The Times of India – Bodies of woman, baby found stuffed in suitcase on train

Manish Sirhindi

Sangrur – Panjab – India, 24 April 2018. Bodies of a woman and a baby were found stuffed inside a suitcase on board the Dadar-Amritsar Express on Saturday, prompting the government railway police (GRP) to initiate investigations.

The unidentified bodies were found in bogey number S-4 after some passengers reported about foul smell emanating from an abandoned suitcase after the train crossed the Nabha railway station. As the train reached Dhuri railway station, a team of GRP boarded the express train and pulled out the suitcase, in which they found the two bodies.

While the cops could not establish the identities of the two, they said the woman appeared to be in her late twenties and the baby girl was four to five-month old. Jagjit Singh, ASI, GRP, said that the passengers reported foul smell from bogie number S-4 as the train crossed the Nabha railway station.

On reaching Dhuri, he, along with a team of cops, entered the said bogie and found the two bodies in the suitcase under seat number 41.

He said the cops then shifted the bodies to the mortuary of the Dhuri civil hospital for a post-mortem examination and registered a case under Sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC.

Jagjit said upon preliminary investigations the cops spotted an injury mark at the back of the head of the woman while it appeared that the baby girl had been strangulated to death. However, only an autopsy of the bodies would establish the exact cause of the death, the GRP cop said.


The Times of India – Meet lawyer Deepika Singh, who defies all odds to seek justice for Kathua rape victim

Jammu & Kashmir – India, 17 April 2018. Young lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, who has taken up the case of an eight-year-old Kathua rape victim, is being labelled as an ‘anti-Hindu’ and is facing social boycott. She says that she can be raped or killed and maybe debarred from practicing in the court.

Unfortunately, these threats are not coming from hardcore criminals but a section of her own fraternity, whose prime responsibility is to uphold the rule of law. A group of lawyers with national flags in their hands had organised a protest rally in favour of rape accused. They even prevented SIT from filing the chargesheet in the Kathua court.

On one hand, these so-called lawyers violated the standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette formulated by the Bar Council of India, on the other, they proved that they can give their Pakistani counterpart a run for their money.
In Pakistan, the lawyers of Lahore High Court had showered rose petals on Mumtaz Quadri, the assassin of Pakistani politician Salman Taseer. But lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat stands tall among them. She refused to bow to the enemies of humanity.

“I will tell this to the Supreme Court. I am feeling bad and it’s really unfortunate. You can well imagine my plight. But, I will stand for justice and we would seek justice for the eight-year-old girl,” the fearless lawyer said. (AFP)

The Times of India – Akal Takht imposes complete ban on ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’

Sikhs in all parts of Punjab have been organizing peaceful protests against the film release

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 10 April 2018. While directing the Sikh Sangat to peacefully protest against the controversial movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir,’ Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Monday imposed a complete ban on the film.

The Jathedar said in wake of unending controversies over movies made on Sikh religion or showing a Sikh character he would soon announce formation of a Sikh Censor Board, which would include representatives from the SGPC, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Sikh institutes, sects, Sant Samaj and filmmakers.

“Anyone making a movie on Sikhs would have to get the script approved from the board,” the Jathedar said, adding that Akal Takht would give a go ahead to the movie only after recommendation by the board.

The Jathedar had earlier on January 22, 2015 hailed the efforts of its producer Harinder Singh Sikka for making a film on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

The movie is scheduled to release on April 13. “The Akal Takht has imposed a complete ban on ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ and this movie can’t be released.

Sangat should stage a peaceful protest against the movie,” said the Jathedar on Monday, adding that all the communiqué made by the Shromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) with respect to the film had been cancelled.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal had earlier sought intervention of the Prime Minister for stopping the release of the movie.

Sikh outfits disrupt traffic seeking ban on movie

Bathinda: Members of Sikh organisations protesting against the release of movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ disrupted the traffic on the Bathinda-Mansa road outside the district administrative complex on Monday.

They wanted to hand over a memorandum to the Bathinda deputy commissioner but were not allowed to go inside after which they sat on the road disrupting the traffic.

The protesters also demanded registration of a case against the director and the producer of the film. United Akali Dal president Gurdeep Singh said, “The film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ is against the Sikh tenets and we will not allow it to be released.

We wanted to protest against the movie but were not allowed to go inside the DAC so we disrupted traffic.”

