Sanjha Morcha

Terror module busted in Punjab, nine held

None had record of being Khalistan sympathisers; one a minor, another ex-DEO’s son

Chandigarh, May 30

The Punjab Police today busted an alleged terror module involving nine persons, including a woman alleged to be a drug smuggler, a retired District Education Officer’s son and a 17-year-old boy, allegedly radicalised through the Internet.A police spokesperson said they had formed a group, “Khalistan Zindabad”, and were planning to raise a new militant outfit, “Jatha Veer Khalsa”, on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar. They planned to kill senior leaders, including Congress’ Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, both accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)The outfit was to act as a front for banned terror group Babbar Khalsa International, and was allegedly being financed by Khalistan sympathisers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UK. The police have recovered 25 letterheads of the BKI and four weapons. The module points towards the emergence of narco-terrorism in the state, wherein Pakistan’s ISI is using drug smugglers or addicts for terror activities.While Amritpal Kaur and Harbarinder Singh were the key members, the minor from Barnala would source weapons from Bihar. “All nine had no previous record of being sympathisers of Khalistan,”said a police official. While two were arrested from Mohali yesterday, two more were arrested from Ludhiana and Gurdaspur today. The remaining five were captured on May 26 in the Bathinda region.Harbarinder of Amritsar, currently living in Sector 44, Chandigarh, was arrested from the Mohali bus stand. He is the son of a retired DEO. Amritpal Kaur, alias Amrit, of Salem Tabri, Ludhiana, was also arrested from the Mohali bus stand.Jarnail Singh of Gurdaspur had visited Saudi Arabia several times and was allegedly in touch with handlers in Pakistan. Randeep Singh of Gurdaspur was arrested from Ludhiana.Apart from the minor, the other four were Tarsem Singh Khalistani of Rampura Phul, Bathinda; Manjit Singh of Barnala; Jaswant Singh of Bathinda; and Jasbir Singh of Bathinda.

Punjab Police bust Khalistani terror module; four arrested


CHANDIGARH: Punjab Police on Tuesday busted a terror module that allegedly had Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar on its hit-list.

Four persons, including a woman, have been arrested, who according to the police, were planning to carry out targeted killings under the banner – ‘Khalistan Zindabad’.

They have been identified as Harbarinder Singh of Amritsar, Amritpal Kaur of Ludhiana, and Jarnail Singh and Randeep Singh of Gurdaspur. Two pistols (4 magazines and 5 live rounds) were seized from them.

Police had arrested five other members of the group on May 26 from Bathinda district.

On the radar of these “highly radicalised youth” were Congress leaders Tytler and Kumar, as well as those they considered responsible for incidents of sacrilege or desecration, said a police spokesperson. Tytler and Kumar have faced allegations related to their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. The youths had formed a group – ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ – after having been radicalised over Facebook and other social media platforms by certain individuals based in Pakistan, various middle-eastern countries and the UK, the spokesman said.

Working with their handlers and associates in India and abroad, the accused were in the process of arranging funds, procuring weapons and arranging training for their members, said police. Mohali police swooped down on them in an operation spread over May 29 and 30.

The accused were booked under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Arms Act, and the IPC. They were remanded in police custody for a week. Those arrested in Bathinda earlier were identified as Tarsem Singh Khalistani, Mohkam Singh Babbar, Manjit Singh, Jaswant Singh, and Jasbir Singh.


Why Major Gogoi is wrong by Omar Abdullah |

The tying of Farooq Ahmed Dar to an army jeep on April 9, to protect the forces from stone-pelters, was the violation of a citizen’s fundamental rights, the constitution’s spirit

Written by Omar Abdullah | Published:May 24, 2017 12:34 am

Major Gogoi, kashmir, jammu and kashmir, Srinagar, Army, Indian army, Srinagar parliamentary seat, farooq Ahmad dar, J&K, India news, indian express news, Omar abdullah, Omar abdullah columnMajor Gogoi’s decision to use Dar as a “human shield” is not about “a stand contrary to that of the majority”, as Amarinder Singh points out. (Illustration by -C R Sasikumar)

On April 9, the day of the election to the vacant Srinagar parliamentary seat, a cornered paramilitary unit in Budgam district called the army for assistance to secure a polling booth they were afraid would be run over by a mob. The army unit that responded to this call reached the spot and decided to grab Farooq Ahmed Dar, a civilian who had incidentally voted in the same election that morning. The unit marched him at gunpoint through the mob, using him as a human shield, securing the booth, after which they moved Dar out — again, at gunpoint.

When the army’s Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi saw the operational “success” of this “manoeuvre”, he ordered for Dar to be tied to a jeep in his column of vehicles and paraded him through at least nine different villages — dehumanising him as a toy, exhibiting him as a “lesson” for stone-pelters, as the blaring loudspeaker kept reminding locals.

Once the video of Dar, tied to the jeep and being paraded through one particular village, surfaced on social media, the justifications started pouring in. The all too familiar bandwagon of muscular, unquestionable, unaccountable nationalism condoned the assault on Dar’s dignity and person with remarkable aplomb and alacrity, commending Major Gogoi for the “dynamic call” he took “to save lives”.

The first presumption that has been blindly accepted is that Dar was a “stone-pelter” who — hence automatically — deserved what he got. According to Dar — and local reports validate this claim — he was a voter who had cast his vote the same morning before this incident, that too in an election that saw an unprecedentedly low turnout. Secondly, even if he had been a stone-pelter, the army resorting to using an Indian citizen as a human shield is a moral and legal question that needs to be answered in congruence with the fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution, our laws and the principles we have vowed to protect as a democratic nation, both internally and at
international fora.

Did Major Gogoi have the right to pronounce the judgment and carry out the punitive action that he did? Were Dar’s rights — to liberty, dignity and constitutional remedy — tossed out of the window for the “greater good” — as perceived by Major Gogoi?

The second argument is that this rather unusual action by the army helped save lives and avoided what looked like an imminent bloodbath in that area. I agree that Kashmir is not an ideal operational atmosphere for the army and the army shouldn’t be used to contain and manage internal situations such as these. I agree that this is a complex situation and at times, there are no simple answers. I, however, shudder in horror at the carte blanche this argument provides to the security forces in all such future situations of dealing with agitations and protestors in Kashmir.

Sadly, looking at the failure of the incumbent government, the political vacuum perpetuated by the Central government and the very nature of the unresolved issue, there will be plenty of such situations in the future. Have we set a precedent that allows an individual officer to take the law into his own hands and use an Indian citizen as a human shield as and when he deems it appropriate and necessary — to “save lives”?

The rank whataboutery and the usual comparisons that are being summoned to justify Major Gogoi’s decision — the violation of the military code and the Geneva Convention — are half-baked, deeply prejudiced and often muscular arguments, based on the now-popular notion that daring to hold the institutions of the state to the standards enshrined in our constitution is somehow treacherous and earns one a one-way ticket to Pakistan. “What about the stone-pelters?” is the instinctive question. My humble counter-question is, will we and should we, hold our army to the standards set by stone-pelters and agitating mobs now? Is that the indication of this inference? God help us if that’s the way we are headed.

The most dangerous out of the current slew of arguments endorsing Major Gogoi’s decision is the good old maxim that tough times call for tough measures — how the major responded to an extraordinary situation with an extraordinary solution and should be hence rewarded and commended. In a column for The Indian Express (‘I applaud Major Gogoi’, IE, May 20), the honourable Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, has gone to the extent of recommending Major Gogoi for the coveted Distinguished Services’ Medal while appreciating his “remarkable presence of mind” and the “timely action” of using an Indian citizen as a human shield. Needless to say,
I strongly disagree with Captain saheb.

