Wednesday, 30 September, 2009

PAKISTAN MINORITY MEETS WITH SIKH DELEGATION


Sikh delegation meets
Pakistan minority
affairs minister in Washington

The delegation discussed how Sikhs in the US and elsewhere can advise and promote dialogue between the Sikh community and Pakistan to recognise, restore and preservehistoric sites and Gurdwaras, a media release said.
United Sikhs, in a statement, said that Bhatti urged the Sikhs to continue working together with the Government of Pakistan to resolve these important concerns, and stressed the importance of international Sikh communities' involvement in advising and supporting the Government'sefforts.
Another prominent issue discussed in the meeting was the introduction of the Minority Protection Act in the Pakistani Parliament that will safeguard the rights of all religious and other minorities in Pakistan. He said this will reserve jobs in all levels of Pakistani Government.
Commenting on the meeting, Balwinder Singh, president, Sikh Gurdwara of Greater Washington stated: "We appreciate Pakistan's understanding for our religion and hope that they will provide the Sikhs full co-operation and sand support to maintain our history and preserve our roots."

EFFORT TO REVIVE KHALISTAN AGITATION


Radio Pakistan’s
effort to revive Khalistan agitation
Abohar, : Radio Pakistan in its recent Punjabi Darbar programme has given an indication that Pakistan wants to revive the Khalistan agitation .
The Punjabi Durbar programme stated that India has forgotten the promise it had made to Sikhs and Kashmiris.
Manpreet Kaur, a Sikh scholar and educationalist, said that the Pakistan propaganda is not making any impact on the people living in Punjab. He remarked that “Before making comments on the situation in India, Pakistan should look at itself first, and the statements being made by its former President General Musharraf from London brazenly stating how Pakistan has misused American aid against India.
“Pakistan will never be able to incite minorities in India. The fact is that persons from minority are occupying important positions in our country. Our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Leaders like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain are occupying posts in Bharatiya Janata Party.
“They are the voice of the countrymen, so how does the question of minorities being dominated or discriminated in India arise?,” asked Manpreet Kaur, a Sikh scholar and educationalist.
Manpreet Brar pointed out that Sikhs and Hindus do not feel safe in many parts of Pakistan. Sikhs had to leave the North West Frontier as the Taliban elements there asked them to pay ‘Jezia’ or protection money. Many Sikhs and Hindus were forced to change their religion.
The latest allegations look ridiculous considering the fact that Sardar Parkash Singh Badal is heading the State Government of Punjab, which is an Akali Dal and BJP combine.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who is also a Sikh, has always believed in the concept of secular India where members of all religions can live in harmony.
Dr. Singh’s Cabinet represents persons of all religions but they have been included because of their intelligence and leadership qualities and not religious identities.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad is from Kashmir. Having remained one of the members of the Congress core committee, he has served as the Chief Minister of Kashmir in the recent past. Besides, Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, whose son Omar Abdullah is the present Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, also represents the Kashmiri leadership in the present UPA government.
Former President of India A.P.J.Abdul Kalam is still one of the most respected figures of the country.
Manpreet Brar, asks can Radio Pakistan mention even one Hindu leader to have occupied the post of President or Prime Minister?
The support for a separate nation for Sikhs and an independent Kashmir only exposes how Pakistan is blatantly supporting divisive forces in India. (ANI)
And now, wath is your opinion?...(Editor)
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Friday, 25 September, 2009

Punjab CM approves mega tourism destination project for Amritsar


Punjab CM approves mega tourism
destination project for Amritsar
KANWAL PREET KAUR
Thursday, 24 September 2009
CHANDAIGARH: The Punjab Government has given green signal to Rs. 26 crore Mega Tourism Project for the integrated development of Amritsar city.
A decision to this effect has been taken in a meeting by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here after a detailed Power Point presentation made by the Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department in the presence of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Hira Singh Gabria.
Principal Secretary Geetika Kalha informed in the meeting that under this mega plan, 4 projects would be taken up that included conservation of the Historic Gates and the Town Hall along with the Heritage Trail through the Walled City and setting up of the Heritage village at Amritsar.
She apprised the Chief Minister that besides conserving the Town Hall Building to act as a catalyst for future development and revitalization of the walled city, an integrated urban design in the vicinity of the Gates that included new pavements, lighting, wrought iron benches and lampposts etc. was also planned which would to be undertake by the local administration.
A museum to display the rich heritage of the Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular would also be set up to showcase artifacts from the state.
The Chief Minister directed the Amritsar Mayor Shwait Malik to extend full support and cooperation to the department for the successful completion of this Mega Project.

Thursday, 24 September, 2009

NATIONS WITHOUT EARTH: BALOCHISTAN



Balochistan: Human Rights Violations

Discussed at HRC
Human rights activist Mr. Noordin Mengal explains the role of the Pakistani government in the atrocities taking place in the Balochistan province. He presents his case at a side event of the UN Human Rights Council, where not only the case of Balochistan, but also that of the Gilgit-Baltistan region was discussed.
Below is an article published by Business Wire India:In a public meeting as a side event of the 12th Session of the UN Human Rights Council being held from 14th September to 2 October, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, participants said that state terrorism is responsible for human rights violations in Balochistan province of Pakistan and the Gilgit-Baltistan region administered by Pakistan. The meeting was organized by Commission to Study the Organization of Peace an NGO having UN Consultative Status with ECOSOC on the topic of Human Rights and Terrorism: International Responsibilities. Dr. Sidi Cherif Secretary General, World for World Organization highlighted the impact of international terrorism on peace development and prosperity of international society. He said that there are conflicts and terrorist activities in almost all parts of the world: Asia, Europe, Americas and Africa. He emphasized that there is a need for international solidarity to fight this menace of international terrorism. Unfortunately it is very difficult to achieve international solidarity on this issue mainly because of the ambitions of different countries. In South Asia different nations organized terror activities against each other. It is very sad that some countries are patronizing terrorist groups like the Taliban and others only because they claim to be holy warriors serving one particular religion. He said that terrorists have no religion and they are going to harm every one. Mr. Czarnecki, Member of the European Parliament emphasized that democracy is very important and the people should have strong belief in democratic values and systems. He said that social justice can be achieved rapidly through constitutional systems and not through international terrorism. He said that media, equality and education in a democratic society play an important role in realization of human rights and social justice across the world. Human rights is the responsibility of the international community. This can be achieved through the United Nations and its institutions like the human rights council. He said all religions of the world should be respected. Mr. Noordin Mengal, a human rights activist presented a glimpse of the conditions of people living in Baluchistan. He said that Baluchistan is a Southern part of Pakistan and Baluchis are proud of their culture, language and secular traditions. The land is full of all types of resources and is on the way where Iran Gas Pipe is to be laid. It has a coastal line and has a strategic position. The Pakistan Government from 1948 is repressing the people of Baluchistan and there were as many as six instances of the Pakistan state unleashing its armed might against the people of Balochistan. There are rampant cases of rapes, torture and killings of the Baluchis youth. More than 4000 cases of forced disappearances are reported in Baluchistan. There are 52 detention centers in and around Baluchistan. There are protests by women of Baluchistan against disappearances and political assassinations. There was bombardment by Pakistan Army in Baluchistan. There is no freedom of expression and local and foreign media is not allowed to enter Baluchistan by the Pakistan Army. The websites of Baluchi people were blocked. The writers who wrote books were hanged to death. Mr. Abdul Hamid Khan highlighted that Kashmir also included Gilgit-Baltistan which has been deprived of basic Human Rights and democratic privileges. Now the Pakistani Government is using its old suppressive tactics like they did in Balochistan for unilaterally taking over the area without the approval of the local citizens. This has been the usual tactic of the Government of Pakistan. Mr. Suarup Singh Seehra, from United Kingdom mentioned that there are a lot of issues in the International Community for dividing India into different parts by groups like Khalistan International, but he was against the Idea as Khalistani groups had been banned in different countries and it had been established that the Khalistan movement had been by Pakistan. International Human Rights Community reiterates its view that the killing of prominent political activists cannot be countenanced on any account. These incidents have been a major cause of the Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan peoples' alienation from the state. The Pakistan government must demonstrate its earnestness in preventing such targeted killings. At the same time the task of tracing the large number of people reported missing must be pursued with diligence. The cost of delay in these matters would be far too high.

