only three kilometres is in Indian territory.

The sale of tickets, the source said, will be through an unreserved ticketing system and passenger reservation system in Nepal which will be facilitated by the railways.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/nov/04/first-india-nepal-passenger-train-on-broad-gauge-likely-to-begin-from-december-1894204.html

The New Indian Express – Pakistan president Arif Alvi, PM Imran Khan reiterate support to people of Jammu and Kashmir

In his message, Alvi said “the United Nations Security Council, through several of its resolutions, has validated the Kashmiris’ right to decide their future through a fair and impartial plebiscite”.

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 28 October 2018. President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated Pakistan’s diplomatic and political support for the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the official media reported.

In his message, Alvi said “the United Nations Security Council, through several of its resolutions, has validated the Kashmiris’ right to decide their future through a fair and impartial plebiscite”.

Khan said Pakistan would not relent in its moral, political and diplomatic support until the Kashmiris realise their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, Radio Pakistan reported as the country observed ‘Black Day’ to demand the right to self-determination for the people in the Valley.

He called for immediate implementation of the recommendation to set up a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Kashmir.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/oct/28/pakistan-president-arif-alvi-pm-imran-khan-reiterate-support-to-people-of-jammu-and-kashmir-1890901.html

The New Indian Express – 141 schools of Punjab’s Jalandhar to acquire smart e-classrooms

As per the information out of these 141 schools, 81 Schools were primary, 22 were middle, 12 High schools and 26 were Senior Secondary schools.

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 21 October 2018. In a bid to boost education sector, the state government envisaged a plan to convert 470 classrooms of 141 schools of the district into smart-e-classrooms at a cost of Rs 6.53 crore.

The funds were recently released by the Smart City Authority to the Education department, which would execute the work on these Smart-e-Classrooms.

As per the information out of these 141 schools, 81 Schools were primary, 22 were middle, 12 High schools and 26 were Senior Secondary schools.

The Smart-e-classes would be equipped with Stick PCs with Projectors, White Board, speakers, installation, 1 KVA UPS, 20 dual desks for Students and E-Content was being developed for classes I to XII as per state Board.

On an average around Rs 1.39 lakh would be spent on every class room to give a facelift to it and make it smart.

The Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma said that 33500 students would be benefitted from this project.

He said that project would ensure a digital education and increase learning achievements of students, enhancement of student attendance, interactive teaching and learning and focused engagement of students in the classrooms.

Mr Sharma said that technology integration in education would inspire positive changes in teaching methods on an international level adding that through audio-visual presentations, students would understand exactly how the knowledge was applied in practice.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the step was aimed at streamlining the education system by delivering quality education.

He said that in these ‘Smart-e-Classes’ Education would be imparted to the students in a practical manner along with creative activities.

Mr Sharma said that it was an important project, which was aimed at upgrading the education paraphernalia of the district by delivering quality education facilities to the students.

The Deputy Commissioner said that this initiative would ensure that the students in the government schools get high quality education on ultra modern lines.

He said that this would also help in enabling the students of the government schools to compete with the private schools.

He said that the students emerging out from these smart classes would be able to clear any competitive exam in this cut throat competition era.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/oct/21/141-schools-of-punjabs-jalandhar-to-acquire-smart-e-classrooms-1888150.html

The New Indian Express – Amarinder Singh’s government didn’t punish culprits of Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege – Arvind Kejriwal

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Kejriwal alleged that it is unfortunate that Captain Amarinder Singh government has badly failed to punish the culprits of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

New Delhi – India, 14 October 2018. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday accused the Punjab Government led by Capt Amarinder Singh of having failed to punish the murderers of two people who died in a firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in the state during protest against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Kejriwal said, “On third death anniversary of Behbal Kalan victims Krishan Bhagwan Singh and Gurjit Singh, I offer condolences to their families.

Highly unfortunate that Captain Amarinder Singh government has badly failed to punish the culprits of sacrilege of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the murderers of two innocents.”

On this occasion, two Punjab ministers Sukhwinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa along with two Congress MLAs Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon from Faridkot and Harminder Singh from Tarn Taran on Sunday visited the families of victims who died in the firing incident.

In Punjab’s Faridkot, a dharna was staged to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of the victims.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/oct/14/amarinder-government-didnt-punish-culprits-of-guru-granth-sahib-sacrilege-arvind-kejriwal-1885458.htm

The New Indian Express – Pakistan has a long-term plan to destroy our youth: Punjab CM Amarinder Singh

He said if young men along India’s borders are not fit, it will affect enrolment in the Army.

New Delhi – India, 06 October 2018. Pakistan was trying to destroy India’s youth, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Saturday, alleging that the neighbouring country was flooding the state with drugs to force drop their enrolment in the Indian Army.

