Thursday 30 July 2009

LETTER TO MADAME SONIA GANDHI


Harbans Singh Aujla
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Letter to Madame Sonia Gandhi
Madame Sonia Gandhi
President,All India Congress Party
New Delhi
Mr. Rahul Gandhi
General Secretary,All India Congress Committee
New Delhi


Dear Madame,
I would like to direct your mind to an urgent and critical matter. As you are aware, India is a highly diverse nation. As such, we should acknowledge and respect the diversity. The regional races in India include Dravidum, Aryans amongst religions and cultures. India does not currently support its diversity.
Under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, Freedom to Religion, Sikh persons are denied their right to religious freedom as a separate and distinct group. Sikh persons are grouped with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain persons, which effectively deny Sikh persons their own separate religious identity. This clustering reflects India’s historical wrong doing of failing to recognize certain members of its population.
In 1954, the Indian Government abolished the Sikh Anand Marriage Act of 1909, thereby forcing Sikh persons to register their marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. The Government of India’s actions effectively forced the assimilation of Sikh persons with Hindu persons; thus, denying the Sikh persons their right to freedom of religion. In 2003, the Government of India set up a Commission to investigate Article 25, Freedom to Religion grievances of Sikh persons. The Commission recommended and advised amendments to Article 25 in order to acknowledge Sikh persons separately and distinctly from Hindu persons.
Recognizing India’s diversity will heal wounds. Making India a unilingual State will radicalize minority groups. India will become a stronger and united nation if it recognizes minority rights. Operation Bluestar reflects the shameful decisions of the Indian Government. Mr. Rahul Gandhi has already expressed that the events of 1984 were tragic and appalling wrongs of the Indian Government.
As a leader of India, you must find the courage and moral strength to stitch the old wounds and reconcile the lies of the past with the present. As a result of the injuring the dignity of the Sikhs, you must rebuild their trust. You must offer an unequivocal apology to the Sikh persona and appeal for their forgiveness for the previous Government’s acts of condemnation. This healing package by you will defeat the rule of darkness of broken trust. By forging to heal past wounds, you will defeat the past acts of ignorance and prejudice that divided India. Further, recognizing and protecting minority rights instead of forcing assimilation and integration will undo past betrayal and mistrust. Recently, the Canadian Government issued an apology for its past wrongs of prejudice and betrayal to certain minority groups. We therefore urge you to
1-adopt the recommendations of the 2003 Commission to investigate Article 25, Freedom to Religion to acknowledge Sikh persons separately and distinctly from Hindu persons;
2-reinstate the Anand Marriage Act of 1909; and
3-mandate that the Indian Ministry of Broadcasting adopt the Punjabi national greeting of “Sat sri akal” along with “Namaskhar” on state controlled radio and television stations in Punjab. Presently, the Sikh greeting is banned.
We look forward to the action outlined above to encourage diversity we believe in through out India to reflect 21ST century. We sincerely know that the Sikh persons will greatly support and appreciate these corrections. We look forward to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
Sincerely,
Harbans Singh Aujla
pakhar@hotmail.com

Wednesday 29 July 2009

FIRST SIKHS TO GUARD THE QUEEN



First Sikhs to guard the queen

They're ready to lay down their lives for Crown and Country. And in doing so, Signaler Simranjit Singh, 26, and Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh, 28 have become the first Sikh soldiers to protect Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. So, visitors to Buckingham Palace, the queen's London residence, shouldn't be surprised to see the two blue-turbaned soldiers going about their duties.
In fact, Signaler Singh is the first Sikh ever to wear his turban on public duties protecting the queen and the crown jewels, says UK paper The Daily Mail.
He was posted at Buckingham Palace in May and was later joined by the lance corporal.
The soldiers serve with 21st Signal Regiment based in Wiltshire, while Lance Corporal serves with 3rd Regiment Army Air Corps based in Suffolk, respectively.

Monday 27 July 2009

AKAL


Akal Takht tells Sikhs to go greenI P Singh

SULTANPUR LODHI: Akal Takht, the highest Sikh temporal body, has embraced the save-the-environment mantra telling Sikhs across the world it was their ‘‘moral and religious duty’’ to care for the nature. Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh gave a religious call to the community on Sunday saying Sikhs should now focus on cleaning the natural water resources rather than spending more money on building up new gurdwaras. ‘‘Whereever in the world you (Sikhs) may be, your focus should now be on cleaning up of natural water resources rather than building gurdwaras,’’ he said at a function here on the ninth anniversary of cleaning of Kali Bein, a river in Kapurthala district. Environmentalists said the Jathedar has set a precedent with his call for saving the environment from depletion. Many said the call would prompt devotees to do their bit for the environment. Some said the appeal from the Jathedar could make other religious leaders to think about contributing to the environment. It could even help save the most important river in the country, the Ganges river, they added. The Kali Bein, a much polluted river flowing through Sultanpur Lodhi, was cleaned in an initiative by the Akhat Takht Jathedar through community participation.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Gurmat Sangeet Legend Prof Kartar Singh Ji gets Akademi Award


Gurmat Sangeet Legend Prof Kartar Singh Ji gets Akademi Award

It is a proud moment for sikh panth and Gurmat Sangeet sangeet lovers. Prof Kartar Singh Ji 81, Director Gurmat Sangeet Academy has received Akademi Award for his contribution to the traditional form of Gurmat Sangeet i.e. with tanti saaz in raags.
The Sangeet Academy held this ceremony in New Delhi on 14th July, 2009 for 2008 awardees. Prof Kartar received this honor from India President.
A little about Prof Kartar Singh Ji:Prof Kartar Singh was born in 1928 in Ghumanke village in Lahore district of Punjab, now in Pakistan. He was initially trained in the traditional Gurbani music by several teachers including Giani Gurcharan Singh, Bhai Sunder Singh Kasoorwale, Bhai Dalip Singh, and J.S. Bhanwra. Later, he honed his art under the guidance of Balwant Rai Jaswal.
Among the foremost singers of Gurbani today, Professor Kartar Singh has at the same time pursued a career in the teaching of music. He taught first at the Malwa Central College of Education and later served at the Guru Nanak Girls College, Ludhiana, as Head of its department of music.
At present, he is Director of the Gurmat Sangeet Academy at Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropar, where he has trained a large number of students. He has participated in the Basant Gurmat Samagam during the Hola Mohalla festivities at Sri Anandpur Sahib since 2000.
He also attended the Gurmat Samagam commemorating three hundred years of the Gurta Gaddi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, rendering Gurbani in prescribed ragas accompanied by traditional instruments. Recordings of Shabads sung by Shri Kartar Singh have been widely disseminated.
He has also authored several books on Gurbani music. For his work in propagating Gurmat Sangeet, he has received wide acclaim from the general public and concerned institutions.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Akali Politics in Dumb Times