Sunday, 20 September, 2009

Saving Punjab


Saving Punjab
September 15, 2009 by Geoffrey C. Ward Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/Saving-Punjab-India.html
My wife says I suffer from an “India problem.” She’s right. I lived in New Delhi as a teenager during the 1950s, came home to college at 18 and managed to stay away from India for a quarter of a century. But over the past 26 years I’ve been back more than 20 times, sometimes with a legitimate excuse—an assignment from one magazine or another—but mostly because I now can’t imagine life without a regular dose of the sights and sounds and smells I first knew as a boy, can’t bear not seeing the friends I’ve made there.When the editors of Smithsonian asked me to pick a place I’d always wanted to see, it took about ten minutes to settle on Punjab, the north Indian state that was brutally halved between India and Pakistan after they won their independence from Britain in 1947. The Delhi I knew growing up—my father was stationed there, working for the Ford Foundation—had only recently been transformed into a largely Punjabi city by the influx of more than 400,000 Hindu and Sikh refugees, all of them haunted by bitter memories of the violence of Partition that had forced more than ten million people from their homes on both sides of the border and may have cost a million lives. Virtually everyone I knew had memories of Punjab. The tutor who struggled to teach me high-school math had stumbled across much of it on foot. His elderly mother, whose gently spiced samosas I can still taste, somehow made it, too. My two closest boyhood friends were Sikhs whose poultry farm on the outskirts of Old Delhi adjoined a sprawling tent city still crowded with Punjabis awaiting new homes seven years after they’d been forced from their old ones.
I’d always wanted to see something of the world they’d left behind. I’d had glimpses: I hunted in those bad old days, so my friends and I sometimes strayed across Punjab’s border in search of game. But I’d never been to Amritsar, the city that is to Sikhs what Mecca is to Muslims, Varanasi is to Hindus, Jerusalem is to Jews and Rome is to Catholics. Nor had I seen the lush countryside around it where some of the most appalling violence of Partition took place and where relics of Punjab’s history lie scattered everywhere.
Two people who know the region well agreed to accompany me, the photographer Raghu Rai and his wife, Gurmeet, herself a Sikh and also a conservation architect consumed by a desire to help save all that she can of Punjab’s historical heritage. They, too, are haunted by Partition. Raghu was a small boy in 1947, living in the village of Jhang in what is now Pakistan, but he still remembers fleeing with his family out the back of their house as an angry Muslim mob banged on the front door. Gurmeet, too young to have firsthand memories of the division of India, comes from a clan that includes both Sikhs who fled from Pakistan and Muslims who stayed behind. When she returned to Delhi from a visit across the border to her family’s ancestral village in 2000, she recalled, “It was a homecoming from a place which felt quite like home.”
The Grand Trunk Road runs for 1,500 miles from Kolkata on India’s eastern coast all the way to Peshawar on Pakistan’s western edge. A 170-mile section of the ancient trade route—now designated National Highway Number One—cuts diagonally across the Indian Punjab. “Truly,” Rudyard Kipling wrote in Kim, “the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle….bearing without crowding…such a river of life as exists nowhere else in the world.” That river flows far faster now and is no longer uncrowded. Kim and his contemporaries moved mostly on foot; the fastest travelers rode in horse carts. Now, big gaudily painted trucks race past one another in both directions, blaring horns and spewing black exhaust. Motorcyclists weave among them, wives and small children clinging on behind. Bicycles and sputtering motor-rickshaws join the flow; so do jeeps that act as country taxis and spavined buses so oversold that a dozen or more men ride with the baggage on the roof.
The brilliant green of the countryside through which all this traffic elbows its way is broken only by the trees that set one wheat field apart from the next and by occasional patches of brilliant yellow mustard. Punjab is the heartland of the Green Revolution that turned India from a country that could not feed its people into an exporter of grain.
Gurmeet knows nearly every inch of this highway. As a young architect, she spent a season in 1993 with the U.S. National Park Service, helping to survey historic structures along the C & O Canal between Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. After she returned to India, she persuaded a number of funders, including Unesco and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), to let her lead a team that would create a similar inventory of all the unprotected monuments along the Grand Trunk Road in Punjab. Nothing like it had been attempted before.
It’s not easy to tell old from new in India. For most historic structures, there are no laws to prevent damaging alterations or outright demolition. Nonetheless, Gurmeet and her team managed to identify and document some 1,100 historically or architecturally significant structures along the Punjabi stretch of the ancient highway. Their list includes everything from the former palaces of feudal rulers to the rock-hewn wells that once served their tenants; from Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras and Christian churches bustling with believers to the lonely roadside tombs of Muslim saints, left behind by those who fled to Pakistan but still visited weekly by Sikh and Hindu farmers in search of miracles. All but a handful of Gurmeet’s discoveries are deteriorating and unprotected. To an outsider, the task of rescuing more than a fraction of them seems almost insurmountable. Gurmeet just smiles. “Let’s see,” she says.
No city in the Indian Punjab has witnessed more history or is home to more historic sites than Amritsar. Its name combines the Sanskrit words for the sacred nectar of life (amrita) and for lake (sarovar), a reference to the pool within the precincts of the Golden Temple of the Sikhs that is believed to wash away sins. But at first glance, there’s nothing celestial about it. The narrow streets are clamorous, dusty, claustrophobic. Home to more than a million people, Amritsar has long since spilled beyond the walls that once defined its borders, and even in the city’s oldest sections, most buildings are drab, run-down and recent.
The Golden Temple, however, is a revelation. Sikh men are identifiable by the turbans and beards their faith requires the orthodox to wear, but their distinctive theology and remarkable history remain little known beyond India’s borders. Their most sacred shrine embodies both. We joined a stream of chattering pilgrims and, with covered heads and bare feet, stepped through the main gateway—and into another world. The cacophony of the city fell away. The waters of the broad sacred pool mirrored a brilliant sky. The sun gleamed on the white marble cloister that surrounds the pool and burned so brightly on the temple built on the island in its center that it seemed almost aflame.
The pilgrims around us fell silent. Some shut their eyes and folded their hands. Others fell to their knees and touched their foreheads to the ground. The complex is built at a level lower than the surrounding streets so that poor and high-born worshipers alike are forced to humble themselves by climbing down into it. Gateways on all four sides are meant to welcome people of all castes and creeds. Volunteers cook and serve thousands of free meals for pilgrims each day and insist that those who eat them do so side by side. “There are no foes nor strangers,” says Sikh scripture, “for we are all fellow beings.”
No one gawks here. No one demands money. Everyone seems content simply to be present in this holiest of places. The pilgrims make their slow, reverent clockwise way around the marble platform that edges the pool, past an old man with a white beard reaching nearly to his waist who gently lifts his infant grandson in and out of the sacred waters; a young mother on her knees patiently teaching her little girl the proper way to prostrate herself; a cleanshaven American Sikh, his head covered with a stars-and-stripes handkerchief, praying alongside his brand-new bride, her wrists hidden by bright red bridal bangles.
The goal of every visitor is to follow the causeway that leads out to the gilded sanctum sanctorum and pay respects to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru that is the sole object of Sikh veneration and was first installed there in 1604. Nanak, the first of the Sikh gurus (or “great teachers”) whose thoughts are contained within its pages, was a 15th-century mystic with a simple message: “There is but One God. He is all that is.” In the search for salvation, the only thing that matters is meditation on his name. “There is no Hindu,” he said, “there is no Mussulman.”
Whether or not Nanak ever meant to found a religion, Sikhs believe he did. And this place, where his teachings and those of four of his nine successors were brought together by the fifth guru, has special meaning for them. “It is, quite simply, the core of their…being,” the Sikh historian Patwant Singh has written. “It represents so many things they are immensely proud of: the vision of their gurus who gave it form and wrote the scriptures on the banks of the sacred waters; the courage of their forebears who died defending it; and the devotion with which others laid their abundant wealth before it in gratitude for the inspiration it has provided…over the centuries.”That inspiration has been sorely needed. Always outnumbered, even in their Punjabi stronghold, the Sikhs have frequently found themselves under attack. They’ve never failed to fight back, against the Moguls who tried to exterminate them in the 17th century, the Afghans who razed the Golden Temple three times between 1748 and 1768 and the British who by 1849 had destroyed the sprawling 19th-century empire carved out by their ablest chieftain, Ranjit Singh. Later, Sikhs served out of all proportion to their numbers in the armed forces of independent India.
But the issue of Sikh autonomy has never fully been resolved. During the 1980s, bitter, sometimes bloody quarrels between the Indian government and elements of the Sikh community led to something like a civil war. In June of 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered a military assault against armed militants holed up within the Golden Temple complex. It killed several hundred Sikhs, many of them innocent pilgrims, and left the sacred structure badly damaged. Just five months later, two of Mrs. Gandhi’s own Sikh bodyguards avenged that assault by assassinating her as she walked through her garden in New Delhi. Hindu mobs, egged on by politicians belonging to the late prime minister’s Congress Party, then avenged that killing by butchering some 3,000 Sikhs in the streets of Delhi. More than a decade of sporadic violence followed before relative peace returned to the Punjabi countryside. But resentments remain: calendars featuring romanticized depictions of Sikhs killed during the conflict are for sale in every bazaar, and as we drove away from the temple, a cycle rickshaw crossed in front of us with flattering portraits of Mrs. Gandhi’s assassins stenciled on its back.
