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Punjab News

Former SAD minister Bikram Majithia backs agitating Punjab teachers demanding pay parity

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 15, 2018 10:02 PM
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CHANDIGARH: Senior Akali leader Sardar Bikram Singh Majithia today came out strongly in support of the agitating    teachers who have been protesting the government’s decision   to drastically slash their  salaries at the time of regularisation of contractual teachers’ services. The Akali leader said that the teachers demand for protecting their pay at the time of  regularisation of those on contractual assignment is fully justified.

Majithia  accused the government of buying out the loyalty of Mr  Sukhpal Singh Khaira and his Aam Admi Party  by arranging a clean chit for him in order to withdraw the cases registered against him while it was adopting a policy of dangerous and destructive vendetta against teachers in whose hands the destiny of our children rests”
 
Majithia had raised the issue in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, also demanding the immediate withdrawal of all the cases registered against the peacefully protesting teachers, also supporting their demand for pay protection.

“Many of these teachers have been drawing salaries around Rs 50,000 per month during the government headed by Sardar Parkash Singh Badal  while the present government now wants to force them to accept a basic salary of around only Rs 10,00 –   a drastic and unbearable  cut of over 75%. Would anyone in the top echelons  in the present government agree to work at just 20% of their present salary. If not , how do you expect poor teachers to run their families’ expenses at such drastically slashed pay? ” the Akali leader asked the Congress government.

Majithia said that the principle of natural justice demanded that the last pay drawn by  the teachers who have been working on contractual assignment for years must be protected. It is unthinkable that while the salaries of every other category of employees in the government have been witnessing a rise, the government wants to  force the makers of the country’s future to work on  1/ 5th ( One Fifth)  of the pay being drawn by them in their present capacity ,” said Mr Majithia in his statement.
 
The former Revenue Minister also came down heavily against government on the non-withdrawal of cases registered against thousands of  peacefully protesting teachers while at the same time securing clean chits against its ‘political  assistants in the Congress’ “B team”, the Aam Admi Party.’ “ What could be more insensitive and duplicitous than the double standards adopted by the Congress government while dealing with  cases of ‘ the high and mighty political big wigs like the Congress’ proxy-voice and  AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira on the one hand and the false cases registered against innocent and peaceful teachers on the other. The Congress has  struck a quid pro quo with Khaira in a “loyalty buy-out package” to secure his and his party’s unstinted support  on all anti-people policies by securing withdrawal of cases against him through a politically motivated Commission report favouring Khaira. Similarly, the government had also arranged the withdrawal of cases against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann through a similarly pre-arranged clean-slip from the Commission.      

But, said the Akali leader,  the poor and defenseless teachers, who have been working day and night to shape the destiny of our children, have been made the target of government’s vengeful policy by booking them on serious charges simply because they were exercising their democratic right to agitate peacefully for the fulfillment of their legitimate demands. The fact is that the Congress government  needs Mr. Khaira and Mr. Mann while it clearly considers  the teachers “utterly useless for them” ,” said Mr Majithia in a statement here this evening.

It may be recalled that Members of various teachers' associations, including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), Computer Teachers' Union Punjab, Mid-day Meal Officers' Employees Union, Government Adarsh and Model School Employees' Union are agitating in support of their demand for regularization alongwith pay protection. Thousands of the agitating teachers have been booked on cooked up charges under various clauses by the government.

Punjab News

Punjab finally waking up to decibel danger

April 23, 2018 09:16 PM
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CHANDIGARH: Noisy wedding celebrations, high-pitched religious fervour and other ear-splitting nocturnal festivities have become a nightmare for peace-loving citizens of Punjab. Finally, the state's lawmakers and authorities seem to be waking up to the pervasive civic nuisance.

A recent study by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to measure the noise level due to loudspeakers used in religious places in villages across the state has confirmed that the noise pollution was at more than the permissible limits.

The study, conducted for the first time in the agrarian state, found that the decibel level in Punjab's rural areas was higher during night time (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.).

"Noise monitoring was carried out at boundary walls at 50 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres distance from religious places. It was found that the noise level at the boundary wall was 60-88dB (decibel) at 50 metres, 53-87dB at 100 metres and 50-72dB at 200 metres, which was well above the permissible limit of 45dB," PPCB Chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said.

The study pointed out that higher values of noise pollution in villages could have an adverse effect on human health. This could lead to fatigue of hearing or auditory organs, deafness, annoyance, hypertension, change of the rate of heart beat, vertigo effects and cardiovascular effects.

Pannu said the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, had recently issued a directive asking all gurdwaras to keep the volume of speakers within permissible limits.

In most villages in Punjab, there is at least one gurdwara (Sikh shrine or temple). Some villages have two or even more.

The PPCB Chairman has appealed to the management committees of gurdwaras, temples and mosques to keep the noise pollution under control.

Punjab's lawmakers too are now all ears over the growing noise menace.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh told the state assembly last month that the government will soon convene an all-party meeting to deliberate on ways to check the menace.

Expressing concern over the implications of noise pollution, Amarinder Singh admitted that norms on noise levels were being blatantly flouted, especially in the case of DJs (disc jockeys) at social functions, resulting in inconvenience and disturbance to people, particularly students preparing for examinations.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Aman Arora, who raised the noise pollution issue in the assembly last month, said the problem needed immediate attention and warranted serious discussion.

Amarinder Singh told the House: "My government will get inputs from the members of various political parties for evolving a consensus on finding a permanent solution to the problem."

