The Tribune – Pakistan body wants Bhagat Singh’s statue installed in Lahore

Sanjiv Kumar Bakshi

Hoshiarpur-Panjab-India, 17 January 2018. The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation, Pakistan, has demanded that Shadman Chowk in Lahore, where Bhagat Singh was hanged on 23 March 1931, should be named after the martyr and his statue should also be installed there.

It said the move would serve as a source of inspiration for future generations.

The foundation’s chairman, Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi, told The Tribune over phone that the demand letters had been handed over to the Mayor and Chief Commissioner of Lahore on Tuesday.

He said Shaheed Bhagat Singh was a great revolutionary of the subcontinent and the whole world knew his name. He said even the Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah had praised him by saying that no one as brave as Bhagat Singh was ever born in the subcontinent.

Qureshi said the foundation had requested the Pakistan Government that Shaheed Bhagat Singh should be rewarded with Pakistan’s highest gallantry award, Nishan-a-Haider.

The foundation has put forth its demands saying that Pakistan would be held in high esteem in the world if martyrs were given full respect in the country without any discrimination on religious grounds.

Qureshi, whose foundation is also contesting in Lahore High Court the reopening of the Bhagat Singh trial case, said, “We are completely hopeful that soon, it will be proven in the Pakistani court that the decision of the British Government to hang Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru was wrong.”

Qureshi said, “Bhagat Singh is as much of Pakistan as much as he is of India. He was born in present-day Pakistan, so he is the hero of India and the son of Pakistan.”


The Tribune – Harinder Kaur Malhi is Ontario’s first Sikh woman minister

Lawmaker had moved 1984 ‘genocide’ motion last year

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 18 January 2018. Harinder Kaur Malhi, who had moved the 1984 Sikh “genocide” motion in the Ontario Assembly in April last year, has been given a Cabinet berth, making her the first Sikh woman minister in the Canadian province.

The 38-year-old daughter of Canada’s first turbaned MP Gurbax Singh Malhi was sworn in as Minister of the Status of Women here today.

The decision to elevate Malhi was taken by Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontario goes to the polls in June.

Malhi represents the Punjabi-dominated “riding” (constituency) of Brampton-Springdale in the Assembly, whose members are called MPPs (members of Provincial Parliament).

She joins another Indo-Canadian woman minister, Dipika Damerla, in the Ontario Cabinet.

It is being speculated that because of her “genocide” motion, Malhi can help her Liberal Party retain Sikh votes which may drift to the New Democratic Party (NDP), which has elected Jagmeet Singh as its national leader.

After her “genocide” resolution, many in the Sikh community view her as the champion of the cause in the community. Her party may also benefit from her father’s huge hold over Sikh voters.

As a member of the Ontario Assembly, Jagmeet had also introduced a similar motion on the anti-Sikh riots, but it failed. He was also denied visa to visit India in 2013.

Brampton, on the outskirts of Toronto, has the second largest concentration of the Sikh community in Canada after Surrey (British Columbia).

Malhi’s motion in the Assembly read:

“That, in the opinion of this House… should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish, justice, human rights and fairness, and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”

The motion was passed by 34-5 votes in a House of 107 members.

India had rejected it, calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process.”

Meanwhile, Kathleen Wynne was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper: “The knowledge and skills they bring to these roles will be crucial as we continue our work to create more fairness and opportunity for the people of Ontario.”

“In a changing economy, our plan is about making sure everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead,” she said.

“That’s why it is also important to me that this updated Cabinet continues to reflect both the diversity and the geography of our province,” Wynne added.

The Tribune – Steeped in history, Hussainiwala railway station awaits revival

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, 15 January 2018. Now razed, the Hussainiwala railway station, which once served as the “Gateway to Lahore”, comes to life for two days in a year.

The rail track along the station, which saw the first train chugging between Ferozepur and Kasur (now in Pakistan) on its way to Peshawar in 1885, is used on Shaheedi Diwas and Baisakhi, when the Northern Railway run a special diesel multiple unit (DMU) to ferry people to the “Samadhi Sthal”.

