The Tribune – Marathon runner Fauja Singh’s biography Turbaned Tornado is all set to become a biopic

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 January 2021. A story that necessitated the collaboration of three creative powerhouses, namely Omung Kumar B, Raaj Shaandilyaa and Kunal Shivdasani, is now all set to see the light of day.

Pooling their individual sensibilities together, the three filmmakers announced the film Fauja, which is based on the book titled Turbaned Tornado written by Khushwant Singh on the 109-year-old Fauja Singh (better known as the Sikh Superman), who stunned the world with his age-defying energy and shattered world records as a marathon runner.

Directed by Omung Kumar B, the biopic chronicles the life of Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathon runner whose rollercoaster journey is an inspiring one.

Author’s take

Chandigarh-based author Khushwant Singh shares his joy as his biography Turbaned Tornado is now being made into a movie. “I am feeling honoured and humbled at the same time.

I am happy that my efforts to bring recognition to the Punjabi community are paying off. Another novel of mine, Maharaja in Denims, is picked up for a Bollywood motion film by producer Guneet Monga.”

The author, who belongs to Hoshiarpur, conveys that there’s no city small or big for artistes to grow if one believes in the creative power of their mind and express it through the medium of their choice.

Recalling the time he met Fauja Singh, he adds, “There was never a dull moment with him. He is high on humour and energy. Rest assured, the audience will come face to face with the spirit of life with this movie and learn the value of fitness and never giving up.”

The Tribune – Faridkot MP Mohammad Sadiq releases song in support of farmers’ agitation

Sadiq sings that the farmers’ protest will put an end to the “arrogance” of the BJP leaders

Balwant Garg – Tribune News Service

Faridkot – Panjab – India, 22 January 2021. Punjabi folk singer-turned-politician Mohammad Sadiq has lent his voice to a song in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the farm legislations.

Sadiq, who is the member of Parliament from Faridkot, inspires farmers to continue their fight in the song, singing: “Jeeta ge jarur jari jang rakhio (We will definitely win – so continue the fight).”

Starting with a Shabad of Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib, “Gagan damama bajio, pario nisanai ghao (The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; the aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted).”

Ke? Jo mandio surma ab jujhan ko dao (The spiritual warriors enter the field of battle; now is the time to fight).

Starting with a Shabad of Kabir in Guru Granth Sahib, “Gagan damama bajio, pario nisanai ghao (The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; the aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted).”

Ke? Jo mandio surma ab jujhan ko dao (The spiritual warriors enter the field of battle; now is the time to fight).

The song is all praise for Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for calling a special session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to oppose the bills and embolden the spirit of the protesting farmers.

Sadiq sings that the farmers’ protest will put an end to the “arrogance” of the BJP leaders and lay low the pompous pride of the “ruthless who, in connivance with the corporate houses, are demolishing the peasantry in the state.”

The 7-minute 30-secon song has been written by Babu Singh Maan, also known as Maan Maraarhan Wala of Faridkot, a known lyricist of Punjabi-folk songs.

Sadiq’s song was shared on the Facebook page of Punjab Pradesh Congress days after he was trolled on social media for the apparently dozing off momentarily in the Lok Sabha and later on him showing ignorance about the controversial farm bills.

To make a video for this song, drone cameras were used at Singhu border to capture the huge gathering of the farmers. Other than the video of the gatherings, many video clips of farmers being attacked with water cannons and teargas shells and cane charging by the police at Haryana has also been made part of this video.

This song on Facebook has invited over 3300 comments. In some of these comments, Sadiq has been ‘welcomed’ for him returning to his real singing fiefdom, others have attacked him for reacting much delayed.

The Tribune – ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ – Women power to fore against farm laws

Thousands protest in Barnala I Stage sit-in at Jyani’s house

Tribune Reporters

Barnala/Fazilka – Panjab – India. 18 January 2021

To observe ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’, thousands of women today converged on the grain market at Dhanaula town in Barnala and raised their voice against the central farm laws. Protesters said they chose Dhanaula because BJP leader Harjeet Singh Grewal belongs to this town.

“The implementation of black farm laws will further burden the debt-ridden farmers of Punjab and impact the farming community adversely. BJP leaders like Grewal are trying to weaken our protest, and we would not allow that to happen at any cost,” said Manjit Kaur Barnala, spokesperson for BKU (Ugrahan).

Another woman leader, Gupreet Kaur, alleged the BJP-led central government first implemented the farm laws without any consultation with farmers and now its leaders were trying to convince farmers by distorting the facts about laws.

“The central government has been elected not by corporate houses, but the common man. It is hell-bent on destroying the agriculture sector,” alleged Komal Khanauri, BKU (Ugrahan) leader during the event.

