The Tribune – ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ organisers out to reunite ‘parallel’ jathedars

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 14 November 2017. The “Sarbat Khalsa” organisers have initiated efforts to resolve differences between the “parallel” jathedars.

‘Parallel’ jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib Amrik Singh Anjala had yesterday said he and his colleagues had failed to live up to the expectations of those who had appointed them during the 2015 congregation.

Though Ajnala didn’t say he had submitted his resignation, he refused to be part of any meeting scheduled by the “parallel” jathedars and appealed to the Sikh community to find his replacement.

Gurdeep Singh Bathinda, general secretary of the United Akal Dal (UAD), main organiser of the Sarbat Khalsa, said talks were on to bring them all on one platform. “We are organising a meeting so that their differences can be sorted out,” he added.

“Acting jathedar” of the Akal Takht Dhian Singh Mand said the issue was being blown out of proportion. He assured that they would all be together at the Golden Temple soon to deliberate over Panthic issues.

“We never step up an inch without consulting Ajnala on any issue. Had there been any difference of opinion, he could have approached us directly. We will resolve grudges, if any, without any outside support,” he added.

“Jathedar” of the Takht Damdama Sahib Baljit Singh Daduwal said he too had no inkling about any issue over which Ajnala could have a diverse opinion. “There must be a lack of communication between us which led to this confusion.
The meeting scheduled at the Golden Temple on November 13 was postponed due to ill-health of Singh Saheb (Mand),” he said.

Sources said UAD members were in touch with the trio and also held a secret meeting with Mand and Daduwal in Malwa.

It has been learnt that Ajnala was unhappy over the “soft” approach of Mand and Daduwal over certain issues that led to friction among them.


The Tribune – Three gangsters named in FIR for killing Hindu leader

Posters of 14 notorious criminals pasted on toll plazas, ATM kiosks

P K Jaiswar, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 9 November 2017. The city police have named gangsters Saraj Singh Mintoo, Shubham Singh and Dharminder Singh, alias Goli Kazikot, in the murder case of Hindu outfit leader Vipin Sharma. Earlier, the police had registered a case against unknown persons.

With instructions from Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and DGP Suresh Arora to nail the gangsters who are evading arrest, the Punjab Police are conducting raids to arrest them.

The Amritsar (Rural) police today pasted posters containing pictures of 14 notorious gangsters at various prominent places, including toll plazas and outside ATM kiosks. These include the picture of Saraj Mintoo and Shubham Singh, both prime suspects in the October 30 killing of Vipin Sharma.

Parampal Singh Gandhi, SSP (Rural), said posters of the gangsters were pasted in various parts of the rural belt with an aim to get some vital information about their whereabouts. He said raids were also being conducted on various parts of the rural belt to catch them.

Those whose pictures are there in the posters include Vicky Gounder, Gopi Ghanshampuria, Supreet Singh, alias Harry Chatha, Akash Nanded, Dilpreet Singh, Sukh Bhikhariwal, Rinda Sarhalli, Gopi Kaura, Gagna Hatoor, Jailpal Ferozepur, Shubham Singh, Saraj Singh, alias Mintoo, and Prema Lahoria.

The Tribune – After 11 years in Amritsar jail, Pakistani sisters return home

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 2 November 2017. Their prayers were answered after 11 long years as two Pakistani sisters, Fatima and Mumtaz, along with Fatima’s India-born daughter Heena, left for Pakistan via the Attari border this afternoon.

The sisters were arrested at the Attari railway station in 2006 for carrying drugs. They were released from the Amritsar jail in the morning.

Fatima and Mumtaz, along with mother Rashida Bibi, were arrested on 8 May 2006, while they were on their way to Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to meet their maternal uncles.

The three women were sentenced to 10 years and fined Rs 4 lakh. Fatima, who was pregnant then, gave birth to Heena while in jail the same year. Rashida Bibi died of ill-health in 2008.

Local lawyer Navjot Kaur Chhaba fought a legal battle on their behalf. She even approached the PMO in September this year.

Despite having completed the sentence in November 2015, the three had to stay put in the jail transit camp as they were unable to pay the hefty fine imposed by the courts.

Chhaba arranged the money through the Batala-based NGO, Sarbat Da Bhala Humanity Club, on April 7 this year.

Despite that, it took seven months for the Union Home and External Affairs Ministries to clear their release.

