Monthly Archives: JULY 2017


Punjab Govt. to ensure that the honour & rights of women are protected: Brahm Mohinra
10.07.17 - team pt
Punjab Govt. to ensure that the honour & rights of women are protected: Brahm Mohinra



‘Punjab Government is fully aware of its commitment and would ensure the honour and rights of the women are protected’  this was said by Brahm Mohindra while delivering a keynote address at the seminar on the topic of ‘ Beti Bachchao Beti Padhao’  being organized by the Photo Journalist Welfare association.

The Health Minister said that ‘ Beti Bachchao Beti Padhao’  is a very sensitive and relevant issue which is of utmost importance in the modern scenario. He said that it is matter of academic and social research that why is India still fighting to secure the basic rights of the women and to strike a balance in the disturbed sex ratio of the country. He said that Congress Government has always played a leading role for protecting the rights of the women folk.  He said that Congress Government in Punjab has taken a revolutionary step by giving 50% reservation to the women in Local Bodies Department.
 

The Minister further said that in the developed country like America there has not been a single instance when a woman could be elected at the post of President but in contrast in India Indra Gandhi was the first woman who graced this top most post of the democracy. Similarly Meira Kumar also graced the post of Speaker of Lok Sabha as the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha in India. He said that Punjab Government while fulfilling its commitment has already announced free education to the girl students’ upto the level of Ph.d.

Prominent woman journalist who were felicitated at this occasion included Archana Sethi, Punjab Kesari, Kamla Sharma, Chardikala, Manraj Grewal, Hindustan  Times, Monika Sharma, Hindustan Times, Sukhdeep Kaur, Hindustan Times, Nisha Sharma, National Sahara, Ranju, Dainik Tribune, Nisha Sachdeva, Teacher and social worker and other senior journalists.

Among other who were present included Satinder Satti, Punjab Kala Council, Anu Chatrath, Additional Advocate General and other senior journalist. A special exhibition was also organized by the Photojournalist at this occasion.




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Amarinder talks to Sushma Swaraj on 39 Indians held hostage by ISIS in Iraq
10.07.17 - team pt
Amarinder talks to Sushma Swaraj on 39 Indians held hostage by ISIS in Iraq



External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has assured Punjab CM Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who had been held hostage in Mosul since 2014.

Reacting to reports that the families of the Indian hostages were trying to locate their kin after the release of Mosul by Iraq from the ISIS forces, Captain Amarinder called up Sushma on Monday afternoon to seek her active intervention in the matter.
 
In his telephonic conversation with the minister, the Chief Minister said the families of the hostages were keenly awaiting the return of their kin following Iraq’s victory over ISIS in Mosul and needed the central government’s support in bringing back their family members.
 
Swaraj assured Amarinder of all possible efforts by her ministry to bring back the Indians who were kidnapped by terror group ISIS from a construction site in Mosul.

She said Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd) V K Singh had been sent to Iraq to coordinate with its government and facilitate the return of the Indians stuck there, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.
 
Air India officials at the airports had also been instructed to facilitate their return, said Sushma, adding that her ministry had activated all available sources to trace the missing Indians, who were last heard of hiding in a church in Mosul, the spokesperson added. 

While Sushma has held several meetings with the families of the hostages since the abduction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also been raising the issues with other countries in the Middle East region.
 
The Union minister said she had also directed the Indian embassy to extend all help to the stranded people from the country.
 
While Sushma had held several meetings with the families of the hostages over the months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also been raising the issues with other countries in the Middle East region.
 
The Chief Minister said he was hopeful the 39 Indians would be back home soon, now that Mosul was no longer in the control of ISIS.

A man from Punjab, Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of the terror organization in June 2014 had claimed that the 39 Indian nationals had been killed.

However, the External Affairs Ministry had maintained that it had no information confirming that the Indians were dead.

The Indian nationals were taken hostage by the IS on June 11, 2014, in northern Iraq's Mosul town.




