Akal Takht Jathedar voices concern over ‘spread of Christianity’ in Punjab

News Network
June 6, 2022

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Amritsar, June 6: Expressing concern over “spread of Christianity" in Punjab, Akal Takht Jathedar Gyani Harpreet Singh on Monday asserted that "churches and mosques" are being built in numbers in rural parts of the state and urged Sikh preachers to visit villages to promote Sikhism.

Delivering his customary address to the Sikh community from the Akal Takht's podium to mark the 38th anniversary of 'Operation Bluestar' here, the Jathedar also said that the Sikh community should make arrangements for the training of the youth in Sikh martial art and other heritage weapons.

"Today, we are confronting several challenges that are weakening us on the religious, social and economic fronts. To weaken us on the religious front, strong publicity of Christianity is being carried on in Punjab," he said.

The Jathedar of the Akal Takht - the highest Sikh temporal seat - said "churches and mosques" are being built in numbers in Punjab's villages and noted "it's a matter of concern and worry for us". This should be tackled by the Sikh institutions and jathebandis (organisations) by coming forward to preaching Sikh faith like the old Sikhs and saints did, he said.

He appealed to all the eminent associated with the Sikh religion to visit villages, especially the border villages, of the state and strengthen Sikh religion. The Jathedar pointed out that the time has come to step out of air-conditioned rooms and said Sikh preachers and scholars need to visit the border areas to promote Sikhism and apprise the youth about the rich Sikh tenets and history.

"We need to understand that if we are weak on the religious front, we will not be strong on economic and social fronts and then politically also, we will be weakened," he said.

The Jathedar said that the Sikhs have been blessed with the determination of Raj (sovereignty) from the time of Gurus (masters), which Sikhs still reiterate in their daily ‘ardas’ as 'Raj Karega Khalsa'.

"And to move in this direction, the Sikh youth will have to move forward in the world by getting high quality education. At the same time, it is imperative for the Sikh community to be proficient in the Sikh martial art received as inheritance," he said.

He said the Sikh community should make arrangements for the training of youth in Sikh martial art (Gatka) and other heritage weapons and also set up the shooting ranges for training of modern weapons as required.

The Jathedar also expressed concern over drug menace afflicting many youths and talked about the need to fight the scourge. Meanwhile, pro-Khalistan slogans were raised by supporters of radical Sikh outfits as well as that of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) at the Golden Temple on the occasion.

The marbled premises of the Golden Temple near Akal Takht echoed with pro-Khalistan slogans.

Many youths held banners and placards with 'Khalistan Zindabad' written on them. They wore T-shirts with the picture of slain separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale printed on them.

Pro-Khalistan slogans were also raised by activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by former MP Simranjit Singh Mann, who was also present at the spot. He raised the killing of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala and demanded justice for the family.

Operation Bluestar was a military operation carried out in 1984 to flush out the militants from the Golden Temple.

Elaborate security arrangements were put in place in Amritsar to ensure that the event passed off smoothly.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of the Sikhs, displayed the bullet-ridden holy 'Saroop' (volume) of the Guru Granth Sahib. The 'Saroop', which was installed in the sanctum sanctorum at that time, was hit by a bullet during the military action in 1984. Saying that the ghallughara (holocaust) of June 1984 is a painful saga of atrocities perpetrated on the Sikh community, the Jathedar questioned the heavy deployment of forces by the government in Amritsar city during that time.

"The governments must understand that the Sikh community is not a community which intimidates but it protects the oppressed," he said.

He said that "the attack on several Sikh shrines, including Sri Akal Takht Sahib, still hurts the community and it is a historical fact that whoever attacked the Sikh shrines was doomed".

On the occasion, the family members of several former terrorists were honoured with 'Siropaos' (robes of honour) by Head Granthi Giani Jagtar Singh, Jathedar Gyani Harpreet Singh and SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami.

