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Thursday, October 26, 2017

"shoot me in my sleep” - Maharaja Hari Singh on Acession Day of Kashmir to India, 70 years ago

Today is the Accession Day of Jammu and Kashmir. Capt Deewan, the ADC of Kashmir's last king, Maharaja Hari Singh, told me the dramatic moments of this day in 1947 when the reluctant king agreed to accede to India. This  full page article was published in The Tribune on October 26, 2011. A first ever interview of the ADC, who died two years later. The late Maharaja is said to have adopted him later. Capt Deewan performed last rites of the late Maharaja some years later, instead of his son Karan Singh.
Read on.
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THE MAHARAJA SPURNED MOUNTBATTEN’S ADVICE
“If you do not hear Indian planes tomorrow morning, shoot me in my
sleep” is what Maharaja Hari Singh told him after signing the
Instrument of Accession on October 26, recalls the Maharaja’s ADC in
conversations with JUPINDERJIT SINGH


The Maharaja with the ADC


Captain Diwan Singh was fondly described as an adopted son of Maharaja
Hari Singh. The last ADC to the last Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir is
now 87 years old but remembers vividly those dramatic weeks that led
to the state's accession to India. Excerpts from conversations with
him are reconstructed below :

"There was considerable talk about the options before the state, of
acceding either to India or Pakistan, in early 1947. But it acquired
urgency during Lord Mountbatten's visit to the kingdom between June 18
and June 23. I have reasons to believe that the option was officially
raised for the first time by Lord Mountbatten."

Mountbatten and the Maharaja did not discuss the issue till the second
last day of the former's six-day trip to Srinagar. On that day,
Maharaja Sahib and Lord Mountbatten went on a drive together. Maharaja
sahib was at the wheels and there was no one else in the car. I was
later told that Lord Mountbatten had asked the King to join Pakistan.
"I advise you to join Pakistan," were his exact words.

We were in another car following the two of them. The Maharaja
apparently asked Mountbatten for a meeting next day, i.e. June 23 at
11 am with their entire staff to discuss the issue.

The Maharaja, however, did not go to the meeting the next day.
Instead, he handed over a letter to me for Lord Mountbatten in which
he stated that he would not be able to go ahead with the meeting. I
handed over the letter to a staff member of Lord Mountbatten. From a
distance I could hear Mountbatten shouting. He was out of my ear shot
but he was clearly fuming.

As the partition between India and Pakistan became a reality in
August, Jammu and Kashmir was on tenterhooks though the Maharaja's
heart was always with India. He would often say, "I can't send my
population to the hawks" whenever the subject cropped up.

Indeed Jinnah, the first Sadar-e-riyasat of Pakistan, tried to meet
the Maharaja twice. He first requested to meet him officially to
discuss the Accession to Pakistan but the Maharaja declined. This was
before August. Later, in September, Jinnah again wanted to spend some
days in the valley on health grounds as he was not well and claimed
doctors had advised him to rest for a few days and away from his usual
environment. But the Maharaja again declined. He could see through
Jinnah's move and was never inclined towards him.

At the same time, the Maharaja was not happy at the insistence of
Pandit Nehru to involve Shiekh Abdullah in the process. Sheikh
Abdullah was in jail at that time as he had started a Quit Kashmir
movement in 1946. The Maharaja was upset, especially after Sheikh
Abdullah hung the ruler's pictures round the neck of dogs and took out
a procession in the valley. Much later, after his release and
Kashmir's accession to India, Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter to the
Maharaja saying he was never against him personally and launched the
movement for ushering in democracy in the Valley.

Pandit Nehru of course had a soft corner for Sheikh Abdullah although
even he had to jail him later. Nehru possibly nursed a grudge against
the Maharaja who did not allow him to enter the state in 1946 when the
Quit Kashmir movement was boiling. While it is widely believed that
the Maharaja put him under arrest at Kohila bridge near Uri, the
gateway to the valley, I would like to put on record that actually
Nehru was never arrested. He was merely stopped from going to the
Valley and politely told to stay in the official guest house of the
Maharaja near the bridge.

The Maharaja sent his personal cook and servants to take care of
Pandit Nehru. After a few days, Maulana Azad, the then President of
the Indian National Congress came seeking Pandit Nehru's release,
which surprised the Maharaja. I remember the Maharaja exclaim, " But
he was never arrested. He is free to go." But Pandit Nehru was furious
at not being allowed to enter the Valley and that began an unfortunate
personality clash between the two well-meaning personalities.

It is right to say that the unexpected tribal attack prompted the
Maharaja to sign the Instrument of Accession with India and hastened
the process. He felt Jinnah had ditched him. It also strengthened his
belief that future of Jammu and Kashmir was secure with India and not
with Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan already had cut off all supplies of
essential items like oil, vegetables and pulses, to India.

