The Tribune – In Haryana, NRC just a loud thought

Human rights panel’s former chief Justice Bhalla says yet to draw blueprint

Sushil Manav, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Haryana – India, 16 September 2019. A day after Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Haryana with Justice (Retd) HS Bhalla on board, the latter today said the idea was just a loud thought so far and the blueprint of the NRC was yet to come up.

Justice Bhalla, a former chairman of the Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC), said that though the CM had discussed the issue with him on Sunday, people would have to wait for some time for the finer details of the proposed NRC.

“From my discussions with the CM, I have gathered that the Haryana Government wants to provide identity cards to all families in the state. Assam is the only state in the country to have implemented the NRC so far, where the issue of foreigners is a cause for concern.

Haryana does not seem to have any such issue. The discussion the CM had with me on this issue yesterday was more of a loud thought. So, wait for sometime before I am able to provide the exact contours of Haryana’s plans,” said Justice Bhalla.

Contacted by The Tribune today, Khattar said the issue of foreign nationals settled in various parts of the country was a cause for concern for all states, and not merely for some.

“Though the number of foreign nationals in Haryana is not very large, but still we need to have in place a mechanism to identify them. This is an issue of national security and safety,” Khattar added.

The Opposition parties in Haryana, however, are not amused with Khattar’s announcement, as most of them have termed this as a ploy to divert attention from real issues. State Congress president Kumari Selja today alleged that the BJP government in the state had no other issues to talk about, hence it had raised this issue.

“During their five years in office, they have done nothing which they can talk about during the elections. People want jobs, development and business and not the NRC,” Selja added.

Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked: “If the BJP government wants to put in place a mechanism for this purpose now, were they sleeping all these five years?”

Dushyant Chautala, convener of the JJP, however, welcomed the announcement, though he said it was needed more in Punjab, J&K, Bihar and other states sharing boundaries with other countries.

The Tribune – Supreme Court to hear on Monday pleas against abrogation of Article 370 provisions, curbs in J&K

New Delhi – India, 15 September 2019. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday pleas challenging abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, validity of imposition of President’s rule and the related restrictions imposed in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer will be also hearing a bunch fresh petitions, including the one filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking permission to visit his family members and relatives.

Azad, who had tried to visit the state twice after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in Jammu and Kashmir but was sent back from the airport by the authorities, has sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members.

Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference party led by Sajjad Lone has also challenged the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the validity of the state Re-organisation Bill.

Child right activists Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha have also filed a plea against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir since the revocation of special status.

A plea of Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK founder Vaiko is also listed for hearing, in which he has sought a direction to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir to produce former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, allegedly under detention following abrogation of Article 370, before the court.

In his plea, Vaiko has said authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a “peaceful and democratic” annual conference, being organised in Chennai on September 15, on the occasion of birthday of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai.

The plea of CPI(M) Sitaram Yechury who had moved the apex court seeking to see his ailing party colleague Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami is also among the batch of petitions listed for hearing.

The top court had allowed him to pay a visit to Tarigami but with certain conditions and had granted him liberty to file a report on his return.

The plea of Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin seeking removal of media restrictions imposed in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 will also be taken up along with some other petitions.

The Tribune – Archbishop’s apology incomplete: Greater Kailash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 11 September 2019. Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, former chairman of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee (DSGMC), today termed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as incomplete. Welby had apologised for the incident during his visit to Amritsar on Tuesday.

GK said whatever happened on April 13, 1919, at Jallianwala Bagh was on the orders of General Reginald Dyer, on the basis of ideology followed by the British monarchy. He said the British monarchy and government were equally guilty for the incident.

“If Welby is really ashamed of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, will he also apologise for the death sentence given to Udham Singh on July 31, 1940, at Pentonville Jail after killing Micheal O’ Dwyer,” he said.

He further questioned whether Welby would apologise for the conspiracy by the British government to end the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or for the conversion of Duleep Singh to Christianity or for theft of Kohinoor diamond.

British Government must follow suit: Sukhbir

Chandigarh – SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday demanded a formal apology from the UK government for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which led to the killing of more than 400 people. Appreciating the apology offered by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his visit to Amritsar, Sukhbir said it was high time the British government apologised too.