As we negotiated Amritsar traffic, Gurmeet’s iPhone rarely stopped ringing. She now heads the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI), a multidisciplinary conservation consultancy with projects all over the country, but it is preserving the relics of Sikh history that means the most to her. We rounded a traffic circle marked by a battered Patton tank captured from Pakistan by a Sikh regiment and pulled up at a little guard post. Two watchmen peered curiously into the car window, recognized Gurmeet and waved us through. We were about to enter Gobindgarh, a 43-acre, 18th-century Sikh fortress with four mountainous bastions and a broad moat choked with trees. Ranjit Singh stored some of his vast treasure within its walls. The British Army occupied it. So did the army of free India, which in 2006 turned it over to the state of Punjab. It is not yet open to the general public, but in the middle of the old parade ground craftsmen are mixing traditional lime mortar in a circular pit. Under the CRCI’s direction they are shoring up the mammoth brick tower in which Ranjit Singh lived when visiting the holy city. Gurmeet has stopped by to make sure the color of the lime is right. But she has bigger plans, as well. There are rumors that an American-based hotelier plans to turn the fort into a luxury hotel for overseas Punjabis interested in revisiting the shrines of their faith without more than minimal contact with the real India. If he succeeds, she fears ordinary citizens will be kept out of this precious relic of their history.
‘”Freezing buildings in time may not work here the way it does in the West,” Gurmeet says. “There are too many pressures for change. But turning everything into tourist hotels won’t work either. Our historic buildings need to mean something to the people who live around them. We need to involve them in our work, to make them understand its importance.” To achieve those ends she hopes to undertake an overall management plan that would both provide for world-class preservation and supply visitors with the interpretive materials they need to understand monuments like this. (Since our visit, Gurmeet has been given the go-ahead by the Punjab government.)
That understanding has largely been missing in Punjab. In recent years, for example, Sikh congregations have been “improving” historic structures by bulldozing them and then constructing ever-more-lavish substitutes on the sites. “Somewhere along the line the original, unpretentious Sikh architecture has begun to be perceived as something to be ashamed of,” Gurmeet says. “Our gurus were simple, down-to-earth men of the soil, and their buildings reflect the simplicity and harmony Sikhism is all about.”
Wagah marks the western end of the Indian portion of the Grand Trunk Road. It is the sole crossing point between the two Punjabs; Lahore, the capital of Ranjit Singh’s Sikh kingdom and of pre-Partition united Punjab, is just 18 miles up the road. The formal flag-lowering ceremony that takes place at Wagah at dusk every evening of the year must be one of the oddest regularly scheduled events on earth. On the evening we visited, hundreds of eager onlookers streamed into specially built grandstands in the coppery light. On the Indian side, a big amiable crowd jostled one another for the best seats, men, women and children sitting together. In the roadbed, several busloads of teenage girls in brightly colored salwar kameez danced to recorded bhangra music. On the Pakistani side, a giant portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founding father whom Pakistanis call their Quaid-i-Azam, or “Great Leader,” looked down upon stadium seats in which men and women sat carefully segregated: men and boys on the left side of the road; girls and women (a handful in full-length burqas) on the right. Instead of dancing schoolgirls, three gray-bearded mullahs in green and white raced back and forth, waving huge Pakistani flags to whip up enthusiasm.
The ceremony itself proved both impressive and ludicrous. As the spectators cheered and chanted “Long Live India” or “Long Live Pakistan,” squads of uniformed Punjabis from both sides of the border, picked for their height and fierce good looks and wearing turbans with starched coxcombs that made them look still taller, quick-marched toward one another till they stood only a foot or two apart. Then, they stamped and whirled, puffed out their chests and flared their nostrils in perfect military unison, each apparently seeking to out-testosterone his opposite number before hauling down their flags. I asked the major in charge of the Indian contingent how seriously his men took their nightly confrontation with their neighbors. He laughed. “We’ve been doing this for more than 20 years,” he said. “We know each other’s names. It’s all for the audience.”
It was the muted reaction of that audience that fascinated me. The region around Wagah had witnessed some of the worst Partition bloodletting. Since then, India and Pakistan have gone to war three times. A few weeks before my visit, fanatics trained in Pakistan had butchered more than 160 people in Mumbai. The people who had turned out to watch the ceremony this evening had grown hoarse shouting patriotic slogans. And yet when the flags were finally folded away and the big gates clanged shut, spectators on both sides drifted as close to the dividing line as the respective armies would allow, peering silently across the no man’s land into the faces of counterparts who looked so much like themselves.
Most of the monuments we’d seen testified to Punjab’s bloody past: battlefield markers; crumbling village walls built to bar marauders; gurdwaras that honor Sikhs martyred in battle against the Moguls; and Jallianwalla Bagh, the Amritsar park now filled with flowers and shouting schoolchildren, where, in 1919, a British commander ordered his men to fire upon unarmed civilians—killing at least 379 and galvanizing the independence movement.
But there are also sites that still evoke the mutual respect that characterized life for many Punjabis before the tragedy of Partition. Gurmeet led us to one of the most unlikely of them, the Guru ki Maseet, or “Guru’s Mosque,” in the old walled town of Sri Hargobindpur, west of Amritsar. Here, on a bluff overlooking the Beas River, a member of the Nihang Sikh order, justly celebrated for the ferocity with which it defended the faith against its enemies in the old days, stands lonely guard over a Muslim house of worship. His name is Baba Balwant Singh and he has been on duty here for more than a quarter of a century. The shrine he protects is a modest three-domed brick structure, barely 20 feet deep, with arched entryways so low that anyone much over five feet tall must duck to enter. But it has a truly extraordinary history.
Sri Hargobindpur is named for Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, who, according to tradition, ordered his followers to make a city of “unmatched beauty” so that “those who inhabit the town [should] be free of sorrow.” Those who inhabited it included Hindus and Muslims as well as Sikhs, and so, to ensure tranquillity, the guru made sure that adherents of all three faiths had their own houses of worship. But sorrow eventually came to Sri Hargobindpur in any case: Partition forced every single resident of its Muslim quarter to flee to Pakistan. Hindu and Sikh refugees took over the homes they left behind. Elsewhere, abandoned mosques were transformed into shelters for people or livestock—or demolished altogether.
But this mosque’s unique origin made such actions unthinkable. “Nobody can damage this maseet,” the leader of the Tarna Dal band of Nihangs declared. “This maseet was established by our guru. If anyone tries to damage it, we will kill him.” His followers reverently placed a copy of the Granth Sahib inside the building and set up a 50-foot flagpole bound in blue cloth and topped with a double-edged sword; it let the world know the mosque would henceforth be under their protection.
The man who still guards it, Baba Balwant Singh, is a formidable figure in the lofty dark blue turban and blue robes of his order but is reluctant to talk about himself. If he does, he says, his ego might get in the way of his relationship with God. He dragged two string beds into the sunshine for his guests to sit upon.
Gurmeet explained she had come upon him and his mosque almost by accident in 1997. She had happened to climb onto the roof of a nearby gurdwara to get an overview of the town when she spotted a trio of little domes. The mosque was in bad shape. The little compound that surrounded it was overgrown.
Gurmeet saw a rare opportunity to work with the local community to restore a place venerated by two often-warring faiths. With funds and volunteers from a United Nations-sponsored project called Culture of Peace, and additional funds from the U.S.-based Sikh Foundation, she and her colleagues set to work. They trained local laborers to make repairs, visited schools to make children understand what was happening to their town, invited townspeople to see the work for themselves. But no Muslims were involved —there were still none in Sri Hargobindpur—and activists began to charge that yet another Muslim shrine was being usurped by unbelievers. It looked as though religious politics might destroy even this community-based project.
As Gurmeet talked, crows bickered on the compound wall. Children called from neighboring roofs. A buffalo bawled. Baba Balwant began preparing for us a special drink made only by the members of his order. Using a big stone mortar and wielding a three-foot-long pestle hacked from a tree, he smashed almonds, cardamon seeds, peppercorns and other ingredients into a paste. He deliberately left one element out of the recipe: the narcotic bhang that Nihangs reserve only for themselves. He folded the paste into a bright orange cloth and began dunking it into a steel bowl filled with a mixture of well water and milk from the noisy buffalo, then wringing it out.
It took months of negotiating, Gurmeet continued, to reach an agreement between the Nihangs and the religious endowment that holds legal title to all Muslim property abandoned in 1947. Under its provisions, the Nihangs would continue to protect the building as their guru would have wished, but the structure would also remain a mosque—as the guru had also intended. After the signing, a band of blue-clad Nihangs sat respectfully by as the chief imam of the Jama Masjid mosque in Amritsar led a delegation of Muslim dignitaries through their evening prayers. After 55 years the Guru ki Maseet was once again a house of Muslim worship.
Baba Balwant gave his bag of spices one final squeeze, then poured the liquid into big steel tumblers and handed them out to his guests. It was white and almond-flavored, cold and delicious. We said so. “It is good,” he said with a pleased grin, “but if I had put in the secret ingredient, then you could touch the sky!”
I asked Gurmeet how she could have spent so much time and effort working to preserve such a modest building in such a remote location when so many apparently more important structures needed to be preserved.
“It’s not the building,” she says. “It’s the idea of the building, a shared sacred space.”
Before leaving Punjab, Gurmeet took us back to the Pakistan border once more, just outside the village of Dera Baba Nanak, where, between two guard towers, a Sikh regiment of the Indian Border Security Force has constructed a brick platform from which the faithful can look across the border into Pakistan and see, shimmering on the horizon, the white domes of one of the most sacred of all Sikh gurdwaras, Sri Kartarpur Sahib. It marks the spot where Guru Nanak spent 15 years preaching to his first disciples, and where he died in 1539. As he lay dying, according to one tradition, Muslim and Hindu followers began to quarrel over what was to be done with his body. Muslims believed it must be buried. Hindus were equally sure it had to be cremated. Nanak told each faction to place flowers at his side and leave him for the night. If the Hindus’ flowers were freshest in the morning, he said, his body should be burned; if the Muslims’ flowers were brightest he would be buried. Then, he covered himself with a sheet. In the morning, both offerings were as fresh as when they’d first been cut. But when the sheet was removed Nanak’s body had vanished. His followers cut the makeshift shroud in half. One piece was buried and the spot marked with a tomb; the other was burned and the site of the cremation indicated by a stone cenotaph.
As we started back down the flight of steps, a Sikh family was just starting up them, a young couple and their little boy, all three eager for even a distant glimpse of the place where their faith was founded and where its greatest teacher tried to demonstrate that in the struggle for salvation all Punjabis—and, by extension, all mankind—are one.
Geoffrey C. Ward is a historian who travels frequently to India. Magnum photographer Raghu Rai lives in Delhi.