Women and other activists of BKU (Ugrahan) from Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Ludhiana, Mansa and Barnala districts participated in protest.

“Our protests at all venues, including New Delhi borders and Punjab, are gaining strength by the day and more and more residents are joining us. We would compel central government to rollback the black laws” said Jarnail Singh Badra, general secretary BKU (Ugrahan) Barnala.

In Fazilka, a large number of farmers, including hundreds of women, participated in a massive protest held outside the residence of BJP coordination committee chairman Surjit Kumar Jyani at his native Katehra village to observe ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ today.

The protest was led by BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan. After the failure of several rounds of talks with the central government, all factions of the BKU have decided to observe ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ to honour women for their incredible contribution in the protests.

Woman farmer leaders Gurpreet Kaur Jethuke from Bathinda and Kuldeep Kaur from Moga and Khet Mazdoor leaders Krishna Devi and Gurmel Kaur while addressing the gathering alleged that their rights were being snatched by the Centre and the three laws would ruin the farming community.

Kokri Kalan condemned BJP leaders Surjit Kumar Jyani and Harjeet Singh Grewal for their alleged anti-farmer stand. He said the protests against these leaders would continue. He demanded the repeal of the contentious laws, power amendment Bill and stubble pollution related ordinances.

Meanwhile, the farmers also observed a two-minute silence to pay tributes to farmers who have lost their lives during the protests.

The Tribune – Sikh anchor in Pakistan claims threat from brother’s killers

G S Paul – Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 15 January 2021. Pakistan’s first turbaned Sikh television anchor Harmeet Singh has complained about receiving threat calls from the Peshawar jail, where the murderers of his brother Parvendar Singh are lodged.

Parvendar (25) was shot dead by contract killers hired by his fiancée Prem Kumari on 04 January last year. His body was found in a drain on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Talking to The Tribune over phone, Harmeet said Prem Kumari and her accomplices had recently procured bail from the high court.

Harmeet claimed that since he belonged to a minority community, he feared he might not be able to pursue his brother’s case as the authorities appeared to be going soft on the accused from the majority community.

“Today, I received a call from the Peshawar jail. The man on the other side introduced himself as Mohammad Ibrahim, who had shot my brother.

He threatened me with dire consequences if I did not compromise in the case. I was aghast that he used the jail’s phone to threaten me fearlessly.”

“I have appealed to Pakistan PM Imran Khan and the Chief Justice to take cognisance of the incident as my whole family is under threat,” he said.

The Tribune – 12 police officials dismissed for negligence in protecting Hindu mandir from vandalisation in Pakistan

The government also forfeited one-year service of 33 police officials in connection with the incident

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 14 January 2021. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government in Pakistan has dismissed 12 police officials following an enquiry report that found them guilty of “negligence” in protecting a Hindu mandir in the province, which was torched by a mob led by members of a radical Islamist party.

The government also forfeited one-year service of 33 police officials in connection with the incident.

The mandir in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district was attacked on 30 December by the mob after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate its decades-old building.

The mob demolished the newly constructed work alongside the old structure.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Kohat Region, Tayyab Hafeez Cheema had appointed Superintendent of Police (Investigation Wing) Zahir Shah as enquiry officer to probe the incident and submit its report within a week’s time.

Shah conducted the probe against 73 police officials and recommended to dismiss 12 of them from service on charges of negligence and irresponsibility in the discharge of their official duties.

“Keeping in view of the available record and facts on file, perusal of enquiry papers and the recommendations of the Enquiry Officers, they are found guilty of the charges.

They show cowardice – negligence and irresponsibility in the discharge of their official obligations. They failed to protect the Hindu mandir which caused disrepute for the Police department in the eyes of the general public,” the report said.

The report recommended forfeiting one-year regular service of 33 police officials. The officer also recommended writing to the Superintendent of Police, Frontier Reserve Police, Kohat for minor punishment to the remaining 28 personnel.

The 12 police officials dismissed include the station house officer (SHO) and assistant sub inspector of Terri Police Station.

The report said that the mob, under the supervision of Maulana Shareef, assaulted the Hindu mandir in Terri, wherein the mob burnt the said mandir and damaged it without any interruption as a result of which a complaint under various sections was filed in the Terri police station.

Maulana Shareef, who is in judicial custody, is said to have incited the crowd.

“This is highly quite adverse on their part and shows negligence, carelessness and irresponsibility on the part of delinquent hands,” the report said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of MP’s belonging to the minority communities on Tuesday visited the vandalised Hindu mandir.

The Supreme Court has ordered the Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to start reconstruction of the damaged mandir and instructed authorities to recover the money for the restoration work from the attackers whose act has caused “international embarrassment” to Pakistan.

