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    Jawan found murdered Illicit relations may be the reason behind it

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, September 29

    Mystery shrouds the death of an Army man whose body was found near Fatehpur Rajputa village here on Friday.

    According to information, victim Tasbir Singh (29), a resident of Jalal village, was posted in Bathinda. He returned to the city on leave. He went to meet his friends on September 25 but did not return.

    Harmandep Singh, a family friend, said the family came to know about his death after the police approached the family. He was identified from his identity card, clothes and other belongings found near the body. The family got to know later that he was on leave since September 5. However, he did not reach home. His brother Jagbir Singh, in his complaint to the police, said Tasbir might have been poisoned.

    SSP Parampal Singh said an investigation was under way. A case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC was registered. As per the circumstances surrounding the body, it appeared that he was murdered. His body was handed over to the family members after a postmortem examination. “We have got some clues and the case will be cracked soon,” the SSP added. Sources said two persons had been detained in connection with the case. Illicit relations appear to be the reason behind the murder.

    Another video of ‘surgical strikes’ out

    Tribune Web Desk
    Chandigarh, September 27

    Almost two years after the Indian Army’s ‘surgical strikes’ on PoK terror camps, another video of the military operation was released on Thursday .

    Thus this has added new twist to the raging debate on whether the event should be commemorated by institutes affiliated to the UGC as ‘Parakram Parv’.

    The Army had carried out surgical strikes on the night of September 28-29, 2016 in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, inflicting heavy casualties on terrorists.

    The Congress has termed the observance of Surgical Strike Day as a “jumla” (gimmick), contending that the exercise will enhance national prestige.

    “This is only meant to increase the prestige of the Army. There is no politics in it. I must denounce the Congress charge that we are politicising the surgical strike. No, we are not doing that,” the Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister had said.

    The decision to celebrate the day was announced last Thursday when the University Grants Commission (UGC) in a letter to all Vice Chancellors of the universities had asked them to observe the day in their institutions through special parades by National Cadet Corps, and pledge of support by students to the armed forces by writing letters and cards.

    Amarinder urges Centre for expeditious resolution of Kartarpur corridor issue with Pak

    Amarinder urges Centre for expeditious resolution of Kartarpur corridor issue with Pak

    Capt Amarinder Singh. File photo

    Chandigarh, September 23

    Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged the Centre for expeditious resolution of the issue of opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor for preparedness of 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev.

    Singh said that being a bilateral issue, this needed an active engagement of both India and Pakistan for its resolution.

    Punjab CM said he had personally met the prime minister and the external affairs minister and requested them to take up the issue with Pakistan.

    Speaking with reporters on Sunday after the ruling Congress swept the zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls, Singh said that he had even raised the issue during his visit to the neighbouring country during his previous stint as Punjab chief minister (2002-07).

    “The issue is of enormous religious significance for the Sikh sangat,” he added.

    Singh recalled that his grandfather, late Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, of the erstwhile Patiala State, had donated Rs 1.35 lakh to save the historic gurudwara of Sri Kartarpur Sahib from ravage by the Ravi river waters during the 1920s.

    The chief minister, in response to a question, said his government was fully geared to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of the first Sikh Guru.

    The executive committee set up to monitor the progress of the commemoration of this mega event had already finalised the development works to be executed in the historic towns of Sultanpur Lodhi and Dera Baba Nanak.

    Further, he said that on his request, the Centre had formed a national committee chaired by the Union Home Minister.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu claimed that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has assured him of writing to the Pakistan government on opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

    Describing the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara as Sikhs’ “own Mecca”, Sidhu had said it is the responsibility of the Indian government to make a formal request for opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

    Sidhu, who had gone to Pakistan in August to attend the oath taking ceremony of his friend Imran Khan as Pakistan’s prime Minister, had said the neighbouring country had already shown a “positive intent” in this regard. – PTI


    Pak army officers see terror at home a bigger threat than India


    WASHINGTON: A younger generation of Pakistan Army officers tends to consider home-grown terrorists, an enemy they have personally fought, a more significant threat than India, according to a new study by an elite Pakistani training school for senior officers who go on to man the upper echelons of the force.

