The Tribune – ‘Was removed arbitrarily’

Non-committal on taking up new assignment in Jind

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 22 April 2017. While Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has maintained a studied silence, Takht Damdama Sahib’s acting Jathedar Bhai Gurmukh Singh termed his unceremonious removal ‘an arbitrary decision taken by the SGPC to please the Badals.’

Committee chief Kirpal Singh Badungar at a meeting at Fatehgarh Sahib had yesterday removed Singh for violating ‘maryada’ by issuing controversial statements.

Meanwhile, Bhai Gurmukh Singh went to perform prayers at Akal Takht this morning but before he received any official communication of his removal, the SGPC withdrew his official vehicle.

He refrained from commenting if he would be joining his new assignment as head priest* of Gurdwara Nauwin Patshahi Dhamtan Sahib in Haryana’s Jind district. “I still expect a positive response from the SGPC chief to give me fair chance to present my point of view,” he said.

He emphasised that the decision to remove him was solely at the behest of political bosses (referring to the Badals).

“I was not mentally prepared for this. It was principally wrong on the part of the SGPC to announce my unceremonious removal unilaterally. Had there been any violation of ‘maryada,’ the committee chief should have formed a panel to scrutinise it before coming to any conclusion.

Anyway, the issue is now beyond our reach and will only aggravate the crisis in the Sikh community”, he added

After the Panj Pyaras fiasco, Bhai Gurumukh Singh became another casualty for raising his voice against the flip- flop decision of exonerating controversial Dera Sirsa head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the 2007 blasphemous act.

*There are no Sikh head priests, nor ordinary Sikh priests !

The Tribune – Sukhbir mum on Jathedar’s charges

Archit Watts, Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), 20 April 2017. Akali Dal chief and former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal today refused to comment on Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh’s allegations that the SAD and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) top brass had put “undue pressure on him for political gains”.

In a video, Giani Gurmukh Singh had said that SAD leaders had repeatedly asked him not to speak against the SAD over seeking support from Dera Sacha Sauda in the recent Assembly elections.

Talking to mediapersons at Tarmala village, Sukhbir said, “This is an SGPC matter. All Sikh religious issues are handled by the SGPC”.

The former Deputy CM visited the village to attend the bhog ceremony of SAD worker Gurdev Singh, who died recently during a police raid. He presented a turban to the deceased’s son.

On the Congress government’s decision to scrap university status accorded to Amritsar’s Khalsa College, he said, “The new government is resorting to vendetta. The university status was given after due deliberations. When other universities can come into existence, why not this one?”

He accused the government of targeting SAD workers. Sukhbir assured the cadre that the party leadership would stand by them in their toughest times.

“We have formed panels of advocates in districts and the state capital to deal with cases of political vendetta,” he added.

The Tribune – Sikh cabbie in US assaulted; loses turban

New York, 18 April 2017. A 25-year-old Sikh cab driver in the US was assaulted and his turban knocked off by drunk passengers, an incident the police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

The incident took place here early Sunday morning and has left Harkirat Singh, an immigrant from Punjab who moved to the US three years ago, scared.

“I’m so afraid. I don’t want to work,” Singh told the New York Daily News. “It’s an insult of my religion, my faith. It’s horrible.” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: “Harkirat Singh — You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD”.

Last week, Sikhs in the US launched a million-dollar campaign aiming to inform Americans about the Sikh faith amid continuous incidents of hate crime.

Singh said he picked up three men and a woman, all in their 20s, around 5 am from Madison Square Garden. When they reached their destination in the Bronx, they began complaining that Singh had taken them to the wrong address.

The passengers were allegedly drunk and could not give Singh a straight answer about where they wanted to go, leaving him “confused”. The passengers then began hurling slurs and banging on the plastic partition in his cab, Singh recalled.

Singh told the group to pay $41.76 and find another cab. While the woman gave him the cash after Singh called 911, one of the men got back into the cab and tried to smash the meter. Then he punched Singh in the arm, he said. “After that, he picked off my turban from my head,” he said. “He wanted to snatch my phone also… It was too horrible”.

As the men became violent, Singh got terrified and began to cry, saying he pleaded with the man to calm down. “At that time, I’m so afraid, they can do anything to me. They’re gonna kill me.” With the police on the way, the group ran away from the scene with Singh’s turban.

The incident occurred just hours after thousands of Sikhs had gathered at Times Square for the ‘Turban day’ event organised by a Sikh group to spread awareness about the faith. The report said police sources described the suspect as a clean-shaven white Hispanic man in his 20s, around 5-foot-9. Singh was able to snap a photo of two of the passengers. (PTI)

The Tribune – Dubai gurdwara serves breakfast to 101 nationalities, breaks record

Dubai, 14 April 2016. The gurdwara in Dubai broke the world record for serving free-of-cost breakfast to maximum number of people from diverse nationalities.

Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar entered the Guinness World Record on Thursday for serving continental breakfast titled “Breakfast for Diversity” to 600 persons from 101 countries in an hour-long event in Jebel Ali.

The Khaleej Times reported that schoolchildren, government officials and diplomats attended the event while Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri was the chief guest.

People from different parts of the city flocked to the Jebel Ali Gardens and filled a temporary tent made for hosting the marathon breakfast event.

The officials from the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that the gurdwara broke the previous record of 55 nationalities having continental breakfast, organised by Nutella at Milan Expo in Italy in 2015.

The gurdwara, which is known for serving free meals to all visitors through its community kitchen, caters to over 50,000 Sikh devotees in the United Arab Emirates.

“Sikhism has always embraced diversity as it has been part of our faith and belief, that we are all human beings to be treated with respect,” said Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar.

“The gurdwara has been spearheading charity and volunteer work not only for the Indian community but for the entire UAE community as well. We feel blessed to give in any form, as this is our selfless service to society,” he said.

Talal Omar, Guinness World Records, MENA manager, said: “We are proud to support the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in breaking a fantastic record that brings together people of multi-faiths. We encourage record-breaking activities that encourage all human efforts, particularly those that bring people together.” (IANS)

The Tribune – Fifty-one Dalit women attacked, none got justice, says panel

Probe covers atrocities over right to till panchayat land in Sangrur

Parvesh Sharma, Tribune News Service

Sangrur, 12 April 2017. The three-member committee of the Istri Jagriti Manch in its 20-day investigation claimed to have identified 51 Dalit women who allegedly faced physical attacks and resisted molestation attempts from landlords during their struggle for their share of reserved land from various village common land since 2014 in the district.

The committee completed its investigation last evening and shared the report with the media today. It will discuss its future course of action with some other organisations and start protest for Dalit women’s justice.

“We met hundreds of Dalit women while conducting investigations and found 51 women, who were attacked by policemen and upper caste men while they were supporting their family members in agitation for land.

The police always supported landlords and attacked Dalit women. Despite lodging written complaint, the police did not register case in this regard,” alleged Amandeep Kaur Deol, general secretary of the manch.

In the report, the committee has alleged that the police registered false cases against 116 Dalit women of various villages of the district, including Jhaloor, Balad, Kulara, Beena Heri and Bhado, without any fault.

The committee has given details of many Dalit women with names. It alleged that on June 11, 2016, Harbans Kaur was beaten up by upper caste men and her MLR confirmed 13 injuries on various body parts. Gurdev Kaur’s MLR also confirmed injuries.

Both had injuries on their private parts. Parmjit Kaur of Balad Kalan village suffered injuries during 2014 clash in the village. Savitri of the same village was allegedly beaten up by four policemen.

“The police have always attacked Dalits during clashes rather than playing a neutral role. We will protest to get justice for all Dalit women,” said Charnjit Kaur, a member of the committee.

Sangrur SP (D) Sewa Singh Malhi said their special investigation team (SIT) was conducting detailed investigations in the matter.

The Tribune – Chief Minister hails Centre’s move on SYL meet

Chandigarh, 10 April 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today welcomed the Centre’s decision to convene a meeting of Punjab and Haryana on April 20 to resolve the contentious SYL issue.

He said the question of sharing Punjab river waters with other states did not arise since the state did not have surplus water.

The Chief Minister underlined the need for a fresh assessment of the quantum of riverwaters available with Punjab before taking a decision in the SYL matter.

“To allow the construction of the SYL canal before ascertaining the water availability will amount to putting the cart before the horse,” Captain Amarinder said. (TNS)

The Tribune – 102 years on, Sikh crusader still a criminal in Canada: Panel

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 6 April 2017. Canada-based Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation has been making efforts to get the name of Bhai Mewa Singh Lopoke removed from the list of criminals in Canada. This was disclosed by foundation’s president Sahib Singh Thind, who met Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh yesterday.

“We have requested the intervention of Jathedar Gurbachan Singh in the case of Lopoke, who was hanged for the welfare of the Sikh community in Canada in 1915. Till date, his name is included in the list of criminals,” he said.

Bhai Mewa Singh had raised his voice over racism against Sikhs in Canada. During the period, government representative Inspector Charles Hopkinson, who was threatening Bhai Mewa Singh to step back, was murdered.

In 1915, Bhai Mewa Singh was executed in New Westminster. Thind said: “Though it was a crime as per the Canadian law, Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver, and other organisations across British Columbia hold events every year in the memory of Bhai Mewa Singh.”

He expressed his gratitude over declaring the Komagata Maru passengers as “martyrs” by the five high priests 103 years after the incident.

