News & Views
Col Amrik Singh, Veteran Member IOSS Passes Away
Institute of Sikh Studies is losing its old trustees one by one on whose commitment, dedication and service its foundations were laid. The latest in this series was Col Amrik Singh Khaira. Soon after his retirement from the army service, he joined the team of dedicated veterans. Being humble, unassuming, self-effacing and man of faith, he never aspired for any office but never shirked from any responsibility. Being honest to the core, he remained first the finance secretary and then the secretary of the Institute continuously for 5 years from 2009 to 2013. He also contributed to every project which the Institute launched. He had the potential of being a leader of the team but he preferred to a member of the team. He assisted in proof-reading our periodical’s manuscripts, participated in Institite’s publication Committee meetings and gracefully conducted the executive and General Body’s meetings. As it is said: A leader knows the way, goes the way, shows the way, Col Amrik Singh did everything with grace. May his soul rest in peace.
Pak Delegation Visits Golden Temple
Members of the Permanent Indus Commission delegation from Pakistan, who held talks with their Indian counterparts at New Delhi, visited Golden Temple today, before returning to their country.
The two-day meeting of the commission was led on the Indian side by Indus Water Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Saxena. Led by Pakistan’s Indus water commissioner Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, the Pakistan delegation had arrived through the Wagah-Attari border on March 22 for the first talks in over two-and-a-half years.
Talking to mediapersons, Shah said: “Golden Temple is a sacred place. This is my first visit to this shrine and am overwhelmed by its ambience. This place signifies peace and mutual brotherhood. The issues pertaining to waters and others could be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful manner.” (Courtesy: The Tribune, March 26, 2021)
Chattisinghpura Massacre: On 21st anniversary, Sikh body Renews demand for probe
On the 21st anniversary of the Chattisinghpura massacre, Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir today renewed the call for a fresh probe into the horrific incident with the All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Kashmir, issuing a formal statement in this regard.
“After 21 years, the people of J&K especially the Sikhs of the Valley, are waiting for justice and urge the state and the Centre to nab the culprits of the Chattisinghpura massacre,” president of the committee Jagmohan Singh Raina said today.
The committee said in 2000, unidentified gunmen had entered a quiet south Kashmiri village and massacred 36 men. “The murders shocked the entire region. Questions about who perpetrated the horrific killings still look and await answers. The police said nearly 20 militants carried out the massacre but out of them only five were caught and later killed. Those killed were residents of Brackpura and a judicial enquiry by the Justice Pandan Commission had looked into the matter, but answers still evade us,” Raina said urging for closure to the families of slain Sikhs. Raina appealed to LG Manoj Sinha and the Centre to order a fresh probe into the killings of Sikhs in Chattisinghpura.
“If this is not done, we will consider it as a grave injustice to the Sikhs of Kashmir,” he said. The massacre took place hours before the arrival of then US President Bill Clinton to India, the first visit by a US President to India in 22 years. Raina recalled how after the killings, then CM of the state Farooq Abdullah publicly assured that the culprits would be arrested. “So far the promises made by the former CM have not been fulfilled,” said Raina. (Courtesy: The Tribune, March 21, 2021)
After UP, Army has most Men from Punjab
Piping its neighbours, Punjab, often referred to as the sword army of the nation, has the second highest number of soldiers, other than officers, serving in the Army amongst all states and Union Territories in the country.
The strength of Army personnel from Punjab is 89,088 according to information placed by the Ministry of Defence in Parliament today. This accounts for 7.7 per cent of the Army’s rank and file, even though its share of the national population is 2.3 per cent.
With 1,67,557 soldiers, Uttar Pradesh tops the list of states contributing manpower to the Army. While Uttar Pradesh, the nation’s most populous state, makes up 16.5 per cent of the country’s population, its share in the rank and file is 14.5 per cent. Maharashtra, with 87,835 soldiers occupies the third slot, followed by Rajasthan with 79,481.
Among other states in the region, Haryana is sixth in the national tally while Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh 11th and 12th position respectively. The contribution of these states to the Army, however, is significantly more than their share of the national population.
The Ministry’s data shows that with 65,987 soldiers, Haryana accounts for 5.7 per cent of the rank and file whereas its share of the national population is 2.09 per cent. Jammu and Kashmir, along with Ladakh, and Himachal Pradesh have 47,457 and 46,960 active duty soldiers, respectively. While they account for 1.01 per cent and 0.57 per cent of the national population, respectively, they make up 4.1 and 4 per cent of the Army’s strength, respectively.