    They are forced to keep their views to themselves though, to private dinner parties and smaller conversations, and away from older officers, who seek to enforce the traditional anti-India narrative to safeguard and perpetuate their own legacy, the study says.

    The Quetta Experience, written by retired US Army colonel David O Smith, an alumnus of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, and published by the Washington-based Wilson Center, offers an inside look at Pakistan’s middle-level and senior officers, their thoughts, attitudes and angst as expressed in unguarded moments to or around their American classmates.

    Smith interviewed US Army officers who attended the Quetta institution, which counts Indian Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw among its alumni, under a long-term US programme from 1977 to 2014, on what they saw there and heard from Pakistani classmates, the directing staff and faculty.

    The study was completed in 2014 but a decision was taken then not to distribute it, fearing adverse impact on US Army officers serving at the Quetta facility. The US cancelled the programme in 2016 and Smith felt confident enough to publish it after he was told in late 2017 that it would not be resumed.

    In the section on India, Smith charts changing attitudes of Pakistani officers based on accounts of their American classmates going back to 1977.

    One US student heard a Pakistani officer describe India to his child as “evil”, another officer recalled widely held contempt for the Hindu religion. But changes were under way. And so it stayed for most of the 1980s.

    According to the report, a US student from the 20092010 batch noted a “generational divide” between old and long-time Pakistani officers clinging to their longheld anti-India bias and the young crop of officers who were the “complete opposite”.

    Who will be next president of Sri Lanka? by Maj-Gen Ashok K Mehta (retd

    Maj-Gen Ashok K Mehta (retd)

    • Who will be next president of Sri Lanka?
    Presidential polls: Frontrunners

    Maj-Gen Ashok K Mehta (retd)
    former GOC in IPKF, Sri Lanka

    Betting in Colombo, as I discovered last week, is rampant on who will be the next president. Also, last week, on September 5, the Joint Opposition (JO) led by the Rajapaksa clan — the most famous of them being former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who defeated the invincible LTTE ending a 30-year old insurgency when its leader Prabhakaran and his army were defeated comprehensively in 2009 — staged its biggest protest rally in Colombo. It included Mahinda’s younger brother and former army colonel and defence secretary during the war and a contender for presidency, Gotabaya; his son Namal, also not without presidential aspirations; brother Basil, out on bail; and many others who lambasted the fractured National United Government (NUG) led by President Maithripala Sirisena of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP) — two bitterly opposed parties which were brought together by a conjugation of interests and countries, including India, to oust the pro-China Rajapaksa.A similar mass mobilisation was organised in January 2016 to bring down the government. This time around, with the economy in a tailspin, postponement of provincial council elections due to the government’s proposal for delimitation of constituencies being defeated in parliament — a blessing in disguise for the government — in which the JO abstained, the government was punched into a corner. The ruling formation has not forgotten the drubbing it received in the local body elections of February 2018 when the JO swept the polls.

    Like in Nepal, India is competing with China to preserve its increasingly questionable strategic superiority in Sri Lanka. The ruling government’s heart is not with China. But the weight of the carry-over Rajapaksa debt makes it lean towards Beijing.With the outcome of the next set of central and provincial elections uncertain but advantage the Rajapaksas, India, like Nepal, has decided to distribute its eggs in more than one basket. BJP MP and trouble-shooter Subramanian Swamy, a congenital LTTE baiter, is a long-time friend and ally of the Rajapaksas and was the Indian VVIP in Colombo during their rule. Mahinda will deliver a talk on India-Sri Lanka relations: The way ahead this week at Delhi — the fixture an alibi for meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NSA Ajit Doval who played a key role in Mahinda losing the elections in 2015 in his third crack at the job. While he has publicly accused India of regime change, he has kept open back channels. India will have to play its cards extra carefully this time.