Bathinda unit chief of Shromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Parminder Singh Balianwali said Sikhs were hurt over the film and it should not be allowed to be released otherwise they would intensify their protest. After nearly 20 minutes into the protest, the police took the protesters to the DAC where they handed over a memorandum to the DC.

The Times of India – ‘Drive against illegal travel agents may not yield desired results’

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 04 April 2018. As the bodies of IS victims returned from Iraq, the Punjab government claims to have begun tightening its noose around the travel agents who illegally recruit youths on false promises of well-paying jobs abroad. Those in the trade, however, said the drive could be of little help.

“Till date, the illegal travel agents send youths on visitor visas to Dubai from where they are further sent to other destinations with the help of local handlers,” said a registered recruitment agent from Amritsar, who didn’t want to give his name.

All the travel agents are supposed to get themselves registered under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012 by paying a fee of Rs 1 lakh for ticketing and immigration consultation. However, they don’t need to register for recruitments.

“There will not be any significant change in the scenario. The youths would continue to be tempted to go abroad, and illegal travel agents will also continue to exploit them,” said sources, adding that only safe way for the youths to go abroad was through registered recruitment agents having certificates issued from the Union ministry of external affairs.

Pathankot deputy commissioner (DC) Neelima told TOI that with the efforts and awareness drive by the administration, number of registered travel agents had risen from earlier two to six.

“The no objection certificate (NOC) issued by district administration doesn’t allow them to recruit people but only for ticket booking or facilitation for visa,” she said.

Gurdaspur DC Gurlovleen Singh said the administration had also disposed of pending applications for the registration of travel agents and claimed that no agent would be allowed to operate illegally.

The Times of India – Rahul calls for compassion and brotherhood – Union minister asks what about 1984 anti-Sikh riots

New Delhi – India, 31 March 2018. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday in a tweet quoted remarks of West Bengal’s Imam Rashidi and Delhi’s Yashpal Saxena, who had lost their sons in incidents of communal violence, and made a call for “compassion” and “brotherhood” in the wake of communal unrest in West Bengal’s Asansol.

Union minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal responded to the Congress chief’s tweet by reminding him of his party’s alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“The country saw the ‘love’ and ‘brotherhood’ of the Congress in October and November 1984 when thousands of innocent Sikhs were massacred. Congress talking about ‘करुणा’ (compassion) and ‘आपसी भाईचारा’ (brotherhood)… looks like someone is celebrating April Fool’s Day already!” She tweeted.

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

Earlier today, the Congress chief in a tweet had targeted BJP/RSS accusing them of promoting the “ideology of hate”. Rahul referred to messages of Yashpal Saxena and Imam Rashidi and said that in India “love will always conquer hate”.

Both Saxena and Rashidi had called for peace and restraint after losing their sons in communally motivated incidents of hate.

“The messages of Yashpal Saxena and Imam Rashidi’s, who lost their sons to hatred and communalism, show that in India love will always conquer hate. The foundation of Congress, too, is based on the principles of compassion and brotherhood. We will not let BJP/RSS’s ideology of hate win.”

Delhi’s Yashpal Saxena’s son, Ankit Saxena, was killed on February 1 by the family of a woman he was in a relationship with. According to Delhi Police, the woman’s family was against their relationship as they belonged to different communities and had told him to end it.

Saxena had urged the people to not politicize the death of his son. “I don’t want an atmosphere of fear against the Muslims. I have no complaint with any religion. Please don’t use me to spread communal tensions,” Saxena had said.

Earlier this week, Asansol mosque Imam Rashidi’s 16-year-old son was killed during communal riots triggered during the Ram Navami processions in West Bengal. “I want peace. I don’t want any more families to lose their loved ones,” the Imam said while addressing a congregation gathered to perform the last rites of his son.

The Ram Navami celebrations on March 25 had turned sour after clashes erupted in various parts of Bengal leaving three dead and several injured. Following the continued violence, Section 144 was imposed in Asansol, on March 28.

The Times of India – Santokh Singh is new Chief Khalsa Divan president

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 26 March 2018. After months of controversies, the 115-year-old Sikh charitable institution Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD ) elected its president, vice-president and honorary secretary during the mid-term polls held at Gurdwara Kalgidhar Sahib situated at the CKD’s headquarters here on Sunday.

Dr Santok Singh was elected as the president. He won with a margin of 10 votes and is considered to be close to ousted president Charanjit Singh Chadha who had been actively extending support to Santokh in the run-up to elections.

Santokh polled 152 votes, his nearest rival Shiromani Akali Dal-backed Rajmohinder Singh Majitha bagged 142 votes while the officiating president Dhanraj Singh received only 65 votes.