The Maharaja in fact had a prenomination about the attack by tribals,
which began on the night of Oct 21. On that day, the King was
scheduled to visit Bhimber Tehsil in Mirpur (now in Pakistan) and left
for the destination from Amar Palace in Jammu in the morning. However,
when he reached Jewel Chowk, a few kms from the palace, he suddenly
asked us to go to Kathua instead. Later, he flew to Srinagar in the
late afternoon. That same night tribals attacked and we learnt later
that a group of tribals were waiting to ambush him in a forest on way
to Poonch.

The King flew to Srinagar and when we reached there by road the next
morning, everyone knew about the tribal invasion. Much to my surprise,
I saw the King in battle fatigue. He wanted to go to the front. He
asked us to get ready for battle and save the motherland. It took a
lot of persuasion by me, Brigadier Rajendra Singh and others to make
him change his mind. Brigadier Rajendra Singh, who was the Chief of
his Army, assured him that he would be leading his troops to the
front.

I was present there. I remember an agitated Mahaharajs saying, "What
would they do to me, kill me, let them." But Brig Rajendra Singh told
him he would not be killed. "They would treat you well, force you to
sign on papers and show the world that the Maharaja has acceded to
Pakistan," the Brigadier told him.

When the tribals were close to Srinagar on Oct 25, the King had to
leave. Again it was done after much persuasion. He left on oct 25
night at 2 am with me in the car. He was quiet on the way. But the
moment we reached Jammu in the morning, he took a step out of the car,
turned his head towards Kashmir and said with melancholy, " we have
lost Kashmir."

Later that day, he signed the accession. The papers were signed in the
Maharaja's room in the Amar Palace. The Instrument of Accession was
signed in Hari Niwas, Jammu.

Contrary to propaganda abroad that India forcibly got the documents
after the tribal invasion, the instrument was actually signed before
Indian troops landed in Kashmir. In fact, the Maharaja had laid down a
clause (and this is well-known) that if Indian troops did not land,
the agreement would become null and void.

The Maharaja actually laid down the condition that if the Indian Army
and the Air Force did not reach the Valley the next day, the accession
would stand cancelled.

Later that night, he told me, " If you don't see or hear Indian planes
in the morning, shoot me in my sleep."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

the controversies on inter-faith marriages in Kashmir

the controversies on inter-faith marriages in Kashmir


Knot at a cost

Many youngsters are going in for inter-faith and inter-caste marriages to script the
story of a new Kashmir, but this is proving costly with various communities resorting
to violence to thwart such alliances, writes Jupinderjit Singh

Photo: Kuldip Dhiman


LOVE, they say, can bridge many a gap. Therefore, a large number of second-generation Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are increasingly choosing the "bond of love" over a communal or caste one in the strife-torn valley of Jammu and Kashmir despite a violent suppression of such alliances. Many persons have either been killed in the process or been forced to kill their feelings. Many are living in hiding and many outside the state. Those who continue to live here are treated like outcastes by their communities and families. Yet, the inter-community love affairs go on.

Soon after Rajnish Sharma married a Muslim girl, Amina, he landed in lock-up and was later found dead in police custody
WEDLOCK: Soon after Rajnish Sharma married a
Muslim girl, Amina, he landed in lock-up and was
later found dead in police custody

Members of the Mahila Sangharsh Samiti demand justice in the Rajnish death case
FAIR PLAY: Members of the Mahila Sangharsh Samiti demand justice in the Rajnish death case
Photos: Anand Sharma

Even though such marriages are seen as a veiled bid to decimate the numerical strength of a community in the state, where the demand for a separate homeland is raging since decades, inter-faith marriages form an undercurrent of a new Kashmir. But are they a solution?
When Amina Yusuf of Kashmir and Rajnish Sharma of Jammu fell in love eight years ago in Gulmarg, they dreamt of a new life and a new Kashmir. A Kashmir where, like them, people from different faiths could not only dare to marry but also live together peacefully.

But that was not to be. By Amina’s own admission before the Jammu police and the media, the couple went on to marry against the wishes of the families and the diktats of their community leaders in August last year. But they could live together only for a few days. Rajnish was booked on the charge of kidnapping and forcibly marrying the 26-year-old Amina, aka Anchal Sharma post marriage.

He was "picked up" by the cops on September 29 and found dead in the Srinagar police’s custody on October 4. `A0 A judicial investigation is on in the case. Amina, after living with her in-laws for three months, returned to her parents’ house this January. Later, Amina retracted from the love affair in a statement before a Srinagar court. She claimed she had been forced to marry. The court hearing is on.

There are many others like them. "On an average, we get one such case daily in Jammu city itself. Often, it is easier to trace and catch a militant than a runaway couple," admits a senior police official requesting anonymity. "We go by the law. The girlparents file a case of kidnapping and add the charge of rape later. It boils down to the girl’s stand. If she deposes before a court that she had gone of her own will, which happens rarely, the law protects the couple," says the senior police officer.

