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News & Views

Annual Election of IOSS

In a meeting of the Institute of Sikh Studies, held on 7th December, 2009, to elect its President for the year 2010, members highly appreciated stewardship of Sardar Pritam Singh, IAS as President for the last one year. Services rendered by him were eulogized, particularly his contribution towards organising a Conference on Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, holding of a seminar on ‘Sikhs living in States other than Punjab’, and starting a lecture series in memory of Late Dr Kharak Singh ji. Members desired that he should continue in office for another year, which he politely accepted. His Executive Committee for the year 2010:

Vice-President ---------- Bibi Baljit Kaur
Secretary ---------- Col Amrik Singh
Joint Secretary ---------- S Sadhu Singh (Incharge, Library and other misc duties)
Treasurer ---------- S Gurpreet Singh
Member ---------- S Gurcharan Singh (Convenor Seminar)
Member ---------- S Mohinder Singh (Incharge, issues concerning Sikligars and other under-privileged Sikhs)


Special Invitees:
Bhai Ashok Singh ----- Incharge, collaboration with other Sikh organizations; Spokesman for IOSS

Lt Gen Kartar Singh ----- Incharge, coordination & collaboration amongst Institute of Sikh Studies, International Sikh Confederation and Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha

S Inderjit Singh Jaijee ----- Incharge, issues concerning rural communities of Punjab

S Gajindar Singh ----- Incharge, publications and as editor AOSS Journal

S Jagdev Singh ----- Incharge, campus maitenance

S Raghbir Singh ----- Incharge, conferences, workshops, discussion Groups

S Santokh Singh ----- Incharge, Constitutional and Legal issues concerning Sikh Panth.

Dr Birendra Kaur ----- Incharge, Memorial Lectures – Dr Kharak Singh ji, Dr G B S Kahlon ji, Bhai Vir Singh ji and other sponsored Lectures

S Ishwinder Singh ----- Incharge, Media and Public Relations

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Dr Kharak Singh Memorial Lecture

The Institute of Sikh Studies, on the 5th December, 2009, organized the First of a series of annual Dr Kharak Singh Memorial Lectures, at Gurdwara Kanthala Sahib, Indl Area Phase II, Chandigarh. Kirtan was performed by Dr Jagir Singh and Bhai Harvinder Singh. Rich tributes were paid by renowned personalities of the Panth, who dwelt upon unique aspects of Dr Kharak Singh’s personality, and his immense contribution to the Sikh cause was highlighted. Dr Gurbakhsh Singh USA, former Dean, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, was the main speaker, followed by Sardar Gurdev Singh, IAS (retd), Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, Lt Gen Kartar Singh, Convenor, International Sikh Federation, Sardar Naib Singh, Chairman, Chandigarh Gurdwaras Co-Ordination Committee, Maj Karnail Singh, Ex-President, Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sector 34, Chandigarh, Sardar Joginder Singh, President, Gurdwara Sector 22, Chandigarh, Prof Kulwant Singh.

With a view to keeping alive Dr Sahib’s aims of uniting the Sikhs, Sardar Pritam Singh, IAS (retd), President, Institute of Sikh Studies, invited Managements of all gurdwaras of Chandigarh and Mohali, to join hands and work for the spread of the Guru’s message, especially among the youth. He offered help to all gurdwaras in whatever capacity the Institute could, and also promised a set of all publications of the Institute for libraries of the gurdwaras.

Sardarni Raj Mohinder Kaur, w/o Dr Kharak Singh, donated Rs 50,000/- towards the Publication Fund of the Institute. (Courtesy: In Memory of Dr Kharak Singh, www.drkharaksingh.org/updates.html)

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Preserve Chappar Chiri, other Sikh Heritages: Experts

Chandigarh, November 28. Members of the Institute of Sikh Studies today called upon the state government and Sikhs to work towards preservation of the Sikh heritage. The members of the Institute met here today for a Conference on the “Battles of Banda Singh Bahadur: Strategy at Chappar Jhiri.”

One of the aims of the Conference was to suggest to the Punjab Govt the shape that the Chappar Chiri Memorial will take. The memorial is to be constructed by the Government to mark the 300 years of the decisive battle of Chappar Jhiri between Banda Singh Bahadur and Mughal governor of Sirhind Vazeer Khan.

The strategy drawn up by Banda Singh Bahadur, whose men defeated a much-larger Mughal army at Chappar Chiri in 1710, was also discussed.

Suggesting a design for the memorial at the site of the battle, Gurdev Singh said the sand dunes and Chiri should be preserved and a convention centre of international standards be constructed.

Gurbakhsh Singh Shergill said memorials should be built at the sites where other important events of the Sikh history took place, especially the places where two great Sikh massacres took place.