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BLASPHEMOUS VERSES
BLASPHEMOUS VERSES: Surjit Gagg's poem about Guru Nanak angers many, poet arrested
09.07.17 - PT Bureau
BLASPHEMOUS VERSES: Surjit Gagg's poem about Guru Nanak angers many, poet arrested



ROPAR: Punjab's 'Facebook poet' Surjit Gagg was today arrested under blasphemy charges after he posted a rather risqué poem that referred to Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, in terms widely considered derogatory and unacceptable.

"Main te Nanak," Gagg's poem that got him into trouble, is not the first time he pushed the envelope a little too far, but so far he had remained outside the pale of law. In his poem in question, Gagg portrayed himself and the founder of Sikhism as rather thick friends who discuss the state of affairs in the world and exchange views on various subjects.

However, many of his references in the poem could easily inflame passions among devout Sikhs. Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Master, is highly reverred by people across religions in India and the wider world.
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Surjit Gagg’s 'GaggBani' often takes on the 'system', but even in the past, he was perceived as crossing lines that most writers refrained to tread. His arrest has now sharply divided the world of activist writers.
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Top officers of the Ropar police confirmed Gagg's arrest under section 295-A of IPC. Earlier, a senior manager of Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib had filed a complaint about his latest poem. 

Interestingly, it took just a few minutes for members on many social media groups to develop sharp differences when the news of  the arrest broke. Even Whatsapp groups that have many men and women from the world of literature as members saw extremely sharp exchanges and often unprintable words against each other, and about Gagg.

Surjit Gagg’s poetry, which he calls 'GaggBani', often takes on the 'system'. While many of his poems attack corruption, communalism, cow vigilantes, state repression, he has in the past been seen as crossing lines that most writers refrain to tread. Gagg's supporters argue that any writer needs his space and the decision about the acceptability of his work must be left to the readers and not subject to state's censor.

Gagg's latest skirmish with law, and the potential anger and rage that his controversial poem is likely to trigger among the Sikh community, is set to stay in the headlines for quite some time now, said a senior official of a forum of writers.




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Comment by: Satinderpal Singh Kapur

I'm always for freedom of expression but it should have some limits. Your freedom of expression ends where my religious sensitivities begin. Gag has mischievously taken his liberties too far and he should be made to pay for it.

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Badal behind Behbal Kalan firing, probe will prove it: Amarinder
08.07.17 - TEAM PT
Badal behind Behbal Kalan firing, probe will prove it: Amarinder



Captain Amarinder on Saturday held Former CM Parkash Singh Badal squarely responsible for the Behbal Kalan police firing in the wake of the 2015 Bargari sacrilege incident, saying he was sure the fresh Commission of Inquiry probing the matter would expose the involvement of the former chief minister.
 
Two persons were killed allegedly in police firing when violent protests had erupted in Faridkot district over the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in October 2015. The Justice Zora Singh Commission of Inquiry had held the police firing at Behbal Kalan as "absolutely unwarranted".
 
"How can a superintendent of police order firing? He was clearly instructed to do so," Singh said at a felicitation function organized by Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) and attended by a host of luminaries.
 
Pointing to the spate of sacrilege incidents during the erstwhile Badal government rule, the CM said the Akali tenure had witnessed 183 such incidents, of which 121 remained unsolved, in contrast to the 13 incidents reported since the Congress government took over, of which 12 had been solved.

The Akalis had always played politics with religion, using it to further their own political ends, said Amarinder, lambasting the erstwhile ruling party of ruining the state’s economy and creating communal unrest.
 
He further said that the false cases registered under the Badal rule were also a matter of concern and the commission set up by his government to inquiry into those would identify the culprits and bring them to book. More than 1 lakh fake cases had been registered against innocent people by the Akali government, he pointed out, adding that as many as 28 cases had been registered against a boy in Ajnala, clearly showing their vindictiveness.
 
SAD Delhi president Paramjit Singh Sarna presented a memento to the Punjab Chief Minister at the event, which was attended by various Sikh organisations of Delhi, prominent industrialists, legal luminaries and others.

Captain Amarinder’s wife and former Union Minister Preneet Kaur, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Deputy Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Ajaib Singh Bhatti, and ex SGPC secretary and Akali leader Manjit Singh Calcutta also attended the function.