Saturday, 19 September, 2009

REMEMBERING 1984



25th anniversary 1984:
Call of Duty for
Sikh Panth
( Its now or Never!)

Everyday we perform across gurdwaras worldwide by remembering our shaheeds (“Jina Singh Singhnia de Sis Dite”) to mark the greatness of sikhi and keep the spirit alive. But when it comes to present day scenario 1984 anti sikh riots is a big blot which sikhs have not been able to give a befitting reply to. One man (with Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s) stood against the wind.
(Bhai) Jarnail Singh (Journalist) put his life, job and everything at stake to get matter highlighted in the insensitive years of Indian Govt and tell the world about it. The (shoe hurling) and efforts of Panth thereafter resulted positive and guilty were denied election tickets.
Khalsa Ji, now (Bhai) Jarnail Singh (Journalist) is on his second mission to reveal the black days and true stories of 1984 anti sikh riots in delhi where over 3,000 sikhs were butchered in a single night. This is an effort to document history right and bring truth to us and our coming generations ahead and the rest of the world.
He has given and excellent speech and expressed his thoughts which can be found here:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfwSSZHiqIE
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSxQfHrkX9A
The book will be published in English, Hindi and Punjabi. Hindi and English publishers are done. Punjabi books and its (printing, distribution) is the one he requires your help for. His contact is:
Phone: +91-9999220024Email: mhtml:%7BD6C86553-6682-4652-9690-E66B5E11C5F3%7Dmid://00000206/!x-usc:mailto:jarnailsingh16@gmail.comWeb Page: http://www.jarnailsingh.inPlease ask him how you can help. Its now or never!

Friday, 18 September, 2009

Jhinda Summoned At Takht On Sept 19


Jhinda Summoned At Takht On Sept 19

Amritsar, Punjab: Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) leader Jagdish Singh Jhinda and his five associates-most of whom are also members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)- have been summoned at Akal Takht on September 19 by Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and the high Sikh priests with direction to explain violation of the Sikh “Maryada” by them for “attack” on gurdwara in Kurukshetra .
Akal Takht Jathedar and Sikh high priests have made it clear Akal Takht has nothing to do with the demand for separate SGPC for Haryana gurdwaras asserting Takht was concerned with Sikh “Maryada”.
Giving new twist to the demand for separate SGPC for Haryana , Giani Gurbachan Singh indicated any such demand could, however, be discussed and considered at Akal Takht if the highest Sikh institution was approached by some organisation in this respect.
Akal Takht Jathedar has asked the Government of India to take up the issue with Haryana government to avoid repetition of the incident.
“ If Sikhs of Haryana come to Akal Takht a discussion can be initiated. But no organisation, except the SGPC, has the right to implement “Sewa Sambhal” of gurdwaras. Referring to the Kurukshetra incident, Akal Takht Jathedar said Jhinda and his associates-Kanwaljit Singh Ajnala, Bibi Ravinder Kaur, Avtaar Singh Cheeka, Hazoor Singh Nambardar, and Joginder Singh Yamunanagar- have been directed to appear before Akal Takht to explain why they had indulged in “acts of violence” and why they “hurt” the Sikh sentiments apart from “violating the Sikh Maryada. “ we are keen to learn what forced Jhinda and others to take such a step”, said Giani Gurbachan Singh and four high Sikh priests- Tarlochan Singh, Balwant Singh, Jagtar Singh and Mal Singh. They justified booking of Jhinda and others by the police adding Jhinda and others could be given fresh chance to appear at Akal Takht in case they were detained by the police.
“Jhinda and others made brazen effort by barging into the gurdwara premises with arms, forcing the “Granthi Singh” to leave “Hazoori” of Guru Granth Sahib and banning the entry of the devotees into the gurdwara. It is the duty of the Haryana government, to ensure prevalence of rule of law,” said Giani Gurbachan Singh who, had criticised Bhupinder Singh Hooda- led Haryana government for “instigating” Jhinda and his associates.
Akal Takht Jathedar and the high Sikh priests have asked the Sikhs to remain peaceful and do “Simran”.

