The Tribune – Manjinder Singh Sirsa: Centre has agreed to probe Kamal Nath’s role in ’84 riots

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 15 June 2019. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa today claimed that the Home Ministry agreed to ask the SIT to investigate afresh case against Madhya Pradesh CM and Congress leader Kamal Nath for his alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots.

The SIT was constituted by the Home Ministry to investigate closed cases of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He said the name of Kamal Nath was deliberately not mentioned in the FIR (601/84) registered on November 1, 1984, for killing two Sikhs in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.

Addressing the media, Sirsa said the DSGMC approached the SIT for FIR against Kamal Nath, but due to technical problems the FIR was not lodged. Now the Centre had agreed to initiate an inquiry.

The Tribune – SGPC team asks Meghalaya government to stop Shillong Sikhs’ relocation

Ready to build 6-storey structure for Punjabi Lane residents

Shubhadeep Choudhury, Tribune News Service

Shillong – Meghalaya – India, 13 June 2019. A SGPC team from Amritsar today met Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma here and urged him that attempts being made to “relocate” the Sikh residents of Shillong’s Punjabi Lane must be stopped.

In a memorandum, the SGPC said the Sikh residents of Punjabi Lane were being harassed for the past 20 years in the name of relocation and removal. A fresh attempt is underway, they said.

The SGPC said this would be gross injustice since the Sikhs were staying in this area for over 150 years, a fact which has been acknowledged by the Syiem (the tribal chieftain) of the area.

The SGPC urged Sangma to intervene and direct the administration to refrain from taking any “unlawful action”. The Sikh families, whose forefathers had come here with the British as sanitation workers, have been contributing to the betterment of Meghalaya with their hard work, it added.

Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma is visiting Delhi tomorrow and SGPC representatives will meet him there. The SGPC team said the Home Minister assured full protection to residents of Punjabi Lane. “If granted permission, the SGPC will build a six-storey building for the Punjabi Lane residents,” SGPC’s Bhagwant Singh said.

The Tribune – Ensure safety of Sikhs in Shillong: SGPC to Centre

The SGPC has appealed to the Union Home Ministry for ensuring the safety of the Sikhs in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 11 June 2019. Following the threat by the banned organisation Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Sikh body Harijan Panchayat Committee in Shillong has also approached Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma for the safety of the Sikh families who have been residing there for the past two centuries.

Ironically, the Shillong Municipal Board has also served a notice on the Sikh residents of Harijan Colony to establish their ownership rights or vacate the place. A few days back, HNLC activists had threatened the colony residents to face consequences if they dare to contest the municipal board’s notice in the court.

Gurdwara Bara Bazar management committee chief Gurjeet Singh said after the threat, tension had prevailed among the Sikh families as they were attacked earlier too.

The SGPC has decided to send a delegation to Shillong.

Gobind Singh Longowal, SGPC president, said an appeal had been made to Home Minister Amit Shah and the Home Secretary too. “The delegation will also meet Meghalaya CM.”

The Tribune – Sidhu being victimised in Congress, welcome to join us: Khaira

Three regional parties of Punjab Democratic Alliance to merge

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 08 June 2019. Stating that Navjot Singh Sidhu was being victimised by the Congress for telling the truth, Punjabi Ekta Party founder Sukhpal Khaira on Saturday welcomed the Punjab minister to join the alliance.

Khaira said the three regional parties of the Punjab Democratic Alliance shall be merged in the coming days. Khaira also sought the stopping of release of Punjab waters to Pakistan.

Addressing the media here, Khaira said in the coming two days, a unity committee would be formed under which all three regional parties of the PDA: Nava Punjab Party, Lok Insaaf Party and Punjbai Ekta Party, shall be merged and will have a common symbol.

Speaking on Sidhu, Khaira said, “He is being victimised by the Congress. He spoke the truth. But due to political understanding between Captain Amarinder Singh and the Badals, he is being targeted.