Akali Politics in Dumb TimesSansardeep Singh Wanjara
On Tuesday, out of blue, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal dropped a bombshell. Right in the middle of his election campaign in Jalalabad, where he is fighting to become an MLA to take up his Deputy CM perch to eventually sit in the CM’s chair, Sukhbir, in true ‘Kaka ji’ fashion, pulled out an issue that most had thought Akali Dal has completely forgotten.
“Disband the Bhakhra Beas Management Board,” he said at a rally. “Hand over the BBMB to Punjab,” the next rally was told. “The Central government is robbing Punjab of its share through control of BBMB,” he said at another rally.
Jalalabad often suffers because of water shortage. In the years preceding the election, neither son Sukhbir, nor papa Badal, mentioned a word about BBMB. Entire stress is often on turning Malwa into California, and little is explained as to how a five star hotel in water starved Bathinda will help.
But what makes the Badals, and consequently the Akali Dal, the party that lords over the Punjab Government, the SGPC, and in the given circumstances, even the top temporal seats, completely forget Akali, Sikh, Punjab issues and then gives them the cheek to fish out suddenly the matter of BBMB or of Congress’ interference in Sikh affairs?
It is largely, and not only, the disconnect between the people and the politician’s politics, but also our disinclination to track issues and ask questions, stay engaged and be the watchmen. In the fashion of Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony, we tend often to let our minds and ideas to be ruled by the dominant social class represented by the mainstream politician, by the Badals among the Sikhs, by the Gandhis and the corporate world in India.
“Politics is a dirty cesspool,” we are told. And we believe it. In this dirty cesspool, the politician’s success is in managing to ensure that his ideas are seen as the norm, as a sort of accepted universal ideology. So we all almost tend to agree, in our drawing rooms, in our gurdwaras, and even in family discussions with our kids, that politics is a dirty cesspool.
In this dirty cesspool, we rarely ask ourselves, how come a Sukhbir Singh Badal, who remains so dedicated to serve the people of Punjab and the panth and spends every hour in thinking how to better their lot, manages to earn an astonishing amount of income? By sheer business sense, one is to presume.
He came from the US after the heat of the Sikh aspirational movement was over and almost directly plunged into social service, serving the panth in the great tradition of his father. The 47-year-old, while fully immersed in the service of the panth, has now said he currently has Rs 3.50 lakh in cash, Rs 1.16 crore in deposits in banks and financial institutions, Rs 20.27 crore in bonds and debentures of Orbit Resorts and other companies, Rs 4.35 lakh in jewellery, Rs 4.45 crore in Metro Plaza and loans extended to his wife, brother-in-law MLA Bikram Singh Majithia etc and Rs 4.80 lakh in horses.
This is apart from Rs 3.95 crore in agriculture land, including 39.6 acres of land in village Badal, 14 biswas in Rajasthan’s Sadulshahr, 28 acres in Balasar and 3.68 acres in Rania in Haryana. Add to this 7.6 acres of land leased to Punjab national Bank in Badal village, a petrol pump, Taj Motors, shops, cattle sheds, another 5.5 acre in Balasore for a farm house of 11,450 square feet, a residential bungalow in Chandigarh’s Sector 9, a house and stud farm in Badal village, a 15 per cent share in an SCO in Sector 9 of Chandigarh, a commercial flat in Narain Manzil on Barakhamba Road. And we are not going into his air conditioners and furniture and fixtures though we have the details, all provided by him as per rules to the Election Commission of India.
To be fair, Sukhbir is no different from other politicians, and they all have to provide these details when they have to fight any election. The point is that all these details become public knowledge only when the politician is forced to provide them. While Sukhbir is completely within his rights to run his business affairs with as much acumen as he can manage, the people too are completely in their own right when they have a sense of wonder at the personal development of the House of Badals.
But what perturbs the ordinary Sikh is when these politicians tend to apply the same norms to their conduct as Akali Dal leaders. Sukhbir and every other Akali leader harks back to the great ideals of Sikhism and the glorious traditions of the Sikh quom when it comes to garnering Sikh votes. The long forgotten agendas of river waters, Chandigarh and BBMB are pulled out of the bag to lure people and play on their insecurities, but only to get their votes and then forget all for another five years.
In these times of dumbing down, the politician is the one who is succeeding more in dumbing us down. We owe it to our future generations to resist and turn back and ask, “But where were you earlier?” We need to engage and ask, “But how did you become the leader?” We do this in this edition on Page 12-13, and promise to do it on a regular basis.

Friday 24 July 2009

Dal Khalsa UK slams Badal & Co. for saffron support


Dal Khalsa UK slams Badal & Co. for saffron supportWSN Network
LONDON: The Dal Khalsa UK has condemned moves to depict Sikhs as supporters of the fanatical Hindutva movement and the rally by VHP, RSS and Sangh Parivar forces that was centred around the Ram Setu Bridge issue and the Ram Mandir site on which the Babari Masjid was demolished by Hindu terror outfits in 1992.
The videos which have gone up on You Tube claim to show support by Sikhs for the Ram Setu Bridge and Ram Mandir. A representative of the Akali Dal Badal regime which rules Punjab came on behalf of Parkash Singh Badal to speak to supporters who had gathered there.
The Akali Dal Badal representative started off by praising Hindutva leaders on behalf of Badal and then proceeded to shout slogans of 'Jai Siya Ram' and went on to utter Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. The speaker then went on to speak of how Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Japji Sahib praises Ram, and equates the word 'Ram' in Bani with the Hindu diety and so called Bhagwan Ram throughout the video. He then goes on to say how the 9th Sikh Guru who gave his life for the protection of Human Rights died for the Hindu Dharam and twists the bani written by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji to conform with their Hindutva standard of 'Sikhs are Hindus' along with their scriptures.
"How can the so called Akalis equate the word 'Ram' in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with the Hindu Diety Ram and that as well as calling him Bhagwan? We find this unacceptable."

"They should note the 9th master would have given his life for any group of people and not just for Hindus and so called Bharat Sanskriti," the Dal Khalsa statement said.
He then goes on to convey a message by Badal and his Akali Dal to Sudarshan, senior leader of the RSS and other Hindutva leaders by saying that the Sikhs will make sacrifices for the cause of Hindutva.
He equates this with the court arrest of Sikhs during Indira Gandhi's brutal emergency rule.
The representative then goes on to say the Shriomani Akali Dal Badal fully supports the Hindutva movement. He then goes on to shout a Jaikara of Bole So Nihaal and the Hindu Nationalist Slogan of Jai Siya Ram.
Than a representative of the Namdhari sect appears and says if the name of Ram is taken out of India the nation will be left hollow and empty. He then goes on to say how Hanuman picked up a so called mountain and took it to Sri Lanka where it now stands out amongst other mountains and asks how many symbols of Ram will be wiped out. He then says that he is speaking as he has been sent by the leader of the Namdhari sect.
"How can the so called Akalis equate the word 'Ram' in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with the Hindu Diety Ram and that as well as calling him Bhagwan? We find this unacceptable and would like to point out to the Sikh Nation that we should recognise the enemy on the outside but we must also recognise the enemy sitting within our own quarters and deal with them accordingly," the release said.
It urged the Sikhs to remain vigilant especially in the western world where RSS conspiracies are increasing.
(The You Tube video appears at 'http://www.youtube.com/user/VHPSampark')

Thursday 23 July 2009

Dal Khalsa opposes selection of Syed Ali Shah Geelani



Dal Khalsa opposes selection of Syed Ali Shah Geelani
The Dal Khalsa- a Sikh political group today slammed J&K Government for booking veteran pro-freedom leader and chairman of APHC (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani, under the Public Safety Act on Monday. In a statement released from party’s head office, the Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said the arrest of Mr Geelani on the pretext that he has been calling “frequent strikes and protest marches” was unconstitutional and undemocratic. Contesting the charges leveled against Mr Geelani in the so-called dossier DMS/PSA/27/2009 presented by the state government, he said it were frivolous and ridiculous. Taking a dig at the administration, he said the aged and ailing leader has been released by the court four times during the past 40 days but was detained by police every time, coming up with lame excuses. “The police that considered itself as a law unto them had thrown all ethics and norms to winds vis-à-vis dealing with those who are striving for right to self determination for Kashmiris through non-violent means”, he added.
He deplored the mindset of the powers-that-be for suppressing the non-violent movement of Kashmir with brutal means and draconian laws. He said it’s ironic that whenever the people of Kashmir were forced to come on streets to protest against human rights violations they get batons, detentions and bullets. Strongly criticizing the police crackdown on pro-freedom leaders including Mr Geelani, Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Omar, Shabir Shah, he said the government of Jammu and Kashmir was squarely responsible for mishandling the Shopian incident involving the rape and death of two young women. He alleged that minority communities have been facing the Indian bayonet throughout the period of Indian independence. The police, the para-military and the military have been extensively (mis)used against all ethnic and religious minorities at various times, he rued. “We all have been governed by a set of laws which cannot stand scrutiny under norms of criminal jurisprudence, the provisions of the Indian constitution or the standards set by the UN Protocol on Civil and Political Rights. The impunity enjoyed by the security forces in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland and Punjab has emboldened them beyond control”. It is not out to place to mention that groups seeking right to self determination from Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland has constituted a co-ordination committee under the chairmanship of Justice (retd) Ajit Singh Bains in Delhi on March 23 last year.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

EUROPEAN COURT UPHOLDS TURBAN BAN


European Court upholds turban ban
Source: http://www.merinews.com/article/blow-to-sikhs-european-court-upholds-turban-ban/15776465.shtml
In an unprecedented judgment, European Court of Human Rights has justified the ban imposed by French Government to bear turbans in schools; the controversial judgment was delivered on Thursday, 16 July.The verdict had left Sikh community across the world high and dry; they were anticipating judgment against the ban. French government had passed a law in the year 2004, banning the use of religious symbols namely turban in the educational institutes including schools. Even that time the issue had rocked French as well as Indian Parliament. In India, Parliament members cutting across party lines showed their anger against the controversial verdict. The judgment concerning banning of Turban in educational institutes in France was challenged by a Sikh named Jasbir Singh in the European Court. It was being fought by a Non Governmental Organisation-United Sikhs on behalf of Jasbir Singh. The verdict has no legal binding on French Government as it doesn’t require government to place its argument or response to Jasbir’s lawyer’s legal petition and diverse arguments related to it. According to Sikh scholars, wearing turban is an integral part of Sikh culture and rituals. Sikh community across the world adheres to it in letter and spirit. They further said that there is no point in asking a Sikh not to wear a turban. Even our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had raised the contentious issue during his recent visit to France with French President-Nicolas Sarkozy. But it had not turned the tide in the favor of Sikh Community.