GOLDEN TEMPLE COMMITTE TO LOOK AT GOLD FOIL PRESERVATION



Golden Temple committee to look at gold foil preservation
The news feeds on this site are independently provided by Adfero Limited © and do not represent the views or opinions of the World Gold Council.
Thursday, 17th September 2009 (82 views)The committee responsible for the upkeep of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India is set to look into ways of preserving a collection of gold foils and sheets stored within the structure.According to TNS, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee will examine preservation methods that will eventually enable the 3,278 gold foils and sheets to be displayed in a museum.The gold items are seen as being of historical value because they were prepared during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.They were moved to a sealed room within the Golden Temple - which is officially known as the Sri Harmandir Sahib - in 1994 after being taken off the exterior of the building during a project to refresh the gold used to decorate it.Built in the 17th century, the Golden Temple is seen as a classic example of Indian architecture incorporating influences from the Hindu and Muslim cultures.

Monday, 14 September, 2009

Rajasthan: Arms recovered in Barmer


Rajasthan: Arms recovered in Barmer

A second massive recovery of arms, ammunition and explosives from Barmer along the international border with Pakistan within two weeks of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to this desert district was made on Sunday. There have been three arrests so far with sources attributing that the consignment was brought from Pakistan for Khalistan groups. The first consignment was dug out of sand dunes near the border on September 8. Sunday's recovery includes 8.75 kg of explosives suspected to be RDX, 596 cartridges, four Chinese pistols and 4 explosive devices. The recovery comes following arrest of a local smuggler Soda Khan and two of his accomplices, Naseem and Nazir. Sources said the first recovery was a result of an intelligence tip-off that two suspected Khalistan terrorists are on their way to collect these arms and ammunition. Incidentally, Prime Minister visited Barmer on August 29 to inaugurate oil production by Cairns Energy. Police sources insist that consignment of arms crossed into India on September 4.

Sunday, 13 September, 2009

Ravidasia delegation meets Takht Jathedar


Ravidasia delegation
meets Takht Jathedar


Amritsar, Punjab: An 11-member delegation of the Samaj Bachao Morcha, representing a section of the Ravidasia community, has put forth seven suggestions at a meeting with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to normalise strained relations among Sikhs and Dalits post murder of Sant Rama Nand in Vienna.
The Jathedar has assured them of his cooperation in resolving the contentious issue and said he would also consider their demand of setting up of a committee by the Takht to probe the murder of Sant Rama Nand and the violence erupted in Punjab in its aftermath. The delegation met Giani Gurbachan Singh at his residence.
The morcha head, Gian Chand, said on behalf of a section of Ravidasias that they would do whatever they could to restore the warmth of relations between the two communities. Expressing its concern over the alleged removal of Birs from around 100 gurdwaras named after Guru Ravidas, the morcha leaders and members of delegation assured the Jathedar that they would be leaving no stone unturned to restore the “Birs” in the gurdwaras with full respect.
The seven suggestions put forth before the Jathedar included the SGPC should be celebrating “Purabs” of all Saints and Gurus whose “Baani” has been included in Guru Granth Sahib and that there should be common cremation grounds for Sikhs and Dalits as the Sikhism has always shunned the casteist approach prevailing in society. “We feel the “Baani” of Guru Ravidas and other Saints is perfectly in line with the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib,” said Gian Chand.

Sikh scholar Harinder Singh Mehboon admitted in Jalandhar hospital


Sikh scholar Harinder Singh
Mehboon admitted in Jalandhar hospital

Punjab Newsline Network
CHANDIGARH: Noted Sikh scholar Harinder Singh Mehboob has been admitted in a private hospital in Jalandhar for the treatment of prostrate gland.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sUNDY announced that the State Government would bear the entire expenditure on treatment of Harinder Singh Mehboob.
A spokesman of the Chief Minister’s office said that Badal had directed the Deputy Commissioner Jalandhar to personally visit Mehboob to ensure proper medical treatment and care. Badal said that the state government was committed for the welfare of the literary personalities who had immensely contributed towards the promotion of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat. He said it was a humble gesture on the part of government to extend free medical aid to Mehboob, the celebrated Sahit Akademi awardee and winner of Shiromani Kavi Award.
It may be recalled that several prominent literary organizations had approached Education and languages minister Dr. Upinderjit Kaur to provide free of cost treatment to the ailing writer. She had also deputed Director Languages Department to enquire well-being of Mehboob and extend all possible help to him in this hour of crisis.

Friday, 11 September, 2009

Sikh Shahadat Magazine's Sub-Editor arrested from Ludhiana



Sikh Shahadat Magazine's Sub-Editor arrested from Ludhiana
Punjab Newsline Network
LUDHIANA: Punjab police on Friday late evening arrested Sewak Singh sub editor of Punjabi magazine 'Sikh Shahadat' from the residence of Daljit Singh Bittu, a radical Sikh leader who was arrested few days back.
Harpal Singh Chheena secretary SAD(Panch Pardhani) said that Sewak Singh had came to meet family members of Daljit Singh Bittu. He was arrested when he was sitting with family members. The police had raided the office of Magazine on Thursday and seized all record and computers. Police said that Sewak Singh was arrested on the basis of information found from the records.
Meanwhile, Harpal Singh Chheena said that Paramjit Singh Gajipur President of All India Sikh Students Fedration who lives in Patiala is also missing. He said that Gazi accompanied him to Patiala courts in connection with case of party workers. He said that after 5 PM the where abouts of Gazi are not known. He feared that police might have arrested him. SSP Patiala Arpit Shukla said that he was not aware of any such arrest.

Birs removed from Guru Ravidas gurdwaras


Birs removed from Guru Ravidas gurdwaras

Published on Thursday, September 10, 2009 by Azaad
Strained ties between Sikhs and the Ravidasia community, following murder of Sant Rama Nand in Vienna got accentuated with alleged removal of Guru Granth Sahib ji Birs by certain Dalits from gurdwaras named after Guru Ravidas in the Doaba region.
The Doaba region which witnessed widespread violence after the death of Sant Rama Nand has the largest population (about 45 per cent) of Dalits in Punjab.
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has asserted the Sikhs would not allow any such development to take place. “The leaders of a faction of Ravidasias are coming to meet and discuss the matter tomorrow. We are not going to allow any such deviation to take place. Minor differences can be sorted out through dialogue. Both communities have old ties, which should remain intact. Not only this, we are also going to call leaders of Udasi and Nirmala sects to iron out differences or misunderstandings, if any,” said Giani Gurbachan Singh. He, however, said he was not aware about the alleged removal of Birs from gurdwaras of Guru Ravidas.
“Ravidasias are anguished over what had happened in Vienna and afterwards. A section of them have even removed Birs from 100 gurdwaras named after Guru Ravidas in Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts in Doaba. While certain Dalits are supporting the move, we are not in favour of this as it is a matter of religious faith and understanding between the two communities. It is only for this feeling we have sought time from Akal Takht Jathedar for discussion on the issue. We are all for peace in Punjab,” said Gian Chand, a leader of Ravidasias and head of the Samaj Bachao Morcha, adding he had a list of gurdwaras from where Birs have been removed.
“We will give this list to the Jathedar. Our delegation is meet the Jathedar at Akal Takht at 4 pm on Friday. Besides, we are also holding discussions with 10 religious leaders of the Dalit community on the issue,” said Gian Chand.
He also confirmed a large number of Ravidasia families had started adhering to the recitation of just 40 shalokas of Guru Ravidas in place of the recitation of the paath of Guru Granth Sahib. “In fact, Ravidasias are too hurt over the Sant Rama Nand’s killing,” he added.
“We are also going to probe the removal of Birs from Guru Ravidas gurdwaras in Doaba,” he said.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009