The now-defunct Ferozepur-Hussainiwala rail track was once a hub of trade and military activities.

Hundreds of people from towns like Kasur, Lahore and Ferozepur used to disembark here to work in the mechanical engineering workshop of the drainage department which was situated just across this station.

This track also saw the first run of the Punjab Mail that still links Ferozepur with Mumbai.

Most British troops and businessmen would arrive in Mumbai and make their way to their destinations by rail. This rail line was created for their convenience so they could travel directly to Kasur, Lahore, Ferozepur and Peshawar.
Sources in the Railways said this rail track crossed the Sutlej over 13 round pillars, all of them intact even today, and a double-decker bridge called “Empress Bridge”. All that remains of this bridge today are the two towers on each side of the Sutlej.

The place witnessed several pitched battles between India and Pakistan. “It is unfortunate that due to the vagaries of time and in the absence of care, the historic station has lost its existence,” said Resham Singh of Hussainiwala village, who has been witness to the era when this station used to be abuzz with life.

Resham Singh demanded that the railway authorities should redevelop this heritage station.

The Tribune – Rare Sikh manuscripts to be just a click away soon

Literature at Sikh Reference Library being digitised, will be available online

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 14 January 2018. Access to rare manuscripts, documents, articles and literature belonging to Sikh history and culture will soon be just a click away.

In its endeavour to spruce up its treasures at the Sikh Reference Library established in 1946, the SGPC is now into making its contents available online.

Nonetheless, losing hope of getting back a substantial number of other priceless documents of the Gurus’ era, which were supposedly taken into possession by the Indian Army or CBI during Operation Bluestar, the SGPC has appealed to the people to donate any such documentation related to Sikh history in their possession to enrich the library.

SGPC’s chief secretary Roop Singh said their continuous appeals bore fruit when devotees donated books, documents and rare manuscripts related to Sikhism.

“The digitisation process is under way. Till date, around 80 per cent of our prized possessions have been scanned and digitised. Our motive is to make these available online so that the devotees can access those on their mobile phones or PCs,” he said.

Though it was almost destroyed during Operation Bluestar in 1984, the library still has a mammoth collection of 25,000 books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals on Sikh religion and history, besides 600 handwritten ‘saroops’ (Guru Granth Sahib) and a repository of over 1,500 rare manuscripts, including copies of the Adi Granth, Damdami Bir (dated Bikrami 1739), a number of handwritten Hukamnamas (some bearing signatures of Sikh Gurus), and a few rare documents pertaining to India’s struggle for independence.

In 1984, it was alleged that the library’s material was confiscated by the CBI and Indian Army. While the Army authorities maintained that the library had caught fire during the exchange of fire, the SGPC claimed that the Army deliberately put the “empty library” on fire after taking the rare and invaluable material away in gunny bags.

The SGPC had pleaded with the Defence Ministry umpteen times and even approached the offices of the PM and President to recover the material, but in vain.

Roop Singh said, “Our pleas to return the literature were never heard. If it is believed that the Army or the government has those documents, little care must have been taken to preserve those. Those must have got destroyed by now,” he said.

The Tribune – In Talwandi Sabo, Naam Charcha sparks protest; 22 Premis booked

Gagandeep Sharma, Tribune News Service

Bathinda-Panjab-India, 12 January 2018. Tension prevailed in Talwandi Sabo today when Major Singh’s family, followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda, started Naam Charcha to mark the birthday of his child.

As the word spread, senior police officials deployed heavy force there. They got the Naam Charcha stopped when Sikh youths started converging there in large numbers and took all members present in the house in police custody.

When the Sikh youths reached the police station and demanded a case against them under Section 295-A (intend to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) of the IPC, the police booked 22 dera followers under Section 107/151 (disturbing law and order) of the CrPC.

They were produced in a local court, following which they were released on bail. The next hearing in the case is on January 16.

