The Times of India – Rijiju: Will help UK deport illegal Indian migrants

Naomi Canton

London-England-UK, 13 January 2018. India has agreed to assist the UK in deporting illegal Indian immigrants while London has agreed to work to stop Kashmiri and Sikh radicals active on British soil.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said here on Friday that he had “initialled” two MoUs with his UK counterparts that would be signed when PM Modi visits London in April for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

While the first MoU dealt with illegal Indian immigrants, the other related to sharing criminal records. Indian deputy high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik explained there were “some few thousand” illegal Indian immigrants in the UK.

“A few illegal migrants create a situation where legal migration becomes a political issue. The idea is to allow illegal migrants to go back so that legal migration becomes easier,” he said. “When they find somebody we will help identify them and then we will help them to go back to India,” Patnaik said.

Khalistan is no more an issue in India but some fringe groups in the UK keep creating problems.”

The UK government has assured us they would take care of such issues… and ensure anti-India activities, also by Kashmiri separatists, are not allowed in the UK,” said Rijiju, who is here on the invitation of Brandon Lewis, former immigration minister and now chairman of the Conservative Party.

Rijiju also said the UK was keen to learn from India how to counter radicalisation among Muslims. He pointed out that India had the world’s second-largest Muslim population but radicalisation was negligible because of an “effective counter-radicalisation process”.

Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu is also in the UK for meetings with his UK counterparts and industrialists to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, from increasing trade to encouraging British SMEs’ entry into India.

A joint event in India was being planned to bring together startups in India with UK innovation companies to find ways to work together. “They need not be physically present, they can do business with each other through the virtual world,” he said.

Italics by Man in Blue


The Times of India – CKD management cancels executive, general house meetings

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 7 January 2018. A day after former president of Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) Charanjit Singh Chadha got interim bail in the sexual harassment case, its management cancelled the executive committee meeting slated for January 10.

Earlier, it had cancelled the general house on January 2. The meetings were convened with a single-point agenda to approve the suspension of Chadha and his late son Inderpreet Singh Chadha from the primary membership of CKD.

“We have postponed the meetings and will announce new dates soon,” CKD secretary Narinder Singh Khurana told TOI on Saturday. He said that meetings had been postponed due to death of Inderpreet, who had committed suicide on January 3.

“Technically Chadha is still CKD president since he appointed Dhanraj Singh as the officiating president due to his absence,” Khurana said, adding that CKD office-bearers had only recommended suspension of both Charanjit and Inderpreet but it was the 31-member executive committee that had to approve recommendations by three-fourth majority that was to be approved later by general house before actual suspension of both.

Sources added that a group of CKD executive members aligned with Charanjit were actively pursuing to get suspension recommendation proposal dropped in executive committee meeting so that he remained a member and could later on decide about the presidentship, besides there would be no need for the general house.

When asked how to control the damage done to CKD’s reputation after four of its members, namely Surjit Singh, Inderpreet Singh Anand, Hari Singh Sandhu and Nirmal Singh, were booked by police following suicide by Inderpreet, Khurana replied, “They could have business interests with the Chadhas but CKD has nothing to do with their personal and business life.”

According to sources, a group led by senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders was in a bid to wrest control of the CKD management even as Akal Takht jathedar has already announced that the high priests would take decision on running the Sikh body.

The Takhat had already summoned Chadha to appear before Sikh high priests following an objectionable video of his with a woman that went viral on the internet on December 26, 2017.

The Times of India – After decades, Shaheedi Jor Mela turns non-political

I P Singh

Fategarh Sahib-Panjab-India, 31 December 2017. After years the Shaheedi Jor Mela, the martyrdom anniversary of the two younger Sahibzaadas (sons) of Guru Gobind Singh, did not have political overtones.

All major political parties gave in after a slew of protests by several Sikh activists and an online campaign to oppose political conferences at the event.

However, opposition to a political leader’s speech is not new. Former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru faced resistance from Sikh activists when Congress leaders of Punjab wanted him to address devotees from the Diwan Hall of Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara on the occasion of Shaheedi Jor Mela.