The Congress tried to insult him. While portfolios of ministers who lost haven’t been changed, Sidhu’s portfolio was changed. We appeal to him to still stick to the truth.

If he bids goodbye to the Congress, he is welcome to join us. We will respect him.”

Before Khaira, the Taksali Akali Dal had also extended invitation to Sidhu a few days ago.

Speaking on unity of PDA’s Punjab parties, Khaira said, “Post elections it is a common request that Punjab’s three regional forces, which are fighting on truth, should get together under one banner. So our call is for ‘Ik nishan, ik vidhan, ik pardhaan’ (one symbol, one principle, one leader).

It has been unanimously decided that a unity committee shall be formed and will decide on the issue. While respective leaders will hold talks in the first phase, we also welcome others to join in.”

Khaira said, “We are also willing to talk to Taksali Akali Dal to expand the alliance.” He said in the larger fight against the Congress and BJP he was also willing to talk to the AAP.

‘Stop release of water to Pakistan’

Sukhpal Khaira said his party and the PDA shall be adopting the Buddha Nullah and starting a cleanliness campaign in the coming days. He also called for the suspending the release of “15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of Punjab waters per day” to Pakistan even as the state reels under a crisis.

He said, “The PDA with the help of various organisations shall be adopting the toxic Buddha Nullah which is leaving a trail of cancer.

We will be carrying out a campaign, wherein research about the industries would be carried out and information regarding polluting industries shall be revealed. He said the campaign shall be expanded to include the river waters of the state which are currently facing a huge crisis.”

Khaira also called for the Congress and Akali Dal to seek pending dues from Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi for sharing waters with them. He said the government had failed to honour the resolution passed in the Vidhan Sabha on November 16, 2016.

“While state’s canals were empty, 15,000 to 20,000 cusecs of water is being shared with Pakistan. This should stopped immediately,” he added.

The Tribune – Even after 3 days of Punjab cabinet rejig, ‘defiant’ Sidhu fails to assume new charge

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 08 June 2019. Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is at loggerheads with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and who got a new portfolio on Thursday, failed to resume his new charge, it was learnt on Saturday.

He is camping in the national capital to have an audience with party’s top leadership.

Hours after the first state Cabinet meeting post the Lok Sabha elections, the Chief Minister on Thursday rejiged the portfolios of most of the ministers, including Sidhu.

Barring four ministers, there were some changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation, which the Chief Minister said would help to further streamline the government system and processes and bring more transparency and efficacy to the various departments.

Local Government was earlier with Sidhu, who now gets Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources.

His other portfolio of Tourism and Cultural Affairs was also taken over by the Chief Minister.

Almost all ministers, except Sidhu, have assumed the new office, a senior government functionary told IANS.

Since Congress President Rahul Gandhi is on his first trip to Wayanad after a victory at the seat in the Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu is likely to meet Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in a day or two, a senior party leader said, requesting anonymity.

He may also wait till the return of Gandhi to New Delhi, he added.

He and his former legislator wife Navjot Kaur have not reacted to the media since Sidhu was divested of his portfolio.

A defiant Sidhu, in fact, skipped a Cabinet meeting on Thursday and declared later that he cannot be taken for granted.

This was the first meeting of the Cabinet after the Lok Sabha elections, and the Chief Minister set a deadline for the completion of his government’s flagship programmes within six months.

This was the second time in a week when Sidhu boycotted a crucial meeting in evident protest.

Earlier, Sidhu was absent from the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting chaired by Amarinder Singh here last week.

Missing no opportunity in taking a jibe at Sidhu after the portfolio reallocation, Akali Dal president and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted: “He has been given ‘power’ so that Sidhu can perform and achieve the same results in rural areas too.”

The Tribune – Mirwaiz for resumption of India – Pakistan talks

Tribune News Service

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 05 June 2019. Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Wednesday called for the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan. “Confidence-building measures can be a starting point for the resolution of all issues amicably,” he stated.