The Tribune – CM seeks fresh tribunal on river waters, writes to Modi

Says groundwater scarce, canals state’s lifeline

Rajmeet Singh – Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 03 September 2019. Even as Punjab got temporary relief today when the Supreme Court gave four more months to Punjab, Haryana and the Centre to find an amicable solution to break the deadlock between the two states over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, the state government has made a fresh bid before the Centre for a reassessment of the volume of river waters.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a fresh tribunal for reassessment of river waters in Punjab. While giving a background of the sensitive issue, the CM, in his two-page letter, has also touched the law and order implications on the sensitive issue.

The CM is reported to have also raised the issue at today’s meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, though there was no official statement on this.

Punjab has been contesting that the availability of surface water has drastically changed over the years and the state is facing a severe shortage of groundwater due to its over exploitation.

Demanding that a tribunal be set up for a reassessment of river water in Punjab, including the Ravi-Beas basin, Punjab has stated that it has been 30 years since the assessment of Ravi-Beas waters was done by the Eradi Tribunal (set up in 1986).

The amount of water coming in the basin has fallen drastically, hence the need for its reassessment. Initially estimated at 17 MAF (million acre feet), the Eradi Tribunal had put its estimates at 19 MAF. Now, the flow in the rivers has come down from17.17 MAF to 14.34 MAF.

The state has stated that in case the canal was constructed, 10 lakh hectares of agricultural land in Punjab would turn into a desert. Total agricultural land in Punjab is 105 lakh acres, compared to 80 lakh acres in Haryana.

Besides, the state, at its meeting with the officials of Haryana and the Centre, has staked its claim to Yamuna waters. Punjab argues that if Haryana stakes claim to water on the plea that it was also a part of Punjab before reorganisation in 1966, then Haryana should also share Yamuna waters.

As Haryana draws 4.65 MAF through the Yamuna, 60 per cent of it should be shared with Punjab, says the state.

The Tribune – Pakistan Sikh girl in shelter home, ‘her lawyers’ claim she married of her own will

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 31 August 2019. The police in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Saturday claimed six persons had been booked in connection with the alleged forced conversion to Islam and marriage of a Sikh girl.

Her family, meanwhile, reiterated their demand that she be restored to them, even as has she has been sent to a shelter home on court orders.

The police also claimed the girl’s lawyers had submitted in court that she had converted and married of her free will.

The 19-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and forcibly converted to Islam before being married to a Muslim man in the country’s Punjab province. Muhammad Jamil, Nankana City Police Investigation Officer, told PTI that an FIR had been registered against six persons in the case.

There were also media reports that quote her brother as saying that “neither our sister has been returned to us, nor has any arrest been made.”

The family of the girl, in a video message, had earlier claimed that the girl had been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam and sought Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s help.

The police claimed to have arrested one of the suspects, identified as Arsalan, a friend of prime accused Mohammad Hassan, who married the Sikh girl.

“Arsalan facilitated Hassan in getting him married to the girl,” the police said, adding that Hassan was on pre-arrest bail and could not be arrested. They said Hassan and the girl lived in the same locality.

“They developed a love affair, and the girl decided to elope with him to contract marriage,” he said.

Police officer Muhammad Jamil said the advocate of the girl, identified as Jagjit Kaur, in her statement before the court had declared that she had embraced Islam and married Hassan of her free will.

The official said that the girl, through her lawyer Sheikh Sultan, had rejected her family’s allegations. Sultan said he had also filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the local police and her family on behalf of the girl.

As per the directions of the court, the girl has been sent to Darul Aman, Lahore, a shelter home.

Earlier, a video of the girl at the wedding ceremony had gone viral, in which she is seen sitting beside Hassan and saying that she was marrying him without any pressure.

India on Friday said it had raised with Pakistan the issue of the Sikh girl’s forced conversion to Islam and asked for “immediate remedial action”.

The government in Pakistan’s Punjab province has constituted a high-level panel to negotiate with the 30-member committee formed by the Sikh community in connection with the case.