Though provisions under the Noise Pollution Regulation and Control Rules, 2000, issued by the Government of India, and the Punjab Instruments Control of Noises Act, 1956, clearly provide directions on permissible limits and timings for use of loudspeakers, these are flouted with impunity and authorities, especially the police, in the districts, are not implementing the rules strictly.

The Supreme Court has also imposed a ban on playing of loud music and use of loudspeakers from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"We get guests from abroad and other places across the country. At night, there is too much noise from nearby marriage palaces. No one follows the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ban directive. Loud music is played till 2 a.m.

"The loudspeakers from nearby religious places wake up people around 4 a.m. There is no check on anyone," a leading entrepreneur who runs a farmstay in rural Punjab told IANS.

The problem is more acute in rural areas compared to cities and towns as there is better regulation in the latter.

Till the time local authorities in the districts enforce the ban on loudspeakers effectively during night hours, people in Punjab's hinterland will continue to suffer noisy nights.

Chandigarh News

Punjab CM opposes move to merge Chandigarh DSP cadre with Delhi and other UTs

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 22, 2018 09:57 PM
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CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has opposed the reported move of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to merge the DSP cadre of the Chandigarh Police with the police officers of all Union Territories, including the Delhi Police.

He has demanded that status quo be maintained till the territorial dispute of Chandigarh between Punjab and Haryana is settled.

The Chief Minister has also directed the Chief Secretary to initiate steps for the establishment of a special cell, in the General Administration branch, to deal with all Chandigarh-related issues in order to protect the interests of Punjab. He has asked the CS to bring a formal proposal on this in the next cabinet meeting.

In a statement issued here, the Chief Minister said any move to erode the state’s stake in Chandigarh was not acceptable to Punjab. The existing pattern of all Chandigarh UT posts being shared between Punjab and Haryana in 60:40 ratio should continue, he demanded.

The reported move to merge the Chandigarh DSP post with other UTs would disturb the fine balance achieved over the years, he said, warning that it could be counter-productive. Besides, said the Chief Minister, any such move would limit the avenues for the career progression of senior Punjab officers in line for promotion.

The proposal of the MHA would lead to all sanctioned posts of DSP of the Chandigarh UT being merged with the entry grade of the combined cadre of Delhi and other UTs, which would allow their transfer/posting in any UT, the Chief Minister pointed out.

He expressed concern over the attempts to gradually dilute Punjab’s stake in Chandigarh, pointing to the fact that a similar erosion had already taken place, over the years, in the post of Class I Gazetted Officers. Punjab would not allow further erosion of its interests, he added.

Punjab Crime

Jalandhar man, mother booked in dowry case on complaint of Phagwara girl

SAMEER KAURA
April 22, 2018 09:56 PM
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PHAGWARA: On a complaint lodged by Phagwara resident Ridhima the Phagwara police have registered case under section 498A/406 IPC against her Jalandhar resident husband Rajeev Chauhan and his mother Urmila Chauhan on the charges of domestic violence ie torturing her physically and mentally to fulfil their demands of Rs 40 Lac.

Station House Officer City Police Phagwara Gurmeet Singh Sidhu told that the Victim in her complaint lodged with City Police Phagwara told the police that She was married to the accused Rajeev on December 1 in the year 2008 and her parents gave sufficient dowry  in the marriage. She alleged that her-in-laws wanted her to conceive early and to deliver only a male. She told that she delivered two sons  on March 26 in 2011, and on April 17 in 2015.The Victim alleged that She was forced to abort on November 29 in 2012 and then on June 29 in 2013 and the abortions were done in two Jalandhar Hospitals after  the  sex determination tests conducted at Dehradun .

The Victim even alleged that She was thrown out from her-in-laws house after 40 days of the delivery of her second son on May 28 in 2015 and she was residing with her parents in Phagwara presently. She told that  she lodged complaint before  SSP Kapurthala  who forwarded the complaint to Women Cell could not be fruitful and ultimately Family Court intervened and recommended to register case against her husband and mother-in-law.

Sikhs Abroad

Dal Khalsa trashes Indian govt’s demand for legal action against Sikh demonstrators in UK

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 22, 2018 07:50 PM
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AMRITSAR: Dal Khalsa trashed Indian foreign ministry’s demand for legal action against Sikh demonstrators that allegedly torn down Indian tricolour during protest against PM Narendra Modi’s visit to UK to attend Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting.

In a statement, party spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said Indian govt was only worried about their hurt sentiments due to disrespect shown to its flag during the protest. However, New Delhi refuses to accept the genuine anger and concern of protesters whose kin and kith were being brutally tortured, maimed and killed by its security forces in various parts of the country.

What about the hurt and suppressed sentiments of minorities and Dalits living in peripheral states of India? he asked and said “India should gracefully accept its bad behaviour and indifferent attitude towards its minorities and Dalits”.

Supporting the cause of the ethnic minorities that staged a spirited protest against Modi in UK, the Dal Khalsa leader said Indian leaders can’t hope better treatment from Sikhs, Kashmiris, Tamils and Dalits settled in abroad until India learns to treat their community members fairly and equally back home.

Taking exception over Modi’s statement that criticism is bedrock of democracy, he said when minority representatives criticized Modi dispensation for unleashing state-terror on their people, they faced prosecution and legal action.  Slamming India’s double standards, he said leaders talk differently and artificially on international fora where as back home their words and deeds are totally in contrast to democratic norms.

Dal Khalsa trashed Indian foreign ministry’s demand for legal action against Sikh demonstrators that allegedly torn down Indian tricolour during protest against PM Narendra Modi’s visit to UK to attend Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting.

In a statement, party spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said Indian govt was only worried about their hurt sentiments due to disrespect shown to its flag during the protest. However, New Delhi refuses to accept the genuine anger and concern of protesters whose kin and kith were being brutally tortured, maimed and killed by its security forces in various parts of the country.

