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Punjab Independence Referendum 2020
Sikhs for Justice advisor, 4 others booked on sedition, conspiracy charges
06.07.17 - team pt
Sikhs for Justice advisor, 4 others booked on sedition, conspiracy charges



The Punjab police on Thursday filed a case against three USA-based persons, including the Legal Advisor of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), along with two persons based in India, on charges of sedition, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy, after Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh ordered a crackdown on the outfit amid complaints by the local people of deliberate attempts to vitiate the state’s atmosphere.
 
The Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, has further directed the police to ensure that neither the SJF, nor any other outfit succeeds in whipping up passions in the state, which Pakistan’s ISI could also exploit to its advantage.
 
Incidentally, SFJ is the same group which has filed a "defamation law suit” against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in Canada under the Canadian laws for allegedly accusing the Sikh human rights’ advocacy group of playing into the hands of Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, which has long been accused by the Indian government of spreading terrorism in India. SFJ in April this year, in a "Statement of Claim” filed with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice against Amarinder claims damages of $1 million and a permanent injunction against him from republishing or facilitating the republication of defamatory statements against the human rights group.
 
The Chief Minister’s orders came after a series of provocative posters and hoardings came up at more than 40 outdoor sites across the state. Investigations by the police showed that the campaign, titled `Punjab Independence Referendum 2020’, had been managed by the Baba Hanuman Singh Enterprise agency, which was hired for the purpose by New York-based SFJ, through its legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
 
Besides Pannun, others booked by the police have been identified as Jagdeep Singh @ Baba Jag Singh, originally resident of Fatehgarh Sahib and now based in New York, and Jagjeet Singh originally resident of J&K, aslo now based in New York. The two accused based in India have been identified by the police as Gurpeet Singh, D-39, Phase-V, Industrial Area, Mohali and Harpunit Singh, r/o Nanak Nagar, Jammu (J&K).
 
All five have been booked for promoting feelings of enmity and disharmony between different groups, and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, through visible representations. Such acts have disturbed and are likely to disturb public tranquility in Punjab, and are further likely to cause fear/alarm, ill-will and a feeling of insecurity among members of different communities/groups residing in the border State of Punjab, the police said in its FIR.
 
Further investigations are in progress to uncover the various financial and operational linkages between persons based in India and abroad, said the police spokesperson, adding that the SFJ, backed by Khalistani forces, had been actively trying to destabilize Punjab for the past several months.
 
The Punjab police has, in recent weeks, busted several modules of terrorists linked to Khalistani forces, which had started raising their ugly heads again in an apparent bid to whip up tension in Punjab. Interrogation of these alleged terrorists, arrested from various parts of Punjab, had shown that they were being mentored and armed by Khalistani supporters in Canada, USA and other places, with some also being trained by ISI in neighbouring Pakistan.
 
The Chief Minister has made it clear that any attempt to create disharmony or to revive terrorism in the state would be nipped in the bud. Punjab and its people have suffered enough at the hands of Khalistani extremists, said Captain Amarinder, adding that his government would nail every single person found involved in any subversive activities.
 
The Chief Minister has also categorically ruled out any local support for the SFJ campaign, saying external forces were out to whip up passions to further their own vested interests. The people of Punjab wanted peace and his government was committed to providing them a safe and peaceful environment in the state.




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Vigilance inquiry into fake degree racket ordered by Brahm Mohindra
05.07.17 - team pt
Vigilance inquiry into fake degree racket ordered by Brahm Mohindra



Brahm Mohindra, Minister of Medical Education and Research has ordered the vigilance inquiry to expose fake degree racket operating in the state which is issuing fake certificates and fake Degrees of Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) in the name of Baba Farid University.

Disclosing this official spokesperson said that the matter of fake certificates and fake degrees was detected by the Registrar of the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani Systems of Medicine Punjab when a Rajesh Kumar of Gurdaspur, visited the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani Systems of Medicines for renewal of his registration certificate bearing Registration No. 10967. Dr. Sanjeev Goyal the Registrar found that the certificates of the candidate were fake as Dr. Sonam Dhiman of District Pathankot stands registered via the said registration number 10967. The spokesperson said that the matter was immediately brought to the notice of Vikas Partap Singh, Secretary Medical Education and Research who further discussed it with the Minister. The Minister considering the seriousness of the matter ordered vigilance inquiry to expose fake degrees/racket.