Monday 20 July 2009

NEW MISLEADING HERETIC BABA FROM MALAYSIA


New Misleading Heretic Baba from Malaysia on the Prowl (Op/Ed)
Panthic Weekly News Bureau
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (KP)—If it's not someone claiming Sikhs are Hindus, it is people like Sukhdev Sinh from Malaysia who is trying to re-invent Sikhi, repackage it, and trying to remarket it for people that don’t seem to want to follow the true path of Sikhi. This new Jatha called “SWAM” or “Sikhs With A Mission” are up to some questionable ideas and views—enough that the so called “Jathedar” needs a serious reality check from Sikh Scholars and/or the Akal Takhat itself. This so called “Jathedar” of “SWAM” goes as far as saying that the current and Eternal Guru of the Sikhs now and forever called Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji should be named his proposed name, “Sri Guru Jyot Sahib”. That being said, he also propagates that Guru Gobind Singh himself would also approve of this renaming of Shabad Guru of the Sikhs—which is not only blasphemous to say, but also a lie made up by him in order to get foolish followers to think Guru Gobind Singh would support his heretical new mix up of True Gurmat Sikhi. He also tries to undermine Panj Pyare and the Sacred Amrit Ceremony with his recently invented “jhaal ceremony” where he mocks the ceremony of Amrit Sanchaar by not only trying to take the responsibility of acting as the Panj Pyare solely by himself but also a list of things that are not part of the Amrit Ceremony. Besides claiming to be the Panj Pyare that bless Sikhs in the True Amrit Sanchaar he tries to act as the administrator of this supposed Amrit all by himself. He also gives out this supposed Amrit or “jhaal sweet water” with a ladle-like spoon. He doesn’t follow the true protocol of True Amrit by having a steel Bata and other necessary equipment for having an actual Amrit Sanchaar, with the most important element of having 5 pure Rehatvaan Sikhs that strictly follow Guru Sahib's Sacred teachings. This Sukhdev Sinh is literally watering down Guru Sahib's prescribed Strict Code of Conduct.“The ignorant person is totally blind he does not appreciate the value of the jewel.”Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib
The Sikh Faith is not a missionary religion that advocates trying to convert people to the Faith—we already have enough Sikhs that still need to convert to Gurmat based Sikhi already. Sikhi is definitely about Quality and not Quantity, in contrary to Sukhdev Sinh's heretical “Sikhi”. “SWAM” can't go around trying to convert people when their so called “jathedar" can not even properly follow Sikhi himself. First thing the Jatha should do is follow Sikhi properly before trying to convert anyone. Sikhs lead by example and don’t try to convert anyone to the faith as other missionary faiths do.Not only does Sukhdev Sinh want to try to propagate his ridiculous manmat of trying to change Sri Guru Granth Sahib's name and making his own version of Amrit, but also tries to tell his chelas that the Kirpan, Kachera, and Turban are outdated and not useful, so he also has his own rules or Conduct which he thinks a modern Baptized Sikh should follow.“Why become friends with those whom the Creator Lord Himself has misled?”Sri Guru Gobind Singh SahibThrough his blasphemous and backwards parchaar, he is misleading many Sikhs based in Malaysia and everywhere he travels, touring as some “enlightened Baba”. On his website he is attempting to fundraise by telling his followers to donate dasvand to further his agenda of trying to change Sikhi. In addition, Sukhdev has been spotted at numerious occasions indulging in unacceptable behavior with members of the opposite sex. His so-called blessing is not only unacceptable, but truly blasphemous and derogatory. A short clip recorded at Gurdwara Sahib in Butterworth, Penang is being shared here.
Malaysian Sikhs following Sri Guru Gobind Singh's True Rehat want Sukhdev Sinh to stop his manmat. They are being threatened by his foolish followers with different types of harassment and blackmail. He himself posts on his blog and website of the issues brought up in any of the debunking debates held on forums recently over the internet. Nobody opposing “SWAM” is making any false claims about his agenda, but he openly tries to spread his manmat through different flyers, personal communication, and internet websites.
Gursikhs in Malaysia as well as Sikhs from many parts of the world want him to engage in an open public and videotaped discussion with Sikh Scholars to explain what he is trying to implement on Sikh youth through his anti-Gurmat Parchaar. If he ignores and is insistent on further spreading his false teachings while claiming to be a Sikh then he should be summoned before Sri Akal Takhat Sahib for trying to change Sikhi and spreading his misleading manmat and highly mischievous preaching. “Night and day, engrossed in worldly affairs, even in his dreams, he finds no peace.”Guru Gobind Singh SahibThe teachings of the “Jathedar” of “SWAM” are better left to himself on his solo journey through doubt of Sikhi. Don’t follow false teachings preached by Sukhdev Sinh of Malaysia, ‘Jathedar” of “SWAM”.The self-willed manmukhs do not obtain the Mansion of the Lord's Presence. The false are plundered by falsehood.Sri Guru Amar Das SahibSupporting Sukhdev Sinh is not only an insult to Guru Sahib's teachings, but you also forfeit your Guru as Guide and Boat to get across the worldly ocean of life. Strict Gurmat Sikhi has been permanently set forth for the strongest to obtain Guru's blessings. All the false will lose their wager on falsehood by giving their chance of understanding Guru's teachings by trading the mind's jewels for mere worldly glass.
”The jewel of human life is passing away uselessly, lost in exchange for mere glass.”Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Sunday 19 July 2009

BILL BARS RELIGIOUS ATTIRE FOR TEACHERS


Bill bars religious attire for teachers

The legislation expands clothing rights for other workers
Workers in Oregon will be able to wear a turban or yarmulke on the job under a bill passed by the state Legislature that protects religious practices for almost everyone, except public school teachers.
The bill, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, keeps in place a controversial clause for public school teachers that prohibits them from wearing religious attire while doing their jobs. Written decades ago, presumably to enforce the constitutional separation of church and state, the clause has drawn the ire of some religious groups. And groups are angry that the new bill, while expanding the clothing rights of many workers, would continue to restrict teachers’ rights.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund has sent a letter to Kulongoski urging him to veto the bill, known as the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act, because it treats teachers differently from all other workers. The group is asking others to call or e-mail the governor with the same message.
In his letter, Rajdeep Singh Jolly, law and policy director of the Sikh group, called the exemption a “gaping hole” that “cannot be reconciled with the spirit behind robust workplace religious freedom legislation.”
Local Sikhs are concerned about the law but aren’t actively campaigning against it, said Sat-Ganesha Singh Khalsa, minister at Sikh Gurdwara of Eugene.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” he said.
Jake Weigler, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the state Board of Education took no position on the bill. But he said it was his understanding that the long-standing exemption stems from the “unique position” that teachers occupy and the requirement that religion be kept out of classrooms.
“They really are working with young people who are impressionable, and they occupy a position of authority,” Weigler said of teachers. “To have them even implicitly endorsing a particular religion or particular values creates an awkward situation in terms of keeping religion out of the classroom. Concern for that, in this case, outweighs the free expression of the individual.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 786, makes it illegal religious discrimination to deny a worker the use of vacation or other available leave to observe religious holidays or to impose rules that prevent workers from wearing religious attire. Exceptions are allowed for safety requirements or in cases of undue hardship to the employer.
In addition to turbans, the law also would include Muslim head coverings known as hijabs or the Jewish skullcaps called yarmulkes.
The only employers who are exempt from the law are public school districts, education service districts and public charter schools. The legislation retains language that says “no teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.”
Oregon is one of two states to have such a ban. Pennsylvania is the other.
The issue goes back almost 30 years to a case in Eugene in which a Sikh teacher was suspended from her job in Eugene for wearing a turban, or dastaar, to school. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.
House Speaker Dave Hunt told the Associated Press that an effort to remove the exemption in 2007 failed and said the current bill would not have passed if the language about teachers had been removed.
Local Sikhs continue to track the issue.
“Ever since the court case years ago we’ve been concerned about it, but there’s been no Sikh teachers that have moved to Oregon wanting to teach,” said Khalsa. “So it’s been on the back burner, hoping that something might change.”
Khalsa said the issue doesn’t generate much conversation among area Sikhs any more, although they remain interested in it. He said he doesn’t believe turbans or other Sikh clothing amount to promoting religion.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that anyone, regardless of whether its Sikhs or Jews or Christians, can’t express their religion neutrally,” Khalsa said. “It’s not a proselytizing thing; it’s not a converting thing. They’re just expressing their faith is a positive way, in a way that expresses their joy in that.”