Punjab Politics

Malwa region gets lions share in Punjab cabinet, Doaba ignored completely

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
Punjab Chief Minister, Governor and cabinet ministers
April 22, 2018 07:44 PM
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CHANDIGARH: While a revolt is brewing up in Punjab Congress on the issue of expansion of cabinet by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the composition of cabinet has shown regional bias with 11 out fo 18 ministers belonging to Malwa region.

Several Congress MLAs have revolted against the leadership of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh who has preferred personal loyality over merit while choosing his cabinet.

As many as three MLAs Sangat Singh Khiljian MLA from Tanda in Hoshiarpur district, Surjit Singh Dhiman MLA from Amargarh and Nathu Ram MLA from Balluana (Reserve seat) have resigned from all party posts. While Khiljian and Dhiman are PPCC Vice presidents, Nathu Ram is General Secretary.

Gurkirat Singh Kotli MLA from Khanna and Navtej Singh Cheema MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi have expressed their anguish over ignoring them. Kotli is grand son of former CM Beant Singh.

The supporters of Raj Kumar Verka and Ajaib Singh Bhatti both from SC category had raised slogans against Capt Amarinder Singh outside Punjab Raj Bhawan, the venue of swearing-in-ceremony for ignoring dalit sections in the cabinet expansion. Punjab has 37 percent dalit population which is highest in the country but no repersentation is given to these sections. Raj Kumar Verka (Amritsar district) who is also Congress spokesman was very hopeful of inclusion in the cabinet. The Chief Minister has however given preference to Om Parkash Soni from Amritsar South.

Capt Amarinder Singh however said that no partiality is done in selection of cabinet ministers. He said that other MLAs will be adjusted in boards and corporations as Chairman. He was replying to allegations that loyality overshadowed merit.

Among the nine new cabinet ministers except Gurpreet Singh Kangar who is loyal to PPCC president Sunil Jakhar all belongs to Capt Amarinder Singh camp.

The Punjab cabinet now comprises 18 ministers including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Eight of them are Jat Sikhs with majority 5 from Malwa and three from Majha and none from Doaba area. Five ministers belong to General Hindu category-two brahmin, two khatri and one Baniya. There are three dalits-one Ramdasia, one ravidasia and one Bajigar. One is Khatri Sikh and one is Muslim. In religious terms 11 are Sikhs, six are Hindus and One Muslim.

Malwa region has got highest repesentation of 11 ministers followed by Majha 6 and Doaba One. Three of Majha MLAs are from Amritsar district and three from Gurdaspur district. Out os 18 ministers 16 are male and only two are females.

The final list of cabinet besides Capt Amarinder Singh is as Navjot Sidhu, Manpreet Singh Badal, Brahm Mahindra, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Charanjit Singh Channi, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Razia Sultana, Aruna Chaudhary, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Sham Sundar Arora, O.P.Soni, Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

Punjab News

Phagwara returning to normal after three days of communal violence

April 17, 2018 09:44 PM
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PHAGWARA: Though with the hard efforts, assurance of security and inspiration of SP Phagwara Parminder Singh Bhandal the shopkeepers today opened their shops even in most congested bazar Bansan Wala of the town  after three days of violent clash between two communities on last Friday night, but panic and tension continued among the people on Tuesday.

Deputy Commissioner Kapurthala Mohammad Tayab who is camping at Phagwara since last Friday night has appealed to the people not to believe on rumours and maintain peace and harmony.Meanwhile AIG Counter Intelligence Harkamalpreet Singh Khakh who visited the DMC Hospital Ludhiana told this correspondent here this evening that the condition of the injured Bobby is still critical but doctors of DMC are making hard efforts for his speedy recovery.

In a significant development the leaders of various political parties including the former minister Joginder Singh Maan, Satbir Singh Sahbi(congress) Avinash Gupta,Phagwara MLA Som Parkash,Mayor Arun Khosla,Parmod Mishra(BJP), Sarwan Singh Kular,Deputy Mayor Surinder Singh Walia(SAD), and Harbhghan Singh Balalon(Bahujan Samaj Party) joined hand to maintain peace in Phagwara. After a meeting a joint “Appeal” from these political parties was released in which they described the Violent Clashes of April 13 as most unfortunate and expressed their deep concern. They appealed to the residents to maintain peace and communal harmony at every cost.

Taking note of the law and order situation in Phagwara, the District Magistrate, Kapurthala, Mohammad Tayyab issued orders under Section 144 Cr. P.C. prohibiting all printing presses in the district from printing flex-boards, posters, pamphlets, posters and any such material containing derogatory or inflammatory matter or objectionable words against any religion, caste or person. The order, will remain in force till June 13.Civil Surgeon Kapurthala Dr H.S. Kahlon has also camping at Phagwara to supervise health care arrangements in emergency.He hold different meeting with Government Doctors and representatives of Indian Medical Association.

Meanwhile Phagwara town has been divided in four zones to maintain normal law and order and required force have been deputed there. On the other hand Deputy Commissioner has deputed 18 Duty Magistrates with Cops to act in emergent situation. However tension is continued in the town even on fourth day today.

Sikh Community

SC refuses to block release of Nanak film

April 16, 2018 10:01 PM
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the release of regional film "Nanak Shah Fakir" based on the life of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, saying the Constitution allows filmmakers to make any movie as long as it does not impinge on secularism.

Refusing to interfere with its last week's order directing the states to ensure that no obstruction was caused in the release and screening of the film, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: "As long as the film does not denigrate Sikhism and it only seeks to glorify Guru Nanak Dev we will not interfere..."