A few Sikh youths removed the mike when the Prime Minister reached the hall to address the congregation. Incidentally, everyone in the group rose to a high position.

“Nehru’s government had dismissed the PEPSU government, which was the first non-Congress government in India and imposed President’s rule. Akali Dal and others opposed this decision. Elections were scheduled for February, 1954 and Congress leaders intended to use Shaheedi Jor Mela for electoral gains by inviting Nehru to speak there.

Master Tara Singh, who headed both the SGPC and SAD, declared that the PM would not be allowed to speak as it would be wrong for the PM to use the occasion to address people. Moreover, Panthic circles were angry over the dismissal of a non-Congress government,” said Tarlochan Singh, who lifted the mike as Nehru was about to speak.

He went to become President Giani Zail Singh’s press secretary, a Rajya Sabha member and then vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.

“When the PM reached Diwan Hall and was about to address the gathering, I removed the mike, leaving him confused. Even though police kept an eye on us, a few of us managed to sneak into the hall and reach near the stage pretending to be keen to listen to the PM.

We were around a dozen leaders and members of All India Sikh Students Federation,” said the former MP, who remains active in Sikh and Punjab issues.

“Police arrested and booked us for attacking the police. We were tried and sentenced to imprisonment. Later, Maharaja Patiala Yadvindra Singh commuted our sentence. Most of us were students of Mahindra College, Patiala.

Even the foreign media reported the incident as it was very unusual that PM Nehru was not allowed to speak at an event by a few Sikh youths,” he recalled.

Bathinda-based Harvinder Singh Khalsa, an AISSF leader, writer and chronicler of events in contemporary Sikh religious and political spheres, said nine Sikh youths were tried for attempted murder.

The Times of India – Muslims let Sikhs use historic mosque premises for preparing, serving langar

Bharat Khanna

Fatehgarh Sahib-Panjab-India, 27 December 2017. In a goodwill gesture, Muslims in Fatehgarh Sahib have opened up the premises of historical Lal Masjid to the members of Sikh community to let them prepare and serve ‘langar’ (community kitchen) for Shahidi Jor Mela, a three-day event which observes martyrdom of the younger Sahibzaadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

The mosque belongs to the later Mughal period and is attributed to Saifuddin, the grandson of Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (1560-1623) also known as Mujaddid Alf Sani. The mosque was renovated by the Muslim community two years ago.

Following permission from the mosque in-charge, villagers from Ranwan and Batho in the Khamano sub-division of the district set up langar there to serve the congregation.

“The Muslim community has allowed using their land for preparing langar. We are preparing food and serving it to the visitors for the last three days. The basement of the mosque is also being used by us for storing food items.

Gurdwaras of two villages have collectively organized the langar and villagers are taking turns to participate in the services of the community kitchen. We got permission from the in-charge of the mosque here as Muslims were happy to share their land for our religious event,” said Charanjit Singh Channi of Ranwan village.

“Shaikh Sirhindi had also played a key role in persecution and execution of fifth Sikh master Guru Arjun Dev Ji.
However, when Banda Singh Bahadur took over the reins of Sirhind, he did not demolish the mosques. Similarly, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and other Sikh chieftains established their rule by defeating the subordinates of the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdali but did not harm the mosques or other key places of the Muslims.

The battles of Sikhs was not against the Muslims or Islam but was only with the rulers who were Mughals,” said Paramvir Singh, professor at the department of Encyclopaedia in Sikhism, Punjabi University, Patiala.

“We are glad to assist the Sikh community. They are allowed to use the land of the mosque for setting up the community kitchen. People from different religions don’t have animosity among them but it’s the rulers or politicians who want to keep them divided.

In the past, battles of Sikhs were not against the Muslims but the then rulers,” said Khalifa Syed Mohammad Sadiq Raza, in-charge of Lal Masjid.

The Times of India – ‘Kulbhushan Jadhav to get consular access’, says Pakistani media

New Delhi-India, 25 December 2017. In what he acknowledged is a “concession”, Pakistan’s foreign minister said yesterday that Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who’s on death row for alleged espionage, will get Indian consular access, reported Pakistani media.

Jadhav’s family members will be at the meeting with high commission official and that cannot be called “consular access”.