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News Network
February 13,2024

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New Delhi, Feb 13: Tear gas has been fired at farmers massing at the Shambhu border point between Punjab and Haryana - a key meeting point for farmers from each state heading to Delhi as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' call - and many have been detained as they try to remove cement barriers obstructing their progress.

Visuals showed huge plumes of smoke - making visibility almost impossible - and hundreds of farmers, as well as media personnel, running helter-skelter to the sound of tear gas shells being fired. 

The shelling - the first signs of violence - broke as the clock struck noon and the farmers began their push to Delhi. An estimated two dozen shells were fired, despite no immediate signs of provocation.

Visuals from the Shambhu border - over 200 km from Delhi - also showed the police and security personnel - already outnumbered - dropping smoke bombs from drones to disperse the farmers.

Videos also showed farmers, with scarves wrapped around their faces, jumping concrete barriers to push aside metal barricades, and war zone-like scenes with green fields shrouded in smoke and gun fire (from tear gas guns) in the background. In one video farmers are throwing stones at the police.

Around 200 farmer unions - and an estimated one lakh farmers from neighbouring Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh - began marching on the national capital Tuesday morning, in a worrying replay of the 2020/21 protests, in which dozens died and the city was blockaded and cut-off for months.

Police in each of those states have been prepping for this protest for the past few days, positioning concrete slabs and heavy metal barricades to block highways, and stop farmers and tractors pulling trolleys full of food and essential supplies - a signal of their intent to launch a second long-term protest.

Concrete blocks and nails have also been placed on key roads leading into Delhi to prevent tractors and trollies from entering the city, where orders banning large gatherings are in force till March 12.

Within Delhi, police have shut down key border crossings into each state, resulting in traffic jams at the Ghazipur and Chilla points, which connect the city with Ghaziabad and Noida in UP.

Other border points, including Singhu and Tikri, which were major protest sites four years ago, have also been fortified. These include setting up nail strips across roads to stop farmers' vehicles from forcing their way past check posts and placing metal barricades, including barbed wire fences.

The Singhu border - the main Delhi-Chandigarh road - has been blocked on both sides.

Also in Delhi, police are practising firing teargas shells; a video shows cops firing teargas shells in an open area in north Delhi, an exercise that left area residents in discomfort.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over the anti-protest measures; "Is the laying nails in the path of farmers 'amritkaal' or 'anyaykaal'?" Ms Gandhi Vadra asked on X, attacking the ruling BJP for not fulfilling promises to farmers. "Mr Prime Minister! Why such behaviour with the country's farmers? Why don't you fulfil the promises..."

"We Have Everything We Need..."

Farmers marching on Delhi say they are coming prepared for another siege-like situation.

"From a needle to hammer, we have everything we need, including tools to break stones. We left our village with six months' ration with us. We have enough diesel, even for our brothers from Haryana," Harbhajan Singh, from Punjab's Gurdaspur, who was part of the 2020 protest too, said.

"We didn't budge through 13 months last time. We were promised our demands will be met, but the government didn't keep its promise. This time, we will leave only after all our demands are met."

Government Races To Contain Protests

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party - aware of a potentially disastrous impact on its public image weeks before a general election - has already held one meeting with reps of protesting farmer unions.

Two union ministers, including junior Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, met farmer leaders late Monday. Some progress was made - an agreement was struck on repealing the Electricity Act, 2020 and on providing compensation to farmers killed in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri.

However, there was no resolution of the farmers' primary concerns - a law to guarantee MSP, or minimum support price for all crops, loan waivers, and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations - meaning the second "Delhi Chalo" protest began as scheduled.

Mr Munda said "some people want to create problems" and called on the farmers to have patience and trust the government. "The government is committed to the interests of farmers," he said.

"The talks did not lead to any result. We will start our march to Delhi... we will, however, discuss proposals given by the government. The government is at fault here," a farmer leader said.

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News Network
February 9,2024

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that former prime ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh as well as agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan will be honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. 