Quoting from his piece — “Tough situations warrant tough reactions, and dangerous situations often, if not always, merit daring actions. When Major Nitin Gogoi decided (and, mind you, it could not have been anything other than a split-second decision) to use a civilian as a “human shield” to protect his men from a stone-pelting mob, he was simply reacting to a tough situation in a dangerous environment”.

The “use of a civilian as a ‘human shield’ to protect his men from a stone-pelting mob” is astounding. Since when is our army allowed to subvert the fundamental rights of our citizens to save itself in extraordinary situations? To reiterate — the construct, that tying Farooq Ahmed Dar to the bonnet of the jeep was an extraordinary act that resulted in the prevention of violence and the consequent loss of lives, is at best a hypothesis in foresight and, at worst, outright blackmail, trying to disarm the moral and legal quotient in the counter-argument. For who can oppose something, however strange, inhumane and illegal, that results in lives being saved?

Second, the last time I checked, the army is duty-bound to protect the citizens of this country and their fundamental rights — not only its own men and certainly not at the cost of civilians and their rights, in any given situation, ideal or not. And Farooq Ahmed Dar — voter or not, “stone-pelter” or not — was a citizen of India who should not have been used as a human shield, regardless of circumstances. Period.

Major Gogoi’s decision to use Dar as a “human shield” is not about “a stand contrary to that of the majority”, as Amarinder Singh points out. It’s a violation of the Geneva Convention, a violation of the Constitution of India and a violation of the military code. The majority condoning or condemning this action is irrelevant so long as we are still governed by the constitution and the law of the land, and not majoritarianism. Pertinently and most recently, the Geneva Convention was invoked in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, and rightly so. Can we morally afford to mock the same convention in Kashmir, which clearly and unequivocally categorises the use of human shields as a “war crime”— no ifs or buts?

Captain Singh is of the opinion that Major Gogoi tying Dar to the army jeep was allegedly and “possibly the only sane and logical course of action available to him, in the circumstances”. Have the fundamental rights of our citizens become so variable and open to interpretation that a “possible” and apparent logical merit of subverting these rights can be a valid justification for using a citizen as a human shield? Who gets to decide which specific rights are open to subversion in given circumstances, and which rights are absolute, regardless of the circumstances? Who gets to dispense with the “heart and soul” of our constitution for the variably perceived “greater good”? Who gets to decide what the “greater good” is and what costs the people of Kashmir should bear to uphold one particular definition of “national interest”?

A jawan’s life, in no shape, way or measure is or should be a “dispensable commodity”. I strongly agree with Singh here. Our jawans have rendered innumerable and unimaginable sacrifices in Kashmir; of that, there can be no doubt. I would hope that he too agrees with me that the life of an Indian citizen — his right to dignity and the due process of law — is not a “dispensable” matter either, to be rightly projected as the glory of our democracy when we criticise Pakistan, and to be put into abeyance when we deem such a call to be a “remarkable presence of mind”.

What of Farooq Ahmed Dar and his rights? The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has highlighted hisalarming state of mental health. Doctors who have seen him vouch that he is traumatised — perhaps beyond repair. Come to think of it, he was a precious part of the paltry seven-odd per cent who chose to come out and vote against all odds on that fateful day. In a conflict-ridden state, with millions of horrifying tales of extra-judicial excesses and atrocities by non-state actors as well, how many more Farooq Ahmed Dars can we afford to create and what is the cumulative effect on the youth of the state?

To somehow portray that such actions would strengthen the writ of the government in J&K is ironic. An elected government is sworn to protect the rights of its citizens — voters, non-voters, agitators, pacifists alike. A subversion of fundamental rights and a violation of the Constitution of India, validated by no less an authority but the Union defence minister and the army chief, calls into question the very legitimacy of the government in J&K, not to speak of its non-existent writ. Our chief minister condemned the act of using Dar as a human shield — if she cannot ensure that her own alliance partner supports her on the basic premise of upholding the civil liberties of her people, her government loses the moral right to govern.

I am astounded by Amarinder Singh’s subtle endorsement of “a tooth for a tooth and a nail for a nail” response, especially given how he has rightly acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue by endorsing how Jammu and Kashmir remains “volatile”. From the unprecedented rise in the number of local boys joining militant ranks and how, for the first time since the eruption of the turmoil, local militants far outnumber foreign militants, the fundamental question in Kashmir is that of alienation — to presume this surge in alienation can be dealt with, and reversed, by using an “iron fist” is a tried, tested and failed response. It hasn’t worked for the last 30 years. It is not going to work now.

The greatness of great nations lies in holding their institutions to the highest possible standards of law, humanity and constitutional propriety. In fighting armed militancy or any form of internal conflict, the state cannot abdicate its responsibility to uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens by holding its army accountable. In an allegedly binary choice, between protecting the morale of the armed forces on one end and risking the faith and trust of the people of Kashmir on the other end, I earnestly hoped we would succeed in striking the balance of justice and fairness. Quoting from Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.

The test of the “idea of India” lies in the ability of the state and its institutions to be good in Kashmir — regardless of the circumstances. Sadly, however, following the defence minister’s cue on Friday and other significant voices of support in the establishment, the army chief has announced a commendation for Major Gogoi while we still await the verdict of the army’s court of inquiry into the Budgam incident. We have been told the commendation is a “general” reward and appreciation of Major Gogoi’s service in counterinsurgency operations and not specific to what happened in Budgam. The message however is loud and clear; the army chief’s commendation is the state thumbing its nose at the inquiry, making a grand mockery of the “investigation”. The officer has not only been exonerated in advance but also rewarded for an act that warranted penalisation and disciplinary action. What court of inquiry will dare go against the implied will of the defence minister and the army chief?

The window for such “dynamic calls” has been opened in Kashmir. The consequences could be disastrous. The use of human shields is now officially fair and justified in a Kashmir that stands more alienated than ever before. That’s the long and short of it.

Israel to supply advanced missile defence systems to Indian Navy

Israel to supply advanced missile defence systems to Indian Navy
Photo for representational purpose only. PTI/file

Jerusalem, May 22

Israel will supply advanced long-range air and missile defence systems to four Indian Navy ships under a $630 million deal to be jointly executed with Bharat Electronics Limited, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said.

The announcement of the deal came ahead of a possible visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July.

Israel last month bagged a $2 billion deal — its largest ever — to supply the Indian Army and Navy with missile defence systems, with the IAI taking the lion’s share of it worth $1.6 billion.

The IAI on Sunday said the latest contract was for supplying Long-Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) systems.

The LRSAM is a joint development by the IAI and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It comprises several state-of-the-art elements, advanced phased-array radar, command-and-control system, launchers and missiles with advanced radio-frequency (RF) seekers.

The system provides the ultimate protection against a variety of aerial, naval and air-borne threats. It is currently operational with the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and the Israel Defence Forces. The Indian Army is also likely to deploy it soon.

The LRSAM was last week successfully tested in India as part of an operational interception trial aboard an Indian Navy ship “demonstrating again the system’s operational capabilities in a representative scenario with genuine target”, a statement from IAI said.

“All components of the weapon system have successfully met the goals set to them”, the company said.

The contract will be carried out, for the first time, with the Indian government-owned BEL which will serve as the main contractor in the project as part of the ‘Make-in-India’ policy.

“The new contract adds to other deals signed in the last decade by IAI with India’s defence forces, reinforcing IAI’s global leadership position in air and missile defence systems.