Prime Minister Khan had in March ordered a probe into reports of abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of two teenage Hindu girls in Sindh province.

The two girls were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi.

I am trying to keep an open mind, abductions of Hindu and Sikh ‘girls’ do happen, but sometimes young women  elope with a Muslim man and convert and marry him of their free will.
Man in Blue

The Tribune – Pakistan to finish Sikh pilgrims’ visa process for Nankana Sahib by 30 September.

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 August 2019. Pakistan will start a month-long visa process starting September 1 for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries who plans to attend the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.

The decision was taken on Wednesday by the Religious Tourism and Heritage Committee (RTHC) during a meeting chaired by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar at the Governor’s House.

“The visa process for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries will start from 01 September and complete by 30 September in connection with the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak on November 12,” Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said.

Talking to reporters at the Governors’ House, Sarwar said: “Pakistan will complete the Kartarpur Corridor Project by November regardless of India’s willingness to work on it or not. The Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan will be facilitated in every way.”

He said the work on setting up a ‘tent city’ in Nankana Sahib would begin next week and funds had been provided for the completion of a road from Sacha Sauda to Nankana Sahib and work on the project would begin shortly.

Special shuttle service will be launched from the Wagah railway station to the birth place of Baba Guru Nanak.

Pakistan and India are still discussing the modalities regarding opening of the corridor at Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, for Indian Sikhs on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

On Sunday, Pakistan said that they are committed to complete Kartarpur Corridor, despite tense ties with India.

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to the PM Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Kartarpur is a sacred place for Sikhs and is the perfect example of interfaith harmony.

“Irrespective of India-Pakistan relations Pakistan’s doors are open to Sikh pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur,” Awan said on Sunday.

The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

The Tribune – India-Pakistan tension may hit Gurpurb festivities

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 August 2019. The tension between India and Pakistan may take a toll on the joint celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Though the SGPC, DSGMC and SAD (Delhi) have planned cross-border pilgrimage and religious processions to commemorate the occasion scheduled in November, looking at the rising tension, especially after the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, the enthusiasm appeared to have been dampened on both sides.

Though the Pakistan authorities had earlier announced to grant around 10,000 visas for pilgrims, the SGPC has received just around 1,300 applications for a jatha to Pakistan.

Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society, which organises the pilgrimage, too, received just 400 applications and the DSGMC has got only a few applications.

SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh said the final decision on the jatha would be taken as per the situation prevailing in November. Recently, the SGPC has taken out a nagar kirtan that started off from Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib before entering to India through the Attari-Wagah border.

An official of SGPC said there were at least 3,000 applications for jathas that were scheduled for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary in the past, but now the enthusiasm had decreased.

Bhai Mardana society’s president Harpal Singh Bhullar admitted that the tension between the two neighbouring countries had dampened the spirit among the devotees.

SAD (Delhi) Paramjit Singh Sarna was of view that the nagar kirtan would cross over to Pakistan on October 31, but the number of participants might be less.

The DSGMC too plans a parallel nagar kirtan from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi to Nankana Sahib and looking forward to cross over Attari-Wagah border on November 1.

Exhibition on Guru Nanak in United Arab Emirates

New Delhi – India, On the eve of visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE, Vikramjit Singh Sahney, international president, World Punjabi Organisation, presented a painting of Guru Nanak Dev to Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance.

Sheikh Al Nahyan inaugurated an exhibition on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev to mark the 550th anniversary celebrations in Abu Dhabi.

The Tribune – Flooding in Panjab: 2500 in 38 camps; enough food but no facilities

Sardarwala/Mundi Chohlian – Panjab – India, 22 August 2019. With over 38 camps in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts sheltering nearly 2500 persons, the camps which have one doctor on an average face lack of tarpaulins and mattresses with displaced people sleeping on floors, in classrooms or in open, at night.

Though langar is aplenty, they face lack of medicines and other amenities such as soap, oil, brushes, clothes etc.

In Jalandhar, 1025 persons have been housed at eight camps in Shahkot, of which one closed today after being flooded, 751 have been housed in 18 camps at Phillaur and in Kapurthala 600 were housed in six camps (all of which will be shut tomorrow onwards).