Delivering the Eid sermon at the historic Jamia Masjid in the old city’s Nowhatta area here, Mirwaiz said, “Such measures could be a starting point which will pave the way for resolution of all issues amicably, including long-standing Kashmir issue, which is lingering for the past 70 years”.

Mirwaiz reiterated the stand of Kashmiri leadership to help bridge the divide between India and Pakistan, which was “imperative for the resolution of Kashmir issues and to devise a mechanism for dialogue and deliberations”.

“The Kashmir issue needs a peaceful and political solution. We are ready to extend a helping hand and support a peaceful dialogue between the two countries,” he maintained.

Demanding the opening of the traditional routes to facilitate travel and trade and the contact between families and friends of divided parts of Kashmir, Mirwaiz said: “All natural routes of divided Jammu and Kashmir should be reopened so that people are allowed to connect to their loved ones”.

He hoped that New Delhi’s new ruling dispensation would take positive steps for the resolution of the basic political problem in the state and would work for its redressal to end uncertainty once and for all.

Meanwhile, Eid-ul-Fitr, like in other parts of the country, was celebrated with religious gaiety and fervour across Kashmir.

The largest gathering of men and women to offer Eid prayers was witnessed at the historical Jamia Masjid, Srinagar. Special arrangement was made by Auqaf Anjuman Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, to facilitate devotees who came from different parts of the Valley to offer prayers on the occasion.

BSF, Rangers exchange sweets on LoC

Jammu/Rajouri – The Army and Border Security Force (BSF) exchanged Eid greetings and sweets with their Pakistani counterparts at different locations along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday.

The BSF and Pakistan Rangers greeted each other and exchanged sweets on the International Border of Jammu in Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, RS Pura and Pragwal sectors. “The border forces are committed to maintaining peaceful atmosphere and harmonious relations,” a BSF spokesperson said.

In Poonch, the Indian and Pakistan armies exchanged sweets at Chakan Da Bagh on the LoC. The gate was opened for about 5 minutes at 11.30 am. A six-member Indian side was led by Major Vignesh while Pakistan army’s team was led by Captain Idrees.

Last time, the sweets were exchanged in August and November last year on the occasions of Eid-al-Azha and Diwali festivals, respectively. “No sweets were exchanged on the occasion of India’s Republic Day on January 26 as the Pakistan army had resorted to heavy firing with small arms and shelling by mortars from January 24 and 27,” said sources.

The Tribune – Corridor to be ready by September – Vijay Inder Singla

Gurdaspur – Panjab – India, 01 June 2019. State PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla today said the construction work of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor will be completed by September 30.

He said 25 per cent of the construction work of the passage that will link Dera Baba Nanak and Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab province had been done.

During his visit to the site. Singla said all four state highways leading to Dera Baba Nanak would either be widened or four-laned before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in November this year.

Cabinet Minister and Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa apprised Singla of the problems pilgrims travelling to the town may face if the roads were not widened. (TNS)

The Tribune – Amarinder still Captain of the ship, SAD finding its way, AAP lost

Congress ahead in 69 Assembly segments, Akali Dal in 24

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 May 2019. Parliamentary elections in Punjab are always considered a referendum on the performance of the political party in power, since these elections happen midway through the term of the state government.

An Assembly segment-wise analysis of results of the Lok Sabha elections in the 13 parliamentary constituencies here reveals that the Congress still has a lead in 69 Assembly segments, way up the majority mark of 58 seats in the Assembly.

Though the party is short of lead on just eight Assembly seats as compared to 77 seats it won in 2017, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is already taking note of it while admitting yesterday that the party did not perform well in urban pockets.

He is not just recommending a change in the portfolio of the Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to ensure speedier compliance of development works, but is learnt to have told his officers to come up with new innovative ideas to woo the urban voters and not cede any political space to his rivals.