Times Of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale



Dr.Ranbir Singh Sandhu
Thursday, 10 September 2009
The Times Of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale:
Saint-Soldier In The Finest Tradition
The well-planned and rehearsed invasion of the Golden Temple in June 1984, the massive cordon and search operations following it, the military rule in Punjab since then, and the massacres after Mrs. Gandhi's death constitute a sequence of tragedies planned and perpetrated by a government against its own people.
The Indian government has tried to make Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale a scapegoat for all the damage done by its own ineptitude and wickedness. It is very important that history judge the man impartially.
Fortunately, some tape-recordings of the late Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's lectures to the Sikh congregations at the Golden Temple are available. From these the world can judge for itself whether this man of God was a separatist, a terrorist, anti-national or just a holy man, caught in the machinations of a wicked administration, seeking light from the scriptures of his religion and trying to tell others of his faith to do the same. True to his frequently expressed sentiment, he lived as a devoted Sikh - with dignity and self-respect, and died for the faith. As stated by the Guru: "I look forward to dying. When I die, it should be at God's door".Apparently, the Indian government escalated its persecution of the Sikh minority after Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in 1980. She was determined to teach this vigorous religious community, active in upholding universal rights and justice, a lesson for, most recently in the 1970s, leading the country's resistance to 'emergency', the suspension of citizen's rights by an earlier government led by Mrs. Gandhi. Never again would they launch agitations against her corrupt and unjust government. This escalation took the form of large-scale arrests, tortures and murders of Sikh young men at police stations.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a devoted Sikh preacher unused to political trickery, presumed the atrocities were being committed by over-zealous police officials. He appealed to various authorities including senior administration officials, ministers in the state government, the courts, and leaders in the central government. He did not get redress. Instead of taking any action to curb the police officials, the government started the propaganda that Sikhs were engaging in subversive activities, were demanding a separate state, were jeopardizing India's unity, and were in every way an undesirable group bent upon mischief.
When a Sikh died, there was no judicial inquiry. Even when an inquiry was held under public pressure, the guilty officials were never punished. The death of a Hindu was grounds for a proper inquiry and punishment of the offenders, but not so the murder, rape or torture of a Sikh. Insult to Sikh scriptures and Sikh Gurus was not objectionable in the eyes of the government. Indeed heretical groups were actively patronized. The government deliberately set the Hindu community against the Sikh. Whenever a Hindu died a violent death, without any evidence and without even the semblance of any proof, the government was in a hurry to announce that the killers were Sikhs. For the same offense, the Sikh could always expect punishment more severe than a Hindu.
There were three aeroplane hijackings as part of the Sikh peaceful protest movement. In none of these were the hijackers armed. Nor was there any damage done to the planes or injury to any passengers. In all cases, after the plane had landed, the hijackers turned themselves in without resistance, arguments, or a set of demands. Instead of following the normal legal process, the government shot one of them dead, another was given a lethal injection to cripple him for the rest of his life and several are still in exile in Pakistan. Hindus responsible for a similar hijacking, to protest Mrs. Gandhi's detention while she was out of power, were rewarded with seats in state legislatures.
Having control of radio and television and sympathy from the predominantly Hindu press willing to apply the Hindu definition of sanctity to Sikh religious practices, the government was able to get the Indian public to accept the big lie. The Sikh point of view never reached the public outside of Punjab and Delhi because it could only be carried by word of mouth. Thus the most patriotic community in India which had provided the greatest, widely recorded sacrifices for the achievement as well as preservation of the country's freedom and had participated most significantly in the economic growth of the region was labeled anti-national and treacherous in order to justify the urge to humiliate and destroy it.
The government declared the Sikh tradition of bearing arms as equivalent to preparation for an armed conflict. This was a direct assault on the Sikh religion itself.
The government killed hundreds of Sikh young men by torture hoping that the Sikhs would be frightened into submission. Thousands were sent home from police interrogations as cripples. There were cases of Sikh women, relatives of the Sikh activists, being stripped and paraded in the streets and raped at police stations by police officials.
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale appealed to the Sikhs to look to their religion for solace and for the way they should conduct themselves in life. This led to the Sikh revival under his guidance. Contrary to the steady erosion that had been going on for thirty years, thousands of Sikhs returned to the fundamental values of prayer, service and sacrifice and sought confirmation in their faith. The government treated this religious resurgence as organized revolt.
There was lawlessness in Punjab caused primarily by the government killings as well as incidents of desecration and violence orchestrated by it. Jarnail Singh and his followers and certainly the vast majority of the Sikh population had nothing to do with it and would have been thankful for an end to the senseless process. However, the government, in order to give the Sikhs a bad name and to justify the actions it was contemplating against the Sikh community, ascribed all crime in the state to Bhindranwale who was a virtual prisoner in the Golden Temple complex. This led to the build-up of violent anti-Sikh sentiment all over India.
Bhindranwale was a "saint-soldier" in the finest tradition of the Sikh faith, an inspiring, outstanding teacher and guide. In his life, he stood for truth, amity, justice, and the practice of religion. He died defending the holiest shrine of his faith, vastly outnumbered, vastly outgunned, supported by a motley group of a few (estimates vary from 50 to 250) untrained young men armed with an assortment of obsolete weapons. He knew he couldn't win a military victory. That was not really the point.
A Post-Mortem Report exists in the Sikh Educational and Religious Foundation Library. This particular report may be in error in that the body examined may not be that of Bhindranwale but of someone else. There is a comment that the person was "well-built". Jarnail Singh was known to be rather thin and lean. However, the complete report has a set of fingerprints of the body examined and it should be possible to verify these with fingerprints from records of the time he was arrested in 1981.
Although Jarnail Singh's death has been enshrouded in mystery, eye-witness accounts confirm that he died, probably on June 6, 1984. His death need not be mourned. According to Guru Granth Sahib, he has only 'gone home' to God. His martyrdom will be a source of perpetual inspiration to all humanity. It will be remembered as a divine message that all is not lost for God's people. That even though wickedness rules, there will always be some who will defy the devil and one day truth will triumph.

Wednesday, 9 September, 2009

Amritsar News: Khalra Mission Opposes Demand For Khalistan


Khalra Mission Opposes Demand For Khalistan

AMRITSAR: The Khalra Mission Organization (KMO), on Friday, opposed the demand for, Khalistan at a function organized to mark the 14th death anniversary of noted human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra.
Addressing media persons, KMO patron Dalbir Singh Patarkar said the demand for Khalistan was wrong and the Sikhs should stop raising it. “It is an imitation of Pakistan and should not be encouraged. On the contrary, Sikhs should lay more emphasis on ‘Halimi Haj’, as mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib,” said Patarkar.
He said he was sure that if the demand for Khalistan were fulfilled, the Badals would be at the helm of affairs.
KMO members performed an ‘ardas’ at the Akal Takht to pray for peace to the depart­ ed soul. They said they would hold a convention in Amritsar on the National Human Rights Day on December 10 to raise the demand for dismissal of the Badal government. The KMO is also planning to stage dharnas outside ministers’ houses to press for their resignation.

SINGH DESEA ERRADICAR ANALFABETISMO EN INDIA


Singh promete erradicar el

analfabetismo femenino en 5 años en India
El primer ministro indio, Manmohan Singh, prometió hoy acabar con el analfabetismo femenino en el país en los próximos cinco años, pese a que la mitad de las mujeres del país no puede ni leer ni escribir.
Singh participó en la ceremonia de lanzamiento del programa de alfabetización "Saakshar Bharat", dotado con 65.000 millones de rupias (unos 1.337 millones de dólares), con el propósito de alcanzar mejoras en el deficiente sistema educativo indio.
"Un tercio de la población india es todavía analfabeta. En torno a la mitad de nuestras mujeres no sabe leer o escribir. El número de analfabetos en la India es probablemente el más alto del mundo. No podemos estar satisfechos", dijo Singh, según la agencia india IANS.
"Debemos hacer que nuestro país esté completamente alfabetizado si queremos fortalecer al ciudadano medio para que haga progresos rápidos", añadió.
El Gobierno indio sufragará el 77 por ciento de los gastos del programa, mientras que las regiones se harán cargo del resto, según Singh, quien incidió en su compromiso por una educación de calidad y aseguró que los fondos no serán una limitación.