The Kapurthala administration said it would now send special relief teams. At least two camps in Kapurthala and one primary camp in Jalandhar at the Nahal village were shut after being flooded.

Many people are putting up at gurdwaras and homes of do-gooders.

Nearly 500 persons displaced in Lohian have been housed at the relief camp at Lohian Khas alone. The camp has people from 10 villages. With the Nahal village camp shut today, all have been shifted to Government Senior Secondary School in Lohian Khas, which is now overcrowded.

SDO Khushman Preet Singh, who is the camp incharge, said: “We have 468 persons of whom 28 joined today. We have enough food but other amenities are not sufficient. We have asked volunteers and NGOs to provide more.”

The Tribune – Meeting between Punjab and Haryana on SYL remains inconclusive

Ravi S Singh, Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 21 August 2019. A joint meeting of officials of Punjab and Haryana governments led by their respective chief secretaries which was convened by the Union Jal Shakti Ministry on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal imbroglio on Wednesday remained inconclusive with both sides remaining steadfast to their earlier stands.

Another round of a similar meeting of both the sides is expected to be convened by the ministry within a week.
“The meeting has been inconclusive. Both sides are engaged in talks on SYL,” said Union Jal Shakti Secretary UP Singh.

“The ministry’s role is limited to facilitate meetings between both the sides so that they could talk on resolving the issue as asked by the Supreme Court,” Singh added.

The Punjab legislature’s impugned termination of Agreement Act had junked all agreements to share the state’s river waters with other states.

With regard to apex court’s judgment, Punjab Government has taken the stand that the rivers in the state have shrunk and the state was not in a position to share waters as it had become water-deficit.

The two states have hardened their position following the judgment, resulting in the logjam.

The apex court has listed hearing in SYL issue on September 3 before which all sides will need to firm up their positions.

The Tribune – Most rivers in spate, evacuation begins in 35 Ropar villages

Arun Sharma, Tribune News Service

Ropar – Panjab – India, 18 August 2019. Following heavy rains in the region, dozens of villages in the district are flooded. Keeping in view the deteriorating situation, the district administration has ordered evacuation from 35 villages and other locations on the banks of the Budhki and Sarsa rivers.

While all trains passing through the district were either cancelled or terminated partially, Ropar DC Sumeet Jarangal has ordered to close all private as well as government educational institutions tomorrow. Sources said Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was likely to visit the affected areas on Monday.

At 11 am, over 2.4 lakh cusecs of water was recorded in the Sutlej at Ropar, while its tributaries Swan had 75,000 cusecs, Sarsa 29,000, Budhki 11,000 and Sadhron 13,000.

The rainwater started flooding the area as all the tributaries of the Sutlej swelled to brims during night, trapping people in many villages. As the level of water kept increasing, the district administration ordered to evacuate people from areas near the Budhki and Sarsa rivers.

Several boats driven by NDRF personnel were pressed into service to rescue people from Ranjit Pura, Dahirpur Batarala, Tibba Tapparian and Fandi villages and Gharat Basti of Kiratpur Sahib. Several people could be seen sitting on the roofs of their inundated houses at Khairabad and Bada Phool villages on the outskirts of Ropar.

The rainwater entered the building of the new campus of Indian Institute of Technolgy, Ropar, forcing the authorities to shift students from the ground floor to the upper floors of the hostel.

At Surtapur Mand and Kotla Nihang Tapparian, a bundh on the Sadhraon river was washed away, resulting in flooding of fields and houses.

The affected residents of villages near Anandpur Sahib and Bangala Basti in Nurpur Bedi blocked traffic on Ropar-Nangal and Nurpur Bedi-Ropar roads, respectively, to show their resentment against the state government for not making sufficient arrangements to check floods.

ITI flooded; staff, students stuck

Water from the overflowing Budhaki river on Sunday entered the Indian Institute of Technology (ITI), creating panic among faculty members and hostellers. Students were shifted to the upper floors. They however, lost access to mess due to knee-deep water on the campus. It was not possible for any vehicle to move till the submerged houses. The authorities were looking for the help from the NDRF.