Zora Singh, a former sarpanch of Chappar Jhiri, recalled the stories told by those who lived in the village and how it had taken a big effort to convince the state government to not acquire the whole of the village land.

Prof Baljit Kaur related the efforts made by the Institute of Sikh Studies in convincing the state government in setting aside 20 acres here for the memorial. Kulbir Singh Sidhu said the government should “rearrange” the history syllabus in Punjab schools so that children were oriented towards their culture and heritage. (Courtesy: The Tribune, November 29, 2009)

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No Scope for Change

Amritsar, Nov 14. Pal Singh Purewal, a Canadian citizen who spent the prime years of his life doing research single-handedly to prepare the Nanakshahi Calendar, on Saturday gave vent to anguish over the political wrangling going on regarding dates related to Sikh history. Addressing a press conference here, Purewal claimed the solar calendar prepared specifically for the Sikh community was absolutely error free, and those demanding changes in it knew nothing about the subject.

“Nothing but three dates – Bandi Chhod Divas, Holla Mohalla and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, which have been derived from the previous Bikrami era Calendar – can be subjected to change,” Purewal said.

“As for the objection that there is some overlap of events, what can I do if two events took place on the same date, even if in different years?” commented Pal Singh Purewal.

Comparing the Sant Samaj with orthodox Christians of Ukraine, Greek and Russia, Purewal said he was ready to satisfy anyone on his claim that the Nanakshahi Calendar was one of the most scientific, accurate and visionary assets available to the community. (Courtesy: Hindustan Times, Nov 15, 2009)

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Future shock: By 2025, one-third of Punjab could go Dry

Ludhiana, Nov 15. About one-third of Punjab – the land of the five Rivers – Will nearly go dry by 2025, drastically hitting farm output and triggering a major water crisis that will affect half of the state’s population, warns a new study carried out by Dr Gurdev Singh Hira, a water resources management scientist, for the Punjab Soil Department.

By 2025, the water level of 42 blocks out of 134 (30 percent of Punjab’s area) will go below a depth of over 100 ft making it impossible to pump out groundwater using hand pumps or small submersible pumps.

In Punjab, out of 134 blocks, 103 have over-exploited groundwater and 10 have reached critical levels. The groundwater development in Punjab is 145 percent, which means that water is being used at the rate of 45 percent more from underground sources than natural systems.