He narrates documented tales of runaway couples being recovered from places as far off as Goa and Siliguri. "Couples elope the world all over. But in this state, it acquires far more serious proportions," he says, pointing towards the communal divide. "No community here wants its members to join another community after marriage. The community members fear that one by one, their numbers will dwindle and the demographic change can affect the separatist demand. Interestingly, parents don’t mind if their son brings a girl from another community and converts her".

"But when it comes to their daughters marrying outside the community, there is violence and bloodshed," says former DGP M.M. Khajuria. Enquiries reveal that such runaway couples are found in each colony and region of the militancy-hit state. Many are going through the painful process of having to face society. Others have settled down, albeit in isolation, after braving it all.

Many Kashmiri Pandits marrying Muslims or vice-versa are those whose parents are still living through the wounds of the separatist movement. Elders of different communities openly scoff at the suggestion that the younger generation is scripting the story of a new and mixed society that would never be able to seek division on the lines of community, caste or race.

The marriages between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims arouse the strongest passions. "There was a time when Kashmiri Pandits marrying Dogri boys or girls was a big no-no. Now, you find hundreds of such cases," reveals a sociologist, preferring anonymity out of fear of a backlash. The case of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims is significant. The Pandits driven out of the valley have a natural grudge against the Muslims. The latter, too, demanding a separate state for their community, are naturally averse to any such alliance. But their second generation is determined to follow the diktats of the heart.

Interestingly, the first family of the state, the Abdullahs, are the most secular. Union Minister and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is married to a Christian. His son and serving Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is wedded to a Sikh girl. His sister is married to a Hindu, the Union Minister of State for Telecommunications, Sachin Pilot. But it isn’t smooth sailing for everyone.


"What wrong did we do?" asks Shabnam with her husband Ravi Sharma (names changed) holding her hand tightly in their two-room rented house in the city. "We are both working in a multinational company. We liked each other, respect each other’s religion and told our parents of our decision to marry. But there was a volcano of a protest. We had no option but to elope. We got married but were caught. He was booked for kidnapping but the court came to our rescue. Now, we are living happily," she says. Some even take the fight up to the Supreme Court. The case of a Muslim girl from Doda and a Hindu youth from Nagrota is a case in point.

The apex court provided security to this love-lorn couple, hounded by relatives and cops. Anjum, 19, a Muslim from Doda, and Khemraj, 24, a Hindu from Nagrota, eloped few months ago. Both belong to influential families. They are reportedly living in hiding.
The undercurrents have not escaped the eye of social observers. Dr Niharica Subash, assistant professor, sociology, Jammu University, has met 115 such couples who have crossed the social boundaries, "Couples from Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian families, especially the Dogris and Kashmiri Pandits, are running from their homes and marrying. Of these, a Hindu-Muslim, and specifically a Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim marriage, is a cardinal sin and
often results in violence, as happened in the Amina and Rajnish case".

Conversion after marriage becomes the main issue. The DGP remembers how a Sikh girl despite marrying a Muslim in England spent a torturous life for years. She wanted to follow her religion but there was opposition. She pulled along for a few years. But when it came to the children’s religion, she left the family.

Dr Niharica recalls her experiences in meeting two such couples, "Some Hindu girls had got converted. One of them agreed to talk to me on the condition that I wouldn’t disclose that she was originally a Hindu. She had adjusted so well in her new life". Another case was even more telling. "This woman, originally a Hindu, just refused to acknowledge that. She showed me the door, saying she was born a Muslim".

And it is not that all are living unhappily. "Ayaz and his Hindu wife are living happily in Jammu with both practising their respective religions. Even Ayaz’s sister, married to a Hindu, is living happily. Both had got their marriages solemnised outside the state in a court.

"This trend of going outside the state for marriage has been noted in most of the cases," asserts Dr Niharica, "Most of the couples I have met, married outside the state, especially in Chandigarh and New Delhi. A few return to the state. They can get married here but the repercussions would be immediate, while outside the state they can get a safe haven."

Saranjit Kaur cites from her M. Phil study on emerging trends of marriages, "There was a time when no community married out of caste or clan. But slowly, a change is coming. Dogris and Pandits are marrying, though there is opposition, but most of the parents accept the alliance once the grandchildren are born.

"The children of Kashmiri Pandits, especially those born in Jammu after migration, identify themselves with the people and culture here. They accept them, unlike their parents, who were forced to leave the valley."

The biggest opposition is to Hindu-Muslim marriages. "In Jammu and Kashmir, it is feared that such marriages can affect the majority of a population in a given area. For instance, if Hindu and Sikh girls marrying Muslims practice their faith, the Muslim majority is affected in the valley. The whole aim of the secessionist movement, or demand for leaving India for Pakistan is the rendered useless," she reasons. There is trouble for Dalit-Brahmin marriages as well. Rahul Dev of the Progressive Students Association shares the trouble he faced on marrying a Pandit girl.