Saturday 18 July 2009

One by one, They dieProgrom continues by other means as India frustrates justice seekers


One by one, They diePogrom continues by other means as India frustrates justice seekers

Sach Kanwal Singh
NEW DELHI: One by one, they will all die. Men and women who watched blood-thirsty mobs led by India's top political leaders hunt, track, beat, kick, loot and burn Sikhs in the country's national capital are increasingly getting old, exhausted, frustrated and thwarted in their efforts to seek even a semblance of justice.
A few are brave enough to come out, stand up and be counted, and Giani Surinder Singh was one of them. Under intense pressure, and threat to life, Surinder Singh dared to depose as a witness, time and again, once even before the dreaded CBI, and then returned to India from the US to persue the case and depose again. His one last wish was to see some justice before he died.
He lost.
Surinder Singh died at his Delhi home following a cardiac arrest last Monday. He was 58, and a brave man. He was suffering from acute diabetes and was admitted to the AIIMS last week. He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.
Surinder Singh fought for justice till the last breath. A number of Sikh leaders and families of victims of 1984 pogrom attended his cremation at Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi on Tuesday morning.
Surinder Singh had filed an affidavit before the Justice Nanavati Commission in January 2002, narrating how he saw Congress leader Jagdish Tytler inciting the mob in November 1984 but had then withdrawn the affidavit in August the same year. Later, when he saw the time was opportune, Surinder Singh stood up and said he was threatened and pressurised, and he stuck to his original statement.
Following Delhi's Karkardooma court's directive to the CBI for re-investigations in the case, his statement was recorded by the probe agency in New York after much drama and reluctance. He returned to India on April 28 this year to ensure that Tytler does not go free and CBI does not use his absence as an excuse to issue the mass murderer a clean chit but the court did not permit him to record his statement.
The Case of Surinder Singh
In November 1984, Giani Surinder Singh was at the Pul Bangash Gurdwara in Delhi where he witnessed Jagdish Tytler ordering the killings of Sikhs. As a result of instigation and orders of Jagdish Tytler, three Sikhs, namely, Bhai Badal Singh Raagi of the Gurdwara, Thakur Singh, a retired police inspector and Amarjit Singh Bedi’s servant were killed. On the instigation of Jagdish Tytler, Gurdwara Pul Bangash was also set on fire and 36 copies of Guru Granth Sahib were burnt to ashes.
After his statement to the CBI in India, Giani Surinder Singh had said he was receiving threatening and harassing calls and messages and had then come to the United States. After this, his wife and daughters were harassed back home and his house No. 9, 10 New Block Aruna Nagar, New Delhi was seized by men backed by Jagdish Tytler and his wife and daughters thrown out of the house. Police had even threatened to put his wife behind bars, Giani Surinder Singh had alleged. After this the CBI asked him to give a statement about the November 1984 events before the CBI officers on December 23 and December 24, 2009 in New York, USA. “I appeared before the CBI on said dates and was subjected to interview which lasted for more than fourteen hours over a period of two days.”

As we said, one by one, they will all die.
Surinder Singh's death comes within months of the death of Gurcharan Singh Rishi. In fact, Surinder Singh had said that it was the death of Gurcharan Singh Rishi on February 17 this year that convinced him that he must go to India and pursue the case. Rishi remained bed ridden for 25 long years after being thrown into a burning truck during the 1984 genocide and kept waiting for an opportunity to record his statement against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, involved in killings of Sikhs, but never got it.
It was not easy to depose as a witness, not even 25 years after the pogrom. In fact, the mental torture continued unabated. When he landed in Delhi this year, his passport was seized and he was not allowed to return to the US. He was illegally detained, harassed and accused of speaking against the Indian government in the United States.
"He was under a lot of pressure to change his statement against Tytler," activist advocate HS Phoolka, who has represented 1984 victims in courts, said.
Legal counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, also fighting the cases of the victims, said in the US that Surinder Singh's demise was a "great setback to the Sikh community". Surinder Singh had recorded his statement before the CBI alongwith Jasbir Singh, another witness, after an expose thwarted the agency's bid to let Tytler off the hook.
Men like Surinder Singh and Gurcharan Singh are dying. When Gurcharan Singh died, he was half-burnt half-alive and had spent 25 years watching Akali Dal and Congress governments come and go, commissions of inquiry being appointed and wrapped up, and had witnessed that the world cared no more. When he died on February 17, he was still fighting on the frontline trenches of human rights and was preparing to again try and appear on February 19 before a Delhi court, ready to say again that yes, he did see Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, leading the bloody mobs.

The Case of Gurcharan Singh
In a damning front page report on Jan 30 this year, India's The Asian Age newspaper had quoted Gurcharan Singh as narrating: "Sajjan Kumar told the rioters: ‘Is mohalle ka ek bhi sardar zinda nahin bachna chahiye. In kutton ko saza deni hai (Not even a single Sikh here must escape alive. These dogs must be punished).' He had come there specifically to direct the rioters, who were mostly from surrounding villages and bastis, but led by one of his henchmen, Kirpa Ram," Gurcharan Singh had alleged. Then only 17 years old, the frightened young man had heard the Congressman's thunderous speech from the edge of the restive crowd that had collected near his home that morning.
"I wore a cap over my patka (under-turban) to disguise my identity," he had said. Baying for blood after Sajjan Kumar's venomous sermon, the mob began fanning out and targeting homes and shops owned by Sikhs. "They first set fire to the Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Mohan Garden and then stormed our home because my father Nath Singh was the president of the gurdwara," Gurcharan Singh had said, recalling the worst morning of his life.
The killers did not spare any male Sikh. Gurcharan's uncle, who was visiting from Khurja, was hacked to death. His father was beaten mercilessly and left only because the attackers thought he was dead. "They thrashed my brother, Tejinder and me and flung our bodies onto a truck that they had just set on fire," he said. The two brothers were later dragged out from the smouldering vehicle by some young boys who had managed to hide from the killers.
Gurcharan Singh escaped with his life, but only just. He relived the horror and pain every single day of the rest of his 24 years confined to his bed and completely dependent on the meagre care his poor family could ill afford. He decided to break his long silence despite his own suffering, but had little hope from the Indian justice dispensing system. "When they flung me into the burning truck I called out to Wahe Guru three times and I believed He (God) saved me for a purpose. Now it is up to Him to bring the guilty to book," he had said.
It was wise of Gurcharan Singh to have faith in Waheguru, because the Indian state failed him and the so-called leaders of the community who came to exercise some political power have since found new agendas and secularized themselves, translating secularism as a move to shun all concerns of the community and their people.

Sikh Study Forum claim Sikhs have ‘moved on’ from 1984



Sikh Study Forum claim Sikhs have ‘moved on’ from 1984
By Baldev Singh Sabar
Sikh Study Forum celebrated its silver jubilee event last Sunday 12th July 2009 at Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College, Chigwell.
Sikh Study Forum was founded in 1984 following the storming of the Golden Temple by Indian authorities which raised a lot of contention amongst the community.
The aim of the Forum is to debate and dialogue on issues ofSikhism and seek a way forward. Mr. Tarsame Singh chaired the first session of the day which started with prayers and Mr. Amarjeet Singh Toor, Headmaster of the College welcomed everyone to Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College.
Mr. Baldev Singh Sabar, the Convenor of Sikh Study Forum spoke about their 25 years work and highlighted the topics they had debated on issues of mutual concern to the community.
Councillor Balvinder Kaur Saund, Chairperson of Sikh Women's Alliance thanked the Sikh Study Forum for initiating the first Sikh Women's Group in UK and for their support in organising their first Sikh Women's Conference in 2002.
The setting up of a woman's group by all male Executive was its best achievement, and worthy of congratulations. During the first session of the event, Mr. Gurinder Singh Sacha, an emminent Scholar and writer of many books, presented a paper written in English entitled 'Post 1984 Sikh Renaissance'. This paper written very ably was received well, upon which questions and contributions from the audience were debated.
The audience gave feedback that despite all the problems arising from the 1984 Operation Bluestar and the subsequent anti-Sikh killings in Delhi inNovember 1984 communal riots, the community had moved on, although they had not forgotten the suffering of families had lost loved ones, with many families wiped out altogether, and no-one held responsible thereafter by the Indian authorities. That the glass was half full, not half empty.
That post 1984 Sikh Renaissance in the world were making progressand staying on the positive 'Chardi Kala' path. Councillor Jamu, former Mayor of Barking and Dagenham impressed the importance of getting politically involved in the democracy process of the UK society, The second session of the event consisted of Peotic Symposium - Kavi Darbar which was chaired by Arvinder Singh Khalsa.
Many poets read their poems and some sang them with great emotion. The young upcoming poets and singers were encouraged and inspired to continue with their work. In conclusion, Sikh Study Forum were congratulated on reaching their silver jubilee and wished even more successin the future.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Patiala court acquits Babbar Khalsa members Bhau and Jassa



Patiala court acquits Babbar Khalsa members Bhau and Jassa
GAGANDEEP AHUJA
PATIALA : The additional chief judicial magistrate K. S. Cheema on Tuesday acquitted Baljit Singh Bhau and Jasvir Singh Jassa of Babbar Khalsa International as persecution has failed to provide any evidence against them.