Asif meanwhile said in his interview that the reason Jadhav is getting such access is that Pakistan didn’t want India to create an impression that Jadhav was being denied access to his family, especially since his case is being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We didn’t want any weakness in our case in the ICJ over the meeting…We have allowed access to Jadhav’s family purely on a humanitarian basis. However, if we were in the same place, India wouldn’t have been so kind to us,” said Asif.

Earlier, a spokesman from Pakistan’s foreign office said India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad, J P Singh, will accompany Jadhav’s wife and mother at their meeting with the Indian national who was arrested last year by Pakistan for ‘espionage’.

The spokesman added that the meeting will take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its photo and video footage would be issued.

The Times of India – ‘Open Wagah border for free trade to help Punjab farmers to sell their produce in central Asia’

I P Singh

Jalandhar-Panjab-India, 24 December 2017. In a youth conference held on socio-economic issues being faced by Punjab including the agriculture crisis, Sikh Youth of Punjab(SYP) on Sunday demanded that Wagah border should be opened for free trade to help Punjab farmers to sell their produce in Central Asia.

The youth conference, held at Sri Hargobindpur on the occasion of ninth foundation day of the SYP, focused on Agriculture crisis including farmers’ suicide, unemployment, education and other economic issues.

Addressing the youth activists assembled from across the state, Dal Khalsa general secretary Paramjit Singh Tanda said Punjab’s economy could get a boost if free trade agreement was entered into with Pakistan.

“That would provide big market at least to the farm sector creating more jobs in the process. Opening of the Wagah border for trade purposes would not only encourage trade, but result in increasing cultural co-operation between the countries and this would help Punjab farmer to sell their produce in Iran, Iraq and Arab countries,” he argued.

Referring to Punjab specific issues concerning the farm sector, SYP head Paramjit Singh Mand said that the model of farm mechanisation needed to change. Stating that loan waiver was only a temporary relief, he said that the liberal loans advanced by the banks to purchase tractors did not help the farmers but the tractor industry.

He said Punjab economy has not been generating employment of the type which could attract its youth. It is the outsiders who come to work in factories. Complexion of Punjab cities has changed. Locals are going abroad to earn bread and butter.

Speakers were of the view that the suicides were the result of the deepening farm crisis and this phenomenon started around 1987-88. It was only during the last about 15 years that the crises has deepened, they held.

The Times of India – Congress clean sweep, but Patiala hit by violence in civic polls

Patiala/Jalandhar/Amritsar/Bathinda-Panjab-India, 18 December 2017. The ruling Congress swept the elections for municipal corporations in Patiala, Amritsar and Jalandhar and for 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in Punjab held on Sunday.

Voting was mostly peaceful, but was marred by several incidents of violence that led to police lathicharge in many wards of Patiala.

The highest poll percentage of over 62.22% was registered in Patiala, the assembly constituency of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Poll percentage in Jalandhar was 58% and in Amritsar, it was 52%.

The Congress won in 20 out of 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats. No elections were held for three municipal councils or nagar panchayats which elected their councillors unopposed. An official spokesperson said out of total 414 wards the Congress has won in 267, Shiromani Akali Dal in 37, BJP in 15, AAP in 1 and independents in 94 wards.

The ruling Congress performed well in Jalandhar as it won 65 of 80 wards in the municipal corporation and SAD-BJP combine was reduced to 13 wards. The Aam Aadmi Party cut a sorry figure with no wins, but Independents won in 2 wards.

In Amritsar, Congress won with 64 wards in the 85-ward municipal corporation. The SAD-BJP combine trailed far behind with 13 wards and others managed to win in eight wards.

In the Patiala municipal corporation, the Congress routed the opposition parties and won 59 of the 60 wards. The state election commission ordered re-poll in Patiala MC’s Booth No. 3 of Ward No. 37 after receiving a complaint from the returning officer and election observer about an electronic voting machine (EVM) being damaged.

The re-poll will take place on December 19, an election commission spokesperson said, adding that the returning officer has also lodged an FIR about the incident.