Sarabjit Singh and Surinder Singh were elected as vice-president and honorary secretary of the institution respectively.

A doctor by profession, Santokh was the CKD vice-president in 2015 but had later resigned due to personal reasons.

Honorary secretary, N S Khurana said a total of 365 out of 511 members had arrived to participate in the voting process and members, including women, with shorn or trimmed hair were not allowed to cast their vote. However, other non-baptized [non-amritdhari] members of the CKD were allowed to cast their votes despite the directions of Akal Takht otherwise.

As the voting began, a few members raised objections to non-baptized members voting but following a meeting between the supporters of all the three main contenders, it was mutually agreed to allow non-baptized members with unshorn hair or beards to cast their votes.

The office of the charitable institution had run into trouble when an objectionable video of Chadha with a woman principle of a CKD-run school had gone viral on December 26th, 2017. Following this, one of the CKD members had lodged complaint with the Akal Takht to summon Chadha and take exemplary religious action against him.

On December 28th, 2017 the Akal Takht had summoned Chadha to appear before the Sikh clergy and in an unprecedented decision, the Akal Takht Jathedar had announced to keep an eye on Chadha’s ‘chaal chalan’ (character) for two years.

The police had also registered a case against him and his son Inderpreet Singh Chadha had later committed suicide.

The elections for the CKD were highly politicized following intervention of both the SAD (B) and the Congress parties extending support to their favourite ‘groups’. The Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal too had issued an appeal to support Majitha.

Talking to TOI Santokh Singh said, “I feel a huge responsibility on my shoulders. I intend to live up to the expectations with support from the entire CKD members”. He said political group-ism was a media creation only. “We are all one in the CKD,” he said.

When asked about his priorities, he said, “The priority is to make education more affordable.”

The Times of India – UK gets first centre for Sikh and Panjabi studies

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 19 March 2018. The University of Wolverhampton launched a new Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies last week, which will be the first of its kind in the UK.

The Centre will offer PhD and master’s level courses in Sikh studies, as well as continuing professional development (CPD) courses for teachers and managers of diverse workforces such as national and local government, the NHS and the emergency services on Sikh religious literacy.

This will also be the first academically-backed Granthi (priest*) and Giani (scholar in scriptures) training centre in the UK. “There’s a particular issue here in the UK with youngsters as well as their parents’ generation to some extent, that they just can’t really relate to the Bani (Sikh scriptures) due to lack of language and understanding.
Priests* and scholars residing in the UK will work together with those who will be invited to visit from India. Effective communication with youngsters and training in critical analysis of the scriptures will be main focus of the centre’s training programme,” says the director of the centre, Dr Opinderjit Kaur Thakhar. The centre is in talks with gurdwaras in Delhi and Punjab.

It is fitting that the University of Wolverhampton has taken the lead, given that Sikhs comprise nearly 10% of the city’s quarter million population, the second highest concentration of Sikhs in the UK, along with the fact that Punjabi is the second most spoken language in the city.

Brought into existence by the singular efforts of Dr Takhar, a Sikh studies expert at the university, on the back of a conversation she had a year ago with the university’s vice-chancellor, she says the centre has been awaited by the community for nearly 10-15 years.

More like 50 years, says Dr Sujinder Sangha, another Sikh academician who says plans to provide education with a Sikhism context from “playgroup to PhD” were laid as early as the late 60s, but before anything concrete could be created, events back home in Punjab, running up to 1984 distracted people and derailed the project.

Now there are Sikh schools providing primary and secondary education and finally the centre will fulfil the “PhD” part of the original dream.

Dr Takhar’s ambition for the evolution of the centre includes an open access peer-reviewed scholarly journal, an annual Sikh Studies research conference, a public lecture series and research-informed exhibitions.

She hopes to create links with academic institutions across the globe, including India, and names Punjabi University in Patiala, Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Panjab University in Chandigarh and Guru Teg Bahadur Khlasa College affiliated to Delhi University as being on board for exchange programmes and joint research projects.

The centre is a cross-faculty initiative and is linked to almost every department or school in the Wolverhampton University.

The centre will work with the business school around Sikh role models in entrepreneurship, leadership and politics department to look at historical and current involvement of Sikhs in politics, the sociology department to look at Sikh women empowerment and the law school to examine if the law is congnisant of the Sikh way of life, in order to safeguard it.