On 01 January, India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the vandalisation of the mandir, saying it expects Pakistan to carry out an investigation into the incident and has asked for sharing of the probe report with it.

According to sources, the Ministry of External Affairs conveyed its serious concerns to the Pakistan High Commission here over the repeated instances of similar incidents and atrocities against the members of the minority community.

“It was also impressed upon the government of Pakistan that this was not the first time the mandir was destroyed. This has been going on since 1997. We also asked for the investigation report to be shared with the ministry,” a source said.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslim residents. They often complain of harassment by the extremists.

The Tribune – Why is AAP scared of Akalis, asks Mohindra

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 11 January 2021. Lashing out at the Aam Aadmi Party leaders for their campaign against CM Captain Amarinder Singh, Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra today said the AAP had become subservient to the Akalis and started leveling baseless allegations against the CM.

Captain Amarinder bolder than Kejriwal

Unlike Arvind Kejriwal, Captain Amarinder has a distinguished record of taking bold decisions even at the risk of losing his chair, let the AAP leaders quote one similar single example of their leader.

He also expressed surprise over the newfound love of AAP for the Akalis. “It is strange and surprising that a party whose leader Arvind Kejriwal tendered an unconditional apology to Bikram Singh Majithia over a defamation suit, is trying to preach political morals to Captain Amarinder,” Mohindra said.

The minister said the AAP leadership in Punjab was now busy trying to wash off the blot of cowardice of their leader. “But let me tell them, they have chosen a wrong course and wrong target as Captain Amarinder’s credibility and reputation is above board,” he remarked.

The minister wondered as why the AAP leadership had stopped speaking against the Akalis even on the farmers’ issue, as they were part of the decision to implement the three farm laws.

“Have you arrived at some subtle understanding with the Akalis or your leader is still afraid of Majithia?” he asked the AAP leaders.

The Tribune – 100 UK MPs write to Johnson over stir

Panjabi Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi urges Johnson to raise issue with Modi

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 09 January 2021. More than 100 MPs, cutting across party lines, in the United Kingdom are signatories to a letter written by Punjabi MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi to Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing concerns over Indian farmers’ protest against the central farm laws.

Dhesi has urged Johnson to raise the issue with his Indian counterpart, expressing hopes of speedy resolution to the current deadlock.

In the letter, Dhesi has stated that many constituents, especially those belonging to Panjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see water cannon, tear gas and brute force used against protesting farmers.

The issue has so galvanised the Indian diaspora community, especially those of Panjabi or Sikh origin, and others who have land or links to farming in India, that thousands of people were engaged in global protests, including in cities across the UK.

He has further stated that a cross-party letter was sent to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to raise the matter with his Indian counterpart.

The letter also states: “You were asked about this issue during the Prime Minister’s questions on 09 December 2020. It seems you misunderstood the question since you made a reference to Pakistan and the need of two governments to settle these matters.

The issue has nothing to do with Pakistan, but is regarding farmers from across India expressing their concern of major corporate houses moving into the agriculture sector, as a result of new laws. Could you please respond to clarify your understanding of this important issue?”

Further, he has claimed: “We believe your January India visit has now been cancelled, but you intend to meet your Indian counterpart soon.

Given the urgency of this matter, could you please confirm that you will definitely convey to Indian PM the heartfelt anxieties of our constituents, our hope for speedy resolution to the current deadlock and also for the democratic human rights of citizens to peacefully protest?”

Other Indian UK MPs Seema Malhotra and Virender Sharma have also signed this letter.

The Tribune – To defuse crisis, Centre plans to turn to Akal Takht Jathedar

Deepkamal Kaur – Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 08 January 2021. With talks deadlocked, the Centre has started roping in heads of religious sects in Punjab to break the impasse on the farm laws.

While Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met Baba Lakha Singh of Nanaksar Gurdwara yesterday, the BJP is now contemplating involving Giani Harpreet Singh, Akal Takht Jathedar, for mediation between the Centre and protesting farmers.

About the proposed mediation, SGPC chief Jagir Kaur said, “Though the ongoing crisis is no way related to religion, it’s up to Giani Harpreet Singh to decide. Moreover, the Centre has a battery of intellectuals who can play mediator.”

BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said by roping in dera heads and priests, the Centre was “trying to play a religious card”.

“If we don’t agree to what the Jathedar tells us, they might say we are not even following the Akal Takht diktat. It’s purely a legal matter and we won’t succumb to such tactics,” he said.

Baba Ram Singh, who recently died at the protest site, too was from the Nanaksar sect. Baba Lakha Singh has been running a 24-hour ‘langar’ at Singhu since the protests began on November 25.