After the earlier apex court order, the film released on Friday (April 13).

The court's Monday order came on a plea by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which contended that there could not be any portrayal of Sikh Gurus, their immediate family members and the Panj Pyaras by any mortal beings.

As senior counsel R.S. Suri, appearing for the film's producer Harinder S. Sikka, said the producer and the SGPC representatives should meet and see what more can be done, the court asked the SGPC counsel to consider the offer and directed the next hearing on May 8.

The court also noted that "Nanak Shah Fakir" has got the National Integration Award in the category of regional films.

Appearing for the Sikh body, senior counsel P.S. Patwalia, referred to a 2003 resolution of the SGPC, which was reiterated in 2015, that there cannot be a depiction of Sikh Gurus by any living being.

Chief Justice Misra said "let the character playing Guru Nanak not take credit for it and let it be an abstract person", adding that once a film has been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, the court can't interfere.

Justice Chandrachud said no religion can say that "only our book would portray our religion and stop everyone from writing about it. This would encroach into secularism".

As long as the film does not denigrate Sikhism and Guru Nanak Dev's portrayal is venerated and as an abstract man, he said, "we can't interfere".

The Constitution protects filmmakers to make films, the court said, as long as it does not impinge on secularism -- the basic philosophy of the Constitution.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, who was present in the court and was asked to give his views, said any religious injunction against the release of a film should be backed by legal sanction.

If the injunction is purely religious, the court has to ensure that the right of the filmmaker is not violated, he said.

Describing the latest position of the SGPC as a summersault, senior counsel Suri said the film was approved by a committee of five eminent people who praised it.

He said in deference to the suggestion by the committee, Guru Nanak "is shown as light and his teachings are being narrated by one of his Muslim disciples Bhai Mardana".

Media

Veteran journalist S. Nihal Singh passes away

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 16, 2018 09:53 PM
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NEW DELHI: Veteran journalist and editor S. Nihal Singh, a trenchant critic of the Emergency in the mid-seventies and equally of the Modi government, died on Monday following illness. He was 88.

The end came around 5.30 p.m. at the National Heart Institute here where he had been admitted. The cremation will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday at the Lodhi Road crematorium.

A journalist friend of Nihal Singh said he had been in and out of the hospital four times in the past few weeks and died due to multiple organ failure. Nihal Singh would have turned 89 on April 30.

An incisive writer, Surendra Nihal Singh was the Chief Editor of The Statesman, Editor-in-Chief Indian Express and Editor of Khaleej Times. He was also the founding editor of the The Indian Post.

Author of several books, he was active till recently contributing regular columns to newspapers.

He won the prestigious International Editor of the Year Award in New York for his role in opposing the state of Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in mid-1975. Of late, he was also critical of the Narendra Modi government on various issues like intolerance arising out of the activities of Hindutva organisations.

Nihal Singh was Director, Press Institute of India and a senior associate Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, New York City. He was also President of the Press Club of India.

Paying his tributes, senior journalist H.K. Dua said Nihal Singh was one of the most outstanding journalists and an excellent commentator on national affairs and foreign policy.

"He was a thorough democrat-liberal, moulded in a classical mode of journalism. He was a popular leader wherever he worked," Dua said.

He said Nihal Singh was always fair in his approach in commentary and could be incisive in comment without malice.

Senior journalist Kuldip Nayar said Nihal Singh would not only be remembered for his contribution to journalism but also to public life.

Nayar said he and Nihal Singh were colleagues in The Statesman for many years and described him as a serious writer.

"He was posted at Singapore when I joined the The Statesman. We used to wait for his dispatches which were read with great interest," Nayar said, adding that he gave whole perspective on China and Southeast Asia.

He recalled Nihal Singh coming regularly to the India International Centre and addressing meetings and mixing with people.

"We were not only colleagues, we became good friends and I am shocked that he is no more. It is definitely loss to profession and also to me."

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala also paid his tributes, saying Nihal Singh's impeccable integrity and journalistic ethics is a benchmark.

"My deepest condolences on the passing away of Nihal Singh. In a career spanning several decades, his impeccable integrity and journalistic ethics is a benchmark in today's times. My prayers are with his family and friends," Surjewala said.

Diaspora

"Sikh American Heritage Day" proclaimed in Illinois by the Governor

April 16, 2018 05:22 PM
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CHICAGO: State of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed April 14, 2018 as “Sikh American Heritage Day” in Illinois. Representing the Governor the Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguetti came to address the congregation, and present the proclamation to the community at the Sikh Religious Society Palatine Gurdwara congregation hall in a suburb of Chicago.

The proclamation enumerated and honored the achievements, services, and contributions of Sikhs in America. Lt Governor Sanguetti presented the proclamation document to the Trustees of the Sikh Religious Society. The society president Dr. Pardeep Singh Gill thanked the Lt. Governor for coming in person to present the proclamation. The Lt. Governor was welcomed by the Sikh Sunday school children with flower bouquets. Sanguetti also toured the Langar hall and kitchen and watched flat round bread (Roti) being freshly baked.

Rajinder Singh Mago coordinated the Governor’s office and the Proclamation event at Gurdwara in Palatine.

April 14 is Vaisakhi day which is a cultural festival in Punjab, India, but it is also significantly historic, and transformational event in the Sikh world. This day in 1699 in Anandpur Sahib Punjab, near Chandigarh, the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh changed the course of human history and civilization in that part of the world. He created the order of Khalsa and prescribed the Sikh way of life eliminating caste system and gender discrimination, adding to the follower’s external appearance the five articles of faith including unshorn hair and Kirpaan, building self esteem and valor in the common people oppressed by tyrannical rulers. The first five Khalsa (Panj Pyaare) known as Five Beloved Ones were initiated on this day. Each of them were of a different cast and came from different corners of India. Later the Guru bowed before the five initiates and asked them to initiate him, thus the Sikh initiation ceremony (Amrit Chhakna) got started.