The foundation was instrumental in convincing the Canadian government to accept responsibility and apologise for the tragic mistake that prevented the Komagata Maru passengers from immigrating peacefully and securely.

The Tribune – Jhinda appears before Akal Takht, awarded tankhah

G S Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 4 April 2017. The Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC ad hoc) president Jagdish Singh Jhinda appeared before Akal Takht to submit his clarification on the charges of dividing the SGPC levelled against him.

On the other hand, his move has invited the ire of his party leaders who termed it as a ‘conspiracy’ to scuttle the interest of Haryana Sikhs. The SGPC had filed a case in the SC and the matter is still pending.

Nonetheless, pronouncing the ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment), Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh directed Jhinda to perform Akhand Path at Gurdwara Chhevi Patshahi in Kurukshetra, cleaning dishes at Sri Guru Ram Das langar hall and offer “degh” (karah prashad) worth Rs 101 during “ardas” for atonement.

On July 16, 2014, the Akal Takht had excommunicated Jhinda, HSGMC’s senior vice-president Didar Singh Nalvi and the then finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha for defying the highest temporal seat and going ahead with the formation of a separate gurdwara panel in the neighbouring state.

Akal Takht Jathedar said, “Jhinda has submitted a written reply and showed his willingness to be taken in the community. The Five High Priests resolved it by pronouncing tankhah, he said.

However, Jhinda said his stand on the HSGMC had not changed. “The matter is listed for hearing on April 7. It should be kept aside from my appearance before the Akal Takht. I am here to apologise today for not adhering to the Akal Takht’s edict of 2014 as the political situation of Punjab and the SGPC were not conducive then”, he said.

Nalvi alleged: “Jhinda has ditched Haryana Sikhs and attempted to scuttle our struggle. It is a pity that being HSGMC chief he has been leading our side in the SC.” – The ‘Sikh Helpline’ Resolves Kirpan Ban Issue At UK School

Sikh24 Editors

Birmingham-West Midlands-UK, 24 March 2017. A school in the Midlands area of the UK had taken steps to refuse a Sikh child from wearing a kirpan. Due to the successful intervention of the CEO of the Sikh Helpline, a UK based charity that offers advice and counselling for a variety of social issues, the school reversed it’s decision.

The school in the central city of Birmingham, were offered a consultation with Giani Sukha Singh, the founder and CEO of the Sikh Helpline, who helped explain the significance of the kirpan for Sikhs.

The organisation also provided legal references to help the school understand the acceptance of the wearing of the kirpan by Sikhs in institutions in the UK, according to UK law.

The Sikh Helpline established contact with school after being contacted by the Sikh girl on their helpline.

The charity has been operating in the UK for over 20 years and the range of assistance offered by the Sikh charity is wide covering the following societal issues:

– Domestic abuse (sexual, physical or emotional)

– Child abuse (sexual, physical or emotional)

– Bullying

– Kakaar issues at school

– Relationship issues

– Substance abuse (including drugs and alcohol)

– Depression and mental health issues.

Due to confidentiality, and in order to maintain a positive working relationship after a successful consultation, the school name has not been revealed by the charity, but the parents of the child have been immensely thankful to the organization.

The Tribune – Water woes worsen as supply to Sirhind Feeder closed

Tribune News Service

Faridkot, 2 April 2017. A three-week closure of the Sirhind and Rajasthan Feeder canals has not only exposed a large area of southwest districts of Punjab to drinking and irrigation water crisis but also laid bare the risk posed by dilapidated canals.

The water supply to the two canals was stopped on March 26 for the repair work at the Harike Barrage. The water supply will remain closed till April 20.

Facing the shortage of water supply for reservoirs and waterworks to further supply it to households, the Water Supply and Sanitation Department (WSSD) in this area has asked people to be economical with the use of water.

K S Dhanju, Superintending Engineer, WSSD, Faridkot, said as there was shortage of water after the temporary closure of the Sirhind Feeder, the residents had been urged to restrict the use of drinking water.

Faridkot needs about 1.30 crore litres of water daily for normal supply. The groundwater in this area has high fluoride content and hence, it cannot be used for washing and drinking purposes.

The closure of water supply has rendered the canals dry, revealing the poor condition of their banks. The relining of 97 km of the Rajasthan Feeder and 100 km of the Sirhind Feeder is pending for the last over seven years.

After the Centre’s approval, a tender was floated on 23 September 2011, for completion of the relining work in four years, but the work never started.

The Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder are two parallel channels off-taking upstream of the Harike Headworks. The Rajasthan Feeder runs through Punjab as a carrier channel to feed the canal system in Rajasthan. The Sirhind Feeder runs through the state to feed command area in Punjab and Rajasthan.