While issuing order for Vigilance inquiry, Brahm  Mohindra said that there seems to be a wide spread menace and the same shall be unearthed and guilty shall be brought to book who are duping the candidates and endangering the health and the lives of the innocent Public. The Minister even suspected that such elements might be the source of spread of intoxicants in the state. The spokesperson said that the inquiries are also being conducted from Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Laxmi Narain Ayurvedic College, Amritsar and Guru Ravidas University, since the certificates have been issued by Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Paramedical Institute, Hoshiarpur based racket.




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Harsimrat to Jaitley: Exempt langar purchases from GST
04.07.17 - PT Bureau
Harsimrat to Jaitley: Exempt langar purchases from GST



 NEW DELHI: Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has taken up cudgels with her colleague in the Council of Ministers, Arun Jaitley, making a case for exempting purchases made for langar from GST, but kept her demand for such exemption limited to only Sri Harmandir Sahib and three Sikh takhts located in Punjab.

It was not clear whether the decision of the Minister of State for Food Processing to not argue for a similar relief for other historical gurdwaras and two Takhts outside Punjab was a thought-through decision or a mere oversight.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, forwarded a letter from SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, making a similar plea, to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
With such a move, Harsimrat is also following in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Surinder Kaur Badal, who spent later years of her life in serving the cause of langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib.
 
Explaining the immense importance of "langar", and the fact that "Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar runs the worlds’s largest mega kitchen, offering free meals throughout the year to lakhs of people," Harsimrat also underlined that the great tradition is funded with money that "comes from the humble offerings of devotees."

With such a move, Harsimrat is also following in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Surinder Kaur Badal, who spent later years of her life in serving the cause of langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib. She used to take a keen interest in the "langar sewa" and widely toured Punjab's towns and villages to inspire people to participate in this institutionalised form of 'sewa'.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal also pointed out that "even in the erstwhile VAT regime, the langar purchases (were) never subjected to VAT."
 
Here is the complete text of Hasimrat Kaur Badal's letter to Arun Jaitley:
 

Respected Shri Arun Jaitley ji,

 

 I am forwarding the letter of Prof. Kirpal Singh ‘Badungar’,  President, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee for granting exemption from G.S.T.  Act for purchases related to Langar and other items for Gurudwaras.

 

You are aware that the concept of Langar and Community Kitchen was started by Sri Guru Nanak Devji in 1481 to propagate the principle of equality in society regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. Serving Langar to all is the best example of community sharing, inclusiveness and oneness of all mankind.

 

Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar runs the worlds’s largest mega kitchen, offering free meals throughout the year to lakhs of people, donation for which comes from the humble offerings of devotees which is spent on distributing free Langar.

 

Even in the erstwhile VAT regime, the Langar purchases have never been subjected to VAT. Notification no.S.O.27/P.A.8/2008 dated 15 April, 2008 of Government of Punjab exempted Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar and also separate notifications exempting Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Takhat Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropr and Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda from payment of VAT. Such exemption would not be available from 1st  July, 2017.

 

The new G.S.T. Act (section 11 of G.S.T. Act & section 6 of I.G.S.T Act) also provides for exemption to be granted to various  institutions/businesses eligible for same in the eyes of the Government on the recommendation of G.S.T. Council.

 

Presently procurement of Langar items like Desi Ghee, Sugar and Pulses by SGPC runs into roughly Rs.75 crores annually which will now be under the G.S.T. bracket of 5 to 18 percent, thus, increasing the financial burden by Rs.10 crores on Gurudwaras,

 

 I humbly request you to kindly have this examined for grant of exemption to the Langar purchases made by Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Takhat Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropar and Takhat Sri Damdama Sabo, Bathinda under G.S.T. so that the Gurudwaras may not be burdened for providing Langar and serving humanity.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely

 

(HARSIMRAT KAUR BADAL)

 

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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. 
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THE AARHTIYAS & A MAHARAJA
Amarinder is Pride of this Community - 'Fakhar-e-Qaum'
04.07.17 - PT Agricultural Correspondent
Amarinder is Pride of this Community - 'Fakhar-e-Qaum'



CHANDIGARH: Hours after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the Aarhtiyas not to charge exorbitant interest rates on loans they extend to farmers, the aarhtiyas honoured him with the title of 'Fakhar-e-Qaum' -- Pride of the Community.