The Vaisakhi of 1699 brought into sharp focus, a universal concern for human and sacred rights of all people; That safeguarding human dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to worship, and ensuring that all God’s children are equal and deserve to receive God’s blessings; That it is just and honorable to take a stand against tyranny and oppression wherever it may be happening; And an inalienable right that Khalsa must engage in just struggle, righteous defiance and supreme sacrifices to attain these rights as a way to serve and honor the highest ideals set for the Sikhs by the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708).

The Vaisakhi day was celebrated at Gurdwaras in Palatine, Wheaton, and Chicago Illinois with great fervor and devotion, in an ambiance of exuberance, joy, and reverence. The Sikh Religious Society (SRS) Palatine Gurdwara was full with people. More than 1000 devotees attended the Keertan, Prayers, and partook of Langar (community meal). Newly initiated Khalsas walked in a ceremonial procession, bowed to the Guru and were presented to the congregation amidst cheerful chants of “Jo Bole So Nihaal, Sat Siri Akaal.”

Sikhs Americans are an immigrant community from Northwestern State of Punjab in India. About 550 years old, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with about 25 to 30 million followers worldwide.

Crime

Act tough against culprits of Kathua and Unnao, former civil servants tell Modi

April 15, 2018 09:43 PM
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NEW DELHI: In a strongly-worded open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a group of former civil servants on Sunday asked him to check the nations "free fall into anarchy" by acting tough against the culprits of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and the perpetrators of hate crimes across the country.

Holding Modi responsible "more than anyone else" for the "terrifying state of affairs" and pointing out that both in Uttar Pradesh (Unnao) and Jammu and Kashmir (Kathua) it is his party (BJP) that is in power, the 49 former civil servants who included Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, Wajahat Habibullah, Jawahar Sircar and N.C. Saxena, termed the present state of affairs an "existential crisis".

"This is a moment of existential crisis, a turning point -- the way the government responds now will determine whether we as a nation and as a republic have the capacity to overcome the crisis of constitutional values, of governance and the ethical order within which we function.

"Prime Minister, we write to you not just to express our collective sense of shame and not just to give voice to our anguish or lament and mourn the death of our civilisational values -- but to express our rage. Rage over the agenda of division and hate your party and its innumerable offshoots have insidiously introduced into the grammar of our politics, our social and cultural life and even our daily discourse," they said in the letter.

The group also called upon the Prime Minister to reach out to the families of the victims in the Unnao and Kathua rape cases and "seek their forgiveness on behalf of all of us".

"In the memory of these innocent children and all other victims of hate crime, renew a pledge to offer special protection to Muslims, to Dalits, to members of other minority communities, to women and children so that they need not fear for their life and liberty and any threat to these will be extinguished with the full force of the state authority," the letter read.

The group has also demanded the convening of an all party meeting "to deliberate on ways in which the phenomenon of hate crime can be tackled socially, politically and administratively".

Crime

Kejriwal demands death penalty for rape of minors

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
Arvind Kejriwal
April 15, 2018 09:02 PM
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NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday demanded death penalty for those raping minors and also blasted the BJP for defending its MLA accused of raping a teenager in Uttar Pradesh.

While visiting the Rajghat where Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal's fast on the same issue entered the third day, Kejriwal said his government was ready to make amendments to the existing law to ensure death penalty to rapists of minors.

He urged the Delhi High Court to inform his government about the number of fast-track courts, judges and money needed for the purpose.

"As soon as the Delhi High Court tells us, we will provide the money. We want women to remain safe in Delhi."

Maliwal launched her protest on Friday in the wake of the horrific rape incidents in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, for which a BJP MLA has been detained, and in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir where a girl was abducted, gang-raped and murdered.

Kejriwal said Maliwal wanted death penalty for rapists of minors and that their trial should get over in six months.

"In the next Delhi Assembly session we will bring amendments to the IPC and CrPC that in case of rape of a minor, the rapist must get death penalty and the trial should be completed within six months.

"In the last three years, the Delhi Assembly has brought many legislation but the Centre has not cleared a single of them."

Kejriwal said he came to Rajghat to promote the safety of women in Delhi and elsewhere in the country.

"There should be a system so that nobody dares to rape. I came here to demand a system which ensures women's safety."

He applauded Maliwal for her hunger strike. "I am not here to support her. She is fighting for our safety."

He slammed the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments and police for trying to protect the MLA accused of raping a girl in Unnao.

"What message are we giving to the people? If a BJP MLA or supporter rapes, nothing will happen to him. The whole BJP party, from top to bottom, and whole machinery will protect that person," Kejriwal said.

"In Jammu and Kashmir, an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped inside a temple. They (BJP) say they are Hindus. They are a shame on Hinduism. The rapists have defiled the temple," he added.

Sikhs

India protests as Pakistan stops Sikh pilgrims from meeting diplomats

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 15, 2018 06:34 PM
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NEW DELHI: India has protested to Pakistan after it prevented a group of Sikh pilgrims from meeting the Indian diplomatic staff, the External Affairs Ministry said on Sunday.

"India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over a block of access for visiting pilgrims to Indian diplomats and consular teams," the Ministry said in a statement.

It said around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims have been travelling to Pakistan from April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.

"A standard practice has been that the Indian High Commission's consular/protocol team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies," the statement said.