Recently, NASA observed that human activity like irrigation had pushed groundwater levels in North India down by as much as 1 ft per year over the past seven years. The 11 crore population of North India, particularly Punjab and Haryana, will face a severe water crisis in the coming years.

~~~

Letters to Editor

Operation Blue Star

Dear Editor,
I congratulate you and Sardar Inderjit Singh for the beautiful article “Operation Blue Star and After” written in Abstracts of Sikh Studies Vol XI, Issue 3 issued on 25th anniversary of Operation Blue Star.

It is a well researched chronicle of events which culminated in the sordid act of operation Blue Star. On page 15 under the heading “Military Preperations” it is written that “The attack on the golden temple complex had been conceived long before it was executed.”

Again on page 17, lnder Malhotra’s quoting about General K Sunderji’s observation, “I was told by the Defence Minister to prepare for the operation on January 15, 1984, the Army Day.”

The above observations and others in the article evoke in me certain memories of some past events which are relevant to the subject and which I consider as my duty to share with you before I pass away into oblivion. More so, and particularly, because now after remembering those events; I firmly believe that in fact Mrs Gandhi wanted to execute her plans of operation Blue Star on Baisakhi, April 13, 1984, when maximum numbers of Sikhs visit Darbar Sahib and other gurdwaras which were the targets. I now feel sure that the events which I am going to narrate may possibly have influenced the postponement of Operation Blue Star by about a couple of months! Note – Ahmed Shah Abadli chose Baisakhi Day for the attack and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was enacted on Baisakhi Day, i.e., April 13, 1919. Mrs Gandhi simply wanted to emulate them.

In the year 1984, I was posted as Legal Remembrance-cum-Secretary to the Govt of Punjab in the legislative affairs department. All legislation, rules, regulations, notifications and legislative acts were being issued under my signature.

I now remember that it was most probably in January or February 1984 that I got a telephone call from Darbara Singh, Chief Minister, who asked me to proceed to Delhi along with Mr A S Pooni, Home Secretary; in the Chief Minister’s private plane. The purpose of the visit was not disclosed. We reached Punjab Bhawan Delhi around 10 am in the morning. Chief Secretary, Mr I C Puri was also there. (At some places in the article the name of Shri K D Vasu Deva has been mentioned. If I correctly remember Shri K D Vasu Deva had retired much earlier in 1982 and Mr I C Puri was the Chief Secretary at that time). Mr Kathpalia, a Punjab IAS cadre man, who was Additional Secretary Home Ministry of India, arrived there after sometime. I was asked to sit on a sofa with him. Without any introductory talk, he simply put before me a copy of “Assam Disturbed Area Act” and wanted me to put my signatures on the document after changing the title of the Act to “Punjab Disturbed Areas Act 1984”. He did not allow me to go through the Act and simply wanted me to put my signatures to it. I told him that I will need a couple of days to go through the Act along with my junior officers, back in the office, at Chandigarh, in order to make necessary corrections. He said, “Madam wants it tonight”. My instant reply was, “Skies are not going to fall in a couple of days.” The meeting ended abruptly without any other word. He took the Chief Secretary and Mr Pooni aside, who must have told him that I was not likely to budge. Nothing more was said.

That Act was never brought before me again for signatures. Without bringing that Act into operation, the nefarious intentions of Mrs Gandhi could not have been carried out. Perhaps it was decided to resort to an ordinance which was the only other alternative. And again a notification had to be issued to bring the ordinance /act into operation; and the notification had to be issued by the law department and under my signatures. When it was brought to me, I went to Mr A .S Pooni and told him that I had gone through the ordinance and the provisions there were intended to attack Durbar Sahib and other gurdwaras. He did not express any opinion and simply asked me to talk to the Governor. Accordingly, I decided to meet him. On the day I sought appointment with Governor, I remember Chandigarh was under curfew. Perhaps there were some disturbances. I was however given an appointment at Raj Bhawan.

I, being a Legal Remembrance to the Governor, and the Governor, it was my duty to bring to the Governor’s notice any infirmity in the provisions which were to be notified by my department. Section 3 of the Ordinance required a notification to be issued by the Governor (as it was President’s rule in the State and the Governor was the representative of the President). I simply told him that though the section says that the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act 1984 would come into force on the day of issue of the notification there was no other provision in the Act giving powers to the Governor or anyone else to revoke or end powers given to the police/army to act under the Act. Governor B D Pandey was one of the last of ICS Cadre men and actually believed in the rule of law. He agreed with me and did not insist that I should issue notification.

Your article rightly suggests that B D Pandey had to pay the price of his independent views and eventually asked to resign and retire in ignominy because he did not agree with Mrs Gandhi in attacking Darbar Sahib. I now feel that my refusal to sign the act and / or issue the notification promulgating the act through an ordinance could possibly have resulted in the postponement of the Operation Blue Star by about a couple of months and may have frustrated the original plans of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Thereby the attack on Darbar Sahib and other gurdwaras on 13th April, 1984 might have been averted. This however is only my surmise.

I verify the correctness of what I have written to the best of my memory and knowledge. If you deem it worthwhile you may publish it under a “letters to the editor” as these events can be considered as an addenda to other events brought out in your bold and beautiful article.

Blue Star and After
I am also reminded of two or three more incidents relating to the subject as I remained in office almost one year after Operation Blue Star till 30th April, 1985.