Voting in Patiala was marred by claims of violence and protests by the opposition parties, Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party would approach the Punjab and Haryana high court and demand a CBI probe. The party also demanded immediate dismissal of state election commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu for lowering the dignity of high office.

Badal, the former deputy chief minister, added if Sandhu had any self-respect, he would immediately tender his resignation for betraying public faith in the office of election commissioner.

He alleged the state election commissioner did not act when his party leaders were attacked and fired upon at Manawala in Ferozepur and false cases were registered against them by the police.

Sandhu also turned a blind eye to violence incidents at Baghapurana and Ghanaur though the SAD submitted photographic and videographic proof of those incidents, Badal claimed.

“Now today he (Sandhu) has refused to act when the law and order machinery is being used by Congressmen to attack Akali-BJP workers and indulge in largescale rigging across the state, especially so in Patiala, the home town of chief minister Amarinder Singh,” said Badal.

Senior SAD leaders marched towards the chief minister’s private residence, new Moti Bagh Palace and held a protest outside for over two hours. SAD general secretary and Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra demanded that elections in Patiala should be cancelled in view of the violence.

In Patiala, there were also reports that some voters had been turned back from the polling booths without getting a chance to cast their votes.

The SAD and AAP leaders held protests against the Amarinder Singh government in wards 8, 14, 38 and 39 and there were reports of violence and booth capturing from wards 20, 27, 35, 49, and 50.

In ward 14, three shops and three vehicles were damaged and there were reports SAD candidate Jaspal Singh Bittu Chatha had opened fire in the air during the election process.

The police had to resort to lathicharge in this ward during which one of the woman journalists of a local TV channel and another journalist of a vernacular daily were injured.

In ward 53, sitting Akali mayor Amarinder Singh Bazaz was allegedly thrashed by Congress activists and his turban was also tossed in the melee. He was allegedly manhandled when he tried to stop people from casting bogus votes and his turban fell on the road.

Patiala deputy commissioner Kumar Amit who had been taking rounds of various wards across the city said all efforts were being made to ensure free and fair polls. He said he had received a few complaints which were being looked into.

The Congress also swept nagar panchayat/ municipal council elections, but failed to win a majority in Begowal and Bolath in Kapurthala, Khanauri in Sangrur and Bhikhi in Mansa. It failed to open account at Bhogpur in Jalandhar, at Moonak in Sangrur, and at Balachaur in SBS Nagar, where all wards were won by Independents and others.

Welcoming the verdict, Captain Amarinder Singh said the people of Punjab had not forgotten the misrule of Akalis and have handed them a crushing defeat in the local bodies’ elections too.

“People of Punjab have once again shown their political maturity and defeated the SAD-BJP combine and AAP, both of which had been completely wiped into oblivion from the electoral landscape of the State,” he said.

“As far as the AAP was concerned, it had come to Punjab like a summer storm but had been completely decimated, with no apparent hope of revival,” he said.

“The victory for the Congress in the local bodies’ elections, which many political pundits and even the media had described as a litmus test for the party, clearly showed that the government was on the right track and the people were more than satisfied with its achievements of the past nine months,” he said.

The Times of India – Sikh generals betrayal opened door for British

Arsh Behal

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 10 December 2017. The Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1845 and 1848 are the only two instances where the generals betrayed their own army. The complex account of how it changed the course of Indian history was the topic of discussion during the second session on Day 2 of Military Literature Festival here on Saturday.

Moderating this conversation among historian Amar Pal Sidhu, professor Sukhmani Bal Rai, and Scottish author William Dalrymple, bureaucrat Mandeep Rai said: “Generals Tej Singh and Lal Singh betrayed their own Sikh army to join hands with the British… otherwise Pakistan would have never been in existence.

This account of treachery runs very deep,” he said, “even historians don’t know how deep.”

In the first Anglo-Sikh War, governor-general Sir Henry Hardinge was ready with 7,000 troops of the British Bengal Army. The entire British army, which included the East India Company soldiers, had five divisions and 13,000-odd troops.

Rai said: “In the (first Anglo-Sikh) war, the sons of Maharaja Ranjit Singh died one after another. His son, Sher Singh, was shot by his own cousin from point-blank range, while grandson Nau Nihal Singh was killed on way back from his father’s funeral. If the generals had not committed treachery, the Sikhs would not have lost the first war.”