Patiala police had registered case against Baljit Singh alias Bhau and Jasbir Singh alias Jassa under sections 121-A, 124-A, 153-A, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, 212, 216 of IPC and section 25 of arms act for carrying weapons without license. Both were arrested from different places in the month of June 2005.
BS Sodhi defence counsel said that Patiala police has failed to establish any of evidence against them.
In 2007 Patiala court on the orders of High court given bail to both Bhau and Jassa High court has directed that they should not be tried under sections 121A, 124A and 153A of IPC, as those offences were not made out against them.
Baljeet Singh Bhau currently in Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in Delhi cinema hall blasts while jassa was on bail. Both Bhau and Jassa were present today in the court premises.
Patiala police had alleged that Baljit Singh had started as a parking contractor in Chandigarh and has a checkered criminal record. Baljit, son of an Army officer, was first booked for an economic offence by the Chandigarh police in 1994 when he failed to execute a parking contract for the PGI. "Then he was booked for rioting in Patiala in 1997. He surrendered in 2001 and was sent to Burail Jail where he came in contact with Hawara. Baljit came out of the jail in 10 months and got involved with the Tota gang of Chandigarh with whom he indulged in a highway dacoity in 2003."
" Jagtar Singh Hawara who is main accused of assassination of chief minister Beant Singh, following his escape from the jail, contacted Baljit in July, 2004. Hawara started having regular meetings with Baljit, Gurdip and Sukhdev Singh and declared Baljit as the area commander of the BKI for Patiala, Sirhind and Sangrur.
Baljit was allegedly instrumental in getting Hawara married to a minor girl of a village in Dhuri, introducing Hawara as Sahib Singh, his NRI brother from California. It was also alleged that Baljit Singh arranged for a house for Hawara in Ablowal road where he shifted on May 7, 2005

Immortal Productions Releases ‘Chaurasi 84′


Immortal Productions Releases ‘Chaurasi 84′
UK: In remembrance of the attacks on the Golden Temple in 1984, that have often been called a Sikh Holocaust, Immortal Productions have released “Chaurasi 84.” The album gives a detailed account of the events that occurred during what many refer to as a genocide of the Sikh people.
The music of the album is dedicated to the bloodshed that occurred during the attacks of what is known as Operation Blue Star and its aftermath. The Operation was ordered by the prime minister during that time, Indira Gandhi, in order to stop Sikhs from holding weapons in the Golden Temple. Indira Gandhi’s decision to start a military operation on a holy place of Sikh prayer caused uproar within the Sikh Community and much tension arose. The results were very brutal on both ends and have caused hostility that exists to this day.
The album opens with a request for the listener not to dance to the music but instead, respect it and learn from the message that it brings. “Chaurasi 84″ has a classic Punjabi feel to it and features traditional Punjabi instruments, such as the Dhad, Sarangi and Kaveeshar; yet there is however, a modern edge to it as well as more contemporary studio effects are used. The compilation of the album includes the works of, producers, Tiger Style, Money Spinner, and many more well known names in the Punjabi Music Industry.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

'We are afraid the Taliban will find us'


'We are afraid the Taliban will find us'
As the millions displaced by the fighting in north-west Pakistan begin their return, others face the prospect of never going homeIn pictures: Pakistan's Sikh refugees
Children of Sikh families displaced by fighting swim in the waters outside the Gurdwara Panja Sahib. Photograph: Declan Walsh
Flight from the Taliban has been a bittersweet experience for Darsha Singh, a turbaned Sikh farmer sitting on the steps of an ancient, glittering shrine just outside Pakistan's North-West Frontier province.
For two months he has been living at the Panja Sahib gurdwara, an ornate temple that is one of the most revered sites in Sikhism and which has become a temporary home to 3,000 Sikhs from across the war-stricken province.
It is a luxurious refuge compared with the conditions endured by most of the region's 2 million displaced, some of whom started to trickle home in military-protected convoys today.
Instead of a dust-strewn camp the Sikhs live in quarters normally reserved for pilgrims. Thanks to official and private donations they enjoy a well-stocked clinic, a 24-hour kitchen and a temporary school that bustles with laughing children.
At the shrine at the heart of the complex, the devout while away the day inside a rainbow-tiled room, perusing scripture and murmuring their prayers. Outside the door, boisterous teenagers yell and splash about in a cool, clear pool that quivers with fish, which volunteers feed diced cucumber.
But the serene atmosphere is scant consolation to Darsha Singh, who fears he may never return home.
Two months ago, long-haired Taliban fighters stormed into Orakzai, a tribal agency near the Afghan border, brandishing AK-47 rifles and bringing a harsh demand: that the area's 40 Sikh families should pay jazia, an ancient tax on non-Muslims living in an Islamic state.
To encourage the payment of 12m rupees (£90,000), they kidnapped and tortured one of Singh's neighbours. The Sikh community banded together to pay half the money, secured his release, then fled.
"The Taliban are still demanding the money," said Singh, a sprig of orange visible under his blue turban. "They recently rang me looking for the rest of the money. We are afraid they will find us, even here."
The jazia demand highlights how the Taliban onslaught has upended decades of inconspicuous social harmony between Pashtun tribesmen and religious minorities. An estimated 10,000 Sikhs live in the Frontier, where they have quietly thrived as traders, civil servants, doctors and farmers, often providing a middle-class backbone to poor societies.
They are the descendants of families that stayed behind at partition with India in 1947, protected by communities that valued them. They have become an integrated part of Pashtun society – attending weddings and funerals, even getting involved in hashish smuggling.
When fighting gripped Mingora, the capital of the Swat valley, last May, a Sikh doctor remained at the city hospital after all other staff fled. "We lived with the people like brothers," said Singh.
The arrival of the gun-toting Taliban steamrolled this precious, and little-known, sense of tolerance. When jazia was last imposed on the Indian subcontinent 300 years ago, during the Mughal empire, it was considered a legitimate tax. Under the Taliban, it has become a thinly disguised extortion racket.
The problem was greatest in Orakzai, where the Taliban razed the homes of 11 Sikhs after the community fled last May. The intimidation was orchestrated by Hakimullah Mehsud, a close aide to the Taliban emir Baitullah Mehsud, who swept into the area from South Waziristan.
Others have since tried to copy him. Two weeks ago the leader of a small community in Battagram, in southern North West Frontier province, said the Taliban threatened to kidnap his neighbours if they failed to pay 6m rupees. "They told us to choose between jazia and Islam or face kidnapping and suicide attacks," Dr Oam Parkash told Dawn newspaper.
But in other areas, old ties prevailed over extremist ideology. The Taliban in Buner, which is home to a large Sikh community, did not demand payment, said Dr Soren Singh, a community leader. "They were mostly locals so we knew them personally. In fact they told us to come to them if we had any problems," he said.
Still, many feared they would be pushed out sooner or later. Bansri Lal, a shrine guardian from Mingora, recalled how the Afghan Taliban required non-Muslims to wear yellow clothes. "In Muslim governments they give three choices – leave the city, convert to Islam and fight with us, or pay the tax," he said.
The Sikhs from Swat and Buner plan to go home a week from now, provided the Pakistani government can assure their security. But for those from Orakzai, which is still in Taliban hands, it remains impossible.
And, like their Muslim neighbours, many wonder if life in the frontier will be the same again.

Giani Surinder Singh (key witness against Tytler in 1984 riots case) passes away


Giani Surinder Singh (key witness against Tytler in 1984 riots case) passes away

With profound grief and sorrow we regret to inform you that Giani Surinder Singh Ji has passed away at All India Institute Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He went to heavenly abode at 11.00 A.M in the morning.
It may be notified that Giani Suirnder Singh Ji was one of the key witnesses in 1984 riots case . It may be noted that Giani Ji had already feared his life as he was the key witness against 1984 anti sikh riots conspirator Jagdish Tytler.
Lets pray for the wellness of departed soul.