Before Operation Blue Star, Punjab was put under President’s rule. Surinder Nath was brought in as Advisor to the Governor in the Home Department. I distinctly remember that when he took office, I had gone to call on him. In the very first meeting he asked me if there could be any legislation possible in order to bring some changes in the Indian Evidence Act. He wanted some change of provision in the Act whereby the testimony of a police officer could be believed in courts of law. He asked whether confession by an accused made before a police officer could be made admissible? Furthermore, could a provision be added whereby onus to prove his innocence be put on the accused? All these provisions were needed to curb terrorism in Punjab. I told him that these centuries-old provisions were made in the Act by British in 1872 who believed in rule of Law. These should not be tempered with. Moreover it will give unbridled powers to the police and furthermore these will take away some very important and fundamental rights given under the Act to the accused. He never brooked the subject again; though I was sent to Delhi to discuss these subjects with Home and Law officials at the center, where I took the same stand.

Another incident that I distinctly remember, though I can not remember the date: Mr Surinder Nath called me in the afternoon in his office and asked me to brief him as to the status of the area/road between Guru Ka Langar and Guru Ram Das Sarai. He handed over to me the relevant file. After examining it briefly I gave him my opinion that the road between the two buildings was exclusively owned by Darbar Sahib. He was visibly upset and asserted that it was a public road as had been shown in the revenue records. I however stood my ground. He then asked me if I could give this opinion in writing. I asked for time as my staff had left the office by that time and I had to look up the law. But he was adamant that I give my opinion in writing by the morning, though it was a holiday being Saturday. I reluctantly agreed. Next day he sent his private secretary in the morning and I handed him my written opinion which was about 5/6 full scape typed papers as I now remember I wrote that:

1) The road was maintained by SGPC; every day cleaned and washed by sangat and sewadars;
2) The drains above and sewerage below were constructed at the expense of SGPC;
3) At both ends gates were constructed by SGPC and were manned by sewadars who insisted that any body who passed that road should cover his/her head;
4) Whenever a marriage party wanted to pass they were told to cover their heads and stop playing the band;

In this manner, the SGPC exercised full control as an owner. They could close the iron doors and exclude entry of unwanted people. I remember having cited a Privy Council authority of Year 1936 or 1939 in support thereof.

I do not know how far my opinion was acted upon. Later on, I learnt that armed commandos were posted at the gates at both ends. This happened before Operation Bluestar.

Yet another incident that occurred after Blue Star was when the Govt wanted to prepare the blueprints of Galiara scheme around Darbar Sahib on the plea of enhancing the beauty of the place. But in fact they wanted to have a broad road around Darbar Sahib for purpose of patrolling and having strict control around Darbar Sahib.
It was before noon when I was called to the Committee room. When I reached there, it was full of officers of the PWD, chief engineers, architects and IAS and PCS officers sitting around the eliptical long table. On the farther end were seated Mr Satarawala, the new governor; Mr Surinder Nath advisor home; the chief secretary and the staff.
On all the walls around, plans of Galliara Scheme were displayed. Even before I could sit down on this side of the end of the table, a question was shot at me by the governor himself “whether the govt had the right to acquire of all the properties around Darbar Sahib; which had been gifted to Darbar Sahib by various people who owned the properties? Without giving it a thought for even a moment, I blurted out NO! NO You Can’t! There was a stunned silence all around. There were some muted voices behind my back saying “Bravo Bakhshi.” The trio at the farthest end stared at me for a moment and then the governor shouted why? I tried to gather myself and thinking fast I blurted out; “because there is no body authorized to sell those properties or to receive compensation; because the properties vest in Darbar Sahib which is a deity and not an entity. No one has the authority to sell the properties”! Governor: “SGPC has got the authority to sell.” I said, “No.” SGPC has no authority from the deity and has no authority to sell or receive the compensation”!

Surinder Nath, “Can you give this opinion in writing?” I said yes, you send me the minutes of this meeting and I shall sign. There was again long silence and I was gestured to leave.

The minutes of the meeting were never sent to me and it seems my opinion never became part of Govt records.

Aftab Singh Bakshi
# 2187, Phase VII, Mohali

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Changes Unwarranted

Respected Sardar Sahib Ji,
The Nanakshahi Calender approved and implemented in 2003 CE by Akal Takhat Jathedar and SGPC is based on Solar system in congruity with Gurbani of Guru Granth Sahib Ji Jugo Jug Atal – Barahmah Ruti Slok and is widely accepted by Sikhs. There is no ambiguity in the calender. The issue of changes in dates of Gurpurbs is unwarranted.

However, if any change remains to be made, it is of birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devi Ji, Bandi Chhod Divas and Holla Mohalla. The birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is on Vaisak 3 Moonlit night Samvat Bikrami 1526 (29 March 1469 C.E.) - [Ref: Manuscript compiled by S. Diwan Singh of Lahore on Sawan vadi 8, 1789 Samvat Bikrami (Monday the 3rd July, 1732 C.E.)]

The sudden controversy for changes in dates of Gurpurbs under pressure is beyond one’s understanding.

The moot question remains to change the dates of Parkash Utsav of Guru Nanak Dev ji and others as explained above.

There seems no justification to make any changes in the dates of Gurpurbs already described in the widely accepted Nanakshahi Calendar.

Inderjit Singh
# 600, Phase 2, Mohali

~~~

Satellite College

Dear Editor,
I’m not at all pleased after reading the news under the heading ‘World Sikh University to be Set Up’ in the October-December, 2009 issue of Abstracts of Sikh Studies. I don’t understand the need for another World Sikh University at Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh. I am particularly uncomfortable about the funding by NRI’s to the tune of Rs. 500 crores which would be contributed by Sikh non-resident Indians.

We have Panjabi University at Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University at Amritsar, not to mention the long established Panjab University at Chandigarh. How would this University be different than the present ones? If the objective is to do research on Sikh Institutions, it can be done by opening a Satellite college at much less cost.

I think it will make more sense to try to connect Sikhs to Sikhism and do that by having seminars at Patiala or Chandigarh or any other suitable place and offer scholarships and other financial assistance to deserving candidates. Details can be worked out at the appropriate stage. Let’s not waste precious resources of our community.

Amarjit Singh Buttar
USA
Email: <naamsimran@aol.com>

 

 

 


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