    During the 2016 protest rally, the government was united, had a two-thirds majority and was seen to be acting against the corruption of the former regime, alleged human rights violations and constitutional reforms to settle the ethnic conflict. Although the government has established fast-track courts to deal with corruption and (Gotabaya has been banned from foreign travel by court) and Office of Missing Persons which has given its preliminary report recommending the President suspend military and police officers implicated in disappearances during the war, it is unlikely the government will take any action against them as the military has been placed by the JO on a pedestal. It would be treasonous to act against soldiers who bequeathed glorious victory.President Maithripala Sirisena has ruled out any early presidential poll. A new president has to be in place before January 9, 2020. My conversations with political pundits in Colombo suggested that a common candidate like in 2014-15 of the SLFP and UNP is highly unlikely now but there are still 16 months to go for elections. Rajapaksa’s candidature for a third term after the 19th amendment which put a bar on it will be tested in court for its retrospective application. Meanwhile, some scenarios are being tossed around.

    First scenario

    A three-way contest between Sirisena, Wickremesinghe and a JO candidate — Mahinda or Gotabaya, even Namal or a dark horse. Both Maithripala and Ranil want to become president. As neither is a likely winner on his own (though Ranil nearly made it in 2005, but for the Tamil vote), it could be a common candidate other than these two. Many names are being mentioned, among them Sajith Premadasa, son of Premadasa, former president of the UNP.

    Second scenario

    Repeat of 2014-15: A common candidate of the SLFP and UNP versus JO

    Third scenario

    The JO and SLFP rump getting together, ie the SLFP and Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) plus the dissident SLFPers all unite against the UNP. In other words, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena re-unite against Ranil Wickremesinghe.

    Fourth scenario

    Gotabhaya for president and Mahinda as prime minister and Ranil for president with Maithripala Sirisena for PM. Most unlikely.

    If Mahinda Rajapaksa is allowed a third term, there is nothing to prevent former president Chandrika Kumaratunga who glued together the grand unity between Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe to put in her claim. She will be backed by the SLFP rump and many from the Mahinda lot. The story doing the rounds is that Mahinda does not want Gota to become president as he will not provide space for the rest of the Rajapaksa clan. Colombo’s grapevine also suggested that the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka had told Mahinda that Gota is not suitable presidential material. For any of the Rajapaksas to win, the party will require 70 per cent of the Sinhalese vote. At present, the line-up for the next president is complex and confused.

    Besides the domestic factors, there is China which will be inclined towards a known Rajapaksa as opposed to a relatively less familiar Wickremesinghe or Sirisena. Similarly, the US and India could jointly back the same horse, but who, it is difficult to tell. Nobody in Colombo has the name of the winning horse. Nor is anyone prepared to guess.


    Sukhbir told police to fire at protesters in 2015: Jakhar


    Ruchika M Khanna

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, September 7

    Two days before the Shiromani Akali Dal’s major rally on his home turf (Abohar), Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar accused SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal of orchestrating “pre-meditated violence on Sikh protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in 2015”.

    Referring to his political rival as Sukhbir Singh “Insan” – a suffix used by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, Jakhar, during an interview with The Tribune, said it was his (Sukhbir’s) arrogance that was going to be his nemesis.

    “It was in his arrogance that he asked the police to fire at peaceful Sikh protesters in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan (in October 2015); it was this arrogance that led to his party’s crushing defeat in the 2017 elections; and it is this arrogance that seems to lead to ‘frittering away’ of the Akali Dal,” he said.

    Jakhar further said: “Holding a rally is flexing his (political) muscles. It proves his political insecurity. Such a show of strength does not absolve him of the responsibility of opening fire on protesters, especially when he was donning two hats – Home Minister and president of a Panthic party like the Akali Dal.”

    He added that Sukhbir had a lot to answer for, but was still not sensitive to his own reputation or the high position (SAD president) he held. ‘That’s why he keeps saying at each rally or public meeting — ‘Thok deyange, tang deyange’. He should learn humility from his father, and also the political acumen that Parkash Singh Badal has, if he wants to succeed,” the state Congress chief said.

    Jakhar said the Badals may have rejected the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission report, but the (Justice Zora Singh) Commission set up by them, too, had come up with similar findings on innocent people being fired at from close range in Behbal Kalan.