The funds for the centre are solicited through donations, and the likes of the Sikh Channel have pledged monetary support, along with other Sikh philanthropists who Thakhar won’t name.

The Indian consulate in Birmingham has extended full support to the centre and acting consulgeneral of India S M Chakraborty addressed the audience at the launch of the centre in the absence of the consul-general Aman Puri.

*There are no priests in Sikhi ! If you talk about Granthis and Gianis, the Granthis are almost like pujaris, the performers of rituals. But the real meaning of course is he/she who reads from the Granth/sings from the Granth or explains the Granth.

The Times of India – DSGMC reacts strongly to sentencing of Jagtar Singh Tara in Beant assassination case

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 19 March 2018. Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which is controlled by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), reacted strongly to the sentence pronounced on Jagtar Singh Tara in the case of assassination of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.

The committee juxtaposed it with the failure of the justice delivery system to punish culprits of violence against Sikhs in November, 1984.

In a statement issued on Saturday, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, who heads SAD’s Delhi unit, sought to draw a contrast between the swiftness used against Tara and the failure of CBI and judicial delivery system in prosecuting and punishing those who murdered of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi in November 1984.

“CBI and justice delivery systems act very swiftly when cases are against Sikhs but where does this swiftness disappear when Sikhs are victims and cases and complaints are against people like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath, alleged perpetrators of violence against Sikhs.

Crucial witness against Tytler, Abhishek Verma has been expressing willingness before CBI to undergo a lie detector test but the CBI, which has given a clean chit to Tytler thrice, fails to get his lie detector test conducted. The same CBI acts with eagle eye against Tara,” Manjit Singh GK said.

According to him, the CBI, which failed to get a single culprit convicted for murder, robbery and rape, acts with double energy against Sikhs. It will be a sad day when Sikhs will have to cross the constitutional line for justice. Central agencies should stop treating Sikhs like second rate citizens,” he said.

The Times of India – Gurdwara withdraws MP’s Vaisakhi invite

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 06 March 2018. Relations between Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, who represents Calgary Forest Lawn constituency of Alberta in the Canadian parliament, and some members of the Sikh community appear to be worsening after the episode of controversial motion mentioning “Khalistani terrorism” and “united India”.

With Obhrai facing criticism, the Gurdwara Dashmesh Cultural Society, Calgary, has announced to rescind the invitation sent to him for the ‘Khalsa Day Parade’.

The ‘Nagar Kirtan’ is taken out to celebrate Vaisakhi festival and thousands of Sikhs participate in it. The decision to rescind the invitation was announced by gurdwara president Ranbir Singh Parmar in a congregation on Sunday. The video of Parmar’s announcement is being widely shared on social media platforms.

It was after their intense lobbying with Conservative MPs and Sikh leaders of the party that the motion was put on hold. On 03 March Obhrai posted on his official Facebook page that he had come under attack from a few individuals from the Sikh community “in reference to his stance on the unity of India and on the term genocide”.

The Times of India – Soldier demands action against man who attacked his family

Shri Puri

Dharamshala – Himachal Pradesh – India, 2 March 2018. The Himachal soldier posted with the Sikh Regiment in Jammu and Kashmir, who had taken leave from duty to be with his family attacked by a man of the same village a month ago, has again demanded arrest or action against the accused.

While the police had registered a case and a recovered blood-stained axe from the spot, the accused has not been arrested on grounds of mental illness.

Sohan Singh had returned home on leave to “protect” his family after a government employee had attacked his elderly parents and wife.

“I can’t stay for long with my parents. Accused is still moving free, I demand at least some action against him to make him fearful of committing crime again.

The government should suspend him if he is mentally ill,” he said, adding that accused was a repeat offender and police had been informed of threat from him even before the incident took place.

Singh said the accused initially escaped arrest after getting himself admitted to the government hospital. “Before he could be discharged, he took bail from the court and thus has not been arrested,” he added.

Inquiries revealed that accused Rattan Chand was a government employee with the irrigation and public health department (I&PH).

“He was shown absent from duty for last one month. Despite that no action has been taken against him,” said Sohan Singh, who was going to meet the CM on his visit to Kangra on March 3.

The incident had occurred in last week of January 2018, when Rattan Chand entered the house of the soldier’s family and attacked all of them with a sharp axe.

Superintendent of police Santosh Patial said they had registered the case under sections 307, 452, 323, 506, 504 of IPC.

“We have also recovered blood stained weapon from the spot. The accused is on bail at present. But lawful action would be taken against him in this case” he added.