The Centre had earlier announced the Bharat Ratna for Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Lal Krishna Advani and former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur.

“Delighted to share that our former Prime Minister, Shri PV Narasimha Rao Garu, will be honoured with the Bharat Ratna. As a distinguished scholar and statesman, Narasimha Rao Garu served India extensively in various capacities. He is equally remembered for the work he did as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Union Minister, and as a Member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly for many years. His visionary leadership was instrumental in making India economically advanced, laying a solid foundation for the country's prosperity and growth,” Modi said on social media X (formally Twitter).

“Narasimha Rao Garu’s tenure as Prime Minister was marked by significant measures that opened India to global markets, fostering a new era of economic development. Furthermore, his contributions to India's foreign policy, language and education sectors underscore his multifaceted legacy as a leader who not only steered India through critical transformations but also enriched its cultural and intellectual heritage,” the prime minister added.

Modi said the Bharat Ratna to Chaudhary Charan Singh dedicated to his incomparable contribution to the country.

“It is the good fortune of our government that former Prime Minister of the country Chaudhary Charan Singh is being honored with Bharat Ratna. This honor is dedicated to his incomparable contribution to the country. He had dedicated his entire life to the rights and welfare of farmers. Be it the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh or the home minister of the country and even as an MLA, he always gave impetus to nation building. He also stood firm against the Emergency. His dedication to our farmer brothers and sisters and his commitment to democracy during the Emergency is inspiring to the entire nation,” Modi posted on X in Hindi.

On MS Swaminathan, Modi said he made monumental contributions to the country in agriculture and farmers’ welfare.

“It is a matter of immense joy that the Government of India is conferring the Bharat Ratna on Dr. MS Swaminathan Ji, in recognition of his monumental contributions to our nation in agriculture and farmers’ welfare. He played a pivotal role in helping India achieve self-reliance in agriculture during challenging times and made outstanding efforts towards modernizing Indian agriculture. We also recognise his invaluable work as an innovator and mentor and encouraging learning and research among several students,” Modi wrote.

“Dr. Swaminathan’s visionary leadership has not only transformed Indian agriculture but also ensured the nation’s food security and prosperity. He was someone I knew closely and l always valued his insights and inputs,” he added.

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News Network
February 15,2024

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Beirut, Feb 15: At least 11 people, including children, have been killed in Israeli strikes on villages in southern Lebanon, according to a report.

A hospital director and three Lebanese security sources told Reuters that 11 people, including six children, were killed during strikes the Israeli military carried out against villages across southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

The Tel Aviv regime said in a statement that it had responded to an earlier rocket attack conducted by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement that killed an Israeli trooper. The resistance group, however, did not announce any operations on Wednesday.

Initial reports had said four civilians were killed in the strikes.

Hezbollah and Israel have been trading near daily cross-border fire since the occupying regime waged a deadly war on Gaza on October 7.

Hezbollah, whose constant rocket fire has prompted tens of thousands of Israeli settlers to flee from the northern areas of the occupied territories, says its operations are meant to support Gaza’s resistance.

Two security sources said that a woman and her two children had been killed in an Israeli strike on the village of al-Sawana on Wednesday.

Another strike on a building in Nabatieh claimed the lives of four more children, three women and a man, according to the director of the town’s hospital, Hassan Wazni, and three other security sources. Wazni further said that seven people were also wounded in the strikes.

Sources also said that four Hezbollah fighters were also killed in separate strikes.

Hezbollah has warned it would expand the anti-Israel front in the south if the occupying regime escalated its acts of aggression against the Lebanese territory and the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The resistance group has vowed to keep up its retaliatory operations as long as the usurping entity continues its aggression against Gaza, which has so far killed more than 28,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured over 68,200 others.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reiterated in a televised address that his group would only stop its exchanges of fire if a full and permanent ceasefire was reached for Gaza.

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