    “How can he (Sukhbir) run away from these facts? During the 10 years of the Akali-BJP rule, Sukhbir used to thunder that nothing could move in Punjab without his permission. Such a strong police action could not have taken place without his concurrence, as he was the de facto Chief Minister. Instead of controlling a law and order situation, he created a bigger law and order situation that threatened to tear apart the social fabric of Punjab,” Jakhar said.

    Maintaining that it was Sukhbir who gave the order to use force and disperse the crowds, Jakhar said as the “co-conspirator” in the sacrilege cases, Sukhbir would not be forgiven by the people of the state.

    “He held a meeting with the dera chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, where a deal on sharing profits of the latter’s movie was made. This is mentioned in the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report. What is not mentioned is the reason for granting pardon to the dera chief eight years after he tried to imitate Guru (Gobind Singh) Sahib — the movie had to be released on Friday so that one week’s collections could be earned. Pardon was granted on Thursday (September 24), and the first week’s collections were Rs 104 crore. It was not just votes, but ‘notes’ that led to the maafinama (pardon),” he alleged.

    On the charges being levelled against his party and Congress ministers of trying to usurp the “Panthic agenda” and flirting with Sikh radicals and radical ideology, Jakhar denied the same, saying that the Congress was a secular party. He also dismissed the claims made by two of his party’s ministers in the Vidhan Sabha of wresting control of the SGPC from the Akali Dal.

    “We won’t allow anyone to disturb the hard-earned peace of Punjab. We are not getting the radical leaders’ dharna at Bargari lifted only to avoid any untoward incident. Our government is trying to get it lifted peacefully,” he said. Toeing the line of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Jakhar said the ISI could have been involved in one or two cases of sacrilege after they saw trouble brewing in the border state.

    SAD chief counters charges

    • On ordering use of force to lift dharna: Even the Ranjit Singh Commission report says I was out of the country. The report mentions my name only at three places, but never once in connection with the firing incident.
    • On monetary deal with Sirsa dera chief: Jakhar has gone berserk in making such allegations. Even in the report of a Commission set up by his party’s government, this incident is passed off as hearsay.
    • On being referred to as ‘Insan’: Jakhar has become frustrated after he saw that no one rejected Akalis in villages, as he had proclaimed after the Commission report came out. Rather, we are getting a stupendous response for our rally in his home town. Their government is so scared of us that they are not even allowing Akalis to file nomination papers for panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections.
    • On being called arrogant: His (Jakhar’s) defeat in Abohar in the 2017 elections was because of his arrogant nature. People still believe in the Akali Dal being the best bet for Punjab.

    Corridor hope as Indian envoy visits Kartarpur Explores possibility of bringing 4-km project to fruition

    Corridor hope as Indian envoy visits Kartarpur

    ndian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.

    Smita Sharma

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, August 29

    Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria on Wednesday visited Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Narowal, bordering Gurdaspur in Punjab.

    This comes just days after Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu visited Pakistan to attend the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Sidhu had later mentioned that Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa suggested that they were considering opening up the Kartarpur corridor to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.The 4-km corridor, if opened, would connect Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years, to Dera Baba Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur on the Indian side.

    According to sources in Pakistan, the envoy during his visit looked towards the Indian border visible from the gurdwara rooftop, interacted with caretakers and  explored the possibility of the corridor. “We hope to bring this longstanding proposal to fruition with focused follow up and coordination with the Pakistan side. This corridor will have a special appeal and significance for devotees as we celebrate 550 years of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth next year,” Bisaria told The Tribune.

    The proposal of the corridor first came up during the Musharraf era, but was never actively followed up.

    Sikh pilgrims from India visiting Pakistan have been provided access to Kartarpur Sahib over the years through Wagah and Lahore.

    However, a direct corridor from Punjab would be very different. “Kartarpur Sahib was the resting place for Guru Nanak Dev for several years. It will be an important gesture from Pakistan for the pilgrims if it happens. It will be significant for devotees,” said Sarat Sabharwal, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan.

    There is no clarity yet on the modalities and logistics under discussion and if the corridor could be opened for a few days next year or for the long term.