"However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims. The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah railway station on April 12."

According to the statement, the Indian consular team was also denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on Saturday for a scheduled meeting with the pilgrims there.

"The High Commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens," it stated.

On Saturday, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria, who was to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at the invitation of the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), was told to return while en route to the shrine for unspecified "security" reasons.

"The High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was thus compelled to return without meeting Indian citizens," the statement said.

"India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan against this inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy, pointing out that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries."

Last month, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told the media here that the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was facing "a litany of issues" which have not been resolved for several months.

His comments came after Pakistan called back its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, for consultations after allegations of harassment of Pakistani diplomats in India.

Punjab News

Punjab extends suspension of mobile internet services in four districts till April 16

April 15, 2018 06:27 PM
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CHANDIGARH: To maintain peace and harmony in the wake of a violent clash between two communities in Phagwara, the Punjab Government has extended the temporary suspension of mobile internet services in 4 districts till April 16, 2018 with immediate effect.

Disclosing this here today, an official spokesperson said that this order was issued for temporarily suspension of mobile internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA), all SMS services as well as all dongle services except voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of four districts namely Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar districts as a precautionary measure.

He further said that all telecom services providers in the State of Punjab and Head of BSNL (Punjab Jurisdiction) are directed to ensure compliance of this order. He said that any person found guilty for violation of aforesaid order, would be liable for legal action.

Punjab Politics

No question of Sidhu's resignation in wake of road rage case in SC, says Punjab CM

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 15, 2018 06:06 PM
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CHANDIGARH: Scotching speculation that Local Government Minister would be resigning from the state cabinet in view of the Supreme Court case against him, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said there was no question of asking the minister to quit.

The Chief Minister pointed out that the Supreme Court had stayed Sidhu’s conviction in the road rage case in 2007 and was yet to pronounce its verdict on his petition challenging the high court order. The question of the minister resigning, merely because the state government had repeated its stand of 30 years in the case before the Supreme Court, did not arise, he added. “There was neither any impediment in Sidhu’s induction into the cabinet nor in his continuation now, in view of the stay on his conviction”, said the Chief Minister.

The categorical clarification from the Chief Minister came amid reports suggesting that Sidhu had been asked to resign, and also in the wake of the demand from the Opposition that he should step down.

While reiterating that his government could not have changed its stand in the apex court in the case against Sidhu, the Chief Minister once again expressed the hope that the judge would take cognizance of Sidhu’s contribution to the society and the country in deciding the case.

Captain Amarinder Singh described the recent developments in the matter as unfortunate, but maintained that his government had taken the only legally tenable stand in the Supreme Court.

Reacting to reports suggesting that the government had deliberately not supported the minister in the apex court, the Chief Minister pointed out unless the prosecution received new inputs, it was not legally possible for it to add a new element to its arguments.

As the state prosecution, the government’s lawyers had stated a certain viewpoint in the trial court as well as the High Court, he noted, adding that, in the absence of any fresh evidence, there was no way of changing that stand before the Supreme Court.

Speaking totally from a legal viewpoint, the prosecution is duty-bound to go by the facts and stick to the same, said the Chief Minister. Taking a U-turn from the stand taken by the government in the trial and high courts was not an option for the government, he added.

Punjab News

Punjab CM appeals to maintain peace, law and order in wake of communal clashes in Phagwara

Capt Amarinder Singh
April 15, 2018 10:59 AM
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CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony in the wake of a violent clash between two communities in Phagwara, while warning of stringent action against anyone found disturbing the law and order in the state.

The Chief Minister, who is personally monitoring the situation following the incident, has ordered suspension of mobile internet services in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar districts as a precautionary measure, to check rumour mongering on the social media.

Captain Amarinder has also directed the state police to maintain a tight vigil and crack down on any disruptive elements to ensure that the situation does not escalate further. He has asked the police to thoroughly investigate the incident, which took between some Dalit workers and so-called Hindu organisations.

The Chief Minister announced that the state government would bear the entire expenses for the medical treatment of all those injured in the clashes, whether admitted to government or private hospitals. He directed the Ludhiana district administration to ensure the best treatment for Yashwant Kumar Bobby, reported to be seriously injured in the clash and undergoing treatment at DMC Ludhiana.

Urging the people to exercise restraint, the Chief Minister sought their cooperation to maintain peace and communal harmony, and thwart the nefarious designs of anti-national and anti-social elements.

Punjab News

Amarinder playing treacherous politics to put Navjot Sidhu in a tight spot: Bir Devinder Singh

April 14, 2018 10:29 PM
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CHANDIGARH: It's astounding to see the statement of Capt. Amarinder Singh in the media today, strongly defending the position of the State Government, in the case of Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu, in the Supreme Court; saying that “how could the State take any other stand in the apex court contrary to what it had taken in the trial in the High Court earlier. Had we done so, we would have been accused of lying either now or earlier." He cleverly quipped, that “He does not believe in playing politics in judicial cases."