Tuesday, 8 September, 2009

PUNJAB FARMER'S PROTEST IN CHANDIGARH



Punjab farmer's protest in Chandigarh turned violent


Punjab Newsline Network
Tuesday, 08 September 2009

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Vehicles burnt, Police resorted to lathi chargeCHANDIGARH: Over 25,000 farmers from all over Punjab on Tuesday thronged Chandigarh to hold a protest rally here in protest against unbundling of Punjab State Electricity Baord(PSEB). The protest march which remained peaceful during day but around 4 PM turned violent forcing the police to lathi charge the farmers.
The protesting farmers set on fire dozens of police vehicles and private vehicles parked in sector 17. Though heavy police arrangement was made but police was taken by surprise when a group of miscreants from among the farmers torched the police vehicles. When situation became grim police sung into action and cane charged the farmers. Several farmers were injured. The protesting farmers also pelted stones on police injuring many policemen.
The farmer leaders were given permission to hold the protest rally in the busy sector 17 on the promise that they will remain peaceful, an official spokesman said.
The farmers are opposing unbundling of PSEB fearing that facility of free power supply being given to them would be withdrawn after PSEB is split into four companies, as being proposed by state government. The center government has fixed dead line of September 15 for unbundling of board to fulfill the requirement of Electricity Act 2003. Punjab was given eight extensions in the past but now center has refused to extend the dead line.
Due to heavy turn over farmers from all over the Punjab, the normal life in Chandigarh was hit hard. The traffic remained jam for hours at round abouts of sector 34-35 and 35-36. The buses and trucks that carried farmers were parked on roads and traffic police was unable to handle the flow of traffic.
The farmer from Punjab had also held a protest march on Monday in front of office of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) against making recommendation in rise in power rates for agriculture sector. The award pronounced by PSERC on Tuesday however didn't mention the agriculture sector.

Monday, 7 September, 2009

Anti-Khalistani Balwant Kapoor, , dies in London


Anti-Khalistani Balwant Kapoor,
dies in London
London: Balwant Kapoor, President of the Indian Overseas Congress in Britain, died here on Monday following a heart attack. He was 81.A veteran freedom fighter and journalist, Kapoor confronted Khalistanis in the west London suburb of Southall during the height of the separatist movement.Kapoor opposed the Khalistan campaign through his local Punjabi-language newspaper despite death threats against him in the 1980s and early 90s.Kapoor, who was awarded the Tamra Patra, lived in Britain for 45 years after working as a personal assistant to Rajumari Amrit Kaur, health minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet.He later also worked at India's diplomatic mission in Poland.Kapoor is survived by a son and four daughters.

Sunday, 6 September, 2009

Former Punjab minister Sher Singh passed away



Former Punjab minister Sher Singh passed away
Punjab Newsline Network
Saturday, 05 September 2009

NEW DELHI: Former Punjab minister Sher Singh and a senior Congress leader on Saturday died of cardiac arrest at Delhi. He was 92 years old.
Sher Singh was deputy minsiter in the government of late Partap Singh Kairon. Later he remained union minister for eduction and defence production between 1967 to 1980. He also served as chancellor of Gurukul Kangri University and vice president of Arya Pratinidh Sabha. He launched a campaign against drugs in 1957 in joint Punjab and he had resigned from his post of minister and court arrested.
Sher Singh will be creamated on September 7. His dead body has been kept at his residence R-28 Greater Kailash part I for paying tributes. His daughter Ujjwala Sharma mayu be contacted at telephone No. 98-1092-3366.
Meanwhile, Dr.Vaid Partap Vaidik a leader of Hindu Andolan has expressed deep grtief over sudden demise of Sher Singh. He recalled the days spent with Sher Singh in Patiala jail IN 1957.

GOLDEN TEMPLE AND THE ATTARI-WAGAH BORDER CROSSING


Golden Temple and the Attari-Wagah border crossing


With just 36 hours in town, I was up and out early, Golden Temple-bound. After the chilled out traveller hangouts of Manali and Mcleod Ganj, and a bunch of one-goat Himalayan villages in between, the bustle of Amritsar was a shock - almost Delhi-lite. Obviously a busy commercial town rather than just tourist centre, rickshaw journeys in the narrow alleys through the garment district were a highlight to remember.I'll happily confess to a Temple limit of 1 per year on my travels - they hold no interest for me, and I have never been even a vaguely "spiritual" person, so I approached the experience with a not-entirely-admirable "Golden Temple, TICK" mentality. If not enthusiastic about spiritual centres, I'm happy to go with the dress code so, head covered and narcotic-free, I joined the line for a ritual foot washing.

Golden TempleThese were definitely compulsory requirements - a six-foot plus Sikh guard stood temple-side of the footbaths, holding a full-length spear, which came down lightning fast as I waited in line, to block the path of a man who, for whatever reason, obviously thought his feet were clean enough already, thank you.After a couple of slow circuits of the temple complex to take it all in, the calming beauty of the place did start to eat through my assumed indifference for this particular faith's ground zero. As well as those publicly bathing in the lake, many Sikhs had simply found a quiet piece of shade where they practiced their devotion without demonstration, noise or fuss. Having thought the GT was a tourist magnet, I was surprised not to see another westerner inside the walls.

Life and colour in the grandstandAlthough I had missed the early morning light, the white marble, the water and the jewel encrusted island all suited the harsh, flat cloudless sunlight - it seemed inappropriate to wear sunglasses in the complex and I was glad I didn't.Unwilling to risk a cultural wrong turn, at first I avoided following the crowds onto the island-like centre of the complex. But, in a perfect confirmation of their reputation for friendliness, a young Sikh guy realised my hesitation, took my arm and led forward onto the walkaway to the temple proper, where priests chanted and sung from the scared scriptures which form the focus of the experience. We drank a symbolic sip of water from the lake, as did everyone, and were giving a small piece of communion-like sweet pudding as we left the walkway.

Pre-ceremony partyI left thinking the Golden Temple was a very, very cool place all round, and highly recommended.Having swapped hotels to smooth my railway departure the following morning, next on the Amritsar to-do list was the famous border closing ceremony at Attari-Wagah. After being offered silly prices for the 30km taxi ride out there (700rp!), I was considering my options when an auto-rickshaw driver called a cheery greeting to me outside the hotel, before NOT offering his services to me. Intrigued by such entrepreneurial ennui, I asked him how much he would charge for a spin out to the border and 300 rupees was the answer. I'm sure I could have got a better price, but he was going to have to sit on his butt and wait for me for a couple of hours, so this seemed perfectly fair.

Bit quiet in PakistanOne quick side trip for him to pick up some fruit from his brother's market stall later (got to get supplies in for such a long trip!), we were speeding (yes, the traffic isn't that bad!) out of Amritsar, border bound. The ride out to the ceremony on the needle-straight highway to Pakistan made up in atmosphere what it lacked in comfort, air conditioning and seatbelts - overtaking a tractor which itself was overtaking a cow, with traffic coming the other way always puts a smile on my face. Fairground ride over, we agreed where to meet after the main event, I bought him a coke and then departed to eat my way towards the border via the food stalls which lined the final few hundred metres of Sovereign India.Absurdly entertaining as the floor show of stomping guards and slamming gates was, there were of course more serious themes in play here - these are both young nations, full of politicians happy to use crude nationalism for their own ends, and noisy ritual posturing like this can hardly improve relations - the Florida-flat landscape around us had been used several times in the previous half-century as a perfect invasion corridor.

Geo-political chin stroking aside, the ceremony does provide a perfect contrast of the two nations.Just like my country, the UK, India is a far from perfect nation - the legacy of the caste system, the struggles of women to achieve equality, the poverty of countless millions, but half an hour before sunset at the Attar-Wagah border, you just have to stand back and admire the place, the people and the attitude - there were school trips, family groups, middle class Indian tourists and everything in between - colour, life, noise and energy - a microcosm of a nation inside one mini-grandstand. Before the martial antics, parts of the crowd invaded the road and sang and danced the final twenty minutes before showtime. On the Pakistani side? Rigid lines of sinister black-clad guards and grandstands empty but for a handful of men. No women, no children, no colour. I've never been to Pakistan, so I really shouldn't form an opinion based on looking across the garden fence, but the contrast between the two sides seemed total and absolute. Show over, my rickshaw driver left me at the hotel an hour later with a big smile and a big tip - nice guy.