    Meanwhile, Bisaria who was stopped by the Pakistan authorities from entering gurdwaras, including Nankana Sahib, during recent visits, was accorded a warm welcome at Kartarpur. However, he was not presented a robe of honour (siropa), as per sources.


    UK Sikh charity organisation comes to Kerala’s rescue

    UK Sikh charity organisation comes to Kerala’s rescue

    Khalsa Aid supporters cook food at Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha in Kochi, Kerala. Photo: Twitter

    Tribune Web Desk
    Chandigarh, August 18

    Help continues to pour into Kerala as the state battles unprecedented flood. Among those volunteering is a UK-based Sikh philanthropist organisation.

    Photos and videos posted on Facebook show the Khalsa Aid International serving flood victims at the Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha in Kochi, Kerala. Photos and videos posted by the organisation quickly went viral, drawing unanimous praises.


    Don’t add more numbers, forces told

    Don’t add more numbers, forces told

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, August 12

    In an important signal on optimum use of available funds, the armed forces have been asked to avoid fresh accretions — adding any more numbers to the existing strength — while continuing with right-sizing of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.The matter of force numbers, the resultant man-power costs and redundancy caused due to technological upgrades was raised by a top government official at the two-day Unified Commanders’ Conference held in New Delhi on July 30 and July 31, sources confirmed to The Tribune. The matter of not increasing numbers was referred to and the rising costs were discussed, a functionary confirmed about the meeting.The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is clear: “Addition of new equipment (modernisation) does not mean a corresponding rise in the strength of men,” said sources. The foundation of this was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi very early into his tenure. In his address at one such conference in December 2015, Modi said: “Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal.” Over the last decade, the armed forces have absorbed a fair amount of technological developments, including communications and digitisation, which means some of the troops can be redeployed.The high-powered Defence Planning Council (DPC), at its first meeting in May this year, asked for “leaner, meaner and restructured armed forces ready for future wars enabled by proper use of budgetary allocations”. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had ordered restructuring of the Army on June 12 this year.The Army, the biggest of the three armed forces, about 1.3-million strong, has been asked to improve its teeth-to-tail ratio. In simple words, it means have more fighting units and reduce non-fighting numbers. Last year, the MoD announced a major change as 57,000 officers and soldiers were to be redeployed to have more combat-oriented roles by 2019.It was an outcome of a committee headed by Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd), which suggested 99 points for structural changes in the Army, among them being cutting down flab and reducing revenue (maintenance) expenditure. Of these, the MoD has accepted 65 suggestions.Focus on right-sizing

    • In this year’s budget ending March 31, 2019, salaries of the three services and civilians work out to Rs 1,18,966 crore
    • Another Rs 1.08 lakh crore is the pension bill—both salaries and pensions account for 40 per cent of the entire budget
    • More money had to be earmarked for salaries and pensions than for modernisation (Rs 99,563 crore)

    US Navy veteran sentenced to life for killing Indian engineer

    US Navy veteran sentenced to life for killing Indian engineer

    New York, August 7

    A US Navy veteran, who shot and killed Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured two others at a suburban Kansas City bar in 2017, was on Tuesday sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.Adam Purinton of Olathe shot and killed Kuchibhotla, and wounded two others — Indian national Alok Madasani and Kansas resident Ian Grillot — at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, in February 2017.Purinton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty in federal court to hate crime and firearm offenses arising out of the shooting.At his federal guilty-plea hearing, Purinton admitted in open court that he targeted and shot Kuchibhotla and Madasani because of their race, colour, and national origin, and that he shot Grillot during an attempt to flee the scene of the crime.Purinton has also pleaded guilty in state court to charges of murder and attempted murder, and has been sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in state prison.“The crimes at issue in this case are detestable,” Sessions said.“The defendant acted with clear premeditation in murdering one man, and attempting to murder a second man, simply because of their race, religion, and national origin. As a result, a promising young life has been tragically cut short, and other lives have been filled with suffering.”Sessions said in the statement that while the “irreparable harm” that Purinton has done cannot be undone, “some measure of justice for the victims’ families has been achieved.” — PTI