“The inclusion of the Indian governmental company BEL for the first time is a step up in our relationship with the Indian industry as part of the ‘Make-in-India’ policy,” IAI’s president and CEO, Joseph Weiss, said.

“This unique project represents the close collaboration between India’s DRDO, IAI and the defence forces of both countries. We will proceed to implementing it with joint efforts,” Weiss added.

“We take pride, along with our partners in India, in the great results of the trial conducted last week, which reestablishes the System’s reliability and quality as well as its advanced technological capabilities,” Boaz Levi, IAI’s executive vice president and general manager of systems, Missiles and Space Group, said. — PTI

HEADLINES::::20 MAY 2017

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High bidding, sand prices set to soar

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh ropes in RIL tax adviser with minister’s rank EX-IRS

Sidhu marks probe into Rs 40-lakh scam

Order to vacate private buildings housing govt offices puts admn in fix

Dist development bodies to be integrated under PUDA

Plunder of riverbed unabated

Maluka accused of implicating people in wrong cases

‘Regular, reliable’ connectivity in the air

Sahnewal airport to start flights under UDAN scheme from next month, says MP Ravneet Singh Bittu

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Naval cadet dies, kin alleges foul play

Kannur: A cadet of Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala died on Thursday following cardiac arrest here, but his family has alleged foul play by the Navy in his death. The cadet, Gudeppa Sooraj, 26, was found unconscious at the INA’s academic wing by a sailor instructor on Wednesday. The cadet from Malappuram suffered cardiac arrest at Pariyaram Medical College and Hospital and he was declared dead at 2.30 am, a Navy release said. However, his family alleged Sooraj was “killed” by the INA officials who “tortured, humiliated and harassed” him.  PTI


31 yrs after Bofors, India gets new gun

31 yrs after Bofors, India gets new gun

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18

Thirty-one years after the Bofors artillery guns were ordered from Sweden and the resultant bribery scandal, the first addition to the Indian artillery happened today, breaking what is often termed as the ‘Bofors jinx’.The first two pieces of the Ultra Light Howitzer (ULH) M-777, arrived at the New Delhi airport on board a special aircraft. These are a part of the 145 guns on order from BAE Systems at a cost of $ 737 million. These are set to be formally handed over to the Army in the next 2-3 weeks. The Army wants to start firing the guns immediately in the peak summer at Pokhran, Rajasthan.The Army said as per the contract, the first two guns would be used to create what are known as the ‘firing tables’. “The induction will commence from March 2019 onwards at the rate of five guns per month till the complete consignment is received by mid-2021,” its spokesperson said. The two guns have been shipped in parts that need to be assembled at the Mahindra facility here. BAE will supply the first 25 guns in a ready-to-use condition.Made of titanium, each gun weighs 4,000 kg, making it transportable with ease by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules aircraft or on trucks to provide increased mobility in the mountains.India hasn’t ordered any new 155 mm artillery guns after March 1986 when 410 pieces of the Swedish company Bofors’ FH-77B 155mm/39 calibre Howitzer were purchased for approximately Rs 1,437 crore.The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, drawn in 1999, aimed to acquire 2,800-3,000 artillery guns of various types. The projection included 814 truck-mounted guns, 1,580 towed guns, 100 tracked self-propelled guns, 180 wheeled self-propelled guns and 145 ultra-light Howitzers.Besides the ULH, there has been progress on three separate artillery projects. The Rs 4,500 crore contract for 100 pieces of the self-propelled tracked gun Vajra K-9-T was signed last week. This will be a joint venture between Larsen and Toubro and Samsung Korea.The other order is for 114 pieces of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) gun, the Dhanush, a variation of the Bofors design. This is presently being field tested.In November 2014, the MoD okayed the proposal to acquire 814 truck-mounted 155mm/52 calibre artillery guns for Rs 15,750 crore. International companies have been invited for this.The DRDO is also developing a 155 mm / 52 calibre gun and has named it the Advance Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS). It promises to be a light-weight long-range automated gun. With private participation, The DRDO aims to produce it by 2019 after six years of development and testing.

145 guns ordered

  • The first two pieces of the ULH M-777 arrived in New Delhi on a special aircraft
  • These are set to be formally handed over to the Army in the next 2-3 weeks. The Army wants to start firing the guns immediately in the peak summer at Pokhran
  • These are a part of the 145 guns on order from BAE Systems at a cost of $737million

A great nuclear leap forward? Sandeep Dikshit

The building of 10 pressurised heavy water reactors will give local industry volumes of scale. The government has been proactive but questions remain over land acquisition & the industry’s capacity to produce such a large quantity of components

A great nuclear leap forward?
Power trip: The Kakrapar atomic power station in Gujarat. Indian nuclear scientists have enhanced the safety features of this source of electricity to avoid a Fukushima-type meltdown.

THE Government’s approval to build 10 nuclear reactors in one go has provided teeth to last year’s plan to give a major fillip to the indigenous industry in this sector. The Centre has now solved two of the four problems that have thwarted attempts by previous governments to give a big boost to the indigenous nuclear power industry. The previous government had also toyed with a similar idea. It did succeed in resolving the issue of importing uranium in large quantities by getting a special exemption for India from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). But it could not find solutions to availability of financial resources, land acquisition, availability of water and a continuous supply chain of component and equipment.The Modi government resolved the issue of financial resources in last year’s Budget when it allotted Rs 3,000 crore in equity to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Presenting the Budget for 2016-17, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promised that the government will provide this amount from the Budget for the next 15 to 20 years. He revealed that the plan was to set up 10 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 7,700 mw. This Rs 3,000 crore will certainly be inadequate for 10 nuclear reactors of 770 mw. Hence the government has amended the Atomic Energy Act that abolishes the monopoly of NPCIL and permits Central PSUs to dabble in nuclear energy. These CPSUs are expected to bring in Rs 7,000 crore to augment the promised Rs 3,000 crore in equity to NPCIL. The amendment to the Atomic Energy Act was a UPA proposal. A 400-page tome was even readied in 2010. The government’s political troubles as well as technical problems in the indigenous 770 mw reactors forced it to shelve the proposal. The UPA did try to mend fences in the civil-nuclear sector with Canada in 2014 but Ontario did not respond favourably, possibly because the Manmohan Singh government had by then lost considerable political capital and it made sense to wait for the next government.Canada was critical in resolving issues bedevilling the indigenous 770 mw pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) because of its firm hold on the nuts and bolts of this technology tellingly called CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium). It helped India take baby steps in CANDU technology but Canada broke all civil-nuclear contacts as it suspected India had conducted the nuclear tests in 1974 by diverting uranium from its CANDU reactors. The government was quick to pick up the loose threads left by the previous government and inked a civil nuclear agreement with Canada when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ottawa within a year of taking office. This opened the path to fresh contact with the Canada-based Candu Owners Group that held the key to resolving many of the glitches in India’s 770 mw PHWRs. The Modi government has not invented the wheel. A few 770 mw PHWRs are at an advanced stage of construction at Rawatbhata and Kakrapar atomic power complexes. Since a nuclear reactor takes at least a decade to construct, it is obvious the process was started by the previous government. In fact, one of them is undergoing hydrostatic tests or testing critical components for strength and leaks. Besides amending the Atomic Energy Act to resolve the problem of huge financial funds, the Modi government was successful in persuading Canada to give up on its four-decade insistence of not doing business with India in the civil-nuclear business. The approval to construct 10 reactors in one go will also cut down on the time taken in putting up such plants to a more reasonable time frame of four to five years. This is because the industry will now have an assured order book position, instead of the previous government’s practice of giving order for components for one or two nuclear plants. The lower gestation period and volumes of scale for components will in turn reflect in lower electricity tariffs for the consumer.But the supply chain issue is still to be resolved. The existing manufacturers may not have the capacity to take up component manufacturing on such a large scale. The Prime Minister has sought to resolve the issue by encouraging frequent visits of Canadian component manufacturers and they could be expected to lend a helping hand. Preliminary talks have already been held last year and the subject was discussed during the visits of several Canadian ministers, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.But the two of the four main issues are yet to be resolved: the supply of water and land acquisition. In some cases such as more plants in Gorakhpur (Haryana) can be resolved because all it requires is purchasing land next to the site of units currently under installation. But in case of green field projects that will have to be set up close to source of water, the opposition could be expected to agitate as such land is invariably under cultivation.Indian nuclear scientists have tried to resolve safety issues, following the meltdown of the Fukushima plant in Japan and are confident that the 770 mw is safer than before to withstand natural calamities. The large number of nuclear plants can also help produce large inventory of Uranium 223. Under India’s three-stage programme (still derided by other nuclear power countries as utopian), this can be combined with Thorium, present in abundant quantities in sands of coastal India, to produce even cheaper electricity for the consumer. Provided the land acquisition and supply chain management issues are resolved.