Pakistan High Commission counsellor Fauzia Manzoor visited Amritsar in August this year and conferred Pakistani nationality on Heena.

Fatima comes from Gujranwala whereas Mumtaz, who is unmarried, is a resident of Sikanderabad. They had argued in the court that the 400-gram smack seized from a bag in their possession belonged to an unknown fellow passenger who vanished on arrival at the Attari station, but their claim could not be authenticated.

Consequently, the court pronounced their conviction.

As they left Amritsar for Attari, Heena said, “I love India where I was born and received my primary education. I want to become a doctor. I am excited at the prospect of meeting my father, brother and sisters for the first time. If you ask me my nationality, I would say humanity”.

Though Mumtaz showed traces of resentment against the Indian authorities for “implicating them in a false case”, Fatima seemed to have made peace with the situation.

Fatima thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expediting their release and Chabba for tirelessly fighting their case, that too without charging them anything. “Let bygones be bygones. I am happy to be reuniting with my family after more than a decade,” she said.

And their lawyer was on cloud nine. “It is a true ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ for me as I tried so hard to get things going. I am so happy to have won this particular fight”, she signed off.

And as they were given an emotional farewell here, the two elder women had mixed feelings on their return journey – they did lose their mother in jail, but had the satisfaction of a new entry into the family in the 11-year-old Heena.

Sarbat Da Bhala Humanity Club president Navtej Guggu gifted Heena a gold chain having a locket with miniature flags of India and Pakistan, while Chabba bought her pink dress and purse on her demand.

The Tribune – Dal Khalsa wants UN to investigate

Tribune News Service

Bathinda-Panjab-India, 1 November 2017. The Dal Khalsa today took out a march to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This was the first such march here by the radical Sikh outfit.

The Dal Khalsa sought the intervention of the United Nations for international inquiry into the November 1984 pogrom. The call was made at the conclusion of the “Sikh genocide remembrance march” held by the hardliner group to mark the 33 years of the massacre.

Hundreds of activists carrying saffron flags and placards marched on the streets starting from Gurdwara Haji Rattan to Qila Mubarak. Former Takht Shri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Panj Pyaras sacked by the SGPC and Gurdeep Singh Bathinda participated in the event.

Party president H S Cheema said the perpetrators of such inhuman crimes must be reminded of their horrendous actions and the members of the aggrieved community must remain alert forever. “It is for the sufferer to decide as to how to carry forward that bitter past as a reminder to both the victim and the executioner,” he added.

The Tribune – British officers pay homage to the Jullundur Brigade

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 30 October 2017. A little over a century after the Indian Army went into action in Northern France and Flanders during the World War I in October 1914, 12 veterans of British Army here today paid homage to soldiers of Jullundur Brigade who were killed in action. Their names are etched for posterity at India Gate.

Jullundur Brigade Association president Major General Peter Davies today led an Indian delegation, including several veterans who served in the British Army and are now members of the JBA. Members of the association include Lt General Devraj Singh, former Colonel of the Sikh Regiment and Director General (Infantry).

The Indian Corps were among the earliest troops on the Western Front, the very first Indian troops to land on Europe in September 1914 being the XV Sikhs (later 2nd Royal battalion, Sikh Regiment and initially part of the Jullundur Brigade).

The Jullundur Brigade went to war in late October 1914 and fought at the First Battle of Ypres [Ieper], Neuve Chapelle, Givenchy, Second Battle of Ypres [Ieper], Festubert and Loos.

The JBA was constituted in Manchester in 1989. Its founder was late Major General Mohindar Singh Chopra.

The Tribune – Centre lets pilgrims visit Pakistan Sikh shrines

Gurpurb Jatha to leave from Attari on 2 November 2017

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 27 October 2017. Those who wish to visit Pakistan-based Sikh shrines have a reason to smile. After not allowing pilgrimage to Pakistan shrines two times consecutively, the Union Government has given its nod to pilgrimage for celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in November.

The pilgrims will leave for Pakistan through three special trains on November 2 from the Attari railway station. The anniversary is slated for November 4.

Earlier, on the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June, the Sikh pilgrims were denied permission to go to Pakistan by the Indian government citing security concerns.

The SGPC has sent passports of 947 Sikh devotees to the Pakistan Consulate in New Delhi for visa.

Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society president Harpal Singh Bhullar confirmed that the clearance for around 400 members had been received from the government and the call for procuring visas was awaited.

Similarly, 425 pilgrims would be part of the jatha being sent by the Khalra Mission Committee.