He belongs to the Other Backward Classes. His wife, Rosy, is a Brahmin. Both studied law together in college. When they decided to marry, all hell broke loose." "The religious and caste lines are so deeply set. My father is an ex-serviceman. He accepted after two years that I was marrying a Brahmin girl. He still says he did not feel as much pain from the two bullets that pierced him while fighting the enemy as much he did at his son marrying outside the caste," says Rahul. "But he still doesn’t visit our house," adds Rosy.

first published in -- http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100207/spectrum/main1.htm


HOME

“Now, I can ask Jassi’s mother if our love was such a big crime?” : Mithu (husband of Jassi)


Key words: Jassi murder case; justice for jassi ; Mithu, Sukhwinder, Kaunke

 “Now, I can ask Jassi’s mother if our love was such a big crime?” : Mithu (husband of Jassi)

“I braved death and threats and fake police cases to see this day”

Jupinderjit Singh

 “I survived for this day only when the killers of my wife, Jassi, would be sent to India and face trial for her murder. I braved death and threats and fake police cases in 17 years of struggle for justice to see this day.”

Says Sukhwinder Singh alias Mithu reacting to the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision on Friday allowing extradition of Jassi’s mother Malkiat Kaur and maternal uncle Surjit Singh Badesha (Malkiat’s elder brother).

“Now, I can confront Malkiat Kaur face to face and ask her why she considered her daughter’s love for me such a big crime that she got her killed,” Mithu added, his voice choking.

After the murder on June 8, 2000 by 14 contract killers,  Punjab Police had charged both with conspiracy to murder Jaswinder Kaur alias Jassi for marrying Mithu against family wishes. Police charge sheet said both planned the conspiracy in Canada and got it executed in India.

Mithu drives a truck these days to earn a living and was on the road since early morning. “The whole purpose of my existence post Jassi’s murder is to see her mother and Uncle behind bars one day and pay for the crime,” he said.

“Jassi and I got married with honour. Her parents may have been mad at us if I had not married Jassi. We followed the sanctity of marriage. I am still her husband. I have spurned hundreds of marriage offers. I want to tell her mom my love was true and committed to Jassi in life and beyond,’ said Mithu, who did not budge despite false police cases against him and offers to crores of ruppes and land to withdraw his statement against Jassi’s mother and Uncle.

Mithu and Jassi’s story is a well known international honour killing case which has been subject of a movie, book and  documentary by the National Geogrpahic.

 Hailing the verdict, Mithu laments the Canadian government never allowed him to plead for the extradition in  their courts, “ I believe today that there is justice in Canada. The government had stone-walled my request to visit Canada  to pursue the case,” he said.

Sukhwinder Singh alias Mithu of Kaunke Khosa said he had weaved a life of love and happiness with Canada-born Indian girl Jaswinder Kaur Jassi in the late 1990s. But when they got married against the wishes of Jassi’s parents, the dream life could be lived for a few weeks only. Both were attacked by a group of contract killers allegedly hired by Jassi’s mother and an uncle. Jassi died. Mithu survived, but only to live a life full of sufferings.

Mihtu had recently moved the two-member Justice Mehtab Singh Commission of Inquiry into false cases registered by the Punjab Police in the last 10 years.  

The range of cases against him varies from rape, for which he spent three-and-a-half years in jail before his acquittal, to rioting, snatching and even drugs smuggling. He has been booked six times in different cases and has already been acquitted in four.

“The cops who arrested me were sympathetic, but they wanted me to forget all about Jassi and my fight for justice… I have even declined several marriage proposals coming my way. I can’t share my love for Jassi with anyone,” Mithu told The Tribune.

 “Every offer of a compromise I declined resulted in a new case against me,” he has claimed before the commission. His application has been registered and notices have been sent to the police.

“From an initial offer of Rs 10 lakh to the latest Rs 1.5 crore besides the ownership of 14 acres of land or a well-settled life abroad, the supporters of the accused have promised it all to me. But I can’t trade my love for all this. I just want Jassi’s mother and uncle to be punished for what they did to her and me,” said Mithu. His voice trembling in between as his torrid life flashes before his eyes. EOM


Thursday, August 24, 2017

When "premis" , gave away their property to Dera Sacha Sauda



Premis” ( mainly farmers)  registered their houses , shops in the name of dera on a call given to do so.



Jupinderjit Singh

 As the nation sees the frenzy of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who faces a verdict in a rape case against him in Panchkula Special CBI court today, there is a history of such seeminlgy mad following of a dera head. While in 2007, three followers committed suicde when the Dera head was summoned to the court, in 2012, many of them willing gifted their small houses and shops as a gift to the dera on a call given to do so.

On October 26, 2012, about 68 followers of Dera Sacha Sauda   ‘gifted’ their land, both rural and urban to a ‘Force Wing’ of the sect that has remained mired in several controversies. Next day,  45
more properties ranging from few Kanals to several acres were made in the name of a Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force Wing of the Dera. The total number of such sale deeds were 113.