N-Shakti way to go

  • The 10 reactors will be installed in Kaiga in Karnataka (Unit 5 and 6), Chutka in Madhya Pradesh (Unit 1 and 2), Gorakhpur in Haryana (Unit 3 and 4) and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (Unit 1, 2, 3 and 4).
  • This will prove to be the largest ever fillip to the indigenous nuclear industry by assuring an assured orders in sufficient volumes.
  • The reliability problem of 770 mw reactors has been resolved but the government must provide a detailed blueprint to the industry to set the wheels in motion.
  • The Centre has allocated Rs 3,000 in equity to NPCIL for the past two years but it is not known whether the CPSUs have come up with the required Rs 7,000 crore for each year.
  • The industry may not take up manufacturing of components right away as it will like to wait and judge the government’s ability to buy prime farm land, next to the source of water.



Punjab economy grounded by overstay in agriculture..Lakhwinder Singh

The political leadership’s lack of vision is reflected in not taking any measures to shift the economy in Punjab from agriculture to higher stages of economic development.

Punjab economy grounded by overstay in agriculture
Farmers jostling to catch an empty jute bag during the PAU Kisan Mela. Tribune photo

Agriculture innovations and its application in Punjab have catapulted the fortune of rural population since the mid-1960s. The rate of yield increases was very high. In the case of paddy, the yield increased from 1009 kg per hectare in 1960-61 to 3952 kg per hectare in 2013-14. Punjab’s traditional crop, wheat has shown higher increments in the increases in yield nearly four times due to multidimensional innovations regarding seed varieties, marketing and institutional arrangements. The long-drawn investment in agriculture in the post-Green Revolution period generated specialisation and agricultural capabilities evolved. This resulted in attaining a per capita income which was highest in major Indian states. The agriculture sector of Punjab not only fulfilled the deficiency of food grains production and provided much-needed food security to the nation but was an engine of growth of Punjab economy. Agriculture sector generated substantial surpluses and through forward and backward linkages spurred all-round economic development. There emerged small-scale agriculture implements industry, transport and services, along with social infrastructure and spread of health and education in Punjab. This model of capitalist development was driven by public investment and state support. The focus was on higher production targets. The food grains produced in Punjab continued to be useful to maintain food stocks in the country when rain-fed agriculture states were facing drought. Food production in the food-deficit states has been increasing and that has reduced the importance of Punjab’s food grain production. Due to uncertainty of weather conditions, the assured and stable food grains supplies of Punjab continue to serve the nation. The signs of agricultural crisis in Punjab emerged in the late 1970s and there was a  full-fledged crisis in the early 1980s, reflected in the slowdown in agriculture productivity and farmers’ income. Apart from technological constraints, the long-run sustainability of Punjab food grains dominated agriculture production was questioned on the ground of over-exploitation of land and ground water resources. The rising cost of cultivation and falling returns caused deep distress and suicides of farmers and agricultural labour. Instead of reducing dependency of the workforce on agriculture, the absolute number of agriculture workforce has increased, due to the lack of economic transformation and low industrialisation. Agricultural economists and policy makers have also understood the gravity of the situation and suggested diversification from low value-added to high value-added agriculture. This strategy failed to provide the impetus due to faulty design, unsustainable rganisational arrangements and government apathy. The overstay of Punjab economy in agriculture has specificities ingrained in the nature of polity, public policy and locational factors.  In post-Partition Punjab, the political leadership envisioned Punjab as a fertile ground for agriculture development. It developed and implemented public policy for promoting agriculture production as the top priority. Food shortages were seen as a hindrance in the process of industrialisation strategy adopted by the Centre. Since the Congress party was dominant in Punjab’s political scenario, the emphasis on agriculture investment and solving the nation’s problems was the fundamental priority. When the Congress was replaced by the Shiromani Akali Dal in alliance with the Jan Sangh and leftist parties in 1967, Punjab entered an era of political instability due to successively short-lived governments. As and when the political leadership faced problems related to the stagnation of structural transformation of the Punjab economy, they diverted attention by raising religious concerns and movements against long-pending issues such as territorial disputes, transfer of Chandigarh as the state capital and river water-sharing. This was suitable even for the Congress party at the Centre. Together, both parties pushed Punjab into turmoil in the late 1970s and early 1980s.Punjab economy has thrown challenges before the political leadership of the state but leaders perfected the art of side-tracking the main issue of economic transformation and successfully curbed the positive social democratic movements that were posing a challenge by bringing the main issue to the fore. Even during the post- liberalisation period and restoration of democratic rule, Punjab remained in same mode of production structure. It could not correct the chronic deficiency of investment in the state. Wheat-paddy rotation was perpetuated. Despite democratically elected governments, public policy that perpetuates the existing production system remains. The lack of vision and will of the political leadership in economic transformation continued in not taking any long-term and short-term measures to shift the economy from agriculture to higher stages of economic development. This, the fundamental cause of overstay of Punjab in an agrarian economy, has disastrous consequences. There are other historical factors such as a long border (553 km) with Pakistan. Continuous threat of war and actual wars of 1965 and 1971 have generated a situation not conducive for heavy industrial investment. The recent order to clear the 10 km area adjoining the border with Pakistan shows disturbed conditions and instability for entrepreneurs. The licensing policy and equity concerns of the Centre have also played an important role of non-location of public industrial enterprises in Punjab. This kind of argument is also supported in a recent study by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a prominent policy maker, that provides evidence of transfer of fewer resources to states such as Punjab. The rent-seeking behaviour of both the political leadership and bureaucracy has made Punjab unfriendly for industrial investment both of the diaspora and private corporate sector. These factors combined together played an important role to discourage industrialisation in Punjab, despite having created favourable conditions based on high productivity agriculture and generated enough investible surpluses. The writer is Professor of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala

Why the Centre does not want Punjab to diversify

There is critical reliance on Punjab’s rice production for India’s food self-sufficiency. This is what is preventing the Centre from taking any strategic decision to incentivise Punjabi farmers to move away from rice cultivation.

Why the Centre does not want Punjab to diversify
A Japanese paddy transplanter at work near a village in Mehatpur, Jalandhar.