Friday, 4 September, 2009

SIKH PANTHIC LEADERS CRITICISE RSS CHIEF


Sikh Panthic leaders criticise RSS chief

Published on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 by Azaad
Amritsar, Punjab: Some of the panthic leaders joined SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann in strongly criticising the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for dreaming a Hindu Rashtra. Those present included Giani Gurbachan Singh Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Jathedar Iqbal Singh from Patna Sahib and Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh from Talwandi Sabo.
During a condolence meeting in a local gurdwara held on Wednesday to pay homage to the mother of a Delhi-based granthi, former MP Mann warned that the idea of Hindu Rashtra that the RSS chief had floated may revive demand for Khalistan. There is nothing wrong in talking about Khalistan, he observed.
Launching a scathing attack on the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for showing reverence to top brass of the saffron party, Mann said people of Punjab fail to understand why the father-son duo (Badals) fly to New Delhi almost every week to present bouquets to the former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani even after the latter had conceded in his book that he advised/prompted the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to go ahead with the operation Blue Star. Advani equally deserved condemnation for the unfortunate episode, he sought to opine. The Meeri Peeri sword had not been gifted by the great gurus for petty purposes, he added. Mann dared the Jathedars, who were present in the meeting, to make stand of the Panth clear on Bhagwat’s statement concerning Hindu Rashtra.
Tarsem Singh chairman of the Dharam Prachar wing of the Delhi gurdwara Prabandhak Committee said Bhagwat’s statement deserved condemnation.
If one talks of Hindu Rashtra in the sovereign country the communities of other faiths may also raise similar demand. This will lead to multi-dimensional division of the country on religious andcaste basis, he cautioned.

Akal Takht Jathedar says he’s working for release of Sikh detenues



Akal Takht Jathedar says he’s working for release of Sikh detenues

WSN Network
Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, who was here on a special invitation of the managing committee of Gurdwara Sahib, Fremont, received a huge and warm welcome from the sangat. Bhai Jaswinder Singh Jandi, member of the Supreme Council, welcomed the Singh Sahib and asked him to take the initiative of leading the efforts to get released the Sikh youth languishing in jails since 1984.
He also appealed to the Jathedar Sahib to work for the release of Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar. Significantly, Prof Bhullar’s mother Bibi Upkar Kaur ji was present on the occasion and it was in her presence that Jathedar Sahib assured all support for the efforts.
Addressing the Sikh sangat, Giani Gurbachan Singh ji hailed the initiatives taken and plans drafted by the Fremont gurdwara management. Slamming the Indian establishment for the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in 1984, the jathedar said no one who ever attacked this center of Sikhism survived more than 154 days.
Bibi Upkaar Kaur also addressed the sangat and asked the Sikh community to work towards securing the freedom of Prof Bhullar. The Jathedar Sahib said he has already written in this connection to the Punjab government. He appealed for unity in the panth and said it was time that the community leaders focused on a practical approach and work.
American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (AGPC) coordinator Pritpal Singh stressed the need for an independent identity of the Sikhs and urged the Jathedar to take steps in this direction. He also asked him to ensure that some system is evolved for the selection and appointment of a Jathedar.
Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, has written to the Punjab Government asking it to work towards release of death row convict Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

Pritpal Singh also expressed concern at the trend of gurdwaras outside India also going in for elections for their managing committees and said things have come to such a pass that non-Sikhs were being made voters to elect the managing panels. He asked the Jathedar to issue some kind of an edict or directive about such practice.
Later, the sangat did a parikarma of the gurdwara that was led by the hand written bir of Sri Guru Granth Sahib presented to the Fremont Gurdwara by Bhai Jaswant Singh Khosa. Chief sewadar of the gurughar, Bhai Harjot Singh, said the visit of Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar of Akal Takht, was a matter of good fortune and Akal Purakh’s blessings for the sangat of Fremont.

No way non-Sikhs can be voters in gurdwaras: JathedarWSN Network
FREMONT: On his visit to Fremont, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh visited Bhai Harpal Singh Mann’s residence for a meeting where he also discussed plans and efforts for securing release of Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar. Prof Bhullar’s mother Bibi Upkaar Kaur was also present.
Later, the Jathedar said while the gurughar was open to a person of any and every persuasion, a voter with a right to elect the management of any gurdwara has to be a Sikh and cannot be a non-Sikh. As for the managers of the Gurdwara, Giani Gurbachan Singh said they have to be Amritdharis.
When the jathedar was told about the case of the San Jose gurdwara where non-Sikhs, particularly Hindus, have been made voters with a right to exercise their franchise for election of the managing committee, he said it was a most unfortunate development. He said if any Sikh came forward before the Akal Takht with a petition on this issue, the temporal seat will definitely take a view on it.
The jathedar was told about certain element’s continuous and persistent efforts to find fault with one or the other issue. He was told that there were elements who think it was okay to make votes of Hindus in gurdwaras, help apply for illegal green cards, turn sponsorships into a business, waste precious resources of the gurughar or come to blows in front of the Indian consulate, but such elements will not stop from finding faults with Akhand Paths. The jathedar laughed at the big picture and urged the sincere community members not to be disheartened by the efforts of the few and instead focus on constructive issues.

Thursday, 3 September, 2009

56 riots-hit families get relief after 25 yrs


56 riots-hit families get relief after 25 yrs


Chandigarh, Punjab: Waking up from slumber after 25 years, the government has given a sum of Rs 1.12 crore as ex-gratia grant to as many as 56 families of victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, who had migrated from the affected states and are presently residing in Moga district.
Cheques of Rs 2 lakh each were presented to these families by senior SAD leader Jathedar Tota Singh in the presence of officials of the local administration at a function held in the district administrative complex here, today.
Earlier, an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh each was provided to 193 victim families in April 2006 and 13 families in February 2009, who are presently residing in the district.
While distributing the cheques, the SAD leader termed the 1984 riots as one of the biggest tragedies faced by any community after the partition of India.
Tota Singh said the Punjab government and the SAD, in particular, were committed to providing ex-gratia relief to families of the victims. “The state government has instructed the respective district administration to complete all formalities of left-out families so that they can get financial assistance,” he said.
On the recent order of a Delhi court giving life imprisonment to three accused persons involved in the riots, he said all culprits named in these cases needed to be punished as per the law on the basis of evidences of eyewitnesses

ATS gives clean chit to Khalistan suspect


ATS gives clean chit to Khalistan suspect
Somendra Sharma / Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad gave a clean chit to a suspected Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) member, Balbir Singh Bhootna saying that he had no plans to create any disruptive activities in Maharashtra.
Bhootna had opened fire at the railway station in Ludhiana, killing a tea vendor and injuring two government railway police (GRP) personnel on August 25.The Maharashtra ATS officials were on their toes, when it was learnt that Bhootna had boarded the Jhelum express from Pune for Punjab and had also visited Manmad. A team was soon formed to investigate Bhootna's purpose of visit to Manmad and check whether he had any associates in Maharashtra or if he was planning any terrorist activity in the state.
"A team of Maharashtra ATS had visited Punjab and interrogated Bhootna which revealed that he had come to Manmad only to visit a gurudwara," said additional director general of police, ATS, Krish Pal Raghuvanshi.
However, the Punjab police however have a different take on this. The Punjab police officials claimed that, whenever they are on the lookout for Bhootna, he takes shelterin gurudwara and use them as hideouts.
"He would meet his associates there and discuss further planning. As of now he claims that he had visited Maharashtra only to visit a gurudwara and has not met any associates. We are still investigating the case," said additional director general of police, Railways (Punjab), Chandra Shekhar.

Wednesday, 2 September, 2009

Baba’s devotees throng court, police on tenterhooks


Baba’s devotees throng court, police on tenterhooks
Jagraon Hundreds of followers of Baba Balvir Singh Lamme, a radical Sikh leader, descended on the local courts on Monday morning making it difficult for the Jagraon police to take him inside the court for hearing.
The police had to call in extra force to keep the surging devotees at bay.
Despite heavy police presence, the followers raised slogans creating a din in the court complex.
In June this year, the Ludhiana police had recovered 32 gelatins sticks weighing approximately four kilogram explosives along with six detonators from the possession of Kuljit Singh alias Kanta, a resident of Ludhiana, Bhag Singh and Baba Balvir Singh, both residents of Lamme village. According to the police, the trio are the members of radical Sikh organisation Khalistan Zindabad Force.
According to the police, Ranjit Singh alias Neeta a dreaded militant, who had sought shelter in Pakistan, was providing explosive material to members of the Khalistan Zindabad Force for conducting explosions and anti-national activities at the instance of the ISI.
Jagraon SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said Baba had tried to derail the police investigations in the case by registering a false case at Jagraon claiming that a few men were demanding ransom from him. The baba had been hiding explosives for over a year and had tried to play the card when he sensed that the police was suspecting him. The baba is in judicial remand till September 14.