Addressing the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Singh joined the chief ministers of Karnataka and Maharashtra in addressing the burning issues in their states.

“We have had an influx of drugs, which has started to grow in recent years. It is at a critical point and we have cracked down hard on this. Pakistan has a long-term plan of destroying our youth. They are trying to demolish the youth along the border,” Singh said.

He said if young men along India’s borders are not fit, it will affect enrolment in the Army.

The Punjab chief minister pointed to recent seizures of hundreds of kilograms of heroin at Gujarat’s Mandvi port and in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.

In both these cases, Singh said, the intended destination of the narcotic substances was Punjab.

He said the state and central agencies have identified a few big illegal drug operators and were going after them.

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy addressed concerns on the stability of his coalition government, saying he had the support of Congress and the government would last its full term.

“I will run this government. It is stable. I am here for five years. Some sections are projecting that the government will fall. My Congress friends and the high command are totally supporting me. Cabinet expansion is not a big issue for me,” he said.

Speaking on the violence in Koregaon-Bhima village in Maharashtra in December last year, Fadnavis said it was a larger conspiracy and the state government was acting against those who were going against the Constitution.

“The person, or individual, or institution which is acting against Constitution, I am bound to act against them. They may belong to any class, may belong to any caste. Any religion, any institution, they may have any leaning but I am going crush them,” Fadnavis said.

“That is my raj dharma. That is what I am doing. I don’t recognise extreme right or extreme left,” he told a gathering of business leaders, diplomats, political leaders and commentators at the summit.

His government was at the centre of a political row after the Maharashtra police arrested five activists for suspected Maoist links following raids on August 28, sparking outraged protests from human rights defenders.

The activists were later termed “urban naxals”.

Critics of the government insisted that the five were punished for their views critical of the dispensation.

“There are some people who want to pitch two communities against each other so that a situation like civil war is created. Not just Bhima Koregaon they are in touch with naxals in Chhattisgarh and other places. They are plotting several things. It’s a much larger conspiracy that we have unearthed.

So many pseudo-liberals came together and went to the SC and still the court ruled in our favour,” he said.

The three chief ministers also expressed concern over bringing fuel under the goods and services tax (GST) as it would affect the revenue of the state.

“There are just three main avenues through which states derive their revenue.

If fuel gets taken away, where do states get their revenue from,” Singh said.

“Maharashtra supports bringing fuel into the GST. But at the same time we also need to consider other alternatives. We have to bring change. With the ethanol policy we can bring down imports by 30 per cent in next five years,” Fadnavis said.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/oct/06/pakistan-has-a-long-term-plan-to-destroy-our-youth-punjab-cm-amarinder-singh-1881928.html

The New Indian Express – Congress sweeps Punjab Zila Parishad, Panchayat Samiti polls

The Akalis suffered a humiliating defeat in their home turf Muktsar as the Congress won 10 of the 13 Zila Parishad zones.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 22 September 2018. The ruling Congress in Punjab has won the most seats in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections as counting was underway on Saturday.

In Patiala, the Congress has won 43 Panchayat Samiti seats and the Shiromani Akali Dal four.

The Akalis suffered a humiliating defeat in their home turf Muktsar as the Congress won 10 of the 13 Zila Parishad zones. All six Zila Parishad seats in Ludhiana were won by the Congress.

The Congress won a majority in Gurdaspur by securing 154 of the total 213 Panchayat Samiti zones. In Zila Parishad, the Congress won 15 of the 25 seats and was leading in the remaining seats.

Out of the total 148 seats of the Panchayat Samiti in Bathinda, the Congress won 31, Akalis four and the Aam Adami Party and independents three each. The counting for 107 seats is on.

Sporadic skirmishes, mainly between the Congress and the Akalis, were witnessed during the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls on September 19. The voting percentage was 58 per cent.

A total of 354 Zila Parishad and 2,900 Panchayat Samiti members will be elected. There are 22 Zila Parishads and 150 Panchayat Samitis in the state.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/sep/22/congress-sweeps-punjab-zila-parishad-panchayat-samiti-polls-1875772.html

The New Indian Express – Amarinder Singh to hold rally in Parkash Singh Badal’s home turf Lambi

The chief minister will hold a rally in Badal’s assembly constituency Lambi in the last week of September after zila parishad elections in the state, the spokesperson said.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 16 September 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will hold a rally in Lambi, the home turf of Parkash Singh Badal, to challenge his predecessor’s “misleading” claims on sensitive cases of sacrilege, a spokesperson said Sunday.