The Army currently has 11,51,726 soldiers on its rolls against the authorised strength of 12,29,559, facing a deficiency of 77,833 men in the ranks. As far as officers, other than those in the medical stream, are concerned, the present holding is 42,959 against the authorised 50,806. As far as the Air Force is concerned, Haryana has the second highest number of officers after Uttar Pradesh and the third highest number of airmen.
The region has a strong martial heritage and a rich military history that dates back thousands of years, and is a witness to many wars and battles. Joining the armed forces is a tradition in many families and several generations have donned the uniform.
In the infantry, the largest component of the Army, the Punjab Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry, Jammu and Kashmir Regiment, Jammu and Kashmir Rifles and Ladakh Scouts draw their manposer from this region. Soldiers from these states also make up a sizable chunk of other arms and services.
1st Turban-clad Sikh enters Pak Senate
Gurdeep Singh from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party took oath on Friday as a Senator, becoming the first turban-clad Sikh representative in the upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament.
Singh, from the party of Prime Minister Imran Khan became the first turban-clad Sikh representative from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan’s Senate on March 3. He defeated rival candidates on a minority seat by a huge margin in the election to the upper chamber of Parliament.
He secured 103 votes in the House of 145 whereas Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Fazlur) candidate Ranjeet Singh secured just 25 votes and Asif Bhatti of the Awami National Party received 12.
SGPC Resolution Condemns ‘RSS attempt to make India a Hindu Rashtra’
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the alleged “attempts of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh to make India a Hindu Rashtra” and asked Centre to “work for the protection of the rights and freedom of all religions instead of being ready to implement the efforts initiated by the RSS”.
The elected apex body of Sikhs, during its budget session, took up and passed several resolutions pertaining to the interests of the community. The resolutions were moved by SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur and approved by the members.
The resolutions on the RSS read: “India is a multi-religious, multilingual and multi-ethnic country. Every religion has made a great contribution to its freedom, especially the Sikh community, which has made more than 80 per cent sacrifices. But sadly, for a long time now, religious freedom of other religions has been suppressed in the wake of the RSS’s move to make the country a Hindu Rashtra. Minorities are being targeted through direct and indirect intervention.”
The resolution also called on the Centre “to work for the protection of the rights and freedom of religion of all religions instead of being ready to implement the efforts initiated by the RSS. All those elements who try to suppress the minorities should be punished”.
In another resolution, the SGPC condemned the decision of the central government to restrict the jatha (group of pilgrims) from going Pakistan to mark the 100th anniversary of Saka Nankana Sahib in February. The resolution termed the move by the government as an “action taken on the lines of the British and the Mughals” and asked it to apologize to the Sikh community.
A resolution was also passed urging the United Nations Organization (UNO) to declare 2021 as the “International Human Rights Year” with regard to the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur being celebrated on May 1. At the same time, it also demanded from the Centre to establish a unique monument of the ninth Guru on the lines of ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ at Sri Anandpur Sahib.
“The day of martyrdom of the ninth Guru should be celebrated as ‘Religious Tolerance Day’ and the Government of India should make the holy baani (Gurbani writings) of the ninth Guru available in libraries all over the world by translating them into major languages. All these works should be done under the supervision of the SGPC. The GOI and the state governments should declare SGPC as the nodal body for the fourth birth centenary celebrations of the ninth Guru, to be held at home and abroad. Apart from this, the road from Agra, the place of arrest of the ninth Guru, to his martyrdom site at Delhi, should be declared as ‘Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Marg’ and from Delhi to Sri Anandpur Sahib as ‘Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Sis Marg’, as his holy ‘Sis’ was carried on this route after the martyrdom,” reads the resolution.
In another resolution, it has been demanded to hand over Gurdwara Gyan Godri, Haridwar (Uttaranchal), Gurdwara Dangmar and Chungthang (Sikkim), Gurdwara Bauli Matth, Mangu Matth and Punjabi Matth (Orissa), to the SGPC. It reads that these are the most sacred places of the Sikhs, but their issues have been pending for a long time. (Courtesy: The Indian Express, March 31, 2021)