The gift came in the  time of shrinking landholdings and debt on farmers.

As many as 41 sale deeds were executed at the Tehsil office Bathinda in favour of Shah Satnam Ji Green S Welfare Force Wing of the Dera Sacha Sauda , Sirsa. Another 21 sale deeds were executed in Talwandi Sabo on that day. The  Tribune had reported the development exclusively..

The process went late into the evening. Employees at the Tehsil were seen compiling the list of the sale deeded in the presence of some legal experts representing the Dera. One followere even gifted 13
acres of land.

Tehsil Sources the sale deeds were executed legally with all the requisite revenue paid
to the government.

Most of the Urban sale deeds were of Paras Ram Nagar and Lal Singh Basti in the city. The “premis” as the followers are called executed the sale deed of small to medium size plots.

Among the rural areas, most of the sale deeds were of Baluana and Rai Singh Wala villages. Tehsil sources said the “premis” said the sect Guru would give them many more land in return. The Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force Wing is a special volunteer group constituted by the sect guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for providing disaster relief.

The “premis”(followers) who gifted land today were mainly from GehriBhagga , Chugga Kalan and Bhaagu villages in the district. Talking toThe Tribune, some of the “Premis” got quite agitated at the queries.They said they were free to give or take land. The “Premis” maintained they were not worried about the impact on financial condition of afamily if they give part or major portion of their land.

“The Dera has given us so much. Its spiritual powers ad benevolence starts from where your science and education ends. We can give everything to the Dera as what ever we have is given by it,” said
Choor Singh of Bhaagu village.

 He has “gifted” one acre out of his seven acres of land. When asked if the donation would affect the annual earnings of the family he said the Dera Head would give them anything they desire, “My son is in Indian Army and my daughter is with the Punjab Police. What ever we made was because of the Dera. I can give all my land. We just want the Media to write the Truth and whatever I said.”

Mohinder Singh , another “Premi” said he has six acres out of which he has given one acre ,” It must be for someone’s good. We donate blood, ration and whever we are in trouble and need something the Dera helps. I don’t know for what purpose the land was required. I only
know I am giving it in safe hands and it will serve someone.”

A perusal of some of the sale deeds revealed that the gifted property was mainly ancestral. Some of the property was bought several years
ago.

EOM

Why the Sacha Sauda Dera has so many followers?

key words: Ram Rahim, Dera Sacha Sauda, rape, dera culture

It is not just about spirituality, subsidised food and free treatment besides equality of all castes and humility of the management are pull factors for the followers

Jupinderjit Singh

Besides spirituality, there seems to be many other attractions which attract people to become followers of the Sacha Sauda dera in Sirsa in droves.
The controversial dera is hogging limelight again these days with the dera head Ram Rahim Singh facing a verdict in a rape case against him tomorrow. Lakhs of followers have made a beeline to Panchkula where a Special CBI court will deliver the verdict tomorrow afternoon.
Thousands of others are gathering in the worship centres called the ‘Naam Charcha Ghar’ in Haryana and Punjab praying for the verdict in the dera head’s favour, who they call ‘pita Ji’ lovingly.
 But why so many people throng the dera and follow the sect head who has courted several controversies besides starring in two films based on him. He is probably the only sect head in India who has acted in a film.
Caste equality in the dera is one such reason. “We get mental peace in the spiritual environment in Sirsa dera and at the various Naam Charcha houses in our city. But above all, the dera life provides an equal status to all castes,”says Prem Insaan, a resident of a poor colony near the Railway Station, Bathinda.
He adds there is still so much discrimination in society on the basis of caste. “It is an open fact that different communities and castes have their own temples and Gurdwaras in Punjab and Haryana but in our dera all are equal. We all have one sir name-Insaan. It means Human. The dera advocates humanity. We may be Hindu, Sikh or anything but we have failed to end the caste divisions in the society.  In dera, the divisions are erased,” insisted Prem Insaan.
For some, the humble ranking of managements is an attraction. Sukhveer Insaan, a dalit from Mansa said the dera management has devised nomenclature like Insaan to advocate not just equality but humility also,”The managements divides state into zones which are further divided into unit. Each unit is headed by a man given the title Bhangi Dass. The word ‘Bhangi’is an offensive word used otherwise for lower caste people. But when the unit head is called this, it gives the word respect. That is why so many people of lower castes are followers of the dera.”
Then subsidised food and free medicines is a huge attraction, “The dera headquarter in Sirsa and the district units provide subsidised ration to the members. This comes as huge boon for poor families. Unlike the government schemes like free ration for Below Poverty Line families which are often delayed or marred with corruption, the supply of subsidised ration is smooth and equal for all in the dera,” said a Bathinda based Sikh follower Swaran Insaan.
The dera followers have high concentration in Malwa region of the state. These comprise of districts, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda, Fazilka, Faridkot and Ferozepore. Most of these are close to the Sirsa district of Haryana where the dera headquarter is situated and thus they are influenced by the dera activities. This region is plagued with deadly diseases like cancer apart from knee problems due to bad quality of water. The dera offers free treatment to these patients.
“There is a set system of providing free treatment. A Bhangi dass collects slips from followers in his area about the ailment they are suffering from. He co-ordinates with the dera headquarters and takes appointment. The free treatment along with spiritual environment is a great pull for a poor patient or others from even middle class also,” revealed a Bhangi Dass from Sangrur.
Prof.  Pramod Kumar, Director Institute for Development and Communication on mushrooming of deras

Deras and religious Babas are the poor cousins of religion. They are the schoolmaster of subaltern poor and middle class. They have emerged as messengers of God between the people and the God.