The chief minister will hold a rally in Badal’s assembly constituency Lambi in the last week of September after zila parishad elections in the state, the spokesperson said.

He said Amarinder Singh had taken serious note of Badal’s “continued and wilful attempts to create communal unrest in the state through his deceitful statements on the report of Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Commission on the widespread incidents of sacrilege that had taken place during the SAD-BJP rule”.

“Badal has a habit of raising communal passions by spreading a web of lies and misusing religion every time around the elections,” the spokesperson quoted Amarinder Singh as having said.

The chief minister has “vowed to expose” the Akali leader’s “real face” to the people of Punjab, he said.

Notably, addressing party’s ‘Pol Khol’ rally in Faridkot on Sunday, Badal said he and his son Sukhbir were “ready to sacrifice” their lives for defending the cause of peace and communal harmony in the state.

Badal had alleged at the rally that the “Congress was in collusion with the forces that had already put Punjab through a period of turmoil, violence and bloodshed”.

“The former chief minister has been trying to spread a disinformation campaign on the issue of Bargarhi and other sacrilege cases (in 2015), as well as the incidents of police firing on innocent and peaceful protestors in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura, since the commission had come out with its report,” Amarinder Singh said.

Badal, who has been under fire ever since the report was tabled in the state Assembly, was clearly “desperate to divert public attention from his own role” in these cases, the chief minister said, lambasting his predecessor for “exploiting the religious sentiments of the people to protect his interests”.

“Badal has always misused religion to further his political ambitions and agenda,” Amarinder Singh alleged, pointing to the incidents of communal strife that had rocked the state ahead of every election, including the 2017 Assembly polls.

“Fortunately, however, the people of Punjab had seen through his attempts to destabilise the state and had voted him and his party decisively out of power,” he added.

“With the parliamentary elections now around the corner, Badal is once again trying to whip up communal passions in a desperate bid to retrieve the lost political ground for his Shiromani Akali Dal,” Amarinder Singh alleged further.

The chief minister made it clear that he would not allow Badal “to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state at any cost,” and would expose his “mal-intentions” through the proposed rally.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/sep/16/amarinder-to-hold-rally-in-parkash-singh-badals-home-turf-lambi-1872784.html

The New Indian Express – Hatred being spread in country under PM Modi’s rule: Rahul Gandhi

Taking a dig at Modi, he said the PM often says that what has happened in the last four years of his rule has not happened in 70 years is actually true.

New Delhi – India, 10 September 2018. Congress president Rahul Gandhi Monday alleged that hatred was being spread and the country being divided under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He also said that a united opposition will defeat the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a protest rally at Ramlila grounds here organised by the Congress and joined by other opposition parties over fuel price hike, Gandhi also questioned the silence of PM Modi on fuel prices and the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Taking a dig at Modi, he said the PM often says that what has happened in the last four years of his rule has not happened in 70 years is actually true.

“Hatred is being spread, one Indian is fighting the other, the country is being divided,” he said.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/sep/10/hatred-being-spread-in-country-under-pm-modis-rule-rahul-gandhi-1870073.html

The New Indian Express – Punjab CM Amarinder Singh vows to go after Parkash Singh Badal and fix him

Reiterating that there was no question of going soft on the former CM, Amarinder Singh told the media here that it was not possible that Parkash Singh Badal was not aware of the police firing.

New Delhi – India, 04 September 2018. Blaming the Akali Dal veteran for ruining Punjab and holding him responsible for the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing incidents, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday vowed to “go hammer and tongs after Parkash Singh Badal and fix him”.

Reiterating that there was no question of going soft on the former Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh told the media here that “it was not possible that Badal was not aware of the police firing”.

“The SIT (special investigative team) probe report into the incident would go to the courts and the truth would come out,” Amarinder Singh said.

He said the decision to withdraw the investigation from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and hand it over to a Punjab Police SIT was taken by the state Assembly which felt the BJP-led government at the centre could influence the central agency as the BJP was an ally of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

“The Ranjit Singh Commission set up to probe the sacrilege cases and the firing incidents at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura had suggested further investigation, which was why the SIT is being set up,” Amarinder Singh said.

Reacting to Badal’s assertion that he was ready to swear that he did not know about the firing, the Chief Minister dismissed it as a “gimmick to divert public attention from his role in the incident”.

“How many times has he falsely sworn at the Akal Takht,” asked Amarinder Singh.

“How is it possible that the CM did not know about the firing? Former DGP Sumedh Saini had clearly stated before the Ranjit Singh Commission that Badal had asked him to disperse the crowd forcibly,” Amarinder Singh said.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/sep/04/punjab-cm-amarinder-singh-vows-to-go-after-parkash-singh-badal-and-fix-him-1867518.html