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PUNJAB’S POLITICAL CABLE CONNECTION
The Fastway Route to a Dream Job: Race on, Game on
07.07.17 - Kamjaat Singh
The Fastway Route to a Dream Job: Race on, Game on



CHANDIGARH: Usually, it takes longer, but in Punjab, the race to be the next Chief Minister has started before the Amarinder Singh government had even completed 100 days!

Since the Patiala royal announced even before the hustings that 2017 was to be his last election, the game is wide open right at the beginning.

And given Captain's history and luggage with the top Congress leadership, particularly with the party’s number two (one?) Rahul Gandhi, a minor skirmish can any day turn into a public spat, or an eyeball to eyeball situation, and one will have to blink. You know who it will be. Ambitious young leaders in the party want to position themselves as the next best choice, so it is game on!
 
And it is being played on turfs other than that of a leadership competition. Manpreet Singh Badal's frequent statements on one or the other issue, clearly made without pre-consultation with the party or the Chief Minister, are calculated moves to establish himself as a leader in his own reckoning. These are also in keeping with his quintessential mode of politics.

Afraid that his profile is being overshadowed by the Finance Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu is on a roll these days, trying to emerge as the man who can directly take on not just the Akalis but the Badal Parivar itself.

In this pursuit for a special and taller pedestal has emerged the latest hot-button issue of Fastway Cable. After a gap of every 24 hours, Sidhu, the Minister for Local Bodies, issues one or the other statement against the so called cable mafia, but his singular target remains Fastway, and by proxy Sukhbir Singh Badal and family, and by another proxy – it is time to say it – Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu is on a roll, projecting himself as the man fighting to extract hundreds of crores of taxes that cable mafia evaded, as the man taking on the House of Badals, as someone who is available, accessible to the media. Amarinder is coming across as the exact opposite.
 
Every few hours, journalists manage to buttonhole CM Amarinder Singh and reference a Sidhu comment, reducing him to offer soundbytes that hardly seem to have the kind of sting that Sidhu packs in.

We will end the cable mafia, says Sidhu. We will welcome all kinds of media to ensure a competitive environment in cable domain, says Amarinder Singh.

We are not into vendetta politics, says Amarinder Singh. We will make Fastway pay the state hundreds of crores in taxes that it evaded, says Sidhu. There is no plan to censor Fastway or PTC, says Amarinder. Fastway will have to pay taxes in the next five days, says Sidhu.

Amarinder is limiting himself to saying that if there is an irregularity and if tax is evaded, his government will take action. Sidhu ensures that he is seen in the action mode every day.

Rather, in super-action mode. At a press conference on July 6, he tagged along a former tax officer CL Goel to buttress his claim that taxes worth Rs 2,618 crore have been evaded, that undue CENVAT refund was availed, that Fastway did not refund security amount on set-top boxes, that it cancelled invoices worth crores, that it used local government department's properties to string cables and dug roads etc but did not pay the required fee to the state government.

With every statement, with every press conference, Navjot Singh Sidhu is seen fighting for more hundreds of crores. He is seen as fighting more passionately to bring back the money from the House of Badals. He is seen as a man in action. He is available, he is accessible to the media, he takes questions, he gives pointed replies, and he makes headlines.

The Chief Minister is seen as the guy who is not doing even a fraction of what Sidhu is doing when it comes to fixing the Badals. Or fixing the cable mafia, sand mafia, liquor mafia. Amarinder is seen as the guy who did not fire Rana Gurjit Singh after an employee of the minister walked away with crores worth of sand mining bids. Neither Manpreet, nor state Congress president Sunil Jakhar nor headline maker Sidhu defended the CM.

Instead, Sidhu underlines the difference by saying there is none. Invariably, he refers to the CM in these press interactions to reiterate that he has spoken to the CM and the CM has given him a free hand to pursue this noble cause. That keeps him safe from allegations that he is dragging the CM into mud. In fact, he gives CM the credit.
 We will end the cable mafia, says Sidhu. We will welcome all kinds of media to ensure competition, says Amarinder. We are not into vendetta politics, says Amarinder. We will make Fastway pay up hundreds of crores, says Sidhu. There is no plan to censor Fastway or PTC, says Amarinder. Fastway will have to pay taxes in the next five days, says Sidhu.
 