Not only this, these mediators of God swept away the faith of their followers in politics, courts, government and even markets. Notwithstanding this, their appeal amongst people is a tonic which is embraced by the political leaders. All the political parties try to outdo each other to woo deras. On the other hand, deras are issuing the diktat to induce people to vote according to their faith rather than their conscience. It is violative of the secular principles and free and fair elections. It appears that people have swallowed the make-believe pills being traded by the political parties that the misuse of deras is justified. In turn, these Deras and religious ‘babas’ are provided shield against rule of law to allow them to promote their commercial enterprise, personal leisure and also act as a medicine for poverty and inequities.
​EOM​


Monday, May 8, 2017

this punjab village of drug smugglers has a web of escape holes through walls

Cops grapple with holes in drug nest

At Jagraon village, smugglers use escape routes in houses to fox police
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Kul Gehna (Jagraon), May 7 Inhabitants of this “village of drug smugglers”, located close to the Sutlej in Jagraon, are all too aware of the proverb “vanish into thin air” as each of the 35-odd houses built in a cluster has an escape route. The secret passage is used by criminals to escape every time the police come calling. More than 60 FIRs have been registered against its residents over the past two years — nearly 200 of its 300 residents, barring children, have been named in at least one drug smuggling case.





 A web of square or circular holes of different sizes in the walls connects each house, allowing smugglers to flee during police raids. The smugglers move from one house to another before landing in the fields. They then make a dash for the river, crossing it before the police can reach them. For a well-built cop, it is difficult to follow them through the holes. Another series of small holes in the walls are used to quickly dispose of drugs in case of a raid. Contraband, including heroin, smack and opium, packed in small pouches is moved from one house to another till the police call off search. 

The Jagraon police have plugged these holes in the past, but new ones reappear soon after the raids. In a rare access to these houses, The Tribune found small gates in the boundary walls, big enough for a child to pass through. A few days ago, the police plugged these escape routes with bricks and locked the small iron gates. “It is literally a cat and mouse game,” says Jagraon Senior Superintendent of Police Surjeet Singh, who ordered the plugging of holes soon after taking charge last month. “But it is a painstaking task as the smugglers try to be one step ahead of the police. It is not easy for an officer to ensure the holes are plugged at all times.” 

Assistant Sub-Inspector Balour Singh, who oversaw the plugging operation recently, says he knows the “horoscope” of each family and pays them regular visits to ensure the escape routes remain shut. “Your life is always on the line when to visit the village. Women embrace you, pleading for mercy or grapple as the situation warrants. Children clutch on to your legs, restricting your movement. A number of policemen have been injured in the process,” he says.

 The house of alleged high-profile smuggler Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, is located right at the entry to the village. Its high walls and air-conditioners inside point to the lifestyle he enjoys. “Most of villagers, including Pamma, are farm labourers. Some drive tractor-trailers for sand miners. It is hard to acquire air-conditioners or cars from daily wages,” says the ASI. Four other notorious smugglers belonging to the village have been on the run ever since the new Congress government turned the heat on drug smugglers. A resident, who claims to have given up smuggling a long time ago, says most of the village houses were “kutcha” in the beginning. “Villagers have graduated from smuggling illicit liquor in pouches or bottles to poppy husk in gunny bags and then opium in polythene bags. They have now switched to the easier and more lucrative “chitta” (heroin), which can be easily concealed in small pouches.” As “chitta” business flourished, almost all houses were rebuilt, says the ASI.

‘Cat and mouse game’
"It is literally a cat and mouse game... It is a painstaking task as the smugglers try to be one step ahead of the police. It is not easy for an officer to ensure the holes in the walls are plugged at all times." Surjeet Singh, Jagraon SSP
Safety exit in 35 houses
  • A web of square/circular holes in the walls connects each of 35 houses, allowing drug smugglers to flee during police raids
  • The smugglers use the route to escape into the fields and subsequently cross the Sutlej. It’s hard for well-built cops to follow them through the holes
  • Another series of small holes in the walls are used to quickly dispose of drugs in case of a raid

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Here’s Bhagat Singh’s pistol, out of oblivion

Here’s Bhagat Singh’s pistol, out of oblivion

The Tribune tracks down weapon that changed course of history at BSF centre in Indore


Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Indore, November 22
Lying in oblivion for almost half a century as just another of the 294 relics at the Border Security Force’s Central School of Weapons and Tactics in this Madhya Pradesh town, Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s pistol is finally getting revered status here.