WITH the paddy transplanting season approaching in Punjab, there will be focus again on the ecological necessity of reducing the area under rice cultivation. The past history of cultivation of rice, a water-guzzling crop, and water scarcity in Punjab make crop diversification especially salient.  The area under rice cultivation in Punjab was only 285 thousand hectares in 1966-67 at the time of the launch of the Green Revolution strategy. India was then a food-deficit nation, dependent upon the humiliating PL-480 food aid from the US. Indira Gandhi had characterised the aim of achieving food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution strategy a matter of “national survival”. By 1970-71, this “national survival” strategy had led to area under rice cultivation in Punjab rising to 390 and by 1975-76 to 567 thousand hectares. Area under rice cultivation further increased in 1980-81, 1985-86, 1990-91, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2005-06, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 to 1178, 1714, 2024, 2161, 2611, 2642, 2831, 2818, 2845 and 2851 thousand hectares respectively. In 2014-15, this jumped to 2894 thousand hectares. Within a time span of 50 years (1966 to 2015), the area under rice cultivation in Punjab has increased phenomenally by over 10 times. This is one of the most startling changes in land use observed in agrarian history anywhere. This exponential increase has resulted in the ground water levels in Punjab going down drastically. As of 2011, out of the total 138 blocks in Punjab, 110 are overexploited, four are critical, two are semi-critical and only 22 are safe. Thus, 84 per cent of the blocks are either overexploited, critical or in a semi-critical category and only 16 per cent are safe. As per the Central Ground Water Board, Punjab has the highest stage of ground water development of 172 per cent  amongst all the states in India. This is a scary index of the ground water status of Punjab. The ground water development stage of 100 per cent indicates that ground water consumption is equal to ground water recharge; ground water development stage of above 100 per cent indicates that the annual ground water consumption is more than the annual ground water recharge. A very high stage of ground water development of 172 per cent indicates that the annual water consumption in Punjab is very high compared to its annual recharge. An additional aspect of Punjab’s water vulnerability is that the ground water availability for future irrigation use for Punjab is not only lowest of all the states; it is, in fact, negative (-14.83 billion cubic metre) as per the 2011 data. If despite the grave situation of current and future water availability in Punjab, diversification away from rice has not taken place, we need to explore the reasons. One, the assured price and procurement of rice incentivises farmers to stick to rice cultivation. Reasons preventing diversification are lower economic returns from alternative crops and the lack of reliable and proven technology for growing such crops. These factors are derivatives of the strongest reason behind the failure of crop diversification, namely that the central government is strategically opposed to crop diversification in Punjab due to India’s critical reliance on Punjab agriculture to meet the national consumption needs for rice.According to the available data,  rice consumption in India in  2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 was approximately 90000, 94006, 95193, 96404 and 97073 thousand tonne, respectively. As per the data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, the demand for rice in the years 2016-17 and 2020-21 is estimated to be 110 and 117 million tonne. respectively. The supply of rice for the year 2016-17, however, is estimated to be 98-106 million tonne, indicating that India will be just marginally able to fulfil its rice needs. Another study estimates the demand for rice in the years 2020 and 2030 to be 111.8 million tonne and 122.4 million tonne and the supply to be 108.1 and 122.1 million tonne, respectively. This highlights that there could be a supply gap of 3.7 and 0.3 million tonne, respectively for the years 2020 and 2030. Any central government, under such circumstances, would be opposed to the diversification of Punjab agriculture away from rice. Keeping in view India’s population size and consequently the demand for rice, India always requires sufficient stock of rice. The production of rice in Punjab for the years 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 was 10837, 10542, 11374, 11267 and 11107 thousand tonne. The 2013 agriculture policy of Punjab states that the area under rice is 28 lakh hectares. It was targeted to move 16 million hectares away from rice in the coming years. However, contrary to this target, the  area under rice for the years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15  has continuously increased to 2,845, 2851 and 2894 thousand hectares, respectively. If an area of 16 lakh hectares as proposed is moved away from rice, it will mean a decrease in production of rice to the tune of approximately 6,193 thousand tonnes per year (calculated on the basis of average rice yield of the last five years from 2010-11 to 2014-15). If Punjab diversifies away from rice; the rice stocks of India could be dangerously hit.India could possibly build buffer stocks with cheaper rice imports but instability in the international rice market makes such import reliance a risk-prone strategy. Also, India can cover for the shortfall in buffer stocks by curtailing its rice exports. Even then the rice stocks would approach critical limits and a precarious situation may arise for India. The critical reliance on Punjab’s rice production for India’s food self-sufficiency in general and rice in particular prevents the Centre from taking any strategic decision to incentivise Punjabi farmers to move away from rice. This imperative must force the state government and other stakeholders to realise that a Punjab-based strategy to diversify away from rice has to be devised for Punjab’s ecological survival. Of course, without expecting policy support from the Centre to reduce rice production in Punjab. Pritam Singh is Professor and R Singh a PhD student in Economics at Oxford Brookes University, UK

Illusion of surplus Ravi-Beas waters

K.S. Pannu
Like a division of assets in an agrarian feudal family where everything has to be divided equally, Haryana insisted on an equal division of river waters. It was oblivious of laws of nature which determine the flow and use of river waters on a riparian basis and not on the whims of partisan elders.

Illusion of surplus Ravi-Beas waters
Where’s the water: The public notice states the SC order on maintaining status quo and barring any activity. A tribunal for reallocation of waters must be constituted. Tribune photo