The Sikh pilgrims will be directly sent to Gurdwara Sri Nankana Sahib. An akhand path will start on November 2 evening at Sri Nankana Sahib and culminate on November 4.

The Sikh devotees will be sent to Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib (Lahore) on November 5.

Between November 7 and 10, they will visit around six religious destinations of West Punjab (Pakistan), including Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, Gurdwara Rodi Sahib, Bhai Lalo Di Khuhi (Aimnabad).

The Sikh devotees will return on November 11.

The Tribune – Finally, Pakistan sisters to return home on 2 November

Union Home Ministry okays repatriation

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 26 October 2017. Pakistani national Fatima Bibi, her daughter Heena (11) and sister Mumtaz lodged in Amritsar Jail are set to reunite with their family after a span of over a decade.

The documents for their repatriation have been furnished by the Union Home Ministry and they will be allowed to cross over to Pakistan on 2 November through the Attari-Wagah Joint Check Post.

Heena will see her native place for the first time as she was born in the jail in 2006. Her mother Fatima was pregnant when she along with Mumtaz was caught in a drug case.

The 10-year-jail sentence awarded to Fatima and Mumtaj was completed in November 2015, and the fine of Rs 2 lakh each was also furnished. The issue involving Heena’s nationality was resolved lately. Still, their repatriation was put on hold for the want of NoC from the Union Home Ministry.

Local lawyer Navjot Kaur Chabba came to their rescue. Navjot, who also runs Society for Women Empowerment and Green Cause, arranged the penalty amount of Rs 4 lakh through Batala-based NGO Sarbat Da Bhala Humanity Club.

Navjot had also approached PM Narendra Modi to facilitate the Pakistani women’s repatriation as their case was shuttling between the offices of Union Ministry of External Affairs and Home.

“No matter how long it took, I am happy that Heena will see her family for the first time in Pakistan. I am informed by ADGP (Prisons) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota that all formalities have been completed and they will be repatriated on 2 November,” she said.

Fatima belongs to Gujranwala, while her sister Mumtaj, who is unmarried, is a resident of Sikandrabad. On 8 May 2006, they boarded the Samjhauta Express for Muzaffarnagar (UP) to visit their maternal uncles, but were arrested at the Attari Railway Station for possessing drugs.

Though they had argued in the court that the 400-gm smack seized from their compartment belonged to a fellow traveller, the court had pronounced them guilty.

The Tribune – Akal Takht edict supreme: SGPC

Fatehgarh Sahib-Panjab-India, 24 October 2017. Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC president, has said anyone can follow the teachings of Gurus and celebrate Gurpurbs, but “hukamnamas” (edicts) of Akal Takht are supreme for the Sikhs; so no Sikh, including a Jathedar, can dare violate them.

His remarks come against the backdrop of RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat celebrating 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in Delhi tomorrow.

Badungar was speaking at a seminar organised at Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University here today. “Everyone should celebrate the occasion, but the RSS has a hidden agenda. The SGPC stands by Akal Takht’s 2004 edict, asking Sikhs to remain cautious of the activities of the RSS and its affiliate,” he said.

How do government appointed jathedars without jatha fit into the concept of
Guru Panth – Guru Granth ?

Answer: these jathedars of buildings do not fit in at all,
they are a direct negation of Guru’s hukam

Man in Blue

The Tribune – SAD image to blame for bypoll loss: BJP leaders

Say people have not forgiven Akalis for their ‘acts’

Vishav Bharti, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 22 October 2017. While reviewing the defeat in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-election, the BJP leadership found that it was due to the fact that “the people of Punjab have not yet forgiven the SAD”.

A review meeting was held here today under the chairmanship of state president Vijay Sampla. More than 20 core group members, former state presidents and former ministers were present.

Party sources said the view of holding SAD responsible for the defeat was first expressed by a former cabinet minister who also served as the state party president for several years. He said the defeat margin in SAD stronghold was much higher than in BJP-dominated areas.

“Almost everybody present in the meeting agreed to the point that in past six months, not much has changed in the people’s perception about the Akali Dal,” said a former state BJP president. He said it seemed that the people had not yet forgiven the SAD for its acts during the 10-year rule.

The view was later vouched by the state BJP leadership.

Sources said a former BJP minister from Majha even went on to this extent of saying that the SAD “has become a liability for the BJP in Punjab and it is time to shed that liability”.