Till recently, Assistant Commandant Vijendra Singh, who imparts briefings on the history of weapons to trainees, would talk about a US-made .32 Colt rimless and smokeless pistol as a small chapter in the growth of weapons from 1531 onwards.



All that changed after a four-part series by The Tribune — based on the findings of an Indian historian in Lahore — and subsequent reportage on the possible whereabouts of the freedom fighter’s pistol.

The weapon was used in the killing of British police officer JP Saunders in Lahore on December 17, 1928, and played a pivotal part in the Lahore conspiracy case that saw Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev being hanged and attaining legendary martyr status.

Assistant Commandant Vijendra now devotes a lot of time talking about the weapon and its rich history while the trainees, including a group of DSPs on a refresher course, vie with each other to get photographed with it.

“I am overcome with emotion as I hold the great martyr’s pistol in hand. I have held so many weapons in my long career but none like this one,” says IG Pankaj, who is the director of the BSF weapons’ school.

“No one here had any idea that the pistol belonged to Shaheed Bhagat Singh,” he admits candidly.

After The Tribune furnished details of the pistol to him to look for in the BSF records, a team found an entry in an old register but an obstacle came up next to locate the exact weapon. For preservation purposes as well as for better display, all weapons in the museum are painted black. The staff had to remove the paint to find the real one. “We removed the paint and to our great joy, the number 168896 came out clearly on the barrel with matching details.”

Commandant HS Bedi and other officers of the BSF confide that the discovery of the pistol in their museum was news for them. “It is amazing. It was always here and no one knew it,” he says.

Such is the craze that the museum is witnessing an unprecedented footfall. The weapon is now kept separately in a glass case on a pedestal. But the description about its importance is yet to be displayed alongside.

“We are preparing a special place for displaying the pistol along with Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s portrait and documents at the new museum building that is under construction. We would prepare a gallery of the documents, including clippings of The Tribune that brought the weapon back from oblivion,” the IG says.

In Chandigarh, publisher Harish Jain, who has penned several books on Shaheed Bhagat Singh, can’t hide his excitement. “No photograph of the pistol is available anywhere. This is the first time it would be in public domain.” Co-author and historian Malwinderjit Singh Waraich says it would be a dream come true for him to see the pistol.

Bhagat Singh’s pistol found in BSF’s Indore museum

Bhagat Singh’s pistol found in BSF’s Indore museum

US-made Colt was on display along with other weapons, but there was no mention of its history

Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 8
Believed to be “missing” for years, the pistol used by Shaheed Bhagat Singh to kill Assistant Police Superintendent John Saunders in Lahore on December 17,1928,  has been found at the BSF’s Central School of Weapons and Tactics (CSWT) museum at Indore where it had been on display without any mention of its history.

Historians had been raising questions about the pistol. The Tribune, that recently carried a series of reports on the martyr’s court case files and the “missing” pistol and other exhibits, had found that the pistol was in possession of the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, till October 1969.

The IG and Commandant, Pankaj, CSWT, today called up The Tribune, informing that the number of the pistol, an automatic .32 bore US-made Colt  (butt number 460-m and body number 168896)  “match with a pistol in our records.” The Tribune had   sent him details of the pistol accessed from the files of the Phillaur academy.

“We have found it. The numbers sent match with those on the pistol. It will now be displayed with the martyr’s name,” the IG said excitedly.

The Tribune had reported two days ago that the pistol was last seen at the Phillaur academy on October 7, 1969, when it was moved, along with seven other weapons, to the CSWT, Indore. On the same day 39 years ago, a special tribunal of three judges had delivered the death sentence to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

The pen with which one of the judges had signed the death sentence was shifted from the Police Academy to the Punjab Cultural Department and subsequently to the museum in Bhagat Singh’s memory at his native village Khatkar Kalan. But his pistol could not be traced.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress said, “It is not just just a weapon. It’s a symbol of our fight against oppressive (British) rule. We will bring the martyr’s pistol back to Punjab.”


Cong to seek copies of martyr’s files from Pak 

Jalandhar: Congress Legislature Party chief Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday promised to seek copies of the files pertaining to Shaheed Bhagat Singh from Pakistan if his party comes to power in the state. Paying tributes to the martyr at Khatkar Kalan village (Nawanshahr) on the second day of his Jawani Sambhal Yatra, Channi said some of the files related to the trial of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were in the archives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “However, most of the record has come out through individual efforts. The researchers, not the governments, have mainly compiled his writings.” TNS

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bhagat Singh’s pistol was last seen in Phillaur 47 yrs ago Records show it was transferred to Indore, historians ask govt to trace it

A path-breaking finding on Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Historians and Researchers on Shaheed Bhagat Singh have finally got  something to cheer. The Tribune has found traces about  the missing pistol used by the great freedom fighter to kill a British Police official John Sanders. The whereabouts of the pistol were not known since 1930. Anyone who can throw some further light (please contact me 9872999203; Jupinderjit Singh, Special Correspondent, The Tribune. Chandigarh)

Bhagat Singh’s pistol was last seen in Phillaur 47 yrs ago Records show it was transferred to Indore, historians ask govt to trace it


Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 7
Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s pistol with which he killed Assistant Police Superintendent John Saunders in Lahore on December 17, 1928, was last seen at the Punjab Police Academy (PPA), Phillaur, on October 7, 1969. 