History gets distorted when it is not explained in the right perspective and factually. Since November, 1954, when the Government of India called upon irrigation engineers of the then joint Punjab to  devise  plans to utilise the surplus waters  of Ravi and  Beas, much water has flown down both the rivers. The engineers of joint Punjab could work out plans to utilise only 7.25 out of 15.85 MAF surplus waters of both the perennial rivers flowing down to Pakistan, keeping in view the prevailing cropping pattern. In a meeting held on January 29, 1955, convened by Gulzari Lal Nanda, the then Union Water Resources Minister, and attended by Irrigation Minister, Punjab, Chaudhary Lahiri Singh from Sonepat, the Centre allocated 7.20 MAF water to Punjab as per the plan presented before them. Rajasthan was allocated 8 MAF and 0.65 MAF was given to Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, the written plan put up by joint Punjab before the Centre showed only 0.62 MAF water shall be utilised in present-day Haryana area through the Hansi Canal (0.32 MAF) and through the Bhakra Canal (0.30 MAF). Rest of the  6.63 MAF surplus water and the pre-Partition usage of 1.98 MAF was proposed for utilisation in present-day Punjab as follows: Upper Bari Doab Canal (3.17), Shah Nehar (0.79), Bet Area of Ravi Beas (0.23), Sirhind Feeder (2.79), Eastern Canal (0.71),  Chakandher Tract (0.24), PEPSU area through Bhakra Canal (0.68). In case Chaudhary Lahiri Singh, the illustrious son of Haryana, had shown the need and capacity of south-east Punjab (now Haryana) to utilise 3.50 MAF water, as is now  being demanded, the Centre would have allotted 10.70 MAF water to joint Punjab, instead of 7.20 MAF,. Rajasthan was not interested in utilising surplus water but was forced to utilise the balance surplus of 8.00 MAF  to justify before the World Bank team that India could utilise the entire surplus water of the three eastern rivers. With the allocation of surplus Ravi-Beas water by the Centre as per proceedings of the meeting of January 1955, the World Bank was satisfied about India’s claim on three eastern rivers. Haryana, the reorganised state, got dissatisfied over the internal distribution of this surplus water.  It got allocated 3.50 MAF water as per December 1981 agreement, instead of the 0.62 MAF approved by GOI in 1955. Incidentally, the Malwa region of present Punjab constituting 65 per cent area which got only 0.60 MAF water by the 1955 order of the Centre is still getting only that quantity. Not even a drop of more water was allocated to it after 1955. Malwa is the worst sufferer of depletion of ground water table. As per the provision of section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966, Haryana is to get the water of  Beas as per the “Purpose of project”. The “Purpose of project” mentioned in Beas project report clearly stipulates that Haryana areas will get only 0.90 MAF water. As against this, Haryana is actually utilising 1.62 MAF water against the spare capacity available in the Bhakra Main Line Canal. Reasons of discontent of Haryana were political rather than logical. Like division of assets in an agrarian feudal family where at the time of partition everything has to be divided equally, Haryana insisted on equal division of river waters, oblivious of laws of nature which determine the flow and use of river waters on a riparian basis and not on the whims of partisan elders to support the younger son. C.B. Singh Sheoran, former Chief Engineer of Haryana tells us (The Tribune April, 12) that Punjab may not be aware that Himachal is an upper riparian state and what will Punjab do if it starts dictating terms. Punjab knows that not only is Himachal an upper riparian state to Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers but Jammu & Kashmir is an upper riparian state of river Ravi. It is clearly known that Punjab is a lower riparian state of all the three rivers and Haryana and Rajasthan do not even fall in the distant definition of riparian states. The author obliquely admits this. Punjab’s political leadership has declared that the state will not share even a drop of water, because Punjab has none to spare.  The rain and ice flakes falling outside Punjab constitute rivers which flow through the territory of Punjab. Not even a drop of such water flows through the territory of Haryana. Punjab has prior right of usage of such water, along with other riparian states (HP and J&K). The allocation of 4.65 MAF of Yamuna waters to Haryana as a result of the agreement amongst five states is a reality and not an illusion. Punjab has time and again stressed upon the need to build storages/dams for full utilisation of the allocated Yamuna waters. Instead of spending a huge sum of money over the construction of the SYL Canal, for long-distance transfer of Ravi-Beas waters to the Yamuna basin of Haryana, which would cause disruption of water already being used by Punjab farmers in Ravi-Beas areas, the amount should be spent on constructing storage dams on the Yamuna. This would adequately fulfil the requirement of Haryana. The position that Yamuna water allocations to Haryana should have no bearing on the distribution of Ravi-Beas waters, is self-defeating. Why should Yamuna waters which formed an asset of joint Punjab before reorganisation, be earmarked for the exclusive usage of Haryana, when Haryana has been entitling itself to waters of Ravi-Beas on an equal footing with Punjab.It is wrong to say that Punjab farmers prefer tubewells than canals for  irrigation. River water allocations to Punjab, out of the total availability of water in the three rivers (34.34 MAF), is only 14.22 MAF — including protected pre-Partition utilisation of 4.55 MAF of Sutlej waters, 1.48 MAF of Ravi waters and 0.50MAF of Beas waters. Due to the meagre allocation of river waters, agriculture in Punjab, perforce, became dependent upon tube well irrigation.  Not only in Punjab, but also in other states including Haryana, water requirement is comparatively higher during paddy plantation. It is  wrong that only a nominal quantum of water is needed thereafter.It is an established fact that the quantum of surplus Ravi-Beas waters has decreased to 13.38 MAF based on 1981-2013 flow series instead of 17.17 MAF as estimated earlier. Punjab had, as far back as 2003, requested the Centre, as per provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, to constitute a tribunal for reallocation of waters. On a pro rata basis applied to available water as per 1981 agreement, for argument’s sake, Haryana’s share works  out as 2.95 MAF, instead of 3.50 MAF. After taking into account the existing utilisation of 1.62 MAF through the existing BML Canal by Haryana, the dispute has been relegated to 1.33 MAF water. By the Yamuna agreement of 1994, Haryana is to get 2.01 MAF additional water from Yamuna, over and above the usage of 2.64 MAF at the time of reorganisation of Punjab in 1966. This means Haryana will end up getting 30 per cent more water from Yamuna, than its demand from Punjab. The Haryana viewpoint that Punjab farmers are happier pressing the button of tubewell than waiting for the wari (turn) of canal supply and that Punjab canals even do not have proper water course to supply water to farms, is not only wrong reading of situational position but also smacks of disdain towards Punjab farmers. Hence, Haryana should invest financially and politically to utilise 2.01 MAF of Yamuna waters rather than looking at 1.33 MAF of illusionary water from Ravi-Beas. The writer, an IAS officer, is the acting Vice Chancellor of the IK Gujral Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar

CM seeks package for industrial, farm sectors

CM seeks package for industrial, farm sectors
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh (right) with Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune Photo

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17

The NITI Aayog will visit Punjab to discuss with the state government issues relating to development of the state. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was assured of this when he called on NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariaya to seek central help for state’s development, including its industrial and farm sectors. The date of the visit is yet to be finalised.The Aayog assured measures for the development of the state through programmes such as crop diversification and industrial revival.Allaying Amarinder’s concerns, Panagariaya said Punjab would not be impacted by the Centre’s industrial incentives to Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal.Amarinder urged for a special industrial package for the state along a 40-km belt in the sensitive border area. He made a case for encouraging micro, small and medium enterprises with similar incentives in border belt and the sub-mountainous area along the hilly tracts.He suggested the development and maintenance of border roads under the country’s national highway programme.He sought the promotion of a petro chemical hub adjoining the Bathinda refinery for manufacturing value-added products.Amarinder urged for financial support to bail out farmers reeling under financial distress, and encouragement to agro food parks, especially in horticulture.Price deficiency support for maize and other crops, as per the MSP, in addition to wheat and paddy, one-time waiver and debt swap by the Centre of the term loan taken by the state were also sought.Other demands included support in planning and implementing micro-irrigation system. Besides, the Chief Minister suggested the Centre to acquire land located beyond the border fence and compensation for lands damaged or rendered ineffective for farming due to periodic military deployment.He sought inclusion of Punjab in category “A” state for financial assistance on the pattern of Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states under the modernisation of the state police forces scheme with central funding on 90:10 basis.

‘Will have central projects on track’ Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh met Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi on Wednesday and assured state’s commitment to implement the Real Estate Regulatory Act and to ensure that all Central projects related to poverty alleviation funded during the previous regime in the state are brought on the track and executed at the earliest. Naidu said he would visit Punjab next month to review the progress of the central projects. 

Central team to visit state

  • NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariaya assured Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh that Aayog members would visit Punjab
  • On agenda will be matters related to development of the state
  • The Aayog assured measures for the development through crop diversification and industrial revival


To end corruption, no cash handling at revenue offices

Software to calculate registry charges; money to be deposited in banks

To end corruption, no cash handling at revenue offices

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17

With the Punjab Government now accepting all payments for registration of land deeds only through designated banks, the 164 sub-registrar and joint sub-registrar offices in the state have gone cashless.The stamp duty, registration charges, Punjab Land Records Society fee, social security cess, mutation fee and the infrastructure cess, all are now being paid directly to the banks, reducing the chances of corruption drastically in these offices. The new system brought into place as part of governance reforms has been rolled out across the state.A person wanting to get his property deed registered, now goes to the tehsil or sub-tehsil office where a challan is issued to him, specifying the above-mentioned charges. He goes to the authorised bank and deposits the money. He then submits his receipt and just has to sign the documents before the officer concerned to get his property deed registered.“Since there is no cash handling by the staff at these offices, a major grouse of the public regarding the officials taking more money than what they are authorised to charge, has been addressed,” says Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, former Director, Land Records, Punjab, who rolled out the project across the state. He has just been transferred and posted as Deputy Commissioner, Moga.The stamp duty varies between 5 and 9 per cent, registration charge is 1 per cent, PLRS fee varies based on the valuation of the land and all other taxes/cess are 1 per cent each.Each person has to pay between 10 and 14 per cent as the total charges at the time of registration of any property deed.The calculation of charges to be paid for each registry will now be done by software to be made available at all these offices. This will help the department in fixing online appointments for those wanting to get the sale deeds registered. The software is being custom made by NIC for Punjab and the roll out of this online appointment system will begin from Moga soon.