“A farmer himself, Baba ji owns plantations and is also an environmentalist. Our minister told him the government’s point of view and he assured us he will talk to the farmers today, which he has done. We are hopeful his message to the farmers will help defuse the situation,” said Soi.

The Nanaksar sect has its headquarters at Kaleran village in Jagraon (Ludhiana), but has centres across Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and even Canada. It was founded by Baba Nand Singh in the 1920s.

The sect believes in vegetarianism and the followers wear white turbans. Giani Harpreet Singh could not be contacted.

Kamaljit Soi, BJP National Spokesperson

Will bridge trust gap

As negotiations aren’t moving beyond ‘yes’ and ‘no’, we need a third party whom both sides can look up to. There is trust deficit and spiritual leaders can help bridge the gap.

Soi claimed it was tough to come to conclusion on any point with around 40 union leaders, attending talks from the farmers’ side. “It’s terribly cold and even Baba Lakha Singh was of the view that all farmers, particularly women and children, should return home,” he added.

The Tribune – Sidhu does ‘chai pe charcha’ at Amritsar tea stall; targets NDA govt over ‘pro-corporate’ policies

G S Paul – Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 05 January 2021. Amritsar’s famous Giani Tea Stall on Cooper Road here had an expected guest on Tuesday morning with senior Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu landing up at the iconic spot for a “Chai pe Charcha” session with those already present there.

Discarding the chair offered by the stall owner, Sidhu preferred sitting on one of the wooden stools on the adjoining lane on the roadside and insisted on having tea served to customers in ‘glassi’ (glasses) instead of cups.

The passersby, especially the morning walkers, stopped for an interaction with the cricketer-turned-politician.

Sidhu obliged them with an opportunity to click selfies.

The former minister enquired about their well-being and patiently listened to their grievances before taking on the Union Government for allegedly favouring the big capitalists and looting the common man.

“Today, the farmers are fighting not only for their own cause but for the rights of every Indian. The farmers are the flag-bearers of our fight for rights. We must support them.

How could they trust the government’s word-of-mouth assurance which could not fulfil its constitutional commitment under the GST to pay Punjab an increment of 14 per cent every year?” he said.

Citing stats, Sidhu claimed that the total debt upon the Government of India in 67 years (1947-2014) was just Rs 54 lakh crore, whereas under the BJP rule, it got escalated to over Rs 70 lakh crore between 2014 and 2019.

“If you divide by 67 years, the debt upon India rose by Rs 74,000 crore annually, meaning Rs 6,200 crore per month. Since 2014, debt upon India has risen by approximately Rs 7 lakh crore every year, means Rs 60,000 crore every month.

“Consequently, they have increased the burden on every common Indian by ten times. The biggest burden on life is debt, that’s why the traders and farmers have been put under pressure, leading them to commit suicides,” he said.

In 2014, he claimed, the Centre brought a 5:25 scheme that implied that the loan that was supposed to be paid back in five years could be done in 25 years.

“But, it was designed to benefit the big corporate houses only as it was applicable only for loans above Rs 500 crore. The common people do not know about these tactics, that’s why I am here to expose the Centre’s nefarious designs.

These loans are generated through public sector banks that offer common man’s savings, recurring deposits or fixed deposits. Now, in the name of solving outstanding non-performing assets, the government has been allowing corporates to open banks,” he said.

Sidhu said the government is run with common man’s money and every Indian has to pay back through taxes and the GST and demonetisation has broken the backbone of common traders and consumers.

“What is the government doing with your taxes? It is taking away your hard-earned money and handing over the state resources to a few powerful capitalists.

We should not become mute spectators in democracy. We should unite and every Indian has to become political to fight for their rights”, he said.

As someone from the gathering asked Sidhu to come out to lead Punjab and “hit sixes for them”, Sidhu replied, “ I am always there to empower the voice of the people and encourage each one of you to come forward to fight for rights.”

The Tribune – Centre wants to impose President rule in state: Navjot Sidhu

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 03 January 2021. Amid protest against the newly enacted farm laws, former state Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said the BJP-led Centre was creating grounds for imposing President’s rule in Punjab.

He expressed his apprehension through his tweet saying, “There’s no law and order problem in Punjab.
Farmers dying on Delhi’s borders should be the government’s real concern but it is maligning Punjabis and scuttling our democratic voice by projecting us as anti-national to safeguard corporate interests and create grounds for President’s rule.”

In the backdrop, reports surfaced about damage to mobile towers of a telecom firm owned by a corporate house in the state. Following this, the BJP state leadership has accused the Congress of not maintaining law and order in the state.

Meanwhile, dejected by “offensive comments” being used by the BJP leadership against the farmers’ peaceful protest, senior leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal has served a legal notice to Union Minister Giriraj Singh.