Meanwhile, Takht Shri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh asked the police and civil administration to make sure that no such incident takes place in the area in future.  said the Sikh Sangat would not tolerate such activities in the area.

The Tribune – Sidhu announces Rs 24 lakh for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial

Mohali-Panjab-India, 10 January 2018. Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday announced Rs 24 lakh for the development of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial in Chappar Chiri here.

Sidhu said the fund would be used for the development of the site as well as the facilitation of tourists.

The memorial was set up in 2011 to acknowledge the valour of the Sikhs in a historic battle with the Mughals.

Sidhu’s visit to the memorial came after the MLA from Mohali Balbir Singh Sidhu demanded sprucing up of the basic infrastructure of the memorial, an official release said.

Sidhu announced Rs 12 lakh on the behalf of Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa for the restoration of the approach road towards the memorial as well as Rs 12 lakh from his own discretionary quota for the beautification of the memorial and facilitation of tourists.

“The Punjab Government will develop historical and heritage sites of the state as tourist hubs to attract tourists from both country and abroad,” Sidhu said.

He said heritage festivals would be revived in the state and his department would hold such festivals in Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda, and Kapurthala.

“The main motive is to create ample employment opportunities through the rich and glorious cultural heritage of the state,” said Sidhu. (PTI)

The Tribune – More protests against FIR, UIDAI officials under fire

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 8 January 2018. Upping the ante against the Centre for the FIR against The Tribune over the Aadhaar data breach story, the media fraternity, farmer unions and political parties today demanded that action should be taken against the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) officials who had failed to protect private data.

Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Khaira said this act of the Narendra Modi government had reminded him of the Emergency, when every voice of dissent was muzzled.

Calling the registration of a cheating case against The Tribune, its Jalandhar-based reporter Rachna Khaira and others as an attack on the freedom of the Press, members of the Chandigarh Press Club and others from the media fraternity held a protest here.

Kuljit Bains, The Tribune’s Chief of Bureau (Panjab), told the gathering how the investigation was carried out responsibly in public interest by the newspaper. He said there had been several attempts to intimidate The Tribune in the past, but the organisation had a long history of fighting back.

“This (FIR) is an attempt to browbeat a journalist who has done a report in great public interest,” said Chandigarh Press Club president Jaswant Rana. Later, a memorandum was submitted to Governor V P Singh Badnore, seeking the withdrawal of the FIR.

In a press release, the Chandigarh unit of the CPI-ML (Liberation) said The Tribune had done a great service to society by telling the common man that the information being given to government agencies was not secure.

The Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) said government agencies had failed to protect sensitive information. It said the UIDAI, on the directions of the Union Government, had tried to make The Tribune the scapegoat in this undemocratic action.

Calling it an eye-opening investigative story, The Tribune Trust Employees’ Union, Chandigarh, stated that instead of appreciating a genuine effort by a fearless and truth-seeking journalist, the Centre was trying to suppress such efforts.

After a meeting of its executive committee, The Tribune Employees’ Union announced to hold a protest in Sector 17 here tomorrow.

The Press Clubs of Rupnagar, Phagwara, Goraya and Phillaur, too, condemned the registration of the FIR. Journalists staged a protest at Rajiv Gandhi Chowk in Nangal town. With their mouths “gagged” by black strips of cloth, they demanded immediate cancellation of the criminal case against the journalist.

Journalists of Nakodar, Nurmahal and Bilga staged a dharna in front of the SDM’s office at Nakodar. Later, they submitted a memorandum to SDM Amrit Singh.

Vinod Kohli, president of the Chandigarh Punjab Union of Journalists, gave a call for a united struggle by various media organisations.

Scribes’ memorandum to PM

Jalandhar: Journalists took out a march from the Punjab Press Club to the Deputy Commissioner’s office, where they submitted a memorandum addressed to PM Narendra Modi. They demanded the immediate quashing of the FIR against the journalist and initiation of action against UIDAI officials responsible for the data breach.