Another reason attributed to the defeat was the Congress government’s alleged politics of threat. During a press conference, Sampla said they had reached the conclusion that the main reason for their defeat was the “politics of threat followed by the Congress”.

He alleged that even the polling agents were threatened and many didn’t turn up for duty. “The Congress did not have anything to show in terms of performance, so it resorted to pressure tactics”, he alleged.

The Tribune – Rivals seek to loosen SAD hold on Sikh politics

 Unsettled since dera pardon, high priests struggle to regain credibility

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 20 October 2017. The increasing tension between the official jathedars and the ‘parallel’ ones, nominated at an ‘unofficial’ Sarbat Khalsa in 2015, may well be a proxy war between political parties vying for influence in Sikh politics. But the feud is causing confusion over the Akal Takht authority, undisputed thus far, in matters of religion.

The power play is weakening SAD’s grip on Sikh politics. As the official clergy took flak for Akal Takht decisions, rival Sikh groupings and other parties moved in to try and steer the ‘Panthic agenda’ their way, encouraging activities parallel to that of Akal Takht.

The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (Sikh wing of the RSS) too has become more active. In 2004, Akal Takht had issued directives against the RSS intervening in Sikh affairs. The wing is now organising special programmes to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in New Delhi (October 25).

Some observers believe the RSS may try and approach a section of Sehajdhari Sikhs, who lost the legal battle for voting rights in the SGPC elections.

The recent killing of an RSS ‘pracharak’ in Ludhiana too has added to the tension in the organisation’s ties with the Sikh community.

But observers of Sikh affairs The Tribune spoke to believe the chances of any alternative grouping taking hold of Akal Takht are remote as the process of appointments is well-structured, beginning with the SGPC general body elections. And the next election is not likely before 2021.

Even as the Congress government in Punjab has maintained a silence on the matter, SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar suspects that “parallel jathedars” are being backed by the Congress to create unrest.

Weakening hold

Yet, there is no denying that the official jathedars’ authority among the Sikh masses is eroding, especially after now-ousted Jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh accused SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal of coercing the Sikh clergy to “pardon” the Dera Sacha Sauda chief for his “act of blasphemy”.

Advising the community not to be swayed by the directives of “parallel” jathedars, Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh has announced he will soon convene a meeting of high priests for steps to put a stop to their activities.

The nervousness is only to be expected. The “parallel” jathedars’ heightened activity has led to a curious situation, of the official clergy seemingly following in their footsteps.

There have been multiple instances of Jathedar Gurbachan Singh pronouncing hukamnamas (edicts) similar to those passed by the parallel group only days earlier.

Unofficial “interim Akal Takht Jathedar” Dhian Singh Mand excommunicated tainted SAD leader Sucha Singh Langah and Chhota Ghallughara Gurdwara management member Boota Singh on October 4. Identical decisions were then taken by Akal Takht on October 5 and October 6.

Again, when Mand awarded tankhah (punishment) to Chhota Ghallughara Gurdwara trust chief Master Johar Singh on October 12, Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh issued a similar hukamnama on October 13.

Striking back

A wary SAD-dominated SGPC is not letting pass any act of rebellion without retribution. Giani Gurmukh Singh, who had questioned the SAD president’s visit to Dera Sacha Sauda and had also spoken against the high priests’ closed-door meetings, had to lose his position as Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib.

Subsequently, he indirectly gave recognition to the sacked Panj Piaras (dismissed for challenging the authority of jathedars in the dera case) by appearing before them.

He had been summoned by them as he was among the then five high priests who had granted ‘pardon’ to the dera chief.

As Gurmukh Singh also contended that the Badals were targeting high priests who did not follow their politically motivated dictates, he was moved to a Jind gurdwara. Recently, the SGPC tried to evict his family from the official residence allotted to him in the Golden Temple complex.

Before Gurmukh Singh, his predecessor Balwant Singh Nandgarh was dismissed in 2015 for protesting against amendments in the original Nanakshahi Calendar. With none of the various interests gaining a clear upper hand, the battle for official as well as moral ascendency in Sikh affairs is not likely to be resolved any time soon.

There are no Sikh priests, no high ones and no low ones !
The present jathedars without jatha have no link with any Sikh tradition
Historically there was only one jathedar, the jathedar of the Budha Dal
He was in charge of the Akal Takhat and issued hukamnamas on behalf of the Sarbat Khalsa
Man in Blue