Bir Devinder Singh former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in a statement aid. "I I believe, Capt. Amarinder Singh is suffering from selective amnesia, therefore I wish to remind him how the State of Punjab has taken complete reversal position in both the corruption cases pending in the courts, against Capt. Amarinder Singh, one at Ludhiana and other at Mohali. In the Amritsar Improvement Trust multi- Crore land scam case, in which Capt. Amarinder Singh is one of the prime accused, as mentioned in the FIR No.3 dated 11.09.2008, PS Vigilance Bureau (FS-1) , Punjab at Mohali, under section 420,467,468,471,193, 120-B IPC and sections 7,8,13 (1) (c) (d) read with section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. After conducting thorough investigation for over a decade in the case, the state bureau of vigilance has submitted a flawless and irrefutable report in the trial court of Additional Session Judge, Mohali under section 173 Cr.P.C, for the purpose of putting the accused persons to trial. But as result of the political bargain between Badal family and Capt. Amarinder Singh, the state vigilance and the prosecution agency has taken completely reversed position to help the accused, contrary to its earlier stand documented under section 173 Cr.P.C. Therefore it's better for Capt. Amarinder Singh not to bring into play the morality and ethics of his government in taking the position against his cabinet colleague Mr. Navjot Sidhu. If Capt. Amarinder really has a grain of moral courage than he must direct the State Vigilance Bureau to stick to the earlier stand of the State government in corruption cases against him, pending in the courts. And let the vigilance bureau and the prosecution stick to the report filed by them under section 173 Cr.P.C .

Capt. Amarinder Singh is certainly playing a treacherous politics of double standards to put his own cabinet colleague in a tight spot so that he is able to get rid of him. But on the other hand the policy of the State and the density of his morality become completely diluted, while his Government turns volte-face, in court cases pending against him. What a preposterous paradox that the State Government has given extension to its Director Prosecution and Litigation, Mr. Vijay Singla just for the purpose to personally supervise the burial of the corruption cases against the CM, Capt. Amarinder Singh, which is why he is present on each hearing of the case in the Mohali court, without fail, defending the cancellation report filed by the State Vigilance bureau In the Amritsar Improvement Trust multi- Crore land scam case, in which Capt. Amarinder Singh is one of the main accused.

Punjab News

Cases against Mithu, Mann and Sukhpal Khaira are false: Gill Commission

April 14, 2018 09:41 PM
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CHANDIGARH: The Justice (Retd) Mehtab Gill Commission has found the cases registered during the Akali-BJP regime against Sukhwinder Singh Mithu, Simranjit Singh Mann and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, to be false, and has recommended action against the officials responsible for registering them, along with cancellation of FIRs as relevant.

In the 6th interim report, submitted to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today by Commission Chairman Justice Gill, action has been recommended in 47 of the 240 cases that were decided, with the remaining 193 dismissed for various reasons, according to an official spokesperson.

The report says false cases were registered on political considerations against Sukhwinder Singh Mithu, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Simranjit Singh Mann.  Besides recommending action against the guilty police officials in all these, the Commission has recommended cancellation of the sedition case against Mann, as well as cancellation of the 17 FIRs against Khaira and his supporters.

Sukhwinder Mithu, a member panchayat of Village Kaunke in Jagraon, was falsely implicated in eight cases after his complained against the relatives of his wife, a Canadian resident who was murdered. While his wife’s mother and maternal uncle, along with some police officials, were convicted in the murder case, Mithu himself was acquitted in all the eight cases against him, Gill pointed out. The Commission had found 182 police officers guilty of trying to frame Mithu in false cases to harass him into withdrawing the complaint against his wife’s relatives. It has recommended action against all those officers.

In the case of Simranjit Singh Mann, the Commission has found that he neither gave any speech nor did he utter a word at the Sarbat Khalsa held to protest against the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Bargarhi village of Faridkot on November 10, 2015. The sedition case was falsely slapped against Mann by the Akalis and Bibi Jagir Kaur, the Commission has found.

The Commission has endorsed the findings of police that all the 17 cases registered against Khaira and his supporters in 2007-2008 by then Akali government were fake. The Commission has recommended cancellation of the cases in the trial court, according to Gill, who said the police has also moved application for cancellation of these cases in Trial Courts.

The Commission has so far decided 895 of the 4349 complaints received by it. District Magistrates and District Attorneys were appointed by the Home Department, Punjab, as Nodal Officers of various districts. These Nodal Officers have sent to the Commission their action taken report and status of various complaints which the Commission has decided in favour of the complaints.

According to Justice Gull, those who have sent their action report to the Commission are: DA/DM Bathinda, DM Faridkot, DM Hoshiarpur, DM Jalandhar, DM Ludhiana, DM Moga, DM Patiala, DM Sangrur, DM SAS Nagar and DM Tarn Taran.

No progress reports have been received from DM/DA (Nodal Officers) of District Ferozepur, Gurdaspur & Kapurthala. They are being separately directed to send the requisite compliance/progress report in the cases immediately to ensure justice to the concerned parties as per orders passed by this Commission, said the Commission chairman.


Chandigarh, April 13: The Justice (Retd) Mehtab Gill Commission has found the cases registered during the Akali-BJP regime against Sukhwinder Singh Mithu, Simranjit Singh Mann and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, to be false, and has recommended action against the officials responsible for registering them, along with cancellation of FIRs as relevant.

In the 6th interim report, submitted to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today by Commission Chairman Justice Gill, action has been recommended in 47 of the 240 cases that were decided, with the remaining 193 dismissed for various reasons, according to an official spokesperson.

The report says false cases were registered on political considerations against Sukhwinder Singh Mithu, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Simranjit Singh Mann.  Besides recommending action against the guilty police officials in all these, the Commission has recommended cancellation of the sedition case against Mann, as well as cancellation of the 17 FIRs against Khaira and his supporters.

Sukhwinder Mithu, a member panchayat of Village Kaunke in Jagraon, was falsely implicated in eight cases after his complained against the relatives of his wife, a Canadian resident who was murdered. While his wife’s mother and maternal uncle, along with some police officials, were convicted in the murder case, Mithu himself was acquitted in all the eight cases against him, Gill pointed out. The Commission had found 182 police officers guilty of trying to frame Mithu in false cases to harass him into withdrawing the complaint against his wife’s relatives. It has recommended action against all those officers.