A statement issued by the Government of Punjab said the honour was "in recognition of (the CM's) outstanding contribution towards ensuring hassle free and smooth procurement of wheat."
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Badal called it Nauhn Maas Da Rishta, Amarinder says Age Old Bonds. Within 24 hours of CM Amarinder asking aarhtiyas not to loot farmers, the aarhtiyas confer upon the title of Fakhr-e-Quom, the pride of the community. Farmer leaders & farm economists have been urging the government to end the system of aarhtiyas. At today’s function, aarhtiyas hailed the CM as best friend of farmers, the CM called them saviour of farmers. The farmers were nowhere in sight.

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Amarinder Singh received the honour in person at an event organised by the Federation of Aartiyas Association of Punjab. He received a plaque, inscribed with the words 'Fakhar-e-Qaum' at what the Punjab Government called "a mega felicitation function" at Kisan Bhawan in Chandigarh. 
Amarinder thanked the aartiyas "for the honour bestowed on him." Punjab's farming experts said with this move the farmer unions in Punjab can now give up any hope of ending the aarhtiya system. 

A study, titled "Commission Agent System in Punjab Agriculture,” carried out by Punjab Agricultural University's farm economist, Dr Sukhpal Singh, and Tejinder K Dhaliwal, had concluded that the time has come for the procurement agencies and government to deal directly with the farmers without the middleman called aarhtiya.

Former MP and Bharti Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, who is now a staunch supporter of Amarinder Singh, had then said that not making payments directly to the farmer and involving aarhtiyas was "illegal, unethical and anti-social” policy. 

In stark contrast to the strong and well known views of most factions of BKU and other farmer unions on the need for aarhtiyas, Amarinder Singh seemed to be rather appealing and cajoling the community, asking them "to extend full support and cooperation to the state government to bail out the distressed peasantry from the current agrarian crisis."

In words that absolutely replicated the stance of his predecessor and political rival Prakash Singh Badal, Amarinder "appreciated the age-old ties of farmers with aartiya community and hoped that these bonds would be strengthened further to win over the confidence of the beleaguered farmers."

Such "age old bonds" were exactly the reason Badal had cited – nauhn-maas the rishta – for not ending the aarhtiya system. Incidentally, the Aarhtiyas' bodies similarly honoured Amarinder's predecessor Parkash Singh Badal, too, for similar achievements. Clearly, all CMs without exception are the pride of the quom of aarhtiyas.
Interestingly, the event saw a top office bearer of aarhtiyas' body hailing the CM for timely payment to farmers in Punjab. Why the farmers have failed to express their gratefulness to the CM was not clear immediately.

The event was attended by Bal Krishan Singla, who holds the very academic sounding title of 'President Emeritus of the Federation', federation president Vijay Kalra, Senior Advisor to CM Lt Gen (Retd.) T.S. Shergill, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Advisor to CM BIS Chahal, Secretary Mandi Board Amit Dhaka and Deputy Principal Secretary to CM Amrit Kaur Gill.

No reason was cited for the absence of state's agriculture director, commissioner for agriculture, secretary agriculture or any farmer union leader at such an event where nothing but the cause of Punjab's farmers and farming was discussed.

Interestingly, while the CM urged the commission agents earlier this week to guard against charging such high interest rates to farmers, the state government has no record of prosecution or action against any aarhtiya found doing so. Even more interestingly, not a single aarhtiya objected to the CM putting the community under such a cloud. Instead, today, 24 hours after Amarinder's appeal not to loot the farmers, the aarhtiyas honoured the CM.

An earlier statement by the government said the issue of direct payment to farmers through cheques also came up and the CM was of the view that "the farmers were free to decide whether they wanted to take payment directly or through aartiyas."

However, currently, the law does not permit such direct payment and there was no mention of changing the rules of the game.
 
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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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FAULTLINES IN CMO
Team CMO at work, but advisors aren’t sitting idle either. Will the CM act in time?
03.07.17 - kanwar manjit singh
Team CMO at work, but advisors aren’t sitting idle either. Will the CM act in time?



WITH SECTIONS OF the media underlining the perception of a regime yet to get into a proactive governance mode, one would have thought that the Team CMO would be a worried lot, huddled in a room to devise a strategy to kill that perception and float a new narrative of a dynamic government.