It is just that the CM is simply not seen leading the good fight. He is seen as a helpless leader condemned to watch his junior walking away with the glory.
 
Sample this latest from Sidhu: "I have suspended four executive engineer rank officers for executing development works worth Rs 500 crore without sanction and proper procedures, and I have recommended that three IAS Commissioners of Municipal Corporations in Punjab be issued chargesheets. Only the CM can issue these chargesheets. I have written to the CM." 

So far, Amarinder has not said a word, and no one in the CMO plans to rush to issue chargesheets to senior IAS officials. You know how Sidhu wants people to interpret this. From the sidelines, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) headline makers Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Bhagwant Mann will incessantly keep interjecting that Amarinder was hand in glove with the Badals. Sidhu’s strategy plugs into that conspiracy plot.

As Amarinder is taking his time, Sidhu is projecting himself as a man impatient to implement his agenda, even if it is Fastway centric. Now he has directed his Local Bodies' officials to recover the evaded tax from Fastway "within five days."

Five days? That is much faster than the promise to bring back black money from abroad in 100 days. But that promise hurt Modi less. This one will hurt Amarinder more. After all, if the government fails to make Fastway pay up crores of taxes it evaded, whose fault will it be? "Blame the silent," will be Sidhu's war cry, and you can be sure he has several Urdu couplets up his sleeve already to make his point.

 Manpreet Singh Badal will have his own Urdu couplets, of course. His budget has not really painted Amarinder Singh in glowing hues. Amarinder's farm loan waiver claim fell flat when Manpreet reeled out the figure of Rs 1,500 crore he has kept aside to fulfil Amarinder Singh's most famous promise to farmers.

In a few weeks, Amarinder Singh is set to emerge as the CM who is seen going back on his word, time and again. He said he will waive off farm debts. Now he is reduced to saying he has waived off crop loan debt of up to Rs 2 lakh of farmers with up to 5 acres of land. He said he will waive off Aarhtiya debt. Now he is appealing to the Aarhtiyas not to loot the farmers. He said sand prices will come down crashing. These did not. He said every family is going to get a job. Well, as of now, even those on the water tank tops have not got one.

Farmers are planning protests. Aarhtiyas are honouring the CM as Fakhr-e-Quom. By accepting the honour, the CM is sending signals that are likely to gladden the hearts of his rivals within the party.

Sunil Jakhar is biding his time. He has a most coveted post in Punjab, and he knows when to make his move. More importantly, he is not making any move to make Amarinder Singh look good.

Every passing day is giving racers a new lap to run. The latest is an Adventure Drive in an eco-sensitive zone on the outskirts of Chandigarh, a tourism ministry’s venture.

When every piece of wisdom said it was a foolish idea, amounted to a violation of environmental norms, was clearly against the law and one seemed designed to bring in more visitors to a Sukhbir Singh Badal-owned resort near the adventure venue, Navjot Singh Sidhu, also Punjab's Tourism Minister, quipped – My department is doing it because the CM gave directions to do it. 

"Captain Amarinder Singh sent me the file and also asked me to attend the rally...I am just following orders."

Translation: If I am doing something pertinently illegal, you should know that the CM asked me to. When I am trying to implement the law against Fastway even when CM is going slow, you should know that I am proactive than my leader in fighting the Badals.

But will Sidhu find his way along the Fastway super highway to his dream job in Punjab? Remember that there are others, too, who had the same dream. And they all know a few Urdu couplets.
 

*(Kamjaat Singh is an academic activist who also dabbles in journalism and writes under this pseudonym. The author, whose interests encompass politics, media, communication, academics, law, cinema etc., will be writing regularly for Punjab Today, and can be reached at kamjaatsingh@gmail.com.)

 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged. 
— Team PT




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Comment by: Sidhu

Eneee jaldi na ladao thoda sabar kar lo

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Comment by: Rounder kaur

The author has done full justice with his name, who soever it may be. Sidhu is playing test match, but if it is played with consistency, humbleness would pay better rather fast way. Slow and steady wins the race.
Setting personal scores is not in the interest of Punjab, rather need of the hour is to make our institutional set up more accountable.

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