What triggered the move

The tehsil and sub-tehsil offices are infamous as dens of corruption. Till the time these offices had not become cashless, the officials were manually calculating the charges to be paid at the time of registration of property deeds. There were numerous complaints against the staff for over calculating the charges and pocketing the excess money thus paid. Now with the software calculating the charges, the undervaluation of property will end too and the revenue from the sale of property will increase. A private audit by PriceWater House Coopers to check undervaluation of property had pegged the value of undervalued registries in just 11 tehsils at Rs 211 crore.

Sidhu: Naidu’s letter exposes SAD-BJP on central grants

Says Badal regime sat on central funds, delayed projects

Sidhu: Naidu’s letter exposes SAD-BJP on central grants
Navjot Singh Sidhu

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 17

Amid war of words between Akali Dal leaders and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu over the spending of grants in various Centre’s urban development projects, the minister today released a letter by Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu “expressing concern over the tardy execution of such projects in the state”.Sidhu reiterated that the SAD-BJP government had diverted funds meant for such projects, including Smart City and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Mission, to fund their populist schemes before the Assembly elections.The letter, sent by Naidu a month after the Congress government assumed charge, was written after the Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, held a meeting with the state officials to review these projects on April 7.Naidu wrote: “In the Smart Cities Mission, even though the special purpose vehicle (SPV) was formed long back in Ludhiana and project management consultant was appointed, no project has been tendered so far. In AMRUT mission, there has been long delay in detailed project report (DPR) preparation, issuance of tenders and start of works.”The Union Minister further wrote: “Not only the state’s share is not being released, but also the central share is inordinately delayed. Another issue is the shortage of staff, especially professionals, at the city/state level. We are funding the recruitment of experts/professionals in urban local bodies but positions have not been filled by the state government.”Asserting that Naidu’s letter buttressed the claims he was making for the past several days, Sidhu demanded that SAD-BJP should now “tell people as to where they had spend this money.”“Naidu is a minister in the NDA government, of which SAD is also a part. Rather, the minister has gone two steps ahead of me in showing his concern over spending on these projects. The SAD-BJP should disclose where all the money has gone,” added Sidhu, while maintaining that large amounts of central grants have been blocked as the previous government didn’t submit utilisation certificate (UC) against the money it had received under these projects.

Enough talking, time to act: PhoolkaChandigarh: Reacting on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s claim of diversion of central funds by the previous government, AAP asked Sidhu to act rather than just talking. In a statement, Leader of Opposition HS Phoolka alleged that it was a known fact that the Badals were involved in corrupt practices. Even after the completion of two months of the Congress government, no inquiry had been initiated against them, he said. The AAP leader said the Congress must fulfil its promise of putting behind bars people responsible for corrupt practices in the past. TNS

Drug peddlers open fire at ex-serviceman

Drug peddlers open fire at ex-serviceman
The police deployed at Bugha village on Wednesday. Tribune Photo

Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 17A group of 25 men opened fire at an ex-serviceman in Bugha village, 6 km from here, yesterday. They were reportedly irked over his campaign against drug peddling.The injured, Subedar Surjit Singh (retd), has been admitted to a private hospital in Amritsar. He is said to be out of danger. His wife Kanwaljit Kaur was also injured in the attack.The armed men came to the village in three cars last evening. They forcibly entered Surjit’s house, allegedly thrashed and fired at him.Kanwaljit claimed that attackers were involved in drug trade. “They harboured a grudge against my husband as villagers led by him were raising voice against their illegal activity. They wanted to kill my husband,” she alleged.Goindwal Sahib DSP Satpal Singh said 25 persons had been booked, three of them by name, under Sections 452, 323, 324, 427, 336, 148 and 149 of the IPC, and the Arms Act.Those booked by name are Manjinder Singh Mani, Ajay and Sajan, all from Bugha village. “They are brothers and the prime accused in the case,” the police said.The police have been deployed in the village to prevent any untoward incident.

Nursing students adamant on principal’s ouster; protest on

Nursing students adamant on principal’s ouster; protest on
Nursing students hold a protest at the Civil Hospital in Gurdaspur on Wednesday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 17

Stalemate between the agitating students and the GNM Nursing School Principal continued despite the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner (DC), who called a meeting of all stakeholders today.As many as 280-odd nursing students held a day-long protest inside the Civil Hospital. They demanded the dismissal of Principal Manjit Kaur claiming that she had questioned the character of injured student Veerpal Kaur.Veerpal had sustained a fracture following which her colleagues requested Manjit Kaur to arrange for treatment.The injured student has now been shifted to an Amritsar hospital. DC Amit Kumar said the administration would bear the cost of the treatment, while the students too collected money.The DC asked the three-member committee comprising Assistant Civil Surgeon Dr SK Hans and senior doctors Prabhjot Kaur Kalsi and Bhawna Lakhanpal to expedite the probe.“The committee has been asked to fix responsibility. The students have been asked to record their statements on basis of which the committee will prepare its report. The fate of Manjit Kaur will be decided based on the findings,” said the DC.Students’ spokesperson Navdeep Kaur said the stir would continue till the Principal was dismissed.

No water for five years, all hopes dry up

Residents of Dashmesh Nagar are dependent on water tankers sent by Municipal Corporation

Nikhila Pant Dhawan

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 17

After waiting for more than five years, not only the water pipelines but also the hopes of residents of Dashmesh Nagar have dried up.Residents of this area located along the Naruana road are completely dependent on water tankers to meet their daily requirement even though their houses have water connections for the last five years.Voicing their disappointment, residents of street number 1 of Dashmesh Nagar, said all these years they had been facing acute shortage of potable water and are left with no option but to depend on water tankers sent by the Municipal Corporation Bathinda.“Despite having water connections, we have never got water supply. We have to call at the MCB office to get water tankers in the area. On an average, three tankers come to the street in a week and residents stock water for the rest of the days. All these years, we have brought our problems to the attention of several officials, but in vain,” said Karnail Singh.The situation is so abysmal that some residents have removed taps from the water pipes as they think the situation would not improve.Talking to Bathinda Tribune, Harjinder Singh, the councillor of the area, said the Sirhind canal was closed for a few weeks but even after the flow of water in the canal resumed, the water supply to his ward remained erratic.“I have brought the matter to the attention of Mayor Balwant Rai Nath and Water Supply Department SDO Darbara Singh. They have assured me of regular water supply soon,” he said.SDO Darbara Singh said he had yet not received any formal complaint pertaining to the water supply not reaching Dashmesh Nagar.He added that he would look into the issue and address it at the earliest.