1984 Sikh Genocide key witness died in Delhi


1984 Sikh Genocide key witness died in Delhi

Delhi, India: Key witness in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case Surinder Singh (61) had died of prolonged illness at AIIMS, New Delhi, today.
Revealing this to The Tribune, President of the All India Sikh Students’ Federation Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, who is supporting the riot victims for seeking justice, said Surinder was suffering from acute diabetes. He was admitted to the AIIMS last week.
Surinder, who was now settled in the US, came to India on April 28 this year to record his statement before the CBI court against Tytler, but the court did not permit him to record his statement.
Legal counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun fighting the cases of the riot victims at the international level in the US told The Tribune on telephone that his sudden demise was a great setback to the Sikh community. However, he said the affidavit and statement given by Surinder Singh before the CBI was strong evidence against Tytler, which could not be ruled out by any court.
He has left behind his wife, a son and two daughters. Cremation of the body would be done in New Delhi tomorrow.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Radio Pakistan still hopes to revive Khalistan agitation


Radio Pakistan still hopes to revive Khalistan agitation

From ANIAbohar, July 13: Radio Pakistan in its latest broadcast has attempted to provoke communal sentiments in Punjab.

In its Punjabi Darbar programme, it mentioned about the Blue Star Operation of 1984 and blamed the Akalis for not showing unity in reviving the issue. Radio Pakistan's anti-India propaganda and attempt to provoke people have been contested by Prof. Gurdeep Singh, a Sikh Scholar and Rajinder Singh, a village head, in Abohar. "Sikh religion is beyond politics. The Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind planned the Akal Takht right in front of Shri Harmander Sahab and the staircase of Akal Takht was constructed from Shri Harmander Sahab, so to make the world know how above the Sikh religion is from politics," said Prof. Gurdeep Singh, a Sikh scholar,"There is no discrimination Hindus and Sikhs in India. Pakistan radio wants to create tensions between Hindus and Sikhs. But people here are now well aware of Pakistan's propaganda. A number of Sikhs have sacrificed their lives for the country. The Sikhs are given equal respect like other religions in the country," said Rajinder Singh, a village head.Broadcasters of Radio Pakistan must remember Indian listeners switch on to their channel just to hear the good music of Pakistan and not to their anti-India propaganda. The four-day Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to remove Sikh separatists who were amassing weapons in the Golden Temple in Amritsar.It was launched in response to a deterioration of law and order in the Indian state of Punjab.

Sikh Football Academy host directed by Valerie Kaur



Sikh Football Academy host directed by Valerie Kaur
A film that has received critical acclaim throughout the United States gets its UK premiere at the new Wembley Stadium, August 24. Hosted by the Khalsa Football Academy (KFA), an organisation that began in Letchworth in 1988, it is the latest in a series of innovative projects that the KFA have been involved with.
The film, Divided We Fall by Valarie Kaur, explores issues of racial tension and violence in a post-9/11 world and will be followed by a series of workshops, led by Valarie and KFA’s founding Director, Bal Singh, that aim to increase community understanding of race and religion.
It is the sort of project that Bal has been involved with since the beginnings of the Khalsa football club in Letchworth over 20 years ago. From the very start, one of Bal’s intentions was to produce greater understanding between players of different nationalities, race, colour and creed. Still based in Letchworth as player-manager of Sporting KFA, Bal explains a bit more about his work:
“We began as a small football club with a big aim – bring more Asian players in to grassroots football. Since those early days we have come a long way, and we have been involved in a whole range of projects that are trying to promote racial understanding throughout the whole community. This award-winning film is an example of communicating with people about racial issues and we were delighted to be involved in bringing it to the UK through our ‘Striving For Unity’ project.”
Bal Singh is a UEFA-qualified coach, one of a small number of Asians in the UK who has reached this standard. Having worked with and met some of the biggest names in world football in the last 20 years – Patrick Kluivert, Franco Baresi, Carlos Alberto to name but three – hopefully Bal can be an inspiration to emerging local talent, whatever their race or religious background.

Monday 13 July 2009

Indiana Gurdwara Violates Hukamnama


Indiana Gurdwara Violates Hukamnama
Panthic Weekly News Bureau
Crown Point, Indiana (KP)—According to members of Respect for Guru Granth Sahib North America (R4G-NA), members of an Indiana Gurdwara have been committing beadbi by taking saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to hotels and clubhouses to perform Sikh marriages. Sri Akal Takht Sahib issued a Hukamnama in 1998 forbidding Sikh Anand-Karajs to be held at hotels, marriage palaces, and at any other venues where proper respect of Guru Granth Sahib could not be kept.
(Click to View HukamNama of Sri Akal Takht Sahib)
Eyewitnesses report that the Sikh Religious Society of Indiana allowed the transportation for a sacred saroop of Guru Granth Sahib Ji to be taken the Meadows Club in the town of Rolling Meadows, Illinois on May 25th, 2009 for a wedding held for a daughter of a Chicago resident, Harpreet Singh.
Meat, alcohol, and cigarettes used in same hall
When the Sikh sangat from Chicago initially found out about the plan to transport the sacred saroop to a hotel/club hall where meat, alcohol, and cigarettes are openly used, they requested the wedding organizers to hold the function at the Gurdwara Sahib in Palatine. The organizers declined to heed the advice of the Sangat, and instead went on and proceeded with their plans in cooperation with Sikh Religious Society of Indiana members.
In violation of Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s edicts, the wedding participants, along with Sikh Religious Society of Indiana head granthi Harpal Singh committed the beadbi on May 25th.
Bride’s Father Challenges Sri Akal Takht
According to an eyewitness, the bride’s father, Harpreet Singh, boasted in a telephone conversation that the Sikh Religious Society of Indiana will hold another such wedding.
He also challenged the authority of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, by reportedly saying, “Go tell Akal Takht that we are not afraid of any Jathedar. What are you doing to do about this now?”
Allegedly, he also used derogatory language against the Takht Jathedars and Gursikhs who were requesting for implementation of the Hukamnamas. The local Sangat from Chicago also approached Gurnam Singh Sidhu and Surjit Singh Grewal, both trustees of Sikh Religious Society of Indiana. They also rejected the Sangat's pleas.
Respect for Guru Granth Sahib North America sevadar M. Singh told Panthic Weekly that he is disappointed by the news. "How can these people call themselves Sikhs yet completely disregard hukamnamas from the Panth? Even without the hukamnamas, it doesn't take much more than common sense and basic knowledge of Sikh principles to know that this is wrong."
The volunteer further spoke about Gurdwaras that are now bringing the party hall to the Gurudwara. According to him, many Gurdwaras in North America are now allowing tents and special halls to be filled with tables where guests can wear shoes, decorate elaborately and bring in caterers—completely bypassing the Guru's langar.
"They just keep taking it further and further. Why do they even do an Anand Karaj, a holy ceremony with deep spiritual meaning, when outwardly they do not want to be Sikhs?" he asked.
Contact information for Crown Point Gurdwara:Sikh Religious Society of Indiana10005, Colorado StreetCrown Point, Indiana USA- 46307(219) 793-9446

Sunday 12 July 2009

US architect to beautify Golden Temple surroundings


US architect to beautify Golden Temple surroundings

Chandigarh, July 12 (IANS) Internationally acclaimed US-based architect Moshe Safdie will beautify the surroundings of the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, in Amritsar city.Safdie, who has been involved in the unique Khalsa Heritage Centre (KHC) at Anandpur Sahib - the birth place of ‘Khalsa Panth’ in 1699 - will also give a facelift to the corridor (galiara) around the Golden Temple.
The decision to hand over these projects to Safdie was taken at a meeting of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with the architect and his team here Sunday.
Safdie said he would make a detailed presentation on the beautification plan to the Punjab government.
The area from the historic Jallianwala Bagh till the Golden Temple would be beautified, he said. Badal asked him to complete the project within two years.
He said the existing approved plan for beautification of the corridor around the Golden Temple would also be an integral part of his composite plan.
Safdie said the Golden Temple has the potential to become a preferred destination of religious tourism as it is one of the most sacred amongst religious places in the world visited by millions from all faiths every year.
He said he would also utilise the services of renowned Lebanese landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic for planting rare species of trees and shrubs that would be brought from various part of world to accentuate its mystic aura and serenity.
Badal also asked Safdie to develop an area of 60 acres around the Khalsa heritage complex in Anandpur Sahib for landscaping.
The heritage complex project, started on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the ‘Khalsa Panth’, was to be completed by 2004 but got delayed.
It is now expected to be dedicated to the nation on April 13, 2010.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Sikh activists in the making, inspire