In the case of Simranjit Singh Mann, the Commission has found that he neither gave any speech nor did he utter a word at the Sarbat Khalsa held to protest against the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Bargarhi village of Faridkot on November 10, 2015. The sedition case was falsely slapped against Mann by the Akalis and Bibi Jagir Kaur, the Commission has found.

The Commission has endorsed the findings of police that all the 17 cases registered against Khaira and his supporters in 2007-2008 by then Akali government were fake. The Commission has recommended cancellation of the cases in the trial court, according to Gill, who said the police has also moved application for cancellation of these cases in Trial Courts.

The Commission has so far decided 895 of the 4349 complaints received by it. District Magistrates and District Attorneys were appointed by the Home Department, Punjab, as Nodal Officers of various districts. These Nodal Officers have sent to the Commission their action taken report and status of various complaints which the Commission has decided in favour of the complaints.

According to Justice Gull, those who have sent their action report to the Commission are: DA/DM Bathinda, DM Faridkot, DM Hoshiarpur, DM Jalandhar, DM Ludhiana, DM Moga, DM Patiala, DM Sangrur, DM SAS Nagar and DM Tarn Taran.

No progress reports have been received from DM/DA (Nodal Officers) of District Ferozepur, Gurdaspur & Kapurthala. They are being separately directed to send the requisite compliance/progress report in the cases immediately to ensure justice to the concerned parties as per orders passed by this Commission, said the Commission chairman.



Punjab Crime

Phagwara clash: Internet services suspended in four Punjab districts

April 14, 2018 09:37 PM
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CHANDIGARH: Internet services were suspended in four districts of Punjab on Saturday after tension gripped the industrial town of Phagwara following clashes between the Hindu and Dalit groups over a poster of Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar.

The Punjab Police on Saturday remained on high alert in Phagwara town following the clash. Tension prevailed in the industrial town, around 130 km from here, on Saturday following the clash that started late on Friday over the putting up of the Ambedkar's poster at the Goal Chowk.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered suspension of mobile Internet services in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Shaheed Bhagat Singh (SBS) Nagar (Nawanshahr) districts as a precautionary measure, to check rumour mongering on social media.

Informed sources in the police said that shots were allegedly fired during the clash, which also witnessed some stone pelting. Taking serious note of the clash between the Dalits and "upper caste men", Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said: "Would not spare the culprits.

"Will not allow Punjab's peace to be destroyed at any cost. My government will bear all expenses for treatment of all those injured in the incident."

The Chief Minister directed the Ludhiana district administration to ensure the best treatment for Yashwant Kumar Bobby, reported to be seriously injured in the clash and undergoing treatment at DMC Hospital in Ludhiana.

Trouble arose on the eve of Ambedkar Jayanti when one group tried to put up the poster at the crossing which was opposed by the other.

Shiv Sena leader Rajesh Palta was beaten up allegedly by the Dalits during the clash. Senior police personnel along with additional forces have been deployed in the town following the clash.

Amarinder appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony and warned of "stringent action against anyone found disturbing the law and order in the state".

Crime

Unnao rape: CBI gets 7 day custody of BJP MLA, victim undergoes tests

PUNJAB NEWSLINE NETWORK
April 14, 2018 09:05 PM
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LUCKNOW: A special CBI court here on Saturday sent, to seven days CBI custody, rape accused Uttar Pradesh BJP legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, while the medical examination of the 17-year-old victim was conducted at a hospital here earlier in the day.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sought a 14-day remand but the court only allowed a week-long remand. The agency earlier got Sengar's medical examination done here.

Sengar, the lawmaker from Unnao's Bangamau, however continued to claim that he was innocent and told media persons before he was presented before the court that he had full faith in God and the judiciary.

Accused of raping a 17-year-old and conspiring to kill her father, who died of injuries he sustained while beaten brutally in police custody by Sengar's brother and some aides, was arrested by the CBI on Friday after a day-long interrogation. He was also confronted with some facts by the agency.

Woman Shashi Singh, who is accused of taking the girl to the legislator has also been arrested. Three cases have been filed against the party legislator under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

Earlier, the victim, who along with her mother and uncle, were brought here under tight security in the morning, underwent tests at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.

The victim later told media persons that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Thursday statement that the guilty will be brought to book was very reassuring and that he now hoped that justice will be done in her case. She also said that the arrest of the accused legislator was also a positive development.

She also thanked the media and the CBI for taking up her battle that so far was a "lonely and losing battle".

However, her uncle accused the Unnao administration of conniving to save the legislator.

She was later taken to the CBI's zonal office where a detailed statement from her is likely to be recorded.

The victim tried to set herself ablaze outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence on last Sunday, claiming inaction in the rape case that took place in 2017.

Later on Sunday, her father was picked up by the police and allegedly beaten up in custody by the MLA's brother Atul Singh and his aides, following which he died in hospital.

Media

Notice to media houses for disclosing Kathua rape victim's identity

April 13, 2018 05:11 PM
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to several media houses for disclosing the identity of an eight-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar asked why action should not be taken against the media houses for disclosing the victim's identity and said the act was in violation of a law which is punishable under Section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code.

The court has asked the National Commission for Women (NCW), Delhi Commission for Women and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to file responses on the matter.

It listed the matter for further hearing on April 17

The victim's body was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in a forest area.

She was reportedly held captive inside a temple and sedated before being repeatedly raped and murdered.

Sanjhi Ram, the caretaker of the temple, has been named as the main accused and is said to have planned the heinous crime to instil fear among the Bakarwal community to which the victim belonged.

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