Amar Pal Sidhu, who has written a book on the Anglo-Sikh Wars, highlighted the vulnerabilities of the British army and how close it came to surrender. Hardinge was at Ferozshah and preparing to lay down arms. “The British army had not eaten for days, not had water for 20 days, and run out of ammunition.

It was weak and incapable of fighting further, only if generals Tej Singh and Lal Singh had not betrayed their Sikh army. The British surrender would have been a seminal moment in history, which would have changed its course.”

The death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 was a great blow to the Sikh Empire of Lahore. “It collapsed like the empires of Alexander and Nader Shah after their demise.”

About his experience of visiting these battlefields next to the Sutlej riverbanks in Pakistan, Sidhu said: “These are the loneliest places in Punjab.”

The history writers also tried to imagine what a Punjab without Pakistan would have been like.

The second Anglo-Sikh War happened when Multan revolted and killed two British officers. “The army under general Sher Singh Attariwala, son of general Chattar Singh Attariwala, joined the rebels on the banks of the swollen Chenab river,” Rai said.

Dalrymple said: “The tragedy of the Sikhs is that their richest archive sits in Pakistan and they cannot access it without a visa. What has survived of the Sikh and Afghan war papers in the national archives is not enough… a huge frustration for the Sikh historians.”

The Times of India – Session on Sikh history held

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 5 December 2017. Panjab University Colloquia Committee in collaboration with the department of political science organized the 43rd Colloquium Lecture on The Sikh Panth: Its History and Historiography at the Panjab University on Monday.

The lecture was presided over by Professor Arun K Grover, Vice Chancellor, PU and in his presidential address briefed everyone about the aim of PU Colloquia Lectures and conveyed thanks to all the eminent and learned speakers who showed keen interest to visit the Panjab University and interacted with the faculty and students.

The lecture delivered by Professor Gurinder Singh Mann included a brief survey of existing scholarly literature on the subject through which Professor Mann analyzed the significance of history in Sikh life. He enlightened the audience about the tradition of history writing within the Sikh Panth.

He gave an insight on how Sikh history has emerged over a period of time. He emphasized history needs to be recorded and remembered in a forward looking way. He said history is enshrined at pilgrimage centers of Sikhs.

The Times of India – ‘Fanaticism being promoted under the garb of nationalism’

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 3 December 2017. Regardless of various constitutional guarantees in India, religious minorities along with Dalits, creative artists, writers and rationalists are feeling threatened.

It was the majority view of various scholars during the opening day of the two-day seminar held at Institute of Sikh Studies (IOSS) at Chandigarh on Saturday.

The seminar is being attended by distinguished scholars from Delhi, Punjab and various universities in Punjab and representatives of social organizations from all over India.

In his keynote address IOSS president Professor Kulwant Singh highlighted several acts of majoritarian intolerance and acts of violence by violent cow vigilantes and other right wing organizations and exhorted the citizens to safeguard India’s centuries old multi-religious, multi-lingual, multicultural unity in diversity.

“Today when fanaticism is being promoted under the garb of nationalism, the vast majority of Hindus are answerable for actions of a tiny vocal minority in the name of Hinduism,” said Professor Apoorva Nand of Delhi University.

Professor Khalid Mohammed from Panjab University (PU) said that Muslim bashing was rampant under the garb of terrorism, love ‘jihad’, ‘ghar vapsi’ and triple talaq. He added that the history was sought to be reinterpreted where Muslims were shown only as traitors and all their monuments projected to be built after destroying Hindu temples.

Professor Emmanuel Nahar of PU said Christians had been facing structured and symbolic violence in India during the present as well as the previous government’s regime. Giving an example, Nahar added that an important festival like Christmas had being trivialized as ‘Good Governance’ day by the present government.

Former deputy speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bir Devinder Singh expressed the doctrine of religion based majoritarianism would diminish completely the role of minorities in the political system of governance in India.

At the same time, Sikh scholar Swaraj Singh said diversity had always been a part of Indian ethos and according to him imposing uniformity goes against the very grain of Hinduism.