Erdogan’s Pakistan gambit by Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Narendra Modi

On the eve of his recent visit to India, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an unsolicited offer on Kashmir ~ “We should not allow more casualties to occur (in Kashmir). By having a multilateral dialogue, we can be involved and we can seek ways to settle the issue once and for all”. Implicit was the message on taking a deliberate ‘position’. The deeply hyphenated Indo-Pak relationship is a conundrum for any visiting dignitary ~ either to Delhi or to Islamabad ~ to take a ‘side’. This invariably gets deciphered by the dignitary by alluding to Kashmir as either a ‘bilateral issue’ (decoded as a pro-India stance, that assumes no third party interference), or alternatively suggesting a potential solution framework of ‘multilateral dialogue’ (tantamount to supporting Pakistan’s singular quest to internationalise Kashmir). Turkey’s stand was certainly unwarranted, diplomatically ungracious and wholly avoidable, given the timing of the visit. It is not new, however.

Turkey has had an indelible imprint on the subcontinent’s psyche ~ from Mahmud of Ghazni, who was a Turkic Mumluk to the Khilafat movement (1919-1922) to save the Ottoman Caliphate. Turkey has held the popular imagination, especially for the ummah, who contextualised the country as a model Islamic state.

Logically, Partition on the basis of religious identity made Pakistan more aligned to the memories of the Ottoman Empire, although the founding father of the modern state of Turkey, Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, tried to firewall religiosity and its Islamist heritage. Since then, the latent Islamic fissures and strategic Cold War alignments (which put both Pakistan and Turkey on the same side as members of the US-led Central Treaty Organization ~ CENTO), as the bulwark states against the threats of the Soviets, ensured a more active Pakistan-Turkey relationship. Even from a regressive sectarian angle, the majority in both countries practise the Sunni Hanafi Islam. Today, Turkey’s swing from avowed secularism towards its more religious moorings, has found a new champion in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party. This has had an impact on Turkey’s domestic politics, as indeed, its international posturing and visions of a “NeoOttoman” regime.

Erdogan has visited Pakistan as many as seven times. There is a historical connect between the two nations with a shared tryst and sensibilities of military men at the helm of affairs. Unlike Pakistan, however, the military in Turkey has been neutered with Erdogan’s successful Islamisation of governance. Many of Pakistan’s military top brass have been part of the extensive exchange-programmes. General Musharaf spent his impressionable school years in Turkey, can speak fluent Turkish, and is an ardent admirer of Kemal Mustafa Ataturk.

With such an empathetic sense of ‘progressive destiny’ in the global ummah, it is hardly surprising that Turkey routinely backs the Pakistan line in multilateral forums like OIC (on Kashmir), is cleverly part of ‘Uniting for Consensus Group’ that opposes the India-backed idea of an enlarged permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and worse, has supported China in the devious, ‘criteria-based approach’ for non- ’Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ (NPT) states which unsurprisingly, makes a case to accommodate Pakistan, instead of India, in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This strategic bonhomie is reciprocated by Islamabad which supports Turkey’s stand on the ultra-sensitive issue of Cyprus for the Turks, as also, converging on the battlegrounds of the Middle East turmoil. Turkey, like Pakistan, is part of the 39-nation, ‘Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism’, now led by the former Pakistan army chief, General Raheel Sharif.

However, beyond religious and historical convergences and impulses, both Pakistan and Turkey project themselves as ‘model’ Islamic states. The recent tension with their principal ally ~ the US ~ has made these countries particularly brazen and hawkish in opposing the US. Both countries boast US bases and assets. The Incirlik base in Turkey has tactical nuclear weapons, while Pakistan is nuclear armed and dangerously flirts with China to offend the Americans. This larger geopolitical evolution lends itself to Turkish belligerence and support for Pakistan in the new strategic sweepstakes.

Even tactical irritants like the Afghan civil war, in which both Turkey and Pakistan are supporting opposing groups is conveniently overlooked, and Turkey props the Pakistani line in an ode to Erdogan’s comment about Pakistan being “a home away from home”. Pakistan is pro-Taliban given the Pashtun composition, whereas, Turkey is pro-Northern Alliance with a mélange of Turkic races.

Further, the preceding visit of the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, just before Erdogan’s visit to Delhi would not have been received very favourably by Ankara, which is hypersensitive to perceived slights on such issues as Northern Cyprus, Kurds or more recently, the Gulen movement. With no major trade, geographical or strategic stake involved with India (as opposed to Pakistan), it makes political sense for Erdogan to champion the Pakistani stand on Kashmir, to further bolster his own Islamic identity and credentials.

In an unwarranted act of diplomatic provocation, the Turkish ambassador to Pakistan, recently spent over a week in Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) to showcase his nation’s sympathy with Pakistan on Kashmir. Clearly, the optics of maintaining a ‘pro-Pakistan’ line is politically beneficial for Erdogan who has to contend with domestic power struggles between the forces of secularism and “alternative-politics”, exemplified by the military, the Kemalist outfits like the Republican People’s Party and from cult leaders like Fethullah Gulen. This has made Erdogan’s government circumspect in the context of US-Russia relations and yet retain his stance on the Islamist construct.

Erdogan is the ‘new sultan’ on the block, his tacit support for the Pakistani line is part of a carefully cultivated image and global aspirations in the larger perspective.

Far from mediating on Kashmir, Ankara has its hands tied in mediating with the European Union, which is opposed to his anti-Zionism and his autocratic streak. To that can be added Turkey’s relations with Russia and the US, the hapless Kurds and Armenians, homegrown Islamist-terror and the Middle East powers. Ankara’s relations with Syria and Iran are far from cordial.

Erdogan’s conduct in Delhi was rather undiplomatic. The ambitious semi-professional footballer-turned-conservativepolitician has his eyes and heart set in visions of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ that necessitates exploiting any political opportunity, to enhance the relevance and legitimacy of the new-age Pasha from Turkey.

The writer is Lt Gen PVSM, AVSM (Retd), Former Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands & Puducherry

Young Kashmiri army officer shot dead while home on leave

Lt Umar Fayaz.

Relatives mourn young Kashmiri Army officer Lieutenant Umar Fayaz’s death in Yaripora village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

Ajay Banerjee and Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Srinagar, May 10 

Militants kidnapped a lieutenant in the army, who was on leave and was unarmed, from his uncle’s house in Shopian district on Tuesday night and later killed him, the Army said on Wednesday.

Lt Umar Fayaz Parray, 23, of Sursuna-Yaripora village in Kulgam was kidnapped around 10 pm by militants, believed to be five in number, from the house of his maternal uncle at Shopian, 60 km from here.Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said, “In a dastardly act, militants on Tuesday night kidnapped and killed a young unarmed army officer who had come on leave to his native place in Kulgam to attend a marriage in the family.”

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Parray’s body that bore two bullet marks was recovered from Hermain Chowk in Shopian on Wednesday morning, a Shopian police officer said.He said Parray, who was commissioned as lieutenant on December 10, 2016, and was posted at the Army’s 2 Rajputana Rifles at Akhnoor, had arrived at his house last week to attend the marriage of his cousin at Batapura village in Shopian district.He is survived by parents and two sisters. His father runs a fruit business.The post-mortem of the body is being conducted at the district hospital, Shopian, and the body will be brought to his native village for burial with full military honours.The deceased officer was scheduled to attend the Young Officers’ Course in September, the Army said.“The Army salutes the braveheart and stands by the family. It commits itself to bringing the perpetrators of the heinous act to justice,” the Army spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley called the killing an “act of cowardice”, adding that the sacrifice reiterated the nation’s commitment to eliminate terrorism.

“Abduction and murder of Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz by terrorists in Shopian is a dastardly act of cowardice. This young officer from Jammu and Kashmir was a role model,” Jaitley said in a tweet. With IANS