While the news is good for the Captain Amarinder Singh government, it is not too heartening for either the SAD or AAP. If these results are to be analysed Assembly segment wise, the SAD has a lead in just 24 segments (as compared to 15 seats it won in 2017 Assembly polls). The party has won just two (Bathinda and Ferozepur) of the 10 parliamentary seats it contested and 14 of the Assembly segments it has managed a lead in are in these two constituencies.

In the Majha belt, the SAD has managed a lead in just one segment and in just three segments in Doaba. Other than the nine segments of Ferozepur and five of Bathinda, the party has managed a lead in just six other Assembly segments of Malwa, including Gidderbaha (represented by Congress candidate from Bathinda in this election, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring). The impact of sacrilege incidents of 2015 has been felt maximum in the Malwa and Majha regions.

The AAP that had won 20 seats in 2017, now has lead in just seven segments, all in the Sangrur parliamentary seat. The party has failed to make a mark in any other part of Punjab. Hit hard by the rebellion and split, the party could not get lead in most constituencies represented by its MLAs, Kharar, Talwandi Sabo, Sunam and Bathinda (Rural) to name a few.

On the other hand, the results have come as good news for the BJP. The party contested on three parliamentary seats (27 Assembly segments) and has taken a lead in 11 segments, all in the two seats it has won, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the party contested 23 seats, but won just three.

The Tribune – High-stakes battle for Punjab

Captain needs to ensure big win to retain position, Sukhbir to revive SAD

Ruchika M Khanna, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 May 2019. It’s a direct fight between the Congress and SAD-BJP in 12 of the 13 constituencies in Punjab, which go the polls on Sunday. The Congress is grappling with anti-incumbency and the Akalis sacrilege ‘taint’, even as the voter is unusually quiet.

This Lok Sabha election is a litmus test for both Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. For Captain Amarinder, an impressive tally will help him retain his position as the undisputed leader of the Punjab Congress, especially when his minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and former PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa are pointing a finger at him.

For Sukhbir, a creditable performance is necessary to revive his party that suffered an ignominious defeat in the 2017 Assembly elections. He and his wife Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal are contesting from Ferozepur and Bathinda.

Sangrur is the only seat where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in the reckoning. Here AAP state chief Bhagwant Mann is locked in a triangular fight with Congress’ Kewal Singh Dhillon and SAD’s Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Gurdaspur, Patiala, Bathinda and Ferozepur seats are expected to see a keen contest. The fight in Anandpur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib will be interesting too.

This has been a campaign high on rhetoric and optics with Congress and BJP top guns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi – holding impressive rallies in support of party candidates.

What was unique in these elections was assertive voters posing uncomfortable questions to candidates, demanding greater development and more jobs. On the back foot initially over the 2015 sacrilege incidents, especially in Malwa, the Akalis managed to bounce back by raking up the anti-Sikh riots, making it a 1984 versus Bargari contest.

Observers fear that a ‘disconnect’ between voters and candidates could mean only dedicated cadres of each party reaching the polling booths with fence-sitters choosing to abstain.

The Tribune – PSGPC approves Guru Nanak anniversary coins, stamps

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 16 May 2019. A Pakistan Sikh committee has approved the design for the commemorative coins and postage stamps which will mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November, according to a media report.

The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) on Wednesday said during a meeting that one side of the coin will have the image of Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib, while the other side will have the words Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the number 550, The Express Tribune reported.

The postage stamps, which will be worth Rs 8 and could be used commonly, will also have the image of Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib and the number 550.

The PSGPC expressed their satisfaction over the preparations made by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB). For the Sikh pilgrims who will come to the country from across the world makeshift tents will be set up in Nankana Sahib and could accommodate 25,000 pilgrims, the report said.

The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace is Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistani town of Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about 4 km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

Pakistan has committed to open the corridor in November this year on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

EPTB chairman Dr Amir Ahmed assured PSGPC officials that all arrangements will be completed in time for Guru Nanak Devji’s 550th birthday.

Sikh pilgrims from all over the world will be welcomed and provided accommodation and security, he said. He added that special trains will also be made operational for the pilgrims.