Sikh activists in the making, inspire
Posted by Reema in Activism, Education, Organizations, Sikhi, USA on 07 10th, 2009

Early last week, a remarkable thing happened. Sikh children took to NYC streets again- some in strollers- and they were heard.
Last fall, the New York Department of Education passed a regulation in response to disturbing findings about the bullying that Sikh children face in schools. The regulation promised to define, track, and prevent bias-based harassment in NYC public schools. So after the first school year in which the regulation was in effect, how did the schools measure up?
The results were made public at a recent press conference by the Sikh Coalition and Sikh youth in NYC in front of the Department of Education’s headquarters. The Sikh Coalition teamed up with area organizations including the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), to release a report card grading the first year of the regulation’s implementation. Speakers at the press conference included representatives from Queens and Brooklyn schools and organizations such as the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), and Make the Road NY.
Problems remain, the report card shows. Based on the Sikh Coalition’s survey, there was no significant decline in the rate of harassment in the first year of the regulation’s implementation. [pg.9] Perhaps most disturbingly, out of all harassment reported by children, 16% was committed by a school official such as a teacher, school staff member, or security officer. [pg.12] In addition, after 90% of reported incidents of harassment to school officials, the school failed to properly follow protocol for investigation and follow-up. [pg.11]
For the full report card, click here.
But despite these continuing and disturbing problems, the turnout, spirit, and coverage of this press conference is a sure sign of progress. The kids spontaneously broke out into song at one point, singing “We are the Khalsa, mighty mighty Khalsa,” assuring young Jagmohan Gurnam Singh that the Khalsa stood behind him as he prepared to give his speech in front of television crews. The youth’s refusal to accept the status quo, their direct communication with government officials and the public, and collaboration with other community groups are progress in themselves. [edited 7/10/09]
The video below is short, and truly inspiring. Watch for the girls at the end, one of whom says (at 4:41), “I don’t care if they make fun of me, because I know who I am…” It seems that Mapleleaf Sikh’s observation after “When Lions Roar,” has become the theme of the summer.
These kids are gonna be alright.

Friday 10 July 2009

Bollywood adds a dagger into the hearts of Sikhs


Bollywood adds a dagger into the hearts of Sikhs
Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt
Sanjay Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan will play Punjab cops in Apoorva Lakhia's Next, a thriller set during the 1980s Khalistan movement in the state.
June 29, 2009, (Sawf News) - Sanjay Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan will play Punjab cops in Apoorva Lakhia's Next, a thriller set during the 1980s Khalistan movement in the state.
Dutt will play super cop KPS Gill, while Bachchan will play a police sharp shooter, Sawf News reported
Sikhs even today are unable to accept the fact that KPS Gill is walking free after the Sikh riots in November 1984, when 20,000 Sikhs were killed in the capital of India.
The two stars featured in Lakhia's 2007 thriller Shootout at Lokhandwala, based upon the real-life gun battle between Mumbai gangsters and Police.
Dutt played Additional Commissioner of Police (ACP) Aftab Ahmed Khan who attacked the Lokhandwala Complex on November 16, 1991 , with a force of around 100 armed Policemen to flush out the dreaded gangster Maya Dolas and his accomplices who were hiding in the complex. Bachchan played former chief justice turned private prosecutor Dhingra.
The film's story had a Punjab connection; Aftab explained to Dhingra that following Operation Bluestar in 1984, several Sikh terrorists fled to Mumbai and began establishing a base in the city. They engaged in violence, extortion and other subversive tactics to grow their operations.
The script for Lakhia's new thriller will be based on real instances that took place in Punjab in the 1980s after rigorous research.
“It will be in the same genre as Shoot-out At Lokhandwala,” Lakhia told TOI.
The film will be produced by Shree Ashtavinayak.

Thursday 9 July 2009

AKAL TAKHT BARS GAY MARRIAGES IN GURDWARAS


Akal Takht bars gay marriages in gurdwaras
AMRITSAR: Even as Amrit and Jeeta — possibly the first gay couple in India to marry after the Delhi High Court read down section 377 that penalizes
sex between homosexuals —spent a day in marital bliss, an uncomfortable and angry Sikh clergy issued directions to all gurdwara management committees of the world to not solemnize such unions ‘‘as it is against Gurmat and has no place in Sikhism.’’ The censure came after a meeting at the Akal Takht secretariat on Wednesday of Sikh high priests, among them the jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, and Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh. “Gay marriages are not acceptable in Sikhism and have no place in Gurmat,” said Gurbachan Singh, adding that the five Sikh high priests have issued strict directions to all gurdwaras across the globe to abide by the diktat. ‘‘The heads of other religions and faiths also have a similar opinion on gay relations,’’ he said, finding brotherhood in the group of enraged Hindu, Christian and Muslim leaders who have condemned the court’s rethink on the anti-gay section of IPC. Harnam Singh Khalsa, head of Damdami Taksal, too, echoed the anti-homosexual chorus, protesting India’s inclusion in the list of 150 countries, including South Africa, China, Nepal, Australia, Canada and Argentina, where homosexuality is legal. ‘‘Gay marriages,’’ he said, ‘‘are not acceptable and we strongly oppose it. We may even begin an agitation against such relations.’’ Going a step further, Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal has asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the state government to take legal steps that would prevent gay marriages in the state ‘‘which would only lead to moral degradation in society.’’

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Baba Balbir Singh, and Three others Arrested by Punjab Police


Baba Balbir Singh, and Three others Arrested by Punjab Police


MOGA, Punjab (KP) - In a deep rooted controversy, the Badal Government carried out a series of raids this past week arresting a total of four Singhs. The operation, carried out to appease anti-Panthic elements, left Panthic observers shocked as Baba Balbir Singh of village Lamma Jatpura was named as one of the arrested persons and allegedly, a large number of weapons were recovered from his possession.Baba Balbir Singh (Lamma Jatpura) , associated with the Damdami Taksal, has been active in Panthic circles for past decades. He enjoys support of a large number of Sikhs in his area and throughout Punjab. Along with Baba Balbir Singh, two of the three additional arrested persons also hail from the village Lamma Jatpura. According to received reports, Baba Balbir Singh was found travelling in a white coloured Maruti car, along with two more Singhs. As reported by the police, large number of gelatin sticks and detonators were recovered from the car. Two more Singhs, namely – Kuljeet Singh Kanta and Bhag Singh, along with Baba Balbir Singh were sent to Police remand until July 6th.After the initial arrests, the police arrested another person named Harvinder Singh/Sukhjinder Singh alias Billa also from Lamma Jatpura and alleged to have recovered a large number of explosives from his possession. The police reported that the four persons were planning on carrying out an attack on the Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim who has been involved in numerous controversies and crimes in the past few years.Baba Balbir Singh enjoys status of a holy person and his arrest has left the entire community in utter shock. Although independent sources have not confirmed the Police statements or presence of detonators or gelatin sticks, it is not uncommon in Punjab for even the Saintly persons to carry self-defense weapons. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee employees are also granted a special license to carry arms. For Police to arrest Baba Balbir Singh solely based on recovery of personals arms is unacceptable.To further raise the controversy behind the arrest, Panthic circles have hinted at close involvement of Parkash Badal and the Shiromani Akali Dal (B) in the recent arrests. Allegation have surfaced in Panthic circles that the recent conference organized in Ludhiana by Paramjit Sarna might have been the cause for the arrests. Sarna had asked leaders of religious and political organizations to gather at the Ludhiana conference and chalk out a plan for reviving the SGPC and release its control from the clutches of Shiromani Akali Dal (B).Baba Balbir Singh’s popularity amongst the Sikhs could have made him a key opponent of the SGPC if Sarna was to overthrow the Badal regime and control over the SGPC. Further, as Baba Balbir Singh’s name has not been heard in the mainstream extremist scenes for a while, his arrest probably came easier than that of anyone else opposing Badal and it certainly left an impact on anyone else thinking of doing the same.Human rights organizations should investigate the arrest of Baba Balbir Singh and other Singhs and seek a rightful and independent inquiry by the court. At the same time, the Sant Samaj organization that claims to represent the voice of Sikh Saints should also come up and raise voice in defense of Baba Balbir Singh who is a respected personality of the entire Sikh Nation.There is no doubt that Baba Balbir Singh’s name has wrongfully been attached with the Khalistan Zindabad Force by the police to defame him and strengthen the fabricated charges against him. Baba Balbir Singh has in past travelled to foreign countries. His last visit to the United States was in April 2007 and if his name was associated with the Khalistan Zindabad Force, he should have never been granted visas to visit foreign countries.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Bachchan and Dutt to play Punjabi police officers