The automatic .32 bore pistol of Colt US make with butt no. 460-m and body no. 168896, was transferred to the Central School of Weapon and Tactics (CSWT) of the BSF in Indore the same day. However, CSWT officials said the pistol was not exhibited in their museum. 

Earlier in its four-part series, The Tribune highlighted that researcher Aparna Vaidik had, through a rare access to case files of the martyr, found that the weapon was missing. Based on the record of 160 files lying at Punjab State Archives in Lahore, she said the weapon could be either at Lahore Fort, police malkhana, Gwalmandi, Lahore, or the PPA, Phillaur. 

On its pursuit, The Tribune found the records related to the weapon. As per a record register of the PPA, it was among the eight weapons transferred to the CSWT on October 7, 1969. Kuldip Singh, Director, PPA, said no reason had been given for the transfer of the weapon. “Eight weapons, including the martyr’s pistol, were taken to CSWT, Indore, by a BSF commandant as per our records.”

With the latest discovery, it is now known that the weapon was in India at least in 1969. Earlier, as per the records, the weapon was given to DSP (CID) NK Niaaz Ahmad Khan in Lahore on October 16, 1930. Assistant Commandant Vijay Roy, CSWT, said no such weapon was displayed in their museum at present. “We don’t have it there, but we will look into the records. It might have been transferred to another museum,” he said. Meanwhile, historians have termed it an important discovery.

 Gurdev Singh Sidhu, who has also authored a book on the martyr, said:
 “The revelation is an important discovery. We at least know that the pistol was in India and is within our reach somewhere. The Punjab Government should make efforts to trace it..” “If the pistol reached Phillaur, then the other exhibits must also be brought here,” said Harish Jain, Chandigarh-based publisher and researcher on Bhagat Singh.
first published : November 7, 2016 .. The Tribune.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Middle - Chess on LoC

Jupinderjit Singh

MY first visit to Uri town, the latest target of a terror attack, was some 13 years ago. I was visiting the Valley as a journalist and not a tourist. The situation was such that from Jammu to Srinagar, there was fear of a terror strike. Only two dhabas were open. At one of the dhabas, a group of soldiers nearly took away our taxi, saying they were in hot chase of militants. The taxi driver pleaded against it. Fortunately, I had an Army letter authorising my visit to the forward areas. It saved the driver for that day. 

The Brigadier at Uri was warm and welcoming. He had deputed a young Captain to look after me. “Be safe, no adventurism,”  the Brigadier cautioned me in a chilling voice and a smile that gave me goose bumps. We drove in a Jonga on the zigzag road that climbed one hill and came down the other. The Jhelum, the de facto border between India and Pakistan, criss-crossed the Valley, flowing beautifully in the deep gorge. We passed tiny hamlets and apple and apricot orchards. 

The destination was an advanced military camp near a village called Sultan Dhakki, a few hundred metres short of the LoC. I was thrilled to inhale the aroma of roasted meat that wafted from somewhere in the vicinity. The Captain pointed down the hill towards two large vessels, where food was being cooked by soldiers in the open in the village common ground. That would be our dinner. 

 I was delighted. But still worried about the night stay in bunkers. I needn’t have. After a few turns, we stood in front of an opening in a rocky hill. It was a khul ja sim sim experience. I could have fathomed that the Army had burrowed into the hills and created an accommodation, no less than a five-star stay. 

After bathing, we sat outside for a cup of tea and snacks. The spot was at a safe angle from the enemy behind the hills. “You will see Diwali at night as  rockets will fly,” chuckled the officer. His soldiers grinned. 

As we talked, the conversation veered around on how soldiers kept their mind off death and bullets. “I play chess,” the Captain said. “Voila! I too,”  I exclaimed. Soon, two armies were set in black and white on the chessboard. It took me no more than 10 moves to grab the rook and the queen. The officer was visibly hurt. He was losing in front of his jawans, who sat around us in a semicircle. He lost the second too, after much struggle. One last game, he said, ordering meat for both of us in a tone that expressed his anger. He won the third. 

Back in the lodge, he sipped beer and remarked: “I was flustered. It was not about losing or winning. It was about you killing my army while it had not moved from its squares. No jawan would like an officer, or for that matter a government, that lets this happen to them.”
first published in The Tribune Sept 23, 2016