Instead, certain officials in the top echelons of governance in the civil secretariat are exhibiting a sense of glee, a fact that becomes all too obvious, going by the leaks, plants and sheer insinuations that have been making their way into the headlines of late.
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These straw men flitting around the CMO with various tags do not realise that all such planted news stories only bring disrepute to the Chief Minister himself.
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With the hand-picked team of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh – Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh – it was clear from day one that the Patiala royal scion has given himself an exoskeleton shield to ensure that no dirty allegations stick to the CMO.
 
The 1983-batch IAS officer Suresh Kumar was always known as someone who could speak truth to power, a quality that made Amarinder Singh put him in the hot seat during his earlier avatar as CM at a time when CMO was neck-deep in allegations from within the Congress' ranks. With Suresh Kumar as his Personal Secretary, Amarinder Singh spent the second half of his stint more peacefully.

But then the same characteristic strain of Suresh Kumar cost him highly when Prakash Singh Badal overlooked him for the post of Chief Secretary, opting instead for Sarvesh Kaushal. With the elections looming large, there was a perception in the Akali Dal leadership that Suresh Kumar would not allow any hanky-panky and could become an obstacle.

Karan Avtar Singh waited on the sidelines for ages while Tejvir Singh simply chose to stay miles away, literally, from Punjab.  With Karan Avtar and Tejveer Singh, both known to be leaders in their own right and an equal ability to play as team members, this is being seen as a tightly-knit CMO, but then middlemen in the corridors of power rarely like a set of clean reputations calling all the shots. 
No wonder that some in the team of advisors – a euphemism for people adjusted, accommodated or parked for either services rendered in the past or imbued with qualities that all regimes need, though on the basis of plausible deniability – are feeling as having been left out of reckoning.

As a result, a stray news item suddenly proclaiming someone in the CMO as a person sympathetic to the Akali Dal or painting another senior officer as deliberately trying to undercut a heavyweight advisor becomes the talk of the Punjab Civil Secretariat.

"The fact is that most CMOs have a running gravy train, and there are always people surrounding every Chief Minister who want to make hay while the sun shines. Now, there is a problem with this CMO that the sun is shining but people like Suresh Kumar, Karan Avtar and Tejvir are not letting the gravy train run. How does one make hay? This was bound to result in some negative commentary," chuckled a senior journalist who has covered the CMO for more than 20 years now.
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"Now, there is a problem with this CMO. The sun is shining but people like Suresh Kumar, Karan Avtar and Tejvir are not letting the gravy train run. How does one make hay? This was bound to result in some negative commentary.”
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A retired bureaucrat, who, too, suffered at the hands of the erstwhile Akali regime and who has immense respect for Team CMO, said, "These straw men flitting around the CMO with various tags do not realise that all such planted news stories only bring disrepute to the Chief Minister himself. This is the first time I am seeing some advisors of the CM actually being paid to harm the CM! God save a regime which is advised by such intellect."

So far, among the people vociferously defending the Chief Minister and his government has been the Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, a journalist of some repute, but then his influence over the media corps is thanks to his years in journalism working with some top mastheads.
 
With the Aam Aadmi Party continuing its tirade of an understanding between the ruling Congress and the opposition Akali Dal, any allegations that anyone in the CMO is sympathetic to the Akalis is likely to erode Amarinder’s own standing. The AAP may have lost badly, but the significant sympathy for its narrative persists in Punjab.

The CM’s best strategy in such circumstances would be to stand rock solid behind men and women with teflon reputations.
 
Of the army of advisors and sundry political appointees, the sooner the CMO gets them to fall in line, the better it would be for the reputation of the government.

With the latest talk about friction between the state police chief Suresh Arora, and the Special Task Force head Harpreet Singh Sidhu, it seems the season of firefighting is nowhere near an end. It is time CM Amarinder Singh wielded the big stick and got everyone to fall in line. 

A functioning regime is characterised by people refusing to plant internecine stories, not rushing to small time hacks for publishing backstabbing slanted headlines.
 
But then, small men have rarely been refrained from acting in a manner befitting the Lilliputians, a fact of history Amarinder's men in the CMO will also learn to live with. Any damage, of course, will be to the reputation of the CM himself. 
 
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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: Rajesh Sharma

This is an excellent article. Incredibly good language if you consider the standards of English followed by most media persons.

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