Bachchan and Dutt to play Punjabi police officers
Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt will be sharing thesilver screen together in Apoorva Lakhia`s upcoming thriller.
They will both play Punjabi police officers in the movie which is set against the backdrop of 1980s Khalistan movement.
Dutt will play super cop KPS Gill, while Bachchan will play a police sharp shooter. The story of the thriller revolves around Operation Bluestar in 1984, when several Sikh terrorists fled to Mumbai and began establishing a base in the city through violence and extortion.The film is produced by Shree Ashtavinayak.The two stars featured in Lakhia`s 2007 thriller ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’, based on the real-life gun battle between Mumbai gangsters and Police.
The Khalistan movement was an attpemt by a group of Indian Punjabis to create an independant Sikh state.
In the 1980s, some of Khalistan proponents turned to militancy, resulting in Indian Army's counter-militancy operations. In one such operation, Operation Blue Star, the Sikh holy shrine was desecrated by the Indian Army, resulting in widespread criticism of the Indian Government. The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards, and many thousands of Sikhs were massacred in riots that followed.

Monday 6 July 2009

BIRTHAY CELEBRATIONS OF SIXTH GURU


Birthday celebrations of sixth Sikh Guru today

HYDERABAD: Giani Gurbachan Singhji, Jathedar of Akal Takht Saheb, the Supreme temporal authority for Sikhs across the world will perform `Ardas’ (a Sikh prayer that is performed for a significant task) for rains in Andhra Pradesh. The Jathedar is in the City to participate in the 414th birthday celebrations of sixth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahebji which would be celebrated at Maharana Pratap Function Hall in Amberpet tomorrow.
Prabhandak Committee, Gurudwara Saheb, Hargobindpuri, Amberpet will hold `Vishaal Deewan’ (Mass Congregation) at the Function Hall from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. tomorrow.
The event will be marked by recitations of Gurubani Keertans (holy hymns) by reputed Ragi Jathas, Bhai Gurmeet Singh of Darbar Saheb, Harmandir Saheb (Golden Temple), Amritsar, Bhai Gurmail Singh of Toombiwale and other Ragi Jathas will recite Gurbani keertans.

State wants Khalistan terrorist to stay behind bars for 50 yrs


State wants Khalistan terrorist to stay behind bars for 50 yrs
Nishan Singh Jaimal Singh Sohel was just a teenager when he was arrested by the Maharashtra police in December 1991 for terrorist activities. Now if the state government has its way, Sohel will not be walking free for another 33 years or till he attains the age of 65.
Sohel, who operated for the Khalistan Commando Force in the state, has since been in prison — first as an undertrial and later as a convict following a life sentence awarded by a designated TADA court in March 1997. The police had recovered explosives, AK-47 rifles, detonators, grenades and magazines from him.
The state government had, in a letter to the Inspector General of Prisons in September 2006, stated that “it is clear that the convict and his co-accused have committed murder with the use of weapons/explosives for the cause of Khalistan”.
“Considering the seriousness of the crime and its social implications, the convict's political philosophy and the premeditated manner in which the offences have been committed, like wise taking into account the present age (31), your recommendation to release him prematurely as per his 14-year report is rejected,” Avinash Sable, Under Secretary to the Home Department, had stated.
He also stated that the government will consider his premature release only after he undergoes a minimum 50 years of actual imprisonment or on completion of 65 years of age.
Sohel had earlier moved the Bombay High Court, seeking premature release. However, the court dismissed the petition as infructuous after the government produced the letter from the Home Department.
He moved the high court again last year, seeking premature release on grounds that he has already served 17 years of actual imprisonment and 23 years of imprisonment with remissions. He contended that the government’s order is violative of the 1992 guidelines, which form the basis for consideration of cases for premature release of life convicts.
When the case came up for hearing, the state government produced a similar letter, dated April 20, which said that Sohel has to undergo at least 50 years of actual imprisonment or attain the age of 65 years in view of the amended guidelines of December 18, 2008. As per this, the state has powers to expand the sentence without the consent of the convict on grounds that if the convict is released, he might commit similar offences.
The letter said there are no specific guidelines for premature release to deal with cases involving terrorist acts. The court adjourned the case till July 8 for the state to produce an order regarding their stand so that, if need be, the petitioner can challenge the same.
Sohel, who hails from Haryana, and accomplice Ravindrasingh were convicted after it was established that they had joined one Padamsingh, the area commander for Maharashtra, in creating terror by way of bomb blasts in trains and public places. They raised funds by looting the rich and business firms and got their supply of ammunition and explosives from Punjab. While the two were convicted to life, another accused Hardeep Singh was acquitted.
According to senior criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, a life sentence means the person is liable to spend all his life in prison as per the latest Supreme Court judgment. He, however, said he has not come across any case in which the state is seeking to keep a convict in prison till he is 65 years of age.

Sunday 5 July 2009

AKAL TAKHT SAYS NO TO GAY RELATIONSHIPS


Akal Takht says no to gay relationships
Amritsar: The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism is of the firm view that Delhi High Court judgement on gay relationships could ruin the society as this was against the tenets of all religions.
Reacting to the judgement on Saturday, Takht Jathedar Gian Gurbachan Singh said the Sikh religion or for that matter any religion did not permit sexual relations between individuals of the same sex.
"This is a very serious matter and against religious codes and ethics, "he said while appealing to the Sikhs against maintaining relations with the same sex.
"Any Sikh, baptised, non-baptised or one who believes in the Guru Granth Sahib, need not be influenced by the court judgement and should always refrain from establishing gay relationships," he said.
An edict issued from Akal Takht nearly four years ago had not only prohibited Sikhs from being involved in gay relationships but had described such a relationship as 'anti religious'. This edict was issued when there was a hot debate on legalising gay relationships in Canada, where a large number of Sikhs are settled.
Giani Gurcharan Singh said Sikhs should stick to the edict and set an example by keeping themselves away from such all "unnatural relationships".
"The marriage verses enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib are meant to solemnise weddings only between persons of opposite sexes," he said.
The Jathedar informed this issue would also be taken up in the Sikh High Priests meeting scheduled for July 8, and if a consensus was reached, they might issue a fresh appeal to Sikhs to follow the Akal Takht edict issued on this subject earlier.
Giani Joginder Singh Vidanti, a former Takht Jathedar who had passed the edict said that it was still valid for Sikhs, no matter what the courts say or interpret.
"Sikhism is against all forms of unnatural relationships," he added while opining there was an urgent need for building a public opinion against gay relationships.
"Religion has got a very important part to play in halting gay relationships and a public opinion must be built against gay relationships," he added.

Saturday 4 July 2009

Aussie teens try to cut Sikh youth's hair


Aussie teens try to cut Sikh youth's hair

MELBOURNE: In yet another racial attack on Indian students in Australia, a 22-year-old Sikh youth was assaulted by a group of six teenagers, who
tried to remove his turban and cut the hair. Resham Singh, a student of hospitality course who came from Punjab six months ago, became the 20th victim within a month when he was attacked on Monday at Dandenong Station here. Singh, who could not speak English properly, explained in Punjabi that "They first abused me and left and then again came back with more people and also got a pair of scissors along with them. They tried to remove my turban and cut my hair." itimes: Share your experience in Australia "My friends tried to save me," he said, adding "education agent back in India never gave me any information of how hard life will be here." The attackers were later arrested by the police, Victoria police confirmed the arrest of the two persons but withheld the identity of the victim. "The youths from Dandenong -- aged 13 and 15 years -- were charged with intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly causing serious injury and assault in company," a police spokesperson said. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared "zero tolerance" against attacks on students including Indians. Victorian police have also announced an initiative to mount stronger patrolling around train stations to curb any such crime. "I came to know from my college friends about the job market and other information like safety and security issues when I reached here," Singh commented. He said though the episode has shaken him he will continue his course and eventually get permanent residency. Singh pointed out that he took a job of trolley pushing through his friend as he was not getting any job due to his appearance. "No one was ready to hire me as I have beard and turban," he claimed. Interestingly, most of the students who have been attacked are either a student of cookery, hospitality or community services courses studying in cut price private college. These students who live far from family networks of home try to meet costs of expensive living as compared to Indian standards by working late nights and doing odd jobs like cleaning, sweeping, driving cabs or at petrol stations.