Punjab Press Club president Lakhvinder Singh Johal demanded an independent inquiry by the Centre against the erring officials. Standing by her report, Rachna Khaira said she would extend cooperation to the government in the investigation on the matter. TNS

The Tribune – Scheduled Caste girl alleges harassment by school staff; probe ordered

Sanjay Bumbroo, Tribune News Service

Tohra-Patiala-Panjab-India, 6 January 2018. A scheduled caste (SC) girl, Veerpal Kaur, who is a student of Class XI at Government Senior Secondary School, Tohra, has alleged harassment at the hands of some of her schoolteachers.

Veerpal, a resident of Sahinwal village, alleged that schoolteachers and other staff made casteist remarks against her, besides mistreating her. She alleged that despite being the topper in the school, she was being forced to sit on last benches in the classroom.

She alleged that all of this was being done on the behest of some villagers after she refused to help a boy copy during the Class X examinations last year. The boy is a relative of the school clerk.

She alleged that despite being the topper in the school, her name was not mentioned in the school merit list even as schoolteachers honoured other students.

Veerpal had attempted suicide after being allegedly beaten up by school students. Her family had managed to save her.
After this incident, the Principal informed the police and the police had arrested the accused students and the clerk. The victim girl alleged that she was told to take her complaint back and reach a compromise with the school staff if she wanted to pursue her career.

Meanwhile, a five-member team headed by District Education Officer, Kanwal Kumari, today visited the school to hold an inquiry. The officer said she would submit her report to the higher authorities after hearing both parties.

Principal Jagjit Singh said the student and her family were levelling baseless allegations. He said he had briefed the DEO about the case.

The Tribune – Attack on Sena ex-leader: Case shifted to NIA court

Jaswant Shetra, Tribune News Service

Ludhiana-Panjab-India, 3 January 2018. The case of attack on former Shiv Sena leader Amit Arora has been shifted to the court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Mohali.

The NIA team investigating the cases related to targeted killings has filed an application in the court of judicial magistrate Sushil Bodh.

The next hearing of the case has been fixed for January 16. The Ludhiana police have also filed an application seeking to retain the investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, Amit Arora appeared before the court and recorded his statement in the case registered against him for faking an attack on himself for getting security cover.

Arora, who was allegedly shot at by assailants on 3 February 2016, was booked by the Ludhiana police in June 2016 for allegedly staging the attack on himself.

Arora told the court that the police have implicated him in the case. “Some radical groups have also been threatening me after I was released from jail. But fearing action, I did not approach the local police,” Arora said.

While booking Arora, the police had claimed that he had faked the attack on himself to get security cover. After the case was registered against him, Shiv Sena expelled him from the party. Arora is presently a member of Shiv Sena Hind.

The claim made by the police was exposed when targeted killings-accused Ramandeep Singh and Hardeep Singh Shera confessed that they had opened fire at Amit Arora. The confession by Ramandeep Singh and Hardeep Singh Shera made the police probe into the case appear shaky.

The Tribune – For Sikh identity, amend Article 25: SAD

MP rakes up demand in Lok Sabha; Four such bids have failed in the past

Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 30 December 2017. The demand to amend Article 25(2) of the Constitution, which clubs Sikhs with Hindus, reverberated yet again in Parliament with Shiromani Akali Dal’s Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra, while speaking on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in the Lok Sabha, maintaining the Sikhs had waited far too long to be granted a separate identity.

“Please amend clause 2 of Article 25 and give us justice,” he pleaded. Tarlochan Singh, former Rajya Sabha member, had made two attempts to get Article 25(2) amended through a private member’s Bill, but it could not be tabled.

In 2012, Akali leader Rattan Singh Ajnala made a similar effort in the Lok Sabha but drew a blank and so did Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (SAD) in 2014.

Dhindsa and Ajnala had argued that Article 25 granted the “right to freedom of religion”, which must be given to the Sikhs. Chandumajra reiterated much the same.

Clause 1 of Article 25 gives every person the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. Clause 2 clubs the Sikhs with Hindus. The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, set up in 2000, via a resolution when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was PM, had recommended that this Clause be reworded.